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Douchebag Decree: Girls Gone Wild and Jane Doe's jury of leers

When a jury basically says "you were asking for it" in legalese, you know it's bad. That's what Jane Doe heard when last week a St. Louis court that decided that "playing to the camera" meant revoking her right to privacy.

a black t shirt that reads 'sometimes no means yes'

Jane Doe was seeking $5 million after learning that that footage of her breasts--exposed by someone else while the cameras rolled--appeared in the Girls Gone Wild movie Sorority Orgy. Awkwardly, Doe found out about her involvement in the film when her husband's friend told them after watching the 2004 video. (It appears Doe did not receive typical GGW compensation--a t-shirt).

Doe did not give consent to show her breasts--in fact, her saying "No, no," and mouthing "I can't," is also conveniently caught on camera. But did the Girls Gone Wild film company choose to honor her verbal objection? Of course not, that would be the non-douchey, respecting-women thing to do.

Doe went to court over the video, but after ninety minutes of deliberation, the jury did not find that she deserved compensation (the $5 million figure was derived from Sorority Orgy's projected $10 million gross). From STLToday.com (emphasis added):

Patrick O'Brien, the jury foreman, told a reporter that an 11-member majority decided that Doe had in effect consented by being in the bar and dancing for the photographer. In a trial such as this one, agreement by nine of 12 jurors is enough for a verdict.

"Through her actions, she gave implied consent," O'Brien said. "She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing."

Told of that reasoning, the tearful woman said, "I was having fun until my top was pulled off. And now this thing is out there for the world to see forever."

Chad Garrison, of the Daily RFT, who casually victim-blamed Doe last week (his editor apologized later) posted a half-hearted follow-up that contained even more telling/horrifying information about the trial, namely that the jury simply "did not find her credible."

Which all shows very clearly how the signifiers we're taught about "slutty" behavior hold up in court, and that a woman saying "No," and "I can't," and not signing a release form do not stand up in court as "consent." That an "implied consent" read by others somehow trumps the woman's own assertion to bodily autonomy is frightful indeed. Garrison even uses the fact that Doe's time on camera "lasts less than 20 seconds" as a way to invalidate her right to control over her body, and that she should just put up with uncompensated, non-consensual sexual assault by a multi-million dollar Girls Gone Wild company.

In fact, knowing the track record of said company, it's disgusting that the plaintiff was the one found "not credible," considering

  • Doe's attroney, Steve Evans says that the videographer did not identify himself as working for Girls Gone Wild.
  • Mantra, the film company that owns GGW, "agreed to remove her from the video but has not actually followed through with their promise."
  • GGW's history of coercing women to appear on their show
  • And lest we forget, founder Joe Francis is serving time in a Nevada jail cell for tax evasion, where he sits comfortably to avoid his Florida state charges of drug possession, using minors in sexual performances, conspiring to use minors in sexual performances and prostitution.

Doe and her attorney are filing an appeal. Seeing as you probably need some sort of palate cleanser, here's a Scottish PSA that thankfully counters the "She asked for it" excuse, a claim that apparently flows as freely in courtrooms as it does in nightclubs.

Mo. woman loses lawsuit over 'Girls Gone Wild' video [STLToday.com]
Age Old Victim-Blaming Myths Win Court Case for Girls Gone Wild [The Curvature]
Girl Gone Wild Against Her Will [Broadsheet]

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Comments

21 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Gah!

Stuff like this makes me so angry that I get heartburn. How would the jurors (male or female) feel if someone pants-ed them in public, filmed it and distributed the footage? How would they feel if someone said they were "asking for it" if they weren't wearing a belt? That is just as ridiculous as this court decision. It's all so...douchey.

Agreed. I was just coming to

Agreed. I was just coming to make a similar point and see you've already done it.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Paparazzi Gone Filmmakers

i'm generally not one to advocate more laws, especially when it comes to freedom of the press. Unfortunately "Girl's Gone Wild" is an example of paparazzi gone filmmakers. The have the same lack of ethics paparazzi do only they prey on people who are not professional actors who do not have the kind of money and lawyers necessary to prevail against this creepiness. This incident involved an accessory to the assault who pulled down the blouse, and a finding that no means yes. Were the judge and the jury both smoking crack? Released means released and no means no. Maybe a new law is needed with respect to model releases. i hate to say that. Paparazzi can really suck. i saw something on this subject over at Jezebel titled "Ass-Clown Blogger Comes Out In Favor Of Girls Gone Wild". Chad Garrison admitted he's an Ass Clown and is proud of it. Some other creepo paparazzi type over there was defending the "Girl's Gone Wild" douchebags right to act like filmmaking paparazzis on steroids. Argh!

Decision

Really a strange decision taken by St. Louis court, can´t this serve as precedent for similar violations of privacy ?

That's an interesting

That's an interesting question, Nathan. Being a horrible cynic, I'd suggest it would be precedent if we lived in a culture that had historically seen women's bodies as their sovereign property. Instead we live in a culture that has historically seen women's bodies as other people's properties (their husbands, families, or in loco parentis the government). As women, we're forced by advertisers and street harassers to think about our bodies a lot. Hmmmm...maybe we can get some protection under intellectual property laws, if other laws governing privacy don't seem to apply to us?

infuriating

I am absolutely furious and disgusted by this. The parallels between rape and this entire court battle (she was askin' for it, she implied consent) is sickening and entirely chilling.

Joe Francis is a monster.

Joe Francis is a monster. This is so sad in such an unsurprising way.

For context, folks should check out a 2006 LA Times longform piece about him.

Yuck

I'm only on the third page of this LA Times article about him, and I'm absolutely disgusted. I knew he was a douchebag extraordinaire but I didn't realize the full extent of his douchiness. He's a misogynist sociopath.

Here's a link to the article:
http://articles.latimes.com/2006/aug/06/magazine/tm-gonewild32

He's a rapist.

I'm further along in the article now. I just read the part where it turns out he's a rapist.

He's a totally disgusting

He's a totally disgusting douchebag.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Fight back at the pocketbook

Disgusting. Agreed.

I am amazed that these videos appear to operate without signed releases. Having had some experience with photography and release forms, it seems to me that the woman(en) would have rights to money earned from these videos. (Generally, releases become more necessary as the commercial value of the image increases.)

What would happen if a large number of women portrayed in these videos - sans release - were to seek fair compensation for their 'appearance?' I'd think it would cut deeply into the 'business plan' that governs their distribution.

If a jury of her peers were

If a jury of her peers were anything like some of the self satisfied morons that posted on RFT, then no one should be surprised. Apparently having your body filmed without your express consent isn't a big deal, and they are all mind readers about her willingness to have another person pull her top down.

The jurors gobbled up the implied/tacit consent argument. If the GGW party was at a private venue, and it was clearly posted as such (notification that filming was going on), she would be legally considered to have given tacit consent to being filmed, simply by her presence there, regardless of her refusals.

Curious if any of the GGW supporters would change their opinions were they to walk into a club where a "Boston Beatdown" DVD was being filmed, and accept the implied consent argument if they were filmed having the crap kicked out of them unwillingly.

GGW, as usual, found the legal loophole, and slides by on their sleazy ethics.

You are generally right - just not in this case

When an employee of a bar (got paid to dance there) shows up on her night off to Participate in a GGW event and then then tries to do a celebrity "famewash" years later, one has to wonder what the problem is. Her female friend is the one who pulled down her top just a little more than she was already pulling it down, not GGW, and no - it wasn't "viciously yanked down"

No one sexually assaulted her and to say so belittles the women who do get assaulted.

Consider what you are encouraging. Allowing people (men or women) to reinterpret their intentions to suit their needs at a later date is not honest. And most importantly - it would kill plain ol' romance to have to have a clearly intended or written mandate before a date.

famewash?

She didn't know she was on the tapes until a friend informed her--that's why it was years late. And I don't think there's any sort of "famewash" seeing as she went to court as Jane Fucking Doe.

It is sexual assault to have your body used in ways that you didn't approve of. This kind of thinking is what leads women who don't have visible bruising to believe that they are not really "abused."

also

where are you quoting "viciously yanked down" from? It wasn't in my blog post or in anyone's comments. You also seem to know more about the case then what I've read. Would you mind linking to your sources?

Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

Five million?

While i agree that Doe was in the right, asking for 50% of the movie's gross suggests that her real motivation is not justice but rather greed, so no sympathy from here.

Your Clairvoyance Is M.I.A., Porky!

Some of the leaps people make are amazing. If we're going to go jumping to conclusions about motives, i would point out that Porky D's URL is "counterfeminism info" and could then jump to the conclusion that Porky is a pig and that his comment is just an excuse to try to strip away women's rights with respect to consent and individual sovereignty. The amount being sued for would probably not make much of a dent in the bank accounts of the Douchebag paparrazi who own "Girls Gone Wild".

Jury of her peers

Call it what you want, but the jury made the decision. A jury of everyday people. Agree or disagree the cold hard fact is this- YOu may have the right to expect not having your shirt pulled down, as would I. However, "rights" and reality are not synonymous. Therefore prudence and forethought of the probability of being in such a situation that could result in an occurrence you would regret, and therefore you avoid that by not putting yourself in a high probability situation. Especially one that would be considered by the general public the way the jury perceived it.

I would say its my right not to be robbed at gunpoint, but if I walk in to a notoriously crime ridden area with money hanging out of my pocket, there is a high probability my 'rights' would be violated. If that happened, and I told even a close friend , the response would be "Well, what did you expect?"

Girls at a bar dressing provocatively and dancing in front of ANY camera, put themselves in a high probability situation of their rights being violated. As much as they may be her rights, reality of life could care less. Prudence would suggest her to avoid the situation entirely, for no other reason that EVEN IF she had a favorable ruling, her reputation is still damaged, and no dollar amount can restore it. She will always be considered just another stupid young girl basking in the short term attention of her short lived beauty.

welcome to the party

Oh good, I knew this post wouldn't be complete without a classic victim-blaming comment.

And kudos on the straw man mugging argument too. Too bad even it doesn't hold up to the fact that her breasts were used on a Girls Gone Wild video without her permission, consent, or compensation.

And no, because of feminist media, she's not remembered as a "stupid young girl," her story (and your comment) represent how extensive rape culture is in our country and reminds us of why we raise awareness about these injustices.

Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

Flogging a dead civil suit

Flogging a dead civil suit here....

Someone on another forum posted their interpretation of the jury's decision. To quote:

"The lawsuit had absolutely nothing to do with her not wanting to show her breasts, or the involuntary exposure of her breasts. Again, nothing at all. The lawsuit was strictly concerned with GGW taping her exposure and using it as part of a commercial product. She lost the ability to deny them the right to use her in their product once she entered the establishment after having been properly notified of the nature of the event taking place at that venue at that time. Her actions prior to the incident demonstrated that she was fully aware of the nature of the event, which is why her actions were addressed in the verdict."

So, as soon as she stepped into a club where it was posted/advertised that GGW was filming, she gave consent to any and all taping of her, regardless if it was acts she consented to or not. I think it's a highly ethical gray area, but the jury's foreman gobbled it up like a catfish hooking onto cheap bait.

A warning to anyone wanting to party at a GGW event --- if someone else choses to expose your body parts, even against your will, expect to wind up on a DVD. Maybe if some of the attendees knew they were endorsing a date rapist/batterers/tax evader/druggies kingdom of cheap hats and t-shirts, they wouldn't even go to these parties.

This entire case was

This entire case was overturned when a judge ordered a new trial. This time it was tried in front of a judge, rather than a jury. Ironically, he found for Ms. Doe, who has recently released her name. Common sense prevailed after all. Of course, the defense will be appealing.