by Jess Howard
Content Warning: Nudity – Trigger Warning: Rape
Recently, Kim Kardashian posted a naked selfie on Instagram to prove that she was having her second child with Kanye West, after speculative claims that she was too thin to be pregnant. Demi Moore famously posed nude for photographer Annie Leibovitz whilst 7 months pregnant with her daughter Scout, for the cover of Vanity Fair, and Playboy magazine has been photographing naked women for their publication for years. Cosmopolitan even features a nude male photo in their monthly magazine, to raise awareness for testicular cancer.
These photographs are fully consensual, and it was the individual’s choice to pose for these picture. However, it is not uncommon for these types of images to be posted without consent.
What message are we saying, are we sending, by making it seem socially acceptable to view these images without consent?
Last year the iCloud accounts of a number of celebrities were hacked, and their saved pictures and nude photographs were shared and posted across the internet. Some gave apologies to their fans, almost feeling regret that they had taken these photographs in the first place. But it was The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence who gave the most poignant response.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence stated that initially she had attempted to write an apology, but everything she wrote caused her upset and anger. It was then that her perspective changed, and she realised that she “did not have anything to say I’m sorry for”. She called the incident a “sex crime”, and was furious that the public had responded in such a way. In the interview Lawrence said: “Just because I’m a public figure… does not mean I asked for this… It’s my body and it should be my choice, and the fact that it was not my choice is completely disgusting.”
What message are we saying, are we sending, by making it seem socially acceptable to view these images without consent? The subject of revenge porn has been a talking point in the media for some time, with many people coming forward to say that ex partners had posted nude photographs online after a break up, and 149 incidents were reported between January 2012 and July 2014. In response to this, the government has passed a law stating that the sharing of any intimate photographs and videos, via social media and text, without consent is illegal, and carries a sentence of up to 2 years in prison.
People who have experienced these crimes have responded by saying they feel as if they have been “virtually raped”, and requests to social networking sites asking for these images to be removed have been ignored. I myself have been raped, and the sense of violation is something that I will hold with me for years to come. Having someone take control of your body without your permission is sickening, but I can imagine it happening at the hands of someone you once cared for and trusted can bring cause alternative and perhaps even further feelings of violation.
this does not mean in any way that their bodies are ours for the exploitation
Admittedly celebrities and people in the media live their lives in the media, actors, actresses and musicians, lead vastly different lives to the general public. The majority of their lives are spent in the public eye and, sadly, this violation of privacy is often acknowledged as a fact of life for the career path they have chosen. But this does not mean in any way that their bodies are ours for the exploitation.
By sharing these images we are sending a message to the technological generation that it is perfectly acceptable to use the internet to exploit those in the public eye. We are saying that viewing images without the consent of the individual is perfectly acceptable, and these behaviours can be carried on into everyday life. We should see these events as a catalyst, a demonstration of how not to behave. As private individuals who live outside of the public eye, we are the only ones who have control of our bodies, and we have no right to contradict this in any way.