When Sex = Disempowerment 

Leaking selfies

Leaking selfies

Guys post stolen nude photos of famous celebs online, and it’s all about sex, right?

Men stare at women walking down the street. That’s all about sex, too.

Or, a woman is blamed for an attack because a guy can’t resist exposed cleavage — or a bit of hair that has fallen loose from a Saudi veil.

Actually, a lot of things that look like sex are really about power. 

Sharing nude photos: It’s about having power

Sure, the nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and others are sexy — and that may be the whole reason some guys join the invasion of privacy.

But at least one guy claimed that since those lovely ladies would never let him have them, they deserved it!

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

A bit like guys who post nude photos of their exes in revenge. “I can’t have her anymore, so she deserves this.”

These men can’t control women the way they want, so they invade their privacy and take power over their images.

Even Emma Watson’s powerful United Nations speech supporting women’s equality was met with a warning that nude photos would be leaked. It turned out to be a hoax, but the threat reflected a pattern of using sex to disempower women.

Catcalls: It’s about having power

What about guys gazing at sexy ladies? Some may be full of awe and appreciation — which can be appreciated or uncomfortable. But ogling can also be an expression of male power and control as men become judges while women — maybe even coworkers or bosses — are morphed into objects (sex objects).

Meanwhile, catcalling leaves women feeling unsafe walking city streets. Or their freedom constricts as they change their routes.

A couple Egyptians filmed what it’s like for women walking alone in Cairo. It’s uncomfortable. Some might avoid going out in public to avoid the stare-down.

If video stops working, go here.

In this place where women routinely cover themselves, sexual harassment and violence are rampant. And when women fight for their rights, it gets much worse.

Sexual attacks:  It’s about having power

In one series of sexual attacks mobs circled Egyptian women who were demonstrating for their rights. They tore off their clothing with sharp tools that also cut their breasts and genitals. The women were beaten with belts, and some were pushed into vats of boiling water.

It’s not about the dress, or being sexy. It’s about disempowerment: Fight for your rights, and see what happens!

These men must feel incredibly disempowered — and really, really bad about themselves — to behave so horrendously.

Really, there are better ways to empower yourself!

Luckily, the good guys know this.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 10, 2014, in feminism, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. Power over women has been imposed on women in many different ways at different points in history. With new advancements in society it seems like people are getting creative in the ways they oppress and harass women. With the new era of instant and global communication, the risk of a person’s privacy being displayed to the world has drastically increased. Even when people believe their information and pictures are safe it could potentially be hacked or stolen by sneaky thieves. One story that caught my attention was how officers were stealing nude photos of women and sending them out to their friends and fellow officers. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP8JsE5bv7Y ) Even though a person’s privacy should never be breached, if they do decide to participate in sharing nude photos. They should know the risk and the possible outcome of such accidents.

    On the other hand when men start to physically express their dominance over women something must and should be done, but unfortunately it doesn’t always. This type of oppression shows the lack of morals and intellect in a person when they have to resort to physical violence in order to keep someone in their “control”. In the long run these actions will end up disempowering the oppressor because it would hopefully strengthen the unity and determination amongst the oppressed.

  2. ninoshka mirkooshesh

    After I read this article, it made me realize how everything comes down to control and power. I had never really seen it in that way but it completely makes sense. When it comes to women, everything is sexualized to the point where it can be uncomfortable for women. For instance the cat calling, when a man shouts something or whistles at women it makes them seem like animals or objects. This makes women very uncomfortable which makes them even switch the path they were originally going to take. Also the leaking of celebrities’ photos, this makes women who are strong and act with class seem as if they are weak. Or also like you said, exes releasing pictures because they can’t have someone. This pictures where shared with them in private it is not fair for the man to release these pictures just because he feels like he is not in control. Lastly the wonderful example was the one about the sexual attacks on Egyptian women. It is sad that men have to go so far just to feel as if they are controlled, they are threatened by women because they know how much potential all women have.

  3. There are some men who are really boys that degrade woman to make them feel more “manly”, but it’s not only through sex or sexual appearance. Men can use the controlling techniques through mental and physical abuse. To make the woman feel afraid of them so they have the control in the relationship. A lot of a man’s controlling issues come from a things they have learned or seen themselves.

    As for woman dressing to sexy so they deserve to be stalked, harassed or raped is totally wrong. No woman deserves to be taken advantage of in any kind of way. If a woman choose to post a sexual picture than that is her business but for a man to post a sexual picture of a woman out of spite or a controlling factor just shows what type of man he really is. Woman should be taken more seriously. We are all creations of GOD and a man should respect a woman for the woman she is not for what she has on or how he can make her feel.

  4. Cristina Cibrian

    This post highlights the important point that the misogynistic treatment of women may “look like sex” but is “really about power.” The article refers to the situation of leaked nude photos that so many Hollywood actresses have faced as clearly an “invasion of privacy.” As an example, Jennifer Lawrence recently refused to apologize for the nude photos of her that were leaked online and instead called the act a “sex crime.” The article accurately pointed out that men are expressing the need to control women through their images. These Hollywood actresses are vulnerable and now at the mercy of the men who are on a quest for power and their “15 minutes of fame.” As stated in the article, actress Emma Watson speech was highly publicized and was a rallying point for women. However, threats issued by men underscored the hard reality of “sex” being used to “disempower women.”

    In the viral video, The People’s Girls’ “Creepers on the Bridge” depicts the sexual harassment that women in Cairo receive for walking across a community bridge all alone. This powerful video depicts the objectification of women as they walk facing intense and unnerving stares from men. There have been several times when I have been in my car or walking along the street and men have whistled or yelled inappropriate comments. Their actions are an attempt to objectify me as a sex object and subsequently makes me feel uncomfortable. Sex equals disempowerment is an accurate title for this article and for the situation facing so many women across the world. It is important for women to stand up and not allow this treatment.

  5. When Sex =Disempowerment
    “Let’s talk about sex”
    “Men seem to have no power when it comes to women…
    While I think it is ok for women to have their picture taking with their consent. But when it become a sexual obsession that when it become a serious matter. Women should be able to wear what she wants without being considered as a sex object. When picture are taking of women in swimsuit it should not be only for a magazine not for men to desires to see them naked. Taking nude picture of women with their consent is an invasion of their privacy. Just because you see a women in a sex outfit does not give you the right to stalk her. Women should not have to feel threaten just to go outside or shopping. Some men fill like if they could get a picture of the woman naked, that they have control over them. That is the problem that celebrity women feel so threaten when it come to going out in public. Sexy women should look at being bless from God and not a curse from man. “Women are men pride and not their property”

  6. I loved this post! It had a lot of points that I could resonate with as woman. I agree that it every man may not par take in ogling at women, but I do feel that there are still far too many that do. As a girl I was brought up to never go on walks by myself, especially at night, and as a woman not much has changed. I feel a lot more comfortable to take walks in the day time, but have still been numerous occasions where I have felt uncomfortable and objectified by men in a day outing. I have actually been followed by men in their cars while I am on my morning runs, to the point where I had to go and ask for help from a stranger or neighbor. My guy friends do not know what this would feel like, because for the most part it doesn’t happen to them. I am not saying that men don’t get objectified by women, because they most certainly do, it’s just not nearly as often as women or in as many ways. However, I do see it, I am a bartender at a nightclub and I see men getting mistreated by women all the time. My male co-workers have also shared many stories where they have felt extremely uncomfortable and violated by women. They also would agree with me though, that they don’t have to feel scared when they go out on a run at any time of day. Men don’t have to worry about what they wear when they go out. Men don’t have to make decisions that limit there lives in fear of being attacked sexually. Although rapes and other unjustifiable acts do happen to men by women, it is not on such a level that it has effected men in the masses. Unfortunately for the good guys out there, there are so many other men that are choosing to objectify women for either sexual desires or for power. It disgusts me how many books or articles that I have read, that mention how much rape and incest have not much to do with sexual infatuation, as much as it does with the need for dominance, control and power. I have had male friends that have come to their defense when caught disrespecting women by ogling etc, by stating that it is their biological need to look at women because they are wired to do so to pick mates to procreate with. Although there may be merit to this theory because men are more visually stimulated, it does not give them the right or the excuse to objectify our bodies, treat us like cars on a lot and or rape. There should be no excuses made for such acts, and if there is truth in their defense, then whatever happened to the concept of evolution? We don’t just stop evolving as a species, these are things that should be worked on to help build hope for a better world that does not base it’s needs around power, sex and money. Women have been kept in the control of men for far too long, be it our education, how we dress, whether we can vote or note, speak our opinions or join men in the work force. There have been and still are, way too many rights that have been kept from us due to our gender. I hope that posts like yours and videos like the one you shared, continue to be voiced and I hope that people continue to watch and respond. Getting people talking about the right things, gives us the opportunity for growth as a nation.

  7. I think the video demonstrates not only the rampant amount of sexual violence that occurs outside the United States, but also that women that go against the cultural norms regarding head gear as unaccompanied females demonstrate a resistance to the societal and physical values placed on women. Women are seen at an objectified level and are usually seen as the subordinate gender. But placing such high cultural stigma against the female species in places like Cairo has a negative impact not just in the city or country, but around the globe. This is because women are not viewed as assets and have much to gain from spreading their power both educationally, societally, medically, and even militarily. Once the power of the female species is known around the world, it will have a positive effect on the global economy. Women can leave outside their homes, walk down the street, and not be overtly stared at like in the video. It demonstrates a desperate need for a universal standard as discussed in class. The universal standard, in my opinion, should be one of not causing physical, emotional, and even spiritual harm on another human being and by treating women as a slab of meat to look at walking down the street is somewhat sinful. Our bodies are our temples and that saying goes without saying. It’s the only physical form we know and to place such low expectations on it because of sex and gender is a real negative for the world. It will combat any new knowledge of other ways of governing ourselves as nations and continue to place countries in second and third world states. Don’t we want a planet where there is universal harmony as a species? I know I do and I commend this girl for posting this video in the first place to show us that sexual violence can indeed be mere interpretations of behavior walking down the street coupled with societal expectations relevant to one’s culture. This wouldn’t happen so openly in the United States because we place value on American women as a first world country. We have the power to demonstrate to other nations that women can, in fact, be powerful and this girl hits it right on the money.

  8. I disagree with the statements that specifically blame men. Because, quite frankly, I don’t believe that it is all men’s fault. And I can’t be the only female out there who sees it this way. But regardless, I do think women are overly sexualized, especially in the media. Specifically, a photo of a woman is leaked and it is sexy, while if a photo of a man was leaked, it would end up being a place for guys to just compare, or they would just make fun of him or anything like that. It just makes me mad that just because these things don’t happen to males, we automatically ASSUME it is a male’s fault. This could all be done by a woman who is jealous of the women and they find a way to post the pictures. We just don’t know.

    • Actually, we do know. The social pattern is this:

      When these disempowering behaviors occur– leaking nude photos, cat calling, and rape (98% of convicted rapists are men) — it is almost always men who do them. That’s not to say that men are bad. Patriarchy — not men, as a whole — Lie behind the problem.

      • “…..(98% of convicted rapists are men..”

        Let the record show that 98% of men are NOT rapists! The number is probably closer to 99%.

      • With that attitude you wonder why Women so often fear men? And you wonder why we need a “Yes means yes” standard?

        Actually, the number looks more like one and 12.

  9. I can say I completely agree with this article. As a male I have seen very often other guys use nudes or sex as a form of power and feeling acomplished. Very often will I see my peers sharing pictures of their Ex’s or even current girls and in a sense brag about it. Saying “yup I got her nudes” acting as they have conquered her. Same goes with when they share stories of their sex and make it seem as in they have conquered her and now are above her and control her. They also think that by having sex with a certain amount of females they feel more powerful over their peers. I’ve seen this way too often and should be stopped. Sex is mutual and not something that puts one above another. Many men think that just cause they have girls nudes they suddenly become better than her. This Can be seen in the Emma Watson example. When she tries to show some sense of power or independence, people will try to use her photos in a sense of saying they are better than her and she better shut up cause now they control her. I think we should stop seeing sex as such a big deal and stop putting such a bad connotation to it. It is mutual and should stop making one person more powerful than the other

  10. This just goes to show that it doesn’t take a “slut” to take nudes, are infamous celebrities can be naughty too. I believe there is nothing wrong with taking a sexy selfie on your phone and sending it to your loved one. I have a few girl friends who really enjoy taking naked photographs of themselves because they said it helps them feel sexy and in control. With a camera they can control what parts of their body they want shown, they can also control the angel to help them hide or enhance a certain area of the body. I’ve also been told that it makes them feel more desirable, that once they take there nude and send it they get a lot of positive feed back from their partner who usually in return sends a nude.

    As for Jennifer Lawrence, i was watching an interview where they asked her how she felt about her nudes being leaked to the public and she said she was devastated and didn’t know how to leak the news to her parents. She also said that she has no shame in those photographs because at the time she was in a very healthy, long term/long distance relationship. Where she felt that it was better for her boyfriend to look at naked pictures of herself rather than porn.

    Taking nudes is just as healthy for a persons ego as taking a normal selfie and putting it on instagram, except this one goes to one person. It’s one of the ways in which people are able to hold on to long distant relationships. Ultimately you know what could happen to those photos when you send them, and you agree to the consequences when you do. I’m not saying every person you send a nude to will leak them, but you should be aware. Hope for the best but expect the worst, kind of thing.

  11. woman are almost always the target of ridicule or shame when it comes down to leaked nudes hands down. And women are frowned upon for anything related pornographically. Some cultures even killed women for even simply having sex or exposing themselves publicly. incidents like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton nudes leak are simply ways for men who selfishly cannot control or get what they want, desperately dis empower women. more or so after a bad break up or simply because they cannot get with the girl. It is more common in america for teenage girls to kill themselves over nude exposure than it is for men. All in all this is simply a sick practice that men sadly still do, even at a subliminal level.

    • “It is more common in america for teenage girls to kill themselves over nude exposure than it is for men.”

      It is more common for men and teenage boys to kill themselves, period.

      • That is true. And that’s because of patriarchy, too.

        Patriarchy gives men more privilege. But that privilege gives men more to live up to — which can be pretty hard to do.

  12. I believe women are seen by a lot of men around the world as secondary to them but then not all men do think that way. In some parts of the world it’s part of their custom and culture to do what they do and for us as American’s we must see it in the light of the people in their own country for a change. But from American thinking I believe it’s true that some men use photos that were very private to feel a sense of pride and prove the their ex partner that they are the dominant one. It’s a way of backlashing the woman for doing something the man did not totally agree with or liked at all. But everyone is different some men think before they take action and some don’t but then there are some like someone else that there are the crazy ones too. But it doesn’t matter what their mental thoughts or state is, the same idea of male power comes to mind to those that do those use sex as disempowerment to the woman. As time goes on, people evolve and then men began to use this as a way to have power over women.

  13. When the leaks first happened, I remember seeing an article on some random news website calling the leak “cyber rape”.

    I thought that particular phrase may have been a little bit much.

    I hate to be one of those people who says “shouldn’t we all just be a little more careful?” but I’m going to, and I feel like I’m a good person to say it. Why? Well, because I have some experience with intimate photographs of mine being taken out of context and shared without my knowledge or consent. Yup, it happened. And when it did, I was mad sure, but really just at myself. I felt like I should have known better, y’know? I didn’t so much feel like I was being taken advantage of, so much as I felt like I probably shouldn’t have even risked it in the first place. So… there you have it. Just another guy saying be more careful.

    Another note on the leaks: An article I read bemoaned the fact that there were no male celebrity’s nude photos or videos and I thought that was a really good point. If girls found out that Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling, and Matt Damon all had their iCould accounts hacked and there were now nude photos of all of them on the interwebs, wouldn’t they react the same way guys did when we found out about JLaw, etc.?

    It occurred to me that there are probably more male computer science engineers than female. Probably even fewer that possess the skills needed to hack into high profile accounts. So wouldn’t it make sense that if a straight male decided to hack into iCloud accounts looking for naked pictures, that he would choose the most attractive female celebrities? I’m not trying to justify what happened or defend the perpetrator in any way, I’m just voicing a possible explanation. I think with everything that has happened lately, it all points to one thing: there should be more female computer hacker nerds! Even the score a little bit.

    • Even if someone could have been more careful by taking selfies in the first place, there is only one person whose behavior directly led to the leaked photos. And the person whose behavior directly leads to a situation is the person who deserves the most blame, surely.

      And like I said, some of the guys probably just wanted to look and weren’t trying to have control over women. So I’m sure that if some nude photos of Brad Pitt, plenty of women would look. I’m not talking about those guys (Or gals) though it is still an invasion of privacy.

      The fact is that some guys did it for this reason: to feel a sense of power over women. And it is part of a package in which some men use sex to disempower women.

      If we lived in a matriarchy and women had been in charge, I imagine that some women would feel threatened by men’s work to empower themselves and would find ways to use sex to disempower them.

      The problem is patriarchy. Not men.

  14. In the general circle of men, it has always been seen as an accomplishment to make a girl orgasm, when it is known that only 1/3 of women can do this. This is an example of how sex can empower a man, not saying that this is true for all men, but it is definitely something that men objectify and treat as the prize trophy of his manhood. I do think it is ridiculous how men can use a lady’s nudes as a way to blackmail them because 1) the woman probably trusted you to have them in the first place, so you’re just a jerk and 2) having the balls to expose someone in a way that makes them vulnerable. These two things don’t just apply under the subject of using sex as empowerment but also in our own community, to respect one another and their privacy. The situation here when men are sexually harassing women is just one of the problems that exist in our world.

    • Hope I wasn’t misleading. But only about a third of women seem to be able to orgasm with their partners without the help of machinery. Plenty of women can’t orgasm at anything less than 3000 RPM. It’s not about him. It’s about growing up in a society that represses women’s sexuality. Still, it’s easier to orgasm — and enjoy sex — if he cares about her orgasm, and is good with her sexually and otherwise.

  15. This shows how men are powerful sometimes for example if they are mad or if they want to make a women feel bad about her self they can just post false things about the women along with maybe pictures that the women trusted the men with and they are now using there power to put them down.

  16. Stephanie Masina

    This has been going on for ages that men do certain things to just feel that they overpower women but honestly women its your faults to i feel if you cant fully trust someone with that kind of “stuff” dont go sending your junk all over the place. If someone truly respects you you wouldnt have to do that at all its just common sense i underystant were in a crazy time were thats normal but still think about how its gonna affect you and your future.

    • Well when you first meet and fall in love with a guy you may not realize that he’s crazy.

      It is surely more his fault since his behavior is the only behavior that directly results in her picture ending up on the Internet.

  17. well,This truly represent how sexually objectified is the women’s image in our society. I mean how can this be explained?! With such digusting act, men are showing once more a desperate need of domination: disempowering women so they will feel helpless and realize how “strong’ men are. There is also this idea of sharing nudes, that nowadays is not only from men unfortunetely. I remember seeing one of my friend talking about how exciting women that share nudes are ,how sexier, less boring ,and creates a longer attention from their boyfriend. Men are succeeding on convincing some women to be objectify ,creating their own fear to be alone, their own lack of self confidence.

  18. matthew calkins

    Ok first off, its obvious that everyone is looking at the individual video taping. Anyone is going to look at someone walking down the street with a camcorder pointing at them. Pretty poor experiment, imho.

    Yes, men look at women and women look at men. Go find the video of women staring at the bulging crotch of a male on the subway. Second, women know what theyre are doing, wearing low cut blouses exposing themselves and then complaining when people look at their breasts falling out of their shirt is just idiotic. Im not saying that wearing clothes that one likes is wrong, just dont complain when you make the choice to wear 6″ stripper heels and clothes 2 sizes too small. Likewise if I went out in a skirt and blouse, people would stare…I dont really have the right to complain.

    Now we all know men are objectified too and its perfectly ok for a woman to chase, tackle and rip the clothes off of a man. But lets not get into that right now.

    Blaming an entire gender for the bad decisions of a few morons is just as moronic. Its like saying all women are crazy who will destroy youre belongings and cut off your penis if you break up with them. So my advice, dont make such broad generalizations of a gender solely based off the actions of a select few.

    BTW, what makes you so sure that it was a man or men who posted the nude photos? Seems pretty ignorant to think that only a man would do such a thing. Because women never do anything immoral or demeaning to individuals right?

  19. It’s true that there’s a difference between appreciation gaze and uncomfortable gaze from men. As a woman, we feel compliment when someone on the street appreciates you, sexy makes us feel confident and powerful. But it would never make you feel uncomfortable or being harassed. Those stares showed on the video were definitely not comfortable. I would feel extremely unease and stressful under that situation. What I perceive is that the men try to dominate women, even just by the gaze. People always say that 90 percent of communication comes from body language. In their gaze, what I see is not the appreciation for the women, but trying to make them feel second-class, insecure, or powerless.

    When I travel in Thailand, I observed that it’s very common that people think famine is being weak and helpless, so the male can ” protect” and “save” them. As though it does give women some advantage of getting help, but it is not who we are. Women are not necessarily being” powerless” or ” need help ” all the time. Even though sometimes it’s very manly a man could show up as a hero. But for the long run, what do think about a society that encourage women to be powerless? How will women perceive themselves? Is it really beneficial to the society ? I doubt it.
    A healthy woman who consider and see themselves as strong, powerful and capable are more likely to bring the equal power and balance in the society.

  20. First off, it’s disappointing that in this day and age a woman still has to feel uncomfortable walking alone. Just the other night I walked my co-worker to her car because a man in the store had been eyeing her down the entire time and asked when she gets off work. These boys need to become men and learn that respect is by far the best compliment. If you think a woman is “sexy, hot, etc.” cool, keep it to yourself. Do not make her uncomfortable, do not harass her, and certainly realize that they’re a person and not just a sack of meat. Speaking as a man I am proud to say that I have never catcalled, harassed, or attacked a woman in anyway shape or form. I believe that women deserve to be able to feel safe by themselves and not have to worry that if they break up with their boyfriend that they might have private images leaked, and that they can have a conversation with a stranger without sexual comments. This is an issue with men, not with women. It’s time to own up as men and put aside misogynist behavior.

  21. Women have the power always for the most part. I think if women really think about it, we actually give consent when it comes to the act of sex unless a woman is raped or in that culture having her clothes ripped off. I have a online dating profile called tinder and i used to have an okcupid. On these dating sites i have experienced multiple men being interested in me and asking to hang out. I was in a conversation with a friend the other day about his experience and asked him his point of view. He told me that he had made his account on tinder over 5 months ago and in that time he received only one message from one female. I told him about the first day i activated my account and how i had received over 50 messages from 50 different men. He began to explain to me that women can go into their phones and if they really wanted to they could probably find someone to have sex with that very same day if they wanted that , whereas his experience is that it takes months for him to get to that point. Sex is about power but it has drastically changed. Women are also wising up and more awareness about how men treat women. Women are not sex objects but our society kind of supports the idea that we should be. One thing i couldn’t stand over the summer was the fashion in stores. Your either wearing a baggy top that looks like too much fabric or your wearing a crop top or cropped tank with your bra showing. These things are very revealing and they send a message to men. The more skin you show the more the guy is going to think about nakedness and the act of sex. Lets be honest there has been studies that a guy thinks about sex multiple times a day , so when you add next to nothing in clothing gosh it makes it extremely hard for them i would assume. I am not saying that that gives men a reason to not be respectful of women but it certainly doesn’t make women look non sexual.

  22. It is crazy to realize how true this all is. There are many guys in our world who believe that objectifying a woman will empower them. I think that they have learned this through history. The superiority of men comes from the inferiority of women and continuing to make women feel inferior will make them seem superior.

    It is true that this all relates to sex because women are viewed as sex objects. Sharing nude photos makes women vulnerable and by this, men feel empowered. This exposes her and everything about her sex appeal making her less desirable. I think men do this out of jealousy.
    When men cannot contain themselves and feel the need to uncomfortably stare down or give comments to girls in public, they make women feel like they are nothing but pieces of meat made to give pleasure to a man. I, like so many other women, have experienced catcalls. They are far from flattering, instead they terrify and disgust me.

    Last summer, I visited Turkey with my mother and two sisters. Like the woman in the video, we were not completely covered up like many of the women there. At one point, there were two men following us for about 10 minutes. We walked into a store an they waited outside until my mother went outside, yelled at them, and threatened to call the police. We were in public the entire time, but these men had no shame. This is the 21st century and guys can’t get used to girls walking around in shorts? Why is it that we have to worry about showing to much skin?

    Men have this set superiority and them continuing to empower themselves by objectifying women is completely absurd.

  23. It’s interesting. I’ve definitely encountered the type of staring that can feel dangerous and unsafe and also the type of staring that can make me feel good- but recently I’ve been wondering if the latter is also my own conditioning that taught me that my power is proportionate to my desirability via the male gaze. But I do feel like there is a difference in intention- when someone is visually harassing someone and just admiring with respect- that can change the entire experience for the person being gazed at. One objectifies the other does not.

  24. “One of the benefits that oppression confers upon the oppressors is that the most humble among them is made to feel superior; thus, a ‘poor white’ in the South can console himself with the thought that he is not a ‘dirty (n-word)’ – and the more prosperous whites cleverly exploit this pride.

    Similarly, the most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women.”

    – Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

    I’ve noticed that men who harass sexually, shame women sexually and catcall tend to have less formal education than those who don’t. Educated men don’t have to prove their worth by belittling women, they can hold their own amongst other men through personal achievements. What this boils down to is extreme self-consciousness, low self-esteem and anger resulting from not having achieved any worthwhile personal power on the part of those men. Their go-to tool of easy superiority and instant ego boost is the double standard of sex that discriminates against women.

  25. This article really resonated with me as I’ve found the gradual leaking of more and more female celebrities’ nude photos increasingly disturbing. We are living in shakey times here, where some of us believe women are the budding human rights crisis of our time, and others believe the issue doesn’t exist at all. The issue is much more complex than simply leaking a woman’s naked photo — which she clearly posed for — for all to see. The fact that Jennifer Lawrence and the like at one time found themselves in the situation in which these photos were taken is not what should be focused on. They are young, adult women from the 21st Century. This shouldn’t make them look discredited at all.

    What should disturb people is the need to shame these women behind the act by exposing their bare naked bodies. Why is this theme continually scandalous to most people? When will the female body stop becoming so sexualized and taboo?

    The video of a woman walking down the street in Cairo was incredible to see. In cultures that leave males unbridled to view women as solely sexual playmates. They are not human beings that deserve respect and the right to walk down the street without being bothered and ogled at. This is very telling what the results of culturally taught ideals about women versus men, and the realities of being both male or female in a society structured like this.

  26. The thing with the hacking celeb photos and showing them. That can be a lot due to power, but also $. I heard these hackers go after celebs because of the value and draw because of demand and how much they can sell such photos and videos for. There’s something called, something bot coin, or something to do with cyber currency, but it’s exchanged among hackers who sell them to other hackers who buy them or buyers. Like a network, which is why some of these hackers or the orginal one is hard to get sometimes. Because it’s a network. Think of like a drug ring, but this in the cyber world instead.

  27. I agree with the point that bullying women is a part of showing the way that men are more powerful. In fact, most of the times rape has nothing to do with sex or lust. It’s simply that the male/s want to show their supremacy…and maligning a woman’s physical integrity is the easiest way of proving that!

    Ogling and catcalls…we face such things in our country too, India, even in polished metro cities if a lady wears a ‘daring’ dress she has to to be prepared for such things… 😦

    • And interestingly, the rate of sexual-harassment tends to increase as societies move out of patriarchy. Because some men are threatened by feminism and trying to intimidate women. That’s why the harassment rate is so high in India right now. The good news is that it should decrease as Women gain equal rights and is everyone gets used to it.

  28. “That’s all about sex, too.”

    “These men must feel incredibly disempowered…..”

    Maybe this sort of horrible behavior has nothing to do with neither sex nor power? While I would agree that much of male behavior (and thinking) is focused around women and/or sex, some conduct is simply sociopathic and wicked.

    We must accept the fact that there are evil and wicked men (and women) amongst us.

    If we call men hacking into cellphones and posting nude pics of women as an act to use sex to disempower women, then what do we call women who post their own nude pics online, or post homemade sex tapes online? Are these women being empowered?

    There are web sites, owned and operated by women, where women can go and literally rate the men they have dated from various online dating sites (including pics). Everything from habits, cock size, …….etc. Now, can we also say these women must feel extremely disempoweed to do such things?

    You are painting with a very very braod brush. Too broad if you ask me.

    I honestly believe men and women who view sex as empowering suffer from a form of sociopathy and/or narcissistic personality disorder. Sex is human biology with the neurological effects of releasing dopamine…. Unfortunately, it has been made out to be currency used to acquire power or as a weapon….

    Btw, I came across the vid. What are your thoughts?


    • Thank you for your questions. They give me a lot of great ideas for blog posts.

      What you say is how most people would probably think about it. It seems kind of obvious, right?

      But look beneath the surface.

      There is biological sex. And there is what sex means, Which is symbolic.

      Most of our world is actually symbolic, And I plan to write on this sometime.

      So there is the in and out, And orgasmic pleasure of sex. But sex means different things in different cultures in different situations. It can be loving. It can be fun. It can be rape. It can be horrifying. What it means depends on the context — what is intended? What is created through its doing?

      How do you use the symbols of sex to undress and make people vulnerable? To reduce the meaning of “a person” to “sex” alone. To make them feel uncomfortable walking around in the world — and limit their freedom in that way?

      And there is evil. And then there are social patterns. And those social patterns depend on the meaning of sex, Within a context.

      In sex-positive societies, where women and men are equally valued, men don’t use sex to disempower women. They don’t rape them. They don’t objectify them. They don’t make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe walking around in the world.

      The examples I gave in the post are all examples of using sex to disempower women.

      The video?

      It’s ultimate aim is to try to get women to stop using the birth control pill by using scare tactics. And it’s another excellent example of using sex to disempower women. Try to make them afraid of the pill. So they have a lot of babies. So they can’t get an education or get a good job that would allow them to support themselves. And they end up disempowered.

      It takes a social pattern and exaggerates it and misapplies the root cause of the so-called “problem.”

      It’s true that men on average more easily separate sex and love. But:

      . They don’t look at how patriarchal societies repress women’s sexuality (I’ll write on how egalitarian societies don’t, and why patriarchal societies do)
      . And how that repression creates this pattern
      . And how this pattern is greatly exaggerated in the video
      . Ultimately, men and women have nearly identical desires to marry
      . Only about one quarter of both men and women prefer casual sex to relationships
      . The reason women agree to uncommitted sex is because they are putting off marriage as they work on getting an education and getting their careers started. But they don’t feel like being celibate until they are in their late 20s/early 30s. And so both women and men tend to want shorter-term relationship sex in their 20s and 30s
      . Only about 10% of college students enjoy hookups. Most — of both sexes — don’t do them

      • “In sex-positive societies, where women and men are equally valued, men don’t use sex to disempower women.”

        Question: Can you give me an example of a sex-positive country? or countries? Not a tribe. But, a modern nation state?

        Your take on the vid is quite interesting. As an economist by training and education, I think the aim was merely to explain. Economist know how to explain (ex post) quite well. So, I view it as merely an attempt to explain social behavior between men and women, judgement free.

        I don’t know anything about the Austin Institute or its aims. However, I do not see this as an attempt to have women stop using birth control. I think they were reducing this observed social data to economic behavior. Perhaps it is flawed. I cannot say. But, it (simple supply and demand) does explain some of the behavior.

        You say that patriarchy and sexual repression has created this pattern. But, you then, correctly I would add, note that uncommitted sex is the result of women delaying marriage due to their focus on career and education. The data does support your conclusion. The average age of marriage has risen significantly. The average age of the first child has risen considerably. The marriage rate has dropped substantially. These are the observables. But, they hardly have anything to do with patriarchy.

        We have men arguing that it is feminism that is the blame. Not quite sure just what “the blame” really is… While you and other feminists argue it is patriarchy. I cannot be both! Right?

        As I have mentioned in rebuttal before, it really does not matter what percentage of people “enjoy” hookups. The data source you referenced in an earlier blog post (Halderman ?) clearly showed some 65% of college aged people engaged in it. That is what really matters. Same for casual sex. While it might be a short term thing, “it’s casual” is the accepted norm today for increasing numbers of single men and women of ALL ages.

        There has emerged research that clearly evidence a fairly short duration of even “long-term” relationships today. Marriages last far shorter than 50 years ago even after adjusting for age of initial marriage. Even cohabiting relationships average a mere 2.4 years (See Charles Murray’s book ‘Coming Apart……..”, Chapter 8).

        With all this said, let me make clear that I am in no way blaming women. I do not think women should stop taking birth control. I don’t think women should postpone their lives or their aspirations. Things have changed and are changing. I cannot say if it is for better or worse. That is still to be determined.

        Sorry I digress. 🙂

      • Because patriarchy has overtaken the world, you won’t find any completely sex positive modern countries. However, the most sex positive countries also have the most gender equality. Look to Scandinavia.

        I was an economics major for a while, too. It’s still a hobby of mine. That’s because I’m interested in inequality of class issues.

        You can’t make a good economics argument if you have bad data.

        The only way their argument makes sense is if the sex ratio of who wants hookups versus who wants committed sex is much more skewed than it actually is. They’re working off of stereotypes that don’t fit reality.

        And their whole argument was that the pill has led women to have sex casually, which works against women’s interests — they say — because all women want to get married and all men want to have random hookups. It just isn’t true. The whole point is to try to scare women away from the pill. There is a huge push on the cultural right to disempower women by taking away the pill, And their reproductive rights, generally.

        But they don’t want their argument be so transparent. They’re hoping that people will see it the way you did.

        And you’re confusing what I say patriarchy has caused.

        Feminism has caused women to get more educated, get better paid jobs, marry later, and become more empowered. That’s why they are having sex outside of marriage/committed relationships. It’s what they want to do. They aren’t wishing these men would marry them. They are waiting until education and their career to start to marry. That’s the basic flaw in the argument these guys are putting forth. They claimed the reason women aren’t marrying is because of the pill. And they argue that if women want to get married, women should stop taking the pill.

        I’m arguing that there is a difference in the comfort level men and women have with casual sex. Sex with people they don’t know or care about. And that is caused by repressing women’s sexuality. Which patriarchy has done.

        The 65% number doesn’t make your point. If 65% of people try hooking up with a stranger one time — and discover they don’t like it and never do it again — that doesn’t prove that hookup culture is real. Only about 10% of people enjoy and do that sort of thing long-term.

        For instance, if I were going to college these days and if I hadn’t had much sexual experience and I had heard how great hooking up was, I might try it once, to see what all the hype is about. And if I were like most people I wouldn’t like it and I wouldn’t do it again.

        Your average college student has only seven new partners in all the years they are in college (and these aren’t just hook ups.) That’s less then two partners a year.

        You can’t get the numbers and gender-skewing that were suggested by the video that way.

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