Hey remember when the ‘fappening’ happened and the internet lost its mind? Celebrities with limited understanding of how the internet works backed up personal photos to the cloud, unaware of how relatively easy is it to hack a cloud. Jennifer Lawrence, of whom I am a big fan, was one of the clueless ones who backed up nude selfies she sent to her boyfriend to the cloud, only to see those photos stolen and released, to the delight of Jennifer Lawrence fans everywhere.
So much about the fappening is mind-bogglingly hypocritical, and recent comments from Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde come to mind. No, not her comments about women being responsible for the conditions that lead to rape. I wrote an Examiner article about that particular topic. I’m referring to her comments about modern popstars, who are really nothing more than glorified sex workers.
In the Vanity Fair article talking about Lawrence’s reaction to what she refers to as ‘a sex crime’, Lawrence appears nude, with one hand artfully covering a nipple.
I mean, come on. You can’t complain about a culture that hyper-sexualizes actors and actresses and reduces their talents and accomplishments to a series of nude photos, and then turn around and in an article about actresses being reduced to nude photos appear nude! Seriously WTF? How does Lawrence not see that she is directly contributing to the culture that creates a desire for nude celebrity photos? Lawrence complains, in the article, that she didn’t know how the release of the photos would affect her career, and then poses nude, making it pretty clear she doesn’t think nudity is an adverse strategy to pursue in terms of her career at all.
So what’s the real issue? Lawrence is clearly not opposed to appearing naked for all the world to see, as part of her job. What pisses her off is that she did not have control over the release of the fappening photos. This is about personal responsibility and risk management: she used a technology she didn’t fully understand and contributed to her own victimization in an act to which she clearly does not object. Lawrence wants to appear nude where and when it suits her, and fair enough. Consider the corollary issue of rape: we all want to control where, when and with whom we have sex. Rape happens when we don’t get to control those factors, and there are things every person can do to reduce the likelihood we will find ourselves in a situation where having our control removed is likely. It is the responsibility of every adult to take reasonable precautions to ensure our safety in a world that has never been, and never will be, perfectly safe for anyone.
I understand Lawrence’s anger and sense of violation, but honey, you directly contribute to a world in which actor’s naked bodies are used to sell their own personal brands by appearing nude to sell your personal brand. Lawrence attacks the people who viewed the unauthorized photos, saying:
Oh, yes, honey, you did say people could look at your naked body in the picture above this quote where your naked body is on display. Lawrence is mad that she didn’t control the release of her photos but she contributed to the release of those same photos by being an idiot and backing her photostream up to the cloud. Don’t want private nudes shared across the globe? Learn how to use your damn iPhone!
The feminist media went nuts on the fappening, calling it a perpetuation of rape culture, a creepshot competition between misogynists, a thrill for men who hate women, and even a ‘violent’ attitude towards women. Someone clearly needs a dictionary. And let’s not forget that Jezebel is owned by Gawker media, who had no problem releasing a private sex tape from Hulk Hogan, who is now suing Gawker and will hopefully burn the whole show to the ground.
At the end of the day, a handful of beautiful celebrities, perfectly willing to use nudity and their sexuality to fill their bank accounts with cash were foolish about technology and some non-authorized photos were released and then nothing happened at all. A few extra loads of socks needed washing. To date, there has been no real fall out from the fappening. Certainly, no one has died.
Now let’s compare that to another recent mass release of private sexual information: the Ashley Madison hack. The vast majority of the people affected by the datadump were A) private citizens and B) men. And oh my, but doesn’t that change the media reaction? Gawker lost no time in exposing public figures they don’t like, like Josh Duggar. Gawker was thoughtful enough to include a detailed list of his preferred sexual activities and that’s not creepy at all.
When it came to exposing the private sexual life of a man, Gawker had no qualms of any kind. I mean it’s not a violation like a photograph, right? Feminist writer Meghan Murphy, writing at Feminist Current admits “it’s hard for me to muster up sympathy for cheaters” because “male entitlement is an issue here”. No really. Here is the whole reason the gross violation of men’s privacy doesn’t bother her:
Gosh, too bad it’s actually women who are more likely to cheat than men!
Google ‘Ashley Madison scumbags‘ and you will get pages of results. The women who had their photos stolen from the cloud were traumatized victims, the men who had their data stolen from a privately owned website deserved it.
This article isn’t a defense of cheating or stealing photos or hacking or anything else: my intention was to reveal the way we treat women whose sexual privacy is violated as helpless, hapless victims, then turn around and gleefully expose men’s private sexual information and tell them they were asking for it, even though they joined a private site and had a reasonable expectation of privacy*. Women are lauded as heroic survivors, men are shamed as cheating scum who asked for it.
It all comes back to responsibility and accountability. From the very inception of the idea of ‘women’s rights’, women have been exempted from both responsibility and accountability. The original suffragettes were opposed by almost all women, who assumed that rights would come with responsibilities. Having just come through the Great War, where most of the men drafted had no franchise, women assumed that their franchise would come with the responsibility to defend their way of life with their lives, if necessary. Women assumed that being equal to men meant being literally equal. Neither men nor women grasped that the early feminists wanted rights for women, but not responsibility.
The fappening/Ashley Madison scandal is a perfect expression of feminism and how it has evolved. Women have the right to use their naked bodies in any way they wish, but no responsibility to take reasonable precautions against unauthorized uses of their bodies. Men have no such right. If their private sexual information is revealed, whether that is a photograph, text messages, a video or an account on an infidelity site, men cannot escape personal responsibility and accountability, and men know that all too well.
Some men can’t face it. They choose to die rather than face the consequences no woman is asked to face.
This is sexism. Sexism is lethal.
When it’s against men.
Lots of love,
*The comparison was sparked by Jonathan David Farley. Thanks, JDK, for the conversation and the ideas.