What are ‘creepshots’?
MetaReddit/Creepshots defines creepshots as:
… the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera… Use stealth, cunning and deviousness to capture the beauty of your unsuspecting, chosen target.
A creepshot is focused on women’s clothed bodies. Images are sexually suggestive rather than sexually explicit, and are different from other forms of technology-facilitated sexual violence like revenge pornography, upskirting, and unsolicited dick pics. However, the term may be used interchangeably with sexually explicit practices.
The advent of technology has paved the way for devices like the shoe spy camera, camera pens, and Google Glass. These have made it easier for men to photograph unsuspecting women and share those images widely.
Why do men do it?
There is limited research that looks at why men engage in this practice. However, a recent study exploring men’s sexual street harassment found that men felt it was a harmless and fun activity, that women enjoyed it, and that women deserved it.
At this time we can only speculate why men might choose to take a creepshot. Perhaps it is a way they can bond with men and demonstrate masculinity. Perhaps they view it as harmless, or they have sexual entitlement to women’s bodies.
Or, perhaps it is another way to limit women’s access to public spaces.
Is it legal?
As MetaReddit/Creepshots contends:
… there is nothing here that breaks any laws. When you are in public, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. We kindly ask women to respect our right to admire your bodies and stop complaining.
Creepshots are not illegal in Australia. The reasonable expectation to privacy does not include public spaces, nor are they considered sexual violence unless involving people under 18.
The secretive nature of the creepshot also means women do not have the opportunity to confront perpetrators, and may put themselves at risk of aggressive retaliation.
Current legal options are limited, but include:
asking/reporting websites to take material down; or
demonstrating that the image is defamatory, has violated reasonable expectation to privacy, is an image of a person under 18, or is harassing and offensive.
Despite what some men say, the creepshot is harmful and not a victimless crime. Effort should be made to consider the role creepshots have in the denigration of women, and broader questions concerning privacy, the body, and public spaces.
The claim that admiration is the motivation seems wholly undermined by the effort that goes into hiding the practice.
Authors: Andrea Waling, Research Officer, La Trobe University