Random Thoughts on “The Jennifer Lawrence Leak” [Updated]


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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159 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    If these were Polaroids being sent through the mail and someone opened the parcel, stole the Polaroids, and printed them, would people see this differently?Report

    • No, because the same creeps blaming Lawrence now would be blaming her then. After all, nobody forced her to engage in private conduct with trusted loved ones. Or some similarly stupid shit.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I don’t think it is any different. I do think it is a hell of a lot easier to hack into the Cloud then it is to intercept the mail.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Why do people think hacking is easy?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I said it was eaiser. Not easy. Intercepting the mail is hard. If these photos came from a stamped envelope, we could question the post people involved, etc.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Apparently you haven’t used SmartPost.
        (seriously, stuff gets “lost” in the mail all the time. It’s generally money)Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Certainly if nothing else the internet allows anonymous mass publishing in a manner that no preceding technology approaches.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        That is the devil in the detail. Pre-Internet, a person needed to shop them around and hope someone was unscrupulous enough to publish said pictures or attempt to blackmail the person in question directly.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        North and Saul,
        The anonymous publishing here seemed to have TAKEN ITS DAMN TIME. Seriously, these were pulled out in a number of hacks, and it only hit major news when they were aggregated together.

        OFC it was 4chan aggregating them.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Jessica Valenti also had a great piece on the ethics of not looking:


    I suspect that this is all part of the radical freedom advocated by 4chaners and their general belief that trolling and those with hacking skills should control the rules with the net. There seems to be a certain part of the hacking ethos which just can’t say no to a challenge.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      That Atlantic column strikes me as dumb. I don’t see this as a drive to shame women at all. I’m not even sure where that comes from. We love building up celebrities and then tearing them down, male or female. We go through the cycle constantly. We do it with teams, shows, whatever. We love to be the first to declare what the next big thing is, the first to declare we’re over it.

      Then too is the fact that we’re talking about attractive-looking people. I’m not going to look at pictures of naked celebs, period. But just now I saw that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of the victims of this, and I’m still not going to look, but personally those pictures would interest me more than Jennifer Lawrence’s. The fact that part of my brain automatically made that calculation tells me that there’s something other than shaming going on here. I have no interest in shaming MEW, but seeing her naked? I can understand the appeal.Report

      • You “understanding the appeal” has precisely nothing to do with the situation here. I don’t think anybody anywhere is trying to argue that naked people aren’t, or shouldn’t be, appealing. Nobody’s asking human nature to change.

        And as for the idea that this is the sort of thing visited equally against both men and women: please. Let’s ignore the ease of female nudity versus the scarcity of male nudity in our media. And let’s ignore that these leaks overwhelmingly involve women. This is entirely about getting to look at women naked who do not want you to be looking at them.

        Finally, the idea that this isn’t about shaming women can be immediately dispatched by looking at the defenses being offered up for those leaks, which mirror with remarkable accuracy the defenses offered up by those attempting to excuse rape. “If she didn’t want to be seen naked, she shouldn’t have taken these photographs.” Except that isn’t the issue here. Clearly, she did want to be seen naked. By somebody. Specifically. But not generally. These thefts are defended by the claims that the women themselves are at fault for it. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the drive to blame them, rather than the thieves, gives the game away.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        And I can understand the appeal of seeing these people naked as well.

        That doesn’t make it ethical to hack into the cloud to look.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Sam – I have the feeling that we’re talking about different things. Valenti’s piece made no sense to me, nor did your last comment. My comment made no sense to you, I gather. I’m not sure how to start over.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Saul – Did I imply that it was ethical to do so? I don’t see how, so if that was meant as a rebuttal to me, I don’t understand it.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    I agree with Jessica Valenti, who wrote about this for The Atlantic:

    If Jennifer Lawrence was to pose naked on the cover of Playboy, for example, I’m sure it would be a best-selling issue. But it wouldn’t have the same scandalous, viral appeal as private images stolen from her phone. Because if she shared nude images consensually, then people wouldn’t get to revel in her humiliation. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? To take a female celebrity down a notch? (We have a term for when this is done to non-celebrity women: “revenge porn.”)

    There is an obsessive tendency in American culture with elevating women—young, beautiful women, especially—to celebrity status just to bask in their eventual fall. There’s also a tendency in American culture, meanwhile, to shame women for their sexuality. So I would not be surprised in the days ahead to see arguments as to why this is somehow the fault of the celebrities whose phones were hacked—that these women took the pictures, that they were posing, that generating publicity is part of their job.

    But victim-blaming is just that, no matter how famous the victim is. We live in a culture with a peculiar relationship to female celebrity. In much the same way that misogyny tells men that women are there for male consumption, the public and media tell us that famous women are public property. It’s why models and pageant queens are expected to smile graciously and respond to horny teen boys asking them to prom, or why they’re called uptight bitches if they don’t smile for every camera shoved in their face. The underlying premise is that these women have consented to being there for public entertainment—whether they like it or not.

    The male gaze, so responsive to a pretty bit of flesh is like totally given credence. But the female gaze? The lusts, the bits of flesh that visually excite? The right to be sexual without shaming? We spend so much g.d. time defending our right to not-be victims of the male gaze, and it’s presumed privilege to our physical selves, that we’ve totally failed to develop a female gaze, our appetites ignored into silence, shamed when given voice.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      The female gaze is still there, and used heavily in marketing (and soccer games!). even the fringe voices are actively researched, and then put in places where they’re PG.

      She’s right when she asserts that private images are a voyeuristic thrill. What can we say? Humans are weird.

      Now, the story I heard about this weekend was all about Zoe Quinn. Taking trolls’ suggestions literally is probably a bad plan.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      So it would be ok if the same thing were happening to men? Zic, really?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky no, it wouldn’t be any better for it to happen to men than it is when it happens to women.

        But women should not have to keep their sexuality in a closet except as a product for the male gaze to consume. Women are not supposed to want sex, they’re just supposed to be the objects of male want. Part of the whole shaming meme here, which you obviously don’t understand, is that Lawrence showed she’s sexual, not just sexy.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        You’re right, I don’t understand the meme. It seems like an ideology-based effort to explain something whose cause is fairly obvious on its own.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky, some of us aren’t rooted in religious dogma when it comes to sex and sexuality, and don’t have chastity concerns as, for instance, it’s presented by the Catholic Church. (Just looking at a woman who is not your wife with lust is being unchaste, a form of adultery.)

        We see scantily clad women as eye candy for hetero men, all the time. It’s like what moves marketing — drive this car, drink this beer, and you, too, will get hot chicks. The mirror image is, look like this, and you’ll get admired and asked out on dates or whatever for girls. But they’re not supposed to be sexual, they’re just supposed to be sexy. The sexual only comes into play when it’s the guy, visual responder that he is, imagines her being sexual with him. That she has her own appetites, lusts, and desires don’t really play into this.

        So for guys, it’s the sexual titillation; what they’ll get. For girls, it’s how they’re supposed to be — what guys what to get. Lawrence’s photos, a display of her being sexual, were private for a reason; she didn’t want the load of slut shaming associated with being female and sexual instead of sexy. She’s less, now; those old cultural taboos cling long past their expiration date. And that lessening — the theft and public display of her sexuality — is really old. There are stories of it in the bible and beyond. Like somehow her worth and virtue are all wound up in this single thing.

        So the double standard here is that she’s not allowed by desire sex (except as any individual man imagines her desiring sex with him), she’s just supposed to be sexy. But men? They get to talk about their sexual appetites all the time; they get a constant stream of sexy to imagine being sexual with fed to them in advertising, movies, music videos, TV, magazines, internet ads.

        I like a washboard stomach as much as the next woman, but it’s not typically used to sell me stuff, and my expressing any interest in, you know, is pretty much culturally treated as slutdom.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        See, for me, it’s a matter of parsimony. I don’t need an additional theory to explain why guys want to look at naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. Shame, liberation, self-assertion, whatever, based on what I know about men, if there was a website with pictures of hundreds of hot celebrity women you’ve never seen naked before who were perfectly okay with it, guys would still be double-clicking.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @pinky, it’s the spirit of shaming a woman who was sexual (instead of sexy) that’s the double standard. Those dudes can click, they’re expected to click. You expect them to click. But you’re talking about men. Below, ScarletNumbers says that peeping through a window at a naked woman is a sex crime but posting these stolen photos is not Because Lawrence voluntarily took/posed for these pictures and she voluntarily uploaded them to the cloud. Never mind that she sent them privately, she did not give permission for anyone else to see them; they were stolen from her phone account.

        This is a frame of thinking about women and women’s sexuality that allows it’s okay to, for instance, rape a porn star; to click naked pictures of a movie star, no matter how they got on the internet. Because she was being sexual (as opposed to just sexy), so whatever comes her way she deserves.

        Do you get that this is a huge double standard? We take for granted that men are sexual — they’ll click on those naked photos all day long. But if women are, whatever they get they earned.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Again, I think you’re misreading this. Of course men shouldn’t click on those pictures. I’d hope that’d be obvious, but just in case it wasn’t, there, I’ve said it.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        It would be wrong it it happened to men. The point is, this shit seldom happens to men, cuz misogyny, and when it does happen to men it happens in different ways.

        The closest parallel I can think of happened earlier this year. It was this: some colossal fuck-trumpet took a camera to a Magic the Gathering convention, where he proceeded to capture candid shots of poorly dressed men who revealed ass-crack. The men were all fat. They were all bearded.

        It was fucking gross and horrible. It robbed these men of their dignity.

        Many of my friends, who claim to be feminists, laughed at these images. It was shameful.

        Myself, I pointed out that these images were the same as creepshots, non-consensual tools of humiliation., where folks can laugh at fat, hapless men.

        Some of my friends agreed with me. Some did not. I was not proud.

        You can find the same dynamic repeated again and again, pictures of fat dudes being laughed at. I fucking hate it.

        That said, there is a difference. I have lived on both sides of this divide. Women get it worse. These men are mocked (and it is wrong to mock them) for failing to measure up. It is society kicking these men when they are down.

        (I mean, if they asked me, I would suggest they groom themselves better. But I will not shame them. Never. No way!)

        But with women, it is those who climb high that we pull down. This is not an accident. It is the beauty of these women that draws the hate. It is men who cannot stand feeling small beside a woman, who must bring her down to size.

        Patriarchy is the worst fucking shit.

        We stomp on men who fail. We slaughter women who thrive.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        just as a note: the equivalent meme for guys on /b/ is “balls touching or get the fuck out”
        … I’m wondering if a woman came up with that, actually…Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    As I said before, a lot of the information freed by Aaron Schwartz was paid for with taxpayer money and I think that makes a difference from a policy point.

    I will add that stuff like sexting is an ideal/just world sort of problem.

    In an ideal world, no one would have to worry about uploading nude photos or other sensitive materials but we don’t live in an ideal world and never did. I get why it is fun and sexy to send nude photos to a lover but it seems like it requires a lot of trust to put that kind of stuff in the ether known as the internet. This is sad but I am not sure what to do about this particular is/ought problem. There is an ethos of 4chan/anonymous that I strongly disagree with but nothing in the world is going to change their worldview and they have skills we lack. I suspect many designers of cloud computing are more sympathetic with the 4chan ethos than not.

    That being said, I think you are wrong to use the insult “never kissed a girl”. Do you remember the ViolentAcrez story from a few years ago? That guy was a normal, married man with an IT job at a financial firm. His wife knew about his trolling and was also part of the reedit community as “notsoviolenntacrez” or something like that. There is a lot of psychology into the “I’m just joshin/Why so serious?” outlook that needs to be explored. We don’t know who these guys are except that they are almost certainly guys. Every “find a troll” story I have seen in the media has always revealed the troll to be someone quite ordinary (at least on the surface) who just uses the internet to explore their darkest ID. Some of my friends who are more computerly than me said that they had mild mannered computer professors who were 4chaners.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Tits or GTFO? Plenty of folks on /b/ post their naked pictures to prove they’re really girls.
      (folks: mind the reflections if you ever post there. also, for the love of god, no faces.)Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Edward Snowden too: he had no legal right to disseminate the docs telling us how we were being spied on. Also Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. So, yes, if we’re not going to distinguish between things of public and private interest, or things created with and owned by private actors vs. things created with public funds, it’s all exactly the same.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      So stealing a thing that people are expected to pay for is acceptable because it was created with public funds is the moral equivalent of being a whistle blower?

      Cliven Bundy will be much relieved.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Fallacy of the excluded middle.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Which, my response above, or your saying that stealing things you are expected to pay to subscribe to is the same as leaking classified documents hidden from the public?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Aaron Swartz paid to subscribe to the JSTOR archives through MIT. His downloading the documents wasn’t theft (or even copyright infringement, which is a distinct crime categorically not “theft”).

        His intent might have been to eventually distribute copyrighted material without the copyright holder’s permission, but at most he committed thoughtcrime only. Before he could commit his possibly intended crime of copyright infringement (once more, not theft) he was arrested for the dastardly crime of leaving his laptop plugged in in an unlocked network closet to get faster access than he would otherwise have had, to a network to which he was also allowed access.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        @tod-kelly Your response may contain the fallacy of the excluded middle, but it also contains this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      I said the two things are not the same, and game examples of other things that are also different. You leapt from “none of A, B, C, or D are the same as X” to “A, B, C, and D are all the same”.Report

  6. Avatar Maribou says:

    “in a lot of important ways, 4Chan’s illegal distribution of Jennifer Lawrence’s private (and I mean that in both senses of that word) data isn’t all that different from what Aaron Schwartz did with JSTOR.[1] Yes, one was a private person and one was a corporation. And yes, the motives of one were clearly altruistic and the other both creepy and slimy. Still, it’s probably worth stopping to ask ourselves exactly what a culture of glorifying hackers who illegally distribute “free” data that they neither created nor own is going to mean for all of us once said hackers move past those eeevil corporations we all agree had it coming.”

    Thing the first, there’s no “once said hackers move past those eeevil corporations”. Hackers have been hacking since before there was an internet, and private people have always been among the hacked. It’s just not usually news when some individual gets mistreated by one. There’s a reason why the terms black hat, grey hat, and white hat got adopted right at the beginning of hacking.

    Thing the second, I would expect you to be above a cheap slippery slope argument. You might as well say (you are saying, for this subset) that regular criminal acts and acts of civil disobedience aren’t actually all that different. Plenty of people DID say that, any time there were civil rights activists getting arrested for breaking stupid laws to protest social structures – that the activists were just like any other criminal, or well, maybe their means were good but glorifying them could only lead to bad things – but I don’t really feature you as one of those people. Whether or not you agree with the point of the civil disobedience, it’s a very different thing, and that difference really does matter.

    For folks like Aaron Schwartz, there is an ENORMOUS chasm between academic / scholarly work – which by its nature IS meant to be shared, and which is often publicly funded – and people’s private information. They often are active working both to “free” the former, and to more strongly protect the latter. If you’re worried about privacy, I’d look a lot harder at the Facebooks and Googles of the online world – legal(ish), corporate, monetized privacy erosion by companies big enough to wag the dog, with leaders whose perspective on user privacy is, to say the least, flexible. Or the other companies big enough to cheerfully absorb large amounts of hacking every year as part of the cost of doing business, cheaper than stronger security would be. They have a lot more influence than Aaron Schwartz ever had.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      +1 @maribou

      This is exactly the difference.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Amazon’s got data you wouldn’t believe!

      And you’re a librarian. you’d kill to get their statistics.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      HIPAA got passed because Very Powerful Individuals cared about having their drug histories get out.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      “or well, maybe their means were good” – bah, I meant to say motives.

      (There’s multitasking, and then there’s 2nd day of school multitasking…)Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      For folks like Aaron Schwartz, there is an ENORMOUS chasm between academic / scholarly work – which by its nature IS meant to be shared, and which is often publicly funded – and people’s private information. They often are active working both to “free” the former, and to more strongly protect the latter.

      Thank you. I agree.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I don’t actually see it as a slippery slope argument; I see it as a very real and concrete current one.

      My family is rife with academics. (Academic the career, not academic the adjective.) And all of them spend inordinate amounts of time doing research. And while it’s true that much of the money is “public,” that doesn’t mean that all the research is paid for. Usually, public research grants do little but supplement the costs of academic department overhead.

      Because of this, my feeling about academic professionals, institutions and journals being allowed to be paid for their labor so that they can continue doing research into the future — as opposed to having that research be something that everyone else should have fee access to — is somewhat akin to my feelings that my musician friends deserve to be paid for their labor, even though someone has already invented Limewire.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        There’s a disjoin here, though.

        Typically, your academic research is paid for by government subsidy. The structure for making sure the research gets performed is not connected to the structure for publishing and disseminating the research.

        So academic professionals and institutions will continue to be paid for their labor so that they can continue to do research into the future.

        The specific problem of journals and how they fit into the scheme is both complex and highly dependent upon historical conditions that no longer hold.

        While I agree that academic journals serve a useful purpose, and I agree that academic journals should continue to exist it some form, it’s pretty clear to me that as a consequence of supporting that purpose, a system has evolved by which the information is only viewable easily by folks who do research. That seems to be a disservice to the general public. It also seems pretty unnecessary. There are several models for reviewing and publishing academic information that could replace the current journal system without putting editors out of a job or making it harder to do research, and increasing access to the information.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        One example of an alternative scheme: Universities typically pay lots and lots of money for access to academic journals. They do this because an aggregator service for the copyright holders on the journal material charges them for it, and they use those funds to compensate the journals, who employ the editorial staff, etc.

        In order to get Universities to pay, the whole system is based upon scarcity; if you don’t pay JSTOR or Lexus/Nexus or ISI Web Of Science or (fill in your favorite academic database), you don’t get access to the journals, and typically the researchers at your institute need that access to do their jobs.

        But that’s ridiculous. You have two layers of middlemen, neither of whom really needs to be there (although one may provide a particularly useful service in librarianship, this doesn’t need to be a service provided by that layer of abstraction).

        Just have a professional science publication organization that rates the journals and pays the journals for their editorial duties, and you pay the organization a stipend to do that.

        Then the review process exists, the editorial function is preserved, universities still pay to get that done (because it is a service they need, to provide a quality benchmark for research) and the public gets access to the research because it’s all in the public domain.

        There are at least thirty others, that people have floated at one time or another. The state of academic publishing is a matter of real concern among academics and researchers. But nobody is worried about journals going out of business for the same reasons that they’re worried about newspapers going out of business.

        They’re worried about *functions*, not *business models*.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        I think you know I work in an academic library, Todd, and my own livelihood is dependent on academic writing. I’m not speaking from ignorance of that ecosystem, I’m speaking as someone who lives and breathes it *as part of my job*. I’ve written an academic paper on how to make it easier for people to pay for the music they acquire, and I have been participating in open access alternatives to traditional publishing for the last 7 years or so – or attempting to – don’t get me started about the extremely reputable journal that wanted me to pay more than 2000 dollars to open-access-ify my 500 word book review. Forgive the credential-flashing, but you can’t *seriously* believe I responded as I did out of callousness to academic livelihoods? Professors’ research funds are not in jeopardy due to free information activists. The journal system is NOT the thing making sure they get paid, although some individual vendors within that system have done a good job of PR that makes it seem otherwise.

        What Aaron Swartz did, specifically, didn’t affect anyone’s livelihood in any way. It didn’t harm the ecosystem – it was a protest against what he saw as unjust *predatory behavior* by an actor within that ecosystem. (I think he was wrong to do what he did, for the record, but I also think that JSTOR’s license agreement is the pits – chiefly because of publishers who’ve gotten their trees confused with their forest.) Both MIT and JSTOR *declined to pursue litigation* in the case because they understood the difference between activist criminal behavior – civil disobedience – and normal criminal behavior. They also released statements clarifying that they had no interest in pursuing criminal charges and that that was the government’s decision.

        The “them” that will raid individual people’s personal lives, or personal creations, are *a different them* than the “them” who will pull off what is basically a college-aged kid’s dumb-ass break-in prank to make a political point about the structure of database licenses.

        Conflating them is not helpful.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        And PLEASE don’t tell me that Aaron Swartz’ was raiding people’s personal creations. Ivory-soap-or-higher levels of those people GAVE THOSE CREATIONS AWAY to the publishers, already. Or sold them, in a few cases. But mostly they gave them away.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @maribou – Oh, I didn’t think you resounded out of callousness of anything to anybody. I was just trying to explain where I was coming from.

        FWIW, if I could go back in time and leave the third observation off of my post, I would.

        In fact, I suppose I can still do an update.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Additional point that seems to be left out – Aaron Swartz had an account that granted him access to the JSTOR data he was downloading. He was allowed to possess any of it he wanted. So, exactly the opposite of the case at hand.Report

  7. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    This is a good post, Tod.

    This is not a “leak”. The people who did this are not “hackers” or “leakers”. They are sex offenders, and should be punished as such.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This is a great point. I wish I had thought of it and put it in the OP.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      What’d be awesome is if some of the geniuses on reddit of 4chan figured out a way to track down the original culprits. That would be a highly difficult technical thing to do would it not? Surely the challenge should hold appeal to hackers driven by the daunting prospect of it? Why am I not holding my breath?Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      They are sex offenders, and should be punished as such.

      You are overstating this. It isn’t a sex crime. You are being insensitive to actual victims of sex crimes.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Is peeping through windows to watch women undress a sex crime?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        Yes. Yes it is.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        @scarletnumbers This is just a complicated type of window.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        No it isn’t. Lawrence voluntarily took/posed for these pictures and she voluntarily uploaded them to the cloud.

        The victim of a voyeur has not given consent to have a Peeping Tom looking at her undress.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        No it isn’t. Lawrence voluntarily took/posed for these pictures and she voluntarily uploaded them to the cloud.

        I voluntarily downloaded a browser and voluntarily typed in my password for my bank account, which passed through “the cloud”.

        If somebody nabbed it on the way and used it to charge a HDTV to my account, that would still be fraud.

        She didn’t load her pictures up on Flickr and then forget to mark them “not public”.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @patrick thank you for this comment and analogy, because it (and the comment you’re responding to by @scarletnumbers ) make an excellent example of the double standard I’m bugged by in this discussion.

        That somehow this is justified because she sent the photos to someone is the absolute essence of shaming women deal with on a daily basis.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        If somebody nabbed [my password for my bank account] on the way and used it to charge a HDTV to my account, that would still be fraud.

        Yes, but would it be a sex crime?

        That is what we are talking about. Not if these actions are illegal, but if they constitute a sex crime.


        Pointing out that Lawrence isn’t the victim of a sex crime isn’t “shaming” her.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        You’re missing the point.

        Because Lawrence voluntarily took/posed for these pictures and she voluntarily uploaded them to the cloud.

        She didn’t voluntarily make them public, though. That’s kind of an important distinction.

        Someone leveraged unauthorized access to some service in order to acquire those files.

        Jennifer Lawrence takes some sexy photos of herself using an old fashioned Polaroid camera. She puts them into a photo album marked “private” and puts them on a shelf in her house.

        Somebody breaks into the house, finds the album, scans in the photos, and distributes them.

        By jurisdiction, this may or may not be an explicit legal “sexual offense”, granted.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Ohfercrissakes @scarletnumbers are you really this dumb or just being deliberately obtuse because hey look here we all are falling for your trolling?

        The victims of this sex crime voluntarily posed for or took nude pictures intended for someone, but not the creeps who obtained and distributed them.

        The victims of an in-person peeping tom at the window may well have been voluntarily nude in the sight of someone, but not the creep at their window. It doesn’t change the voyeur’s crime one bit.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        I’m not the only one in this thread who doesn’t think that this is a sex crime.

        I am many things, but I’m not a troll.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        “She didn’t load her pictures up on Flickr and then forget to mark them “not public”.”
        … she also didn’t hire a security professional.
        100 bucks says you’ll never see Gaiman’s naked photos online. Because he actually does understand the risks and has decent security.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Before you decide if this a “sex crime”, please read this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/no/how_an_algorithm_feels_from_inside/Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      Y’all can call these guys “sex offenders” all you want. And in that article, Jessica Valenti goes a step farther and says that the mere act of looking at these pictures is “abuse:”

      Even if we’re not the people who stole the pictures, and even if we’re not publishing them on blogs or tweeting them out, looking at naked photos of someone who doesn’t want us to goes beyond voyeurism; it’s abuse.

      I think that this is a pretty obvious case of being loose with definitions, but I know that many will disagree, so I won’t try to convince anyone otherwise. What I will say is this: there is a point at which you are just devaluing the terms “sex offense” and “abuse.”

      Sometimes it is OK to just say that something is wrong, without having to couch it in the most superlative language available.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        I think I’m curious as to why it isn’t a sex offense.

        If someone was caught breaking into a house and secretly filming a woman they didn’t know, say, showering or having sex, and then began leaving copies of the video at her work, with her family, or on the internet for himself or others to masturbate to, would we not call that a sex crime? I honestly don’t know for certain, but I feel pretty sure we would. In fact, after convicted I would bet that in Oregon, at least, that person would have to be listed as a registered sex offender.

        Assuming I am right, why does the technological step up keep it from being a sex-offender crime?

        — or —

        Assuming I’m wring, why should it *not* be considered a sex crime?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        Because Lawrence voluntarily took/posed for these pictures and she voluntarily uploaded them to the cloud.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @j-r I sort of agree with you, but of course, I have a big reservation.

        I’ve written several posts and participated in comment threads here where, without going to the extreme (rape), the point just doesn’t come across. So I do think what you’re describing — leaping to the extreme happens, but it’s in part a knee-jerk reaction to get the conversation to even take place, without that, it’s often just perceived as a bunch of women whining, tune it out. But yes, we should not have to elevate sexual voyeurism to the the level sexual abuse to have a discussion. The question is why that happens; and I’d lay that as how easy it is to ignore women’s concerns if they’re not on shrill. Bad habit, that. This is the kind of squeaking wheel that results.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @scarletnumbers The woman in the hypothetical wasn’t forced to take shower or have sex.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        Yes but she did not give permission for the Peeping Tom to watch her do those thingsReport

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah. Nor did she give the people who hacked into her phone and/or account permission to view her pictures.

        I’m seriously trying to understand where you’re coming from, Scarlett. Is this a morals-clause defense of the people who hacked, stole, and illegally distributed? Is the reason that there’s no real injury here because if someone lacks the morals to never had a private nude pic taken of them, they have no standing to privacy?

        Or is there something else I’m not getting?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        These is something else you aren’t getting. (no snark)

        In this subthread, which was started by @katherinemw we are discussing if Lawrence is the victim of a sex crime.

        I agree completely that her privacy has been violated and the actions of these people are illegal.

        My only point is that it isn’t a sex crime.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Re: Sex Crime

        Because there are already plenty of laws that prohibit what the hackers/creeps did and these are the same laws that the prosecutors used against Aaron Schwartz. There is no additional need to label this a sex crime.

        We have a serious problem with mass incarceration in the United States. Almost everyone agrees about this. This mass incarceration and longer sentencing has lead or is quickly leading to serious fiscal and social issues in the United States where we spend more and more money on housing prisoners and then onerous laws prevent those prisoners from integrating back into society.

        The reason we have this over incarceration problem is seemingly because Americans like to be punitive. What we are punitive about changes based on our ideology. The hackers if they are caught should be tried but you can’t label everything with a draconian hand.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @saul-degraw @scarletnumbers

        Well sure, but if people use technology illegally to commit other crimes, we don’t not accuse them of those crimes because they’ve already committed a different crime.

        I’m not sure I understand the logic, but I do at least understand both of your points. SO thanks.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “Well sure, but if people use technology illegally to commit other crimes, we don’t not accuse them of those crimes because they’ve already committed a different crime”

        If someone robs a bank by
        1) pointing a gun at a teller
        2) breaking into the vault at night
        3) hacking accounts and wiring the money to a different account and/or bank

        we recognize that each is a crime, but we have different criminal statutes to deal with each.

        and we don’t generally consider each but (1) ‘violent’ for the purposes of sentencing, incarceration type, and parole eligibility.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


        I was actually getting at something different.

        I once worked for a company where the CFO was embezzling money. He was using his computer at home to remotely help him do so, and so when they finally caught him the DA charged him with wire fraud. But the DA also leveled several other charges against him as well. The fact that he had committed one technologically driven crime didn’t mean (as far as the DA was concerned) that he had therefore committed no other crimes.

        If I’m understanding Saul and Scarlett correctly, they are saying that because hacking is a crime already, there either can be no sex crime (Scarlett) or that we should essentially ignore the other crime (Saul) because you only need that one crime being committed to go after.

        I think they are both wrong, but that seems either an argument of tastes rather than facts (with Saul) and two people who should be asking Burt or Mark (with Scarlett).Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        I disagree, Saul. Many forms of hacking are criminal offences, but I don’t see how that makes this not a sex offense.

        This is the equivalent of looking through someone’s window, seeing them nude, taking pictures of them, and posting them online. I think that doing that should make someone a sex offender, and this is the electronic version of the same thing. It’s not an offence equivalent to rape, but it is a sexual offence.

        Going by the Criminal Code of Canada (because US laws vary between states) section on sexual offences:

        (1) Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if
        (a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity; (b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or (c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

        (4) Every one commits an offence who, knowing that a recording was obtained by the commission of an offence under subsection (1), prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available the recording, or has the recording in his or her possession for the purpose of printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling or advertising it or making it available.

        (5) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (4): (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

        I think this is reasonably equivalent to what was done, arguing that someone who had photographed themselves nude and kept that photo secret still had “a reasonable expectation of privacy” that was violated by the person who hacked and distributed the photo.

        Distributing photos of someone else’s naked body without their consent is not in any way similar to whistleblowing, or to distributing peer-reviewed scientific articles.

        I agree that the US incarcerates people excessively, but crimes against women seem like an area where it may err in the opposite direction (I’ve read more than one case of a judge dismissing a rape case because of things like “the victim was promiscuous”). I think this needs to be taken very seriously precisely because people are too inclined to see it as a “leak”, or a “prank”, or the fault of the women, and to dismiss it.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Also note that based on subsection (4) of that, anyone who knowingly and deliberately views these photos is also committing a sexual offense.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        In some jurisdiction in the United States, peeing in public is a sex offense and getting caught doing so will get you on the local sex offender’s registry. Sex offenses represents an entire category of crime that could range from simply using a crowded subway or bus to engage in some very inappropriate touching to rape.

        Given that sex crimes include a wide range of offensive and immoral behavior, I think that publishing naked photographs of people without their consent certainly qualifies as a theft crime of sort. It also makes administrative sense to charge it as a sex crime because trying to put on a monetary value on the photographs to determine what larceny statute should apply is going to be rather difficult. Charging the perpetrators with some sex crime might actually make it easier to determine how to proceed in the case if this ends up as a criminal trial.Report

      • Avatar Michael M. says:


        In talking about whether this act is or isn’t a “sex offense,” it seems to me you have to determine where the issue of consent enters into it. Sex offenses as a class of criminal behavior involve acts that are sexual in nature performed without the consent of the victim of the offense. Historically, what that means exactly has changed. For example, it was once considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife because the act of marriage was presumed by law to be all the consent a man needed to have sex with his wife whenever he wanted it. Consent hasn’t always been the determining factor — consensual sodomy between adults was still a sex offense in many states until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 — but for the most part, issues of consent tend to determine whether a sex offense has been committed at all or whether a specific offense is a sex offense or something else. Where the law deems people incapable of giving consent, anything sexual is a sex offense.

        In this case, someone has stolen nude photos created with the subject’s consent and distributed them publicly without the subject’s consent. I could see the question of whether that is a sex offense going either way, but I would hope that it is not classified as a sex offense because I get uncomfortable when the law over-reaches, especially in this area, which is often more informed by white male heterosexual morality than by fairness or justice. (See above, regarding implied consent of a wife and consensual sodomy.) It’s clear that multiple crimes have been committed, but it is not clear to me that it makes sense to say because photos that happen to be sexual in nature were stolen and/or released without consent, that is now a sex offense. Creating photos that are sexual in nature without the consent of the subject, I think, would be a sex offense, whether they were distributed or not and whether they were stolen or not. That’s why even possession of child pornography is a crime — children can’t give consent, so the existence of sexual material involving actual children is by definition non-consensual; therefore, anyone in possession of such material is knowingly participating in an act that they know to be illegal, because they know there was no consent.

        I think we benefit from keeping the issue of consent front-and-center and applied more strictly rather than less strictly. To me, the important thing with regards to whether something is a sex offense is not what happens to any material after its creation, but whether the act of creating it involved legitimate consent. If it does (and to my knowledge, these photos were all created with consent), then I don’t think the theft of those photos, nor their distribution, should be sex offenses.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        A lot of folks have touched on the issues that I was getting at in my comment, but I mean something much more basic. My point was essentially a descriptive comment about the perception of the category and not a normative argument about whether something does or does not belong in that category.

        Feel free to call it what you like. I do not have any dog in that fight. I do realize that the purpose of putting things in that category in the first place is to try to attach an additional element of moral censure and legal recourse. As @leeesq points out, however, the category of sex offender contains such a breadth of offenses that the term no longer means much to me. If you label Bob a sexual abuser because he clicked on a link and saw nude JLaw selfie, then I begin to question what exactly you mean by the term abuser when next week you use it to describe Tim. You overuse terms and they lose their effectiveness.

        And as @zic points out, there is something counterproductive here. If voyeurism, or digital voyeurism in this case, is wrong, then make the case based on voyeurism instead of resorting to hyperbole. By the way, the hyperbole is less about calling hacking nudes a sex offense and more about calling people who look at them abusers.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Say you were a security professional, and got to watch women undress all day (and masturbate to it, because it’s a boring job otherwise).

        are you a sex offender?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Jessica Valenti very much ignores the idea that criminologists (whether paid for by the state or not) NEED to look at photos in order to do analysis. Someone pretended to get beat up in Bloomfield the other election year — all it took was one plastic surgeon (on Free Republic, of all places) to tell that it had been faked. But he needed to see the damn photo.

        … I know these are selfies, and it’s a different case. But looking at naked pictures taken unwillingly ought not to be a crime if you’re using it to stop people from dying.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Well, they quite possibly are hackers – it’s possible to be two kinds of criminal at once. Someone who breaks into a house to steal its contents is both a burglar and a thief.

      In the absence of better information, the best guess at the means by which they committed their sex offence is hacking.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        Yes it is possible, but in this case it isn’t true.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        You keep asserting that, but as far as I can tell your only argument for that assertion comes down to hair-splitting.

        As near as I can tell, we don’t know what jurisdiction(s) the offences took place in, but as a sample, here’s the Canadian criminal code definition of voyeurism:

        (1) Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if

        (a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;

        (b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or

        (c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

        Now, you could make the hair-splitting argument that hacking someone’s iCloud account in order to snoop through their selfies somehow does not qualify as “surreptitiously observing them through electronic means,” but I ain’t got time for that.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:


        I can’t believe we posted that at almost the same time, dragonfrog.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Well, they quite possibly are hackers – it’s possible to be two kinds of criminal at once. Someone who breaks into a house to steal its contents is both a burglar and a thief.

        I understand that – my point was more in the vein that, if someone kills a man and takes his wallet, the news media generally will not refer to him a “a thief” rather than “a murderer”.

        Just calling them “hackers” evades the more serious crime they committed.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        If I’m walking through my living room naked, and someone walking by on the sidewalk outside glances in the front window and sees me, who has committed a sex crime?Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:


        On the other hand, if you have the curtains drawn and the doors locked but you have a nanny cam to keep an eye on your kid, and someone has hacked it so that they watch you stroll through the house in the altogether and distribute the stills online, I’d say it’s at least arguable that that person is engaged in a sex offense.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:


        Wrong. And that’s not the only case, just the most recent one.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      They are sex offenders, and should be punished as such.

      Sure, I guess it’s a sex offense for some definition of the term. Why is it important to you that this be classified as a sex offense? I’m guessing that it’s because that sounds worse. Rape is a sex offense! Child molestation is a sex offense! Except this isn’t at all on the level of those crimes.

      The reality is that “sex offense,” as a term encompassing rape, child molestation, and distributing nude pictures without the consent of the subject, isn’t really a meaningful classification. All it means is a criminal offense that’s related to sex in some way.

      When you say they should be punished as sex offenders, you mean…what, exactly? That after serving their terms they should be forced to register as sex offenders and notify their neighbors whenever they move for the rest of their lives? In the US at least, that’s what it means to punish someone like a sex offender.

      Of course, it doesn’t make sense. We treat sex offenders specially because certain types of sex offenders pose special risks and have high rates of recidivism. That doesn’t seem to be an issue here, nor does notifying neighbors seem particularly apt for people whose crimes were committed on the Internet.

      The indiscriminate application of sex offender classification to any and all crimes related to sex in any way is what has led the government to ruin lives over stuff like this.

      Maybe you just meant they should be punished harshly. You can be punished quite harshly for computer crimes. In fact, we treat computer crimes specially too, such as by prohibiting those convicted from accessing the Internet during their probation, which seems much more appropriate in this case.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        and if you really get caught for being a hacker, you can lose the right/ability to work in computer science.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Setting aside for a moment the “and should be punished as such” part of the sentence, I think the distinction is meaningful in this: it’s not primarily a property crime, where the main right violated is the victims’ intellectual property rights as photographers, or the ability to exclude others from their Apple accounts. The main right violated is that of sexual integrity and autonomy of their victims.

        That’s a meaningful distinction to make.

        In the same way, failing to signal a right turn on a wide open country road and driving drunk at triple the speed limit through a school zone on the first day of classes are both traffic offences; stealing a loaf of bread and stealing a semi trailer full of gold bullion are both property offences; simple assault and murder are both violent offences. Recognizing the smallest instance of those categories of offences doesn’t devalue the terms themselves.

        Do you feel being a lower-tech voyeur – hiding in a tree with a camera and telephoto lens – is worthy of being called a sex offence (as it currently is in at least some jurisdictions)?

        If not, why not?

        If so, what is the important distinction that makes obtaining the pictures by hacking not a sex offence when getting them by climbing a tree is?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        To the second part of the sentence, “and should be punished as such,” Kim’s reply gets at a useful distinction, I think.

        If convicted of computer hacking, there could appropriately be parole terms restricting computer access, or rehabilitation relating to computer ethics.

        If convicted of a sex offence, there could appropriately be rehabilitation relating to attitudes and actions around women and sexual consent.

        And in this case, the latter seems to me more important than the former.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        it’s not clear to me that the accused, in particular, was the person hacking people’s accounts. (Havne’t read the data by Anon, and probably won’t). In the event that he was merely an aggregator, is that a sex crime?

        How about someone uploading selfies on /b/ to reddit? is that person guilty of a sex crime? theft of intellectual property?

        [obvs person/s who did hack the files is a different question]Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        do you think that this person is actually a Voyeur (whether that’s an interest or a fetish, idk…)?
        Because a lot of hackers will post something to prove that they actually got into someone’s account. It’s saying “see, I did it!” (now, sure, they probably ought to have posted less salacious pictures… but, um, it’s 4chan. /b/tards have an adolescent sense of humor).Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Sure, if one person only hacked the accounts, and another used that hacked access to find, obtain and distribute the pictures, then one is the hacker, the other is the sex offender.

        As far as voyeurism – I’m using the term “voyeur” in the sense of “one who commits the crime of voyeurism,” not “one who possesses a fetish around voyeurism.” I don’t really care about the motivations, just the actions.

        There are consensual ways a person could indulge such a fetish, which would make them a “voyeur” in the second but not the first sense. I’m not talking about that.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        sure. Consensuality totally doesn’t get into this (clearly nonconsensual).
        But, I think that you can counsel someone about Voyeurism (or at any rate give them websites where they can pay for something less likely to get them in trouble).

        I don’t think the hacker/s here (who may have been paid by someone) were actually all that into Voyeurism. [with the large amounts of nudie pics — does the internet RUN on pornography??– I’m hesitant to say that they didn’t enjoy perusing such things… But i think counseling people for inappropriate sexuality is what we ought to be doing for “sex crimes” == and I’m not sure that applies here.]Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Brandon’s point is not off here. Over-use of special modifiers for crimes is a problem. A woman was just charged in NY for vandalism with a hate-crime modifier. She was spray painting slogans about the NYPD harassing the innocent & poor, and (AFAIK) because she sprayed “NYPD=NAZIS” with a swastika, she is getting hit with a hate crime. I’m not sure if it will stick if she takes it to trial, but it takes a pretty contorted view of the hate crime laws to think she was being anti-semitic.

        Perhaps the theft & distribution of the photos is worthy of a sex crime. But we should be not so casual in wanting to use that modifier, at least not without some discussion. Which we are admittedly having, and having people push back against it’s application is a good thing. Helps to make sure the rationale for or against is solid.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        In fact, we treat computer crimes specially too, such as by prohibiting those convicted from accessing the Internet during their probation, which seems much more appropriate in this case.

        I certainly hope that’s part of the sentence.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        because she sprayed “NYPD=NAZIS” with a swastika, she is getting hit with a hate crime

        Are the Nazis now a protected class?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’m not sure if it will stick if she takes it to trial, but it takes a pretty contorted view of the hate crime laws to think she was being anti-semitic.

        Huh. I interpreted things the other way. Without any info to go on, I’d say that the crime she’s being charged with is hatin on cops. But it doesn’t take much to hurt those guys feelings, ya know?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “Are the Nazis now a protected class?”

        Nope, cops are.

        Protected by body armor, by riot shields and teargas and flashbang grenades and tanks and most of all, by near-absolute legal immunity from any consequences, despite abuse after clusterfuckup after overreach after corruption.

        Wait, what were we talking about again?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Well police are not a protected class, but Jews are, so if the NYPDs fee-fees are hurting, makes sense they’d try to wrap themselves in the cloak of another group so they can get their “Contempt of Cop” charge in there.Report

  8. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    a bunch of assholes living in their parents’ basement … guys who have never kissed a girl

    1) You have no idea if either is true.

    2) If it is true or not has nothing to do with the legality of their actions.

    3) By engaging in ad hominem attacks such as these, you are embarrassing yourself.

    Let’s see if @glyph has the guts to bring out Dice this time. Methinks not.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      This is an interesting choice of hills to defend.

      And thanks for reminding me of that pic. I had almost forgotten to picture it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “you are embarrassing yourself”

      Yeah, I’ll no doubt have to drink heavily tonight to sleep knowing I’ve mocked a bunch of guys that hack into women’s phones and post pictures of them nude online. My cross to bear, and all that.

      Still, we soldier on.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        I’ll no doubt have to drink heavily

        You mean like before you wrote this post?Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Thing is @tod-kelly , there are a ton of guys out there in “forever alone” space who are not raving misogynists. The reasons they are “forever alone” types varies, perhaps they are painfully shy, perhaps they are socially awkward, maybe they just have lousy hygiene, but whatever the case they are not automatically horrible dudes.

        But society relentlessly tells them that they are. We shame sexually unsuccessful men. We do not shame them as much as we shame (sexually-anything) women, cuz misogyny. But do not forget the basic structure of patriarchy. It oppresses women. But it ranks men.

        Why add to this? No doubt some of the men playing these hateful games on 4chan are perfect little incels. But not all. Why focus on this part?

        Shame these men for what they are: human shit.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        veronica –

        …that’s a really good point. I didn’t think of it when I was reading Tod’s post, but if we want to change prevalent male attitudes towards women, we need to stop making “doesn’t get laid” synonymous with “loser” and vice versa.

        Although, I think that men are more shamed for being virgins than women are.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Or what Veronica said.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Thank you, Veronica. I know a few of those guys (and was a late bloomer myself). Their aloneness is really hard on them, and some of them are damned decent people.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Hey Veronica. . . just yes. yes. yes. yes. yes.

        I consent to this logic.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @katherinemw — Yeah, I’m not sure how to rank this stuff, except to say I’ve lived as both a woman and a man, and I’ve dealt with hard shit on both sides. I think on the whole women get more crap from society.

        That said, masculinity is a fragile construction, in ways many women don’t quite get and many men can’t dare to face. This hurts people. (And yes, that is totally cliché. It is also totally true.)Report

      • Avatar Murali says:


        sorry to pile on, but as a person who while engaged, still fits the “never kissed a girl, lives with his parents” description, I think that line was unnecessarily offensive.Report

      • Avatar Fecal Matter says:

        I feel offended by the comparison, personally.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I admit the “bunch of assholes living in their parents’ basement” and “guys who have never kissed a girl” bits were unnecessary, not because they were “ad hominem attacks” (can we put something in the Comment Policy about the proper use of “ad hominem”?), but because there are a lot of people who live with their parents for various reason, or who have never kissed a member of their preferred sex(es), who don’t need to be insulted by being associated with the sick fucks who stole and disseminated those pictures.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I think a big part of Tod’s point was that it’s not just a bunch of dudes, no matter where they may live, it’s people who actually own and manage corporations, for-profit, who have decided it’s better to not only tolerate, but perhaps to cultivate this behavior because shaming it would, I dunno, cut into their ad revenues or something?

        Throughout the internet, there are people in positions of authority, mostly men, who have decided internet misogyny and sexual exploitation are perfectly acceptable, and not worth the effort of shaming.

        So there’s some shame due there, and not just to pajama-clad nerds living in their parent’s basement (though I have to admit my nerd lives in the attic, not the basement. Jobs that pay a living wage are hard to come by these days for 20-somethings.) And even in his attic perch, I pretty much know that he would blame the theives and of pictures and those who tolerate thieves and misogyny, and not the women who took the pictures as the ones wrong.Report

  9. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    Donald Newhouse, one of the owners of Advance Publications

    …which also owns The [Newark, NJ] Star-Ledger, which is Tony Soprano’s newspaper.

    It is also the de facto newspaper for the state of New Jersey.

    the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling that the taking and posting of pictures up minors’ skirts and dresses without their knowledge or consent was okey dokey

    Now, now. Be fair. It is just as legal to do the same to adults.Report

  10. Avatar James Hanley says:

    about the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling that the taking and posting of pictures up minors’ skirts and dresses without their knowledge or consent was okey dokey passed w

    I’m sorry, Todd, but this hits one of my pet peeves.

    A). The court did not say it was okey-dokey; they said the law as it stand doesn’t forbid it.

    B) It’s not the court’s job to say what is okey-dokey and what is not, but to determine whether extant law says something is okey-dokey or not.

    This common implication that the courts are giving approval to ugly actions they don’t find illegal misunderstands the role of the courts, and essentially asks them to be a free lance unelected legislature, and I guarantee you really don’t want that.

    So maybe put the blame where it belongs, on the Massachusetts legislature, not the judges who were merely noting that the legislature had not seen fit to ban that activity.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I agree with @james-hanley and IIRC the Mass courts basically begged the legislature to rewrite the law and the legislature did. There are lots of instances where the Court says “Dear legislatures, please fix this loophole.”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @scarletnumbers @james-hanley @saul-degraw



      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I’m more than willing to believe you meant it as a joke. But it’s such a common concept that one doesn’t expect to see it as a joke. Especially in a post where your–appropriate–anger is evident, I’m afraid it didn’t really read as a joke.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Also, about your legal advice. I just spent 1/2 hour on my porch talking to the cops. Turns out 911 wasn’t pleased about me asking to be connected to an unlisted out-of-state lawyer. Now my kids are terrified that daddy’s going to be gunned down by the police.


      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Finally, we get the warning we’ve all needed. Give me a second to go off this massive articulated loader before someone gets hurt.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Well, yes, it’s one thing to say that a particular statute does not forbid a specific activity, but it’s something else to say that a particular activity is not actionable at all. In the case of the upskirt photos, specific statutes did not violate them but the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts may have suffered from a failure of imagination, or a failure of nerve, in identifying a common-law tort — invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress — that might have been implicated by the offensive conduct. In the case of the Jennifer Lawrence (and other celebrities, let us not forget) photo dump, there seems little doubt that the torts of invasion of privacy and IIED are implicated. If Ms. Lawrence is a California or New York resident, she has a variety of statutory and common-law actions available as well.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        The Massachusetts case seems to have been a criminal case. In what way would torts be applicable? The Court can’t really say “a civil case might be successful, so the criminal one can be successful, too,” no?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        a civil case and a criminal case can both reach the same underlying conduct, as you know. But I would agree with the proposition that we should encourage judges to read criminal statutes narrowly, while reading tort law broadly.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Same conduct, yes. But we learned a great civics lesson in the case of the police who beat Rodney King, that it’s not the actual conduct, but the legal definition of that conduct that matters. Not that I was ever fully satisfied with the idea that double jeopardy doesn’t attach to the actual conduct, but there it is.Report

      • Burt – I’m not seeing how it would have been appropriate for the MA court to identify an applicable common-law tort under the circumstances. The issue before it was solely a criminal case, and specifically whether the criminal statute could have been interpreted in the way that the prosecution sought. I don’t think they indicated that a tort remedy was unavailable to the victims, though as a practical matter, I suspect it would be very difficult for victims to both identify themselves as victims and identify the perpetrator absent a criminal investigation. Thankfully for everyone, the criminal statute has been corrected now, which will hopefully make things easier in the future.Report

    • Avatar EB says:

      @tod-kelly yeah, the aside about the MA law is strange and wrong. From my view in Cambridge, the decision was massively controversial. The legislature swore that they would immediately change the law. They did so, IIRC literally as quickly as possible given legislative calendars, etc. Once the controversial thing was done away with, the controversy went away. What exactly should have been done differently? (Leaving aside @burt-likko and other’s arguments that the decision may have been wrong on the law).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d add that we should actually be careful how much imagination was want judges to apply when it comes to prosecuting people. On Law & Order, Jack McCoy was always coming up with inventive legal theories to charge people for crimes when what they did was outside the scope of the intent of the statute (though, typically, he’s going after Bad People). That makes for good TV, but it would be quite scary in a judge.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        I guess one thing is a random sleazoid got away with what (should have been) a crime. That kinda sucks. That fucker should’ve done some time.Report

      • FWIW, I don’t think it’s quite right to say that he got away with it in any meaningful sense. His name is now permanently associated with a very public case in which his actions were described with tremendous particularity. While the courts never got to directly address whether he actually engaged in those actions, no one is stopped from concluding that he did in fact do what he was accused of doing (and almost certainly did). Without the case proceeding in that manner, he’s looking at a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years and a $5000 fine – this is the same maximum sentence as Massachusetts has for solicitation of a prostitute, so you have some indication of what the likely punishment (as opposed to the maximum punishment) for this guy would have been – a fine and perhaps a month or two in county jail, perhaps no jail time at all since by all indications this would have been the guy’s first offense.

        The details of his actions readily available would have been more or less nonexistent to anyone without an interest or inclination in performing criminal background checks. Even with a criminal background check – and I’m largely making an educated guess here – most people would have been unable to turn up much more than just a listing that he was convicted of violating the peeping tom statute, which could have been subject to a wide range of interpretation as to what caused that conviction.

        More likely, not even that much happens, because the prosecutor had to have known that convicting under the terms of the existing statute was going to be an uphill battle, so there’s a strong possibility that they would have entered into a plea agreement for nothing more than probation, and maybe even a pretrial intervention arrangement (assuming that exists in MA) that wouldn’t show up on his criminal record at all.

        But now? The guy is infamous, and rightly so. The specific details of his alleged actions will come up with a basic Google search, and quite a few people won’t even need to do a Google search since they will already know the name associated with the case. The effects on this guy’s career and relationships are going to last years, and quite possibly for the rest of his life. Had he, by contrast, just gotten even a short jail sentence, his actions would have had little in the way of consequences once his sentence was up. As far as the public was concerned, his actions would have amounted to little more than a tick on the crime statistics for that year.

        And of course, the behavior that got him arrested is now clearly criminalized. We don’t know whether/if others had gotten caught doing what this guy was apparently doing previously, but there’s a fairly strong likelihood that at least some such people were then never actually charged with anything, much less convicted, due to the lack of a viable charge. Now, thanks to the way in which this guy proceeded and thus put his actions in the public eye, the statute has been fixed, and no longer is there a problem with a lack of a viable charge for people who try to do what he apparently did.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        FWIW, I don’t think it’s quite right to say that he got away with it in any meaningful sense. His name is now permanently associated with a very public case in which his actions were described with tremendous particularity.

        So the court of public opinion is ‘not getting away with it,’ a strong condemnation?

        Because that’s been much of my point throughout this debate — Lawrence, who did nothing wrong — is being tried in that same court. That’s the whole point of what’s wrong with the sexual shaming women experience.

        (And I know my tone frequently gets misunderstood, so to be clear — I’m not arguing, I’m building upon your comment.)Report

      • @zic Yeah, that sounds about right to me, on both counts, though I’m jumping into this late and haven’t had the chance to read your other comments on this thread.

        Regardless, Lawrence – and the other women who were violated in this episode (and – far more so, frankly – the countless other not-so-famous women violated by the whole revenge porn industry) – are being publicly humiliated and judged here in a way that is at least arguably worse than if they had committed some sort of a crime. The differences between the situations, of course, are that the guy in the MA case (1) actually did something immoral and wrong; and (2) more importantly, actively chose to put those actions in the public eye. He was permitted the agency to place his actions in the court of public opinion, whereas Lawrence, et al, were not granted that choice but instead had it forced upon them.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @mark-thompson — I certainly hope you are right.

        But then, a court and a prison term are set amounts, that we as a culture can somewhat agree on. But now, there is a lifelong sense of a debt unpaid. Should each employer that encounters this guy punish him once again?

        Don’t get me wrong. If his resume found its way onto my desk, it would quickly find its way to the garbage. Fuck that.

        But if he copped to his crime, and then served his time? Maybe then it would be different. Dunno.

        I think what irks me most is this fucker thought this was okay, that he fought the law. Had he said, “Yep. I fucked up. Women must hate this. Let me do my time,” then I might forgive. But the thumbed his nose at the law, thumbed his nose at every woman alive. It sucks in every way.

        Sometimes I despair for the gender wars.Report

      • @veronica-d While I think, absent some incredible and unforeseeable act of public contrition, this guy should have this follow him around for the rest of his life, the more important question is whether it will follow him around for the rest of his life. I think it indubitably will in the age of the internet, though there are probably ways for him to mitigate that substantially by paying a good amount of cash to some “reputation management” site or through the general effects of time on search results. But it will never completely go away for him. Even if the dude changes his name, that fact will presumably be easily uncovered so long as he seeks to keep his license to practice law. What’s more, in law, reputation is abnormally important, and I can’t imagine any firms – no matter how small – being willing to have their name so easily and closely linked with that behavior.

        Additionally, as I said above, had he negotiated a plea deal (then again, maybe no plea deal was going to be offered because the prosecutor was trying to make a test case out of this), the likely outcome would have been probation and a small fine, with a small possibility of avoiding anything being on his criminal record at all if he qualified for a pretrial intervention program. That would have been little different from what actually happened, except that the reputational effects would have been negligible. To me, “small fine + probation + nothing else” is significantly less punishment than “boatload of attorney fees + massive and irreparable reputational damage + possible civil suits, but no jail/probation/conviction.”

        And a point of clarification – it’s not right to say that he thumbed his nose at the law, and while he certainly thumbed his nose at every woman alive with his (alleged) behavior, I don’t think it’s right to say that his legal defense did so. The fact is that the original law was written to prohibit a particular disturbing act that was becoming a problem at the time that law was written but that had not been something that was historically done. Quite possibly, someone was caught using a zoom lens to take a picture of their undressing neighbor, but the prosecutors were unable to find any charges that could stick under the then-existing criminal statutes, if only because no one had ever anticipated that there would be people running around trying to surreptitiously surveil their neighbors in the hopes of catching them naked.

        Regardless, the point is that at some point, using a camera or telescope to spy on your neighbors’ bedroom and bathroom routine was not a crime, and it became a crime only when it became apparent that this was something that people were doing. Hopefully, that resulted in fewer people trying to spy on their neighbors’ bedroom and bathroom routines.

        That’s the same thing that happened here. The aforementioned “peeping tom” law was not written to prohibit “upskirting,” if only because when it was written, no anticipated that “upskirting” would become a thing, and there was no way to write the “peeping tom” law in a way that would have or could have covered similarly offensive – but unanticipated – behavior without also prohibiting a whole lot of anticipated but entirely inoffensive (and in some cases, socially valuable) behavior. The result was that the original peeping tom law could not possibly have been read to cover “upskirting,” as horrible a behavior as that is, and we can’t even say that the legislature originally intended to ban the behavior but just worded things poorly, if only because it was a behavior that no one anticipated ever even existing.

        That doesn’t mean that the behavior was acceptable, either legally or morally, though – there are plenty of immoral and offensive acts that are and will always be legal, and their legality makes them no less immoral and offensive, and as importantly, criminal law is only one aspect of the law. Civil law and common law exist as well, and common law tends to be comparatively good at adapting to cover a wide range of behavior that is offensive but legislatively unanticipated. It is not a stretch to say that, in a civil lawsuit by one of his victims, there’d be a reasonably good chance the dude would have been found liable under one of the long-existing privacy torts with only a slight expansion of existing common law.

        In any event, this dude was almost certainly not the first person to do this in Massachusetts, and quite likely not even the first one to get caught. But given how impossible it was to read the existing statute as covering this behavior (and it really is impossible to do so), it’s also quite likely that other people who were caught doing this were never even arrested, much less charged, and were already doing this with impunity.

        But no more – the statute has been updated.

        So even if we think the cost to this guy’s reputation is insufficient punishment, we have to weigh that against the fact that his lack of punishment has resulted in making it a lot harder for people to do this again in the future without facing criminal liability.

        I guess what I’m saying is that the outrage over this guy evading a conviction, while understandable, seems very misplaced to me. Yes, he was caught doing something horrible and abusive and that should have been illegal, but evaded any kind of criminal punishment. But so, presumably, did plenty of unknown others before him. The only differences are that in his case, he actually had to make the argument to a judge and, more importantly, because his arguments were ultimately -and, sadly perhaps, correctly – victorious, no one else caught doing this will ever again be able to so easily evade criminal punishment.

        What he did was legal when he did it, whether we like that fact or not. But there was nothing that could have been done about that once it occurred – you can’t retroactively criminalize things, and I hope everyone understands why that’s a power we don’t want government to have. The only thing that could have been done was to prevent it (or at least deter it) from happening again. And, unlike many other issues of this nature, this wasn’t a type of behavior unlikely to recur but instead is something that really was an ongoing, if underpublicized, problem. The steps most needed to start trying to deter this type of behavior have now been taken. That strikes me as far more important and significant than whether this one person had to serve 12 months’ probation.Report

  11. Avatar Paul S. says:

    Don’t pigeon hole the whole of Reddit as one entity. Reddit is a platform just like Facebook. If the pics were being distributed on FB would you call all FB users basement dwelling freak sex criminals? There are perverts on Reddit as well as righteous people.

    Of course on FB the site admins would do their best in blocking the sharing of those of pictures, and that touches in the issue of who controls your communication medium. If FB won’t allow you to share this information now, what other information will they disallow people to share in the future? Who decides on that?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Facebook decides on that, because it’s their platform. And if they choose not to allow the posting of illegally obtained photos that don’t express a political, religious, or personal point of view, and have no value other than prurience, they’re acting both legally and ethically.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      Well, Reddit is (of course) lots of people with lots of subforums. But there does seem to be a culture of the place, which is more or less white techbro culture. And white techbro culture is a cesspool of fail.

      I disagree strongly with Tod’s geek shaming and virgin shaming. Fuck that noise. It was out of line. But techbro culture is really fucking awful in so many ways. And Reddit (but more the *-chans) is thick with this crap.

      They are implicated.

      You here to stand up for Reddit and the bros? Bite me.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    @tod-kelly and others

    Regarding the illegality of posting the pictures, I saw a headline indicating at least one of the women (that gymnast… Mulroney or something?) is believed to be underage in the photos. Whoops!Report

  13. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem like folks are a bit more upset that some hackers stole some nudies than they were that the NSA was having fun with the same?Report