Mother of three

Hadley Freeman in the Guardian on the fun new trend of stealing photos of women to publish on the internet.

I think we know that the biggest fashion trend, really, for women – now and always – is no clothes at all: it’s having stolen naked photos of yourself leaked all over the internet. It’s like the story of the emperor’s new clothes all over again, if the emperor was harassed by sex pests and thieves and humiliated on an international level.

How strange it is to be a woman, in a world where everyone seems to be obsessed with what you do with your vagina: who are you letting into it, what children are you expelling from it, whether you’re trying to stop having children come out of it, who are you offering it up to. The older I get, the more I marvel at this vaginal obsession.

For example, no matter what achievements you notch up, the most important thing about you is your childbearing history. This weekend the very accomplished Rona Fairhead, former FT chief executive and now the government’s choice to be the new chair of the BBC Trust, was described namelessly in a Telegraph headline as “mother of three.”

That would never happen here in the US.

Here she would be called a “mom” of three.

It was decidedly reminiscent of that Sunday Times front page headline in April, “Grandmother, 71, tackles slave traffickers for the Pope”, sparking condescending mental images of a sweet little ol’ granny pummelling evil-doers with her cane. In fact this “grandmother, 71” was Margaret Archer, distinguished sociologist and the most senior woman in the Vatican. Surely, you might think, the headline should have read “Grandmother, 71, tackles slave traffickers, for childless old man, 77.” You might think that, but you would be wrong, because the Pope is a man, and therefore more than the sum of his age and his childbearing history.

It’s relentless, that kind of thing. “Grandmother robbed / killed / given the Nobel Peace Prize” – as if “grandmother” actually told you something, and as if it were deeply weird for a “grandmother” to do anything at all, even be murdered – as if women all seal themselves into boxes the instant their first grandchild pops out.

The only time naked photos of men get leaked onto the internet is when they ham-fistedly leak them themselves, as happens with various priapic male politicians like Anthony Weiner, and the general response is laughter and mockery. With women, that leaking happens when others steal the images from their phones, and the response here is darker, sexual, triumphal. Neither response is good, but the one in regards to women is definitely more threatening.There is no difference between the leaking of stolen naked photos from a female celebrity’s phone and so-called “revenge porn”, when a man leaks photos of an ex-partner. It’s a means of exuding power over someone who thought they were, if not powerful, at least independent. This narrative is now so well known that even Richard Curtis can see how pathetic it is, as proven by the plotline in Notting Hill, when naked photos of Julia Roberts’ character are leaked to the tabloids. And this is Richard Curtis, the man who also wrote some of the most reductive portrayals of women in film of all time in his following film, Love Actually.

Right? God that movie is shit. Remember the bit where Hugh Grant – oh ugh I can’t even type it. [shudder]

There will always be saddo hackers out there and there will, for some reason, always be people out there who marvel that famous women have naked bodies, just like everyone else. But when I am queen of the world, I will make it the law that every time a naked photo of a woman is leaked onto the internet, I will project into the sky an image of Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World (look it up, it’s amazing.) Because that’s all you’re looking at people: bodies, with biological functions. Jesus, grow up, world.

I wish.



  1. Dan says

    “Remember the bit where Hugh Grant – oh ugh I can’t even type it.”

    Do tell if you can, I’ve not seen it.

  2. says

    Ugh no, I don’t wanna hear about what the CEO of Monsanto has been up to.

    No, but seriously, I don’t know nor care what that other Hugh Grant did. If Ophelia doesn’t want to pollute her blog with the story, let’s not go there.

  3. says

    Ah well, it’s not actually polluting, it’s just that it was so fake and dopy and stolen from better movies and and and – it’s a bit where – well I’ll have to start at the beginning. He’s the PM, and in a ridiculous bit of fantasy he did what Tony Blair didn’t do and Stands Up To the George Bush-figure, only he does it not because of policy reasons but because the George Bush-figure made a move on the female staffer (who brought him his coffee and biscuit in the mornings) he had a mind-bendingly implausible crush on –

    so he’s stood up to Bush-figure so later on he’s listening to some pop music and he starts to twerk and it’s just TOO ADORABLE FOR WORDS and then he dances all over 10 Downing Street until he suddenly realizes a staffer is watching in amazement and he stops all embarrassed.

    It’s just as bad as it sounds, only worse.

  4. says

    Oh, I see … heck, I remember that movie now, sort of. It must have been bad indeed, for it left hardly any impression at all.

    I did look up Courbet’s L’Origine du monde. I am reminded of a Norwegian artist who made this huge painting (I think about 3 by 2 meters) of a woman taking a shit in the woods. As seen from behind, and rendered in near photographic detail. I remember seeing this painting and wondering who would want to have it on their wall.

  5. Smokey Dusty says

    Sexual Harrassment Actually.

    The PM asks a cabinet meeting who he needs to shag to get a cup of tea.

    The lunch delivery guy makes saucy jokes about nuts at an office he’s delivering too.

    A boss tells two of his staff its obvious they’re sweet on each other and they should shag.

    All in the first five minutes. But its all so romantic.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    exuding exerting (I guess) power over someone …

    Even the Brits are “writing” with half-assed dictation software now?

    Oh tempura! Oh morays!

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