Jennifer Lawrence calls nude photohack a ‘sex crime,’ which it is

Jennifer Lawrence has finally broken her silence on the “Celebgate” nude photo hacking scandal, stating that it’s not a “scandal” at all, but a “sex crime.” And she’s right. It is.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the actress stated:

“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she says. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”

“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” she tells Kashner. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

I think it’s hard for some people to think of it as being a sex crime. We tend to think of celebrities as being there for our consumption. There is a notion that the price of fame is a loss of one’s privacy. But sexual humiliation–and do not think this was anything other than that–is not the price one ought to pay for anything.

Truly, the most insidious thing about the whole affair is that you just know the perpetrators thought they were being fabulously whimsical. That’s the part that gets under my skin and gives me the creeps. Because it’s not like there isn’t a cultural precedent for this kind of thing being seen as not a big deal or as sort of a “Well, boys will be boys!” sort of thing rather than an incredibly cruel, violating and disturbing thing to do.

Take, for example, the movie “Porky’s”–a major subplot of this “classic teen comedy” involves high school boys drilling holes into the girl’s locker room in order to see them showering. It’s a gag that’s been repeated and referenced in various media from “Family Guy” to “Full House.” The idea of viewing women’s naked bodies without their permission is seen as an example of typical mischievous teenage hijinks, like stealing an opposing team’s mascot or putting a flaming bag of dog poop on a cranky neighbor’s doorstep.

I think for a long time in our culture, there has been sort of a “if you’re clever enough to figure out how to see a woman’s naked body without her permission, then you deserve to see a woman’s naked body without her permission” sort of ethos in regards to this sort of thing. After all, the whole point of there being attractive women is for you to figure out how to see them naked or sleep with them. It’s not like they’re real people or anything.

Indeed, after the celebrity nude photo leak, there were several people, including former American Idol contestant/current Congressional candidate Clay Aiken, who stated that they felt these women deserved what they got for having nude photos of themselves on their phones to begin with. Because obviously, if a woman is slutty enough to be fine with one man seeing nude photos of her, she shouldn’t mind millions of men seeing them as well.

On some level, I believe this is a reflection of our country’s Puritanical roots. Perhaps the idea that these women violated the social contract by being immodest in the first place gives some the moral room they need to not feel like a shitty person for looking at their nude bodies without permission.

I hope that whoever leaked the photos goes to jail. Should that happen, I will laugh and laugh and laugh and have the best day ever. However, sending that person or persons to jail isn’t actually enough. Because yeah, they did the hacking, but imagine how many millions of people felt justified in viewing those pictures? That’s a problem–a serious one–and we need to start taking it seriously.

It worries me that revenge porn is a thing. That “upskirt photos” are a protected art form in Texas. It worries me that people felt OK looking at these photos. It also worries me when celebrities make their own sex tapes for the purpose of profiting off of them, but still pretend like they are being released without their permission–because I think that contributes to a culture that doesn’t take this sort of thing seriously, or is able to justify somehow.

Even in the case of Anthony Weiner, I think it was wrong of Sydney Leathers to distribute his nude photos. Sexual humiliation is not an appropriate punishment for the crime of either promiscuity or adultery. It is not an appropriate punishment for anything.

Looking at the nude photos of someone who doesn’t want you looking at their nude photos is a violation, and it is a sex crime–even if it’s not a prosecutable offense. There is nothing a woman, or a man, can do that ought to make you feel justified in that. Obviously, there were people who looked at the photos that would never, themselves, violate someone in that way–but we need to put on our empathy hats and think to ourselves “What if this was me, or someone I love?”

I hope that we can get to a point in our society where our first instinct, when hearing about someone’s nude photos or sex tapes being released without their permission is straight up horror, not “Ooh! I want to see!”