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The Face That Launched a Thousand LawsuitsThe American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy$
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Jessica Lake

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300214222

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300214222.001.0001

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Medical Men and Peeping Toms

Medical Men and Peeping Toms

Spectacles of Monstrosity and the Camera’s Corporeal Violations

Chapter:
(p.89) 3 Medical Men and Peeping Toms
Source:
The Face That Launched a Thousand Lawsuits
Author(s):

Jessica Lake

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300214222.003.0004

This chapter examines cases in which a right to privacy was invoked by women to protest against violations of their bodies or the bodies of their newborn babies. This chapter offers a history of the right to privacy that charts the ways in which the law traditionally “protected” women’s bodies by treating them as male property and confining them to the home. The advent of the camera, its ability to penetrate physical and temporal boundaries, and its creation of movable as well as moving images, brought into question the efficacy of laws such as trespass and nuisance (grounded in physical structures) to protect personal privacy. To highlight the new invasions inflicted by the camera, I compare the cases of DeMay v Roberts and Feeney v Young, which involved the optic violation of a woman’s reproductive body by a stranger’s eyes and a camera respectively. Using a series of medical cases, I argue that many women invoked a right to privacy to protest against the transformation of their bodies (and the bodies of their dead deformed infants) into voyeuristic spectacles of “monstrosity”.

Keywords:   Medical, Privacy, Body, Women, Monstrosity, Dead, Reproductive, Property, Voyeurism, Camera

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