In One Sharp Tweet, Lena Dunham Sums Up What's So Wrong With Leaked Celebrity Nude Photos

In One Sharp Tweet, Lena Dunham Sums Up What's So Wrong With Leaked Celebrity Nude Photos
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The news: Lena Dunham has a sharp response to conversations around this weekend's nude celebrity photo leak, which saw photos of of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and several more stars hit the Web:

Firing back at critics — from gossip columnists to cyber-security analysts — who insist that the best way to avoid such flagrant invasions of privacy is to stop taking nude photos altogether, the Girls creator reveals the insidious standard this sets: It places responsibility on victims instead of perpetrators. And it's a response that, unfortunately, even other celebrities have voiced.

Sound familiar? That's because the "don't take naked pics if you don't want them online" excuse is notoriously gendered and often targets women who've been sexually assaulted.

Judge Jeanine Howard gave a convicted rapist a 45-day jail sentence after implying that his 14-year-old victim was "promiscuous."Source: CNN
Judge Jeanine Howard gave a convicted rapist a 45-day jail sentence after implying that his 14-year-old victim was "promiscuous."  CNN

Aside from missing a crucial point – namely that the degree to which a woman goes out of her way to avoid being a crime victim has no bearing on whether she "deserves" to be a victim in the first place – it also belies a disturbing truth: That "[bending] over backwards to make excuses for male violence" is a standard hallmark of a misogynist culture, as Jessica Valenti wrote for The Nation.

Nevertheless: This standard was on full display this weekend.

According to the Huffington Post, a 4chan user riled up the Internet on Sunday by posting revealing and nude photos and videos supposedly hacked from the iCloud accounts of numerous female celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande and Victoria Justice.

Outlets ranging from People to CNN reported it as a major celebrity "scandal." Yet, as Clementine Ford wrote in the Daily Life, even this language is problematic in its placement of onus on victims:

"When associated with sex," she writes, "the word 'scandal' has been typically interpreted as something that assigns responsibility to all parties involved, a consensual act unfortunately discovered and for which everyone owes an explanation or apology." 

But that's not what's happening here, she insists. "It's a crime, and we should be discussing it as such."

Takeaway: By drawing these important parallels, Dunham and Ford expose a troubling pattern in how female victims are perceived and discussed. When the bulk of responsibility for preventing crimes against women is piled on the victims themselves, it perpetuates an absurd standard where blame is so incorrectly assigned, any efforts for a solution are completely muddled. 

Simply put, it's hard to solve an issue when you don't know what the issue is. So make no mistake in this case: The hackers are the problem, not their victims.