"I don't really know why it's such a big deal. Jennifer's breasts are great! Why is she so upset?" This was a snippet of the conversation I heard between two high school-aged boys on the bus this morning. They were discussing the nude leak that took place earlier this week and they were angry that they no longer had access to the photos.
These two young men, who were lamenting the fact that they didn't save the photos, had also completely missed (or had not been given) the memo that just because someone is attractive and famous doesn't mean that their body belongs to anyone but themselves and that Lawrence, possessed of "an awesome pair of tits, though," or not should a) not feel like she can't take pictures of herself in private and b) should not have her photos disseminated in any way she does not choose. I busied myself with my phone and Imgur, where the discussion was not at all elevated either. Sure, I may have been expecting understanding and self-awareness from sources where there usually are none, but there's something to be said about a community that will upvote sentiments about how awful it must be for Lawrence's brothers (they'll never live this down and this is obviously about them) but have, as a whole, absolutely no empathy for the actual victim of a sex crime. And those that do, according to Salon, are just white knights, defined by some communities as males that treat "women as goddesses and do nothing but shower them in compliments on how wonderful and beautiful and special they are." Or, you know, people who are just fucking considerate and not fucking pieces of shit who think that women are objects.
White Knights, writes Andrew Leonard, are men who oppose misogyny and objectification and are the enemies of those who identify with the men's rights movement or pick-up artists. Even on Jezebel, I've been accused of being a white knight simply because I showed solidarity when the site was being bombarded with rape gifs. Even though I work here.
The white knights of "the fappening" (the cutest name for a sex crime) are those mods on Reddit and Imgur who are shutting down the nude posts as quickly as they're put up. These mods are monsters, depriving thirsty, hungry men — men who have a god-given right to see Jennifer Lawrence's butthole — of the reward they so richly deserve. And their voice, although useless and disgusting are loud.
Salon has put together a few quotes from those who are currently languishing without ill-gotten nude pics in the Fappening subreddit. Here are some of the more tame ones:
Seriously, I keep clicking imgur links and getting stonewalled. Fuck them.
If an event such as this happens again, I will not accept calling anything other than the Second Cumming.
If he gets arrested before they are all released I'm going to be so fucking pissed
I hope he has it all worked out, so that if he gets raided he will just press a button and instantly share the rest of all the shit, post it to 4chan and reddit and pretty much everyfuckingwhere else.
EVERYTHING IS GETTING BANNED??? THE LIVE STREAM AND THE COLLECTION OF ALL THE NUDES THAT THEDUKE AS POSTED?? WHAT IS GOING ON??
Holy fuck the live thread and the compilation thread are banned. What the actual fucking fuck.
As you can see, the loss of these photos (the same photos that are likely causing a great deal of emotional pain to the people who have been affected) is a big deal to this community. It's almost like it's a major world event. I'm surprised no one has likened the banning and removal of the galleries to the holocaust, but it's early. We've got lots of daylight left to burn.
Without any new photos coming and galleries being shut down quickly, redditors are, it seems, moving on to replying to celebrity responses to the leak as well as posing philosophical questions about the photos.
For instance, here's one about Ariana Grande from r/fappening:
Ariana defending herself. Was it or was it not her? Doesn't really matter, jacked off 6 times to it anyway.
That's all that matters, really. Not that someone's photos were taken without their knowledge, because some internet anon got to fap and that's awesome. Good for you, dude! Keep living the dream. No one cares about your stupid boner.
Here are some more comments from r/thefappening (proudly hailed by members as the best subreddit for all news and information about the leak).
A response to Patricia Arquette's denouncement of the leak:
Stop gang molestering these celebrities! They might be triggered! -.-; fucking hell. These people are all adults. They did something stupid (letting the cloud acquire the photos rather than storing them locally only). They should embrace it the way a proud few have. The ones going "yeah... Oops, well... Enjoy!!" Are getting RESPECT. The ones crying and denying are the ones getting plastered all over. [Of course followed by a naked photo of Arquette.]
Someone who has been abused chimes in, saying the photos are A-OK:
Speaking as someone who has been molested/abused/repeatedly raped in a physical sense rather than simply being admired and lusted after for being attractive, fuck you Patricia. Fuck you so very much.
And a response to Emma Watson's assertion that people looking and commenting on the photos have no empathy:
I just hope she's next, really.
Am I not allowed to feel sorry for them AND masturbate to the pics? Oh. . I thought this was America?!?
Yeah I feel like I violated the woman I masturbated to. But then I get over it and do it again. It's a perpetual cycle.
I totally empathize with these women. However, I also empathize with my dick.
She's reading the comments? HEY EMMA. I'M THINKING ABOUT YOUR BUTTHOLE
C'mon, let's be honest here. We're encouraging it, we're begging the leaker for more pictures, we're saving them to our hard drive and uploading them to every corner of the internet. We're far from the moral high ground. It is, however, a little bit unreasonable to ask everyone to feel sorry for people who we know literally only as bodies (that we just got to see exposed).
Good thing rape culture isn't a real thing.
These women got themselves into this situation by owning their bodies and their sexuality. Doesn't that mean everyone on Reddit should own those things too? As one redditor pointed out (and I am paraphrasing here because I'm not going back there), "we only know them as bodies, so this isn't that different."
Stealing private photos and posting them publicly is probably illegal, but it's double-plus illegal when you throw some illegal child porn into the mix. This afternoon, BuzzFeed reported that r/thefappening's mods issued a "frantic" missive letting users know that photos of McKayla Maroney and Liz Lee would be banned because the woman were underage at time of the photos. Oh, and that hopeful masturbators should use sources other than photo hosting site Imgur, because Imgur is shutting stuff down.
The whole thing is disgusting. Not just the violation of privacy, but the rationalization, cognitive dissonance and belief of people that by raising awareness for cancer that the violation that's happened is somehow ok. That it's not any kind of sex crime and that that there aren't any victims here. Because the rich have more than enough money to protect their feelings and they owe everyone else something to. But these are flimsy excuses for something completely indefensible. At the end of the day, the people looking at, commenting on and sharing these pictures want to remind themselves that they're good people, but no amount of money raised for cancer will change the fact that they're just disgusting humans wanting to look at naked women without their consent.
Image via Shutterstock