We’re in a whole new era of once-private behavior spilling over into the public domain via social media. The rules are fluid, and as is usually the case, applied differently to men and women.
Case in point: A young female math teacher in Long Island, reportedly highly skilled and on the verge of getting tenure, sent a topless nude photo of herself to her then-boyfriend, a colleague she was dating. The photo became public, her students began passing it around, and she was suspended from her job and then fired. She is suing to be reinstated, or for compensation on the loss of her job.
Anthony Weiner went to jail for his online sexting photos, which he sent to minors — despite his political power as an elected official. Jeff Bezos basically told the National Inquirer to buzz off for his indiscreet pics, and has seemingly suffered no adverse consequences — his marriage was already on the rocks. Bezos came at his battle from a position of wealth and power that gave him defenses most of us will never have. This young woman lost her job over her topless photo, and will have trouble getting another one in her field. She had no cards to play, really, not even the protection of tenure.
By now we all know, have to know, that compromising photos — and I’m revealing my age when a call a nude topless pic a “compromising photo” — sent online, even to a single trusted person, are likely to wind up circulating on social media forever. People can also be victims of doctored photos, made to look like nude pics of them; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has had fake nude photos of her posted to the Internet. You can question this young teacher’s maturity, or her judgment or her choice of men — although apparently not her intelligence or teaching ability.
We’ve all had teachers. Many of you have been teachers, or have worked in school buildings with teachers. Some of you are parents, or trusted aunts, uncles, or grandparents. If you were this young woman’s principal, or served on the school board whose members ultimately made the decision, would you have fired her? Why or why not?