In 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.