• Tue, Sep 2 - 5:54 pm ET

Here’s Why We Can’t Blame Celebrity Women For The Leak Of Their Nude Photos

Kristen Wiig are you fucking kidding me GIF BridesmaidsIn the days since the privacy of dozens of female celebrities was violated by a massive nude photo leak, the thing that I’ve been most surprised by is the response that the naked photos should never have existed in the first place. What? But why?

It seemed pretty obvious to me that this was a theft, that something had been stolen from the women targeted. And not just something physical, in the form of the intimate photos, but something mental — their peace of mind. In some cases, women have stated that the stolen photos had been deleted for years, and speculated uneasily about the amount of work that must have gone into retrieving them. Someone really wanted to humiliate these women by putting their bodies on display without their consent, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that person doesn’t succeed any further than they already have, by turning the shame back on them.

I can’t believe that I’m really the first person to say this to some of you, but people are allowed to both have and send naked photos of themselves. There is absolutely zero shame in that. As long as the photos are both taken and sent on a consensual basis and everyone involved is comfortable with their use, no one should care what you’re sending each other. Or what your proclivities are. That’s a private matter, and one that we’re not entitled to, even when the subjects are celebrities. In fact, I’d say especially when the subjects are celebrities, because they already offer up so many elements of their lives. They should be allowed to keep the things private that they want to keep private, as long as they’re not hurting anyone in the process.

People have pointed out that if these women had never taken naked photos of themselves, then said photos would never exist in the first place, to be released. But as technically factual as that argument is, I don’t think it’s very fair. Because A. there’s nothing wrong or shameful about the human body, and B. no one should have to live their life like that. It’s bad enough that this hacker violated the privacy of these celebrities via the criminal act of stealing these photos and releasing them; he or she gets to control their behavior for an entire news cycle, disrupting their lives and interrupting their plans, making them behave differently than they would otherwise.

But what you’re suggesting by saying they should never have taken the photos is that these women allow their lives to be controlled in that way constantly. That they shouldn’t do what they want or express themselves honestly for fear of someone betraying their trust and violating their privacy. Do you have any idea what that kind of a life would look like? I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

These photos weren’t leaked by the people who took them or the people they were sent to, which in itself shows good judgement. It shows that the women who took the photos accurately judged how trustworthy their recipients were, and that’s not something that should be punished or criticized. The only reason we even have access to these photos is because a criminal stole them and sold them for Bitcoins. The women themselves (no men, which is part of the same thing) did nothing wrong, and to act like they did is just as bad as blaming the victim of sexual assault for wearing something provocative.

We don’t own these women’s bodies, they do — and the sooner we can get that through our heads, the better.

(Image: Tumblr)

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  • Nbl

    I love you

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Sentiments accepted and returned!

  • Alexandra Mitchell

    Amen. Also, A+ GIF usage.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Thank youuuu!

  • Tpce

    Great blog and on point. I can’t believe all these people on comment boards that I have read ridiculing these women when they did absolutely nothing wrong.

    • Anne Marie

      They did…taking nudes and putting them in the cloud is stupid

    • CMJ

      No. They didn’t….the people who leaked the photos are the only one’s at fault.

    • Hannah

      How is taking photos of themselves in private wrong? It is not wrong in anyway. Now they might have been naive to think the pictures were safe or didnt understand the photos were uploaded to cloud but they were not wrong in their actions of taking the photos in private.

    • Nbl

      Your face is stupid

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Thanks so much for reading!

  • CMJ
  • M_G

    Agreed!!!

  • No nude

    Sorry
    Do not agree one bit
    Taking nudes of yourself height of narcissism brought on by the Khartrashian culture
    Shows that adored celebs with high school educations are just really stupid
    I love JLAW but must admit as a woman am really disappointed in her

    • Samantha Escobar

      …Why is it narcissistic? Aren’t you allowed to enjoy your own body? Have you never ever taken a photo of yourself, period?

    • CMJ
    • Nbl

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I CAN’T FUCKING BREATHE!!!!!!

    • carrie thompson

      This is perfection.

    • Romylove

      I take nudes and send them to my boyfriend because he likes it (especially when he doesn’t ask and I just do it for fun) and because I like making him happy. Am I narcissistic? Hell no. I am not comfortable with my body. But he enjoys it, so I share it with him.

      I’m working on my doctorate, am I still stupid? No. I’m a bit unwise for taking the pictures, but if he shares them around (which he wouldn’t), that’s on him. I sent them to him with the understanding that they were meant for his eyes only. If he shares them, he is violating my trust and privacy.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Well said!

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Five years ago, I made the mistake of online dating and posted my picture – not a nude, mind you, just a face shot, to my profile – as MILLIONS of people do. Went out with this guy who insulted the waitress and then made comments about every other woman in the place. I did not feel safe with this man, so I excused myself to the ladies room and slipped out the back door and went home. By the time I had gotten home and he’d realized he’d been ditched, he’d taken my profile picture and put it up on Craigslist advertising me as a hooker and gave my phone number and email address. I had to legally change my name because of what this man did. Am I to blame for what HE CHOSE to do when he had another option – to NOT do it? Wow, you must be really “disappointed” in someone stupid like me.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      WHOA. That’s insanity, I’m so sorry that happened to you. But you’re exactly right.

    • M_G

      Yikes!! That’s horrifying.

  • Samantha Escobar

    If you never buy a car, it will never be stolen.
    If you never have a wallet, nobody will ever pickpocket you.
    If you never own a business, nobody will ever break in.

    ^ These assholes’ logic, but applied to anything besides women’s bodies.

  • Carolina

    I am an attractive female and have never taken a nude iPhone photo
    Why is this acceptable? I want to be known for my brain and have to fight ” she’s too pretty” my whole life thru graduate school etc…would never risk my accomplishments
    You don’t see kristen stewart in this group
    Seems the self obsessed actresses involved here

    • Hannah

      The fact you bring up Kristen Stewart kills your argument, she has went naked in some movies she has done which she has every right to do just like these ladies taking pictures on their phonse in private do.

    • Samantha Escobar

      Yep! Was just about to say the same thing. Countdown to “BUT THAT WAS FOR A JOOOOB” in 3…2…

    • CMJ

      I am also an attractive female that has never taken a nude photo of myself….it is no one’s fault but the asshole hackers who hacked into their phones and leaked their photos.

    • Nbl

      As a fellow grad student, please stop talking.

    • Romylove

      As a not-conventionally attractive female, I’ve taken tons of nudes. It’s acceptable so long as the people involved are both consenting adults. End of discussion. Also, constantly having to fight “she’s too pretty?” Tell me, does your arm hurt from patting yourself on the back so much?

    • FemelleChevalier

      Eh. People take nude pictures of themselves for various reasons. Besides, healthy doses of vanity is good for self-esteem. You can be reasonably vain and smart at the same time; it’s not a one-thing deal and I don’t understand people who says otherwise.

      Besides, why not focus on the theft? You might not have nude photos, but decent hackers can hack your personal accounts if they chose to. In the end, isn’t that the same criminal offense? We should focus on that instead, yes?

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Exactly, she undoubtedly has other things she wouldn’t want stolen.

    • Samantha Escobar

      Shockingly, you can be known for your intellect and also be attractive and ALSO get naked.

      Do you really believe everyone who’s ever posed nude couldn’t possibly be viewed as intelligent and excellent at their careers? If so, you’re discounting:
      - Ellen Muth (who is in MENSA)
      - Drew Barrymore (writer of two books, actress in over 30 films, director of 3 films, has her own makeup company)
      - Dita Von Teese (designed her own fashion lines)
      - Brigitte Bardot (written 5 books, is a huge AR activist)
      - Katarina Witt (Olympic gold medalist)
      - Sigourney Weaver (who’s won literally dozens of awards for her career)
      - and every incredibly accomplished athlete who posed in ESPN’s Body Issue…I won’t go on.

      Out of curiosity, have you ever taken a selfie?

    • A_Nicole

      here’s the thing you can be smart AND pretty. *gasp*. I went to a great college where girls went out to parties and kicked ass in chemistry classes the next day. Females fight this all the time as if we can’t be attractive and have a brain in our heads. Seriously? Way to set women back decades. I’ve never taken nudes and I never take selfies because I tend to be uncomfortable with pictures of just myself in general. BUT women are sexual beings. Some of these celebs were married, in long distance relations or just plain liked looking at themselves naked. THAT IS THEIR RIGHT. Men are allowed to be outwardly sexual so why can’t women do the same? It doesn’t make them self obsessed it makes them human. The human form is nothing to be ashamed of.
      Please get off your high horse.
      Oh and Kristen Stewart? She has done scenes with nudity and has no problem with it.
      *steps off soapbox*

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Idiot, they didn’t release or take these pictures for the public to see – they were sent to boyfriends, husbands, people they trusted. What don’t you get about that?

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I don’t see why beauty and intelligence EVER have to fight each other!

  • Hollywood1222

    Amen – just posted a similar rant on my FB page!

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Hurray!

  • carrie thompson

    And this is why I read you, Alexis.

    Totally on point.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Thanks Carrie! Really appreciate it!

  • A_Nicole

    YES. this so much.
    and now there are underaged celeb nudes from this batch that is being circulated. Its disgusting

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Yuppppp. So wrong.

  • Memories of 2006

    Advice from someone who had nudes leaked onto the internet:

    “Well, I handled it pretty terribly for the first 48 hours,” Wentz
    said. “I mean, I quit my band and everything. But then what I realized
    is that it’s not the worst thing on the planet that’s ever gonna happen. I apologized to my mom, realized that the best way to not have
    pictures on the Internet is to never take the pictures at all, and then
    made fun of it. I mean, I didn’t put those pictures out there myself. It
    wasn’t some ploy, you know, like, ‘Yeah, this’ll be a way I’ll get my
    band big!’ We made fun of it in the ‘Arms Race’ video. And just get over
    it.”

    The best way to get over the embarrassment, in his own experience? Laugh it off.

    “I got asked about it in interviews for a while after that, and then I
    guess it didn’t matter,” he continued. “The bigger deal you make of it,
    and the more you try to prove that it wasn’t you or it was like this or
    that, the only people who are really going to know the story are, like,
    you and two other people. So, it’s like, don’t sit out there and make
    it a big deal. Let it go away.”

    - Guy whose penis was happily viewed by millions of women

    • Samantha Escobar

      It’s always going to be different for men versus women when it comes to nudity. That’s unavoidable.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I want to avoid it!

    • Maeby

      Literally just a few days ago when Calum from 5sos’ nudes got leaked, this site basically criticized him for doing that and suggested that most pop stars do it anyway so this was a rite of passage for the self absorbed. Stealing someone’s nudes is a major invasion of privacy no matter the gender. People want the same equality but if there’s different standards in which we judge people then we’re doing in wrong.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      In that case, what we meant is that you can barely become a celebrity anymore without having a racism scandal or having a nude photo leak, so the 5SOS boys were checking both off their list. That doesn’t mean either thing is positive; the tone was satirical.

    • Memories of 2006

      I don’t see how it’s different. In both cases private pictures of a sexual nature were stolen from celebrity victims’ phones and posted on the internet without their knowledge or consent. Both cases exploded on the internet, which commented, critiqued, mocked, and admired the victims’ private photos, and gave both cases names that made a joke out of the situation (The Fappening and Peengate). In both cases the victims were justifiably upset by the event and felt violated by it.

      The only difference I see is that now everyone is focusing on the importance of gender, and in 2006 they didn’t. Now saying “They shouldn’t have taken nude pics if she didn’t want them seen” is interpreted as “If women take nude pics in private it’s their own fault if they go public”. Pete Wentz was giving that same advice to try and help Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Greene deal with their own nude leaks, so the statement is clearly capable of being both well-intentioned and absent of victim blaming. Everything is being made all about gender, but not every statement about the celebrity nudes is directed solely at women or implies disrespect for them.

  • Elizabeth Aspen

    I feel a little shitty now for saying that it would have been wiser to use a digital camera instead of an online account. Everything you say makes absolute sense. Now I know better. Thanks :-)

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Oh I love this! Thanks for saying so! All I ever want is to be open-minded myself, and it makes me feel great when other people are as well! Thanks Elizabeth!

  • fantasymother

    There are reasons the FBI has gotten involved.

    The phones themselves were hacked, gaining access to their usernames and passwords. Aside from the fact these were nude photos, it’s exactly what happened in the UK, when phones were hacked and emails and texts were stolen from politicians and British royalty.

    So the fact these were nude photos is actually irrelevant. This was private material, and everyone, even celebrities, has the right to own private material.

    To address having nude photos at all, have you ever seen the nude photos taken of starlets in the 40′s and 50′s? Ever see the nude photos of Betty White? It was common, they were understood to be private, and WHY they were taken is, frankly, none of our business.

  • Erin

    Thank you so much for this article. I feel the same way. I can’t tell you the amount of “well, that’s what they get for having nude pictures of themselves” comments I’ve heard.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Seriously! So crazy. Thanks for reading, and glad you enjoyed!

  • QueeferSutherland89

    Has this whole shitty situation been completely polarizing for anyone else’s relationship the way it has been with mine? My boyfriend is usually very insightful and supportive when it comes to women’s issues and nods his head in agreement when I go on feminist tirades. However, with this, he’s been like any other drooling, boner driven hetero male that I’ve talked to about “the fappening”. He maintains the whole “don’t take the pics if you don’t want them leaked” M.O. (Even though he nearly shits himself in anger at the thought of the NSA infiltrating his privacy) and goes on to say, “they’re celebrities, they should expect invasions of privacy” “They’re wealthy and lead wonderful lives, they’ll cry about it on the beach and in their jets. They’ll be fine” Oh. My. GOD.

    It makes no difference if these women are celebrities. The famous still deserve some semblance of privacy. I can’t believe that’s even a question. What happened is harassment. The end. Hackers who do shit like this, and those who spread the pics around feel that they are entitled to women’s bodies. It’s male entitlement, plain and simple. Hot, young female celebrity without nude scenes in movies, a sex tape or accidentally uploaded nude pics to tide people over? Someone will find a way to fix that.

    The fact that we and these women feel like they have to defend themselves for simply enjoying a facet of a healthy relationship that technology allows us, further cements that we live in a rape culture society.

    Annoying feminist rant over. My boyfriend’s being an ass hat. Thanks for the read, Alexis Rhiannon. End transmission.

    • Nbl

      5 years ago, it might have been for me and my other half. So I’ll give you some advice on this and what changed everything. Think back to what he agrees with and why he nods in agreement. Is he doing it while you rant and vent? Is he just “humoring” you? I realized that was what was going on with us. He didn’t really feel strongly one way or another but didn’t want to make me mad. What changed was the addition of a female marine to his unit. He was so against it and it caused a HUGE fight between us. Instead of continuing the screaming match I took a big step back and dug through the plethora of history books I own, gathered information on female soldiers through history and their impact and set him down to explain why I thought he was wrong. Sometimes you need to look at an argument from a different perspective. Ask him how he would feel if it wasn’t pictures but social security numbers or bank account information. Is he against women celebrating their bodies and sharing them with those they are in a relationship with? If he answers yes, tell him you are against it as well and therefore will not be sharing your body with him (yes I pulled the no sex card). You’ll be amazed how fast he changes his tune. The fact is there are two options you have when you start dating someone, either you’re going to break up or spend the rest of your life with them. If you feel strongly about this, you need to find a way to show him why and why you’re disappointed in his views. I wish you the best of luck!

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      This is excellent advice, great job!

  • Joey

    Blaming them is like blaming someone when their money is stolen from the bank.

  • Stacey Judith

    I’m back on Crushable after a really long time and this is a good welcome back article! :)