Justin Bieber has been photographed in various revealing poses but never fully nude. Last Wednesday changed that, with naked pictures obtained by long-range lens of the 21-year-old singer undressed on vacation in Bora Bora.
Predictably, it didn’t take long for uncensored versions of the pictures to leak across the Internet. Bieber’s legal team sent letters to the news outlets requesting that they remove the images, but outlets like the New York Daily News have ignored that request.
Almost exactly a year ago, this issue had surfaced when private pictures of naked female celebrities were released after a massive series of hacks. Here’s what I wrote then:
The sole issue here isn’t how to deal with hackers or whether to take pictures of your naked body. The discussion should also be about us as consumers. When something so intimate and personal is knowingly used against someone’s will, what does it say about those who partake in the breach of privacy? Instead of pausing, realizing the implications of viewing material that is unethically and despicably obtained, and then deciding to not be a part of the problem, otherwise-rational people are being drawn in by lust and curiosity. This is the opposite of what should happen. People should look at how these images came into the public sphere (against the will of the people who made them) and refrain from using them for self-gratification.
While the method of obtaining these pictures was different, the actions of people who view them are the same. It’s been clear from the outset that these photos were unauthorized and therefore should remain private—they were snapped at a distance of an unsuspecting person.
It’s Okay Because Justin Bieber Is Male
There’s another difference in how these photos have been received. After the initial glee over getting to ogle famous women passed, condemnation spread over invading the women’s privacy. Bieber’s images have received a lot of prurient cackling, but also claims that he shouldn’t be upset because the images are being received with people’s lust more than mockery.
Some people have called out this hypocrisy.
Female nudes leak = outrage Bieber's nudes leak = Aren't double standards fun?
— Calum McSwiggan (@CalumMcSwiggan) October 7, 2015
Others have compared this to Lenny Kravitz’s recent wardrobe malfunction.
Jezebel, avid defender of all things wildly feminist, responded to the pictures by mocking Bieber with posts about how to talk to your significant other about enjoying the pictures and teasing about him his efforts to get the pictures removed. Apparently violations of privacy are only wrong when it’s women being objectified.
When You Click and Search You Encourage Objectification
Hillary Clinton recently revealed that not only does she lack the moral compass to reject releasing images of people’s bodies without their consent, she plans to go looking for them. In an interview with Lena Dunham, the presidential hopeful said, “Do you think I could get that?” when Dunham told her about the Kravitz video. Upon hearing it’s on YouTube, Clinton followed up with, “Okay, good, I’ll look for that.”
So it appears Clinton is fine with perving on Kravitz. People across the Internet are happy to admit they’re looking up Bieber. Is there a certain level of celebrity where people no longer have the right to privacy or keeping their bodies to themselves? If an average person had his pants tear out like Kravitz, it would be humiliating, especially if friends of the opposite sex admitted they wanted to see it. When a famous person vacations in an isolated location and thinks he is out of camera range but is still photographed we should be angry, not salivating.
“Consumption drives markets. Viewing these pictures encourages this to happen again. It’s wrong, and the choice should be clear: don’t look at nudes that weren’t intended for your eyes. Acting against another person is wrong, whether a screen is between you or not.”
Continuing to exuberantly view these pictures ensures people will keep providing them. If you wouldn’t want everyone you’ve ever met (and millions of those you’ll never meet) to pore over pictures of you or your family’s naked bodies, stop doing this to celebrities. Fame doesn’t remove bodily autonomy.