When I heard that nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence had been leaked to our fair Internet, my first thought was this: MUST SEE NOW. It makes sense that I would have a prurient interest in said photographs. After all, I’m human; I’m a lady who finds dudes and ladies attractive; I’m a JLaw fan (hooray for Katniss!), and I like to look at naughty sexy things. “Leaked nude photos” definitely sounded like naughty sexy things.
Then I sat down and had a good think about it. In this day and age of instant gratification, it may seem quaintly old-fashioned to take a pause between one’s immediate impulse and one’s behavior, but I have found that in numerous situations it has helped me enormously. For example, I have used this mysterious yet effective technique of “waiting just a goddamn minute” to avoid punching the dude in front of me in line at Starbucks (you know, the one with the idiotically complex order who treats the staff like servants? That guy.) And when it comes to the Web, a moment of consideration can mean the difference between hitting SEND on a career-ending nasty email to a boss and hitting SEND on a more thoughtful, measured missive that might just win you points with the old bastard.
As exciting as I found the prospect of looking at JLaw’s naked body (and I did find it very exciting), my deliberate pause made me consider something. And that something was this: I wanted to look at Jennifer Lawrence’s naked business, but Jennifer Lawrence probably really, really, really did not want me to look at Jennifer Lawrence’s naked business.
I mean, maybe if we were friends, she’d be like, “Oh, Sara, I’m having so much trouble deciding which underpants to wear to my next sexy date with a famous person,” and I’d be like, “Well shit, Jen, come on over and show me your different underpants and just change in front of me in my bedroom and also would you like to experience something every woman should really experience because sexuality is a continuum and orgasms are the closest thing we know to heaven on earth and maybe it’ll, uh, help you feel refreshed and reinvigorated?” (Like I said, I’m human.)
But Jennifer Lawrence and I are not friends. Jennifer Lawrence and I are not even acquaintances. And I am guessing, based on very strong evidence and common sense and logic and human fucking decency, that Jennifer Lawrence would not rifle through my private stuff.
Yes, she is beautiful. Yes, she is immensely talented. Yes, she is famous. Yes, she is young but not illegal-young. Yes, she is rich. Why do any of those things give me permission to look into her personal life? Why do any of those things give me the right to violate her privacy? Because she’s a woman, and women’s bodies are public commodities to be commented upon and used at will? Oh hell no.
Jennifer Lawrence does not exist to fulfill my masturbatory fantasies. Jennifer Lawrence is not a thing to be passed around like a joint at a party. Jennifer Lawrence is a human fucking being. And she’s not my property, and she’s not your property, and we all need to back the fuck off.
This wasn’t some snooty moral high ground. This was just the truth. This was just the right thing to do – or not do, as it may be. And so I didn’t look at the photos and I haven’t looked at the photos and I won’t look at the photos.
I did, however, check in on the online conversation around the photos. And what I found was a bit disturbing.
There were people who rightly pointed out that this woman was the victim of a crime of violation, something frightening and traumatic. There were people who felt sorry for her, who felt scared for their own vulnerability, who lashed out in anger that a young woman’s life could be put on display in such a nonconsensual fashion.
And then there were the other people.
There were the people who crowed over how hot the photos were (what a novel observation, you original thinker, you). There were the people who bragged about jerking off to the photos (wow buddy, real accomplishment there. Did you wipe your dick with your rocket science degree before or after you posted that status update on Facebook?) And then there were the people who said she deserved it for carrying around naked photos of herself.
Whoa whoa fuckity whoa.
Hold the fucking phone, because I need to turn my rings around, grease up my face, take my earrings off, and throw the fuck down on this one.
Jennifer Lawrence is an adult woman with adult relationships like anybody else. How fucking insane is it to shame a grown woman for sending sexy photos to someone she presumably likes very much? What kind of moral fascist jacks off to a stolen photo and then blames the subject of said photo for taking it in the first place? If your house were robbed and somebody said, “Well, you deserve it because you had a nice TV,” would you or would you not punch that person in the face? (Okay, maybe you’d want to punch him, but then you’d take that aforementioned pause and not actually land yourself in jail.)
There were also folks who said she should’ve known better because she’s famous and this is what happens to famous people. I recognize the need for added security when you’re a person of her fame, but she didn’t exactly post them on Facebook. She sent something to someone else, and then a thief took that something and spread it to the world.
That’s not sexy. That’s not erotic. That’s a crime, and we need to treat it that way.
So here’s my take on the whole thing: don’t look at any more leaked photos of naked people. Don’t look at revenge porn. Don’t look at stuff that’s been obtained illegally. Just don’t do it. Maybe you’ve done it in the past. (I have.) Don’t do it anymore. (I won’t. I promise.)
There are so many places where adults have willingly and consensually shared their bodies with the masses. Why not just enjoy that? Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing in this world sexier than someone showing you something private because she wants to. We call that consent, and it’s the hottest thing out there.
Sara Benincasa is a comedian and the author of Great and Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom. She tweets @sarajbenincasa and is currently on tour: dates are at SaraBenincasa.com/shows.