A feminist reaction to Jennifer Lawrence nudes
In what’s been named the biggest celebrity hacking crime in recent history, an anonymous hacker has leaked explicit nude photos of a slew of mostly female A-listers, including Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, Winona Ryder and Kate Upton, to the cesspit of the internet: 4chan. Because the internet is a terrible place, the photos quickly went viral and spread to Reddit, Imgur and Twitter. The authenticity of many of the photos remains unverified, but US reports suggest the leak occurred thanks to an iCloud privacy breach that allegedly allowed access to celebrities’ iCloud accounts.
Celebrity gossip website publisher and noted human scumbag, Perez Hilton, chose to publish the uncensored images of Jennifer Lawrence, only to delete the photos and replace them with censored versions. Amid a growing backlash against news outlets circulating the stolen photos, and realising he could be sued, these too were later deleted. Hilton took to Twitter to apologise to his readers.
“At work we often have to make quick decisions. I made a really bad one today and then made it worse. I feel awful and am truly sorry,” he wrote.
Mistakes are easy to make and often hard to fix, but this is much worse than simply making a bad call. This is sexual violation, and it is deserving of the same punishment in line with what’s handed down to stalkers, pedophiles and other sexual assailants.
For those sharing and broadcasting the photos, or even those hitting the ‘private’ button on your Google Chrome browser to search for these leaked photos, you are perpetuating the abuse of these women – whether it be out of sexual gratification or curiosity. The fact that lots of other people are doing it is not a sign it’s OK. If that’s not enough to deter you, it has been suggested that anyone who views and shares the photos may face prosecution. That’s because you could be complicit in a serious crime, not a sordid scandal, and any decent human being just wouldn’t do it.
Privacy is a privilege; an illusion we tell ourselves to sleep at night. The reality is we all have laundry we would rather not air publicly on our Facebook feeds. That racy snapchat you sent the cute lass from your political reporting elective last semester? Between you and her. Those explicit Tinder conversations that should never see the light of day? They needn’t, ever. For the masses, our relative anonymity ensures that our naked selfies will never grace the pages of Gawker or a TMZ showreel. Celebrities, unfortunately, are not seen as deserving of this same kindness. One must forsake the right to dignity - sheer human decency - for the privilege of fame and fortune.
Lawrence and Upton are victims of a heinous crime and holding them accountable for not ‘taking precautions’ in actions that could later be exploited, is victim-blaming to the highest degree. You wouldn’t blame someone for being caught naked in the gym showers if you’ve set up a camera to catch them doing just that.
The exploitation of women is nothing new and it’s not confined to the rich and famous. Whole websites and forums are dedicated to ‘revenge porn’, a genre of explicit photos and videos made public by disgruntled ex-lovers with the intent to harass, humiliate and put women in their place. It is deplorable that victim blaming is perpetuated in our society and a woman cannot exercise agency over her body without consequence - her naked form is at once desired and loathed.
She is the Madonna or she is the whore - but she is never free to simply be herself.
Emma Nobel is a journalism honours student at Monash University. She is a feminist, cheese connoisseur and tweets at @emmanobel