After Their Fake Nude Photo Spread, Sue Ramirez And Maris Racal Push Back Against Sexual Harassment
Sue talks about fake news, media literacy, and a perpetuated culture of objectifying women while Maris reminds everyone of women's ownership over their bodies
They messed with the wrong women.
Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal's fake nude photo controversy is the next thing to rouse discussions of online sexual harassment and the objectifying of women. On Tuesday night, it was reported that both actresses are pushing back against the persons responsible for creating and sharing a lewdly edited photo showing their (fake) naked bodies.
Though the photo itself is real—it shows the real-life best friends lounging side by side on pool chair in bikini tops—a malicious photoshopper edited the image to expose their supposed bare breasts, and then proceeded to share it online likely with the intention of making it the next "viral" celebrity nude leak.
Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal's fake nude photo controversy isn't being taken lightly. Angry netizens and their fans have come to their defense, while ABS-CBN itself released an official statement condemning the act and reiterating its legal repercussions.
ABS-CBN condemns maliciously edited photos of artists Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal; says to pursue legal action vs perpetrators and anyone who posts, distributes, or duplicates the images.— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) January 26, 2021
Read more: https://t.co/IAT11DUbU7 pic.twitter.com/khq00QiUqt
But what we really want to talk about are how Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal are personally handling the controversy, and how they're both bringing to light issues that are all too relevant for women, people like them who live their lives in the limelight, and even the Internet as a whole.
Taking to Instagram to express her anger and disappointment over what transpired, here's what Sue Ramirez had to say:
Let's dissect her posts. Her words pack a punch and she reminds us of lessons worth learning and remembering.
Sue on media literacy
"Repost ko lang ulit tong mga picture na to para hindi kayo NATATANGA sa fake news... Umayos kayo. AT WAG TANGA PLS. Wag basta bastang naniniwala sa mga nakikita online."
We can't get away from the Internet. It will be there forever and it will only become a bigger part of our lives as time goes by. Good things and bad things come from that, but one of the worst to come out of the Internet—and social media content, especially—is the proliferation of fake news. When something controversial crops up on our feed, something that's suspiciously titillating, scandalous, and "shareable," it's our duty to think thrice about the content's authenticity. Don't be afraid to call out friends and family who are quick to repost or share unverified (and potentially harmful and abusive) content, either. Because you know better, you must do better.
Sue on ending the culture of objectifying and degrading women
"Sa 8.1M followers ko, nakikiusap ako sainyo. Tulungan niyo ako na matapos na ang kulturang ito. Kulturang bumababoy sa mga kababaihan. Kulturang MAPANIRA. Kulturang KASUKLAM-SUKLAM."
The Philippines (and the rest of the world if we're being real) has a long, long way of figuring out how to ingrain respect for women and women's sexuality in many of its citizens. There are many people—not just men, but women too, and of all ages—that still get a kick out of blemishing a person's reputation and self-worth via sexually motivated attacks. Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal are not the first, and sadly may not be the last, women to be victims of sexual harassment.
But, to get the ball rolling, we can start with our immediate social circles and day-to-day activities. If and when you encounter defamatory content like Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal's fake nude photo, you should do three things: report the post (most social media sites have an option for reporting abuse and/or bullying), and don't engage with it. That means no sharing and trying your best not to react or leave a comment. The third thing you should do requires a little more bravery, but it's also the most important. If you know someone circulating fake news, stop them in their tracks. We don't mean pick a fight or risk ruining relationships, but be the voice of reason and kindness in a time when both are seriously lacking. Explain why they shouldn't be part of the problem. You might be one person fighting the good fight, but big things always start small.
Sue on protecting others
"THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE. Sa nakakaalam kung san nagsimula ito, pls contact me through DM. Help me get to the bottom of this."
Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal can stand up for themselves. They also have the resources to pursue legal action if they choose to. But not everyone is as vocal, as supported, and as well-connected. For the persons who have experienced the same, what do they have to lean on? As Sue rallied her supporters to help her trace down the perpetrator, she sets an example; when we fight against people behind crimes like this, we don't only fight for ourselves, but for others who may have been, and can be victimized. Our victory in situations like this is the victory of all. If we ever find ourselves with the opportunity to defend others against things like this, we should take it with this in mind.
Although Maris said less than Sue, her tweet wasn't any less powerful:
There’s an edited photo of Sue and I spreading online. Kung sino man ang nag edit nun, wala kang utak. Itigil na ang pambabababoy ng katawan ng mga babae. Pagaari namin ‘to.— Maris Racal (@MissMarisRacal) January 26, 2021
2021 na, manyak ka pa rin? Magbago na.
Here's what we picked up from her short, but strong, statement.
Maris on women's ownership of their bodies
"Itigil na ang pambabababoy ng katawan ng mga babae. Pagaari namin ‘to."
A woman's body is her own. If she wants to share it with the world and is comfortable with nudity, so be it, especially when no laws are broken by her choices. (Read: offending sensibilities is not equivalent to breaking laws). But if she chooses to conceal her body, limiting the amount of bare skin she allows others to see, so be it, too. More so, a woman's body does not exist simply to be ogled at and reduced to an object of sexual gratification. It is most definitely not a weapon to be used against them.
Maris on the need for change
"2021 na, manyak ka pa rin? Magbago na.”
Need we say more? Society has modernized in so many ways, and yet our attitudes towards women have not. It's 2021, the world has entered its second year of a pandemic, and yet this problem has remained unsolved for centuries. We've moved forward in some respects, but much work is yet to be done to put a final and permanent stop to the degrading and sexual harassment of women.
Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal's fake nude photo controversy isn't the first of its kind
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray took legal action against a tabloid for publishing a fake topless photo of her.
Just last year, Maine Mendoza was victimized by a "deepfake" tech user that spread a fake pornographic video of the actress. (Deepfakes are photos or videos made with the help of dangerous tech that allows a user to literally, and almost seamlessly, transpose one person's face onto another's—usually one of someone who looks very similar to them. The goal is to create "believable" fake content).
Currently, Sue Ramirez and Maris Racal are asking for help in tracking down the person or group who created their fake photo.
Photos from @sueannadoodles @mariesteller