The Best Responses to the Nude Photo Hacking
On Sunday, a hacker stole nude photos of a long list of female celebrities and posted them to online forum 4chan. Over Labor Day, the photos circulated the Internet and garnered the usual inane line of questions: “Why did she have naked photos of herself anyways?” “If she wanted privacy, why did she keep those photos on her phone?” You need only to search “hacked pictures” on Twitter to see how many people jumped to that response.
Thankfully, others have reaffirmed a different perspective: these stars have a right to privacy, and shaming them for the publicity of the photos falls in line with other forms of victim-blaming. Lena Dunham put it bluntly:
The "don't take naked pics if you don't want them online" argument is the "she was wearing a short skirt" of the web. Ugh.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) September 1, 2014
Intelligent dialogue around this situation doesn’t just benefit famous peoples’ privacy. Treating it thoughtfully means the next time a high school boy sends his ex-girlfriend’s photos to the football team, she’ll be met with compassion rather than degradation. Or when a CEO’s personal photos end up on the all-team distro, the company puts effort into finding the thief rather than reprimanding the exposed person. To consciously contribute to the next photo hacking discussion you find yourself in, keep these points in mind:
Stop calling it a scandal. “Ms. Lawrence, Ms. Winstead, and the like have absolutely nothing to apologize for,” Scott Mendelson writes for Forbes. This isn’t an affair or an offensive quip to which these women need to “own up.” Their personal property was stolen and distributed, and they’re victims of that crime.
It’s less a display of nakedness than one of vulnerability. Roxane Gay writes about the time-honored tradition of revealing photos as revenge, and how it reminds us that “women cannot be sexual in certain ways without consequence.” Read more on the Guardian.
Get past the photos. Kelsey McKinney writes for Vox about how a hashtag like #ifmyphonegothacked is an act of social media superiority that comes something close to slut-shaming. And it misses the point: “this isn’t about what’s on our phones. This is about women being shamed, and objectified, and treated like property.”
Arguing for free speech is invalid. This is harassment, and it’s illegal. Erin Gloria Ryan breaks down the problems with Reddit’s approach to privacy in this situation, and how the site’s nonchalance perpetuates the idea that this kind of bullying is somehow permissible.