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Jennifer Lawrence, boa constrictors and consent

Actor Jennifer Lawrence's photos for Vanity Fair caused controversy on the Internet. (Wikimedia Commons)
Actor Jennifer Lawrence’s photos for Vanity Fair caused controversy on the Internet. (Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this month, Vanity Fair released a photo of Jennifer Lawrence from their Fall issue.  The photo depicts a nude Lawrence with a boa constrictor partially covering her body.

Several months ago, photos of numerous female celebrities, including Lawrence, were leaked onto the internet by hackers.  These hackers, whose identities are still unknown, violated these women’s privacy by delving into their personal cloud servers.  Their actions disgusted me.

However, their cyber-attack was not unlike attacks women go through on a daily basis, with people releasing private photos not meant for everyone’s eyes.  Because this started happening to celebrities, more attention has been given to issues of privacy.

As I have said before in both my Sep. 30 and Oct. 17 pieces about these photo hackings, I am a fan of Lawrence. I take issue with some of the things she’s said in some of her interviews, but I take issue with things almost every person I’ve met has said.  Naturally when these photos leaked, I took great issue with a person invading someone’s — someone I admire and idolize — privacy.

But this was not the only thing that popped into my mind when I heard about these photo hackings. It also got my mind rolling on the issues of consent that female and woman-identifying bodies face every day.

As soon as the boa photo dropped, the web exploded.  The reaction from misogynists who prowl the internet?  Comments that, by now, should not have shocked me.  Many of them complained, calling her a hypocrite for being (rightfully) upset about her private photos being leaked, then “posing” for such photos.  Others made vulgar comments and body-shamed her.

What these jackholes behind their keyboards do not understand is the difference between theft of private property and consent to have these photos taken.  Lawrence willingly allowed the now infamous boa constrictor photo to be taken.  She said yes to having them published. She consented.

As a friend of mine would say, consent does not take a day off.  It is rarely respected, and women get slut-shamed for choosing to make choices about their own bodies.   When men post their nude photos, it is overlooked; women, though, according to the vast majority of the internet, must be shamed for their bodies.

This is unacceptable. It is a despicable part of our culture and this needs to change.  No one deserves to be shamed for their personal choices of what they do with their bodies, and the definition of consent needs to be made clear.  If Lawrence wants to allow photos with giant snakes to be published, it is her choice.  If  someone wishes to pose nude for art, it is their choice.

And if those trolls on the internet do not understand that, then they are the ones who deserve to be shamed.