Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve probably heard. You might have even seen. But in case you haven’t: A lengthy list of Hollywood A-Listers’ nude photos were recently leaked on the Web, including stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and more. While the legitimacy of many of the leaked photos is still being debated, representatives for J. Law and Kate, as well as actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, have come forward to confirm—and condemn—the leaked photos.
After the leaked photos surfaced on Internet forum 4chan on Sunday evening, I’ve read plenty of opinions: People defending the victims. People calling the photo leak a violation, a sex crime and even an abomination. People vowing not to look. People sharing, posting and retweeting the photos like there’s no tomorrow. There have also been a great deal of people, like British comedian Ricky Gervais, blaming the victims themselves for what happened:
All due respect to Mr. Gervais, but… no. That’s not quite right. Actually, I think it’s slightly absurd. And here’s why:
We use our smartphones for so many things. When someone’s identity gets stolen online, we don’t blame that person for using online banking, do we?
If a home gets broken into, do we blame the homeowner for not being there when it happened?
With that in mind, how could it possibly be a woman’s fault when her personal data account, one that may or may not include nude photos, is hacked?
The belief that, “If you don’t want nude photos leaked online, don’t take them in the first place!” is something I just can’t comprehend. Everyone on this earth, from an Oscar-winning starlet to the man in line in front of you at Starbucks, has a right to privacy.
When you think about it, the right to privacy means you have the right to do… well, a lot of things (even stupid things!), as long as you don’t break the law. Sing the entirety of Taylor Swift’s Red album in the shower. Take ugly selfies. Pose naked in a bathroom mirror with your Cy Young-winning boyfriend. And yes, thanks to the Internet, you have the right to share those things you do with the world, if you’re so inclined. But others do not (or should not) have the right to share them for you.
Privacy is a basic human right that should never be compromised due to the ridiculous speed in which technology in the Digital Age is evolving.
The personal accounts of these women were hacked, though exactly what happened is still under investigation. Their privacy—and their bodies—were violated. Things that they decided were theirs to keep were stolen (yes, stolen) without their consent and misused in a deceitful and disgusting manner by being anonymously posted on the Internet by a disrespectful, creepy, coward of a person.
So, what can we do? Let’s start by stopping the victim blame game. And let’s also stop sharing/retweeting/ogling those leaked photos while we’re at it, shall we? You want to see jaw-dropping pictures of Kate Upton? Check out Sports Illustrated. Or, try Googling “J. Law at the Oscars” and feast your eyes on her stunning gowns and adorkable clumsiness instead.
But most importantly, moving forward, never forget this: What’s mine is yours? Sometimes. But what’s mine is mine alone if I want it to be. Period.
A final note: The above tweet from Ricky Gervais was deleted shortly after he posted it, but not before hundreds of Twitter users retweeted and screen-grabbed it. He’s since defended the tweet as a “joke.” I’m not sure everyone’s laughing.
Jessica Forrester is Senior Copywriter at AKHIA.