Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
I am a 25 year old man, in a committed relationship of about two years. While I love my girlfriend, I hang on to some relics of the past, specifically a collection of about 30 x rated pictures (all taken by or for me knowingly) of former girlfriends and one "fling". I keep them on an encrypted thumb drive only, so that they would never leak and appear on the internet or whatnot. I was never told to delete them, but I have a feeling the women in question would be surprised to know they still exist. I look at them rarely, and I can't exactly explain why, but it gives me some sort of satisfaction to do so. Even though I’m in a relationship now and those relationships are all over, I don’t intend to delete them. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
Let’s cool it with the “relics” talk, Indiana Jones. You are not a curator of precious antiquities. These are some titty pix you snapped in 2011. And, given that you were born with a brain capable not only of remembering things (boobs) as they once were but—even more impressive—imagining things (boobs) as they have never been, there’s not much reason to hold onto them at this point. But there are a whole mess of reasons not to hold onto them.
You say the women whose sexiest parts (THEIR MINDS) are on display in the intimate photos would probably be “surprised” to know that you still occasionally thumb through them. “Surprised” is a little vague. A lot of times surprises are good. These women would probably be surprised you still remembered their birthdays after all these years — and thought to send flowers! They would more likely be “appalled” that you keep their naked photos on your special “Naked Photos of a Bunch of Girls I Knew” encrypted thumb drive.
But does that matter? It’s not illegal for consenting adults to exchange titty pix or snatch chats or butt daguerreotypes. (It’s also not a great idea, as evidenced by the scenario you have just laid out, in which a guy you dated in college continues to use you as his own personal porn star years after the break-up.) How would you feel about contacting all of these women individually and asking them, one right after the other, “Is it cool if I still—occasionally but RARELY—masturbate to the pictures I took of you that weekend you got really sunburned at Ocean Beach?” If the idea of doing that does not appeal to you, that’s an indication that holding onto these pictures is morally wrong. (By the way, how did you get a “fling” to pose for X-rated pictures? “Baby, I'm going to need something to remember this three-day cruise to Puerto Vallarta by…” She might be cool with you keeping them.)
Then there’s the issue of your current girlfriend. Is she aware that you occasionally flip through these pictures and reminisce about how thongs used to be, when you were young and happy? If not, what will you say to her if she discovers them?
“These are just some casual snapshots of friends. This particular group of friends happens to consist exclusively of girls I slept with from 2008 - 2011. By coincidence, no clothing was immediately available at the times these photos were taken. Anyway, don’t worry, it’s not a sex thing. It’s a weird power thing.”
It’s not hard to find photos of naked women on the internet. Beautiful, high quality photos of beautiful, high quality naked women. You’re not holding onto these pictures because they’re the only pornographic images you have access to — you’re holding onto them because you have an exciting, emotional connection to the women in the photos. That’s why your girlfriend probably would not be thrilled to know you’ve held onto them all these years.
But maybe your gal is a really cool, chill girl (one of the guys!) who still occasionally flips through her exes’ dick pics (one of the gay guys!). If the idea of that doesn't bother you, perhaps you guys could bond over this. Put together a sexy PowerPoint presentation to showcase your x-rated memories.
If the idea of her doing that kind of weirds you out, that’s another indication you should not keep lugging around these photos.
Plus, what are you going to do when technology changes and thumbdrives go the way of floppy disks? Convert all your sexy files? That's sad, man. Don't be that guy.
I plan to order some things from a famous underwear company that shall remain anonymous but rhymes with "Hictoria's Jeecrit." I am already on their catalog list and frequently receive offers for free stuff and discounts. So now I want to place this new order in the name of my innocent five-year-old daughter, in hopes that she too will start to receive said freebies and discounts, which I will then appropriate as she can't yet read mail labels and besides doesn't have a "Hictoria's Jeecrit"-type figure. My husband says this is identity theft. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
The first thing that we’re going to do is cut it with the “Hictoria’s Jeecrit” nonsense. Why are you calling it “Hictoria’s Jeecrit?” You know that we know the store that you mean; that’s the “joke” (I guess?) — that the rhyming name completely fails to obscure the actual name. But is that a joke? It may sound counterproductive for something as fun as jokes, but in order for a joke to be a joke, it actually has to make sense. I could say “The sky is GREEN,” but that would not be a joke, because why am I saying that? Shmi shmould shmite shmish shmentire shmolumn shmusing shmymes, but that would also not be a joke. Why, in the context of the joke, are you not allowed to write “V i c t o r i a ‘ s S e c r e t?” What is the logic behind the quasi-anonymity? To prevent the company from subpoenaing me to turn over your name because they have a strict one (1) magazine per household rule? If they’re that committed to laws of the land of Secrets, I doubt “Hictoria’s Jeecrit” is going to throw them off the scent. So we’re just going to go ahead and call it what it is: Frederick’s of Hollywood.
I don’t know that using your five-year-old’s name in order to obtain a free clothing catalogue is tantamount to identity theft. I certainly can’t see you being prosecuted for it, any more than I could see you being prosecuted for wearing an Ohio State shirt even though you didn’t go to Ohio State, or telling a barista your name is Mary-Kate Olsen even though you are Ashley.
If you use your daughter’s Social Security Number to open up a credit card, and then use it to charge all your underpants purchases (I’m guessing you buy a lot of underpants if you require TWO CATALOGUES’ worth of discounts), that is identity theft. Selling her name to Frederick’s of Hollywood in exchange for a Buy-One-Get-One coupon is not illegal. It’s just creepy.
Maybe that’s what your husband means: you’re not stealing your daughter’s identity; just lightly besmirching it.
It may surprise you to know that Frederick’s of Hollywood is not a branch of the U.S. Census Bureau. If you tell them that a woman by the name of Rev. Barbara Doll lives at your address and would like to receive one of their free catalogues, they are going to send her one, no questions asked. In fact, Rev. Doll will probably continue to receive catalogues at that address long after you have moved away, much to the annoyance of the home’s new inhabitants.
It is unlikely that direct financial or legal harm will befall your adorable five-year-old if start ordering sexy lingerie books to your home under her name. (When she learns to check mail for packages and letters addressed to her—as all little kids love to do—you will likely have some explaining to do.) In fact, I dare say that if you are the kind of mother who would entertain the notion of pimping her out in this fashion , this will be far from the worst thing you ever do to her. But, really, a fake name will work just as well.
And, so we’re clear, if the offer in one catalogue is for 15% off a purchase and you want to buy two things, you don’t need two separate catalogues.
Submit your "Thatz Not Okay" questions here (max: 200 words). Art by Jim Cooke / Image via Getty.