When news broke of all those nude celebrity photos being hacked out of iCloud (allegedly) and set loose on the interwubs, my Facebook feed was filled with posts blaming the celebrities for (1) taking nude pictures of themselves in the first place (because who DOES that?), (2) being dumb enough to put them “in the cloud” and then (3) having the nerve to complain that the pictures were made public.
Oh, and okay, yes, hacking bad. But godDAMN, celebrities, what were you THINKING?
Which annoys me in all kinds of ways, the main one being that it’s another case of blaming the victims, slut-shaming them and passing moral judgments on their behavior – as if Jennifer Lawrence was asking to have her private pictures distributed on Reddit because she actually let herself be photographed naked and put the pics in the cloud where hackers could get to them (unlike, say, the hard drive on her laptop or a thumb drive, which would be so much safer). Which is like arguing that if someone robs my bank, it’s my own fault for depositing my money where bank robbers could steal it.
I could go on. Fortunately this piece from Forbes
(of all places) saves me a lot of typing. The short version: (1) nude selfies and sexting are part of human sexuality whether you personally approve or not, (2) “the cloud” isn’t some public park on the internet, and (3) cloud storage services like iCloud are designed to be both automated and – to the average user – indistinguishable from having content stored on your hard drive, all in the name of ease of use (which in turn means getting more people to use cloud services).
So lay off, maybe.
But then, for a lot of people, celebrities exist for us to kick around. The “blame the celebrities” meme is emblematic of society’s strange love/hate relationship with Good Looking Famous People, where Normal Decent People obsess over the juicy details of celebrities’ private lives so that when they do something outrageous or extremely naughty, we can hold it against them.
Invasion of Celebrity Privacy (a.k.a. celebrity gossip media) is a multi-billion dollar industry, and “candid” pics are a major component of that business. And it’s not just rags like New York Daily News or TMZ. Go look at The Huffington Post, where the “most popular stories ” sidebar is usually populated with stories about Kim Kardashian wearing something inappropriate in a restaurant or Miley Cyrus at a topless beach or a Beyonce nip-slip/sideboob picture or Taylor Swift’s sex tape. Because the public has a right to know, you see.
So in that context, it seems disingenuous for people to say “Shame on you for taking those pics” when there’s so much public demand for them.
To be fair, some people have focused their criticism in terms of “personal responsibility”. As in: “If you take naughty pics of yself, you should own up to it. Don't do it if you’d be embarrassed by it.”
I don’t really care for that line either, for a couple of reasons besides the ones I mentioned above: (1) everyone has aspects of themselves they want to keep private, including the critics, and (2) it suggests that you should always act as though you are being watched. Given how even the assumption of panopticon surveillance affects behavior
, that grates against my more libertarian instincts.
The other “personal responsibility” angle is taking responsibility for security of yr private data, especially when so much of yr private data is constantly being collected and sold (legally and otherwise), in which case we should all know better by now so yr an idiot for not being more careful.
Technically this is a good point. But as mentioned above, not everyone knows how to go about doing that, and in this specific case they often assume that the cloud service provider has that covered. In which case the more helpful response isn’t “don’t take nude pics, slut” but “here’s how you can take steps to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands”.
Violet Blue has some great advice about that here
. She also makes a good point: this isn’t just about celebrity pics getting stolen. This is everyone’s problem – and even more so for women, because the consequences can be more serious than minor embarrassment:
In the celebrity nudes aftermath this week I've seen tweets -- even from security professionals -- saying things like, "she shouldn't have spread her legs for an iPhone."
What BS. As if we deserve to lose our jobs, our friends, custody of our kids, our personal safety, our emotional well-being, or our mental health because we did what lots of people do voluntarily on Twitter every week (or what a million creepy dudes do on Tinder every day with their own "dick pics"). That’s stupid and just plain wrong.
When someone takes our personal photos and posts them online, it's not a joke.
It is a violation. It drives some women -- especially young women -- to suicide.
Suggesting that the violation of our consent is our fault is harassment.
Exactly. Which is why all the shame-based criticism comes across to me as the equivalent of “she asked for it” and abstinence-only sex education. It may not be intended that way. But that’s what it sounds like to me.FULL DISCLOSURE:
I have taken nude selfies. I think it’s fun. And no, you can’t see them.
Ain’t that a shame,
This is dF
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