You know that scene in coming of age movies, where boys ‘read’ their dad’s Playboy magazine under the covers? Talk about ancient history.

In 2016, every millennial with a smartphone is openly scrolling through their Instagram feed of hot girls. Not only did free porn kill the business models of traditional lads mags, Instagram has furthered their irrelevance by making sexy pics safe for work (there’s a no-nudity policy but we all know you can get pretty close), discreetly viewable, and more accessible than ever.

The most crucial part of this Insta-heavy reality though is that self-publishers are changing the way we view female sexuality. For too long, men have been in charge of photographing the female body. We’re now in an age where straight men are consuming photos produced and directed by women, and those photos are coming with a voice.

That’s a powerful statement. For women online who court male attention (or make their cash monies from it), self-publishing allows them to meet the male gaze on their own terms. They control the aesthetic of the image and define their bodies, all from their own safe-space. Moreover, they have space to to make their opinions heard.

You needn’t look much further for an example than Amber Rose – former stripper, now model, and general celebrity businesswoman, who has 9.3 million people following her feed. In between hot pics of herself and memes, she’s reclaiming the words that have been used to put women down, and using her platform to support feminism and health causes she cares about. 

That’s the difference in the social media age. Glamour models on page three don’t talk back to you. They don’t talk, period. If you follow someone on Instagram, you’re not just getting a picture – you’re hearing their views.