In Support of J-Law

On Sunday I wrote a blog post about sharing on social media, in which I talked about how people will always use that bit of information that you’re fiercely guarding to try to bring you down.

And oh boy, was last night’s celebrity ‘nude’ picture hacking a brilliant example of that. A whole host of female celebrities had their private, cloud-based, naked images published on some crappy online image forum, 4chan.

Jennifer Lawrence seems to have suffered the most from the privacy violation, with her pictures trending on Twitter, until Twitter eventually did the right thing and blocked accounts who were sharing them.

But 4chan didn’t stop there, they tried to get other women to join J-Law in ‘solidarity’ and post naked pictures of ourselves under the hashtag #leakforJLaw.

We didn’t.

You’re fuckwits, 4chan.

There have been some brilliant articles written today about the wrongness of all of this, the best in my view coming from Scott Mendelson, in which he says that the emphasis should always be placed on the criminality of these privacy invaders, and not place the responsibility of self-protection and crime-prevention on women. I recommend you read it right now:

What I’m talking about in this post is the absence of any leaked male imagery. All the celebrities are female. Where are the celebrity cockshots, huh? We know guys love sending them, even if we don’t ask for them, and some even use them as their profile picture on online dating sites (makes a change from standing next to a tiger). So why haven’t they appeared here?

Someone made the point to me today that there is hardly ever a face in a cockshot, which wouldn’t help a hacker know his victim. But even more probably, they know all too well that we’d just laugh at the pictures and declare the guy ‘a bit of a knob’ and move on.

Take US politician Anthony Weiner (wow, did he live up to his name). Not only did he ‘accidentally’ send a picture via his public Twitter account to a woman who wasn’t his wife, but continued to send them to her and other women under the pseudonym of Carlos Danger, even after he was publicly humiliated. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Ok, his career was stuffed when he resigned last year but it is very clear that he had ‘self-harmed’ by going public by his own hand, so to speak. No third-party leakage there (sorry).

Take James Franco – he frequently posts late-night semi-naked selfies on Instagram – they’re self-leaked, and he has publicly stated that, “…it’s what newspapers want — hell, it’s what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power.”

You might think it is Jamesie, but the sort of attention Jennifer Lawrence is getting is not what everyone wants. It is designed to disempower her and all the women it is violating. They are not in control of it. (And by the way, you may have chosen to post your naked self online, but the attention you’re getting is laughter, mate.)

Chris Brown. In 2011 he ‘leaks’ a naked selfie he took in a bathroom ‘for a woman’. It just happened to coincide with his new album release. Funny that. Totally in control of his own image. And yet again, this is naked-selfie control that is not afforded to women.

Mendelson’s article talks about the Disney reaction to Vanessa Hudgens’ leaked nudes ‘scandal’ in 2007, in which they treated her like a “sinful child” and released this statement: “Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she’s learned a valuable lesson.”

Well I think the lesson we’ve all learned is that women have to apologise for letting themselves be publicly sexually humiliated by men. Oops we left our sexuality right there where you can see it – sorry, we’ll find a better place to hide it. Why should we feel ashamed that we took pictures of ourselves for our lovers? Is female sexuality such a powerful thing that it has to be stamped on whenever it surfaces?

As Mendelson says, it is not the taking of the nude pictures that is in any way scandalous, it is the stealing of them. That is the crime. There have been a number of occasions in the last few years where I have had ‘creepshot’ pictures taken of me: stealthy images taken by smartphone on public transport or out on the street.

Sometimes it is brazen, with a phone thrust in front of me, other times it is quietly done, a quick click on the tube as I realise a phone is facing my legs. Each time it happened I felt angry about the stealing of my image for some kind of perverse enjoyment later. Maybe I’d end up on a website where they’d rate my legs or face out of ten, and follow it up with a torrent of horrible comments. I daren’t think about it.

That’s why I hated that ‘Women Who Eat on Tubes’ Facebook group that surfaced last year – the thought that our images were being stolen, posted and laughed at by braying frat boys with one hand on their tiny dicks. (I might set up a retaliation group: Braying Frat Boys on the Tube with Tiny Dicks.)

And don’t get me started on the relentless pursuit of nudes from guys on online dating sites. Are you on Whatsapp or Snapchat? they say, as a prelude to the inevitable request for pictures. Tiresome, guys, tiresome. Why do you have to own so many images of us? (Well obviously I know why, but why not just use porn like everyone else?).

Tonight, I hope that Jennifer Lawrence is surrounded by her friends, family and a shit-hot group of lawyers. I hope she’s remembering that she hasn’t behaved like a Weiner or a Franco and that a crime has been committed against her.

But most of all, I hope she’s looking at her BAFTA, her Oscar and Golden Globe awards and thinking, “fuck you, 4chan, I’m not going anywhere.”