Did You Click on the Leaked Celebrity Nudes?

Or, four simple rules to determine whose boobs you’re allowed to look at.

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Every time a bored, lonely hacker splashes photos of a naked celebrity across the Internet, we seem to forget the answer to a very basic question: Whose boobs am I allowed to look at?

Let’s step back into reality for a second and recap. So, which boobs, again?


1. Your own, should you be lucky enough to own a pair.

2. Those of your partner, should she be generous enough to share them.

3. Those of a consenting, paid professional. (I’m not here to judge. Although I do strongly suggest tipping – everyone likes a good tipper.)

4.Those of an actress, during a performance she has consented to and, presumably, has been compensated for.

And that about sums it up. Easy, right? You knew this – we all did.

So how did we forget such established norms — such basic, obvious decency — when stolen photographs of Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Mary E. Winstead, Hope Solo and other female celebrities popped up over the weekend?

Because it was easy and no one was looking. All we needed to know about being secretly terrible, we learned in kindergarten.

Presumably snatched off iCloud by people who don’t often navigate rule No. 2, the photos are almost hard to avoid thanks to a pretty unstoppable combination of 21st-century technology and the time-tested powers of naked. (Before you say it: Let she who has not snapped a nude selfie cast the first stone.) From Reddit to Perez Hilton, they’re just a quick, detached click away — you don’t have to peep into anyone’s bedroom or hack anyone’s phone. You don’t even have to hit up Google at this point — they’re waiting right there in your Twitter feed.

And yet, we should avoid the click-bait. Looking at these photos is not, obviously, as detestable as stealing them, or posting them to your website for personal gain. (Perez Hilton, it should be noted, removed them with an apology — although the FBI’s interest may have inspired the move). But when we sign off on this behavior — when we vote with a click in the strange, strings-attached privacy of the Internet — we effectively say that yes, it’s OK to violate a person’s sense of safety and self. It’s OK to follow Kate Middleton around on a windy day and go through Jennifer Lawrence’s phone if it results in our entertainment. It’s OK to act as if we have some entitlement to these women — these actresses, these athletes, these humanitarians, these mothers and daughters — and their bodies.

Unfortunately, we may see more. An anonymous hacker presumably involved in releasing this weekend’s photos is claiming to have a video of Lawrence, which he or she promises to share with the rest of the Internet after raising enough donations over PayPal. If this little stunt is successful, it will be a scary, humiliating shame that too many of us had a part in.

Personally though, I think Lawrence can relax this time around. If the better part of a decade in newspapers has taught me anything, it’s that yes, the Internet is home to plenty of angry, spiteful people — but they absolutely won’t pay for content.

Follow Monica Weymouth on Twitter.

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