Why Stolen Photos Matter

It’s not because of the money.

It’s true that under the law, you have some kind of right to your own public image. You have a right to keep private images private. You have a right not to be embarrassed by things that were kept carefully secret. And there’s sometimes money involved there. And I don’t worry about those things, because celebrities have a cadre of lawyers and agents and contracts at their disposal, and if there’s money to be gained it will be.

So, it’s not because of the money.

It’s because of the reactions. Have you seen them?

  • “Well maybe don’t take naked pictures.”
  • “Don’t trust the cloud.”
  • “They’ve put out their naked image before, now they want to act like that image should be private?”
  • “The media talking about it just convinces our teenage boys to go looking for these images and makes it worse!”

At the risk of sliding right off the deep end, let me make some comparisons here:

  • “Well maybe you shouldn’t have worn such a short skirt.”
  • “Don’t get drunk.”
  • “If you’ve had sex with him/her before, s/he can take that as consent going forward.”
  • “We’re going to ruin those poor boys’ lives.”

Stop. Stop this now. Nobody has a right to anybody else’s body. Not in images. Not in physical reality. Not by theft. Not by hacking. Not by abuse. Not by force. Not by coercion. Not by ANY DAMN WAY YOU CAN GET IT WITHOUT FULL, ENTHUSIASTIC, MUTUAL CONSENT.

How many times has this happened with male celebrities? How many times has George Clooney’s phone been hacked and nude photos taken? I haven’t heard about Jared Padalecki’s iPhone being hacked when I turn on Entertainment Tonight. And it’s not like men aren’t taking pictures of themselves naked. Have you been on dating websites lately? Craigslist? It’s penises for DAYS. So you can’t tell me that naked selfies are a feminine phenomenon.

Yet, it’s always images of women that are stolen and distributed. It’s always images of women that “cause a scandal.” Think of how invasive that is. That as a person who identifies as female, you don’t even have the right to the storage your risque selfies take. That at any time, any person can take those and display them to the world, because your right to privacy is worth that little.

Tell me that’s not fucked up.

Tell me that’s not where the devaluation of women’s bodies starts.

Tell me it’s just about the money.

I’ll be waiting.

By amandamarieg

Amandamarieg is a lawyer who does not work as a lawyer. She once wrote up a plan to take over the world and turned it in as a paper for a college course. She only received an A-, because she forgot that she would need tech geeks to pull off her scheme.

6 replies on “Why Stolen Photos Matter”


I don’t disagree with anything that you have to say. I would just like to add to it. With regards to the photos and celebrities, if they have the money to hire a cadre of lawyers and agents then they have to money to hire one good computer geek to help them set up a secure firewall system for their home computer. Take all the pictures that they want, nude or otherwise, then sluff them off the phone onto the secure network and erase them off the phone. In other words if you want to control your image, then take responsibility for it and actually control your image!

As a mom, what I teach my own daughter is that “no one should care about your well being more than you do!” IF you are going to take pictures of yourself, then take responsible measures to control those images. IF you are going to drink in public to the point that you are by yourself and passed out, then you are relying on total strangers to care about your well-being more than you!” Does that sound intelligent and responsible for yourself?

In a “perfect” world, everyone would care about everyone else so much that not only would these images not be an issue but we would live in a utopia where no crimes of any kind would ever happen to anyone. But since the world is not so, I think an important part of being a “smart” woman in our society is also being your own best advocate, and privacy protector and “well-being” protector and not abdicating that responsibility to a total stranger.

You’re probably right. Celebrities can hire people to take care of that. You know who can’t? Normal people. Teenage girls, probably much like your daughter, whose phones still get hacked. And it’s HER fault for taking the photos? Not somebody else’s for stealing them?

The problem is not a lack of intelligence or responsibility. The problem is, and I hate just throwing things at this word, but nevertheless, misogyny. I can be my own best advocate until the cows come home, but what happens when I fall down and hit my head? What happens when I don’t understand technology, but wanted to take one picture? What happens when I wear a skirt that’s really not that short and get literally CHASED down the street by a group of men who think that gives them the right to touch me? (And yes, that last one has happened.)

The problem is that no matter how much we say “take responsibility for your actions” why is it always my job to take responsibility for the illegal, harrassing, abusive actions of someone else?


As I noted, I agree with you. And I certainly don’t condone any negative, bullying or illegal behavior from anyone. And BTW, I tell my teenage son all the exact same things that I tell my daughter.

If your teens are going to use technology, they need to be aware of how to protect themselves too. Many girls are harmed by photos, not because someone “hacks” into their phone or their infrastructure, but because they themselves have sent their pictures to others, where they loose control of what happens to it. As a parent, my job is to teach my kids about the consequences of their actions to themselves and to others around them. And to help them understand all the levers that they have control of. Once again, my best advise is that YOU are the person BEST suited to do all that YOU can to protect your best interest. Its not rocket science, just good advice.

As far as falling down and hitting your head, accidents were not in the scope of the behavior that you or I were addressing. I was addressing behavior that individuals engage in where they themselves can ameliorate their exposure to risks. It never eliminates 100% of the risk but it can greatly improve your odds of a better outcome. For example, there is not a nude photo in existence of myself. So unless someone photoshops something(and if they do, I hope I look great . . . wink wink . . .), the risk approaches 0% chance of being exposed. So if you choose to take a photo of yourself, you should take every precaution to not in fact play a role in your own exposure. Its just a smart and responsible thing to do if you care about the outcome.

If you are going to drink alcohol, there are all kinds of precautions that we are all obligated to do BY LAW to prevent drunk driving. So that is not that different than as an individual, having a standard for yourself (male or female) that you will not allow yourself to be so drunk in public that you can no longer take care of yourself or make rational decisions. IF you are going to rely on strangers to make better decisions for you than you were willing to make for yourself then you are playing russian roulette with the outcome. (And I hate dirtbag people who victimize people in that or any state of being . . . not condoning it). I’m just saying that you had a choice at hand . . . to create the risk or not! Its a decision each person has to make for themselves. Sometimes we are victims of our own bad judgement.

As for clothing, short skirts, tight pants and all. I despise that we have a culture where men think they constantly get to comment on how women look and what they wear! I didn’t tolerate it in the people I chose to date, or be friends with or in my choice of a husband. Interestingly enough, because of this case, my teenage son and I got to have a great conversation about this exact issue. He showed me the Jon Stewart segment on this exact issue from the other night and that kicked off a great conversation about it. The best thing that I can do is to try my best to raise my son in a way that he doesn’t contribute to this awful behavior. From our conversation, I think I’ve done a good job.


I agree with you when it comes to common sense about taking that extra step when it comes to keeping sensitive photos private. I think, though, that the biggest thing is that it’s very sad that there are hackers who are willing to do whatever it takes to get through those safety precautions to access those sensitive photos. You can take all of the precautions you would like, but in the end, if someone is enough of an asshole and pervert and wants to get to those photos, they will find a way to get to them and will also find a way to distribute them to the assholes who want to take a look at it. You can take all of the precautions you would like, be they big or small, but when there’s a will to get at something, someone will find a way. The problem is, when it comes to this case, the women who took the photos are being blamed, not the asshole pervert who hacked into their accounts and saw fit to distribute the pictures because they think it’s funny. And that attitude needs to change.

I agree with your point that you do not have a right to anyone’s body without consent. I don’t think this concept should be limited to women, though. I’ve seen nude pictures of Jude Law on line, obviously taken while he was on vacation by paparazzi from far away with a zoom lens. It is no better to take clandestine photos of a nude male celebrity an distribute it (along with blog comments about penis size, I might add) than it is to do it to a female celebrity.

Fully agree, and never meant to imply otherwise. The only point I was trying to make with focusing on the leaks on the female form is that they are MUCH more sensationalized. It’s entirely a form of slut shaming. To contrast with your Jude Law example (and apparently debating the size of his penis) when the photos of Kate Middleton were taken, again from far away with a zoom lens, it was a SCANDAL that she would be topless. It’s wrong either way, but it’s treated differently by culture/the media.

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