Creepshot Or Not? Sanitary-Napkin Girl Edition

Paleo Retiree writes:


For the “No, it’s not a Creepshot” side, I can see the following arguments:

  • The taking and the publishing of the photo obviously weren’t motivated by lust but by amazement at what a clueless and low-class place America often is. If we can’t make and share humorous observations about the life around us, what’s the point of getting out of bed in the morning?
  • The woman’s face can’t be seen, so who cares if her undies and more are being put on public display?

And for the “Yes, it’s a Creepshot” side:

  • Yoga pants! Transparency! Thong! Bra! And the pic was obviously sneaked! Permission was almost certainly not requested! If those aren’t markers of an authentic Creepshot, what is?
  • How can we know for sure that the person who snapped and published the pic wasn’t motivated by lust? Weirder things have been heard of than someone who gets off on sanitary napkins. Perhaps we’d be better off condemning him/her right off the bat, because these prissy days it’s best not to take any chances.

Are there additional factors I’m overlooking? And where do you come down on the crucial “Is it a Creepshot or not?” question in this case? FWIW, my own deep thoughts don’t go a lot further than, “Hey, when life presents you with something like this, how can you not sneak and share a shot of it?”


  • Previous installments in our ongoing “Creepshot or Not?” series: here, here, here, here, here and here. OK, so the theme has become a bit of an obsession in these parts.
  • Bras in public.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Creepshot Or Not? Sanitary-Napkin Girl Edition

  1. Will S. says:

    Paleo Retiree, do you realize that if it hasn’t already been thought of – I don’t want to Google it and know – you’ve potentially created a new fetish by imagining it? 😉

    If you can imagine it, usually somebody else already has, or soon will, get off on it…

    A few years ago, I wondered idly if anyone gets off on acne. Don’t go looking, is all I will say. There’s at least one piece of written erotica somewhere online, which I’m not sure if genuine or parody, about a couple getting off on popping each others zits as foreplay / during…

    I also wondered if anyone ate each others’ fingernail and toenail clippings, but I haven’t investigated that… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Upon closely examining the photo (ugh) I see that she is wearing her sanitary pad attached to thong panties.

    A female member of the Pensier household tells me that this is, not to put too fine a point on it, extremely ill-advised. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will S. says:

      I should imagine that a thong isn’t exactly going to do a great job at holding it in place, not to mention the unsightly bulge viewable when wearing yoga pants like this, or anything similarly tight…

      If a guy can figure that out, what the hell is wrong with her? Sheesh!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. agnostic says:

    The scene itself is way creepier here. Not like those airheaded babes pretending to read books in bikinis. Pic-snapper absolved.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fenster says:

    Creepshot or not? Does that depend on what question you are really asking? Are you asking the question literally–meaning do the photos fall within the definition of the term?–or are you asking something else.

    Consider the question literally. To answer whether a photo is a creepshot you have to have a definition of the term. Now, that’s a bit tricky since I don’t think the word is (yet) in the OED. Butt a quick once-over of the web indicates that there seems to be a rough consensus on what the term means. The Urban Dictionary says a creepshot is “a picture taken, generally of a woman, without her knowledge or consent. Creepshots are similar to upskirts, but are usually of the butts of women in yoga pants, or shots of women who happen to be showing a great amount of cleavage.” I don’t necessarily trust the UD, but that does seem to be a good working definition. It is in keeping with the term as used on Reddit and other websites.

    A Google image search for “creepshot” generates photos that appear to be in keeping with the UD definition.

    The critical pieces of that definition concern 1) non-consent and 2) sexual nature. Also, while not stated clearly, there is an implication that the photographer is male and the subjects female.

    Looked at this way, there is an answer to the question you have posted on numerous occasions: of course these photos are creepshots, since they easily fit within the definition of the term. Note here, too, that creepshot is not just the bluestocking term–it is the term happily employed by the people doing the photography and the posting.

    So if your question is taken literally–yes to creepshots.

    I do think you are asking a different question though.


    • Fenster says:

      And BTW here is a link to the BBC show In Our Time–an excellent show–on the topic of the original bluestockings.


    • Like much recent slang, the term “creepshot” is a moving target. I’ve seen it applied to many different kinds of pix, from non-sexy pix that were simply sneaked in public to upskirt shots taken of girls in classes that were pretty clearly motivated by naughty urges. And if you do a Google Images search on “creepshot” you’ll be presented with lots of different kinds of pix: plenty of shots of girls out in public wearing leggings, short-shorts and/or yoga pants, god knows, but also shots of girls’ feet in flipflops, shots of girls’ cleavage, and even some shots of guys. But that’s part of what makes discussions about the phenom fun. How do people feel (and what do people think) about this kind of thing? Some people think creepshots (whatever the hell they are) are a hoot, while others are appalled by them. Some people seem shocked to learn that society allows a photographer to sneak off pics of strangers in public and post them online without permission. (“How can this be permitted?????”) It seems that the general feeling about what the expression signifies is something like, “a photo sneaked off in a public place of someone, with the snapping of the photo having been motivated by lust.” But I dunno, maybe the definition will evolve to be more encompassing than that, or to indicate something else entirely.

      But why has the discussion cropped up at all, given that people have been sneaking off and publishing pix of other people in public for more than a century? When something that’s been standard practice for a long time — and around which all the issues (legal, moral, and aesthetic) have been hashed-out and settled for almost as long — becomes a topic of debate all over again, it’s a remarkable moment.

      As far as I can tell, the discussion is largely being driven by changes in media technology (mainly the proliferation of digital imaging devices and the ease of digital publishing) and by the arrival on the scene of a young generation of people who are apparently completely unaware of the history of photography as well as spoiled and “entitled” in previously unseen ways. It’s fun to muck around in these developments. Perhaps the nature of digital imaging tech somehow fundamentally changes the nature of our relationship to the taking and sharing of pix, and maybe it does so in a way that demands new legal and moral responses. Maybe not. On the other hand, maybe what’s really happening is that for some reason (which reason?) we’ve allowed a generation of ignorant, spoiled brats to impose a completely unnecessary (since all these issues were settled out long ago) public debate on us.

      Hey, here’s one question (a standard in classes about the art and ethics of photography) that’s always fun to play with: how much do we really know about the photograph at hand? The photo in the current posting, for instance: Do we know whether it was taken by a male or a female? That it was or wasn’t staged? That the person who did the snapping was motivated by lust or by something else entirely? That the person in the photo will ever know about it? That the person in the photo would be displeased by it? Assuming it’s an unstaged photo, and assuming that the near-impossible happens and the woman in the photo finds out about the photo, do we know for certain that she’d be upset? Perhaps she wouldn’t be; maybe she’d just give a horse laugh and find it a riot.

      Even as the guy who ran across the photo online and decided to re-publish it here, I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. Not a one. So, for myself, my mature and considered answer to the “creepshot or not?” question is: Assuming that by “creepshot” we indeed mean “photo sneaked off in public of a person that’s motivated by lust”, how in in the world can we really know?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fenster says:

        I dunno. I don’t think the term is really all that much a moving target. Sure there’s the occasional picture of feet in sandals in the Google Images for “creepshot” but the internet is a hive mind, and all that means is that someone took a photo of a co-workers feet and dubbed it a creepshot, perhaps ironically even. The vast majority of images are non-consensual pictures of females with some sort of sexual dimension–cleavage, butt cracks, yoga pants, underwear, etc. So I do continue to think that the answer to your basic question–yes or no?–is yes. Not that there’s anything (necessarily) wrong with that.

        I very much agree that we are in a funny place right now, seemingly poised between libertine and prudish urges. You see that in the campus dust-up about sexual assault, too. We run our campuses for maximum student satisfaction, including turning a blind eye to illegal drinking and drug use, party-hearty behavior, etc. But then we turn on a dime and expect levels of virtuous behavior incompatible with the environments we have created. I think a lot of what is going on with so-called creepshotting is of a piece with this: our culture simultaneously says to let it all hang out AND to behave like a perfect gentleman/woman.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. peterike2 says:

    That’s one downward dog I never want to see.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fenster– That’s a nice description of the situation on campus (which, as those kids age, is quickly reproducing itself in the larger world). Thanks. We may have to agree to disagree about a few other things though. Three points I can’t resist trying to make:

    1) Many people by this point apparently assume that a “creepshot” has some sexual dimension. Can you really say that the pic I included in this posting — featuring, as it does, at its focus point a sanitary napkin — does have a sexual (as in “erotic”) dimension? If so, you move in even stranger circles than I do. Assuming the pic is what it appears to be at first glance, it seems to me safest to assume that the pic isn’t a turn-on for most viewers and wasn’t a turn-on for the photographer. Just a guess, but why not assume that the pic was taken in a spirit of “Whoa, can you believe this?” more than “Omigod, look how hot this is”?

    2) Despite what most people seem to think, there are plenty of examples online of people who take “creepshot” to mean no more than “pic snapped without the human subject’s approval.” Here’s one example that took me about 30 seconds to turn up: The Wire defines “creepshot” as “a photograph taken without another person’s knowledge.” Somehow, for some people, the old photographic category of “candid” or “street” photography has been turned into “creepshot” photography. That’s a weird and interesting development. Are people who fret about creepshots in this way simply not aware that people have been taking candid photographs of other people in public for well over a century? Or has something else in the atmosphere changed?

    3) Unfounded assumptions abound where photos are concerned, and intentions are often read into them without any substantiation whatsoever. Your average shot of a girl’s butt in yoga pants, for instance. If it’s a creepshot in part because we’re under the impression that it was taken by a hetero male who was motivated by naughty thoughts about that butt, does it remain a creepshot if we learn that it was in fact taken by a woman, or by a gayguy, whose motivation wasn’t remotely lustful but was instead “good lord, would you look at what people are wearing in public today”? A creepshot in the first case; not a creepshot in the second case? … Yet it’s the same set of pixels in both cases. The circumstances behind the taking of snapshots is often impossible to know, and the motivations of the people taking pix is often even more impossible to know. Gray-zone complications are beyond-easy to dream up. For example: imagine a pic taken by a “fashion critic”-type gayguy of a girl wearing stupidly revealing clothes and published on his blog. Now let’s say that the shot is republished by some straight dude on his creepshots Tumblr blog. Is the same bundle of pixels NOT a creepshot on the fashion critic’s blog but IS a creepshot on the fratboy’s blog? Another example: Perhaps some of the pix on “People of Wal-Mart,” as gross as they are, were snapped out of lustful motivations. And perhaps some of the pix on, as appealing-to-erotic-interests as they seem to be, were snapped out of nothing more than amazement at what girls are going out in public dressed in these days. 99% of the time we really have no way of knowing. So why is it the default assumption that all “creepshots” have been snapped and published by guys who are just this side of rapists? (I’m not exaggerating.) The suspicion arises that the anxiety is being promoted by people with political agendas, and by girls and young women who are 1) naive, and shocked to discover that they can be photographed without their permission and 2) are vain enough to think that the reason behind every candid shot of them MUST be lust.


    • Fenster says:

      Methinks you murder to dissect. I am making a broad, fat, middle-of-the-bell curve observation about what the term has come to mean most of the time for most people.

      You can get lost in arguments about things like the motivation of the shooter (“same pixels either way!”) or the fact that some photos, like the sanitary napkin one, toy with the private part issue without fully embracing the lust aspect.

      It’s like with Sally Mann photos. Family photos or kiddie porn? Those are interesting arguments but they tend to exist at the edges of the bell curve, the hard questions that exist because they are close calls. Most of life isn’t a close call. Over here you have a baby taking a bath and over there you have kiddie porn and most of the time you know what bucket to put the picture in. So all’s I’m saying is that in the main people understand a creepshot to be a certain thing involving (typically) a male shooter taking pictures of women’s bodies, typically but not exclusively emphasizing a sexual aspect, without consent. I just went back and drilled even further through Google and it just seems inarguable to me that that’s what the term has come to mean, occasional sanitary napkin photo notwithstanding.

      I went to The Wire article you linked to. I think we are in total agreement that that definition of creepshotting is asinine. It absolutely attempts to negate over a hundred years of photographic practice, everything from vacation pictures to high art. But note that the author is explicitly looking to narrow the definition from the conventional Urban Dictionary one involving butts, cleavage and yoga pants–essentially acknowledging that’s what a “the people say” while making an argument for a more stringent definition. I don’t think a broad sentiment against any and all street photography would have much traction, and I don’t see much of that out there. Indeed, the second article you link to does not take issue with public photography but with the non-consensual sexual element per se. True, the author goes around the bend in making the argument that creepshotting is a gateway behavior to rape. But she’s not against public photography–just creepshotting as commonly understood.

      If you don’t find the practice problemmatic I suppose you could mount an argument for changing the name, which is pretty perjorative. But it’s like Native Americans and the Redskins name–the people who ought to object seem not to care. Indeed, the term looks like it is actively embraced by people who like to post the photos they take.

      Did you follow the Reddit controversy? The Creepshot pages were up then down. Then an anti-creepshotter decided to run a Reddit page that identified people who posted creepshots by name. It is, or was, an ingenious counter, no? I mean if you are out there in the public shooting, and someone can figure out who you are, who are you to demand anonymity?


  7. ironrailsironweights says:

    It’s obviously hot out, why is she carrying a winter jacket?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s