Tuesday, 2 September 2014

On Jennifer Lawrence and Nude Images

The non-consensual sexualisation of young women is a growing epidemic in our society, from school dress codes stating that young girls cannot wear strappy tops in the summer to clothing choices being an excuse for the sexual violation of the female body, and, with nude photos like the one recently released of Jennifer Lawrence being taken ever more frequently, it is a problem which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Before I say anything more, I would like to mention that I have not seen the photo and do not wish to see the photo, and the image will not be linked anywhere in this discussion. I do not want to take any part in the commodification of this or any other young woman’s body when their consent has not been fully ascertained, and I urge you to do the same. Please do not google Jennifer Lawrence nudes, do not give websites which publish this image the hit counts, do not buy media which distributes this, or any other non-consensual nude image. Thanks.

The prevalence of images like this exists off the back of paparazzi culture, and the thinking if you choose to step into the public, if you choose to open up any part of your life to the world, then you have to give up all parts of your life. This is, of course, a ridiculous thought process. Ultimately all humans have the right to privacy, whether or not they have chosen to allow the media or general public into a small aspect of their life, and this right should be respected. This is particularly true of young women, and it is young women whose right is most frequently disregarded.

I recently saw a series of facebook comments about the Jennifer Lawrence image, the first stating that Lawrence looks ‘banging’, and the second stating that if they were that good looking they would happily be naked all over the internet. Whilst that is perfectly valid choice, it is, in fact, a choice. Jennifer Lawrence had no choice over these images being released. She may have taken the images, but she didn't give her consent for them to be shared. This society has an awful tradition of taking non-consensual nude pictures of young women and excusing it because they are considered good looking. This mentality is damaging to women everywhere, not least Lawrence’s young fans. These fans see that the female body can be used (without the will or consent of the female) as a commodity to gain web hits or sell magazines.

However, this line of thought is even more disgusting when placed against the media criticism of people like Miley Cyrus. Cyrus has been exposed to media vitriol, perhaps because she has full power over her body and she actively chose to reveal it in her ‘Wrecking Ball’ video. The society which shrugs off the non-consensual nudes of Lawrence as a fact of celebrity life (and it’s okay because she’s ‘banging’) is the same society which condemns the nudity of Miley Cyrus – who reveals her body out of choice.

Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is a beautiful young women, but if she wanted to share her naked body with the world shouldn’t that be her choice? Answer: Yes. We need to protect the privacy of young women and we need to respect their power over their own bodies.

Paparazzi celebrity culture as a whole is dangerous and damaging, but this is one of its most damaging aspects. We as consumers need to stop the demand for these kinds of images, and speak out loudly against them. Once the media realise that this is not what people want to see, they will stop seeking out the images.

If you as a consumer do want to see naked women, there are plenty of consensual photos for you to look at.

This post has taken the place of my August Wrap-up and September TBR, which will now be the next post you’ll see. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you have any comments feel free to leave them below or tweet me @VickiMaitland.

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