Just because I’m a hypocrite doesn’t mean you can be one.

In a month, it’ll be my ten year anniversary at my company, which means it will have been 10 years since I moved up here from Charlottesville. I spent the previous ten years saying, no, I’d never move to the DC area, it’s horrible, and now I love this area incredibly much.

And with my experience of 10 years, especially the past year or so, I can say that if I’d stayed in C’ville it would’ve been bad for me. I know the route I was taking. I am scared to death that I would’ve ended up being a neckbearded no-career-having MRA supporting asshole.

But, I’m not. I’m better than I was. And I’m still trying to be better, and sometimes it takes years to realize when you’ve failed.

About five years ago I dated a woman who was quite amazing (and thank god we’re still friends, because she’s awesome). At one point, she discovered I had the video of Erin Andrews, the peephole video, on my computer. She asked me why I had it.

“She’s pretty and I wondered what she looked like naked,” was the gist of my response.

I didn’t understand, I couldn’t even comprehend, that it might be wrong to watch that video. That she never consented to being taped. That she didn’t want people (like me) seeing that. That, just because she’s famous, didn’t give ME the right to ogle her bits that she preferred not to show off in public.

Let’s dive into that distinction a bit too. A person who has no nudes of his or herself (I’m just going to use the plural and fuck grammar, whatevs) doesn’t have them for a reason: they don’t want people to see them. Taking pictures of them when they don’t know and looking at them, much less POSTING THEM PUBLICLY, is a huge invasion of privacy and just a horrible thing to do.

A person who takes nudes of themself (note that), has never shared them, and has them taken off their phone/computer/etc.: same. They were not intended for sharing. They were not for others. NO ONE but the person in the picture has a right to those pictures.

A person who has nudes taken of themself, either by someone else for that person’s enjoyment, or that takes them of theirself and gives them to someone else, intends them only for that audience. This ain’t the NFL where you play lip service to the legalese at the beginning of a broadcast – if you weren’t specifically, explicitly given those pictures, THEY ARE NOT FOR YOU. NO MATTER HOW FAMOUS THE PERSON IS. That’s the kicker with J-Law, for instance. She’s not posed nude. She didn’t want those pics out.

You are a bad person if you think otherwise. I have been a bad person.

If you pose nude for something public, well, hey, that’s that, ya know? At least, as far as I can see.

Let’s talk about an anecdote, redacted as much as possible: There are two folks in this anecdote, one named Roberta and the other named Julio. I made those names up, but the story is true.

They had dated for a while, but it didn’t go anywhere other than to bed a few times. However, they remained friends, and after a while, Roberta sent Julio some images of her (and they were greatly appreciated).

Julio was not hugely successful with the ladies but realized if he shared those photos with friends, it would make him feel better about himself. “Sure,” he thought, “I might not be sleeping with tons (or any) women right now, but look how hot she is” he’d say, showing others the pics.

Years go on. He still does that.

Then: huge nude leak! All these celebs! OMG LOOK AT THIS!

He jumps onto the nudes, downloads as many as he can, shares them with friends. THESE ARE AWESOME.

But in the years, Julio isn’t the same person. He starts reading more, and he starts seeing women talk about what it’s like to have your pictures leak, to have them shared without permission. He hadn’t seen the problem before.

He realizes something.

HE IS THE PROBLEM.

Or, rather, I’m the problem.

I didn’t hack the nudes or anything like that. I just downloaded and shared. Just like I downloaded and shared someone else’s without asking.

Took me a long time to learn that and a lot of thinking to accept that.

I reached out to her and asked for forgiveness. She gave it to me. As someone who has spent the last year donating and trying to advocate for women, I need to do better. I’ve deleted what I can.

And now I’ll have to advocate more. Ten days ago was the last time I shared something I should not have, and so I’ll have to explain to those drunks (hi guys) why I was wrong to do so. Then to everyone else.

It’s a start, but maybe one day I won’t be a hypocrite.

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