by Toni Whitten, contributor
Back in August, a collection of extremely private photographs that belonged to some of today’s biggest stars were leaked onto popular websites including Reddit and 4Chan by unknown hackers. Unsurprisingly, the compromising photographs spread like wildfire. Frivolously dubbed “The Fappening” by online consumers, and judgementally labelled “a scandal” by certain gossip magazines, could it be that the majority of our society has overlooked the severity of this situation?
If you have trouble feeling sorry for a beautiful young millionaire, let’s look at it this way: these celebrities are simply women, just like our mothers, sisters and best friends. These pictures were taken in confidence, in the privacy of their own homes for their partners, and are now being viewed thousands of times a day by complete strangers. This is a complete violation of privacy, and the situation should not be made light of as a naughty star scandal.
Jennifer Lawrence was perhaps attacked with the most ruthlessness as around sixty of her private photographs have been published online without her permission. Remembering that the talented actress is just twenty four years old simply makes the situation even more disturbing – she is not much older than most of the students at Queens.
She recently spoke out about the leak during an interview for Vanity Fair: “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime… it is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting… Just because I am a public figure… does not mean that it comes with the territory… It’s my body, and it should be my choice… the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe we live in that kind of world.”
The public reaction to the leaked pictures has been very mixed. Most newspaper and magazine articles paint it as the crime that it truly is. However, you simply have to look at the comments on such articles made by the general public to see a different, more concerning reaction – one of shame and blame towards the victims.
The comments on a piece by The Telegraph are particularly shocking. “You don’t take 60 plus nudes and not want them to be seen… Just another attention getter!” as one man wrote. However, the very fact that a Google search about this crime generates hundreds of websites advertising the photos shows that these hackers are being supported because people are viewing the stolen pictures.
Is it a matter of misogyny? Did this crime happen to these talented, intelligent and beautiful women because of a lack of respect for privacy, or a lack of respect for women in general by the hackers and the consumers?
One Queen’s student, Hannah Bevan Wooley, said that “I think it is an important part of life to express yourself sexually, you are well within your rights to do in privacy. However we cannot ignore some important issues. The same thing often happens to vulnerable young girls, who get called a slut and in the worst cases commit suicide because of how society views them. It is not the fault of the people who take the pictures, rather society’s perception of women is to blame.”