Remember back in 2014 when a ton of female celebrities had their nude photos stolen and published without their consent? Well, it’s happening again.
Yesterday, hackers stole private photos of Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried and published them on a website called Celeb Jihad, from which they quickly spread to 4Chan, Reddit and elsewhere. Redditors are calling it “The Fappening 2.0” (in case you don’t know, “fap” is Reddit slang for “masturbate,” and the 2014 publication of stolen nude photos of female celebrities was called “the Fappening.” Yes, it’s awful).
On Reddit, a user discussing the photos of Watson and Seyfried said there may be more photos published later on, writing, "There may be a few more names added to that list but these are the big two.”
Attorneys for Watson and Seyfried have responded. Watson’s spokesperson also told the Independent that the photos from Watson are from a fitting with a stylist several years ago.
Watson has been threatened with the publication of private nude photos before, as punishment for talking about feminism. "She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online,” read one threat in 2014, writes the Independent.
While the Reddit user quoted above described the photos of Watson and Seyfried as “really good drama,” it’s important to say that this isn’t “drama;” it’s a harmful and misogynistic crime. The hackers stole private photographs of female celebrities and published them without their consent.
When celebrities have their nude photographs published without their consent, all too often the conversation turns into “well, if you don’t want nude photos out there, don’t take them!” Consenting adults can and do take nude photos and send them to people they are consensually involved with, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Surveys show that 49% of American adults ages 18-54 and 89% of American millennial women do so. What is wrong is when people steal these photos and publish them, and the misogynistic, victim-blaming words that follow. And it isn't just celebrities who have their photos stolen and leaked; recently, a group of male marines stole and published nude photos of their female coworkers, for example.
Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.
Every single thing that I tried to write made me cry or get angry. I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.
It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.
Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame. Even people who I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.
In 2014, Roxane Gay predicted that “the Fappening” would likely lead to other publications of celebrity nude photos, connecting it to “revenge porn” — a practice in which people publish nude photos of their exes on the internet. In an essay for the Guardian, Gay wrote:
This leak is likely only the beginning. Because there will always be another leak, because there is an insatiable curiosity when it comes to the nude celebrity woman’s body. She puts herself in the public eye and, in turn, we are entitled to see as much of her as we so desire, or so I am sure the justification goes.
The Great Celebrity Naked Photo Leak of 2014 – or perhaps we should call it The Great Celebrity Naked Photo Leak of August 2014, given that this happens so often that there won’t be only one this year – is meant to remind women of their place. Don’t get too high and mighty, ladies. Don’t step out of line. Don’t do anything to upset or disappoint men who feel entitled to your time, bodies, affection or attention. Your bared body can always be used as a weapon against you. Your bared body can always be used to shame and humiliate you. Your bared body is at once desired and loathed.
This is what we must remember. Women cannot be sexual in certain ways without consequence. Women cannot pose nude or provocatively, whether for a lover or themselves, without consequence. We are never allowed to forget how the rules are different girls. I suppose we should be grateful for this latest reminder.
Top photo: Flickr/UN Women
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