What price fame when personal privacy is violated? This is the question at the forefront of the collective imagination after images of Jennifer Lawrence posing naked were stolen from her phone and published online on image sharing forum 4chan. More than 100 celebrities are said to have been targeted, including Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Kate Upton, Kate Bosworth, as the hacker threatens to post more images for the world to see.
Why has this happened? As Audrey Hepburn once said, “if I blow my nose, it gets written all over the world.” The thirst for the details of celebrities’ innermost private lives is as insatiable as ever, but this is no longer limited to paparazzi stalking one’s every move. This is the digital age, and with it comes new ways for privacy to be breached and lives to be ruined.
These women have been targeted because they are famous, because they have worked hard and their success has thrust them into the public eye. Does this mean they are asking for it? That the public has a claim on the intimate details of their lives? No it does not. This encroachment of one’s human right to privacy is a violation. These were images taken by consenting adults who trusted one another, and in the case of actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead, by a husband and wife: “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.”
The ways in which we choose to share our bodies is exactly that: OUR CHOICE. That these private moments have been turned public for entertainment is extremely disquieting and paints a bleak picture of humanity.
Today, Ricky Gervais tweeted a warning against storing nude images of yourselves. This victim-blaming thread of discussion has reared its ugly head several times today, and it strikes me as utterly hypocritical. In a world where Snapchat and smartphones exist, sexting has gone from prevalent to de rigeur. Are celebrities now expected to abstain from such pastimes for fear of being hacked?
This “don’t take naked pics” argument is no longer a valid statement in this day and age, and as Lena Dunham brilliantly points out, it is on a par with the ‘she was wearing a short skirt’ rape justification. There is no justification.
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
What is deeply worrying is that this is just one of many incidents which set about to humiliate women for being sexual. Revenge porn is now a very real and worrying threat for anyone who chooses to share their body in this way. Young women have committed suicide after being victims of revenge porn, but how much more must we endure before something is done to protect people?
Woman shamed for being sexual. Again. Whoever leaked those pics of Jennifer Lawrence is one of the big problems that feminism needs to kill.
— Dawn O’Porter (@hotpatooties) August 31, 2014
As Dawn O’Porter reminds us, this is precisely why we need feminism. It is our choice how we express ourselves sexually, we own the right to privacy, and by viewing these images we endorse criminal contraventions of these rights.