Let’s Talk about Nude Selfies.

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It’s time we had an honest talk.

It’s 2019, and something that seems to be a problem in our political and social sphere should be discussed far more openly.

What I am referring to are the nude photos that we take of ourselves—photos taken with a cell phone and shared with loved ones or the partners that we’re dating.

Yes, Mr. Bezos and the current tabloid fiasco, wherein they wanted to use nude photos to essentially blackmail him, inspired me to finally put pen to paper on this topic. Affair aside, we are living in a modern world where online messaging, as well as cellular communication, is 100 percent the norm when it comes to communicating our feelings and desires with our partners.

When it becomes public knowledge that somebody has sent nudes, why is this even an issue?  

The numbers are somewhat available. If you search for polling data, you will find that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of people have sent provocative photos to lovers, partners, husbands, and wives. While the data is not fully conclusive, there is no question that sending provocative photos via digital means is a common modern practice. Most people born after the early 80s have participated in this, whether it is sending or requesting and receiving photos of a sexual nature.   

If you think this is new, let me remind everyone of something. In the 1940s, when bikinis were barely even legal, women often sent their loved ones, who were serving overseas, photos of themselves in bathing suits and lingerie. Additionally, patriotic air force employees painted renditions of these images and similar images of celebrities and models on the side of the fighter jets and bombers that liberated Europe! Today, these airplanes are preserved in museums and no one bats an eye.

Let’s have an honest conversation about the nature of sexual expression. It’s not something we should even entertain as “controversial.” In fact, consensual sexual dialogue and graphic imagery is not a moral issue; it is an expression of desire and enticement within relationships, and it’s a norm.

Sexuality and a person’s sexual history (aside from nonconsensual or abusive acts) should not be used as a thing we can harm them with. Sexual choices are private and should be fully accepted when they are consensual. Additionally, in modern relationships, men all across this country are asking women to send photos. Yet, we shame women all the time when their nudes become public.

Can we please recognize that sexuality is intrinsic to our nature, that sexual connection and expression is totally okay, and that morality and sexuality do not have a place in the same conversation, unless we are talking about nonconsensual sexuality?

Our sexual choices are our own. The decisions we make with our husbands and wives, partners and lovers are decisions that should, first and foremost, remain private. When that is not the case, these are decisions that should be accepted as commonplace, and not used to shame or as blackmail in an environment of a controversy-hungry media.

Go be your beautiful, wonderful, sexually empowered selves. Today is no longer the day we need to fear shame. It’s an age-old tactic that deserves to be put to rest.

Today is the day you can rise and say, “I am not afraid. I am comfortably empowered within my sexuality, I believe in myself, and I am happy to be free of this shame.”

author: Max Trombly

Image: Jan Zhukov/Unsplash

Image: Author's Own

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

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Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg Mar 8, 2019 3:22pm

Both this article and the one by Sheila Delaney Duke are excellent, relevant, and offer thoughtful and reasoned response to this issue from two different perspectives.
My perspective is that discussion of who has sexted to whom is a) nobody’s business when the sexting was consensual no matter what the corollary circumstances (marriage, adultery, hook up, blah, blah, blah) and b) focuses outrage in precisely the wrong direction. When photos like this are made public by reason of hacking, fakery, revenge, coercion, blackmail, or any other NON-consensual means, this ought to be prosecuted. Every time.
Be outraged if you think someone married shouldn’t be sexting a non-partner, but stop excusing ANY non-consensual exposure of those nude pics as acceptable, nor indeed, anything other than what it is…an act of exploitation and/or violence.

Amy Palatnick Feb 24, 2019 10:11pm

i love this article!!

Sheila Delaney Duke Feb 21, 2019 1:43am

With respect, I offer a different view. It’s less about what individuals choose to and not to do as adults, and more about the impact of an article like this on our teens. Who can search “nude selfie” and come up with this.

I’ve crafted a full article in response, published here. Comment space was clearly insufficient for me. Check this out. I’d be curious about your thoughts.

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2019/02/lets-talk-for-real-about-nude-selfies-a-concerned-moms-response/

Amy Davidson Feb 18, 2019 11:30am

Here’s my biggest issue with all of this – it’s the idea that what’s between two consenting adults should be private and therefor okay. The invasion of privacy is NOT what makes this illicit. No one would care about nude selfies sent between two consenting adults having sex. What makes it newsworthy is that it is understood that he was committing adultery. You can say it’s not a moral issue all you want, but it IS. That anyone thinks it’s okay for a married man to commit adultery is wrong – morally and lawfully. Adultery is against the law in most US states. Adultery is against all marital covenants. A man sending nude pictures to a woman is a non-issue, no matter his position in business, politics, whatever. A MARRIED man sending nude pictures to a woman who is NOT his wife is an issue, and one that sends a horrific message to everyone that marriage is no longer sacred, marriage is no longer important at, marriage is no longer valued. And THAT will be the greatest downfall of our society.

    Max Trombly Feb 18, 2019 1:36pm

    Hi Amy,

    You’re not wrong at all.

    However, My article, while inspired by the idea of blackmailing a person with nude photos, is NOT about the affair.

    Yet, I understand that you’re connecting it to the affair because I was inspired by the issue surrounding Bezos.

    Let me clarify something. The first time I thought to write this kind of article, was after a certain celebrity had her nude selfies hacked and then released online and the subsequent conversation that resulted around the kind of person who would shoot these kinds of photos, rather than the conversation about the person who stole them.

    Then, more recently, a fake photo was spread purporting to be of a female politician. THIS is exactly when I had the full thoughts to write this article, but it turned out that the photo was a fake. So I paused.

    Then, Bezos and blackmail, surrounding nudes…. and I just said.. Ok. Today is the day.

    But I hear your point, I understand what you are saying, and you’re right that marriage matters and that part of this was about the affair. However, the affair was already public knowledge and had been reported on, so I saw it as using the shame of making nudes public as the core issues I wanted to write about.

    I hope you can see that our points are not in conflict.

    Amy Palatnick Feb 24, 2019 10:13pm

    also, there are a lot of kinds of marriages. how much do we actually know about this “affair”?

cre8tvegrl Feb 13, 2019 5:08am

Agree with previous commenters that this is a discussion that needs to be held – if only to foment progress on legislation that protects individuals that have been victimized by releases of private data. Bezos is a victim. As you said in your article, texts like these are intended to be private. The fact that so many individuals participate in sending private pictures and elicit texts does not preclude awkwardness when no longer private. How will Bezos look a subordinate employee in the face at work, when that employee has seen his d* in all it’s glory, let alone provide criticism or praise that may be met objectively, given the memory of that imagery? The individuals who released the material that was private, without permission, should be held accountable for the hardship that these releases produce.

myesha.craddock Feb 12, 2019 2:45pm

This is a good conversation to have. And I’m glad that Bezos did not let the National Enquirer blackmail him with the nude photos. I also wonder, if Bezos was a female executive, would the overall response have been the same? I see many posts labeling Bezos as brave, and what he did was brave. But would a woman be treated the same way? Or would she be labeled a slut/whore? Would the overall response be to question her judgment?

    Max Trombly Feb 13, 2019 11:37am

    I’m tired of seeing people shamed for this and the truth is that it’s typically women. The purpose of my article is to work to erode this belief that anyone, but mainly women, are something negative for doing this. This is expression, done in private, between consenting parties. It’s perfectly acceptable!

kellidoussan Feb 12, 2019 11:47am

I love that you wrote about this so honestly. It’ll help normalize this idea that expressing your desires with your partner is not only common, but healthy 🙂 <3

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Max Trombly

Max Trombly. Embodied men’s work. Life with intention. Stay open. Love fiercely. New Orleans and Black Rock City based. Follow on Instagram.