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In 2013, Seth MacFarlane opened the Oscars with a song called "We Saw Your Boobs." In it, he jokes about all the actresses whose bare breasts we've seen in films, from Halle Berry to Nicole Kidman. In the midst of his list, he notes that, "We haven't seen Jennifer Lawrence's boobs at all." At that point, the camera cuts away to Lawrence, who does a fist pump and mouths "Yeah!" That image of Lawrence, triumphant about her privacy and control over the representation of her body, was all I could think about when nude images of the actress, ostensibly stolen from her phone via the cloud, surfaced online yesterday.
At another moment in MacFarlane's song, he points out that we saw Scarlett Johansson's boobs on our phones. For all of the other actresses he mentions, MacFarlane is talking about their decision to go topless in movies. In the instance of Scarlett Johansson, her photos had been obtained illegally by a hacker, who was later arrested. If the line between nude images of a celebrity that are obtained legally versus illegally isn't clearly drawn at the Oscars, then it becomes even murkier when the opportunity presents itself in real life.
In the past 24 hours, the leak of Lawrence's and many other celebrities' photos has spurred a variety of reactions, from blaming and shaming to involving the authorities to hashtags urging women to share their own nudes in solidarity. Here are five fascinating stories about the situation that'll definitely make you think twice about not only the repercussions for the hacker and their celebrity targets, but also your own privacy and vulnerability.
The Daily Mail points to a possible flaw in the "Find My Phone" app that may be part of why the photos got out.
In 2011, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews opened up about the impact leaked videos had on her career.
Clementine Ford says that clicking on the photos only perpetuates the abuse.
On BuzzFeed, Anne Helen Peterson talks about another famous nude photo "scandal," and how that target didn't let the images damage her career — instead, Marilyn Monroe used them to shape her own narrative. Nude images are only a scandal as long as we allow sexuality and sex to be treated like dirty secrets.
On Esquire, Luke O'Neil points out that, "There's a term for seizing access to a woman's sexuality without her permission when it takes place in the physical world, and yet most of the people who consume these types of images and trade them back and forth like young men might have done with prized baseball cards in a previous generation would scoff at the suggestion that there's any analogy to be made here to rape."