Over 100 female celebrities’ phones —including Aubrey Plaza, McKayla Maroney, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kate Upton— were hacked last week and their private, intimate pictures were published online on 4chan. They were then shared on Imgur and Reddit’s thread, The Fappening (r/Fapenning). I first learned about what happened through Jezebel. Initially, Isha Aran shared the link of the Imgur album filled with all the pictures of these celebrities, which has now been deleted. I clicked on it expecting this all to be a sick joke, considering the amount of photoshopped pictures of celebs that exist online. I do have to admit I did look at them and quickly regretted it. It felt sickening. It felt like I was violating these people’s privacy. These are pictures that are intended to only be shared with their significant others.
Soon after Jezebel published the article, plenty of other sites began discussing the blatant violation of privacy of these women. While many sites such as The Atlantic and The Independent discussed why we shouldn’t look at these pictures and continue to humiliate these women, some people expressed the typical victim-shaming comments, such as the one below:
However, this situation is different from what occurred a few years ago when Vanessa Hudgens’ nude pictures were shared. Back in 2007, Hudgens apologized for taking nude pictures of herself. The person who leaked her pictures did not apologize but she, the victim, was forced to apologize in order to not lose her position as one of Disney’s most marketable stars. She received plenty of backlash for those pictures and was slut shamed by the media.
What’s different about the hacking of all of these celebrities’ phones and sharing their intimate pictures is that while the slut shaming has been minimum, there are plenty of men who feel entitled to these pictures and feel no shame in sharing them and continuing to violate these women’s privacy. Reddit’s thread, r/TheFappening, featured a post that shared all the pictures of the celebrities whose phones were hacked.
While not every redditor is the stereotypical entitled heterosexual MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) with a fedora, this post was definitely filled with sexist, misogynistic comments that perpetuate that stereotype. The post has been deleted—along with the entire thread— but, initially, it contained various comments by men who discussed how happy they were that their fantasies of seeing these celebrities naked were becoming true. They also made fun of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Twitter post, where she expressed how uncomfortable she feels knowing that the intimate pictures that she had once taken with her husband and deleted were now public. They commented on how silly is was for her to try to guilt trip them into not looking at her pictures and how they would still enjoy her “boobies.”
Redditors thought it would be “hilarious” to donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Jennifer Lawrence’s name each time any of them jerked off to her pictures. Their donations were rejected yet they still take pride in the attention they’re getting. The thread also contains a post where a redditor complains that a girl he knows went on a “personal tirade on Facebook.”
It’s ludicrous that it’s 2014 and we still have to explain that these pictures are not for the public to enjoy. These pictures were taken privately and not intended for them to be seen by you or anyone besides the people who they were sent to initially. The women whose pictures were shared feel unsafe, anxious, and violated. Rape culture is so prevalent in our society that some men selfishly care more about their sexual needs rather than considering the fact that these women who they are mocking and jerking off to are human beings—not pieces of meat—-who feel hurt by what has happened and do not want to be treated this way.
If you desperately want to see women naked, watch porn. Look at magazines. Watch movies. Do a quick Google search of their photoshoots for Maxim, GQ, or any other magazine that features sexy pictures of these celebrities. By looking at pictures that you have not been given the consent to look at, you are violating these women (and some men whose pictures with their female partners were shared). They are not for you to jerk off to. They are not for you to enjoy. This also applies to people who are not celebrities whose intimate pictures are shared online without their consent. It doesn’t matter if it’s your classmate or Kate Upton, if you do not have consent to see these people naked, you cannot look at or share these pictures. Period.
Taking pictures of yourself naked and sharing them with your partner is not a crime and is not shameful. Sharing intimate pictures of someone without their consent is indeed a crime. By looking at them, sharing them, saving them on your computer, and commenting on how much you enjoy these pictures, you are a participant in the violation of privacy of these people and it is abuse.