By Jennie Sekanics
It’s no secret that over 100 female celebrities’ phones have been hacked and their nude photos have been unjustly disclosed to the internet, giving millions access to their private pictures. Jennifer Lawrence is now not only regarded as a phenomenal actress and spokesperson for body image confidence, but poster woman for the many female celebrities who have been violated.
What is most important to recognize when contextualizing this recent event is the fact that it is, indeed, sexual assault. Viewing another’s personal, specifically private, nude photos without their consent is undoubtedly a form of sexual violence. But since there seems to be a common discomfort with this fact or snicker at the application of such a term to the hacking, I will presume to break down the publication of these naked pictures in hopes of not only clarifying why this is sexual assault but of course, causing more discomfort.
In strictly simple terms and even to dabble with the word of law, the hacker has stolen these photos — an act, I think we can all agree on, that is illegal and deserves tangible punishment. To be even more correct, the criminal is guilty of theft of personal property and the utilization of this property for his own profit. In terms of the grand ol’ American pull yourself up by your bootstraps mantra, the hacker is indubitably violating the law (…and dishonoring his fore‘fathers,’ because we all know how relevant they are in terms of modern day politics).
Yet, the hacker didn’t merely steal a laptop or material item that may be compensated through monetary retribution. The hacker explicitly released sexualized photos of these women, for the sole purpose of others gaining pleasure from them. The women did not consent to this exposure of their naked bodies and their bodies unwillingly became tools for the appeasement of another’s sexual drive. Sexual assault is when a person unwillingly must commit any involuntary sexual act and thus, through the transitive property, the redistribution of theses stars’ naked photos is nothing less than sexual assault.
From the simple Google search to the subreddit known as “The Fappening,” the mass viewings of these photos emphasize the unequivocal lack of reverence we have for women and their bodies. It not only signifies the width of the tolerance we have for sexual assault and crime against women, but perpetuates the primary offense — each time the photos are viewed, the crime is committed again and again. By specifically searching for these photos, viewing them, and exposing them, one is saying it is OK that this hacker stole these sexually explicit, private pictures. It is OK to exploit women, particularly for another’s self-pleasure. It is OK to sexually assault. I am OK with these injustices.
The crime is even more so extended as many use social media to harp on their victim-blaming arguments (the same arguments used in sexual assault/rape cases). The “if she didn’t want her nude photos exposed, she shouldn’t have taken them” logic excuses the actions of the hacker and sharings of these photos by the public and places the blame directly upon the female who is being violated.
Media outlets that have published posts about the releasing of the nude photos contain attempts to explain the complex, absurd reasoning behind taking naked pictures. CNN, for example, utilizes the ancient rhetoric of blaming the “nature” of socially feminized behaviors and qualities, such as measuring progress on a diet, assessing the need for plastic surgery, fulfilling the desire for publicity and just plain naiveté. Forget the possibility of a woman simply appreciating her body, expressing self-love, and feelin’ herself.
Whatever the reason may be, the fact of the matter is IT DOES NOT MATTER WHY SHE TOOK THE NUDE PHOTOS. What matters is that they are hers and the sharing of her nudity requires her consent.
A woman, a man, anyone should be able to take a nude photo simply because he or she wants to and not fear someone infiltrating that personal space. Taking a nude photo is a very private, personal entity. That moment of self-appreciation, self-analysis, or self-understanding belongs to them and whoever they choose to share it with.
These photos have not been leaked — they have been unjustly released and redistributed.
The root of the problem is not the taking of nude photos — the ideology that women’s bodies are always accessible and for others’ (ahem, males’) pleasure.
These women are not to blame — they have been sexual assaulted.
My question is how will we intrude into the lives of women and infringe upon their rights next? Subjective health care plans that exclude birth control? Abortion restrictions? A wage gap? Oh wait…