OK, so about the hacking of certain actresses’ computer files and the posting of nude photos found therein:
Can we be frank?
There is, within every healthy, heterosexual man, something which, upon viewing an attractive woman clad scantily or not at all, stands a little straighter, smiles a little brighter, and breathes a quiet “Yowza” of appreciation. This is true whether the man be piggish sexist or enlightened feminist. It is true whether he be plumber, pipefitter, professor, rabbi, imam or priest. It is rumored that it is even true of that ultimate paragon of moral rectitude, the newspaper columnist.
To argue otherwise is to argue against biology. And it has always seemed to me that if an adult woman of sound mind decides — without coercion and of her own volition — to trade on her sexuality in that way, it’s her call. Granted, some of us worry about objectifying women. But we should also be wary of infantilizing them. If some actress poses in the altogether for public consumption — and some guy enjoys it — I find it hard to define that as de facto sexism, so long as the choice was hers.
Which is precisely what’s wrong, creepy, slimy and profoundly distasteful about the hacking of those files and the posting of those pictures. Jennifer Lawrence didn’t make that choice. Nor did Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst or any of the other women whose unclothed images were stolen by unknown hackers and splashed across the Internet on Labor Day weekend by celebrity gossip Perez Hilton (he’s since apologized) and two popular message boards.
Let no one argue the women never should have taken the photos in the first place or entrusted them to digital lockboxes. To do so would come perilously close to blaming the victim for her own misfortune, something with which women who were raped were once all too familiar. So let’s be clear: These women are not at fault. No, the blame lies with the sentient filth who raided their files.
There is an obvious argument to be made here about the shrinking of private spaces in a culture of invasion. And given that there’s no shortage of women who have made the choice to pose publicly naked and that those images are available for the price of a mouse click, it is doubly reprehensible that some fungi with legs would go after women who have made different choices — and that the rest of us would provide a market for their ill-gotten goods.
It’s as if we’re telling women that no matter what decisions they’ve made about who to be and how to present themselves in this world, we will impose our own decisions upon them.
It has been a good week or two for sexism. Besides this, you had Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sharing prize comments she’s heard from male colleagues (“Don’t lose too much weight, now. I like my girls chubby”) and a mostly female panel on Fox “News” — where else? — defending the practice of catcalling. “Let men be men,” one said, as if to be a man is to be automatically crude and unalterably boorish.
Thankfully, in the midst of all these reasons to be disheartened, the Internet also coughed up a reminder to remain hopeful about the world we bequeath our girls. Google this picture if you haven’t seen it. It shows Yasiel Puig, outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old pitcher who was the sensation of this year’s Little League World Series. The big-league ballplayer towers over the little girl as she autographs a baseball for him.
And why not? In 2014 a girl can be a ballplayer. Or a publisher. Or an astrophysicist. Or a cop. Or a stay-at-home mom. Or, yes, a sex symbol posed without clothes. The point is, she has the ability to choose who she will be. Or at least, she should.
After all, more than pictures were stolen here.
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected]
AFP Photo/Kevin Winter
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