With the recent hack of Lucy Hale’s private photographs and recent similar events occurring with other celebrities like Maisie Williams and Emma Watson, the topic of consent has once again come back up into our conversations. It’s one that has become tiring to talk about and a frustrating subject for those who are sick and tired of seeing people who were violated constantly being blamed for actions that were not their own fault.
Last week, comments on sites such as UniLad were full of men asking for links to view the images of Lucy as well as ridiculing and victim blaming for the fact that Lucy took the images in the first place. It’s become incredibly frustrating how much time is spent directing criticism towards those who have taken the photos, rather than the hackers and people that purposely violated somebody’s privacy. Celebrities who have their photos accessed are often accused of doing it for fame or blamed for taking them in the first place, not even giving a second thought to how they’re probably feeling about being criticized online by thousands of strangers.
It’s beginning to look like it’s a struggle for some to grasp the concept that if the person in nude photos has not provided their consent for you to do view them, it’s definitely not okay to do. When somebody takes a nude photograph of themselves, it is in their own right. When it is shared with the world without that person’s permission, then it becomes an issue.
The same people that ask women for nudes are usually the same that will blame the woman directly if her images are spread without her consent. It’s a messed up system that lacks logic or common decency. Everyone can take whatever photos of themselves that they like — it is their own body and they are allowed to appreciate it in the same way that we can feel good about ourselves when we take a selfie. When sharing these images with a person, it is a huge sign of trust, and when that trust is violated, it’s a crushing feeling.
We currently live in a time where private images of nonconsenting men and women can be accessed with one Google search, even when there are pornographic websites with thousands of consenting people that can be chosen to view instead. So why does this keep happening? The reason is due to unclear boundaries and the victim blaming society we live in today. When those who freely view these images are not reprimanded for their actions, they’re taught that this kind of behavior is okay. The way we stop it is by speaking out against this violation and letting others know that what they are doing is wrong.
While it may be hard to do this in the case of celebrities by battling strangers online, it can also be done on a much smaller scale. Images of teenagers in high schools being circulated without their consent is still a relevant issue. It’s likely that all of us have at least one story or know of one person who has had photos of themselves sent around the entire school without their permission. It’s extremely important that, no matter who the person is, we speak up on this and make it very clear that viewing such images should never be allowed. The feeling that one feels when others can comment on their body or view it without their permission is extremely sickening and something scary that no person should have to go through. If you ever witness such an event happening around you, please speak up on it. Let’s destroy the stigma around nude photographs and show more sympathy to those who are already struggling enough after having their privacy violated. Let’s focus more on the perpetrators and less on the victims.