This morning my facebook filter bubble is full of impassioned articles defending Jennifer Lawrence and criticizing the victim-blaming attitudes that have emerged in response to the iCloud hack. On balance, it feels like maybe we’re maybe getting somewhere with understanding how to talk about and develop ideas of privacy online. Back in 2007, Disney forced Vanessa Hudgens to take the blame when her nude photos were leaked, and stated: “Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she’s learned a valuable lesson.”
The defenses of Lawrence might indicate that we’re starting to understand that personal nude photos are meant to be private, and that distributing them without permission is a violation.
From Laci Green’s facebook page:
a “leaked nude” is a NON-CONSENSUAL form of sexual violation and ANYBODY who participates by viewing and sharing is part of the problem.
women’s bodies are NOT public property. we are human beings and we do not exist for other people’s sexual pleasure without our consent. anybody with an ounce of empathy should be horrified and disgusted by this.
And from Clementine Ford at Daily Life:
There are a few different issues that a criminal act like this brings up, but before I get into them it’s necessary to make one thing clear: If you deliberately seek out any of these images, you are directly participating in the violation not just of numerous women’s privacy but also of their bodies. These images – which I have not seen and which I will not look for – are intimate, private moments belonging only to the people who appear in them and who they have invited to see them. To have those moments stolen and broadcast to the world is an egregious act of psychic violence which constitutes a form of assault.
At the same time, I still see schools, parents, and prosecutors blaming teenage girls when classmates distribute their nude photos–shouldn’t we see minors as even less culpable than an adult celebrity? What’s going on here? There are a couple of problems:
1. Teen girls’ sexuality is often seen as deviant or as the result of victimization. Sexting girls are even sometimes blamed for contributing to the social ill of child pornography. JLaw doesn’t have this problem because she’s an adult; Hudgens was too, but was still part of the High School Musical franchise. As Anne Helen Petersen writes, these photos don’t really disrupt the JLaw brand:
They don’t tell you anything new about Lawrence. They don’t make you think differently about her. You know why? Because sexuality isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a dirty secret. In her public appearances and interviews, Lawrence has never attempted to make it so.
2. We’re much better at seeing violence when it’s perpetrated by strangers. JLaw’s photos were leaked by an anonymous hacker, while in most of the teen sexting cases, boyfriends and peers are the privacy violators. An ongoing problem with intimate partner violence is that we still tend to see it as a mutual dispute in which both parties are responsible.
What would it take to view teenagers’ who’ve experienced privacy violations with as much sympathy as we offer celebrities?