Donating to Cancer Research Does Not Absolve You From Being Awful

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A deeply gross, widely reported on Reddit group called The Fappening has figured out a way to make it up to all the celebrity ladies whose nude photos were stolen, distributed, and widely, and publicly dissected: Donate to cancer research. The Redditors raised a significant amount of cash for the Prostate Cancer Foundation in the wake of the nude photo incident, which was, to the Foundation’s credit, rejected because of the motivation behind the campaign. And that motivation, in case you weren’t clear, is that you can buy your way out of being a reprehensible human.  Guess what, dudes? You can’t exchange charitable donations for a get-out-of-being-a-dick-for-free card.

The leaking of the cache of celebrity nude photos has been extensively covered, as has the reaction of certain seedy corners of the Internet where users responded in disbelief and anger to the idea that those pictures being taken down. The implication is that men’s right to see, possess, and evaluate female bodies is absolute; one that trumps those women’s personal rights to privacy and choice. Their selection of the Prostate Cancer Foundation–and not, say, an organization to help sexual abuse survivors or a foundation funding research into ovarian or breast cancer–cemented the idea that men’s bodies are the ones that matter.

Sure, there are worse things to do with your money than giving it to a worthy cause. And I don’t wish to denigrate the noble goals of the Prostate Cancer Foundation or in any way diminish what is an awful disease than many men suffer from. But the strategy of this community is to do something that essentially applauds a sex crime and then pat themselves on the back for forwarding some cash to charity. It reminds me of that old Mitch Hedberg joke about making up for eating something unhealthy by chasing it with a salad. “Like you could eat a carrot with an onion ring and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, ‘It’s cool, he’s with me,'” Hedberg would crack.

The same faulty logic is at work here. The imperative is not to be a sleaze in the first place, to reconsider their frankly disturbing initial reaction, not to just throw money somewhere to half-mockingly atone for it. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. This isn’t the middle ages; you can’t buy indulgences. What you can do is perhaps consider that women–even women who routinely appear in movies–are people first and lust objects somewhere long down the list.

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