Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift & The Problem With “Takedown Culture”

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The news of an anonymous hacker breaking into the iCloud accounts of major female celebrities and leaking their private photos from their phone to the public via the internet on a website called 4chan shows our digital age has hit an all-time low.

Let’s be clear, this is not a scandal, and none of what’s wrong with this incident has to do with the fact that these women have nude photos of themselves. It is a blatant violation of privacy using an attitude that because they are celebrities this is part of their job and they don’t have a right to privacy.

The female celebs included Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, Amber Heard, Gabrielle Union and most notably Jennifer Lawrence. The media has been waiting with baited breath for an official statement, and finally J Law shared her thoughts in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine.

“I was just so afraid. I didn’t know how this would affect my career,” she starts off saying. We are horrified that the cowardly actions of a few anonymous and clearly bored people would have such an effect on this strong awesome woman. But don’t worry, the signature Jennifer Lawrence strength shone through the more she talked.

“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she says. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”

She had contemplated writing a statement earlier, when the photos were leaked on August 31, but everything she wrote made her angry or cry. Never a good emotion to send a powerful statement, so she waited until things had calmed down and she had gathered her thoughts.

“I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

It just reiterates what a screwed up culture we live in where the crime is overlooked in favor of what these women are doing in their private lives.

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“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

But her message was also for the tabloid media, as much as it was the people who chose to look at the photos and send them.

“You have a choice. You don’t have to be a person who spreads negativity and lies for a living. You can do something good. You can be good. Let’s just make that choice and—it feels better.”

Well said and she explains the exact reason why GTHQ exists: to combat the slew of never-ending negativity that is passed off as “entertainment” or “news” in the media everyday.

Taylor Swift said it best in a recent interview with Good Morning America promoting her new single ‘Shake It Off’ which is a message about ignoring the haters and shaking off negativity.

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“The message in the song is a problem we all deal with, an issue we deal with on a daily basis – we don’t live just in a celebrity takedown culture, we live in a takedown culture. People will find anything about you and twist it to where it’s weird or wrong or annoying or strange or bad.”

Takedown culture has been in full force since the nude photos were leaked, and there was another incident which showed this culture is aiming at taking down women.

Emma Watson gave a rousing speech about feminism, equality and engaging men in the conversation about gender issues while launching the He for She campaign for UN Women at the end of September. After the speech went viral, there was news of the same group of hackers threatening to leak nude photos of Emma.

It brought to light a much more sinister motive of these criminals (yes, let’s call them what they are). We live in an age that has seen the rise of strong women who speak out about issues they feel passionate about, including feminism. Both Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson are strong supporters of the idea and aren’t afraid to say it publicly.

Why is a strong woman such a threat to society? Plenty of studies show that when a woman is empowered globally, communities benefit, companies thrive and yield better results, and one educated girl speaking up can have the potential to empower an entire generation of women to understand the benefits of investing in young girls.

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Sure these are global issues, so what role does the media play in all of this? Like Jennifer says, they have a responsibility, a choice, to be different. Unfortunately, women are all too often the targets of ridicule and shame in the media, and female celebs are positioned in such a way that female audiences are taught that being competitive, bitchy, negative and divisive is the only way to success.

The notion of fostering a culture where empowerment, encouragement, inspiration and support are the main driving forces in a girl’s life are seen as a waste of time by the media because it isn’t sexy, and nor does it generate clicks.

If there is a lesson to be learned by Jennifer Lawrence’s reaction, and how the whole nude photo leak incident has played out, it’s that we need to start valuing women and their bodies more. We need to respect the intimate spaces we claim as our own, without having to feel like society has the right to judge us from behind a keyboard according to some unrealistic standards that are perpetuated.

The leaked nude photos don’t achieve anything. Jennifer Lawrence will keep making great movies and continue to be respected. Kim Kardashian will continue to make millions of dollars and chalk this incident up to just another tabloid arrow to swat away. And feminism, well it will thrive and come to the forefront of mainstream media more than ever. Because when you target young feminists for believing in something so simple as equality, not even the “take down culture” will win this war.

Well done Jennifer for staying calm and being willing to share your vulnerability and anger at this issue. Keep being your badass self. Like you have asked, WE have made the choice to be better, to choose positivity and support for women because this issue proves we need it more than ever.

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