Is Tila Tequila Too Sexy For Privacy Rights?

Tila Tequila, of MySpace and MTV fame, filmed herself having sex with her boyfriend while on vacation almost seven years ago. Now, the goddess of Internet entrepreneurship (and gossip) is allegedly being blackmailed to the tune of $75,000 by her ex-boyfriend, who’s threatening to release the tape.

Tequila filed for an injunction against the tape’s release, citing breach of privacy and misappropriation of her image. But on Thursday, her request was denied.

Why? Because “Tila exploits her sexuality,” according to the judge.

In other words, according to this ruling, Tequila’s personal privacy rights, particularly where her sexual relationships are concerned, are trumped by her celebrity image. Because she’s a public figure, and a sexy one at that, she is fair game for exploitation. To me, this smacks of some pretty severe “she was asking for it” logic. It also echoes the ever-seductive “implied consent defense.

Similarly, in July, a Missouri woman sued the producers of “Girls Gone Wild” after the video franchise used footage of her tank top being pulled down by another bar patron without her consent. The court claimed her consent was implied because she was at the party.

How is it possible that being in public necessarily implies that women consent to the appropriation of their sexuality?

Regarding her home sex video, Tequila told TMZ, “This doesn’t mean that the battle is over. I can still take this to federal court.”

Photo of Tila Tequila courtesy Flickr user jackyunay under Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. savorydish says:

    Normal and mentally healthy women don't "accidentally" end up on Girls Gone Wild or sex vids. Are the courts biased? Probably. Is her boyfriend a scumbag? Most likely. But let's talk about personal responsibility. Let's talk about the decisions our poor Tila has made for herself. Admittedly, I don't know much about Ms Tequila. But I'm going to guess she didn't have the best parental role-models. I'm thinking she's got some serious daddy issues and has a history of acting out. She strikes me as the type who is attracted to "bad boys" and looks for love in all the wrong places. Her desperate need for attention and exaggerated sexuality suggests low self-esteem and poor self-image. I would not be surprised to find a history sexual trauma.
    There are so many positive role-models out there for women- Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres, etc. And yet you chose to spotlight Tila Tequila. Really? Since when did feminists become the defenders of the emotionally damaged? What if publications like Jezebel and Ms. stopped writing articles about how C-level celebrities are being unfairly victimized and oppressed, and started writing articles about how women can empower themselves to make good decisions about life?
    Unfortunately, we live in a culture where the glitz and glamor of internet fame is seen as an instant solution for masking insecurities. How about we encourage people to seek help for their troubled souls and their troubled pasts. Encourage people to deal with their issues as opposed to creating some sort of artificial/superficial fresh start. Feminism should be about empowerment, not perpetual victimhood.

    • lolercopter says:

      Actually Tila's parents were hard working immigrants. Tila fell into drugs and rebellious behavior despite her good upbringing. Once she got attention she realized that she could use her body to get what she wanted. This is the woman who wrote in her book (and I'm paraphrasing) "If you going to suck dick, suck dick for a Bentley".

      Yes the judge's decision is one that should and will be overturned, there is no "she was asking for it". The real question is why does a woman who strips for free on webcam for minors actually trying to block a sex tape? She's made her money taking her clothes off, the only reason she's trying to stop this is because she wouldn't make money off of it. If she does stall the release, it will only be to renegotiate terms so she gets her cut. Guaranteed this tape is coming out, Tila is just trying to pretend that she doesn't want it out.

    • There are so many things wrong with this, I barely know where to begin. I guess I’ll try just going from the top.

      “Normal and mentally healthy women don’t “accidentally” end up on Girls Gone Wild or sex vids”

      In a way, you’re right. The GGW incident wasn’t an accident. It was a deliberate assault by some creep who thought they had a right to see her naked, regardless of her opinion on the matter.

      “Are the courts biased? Probably. Is her boyfriend a scumbag? Most likely. But…”

      Ah, here it comes. Ignore everything that went before the ‘but’, it’s just a disclaimer. Here comes what you really think.

      “let’s talk about personal responsibility. Let’s talk about the decisions our poor Tila has made for herself.”

      What the fuck does that have to do with whether she has the right to privacy?

      “Admittedly, I don’t know much about Ms Tequila. But I’m going to guess she didn’t have the best parental role-models. I’m thinking she’s got some serious daddy issues and has a history of acting out. She strikes me as the type who is attracted to “bad boys” and looks for love in all the wrong places.”

      What the fuck does that have to do with whether she has the right to privacy?

      “Her desperate need for attention and exaggerated sexuality suggests low self-esteem and poor self-image. I would not be surprised to find a history sexual trauma.”

      What the fuck does that have to do with whether she has the right to privacy?

      “Since when did feminists become the defenders of the emotionally damaged?”

      So if someone has been emotionally damaged, they shouldn’t be defended? Even when they’re clearly being mistreated?

      “What if publications like Jezebel and Ms. stopped writing articles about how C-level celebrities are being unfairly victimized and oppressed…”

      Translation: stop talking about how women are mistreated. Especially if they’re famous, ‘cos then they deserve it.

      “and started writing articles about how women can empower themselves to make good decisions about life?”

      subtext: because any woman who doesn’t make what I think are the right decisions are free game. Abuse them any way you wish.

      “Feminism should be about empowerment, not perpetual victimhood.”

      And apparently empowerment means never fighting back or standing up for someone has their rights violated.

  2. Seriously? "Normal and mentally healthy women don't "accidentally" end up on Girls Gone Wild or sex vids."? It's a slippery slope from there to "Good girls don't get raped–those who do really wanted it." Taping oneself having sex can be fun and sexy. There's nothing inherently abnormal or unhealthy about it. What's abnormal and unhealthy is making high-handed judgments about situations we are not in.

    Is Tila Tequila a shallow television personality? Yeah. Does she have personal issues she might not be dealing with? Likely. Is she "emotionally damaged"? Perhaps. So that means she's free property? That her consent doesn't matter? That we shouldn't defend her from our high moral horse because we disapprove of her public persona? If she's as emotionally damaged as implied, she might even be unable to defend herself. Does that make her unworthy of defense?

    And even if she is a totally mentally-together sexually-charged woman who is milking the spotlight and showing off her body for her paycheck–that showing off still only applies as far as her consent. If she doesn't want that sex tape released, feminists (and all decent people) should defend her right to keep it private. Because from there, it's "Well, strippers get naked for money–that means they can be spied on in their dressing rooms, right?" and "Sex workers have sex for money, that means they can't be raped."

    • savorydish says:

      Let's not be melodramatic just to make a point. I never justified blackmail, nor am I justifying rape. Nor did I say the court decision was just. It is a slippery slope to accuse me of saying so. If you want to make sex tapes… more power to you. I'm not saying you are emotionally damaged for engaging in such activities. Nor am I saying it is morally wrong to express your sexuality. But let's be honest here. Personalities like Ms. Tequila, Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson attract drama for a reason. And it's not because they are unlucky. Emotionally damaged people attract bad people and bad experiences. That is not my high-handed judgment and I am certainly not saying they deserve it. It is an honest observation and, sadly, a fact of life.

  3. In response to savorydish:

    It is clear that you think Tila Tequila has made poor personal choices, but I am going to go ahead and say that your judgment seems to be heavily informed by our culture–one that shames positive female sexuality and empowerment. Neither of us know why Tila has chosen the career she has and if sexual abuse has been a factor, but let's not rule out the possibility that she is merely very comfortable with her sexuality and doesn't feel encumbered by the societal shame that falls on women who express their sexuality outside of closed doors.

    While I acknowledge the double-edged-sword nature of her public image, as it espouses both sexual empowerment and the notion of women selling sex, feminists don't just throw some women to the periphery of their mission. Yes, her lifestyle and choices differ drastically from those of women like Hillary Clinton, but we cannot let women that are "unfairly victimized and oppressed" just fall to the wayside and out of our feminist ideals. It is only when Tila Tequila and similar women are respected and not punished for their sexuality that feminists will know they have really achieved a victory. For this reason, Ms. should be applauded for reporting on this matter.

    Ms. is by no means preaching to women to set out and establish a career similar to Tila Tequila's; they are highlighting the injustice that has been done to her. As a feminist, I take the injustice done to her as an injustice to all women because the reasoning inherent in her case (“she was asking for it” logic and the ever-seductive “implied consent“ defense) is the reasoning that deems it okay for women to be exploited and raped. A drunk young woman at a college part in a short skirt is NOT asking to be sexually assaulted, just like Tila Tequila's risque dressing and appearance on MTV is NOT asking for her to be blackmailed by the film she made with her ex-boyfriend.

    • lolercopter69 says:

      to Sara:

      Tila chose the path she has taken not because of abuse, but because she found out at in her teens that if she dangled her body as a reward, she could get anything she wanted.

      I understand you're a feminist, but your defense of Tila Tequila is laughable. This is a woman who said that "we don't know the whole story" about the Rihanna beating, trying to justify what Chris Brown did. Why? Because she doesn't like Rihanna. She laughed at Kat Stacks getting slapped AFTER she had been assaulted at the gathering.

      Yes I believe the ruling was wrong, "implied consent" is a joke and the initial ruling will be overturned. But there is more of a game to this when it involves Tila. The first reports came from Tila, not a news outlet reporting that someone had come to them with the video. This is a ruse that is using our justice system to play a part in getting her press for something she wants released.

      And if think the judge made his ruling based on her appearance on MTV and risque dressing, then you really don't know who Tila Tequila is.

      • I did by no means intend to defend Tila Tequila's antics. I would never suggest that young women follow in her footsteps. It is clear that you are far more informed about her life and career than I am, but I stand by my argument that savorydish's statements definitely have a tinge of "slut shaming"…meaning that I think their critique of Tila Tequila is coming from the wrong angle. Instead of declaring that Tila Tequila and women on Girls Gone Wild are not normal or mentally healthy because of their relationship to and use of sex, I wish they had merely noted the injustice that these women are doing to themselves and the respect shown to women in general and hadn't associated their public sexuality with a lack of normalcy and mental health.

        We both agree that the notion of "implied consent" is ludicrous, which I think is the most important piece here. I wish the author of this post had included the bit about Tila making the first report of the video's possible release and the great possibility that by taking it to the courtroom, she was only hoping to gain more publicity.

  4. the patriarchy says:

    TMZ.com ran the "exploits her sexuality" quote because it's fucking TMZ, but even they went on to say that "In the end, the judge said Tila's lawyer hadn't made enough of a case to warrant a restraining order." I'm not going to shell out the money to actually do searches on the la county superior court site (how do they even justify charging money for it anyway!) but I'd bet that if I did pay to see the ruling, it wouldn't say "you're a slut, lol patriarchy, therefore restraining order denied!" I'm pretty sure it would say something more like "your factual claims in this case are completely implausible, there's no evidence to support your version of events, therefore restraining order denied."

  5. I wouldn't say that "Because she’s a public figure, and a sexy one at that, she is fair game for exploitation. To me, this smacks of some pretty severe “she was asking for it” logic. "

    This is not what the ruling is stating. Rather, if you know anything about Tila's history, you know that she absolutely does exploit her sexuality. And it works for her — it works really well. Did you not see her reality TV show where she had men and women on the show and they all slept in one big bed? Really, if that's not exploiting your sexuality, then I don't know what is.

    Now, there is obviously a line. I'm sure a court wouldn't be arguing that because she exploits her sexuality, she deserves to be raped. That said, a sex tape that she fully consented to making? Not quite the same thing.

    In a very similar vein, take a look at libel laws. It's much harder to libel a politician than it is to libel a private citizen. Why is this? Because politicians willingly put themselves in the spotlight, willingly put themselves up to be publicly scrutinized. Thus, if a publication accidentally publishes false information, it can't always be said that the publication is purposely trying to defame the politician's name — making this a law would put a serious chokehold on the press, and you'd have a lot of reporters sitting on stories because they were afraid of lawsuits. Private citizens, though, are another story — say one thing wrong about them by total accident and, yes, they can sue.

    This has nothing to do with whether or not Tila is a moral, upstanding, mentally-stable citizen. If she is or isn't — doesn't matter. But she does exploit herself sexually when it benefits her. So, yeah, she has to realize that it's possible for other people to use that against her. I'm sorry, but that's life. In the same way, politicians and celebrities who put themselves out there to be publicly lauded shouldn't cry when/if the public turns on them. It happens. They deal with it.

  6. What the serious fucking hell is wrong with some people? We don't need a referendum on Tila Tequila's morality or mental state to know what to think of this, we just need to know autonomy 101. She's chosen to present herself in sexual ways, publicly, for money and celebrity — ways of her choosing. It never follows from that, that she loses the right to prevent her private images from being circulated in ways not of her choosing. Her being publicly sexual by her choice in contexts she understands and accepts is just not at all the same as someone taking a private video of her and selling it. It just isn't. That's true whether she's Mother Theresa or Jenna Jameson.

  7. Is anybody else thinking the judge just wants to get a peek at the leaked tape?

  8. it seems any comment here that suggests women be as responsible for themselves as men are expected to be gets a shitload of negative votes.

    So ok. Chicks. Nothing is ever our fault because we're just girls.

    The FUCK have we come to where fucking feminists are standing around absolving women of personal responsibility because they're women? What the hell kind of equality is that?

    There are two sides to this. She's a slut. Her boyfriend is a jackass. This is following an ages-old formula but we're too politically correct to get our heads out of our asses and see it.

  9. having said what i just said, no. No one has a right to exploit you without your consent. But that doesn't NEGATE personal responsibility, duh.

    Women are just as responsible for themselves as men are expected to be. And vice versa. I'm sick of fucking so-called feminists actually PERPETUATING sexism but assuming that men always have to be the responsible ones and women don't. that if men act even a little out of line, they're complete monsters but if women do, that's ok. We're women, it's.. what? Expected? Allowed? What? It perpetuates the terrible stereotype that we're just too fucking stupid to know better.

    I'm a woman. I'm a software engineer for christssake. And i also like to dress slutty and wiggle my hips now and again. And sure, i'd make a sex tape. With someone i trust. And you know what? Never have i been treated like a two dollar whore because i take responsibility for the things i do and make choices that aren't fucking retarded. Women have the right to be bimbos as much as men have the right to be dumbasses. But don't get bent out of shape when people assume that how you act is who you are. Same reason i get called a nerd, yo.

    It just seems like we're protecting the stupid choices of women instead of just admitting it's time all people (men and women and everything in between) start making more intelligent decisions.

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