bettie page putting on stockings

How many times do we need to explain that it’s creepy to sexually exploit dead people? Bettie Page is the most recent victim of this weird-ass phenomenon.

Page Six recently published never-before-seen nude photographs of the world’s most famous pin-up girl. The photos are artifacts from a “camera club,” which film director Mark Mori explains: “Before nude pictures could be legally published, there were these ‘camera clubs’ in dingy New York offices, where men could go to photograph girls.” Page Six adds, “In some instances, 30 or 40 men would pay to take a field trip organized by the ‘club,’ where Page and other models were paid about $25 for a nudie shot.”

Bettie Page is famous for her unabashed displays of sexuality, and particularly for her bondage and fetish modeling. Yes. She was apparently not the kind of person who would blanch at the idea of being seen naked. Yes. She posed willingly for these pictures. Yes. But isn’t it an important detail that this photoshoot was for a private audience? And not for, you know, the entire readership of the NY Post?

Even if a woman chooses to display her sexuality over and over again, that doesn’t mean her body forever belongs to the public.

This makes me think of how we treat today’s sex symbols. Paris Hilton became a worldwide joke when her boyfriend published a private video of her having sex. She sued him, said she never made a dime from its release, and even implied a lack of consent by stating that she was “out of it” during the taping. Kim Kardashian‘s sex tape was also leaked against her will. I’ve never gone looking for either video, but I’ve seen both of them. We play them at parties and make gifs of them for Tumblr. Our culture views “sluts” as public domain.

Maybe Bettie Page would be totally chill with the way these photos are being distributed. The character she played publicly definitely wouldn’t mind. The problem is, though, that nobody asked her. Shouldn’t we care about that? If someone isn’t around to consent to their nudes being in Page Six, don’t put their nudes in Page Six.

[Via Page Six / Film still from YouTube]