by Tessie Riggs
“Have you seen the Jennifer Lawrence nudes? What about Kate Upton‘s? I just googled her naked, wanna see?” Let’s think for a minute about how bizarre it is, that these are things people can say these days.
When questions about Mitt Romney‘s connections to Mormonism brought the phrase “binders full of women” to the public, people were shocked. You mean Mormons actually keep binders, which are called “joy book’s” – books that allegedly act as registers of eligible women (many underage) within the church that men shopping for more wives look through?
The public immediately thought of the girls as victims and the males responsible for the distribution of their names and photographs, as monsters. The impulse, and rightly so, was to help the girls and punish the men appropriately – not to gawk over the books, share them amongst our friends and retweet our favourite snaps.
Yet when a celebrity’s nude photos are released, no one thinks about the violation. Nobody thinks about the person hacking into women’s phones and computers, taking their property and without right or consent, distributing and exposing these bodies to the world. The hacker is a one line mention at the beginning of news broadcasts. Maybe, if the news source is generous, another line at the end regarding how he or she has not been caught. All anyone cares about is what a “slut” this woman must be to have nude photographs of herself. Surely, she was waiting for someone to steal these nudes. She was asking for it, wasn’t she?
Many women and men in the media are paid to impartially relay facts to the public. Yet seconds after violations like these are made against women, these “professionals” become catty monsters, spreading unwarranted hate and blame. “She’s asking for it”, they say. “If she hadn’t taken those pictures, she’d have nothing to worry about”. To me these comments sound eerily similar to slogans of totalitarian regimes, like “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”; slogans usually spouted by those caught listening to people’s private telephone calls or rummaging through their garbage.
Yet we do have something to hide – everyone does. For one thing, our bodies. We “hide” them everyday under clothes. We decide how much to show and how much to conceal because at the end of the day they are our bodies – for us and the people we choose to share them with, only.
Sadly, in our society today, judgments are made about women who are deemed to show too much skin in public or in photos they share with the public. These women are branded “sluts” and the immediate result of that judgment is that very few people will stick up for them when they’re victimized as a result. That’s in public.
Why is it suddenly shameful when a woman takes pride in her body and decides to photograph it for herself or a significant other she chooses? That is an act of consensual sexuality and intimacy, private to the individuals involved.
Stealing the evidence of that intimacy and making it public is an act of unwanted sexual assault, perpetrated with the cowardly mask of a computer click.
Thankfully, despite many voices to the contrary, there have been voices in the American media highlighting the ridiculousness of the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument. Jon Stewart, host of the popular The Daily Show in the USA, pointed out the obvious and understandable reason people take nude photographs, the glaring lack of investigation or punishment aimed at the responsible hackers and the fact that male celebrities, who in comparison leaked or sent their own nude pictures out, are not berated half as badly as the female celebrities who keep their photos private. Stewart added satirically that, “I get it, these women were asking for it. It’s like they said to the Boston Stranglers’ victims: you don’t want to get strangled you shouldn’t have had a neck.” Similarly, Lena Dunham (an American actress, screenwriter, producer, and director) tweeted in defence of the women affected, declaring anyone who would steal and leak naked pictures is “not a hacker: they’re a sex offender”. Dunham encouraged people to respect the women pictured and not pursue the photos.
My personal favourite response was a comment on Facebook. The response declared, “You know what’s stupid? Carrying money in your wallet. You really need to leave your money in your bank account. You are just asking for someone to steal it. Don’t blame the person pick-pocketing, they are just trying to make a few dollars like a normal person.”
A great analogy demonstrating clearly the ridiculousness of blaming someone for a violation of their own private property, stored in what they perceived to be a safe place.
Let’s all be adults and acknowledge that there is nothing “crazy” or “slutty” or “wrong” about a woman being naked in private. What’s “perverted” and “disturbing” and “illegal” is the guy riffling through her electronic underwear drawer.
What do you think? Are Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton victims? What should happen to the hackers?
I’m a white girl who was born and raised in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world (Toronto) and now am getting an even larger picture of the world. As far back as I can remember my parents would read to me everyday and planted a seed of bibliomania, the growth of which I don’t think even they could have predicted. I love books (the idea of carrying around another dimension in your pocket, to be peeked in and out of at your leisure) and thusly find myself in a major that I’m told laughingly will not in a million years land me gainful employment (English). As for beliefs, I believe that a sense of humour is essential in living one’s life, because if you can’t laugh you just might have to cry.
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