Celebrity Nudes and a New Round of Victim Blaming

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As those of us who don’t live under a rock know, on August 31 a bunch of celebrity nudes, including those of Jennifer Lawrence, McKayla Maroney and Kate Hudson were leaked by a hacker. The case made a turn for the (even) worse when it was discovered that some of the nudes were taken before the celebrities hit 18, making it a case of distribution of child pornography. The plot thickens.

The most popular theory of how the photos were leaked is that hackers somehow used the Apple “Find my iPhone” function to gain access to the celebs’ most private pictures, thus spurring what neckbeards on sites like 4chan and Reddit are calling “The Fappening.” I’m not even going to link to the subreddit dedicated to it, as it’s pretty much just a compilation of all the images that were leaked accompanied with creepy and unempathetic comments. Not only does this violate the most basic rights of these women, it implies a level of victim blaming and slut shaming.

Memes surrounding the leak feature neckbeard wet dreams like Emma Watson, with text that implies that the reason Emma was able to “stay out” of the leak is that she doesn’t take naked selfies. Not only is Emma Watson not one to slut shame other women, she tweeted this only a day after the leak:

Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.

Emma hit the nail on the head with this one (although, when it was linked on The Fappening subreddit, one of the top comments seems to be “Thanks to this stupid tweet, I’m going to fap thinking about Emma and JLaw in a threesome. Happy now, Emma?” Yeah, disgusting). Anyone who says they’ve never taken a picture that they wouldn’t want their family to see is a liar. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with taking these kinds of pictures. Nude or risqué images are common and not a big deal, as long as the person featured in the images consents to having them sent, or sending them themselves, to other consenting adults. Taking a naked picture and sending it to someone unsolicited is not okay. Sending around another person’s naked picture without that person’s consent is not okay. Therefore, these women should not be blamed for having nudes leaked. Celebrities deserve a level of privacy as well–how is reveling in nudes being sent out any different from the harassment they receive in the US from paparazzi? How is it any different from the NSA surveillance that so many of these perverts have raged against?

These women have nothing to be ashamed of. They did nothing wrong, and the backlash against the woman for the leak of the images are using the same logic as those who blame victims of sexual assault for what they were wearing.

Those who say “they shouldn’t have had nudes in their phones anyway,” should probably check the images in their phones, the history saved in their browsers and the texts they’ve sent and received. I’m sure they’ve got some gems in there that they’d like to keep private, too.

Remember, these are young adults we’re talking about. These are people with their own lives and their own struggles. Their bodies don’t belong to anyone but themselves, and frequenters of 4chan and the subreddit dedicated to “The Fappening” should reevaluate the choice they made when they decided to spread images of young adults that were meant to be, and should always have been, private.