Take Up Space Unapologetically: Tackling Online Abuse

Learning about the tools and ways we can manage our privacy online is incredibly important in the digital age. We should all be equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions about our own digital footprint. There are a myriad of reasons why people choose to be more private than public on social media, and vice versa.

However, I’m growing wary when general advice is given by online safety institutions encouraging people to manage, control or lock down their privacy settings on social media in order to ‘protect’ themselves from forms of online abuse, particularly image-based abuse, which this piece will focus on.

I argue that such advice may be necessary in specific circumstances, but is problematic as a general course of action because it:

  1. cannot guarantee individuals protection from online abuse;
  2. may mitigate the risk of abuse but often fails to manage victims’ expectations;
  3. shifts responsibility away from perpetrators;
  4. disproportionately disenfranchises certain groups and individuals;
  5. is a short-term fix with long-term consequences;
  6. screams victim blaming under the guise of protection;
  7. is not conducive to creating an online world in which we are all safe and free to express ourselves, let alone exist, without being abused; and
  8. fails to actually address the underlying problem at hand.

At the fundamental level there is no guarantee that one can completely protect themselves in the digital age from certain forms of online abuse, including image-based abuse.

Image-based abuse takes many forms from distributing, surreptitiously recording, or threatening to distribute or record intimate images/videos without consent. It includes non-consensually sharing altered intimate images/videos. In the digital age of ‘upskirting’ and ‘downblowsing’ people can be victimised without knowing it. Peoples images can be manipulated from a LinkedIn profile picture, altered into pornography and shared online. The reality is – some forms of online abuse occur beyond our control, even if we follow the advice of controlling or locking our privacy settings on social media.

The most compelling reason why it may be important or in fact, necessary to advise people to control or lock down privacy settings on social media in order to protect themselves from image-based sexual abuse, is that it may mitigate the risk of abuse occurring or continuing to occur, especially when victims may be in danger. Two points to make here:

First, when some online safety institutions encourage people to control their social media settings, it is not accompanied with the explanation that doing so just mitigates the risk of online abuse, as doing so will not guarantee protection from online abuse.

Failing to qualify statements and calls to lock down your social media, fails to adequately manage the expectations of victims and the public, and what’s more concerning is that it gives victims and the public a false sense of security that they are protecting themselves if they follow such advice.

Second, there are horrific cases in which a victim is in danger or is living in fear of the perpetrator/s. Cases where the abuse is relentless, merciless and unforgiving. Cases where the victim’s safety is of paramount importance and that means doing everything possible to try to keep the victim safe. As a survivor of image-based abuse there were times in my journey where I deactivated social media because the emotional distress was overwhelming. In such cases it may be necessary to encourage victims to manage their social media settings, as sad and unfair as it is. However, I believe such advice should be reserved for specific circumstances rather than a general course of action for the public.

Why? Because as a general course of action, even if it may mitigate the risk of online abuse it places the onus, burden and responsibility squarely on everyone except the perpetrator, it places it on us to protect ourselves from online abuse, when the only people who should be changing their behaviour are the perpetrators who are committing the abuse.

Now, you may be thinking, obviously its the perpetrators who should be the ones changing their behaviour, but there are ‘bad’ people in this world who are going to commit these abuses anyway. Common sense would dictate that an appropriate course of action would be to control or lock down our social media settings. 

While I hear you and understand what you are saying, I would still argue that the defensive approach to managing, controlling or locking down your social media settings is not going to work long-term and is not conducive to creating an online world in which we are all safe and free to express ourselves, let alone exist, without being misappropriated or abused. I’ll explain why shortly.

For now, let’s examine who would be the most affected by such general advice. We know that image-based abuse disproportionately affects certain groups in our society: young women, the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, etc. So, when you make calls to people to control their social media settings, its these groups who would be the most receptive to such advice, and therefore be disproportionately affected by such advice.

We know that social media is used as an economic opportunity for people to build personal brands or grow businesses, its used as a platform to engage and contribute to social and political discourse, its used to connect with friends and family. Sometimes, using social media is necessary for work and career progression.

There are so many benefits to social media that you are disproportionately locking certain people out of by encouraging people to control or lock down social media settings, further disenfranchising certain groups and vulnerable individuals. It’s these groups who lose out the most from the cultural life of our times, leaving other demographics to dominate the social media landscape.

In the short-term, while generally encouraging or advising people to control or lock down their social media settings may mitigate the risk of abuse occurring, noting there is still no guarantee; in the long term, the consequences of such advice can adversely impact the very people you are trying to protect by impacting the configuration of online discourse that excludes the voices of certain groups and individuals, by socially isolating certain groups in our society, by disempowering and depriving people of economic opportunities, among other things.

I’d even go so far as to argue that encouraging people with general advice to manage, control or lock down their social media settings to protect themselves from online abuse is akin to telling people to lock themselves in their houses because the real world is full of dangers.

It’s well-meaning but it screams victim blaming under the guise of protection.

We see victim blaming all the time. It’s the kind of attitude that attacks and criticises the conduct of the victim, instead of the perpetrators of a crime. It’s the kind of attitude that shifts accountability and responsibility away from perpetrators and places it on the victim. It’s the sentiment that somehow the victim is at fault for the wrongdoings committed against them, or worse that the victim deserves the harm.

Victim blaming attitudes are rife in discussions of rape, image-based sexual abuse and family and domestic violence:

If she wasn’t wearing such revealing clothes she wouldn’t have been raped. If she didn’t send nude photos, he wouldn’t have uploaded them online. If she didn’t post “revealing” photos to social media, they wouldn’t be photo shopped into porn. If she was being abused at home she should’ve just left him.

Attitudes that shift responsibility away from perpetrators of crime are dangerous for so many reasons, but I believe the most concerning is that it is not conducive to creating an online world, let alone a world, in which we are safe to express ourselves, let alone exist, without being abused. To illustrate this, I’ll go back to a point made earlier, that essentially there are always going to be ‘bad’ people in this world who commit atrocities, so common sense would dictate that a good course of action is to control or lock down our social media settings. To which I would concede that you’re right, there are always going to be people who perpetrate harm onto others, but I fail to see how anything will stop if you keep advising people to control or lock down their social media settings in order to protect themselves from online abuse.

  • To what end are you advising people to do just that?
  • Are we just going to keep retreating while perpetrators may or may not be held accountable for their actions?
  • And even if we retreat by controlling our social media settings and perpetrators are also held accountable for their behaviour, we’re still the ones who lose out all round. 

If this path continues, I see no end. We’ll be stuck in a cycle where we are forever on the defensive, thereby fostering an online world of fear which makes space for perpetrators to our detriment. We can’t just stop living because there’s bad people out there. We can’t just be stuck in the house because there’s dangers in the real world, and we shouldn’t be missing out on fully participating in the online world because there are people who perpetrate online abuse. I say:

Take Up Space Unapologetically

Lastly, general advice encouraging people to manage, control or lock down their social media settings does not address the underlying problem at hand. It does not address the reality that perpetrators are treating the people they prey upon, commonly women, with no regard for that person’s humanity or dignity. It does not address the motivations behind why perpetrators commit online abuse. Frankly, efforts should focus on holding perpetrators accountable rather than encouraging people to do this, that or the other to maybe safeguard themselves.

While equipping people with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their digital footprint is important; general advice encouraging people to manage, control or lock down their social media settings in order to protect themselves from forms of online abuse is problematic. And I would urge leaders in the online safety space to reconsider doing that.


Featured Image: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash






Sexual predators edited my photos into porn – how I fought back

TW: Image-based sexual abuse/sextortion


I am LITERALLY SHAKING with emotion as I share my TEDxPerth talk about my experiences of image-based abuse.

It’s also bittersweet because to this very day I am still experiencing this horrific crime. Not that long ago an anonymous sexual predator doctored me onto the body of a woman wearing a semi-transparent, nipple-exposing t-shirt with the words ‘I AM A DUMB COW’ written on it, which was shared online. The same sexual predator also doctored another image of me on the cover of another adult movie next to the words ‘TREAT ME LIKE A WHORE’. These were the LEAST sexually explicit of the most recent wave of doctored images of me.

There was a time when I would see these doctored images of me on pornographic sites and uncontrollably cry myself to sleep. But now I am so determined to do what I can to combat image-based abuse so that no other person has to be the subject of this dehumanising and potentially life-ruining criminal behaviour, because this issue is SO much bigger than me or any one person.

It is a global issue. It can and does happen to anyone – particularly women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other vulnerable groups.

While Australia and many countries around the world have criminalised or are in the process of criminalising image-based abuse (revenge porn), there is only so much one country or state can do to combat an issue that transcends jurisdictions.

The international community (including social media and tech companies) MUST work together to help combat this issue because right now too many victims are left without justice. Technology is advancing faster than our laws, and predators are continuing to come up with new ways to abuse others. We need a global plan of action. And we need it now.

There is so much more I would’ve liked to say in this talk, especially to those who are experiencing image-based abuse. If that is you – I really want you to know that you are not alone. You are loved. You are supported. And the fight for justice is as strong as ever. Yes, things might get really tough. People might victim blame and slut shame you. There might not be any justice or recourse. People might invalidate your experiences because they don’t understand that what happens online has real world consequences.

But PLEASE don’t lose hope or give up. Please know you are not to blame –
It’s YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE – ALWAYS. Please stay strong. I know it is easier said than done, but take each day as it comes. Surround yourself with those who love and support you, because things CAN get better. I know it.    (Below I have included the details of the world-first image-based abuse portal created by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner under the amazing leadership of Julie Inman Grant – from personal experience I can tell you that this service is so incredible for those who are looking for support if you are dealing with this, the staff are professional, kind and so caring.)

I also want to take the time to reiterate something I said in the talk – I do NOT in any way want to take credit for ‘changing the law’ AT ALL – In this journey I have had the privilege of meeting fellow survivors and activists who have fought with all their hearts and might for change – this is on their backs. It’s on the backs of ALL the victims and survivors who have dared to speak out.

One warrior in particular is Brieanna Rose who inspires me to my very core. She has been instrumental in this change and she deserves to be recognised. She is an incredible warrior. And it is an honour to know her. I love you Brieanna. I am so grateful for all the work you have done and continue to do for justice.

I have also met some of the incredible academics who have been pivotal in enacting change – Dr. Nicola Henry, Dr. Anastasia Powell and Dr Asher Flynn who have contributed so much in this area – their work and passion is invaluable, and we owe them a great deal of thanks. This is on their backs. They are incredible.

This is also on the backs of women’s rights advocates, tech safety experts, policy advisers, lawyers, politicians and especially the amazing people who helped create such a life changing piece of legislation at the NSW Attorney General’s Department including the NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman who actually included me in this process. Thank you for giving me a voice, thank you for giving me a chance to reclaim my name. I can’t tell how much it has meant to me.

This is also on the backs of so many other stakeholders in Australia and around the world who have worked for years fighting for change and justice in this area. The process of changing the law is not easy, it is a long and convoluted process and I am so grateful to every single person who has played a part in fighting against image-based abuse in Australia and beyond. I am so proud of all your work.

I also want to make it clear, that I could not have gone through this journey without the support of my immediate family (Dad, mum and my 4 sisters – I love you and thank you for putting up with my non-stop crying during the worst of times), my best friends, Liam Downey, Mads Duffield and Tanaya Kar who have supported me from day 1 – I love you and I am forever indebted to you, you were there for me at my worst and I can never repay you. Thank you to ALL my other close friends who have lifted my spirits and given me strength in my darkest days – you know who you are, I love you dearly!

To everyone who has followed this journey and taken the time to reach out – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – it does not go unnoticed and I appreciate it more than you know. I want to thank two particular law professors at my uni – Zara J Bending and Shireen Daft who have listened, encouraged, empowered and shown so much love, care and support to me – you have been such pillars of strength for me. Karin Bentley who not only has done so much work fighting for tech safety for women, but has supported and gone out of her way to allow me to share my experiences, bring me to the table, and give me a voice, something that people don’t do often, I am so incredibly grateful to you.

I also want to give A HUGE THANKS to TEDxPerth for allowing me to share my experiences in the first place. Thank you for seeing value in what I had to say and having faith in me. Thank you to all the organisers and curators for VOLUNTARILY doing SO MUCH work putting the event together. TEDxPerth 2017 was a success and it’s thanks to you. To Andrea Gibbs and Emma who were nothing short of phenomenal. They helped me so much with this speech. And were brutally honest with me when it sucked BAD. I am so grateful for your help and support – I really can’t express in words how much your help and support meant to me.  

If you are currently experiencing a form of image-based abuse, please contact police or there is support available through the WORLD-FIRST image-based abuse portal here: https://www.esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse/

Wibbly Wobbly Girly Whirly: Sci-Fi and Girl Power

Words: Jessica Sheridan

Whovians are all astir this week following the BBC’s casting announcement for the next Doctor. It’s typically an exciting time for fans of Doctor Who, whose central character has the ability to conveniently regenerate into a new body every couple of seasons. It’s a clever plot device, and perhaps the main reason the show has had such a long run time.

Previously the role has had a parade of actors filling in for the Tardis-driving alien from Galifrey, including most recently Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tenant. And while they all brought their own flavour and zest to the role, they have all had a lot in common – notably:

They were all men.

Which is fine, for the record. Characters have to have some form of identity and it just so happened that for the last 36 seasons the Doctor was male. It was perhaps a little problematic that his companions were usually female, and usually in love with him, establishing an undeniable power imbalance. But that’s another topic for another day. For now, my point is simply that the Doctor just so happened to be male until now and that was fine.

Enter Jodie Whittaker who has been cast to play the 13th Doctor. Jodie Whittaker. A woman. And that is fine.

Viral Meme

Of course the reaction has been exactly what you’d expect: disappointing. Many people voiced their concerns about Whittaker, often beginning with the classic “I’m not a sexist, but…” caveat that people still think excuses their sexism. Many people made derogatory comments at Whittaker’s expense, some threatened they would boycott the show, and one media outlet responded by posting naked photos of Whittaker in their coverage of the announcement. Real classy, guys.

To clarify, I’m not disappointed in the casting choice. I’m not too familiar with Whittaker’s work, but up until now they haven’t got it wrong when it comes to casting everyone’s favourite alien, so why would they start now? I have faith that she will make an excellent Doctor, as I’m sure she has already proven to the show creators.

But there is a very, very, very vocal minority (yes – a minority) that is throwing a tantrum because their precious Doctor is regenerating as a woman.

The Doctor. A timelord. A character not from this world. An alien. The last of their kind (in the new series at least). A creature with two hearts and strange powers and a space ship that looks like a police box but it’s bigger on the inside and can travel through space and time. People are having a fit because this Doctor – this impossible character – is now a woman.

Imagine literally being angry that, after 36 seasons of male Doctors, they decided to try out a female Doctor? Imagine masculinity so fragile that one woman in a crowd of men was enough to send the internet into a spin?

Twitter statistics indicating that around 80% of users reacted positively to the announcement. But 20% of people are mad. Fingers have been pointed at ‘social justice warriors’ and ‘feminazis’ and people being ‘too politically correct’ for ruining their favourite sci-fi show. But in their fickle rage they have perhaps forgotten that this announcement was a long time coming. Because sci-fi has always been progressive.

Mary Shelley. Image – famousauthors.org

When you consider the origins of sci-fi it should come as no surprise that we have landed here – with a female Doctor. Mary Shelley is often credited with the first true work of modern science fiction with her story Frankenstein. Shelley was one of very few female authors in her time, and faced many setbacks in her career based on her gender. But she pushed through, and ended up writing one of the most infamous characters in literature history – Frankenstein’s Monster.

Since these empowering origins, the genre has taken leaps and bounds in reflecting societal progress. After all, consider the meat of the genre. Science fiction plots often centre on futuristic science experiments and exploration of the unknown – progress is at the heart of the genre. Why would science fiction – which pushes the limits of the imagination and presents life as it could be – fall at the mercy of outdated gender norms?

Princess Leia. Image: starwars.com

Science fiction has produced some of the best heroines in all of fiction. Princess Leia, who later becomes General Organa, is an iconic character layered in feminism and general baddassary. Sarah Conner is pivotal in the Terminator franchise and fights her own battles to keep her son safe. Dana Scully from the X Files kicks just as much ass in her role as Special Agent, and even Leela from Futurama cannot be discounted for her heroism in the midst of comedic disaster.

Doctor Who itself has produced some amazingly strong female side characters, such as Riversong, Donna Noble, and Martha Jones. Strong women can be found all throughout sci-fi; perhaps not always in the spotlight, but they are there. They have been for some time.

But it’s time to step off the sidelines and into the spotlight. Out of the romantic subplot and into the crux of it all. We have these strong female characters, but now it’s time to put them into leading roles where all strong role models belong. Because representation does matter, and it’s important that girls see strong women leading the way from time to time – if not at least half of the time.

We need to embrace lead characters that are different and not feel threatened by them. We need to make room for women and minorities to make equal contributions without lashing out and demanding that they sacrifice one of their few beloved minority leads as payment for every new lead. And we need to give media the chance to progress forward, and not resist change so forcefully if just for the sake of resisting.

Featured Image: Jodie Whittaker from denofgeek.com

Is Body Neutrality the New Body Positivity?

The body positivity movement encourages women, of all different sizes, shapes and colours to love their bodies. The movement inspires women to practice self-love – undeterred by body shaming and all the harmful, unattainable and unrealistic expectations and standards of beauty placed upon women in this looks-obsessed world that we live in. It also teaches women that they are more than just their bodies.

Picture: Love Your Body Campaign http://www.nowfoundation.org

The body positivity movement says #effyourbeautystandards because #allwomenarebeautiful. It says – I’m choosing to love and embrace my figure, jiggly bits, weight, stretch marks, cellulite, blemishes, body hair and natural hair DESPITE what society tells me is/is not beautiful.

As someone who ABSOLUTELY adores the body positivity movement, lives by it and actively encourages friends to practice it – I’ve never really stopped to think about how much effort and time it takes to practice self-love under the model of body positivity.

To ask someone to love their perceived ‘flaws’ instantaneously can be very difficult. Not all women can just magically become body positive, especially when women are conditioned to hate themselves; when women are told that they need to look a certain in order to be happy, that they must have perfect hair, skin, eyebrows, lips, lashes, jaw structures, boobs, butts, legs, thighs and VAGINAS (YES – labiaplasty is not uncommon). Literally every damn aspect of our bodies ‘could be improved’ according to society’s standards. And on top of that women are constantly pitted against each other in this ‘who wore it better culture’ instead of ‘they both slayed culture’. IT’S EXHAUSTING.

Ashley Graham
Picture: Ashley Graham – Facebook

So, not only is it already difficult enough for women to love themselves. But – sadly – even when women do practice body positivity they can be criticised and shamed by other women. Ashley Graham built the #BeautyBeyondSize hashtag, and has championed the body positivity movement. In a Lenny Letter, she explains that while she is a curvy woman, she is criticised and shamed for going to the gym and accused of selling out when she looks skinnier. Graham says that she isn’t just representing ‘plus size’ women, she’s there for “all women who don’t feel comfortable in their skin, who need a reminder that their unique bodies are beautiful.”

The thing is, can we as a society really view our unique bodies as ‘beautiful’? Our ‘imperfections’ as beautiful? And by extension – can we learn to view our own ‘imperfections’ as beautiful? I sure hope and believe so, but I ask this because when actress and comedian, Amy Schumer posed for the Pirelli Calendar in 2016, she was called ‘brave’ rather than ‘beautiful’ for showing her body as it is. And I think that this ‘brave’ over ‘beauty’ response by people is extremely telling. It suggests that maybe we as a society have been so conditioned by what society deems is beautiful, that society is unable or unwilling to see the beauty in our ‘imperfections’, even with the body positive movement gaining significant traction. (But hey, isn’t that why we have the body positive movement – because FUCK what society thinks is beautiful).

Picture: Amy Schumer, Pirelli Calendar by Annie Leibovitz

Reflects momentarily

I wonder though, does the body positivity movement place too much of a focus on our physical appearance? The body positive movement may teach women that they are more than just their bodies, but does it really do that?

Lately, this idea of ‘body neutrality’ has emerged and could change the way we view our bodies. According to Christine Morgan, CEO of The Butterfly Foundation, a foundation that supports people with body image issues and eating disorders, explains that body neutrality is “changing the conversation and taking the focus off judging your body. It’s looking at your body as being an instrument that propels you through life, not one that equates you as being good or bad or successful as a person.” According to Melissa A. Fabello, body acceptance activist and Co-Managing Editor of Everyday Feminism, “body neutrality is freedom from the obsession with our bodies entirely.

According to Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives, “body love, beside the fact that it’s a high standard, is it’s asking women to regulate their emotions, not just their bodies”. I guess, it’s no wonder that some women who try to practice body positivity still find themselves struggling to love themselves and experience fluctuations in how they feel about their body. According to Cassie Mendoza-Jones, author of You Are Enough, body neutrality is “a feeling of acceptance of where you are in your body journey today, a way to feel comfortable in your skin without feeling as though you’re investing all your waking time and energy into eating well, exercising and thinking about your body.”

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard about body neutrality until recently and it immediately reminded me of writer and artist, Rupi Kaur‘s stunning quote:Rupi Kaur Quote


I really do wonder whether the body positivity movement places too much of a focus on our physical appearance. But, I think that’s the wrong question. I believe women are just trying to find happiness in their own skin and rid themselves of the hate and shame they have been conditioned to feel in this highly superficial world. Whatever means by which a woman needs to do that, is something I will support.

Arguably, body neutrality and body positivity can still co-exist. Some women may reach a point in life where they just accept who they are and are almost indifferent to the harsh beauty expectations placed upon women. Some women may feel that embracing their bodies and at the same time knowing that their bodies do not define their worth, is what gives them happiness. It’s a matter of whatever works for you. Whatever makes you feel beautiful because all women deserve to feel beautiful.

Featured Image: Instagram (Curvy Craves)

The Price Women Pay for Embracing their Sexuality

I was just 10 years old when I hit puberty and I physically matured into a young woman very quickly.  I had C cups by the time I was 12 which made me the target of a lot of unwanted attention from a very early age. However, my body still hadn’t finished growing and soon I became known as the ‘girl with the big boobs’, whether I liked it or not.

Picture: Paige ‘Rampaige’ Halsey Warren

As a young girl with a body of a grown woman, things got really awkward. During my school years I would be so embarrassed to participate in sporting activities, especially running for obvious reasons. I wouldn’t dare to get undressed in the common areas of the changing rooms, I’d wait for the next free cubicle. And clothes just didn’t fit or if they did it was because I had stretched out the material to maximum capacity. The buttons on my school dresses would constantly break free.

In my teens I became acutely aware of how I would be perceived if I wore certain clothes. Things I wore always tended to look suggestive or provocative without even trying. Even if I wanted to wear such clothes my parents wouldn’t allow it. So, the only other option was to wear clothes that made me look and feel – and I mean no offence – like a nun. My sisters have always been petite and they could wear anything – singlets, backless tops, crop tops, but for some reason they didn’t look suggestive, so it was okay for them to wear whatever they wanted.

Picture: Paige ‘Rampaige’ Halsey Warren

I remember how I would CRY. I would throw the worst tantrums because I was frustrated. It felt so unfair that I couldn’t wear nice clothes because I was going to be perceived as attention-seeking, slutty and promiscuous, yet my sisters could wear whatever they wanted.

As I entered my late teens, like any other girl my age, I wanted to look and feel sexy. I felt so constricted and repressed that I couldn’t wear the clothes I wanted, so I started to rebel. My parents (who are the greatest and who I love very much) were not happy. ‘Have some self-respect’, don’t look like ‘trash’, ‘cover yourself’ they would say, as if there was something inherently shameful about my body. And for a moment in time I internalised that shame, that false correlation between what one wears and their self-respect, and the view that our bodies are somehow tied to our worth.

Me SLAYING – Present Day

However, it wasn’t long before I became ‘woke’ (a slang word for socially aware). I learnt about women’s sexual liberation. A movement that challenges traditional social expectations about how women should look, dress, talk and act, in relation to sexuality. And IT IS LIBERATING. IT IS EMPOWERING. TO OWN AND EMBRACE YOUR SEXUALITY. TO EXERCISE CHOICE. To rid yourself of the shame and outdated expectations that have been imposed upon women for so long.

Unfortunately, not everyone is woke. People still judge, criticise and condemn women for embracing their sexuality. What makes me so sad and quite frankly fucking angry – is that there is ALREADY so much self-hatred in this world, so many people suffer from body-image issues, low self-esteem and depression. Why are we trying to bring people down and shame women for embracing themselves, or for showing an ounce of confidence? (live and let live, love and let love). It’s freaking hard enough to love yourself in a society that constantly tells you that you’re not good enough.

However, I do believe that one should dress for the setting they are in, like in a professional setting, funeral or gym. There are appropriate clothing conventions we abide by for various reasons. But even if a woman respects dress codes where ‘appropriate’, the moment she’s caught violating ‘traditional social expectations’ which dictate how a woman should dress – some people will question her worth, credibility, value, assume things, judge and criticise her.

Source: Screenshot from news.com.au

Don’t believe the Western world is as dire as I’m making it out?

Well, Emma Watson’s recent photoshoot illustrates the situation. Watson, a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and highly successful, talented actress was criticised for a ‘topless’ photo taken as part of the shoot. She was shamed, even by other women on social media. Watson, known for championing feminism, was called a hypocrite for showing her boobs. A writer for the Huffington Post described the situation PERFECTLY:

“In one simple photo, Watson has inadvertently bared a troubling truth that our society still, in 2017, cannot fathom the possibility that women can both express themselves sexually AND express a desire for equality, simultaneously” – Hannah Cranston.

A few years ago, a similar image went viral:

As perfectly evidenced by this picture (below-right) – the price of a woman owning her sexuality means that people will try to diminish and discredit the reputation, accomplishments and character of even the most highly influential women in the world – just from her choice of attire.

Rape Culture/Victim Blaming/Slut Shaming/Image-Based Sexual Assault:

Source: Facebook

The price of a woman owning her sexuality can and does become very dangerous. Women are often victim blamed and slut shamed in cases of rape, people say ‘she shouldn’t have worn that, she was asking for it’. Women are often victim blamed and slut shamed in cases of ‘image based sexual assault’ such as revenge porn, for sending intimate images in the first place. It really seems like women are being punished for just being women.

For too long, women have been told to hide themselves, that they should feel ashamed of their sexuality. Women SHOULD NOT have to pay a price for embracing their sexuality. Let’s celebrate women reclaiming their bodies and dressing however the fuck they want, in whatever the fuck they want.












Indians in Hollywood: The Diversity Dilemma

Now more than ever before, the West is seeing the rise of Indians and people of Indian heritage in Hollywood, and it’s glorious.

Priyanka Chopra. Photo: Instagram

Lately, the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Dev Patel, Lilly Singh, Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari have been taking the entertainment industry by storm. Back in 2012, Mindy Kaling paved the way for Indians on television, being the first Indian-American to create, produce and star in a television sitcom in ‘The Mindy Project.’ In 2016 Lilly Singh was ranked one the highest paid YouTube Stars by Forbes, and now has over 11 million subscribers #unicornisland.

This year Priyanka Chopra won her second consecutive People’s Choice Award for ‘Quantico’, Deepika Padukone is making her Hollywood debut in the movie ‘XXX: Return of Xander Cage’ also starring Vin Diesel, and Dev Patel’s movie ‘Lion’ has earned six Oscar nominations.

Having said this, seeing Indians on screen in the West hasn’t always been the case.

Growing up as young woman of Indian descent who was born and bred in the West, I would seldom see people who looked like me or who shared the same culture as me make their way onto our screens. On the rare occasion I would see an Indian on television or in a film, they were often depicted as the grossly stereotypical ‘token’ Indian with thick accents: the socially-inept nerd, telemarketer or Kwik-E-Mart operator, you get the picture.

Diversity by definition, is the inclusion of individuals representing more than one race, religion, colour, sexual orientation and so on. Diversity or lack thereof is a prevalent issue in contemporary western society as a whole. But when it comes to film and television in the West, it seems that the predominant narrative of diversity tends to be filtered through a monochromatic lens, in that, the focus is on white or black – quite literally.  Arguably, this black or white focus makes sense given the long and dark history of systematic oppression of African Americans in the US, and the fact that film and television is largely Americanised in the West through Hollywood. However very often, the diversity discussion overlooks the vast majority of other racial and ethnic minorities including Asians, Indians, Latino and indigenous minorities, to name a few.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Husband Will Smith. Photo: Facebook

Back in 2016 the Oscars were boycotted due to the underrepresentation and lack of diversity of people of colour. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith were among the many who took part in the boycott. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite reverberated across social media taking aim at the heavily white and male composition of the Academy and it’s all white nominations for the major award categories for two years running.

This year, the Oscars have definitely made an improvement for diversity, with a record of six black acting nominations, which is amazing news, but how much did diversity really improve for all racial and ethnic minorities? Keep in mind that this year was the first time an Indian was nominated for acting in 13 years.

The thing is, it is really important that when we talk about diversity we remember it extends beyond black or white.

Emphasis on the ‘really important’. Here’s why:

Not only is film and television mass-consumed, its influence is also extremely powerful; but the power of the entertainment industry goes well beyond the celebrity-crazed culture of Hollywood. Film and television has the power to tell stories, smash stereotypes, dismantle norms and reverse gender roles. It has the power to alter traditional standards of beauty. It can inspire tolerance, acceptance, understanding, appreciation and compassion by allowing us to see the world from different perspectives. We can journey in someone else’s shoes. We can laugh, cry and feel for characters who are different from us. It even has power to change the way we view ourselves

More importantly, film and television transcends the screen and can change the perceptions, attitudes and treatment of people and groups in society. It can change culture. So, more diversity in film and television is important for creating a more understanding, compassionate, tolerant and accepting society for everyone. We ALL seek to gain with more diversity.

Seeing people who look like you, and seeing your culture and community represented makes such a difference in so many ways:

On a personal level (and said in all humility), there have been many times throughout my adult life where I have been asked what my heritage is, and when I would respond with Australian of Indian descent, people are often surprised because they think I don’t look Indian, they think Indians aren’t usually ‘attractive’, or they would say you’re hot with the caveat ‘for an Indian’.

This sort of response is not uncommon for many people like me. The thing is – I believe I look Indian, to Indians I definitely look Indian, and in my opinion Indian women are really some of the most beautiful women in the world, but that’s not how Indians are portrayed in the West.

A Hollywood with diversity would dismantle the Eurocentric standards of beauty present in the West, and would mean that all young people can see someone who looks like them being celebrated and be able to feel like they too can feel beautiful for who they are and what they look like. Diversity has the power to change how individuals view themselves and how they are perceived by others.

Now, you may be thinking – why is there a lack of diversity? Is it because there is not enough Indian/minority actors and actresses?

Aziz Ansari. Photo: Facebook

Aziz Ansari, an Indian-American actor and star of ‘Master of None’ penned an essay for the New York Times on the Hollywood diversity problem. He admitted that yes, it can be difficult to find Indian actors, but he explained that when roles are available, they’re handed to other ethnicities. This whitewashing of Hollywood is a controversial issue and it happens all the time.

Whoopi Goldberg, actress and talk show host on The View pointed out that the lack of diversity in Hollywood stems from the fact that there have not been a lot of movies made with diversity because people don’t believe the public want to see movies with black people  in them. She says that until people start making movies, where you see more diversity in them, nothing will change.

Sunny Hostin. Photo: Instagram

Sunny Hostin, another co-host on The View pointed out that ‘WE’ the public, have the purchasing power to spend money watching movies with diversity, to make a statement that there is a market for more diverse movies and to ensure that Hollywood continues to make movies with more diversity. Hostin also points out that there is power in a boycott in the fight for diversity.All in all, diversity has a long way to go, but it has come a long way. And not just for Indians.

Something that really touched me was an interview with Gina Rodriguez and the cast of Jane the Virgin (which I highly recommend) – a brilliant, heart-felt, comedy, television show that celebrates strong Latina women.

Gina Rodriguez. Photo: Instagram

In the interview, a fan of the show explained that one of the reasons she loved the show was because nobody had captured her culture before or had done it justice, and that growing up she had no role models on television that looked like her or had her skin colour, until Jane the Virgin came along. Gina Rodriguez was brought to tears by these remarks.

Essentially, we need diversity because when we have it, it really makes a difference for everyone. And when we don’t have it, we as consumers have the power through our purchases or even a boycott to push for more diversity. But we mustn’t forget that diversity isn’t just about black or white it’s also about everyone in between.



I Wear My War Paint For Me

Words: Jessica Sheridan

I’m going to discuss something very important to me: make-up.

I can already hear you sighing. I can see you rolling your eyes or cocking a (perfectly sculpted) eyebrow because make-up isn’t that important. And you’re right; I guess it’s not that important. But make-up culture helps demonstrate something more important than simply reviewing the latest Urban Decay Naked palette (which is also very important).

I went to a house party a few years back for a birthday. I was wearing make-up, and my friends who were attending knew I probably would be. Anyone who has known me for more than ten seconds will know that I love putting on make-up. I never really wore it much during high school, and now that I had discovered the wonders of make-up I wore it every chance I got. I found my friends and as normal my bestie was full of eyeliner compliments. Perfect way to start the evening.

I overheard some people talking about a book series I liked, so I tuned in and tried to get involved. But to my puzzlement one of the more charismatic guys in the group brushed off a lot of my attempts at joining in on the conversation. He exclaimed in surprise shortly afterwards when my friends properly introduced me and he found out I was a law student. Why the surprise you ask? He replied that he didn’t think a girl who wore so much make-up could be smart enough to be a law student.

Why are people so quick to judge people wearing make-up? When did wearing mascara become synonymous with stupidity, or at least antonymous with intelligence?

Cosmetics are a multi-billion dollar industry, reaping in the rewards as we pay $50 plus a pound of flesh for a bottle of the latest matte 27-hour long-lasting blemish-covering magic-fan-dango liquid foundation. And perhaps half of it is FOMO, and perhaps half of it is brand loyalty, but whatever the reason, we spend hundreds of dollars a year maintaining our make-up bags.

My make-up haul from Sephora

It’s not a decision we make lightly. Despite the increasing cost of living, setting aside money for make-up is still a priority for many of us. And as make-up prices go up, we continue to buy up. Or, if you’re like me, you wait for Boxing Day sales and stock up on your favourite concealer and lip colours like it’s the apocalypse.

Despite the financial investment we make into cosmetic culture, there are still people – particularly men – who try to police what we do. Why spend all that money when we look just as pretty without it? Why do we conceal our self-esteem and highlight our insecurities? Why do we mask our faces and lie about how we really look?

The short answer? We don’t care what you think.

This might come as a shock to you, but we aren’t cashing our paychecks at Sephora for your approval. We aren’t dressing ourselves up for your attention or comment, and we certainly don’t care if you think we look prettier with or without make-up. Our make-up is not for you. Though I’m amazed at how self-important someone must be to believe that another person – a total stranger – would spend so long applying product to their face every morning just for their approval.

When I get up in the morning and sit down gleefully in front of my mirror, I’m not smiling for anyone but myself. And when I apply my make-up I’m not thinking about covering my skin to hide it from my boyfriend or my family – I’m applying it because I want to. I sincerely enjoy wearing make-up; there’s a certain art to it, and when I wear it I feel wonderful. It’s just like wearing your favourite pair of shoes or your best dress.

It makes me feel good, and that is the only reason I wear make-up.

I am sure that some people wear make-up for different reasons: some people wear make-up because it’s part of their corporate dress code; some people wear make-up because it’s an important day and they want to cover dark circles or blemishes for photos; some wear make-up because they might want to impress certain people. But I can almost guarantee you that most of these are blue moon occasions.

People aren’t spending their hard-earned money to try and look pretty for you. They aren’t trying to lie to you with fake eyelashes (because honestly only an idiot would believe my natural lashes touch my brow bone). We aren’t spending hours watching and making YouTube tutorials just so we can teach each other how to be more attractive for you. And we certainly aren’t wearing make-up for you.

It’s all about us, and does not mean we aren’t also happy, creative, smart and warm people. My worth should not be determined by the length of my eyeliner wing.

Make-up can bring confidence. It can bring happiness. It can bring entire communities of beauty enthusiasts together. So the next time you want to tell someone they are wearing too much make-up, don’t.






Being ‘Triggered’ is not a Joking Matter. STOP

The use of the word or meme ‘triggered’ has become popular on social media. It is typically used as an insult or as a joke to refer to feminists who take offense at harmful things being said or done in society.

Actual meme on the internet

It has to stop.

Why? Let me break this down for you.

  1. Being triggered is a real symptom of PTSD

An actual symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder is that an individual can experience triggers from something they see on the news or internet for example, that can set off negative emotional responses including anger, anxiety, flashbacks, pain, fear, sadness and panic. Being triggered can cause physical responses such as loss of appetite, shaking, fatigue, racing heart beat and so much more.

Being triggered is NOT a laughing matter. It is not a joke. It’s not funny.

It is a real fucking symptom of PTSD. Have some sensitivity.

Stop using triggered as an insult or a joke because not only is it insensitive and rude. It dismisses, trivialises, undermines and ignores the severity of what it means to experience mental illness and trauma.

    2. It is fucking dismissive and rude

We often see people using ‘triggered’ as an insult to show that feminists overreact or are easily provoked by issues that affect us.

Actual meme on the internet


It’s not a joke that we are affected by the gender wage gap. It’s not a joke that we are angered by sexual assault. It’s not a joke that we are offended by sexist rhetoric. We are affected and angered by such things. Stop dismissing our feelings as just being ‘triggered’. Stop undermining our anger as just being ‘triggered.’ Stop trivialising our opinions as just being ‘triggered’.  It’s rude.

My disgust and anger to racist, sexist and homophobic remarks have personally been dismissed as just being ‘triggered.’ I was in a political group on Facebook as part of my university and there were some racist, homophobic, sexist things being said in it. Horrendous things like ‘anyone who doesn’t identify as male or female are just pretending so they can be different.’ One group member’s response to Islamophobia was ‘if Muslims weren’t here in the first place they wouldn’t have to deal with such confronting and offensive imagery !!!!’

Of course I was pissed, disgusted, offended and angered by such horrendous remarks. I spoke out about the things being said to a woman’s group, but the initial response from the political group was that I was just triggered and that nobody should ‘provoke her please.’

Absolutely I was provoked by such racist, homophobic, sexist remarks –  but don’t dismiss my outrage as just being ‘triggered’.

    3.  It perpetuates the culture of victim blaming

When people dismiss the reactions, feelings and opinions of  feminists or anyone for that matter, as just being ‘triggered’, they are effectively perpetuating the culture of victim blaming. They are placing the blame on women for feeling the way they do, they are placing the blame on women for being angered by things that are outright offensive. They are shaming women who stand up to harmful sexist, racist, bigoted rhetoric and actions.

With all this ‘triggered’ rhetoric and victim blaming, I’m genuinely concerned that society has lots its grips with basic concepts of right and wrong. With justice and injustice.

An actual meme on the internet

We see victim blaming all the time. It’s the kind of attitude that attacks and criticises the conduct of the victim, instead of the perpetrators of a crime. It’s the sentiment that somehow the victim is at fault for the wrongdoings committed against them, or worse that the victim deserves the harm.

We see it in cases of rape, revenge porn, image-based sexual assault. If she wasn’t wearing such revealing clothes she wouldn’t have been raped. If she didn’t send nude photos, he wouldn’t have uploaded them online. If she didn’t post risqué photos to social media, they wouldn’t be photo shopped into porn. If she was being abused at home she should’ve just left him.

Have we all gone fucking mad?

Source: BuzzFeedNEWS

When Kim Kardashian West was robbed of millions of dollars worth of jewellery at gunpoint, and reportedly tied-up and gagged by a couple of masked men in a Paris hotel. The public reaction was extremely telling of where we are at with our views toward women and how much we are blaming the victim instead of the perpetrators. It’s ridiculous that the public outcry was to blame her for the robbery because of her celebrity status, or what she wears or because she shouldn’t have been flaunting her wealth – instead of condemning the perpetrators.

This insensitive, dismissive and disgusting ‘triggered’ craze needs to STOP. Seriously.


How to not be insensitive this Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner! And because I love dressing up and getting candy free of charge, I am very excited. Even though I’m not American (and not a kid anymore) I still love seeing all the spooky decorations and getting my outfit ready; costume parties are my jam. Halloween goes hand-in-hand with dressing up in costumes that vary from the incredibly detailed to the last-minute-rush-as-I-walk-out-the-door variety. No matter which one it is, it’s always great to see what people come up with.

While spooky can be fun, it can also be, well… spooky. Playing dress-ups has become a hot topic lately, with controversies over who should wear what costumes, and whether certain outfits are all in good fun or just outright offensive. For some people the social rules of faux pas can be a little tricky to navigate.

That’s why we’re suggesting these four simple tips on how to not be insensitive this Halloween.

Tip One: Costumes are not consent

Anyone who has been to any of the big pop-culture conventions will tell you that costumes aren’t just worn on Halloween. Cosplayers wear costumes all year round, with people from all walks of life coming together to share in their love of fantasy and sci-fi by dressing up as their favourite characters.

They will also tell you that cosplay is not consent. This is a very common phrase used at conventions that simply means: just because someone is wearing a costume does not mean you can touch them. This rule is incredibly important at conventions, because sometimes people forget that it’s a real person walking around, and not actually their favourite comic book character. It’s also important because a few cosplays can be quite revealing, and some people think this means it is okay to touch the cosplayer.

It’s pretty simple really; costumes do not change the normal rules of etiquette. No matter what a person is wearing, no matter how much or how little skin they are revealing, you do not have the right to touch that person unless they give consent. So this Halloween, no matter what anyone is wearing, do not assume you have the right to touch them. No touchy – sound good?

Tip Two: Costumes have no gender

We’ve all seen stories posted online about parents who insist that their little girl wear the Cinderella dress even though they want to be Spiderman. Or the little boy who wanted to be Cinderella but is forced to dress as Spiderman instead. This is symptomatic of a larger issue regarding the division and reinforcement of the gender binary at a young age, of gender normativity, but that’s probably an issue for another post.

My point is: anyone can wear whatever costume they like. Boys can be princesses, girls can be superheroes. And this rule applies to you no matter what age you are. So you’re a 26-year-old man and you’ve always wanted to be Ariel? Go ahead – do it! You have my blessing!

Costumes on Halloween should be about having fun, and taking away a person’s joy because it doesn’t subscribe to your pink vs blue litmus test is ridiculous.

Tip Three: Dressing up is for everyone

While we’re on the subject of shattering ridiculous socially constructed norms, it’s time to open our minds to the idea that you don’t have to be white to dress as Sailor Moon. You don’t have to be skinny to dress as Catwoman. You don’t have to be ripped to dress as Thor. You can be a Timelord and still be in a wheelchair. People can dress up as whatever the hell they want, regardless of skin colour, weight, height, disability, body shape – anything! Whatever makes them happy and comfortable.

It’s important to understand that having fun is for everyone, so don’t be the one to rain on their parade.

Tip Four: Culture is not a costume

This appears to be a tricky one for some people, as was evidenced by the polarised response to the culturally insensitive Maui costume released by Disney earlier this year. The costume, for children, was a brown body suit covered in tribal tattoos with muscle padding. Many people called the costume out as racist for using the dark skin colour, and insensitive for the use of traditional tattoos in the costume design. It was quickly pulled from stores.

People seemed to be either offended by the costume, or offended that people would be offended. It’s fairly indisputable that the costume was cultural appropriation, but this concept is sometimes used as evidence of our world becoming too politically correct (an idea that I take umbrage with, but I digress).

Cultural appropriation is essentially the use of a culture you are not a part of. This on its own may not always be problematic, but it becomes an issue when minority groups – who suffer discrimination simply for being a member of their cultural minority – have their culture used in part by majority cultures. Very often the cultural element or the tradition is taken out if its original context, which is often disrespectful enough on its own. But adding insult to injury is the fact that the majority culture does not face the same hardship as the minority culture does for wearing that culture. If a Native American wears a headdress it’s political statement, but when a white person does it’s ‘quirky and fun.’ Therein lies the issue.

The best way to avoid being culturally inappropriate is to avoid culturally or racially charged costumes. Another person’s race or culture is their identity, not a costume for you to take on and off. While it’s important for you to have a great time, it’s more important not to offend minority cultures in the process.

So there you have it. Four easy, simple ways to not be insensitive this Halloween. Have fun this October, be safe, and remember we’re all just here for the booze and the Fantales anyway.

Buying Love with Naked Currency: The Phenomenon of Sending Nudes

Words: Jessica Sheridan

Whenever I have broken up with a guy, I work through a standard check list of things to do: I need to collect all my belongings from his place, return anything of his I still have at mine; I need to change my profile picture and relationship status where applicable; I have to eat pizza and drink a lot of cheap white wine with my friends.

Oh, and I have to ask him to delete my nudes. This is a priority.

Even if we don’t talk about it, many of us worry about what will become of the risqué pictures we have sent over the weeks, months or years. And when you consider the cruelties of blackmail, revenge porn, parasite porn, morphed porn and celebrity nude photo leaks, it’s easy to understand why we are worried about what could happen to our pictures after we’re gone. So we politely ask that any sensitive content we have passed on be deleted, and we pray that they aren’t lying when they say they have.

So if our nude photos are such a cause for worry, why do we bother sending nudes in the first place?

A recent study published by Plan entitled Don’t send me that pic revealed some startling statistics about Australian teenage relationships. It found that young girls felt they were exchanging nudes and other sexual favours for love and affection. What’s more frightening is that the same study showed that 81.5% of girls said they do not think their boyfriends should ask for naked pictures, yet 51% of girls feel pressured into sending naked or ‘sexy’ pictures of themselves to their boyfriends anyway. For young girls it seems, peer pressure is the reason they take nude pictures.

There are of course many women who do feel comfortable and happy taking nude photos. In 2014 a Cosmopolitan survey also asked the question: why? Why does one take nude photos? The survey found that 89% of their mostly female respondents had taken nude pictures of themselves. As for why – the responses were mixed. Some women wanted to reclaim their body after suffering with body image issues. Others were responding to requests from their partners, and although they were nervous at first, they discovered they really liked taking them.

So while there are many women who are more than happy taking and sending nudes, there are still so many sending nudes who aren’t. Why?

For men, it would seem. Both sources revealed that women and girls take these nudes largely for the male gaze. Men who ask us for pictures, and gently talk us into it if we feel hesitant. Men who encourage and compliment us when we send the pictures so that we will feel confident and happy about sending more. Men who are pleased with us when we hand over our bodies to them, rewarding us with attention and loyalty. Men who punish us by sharing these pictures, breaching our trust and blaming us for whatever happens next.

Time and time again women are being asked to trust men with their nude pictures – pictures that they aren’t comfortable sending – only to have their trust betrayed. And time and time again women are blamed by society when that trust is breached; told we were wrong to send the pictures in the first place, despite the pressures to do so. We are simultaneously being talked into loving ourselves for sending nude pictures, and then talked into hating ourselves for sending nude pictures.

In stark contrast, it appears men and boys are all too willing to send nudes without being asked. The Plan study revealed 58% of girls have received sexually explicit photos and videos online that were not wanted. Without being asked, men are willingly – forcibly almost – sending nudes to women. It’s like a display of power or dominance, dressed up as a compliment, and we as women are expected to feel flattered that they would brighten our inbox with their unwanted penis. I am sadly sure that many of us are no stranger to the unsolicited ‘dick pic’ that finds its way into our Instagram messages, Facebook inbox and Snapchats.

As long as you are consenting adults, I don’t see any problem with taking or sending nude pictures. It can be empowering to take selfies, be they nudes or not, especially in this world where we are constantly plugged into a mass media machine that tries to define beauty for us. I am all for boosting self-esteem, loving yourself, and promoting body positivity. But I also believe that this feeling should come from within. You should not need the approval of another’s gaze – particularly a sexual gaze – in order to feel beautiful or attractive, or because you think that’s what you need to do to get and keep a boyfriend. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves, always. So I find it particularly problematic that several of the respondents to the Cosmopolitan survey began their answers with this similar sentiment when confessing they had taken the pictures to show to their partner:

‘I didn’t want to, but they convinced me.’

Of course, both men and women are guilty of pressuring people into sending nudes, and both men and women can be victims. But by an overwhelming majority it is women who are sending pictures to men that they do not really want to send. And by a majority it is men who are asking for these pictures. What is going on? Why are women and girls sending nudes they don’t feel truly comfortable sending? Why are we letting ourselves be coaxed into sending nude photos in exchange for loyalty and affection? Why are girls sending nudes when they simultaneously fear the nudes will be leaked on some Reddit forum or shared on Facebook?

And even in the unfortunate circumstance that a woman’s nude photos are leaked, they are blamed for sending them in the first place. We see this ‘victim blaming’ with celebrity nude leaks. Celebrities – usually female – who have their naked pictures leaked are often met with the outdated sentiment that they shouldn’t have taken the pictures if they didn’t want them to be leaked. But this ridiculous notion suggests that we must do all that we can to defend ourselves against the evils of others, because if not then it is our fault. Don’t carry your wallet around in case somebody picks your pockets. Don’t buy a TV in case somebody breaks into your house and steals it. Don’t go outside without chainmail on in case somebody stabs you with a knife.

You see what I mean? Ridiculous.

It sure is confusing for the girls out there.

If you feel truly comfortable sending nude pictures (i.e. you don’t need a guy to talk you into it), then by all means you should continue to do so. I will never outright suggest that you should not take or send nude photos. Owning yourself and your sexuality is incredibly important, and nudes can be very empowering for women; if, and only if, you truly feel comfortable doing so. Equally, there is no shame and no fault in not sending naked pictures of yourself to others. You do not have to buy affections with your body. We should not support those who use naked pictures against others, and we should continue to call out those who disrespect the privilege of our trust. And most importantly, particularly for young girls, we must remember that our self-worth does not depend on the approval of anyone else.