Just because it’s there does not mean we’re entitled to look at them, says Vanessa Tai.
By now, you’ve probably read the news about how an anonymous Internet user hacked into the Apple iCloud accounts of more than 100 female celebrities and uploaded their nude shots online.
I’ll admit it. When I first read the news, I was immediately curious to see what these pictures looked like. And I’m certain most people — man or woman — thought the same way. Our thought process probably ran along the same vein, “Oh, I’m not a bad person. I just want to see what the fuss is all about. Anyway, the pictures are already out there so the damage is already done. One more person browsing through them quickly isn’t going to hurt.” Or perhaps some of you had thoughts along the lines of, “Anyone stupid enough to take explicit pictures and leave them lying around probably deserves to suffer the ramifications.”
I get it, because those were my first few thoughts as well. But the more I thought about it, it dawned on me just how wrong this line of thinking is. By having thoughts of, “She shouldn’t be taking naked pictures of herself in the first place,” I was guilty of victim blaming. It’s the same attitude that makes people say things like, “She shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt in the first place.”
However, aren’t we forgetting that everybody (man or woman) are entitled to consensually explore and engage in their sexuality in any way they deem fit? If this includes taking naked photos for their personal enjoyment or for a partner’s, that’s their prerogative. Agreeing to take a naked shot with a partner is not the same as consenting to have the whole world gawk over your naked body.
Let’s get one thing straight – these women had private, intimate images of their bodies STOLEN from them. This is not just another “celebrity sex scandal” or a “sensational scoop” for gossip magazines. These women did not consent to their images being uploaded and circulated online. This is a form of sexual violation and anyone who participates by viewing or sharing is complicit in this crime.
Unfortunately, this obsession with celebrities and their personal lives doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. As long as consumers’ demand for celeb-fuelled content continues, there will always be someone providing the goods, whether or not it’s legal or ethical to do so. But just because it’s there does not mean we need to go along with it or buy into it. Celebrities are not commodities for us to rip apart as we see fit. Yes, they may use their image for work but as consumers, we need to always be conscious of the difference between their public life (such as their shows, concerts, and legitimate interviews) and their personal life.
We Become The Person We Decide To Be
Here’s what I propose. The next time someone sends you a link to the images or asks if you’ve seen the latest leaked images, speak up and explain why we should not engage in this abuse. If it helps, you can send them a link to this article!
Images of naked women — especially those circulated without their consent — are not “harmless fun” for us to joke or gossip over. It is hurtful, humiliating, and most importantly, a crime. Whether or not the women in question are celebrities is irrelevant. The way we share our bodies must always be a personal choice.
So, don’t click on those pictures. Don’t be part of the abuse.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.
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