It’s not the first time this has happened, and it unfortunately won’t be the last. Last weekend, an iCloud hack resulted in the release of several nude, sexually suggestive photos of female celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Lea Michele, Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice Mary Elizabeth Winstead, teen Olympian sensation McKayla Maroney, Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevinge, Aubrey Plaza and Mary-Kate Olsen. Since the photo leak appeared on 4chan, the photos have been further distributed despite some of the actress’ reps threatening to take legal action on anyone who takes part in circulating the photos. This entire situation is a horrible reflection of where we are as a society. First, that these actress’ privacy has been completely violated and second, that some of us don’t know any better than to partake in the seeking out and sharing of the photos. When I first found out about the photo leak (through my facebook newsfeed, where else?!), all I could feel was disgust and sadness for these women. They’ve done nothing wrong, and yet someone has exploited and violated them.
There is an assault on women’s bodies and it’s happening everywhere.
In our society, we have such an ugly, disrespectful attitude toward women’s bodies. So many people have not even had the decency to step back for a second and think about how these women might feel now that their private property has been shared all over the internet. As a culture we view women’s bodies as objects and believe we can look at or touch them whenever we want. The true shame is that while these women have had a horrific crime committed against them, they will still be blamed for taking these photos in the first place – and that is just wrong. Scott Mendelson summed this up best in an article for Forbes:
” Ms. Lawrence and the other victims have absolutely nothing to apologize for in terms of the contents of the photos or the nature in which they were leaked. The story itself should not be addressed as if it were a scandal, but rather what it is: A sex crime involving theft of personal property and the exploitation of the female body. Outlets as mainstream as People and CNN are referring to the photo leak as a “scandal.” All due respect, it’s not a scandal. The actresses and musicians involved did nothing immoral or legally wrong by choosing to take nude pictures of themselves and put them on their personal cell phones. You may argue, without any intended malice, that it may be unwise in this day-and-age to put nude pictures of yourself on a cell phone which can be act and/or stolen. But without discounting that statement, the issue is that these women have the absolute right and privilege to put whatever they want on their cell phones with the expectation that said contents will remain private or exclusive to whomever is permitted to see them just like their male peers. The burden of moral guilt is on the people who stole said property and on those who chose to consume said stolen property for titillation and/or sexual gratification.”
Just like this incident should not be called a “scandal”, the person responsible for this should not be simply called a “hacker.” Lena Dunham, actress and award-winning director of HBO comedy Girls, has publicly called out this leaker as what he or she is – a sex offender. Lena Dunham continues:
“The way in which you share your body must be a CHOICE. Support these women and do not look at these pictures. Remember when you look at these pictures you are violating these women again and again. It’s not okay.” [source]
And of course, this. Lena is always on point: Lucas Neff, actor on Fox sitcom “Raising Hope”, agreed with Lena’s sentiments when he posted this series of tweets: Emma Watson was also disgusted by the photo leak, and even more upset by the public response. I’m relieved that high-profile celebrities are openly expressing their feelings and speaking up in support of the targeted actresses. Unfortunately, it will take more than that to fix our cultural attitudes toward women and the wrongs committed against them. I think this passage, posted on The Belle Jar says something very troubling but true:
“But women can never be careful enough, can we? If we take naked pictures of ourselves, we’re asking for it. If someone can manage to hack into our accounts, we’re asking for it. If we’re not wearing anti-rape nail polish, we’re asking for it. If we don’t take self-defence classes, we’re asking for it. If we get drunk, we’re asking for it. If our skirts are too short, we’re asking for it. If we pass out at a party, we’re asking for it. If we are not hyper-vigilant every single fucking second of every single fucking day, we are asking for it. Even when we are hyper-vigilant, we’re still asking for it. The fact that we exist is asking for it. This is what rape culture looks like. This is what misogyny looks like.” [source]