As I’m sure everyone heard by now, a lot of female celebrities had nude pictures leaked over the weekend. Leaked. Isn’t it amazing that the media uses that word instead of stolen? Because leaked makes it sound so harmless, so much less violating than something being stolen and put on the internet where anyone can view them.
I hope nobody who reads this blog helped spread them. I hope that nobody believes any of the sexist garbage that the media has been spewing either.I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous garbage from radio DJs and TV talking heads – about how unfortunate this is, but it’s a good reminder that you shouldn’t take these pictures in the first place.
Excuse me? That’s like telling someone who was robbed that it’s their fault because they shouldn’t have bought something nice. Don’t even get me started on saying that it’s only appropriate that women avoid certain activities (like taking pictures of themselves or recording anything with their sexual partners). I’d say that it’s like telling women not to wear clothes they like or go out to bars because they might be raped – but as a society, we actually do that (which yes, I am constantly disgusted by).
If any of this seems like I’m taking it very personally, it’s because I am. You know the Thing that I Can’t Talk About? It’s time for me to talk about it.
Two months ago, I found out that a friend of ours had stolen something from TheBoy and I. When we were in our early 20s, we had a camcorder for the first time and recorded a tape. Yes, that kind of tape. We kept it away from the rest of our tapes, and didn’t think about it again.
Until the friend confessed to TheBoy that he had stolen the tape when he helped us move from apartment to apartment. He actually didn’t just steal the tape- he stole it, made a copy of it, and then snuck it back where we’d kept it so that we wouldn’t ever know. And because he made that copy, it’s now being used as leverage against him – and the person doing it is refusing to give it to us.
When I first found out, I cried. I screamed. I felt like I was going to throw up, because I knew that someone I knew and trusted had watched that tape and masturbated – watching us, as though we were just another clip on the internet.
No, I’m not going to say who it is. Just that it was someone very close to us, and someone that both TheBoy and I thought we could trust.
For days, I didn’t do much more than attempt to get some work done and make sure the kids were fed. I stopped running, because I didn’t want to get out of bed. I actually had a mild Crohn’s flare-up because of the stress, and TheBoy had to call into work to make sure the kids were taken care of. I had to force myself to eat (I literally had reminders in my phone).
And even still, it’s hard to want to get out there to run. It’s been hard for me to want to wear the clothes that I love, because on occasion the sundresses and skirts make me feel too exposed. I haven’t wanted to blog or work on fiction, because when it came to blogging, it felt like I was lying if I was talking about the fun we’d had over the summer. Which is a shame, because this was a great summer. It honestly was. And looking back on it, it doesn’t feel like I had the right to enjoy it – which I now realize is depression.
My reactions? That’s from knowing that at least two people (the thief and the extortionist) have viewed the tape. I don’t have to wake up and make it through the day knowing that millions of people probably saw me naked and vulnerable. That millions of strangers aren’t weighing in on my actions of having taken it in the first place.
As a victim, I am going to tell you right now what I’ve noticed about how the media is discussing this.
They aren’t calling it theft on a regular basis. They aren’t discussing this as the women being violated. They aren’t even regularly calling out the scumbags who stole the pictures and then plastered them on the internet- or the people who reposted them. Instead, the media focus is on the women, and how they were wrong to have taken the pictures in the first place and used cloud storage.
Ask yourself this: when someone is robbed, do we as a society tell them that it’s the victim’s fault because they wanted something nice? No. If someone’s involved in a car accident, do we say that it’s their fault for being in the car at the same time someone else was drunk or texting? No. Yet, in cases like this (and when a girl or woman is sexually assaulted) we regular blame the actions of the victims. We excuse it, because of course someone’s curious about a pretty woman who’s famous. Because it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t of taken the pictures or recorded the video in the first place. Are you kidding me?
I’m seeing a therapist, and when I explained the situation to him – and explained that the only reason the Thief knew about the tape in the first place was that TheBoy had mentioned that one existed (he didn’t even mention where it was kept). And my therapist told me that we hadn’t done anything wrong. There was no invitation for it to be stolen, copied. Or for it to be viewed and jacked off to. We did nothing to encourage those actions or to deserve them. We were two consenting adults who recorded something and kept it somewhere reasonably private. We couldn’t possibly have foreseen there was someone close to us who has no boundaries of what’s right and wrong. Or that they’d know someone so self-absorbed that they wouldn’t realize that hanging onto that tape does more emotional damage to us than it would to the thief.
If you can’t fault me, then you can’t fault these women. They simply lived their lives, and we shouldn’t judge them instead of the person/s who ignored their privacy, stole those pictures, and put them up on the internet. Instead, we can tell the media to change their dialogue.
We don’t want to hear people being shamed when they’re the victims. It’s time to start placing the blame where it belongs- on the creeps who violated someone’s privacy by stealing and sharing these, and the people who just keep twisting the knife in the wound by keeping those photos out there.
So there you have it, most of The Thing. I removed as many details as I could, because unlike others involved- I am actually aware that these things cause collateral damage, and there are other people who would be hurt, and I understand fully what it’s like to be dragged into something you have no business being part of. For now, this is all I’m going to say about it…
I’m not sharing this for your sympathy. I’m sharing this because maybe hearing my story will make you rethink how we talk about “leaked” photos and videos. Maybe it’ll help you be a little more understanding about who’s in the wrong.