September 29, 2014
(Cross-posted from Three Letter Blog)
So this is a quick blast-post about the horrible event that has taken place in the past 24 hours. Anyone with their finger on the pulse of social media will know that a major photo-hack has taken place. Originating in what my BF has affectionately referred to as ‘the Dickhead Hive Mind’ aka 4Chan, intimate and nude photos of numerous celebrities (Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton to name but two) were posted earlier today and the internet has exploded. (Oh and FYI the super classy hacker/poster/collector isapparently disappointed they haven’t made that much cash of these ladies bodies)
Now, this is going to be a short(ish) post to address a couple of the more disturbing reactions I’ve come across today. Namely Victim Blaming, and Slut-Shaming.
The reaction of the world wide web has been abundantly disheartening today with most comments ranging from ‘YES, INTO THE WANK BANK #TheFappening’ to ‘What idiots, who would be so careless, they should know better’ and my personally most hated ‘Who even takes these photos, sluts deserved it’ (these are all abridged versions of tweets/comment/fb statuses I’ve seen today, feel free to find your own).
What is obvious is that there’s a real culture of victim blaming surrounding these photos. People seem to feel they have an outright valid claim to these intimate images, these celebrities are already out in the public sphere in sex scenes and raunchy photo shoots, so what’s the addition of a personal photograph in that mix? Well the issue here is one of consent. There’s a big difference between consenting to a Playboy photo shoot and knowing about the incoming sensation in the aftermath of one of their centerfold pieces (Madonna, Kate Moss, Sharon Stone, Drew Barrymore, and Lindsay Lohan to name a few) versus the violation of people’s private accounts and disseminating them amongst the masses. These raunchy photo shoots and steamy sex scenes are carefully crafted and are done with the full consent of the actress/model in the comfort of a controlled environment, along with full monetary recompense for their work. They enter a CONSENSUAL CONTRACT about these images and understand how they will filter into the public. Contrast that with a VERYprivate naked-selfie you’ve taken explicitly for your own, or your partner’s own pleasure, and I think the differences are obvious.
Apparently however, the difference is lost on some.
Most comments I read which aren’t merely of the tasteful ‘oh my right hand is gonna be sore this week!’ variety, specifically blame the girls for the violation of their privacy. More often than not I’ve encountered that age old House-Analogy regarding the self-prevention measures people could have put in place regarding their own personal safety: ‘Excuse me while I leave all my doors and windows unlocked because no one should break in’ – Imgur User. Which basically means, if you don’t police yourself and use security measures to the extent of a metaphorical bunker then you deserve EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that happens to your body/house. If we continue with the ridiculous House-Analogy then logically this argument is just a few steps shy of saying ‘I mean, I could leave my house, but if I did that I’d totally be bringing it on myself when I get stabbed to death.’
It’s increasingly shocking how often these analogies are used in response to Rape. Apparently if we don’t walk around with chastity belts and razor-blade lined underwear we are at fault in any and all violation of our bodies/houses. The same goes for our nude pics. If we don’t want to have our privacy abused, we shouldn’t take photos. Which is basically the same as saying, ‘If you don’t want your privacy violated, don’t have a private life’. It’s inhibiting, it’s victim blaming, and it’s verging on the Big-Brother style self-policing. Why do I have to live a life of fear and imposed nunnery simply because others have no decency? I have every single right to photograph my own body in an intimate manner and share this with my partner. You have absolutely no right to look at them. (FYI the Guardian has written a great post discussing the abuse of this current scandal, I encourage you all to read it). Granted, uploading photos onto the cloud is a bit silly, I personally delete any/all backed up photos for fear of accidentally sharing them on my Google Plus page and my father accidentally coming across them. That is a logical fear. But equally, the cloud is accessed via means of password-protected accounts. PASSWORD. PROTECTED. Simply because these were on the cloud doesn’t mean the public has right of access. These are private accounts. Full stop. You have no ownership or right to these images. Do kindly piss off.
The most upsetting element I have found around this whole scandal is the Slut-shame aspect. People seem to feel that these ladies, taking photos for their personal use, deserve what has happened, because who else other than great big skank-whore-slut-bags takes nude photos!??
I’m pretty sure my mum has. Your mum probably has too.
Are you calling my mum a Slut?
And do you know why we take these photos? Because bodies are beautiful. The ability to share your body with your partner is one of the most sensual and brilliant things you can do. MJ has written beautifully about the self confidence she found in being photographed by her lover. To deny others that form of self expression and self confidence is ludicrous. If I take a naked photo of myself it’s because I feel fucking great. It’s because I’m happy with my body and because I want to share that with my partner, so he can reinforce my confidence by waxing lyrical about my bodacious boobs and awesome ass. We have every right to do whatever we want with our bodies, and share them (consensually) with others. You have no right to shame me for doing so. Thus, posts such as this one:
Which suggest that those who don’t take nude photos are cleverer/classier than those who do, need to be burned (or whatever the internet equivalent is). It sets up and perpetuates that age old Madonna/Whore complex, in which there is a publicly accepted level of sexuality which women are allowed to posses; and there is a level which only men are allowed to exploit. Stop it.
And to end on just a quick afterword: It’s honestly eye-opening to me to see the public’s reaction to this hacking scandal. The public outrage felt by News International over the phone-hacking of private conversations (THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TALKING ON BURNER PHONES IN SECRET GOVERNMENT BUNKERS IF THEY DIDN’T WANT TO BE LISTENED TO – House Analogy) was palpable. Sadly, because these are photos of ATTRACTIVE, NAKED, WOMEN there doesn’t seem to be the same levels of anger and outrage. It just goes to show how a mobile phone is considered more sacred than a woman’s body in our culture.
So, I urge you all not to look at/disseminate these photos, and please rebuff anyone who says it’s the fault of these ladies AKA Victims. It’s abuse, it’s violation. It’s that simple.
The Three Letter Blog: Our writers (VJ and MJ) are two twenty-something ladies living in big cities across the UK, one is currently drowning in the midst of a Literature PhD and the other is a kick-ass young professional in the Marketing world. After becoming increasingly irritated with the idealistic, mostly sexist and romanticised sex lives promoted in glossy monthly magazines, we decided to create this blog as a means of discussing the actual reality of sex for the modern day woman (and man). We hope to present to you a mix of anecdotes and articles, a discussion of all things, from sexual health to role play, foreplay to foreskin, and everything else in between. We feel strongly that sex and being sexual is a part of being human, and that being in charge of your own sexual discourse is empowering and liberating. TLB is an open conversation seeking to break the taboos surrounding one of our most intelligent and indulgent past times.