Let’s Talk About the Nude Photo Leak

I know, I know, I may be a little late with this one — Jennifer Lawrence has already popped up multiple times on my newsfeed because she spoke out about the nude photo leak that occurred more than a month ago. Lawrence and other young celebrities were forced to watch their private lives become deliberately public, and not by their own choice.

Several celebrities, including Kate Upton (above), Jennifer Lawrence, and Kirsten Dunst fell victim to the nude photo leaks that began in August 2014

Why do I want to talk about this? Because I have had the opportunity to watch how people respond to this event, and it seems that there are many different camps. Both sides believe that what happened was a gross breach of privacy, and that it was not fair to see Lawrence and other young actresses become sexual objects at the hand of computer hackers.

The difference, however, lies in the perception and interpretation of our social atmosphere. There are just as many people who are encouraged by Lawrence’s very public and vocal response to the nude photo leak as there are people who blame the inherently sexualized culture of America for Lawrence’s decision to even take those photos. Still others find it hard to support Lawrence’s public outrage because she appeared on the front of Vanity Fair in what many considered a “suggestive” and “steamy” photo (opinions seen here).

Jennifer Lawrence on Vanity Fair cover

The aforementioned Vanity Fair cover

Usually, this is usually the part where I swoop in and provide my own decidedly strong and intriguing argument about the topic. But I don’t know if I can do that this time. There is lot being said out there, and the only way that I can think of even enumerating and disseminating all of my thoughts is to go one by one. So if you are fond of BuzzFeed and their proclivity to list everything, you just might get a kick out of this.

  1. The nude photo leak is a crime. Whether of not it can be considered a sex crime is still being debated, but hackers breached the privacy of very public figures and eliminated their ability to choose who sees these photos. They stole the property of these individuals and benefitted from the exposure of this footage. This is not stealing your sister’s diary, this is theft on a much larger scale, and I hope that there will be justice for all of the celebrities affected.
  2. The victim-blaming has to stop. I acknowledge the fact that it may not have been in the best interest of these celebrities to take nude photos of themselves, but I would have said that to anyone — celebrity, athlete, even friend or family member. To say that they should “expect things like this to happen” because they are public figures, or that the way that Lawrence was photographed on the cover of Vanity Fair does not support her outrage sounds preeettttyyyy close to what you would find in rape culture .  “She was asking for it.” “Did you see what she was wearing?” Women should not have to prepare for an onslaught of unwanted sexual harrassment for their entire lives — that is the part of culture and society that needs to change.
  3. Female sexuality — and how it is defined — is always changing. The male gaze is a thing, people — sorry to burst your bubble or whatever. So is sexuality in culture. How far do we go as members of society to dictate how female sexuality should be expressed and explored? Should sexuality be embraced in all of its forms? Are nude photos of yourself affirmation of your sexuality, or the perpetuation of the male gaze? Where do females find the balance between embracing our sexual beings and also preventing sexual objectivity? Think about it for me, because I don’t have an answer right now, either.
  4. The human body is a fascinating and beautiful work of nature. Jack painted French girls in Titanic, Greek statues in the nude abound, and nude photography has a history that is over 150 years old. I do not support or condone the theft, exposure, or consumption of these nude photos by the masses, and I do not have an established opinion of the impact of nude photos in intimate relationships. And I definitely do not support the voyeurism that these women fell victim to, not in any way, shape of form. But to blame them for taking pictures of themselves is a mistake. Humans are beautiful, and acknowledging that for oneself can be a really difficult thing for some people to do.

I hope that the scum that leaked those photos are brought to justice, and that this little piece was useful in your consideration of this unfortunate event and any others in which women are denied the right to their bodies, in any medium and in any manner.

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