LEAKED NUDES, “NOT ALL MEN”, AND THE MORAL COMPLEXITIES WITHIN

If you’re a member of the twenty-first century, and more importantly a denizen of the world wide web, you’ve probably already seen some or maybe even all of the most recent batch of leaked celebrity nudes to find themselves thrust into the public conscience. A quick trawl through Twitter will uncover a whole lot of talk about Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton (among many others), and the sexual images that were stolen from them before being unlawfully distributed, much to the simultaneous shock, disgust, and amorous delight of the internet.

As someone with feminist leanings, it should have been fairly easy for me to make use of Twitter today without finding myself wilfully arguing with a feminist commenter merely looking to condemn the theft and dissemination of these images. And yet… not so much. The commenter in question (writer and comedian, Gaby Dunn) had this to say:

“Had a convo with a man where he compared photo leak to an actress doing a nude scene in a movie and it struck me men don’t understand the difference between a consenting woman and a non-consenting woman. They all look the same to you. And I can’t stop thinking about it”

I know, I know, I know… not all men, right? For reals though, it is scary to think that there are men (and probably women too) out there who can’t (or won’t) differentiate between consensual and non-consensual sexuality. It’s a fair point and one that I agree with, and yet it was that omission of the word “some” before the word “men” that inspired me to comment on it and I’m still not entirely sure why that is.

Maybe I feel that being pro-woman and supporting the feminist cause has earned me the right to not be lumped in with all the men who are guilty of propagating the misogyny and every-day sexism that women still have to live with. Maybe I feel that generalisations about men and what men think are just as counter-productive as generalisations about women and what women want. Maybe I’m not big enough to instantly recognise that regardless of whether one voice is speaking in generalisations when perhaps it’s not prudent to, the wider dialogue is far too great and far too important for me to become hung up on semantics and knowingly obfuscate a valid discussion because somebody didn‘t think to make the distinction between some men and all men.

I do know that what I should have been commenting on from the start though, was the issue of leaked nudes, and the cultural shortcomings they’ve highlighted. If it wasn’t already apparent that society has a problem with victim-blaming and slut-shaming, few could argue that that much hasn’t become achingly clear in the aftermath of these leaks. Far too prevalent is the dismissive attitude of “she should have known better than to take nude photos and store them on her computer”. I don’t drive but nor do I plan on never buying a car and leaving it parked in a public setting purely because “I should know better than to take my car out and leave it out in the open”. In a society that teaches women not to be raped rather than teach men not to rape to begin with, this is hardly surprising but it is a shade disappointing. It would also be nice if women perhaps weren’t deemed lesser people for having been naked in front of another person in their adult lives. Ours is a culture that seems all too eager to demonise sex and sexuality and it’s never really been made apparent to me why that is.

And yes, there’s the issue that Gaby Dunn attempted to bring to light on Twitter earlier today before being drowned out by men taking offence to her wording. Not all men, you understand. Just some men.

Bob Russell

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