By Maeve Walsh
Actress Jennifer Lawrence, the most publicized recent victim of an iCloud photo hack, redefined the standard apology routine of female victims of photo leaks. Calling the leak of her photos a sex crime, Lawrence shamed those who saw and stole the photos rather than personally being ashamed of them, saying, “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.” For Bart Mackey ‘16, “I feel terrible for Jennifer Lawrence, but I don’t think it qualifies as a sex crime. Yet as a man no, I would not view the photos.”
In an age of Internet fame and social sharing, more and more things are becoming public. This begs the question if celebrities, by being celebrities give up their right to privacy. When asked if celebrities give up their right to privacy, Mackey responded, “Technically no, but in an age where women in show business use their bodies as a tool to entice and entertain millions, it would be easy for regular people to forget about their idols’ limitations of privacy.”
This thought echoes the largely accepted viewpoint that while we as a nation take great strides to protect our lives online, securing everything from our bank accounts to our Facebook profiles, we view privacy as a privilege not afforded to celebrities. For Nathalie Nostrand ‘17, this notion is unfair: “It is not their fault that they are talented and in a profession that brings them in the public eye.” Indeed, it would appear in the instance of Jennifer Lawrence, that by saying female celebrities should step back and accept a lack of privacy, we are also conceding to the belief that women are to be silent objects of male sexualization rather than human beings with license to their own bodies and a private life.
Her unprecedented reaction towards the scandal has altered how society views the subject of personal photos being shared. In demanding change, Lawrence refused to be the passive object of sexual gratification that so many women whose personal photos are stolen have become.
The photos were stolen off of Lawrence’s computer. Although shared at one time with an ex, the photographs belonged to Lawrence and the theft via hacking roughly equates her very public scandal to the everyday scenario of passwords being hacked and stolen. Yet, the websites that profited off of Lawrence’s nightmare received little to no penalty, showing not just celebrities but women in general that sexual amusement is more important than their privacy.
Currently California’s laws against nude photo sharing is restricted to photographs taken without the subject knowing, in contrast to Lawrence who authorized the nude photograph to be taken, but not shared. For those who downloaded the photos, they committed a copyright violation rather than a criminal offense.