Jennifer Lawrence: Not the nude photo hero we deserve, but unfortunately the one we need

In a new interview with Vanity Fair, J. Law calls the celebrity photo leak what it really was: a sex crime

Published October 7, 2014 5:58PM (EDT)

  (AP/Paul A. Hebert)
(AP/Paul A. Hebert)

Jennifer Lawrence had something private and personal stolen from her. She was sexually violated and never denied being the victim of a crime. She has not apologized and will not apologize for being publicly attacked. It doesn't make sense to call her heroic, because she didn't ask for any of this.

And yet she has handled this awful fiasco -- having a cache of her intimate photos hacked, leaked and widely circulated online -- with impressive candor and toughness. Speaking at length about the incident for the first time in a new interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence takes on the leak as boldly as we might expect her to, and says frankly what we should all already know to be true: what happened to her -- what still happens every time someone looks at the photos -- wasn't simply fodder for tabloids and gossip sites. It was a crime.

“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” Lawrence said. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. ... I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity.” She added, "I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for."

There is no set way that any victim should be expected to respond to such grotesque privacy violations, because we shouldn't expect these horrifying crimes to happen. But if and when someone's private property is stolen and disseminated, we, the public, should follow Lawrence's lead. We should call the stealing of nude photos a crime. We should regard the photos' distribution with shame and repulsion. We should condemn the perpetrators. And we should seek justice for the victims, whom we should never expect to apologize.

That's not how we have responded to the celebrity nude photo leaks, however, which makes Lawrence's comments so very necessary. Instead of outcry, the photos were met by eager, drooling voyeurs who turned to apathy once they got their fill. Several more photo leaks have followed the initial Labor Day weekend posts, when Lawrence's images were first made public. Now nobody seems to care anymore.

And so we need people like Lawrence to have the last word and to remind us of our own complicity. I hate to put her on a pedestal -- she is not the only victim to speak out or to address the situation so straightforwardly, nor do I think she wants to be praised for her actions. She didn't volunteer to spotlight the issues of photo hacking or violence against women online. But she's saying something we all, unfortunately, need to hear. Basic as it might be, there's bravery in that.

By Jenny Kutner

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