Throughout history, human beings have always felt the need to control other people. Whether by political or military rule or ideological indoctrination, people have and still do believe that everybody else’s ideas, identities and bodies are there for everyone else to criticise, mock or own.
You see it most markedly in the gay rights issue – where people actively try and interfere with other people’s sex lives, preferences and marriage.
I could go off on a tirade about how disgusting it is that people wish to determine who you love or sleep with – but I digress.
Recent events including students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal circulating what they call “slut lists” to nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other stars appearing online.
This kind of public judgement is wrong on so many levels,but what it comes down to is people thinking that they have ownership on other people’s bodies – be it to shame, judge, gawk at or wank to.
Yes, I said “wank” and it’s not funny.
First, those slut lists
Students at UKZN decided that it was prudent to publicly name people who either put out too much or not at all, and shame them as“sluts”. This is not the first time it has happened at my esteemed alma mater, where photos of couples shagging on the lawns have been circulated freely.
In the early 2000s, a video of a young woman stripping for her boyfriend was passed around campus, reportedly circulated by the boyfriend after the couple broke up.
These lists are just an extension of the very same belief, that people own other people’s bodies, being executed in a different manner.
Women are called sluts at every turn: when we expose a bit of skin, when we have fun out at a bar, when we get a little drunk, when we flirt, when we choose not to sleep with someone, when we choose to sleep with someone and even when we are monogamous.
So what if someone chooses to have sex? Is it any of your business? No, it’s not. Branding people as sluts for doing what the hell they damn well want to isn’t heroic or helping the public. It’s shaming someone else– someone else’s child – for no reason.
How about we shame that guy who decided to rape the girl who got “really drunk” at a party last weekend because he spiked her drink?
How about we shame the person who wrote those lists in the first place and put their sexual history on display for everyone to see, like what the courts did with Kwezi when she accused Jacob Zuma of rape?
No? Well then. We have a problem here. On so many levels.
JLaw and her boobies
The same sentiment can be held towards the recent nude photo leaks of some really prominent celebrities. Had those photos been of a random, unknown person, there would never have been this much hoo-ha. That person would have been ridiculed.The celebrities are being coveted.
Because when someone chooses to take a photo of their naked bodies, yeah there’s always the risk of them being found, but it’s nobody’s goddamn business.
My dear friend Haji wrote a piece this week about people not owning others’ bodies. I agree with her fully. When someone chooses to do what the hell they want with their bodies – celebrity or no – nobody has the right to them. Nobody has a right to tell people what to do with their bodies.
Be it taking drugs, eating unhealthily, sleeping around or whatever – people have free will for a reason. As long as you’re not imposing on anyone – like smoking near people who don’t want you to smoke near them, or eating unhealthily when you have a family to support, or sleeping around when you have the risk of passing AIDS on – you have every right to do what you want in life.
By all means, look at porn if you want. Get off on it if you want. But these people – regardless of how public their lives are – have aright to privacy, and to own their own bodies. It’s not up to us to tell them how to be.
We jokingly judge celebrities at every turn.
“Oh God, she’s hideous without makeup.”
“What was she thinking putting on that dress?”
But it’s not a joking matter. Who are you to decide what’s physically, morally and publicly acceptable?
People will always find reasons to label women as sluts. And let’s not get into the fact that men who do the same thing are celebrated as heroes and given high-fives in the locker room.
Women who choose to say no are branded as well, and saying“no” is not an option – if a woman says no, she’s a prude. A man will only leave a woman at a bar alone if she says “I have a boyfriend”. If she says she’s simply not interested, she’s a dyke – as if the man who is doing the flirting does not respect the woman, but respects her mythical boyfriend’s ownership of her.
Double-standards aside, women are not yours to own. I will take a nude selfie if I want. It’s not up to you to decide what it means, regardless if it’s on the internet or not. Women are free to do with their bodies what they will. Damn you if you think I should cover up my bad skin day with makeup.
Get off your moral high horse. You have no right to my body.