Revenge porn, consent and why people need to stop victim blaming Jennifer Lawrence

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As anyone with access to the internet knows, a few days ago the news broke that Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud account had been cracked and over 60 nude photos of her had been leaked to the public. The cracker did not stop at Lawrence over 100 mostly female actresses, athletes and singers have had their naked photos hacked and posted on the internet sewer known as 4chan – an anarchic nameless playground that appears to be mainly, but not exclusively inhabited by angry young men. Early on 4chan declared ‘there are no girls on the internet’ unless of course they are naked ‘girls’.

The gossip blogger Pariz Hilton was one of the first to snipe and repost the naked (uncensored) photos of Lawrence on his website. However,  after a massive backlash from the twittersphere he took them down and apologised, something that strikes me as beingtoo little and much too late.  The leaked nudes have spread throughout social media rapidly as people are sharing them without the consent of the subjects. Many of these images are showing up on blogs, news sites and yes even on our very own The Edge and The Rock radio station websites. Blogger Jessie Hume drew parallels between the actions of The Roast Busters posting pictures of their young female victims to The Rock’s radio hosts Jono and Rob reposting Lawrence’s naked photos to their website. Of course, being the proud misogynists that Jono and Rob are they made a joke of the whole incident posting this picture/parody:

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As Hume said ‘Here we have an instance of Jono and Ben posing like “exposed celebrities”. But do you know what I’m seeing? I’m seeing two dudes who basically “roasted” a woman online (exposed pictures of her without her consent) just like the Roastbusters did, who are then making fun of the situation, just like the Roastbusters did.’

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Clearly, making fun of women being publicly humiliated is a good time for Rob and Jono, The Rock and the demographic they represent. Making jokes at the expense of women who have been violated and who are victims of a sexual crime minimises the reality of the damagedone. This is what rape culture looks like.

Of course it is not just Ben and Jono who are revelling in the humiliation of famous women, as it’s apparent that millions of people worldwide have taken pleasure in clicking on links that direct them to naked photos of famous women’s bodies. This vulture voyeurism makes those peeping complicit in a criminal act on a global scale. That is not hyperbole, this is the truth. It is illegal to post naked photos of someone on the internet without their expressed permission and if you, creepy dude, are looking at them you are now complicit in this crime.

The attacks on celebrity women grab the headlines, but  as Amanda Marcotte suggests ‘the vast majority of victims of non-consensual nude picture-sharing—usually called “revenge porn”—are ordinary, non-famous women.’ There are hundreds of websites dedicated to ‘revenge porn’; jilted ex-boyfriends post without permission, naked or sexually compromising pictures of supposed ex-girlfriends.  As Marcotte wrote:

…this violation gives us a peek into a sick but thriving subculture, or really a series of subcultures, of men who are excited by the idea of violating a woman against her will and who get together in online spaces to swap ideas on how to do this, tell bragging stories about violating women, and sharing the photographic evidence of their violations.

The predictable knee-jerk reactions have ensued after the photographs leaked, the internet has been rife with victim blaming of the women. After all, according to the argument, they should not have taken these pictures in the first place so what did they expect? Why does this all sound so fucking familiar?  In one sharp tweet Lena Dunham sums up what is so wrong with these types of reactions:

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We live in a culture that endlessly blames women for other people’s violence and violations against them. We live in a culture that fears a women’s sexuality, but teaches us it is the only real currency of value. This culture shows us again and again that  if we as women decide to cash in on our sexual currency then we will be shamed for it. A culture that minimises the abuses women suffer and endlessly tells them that any violence they suffer at the hands of men was our own fault. Whether a man rapes a woman or her or hacks the accounts of over a hundred famous women’s online accounts in the search for naked photos and dumps what he finds in public domain, these brutalities must have occurred because of our choices and our behaviour. We should not have taken those nude photos in the first place or worn that short skirt.

So to anyone whatever gender you maybe, who clicked on links that showed you naked images of Jennifer Lawrence or any other famous person who did not give you permission to do so, you are now complicit in a crime and are perpetuating rape culture.

 

23 COMMENTS

  1. If you use a smartphone or computer to buy stuff online with a credit card you’re putting your credit card details online. If you don’t want your credit card details hacked you should not put it online, you should be more careful, its your fault.

    Which clearly is bollocks, and all those saying these women were “not careful enough” and “its their fault, what did they expect?” would probably be pretty quick to complain if their credit card details were hacked.

    You’re right Chloe. The arguments are the same as those used against women who are raped and sexually abused. “She should have been more careful, its just common sense, what did she expect would happen if she wore that short skirt / went out late at night alone / drank too much / put pics in the cloud”.

    Stealing private pics from the cloud is the same as stealing credit card details from the internet. Its theft, its illegal. But apparently its okay with a huge number of people if its pics of naked women they want to see, because their right to access womens bodies is more important than the right of those women to control their bodies. Bloody sick culture we live in.

    • Weak analogy. The risk of having your credit card hacked is very low, and the downside is quite limited (you’ll at most be liable for some expenses). Still, if you have a personal aversion to losing money, then it’s prudent to use cash (and many people do this for various reasons).

      People’s prudential failings when they put themselves at risk don’t in any way reduce the culpability of those who take advantage of them. You’re conflating two different kinds of blame (and this can easily be proven).

      When people tell teens not to sext, they generally aren’t doing so because they think it is immoral, but because the potential for victimisation is so high. None of that excuses the people who publish the information, but that’s of small comfort to someone whose naked pics are circulating the school.

      Would you honestly advise your teenage children to sext given the potential for abuse? If so, then what does that say about you as a parent?

      • “The risk of having your credit card hacked is very low”

        Really? Let’s try that again, but without the stoopid generalisation.

        In fact, you’re just victim blaming in general, Tom.

        I gather if someone nicks your motor, then it’s your fault for owning a nice car in the first place? Izat right?

        • No. The problem is that you’re conflating different types of culpability.

          It’s not my fault that the basics of moral reasoning appear to be beyond you. You folks just look really dumb to people who actually know about this stuff. You’re just wasting everyone’s time, including your own.

          • WTF? What’s with the personal abuse? To me, your arguments sound like a carefully-constructed, but disguised, apologist arguement designed to minimise patriarchal and misogynist culture.

      • Bullshit. Credit card information is stolen on a daily basis.

        The analogy is accurate. Both situations are about putting your personal private information online, and both situations are about other people stealing that information. That’s the similarity right there.

        And calling my parenting into question, albeit, obliquely? Quite f***ing disgusting.

  2. To be honest, I feel no sympathy for anyone affected by this hacking.
    Anyone who allows their sensitive, personal, private information on the internet – no matter how ‘secure’ the storage location – shouldn’t be at all surprised when that information is stolen. It’s unfortunate that there are people in our society willing to exploit others, particularly women, however the larger issues around unhealthy celebrity culture, invasion of privacy (by media, fan-base, spy agencies, CCTV, et al), the unhealthy ‘selfie’ craze, and really severe societal hang-ups and shaming around the nude form as if it is something to fear but also rabidly seek.

    But ultimately, I cannot see anyone naive enough to misuse technology in this manner as blameless. We all know about hackers, we all know hackers are continually developing new strategies for hacking into websites and online storage. If it were personal papers – legal documents or account information or papers relating to investments – that were stolen and, hypothetically, this led to money being stolen from those affected we would all say those individuals were stupid for handling their sensitive, personal, private information in this manner. We would all just hum and ha and say they shouldn’t have put sensitive, personal, private information in an external, online location where its security is breached due to hacking being a legitimate risk. With the sex element totally removed, I think people would be able to put it in perspective and admit that it is irresponsible use of the internet.

    I don’t see the nude photos as any different. If the individual considers their nude imagery to be sensitive, private, personal information they ought to treat it in the same way they would other sensitive, private, personal information. End of story.

  3. I think it’s just the way it is .

    It’s now incredibly easy to have an image of oneself appear anywhere instantaneously .

    If one happens to be unlucky enough to be beautiful when naked ( sigh , such a burden I can tell you . ) then that’s they way it is . It’s very difficult for the rest of us to behave and not look . And is sexy-looking at a person the same thing as violently raping and / or abusing ? Sure , I understand that not giving permission to appear in an image that is naked / sexy is an abuse of privacy , but you know ? What can be done ? Soldier on I say . Sooner or later , we’ll all grow up I’m sure .

    May West said ” Better to be looked over than over looked . ”

    As for scrawny little Jono and Ben ? They’re making money off the whole thing . Perhaps that’s the real crime .

    ( I’ve only just noticed ! I have an opinion about everything ! ? )

  4. Agree totally, Chloe!

    Sadly, we live in a society that still, at least certainly witing the minds of many men, is still basically a patriarchal and misogynist society. Rather than using the term “rape culture”, I think that “patriarchal-misogynist culture” more accurately reflects it, as it is not just about “rape”, it is about a mindset that includes a whole spectrum of behaviour and habitual thinking patterns that is still stuck in teenage boyhood locker-room mentality. Basically, these guys never grew up emotionally or spiritually, that is the core problem, and the “rape culture” is one symptom of that.

    And, inevitably, when David Cunliffe made his remark, all of these guys, and, sadly, some women also, were totally incapable of having a clue about what he was talking about, so, they ridiculed him, and continue to do so. That is just so sad, tha they actually have NO IDEA that their behaviour and attitude is immature and offensive.

  5. Some double standards here; it is OK to publish stolen e mais but wrong to publish stolen photographs. I think the actions are equally repugnant.

  6. Look, the cloud has been really advertised as this safe, convenient system to store stuff. I have always felt really uncomfortable with it – I don’t even store my games on it! But I do know a heap of people do. With regards to taking nude photos of oneself – it’s been happening well before the advent of smart phones or the internet – it can be just one of those things you do when part of a couple (though again you’d think you’d bloody well do your best to get them back if you broke up & think twice about doing it in the first place if you were or close to famous).
    To those who may say ‘Well it’s out there I might as well/they were famous/it’s their fault – storage,shoudln’t have taken them, etc’ I say – truthfully and unjudgementally – What if it was your daughter’s photos?

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