Nude photo leaks: Celebrities re-victimized by shaming on social media
Actress Jennifer Lawrence poses for photographers as she arrives at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival in southern France on Saturday, May 17, 2014. (AP / Invision / Arthur Mola)
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, September 2, 2014 2:18PM EDT
After dozens of nude photographs of celebrities obtained by a hacker were published online over the weekend, countless Twitter users sought to shame the victims by suggesting that they should never have taken such photos in the first place.
Victim-shaming is nothing new, and women have been told for decades that they should dress and act a certain way if they want to avoid unwanted sexual attention, a fact “Girls” creator Lena Dunham spelled out in a widely circulated tweet:
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
That tweet, posted Monday, was re-tweeted more than 17,000 times and received more than 19,000 “favourites” by early afternoon Tuesday.
Some of the victims of last weekend’s iCloud hack have issued statements expressing their outrage, and have threatened legal action against the perpetrator. Others have said the photos of them are fakes.
But one reaction was shared by many on social media: that the way to avoid being victimized by having private images made public was to not have taken them in the first place.
A tweet from New York Times tech writer Nick Bilton got much attention, with dozens of responses reminding him that the victims are not at fault.
Put together a list of tips for celebs after latest leaks: 1. Don't take nude selfies 2. Don't take nude selfies 3. Don't take nude selfies— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) September 1, 2014
@nickbilton top tips for humans: 1. Don't commit theft 2. Don't commit sexual offences— Duncan Geddes (@geddesduncan) September 1, 2014
@nickbilton Why not? Shouldn't they be afforded a right to privacy? Couldn't this be part of a normal, sexually intimate adult relationship?— Andy Dahm (@AndyDahm) September 1, 2014
@nickbilton or how about… 1. Don't steal personal property 2. Don't steal personal property 3. Don't steal personal property— Oli Young (@oliyoung) September 1, 2014
Other, less famous users, repeated Bilton’s advice.
I found an easy way to keep your nude pics from being released. Don't take any.— Michael Long (@swmlong) September 2, 2014
Here's a simple solution for celebrities whose IQs are apparently very low. Don't take nude pics of self. Practice modesty. #ProblemSolved— LKVents (@LKVents) September 2, 2014
Pro life tip: no matter your celeb status, taking nude selfies/pics is ALWAYS a bad idea.— Janet Antone (@Ms_Antone) September 2, 2014
Even comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted that the way to avoid having nude pictures taken from your computer is to not have them there in the first place. That tweet has since been deleted, but was picked up by other users.
@rickygervais rules: "Make it harder...to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer."— Emili Vesilind (@EmiliVesilind) September 2, 2014
Other Twitter users, famous and non-famous alike, hit back at the blame-the-victim backlash.
Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) September 1, 2014
The response to the nude celeb pics also shows how women are again expected to curb their behaviour in response to these men's poor actions.— RustyCage (@cage_rusty) September 2, 2014
"If you don't want your nude pics being leaked, don't take them" is like saying "if you don't want to be mugged, don't have money".— Anthony Distler MPA (@anthdistler) September 2, 2014
Saying people who take nude pics deserve to be hacked is like saying people who own nice things deserve to be robbed. #CelebGate— Potter (Hot 103.7) (@potterradio) September 2, 2014
The way in which you share your body must be a CHOICE. Support these women and do not look at these pictures.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) September 1, 2014
Some went over-the-top and made their point with (gentle) humour:
Women: Stand PERFECTLY STILL in your house wearing long pants abstaining from booze with no Internet and you'll probably be okay.— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 2, 2014
Eventually they'll be able to hack women's thoughts, and then it'll be women's fault for thinking about sex.— Lucas Neff (@RealLucasNeff) September 2, 2014
Dunham and others pointed out that the hacker’s decision to make the photos public should be considered a sex crime.
Stealing someone's naked photos is the same as tearing someone's clothes off in public. It's sexual assault.— Lucas Neff (@RealLucasNeff) September 1, 2014
Seriously, do not forget that the person who stole these pictures and leaked them is not a hacker: they're a sex offender.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) September 1, 2014
Leaking someone's private nude photos without their consent is sexual assault. And should be prosecuted as such.— Jane Pinckard (@miyukijane) September 1, 2014