So, been a bit with the podcasts so figured I would do this as a written article. Admittedly because I’m on a three hour marathon of new tv programing with Flash, Supernatural, and Forever. Selfishly, I don’t wanna stop to do a podcast.
So, we’re all familiar with Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked nudes, which are floating around out there. Supposedly this is part of a larger wave of hacked and leaked photos of celebrities. All I know is everyone is in an uproar over it.
Which part of me really doesn’t get. Okay, these were private photos that were stolen and distributed, I get that. But everyone talking about how this is a personal attack and shames women, shames these women, etc. That…I don’t get. Most people I’ve come across aren’t insulting Ms. Lawrence about her looks, so they aren’t shaming or degrading her. In fact, I’m not sure anyone is degrading or shaming her. But there’s party line about that or something.
Which brings me to what got me writing this. Ms. Lawrence is said to have stated that, “Those who viewed the photos, Lawrence says, are perpetrating a sexual offense.”
Well…no. I have to say, I disagree with this statement. Here’s why.
The above picture is called the “Treachery of Images.” The idea behind it is that while we have the image of a thing, and it makes us think of that thing, it is not that thing. What we see is not what is.
Now, with the Lawrence photos one might say, “but it is her image, taken without her permission, and it’s nude so of course its a sexual offense.” This appeals to humans who react on an emotional level. We are raised to view sex as dirty, that sexual offenses are heinous, especially against women. And ultimately that how the person feels about the crime in such instances is the most important thing. Lawrence feels violated, so she must have been violated, and all who look upon this engage in the violation.
Except, again, no.
If this was the image of a murder, would we be arguing that all those that view that image are engaging in the murder? That they have committed a murder by merely viewing the image? Of course not. Not only is it not logical to blame those who view the picture of an event for that event, it is down right foolish.
I have visited Holocaust museums. I have viewed the images of the Holocaust. Have I then engaged in the Holocaust, an even that occurred before even my father was born? Am I responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews in a course of events decades before my birth, in a country far from my own, over which I have no power?
Of course I’m not.
Now, I have viewed Ms. Lawrence’s nudes, or at least some of them. There is nothing disgusting, nothing shameful. A few images taken, apparently, for a distant lover. Have I raped her? No. Have I assaulted her? No. Have I viewed a stolen item? Yes, but viewing the item is not the same as having stolen it. Nor is it an assault, anymore than seeing images of Rhianna after the assault she had by Chris Brown made me responsible for her assault. I did not commit the theft, I have not caused harm by viewing an event.
Nor have all those who have viewed these images. While Ms. Lawrence may feel it is a violation, it is not. And her calls to change the law regarding that “Lawrence says that the distribution of her photos isn’t a scandal but a “sexual violation,” and one that underscores the need for better legal protections. “It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible,” she tells VF. “ are irresponsible. Let is make it a crime to view a crime, let’s make you responsible for a crime you did not commit it simply because you viewed it and may have gained an emotional stimulus.
If we did that, we’d have to arrest every journalist. We would have to shut down publications like National Geographic. History books would have to be censored of all images of a negative nature. Hel, why stop there. By printing the stories in words you’re doing the same thing, causing people to create mental images of these events and people, thus you are making them victims anew.
Should those who stole the images be held responsible? Yes. They committed a theft. Now, if this was a sexual crime is up for debate. Is the theft of a nude painting now also a sexual offense? Is it the nudity or something else that makes this sexual is a debate for another time. Regardless, a theft occurred and the thieves should be punished. But not those who have merely viewed the images. They have not committed a crime and it should not be a crime.