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Op-Ed: Reaction to Justin Bieber’s nude photos highlights hypocrisy

Last year when the nude photos of various female celebrities appeared on the Internet without their consent, social media lost their minds. They bemoaned the loss of privacy, and the theft of consent, but when Justin Bieber had his photo taken without his consent, and met the same fate as Jennifer Lawrence, condemnation was minor, and the celebration was on.

Writing for Jezebel, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd revealed the big moment when she came across pictures of Bieber`s penis, and instructed her readers on how to approach the discovery with their partners. Shepherd argued, “Human beings have a natural curiosity and the internet is here to fulfill that,” in an attempt to be cute about the violation of someone’s privacy.

The cavalier reaction to the publication of the photos was matched by Mic who published an article that claimed, “Justin Bieber doesn’t care if I look at his nudes. He’s a mature artist in an increasingly privacy-free media world. If he isn’t prepared for nude photos of himself to leak, he’s not being realistic.” That explanation would have condemned Kevin O’Keeffe to social media prison if he said that about the non-consensual nudes of a female celebrity, and that is where the problem lies.

Male celebrities are not granted the right of consent and privacy, and the robbery of their acquiescence is ignored.
In August, news sites like GQ, Vice, and The Huffington Post published photos of Lenny Kravitz’ wardrobe malfunction at a concert where a tear in his leather pants exposed his penis, and celebrated the revelation. The Daily Beast went as far as to call Kravitz, “The New King of Cock n Roll,” bashfully calling the incident a, “magnificent moment,” and even Buzzfeed allowed readers to click on a blurred image to reveal the photograph. In a world where judging a woman on her looks is wrong, Kravitz, like Bieber, has been praised for the size of a body part. The hypocrisy is strong, and doesn’t end there.

Gawker is currently in court after the website posted the sex tape of Hulk Hogan, and refused to take down the story until a court order made them. In a sad defense of the privacy violation, Gawker claimed the publication of the sex tape was a First Amendment case. Even after the order, Gawker linked out the video and jokingly scribed, “Because the internet has made it easier for all of us to be shameless voyeurs and deviants, we love to watch famous people have sex.”

We also love to see famous people naked, but that defence didn’t jive when the subjects were female celebrities. Many people find Jennifer Lawrence attractive; many have crushes on Kate Upton, and think Zoe Kazan is cute, but as Lacy Hunter Johnston wrote in regards to the massive leak, “The way in which we share our bodies must be a choice.” The above celebrities shared intimate photos with their partners, and should have only been seen by those who received them. Those women didn’t consent to their photos being shared all over the Internet, and neither did Bieber. Those who blamed the female celebrities for taking those photographs were universally condemned; anyone who would have dared to praise the incident as a “magnificent moment,” would have faced the wrath of social media activists who thought the exposure of the female celebrities is an example of violent misogyny.

The singer was on vacationing in Bora Bora and stepped out on his balcony not knowing a photographer was waiting to snap photographs. No permission or consent was given for the photographer to snap the photos, and Bieber’s press team did not grant the New York Daily News permission to publish his nude pictures. The act was a clear violation of his sexual autonomy, but to many the photographs were a joke.

The very publication that posted O’Keeffe’s article was one of the biggest critics of The Fappening. Mic condemned the string of leaks as an evasion of the women’s privacy. They even posted quotes from Jennifer Lawrence’s Vanity Fair interview where she said, “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.” Lawrence further claimed those who viewed her photos committed a “sexual offense.”

If viewing photos you were not given consent to view is a crime; those who gleefully looked at Bieber’s exposed penis should be considered criminals like those who looked at Lawrence’s naked body.

Those very publications and the social justice warriors, who fester on Twitter and Tumblr, would have lost their minds if someone claimed Lawrence deserved what she got for expecting privacy. These publications are claiming consent, only matters when the subject is a woman, and privacy is only a concern when the person has breasts.
Jezebel and Mic are the first websites to expose sexism when the victims are female; they throw around terms like racism, sexism, and misogyny like they are going out of style. For them to laugh at the violation of a male celebrity’s sexual autonomy should be against everything they stand for. If feminism is about equality, the violation of someone’s privacy should not be separated by gender. If you think it is wrong for someone to look at Kate Upton’s nude photos and make comments about the size of her breasts, you must condemn those who looked at Bieber’s penis, because there is no fundamental difference between what happened to Lawrence, and what happened to Bieber.

Consent should not be gender exclusive, and male celebrities who are robbed of it should not be laughed at. If Buzzfeed wants to condemn the sharing of stolen photos, they should practice editorial consistency, and not celebrate the publication of Bieber and Kravitz’s nudes. It should not matter if you are male, or female, you should have the choice whether people view your naked body.

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