Candid Pornography

(Update: Desiscandids is no longer live on Tumblr, and the blog is against the blogger content policy- they forbid blogs that only exist to make money off adult content... and one of their posts is of a declared teenage girl, so w/o 2257s... If you feel so inclined, report desiscandids to blogger here. Protest and information = power!)

Candid photography is one of those tricky things. At Folsom, Pride, or do a performance/event my photo gets taken all the time, but I also expect that and dress/act accordingly. I'm even a bit sad that I never see the photos!

When you leave the house and are in public space, in the US anyway, your rights around people taking photos of you are pretty much gone, unless it's something seen as overtly sexual like upskirt shots. There's been some question about candid photography with the intent of objectifying someone without their consent, for example with TubeCrush.net, where women send photos of cute men that they take while one public transit. Women have their photos or video taken of them by creepy dudes all the time, so there's a big question about if it's bad to objectify men in this way or not (taste of their own medicine, that sort of thing). I mean, men are often not objectified generally, hence my intense desire to dress up like a construction worker with a bunch of other femmes and catcall men in suits in downtown SF. Does that make it more ok to photograph people with sexual intentions if they aren't usually objectified in that way? I don't feel comfortable saying yes, though it's something I'm running through in my brain.

Still, regardless of the genders involved, there's a social contract in place that says you should probably ask for permission and typically it's best to get a model release while you're at it, right? If you want to take a photo of someone looking sexy you probably want to make sure they're over the age of consent, at least. Taking photos of people without asking as wank fodder, particularly wank fodder other people pay for, is kind of... sinister.

That's exactly what Desi's Candid Big Butts is doing. They have a tumblr and a blogspot where they take photos of women with large derrieres and then post them, with video costing money. Oh, and despite the fact this person does this without asking the women, they watermark all their material... so you don't steal it. IRONY!

The boy sees this, and he flags the blog over on tumblr, saying "gee, guys, this seems kind of fucked up and possibly illegal". Tumblr responds thusly:

We realize this content may be very upsetting, but we also highly value freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
Sometimes content posted by a blogger may be mean-spirited or upsetting but does not violate the law. In order to maintain freedom of expression, we cannot remove that material.
You can and should stop viewing content from an offending blogger. If you use Tumblr, you can also Block a blogger at http://tumblr.com/block. This prevents you from seeing content from that blogger on your Dashboard and prevents that blogger from sending you messages via Tumblr.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concern with us.

I looked into this further and discovered objectifying OTHER parts of women is a-ok legal-wise. Feet? Totally cool!  Smoking? Legal! Asses? As long as they're wearing clothes! Upskirt, though? A step too far. Good to know. Is this objectification of fat girls ok because they're fat and aren't usually seen as desirable? If I saw my ass on this site I would be pissed.

That said, I've been reading about this a lot, and while you may not need a model release for fine art or editorial use, pornography is commercial use and as such requires model releases AND 2257 forms. The question is- is pornography in the eye of the beholder? Is it in the intention in which it's displayed or presented? Is it illegal, should it be illegal, or is it just in bad taste?

Also, can I just have my usual "WTF IS WITH MALE PRIVILEGE", not only that someone feels they have the right to take these images without permission, OR to sell them, but that people consume these images without giving a fuck.


Feel free to tell tumblr what you think here: support@tumblr.com


This letter was also written to Tumblr, and we'll let you know when a response is sent:

"Dear Tumblr folks:

The Tumblr blog http://desiscandids.tumblr.com/ is in violation of US federal law 18 U.S.C. § 2257, which requires recordkeeping from producers of sexually explicit material. The user/blog in question presents "candid" photographs and video of women and teenage girls, with some material *for sale* through *your* web service, with no documentation available about the age and consent of the persons depicted.

In addition, this content is in violation, on many counts, of New York Penal Law 235, with which I hope you are familiar, given that your company is based in New York State.
Tumblr is hosting illegal content. Since you state in your terms of service that: "Use of the Site or Services to violate the security of any computer network, crack passwords or security encryption codes, transfer or store illegal material including that are deemed threatening or obscene, or engage in any kind of illegal activity is expressly prohibited," it seems obvious that this Tumblr site should be removed.

I look forward to hearing how Tumblr chooses to resolve this issue. My New York attorney, R- M-, will also be watching the matter with interest.

Thank you.

Rose White"

Categories: legality, male objectification (or lack thereof), male privilege, photos, politics

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