By Brenna Everdale
If you haven’t already heard, on August 31, 2014, almost 200 private photos of various female celebrities, mostly containing nudity, were posted on the image board 4chan, and later posted to websites such as Imgur, Reddit, Tumblr and various pornographic sites. The images were obtained illegally by hackers and published without the victims’ consent.
What is interesting about this event is the way the media reacted. HuffPost, Slate, E!, Buzzfeed and other sites have published articles which shame the hackers and the people who view the photos, while simultaneously defending the victims. Typically, what we’ve seen in the past with these types of occurrences has been quite different; we’ve all seen sites like these using women’s leaked sex tapes, photos and wardrobe malfunctions as click bait.
The reason for this shift in attitudes is debatable. Perhaps it’s a sign that our culture is shifting for the better. However, because the bulk of the photos belong to Jennifer Lawrence. It’s also possible that the media is simply expressing a form of slut-shaming. When celebrities such as Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton had their sex tapes leaked without their consent, there was no such public outcry in their favor. If Jennifer Lawrence were not currently one of the most beloved and respected Hollywood stars, the media may have had a much different take on the leak.
In addition, many news outlets have responded to the event with advice on how to keep your private photos safe online. However, according to a survey taken by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, the vast majority of perpetrators of this crime are known to the victims, and the vast majority of victims are women. It’s definitely good to protect your online privacy, but we must not forget that these crimes aren’t just committed by mysterious, evil hackers. They are committed by friends, partners, and most often, ex-partners.
What I take away from this event is that this is very much a cultural issue, rather than a security issue, and it will only be solved by advocating for women’s social equality. In addition, we must continue to combat the idea that some women’s safety and privacy is more valuable than others’.
In Kutztown, you have many opportunities to be a part of the solution. Simply correcting a friend when they say something derogatory towards women can make a huge difference. If you hear about a gender-based crime, or if you know somebody who is distributing private photos without the subject’s consent, you can report them. And if you want to get even more involved, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance meets every Thursday at 11 a.m. in Old Main at the Women’s Center Oasis.