Nude photo leak not the victim’s fault

As a celebrity actress, Jennifer Lawrence lives in the public eye. But, just because her profession makes her a household name doesn’t preclude her from the same rights to personal privacy as you and me.

Several years ago in Washington, D.C., I was “upskirted” while riding an escalator in a large shopping mall. Halfway up my journey to the second floor of Bloomingdale’s, I felt a finger sliding along the inside of my thigh. I was wearing a knee-length, pink J.Crew dress. When I turned around, I saw a man holding out a cell phone containing pictures of my underwear.

I felt violated and started screaming. The voyeur had snapped a photo of my private area, clearly without my permission, for purposes I will never know and he was able to walk away without retribution amidst the confusion of what had happened.

What we choose to do with our bodies is our choice and our choice alone. The hacking and subsequent leaking of innumerable celebrity nude photos has prompted a public and, in my opinion, very tired blame game: Shouldn’t these women know better?

It is an individual’s right to decide to take nude photos of themselves behind closed doors. It is also their rights to choose with whom they will distribute them to since in most cases they are shared with those they trust.

Yes, these celebrities live in the public eye, but does that not mean that they are also human beings with the same governance over their body as you and me? Make no mistake about it – these celebrities have been sexually violated. Black market vendors don’t care who they’re hurting or embarrassing as long as the price is right. We the public should do our part and turn a literal blind eye to these stolen photos.

After all, it’s not just celebrities whose lives have been damaged by leaked person photos, but also private citizens who have been the victim of “revenge porn,” or the practice of leaking private photos of someone without their permission. This is more than a nasty move; it is illegal.

Thankfully, New York has strict voyeurism laws that prohibit the unlawful surveillance and distribution of illegally procured nude photos. A person found guilty of the second-degree offense could face between one to four years in a state prison. I say we should all take part in preventing voyeurism by taking away the lucrative nature of leaked nude celebrities photos. Simply don’t view them.

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