Sex Crime in the 21st Century

We didn’t have enough national nightmares already this year, so some anonymous, pitiful men on the internet decided to create another one. This weekend, someone hacked into dozens of celebrities’ phones and stole their private photos. Some are nude selfies, but others are just normal pictures. Now they’re all on the internet. Alarmingly (even in the context of this entire theft being alarming), some of them are labeled “unknown,” because they hacked somebody’s phone and stole nude photos without even knowing who it was.

Now we have graphic, viral proof of America’s woman-hating underbelly. There’s a whole subculture of men out there applauding this and shaming the photo-takers:

“Johnny M. Pozzi” (real name John M. Pozzini) also wrote this on Twitter recently: “Muslims have no sense of humor. They’re too busy worshiping false gods and wearing stupid shit on their head.” [sic] [sick]

Ladies, "Do you have a Reddit account?" is probably something you should ask on the first date.

Ladies, “Do you have a Reddit account?” is probably something you should ask on the first date. Apparently this applies to lesbians too.

Johnny Pozzini’s comment, “It’s not fair that only the guys of your choosing get to see the photos,” made me wonder if this theft is a hate crime. (No: hate crime statutes require the threat or use of physical force.) But the sub-human Pozzini is saying that women do not have civil rights. He’s contending that it is perfectly legal and “fair” for women to have their property stolen, if their property is something that he wants. By this logic, it’s not fair that only Bill Gates’s family gets to enjoy his wealth, so I should take his money.

Of course, few people put that into practice with money. We don’t help ourselves to the rich. But men do this to women, every single day, every single minute, because so many men still consider their fellow human beings to be property. Have you noticed that men are calling this a “leak” while women call it “theft”? This creepy culture of pick-up artists, “Red Pills”, men’s rights activists, and anonymous hackers legitimately doesn’t believe that women have the right to control their property, their sexual choices, or their bodies.

"Wait," you ask. "What is this Red Pill thing you mentioned?" "Ugh," I reply, "did you really want to know?"

“Wait,” you ask. “What is this Red Pill thing you mentioned?” “Ugh,” I reply, “did you really want to know?”

There’s more evidence that these men deny women basic rights. The evidence is that thousands of women, professional sex and pornography workers, willingly offer up their sexualities to this audience. Why would these men rather see pictures of famous people? Because they’re famous, and because they’re unwilling. Stealing the private sex lives of famous people is pretty damn close to rape.

And it’s not like pornographers are falling short of demand. You can find that stuff for free in about a billion places, often professionally shot, well-lit, in focus, and in high definition. These celebrity nude selfies are definitely not professional. I’m about to describe some, and I apologize if this offends you, but you can’t understand just how stupid, offensive, and aggressive this theft is without seeing at least a description of the stolen articles.

To the pond slime of the internet, “you’re famous” is more important than “you have rights,” “you’re a human being,” or even “you take hot photos.” Why else would they be clamoring to see Kate Upton naked, but seated right in front of a lamp so she’s a grainy dark blur? Or a photo of Upton, fully clothed, eating yogurt? I’m pretty sure none of them thought they would be downloading a photo of her boyfriend, pitcher Justin Verlander, passed out on top of his bed, pants around his ankles, his shirt failing to cover his smooth, shaved testicles. (That photo raises another question about consent. Did Verlander know the picture even existed?)

In other words, the photos are boring. They’re worthless except as shaming devices and weapons. If they belonged to non-famous people, nobody would care. If they came from a porn company, nobody would buy them. The reason they have been leaked is that men in our society believe that if a woman becomes famous, she deserves sexual assault.

So to summarize, we have a lot of famous people taking uninteresting photos of themselves, some of them sexual and all of them private. Then we have anonymous hackers who believe they are entitled to see these photos, because the famous people won’t publish them, and that’s unfair. The hackers steal this property for men everywhere who feel no guilt enjoying it. They blame the victims (why did you leave it somewhere hackable?), shame the victims (why did you take these photos?), and loathe themselves (we needed to see them because we’re undateable).

It’s fashionable to say that sexual assault perpetrators “objectify” women. But “objectify” is not the word for what has happened with these women (and Justin Verlander’s shiny balls). They’re the victims of a theft and an assault. Ironically, the men who downloaded these photos out of lust also downloaded them out of hate. They hate that women are no longer subjugated. They hate that women are sexually active. They hate that women have rights. They hate that women are human beings at all. There is no graver threat to the citizens of this country.

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18 Comments

Filed under Ill-Informed Opinion

18 responses to “Sex Crime in the 21st Century

  1. Matt Christensen

    If you don’t delete this article I will report you for slander.

  2. I doubt you will. “Slander” refers to words spoken out loud, not writing.

  3. Cristina

    It’s interesting how some people feel this blog post is a crime, yet fail to realize that what happened to these celebrities really is a crime.

  4. I hadn’t heard about this (yeah I live under a rock). I have goosebumps just reading about it. Thanks for your insightful analysis (as usual).

  5. Johnny Pozzi

    You are such an idiot. I don’t know where to begin.

    First you assume my comments are misogynistic in nature. You have no reason to assume this, whatsoever, other than the fact that my comments were directed toward a human who happened to be of the female gender.

    What you are not taking into account is the mere fact that my comment would still apply if I were speaking to a human who happened to be a man. By using comments “woman-hating underbelly” and “But the sub-human Pozzi is saying that women do not have civil rights” you clearly have a bias toward misogynistic attitudes, and you want to disseminate that agenda.

    You should look up the the gorilla experiment. In this experiment, there is a series of visual tests asking its recipients to spot specific things. But unbeknownst to them, there’s a gorilla that most people don’t see. That’s because what humans are looking for has a direct correlation to what we see – thus, you have an agenda against misogyny, so you found it in my comments where none exists.

    Since I’m straight, I likely wouldn’t make the same comment on a man’s Twitter page, but that doesn’t mean I do not feel the same way about males. A male celebrity also forfeits his privacy when he becomes a celebrity. it’s the nature of the beast.

    Alas, I am going to enjoy making a lot of money off this article because it’s illegal to use someone as a source in an article without their permission.

  6. I don’t you get to claim “It’s not fair that only people you choose get to see your pictures” and then argue that you can choose who gets to use your quotes.

    But it is unfair that I don’t get to see the expression on your lawyer’s face when you explain your complaint.

  7. “Sorry, but it’s not fair that the guys of your choosing get to see the photos while the ugly, less fortunate guys do not. You deserve this because a girl like you would never date me in real life, no matter how nice and courteous I was. Karma!”

    Your comments never discussed privacy or celebrities’ rights. They only addressed your views about being entitled to womens’ bodies. Is this why girls like M.E. Winstead will never date you? Karma!

  8. Ariana

    Hahaha. I love the Johnny Pozzi response. Its the equivalent of, “You assume I’m misogynistic because I made a misogynistic comment?? You’re obviously an idiot. I totally have lots of women friends!” Switch misogynistic with racist and women with black and you’ve got a pretty common joke. Good thing he also made sure we know he’s straight. That’s always important.

    Also, you’re absolutely allowed to use tweets. They’re public record. Ask Justine Sacco how that worked out Mr. Pozzi.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2014/03/17/quoting-tweets-is-fine-but-twitter-is-afraid-to-say-so/

  9. Jamie

    “By this logic, it’s not fair that only Bill Gates’s family gets to enjoy his wealth, so I should take his money. Of course, few people put that into practice with money. We don’t help ourselves to the rich.”

    This is not a very strong analogy. That’s exactly what we do with taxation- very many Americans get to enjoy Bill Gates’ wealth in the form of government services. You mention Bill Gates because he’s a wealth celebrity, people know far and wide that he has tons of money. As a result of this there is strong pressure on him not only to contribute to the common pot through taxation, but also to donate money to charity- another way in which lots of people get to enjoy his wealth.

    We live in a society in which women’s bodies are heavily commodified. Very many women (e.g. Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus) have gained celebrity and with it vast wealth and power by taking control of the commodification of their own bodies.

    When a highly visible attractive woman creates digital images of her nude body, she has made something that our society values highly, and thus people develop a greed for it- just like when they see that Bill Gates has a lot of money and think that he should share it. People are angry when the wealthy hide their money from taxation, and happy when they’re discovered and punished. I think the same thing is happening here to some extent.

    Personally I appreciate the nude form- there’s a long cultural history of venerating the human body, and body shame comes from a set of religious values to which I do not adhere.

    The question then is why do we put so much monetary value on women’s bodies? Why do boobs sell unrelated products? Why can certain celebrities demand six or seven figures for nude photos in Playboy etc? Why, conversely, do we hide our children’s eyes from nipples, when they can see highly sexualized images of (fully consenting) women on instagram?

    The answer may be a form of sexism, but it is not misogyny. Misogyny is men engaging in homosexual relationships with each other, while locking their wives in the attic to protect their chastity. Misogyny is men preventing women from owning property, going to school, or driving cars. Misogyny is practicing genital mutilation to quell female sexuality.

    Some people feel hatred toward the celebrities whose photos were leaked, just as you feel hatred toward Bill Gates’ family when you imagine them enjoying luxuries that you’ll never experience. Some people will always take delight in the misfortunes of others- they’re happy that these women lost something valuable, not because they hate womankind, but because of jealousy.

    How do we change our culture so that women’s bodies are not worth money? Is it right to curb sexual attraction to the body of the preferred sex? I don’t have the answers to these questions, do you?

  10. Anon

    “Misogyny is men engaging in homosexual relationships with each other.” Uhhhh

  11. Jamie

    Hi Anon,

    First I want to congratulate you on pulling a quotation completely out of its context!

    I don’t think there’s anything particularly misogynistic about gay men, although there are misogynists of every gender and orientation.

    Here’s the context from my comment: “Misogyny is men engaging in homosexual relationships with each other, while locking their wives in the attic to protect their chastity.”

    I’m referring, of course, to Classical Athens, when citizen men kept their wives and daughters locked up on the second floor of their houses never to interact with anyone, have a real education or participate in society (outside of a few designated religious holidays), because they feared female sexuality so much. They engaged in homosexual relationships not because they were all gay, but rather because they believed that men were more worthy of real love and respect than women.

    If all you took from my comment was homophobia, then I’m afraid your reading comprehension is very poor indeed.

  12. Jamie

    While I’m here, I have a question for the author.

    You write, “We didn’t have enough national nightmares already this year, so some anonymous, pitiful men on the internet decided to create another one.”

    If the hackers are anonymous, then how do *you* know they are male? Aren’t you engaging in a form of sexism by making the assumption that only men are willing or capable of hacking female nudes?

  13. Anon

    Homophobia isn’t “all I took from your comment,” and I realize that Brian’s article is about women and that by engaging this aspect of your comment further I’m pulling away from that. So I’ll keep this in brackets and won’t comment any further.

    Of course Athenians weren’t “gay;” “gayness” is a modern concept. It’s unfair to say that their “homosexual relationships” existed because they thought “men were more worthy of real love and respect than women.” Traveling through time and fixing a narrative on long-dead men that reduces their same-sex interactions to an act of spite against women is, I’m sorry, homophobic and damaging. (Is male homosexuality intrinsically misogynistic? Maybe it is, I’m actually not sure. I think reasonable people could argue that it is. Either way, gay sex isn’t about spiting women.)

    Was it the “homosexual activity” that made Athenians misogynistic, or locking the women upstairs? If only the latter, why did you mention the “homosexual activity”? Why was that the main clause in the sentence? Why does that make their treatment of women so much grosser? Would the act have been less reprehensible if straight (“straight”) men did it? I realize that this is a quibble over grammar, but I see implicit homophobia in a lot of feminist critiques similar to yours, so I just wanted to push back. It’s really not a huge deal, and as I said I won’t address this again because it’s such a tangent to the article. (And my reading comprehension is fine, thanks—I understood your intended point.)

  14. Jamie

    “Is male homosexuality intrinsically misogynistic?”

    It absolutely depends on how you define misogynistic. In the way that we talk about misogyny in contemporary America, probably not.

    I think you’re right to point out that the Athenians engaging in homosexual relations is not necessarily linked to their misogyny as a culture, and more inflammatory than it needs to be. I’ll amend that portion of my comment:

    Misogyny is men locking their wives in the attic and disallowing them from participating in society.

  15. @Jamie: Despite taxation, stealing money from Bill Gates is still illegal and wrong. So is stealing private photos from someone’s phone, no matter who they are. Despite the fact that some celebrities profit from their physical appearance, it was a violation of privacy to steal and share these photos.

    I’m a scientist, so in a way, I profit off of my ideas. I publish some ideas in papers. It’s not ok for someone to walk into my lab and steal my unpublished data and scribbles in notebooks and post them online.

    Brian, I think it’s an excellent analogy 🙂

  16. Anon

    Jamie—I’m sorry I started a quibble about semantics with you, and rereading our comments I do feel I misrepresented you and your argument. This is a space to talk about women’s issues, not gay men’s issues. (Though I am dismayed by how often “homophobia” or whatever you want to call it slips into mainstream feminist discourse).

    I’d like to address the meat of your argument. I think we as Americans have a lot of work to do in terms of how we view women’s bodies. We’re titillated by breasts, disgusted by nipples, scared of vulvae. We commodify women’s bodies and then revile women who take ownership of that commodification. We tell girls to guard and protect their chastity, and if they don’t we get a feeling of satisfaction when they are “punished.” (This is why STDs are still a punchline, and why a lot of people think that Jennifer Lawrence et al. are just getting what’s coming to them.) There’s not nearly as much baggage attached to the male body (or even to women’s bodies in other countries). I think a lot of forward-thinking people are (rightfully) quick to condemn the hackers, but don’t want to think about what aspects of their own ideology and behavior contribute to a world where hacking into phones and publishing grainy nude pix is a thing people do.

    A lot of it has to do with entitlement—men’s entitlement to women’s bodies and their sexualities, but also other women’s entitlement over other women’s bodies and other women’s sexualities. (This is obvious to me, but many people want to sweep it under the rug: women share culpability in all this).
    Hopefully we can use this event as an impetus to reflect on our own value systems and our own complicity in this whole schema, instead of condemning other people and then washing our hands of it without a moment’s introspection.

  17. Jamie

    Carina,

    I don’t think anyone disagrees that stealing is illegal. Until we get more information about how and by whom these images were stolen, it is difficult to comment on what crimes were committed, and so what punishments the American legal system demands, assuming of course that the perpetrators can be identified and located.

    I’m more interested in a conversation about why we (we as American society at large) want these images, and why we feel entitled to see them.

    Why did Brian immediately link the theft of money from a celebrity known for being wealthy to this theft, from women known for their beauty and sexiness? Why do we monetize women’s bodies?

    Brian concludes:
    “It’s fashionable to say that sexual assault perpetrators “objectify” women. But “objectify” is not the word for what has happened with these women (and Justin Verlander’s shiny balls). They’re the victims of a theft and an assault. Ironically, the men who downloaded these photos out of lust also downloaded them out of hate. They hate that women are no longer subjugated. They hate that women are sexually active. They hate that women have rights. They hate that women are human beings at all. There is no graver threat to the citizens of this country.”

    I don’t know what’s “fashionable” with regard to sexual assault, but I think that claiming this was all done out of hatred for women and their accomplishments is a bunch of empty rhetoric, and assuming that it was men devalues the whole argument. Would someone rob Bill Gates because they hate that he’s successful? Maybe, but it would mostly be about acquiring his valuable commodity. As long as female sexuality is treated as a quantifiable commodity, there will be people (both men and women) looking to steal it, exploit it, profit from it.

    Instead of outrage over this specific theft, which will be forgotten before next Monday in favor of the next internet thing, it would be more productive to initiate a deeper discussion about American attitudes toward the female nude in this case, and the rising gender conflict more generally.

  18. For someone who isn’t interested in this particular conversation you sure have a lot to say. Sounds like you need to write your own blog post about these topics you think are more productive to discuss.

    I don’t think it’s a big mystery…sex and sexiness are monetized because of laws of supply and demand. And both evolution (i.e., there are different strategies to achieve high fitness for the sex that produces cheaper vs. more expensive gametes) and societal conditioning (e.g., men and women with many sexual partners would be seen as studs vs. sluts) contribute to the differences in how we view male and female sexuality. You’re right, those conversations could go much deeper…elsewhere…

    I think one of the big points you are missing here is that it is both the theft *and the reaction to it* that is disturbing. Comments like “you deserved this” are misogynistic and disgusting. Period.

    And maybe you’ll forget this specific theft, but I won’t. Just like I don’t forget the times that I’ve been harassed or belittled because I’m a woman. These incidents are ugly reminders that my safety cannot be taken for granted, and I have to work harder to achieve my goals, because I’m XX instead of XY.

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