Clothed or Naked Online, Women Are Still Not ‘Asking For It’

| March 15, 2015 | 18 Comments

Sexual Harassment & Women Being Naked Online

I’m a naturist, and I’m naked a lot… Most of the time in private or secluded places, but once in a while I’m topfree in public, or naked and covered in body paint in Times Square. This is how I live my life and how I express myself.

There are also naked pictures of me online. Mostly because, like any person, I take photos that document my existence and I also choose to share some of those photos online.

topfree nyc naked online women harassment rape culture victim-blaming modesty yna

Topfree in NYC

There are people who have a problem with me being naked, for many different reasons, but I want to bring up an issue specifically related to being a naked woman.

Lately there are a lot more feminists and body-positive activists who are choosing to be naked in a public way online. But I’ve noticed that one of the first reactions they get from other people is a concern about perverts. Many people say it’s foolish and counterproductive for women to “reclaim their bodies” by getting naked online. Those people claim that it’s just going to attract perverts who will sexually objectify the women, harass them and make inappropriate comments – like the online version of catcalling.

I’ve been seeing this criticism coming from other women. But that doesn’t surprise me. Women are mainly the ones who have to deal with the “perverts” and creeps who engage in sexual harassment, online and offline.

I post naked pictures of myself online knowing that some people (mainly men) will just look at me in a sexual way. The reason I am not concerned is because I can’t prevent anyone from thinking sexual thoughts about me. People cannot prevent other people from looking at them sexually.

I am only concerned when others disrespect or objectify me. My naked photos aren’t sexual in nature, but that doesn’t make a difference. Some people will still make disrespectful and / or inappropriate sexual advances.

Some think I’ve posted my photo in order for them to evaluate how attractive I am, and they feel entitled to make that opinion known, even if it’ll make me uncomfortable. They post comments and tell me in some subtle or not-so-subtle way that they find me attractive enough to have sex with me. (Like I give a shit!)

I get nasty comments, messages, the occasional dick pic. And yet, I’m honestly not sure how much of it has to do with me being naked and how much of it has to do with me putting myself out there as a blogger and leader of an organization. I’m on social media, I have “followers,” and when I post / share stuff, a lot of people see it.

Harassment online is a major problem and concern for all women. In a Pew research study last year, 25% of women age 18-24 said they’d been sexually harassed online, and 26% said they’d been stalked. It’s even worse for women who are vocal activists or in leadership positions. Those are the women who regularly receive rape and death threats, such as Anita Sarkeesian (feminist video game critic and activist), Emily Lindin (founder of The Unslut Project), and many more. (And I haven’t even gotten into the horrific “revenge porn” trend.)

Recently I came across a blog post by Diana Denza at Endangered Bodies describing how they were receiving hate speech and threats from men while promoting their “Fat is not a feeling” campaign. All that because they were trying to remove an emoticon option from Facebook that fostered negative body image. As Denza points out, this wasn’t just a difference in opinion. These men were trying frighten and scare these women who dared to make their voices heard.

I have female friends who also get nasty messages in their inbox, and they’re not posting any naked photos of themselves. Ask any woman who’s tried an online dating site / app if she’s ever had any creep encounters, and guaranteed she’ll have at least one to talk about. The amount of harassment women receive on those sites is atrocious, and the level of misogyny is very disturbing.

I also have the experience of being topfree as well as completely naked in public. Occasionally I’ve been catcalled or leered at in these situations. I do worry about my own safety more when I’m not as covered. But I’ve also been catcalled wearing loose jeans and a sweatshirt. We should all know by now that street harassment happens to women in all types of clothing. You could walk outside wearing a giant trash bag as a dress and still get catcalled.

As far as dealing with or trying to curtail such harassment, some women will choose their clothing based more on safety than comfort. In an ideal world, risk of harassment wouldn’t be a factor in our clothing choices, but it is in the world we currently live in. The point here is that we have a choice, and if any woman wants to stay covered because: perverts, that’s her own individual choice (regardless of whether it will make a difference or not).

I just have a problem when women (or others) suggest that covering up is a solution to ending sexual harassment, objectification or any sort of assault / violence against women. The people who suggest this clearly haven’t thought about this issue very deeply, but given the culture we live in, it shouldn’t be any surprise to hear it.

women naked online public still not asking for it felicity jones yna

It all boils down to victim-blaming and rape culture. Rape culture refers to a culture where sexual harassment and violence is considered normal. Women are routinely blamed for being sexually harassed, assaulted and even raped.

When a woman is a victim of a sexual crime, the first question some ask is, “What was she wearing?” Women are taught that it’s their fault when men “can’t control” themselves, that “boys will be boys” and it’s their responsibility to keep themselves safe through modesty.

rape culture victim blaming public naked online yna

“Today, if I walk naked on the road, does that give a man the right to rape me? He has raped because he is sick in the head. And he’s not raped because I’m naked. That’s my choice.”

In reality, clothing is not some magical harassment-prevention tool. As I’ve already mentioned, harassment happens regardless of a woman’s state of dress or undress. Modesty rules and laws actually condone sexual harassment and violence by focusing on the victim’s behavior instead of the perpetrator. Rather than prevent or punish violent or criminal behavior, all they do is stifle women’s freedom and sexuality.

From a young age, girls’ sexuality is defined in terms of male heterosexuality. Girls are made to cover up their chests before their bodies have even developed because men look at that body part in a sexual way. As they grow up, girls often learn what’s sexually appealing to men before they even discover or figure out their own sexuality.

girls school dress code protest sign rape culture sexual objectification harassment naked online yna

Student protest sign against girls dress code. Small print says, “Dress codes are perpetuating rape culture and oppressive objectification towards women.”

girls protest school dress codes policing women's bodies naked online yna

Case in point: school dress codes. There have been so many stories about school administrators banning certain clothing for girls, such as leggings or shorts or spaghetti straps, because it will “distract the boys.” Here instead of teaching boys and all students about consent and respect, they waste time policing girls’ bodies and attire. They blame the girls for having a body. Girls are taught that their own education, comfort and freedom are all secondary to boys’ needs, urges and desires.

So what’s the real solution to stopping creeps and perverts? To stopping sexual harassment, sexual violence and objectification?

Education and changing the culture. We need to build a new culture of consent, respect and equality. We need to stop victim-blaming and policing women’s bodies. Women’s bodies are NOT the problem, and modesty is NOT the solution. Limiting women’s freedom and self-expression is not and has never been the solution.

What I choose to wear or not wear should never be anyone else’s decision but my own. Even when I’ve chosen to be naked in a public way, I refuse to accept blame for any harassment I receive. I refuse to play into our prescriptive gender roles that say men are uncontrollable sex-driven beasts and that women are the sexually passive ones who must take responsibility for that. Anyone who blames women for getting sexually harassed, assaulted or raped, is perpetuating the rape culture in our society and refusing to acknowledge the real problems.

Young Naturists & Nudists America

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Felicity's Nudist Blog, Feminism and Women's Issues, Social Activism

About the Author ()

Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
  • GBSmith

    ioneindividual
    I don’t believe there’s any indication in the piece that there’s nothing wrong with sexualizing young men. If the news is any indication there are regular prosecutions of adults, women and men, who take advantage sexually of boys 14-18.  Also I think the use of the words “lies”, “hater”, and “hypocrite” are a bit of a stretch and don’t help the conversation.  Since this is an issue that you have feelings about, you ought to contact Felicity about a guest blog, seriously.  It’s something worth more consideration and discussion.

  • ioneindividual

    Funny that bit about how men are never objectified, except that men are constantly objectified by hollywood and feminists alike…
    Supposedly doing it satirically, but satire is just a defence mechanism for bias and hate. 
    Blazing Saddles.  I rest my case.
    And if sexualizing 14-18 year old girls is wrong, why is sexualizing 14-18 year old boys not also wrong? Why are all of youre ‘equality’ issues only ever used in a context to protect girls and women and never boys and men? EVER?
    Your lies are obvious, and your actions speak louder than your ego will ever convince you to believe that you’re not a hater and a hypocrite.

  • mirceab26

    Very nice blog!
    Love the idea, love the views, love the pics!
    I hope you will like my blog to! You can find it at
    http://www.calivitavalcea.blogspot.ro/
    My sincerely congrats for your blog!

  • TomPine

    Felicity,

    Great article. May I use it (with proper attribution, of course) for the TNTN “Full Frontal” section of the newdsletter?

    Tom P.

  • mpapai Infidelis The studies’ observation that female victims tend to be modestly dressed is interesting.. But information like this should be shared with the caveat that victims are still not to blame for violent crimes committed against them, regardless of how they’re dressed.

  • carlnudi

    Excellent post. I reblogged this to:

    https://lookingatbothsidesnow.wordpress.com

  • livefyrebob

    “Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”  — Peace Pilgrim

  • Infidelis  Spot on!
    Studies show that it is women with passive, submissive personalities who are most likely to be rapedand that they tend to wear body-concealing clothing, such as high necklines, long pants and sleeves, and multiple layers.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200812/marked-mayhem

  • BattleTrek47 Thanks so much for reading & supporting. It’s always great to hear how we’ve had a positive effect on others! See you next week :)

  • NACORBA Thank you! :)

  • Very thoughtful and well written article. Nudism needs more women like you.

  • larryf76

    Love the article and the way you feel and think. As long as you know that there are people out there who think differently and do not put yourself in a vulnerable position just to prove a point.  Larry the unofficial Mayor of Haulover Beach

  • BattleTrek47

    This was a great article Felicity.  We need to hold people, in this case men, accountable for their actions and not “blame the victim.”  I don’t think until I embraced nudism did I fully “grow up.”  I’ve begun to have more respect for people who are different than me and learned that being in mixed company naked doesn’t have to be sexual.  And I think it’s in big part that I have to thank you, Jordan, and YNA in general for helping me to realize this.  Your articles have given me a point of view I never had before, not because I didn’t care, but because I it wasn’t what society taught me.  And having met you and Jordan in real life I know you are great individuals.  Hell the first time we met we were all naked!  Anyway keep up the good work and I can’t wait to see you guys next week at the body painting interview.

  • GBSmith

    Let the church say amen!  Excusing teenage boys behavior and making it dependent on how girls/women dress just infantilizes them and delays their becoming adults.  In my church it’s gotten so bad that little girls can’t wear a sundress without a tee shirt on underneath and in magazine articles paintings of angels have to have their shoulders covered.

  • Infidelis

    Brilliant, Felicity. 
    You are exposing the major fallacy that being dressed is a safeguard against sexual harassment, misconduct and rape. If that were the case then we would not have had the many cases of horrific child abuse in institutions that are not exactly known for their tolerance of nudity and body acceptance. The women in the Muslim countries would not have to be scared to report rape because they would be accused of adultery. And all the sexually motivated attacks that happen in our clothed world would never have happened.

    Sadly this absurd fallacy has fed an unprecedented hysteria about child and teens nudity, which has led to the total elimination of anyone that looks under 25 from our nudist magazines. Children are asked to cover up at the Maslin Beach games in Adelaide, Australia. At this rate our lifestyle will be lost on our young and be viewed more and more an adult only enjoyment.

    Major fallacies are so easily created and maintained, but nigh impossible to ever get rid of!

  • NotanlinesGuy

    I agree Felicity. Very well said. Until more women take your stance things are not going to change. And you are a brave woman for standing up to all those who put you down. But I applaud you and keep up the fight.

  • richpasco Thank you! :) Yes, it’s important to speak out about these things.

  • Well stated, Felicity.  Thank you.  I admire your courage and honesty.  Would that more women take a stand like you.