Privacy and victim-blaming

Warning: this is a ranty post. If you don’t feel like reading a ranty post, come back in a day or two. I’ll put up my review of Dancing on Knives by Kate Forsyth. We can talk books and drink coffee together.

Although I may be shouting into the void here — the points I expect I shall make have been made already, by other, more sensible folks — I feel like I need to add my two cents.

Dr Who bow tie


On my drive to work, after I’ve dropped my son off, I listen to one of three things: a) an audiobook, b) News Radio, or c) “old fogey radio”.

The old fogey radio station is rather inauspiciously called 666. It’s the local AM station run by the national broadcaster. They have a gardening show on Saturday mornings; it’s that kind of station. (I actually quite like the gardening show.) Mostly I enjoy it — it’s nice to have some local news, and during the day they do shows about the local art galleries, writers, cool ways to volunteer in the community. Good stuff.

This morning, however, I got WELL GROUCHY! The host was talking about the nude photo hacking “scandal” involving Jennifer Lawrence and a bunch of other female celebrities. He claimed taking nude photos of yourself was weird, and that he hadn’t been able to find anyone who’d done it. He made a disparaging comment about how maybe only celebrities did it, because (and I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember his exact words) they were strange. One of the female hosts, who was doing a spot to talk about something else, agreed with him.

I had so much steam coming out my ears it’s a wonder I didn’t crash the car.

When I got to work, I sent him an angry text (which he read out on the radio, so I got to annoy everyone, I’m sure). I pointed out that the reason he hadn’t been able to find anyone that took nude photos of themselves probably had more to do with the radio station’s demographic than anything else. He got pseudo-offended that I was calling them old.

Now, in my defence, the average 666 listener has got to be between 40 and 65. And I listen, so I’m including myself in that “too old to take nude photos” category. I’ve never taken a nude photo of myself and uploaded it to a “cloud”. I barely understand what the “cloud” is, in a technological sense, and don’t use it because I FEAR CHANGE. And DICKHEAD HACKERS.

But I know a LOT of young women take nude photos of themselves, and share them with partners. Do I think it’s a good idea? Not particularly, because you never know where they will end up. But it’s not uncommon. I think if a presenter on the national broadcaster’s youth station, Triple J, asked the same question, they’d get overwhelmed with calls.

And all of this is beside the point, anyway. The point is, regardless of whether you understand why she did it or not, Jennifer Lawrence, like all the other celebrities affected, is entitled to her own privacy. If her husband is interstate — or hell, in the next room — and she wants to add a little spice to their relationship with a naughty picture, she is allowed to do so. They are consenting adults. (That’s where sexting becomes a grey area, by the way — when either party isn’t an adult yet. Then it can be legally child porn, even if it’s between two 15-year-olds. Don’t do it, kids.)

To suggest she brought it on herself by taking the photo is victim-blaming. It’s slut-shaming. She deserved it because she took the photo. Wore a short skirt. Had too much to drink. Flirted with the guy.

See where I’m going with this?

(For the record, I sent another text message to the radio station with this second point, although I don’t know if it got read out, because by then I was running late for work.)

Jennifer Lawrence and the other celebrities didn’t ask for it. By taking their pictures, they weren’t giving permission for them to be stolen. By uploading them to Apple’s supposedly secure Cloud, they weren’t giving permission for them to be stolen. They are the victims. They were robbed, and now people — some people, at least — are denigrating them for it.

They are the victims. Don’t suggest otherwise.