Campaigners are fighting to close an online forum that promotes the photographing of unsuspecting women for users' sexual gratification. The message board on the popular website Reddit was explicitly created by users who wanted to ogle candid photos that were taken without the subjects' knowledge. The sub-forum is called 'CreepShots', featuring images of ordinary women on the street, in the gym or even at school who are caught unawares by stealthy 'creeps' with cameras....It has long been a matter of settled law that there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. The "creeps" cannot break the law by taking pictures of people in public places when the government is doing exactly the same thing, every single day. If you want privacy, you have to remain private. The photographed women have chosen to dress this way, every single person who happened to notice them saw exactly the same thing that the pictures recorded, and the picture is nothing more than a public record of what they looked like at that moment. There is nothing more salacious about the entire concept except the fact that men are paying attention to women and the women cannot ignore it.
The images include unsuspecting women working out at the gym, waiting for the bus, standing in line at the grocery store and riding escalators. All were taken by men who simply saw them on the street and thought the subject was attractive. The women are usually wearing nothing more revealing than jeans, t-shirts or yoga pants.
There are three things that are at the core of this "outrage". The first is that some women simply don't like seeing the image they actually present to others. It punctures their rosy image of themselves. This is understandable; it is always surprising and often a little unpleasant to hear your own voice on the radio for the first time. The second is that this is attention being paid by precisely the wrong sort of low socio-sexual rank men for whom the women are not dressing. Ideally, they want to look attractive for high rank men and other women while the low rank men politely avert their eyes and remain invisible. r/creepshots is an intrinsic violation of this virtual male purdah and reminds women that even if the low rank men pretend not to be noticing them, they actually are.
The third thing is the reminder it provides of female vulnerability. Many women like to walk around in a self-absorbed haze, defensively shutting out the world and acting as if their refusal to see others means others cannot see them. This is why even the most pedestrian image of a fully-clad, middle-aged woman walking along the sidewalk looks vaguely threatening to a woman, because she is forced to see what a woman looks like when seen through the eyes of a potential predator. She doesn't want to know that she looks just that vulnerable to the myriad of people who pass her by on a daily basis.
But even if the forum is closed, it would amount to nothing more than a pointless pretense. The fact that these men pointedly refer to themselves as "creeps" indicates that they know where they stand; it would be very surprising if there were any alphas, betas, or even deltas actively involved in the forum. Their desire for unattainable women will remain, as will their ability to see what is in public around them, whether women are forced to be conscious of those simple facts or not. The existence of the forum is more depressing than salacious; to the extent it can even be said to exist, its sexuality is retro-Victorian.
And I would be remiss to fail to note that the campaign is, in itself, an indicator of female solipsism. How many of those who are outraged by this have actually ever had their picture taken on the street by a stranger and posted to a public forum... and how many are emotionally involved solely due to imagining how they think they would feel if it happened to them? It might also be amusing to learn how many of the campaigners who are fighting to close the forum are regular readers of People magazine and other tabloids that publish photos taken by the paparazzi.