In the days past since the latest outpouring of 4chan leaked images, since dubbed celebgate, media outlets and social media users have frantically taken to commenting on the images, each trying to make sense of what had happened, how it happened, who it was going to happen to next, but rarely discussing why it intrigued us all so much in the first place?
On its merits celebgate raised many questions as to the efficacy of technology in storing sacred information, images and the diminishing privacy of said images and files and as the UK’s guardian noted ‘the anarchic ungovernability of cyberspace.’
It also raised questions why particular individuals were hacked and why for that matter these particular individuals, aka celebrities had become such a large focal point of attention, which is to hint at the media’s unwavering dedication at promoting and documenting such ‘starlet’s’ behavior as a way of fostering discussion and of course rolling advertising revenue.
Yet let’s step back, why is it that whilst the majority of the media may criticize hackers for such invasions, why does the media itself see fit to perpetuate the hacker’s actions, by referencing the images (even if they ‘politely’ decline to necessarily publish said images) and in essence inspiring them to do it all over again? Which is to wonder why do we salivate over such images and make them block buster stories (until one wonders we will eventually just pass)?
Perhaps the answer lies in the notion that we live in a hyper sexual world, where we are constantly bombarded by the visage of near naked women whose appearance implicitly connotes a woman’s value. She is in our western culture deemed valuable and desirable if she holds certain appearances and manages to conform to what is perceived to be the desirable aesthetic of the day. Which is enough to make most women neurotic and enough to make most men desirous of landing himself the ideal prized catch, the trophy that normally escapes most men, especially when it comes to highly idealized women, aka actresses and models who we are constantly reminded by the media are the wanton yardsticks of a woman’s worth.
Whilst it would be endearing to value a woman also on her intellectual capacity, integrity and her ability to discard patriarchal sensibilities, society instead, heaps rewards on those women who are able to approximate the ‘ideal woman.’
If then we are to assume the ideal woman is thus the measure of of her appearances, (judging by magazine covers and the constant advertisements of scantily clad women) then her naked appearances only serves to elevate her to the voyeuristic, to the tabooed denizens and in some way discard any sense of modesty she has claimed for herself and in essence objectified her. Objectified her for the gratification of men and as some would argue shame and denigrate her.
And while it may be troubling and deeply disconcerting that we live in a society that has untenable expectations of women and is more than eager to call them out for their flaws and hold them accountable to insurmountable expectations or grudges it’s the gatekeepers of culture itself (the media) who only too happily propagate such notions as they condemn the celebgate hackers in one article but incestuously go about writing about the new look, some actresses next film (where she gets to play the ingenue), a super model’s latest feats and how she best go about becoming the kind of woman that might eventually please a man.
Perhaps if the media and by extension social media which follows suit was brave enough to give focus to the feats of women beyond their appearances then perhaps as a society we could demystify and de-stigmatize the issue of her appearances and by proxy give her presence for the person she really is. A woman who can attain validation within her own right and not have to seek validation at the hands of a patriarchal culture which deems ‘her’ worthy in so far as she looks the part.
After all it’s one thing for all of us to be intrigued and curious as to how the illustrious members of society get to live, but should it really be such a sordid preoccupation of how she also looks naked too….?