The internet was all in a tizzy with the news of Jennifer Lawrence's leaked nude photos this morning. In a statement by her press agent, this earth-shattering bulletin was confirmed to have been the work of the notorious 4chan, a hacker organization that specializes in locating and distributing private photos of (more often than not) female celebrities and sharing them with the public. The collective scramble of humanity's most perverted and curious members echoed in the distance, each clambering to catch a glimpse of grade-A, bonafide celebrity flesh. It was only a matter of time before we all knew the contents of Jennifer Lawrence's entire body off by heart.
And then, something interesting happened. With each headline, a caption soon accompanied, a sympathetic yet stern warning that begged for the masses to hold fast. They urged the public to be aware of the effect it would have on Lawrence's private life, that clicking on any link claiming to contain these images was in full violation of her rights. The sound of collective curiosity and perversion was soon drowned by an uproar, a veritable tsunami of "where is the line?"s and "is nothing sacred?"s. At once, the typically flesh-hungry social media took up their swords and began to champion for our beloved J-Law's honor, changing their colors in favor of a far worthier cause than mere electronic lust. Such an inspiring cause for championing, and all in less than 24 hours!
I think we all know that Jennifer Lawrence is not the first victim of this violation in privacy. I can't remember a day when the world was not ablaze with some sort of "scandal", a celebrity whose naked body was captured on camera for a lover and then leaked without their consent to the slobbering vulchers beyond the computer screen. Scarlett Johanson last year had a few private photos made public, and Blake Lively had seen the same. Every time you turn around, a rising starlet's tinder is temporarily extinguished by some nude photo or rather. It's become more common than common-place, more expected than the mundane, and yet, here we are, talking about it all over again.
But a new battle is raging, and as pleased as I am to see so many people outraged by a young actress' right to sexual privacy being violated, I can't help but ask; why such an outcry for Jennifer Lawrence? It has always been disgusting to see so many young women, celebrity or no, be abused by the absurdity of non-consensual pornography, so why are we choosing to be outraged now? Shouldn't we have brought this up a long time ago?
Let me be clear; I am a fan of Jennifer Lawrence. Not only is she extraordinarily talented, but she is genuine, humble, and incredibly gracious for all that fortune has bestowed upon her (at least, this is my impression of her). She deserves to live a happy, private life as much as any other human being on this planet. Her fame does not revoke this privilege, nor does it make her body public domain for all of the world to enjoy with the click of a button, and my heart goes out to her for having to deal with the feeling of violation that she must be enduring. All celebrities are people just like us, and their wealth does not entitle the public to treat them like animals. As is such, dearest Jennifer, I am truly sorry that you are going through this.
Yet, with this in mind, we must examine the hold a young woman like Lawrence has over our hearts. Since her Oscar acceptance speech two years ago, she has been dubbed America's sweetheart, the new and perfectly imperfect vision of home-grown, fast-talking starlet, a vision of loveliness that is not afraid to school the world on what it means to be strong, powerful woman. With her honest and unique personality, she became much more than a simple idol. She became our daughter home from college, the sister we haven't seen in a dog's age, and the giggling best friend, hands clasping a hot cup of coffee and chattering excitedly about her travels abroad. Despite her prestige, Jennifer Lawrence is just like us, and we love that.
In several societies throughout the course of history, a terrible fate would befall the individual who violated a prominent woman, young or old. It's interesting to note, however, that the same sense of outrage and injustice was not present with some of the more common-folk, and any act of violence in the name of the victim's honor was somewhat frowned upon by the "powers that be." Though I do not condone violence in any form, it is interesting that society's attitude towards these separate groups of women has not changed. At least, not as much as it should have.
On September 12, 2009, a 13 year old girl from Florida by the name of Hope Witsell killed herself because of a nude photo that she had sent to a boy she liked. The photo was quickly leaked and distributed to her classmates, making the taunts of "whore" and "slut" grow infinitely louder. Though she was bullied before, everything had become worse with the mass sharing of something that was meant for only one thing; to receive love from someone Hope had admired. Something that was meant only for the eyes of a potential lover ended in a tragedy that has been repeated so often that we are beginning to forget what life was like before technology turned on us.
Nude images distributed without the consent of the person in the image is a form of sexual abuse and needs to be made illegal. By making these images public, you are participating in the sexual violation of a human being and should be punished accordingly. Every person, whether they are a celebrity or not, deserves to feel safe in this world, and the flippant infringement of their privacy is, and must be considered in the court of law, as a crime.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to share intimate photos with a partner. In fact, I would argue that it is very human to do so. Our bodies are magnificent tools, capable of absolute power and beauty with every step that we take. Its natural form is a thing of glory, and as men and women, we have the right to enjoy our own bodies in the way that we choose. A woman who has private photos leaked is not a slut, a whore, a bitch, or "asking for it" in any capacity. She is human, just like everyone else, and deserves absolute love and respect.
It has taken America's sweetheart and her photo leak for us to realize that we are in the thick of a very serious problem with the way we view "unintended pornography". We should have cared this much before. We should have taken action when we heard about Hope Witsell, Nova Scotia's Raetaeh Parsons, or British Columbia's Amanda Todd. We should have talked about sexual violation long before Blake Lively had to have her people work to get all of her hacked photos removed from the internet's elephantine memory. Nevertheless, the discussion is now on the table and the spark of its flame no longer matters. We're here now, and we are paying attention. Despite its insidious beginnings, I am grateful for that.
Now, let's put all of these distributors out of business, shall we?
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