Nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence are circulating the internet at viral speed and it would be hard to not see them without actively avoiding it. With so many female celebrities targeted you might be tempted to go searching for the images for pure titillation. Hate to break it to you but by viewing, searching or sharing these images you actively participe in the internet equivalent of assault. Or worse, you’re standing by and condoning it.
Although perhaps opportunistic to seek solace in a bunch of actresses having their personal computers hacked, it’s past time to have a conversation centering around the online spread of nude, mainly female, imagery which perpetuates a misogynistic culture. Thanks to this activity it is acceptable for (primarily straight) males to exchange photos of the female body as they might images of an expensive car.
Not only does this culture condone such objectification, it is also acceptabed for such photographs to be used as weapons against the women in question. According to this culture women have to feel ashamed about their bodies and women should never let themselves be photographed in the nude for fear of shame as well as rejection. At the same time women are expected to be ‘up for anything’ such as sending sexually explicit photos to men in order to entice the man of their dreams and give him a reason to love them.
Perez Hilton, King of Sensitivity, immediately posted censored and uncensored photos that were leaked then had to remove them after suffering a case of late-onset morality. Responses have poured from other celebs, via social media outlets, in support of Lawrence and other victims such as Kate Upton.
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, via Twitter
Dunham’s comment on the issue is probably the most accurate of all the reactions. Many others have also condemned those expressing support for the actions of the hacker and the subsequent victim blaming that inevitably followed.
Even with many of these photos being under the internet equivalent of lock and key some have suggested that Lawrence and others should have gone a step further by not having the photos taken. But while being celebrities (and likely aware of the creeps who will work hard to find out the nitty gritty details of their personal lives) these women are human and free and can do whatever they want as long as everyone involved consents.
And still the online community responds the same way they always do. No matter how a woman protects herself it’s always dismissed as her fault when she is attacked in any way. Even as it was revealed that these images of Jennifer Lawrence are only one factor in an ongoing blackmail scheme it doesn’t take long for voices to rise from the woodwork: “She deserves it because she let those pictures be taken.”
These women didn’t consent to these photos being released. That’s the problem – consent. It’s as if these victims have been stripped naked in public. But worse because that public venue covers the entire world and the spread of the images is uncontrollable. It is assault. Just remember that next time you search Jennifer Lawrence on Twitter.
Header image; Martin Eckert