Jennifer LawrenceUnless you’ve been living in a cave in deepest, darkest Guatemala for the past three months, you will no doubt have heard of ‘The Fappening’. To be fair, you may not have heard that particular (and fairly distasteful) expression, but you’ll definitely have heard about the hackers who are breaching the iCloud security of various celebrities and selling their intimate photos to the highest bidder. The likes of Aubrey Plaza, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and many more have had their images splashed around the internet and other media.

There’s been a lot of discussion, from all angles. Some idiots people have been saying that these women are public figures and shouldn’t take intimate pictures if they don’t want them leaked, others have said that they must’ve wanted people to see the images if they took them in the first place and I can’t even begin to explain how much this kind of victim-blaming bullshit annoys me. Privacy is a basic human right, no matter how public your chosen career. Just because Kate Upton makes her money in bikinis, it doesn’t mean we own the right to see her personal, private photos, any more than being an accountant means you’re obliged to do the tax return of everyone you know during your spare time (very skewed analogy, I know, but BB’s not sleeping well)

Then, Jennifer Lawrence said this:

It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.

Now, I’m a huge fan of J-Law but I’ve got to admit, I stepped back from that statement with a sharp intake of breath. Branding this is sexual violation seemed like a very strong statement to make. I started thinking about women who’d suffered sexual abuse, rape, sexual violence and it made Jennifer Lawrence’s assessment seem rather grandiose to me. Being looked at is in no way comparable to rape, is it?

Then I thought back to something which happened to me when I was 20. I was walking to a careers evening at my local hospital, which was at the end of a busy dual carriageway with a tree-covered path on one side. As I was walking along, I saw a man in the bushes at the other side of the road, trying to catch my attention and as I looked over he started masturbating. As he stood there in the bushes touching himself, my anger kicked in and I actually chased him away, before stopping and realising he was a fully grown man who could hurt me a lot more than I hurt him.

No, this man didn’t touch me in any way but his act still felt like sexual violence. He was gratified by my shock and disgust and used me to get sexual satisfaction in his depraved way. While I’m not comparing any person who’s enjoyed J-Law’s image to a sexual criminal, I completely understand how you can feel violated by someone’s unwanted attention. Incidentally, the police never caught the flasher, but I saw him a few years later in a local paper after having been convicted of several rapes and sexual assaults, so what happened still haunts me.

It’s easy to write off what has happened to these women as ‘just photos being looked at’, but having your most intimate images splashed across the internet for all to see must be absolutely mortifying and the thought that so many people are viewing them is enough to make your skin crawl. These women should be able to take whatever damn pictures of themselves on their mobile devices without the fear that they’re going to be stolen and I’m really sad that we live in a world where privacy is so undervalued and can be sold off to the highest bidder.

So, what do you think? Is this an act of sexual crime, or is Jennifer Lawrence undermining ‘real’ sexual assault by saying so? Has anything similar ever happened to you? Leave me a comment below.