Friday, February 3, 2012

Re: Video Voyeurism

Yesterday I discovered a naked vlogger on YouTube, who goes by the name of Deja Nude, who is a nudist, and has a series of videos discussing nudist issues. I watched a few of her videos (and am looking forward to watching the rest), and I was very impressed both with her views on nudism, as well as her courage to post naked vlogs on YouTube. In fact, she's quite an inspiration, and I've begun to wonder if it wouldn't be a fantastic idea for me to do some naked vlogs of my own. The only problem is, despite my familiarity with being in front of the camera, I am far less comfortable recording videos, specifically ones in which I talk. I'm a pretty good writer, I think (at least that's what people tell me), but giving speeches is not one of my talents. Still, maybe, just maybe, it's worth a shot.

I'll tell you, I was this close to recording a naked vlog with my response to Deja Nude's video titled "Video Voyeurism", but I just wasn't comfortable with it, so you'll have to get this written speech instead. However, I did take a snapshot from my webcam so you at least have something to look at! :p

Anyway, in Video Voyeurism, Deja Nude talks about people who take other people's nudist images and submit them to sexual websites, in effect "exploiting" their nude image for sexual purposes. I agree that this is a problem, but I have a minor (maybe not so minor) quibble with the addressing of why this is a problem. (See, also, my post on sexy pictures, which covers the topic of picture trading on the internet).

I think it's important to emphasize that this is a crime of nonconsent, not a crime of sexual deviance. The motivation may be sexual in nature, but it's wrong not because it's perverted, but because these people are taking images and using them in ways that the owners haven't authorized, and may well object to. Focusing on the sexual component, rather than the violation of consent, has a tendency to conflate perversion with nonconsent. Notice how contemporary sexual mores threaten to reframe basic male desire (the pleasure in seeing chicks naked) as criminal intent.

Particularly, the concept of "voyeurism" is so tied up with a notion of clandestine spying, that it gives a bad name to people who might get a thrill out of looking, but only want to do it to people that don't have a problem with it (see my post on consensual voyeurism). The existence of the voyeuristic desire itself does not necessarily entail a corresponding lack of concern for the rights and consent of others (in other words, perversion is not synonymous with, or a direct cause of, sociopathy). Naturally, there are going to be people - voyeurs - who have this desire and don't care about other people's consent, and that's a problem. But again, by focusing on the voyeurism, as if that were the problem, and not specifically the violation of consent, you're giving a bad name to voyeurs who are conscientious and concerned about consent.

And then people who receive these messages (about how voyeurism always seems to involve nonconsent) in the social media environment, who might have these voyeuristic desires, start wondering if they, too, are capable of violating another person's consent for their sexual gratification. What we really need, on the other hand, is a positive model of sexuality that demonstrates that people can have these sexual desires - and all sorts of sexual desires - and engage in them in ways that are not criminal, and are not destructive to the social order. The only way to do that is to focus on what exactly is wrong when people commit sex crimes, instead of writing them off as perversion - as if perversion were a crime. Perversion is not a crime. I'm a pervert. I know perverts. They're good people. They're also fun people.

And in response to Deja Nude's comment that she doesn't want to be a "freakin' sex object" - I can respect that, but as for me, I enjoy being a freakin' sex object. Granted, my opinion is that sexual pleasure is a virtue, not a vice. But if the image of my naked body makes people feel good, then that's great. I'm not concerned about the sexualization of society, or the perversion of morality, or the misguided concepts of degradation and objectification. People who are tend to have either a warped or very narrow view of sexuality and exactly how it works.

Even as a nudist - and this is inevitably a point of contention - I don't mind if people interpret nonsexual nudity (mine or anyone else's) in a sexual context. That's their prerogative. I'm not so concerned about my "image" as a nudist. If someone thinks I look sexy without my clothes on, that doesn't automatically translate my naked body into a sex act, whereby I would therefore be engaging in a "sex act" (being naked) every time I enter a nudist environment - just because someone else might interpret it that way. It doesn't matter who or how many people think nudity is sexy, that doesn't change the truth of the fact that nudists take their clothes off for nonsexual reasons.

We're so afraid of who might be getting turned on in the world (why?), that we become paranoid about policing our images in society, lest somebody should think perverted thoughts about us. On the one hand, I want to say, who cares? But on the other, if people are getting off, then that's great! Isn't that better than people dying of starvation, being shipped off to pointless wars, and such? It's not just that sex isn't the worst problem that society faces, it's not even a problem. Sex is good.

P.S. Deja Nude, I still think you're awesome!

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