The photos aren’t yours to look at

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence (photo from dailymail.co.uk)

By now you’ve heard about the leaked nude photos of dozens of female celebrities. You might have had the urge to seek them out for yourself to ogle over. Photos stolen by people who hacked their way into the personal devices and domains of these women, collected and gathered without their consent or knowledge, and shared en masse to the entire world to anyone who might want a peek.

But then you might have stopped to think for a second, would you walk into a change room, sit down and gawk at a woman as she changed, not knowing you were there leering at her? Would you sneak into a woman’s home and hide in her closet hoping to catch a glimpse?

Probably not. Unless you’re a creep.

These photos seem to be a hot commodity. Of course they would, being photos of some of the most in-demand and popular women in Hollywood. The same women paparazzi trip themselves over to get candid photos of. These photos, of course, are much more intimate and revealing and not intended for public consumption. Just like if these women were changing or doing whatever in the privacy of their own homes.

The situation has received a lot of attention this week. Mostly because of the content of the photos but also because they exist in the first place. A lot of criticism has been directed at the women for having taken the photos. If you don’t want nudes out there, don’t take them.

Victim blaming at its finest.

Just as women were, and sometimes still are, blamed for their rape because of what they wear, now it’s their fault these photos are in the public domain. They should have known better than to think some guys wouldn’t go out of their way to hack into x number of accounts until they found something useful over y period of time and reveal their findings to the world. Working tirelessly for who knows how long. No, they can’t possibly be the first ones to blame.

But then again, neither are those who steal personal identities and credit card info. If you don’t want your identity stolen, don’t have one. If you don’t want your credit card info stolen, don’t have one.

It’s a ridiculous suggestion. One that comes back to female sexuality and how negatively our society still perceives it. If this were an issue around stolen personal information such as social security numbers – as was the case last year when public figures such as Michelle Obama, Jay-Z, BeyoncĂ©, and many others had sensitive personal information stolen and posted online – the onus would be on the hackers, but because the content is about sexuality, it’s on the women first.

However, despite the criticism directed at the women, it’s encouraging to see such a strong negative response to that criticism across the internet in blog posts and editorials. Mind you, this isn’t the first time photos like this have been leaked and unfortunately, most of the time the victims don’t receive much public support as they aren’t celebrities. But sometimes it does take a well-known and recognizable face to bring much-needed attention to something that can and does affect a lot of people.

It does however beg the question, is this concerning because it’s happening to the most beloved star in Hollywood or are we actually outraged that this is a repulsive breach of privacy, theft, and an issue involving women’s rights? The response to Cee Lo Green’s tweets last week about rape only being rape if a woman is conscious enough to remember suggests we as a society have finally reached the point where enough is enough when it comes to the degradation of women in regards to sexuality. It’s too bad that it takes actual situations such as these to occur before mindsets and perceptions change but the important thing now is that discussion is happening and perception does continue to shift in the right direction.

Every time someone looks at these photos, their actions are no different than if someone had snuck a camera into the homes of these women, snapped an opportune photo and shared it with everyone and anyone.

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