Reddit Rage: Website Shuts Down “Creep Shots” but Still Sucks
Wearing a skirt or low-cut blouse does not make you a slut, but doesn’t make you safe from sexualization, either.
The online forum Reddit has grown from an anonymous site to discuss relationship problems and favorite fandoms to a relatively valid news source. Reddit broke updates about the shooting in Aurora, Coloado, at the screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” faster than news outlets such as the New York Times, and the Ask Me Anything sessions with celebrities and even President Barack Obama has given the site credibility as more than a place to post cat pictures and share disgusting hook-up stories.
For the record, I’m mildly obsessed with subreddit “Aww,” which posts enough puppy and kitty pictures to keep me squealing over cuteness for hours. There are multiple subreddits that discuss women’s rights and feminism, and I have friends who have enjoyed themselves at local Reddit meet-ups.
But Reddit’s advances in Internet culture do not mean the forums have completely changed for the better. Pornography (including illegal child pornography), detailed tales of people committing sexual abuse, rape and harassment, and most recently in the news, up-skirt and down-blouse photos of women taken without their knowledge, much less their consent, have run rampant on the site with seemingly no regulation or restriction.
CreepShots, a subreddit that collects these up-skirt and down-blouse photos, was banned this week after one of its moderators was arrested in Australia for photographing women and children sunbathing at Perth beach. And these weren’t fun vacation shots: The unnamed man used a telephoto lens to zoom in on women’s breasts and pubic areas, for which he was charged with indecent acts in public and obstructing justice, after refusing to turn over his camera with the pervy shots to the police.
In September, 35-year-old CreepShots submitter and substitute teacher Christopher Bailey was fired, though not arrested, for using his cell phone to take pictures of his female students. The girls, some as young as 16, has no idea they were being photographed and posted to Creepshots under titles such as “Hot senior girl in one of my classes.”
Because “nothing of a sexual” nature was found after local police interviewed students in Bailey’s classes, police in the school district is not charging him was any crime. He may, however, face charges for taking dick pics of himself and sending them to some of his students and asking tit for tat, pun intended.
So, let’s get this straight: A grown man can take advantage of underage girls for the sexual gratification of online perverts potentially without consequence?
Photographers have freedom to take pictures in most public places, such as photojournalists covering protests or other outdoor events, as courts have determined that by going out in public, an individual in a place like a city street cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy. An invasion of privacy occurs when a photographer employs a lens designed to shoot close-ups from far away as to not be seen, such as through the windows of a celebrity’s home, and those photographers can be charged with a civil tort (according to a New York Times interview with Mickey H. Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association).
Photography rights law does not protect what CreepShots did. Any “sexually explicit conduct,” which usually involves intercourse, actual or simulated, or the exposure of the genitals of pubic area for the purpose of manufacturing and publishing, is constitutionally defined as child pornography and child abuse. But it was only eight months ago that Reddit decided to take a stand and determined any suggestive sexual content featuring minors should be banned!
“We have very few rules here on Reddit,“ Reddit administrators said in the blog post about the policy change. “At Reddit, we care deeply about not imposing ours or anyone else’s’ opinions on how people use the Reddit platform. We are adamant about not limiting the ability to use the Reddit platform, even when we do not ourselves agree with or condone a specific use. We do not make this policy change lightly, or without careful deliberation. We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on Reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal.”
This means subreddits “Teen Girls,” “Jailbait Videos,” “Preteen boys,” “Busty Bait,” and others show a door marked with caution tape when visited.
Reddit was created in 2005. How can administrators possibly claim to “take all reports of illegal content seriously” if they’ve only just banned kiddie porn and pictures that violate privacy in public?
Some Reddit users complain that there are plenty of women on the Internet posting nude are sexually suggestive photos of themselves (just search the #toplesstuesday tag on Tumblr). But the difference is that these women choose to post these pictures on blogs they’ve created for the purpose of celebrating their bodies or willingly providing images that can be used for sexual gratification; are over the age of 18, meaning they aren’t posting child pornography; and do not violate Tumblr’s terms or service or agreement, which expressly does not allow users under 13 to create blogs, post content that “promotes or glorifies” self-harm such as eating disorders and cutting (in fact, Tumblr has a page devoted to resources for users who need help in overcoming these issues), post “not safe for work” content that hasn’t been labeled as such, or post sexually or violent content involving minors. Even better, Tumblr aggressively searches and shuts down blogs that violate these terms to keep the blogging community as safe as possible.
The shutdown of CreepShots and similar subreddits is by no means the end of creepers across the Internet. Twitter account Creepster Photos runs a private Tumblr of up-skirt and down-blouse photos with, Tweeting the links with descriptions like “I think she’s a lot older than she looks,” and “Did she see me? WHO KNOWS!? [who cares.]”
Some people care, like the anonymous female creator of Tumblr “Predditors,” which cataloged CreepShots posters in an effort to “out” their behavior and encourage others to report them to local authorities. The Tumblr has been shut down, but the tag #peredditors is still naming users and voicing anger about letting CreepShots posters go unpunished.
Is it fair to unveil these Reddit users who post under the protection of anonymous user names? In my opinion, it’s no less fair then violating the privacy of women, underage or not, by turning them into sexualized beings without their knowledge or consent.
If you’re on the fence about the subject, take a minute to imagine this scenario: While reading a book on a park bench, someone you can’t see uses a powerful camera lens to zoom in on the cleavage you feel comfortable wearing in public, or up the cute skirt that makes you feel flirty and fun. By that evening, someone you don’t know and in all likelihood will never meet is jerking off to that photo, which has been posted online, and like anything on the Internet, is hard to remove all traces of.
If that makes you feel more than a little sick, you are not alone.
Do you think Reddit has taken enough of a stand against its users posting content like CreepShots? Do you think these posters should be more severely punished? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Lauren Slavin