A PSA About Nude Photos

I wrote that tweet yesterday in regards to the celebrity nude photo thefts.

(It’s not a leak. Nor a scandal. It was theft, kay? Kay.)

It’s had over 4500 retweets since then.

A tweet that goes that far and wide tends to get a response that is equally far and wide, and so of course I’m getting a lot of tweets from people (let’s be honest: dudes) who are like BUH BUH BUT UHH THAT’S WRONG BECAUSE SOMETHING SOMETHING FALSE ANALOGY SOMETHING SOMETHING SECURITY AND HEY REMEMBER YOU SHOULDN’T PUT NUDE PHOTOS ON YOUR PHONE IF YOU WANT THEM STOLEN.

Basically reiterating the same thing I was attempting to refute in the first fucking place.

If that is your response, may I take this moment to elucidate an academic retort:

Fuck you.

Fuuuuuuuck you.

Fuuuu-huuuu-huuuuuuuuck you.

Please: now allow me to grow multiple arms like Shiva the Destroyer, and further, do note that at the ends of each serpentine arm you will find a middle finger, thrust up so that each finger is straining in an angry, arthritic fashion to convey the telepathic disdain I have for your bullshit, hypocritical, falsely equivalent opinion.

I think people should be allowed to take nude photos of themselves.

I think nude photos are rad. I think not taking nude photos is rad. I think whatever you want to do sexually or artistically is a-okay as long as its enthusiastically consensual — stick a carrot up your ass, if you want, while banging your genitals with a tambourine. Whoever you are, however you identify yourselves, I live in a world where I want you to have both the freedom to do what you want in this manner while simultaneously possessing the privacy to do it as you see fit.

Any violation of that is just that: a violation.

It is a crime. An actual, honest-to-that-blind-lady-with-the-scales crime.

It is not rape, but it is deeply demonstrative of rape culture because it is an act that exploits a woman and her body without her consent. And then, as if to vigorously rub salt into the wound with the heel of one’s callused hand, the judgey-faced shitty-assed judgments of countless men follow in the wake of the violation: victim-blaming, slut-shaming, Puritanical finger-waggling.

“If you don’t want nude pics to get into the world…”

“Something-something security…”

“Sure, sure, it’s a crime, but still, you have to know realize that…”

Shut up.

Shut up shut up shut up shut up.

If you do that, you are on the side of evil, not the side of good.

Oh, I know. You’re pretending that you have people’s best interests at heart.

You want to remind them that the phone they carry is a vulnerable device.

It’s basically a boat with a sprung hull. Anything might leak into or out of it.

So, you think that anything you have put on your phone is suspect? Or your computer or tablet? If I steal your banking information, or your credit cards, or your e-mails, or pictures of your wife, your kids — well, hey, that’s your fault. You plugged in, bro. You shouldn’t have driven on the Information Superhighway if you don’t want to get run over by a couple joy-riding hackers, right?

And hey, driving on the actual highway is pretty dangerous, too. You shouldn’t drive because you could get hit. Sure, I mean, a drunk driver shouldn’t drive drunk — but it’s kinda your fault too because you had the audacity to leave your home. Leaving your home is dangerous. Your whole body is basically a gelatinous jellyfish, just an animated sack of bones and meat quivering its way through life. If you don’t protect yourself — guns, armor, various Mad Max-ian spikes and chains — then you can expect all kinds of violence. You’re not at all secure out there. Your flesh isn’t protected by a password. It’s your fault if you get beaten up. Oh, they stole your wallet, too? That’s what you get for putting all that vulnerable money inside a leather flappy thing ensconced within the soft downy pockets of your dumb acid wash jeans.

What’s that? I just punched you in the face?

Okay, yes, that’s a crime. Admittedly! Admittedly.

But you probably also should be wearing a helmet.

Your face is very vulnerable to the security exploit of my grumpy fist.

Of course, nobody’s saying those things.

Because nobody thinks those things.

Crimes are not a thing we deserve just because we exist in this world.

And yet, that’s what people (ahem, again, mostly dudes) are saying, here. This is the digital equivalent of, “Look at what she was wearing.” A woman is raped and we ask all kinds of questions as to what she did to engender the act — did she protect herself? Was she dressed conservatively enough to thwart the unstoppable sexual aggression of men? Was she in a place — like a seedy bar, or a Ruby Tuesday’s, or any street in America — where rape sometimes happens?

If I see a cake in a window and it’s sufficiently delicious-looking, can I take it?

And when I do take it, will someone ask the bakery: well, how did you decorate it? Was it too delicious-looking? The icing is very enticing. Too enticing, really. Can you blame the thief? How can one control such base and vital hunger? You probably should’ve locked the case. Or hidden the cake behind a secret door. It’s at least partially your fault the cake was stolen. Make uglier, less delicious cakes, next time — ?

One response read:

‘…and i know i wouldnt bank online without the numerous security checks and verification systems they use.’

Well, yes, of course, but nude photos are also protected by the numerous security checks and verification systems afforded by using your phone. They didn’t staple-gun their photos to a nearby telephone pole. The photos weren’t public.

Another said:

‘Im not ‘Blaming’ but security is your own responsibility. Do you keep your money in a bank, or hang it from a tree?’

Were the nude photos hung from a tree? No, they weren’t. So, shut up.

Another called me an SJW, which of course stands for ‘Social Justice Warrior’ — a fascinating term that I guess is somehow supposed to be bad? Like, “Ew, social justice is gross, and also being a warrior for social justice, oh, yucky, blergh, fighting for things you believe in is such a jerk move. Trying to make the world a better place for society with justice is pretty weird! I mean, unless you’re one of the Avengers, because they’re great. Especially that hot red-headeded one with the naked pictures on line — did you guys see these?”

*Tasers you*

*sighs over your twitching body*

It’s ugly out there, folks.

Can’t be a woman online. Or worse, playing games — gasp!

Can’t be a black dude in a convenient store.

Can’t be transgender… well, pretty much anywhere.

You’ll get judged. Deserving of a crime by dint of some perceived deviation.

How you’re dressed. The color of your skin. The choice of your gender identity.

When you judge someone for taking nude pictures on their phone — and you suggest that what they got was, if not deserved then at least expected — you’re a sexist shit-ferret. You’re not really making a point about security or the porousness of the Internet. You’re making a judgment based on that person’s choices. You’re judging the act of taking naked photos rather than the theft of the photos. You’re putting the onus of the crime on the victim and not the criminal because — really, this is why, I swear! — you don’t agree with their choices. Prurience must be punished. Sex is a sin. Where is their shame, you ask? Such shamelessness is provocative. It provokes a criminal response which basically makes the sinner culpable for their own victimization.

Stop it.

Cut the Puritanical crap.

A crime is a crime is a crime.

It is not invited.

You don’t deserve it because of your lack of clothes or because you chose Apple as a brand.

You don’t deserve it because you’re a celebrity.

Nobody deserves it.

If you suggest otherwise: congrats, you’re now part of a culture of rape, misogyny and sexism.

*Tasers you again*

*throws you out the airlock*

338 comments

  • Thank you for this, Chuck. As a misandrist male, driven to that by the actions of my fellow males, and as someone looking to protect the women in his life, it’s good to see voices of reason in this online sea of chaos.

    And thank you for Double Dead. Great book.

  • Exactly, Chuck. Fuuuuuckckckck you to those people. I can’t even have the conversation anymore, so maybe I’ll just post this link when people throw out that bullshit about where fault lies when someone else steals your stuff.

    I’m also mystified by the whole SJW tag. It sounds to me like a good thing. I’ve been hearing it a lot this week, particularly in relation to Anita Sarkeesian and the gamer Kickstarter trying to raise money to upend her.

    You think gamers would want more warriors, but then maybe I don’t get that culture.

    it’s exhausting.

    You go, you SJW you. It’s nice to have warriors on our side.

    • the gamer community sickens me recently. i play WoW and the gamers were all up in arms this week about denial of service attacks by a group of elite hackers which pissed all over their personal right and freedom to play games in safety and comfort.
      and yet Anita S receives death threats and its all her own fault.
      and you would not believe the comments in the general chat channel concerning the stolen photos. in 15 minutes i saw about 30 players state that they had saved some of those pics for their own personal pleasure. sickening.

      before anyone accuses me of over-generalizing – i have not said that all gamers behave this way. i am merely reporting what i have directly seen and experienced.

      on the other hand, the fact the i have to include a disclaimer speaks worlds.

  • September 2, 2014 at 12:46 PM // Reply

    To me it’s also part of personal responsibility–like if you found a bag full of money on the street that obviously fell out of a bank truck or whatever. “Does it belong to you?”
    “No.”
    “Then can you take it? Play with it? Do whatever you want with it?”
    “Uh… no?”
    “Damn straight, Skippy. NO is the word. Whether it’s money, cake, nude pictures, whatever–it it’s not yours, don’t touch it!”

  • September 2, 2014 at 12:50 PM // Reply

    And god, let’s not forget that MOST of these people (who are mostly dudes) are the exact same people who went ABSOLUTELY FUCKING APESHIT when it was discovered that our government was already hacking into our personal data and online information. BECAUSE THAT’S A VIOLATION OF OUR SACRED RIGHT TO PRIVACY!

    “Oh, well, if you didn’t want every person in the NSA to know about it, you probably shouldn’t have written it on a computer EVER. Douchefucker.”

  • I agree with every word you’ve written here. Victims are the victim no matter what.

    THAT SAID: Offering advice on how to avoid being a victim is absolutely not the same thing as blaming the victim. I’m talking about the difference between “Don’t take nude photos if you don’t want your nude photos stolen,” which is blatant victim-blaming and “I’m so sorry that you’re the victim of a crime. As a celebrity, you are always going to be a target for criminals. Here are some internet security tips to help you keep those criminals away from your private information;” which is NOT blaming anyone other than the perpetrator, but simply acknowledging that there are bad people in the world.

    • But, unless you actually *know* what security tips these people put on their devices, offering the tips to those individuals in condescending.

    • I disagree with that generalization. It depends on how you voice it. It can be done with caring and compassion, and it can be done in a condescending manner. In my experience, the former is far more common than the latter.

      I’ve been the victim of serious theft. Mine was just money, so I can’t know the level of violation the victims in this specific case feel, but I do know how it feels to receive advice on how to avoid becoming a victim again in the future. Even when the advice was things that I was already doing, or things unrelated to the specific loss I suffered, it was ALWAYS appreciated.

      • Context matters. Society at large doesn’t assume that you either deserved to be robbed or are party to your own robbery by virtue of your job or status. In that state? Being told how to hold on to your money is pretty inherently condescending. Even if you personally mean well, you don’t get to erase the rest of someone else’s bad day/week/month/life. Your experience is not more important than theirs – especially if they’ve been victimized. In short?

        Get outside of yourself and perhaps you’ll understand the difference. If you want to be kind? You have to be kind on THEIR terms. Otherwise, it’s just bald vanity.

  • Thank you, Chuck! This needs to be said, and said again, and again, until it finally starts sinking into some of those neanderthals lumbering around out there, leering at anyone who isn’t them.

  • Slow clap, standing ovation, and loud cheers here. You win the internet today, Chuck. Thank you for taking a stand and being someone to admire and respect. Much love!

  • OMG, I had this conversation with a friend. A FRIEND. Who I thought knew better.

    But thinking about it, today, I realized what he was probably doing …. defending the fact that he looked at them, and reposted the link. I mean, if they were stolen, he had no right to do that, but if it was her fault, then HE’S not a bad person.

    So when I posted the link to this blog post on my FB page, I let people know that sneaking a peek once they’re stolen is curiosity… but defending the theft itself is douchebaggery.

    • I would argue sneaking a peek continues the problem. I happened to click on the topic when it first trended on twitter and saw the pics right there in the feed. i felt violated and violated for her. I did not know the story at that time, I just saw the pictures and then the horror of aftermath.

      I’m not going to police anybody’s actions sneaking peeks or whatever, but Jesus can this shiz stop already. I’m so tired of seeing women devalued over and over and over.

      • I agree that it does add to the problem. But I’m all about changing one thing at a time. If we can stop the rape CULTURE by stopping the “not all men” attitude, then we can get them to listen to everything we’re *trying* to say, rather than trying to convince us that they’re not bad people.

        My point really, was, that people aren’t saying “She shouldn’t have taken nude pics” because they’re prudes (well, not all of them), but because they feel guilty about enjoying them. I enjoy naked pics of men, too, but I try to stick with the ones that were taken consensually.

        • Yes, well, when one does a shitty thing, one should feel guilty about it.

          I get what you’re saying – it’s a common human thing. It’s just not an excuse, and your friend is a shitbird.

  • Thank you for writing this. I was foolish enough to engage with some of the folks responding to your tweet, and as a result have had guys popping up in my timeline eager to explain to me that “the Internet is not safe” and “this is a great chance for them to bring attention to Internet security!”

    No. Fuck that, fuck them, fuck all of it. These concern trolls are simply socially aware enough to know that saying “don’t take nudes” will automatically yield eye rolls, but who still must find a way to make a woman at fault for every indignity she suffers. They come at you with “Well, you lock your doors, don’t you? This is just common sense,” in the same way others throw around “Well, you wouldn’t wear that skirt if you didn’t want men to look!” It’s the same poisonous fruit from the same noxious tree, this idea that when a man sins, it’s a woman’s fault. We silly females just can’t find a way to stop punching ourselves in the face, apparently.

    Good thing there are so many (#notallmen!) to explain it to us.

  • *Gives you round of applause* Thank you for making it simple enough for idiots to understand. I proudly wear my social justice warrior cape! Glad I’m not alone.

  • So, “Social Justice Warrior” is supposed to be a bad thing? Sounds awesomesauce to me. Maybe there should be a Social Justice League (or Social Justice Avengers if you prefer). Which warrior FOR (social) JUSTICE would you be? Dibs on Social Justice Hawkeye. Also, I feel as if Chuck’s earned Social Justice Hulk from the above.

  • Hacking is a crime, taking the photos was a crime and it’s not JLaw’s fault that the hacker took this action. Although I do hope, that following this incident, she takes somethings into account:

    1. That an A list star like herself IS going to be a target in the celebrity obsessed culture we inhabit.

    2. Cloud services have certain risks and theft of massive amounts of data isn’t unheard of (ahem Target)

    3. It is absolutely your responsibility to understand the tools you use, because fool me once, etc. or hire a security expert.

    I see the above as rational steps every person should take, even us mortals who are much less likely to be targets but still can be caught up in a data breech. Well except for hiring a security expert cuz we arent rich.

    And no i have no nude pics on my phone cuz nobody wants to see that shit.

    • Even if she didn’t already know that celebrities are targets for theft (which she undoubtedly did), she has staff whose job it is to make sure she knows. She probably also has staff who sets up her digital devices, so whether or not she understands the tools she uses, she’s at the mercy of the understanding (or lack thereof) of the people she employs, and the people they employ, and so on.

      Let’s not assume she failed to take anything into account.

  • September 2, 2014 at 2:09 PM // Reply

    Thanks for your post, Chuck. When I learned about Revenge Porn and read some of the real stories of women who have been humiliated, harassed, stalked, lost jobs, lost relationships, and in a couple of cases took their own lives–I was sickened, saddened, and in a twisted writer way, inspired. I ended up publishing a novel (Revenge Bound) based on the stories of real victims of revenge porn, some of whom were victims of hackers (as Jennifer Lawrence was), some of who were targeted by evil exes. My most important take-away? Only seven states have laws against Revenge Porn. Seven. I call bullshit on that.

    • Seriously? Revenge porn is legal in 43 states? *croggles*
      Or are there already laws which say you can’t put up pix/vids of people against their wishes, and this falls under that category?

  • *slow clap forever*

    Chuck, you are an amazing human being. I commend all the words you just typed. You GET IT. You’re one of the good ones, man, and I really respect you. Thanks for sticking up for the side of Women Don’t Deserve Rape Because “Vagina” Does Not Mean “Penis-Receptacle”.

    Thank you for spreading the word that rapists are bad, thieves are bad, and victims are not to blame. Thank you, thank you, a million times THANK YOU. I wish all people — men, women, and everyone in between — understood this stuff.

  • Thank you for expressing the appropriate amount of rage at the extreme bullshit swirling around this… I can only punch my computer monitor so many times before I can no longer provide income for myself.

  • WTH is wrong with people nowadays? Somebody stole somebody’s shit…that is wrong. Quit stealing people’s shit! How hard is that? We learned that it is wrong in grade school. Then quit blaming the person who got shit stolen from them because they didn’t put their shit in a tight enough lockbox. Then quit buggering people about the kind of shit that got stolen from them. No one deserves to have their shit stolen from them.
    Lesson: Leave people and their shit alone.

    Not hard

  • Absolutely perfect! Well said. Unfortunately we are in a society whose mantra seems to be, what’s mine is mine and what’s your is mine. A society that finds it easier to blame everybody else, including society, than to stand up and be responsible.
    Theft is taking something that doesn’t belong to you whether it was left laying on the yard, on the front porch, inside the open front door or locked in a safe. They are all the same. Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you have the right to take it. That’s the dividing line between humans and animals.
    But then there are animals that behave better than some humans.

  • If I have a million dollars and I store it in a cardboard box on my doorstep, I can’t have a reasonable expectation that it won’t get stolen, and, despite your damn “don’t blame the victim”, sometimes victims are somewhat responsible. If someone took that money, it would be my fault.

    Now, there’s an expectation that phones/tablets/laptops whatever are more secure than a cardboard box on my doorstep, and certainly that’s true to an extent, but we see massive leaks all the time when some high level bureaucrat loses a laptop. It’s their fault the lost the data and had it in an easy to steal format.

    Is it still a crime to steal? YES. I have no problem blaming the crook, because they are the ones that committed the crime.

    However, does the victim carry any, even a little bit, of the blame?

    Yes.

    Victims are not completely innocent all of the time, just because they’re a victim. Anti-rape-culture has propagated the idea that all victims are always innocent all of the time. In sexual assault cases(and plenty of other cases), that’s true, it’s not the victim’s fault; but in terms of cell phone theft, it’s not necessarily true. If you leave your phone on a train and it gets stolen, you are not faultless.

    You say you’ve heard this argument, but then you jump to dumb conclusions. I’m not saying don’t take nude photos and I’m not saying don’t store your cash in a box on your stoop. All I’m saying is to understand that by putting anything on your phone there’s a chance, albeit slim, that it could get lost or stolen and you need to decide how you’re going to handle that risk. For most people, it comes down to thinking that risk is slim enough that it’s not worth addressing. For others, (perhaps someone prone to losing their phone), they might encrypt that data or use extra security. In any case, if your phone gets stolen, you have the right to react however you want.

    In a perfect world, people won’t steal and you could leave a box of cash on your stoop. In this world, you can’t expect that people won’t steal so you should take that in account and secure your box of money.

    • “If I have a million dollars and I store it in a cardboard box on my doorstep, I can’t have a reasonable expectation that it won’t get stolen, and, despite your damn “don’t blame the victim”, sometimes victims are somewhat responsible. If someone took that money, it would be my fault.”

      There’s a chance, however slim, that going out into the world can result in your death. By car. By lightning. By bear attack. Or more malevolent human means: mugging, stabbing, or other violent and heinous fuckery.

      A slim risk of something does not mean that victims deserve blame.

      So, y’know, stop that.

      — c.

    • Your “shoebox by the doorstep analogy” is not only not the same thing, it’s completely misleading. These were targeted hacks of celebrities’ phones, carried out piecemeal over time. The equivalent would have been discovering where a celebrity lives, figuring out how to beat their security system, and then breaking into their house figuring they would have something interesting/valuable there to steal. The response would not be “they shouldn’t have kept those valuable/embarrassing items in their house” or “they shouldn’t have trusted their security to ADT.” It would simply be the condemnation of the theft and invasion of privacy.

  • Perfect response. I hate that people are saying “Well if you didn’t want to get hacked, why’d you put that on an iPhone?” and “Hackers are out there, you can’t stop them.” Um, hello? Missing the point much? The pix were stolen. Stealing is wrong. Protecting your stuff only goes so far when people are actively out to get your valuables. Hey, I defend my home too, but anyone who really wants to get in is gonna bust the windows out and do it – does that mean it’s my fault for making it “too easy” for them to get in? People seem so eager to blame the victim here, and to also suggest that discussing this is a waste of our time when we should be tackling “bigger issues” like Ferguson, simply because the theft happened to a celebrity. Have they ever stopped to think that maybe BOTH this issue AND Ferguson are important to improving American lives?

  • Yeah. But I do have a question about taking nude photos of yourself. A real question. Unless you’re a model or a porn star, why would you take a nude photo of yourself? To remember what it was like back in the day, after you’re old and wrinkly? To show your grandkids? Why? Not judging. Just wondering. And then there’s the question of why a legitimate celebrity (not that porn stars aren’t legitimate) knowing damn well that there are people who make a living out of following you around hoping for a nipple shot (not a crime, I guess) – and then you take that photo … why why why? It has to be the thing about reliving the glory days. Or long-distance relationships where your lover might forget what you look like? It has to be something, right?

    • I’m neither model or porn star but a nude photo of me has been known to get a lover hard. Which in itself is an arousing act for me. Nudes between consenting adults … particularly when timed to maximise anticipation … fucking hot.

      But ASIDE from the fact it can be hot – it’s an act of absolute trust, intimacy. That is arousing in an entirely different way. “Here. I trust you. I’m in your hands.”

      But really – as an intelligent human being – the very fact people do it means there is a reason for it to be done – the fact you can’t understand it or conceive it just means you can’t understand it. Doesn’t mean it’s not entirely reasonable or rational. Though why should it be rational to be understood, accepted – that I don’t understand.

      Jus’ saying.

  • 1. It was a crime and an invasion of privacy. The perpetrators should be punished to the full extent of the law.

    2. Anyone that saves anything on the internet/cloud/etc that you do not want the possibility of getting outed to the public is an idiot.

    3. This is not victim blaming.

    • 1. It was crime blah blah blah

      2. Anyone that exists in this world where I can kick down doors and break into cars and hit you with sticks is an idiot gaaaaahd why can’t we all just be TOTALLY SECURE ALL THE TIME

      3. Oh wait that’s silly this is totally blaming the victims oops

      • I’ll stick to living in the real world where taking normal precautions includes not entrusting sensitive information to complete strangers.

        Your secure utopia may come at some time, just not today.

        • You live in a world where you don’t entrust sensitive information to strangers? You do no Internet commerce of any type? You don’t have pictures of your family or house on any digital media connected to the Internet? You don’t post Yelp reviews or status updates from your phone? If you do any of those things you are “entrusting sensitive information to complete strangers.” Maybe not as sensitive as nude photos, but still…

          All this “she should have taken precautions” bullshit is condescending. Jennifer Lawrence is an intelligent woman — don’t you think she DID take precautions?

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