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Celebrity nudes leak sparks conversation about consent

harrison_j_cartoon1finalBy Emma Rick-Hyde

By now, everyone has either seen or heard about the recently leaked nude photos of over 100 female celebrities. But those photos weren’t leaked; they were stolen. The men who leaked those photos did so without any consent from the women they took them from. And they shouldn’t be regarded as heroes, but rather as what they really are: creeps and thieves.

The worst part about the whole situation is that people are defending these so called “hackers” and putting so much of the blame on the victims of the crime. Hundreds of comments on forums claim that these women had it coming, and that they shouldn’t have had the photos in the first place if they didn’t want them leaked.

These women are being referred to as bad role models now for having their private photos shared when they never chose to do so. Women are constantly taught to hate every- thing about their bodies. They’re constantly told they could lose more weight or change their hair colour or do anything to look more beautiful. Celebrities are the standard so many women put themselves against, and even they
are continually altered with Photoshop.

But when a woman finally feels proud of her body and appreciates it enough to take a picture of it without covering it up, without being ashamed of herself, she’s rewarded with people like these hackers stealing her photos without consent and sharing them with the rest of the world. Just because these women had the photos does not make it their fault that they were stolen from their password-protected accounts, as so many people seem to believe. We need to stop holding victims responsible for the actions of their assaulters. This isn’t something that just happens to celebrities, either. “Sexting” is a term almost everyone has heard about. With today’s technology, being asked to send nudes is nothing new. In a 2008 study by The National Campaign, it was revealed that 37 per cent of teenage girls have sent sexually suggestive messages or nude photos, and that 51 per cent of those did so because of the pressure from a guy. According to a 2011 study by Stats Canada, approximately 78,000 women were the victims of a violent crime at the hands of their current or previous partner, the overall rate of intimate partner violence against women is close to four times higher than it is for men.

These men releasing the photos of famous women is perpetrating the notion that it’s okay for young men to do it to their partners. Women are continually being shamed for not wanting to send nudes, but are painted as sluts when they comply. When a woman sends nude photos to her boyfriend or someone she trusted enough to have them, and that person betrays that trust by sharing those photos, it’s the woman that takes the blame.

People tell her that she shouldn’t have sent them, or that she shouldn’t have even taken them. She’s painted in a poor light because she tried to have a healthy relationship where she can trust the person she’s with. Women should not be shamed for trusting their partners, but their partners should be shamed for betraying that trust. The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative recently started a campaign to end what they refer to as “revenge porn,” which refers to the act of sharing sexually explicit material without getting consent from the individual pictured. There’s nothing wrong with taking naked photos, but there is something very wrong about sharing someone else’s body without their consent. There are probably millions of naked photos these hackers could have found online that have been put up by women consensually who want their bodies looked at in a sexual way. But instead of looking for photos that women wanted them to look at, they decided to violate the privacy of these women that didn’t give consent, and people are celebrating these men for simply taking what they want.

Recently on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Meyers made the point of saying, “This isn’t Neo freeing mankind from slavery, this is perverts making money off of stolen goods.” We live in a world where the women whose photos are stolen are blamed for it more than the people who actual stole them are, where the invention of date-rape drug-detecting nail polish is something women are relieved to have, and where alcohol excuses the actions of men but condemns the actions of women. If you don’t think rape culture exists, look around again.

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