It seems like every year there are at least a handful of celebrities with the unavoidable scandal of having private photographs being made public. Whether it be the fault of a scorned ex, an honest mistake, or a calculated publicity move — we can see most of our favorite celebrities in the most ultra-personal way possible if we look hard enough. It’s the newest scandal, that of Jennifer Lawrence, that concerns me now. She’s one of my favorite actresses — and personalities — so granted, I’m more sympathetic to her plight than that of Paris Hilton and Vanessa Hudgens before her. She took and kept personal photos of herself, as many of us do. Someone hacked her and now the whole world can see them. Commence: the debate. It’s this debate that infuriates me.
It’s been said time and time again — “don’t take sexy pictures if you don’t want them on the Internet.” It seems rational — until it doesn’t. What a woman (what anyone) chooses to do with their body is completely and wholly their choice. If they want to show someone their body, guess what — that’s their choice as well. The overwhelming attitude is that Lawrence, and every other woman who has taken a compromising photograph, had it coming. She deserved it. Nobody seems to think about the fact that she didn’t intend for the world to see those pictures — she was hacked. The person who hacked her is a sex offender.
She shouldn’t be forced to censor her sexuality and choices based on her profession — a profession that attracts criminal activity and hacking. Just because someone is a role model doesn’t mean that even in the privacy and comfort of their own home they have to maintain a perfect public image. No woman should be forced to censor her sexual expression based on any outside factors. Lawrence’s (and the other young women who were victims to this hacker — Kirsten Dunst and Kate Upton among them) pictures were her private property. Someone stole and exposed her private property. Instead of our society being outraged by such a gross injustice, we slut-shame Lawrence and girls like her. We say that she’s an idiot for not seeing this coming, and for taking the pictures in the first place.
When male stars have nude photo scandals, it’s usually made a joke — they make light of it and laugh it off, as does the rest of their fans (just look up Dylan Sprouse, former Disney cutie turned explicit picture extraordinaire). He just made jokes and everyone joined in, resulting in a resounding, worldwide laugh and the matter being quickly forgotten. It’s not a joke when a woman is in a similar situation. She’s heralded as a fool — a loose, dim-witted, attention-seeking thing.
The way in which you choose for share your body is your own personal choice. It’s as simple as that. Every time we click on these pictures and send them to our friends, we’re perpetuating the violation of that person’s privacy and freedom of sexuality. What if your sister was in that position? Your girlfriend? Your wife or your mother? These women didn’t “bring this on themselves” as so many smugly suggest, and they certainly should not have had to “see this coming.”
The theft and distribution of someone’s personal property is illegal. It’s a crime. The women it affects are victims.
What goes on behind your front door is your own business — that is true for us, and it should be true for anyone, regardless of profession, influence, or pay-grade.