Today in bans: This type of selfie is now a criminal offense in Thailand
This is not a drill: Thailand has just made the posting of so-called “underboob selfies” illegal, with a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Thailand’s culture ministry reminded women on Monday that the recent trend of posting photos which reveal the lower half of their breasts directly violates the country’s Computer Crimes Act of 2007. “When people take these ‘underboob selfies’ no one can see their faces,” said the ministry’s spokesperson Anandha Chouchoti. “So it’s like, we don’t know who these belong to, and it encourages others to do the same … We can only warn people to not take it up. They are inappropriate actions.” Chouchoti did not expand on how this particular brand of offenders would be identified or caught.
If your initial reaction to this new is “Whaaaaaa?,” that’s about par for the course.
Can these selfies posted to social media really be considered “computer crimes”? Is it actually a violation of what is “appropriate” to post a picture of half (or even all of) your own breast? Does it actively infringe upon the rights of others? And how is “underboob” really that different from regular cleavage?
These are just a few of the questions this weird issue brings to light.
When the government steps in and makes sweeping generalizations about what Internet trends are allegedly in poor taste, and makes it illegal to post photos that you yourself own, it seems pretty dicey from a basic liberties standpoint — not to mention the fact that the edict seems pretty slanted towards keeping women in their place. After all, the ministry has yet to make mention of what sort of selfies, if any, are off-limits to men.
And the question remains: is the underside of a boob really obscene? Or have people simply confused titillation with abomination?
There are similar question being asked in the United States. Let’s not forget Instagram’s ban on female nipples, and the controversy Scout Willis stirred up when she walked around topless in protest. Instagram defended its policy, saying that the nudity was not appropriate for teens or adults. Though the issue is no longer in the spotlight, it’s indicative of how the female body is viewed by society — for better or worse.
With so many fluid and varying views on what constitutes lewdness, it’s hard to say whether there’s anything inherently inappropriate about the posting of “underboob selfies,” whether they happen to be your taste or not. But throwing someone in jail over a scandalous photo of themselves? Kind of makes you question what century we’re in.