The big problem with the Tommy Lee nude scandal

Tommy Lee’s X-rated photo has sparked an Instagram censorship debate
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Tommy Lee, the drummer of Mötley Crüe, shocked fans this week after posting an X-rated nude image on Instagram. 

While many were quick to laugh and share the full frontal shot – which was simply captioned “Oooops” and stayed uploaded for a whopping six hours – many have pointed out the clear double standards in Instagram’s censorship policies. 

Watch Below: Facebook’s Censorship Of Breast Cancer Campaign Sparks Outrage

Instagram’s strict nudity policy has enraged thousands of followers in recent years, with the company banning breasts and female nipples in their guidelines. 

The social media platform’s guidelines state that “we don’t allow nudity.”

“This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks.”

Whilst the platform has made an effort in recent years to change its policy and make it more inclusive, the guidelines remain a point of contention, especially as many non-sexual photos of breast cancer survivors, breastfeeding mothers, posts about body image and sexual health get automatically flagged and removed daily. 

So if Instagram can’t even “free the nipple,” why does a full-frontal nude shot of Tommy Lee remain unaffected? 

Tommy Lee
Tommy Lee’s X-rated photo has sparked an Instagram censorship debate. (Credit: Getty)

Michelle Battersby, who cofounded social media platform Sunroom spoke to ELLE Australia about why Tommy Lee’s post has angered so many people, explaining that, “it’s a frustrating reminder that moderation on mainstream social platforms is often inconsistent and stacked against women.”

“Whether it be losing accounts for sharing birthing stories, having posts removed for speaking about pleasure, or being shadowbanned for being a sex worker. The penalties are frequent and it often feels like the algorithms and AI used to detect breaches of community guidelines don’t consider women’s needs as fairly as they should.”

And it’s clear Michelle Battersby’s view is shared by many others, with journalist Lola Méndez taking to Twitter to highlight the double standards. 

“So Tommy Lee can post a picture of his penis on @instagram that’s still up three hours later but a picture of my curvy booty in a thong bikini gets taken down? Cool, cool,” she wrote.

Tommy Lee
Tommy Lee’s photo was removed six hours later. (Credit: Instagram)

Model and actress Nyome Nicholas-Williams, who boasts over 80 thousand followers on Instagram, further explained why Tommy Lee’s exemption from the nudity ban was such a double standard. 

“The double standards on this platform are so ridiculous,” she explained in a video on Instagram. 

“How is Tommy Lee posting his whole genitalia when nobody asked to see it…yet I’m being censored for simply speaking up about the constant c**p that keeps happening.”

Nyome also referenced an incident she had on Instagram in 2020, when a photo of hers – which was “showing nothing”  was removed in “0.1 seconds.”

The photo Nyome was referring to made headlines around the world after the picture was deemed sexually explicit by Instagram and removed – even though it went against no Instagram guidelines. 

The incident saw Instagram agree to change its policies in an effort to eliminate the censoring of plus-size women. 

Nyome Nicholas-Williams
Nyome Nicholas-Williams has slammed Tommy Lee’s photo and the double standards of Instagram’s policies. (Credit: Getty)

However, it’s clear today that Instagram still has a long way to go, especially when you look at the social commentary around Tommy Lee’s photo. 

As women’s posts are getting removed almost instantaneously, Tommy’s image garnered over 50 thousand likes before its removal and hundreds of positive comments. 

And it isn’t just the double standard of Instagram’s policies and community guidelines, there is a clear double standard in users’ responses to these photos. 

Bachelor star Alex Nation also pointed out this hypocrisy, commenting “if this was a woman..” on Tommy Lee’s photo. 

Alex Nation
Alex Nation questioned the double standards of posting online. (Credit: Insatgram)

Whereas Tommy, a father of two, was praised by fans for the image, Kourtney Kardashian was shamed for posting a semi-nude pic and Britney Spears has repeatedly been called out for her naked posts. All too frequently do these mothers cop complaints that they’re being “disrespectful” or “bad role models”.

Tommy Lee’s post was eventually removed, but the incident has led to a strong response from the public, highlighting the hypocrisy of gender standards and calling for equality on Instagram. 

The message is clear: either Instagram needs to apply its rules and guidelines to all genders, or none, but restricting one gender and not the other is blatantly unfair and discriminatory. 

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