‘I’m a Creep, I’m a Weirdo’: Street Photography in the Service of the Male Gaze
Chapter 10 in Surveillance, Privacy and Public Space, edited by Bryce Clayton Newell, Tjerk Timan, and Bert-Jaap Koops (Routledge: Routledge Studies in Surveillance book series, 2018).
20 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2020
Date Written: 2018
This chapter considers two phenomena, both of which involve the digitally-mediated collection and sharing of images of people without their knowledge or consent. In the first, “creepshots,” individuals take surreptitious photographs and share them on online message boards. In the second, individuals scour virtual street maps (such as Google Street View) for “notable” images that are then placed elsewhere online for others to review. In both cases, there is a large and anonymous audience viewing the images. In both cases, women in public or quasi-public spaces are the overwhelming targets of this digital gaze. In both cases, the online commentary quickly becomes sexual in nature, and is frequently overtly hostile. This chapter argues that these practices implicate different kinds of harms — broader, more diffuse — than conventional privacy invasions. As such, rather than being understood through the rubric of ‘privacy’ they are better understood as a new form of public surveillance. Consequently, legal mechanisms grounded in the typical (liberal) dichotomous understanding of what is public and what is private are unlikely to prove an adequate solution.
Keywords: privacy, law, surveillance, google, internet, reddit, women, gender, photography, public, private
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