When a friend of mine sent me a link to the gossip site Media Take Out I braced myself for utter foolishness. The site, which claims to cover celebrity “news,” boasts such gripping headlines as “ANYTHING For Attention!! Angela Simmons Goes BOWLING . . . In A TEENY See-Through MINISKIRT!! (How UN-VIRGIN Of Her),” and “SHOCK PICS: BEYONCE ACCIDENTALLY EXPOSES HERSELF . . . AND SHE’S GOT A FULL AFRO COVERING HER COOCH!!” Despite absolutely loathing the site, I clicked anyway. Big mistake.

Instead of being greeted by the usual nonsense, naked pictures of Amber Rose, one of hop-hop’s biggest muses, popped up on my screen.

The headline, “Amber Rose Was Creeping With Nick Minaj’s Boyfriend…And We Have the Nekkid Pics to Prove It” (grammatical mistakes theirs, not mine), was obviously meant to entice visitors to read more and cause unnecessary drama. Aside from not providing proof that the pictures were, in fact, of Amber Rose, Media Take Out also failed to provide evidence that the images were sent by Rose to Nicki Minaj’s manager/boyfriend, as the post suggested.

While I’m aware that Amber Rose, with her sexual openness and famous boyfriends, is an easy target for those who consider her a whore without being privy to her actual bedroom activity, seeing her splayed out for all the world to see just felt wrong.

And yes, I know we live in a post-Kardashian sex tape world, when some chicks will “accidently” leak photos of themselves for their moment in the limelight, however, seeing Rose–legs agape, pleasuring herself–just felt extremely intrusive.

Predictably, most of the commenters called her 50 million hoes, while others questioned whether it was even Rose in the pictures, noting the lack of her trademark tattoos. Aside from agreeing that something shady was at work, my next question turned to consent.

When did it become acceptable to put people’s private images on display without their permission?

And if it is ok to post pictures like the ones Media Take Out published, does that mean all women’s bodies are merely public property, or does it only apply to celebrities?

Watching as people ogled and judged Rose for engaging in normal sexual behavior (self-gratification) all because most have labeled her a whore makes me think of how sexual assault victims are sometimes viewed based on how they are dressed.

Earlier this year, a Canadian police officer told a group of women that their best defense against rape was to not “dress like a slut.” Although his comments were deplorable, they are fairly consistent for those who think that sexual assault and harassment are about the way a woman is dressed or how she caries herself. This is also the same line of thinking some use to justify street harassment. Because clearly if a woman dresses “sexy” she is inviting the attention (and lewd comments, and disrespectful behavior, and violence) of men, right?

In 2006, an Oklahoma man, Riccardo Ferrante, was charged under the state’s “Peeping Tom” law after following a 16-year-old girl in Target and using a camera to take pictures under her skirt without her knowledge. Although the case seemed pretty clear cut, Oklahoma’s court of appeals threw out Ferrante’s conviction, stating he did not commit a crime because the victim “was not in a place where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Women’s bodies have been celebrated, berated, and a topic of conversation since the beginning of time. From the travesty of Venus Hottentot, to the way in which First Lady Michelle Obama’s biceps were debated and dissected, to the leaked naked pictures of celebrities and around the way girls being catcalled as they try to walk from Point A to Point B, the world never fails to remind us that our bodies are not merely our own.

No matter what we do, or how we carry ourselves, or how conservatively or provocatively we’re dressed, our bodies will always be up for debate. So instead of worrying about how we are viewed by others, our best weapon is to live our lives on our own terms.

Eff the haters.

What do you think? Do you feel women’s bodies are treated like public property? Let’s talk about it!


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