TW for talk of sexual assault, victim blaming, misogyny
You’ve probably heard about the nude photographs of Jennifer Lawrence that were leaked online yesterday. The leak also included nude pictures of Kirsten Dunst, Ariana Grande, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and several other women, but, naturally, it’s Lawrence who’s drawing most of the heat because she’s super-famous right now. She’s also known for being charmingly awkward and honestly if I had to place any bets I would guess that most people were hoping that she would respond to this with some kind of hilariously crass Real Talk about sex and her body and being naked. I keep seeing comments by people who want her to provide the punchline to this joke; what they don’t seem to understand is that this is not a joke, this is a form of sexual assault.
Jennifer Lawrence and the other women involved in this leak were photographed in the nude with their consent – however, they did not consent to having those pictures published publicly. And just to be very, very clear here because the last thing that I want is for someone to misunderstand what I’m saying: lack of consent in a sexual act – in this case sharing nude photographs against someone’s will – is what makes this sexual assault. The person or people who leaked these photographs committed a sex crime, and it should be treated as one. Anyone who chooses to look at those photographs is complicit in that crime. Unless Jennifer Lawrence has specifically given you permission to look at these specific nude pictures of her, doing so violates her privacy. It doesn’t matter that she’s famous, or that you don’t know her personally. It double doesn’t matter that she’s hot. Looking at those photographs is a violation of her person, end of sentence, full stop.
Another thing that we need to be very clear about: this leak was not Jennifer Lawrence’s fault, or the fault of anyone else whose nude pictures were shared without their consent. It did not happen because they had nude pictures stored on their phones or in iCloud. It did not happen because their passwords weren’t good enough. It was not an accident. It happened because someone decided to deliberately commit a theft of personal property. It happened because someone leaked that private personal property online. It happened because of an illegal act committed on purpose by one or several people. It did not happen because some hot famous women just weren’t careful enough.
But women can never be careful enough, can we? If we take naked pictures of ourselves, we’re asking for it. If someone can manage to hack into our accounts, we’re asking for it. If we’re not wearing anti-rape nail polish, we’re asking for it. If we don’t take self-defence classes, we’re asking for it. If we get drunk, we’re asking for it. If our skirts are too short, we’re asking for it. If we pass out at a party, we’re asking for it. If we are not hyper-vigilant every single fucking second of every single fucking day, we are asking for it. Even when we are hyper-vigilant, we’re still asking for it. The fact that we exist is asking for it.
This is what rape culture looks like.
This is what misogyny looks like.
They look like Perez Hilton posting Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photographs on his site, and then refusing to take them down because the story is “too big to ignore,” and anyway the pictures are “no big deal” and “HOT.”
They look like this dude, whose response to one of the leak victims was to tell her that he masturbated to her pictures:
@M_E_Winstead I felt great after I came.
— #hashtagslacktivist (@zaiger) September 1, 2014
ETA: @zaiger has apparently deleted his tweet, but it was in response to this:
To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.
— Mary E. Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) August 31, 2014
They look like this notice on Reddit, where the nude photographs are being shared without any consequences, forbidding anyone from posting information about the people who leaked the photographs.
And these are just a few small samples. If you need more evidence of how disgusting people are being, feel free to search for “Jennifer Lawrence” on twitter and take a quick gander at how many people are blaming her for being the victim of a crime, or else celebrating the fact that they have access to pictures of her that she had intended to keep private. Many people are doing both in the same fucking tweet, because that’s the world we live in. Because it’s fine to participate in a sex crime as long as you think it was the victim’s fault. Because women are just never careful enough, and they deserve whatever’s coming to them. After all, that’s the real message here, isn’t it?