The Naked Teacher Principle (NTP) states that a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.
Ah, would that it were always this simple! In the past, we have had to deal with the “naked teacher who paints with his butt and naughty bits on camera with a bag over his head” principle, for example. Another teacher got fired when the naked photos of herself she had on her own tablet inadvertently was sent to the students in her class.
Now, from Long Island comes the saga of a middle school teacher—in NTP scenarios, they are the worst kind—who was fired last week when an old topless selfie that she sent to a former boyfriend ended up in the in the hands of a student
Lauren Miranda, the 25-year-old Bellport Middle School math teacher is suing, claiming that she was wrongfully dismissed for not being a proper school role model. In many of the stories in the press, “role model” is in quotes. Does the news media now dispute that teachers are supposed to be role models? If teachers aren’t role models for kids, what are they?
Miranda said the image was obtained without her consent–I’ll buy that — and that there was nothing “inherently offensive” about the image anyway. The issue isn’t whether in the abstract a naked female form is offensive, but whether a female teacher’s early adolescent students should think of their teacher as a sex object.
“It’s pure,” Miranda said of her bare-breasted selfie. Oh! If that’s true, why don’t you use it as your official photo on the school website?
Miranda doesn’t seem too bright, and her lawyer is stretching like an aerobics instructor. They contend that a male teacher would not have been subjected to the same treatment in similar circumstances. Well, there’s precedent on that, and they are just flat-out wrong. They may recall, or should, that in their very own sate, a rising national legislator lost his job for sending a crotch-shot selfie to an object of his desire. Elected officials are also supposed to be role models, or should I say, “role models.”
I don’t know what kind of contract she signed, and I don’t know how Long Island’s school labor rules work. What I know is that it isn’t that difficult, if one is in a position that involves being thought of by kids in one’s charge as a dignified, responsible adult that parents can reasonably feel is trustworthy, to avoid this problem: don’t send nude selfies. How hard is that? It is also prudent, as this scenario proves. Don’t send naked pictures of yourself, even “pure” ones, to anyone, and you won’t have to sound like an idiot later when you say, “Gee, I have no idea how that picture ended up in the hands 12-year-old Frankie, who drooled all over it.”
21 thoughts on “Naked Teacher Principle, The Selfie Variation”
I wonder if there should be a “statute of limitations” on the naked pics. Back in the late ’90s our host in an exchange program was a very nice lady in her sixties and she had an artsy picture of herself posing topless from a time when she was about 20. Not blatantly displayed, but as part of a bunch of phitos from her life in one of the living room tables. At that point no one probably thought she was trying to ensnare the HS students she was hosting or anything (also, this was Europe FWIW). Let’s say a 60 year old middle school teacher has her pics leaked from her late teenage years. Could she (or he is that we’re the case) be fairly terminated for that?
I’m going to venture a guess that she is claiming that a male teacher wouldn’t be treated the same way for a topless photo, in which case, she’d be correct.
Of course, this utterly strange phenomenon of claiming that there’s no difference between a man’s chest and a woman’s is rather useless in this situation, because it’s obvious from the context of both the photo and how it was revealed that she meant it to be a private, erotic photo shared between lovers.
Yeah, I can’t wait for that argument — a woman’s breasts are no different than a man’s when it comes to exposure.
So how exactly is it that women can complain when men ogle their cleavage, if we’re going to let that argument stand up? And “show your tits!” can no longer rationally be considered a form of harassment, n’est ce pas?
Oh, the mind fairly boggles. I almost hope she wins on that theory.
Wow…I didn’t even think of that.
So far, state and federal courts have dismissed lawsuits filed by women claiming that there is no difference between naked male chests and naked women chests. So, it would seem that her case would not amount to a case of discrimination.
Yeah, but “woke” judges just keep gettin’ woker.
There was a case in 1992 in New York where it has been found to be discrimination i.e. THE PEOPLE &C., RESPONDENT, v. RAMONA SANTORELLI AND MARY LOU SCHLOSS, APPELLANTS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
It also is probably relevant how the boy got the photo in the first place. Is this boy related to the ex-boyfriend and the ex-boyfriend gave it to the boy? Did the boy take her phone while it was unattended, find it, and send it to himself? Did he download it from the internet?
How he got it may not be relevant to the decision to fire her from this job, but it may affect her ability to get another job somewhere else. In the first two possibilities, if the one boy was the only one who had it, the overall damage is minimal and she could get a teaching job elsewhere (although this is a very slim possibility). Even though she never posted the photo for widespread distribution, she had very poor judgement in taking it at al (and possibly having it on her phone at school)l. In the second case, the boy should be severely punished as well. If the photo is on the internet and everyone now knows about it because of the lawsuit, her ability to effectively be a teacher anywhere with internet access is compromised.
Finally someone asks about the kid. He should have detention until he tells how he got the photo. All we know is she gave it to a former boyfriend. Secondly, what did the kid do with it and how did this all come to light. The school is stupid not to at least have asked about it. The details can help make it defensible. Female breasts are not genitalia and while private, it’s not the end of the world and guarantee the kid has seen them all over the internet before. The school should have kept a lid on it and made it all disappear. Give her her job back.
“It’s not the end of the world” See Rationalization #22 on the Rationalizations list. If the photo wasn’t available, the kid wouldn’t have it. It’s all on her. Bye.
“Female breasts are not genitalia…”
Uhmmm… what are they then? Why all the fuss if they get exposed? Society certainly treats them that way.
Female breasts are definitely not genitalia as any student of anatomy could tell you.
My dictionary (Collins English Dictionary) says “genitals – the sexual organs; the testicles and penis of a male or the labia, clitoris, and vagina of the female. No mention of the breast anywhere.
“Female breasts are definitely not genitalia as any student of anatomy could tell you.
My dictionary (Collins English Dictionary) says “genitals – the sexual organs; the testicles and penis of a male or the labia, clitoris, and vagina of the female. No mention of the breast anywhere.”
Errol, I feel that you are using a rationalization: #5 The Compliance Dodge. You used a definition to evade the question, yet appear to validate your point. It also feels like a strawman.
“…what are they then? Why all the fuss if they get exposed? Society certainly treats them that way.”
I did not say that the dictionary calls breasts ‘genitalia.’ I said society treats them that way. Is this true, from your point of view, or not?
This is deception by appeal to authority (“any student of anatomy,” “Collins English Dictionary”) What do you think about the issue?
Are they treated differently in law? (Are the penalties for exposure different if a woman exposes her bottom rather than her top?)
Are they lumped in (sorry, bad pun) with genitalia in common parlance? (Groping her privates and groping her breasts cause the same offense and are treated the same in conversation?)
I am interested in examining this issue in more detail, and seeing how others see this issue. My comments are not fighting you, Errol, rather picking apart the issue from a societal and ethical perspective.
“Are they treated differently in law? (Are the penalties for exposure different if a woman exposes her bottom rather than her top?)”
In New York where Lauren Miranda the teacher in question lives they certainly are treated differently. Since a court decision in 1992, the law says females may go topless wherever a male may go topless. As so few women do actually go topless in New York it seems the law on this issue is actually less conservative than the people.
Here in New Zealand it is also another place where the law is less restrictive than the people at least on the beaches. Woman are never arrested for being topless on the beach but few do. As for being topless away from the beach the law is less clear.
“I did not say that the dictionary calls breasts ‘genitalia.’ I said society treats them that way. Is this true, from your point of view, or not?”
From my point of view from what I have seen yes it seems that in America large parts of society do treat them that way. Whereas here in New Zealand the public in general treats exposure of the female breast less seriously than exposure of the genitals but not the same as exposure of the male chest.
Sorry, I am not able to write much more in this subject as I am going away for the weekend but I will be interested in reading any reply when I get back.
Thank you for the conversation, Errol.
I think we agree in that America has a greater nudity taboo than much of the rest of the world (Muslims excepted)
The fact that even in New Zealand most women cover up on top reveals an instinctive to treat breasts as private. Whether that is the same as genitalia, I cannot say: just the observation that, for whatever reason, society seems to feel that breasts qualify.
The New York law is an anomaly: even there, you do not routinely see women flashing the public. In most of the US, a woman would indeed be arrested for exposing her breasts in public. She might not suffer the same penalty as a man flashing his penis, but arrest is all but assured, if she disregards an officer’s lawful order to cover up.
I will admit that the prevalence of cameras in our society might have an impact on women asserting this ‘right’ even when lawful.
I look forward to your further discussion, if you chose to do so.
“The fact that even in New Zealand most women cover up on top reveals an instinctive to treat breasts as private.”
I think it has a lot to do with many women not wanting to be the first to do something unusual or the fear the possible disapproval from other people nearby or the chance of being photographed by a stranger.
Just because very few women actually go topless it doesn’t mean that they think that it should be illegal, just like that although I will never get a tattoo, have any body piercings or dye my hair unusual colors, I don’t think that any of those should be illegal.
“I think we agree in that America has a greater nudity taboo than much of the rest of the world (Muslims excepted)”
I am involved in track and field and during the weekend I was officiating at a high school track and field championship involving more than 800 teenagers from eleven regions, and there were many girls with bare midriffs. I think there may well be quite a few schools that ban bare midriffs at their own school but most (or maybe all) regions provide both the full singlet and crop top version of their uniforms and the schools don’t show any interest in enforcing their local rule away from home.
When running on a very hot day I have on occasion run without a top on as the breeze has a cooling effect on the sweat on my skin, better in cooling me than any artificial garment that I have found, so in long races more skin uncovered is beneficial. I presume that for sprints the runners think that bare skin is more aerodynamic than any top.
I did a quick Google search and I got the impression that bare midriffs would not be allowed at many interschool track and field meetings in America.
It’s simple manners. In Mexico, a 70-ish fat woman lay down on the pool chair next to me, and I was blind for three days.
So the woman showed bad manners how? By being fat or daring to lay down on a pool chair like anyone else can?
Modesty is a form of civility. Don’t impose your frightening body on the gaze of innocent bystanders. Did you really just evoke “everybody does it”? “Everybody” wasn’t like her. Fat, over-age men in speedos are the same thing.
Mr Miranda and her lawyer are trying to argue that men’s bare chests and women’s bare chests are equivalent. We need to put this in a context feminists can understand. If I walk in a police station and say that someone groped both of my moobs and I didn’t want them to, they’d laugh at me. Any man would get the same treatment. If a woman walks in and says a man groped her breasts, they’d take it as a serious charge.
Until feminists can get that changed – and I don’t care which way… but make them equal, they need to shut up about a bare woman’s chest being equivalent.
The issue is not so much that she does not have the right to take naked pictures and plaster them on the internet so much as it is about her being a teacher. You don’t have a right to be a teacher. In California it is legal to smoke pot… but no one is saying that an airline pilot who smokes pot and is fired has had their rights violated. There are some jobs that require a certain amount of decorum. Police officers who get DUI’s, Pilots that smoke pot, and teachers that post nudes of themselves are all in the same ballpark of problematic to the job they are doing.
Now, if this happened because her ex BF posted this to the net or something, then she probably has a cause of action against that ex, but that really is not the schools issue. The school is just trying to provide an appropriate environment for the students, and it seems that she is unable to provide that if half of her puberty addled students are thinking about her tits instead of the math problems.
That sucks, and we can have a discussion about the silliness of our (as a society) obsession with nudity, but we have to deal with the society we have, and cannot insist on standards that we wish we had (as has been stated by others here, the US is kind of prudish about all this. I am often dumbfounded about how people lose their minds when Janet Jackson’s nipple falls out, but at the same time on the walking dead we can watch someone get their head bashed in with a bat and no one even so much as blinks). None the less, as it stands presently, this is something that is not socially acceptable with the society we have.