Jeneé Osterheldt

Celebrities’ nude photos aren’t meant for you

Actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, have seen their private moments gone public.
Actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, have seen their private moments gone public. Invision/AP

People who take inappropriate pictures of themselves deserve exactly what they get — says Clay Aiken.

Over the weekend, hackers leaked another batch of celebrity nudes for the second time in a month. And pictures are still pouring in. Jennifer Lawrence, Jill Scott, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Gabrielle Union and Hayden Panetierre are just a few starlets who have been exposed. Each time it becomes an event. People want to see the goods. They want to comment, judge and laugh.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Aiken, the “American Idol” runner-up turned aspiring congressman, said we need to take a deeper look at Internet privacy laws. That’s true, but he still doesn’t get it. Most of the blogosphere doesn’t get it. These women are not to blame. They do not deserve to have their images shared and retweeted. And what’s so inappropriate about intimacy between loved ones?

You may buy their music, watch their movies and fan out for them, but these celebrities are not your property. Just because you see them in the nude on screen or they dress seductively on the red carpet does not mean you should happily violate their most private moments.

Just because Gabrielle Union, an actress, shared naked pictures of herself with her husband, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, does not mean she wants to share them with millions of people on the Internet. Her private moment should not mean public humiliation. No one, famous or not, should endure this. Union, a rape survivor, has contacted the FBI, which is conducting a larger investigation.

“I can’t help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them,” the couple said in a statement to TMZ. “These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide. … For anyone out there also being affected by these and other hacking and hate crimes, we send our love, support and prayers. We have done nothing wrong.”

None of these stars have done a thing wrong. But people looking have. It isn’t rape. But it feeds into a culture of rape, of sexual ownership and taking what is not yours. It’s the idea that because a woman is naked, you have the right to see her. Uninvited.

Earlier this year, the rape of 16-year-old Jada, a Houston teen, was recorded and mocked on social media. A rape went viral. And it’s not the first time. Why are we so obsessed with seeing what we should not?

In the most recent issue of Allure, 17-year-old actress Chloë Grace Moretz says she stands up for herself every day of her life. At age 13, she was asked to pose in a sheer dress with no bra for a magazine.

“I’m in a business where there’s so much inequality. Every role I get (offered) is either a sexualized character or a girl who got raped,” she said. “It’s like, why can’t I just be a girl? Why can’t I just be a teenage girl who likes her life?”

At some point, we have to examine the underlying reasons that drive us to humiliate women, to find shame in their intimacy and exploit their pain. Every click and share doesn’t just steal from the celebrities, it chips away at our morality.

Do not peek at those links with irrational justifications like, “If she didn’t want people to see the pictures she wouldn’t have taken them.” Be better than that.

To reach Jeneé Osterheldt, call 816-234-4380 or email josterheldt@kcstar.com. “Like” her page on Facebook and never miss a column. On Twitter @jeneeinkc.

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