Well, one butt. Justin Bieber’s butt. It’s come to this.
Earlier today the Beebs posted a photo on Instagram. He was naked on a boat and you could see his butt.* Like full frontal in reverse. Full back-tal, if you will. The comments on the post were disturbing, to say the least. The majority of them were some variation of “turn around” and “show us your penis.” Look, I don’t know why Justin rides on boats naked but he’s free to post his butt on as many social mediums as he chooses and I’m cool with people commenting and acknowledging that it’s nice. But there’s a difference between “nice butt” and “get out the D.” Hint: the difference is that one is sexual harrasment. And I know that some people will claim that the Beeb’s is “asking for it” and if he didn’t want comments like that he “wouldn’t have posted the picture in the first place,” but those people are wrong. You can compliment someone on their appearance or comment on a “sexy” photo in a way that isn’t harassment. I’m not saying that all comments on naked photos are harassment but when you’re straight-up demanding and begging that someone show you their genitals, you’re crossing a line.
And I know that part of the reason why the comments were so egregious was because of Justin’s celebrity status. And part of the reason why the comments were overlooked was because they were made by girls. If he was just some random Canadian, the comments wouldn’t have been nearly as bad and they likely wouldn’t have been made at all. However, society tends to view women as if they can’t be perpetrators and treat celebs as these higher, isolated beings exempt from things like basic human decency and respect. But that’s another post. I could continue to wax poetic about Justin Bieber’s butt comments, but the comments aren’t my biggest issue with this whole thing; it’s the double standard of it all.
Let’s pretend that, instead of Justin Bieber, Emma Stone had posted the photo. She posted her full back-tal and, in true internet fashion, it blew up. The comments were the same. Plenty of heart eye, weird tongue, winky face emojis, and pleas of “show us the V!” People would be pissed. There would calls for the arrest of the commenters and blasting them on social media and many a think piece about the what it’s like to navigate the internet as a woman. So, where is all of that now? Where are the click bait headlines decrying Instagram’s moderation system? Where are the trending hashtags about male harassment? Where are the people defending the Beeb’s right to post his butt online without getting a bunch of creepy comments? Sexual harassment is the same thing regardless of the victim of perpetrator. It’s all bad. It doesn’t matter if one party is famous and the other is a bunch of girls. It doesn’t matter if it’s one comment or one hundred. It’s. All. Bad. The responses to Beiber’s photo aren’t any better or worse than if it was Stone instead. I’m not in the business of ranking harassment. But equality has to work for everyone or it won’t work for anyone. If we are going to defend Emma Stone’s right to post her butt online, we have to defend Justin Bieber’s too. That’s just the way it is. If we’d be grossed out by a male’s suggestive comments, we need to be grossed out by a female’s too. Equality for all. Butts included.
*Is this a thing rich people do? Chill on boats naked? Could a rich person please confirm?