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why the hacked J-Law photos are another example of the sexism women face in their daily lives

i-D Executive Fashion Director Ger Tierney discusses how for many women their intellect, wit and opinions are still over shadowed by the fact that they’ve got boobs.

by Ger Tierney
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02 September 2014, 6:40pm

Marco Manna

On Monday morning I was emailed the leaked Jennifer Lawrence photographs. I didn't know anything about the hacking scandal at this point. "Is this from a forthcoming film?" I naively asked. It transpired no, this was a young woman's most intimate moments sat there on my phone. While my girl friends discussed the photographs of Jennifer in the nicest possible way, mainly focusing on how incredible she looked, I couldn't help but question what gave us the right to even be talking about them in the first place?! Celebrity gossip may be a bit of fun between friends, but in reality as human beings it represents so much more.

A woman choosing to show her body for art, film, fashion or a political statement is an empowering act. A woman in private with her lover, trusting that person and enjoying her sexuality is an empowering act. Taking away a woman's right to choose how she presents herself to the world is a despicable act. It makes her vulnerable, ashamed and inferior. By all means women can "free the nipple" and express themselves through their bodies, as long as they made that choice. As soon as that choice is taken away the act of exposure becomes something sordid, dark and verging on abusive.

Why is it that no images like the ones of Jennifer, Kirsten Dunst and Selema Gomez ever appear of men? It is because nobody wants to see a man made vulnerable in the same way, it makes them feel uncomfortable. When it's a woman, however, it's entertaining and a good topic of conversation. The reality is that the events that unfurled on Sunday morning and the fall-out of blog posts and image sharing on Monday is proof that this is still a man's world and we are far from where we should be on female equality. The world finds it acceptable to glorify a criminal act stripping a group of woman of their privacy and dignity, and that is not ok. Events such as these suggest that many people still perceive women as second-class citizens and our intellect, wit and opinions are overshadowed by the fact that we've got boobs.

In the Western world, we live in a privileged society with countless opportunities open to us all. Yet however modern and exciting this society is, it is still a very sexist one. Unfortunately both men and women have become so accustomed to society's underlying sexism we don't even notice it anymore. At work, we don't query why questions in meetings are directed towards male colleagues over  female colleagues, nor why woman can't go for a jog in a pair of shorts without attracting unwelcome comments, nor why we discuss women in power's dress sense before their vocational and intellectual merits. We are all guilty of accepting these practises as norm.

I'm not suggesting that we go on a tirade against men and modern society, what I am proposing is that we learn from the fall out of the hacking scandal and we stand up for Jennifer and the other celebrities it affected as fellow human beings. It's time to question why we have been conditioned to accept that women are viewed and objectified everyday. We can make small changes by starting to ask questions and influencing our friends, colleagues and neighbours. Small changes such as these can make a big difference, and, who knows, maybe shape a world where we won't have to question such things in the future.

Credits


Text Ger Tierney
Image courtesy Marco Manna