Taking photos of people in the locker room isn't just gross, it's assault
Update, 11:50 a.m. PT, Nov. 7: Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers was formally charged with "invasion of privacy." If convicted, Mathers faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 28.
Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers posted a nude photo to her Snapchat story Wednesday night, and people are rightfully furious — not because it was one of her nudes, but that of an unsuspecting woman in the locker room of her gym.
"If I can't unsee this, then you can't either," she wrote on the snap that showed a nude woman about 50 feet away from her. She deleted it, but the damage was already done — people screen-shot the photo and started circulating it on the web.
And like every celebrity called out for their shitty behavior, she posted an "apology" on Twitter — an apology for making it public. The posts are now deleted, along with all of her social media accounts, but it talked about how she celebrates women of all shapes and sizes, and she's sorry for body-shaming and blah, blah, blah.
She also posted a Snapchat apology, writing that she was sorry and that "the photo was taken as part of a personal conversation with a girlfriend and because I am new to Snapchat I didn't realize I had posted it, and that was a huge mistake. I know I have upset a lot of people out there but please believe me this is not the type of person that I am. I have never done this before and I will never do this again, you have my word."
Here's the infuriating thing: It's not just body-shaming. Yes, she made fun of this woman's body, but it's much, much more than that.
It's a form of sexual assault, and she should be held accountable by the law.
This woman did not give consent for her photo to be taken clothed, let alone nude in a private locker room. The Video Voyeurism Protection Act, passed in 2004, prohibits "the photographing or videotaping of a naked person without his or her permission in a gym, tanning salon, dressing room or anywhere else where one expects a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.'" Penalties for breaking the law include fines of up to $100,000 to a year in prison.
Further, this was reportedly taken at a gym in California. State law makes it a misdemeanor crime to "secretly videotape, film, photograph, or record by electronic means, another, identifiable person who may be in a state of full or partial undress, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person" in places where privacy is reasonably expected. It carries a penalty of a possible six months in jail, with a $1,000 fine.
Gym selfies that show off your hard work in the gym are undeniably popular — there's a whole industry on Instagram built around them — but it's never, ever OK to take photos or videos that show another person without their permission, let alone post them online. And the locker room? Why is this even a question? No.
Mathers said she plans to apologize to the woman, but the damage is already done. If I were that woman, I'd respond to her apology by serving her with a lawsuit — and possibly a free trip to jail.