thoughts on Jennifer Lawrence’s photos hacked + leaked online
A young woman takes naked pictures of herself and texts or emails them to a lover, or keeps them for her own amusement. There is nothing wrong with this.
There is, however, something very wrong with anyone who seeks to exploit or humiliate that woman by violating her trust and/or basic right to privacy by splashing those images online.
Equality begins with a woman’s ability to have control over her own body (….including naked representations thereof).
I mean, I’m all for desire, and the things we do and the games we play when we’re caught in the zesty back-and-forth of mutual lust.
It’s human nature to find each other attractive.
It’s human nature to want other people to find you attractive.
But a person’s sexuality cannot be divorced from the person herself (or himself): that hot body comes complete with an inner life, a personality, hopes and dreams, a range of emotions, family and friends, an intellect, and the will to consent. Or not.
When you deny a person all that rich interiority – when you deny a specific group of people that, and you do it thoroughly and consistently – you strip them of their humanity. You flatten them out. You reduce them to a two-dimensional existence.
That’s when it becomes oppression.
As Laurie Penny writes in her new book UNSPEAKABLE THINGS,
“it ceases to be about desire and starts to be about control. Seeing another person as meat and fat and bone and nothing else gives you power over them, if only for an instant. Structural sexual objectification of women draws that instant out into an entire matrix of hurt. It tells us that women are bodies first, idealized, subservient bodies, and men are not.”
Penny reminds us of Caitlin Moran’s
“litmus test for sexism, whereby if only women have to put up with a certain situation – say, seeing their gender reduced to oiled, half-naked, dead-looking stereotypes on every surface that’ll take an advert before they’ve even had their cornflakes – then it’s sexist. When it comes to sexual objectification, the misogyny is in the discrepancy.”
I was thinking about this when I went on Twitter and found out about the nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence, apparently stolen from her iCloud account. Scrolling through the #Jennifer Lawrence hashtag, I saw guys applauding the hacker who did this like he was some kind of hero, and I saw the inevitable comments about how she should not have been so stupid as to upload those photos to a cloud server in the first place.
What I didn’t see was any tweet that said, more or less: The hacker who did this? Dude. What an asshole.
When this happens to actresses – and this happens so often that many of us will roll our eyes and shrug it off, or assume it to be a PR stunt – it’s so easy to blame the women themselves. Reese Witherspoon did exactly that in an awards acceptance speech, saying that she was at the podium on behalf of “the good girls” while chastising the bad ones to “hide your face! Hide your face!” when they’re stupid enough to take naked photos that get uploaded and released without their permission.
There is nothing shameful about female sexuality.
There is nothing shameful about the female body.
There is nothing shameful in taking pride in that body.
What’s shameful is how this culture encourages women to loathe their bodies, worrying about everything from body hair and body fat to how we smell and look “down there”, thinking if we don’t properly monitor and control and pare away and remove, we won’t be loved.
What’s shameful is when this culture assumes a right to a woman’s body when the woman herself did not give permission.
What’s shameful is when this culture assumes it is okay for a person to use that woman’s expression of her own sexuality against her, and for their own benefit.
What is shameful is revenge porn.
“Women’s feelings don’t really matter,” writes Penny. “That’s the point.”
I like Jennifer Lawrence a lot. She’s a great actress, and she’s hilarious, and she seems like the kind of woman you would love to grab a beer with and talk and laugh and dance until you’ve closed down the bar.
So she took some naked photos of herself. So what.
But the hacker who leaked them online?
What an asshole.