It may be tempting to write off Sunday’s massive theft of revealing photos of celebrities as another example of some boys behaving badly online, but it is actually a crime that someone committed; and more broadly, an invasion of privacy that everyone distributing and looking at the photos is complicit in. It reflects just how entitled people feel to women’s bodies – especially famous women’s.
This isn’t the first time someone has gone after famous women’s photos. In March, 2012, photos from the cellphones of Christina Hendricks and Olivia Munn showed up online. Christopher Chaney was sentenced to 10 years in jail in December of the same year for illegally accessing more than 50 e-mail accounts to steal photos of women such as Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis. Any person is at risk of this happening, but celebrity nudes are widely coveted – so much so that Perez Hilton posted some on his gossip website (now removed), and one reddit user collected all the latest leaks in one thread for ease of viewing. (It is currently down due to a copyright claim.) The comments in any of these posts are horrifying and dehumanizing – few care about how they’re affecting the women.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead addressed the issue on Twitter, writing: “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.” She received so many scathing responses like “tweet them bitch [sic]” and “already fapped twice” that she said she decided to take an Internet break.
Despite efforts to protect this kind of privacy, outlets such as People and CNN have reported this as a scandal and not the crime it is. Countless people have spoken out to advise women to simply “not take nudes,” which doesn’t solve the real problem here: that men will go so far as to break the law to see a complete stranger naked against her will.
Emma Woolley is a Toronto-based commentator on feminism, technology, media and politics