Header image by JJ Duncan – Miley Cyrus, CC BY 2.0, Link
Miley Cyrus. Kristen Stewart. Tiger Woods. Kathrine McPhee. Lindsay Vonn. These are just a few big names in the latest privacy hack of Hollywood’s elite where dozens of private photos were illegally stolen from their phones or online storage accounts and posted to a porn site without their permission this week.
Although the stars’ and athletes’ lawyers are reported to be working around the clock to try and get the images taken off the porn site, the images are now being copied and shared across the internet, much as images were after a huge series of personal photo hacks in 2014 that included Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian among its victims.
Right now, it’s unclear where most of the private images came from, but TMZ is reporting that the images of world famous golfer Woods and gold-medalist Olympic skier Vonn, who dated each other but broke up in 2015, were hacked from Vonn’s phone. They include private images that the couple sent to each other when they were in a relationship.
(Note that we don’t use the word “leaked photos” in this post. That’s because the term “leaked” is a soft, misleading word that implies that these photos somehow found their way onto the internet by the celebrity or someone close to them. Not the truth. These photos were illegally hacked and stolen, unknowingly to those violated. Either way, “leaked” or “hacked, it’s absolutely not cool.)
So, why should we care if celebrities’ intimate or private images are hacked, and then posted online without their consent? We should care for a lot of reasons—and here’s why.
Exploitation Is Never Okay
What’s the difference between a person on a computer looking at hacked celebrity photos and a stalker sitting in their car, watching someone get undressed through their window? In both cases, the one inside their private space doesn’t want anybody looking at them, and is doing something that wasn’t meant to be broadcast. A huge difference, here, is the convenience of seeing it, and the exploitative means by which these images are being circulated.
In case it wasn’t clear before, these celebrities aren’t porn performers. So why don’t we stop treating them like it? In fact, why don’t we treat all people, porn performers and celebrities, with dignity and respect, and not forget that they’re human beings who don’t deserve to be humiliated and degraded?
Every time these images are intentionally searched for, looked at, downloaded, or shared, the criminal hacker gets a virtual high-five. It’s as if to say that the public is entitled to exploit these celebrities’ bodies, no matter what those pictured think or say about it. It’s as if to say their humanity, dignity, and privacy doesn’t matter at all. And what’s worse is privacy hacks like these happen every day, to regular people all over the world. This issue is only magnified when it happens to celebs, but don’t believe that it hasn’t happened to someone that you may know.
The reality is, revenge porn and sharing non-consensual images is all too real in the lives of women, girls, men, and boys. And that is on all of us as a collective society, because the internet provides what the people want and support. When you think about it, it’s a system of supply and demand. So what can we do about it? We can all help to stop the demand for this kind of behavior and content, and the supply will ideally dry up.
And if revenge porn and non-consensual image sharing aren’t on your radar, then what’s important is being aware of its reality, its prevalence, and its very real impact on peoples’ lives. We need to recognize that revenge porn is an issue that deserves our attention and our efforts as Fighters, no matter who it happens to, celebrity or not.
Why This Matters
The images of all the celebrities affected by this problem are now being used as pornographic material all over the world and those violated can do nothing about it.
It’s simply not enough to know about and disagree with cyber bullying and revenge porn, we need to take action in order to put a stop to this type of victimization, violence, and bullying.
So, what can we do as Fighters?
Speak out by remembering and emphasizing that this issue is fundamentally about consent, it’s about sexual exploitation, and it’s about respecting another person’s humanity, instead of humiliating and objectifying them.
We often speak about the serious dangers of sexting but let the crucial message of consent permeate your conversations about this issue. Whether Cyrus, Stewart, or Woods “should” have possession of or sent those photos is not the issue here, the simple fact is that these hackers violated the law and engaged in behavior that should not be acceptable, but is being treated by many as if it’s both acceptable and funny. The truth is, it is neither. It’s exploitation.
—Join the Fight
Actively join the fight for healthy relationships and speak out against acceptance of revenge porn and cyberbullying among your friends and peers on social media, and in real life. Share articles like this one with a message about how harmful revenge porn is, and know what to do in case you see revenge porn posted or become a victim of revenge porn yourself.
Just as porn fuels the demand for prostitution, sex trafficking, rape, and child exploitation, clicking on the stolen photos of these celebrities violates their rights and freedoms as human beings.
You wouldn’t want someone staring into your windows at night or stealing your phone and posting all your pictures online. So don’t support it when this violation happens to other people. Fight the fight against all sexual exploitation, including the humiliation of victims through cyber bullying and nonconsensually shared private images. Join us in fighting for love and healthy relationships, instead.
Join us in fighting for love and healthy relationships, instead.
What YOU Can Do
Hacked and shared images are just another form of sexual exploitation. SHARE this article and take a stand against normalizing this harmful behavior in our society.
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