Jezebel vs. Consent

[Content Note: Hostility to consent; body policing.]

Jezebel—the, ha ha, "feminist" web site—is offering $10K for unretouched photos of Lena Dunham's Vogue shoot. You know, to "start a conversation" about "real bodies" like Dunham's, and how the media distorts them to make them fit the "ideal" feminine image.

As if that conversation can't be started (and has been, um, all over the feminist blogosphere—and as if, for that matter, it hasn't been going on since airbrushing was invented) without denying a woman the autonomy to decide whether she wants those photos released.

Jezebel suggests that Dunham has implied her consent (oh, my) for the unretouched photos to be released, because she's "body positive," appears naked on Girls all the time, and "has spoken out, frequently, about society's insane and unattainable beauty standards." Therefore, anything goes!

Yes, she has. Dunham isn't kyriarchetypically "beautiful." She's made a point of appearing naked on Girls frequently, for, as critics frequently complain, "no reason" (that is, no reason that doesn't involve titillating a hetero male audience, a la Game of Thrones).

But all of that—all of it—is beside the point. Dunham has every right to speak for herself. In contrast: By inviting readers to contribute photos without Dunham's consent, so that Jezebel can publish them as clickbait (whether you're clicking to look at the funny fat lady or to tsk at impossible beauty standards makes little difference), Jezebel is mocking the entire notion of bodily autonomy, for fun and profit.

It's despicable. But I would expect little better from the same media empire that offered a "reward" for any reader who could out the person who gave Magic Johnson HIV.

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