The Fappening

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.

13 thoughts on “The Fappening

  1. I think it’s a tricky one. I agree it is some sort of sex crime, and I think part of the problem with a lot of sex crimes are it’s just none definable (don’t worry I will expand) when we think of rape, I think of some being forced against their will to have sex. I imagine a fight, probably some bushes, the woman being hit, it being very agressive… but rape isn’t always like that. Rape is not a one size fits all kind word. I once went to a friends house to stay the night, drank too much, passed out, came round to him on me. Would I say that was rape no, because in my head it wasn’t bad enough, it wasn’t violent, it was a friend… I think a lot of people down play stuff that has happened to them (I know I do) and so a part of me actually thinks she should be applauded for standing up and saying this is wrong and anything of this nature should not be allowed. Does that make any sense?

  2. An interesting debate. I think stealing the photos is a violation yes, and I havent looked at them, and dont plan to.
    But it is obviously not a sexual asualt, I would be annoyed if she said it was like rape.

  3. I can confirm I have been living in a cave and had no idea about this. I don’t even have any idea who the person in question is, I tend to stay away from celeb culture. I think sex crimes do come in all shapes and sizes and yes if it was explicit images that were stolen and shared for others gratification and profit then it probably is a sex crime. Obviously very different to rape but still highly unpleasant none the less. Mich x

  4. I think you have summed it up well. It is a violation but it needs to be seen at one end of the scale. I suspect it has made many celebrities think twice before taking any compromising photos of themselves in the future.

  5. I didn’t think that it was a sexual crime at first, but when I read what she said it really did make me think and I do agree with her. I can’t imagine what it would be like to know that photos of me were out there, to wonder when you meet someone whether they’ve seen the photos and to think about all the people that you will never meet that have seen them.

  6. That is really interesting. I think it is awful that people feel that they have the right to share someone else’s photos; famous or not and it is sad that people think that famous people are asking for these photos to be shared. I think that says a lot about our society currently. Is it violation though? It is violation to certain extent but I don’t know that you can compare it with an actual act of sexual violence.

  7. It is a sexual violation. Sexual violation is having your body used without your consent for someone else’s sexual gratification. No, it is not in the same league as rape, but it’s still a form of sexual violation and in that quote she has not said anything about rape. She has, as she says, been exploited and violated. And for anyone to say they shouldn’t have taken those pictures in the first place as they should know they are going to be stolen and abused, that’s like saying that women who wear low cut tops or miniskirts to nightclubs should expect to be groped. Your body is your own, and what you choose to do with it is up to you, but those choices should not be seen as permission for other people to violate it in ANY way.

  8. I have no issue with J-law refering to this as a sexual crime. Sex offences by law cover a wide variety of crimes from sexual harassment, voyerism, pinching a strangers bum in a night club (legally sexual assault) to sexual assault with penetration and rape. I do not believe she compared it to rape (unless I missed that bit!) – which I would take issue with. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be violated in such a manner and I hope the offenders are convicted of appropriate offences.

  9. I don’t think what was done is right in any way, shape or form, but comparing the theft of some photos to rape is a step too far, in my opinion. People who have been brutalised and subjected to serious acts of sexual violence would likely give their right arm to go back and trade their abject suffering for a few people looking at some candid snapshots.

    Was she the victim of a heinous and criminal act? Yes. Undoubtedly. But let’s not go overboard, eh?

    Also, people need to show a little caution and look after their own affairs. Don’t assume that big companies have your interests, security and otherwise, at heart. Read terms and conditions, ensure your information is safe and secure. Think for yourself.

    I’m not trying to engage in victim blame in saying that, but too many people coast and think that safety nets will catch them when they fall. They won’t. Look after you and yours…and never underestimate the nefarious ingenuity of hormonal neckbeards who’ve never seen a real, live breast.

  10. Though I had not seen that statement that’s the very reason I did not look at any of those pictures. Because of the circumstances in which they were made public I would feel like I was violating her in a sexual manner. She didn’t want the pictures seen, who am I to get in on the tittilation. I too have been masturbated at, and it’s a horrible sort of violation it makes your skin crawl in a way that that be scrubbed away, the same way that I would feel if many people out there were looking at naked pictures of me that were private.

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