A Plea For Empathy

I feel like I have to write a post about this recent scandal involving leaked nude photos of celebrities, one of whom was Jennifer Lawrence. I feel very strongly and need to vent my frustration.

I’ve read a couple of articles about it, and while there is a lot of sympathy for the plight of these poor women, I was horrified at some of the reactions quoted from some people on Twitter. It disgusts me that there are those who would blame Jennifer Lawrence for taking the pictures in the first place, rather than aiming their fury at the sick hacker who decided to violate her privacy and spread personal images all over the internet. It’s awful. It reminds me of the whole ‘if a girl wears revealing clothing and then gets raped it’s her own fault’ point of view. It makes me seethe.

I am neither condemning nor condoning what Jennifer Lawrence has done because in my opinion that is completely beside the point. The point is the shocking violation of privacy. The point is that there are people out there who think it’s okay to hack into personal data and then display it publicly. These women who have been victimised now have to deal with whatever repercussions come their way. They have to face a potential fall in their reputations. They have to live each day knowing that hundreds if not thousands of people have viewed them without clothing on. They have to accept that they cannot control the spread of these images because the harsh truth is that there will be people who have downloaded or copied or saved them onto their personal devices. They have to be on the receiving end of cruel judgment and hateful slander.

How is any of this okay?!

People are viewing the bodies of these celebrities as objects to be used for their own gratification. People think it’s okay to look at the images and make snide remarks and justify their actions by blaming the celebrity for taking the photo in the first place. It’s so messed up. It’s so wrong. It’s so disrespectful of the female body and of the fact that these celebrities are real people who are probably feeling awful right now. Where is the empathy? Where is the kindness? Where is the humanity?

I saw a comment on Facebook that said something to the effect of “of course I’ve looked at the photos, I wouldn’t be a man if I hadn’t!” This sickens me. Not only is it objectifying women, but it’s insulting men too! It implies that men can’t help but view these images, that it’s in their nature to do so, that not to view them would contradict their ‘manliness’. In my opinion, it is not masculine to stare at these pictures. It shows no respect for women and their bodies, no restraint, and no conscience. The privacy of these celebrities has been violated, and I hate thinking that there are people out there more concerned with getting a kick out of looking at the pictures and slandering the women than with expressing disgust for the criminal who did this.

No man has the right to gawk at a woman’s body. If a girl wants to take pictures of herself undressed, or if a girl wants to wear revealing clothing, she should be able to do so without fearing feeling victimised by others. Jennifer Lawrence was not asking for this any more than a girl in a short skirt is asking to be sexually harassed. It’s just wrong.

I plead for empathy. I plead for change.

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