The disturbing phenomenon of 'creepshots'

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The men who run creepshots.com, a website featuring pictures of the breasts and bums of unsuspecting women snapped on the street, are ‘‘family guys who love to hang out’’, they tell us. A creepshot, they emphasise in the ‘‘About’’ section of the site, is a ‘‘CANDID’’ picture. ‘‘If a person is posing or aware that a picture is being taken, then it is no longer a creepshot,’’ they tell the Creepy faithful. "A true creepshot captures the natural sexy, embarrassing or funny aspect of the subject matter/person without their knowledge.’’

Scroll through the Creepshot archive and it’s pretty obvious the everyday women pictured are completely unaware they are being preyed upon by a freak with a smartphone. He is the guy standing behind them in the supermarket queue when they pick up milk in their gym gear. He is the bloke below them on the escalator when they’re wearing a skirt, or on the next towel over at the beach, when they’re wearing a swimsuit. As one tends to do at the beach.

The shots are overwhelmingly of ‘‘asses’’, presumably not just because the Creeps enjoy female bottoms, but also because their cowardly act is easier to pull off when they’re lurking behind a woman like the drooling sex pests they are.

The bottoms are disembodied and identity-less, except for the tags they are given - ‘‘Creeping bikini thong in South Beach’’ (girl with a wedgie on the beach), ‘‘A very fine yogapants ass bender’’ (woman stretching her hamstrings out in a park), or ‘‘quality hungry ass n legs shopping’’ (Girl who makes the mistake of visiting the supermarket in denim cut-offs).

Apart from this dedicated website, there is also a Creepshots Twitter handle into which people can post their creepshots, and the crowd-sourced social news website Reddit hosts a ‘‘Creepshots’’ page. Reddit recently garnered some controversy in the US for hosting shots of girls who looked underage. Despite a cursory ‘‘reminder’’ on the site that users must not post ‘‘suggestive or sexual content featuring minors’’, one responsible-ish user has pointed out that pictures entitled ‘‘Upskirt in my class’’ and “Hot Senior Girl in One of My Classes” seem to have been taken at a school.

There is some speculation this classroom Creep is a teacher, given the access he gets and angle of the pics. It might seem facile or hysterical to draw a link from Creepshots to the actual physical abuse of women, but consider the note the website creators write to any women who find themselves featured on the site.

‘‘If you happen to be one of the sorry people on this site and find yourself ashamed, belittled and embarrassed, please write us your best cry-baby letter and we will honor [sic] your request take it down,’’ it reads.

So any woman (they say ‘‘people’’ but there are no pics of men on the site) who objects to her genitals, breasts or butt being papped surreptitously without her knowledge while she goes about her business, and sent to a website where literally the whole world (except perhaps North Korean Creeps) can see them, is a ‘‘cry-baby’’.

But these girls are asking for it, right? They’re out in the public domain, they’re wearing what they’re wearing. The public they come into contact with sees them as they are dressed that day, so where is the harm in spreading their images a little wider?

The problem with that argument is that it ignores the fact that we all dress for context, and that while women might feel happy wearing short shorts on a summer’s day out in the city, they may still feel horribly violated if their image is taken out of that context without their consent.

Creepshots is far more sinister than the regular sexual objectification of women we see in advertising, or even the reams of highly sexualised content girls are subjected to in music videos and on television shows. The thing that makes Creepshots extra creepy is not just the lack of consent from the starring women, it’s the fact that the lack of consent is utterly crucial to the enterprise.

Not just that, it is obligatory. As the website creators dictate, unless the Creepshot is candid, it does not qualify as a Creepshot. Presumably the ‘‘family guys’’ who host Creepshots would be happy for the arse-cheeks of their daughters to be uploaded to their website. Not until the moment they turn 18, of course.

41 comments

  • At least they've named it appropriately........

    Commenter
    Bender
    Date and time
    September 27, 2012, 8:44AM
    • Look around and dig deep and long enough, and all types or crass, revolting creepiness can be found on line.
      For every site that carries such gross disrespect for women, a man hating site can also be found.- the fact that this site featured doesnt ridicule men, doesnt negate the sites that do.
      (It isnt hard to find such sites )
      Vile people, men and women exist, in the real world , and on line.
      The overwhelming majority of men and women hold such trash sites in contempt.

      Commenter
      LeftyRoy
      Location
      Cidnee
      Date and time
      September 27, 2012, 8:48AM
      • "For every site that carries such gross disrespect for women, a man hating site can also be found".- Please provide proof that there are equal numbers of both types of sites. Show me the research.
        Once again someone has to try to distract from the argument with some unsupported evidence of how "evil" women are too.
        If you really believe it, do your own opinion piece (with evidence) on how women use the internet to ridicule men.

        Commenter
        Les
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 11:19AM
      • "Look around and dig deep and long enough, and all types or crass, revolting creepiness can be found on line" and you know this how?????

        Commenter
        Andrew
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 11:58AM
    • Its contributing to a basic lack of respect towards other people that I see gradually developing in society today. I don't think its hysterical or facile to draw a link between this kind of website and violence towards women at all. Every little thing like this contributes to the gradual shift from thinking of women as actual people to "disembodied, identity-less" body parts for the consumption of men. Its not ok just to let this slide in my book.

      Commenter
      Susan
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 27, 2012, 8:54AM
      • So many men display a what can only be described as a rape mentality, even though I imagine many of the same men feel disgusted when they hear a woman has been violently raped. Whether its having our bums, breasts and even vulvas grasped at by men walking sidling in nightclubs who melt into the crowd by the time you turn around, men uploading photos of women onto the internet without permission, men harassing women in the street after being asked to stop requesting sex/asking invasive questions, men slowing down in their cars as a woman walks alone and shouting sexist epithets from the car windows or men suggesting that women who refuse to have sex after talking to them are 'dick-teases' who broke some kind of 'contract' with them, women are subjected to threatening behaviour by men who seem to think that consent is irrelevent and who seem to relish in the discomfit displayed by a woman who feels endangered/disturbed. Such actions serve to normalize the experience of feeling threatened for women, to make us feel that harassment is nothing out of the ordinary. The problem is so profoundly pervasive that we come to feel that we lack the time and the energy to demand investigation every time a comparatively minor incident occurs or every time that we feel we have had a 'near-miss' that could have escalated into a seriously dangerous situation.

        Commenter
        Jenny
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 8:55AM
        • "The problem is so profoundly pervasive that we come to feel that we lack the time and the energy to demand investigation every time a comparatively minor incident occurs or every time that we feel we have had a 'near-miss' that could have escalated into a seriously dangerous situation"

          Thanks for your comment Jenny. I'm sorry you feel this way, but reading the article and some of the other comments here it becomes very clear just how much of the puerile attitude that leads to this situation exists out there, and how understandable it is that you have reached this point. Interesting as well that this comes on the same day that Catherine Denevy has said that she didn't bother reporting having been attacked by the same guy suspected of being responsible for Jill Meagher's disappearance , on the grounds that it's so common that she didn't think the police would do anything about following up.

          While I'd like to think that most men don't behave in this way, it does seem as though there is a critical mass of them who do - and here I'm referring partly to all those people who say that "womens' magazines are no different", or "by writing about this you're just publicising it".

          So to everyone making these comments, or taking/looking at creepshots, I think you should read Jenny's last sentence again and think about how you're contributing to making the world into a place where the default is for people to feel the need to protect themselves from everyone else that they come across. This attitude has nothing to do with masculinity and everything to do with your being dysfunctional human beings. You have a lot of growing up to do - so now would be a good time to start.

          Commenter
          ssscrambled
          Location
          Ashfield
          Date and time
          September 27, 2012, 12:32PM
      • Whilst I in no way condone this site, it would be interesting to see how many of the subjects (or anyone who simply finds the site abhorrent) buys New Idea / Hello / Woman's Day et al every week and actually pay their hard-earned to treat anyone with some public profile in a similarly demeaning fashion.

        Commenter
        Harvey K-Tel
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 8:59AM
        • Good point. Especially paparazzi shots with a telephoto lens of celebrities in a bikini at the beach pointing out possible cellulite on their bottom and thighs or focusing on their stomach.

          Commenter
          just as bad
          Date and time
          September 27, 2012, 11:14AM
      • Revolting.

        Commenter
        Michelle
        Date and time
        September 27, 2012, 9:02AM

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