A Playboy model who used social media to shame a woman at her gym was charged with invasion of privacy by the Los Angeles city prosecutor on Friday, just three months after her Snapchat post mocked the 70-year-old.
The charge was filed against Dani Mathers, a 29-year-old model, on Friday afternoon for secretly photographing a naked woman at her gym “with the intent to invade the privacy of that other person”, according to the complaint.
In July Mathers shared the photo with thousands of followers on Snapchat, with the caption: “If I can’t unsee this, then you can’t either.”
Mathers eventually apologized in a video, saying the public posting was accidental: “That was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do.”
“I know that body shaming is wrong,” she added. “That is not the type of person I am.”
The gym, LA Fitness, revoked her membership and banned her from all its locations. At the time its executive vice-president, Jill Greuling, called Mathers’ actions “appalling” and the gym reported the post to Los Angeles police, who said they began an investigation into “illegal distribution” of the photo.
“While body shaming, in itself, is not a crime,” city attorney Mike Feuer in a statement, “there are circumstances in which invading one’s privacy to accomplish it can be. And we shouldn’t tolerate it”.
“Body shaming is humiliating, with often painful, long-term consequences,” he added. “It mocks and stigmatizes its victims, tearing down self-respect and perpetuating the harmful idea that our unique physical appearances should be compared to air-brushed notions of ‘perfect’.”
Tom Mesereau, Mathers’ attorney, told the Guardian on Friday that his client never intended to violate privacy law. “I am very disappointed that Dani Mathers was charged with any violation,” he said in a statement. “She never tried to invade anyone’s privacy and never tried to break any law.”
Mathers faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor count of invasion, and she is scheduled for arraignment on 28 November.
Earlier this year a California court ruled that a Snapchat secretly taken of a teenager, apparently masturbating in a bathroom stall, was an illegal invasion of privacy. Civil rights attorneys have largely agreed that, under California law, photography or filming without consent in a bathroom is a violation of the “reasonable expectation of privacy”.
Taking that photograph was “a flagrant violation of privacy law”, explained Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in privacy and cyber law. “Naked in the bathroom – it’s uncontested.”
In the mid-1980s there were two developments that prompted sexual liberals to step up their attacks against feminists. The first was an amendment to a municipal human rights ordinance that defined pornography as a practice of sex discrimination and gave women injured in its production and dissemination a cause of action to sue pornographers. The ordinance, authored by Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, represented a significant break with legal tradition.
Unlike antiobscenity laws that frame the harm of pornography in moralistic and aesthetic terms, as the offense that pictures and words that arouse some people’s prurient interests do to other people’s sensibilities, the ordinance identified pornography’s harm in feminist political terms, as its damage to the status and safety of women. Unlike antiobscenity laws, which empower the state’s prosecutors to bring criminal charges against alleged purveyors of obscene materials, the feminist ordinance empowered individual women to file civil suits against traffickers in pornography.
The civil rights antipornography ordinance was twice passed by the Minneapolis City Council, only to be vetoed each time by its civil libertarian mayor. A slightly altered version was approved by the Indianapolis City Council and signed into law by that city’s mayor. Before a single suit could be brought under the ordinance, it was challenged on overbreadth grounds by the Media Coalition in conjunction with American Booksellers Association and the ACLU. Playboy lent the services of its legal counsel and flooded local legislators with letters denouncing the feminist law. The ordinance was eventually held to be unconstitutional by a conservative district court judge, a decision affirmed by a conservative circuit court panel.
The truth of the matter was that the feminist law flew in the face of both liberal and conservative legal traditions and so was attacked by forces on both ends of the male-dominated political spectrum. Moreover, many conservatives are sexual liberals. Fundamentalist Marabel Morgan’s best-selling The Total Woman, which attempted to indoctrinate women into sexual submission, pomography-style, was no aberration of conservatism, and two of the three most popular pornography magazines—Hustler and Penthouse—are published by arch-conservatives and aimed at politically reactionary audiences.
The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism
The news that Playboy will no longer be publishing images of “fully nude women” within the pages of its print magazine is not as “radical” as it might sound. This was a profit-driven decision, plain and simple. The magazine, in the age of internet pornography, has become unnecessary and irrelevant. Why would men buy magazines to look at nipples when they could just open their laptops and get gangbangs?
Last year the website went “safe-for-work” as part of their effort to rebrand and in order to access to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and the traffic they bring in. Like their recent decision about the print version of the magazine, this had nothing to do with a rejection of objectification and everything to do with a changing marketplace. I mean, essentially their choice was to go full on PornHub, or try to get more actual readers in somehow. Ravi Somaiya at The New York Times writes:
“Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. ‘That battle has been fought and won,’ said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. ‘You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.’”
One of the few models working these days seems to be Vice, so it’s unsurprising Playboy execs are vying for their audience. Unlike so many other traditional news media outlets, most of whom are laying off staff and making cuts all over the place, Vice continues to expand. So Playboy will, naturally, be going after an audience similar to Vice’s, albeit “the guy with a job.”
So what does this all mean for women? Well, nothing. Playboy will continue to feature sexualized images of women in the magazine, they just won’t have nipples. (Because as we all know, the problem with pornography is nipples.) As Playboy CEO Scott Flanders says, “Sexy, beautiful women that men aspire to want to have attracted to them, that will never change in the DNA of Playboy…”
Cory Jones, a top editor at Playboy clarified that “There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be ‘PG-13’ and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram.”
And in case you haven’t visited Instagram lately, it’s pretty porny, despite the fact that Instagram’s “community guidelines” ask users not to share “graphic nudity” and every so often images that show the ever-odious nipple are taken down. In fact, Instagram is kind of the perfect place for Playboy. The male gaze — internalized or not — rules, from belfies to photoshopped selfies to promotional ads for bars to Sluts Against Harper.
What also won’t change in this move is Playboy’s commitment to coopting the feminist movement for profit. In fact, without the (technical) porn and with the help of so-called “sex-positive feminism,” they’ve got even more leeway to claim they’re “pro-woman.” Jones says the magazine will have a sex columnist who will be a “sex-positive female,” to write “enthusiastically” and uncritically about male-centered sexuality.
Even team Playboy admits the degradation and Americanization of politics continues to help their cause. Somaiya writes, “[Flanders and Jones] feel that the magazine remains relevant, not least because the world has gradually adopted Mr. Hefner’s libertarian views on a variety of social issues.”
Playboy is just giving the world what it wants. Nipple-free, it plans to become just like all the other liberal, bro-centric magazines out there, all of whom also caught on to the idea that there is a neoliberal version of “feminism” that’s totally sellable, will never challenge their corporate backers, and will definitely never spout a critical word about class oppression or male dominance.
Playboy hasn’t failed — Playboy won. They are merely being forced to adapt to the world they created.
The latest video from Feminist Frequency:
What is particularly gross about the misogyny Sarkeesian documents, is the way pornography (specifically the Playboy brand) has embedded itself into the mainstream; several video games are shown to have Playboy magazines as in-game objects to collect, or even as practical objects to utilize (from approx. the 19min mark).
If you are not too interested in video games, you can skip to the 25min mark where Sarkeesian explains really well why this matters.
On Monday, Lisa Wade wrote, for Sociological Images, that Playboy (you know, the multi-million dollar porn empire) has been shopping around for writers who can bring some feminist cred to the magazine’s website. While they’ve yet to find a woman from the actual feminist movement to join them, they found Noah Berlatsky, a man who has a bone to pick with any woman who challenges objectification, male power, and the sex industry.
Berlatsky’s willingness to invent quotes, beliefs, and opinions on my behalf in order to revel in his own self-adoration at his ability to objectify women is remarkable. He has written two articles, previous to this most-recent one, that have wilfully misrepresented or even outright lied about my arguments in order to present himself as the true ally of women, and I, their natural enemy. These three occasions are, tellingly, the only three times, previous to this week, that I’ve ever had to contact a publication about libel or about misrepresenting my work.
I am, of course, unsurprised that Playboy would publish his most-recent libel. Playboy has long promoted the sexualization and objectification of women as liberatory and have a history of unethical behaviour (beyond the obvious dehumanization-of-women stuff) to match. Gloria Steinem documented their exploitative labour practices back in the 60s, a number of women, including Vanessa Williams, Madonna, and Marilyn Monroe, complained that their nudes were published without their consent, and the magazine refused to put a black women on the cover of the magazine for the first 18 years of its existence. Despite their interest in turning women’s bodies into profit, Hugh Hefner claimed he was “a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism.” (The porn kings have always positioned themselves as the true freedom fighters.) It’s only recently, though, that “feminists” have bought it.
Remember when Tumblr reblogged that Playboy ~anti-catcalling~ chart being like, “Even Playboy thinks you suck!” No, no they don’t. After years and years of building an empire off exploiting women and selling it as empowerment while running pro-rape cartoons in their magazines, they do not actually care that men stop sexually abusing women. It’s true. What they actually want is exactly what you credulous buttbrains gave them, and that’s positive publicity. So they look like the good guys again. “We may get a bad rap, but we have standards!” No.
It’s just a good idea in general that whenever you want to start a sentence with “Even this *insert horrible piece of shit entity from the very depths of hell* thinks this is wrong!” you should maybe reconsider. Like, no, Putin is not heckling America because it’s racist. He’s deflecting attention from his own human rights abuses while calling you amateurs for not terrorizing and disappearing journalists effectively.
This blog will be five years old in May. Anti-Porn London started up as a response to the opening of the Playboy Store on Oxford Street in London; the store closed down in 2008 (I think), but unfortunately we can’t claim any credit for that, the Playboy ‘lifestyle’ brand simply wasn’t economically viable.
Looking back, it all seems rather quaint, this was back in the days before ‘sex positive’ tumblr-tots cried ‘kink shaming’ when criticised for asking a rape survivor if ‘her video’ was available on line, before BDSM went completely mainstream with Fifty Shades of Shite and Hollywood-star backed pseudo-documentaries on kink.com.
So anyway, why not sit back and nostalgically enjoy the Rabbit Trilogy? It’s practically like watching an episode of Mad Men!
… I’d love to know whose Facebook page everyone is visiting from!
(I’m categorising this as ‘bin the bunny’ since the link is to the Playboy Quiz page)
Hilarious and chillingly apposite ‘lost in showbiz’ article up on the Guardian today, read the whole thing and weep/laugh:
At the Playboy annual ball he just looked morose and detached. Reports say he didn’t interact much with the playmates, but perhaps Hef’s willingness to suspend disbelief that these women give a crap about what he’s saying and aren’t just thinking, “Please make me more famous and not homeless with the minimum amount of touching” is fading with age.
Personally, I have always wondered how Hef appeases himself inwardly with the unspoken deal women make when they become part of his retinue. Now, I’m assuming here that Hef has sex or intimate contact with these young playmates as this is the exact assumption that Hef’s whole persona – sat there, aged 85, in his pyjamas at a party – wants me to buy into. But for the past 25 years there must have been, on the playmates’ side, a weapons-grade amount of putting up, shutting up and thinking of the dollars. Surely Hef has sensed young women blanching and seeming bilious as he sidles up. Surely he knows this is all a bit icky. When I’m 85, I hope I’m not idiotic enough to take a flurry of 20-year-old male companions, let them live on my bank balance and then fool myself that these boys don’t joke behind my back that my nipples face east and west and my pubic hair, or what’s left of it, has a mallen-streak.
Or perhaps I’m wrong and Hugh Hefner truly is delusional. Let’s face it, Playboy’s business plan relies heavily on men and women’s capacity for glorious denial. Last year, Hef opened a Playboy club in London and people flocked there to pay homage, keen to tell each other it’s ever-so-classy, and the women if anything are emancipating themselves. And Cee Lo Green and Snoop Dogg and Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer and Nick Knowles showed up and Playboy was all normalised and lovely and if anything, some people said, this was feminism.
From an article by Gail Dines in Ms:
There were so many surreal scenes in the pilot of NBC’s The Playboy Club that it is difficult to pick out the most eye-popping. Was it the “bunnies” spontaneously breaking into song, or the house mother earnestly lecturing the women to be the “very best bunny they can be,” or maybe the moment when the only black bunny (indeed the only black person in the whole show) tells her bunny comrades that her life’s dream is to be the first-ever “chocolate” Playboy centerfold?
No, I think the winner is the scene near the end where a kindly, pajama-clad Hefner ruminates about being a rebel out to change America for the better.
This is the image of “Hef” peddled to the media. He is packaged as a pioneer who courageously heralded the sexual revolution with his norm-busting magazine that helped free puritanical America of its sexual hang-ups.
The actual story of Hefner’s success is less sanguine, since Playboy’s initial popularity was based on its embrace of 1940s and ’50s sexist ideas. One of the bestselling books of this era was Philip Wylie’s Generation of Vipers, which accused women of rampant materialism and selfishness. Calling women dumb, greedy, rapacious and “an idle class,” Wylie developed the concept of “momism,” which held that American wives and mothers had gained too much power over their husbands and it was about time men fought back.
Picking up on these themes, the main article in the first issue of Playboy was called “Miss Gold-Digger of 1953.” Bemoaning the good old days when alimony was reserved for “little floozies,” the Playboy editors wrote, “When a modern day marriage ends, it doesn’t matter who’s to blame–it’s always the guy who pays and pays and pays.” This was a theme that was expressed again and again in the early years of Playboy by writers such as Burt Zollo and, of course, Philip Wylie.