Why Anyone Who Clicked On Those Leaked Naked Pics Committed A Sex Crime
When the Internet caught wind of the celebrity photo leak heard 'round the world, we all, again, breathed a collective sigh at the repeated objectification of women in the Hollywood realm and went back to our end-of-summer backyard barbecues.
But grilled chicken skewers and crispy burgers smothered in cheese couldn't undo or erase the unease that the 4chan iCloud hack release left in its wake. But among the millions who ran to their computers to sneak a peek at their favorite starlet's chest and derrière were millions more who didn't.
And since the photos were leaked in an unprecedented iCloud hack, the stunning show of support for the actresses whose personal accounts were compromised – Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Lea Michele, Ariana Grande, Kate Upton, Victoria Justice Mary Elizabeth Winstead, teen Olympian sensation McKayla Maroney, Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevinge, Aubrey Plaza and Mary-Kate Olsen, to name a few – has almost outshone the invasion of privacy itself.
The scandal throws us back to the beginning of time: We're in the garden, standing next to Eve, watching her thoughts dance between eating the apple or bypassing the experience entirely.
Except now, we are Eve, the garden is the limitless Internet and the apple has become nude photos of celebrity A-listers; 4chan is, undoubtedly, the serpent.
The question is, do we dare taste the apple?
In the media realm, we straddle the question of “what's in the grey” all day long. Do we post a story? Do we skip it? Are graphic images ever too graphic? If other sites are perpetuating the news, would it be a missed opportunity to nix doing the same?
There is no right and wrong, as far as the Internet is concerned. There are only numbers, flashing across the screen, spiking when the getting's good and dipping dangerously low when the news, however right or wrong, is slim.
Media outlets provide access to public information – the argument that the photos are already out there is, in fact, a fair one – but in instances like this, it raises the question of morality: Are we going to participate in the perpetuation of someone else's private, personal and unequivocally intimate photographs? And it wasn't just the media asking, we were also asking ourselves. Collectively, the answer was “no.”
Before you even consider tapping into the NSFW link, you have to think about what you would do if that were you, or someone you knew. At the heart of the leak is the fact that these women are, well, women. They live – and sometimes even get to enjoy – private lives outside of their filming, television and public appearances schedule.
They have inside jokes with friends, send hideous selfies when they're having a bad day, tell fart jokes to their best friends when they're having a bad day, zoom in on that heinous pimple that's sprouted at the worst possible time EVER, gossip about what Jim and Tanya did to Sue and Sarah on that risqué vacation six years ago.
They have lives – full, beautiful lives, rich with stories – that stretch far beyond the sensationalized world that we know them most comfortably in. They have worlds we are not privy to.
Celebrities bark, constantly, that their lives are not fodder for news and gossip and opinionated in-depth articles. They lobby for a separation of their art and their lives. In this instance, they are much, much more than correct: They are telling the truth.
When we see them on a screen, in character, then yes, their work and their look and their posture is open to interpretation and, in turn, to dissemination.
But to glorify the objectification of a woman's body when she was so unwillingly thrust into the limelight is wrong – and whether we're ready to admit that or not consciously, we know it's true.
Imagine, for a moment, that thousands of leaked photos of you made their way onto the web. You can tell yourself that it's not the same, because you're not a celebrity whose image directly correlates to her work, but again, imagine that you are.
You are a movie star scoring million-dollar deals to star in the latest YA film adaptation; you're a teenie-bopper Nickelodeon sensation; you're every and any one of these women.
What would it be like to have your most private moments – the things you never want people to see, to know, to have any hint that you do – spread across the screens of every computer, at one time?
What would it be like to have people making judgments based on the way you look, the way you're posed, the fact that one nipple may just, in fact, be bigger than the other?
An Internet hacker breaking into and ransacking the most intimate parts of your life off screen, off camera isn't just humiliating, it's embarrassing and shocking and tear-inducing.
And while I don't think it will end any of these women's careers or longevity in the business, it does shift their lives and their work into an unbalanced and dangerous place.
So before you click, think about what you would do if it happened to you? If it were your best friend, or someone you loved? If it were your daughter, your sister, your colleague? At its most basic, the 4chan leak is a violation of privacy; a perforation of our safety.
By sharing them, we are just proliferating the objectification that a woman is nothing more than her nudes, her breasts, the way she poses when she's undressed, the shape of her ass. And it doesn't take a human rights advocate to understand just how crippling that type of logic can be.
But perhaps the best responses as to why we should have skipped over the nudes came from the very pool that gave us the naked shots in the first place: Hollywood. Lena Dunham proudly, eloquently and plainly put down why the photos were wrong.
Even though we shouldn't need reminding, she shared, “The way in which you share your body must be a CHOICE. Support these women and do not look at these pictures,” and continued on to say, “Remember when you look at these pictures you are violating these women again and again. It's not okay.”
She also shared some choice words for the people who are in full support of viewing, sharing and discussing the photos:
The “don’t take naked pics if you don’t want them online” argument is the “she was wearing a short skirt” of the web. Ugh.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) September 1, 2014
And Lena isn't alone. Emma Watson spoke out yesterday, as well, coming to the support of Lawrence and the dozens of others who were shamelessly violated for profit:
Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) September 1, 2014
Lucas Neff, the “Raising Hope” actor also took to Twitter to voice his disappointment and disgust at the leak in a series of poignant and blatantly honest tweets:
Stealing someone’s naked photos is the same as tearing someone’s clothes off in public. It’s sexual assault.
— Lucas Neff (@RealLucasNeff) September 1, 2014
Eventually they’ll be able to hack women’s thoughts, and then it’ll be women’s fault for thinking about sex.
— Lucas Neff (@RealLucasNeff) September 2, 2014
You do not have the right to display someone else’s private property without their consent. Period.
— Lucas Neff (@RealLucasNeff) September 1, 2014
So, let me ask you again: Do you dare eat the apple?
Photo Credit: WENN
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