Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, you probably heard about the Internet shitstorm caused by former playmate Dani Mathers this past July when she secretly photographed a 70-year-old woman changing at the gym, and posted it on Snapchat with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this, then you can’t either.”
I don’t know about you, but when I heard about that, I almost decided I would never set foot in a gym again, or in any public place where assholes like Mathers might lurk and snap secret photos of me to make fun of with all their friends. Besides what it must have meant to that poor woman she shamed, Mathers’ actions made us all feel violated, creeped out, and pissed the fuck off.
Mathers eventually attempted an apology, and I’m sure her life was wrecked over the ordeal to some extent, but honestly, it’s hard to feel too sorry for her. A grown ass woman shouldn’t need to issue an apology for something like this, because it should NEVER HAPPEN to begin with. Her words don’t erase the humiliation of her victim.
But now, as reported by BuzzFeed news, justice is being served to Mathers, in the form of one count of invasion of privacy. If convicted, Mathers would face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to the LA Times, her conviction is actually pretty unprecedented. Invasion of privacy charges are relatively common against “peeping Toms” who secretly take sexually suggestive pictures of women. Mathers’ case is unusual because her charges are tied specifically to the body-shaming that was the stand-out characteristic of her case.
But the thing is, this sort of thing is actually not that unusual, and with the way that social media is rapidly taking over our lives—and will continue to—these sorts of cases will unfortunately keep popping up. So Mathers’ charge in this case has the power to serve as a precedent for future cases. It will hopefully act as a deterrent to cyber bullies as well.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feur summed it up perfectly, in a statement to BuzzFeed News:
“Body shaming is humiliating, with often painful, long-term consequences,” Feur said. “It mocks and stigmatizes its victims, tearing down self-respect and perpetuating the harmful idea that our unique physical appearances should be compared to air-brushed notions of ‘perfect.’ What really matters is our character and humanity. While body-shaming, in itself, is not a crime, there are circumstances in which invading one’s privacy to accomplish it can be. And we shouldn’t tolerate that.”
A-freaking-men. We should all absolutely have a zero-tolerance policy for body shaming. Yes, using social media as a tool to shame someone takes things a step further, but really, there is no place for body shaming of any kind in a civilized society. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Republican presidential candidate.)
Dani Mathers is scheduled for arraignment on November 28th, and while I don’t celebrate her demise, I think it’s important that she absolutely be held responsible for what she did, and that we all take her case quite seriously indeed, with the understanding that there is nothing acceptable about humiliating any human being for their appearance, at all, not for one second, ever.