It seems like every other day when you log into Twitter, there’s a nude photo leak trending, showcasing a celebrity (usually female) without her knowledge or consent. Happenings like this might look like just more tabloid fodder, but the truth is this is an example of the feminist concern with consent.
Consent, first of all, is not JUST a feminist concern. It should be a concern for everyone because if you don’t have consent to do something with someone else’s body, then you’re violating that person. The term though, is thrown around a lot in feminist circles in connection to rape culture and the exploitation/objectification of the female body.
Beyond all the problematic representations of rape and consent in the media, this new digital exploitation frontier riddled with nude photo leaks is a more updated illustration of the consent concept.
Let’s take one of the most recent cases, that of Emma Watson. Our beloved Hermione Granger’s apparently had private photos that her stylist snapped leaked. Watson allegedly had the rights to the photos, and it is unclear who exactly leaked them. Watson sent a cease and desist letter to the website that published them, and since she had legal copyright ownership it was a pretty quick process to get them taken down.
The coverage around this case has so far been perpetuating that Watson is a strong female who doesn’t take any crap from anyone. That’s all great, but there’s a bigger conversation that the mainstream media misses every time and it adds to the issue regarding consent.
Each person has ownership and the rights of his or her own body. To have one’s body shared or showcased requires consent. So, when a celebrity has their phone or cloud or private photo collection hacked and that media is released without their knowledge, they failed to give consent. That means that whoever leaked the media in question is violating and exploiting a body that is not theirs.
The biggest argument around the nude photo issue is, “If you don’t want them leaked, don’t take them.” Well, trying to police what someone else does with their body for personal purposes is an invasion and for some reason, as a society we tend to think that’s okay to do, particularly to women. That disconnect simply doesn’t make sense.
Let’s think about it outside of the spectrum of sexuality for a moment. Imagine you just had a sever surgery and something happens to your body that is out of the ordinary. You can’t physically get to your doctor, so you speak with him via telephone or video call to show him the problem. Now, what if your doctor took those images and publicly released them without your knowledge or consent? That’s clearly not okay (or legal in any case I can think of) and I bet if you heard that on the news, you wouldn’t blame the patient who trusted one other person with their body in confidence.
So, whether you would personally share photos of a certain nature or wear certain clothes or do anything with your body, it doesn’t mean you have the right to control or invade what someone else chooses to do. It might seem like that’s not the issue in media portrayals of photo and sex tape leaked, but that’s because of non-consented objectification of the female body which is a concern for feminists.