The other night while doing homework, I took a procrastination break to scroll through Instagram. At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary – my friends were posting the customary pet pictures, group photos from college basketball games, and watercolor-esque sunset scenes. Mindlessly double tapping, I almost skipped a picture that stood out on my timeline.
The picture was of a girl my age – a childhood friend in fact – wearing nothing but a small towel. In this foggy –mirrored, post-shower selfie, she posed with wet hair flipped to one side of her face. She held up the towel just enough so that it covered the lower part of her breasts, but not her right leg, which she propped out of the towel to make most of her thigh visible. She captioned the photo with: “Feels good to take a shower after a long day” along with a couple of emojis.
It’s not surprising that underneath the photo about 30 guys left a slew comments. Some were seemingly innocent – a heart-eyed emoji or a “you’re beautiful.” Others a little more direct – “Text me” or “Come chill with me sometime.” Some were downright distrurbing – “Let’s f***.” And one was unsettling – “Thirst trap” with the straight-faced emoji. I’d heard the term “thirst trap” before, but never saw anyone say it directly to the alleged “thirst trapper.”
Genuinely intrigued, I kept reading. Despite the fact that she posts provocative pictures quite often, the girl who posted the picture seemed surprised to get such responses on her picture. This made me wonder – did she really think she could post a revealing picture of her curvaceous body and expect not to get attention from guys?
There happens to be a name for this – “Thirst Trapping,” which basically describes a situation in which a girl posts a suggestive picture solely for the purpose of garnering attention. Then, she proceeds to reject anyone who gives her that attention.
This new colloquialism is sadly another example of how women are punished for revealing their bodies and expressing themselves.
However, I can’t help but feel that maybe my friend was “thirst trapping.” I mean, who really posts a steamy picture like that just for the sake of posting a picture? I exited Instagram feeling torn. Part of me wanted to blame society for the constant shame of women, but another part of me felt ashamed that my friend would post such a private picture on an extremely public platform.
Now whether or not my friend posted the shower pic because she genuinely liked it and wanted to share it with her followers is up for debate. It’s difficult to determine what her intentions were because there are plenty of women who really do post provocative photos in hopes of getting attention. For example, if you want to show people how much your hair has grown, it’s really not neccessary to bend over while you’re doing it.
And cute dog…but I’m not quite sure what your breasts have to do with it.
While I 100%, totally, wholeheartedly believe that the way a woman dresses, acts, or expresses herself is not an invitation for nasty comments, it would be ignorant of me to pretend that certain attention is not to be expected from a provacative picture – and some woman like that kind of attention and use their bodies to get it. While I am no way excusing sexist, misogynist, or any other type of negative comment, it’s not everyday that you see a picture of your friend getting out of the shower. But these are pretty extreme examples. Lets’s examine something more commonplace. Imagine that you post a picture of yourself on Instagram before going out to a party. You’re wearing a low cut crop top and a bodycon skirt – sure not the most conservative clothing, but it definitely isn’t out of the ordinary. So you’re racking up likes, your friends are leaving comments like “yaaaasss” and “slaaayyy,” but then a random guy asks for your number. You politely reply, “no thanks :)” and he says “alright. have a good day.” No just kidding he tells you to “f*** yourself.”
Now that’s the type of thing I have a problem with. This happened to a friend of mine (who asked to remain nameless), who was so embarassed that she deleted the entire post following the incident. Since when does a normal picture warrant such an attack? In the world of Instagram and “thirst trapping,” none of us are safe. The random guy on my friend’s picture probably labeled her a “thirst trap” and that’s a problem. Just because a girl posts a picture and ignores these types of comments, it doesn’t mean that she asked for them in the first place. The word “thirst trap” also places the blame on the woman because the man is the so-called “victim” when he gets rejected; he got pulled into the “trap.” When in actuality, a woman should be able to post anything she wants without feeling obligated to entertain any men who take interest – and that includes my friend who posted the shower pic as much as it does my friend who posted the party pic.
The term “thirst trap” – and its synonyms: attention whore, thot, etc., are blatantly sexist. At the end of the day, whether you want attention or not, you have the freedom to post whatever you want. Unfortunately in our world, you have to expect negative attention, but you don’t have to entertain it. Just because someone posts a picture for the sake of getting attention, it does not justify comments such as “Let’s f***.” What it boils down to is this: Post pictures for yourself, not for others. Be confident enough in yourself to post photos without seeking affirmation from your followers. And if a guy does come at you sideways, just tell his mom.