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Monday, Sep. 30, 2013

The best student comment on "Selfies" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, October 13th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

Stacy is a sophomore in college who is addicted to Instagram. She regularly posts multiple photos a day showing her followers what she is up to. Stacy views Instagram as a way to stay connected with her friends. While many of these Instagram photos incorporate amazing sights or delicious-looking baked goods, she also posts a lot of selfies. One day Stacy posts a photo of herself by the pool in her new string bikini. Another day, she takes a picture of herself in a sexy camisole getting ready for bed.

These photos start to attract a lot of attention from her college peers. On her way to class one day she hears two guys she has never met talking about her as she walks by. She even sees one of her peers looking at one of her Instagram selfies on his phone in class.  

Stacy’s best friend, Andrea, confronts her about posting these photos. She claims that showing this kind of photo on social media is not only dangerous but also can make guys think of Stacy as a skank. Stacy says she is simply expressing herself through these selfies, and that if people don’t want to see these photos, then they can stop following her on Instagram.

Is Andrea right to be worried about Stacy? If guys take Stacy’s photos the wrong way, is that her responsibility? What if a man posted a photo of himself shirtless or in a bathing suit? Would that be a problem? If so, why is there a difference in the way we view photos put up by men and women?

Useful Resources:

A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

Video: It's Your Fault

Opinion from a Young Teenage Girl


Photo by Paige Worthy available under a Creative Commons license.

Comments Comments

J.G. said on Oct 7, 2013
We view photos put up by men and by women differently because of an institutionalized sexism that causes us to look at women with a madonna-whore complex. A man posting a picture of himself in a bathing suit isn't looked at with as much disdain because men wearing bathing suits hasn't been sexualized. It sounds like Stacy is comfortable with men she doesn't know looking at the selfies she posted, and as such, Andrea shouldn't be too worried about her. Stacy apparently has thought about it and, in general, knows what she's doing. It's when pictures are put up by a third party and the subject is blamed for something out of their control that situations become truly horrifying. As for guys taking Stacy's photos the wrong way, people can take practically anything the wrong way. Stacy shouldn't be blamed for the actions of others. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Adam said on Oct 13, 2013
Stacy faces a problem with social media that has become common in America. Although it can be useful tool to connect with your friends, especially those who may live far away, social media sites can cause serious problems if the are misused. Unfortunately, Stacy has become victim to the troubles that social media can cause. Luckily for Stacy, her friend Andrea is here to help her. Andrea needs to explain to Stacy that that, although she may not realize it, the photos that she posts on Instagram say a lot about who she is. Because these guys have never met Stacy, the only thing they know about her are her photos on Instagram. This can give Stacy a bad image. Stacy needs to realize that these photos can also hurt her in the future when looking for a job. Employers will look at these pictures when deciding whether or not to hire her. In order to prevent any bad impressions, Stacy needs to consider these factors before posting pictures. Unfortunately, in today's society, men are not portrayed in the same way. Although some pictures can still be damaging to their reputation, there is much more leeway with men. For men, a picture of them hanging out with their friends at the pool seems normal, with no negative connotation attached. Fortunately, this societal dichotomy has been gradually evening out since women began receiving rights in the mid 19th century. Hopefully, in the near future, we will live in a world where there is no perceived difference from a man who posts a picture shirtless in a bathing suit to a woman who posts a picture of her in a bikini at the beach. - Like - 11 people like this.
Z said on Oct 14, 2013
The rise of social media has risen many questions about the idea of permanency and the thought that once something is posted, it can't be fully retracted. For Stacy, this means that her photos on Instagram have a prevalence that extends far beyond their time in the newsfeed. Stacy's photos will remain prevalent in the image that she portrays about herself and the way that people view her. By posting pictures of herself by the pool and getting ready for bed, she is leaving herself prone to judgement and objectification by her peers. In the long run, such an action is more devastating to her than to any other stakeholders because after all, it is her reputation that is being compromised through the posting of these scandalous pictures. Knowing this, the act of posting such pictures should not be considered unethical if it was done willingly with full knowledge of the potential repercussions. Thus, Andrea has a right to be worried about Stacy if she thinks that her best friend is unknowingly compromising her self-image. Stacy's will to continue posting such pictures is clearly acknowledgement that she understands the type of self-image she may be portraying, so here it is beyond Andrea's control. In terms of the guys who follow Stacy on Instagram and view her pictures, it is in their own hands to view or not view the images as they determine ethical or not. If a man finds her images scandalous and knowingly obsesses over them in such a way, his act should be considered unethical. It would be the man's responsibility to remove himself from the temptation by simply un-following Stacy on Instagram. In contrast with Stacy, a man posting a picture in a bathing suit by the pool would not draw nearly as much attention. As others have pointed out, this "societal dichotomy" is unfortunate but inevitable. For this reason, it remains ethical for men to post such pictures so long as it does not draw attention to themselves in such a way as it does for Stacy. Until this double-standard changes, girls like Stacy should realize that doing so has the potential to tarnish their reputation as well as set others up for unethical actions in the way that those photos are viewed. - Like - 2 people like this.
The Big Q said on Oct 22, 2013
The Big Q appreciates all of your comments and the effort put into your responses. Unfortunately, The Big Q will not be giving out a prize for this dilemma as we received only 2 comments before the deadline and were unable to identify a winner between the two. We hope you continue to comment on our ethical dilemmas in the future. Best. - Like
BJTC_09 said on Jan 10, 2014
For me, It actually depends on the country they are residing. For example they are living in a democratic country, as long as they are not harming anyone and abiding all laws, then it will be fine. It just depends on the person's point of view to either see it as destructive or constructive. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Jared from CLASS said on Jan 22, 2014
Andrea has no right to worry about Stacie. In this age of social media, people know that what they post on the interwebs can be consumed by whoever and interpreted however they please. Andrea is slut shaming Stacie by suggesting that her posting selfies will make boys think that she's a skank. Stacie posts these photos to her instagram because she wants to express herself to her followers and stay connected with them. Anyone assuming that Stacie is a skank based on her instagram photos is partaking in a problematic mentality that suggests that men and women are expected to act a certain way respectively. - Like
Margo said on Jan 28, 2014
I find that there are 3 basic ways to look at the situation. 1) Stacey is to blame, 2) The men are to blame, and 3) Society is to blame. To place total culpability upon one party would require a truly ill-intentioned character, and in this situation all of the characters are not acting in a purposefully subversive manner, but rather making mistakes by falling into traps that arise from our weak human nature. Stacey is using her Instagram to 'connect', which is a great thing, but at what cost? She needs to be aware of the appropriateness of what she posts because though she may feel it is fine to expose herself in a bikini, to others it may be inappropriate and scandalous. This is not to say that she should conform her beliefs to anyone else's; but in this matter she does not hold any conviction, but she is culpable for inspiring provocative thoughts or behaviour by presenting herself, no matter how naively, as a sexual object. But it takes two to tango. The men are culpable for ingesting material they know will cause sexual thoughts and desires to demean Stacey into a sexual object, however at the same time they cannot help but see an instagram photo that is available to all, so Stacey is responsible for making this content available to all. The problem does not lie in the role of men or women in society, men are scientifically proven to be more aroused by visual stimuli, so naturally having a women in a visually stimulating position would arouse their interest and thus cause a greater 'scandal'. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Maria K said on Jan 28, 2014
I think there are a few ways to look at this situation. As for the first question stated, I believe that it is okay for her friend Andrea to be worried about her friend and show concern. I think it is a friends job to look out for each other but if the other party is not willing to change or listen to the friend, they are not obligated to do any more. My answer to the question regarding guys taking Stacy's photos in the wrong way, I think it is Stacy's responsibility. She should decide whether the photos she posts are appropriate and how she will be viewed if she posts provocative photos. I do not think it is a problem when women post photos in a bathing suit, and I think the same goes for men. As long as they are not being too provocative I do not see a problem posting photos like that in this time of day. Although there is a difference between men and women and the way we view the photos. I think that society and media is to blame for this and for now it will not be equal. - Like
Pablo mg said on Jan 29, 2014
People post all kid of photos on the social media. It is our choice to decide to look at them or not. Yes it is true that women start posting many selfies of their selves in bikini or showing off their bodies but if we do not like them we can ignore them. In my opinion if it was someone that I now I would not like them to post that kind of pictures. However, I cannot forbid them from uploading those pictures even though I can advise them. In addition, when talking about the third party even if we like it or not we cannot forbid them from posting the same pictures because they have their right to express their selves. In this case Andrea should not worry about Stacy since she is ok with her decisions and it does not harm her. - Like
Alejandro Yela said on Jan 30, 2014
Posting selfies nowadays has become a trend. Many people do it, however some of these cross the line between being social and losing privacy. In my opinion, overall there are too many people who do not know where this line is. The loss of privacy can be identified as a loss of personality or loss of humanity since you are giving away what is personal and intimate. In the article we can identify the superego, Andrea, who is trying to persuade her friend. There is a point where your personal life and your online (social) life can blend together. Andrea understands that was is happening is this and therefore gives advice to her friend on what to do. In my personal experience, these two types of life have blurred, what used to be clear, which one is most important, is know a source of confusion especially for teenagers who grow up without values imposed by their parents and instead learn solely from society. For example, I have a friend who tends to be very open when it comes to expressing feeling, moods and personal thoughts. She is open to the idea of taking selfies. However she has been raised both by society and her parents and therefore is open BUT only with some who she trusts and when she takes selfies instead of posting them, she just sends them to these people who she knows and cares about, which, in my opinion, is a far more rational choice than exposing yourself to strangers. The difference between men and women posting selfies is not that different. A women doing this is identified as more common and when asked about, the women are considered more an object of pleasure for the eye sight than men. Indeed the most important point here is the fact that men mostly do this and then direct it to women and viceversa. The reaction of women and men are completely different to these kind of pictures. In my experience, women take this more secretly while most men do not hesitate on commenting publicly about this or that photo. Men?s and women?s way of thinking is entirely different, which does not make it right in any case to expose your private life, however the effects you cause by making yourself a public item will make yourself more of an object in any of the cases. In my personal experience, men can be much more physical than women, and by exposing physically yourself with certain attire creates a sense of giving yourself away to a pack of hungry wolves. For example, I was sent a compromising photo to a friend and she went around showing it. This made me lose my privacy and furthermore turn a personal message into a public communication which in a way turned me into an object. - Like - 3 people like this.
Alejandro Avila said on Feb 17, 2014
un essay haha - Like
Senyu said on Feb 9, 2014
There is often a type of sexism that makes people to think men and women differently. Therefore, people would think of a woman as a skank if the woman posts a sexy photo on the Instagram. However, there would not be any negative thought if a man posts a photo himself shirtless, this is what we called the ?society value?. Users are able to choose whether they want to post their photos or not and also to decide which picture to post on the Instagram. In this case, Stacy probably had an idea of how would people think and comment on her photo before she posted the picture on the instagram. Therefore, Andrea should not be worried about Stacy because Stacy has the right to make her own decision. Lastly, we cannot say who should take the responsibility if a guy takes Stacy?s photo in the wrong way because it is totally depends on people?s point of view and they all have the same right to make their own decision. - Like
Alejandro Avila said on Feb 17, 2014
Andrea should know better than us. There are multiple aspects of a person that can influence their capability to handle social pressure from media. However, if she is at risk for having personal information completely public, perhaps she should take into consideration people with bad intentions. If the obtainable information from Instagram actually represents a threat, it is possible to set the account private, so that only people she trusts can see her posts. There is no difference men and women posting photos with limited clothing, other than the fact that women do not generally represent a significant threat to men merely by 'stocking' them. The reputation one builds in social life is definitely one's responsibility. - Like - 1 person likes this.
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