Apparently dancing = rip my clothes off!

I have no idea how this story eluded me for so long, since it’s the type of thing I generally get ten million emails about. A woman is suing Girls Gone Wild for using footage of her shirt being pulled off against her will in one of their videos…and lost the case:

But Patrick O’Brien, the jury foreman, told a reporter later that an 11-member majority decided that Doe had in effect consented by being in the bar and dancing for the photographer. In a trial such as this one, agreement by nine of 12 jurors is enough for a verdict.

“Through her actions, she gave implied consent,” O’Brien said. “She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing.”

Told of that reasoning, the tearful woman said, “I was having fun until my top was pulled off. And now this thing is out there for the world to see forever.”

[…] Stephen Evans of St. Louis, her lawyer, argued Thursday that Doe never gave consent — and even could be heard in original footage saying “no” when asked to show her breasts shortly before another woman suddenly pulled Doe’s top down. Evans said the company usually gets women to sign consent forms or give verbal consent with cameras rolling.

Yes, “she was totally asking for it” was successfully used as an excuse in a court of law. What. The. Hell. Since when has dancing been consent to rip clothes off a woman? While she’s saying “no”?! It doesn’t matter how flirty she was being or how sexy she was dressed – that is not consent for what GGW has done.

This is the same bullshit argument people use to defend rape, and now a court has actually accepted it. For the sake of women across the country, I hope they try to overturn this ruling. The last thing we need is people getting off for sexual assault or rape because the woman was showing cleavage at the time of the crime.

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  1. says

    I just saw this on PZ’s blog. Unbefuckinglievable. It’s a variation of “she shouldn’t have been wearing that dress”. This kind stuff makes me sink deeper into a pit of misanthropy…

  2. LS says

    At first I thought “maybe she just regrets it and is trying to use legal action to cover her shame?”But she said NO on camera, AND the disrobing was performed by a third party? Are you fuckin’ kidding me? The entire state of Missouri should be ashamed.

  3. says

    Off-topic: Uh-oh, Jen, you’ve been PharyngulatedOn-topic: Is this woman going to burn in Hell for marrying someone other than the woman who pulled her top down? Or is biblical rape only defined as intercourse?

  4. says

    I actually agree with the jurors here. GGW wasn’t being sued for having ripped the woman’s top of, they were being sued for putting the footage in their video.She was giving permission for them to film her by dancing for the camera. The unfortunate event where someone took her top off was not their doing, but since she had given implied consent for them to tape her, whatever happened during that time was perfectly legal for them to put in their video.It is unfortunate, and I feel sorry for her, but you’re falling for the spin and not seeing the actual truth.

  5. says

    She implicitly gave them permission to record her. They don’t lose that permission just because someone sexually assaults her, or because she doesn’t like the footage they got.

  6. says

    >>”They don’t lose that permission just because someone sexually assaults her…“If they don’t, then that is the problem we need to fix.I’m not a lawyer, of course, but I’m still seeing this situation like, “You can film me, but not my boobs.” Her consent was conditional, those conditions were broken, so GGW shouldn’t have been allowed to publish their footage.

  7. says

    Where does that end? Is anything that is embarassing off limits to being used if you don’t like it? If you put yourself out for public consumption, as when you are dancing for the camera, you are giving your consent for people to view you, whether that be good or bad.She never signed any form, and she certainly didn’t say she consented only as long as her breasts weren’t exposed. She instead implied the consent, which gives a wide berth for whoever is filming her.

  8. LS says

    I hesitate to say I agree with Godlessons, because what GGW did was horrible unethical. But I think he does make a good point. Still, that she said “no” says to me that she gave explicit non-consent for what they ended up being able to film. It’s a muddy issue, but GGW is legally in the wrong here, I think.But like everyone else here, I’m no lawyer.

  9. says

    This is would actually be a tough one if it weren’t for the fact that she can be heard declining a request to have her breasts on camera. Everything up to the assault is fair game but once her shirt came up through no fault of her own permission was revoked through her previous statement.Cut and dried. This is a gross abuse on the part of the jurors.

  10. says

    I’m not sure where the line is, but sexual assault is definitely quite far from it. Or, at least, it should be.In order to continue any further, we really do have to watch the video in question, look at GGW’s terms for filming, etc. I think we all agree, however, that GGW pulled a dick move either way.

  11. loreleion says

    He does make a good point, but in the end he’s still wrong. He asks where we draw the line. Assault seems like a good place for me.No, we’re not saying anything that’s embarrassing is off limits. We’re saying goddamn sexual assault is. I don’t think anyone here would suggest that if someone who had consented to be on camera was raped and it was caught on film, that video could then be sold as porn. There might be situations with consent and filming where it’s not so clear cut, but this isn’t one of them.I’d even argue that GGW participated in the assault. The act of sexual assault was exposing this woman’s breasts without her consent. GGW exposed them to a much larger audience, despite clearly knowing she hadn’t consented.

  12. says

    GGW’s terms aren’t at issue. This wasn’t an issue where there was a consent form or where conditions were placed by either the woman or GGW. While watching the video in question may elucidate the issue further, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to watch it. The decision the jury had to make was whether or not the woman gave consent. They found sufficient reason to believe she did.Now, if she wants to sue the person that took her top off, she would be well within her rights, she just wouldn’t get as much money, which I think is the biggest issue here.

  13. says

    The article says that she refused to take her top off. That doesn’t mean she made any kind of contract that prevents her image from being used if someone else takes her top off.If she had said, “If my breasts are exposed, I don’t give permission for them to be filmed.”, she might have a case. She said nothing of the sort, and the type of consent she gave doesn’t give her any protection in reality.

  14. says

    This is why I said we’d need to look up GGW’s terms. What precisely constitutes consent, according to them? What precisely constitutes verbal consent by legal standards?She said “no” to exposing her breasts while on camera. They were exposed on camera. This sounds like a violation of verbal consent. Does GGW need verbal consent to publish their film?

  15. says

    GGW’s terms have nothing to do with it because their terms were never consulted by this woman. It was “implied” consent, which means she just saw a camera and started dancing for it. She knew the camera was there. She knew it was pointed at her. She didn’t shrink away from it. She didn’t say, “Don’t film me.” She instead started dancing for it.In other words, it doesn’t matter what GGW’s terms are, since the contract was implicit, which means it is governed by law, not anything written between the parties.

  16. loreleion says

    This has nothing to do with GGW’s terms and I’m not sure why you think it would. They don’t get to define the terms of consent, especially when the woman in question didn’t sign anything.

  17. says

    There is no law that says that an image of a crime is suddenly not consented to for purposes of entertainment or even monetary gain. If there were such a law, that might put GGW in a different position, but there isn’t.What GGW did is in bad taste. Unfortunately, that’s roughly the limit of what we can say about it.

  18. says

    I concede, you’re right.Implied and verbal consent are still an issue here, however, and I’m unfamiliar with the legal specifics which constitute each one… since apparently saying “no, no” somehow falls into a grey area here.

  19. loreleion says

    Taking this down here because of over-nested replies:

    There is no law that says that an image of a crime is suddenly not consented to for purposes of entertainment or even monetary gain. If there were such a law, that might put GGW in a different position, but there isn’t.What GGW did is in bad taste. Unfortunately, that’s roughly the limit of what we can say about it.

    In most states, when you walk down the street, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy and people can photograph or film you without explicit consent. You do have a reasonable expectation of not getting your clothes ripped off. If that happens, no one should be able to sell or distribute images of it happening. It’s so clearly wrong, and if the law disagrees, the law is fucking wrong, too.Also, let’s take a look at what makes this sexual assault. Say she’d been wearing some other article of clothing. Let’s say a scarf, sweater, shawl, or anything that’s not covering sexual areas. Pulling it off her is still assault, probably, maybe theft, but not sexual assault. What made it sexual assault was exposing her breasts when she clearly did not want them exposed.GGW exposed them to a much wider audience. She clearly did not want them exposed.

  20. Tony B says

    It all comes down to what the laws for consent re: filming in a public place are in the relevant jurisdiction. While GGW clearly pulled a dick move, it may have been a legal one.

  21. LawChick says

    In some circumstances, depictions of a crime can themselves be criminalized. (i.e. child porn) I would hope that a Missouri court of appeals would expand the scope of obscenity law to make this sort of thing unprotected. (I am also not a lawyer, simply a lawyer-in-training).

  22. Rebcart says

    What I’d really like to know is what the laws are re: public privacy in the US.Here in NSW (Australia), you have no expectation of privacy on the street. If you have sex in your bedroom and leave the curtains open, so that someone can film you while standing on a public sidewalk, tough luck, nothing you can do. HOWEVER, this changes entirely in a private place – if you’re filming inside private premises/land, you need to get permission from the premise owner and usually the person you’re filming, too. (although IANAL, but this is my understanding based on some prior research I did)So why is everyone claiming that she was dancing in public? Being inside a bar is clearly a private place.

  23. Svlad Cjelli says

    That she refused to show her breasts means that she refused to show her breasts. Rocket science?

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