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'The Fappening' and Revenge Porn Culture: Jennifer Lawrence and the Creepshot Epidemic

 
'The Fappening' and Revenge Porn Culture: Jennifer Lawrence and the Creepshot Epidemic
Posted September 3rd, 2014 @ 9:42am by Amanda Marcotte

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To call it a “scandal” when yet another celebrity has private nude photos hacked and released is deeply misleading. “Scandal” suggests surprise and/or moral malfeasance. But is anyone actually surprised that famous women are naked under their clothes, or that celebrities use their smartphones for the same private photo purposes that everyone else uses their phones for? And if you think it’s somehow scandalous for grown adults to engage in consensual sexual activity, that says far more about you and your prudishness than it does about them. No, the only people we should be scandalized by are the people responsible for the recent theft and then release of private nude photos from celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton.

What do we know so far about this massive dump of photographs of various nude celebrities into the public spaces online? Gawker has been on the case and has revealed that they were likely stolen in bits and pieces by a collection of hackers that spend an inordinate amount of their free time trying to steal just such pictures. These hackers, likely mostly or all men, have a semi-private group that exists just to trade stolen photos and, of course, brag about getting the biggest “score” in terms of the fame of the person whose privacy they’ve violated. Interestingly, there’s no indication whatsoever that the men involved in this group had any intention of publicizing the pictures far and wide. Just impressing each other with their photo thefts appears to be reward enough for them. But, of course, it only took one leaker for these photos to be shared around the world.

With this in mind, it’s unlikely that the hacker—or hackers—are actually seeking fame or even necessarily money by engaging in this practice. (Which would likely expose them to civil lawsuits or criminal penalties anyway.) Instead, this violation gives us a peek into a sick but thriving subculture, or really series of subcultures, of men who are excited by the idea of violating a woman against her will and who get together in online spaces to swap ideas on how to do this, tell bragging stories about violating women, and sharing the photographic evidence of their violations. They’re doing this not for fame or fortune, but because they loathe women and want to use sex and sexuality to hurt and punish women, often just for existing.

PHOTOS: Alleged List of Celebs That Had Their Photos Stolen

David Futrelle, who chronicles the alarming spread of misogyny online at his blog We Hunted The Mammoth, wrote about the whole photo dump debacle on Monday. If just seeing sexy pictures is what you want, he points out, you have “the mind-bogglingly enormous selection of women out there who have agreed to pose naked, or even perform explicit sex acts, on camera.” Indeed, your average celebrity nude selfie is downright tame compared to any random pornographic picture you can find online. In fact, there are plenty of already-famous women who have their nude images out there, if fame is your thing.  So it is “not the celebrity of the women in question” motivating the theft of these photos, “but from the violation of privacy that these pictures represent.”

Indeed, we know this because while the attacks on celebrity women grab the headlines, the vast majority of victims of non-consensual nude picture-sharing—usually called “revenge porn”—are ordinary, non-famous women. The use of technology to punish women for relationship fouls, real or perceived, has reached epidemic levels. McAfee’s 2013 Love, Relationships, and Technology survey revealed that a whopping 1 in 10 ex-partners have threatened to expose naked photos of their ex online. A full 60 percent of them carry out the threat. While there’s no doubt that some women have done this to men, by and large this is a problem of men trying to hurt women, usually for breaking up with them. Often, women’s names and personal information is shared along with the nude photos, to better encourage random and scary misogynists out there to stalk and threaten them.

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