A hot, naked, blonde woman caught on tape. A lot of straight men don’t need to hear anything more. Sold.
But what if we find out the video was filmed without the knowledge of the unwitting star? What if it’s a super creepy invasion of privacy?
Same reaction, apparently. Yeah, the grossest part of this whole Erin Andrews story—the pretty, blonde ESPN sports reporter who was recorded naked in her hotel room through a peephole—isn’t that some creep made a peeping Tom video. It’s how so many people, knowing Andrews didn’t consent to being filmed, still wanted to watch it.
In the past few days, I’ve read a bunch of comments on blog posts justifying the pervy cameraman because Andrews has a reputation for being sexy. (Or maybe it’s just themselves—the viewers—they are justifying.) She used her sexuality, they say. She flaunted it, even!
It’s 2009. How can people still be blaming the victim? Do they really believe different standards of privacy, respect and decency apply to Andrews just because she’s a beautiful, sexy woman on TV? How can people who viewed the tape (before supposed links to the tape blasted them with a computer virus instead) not feel like they’re violating her?
Maybe the problem is that they don’t feel like they’re violating Andrews. Jennie Yabroff, a blogger at Newsweek.com, asked why, with so much free porn available online, would people get excited over a grainy video of a naked woman whose identity wasn’t 100% known until ESPN lawyers confirmed it recently. Her answer is especially prescient: violating privacy just isn’t taboo anymore.
“…It’s doubtful Andrews would have caused such a stir had she posed for the magazine. What’s really provocative about the Andrews tape, what makes it good copy for Fox et al., is not that she’s naked, but that she thinks she’s alone.
Privacy, it seems, is the new nudity. This is why, when Jennifer Aniston poses topless for the cover of GQ magazine no one does more than shrug, but when paparazzi catch her sunbathing topless, its tabloid fodder for weeks…It’s not so much a desire to see nudity as it is to see candor, to see what the person looks like when she’s unaware she’s being watched. It’s the impulse behind “Stars: They’re Just Like Us,” and Gawker Stalker. It’s voyeurism, pure and simple.”
Or maybe Anna N. at Jezebel summed it up best when she wrote, “Internet viewers may be more excited about objectifying women [like Andrews] they haven’t already objectified.”
In Andrews’ case, voyeurism meets sexism for a far creepier hybrid of awful than we could have imagined: She puts her hot body on TV like a slut, so it’s fine if I treat her like one! Maybe ESPN will catch and punish the perv (rumored by Radaronline.com to be from their own ranks) who actually believed that nonsense enough to videotape the sportscaster without her knowledge. But I’m more worried about everybody else who was watching.