Category Archives: entertainment

You have the right to take naked photos of yourself – but should you?

It seems like the subject of nakedness keeps baring itself in the news. A few weeks ago I wrote about a contestant on a reality show called “Dating Naked” who was suing the producers and cable channel because an image of her naked crotch was aired without being blurred out. A few days later, a group called Go Topless hosted a Women’s Equality Day event, in which they urged women to don bikini tops printed to look like naked breasts to protest laws allowing men to go bare chested in public but not women.

And this week, the naked truth hit the headlines again with news that Apple’s iCloud was hacked, and that nude photos of celebrities were stolen and released on social media.

The initial reaction to news like that might seem to logically be “Don’t take nude photos of yourself and you won’t have to worry about nudes photos of yourself won’t be leaked online.”

But a blog post by writer Chuck Wendig got me thinking. He points out that the naked photos of actresses Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence that made their way to the internet weren’t leaked – they were stolen. He made some good points about our rights and the way society makes the victim the problem, rather than making the criminal the problem.

There’s nothing illegal about taking naked photos of yourself or your partner (as long as you’re both over 18 years old).  You have the right to take naked photos of yourself and pose naked for photos in which you have given your consent to be photographed (versus being photographed without your knowledge or consent, like the creeper who hides the camera in the shower of your own house).

As for looking at the photos without your consent? Sharing someone else’s nude photos without their consent is illegal and unethical. In fact, in the case of Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, whose photos were also stolen when the iCloud was hacked, it’s child pornography, since she was under 18 years old when the photos were taken.

You have the right to be naked and be photographed, with your consent. And you have the right to expect that when that right is exercised your rights will be protected by the law.

But here’s where things get sticky. What about reality, where the decision to exercise that right is very risky and carries huge consequences if violated?

Once upon a time, if you took a naked photo of yourself, the only people who might see that photo without your permission would be the guy at the photo lab who developed your pictures. Could he make an extra print? Sure, and maybe he did. So you take it with a Polaroid, and only you and the person who pushed the shutter button had access to the photo, unless you chose to give them the photo or the actual picture was stolen. Risk of that picture being stolen? Pretty slim. And how to you get rid of the photos? A little camp fire for the photos and negatives and you were pretty sure the image was gone for good.

Today, with social media and internet hacking being what it is, the risk is far greater than ever that any naked pictures of yourself will find their way online, without your consent. Servers are hacked all the time. That photo you snapped with your cell phone and sent to your partner could go to the wrong person, or if he gets ticked off, be forwarded to hundreds of people in milliseconds.

Your right to take the photo of yourself hasn’t changed. But man, have the consequences gotten bigger.

I go back to the post I wrote about Jessie Nizewitz , who is suing VH1 over the naked crotch shot, and I think I see now where her expectation of privacy was violated. Yup, she had the right to be naked on a TV show. And yup, she had the right to expect that her privates would be blurred out when the show aired, because that was in her contract. And yup, I still think it’s stupid to go on a naked dating show. But that decision was hers to make, and in the end, her privates weren’t blurred, so the expectation of privacy was violated and she deserves her day in court.

At the same time …

I think that there are times when we have to realize that just because we have the right to do something doesn’t mean that we should ignore the possible consequences when things go wrong, and maybe reconsider our decision to act on that right. We do it all the time.

I legally can leash my dog and leave him in my front yard. But I know that there are several children on our street who don’t pay attention to my admonition not to try and pet the dog (he doesn’t like children). So I keep the dog in the backyard behind a fence, because the risk to a child is great, and the consequences if something happens will all fall on the dog – even if he’s legally in his own yard and the child is trespassing.

I have the right to leave my car in my driveway or parking lot with the doors unlocked and expect no one will take out my loose change, or laptop, or camera. But I lock the doors and bring the valuables in the house, because I’m told a laptop bag on the seat it too much of a temptation for criminals. My right to security in my car is trumped by the reality that I’m going to lose my laptop if I don’t lock the doors.

I have the right to use our credit cards to make purchases online. But even though we all cling to some sort of (real or imagined) security that we can fight the bad guys if it our information is stolen,  we follow the advice of experts and change our passwords regularly, or maybe keep one card dedicated just for online purchases. If someone gets access to your bank account, you’re screwed.

I’ve never taken a naked photo of myself, but I’ve posted my own photos (of dogs, scenery, etc), on my blog, which is clearly marked with my copyright, and had those photos stolen and used without my permission. So I don’t post my favorite pictures online any more and, if I do post my photos, I try and mark them with my name and date.

Does it piss me off? Absolutely. My rights are being violated. But I also have drawn a line in the sand where the risk of my rights being violated outweighs my desire to exercise that right.

Is that an answer to the problem? No, but I think we have balance our right to do something with our expectation that others will respect that right, balance our realistic expectations that we can fight them if our rights are violated with the consequences if it all hits the fan.

I’m not a risk taker, by nature. I know that once something appears online, it’s almost impossible to erase, and having fought that battle before over something far less serious than celebrity nude photos I know where my tipping point is. So I tend to err on the side of caution.

But you might be a bigger risk taker than I am – and you have the right to be. If you want to take a naked photo of yourself, go for it. But maybe consider a Polaroid. It can cause a lot less damage in the back of a desk drawer than on a cloud server.

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50 thoughts on turning 50: #25 Women, freedom and “Dating Naked”

VH1's new show "Dating Naked" premiered in July.

VH1’s new show “Dating Naked” premiered in July. (Source: VH1 pressroom)

Last year, I went to visit the Susan B. Anthony house and mused afterwards about what Susan B. Anthony might have said about the reality show, “The Bachelor”, in which women basically throw themselves at a man in the hopes he’ll pick them to be his wife. I likened it to emotional prostitution and pondered the idea that maybe women have forgotten the battle their foremothers fought for equality and respect.

Yes, women in America now have the right to educate themselves, prosper, and express themselves in ways women 100 years ago could only dream about. But have we taken those rights to such an extreme that we’ve enslaved ourselves to a celebrity driven/sexuality saturated culture?

I bring this up again because I saw a story in today’s entertainment headlines that makes me think yet again that we women have misused our freedom and set women’s rights back a few steps.

This summer, VH1 premiered a series called “Dating Naked”. The premise, according to a press release:  “Do you find love easier when you truly have nothing to hide?”

This season a rotating group of frustrated singles answered the show’s challenge to “bare it all” in the quest for love. After embarking on a series of blind dates, twelve people currently consider themselves “in a relationship” with someone they met on the show … Filmed in a remote exotic locale, each close-ended episode follows a man and a woman both going on three naked dates, including two with other suitors and one with each other.

It is an interesting premise, to consider what would happen if two people were left to woo each other without the material trappings of technology and social conventions. But when you take away the clothing? There are going to be problems.

Today, People.com reports that “Dating Naked” cast member Jessie Nizewitz is suing Viacom, the parent company of VH1 and the channel that airs the show, for $10 million in damages after the producers allegedly failed to blur out a shot of Nizewitz’s crotch.

In other words, the naked contestant on a televised naked dating show is upset because she was shown … well, naked. Continue reading

What Would Susan B. Say: “The Bachelor”

susanbanthony

“I would not object to marriage if it were not that women throw away every plan and purpose of their own life, to conform to the plans and purposes of the man’s life. I wonder if it is woman’s real, true nature always to abnegate self.”

- Susan B. Anthony, letter, 1888 (as quoted in “Failure is Impossible”, by Lynn Sherr)

I’m embarrassed to admit it but I’ve been watching this season of “The Bachelor”. Not because I’m enjoying the show, but because it’s like a massive train wreck that I can’t tear my eyes away from.

Am I the only one who sees this show for what it is: a dating game that sets women’s rights back a hundred years?

If you’re not familiar with the premise of the show, here’s a recap: Handsome Guy is presented with a group of about two dozen women, all who are vying to become Mrs. Handsome Guy. Handsome Guy whittles the group down by wooing the ladies with outings to exotic locales, fancy dinners and romance, and generally trying to get them all to fall in love with him. Once he’s done that, he picks the one he wants and offers her a proposal of marrige. The women, on the other hand, have convinced themselves the day they meet Handsome Guy that they’re desperately in love with him; they then befriend and betray each other, all with the goal of sticking around to the end and hopefully get the coveted marriage proposal.

It looks very much like emotional prostitution. Continue reading

Davy Jones dies; goodbye, my childhood!

Sad news today: Davy Jones of The Monkees died today at 66. Goodbye childhood!

Of my earliest childhood entertainment memories, The Monkees are at the front of the line (followed very closely by “That Girl” and Carol Burnett, but that’s a story for another day).

In fact, as a child I got to meet The Monkees. How’s that for cool? (And possibly where the seeds for my entertainment writing stint were sown? We’ll never know, will we.)

The Monkees had flown into the Rochester, NY airport. It was maybe 1967 and I was maybe three-years-old, but I was old enough for the memory to be imprinted on my brain. I knew where we were going and who we were going to see. There was a crowd, and I remember being at the fence as the guys got off the plane – this was back when people got off the plane and walked around on the tarmac.

And then they came over to us, and I remember being scared. One of them had a beard and was carrying a movie camera and had it pointed as the crowd; my mom thinks it was Mickey. Someone – she thinks Davy Jones – wanted to reach over the fence to hold me and I started screaming like a baby.

Well, I pretty much was still a baby!

My mom thinks there may be a slide photo of the moment somewhere in the cases and cases of projector carousels I have stored in my spare bedroom that date back to the early 60s.

Yes, Kodak holds a special place in our hearts here in Rochester, and in our personal photo albums. It’s more than the decline of a company as Kodak gets out of the picture business; it’s the end of an era of memory-making. But I digress

Watching the video clip of the opening and closing credits from “The Monkees”, I realize how much pop culture really does shape our lives. It can be for good or bad – methinks today’s music falls on the bad side of the spectrum.

But in this case, it was good. Very bubble gum, pop rock, innocent cutesy, let’s try and walk like The Monkees because it’s fun kind of good. Super innocent, puppy love, Marcia Brady falls in love with Davy Jones kind of good.

It probably won’t surprise you that from The Monkees I graduated to … ta da! The Osmonds!

My sister and I reminisced today about seeing The Osmonds in concert – I was seven years old, I’m pretty sure. My dad took me and my sister, and my cousins came in from Pittsfield to see the show with a guy named Ernie who was dating their mom. I remember the opening act – Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods, of ” One Is The Loneliest Number” – and that my dad bought me a life sized poster of Donny Osmond that hung on the back of my bedroom door until til it fell apart.

Sigh. Innocent pop music. Those were the days.

Today is a sad day. Rest in peace, Davy Jones. And thanks for the memories!

PS: My dad just called. He now lives in Pennsylania and he’d forgotten until he saw the local news tonight that Davy Jones actually lived in Middleburg, PA, just up the road half hour from where he is in Milton. Who would have guessed? See, your childhood never really goes too far away, does it? They’re going to have a celebration this weekend. Wish I could make the trip; it would be fun to have another Monkees moment, even if it is a sad one.

TripBase “My 7 Links” Blog Project – My favorite posts and 5 blogs for you to check out

I was “tagged” this week by Carol Bryant at Fido Friendly’s blog to take part in the TripBase “My 7 Links” blog projects, designed “To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.” Thanks, Carol!

My task: to share with you 7 links from my blog and then 5 blogs you ought to check out. So here goes!

My most popular post – Strictly in terms of page views, this is the post that has gotten the most views all time on the Notes From The Funny Farm blog: Continue reading

Conan’s advice to Dartmouth grads good advice for middle aged writers, too

My friend Kelsey Timmerman, writer of all things fun and cool, posted this video of Conan O’Brien’s commencement address to Dartmouth College, pointing out Conan’s advice about failure as good advice for grads.

But listening to Conan’s speech, it’s also great advice for … well, me.

Like Conan, I’m 47. And lately, I’ve been wondering if this is all there is. I mean, I’m past middle age – unless I’m going to live to my mid-90s, and even in that case the likelihood that I’ll be able to do anything more noteworthy than wipe my own nose is slim. So I’ve been musing – have I missed my chance to do something significant?

Then along comes Conan, and with his advice to graduates (offered up after 20 laugh out loud minutes) reminds me that sometimes the best years come after you think the best is behind you. Some of his key points:

“There are few things in life more liberating than having your worst fear realized.”

“Your path at 22 will not be your path at 32 or 42. One’s dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling and changing course.”

“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy. But if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention.”

“Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”

If you have 20 minutes, watch the video. It’s hilarious, and if nothing else you’ll get a good laugh. But you might also find a little inspiration in there, too.

Country star Trace Adkins teams up with Waggin’ Train brand for dog jingle contest

Country music star Trace Adkins and his dogs Bella and Daisy.

Waggin’ Train dog treats has teamed up with country music star Trace Adkins for a fun contest designed to celebrate the special relationships people have with their dogs – and you and you pup are the stars!

The Waggin’ Train Tail Waggin’ Jingle Contest is searching the country for dog owners who have such a “tail waggin” good time with their best buddies that it inspires them to sing a jingle about it. One lucky Grand Prize winner will win the chance-of-a-lifetime to perform his or her jingle in a recording session produced by country music star Trace Adkins. Continue reading