The Privilege of Being a Celebrity Man When Your Nudes Leak
Earlier this week, an X-rated video allegedly of rapper Drake was leaked. The footage went viral on social media causing Drake to become the top trending topic on X (formerly known as Twitter). Instead of calling the leaked nudes out as a violation of privacy or a breach of security, which they are, the video was met with a fanfare of thirsty memes and happy commentary. Champagne Papi, who presumably didn't consent to the NSFW video being shared publicly, even poked fun at the situation on Instagram stories — posting a photo from a private jet where the video is speculated to have been shot saying "Cashville I'm home," the Independent reports — seemingly unbothered by the security breach.
The same celebratory response happened when nude photos of Jesse Williams and Chris Evans were leaked a few years back, and Justin Bieber's before that. Williams shrugged off his full-front nude, telling Andy Cohen it's just a body; Evans said accidentally leaking his nudes was a "hilarious mistake."
Yet, when the same situation occured with Jennifer Lawerence, she was criticized and called a "whore" for sending nude photos to her boyfriend. Miley Cyrus, Dakota Johnson, and Kate Upton, to name a few, were met with the same blowback and slut shaming. But why?
"We're socialized that it's OK for men to show off their 'goods,' so a leaked male nude isn't viewed as a serious offense," Karen McLean, PhD, the department chair for the school of social work at Western Connecticut State University, tells POPSUGAR. "When nude leaks happen with men, they escape attacks against their integrity, livelihood, or values."
It's true. Men don't typically face the same condemnation, shame, or questioning as women do in similar instances. "Society celebrates men for their sexuality and shames women for their sexuality," Kara Alaimo, PhD, author of Over the Influence: Why Social Media is Toxic for Women and Girls — And How We Can Take It Back, says. "Men have the privilege of not being widely viewed in our society as sexual objects and not generally being reduced to their bodies. When men's nude images are leaked, society doesn't blame them for the violation."
Soon Drake's alleged nudes will be old news, as if it never happened. It's unlikely he will be ostracized or face a fallout. Some might argue that, if anything, it's brought him more notoriety.
This hasn't been the case for his female contemporaries. Slut-shaming women is a time-honored disempowerment tactic reducing women to their bodies to take away their power. "There aren't equivalent words in the English language for men — they aren't judged in the same way," Dr. Alaimo says.
Women are held to the approval of men in managing their bodies as we operate under the premise of male superiority. We still exist in patriarchy.
Male celebrities' nude photos won't result in ridicule that could harm their career. For women, they can put a dent in their reputation that never fades. "Despite strides in body positivity and women's empowerment, there's still an undertone about how women should show their bodies," Dr. McLean says. "Women are held to the approval of men in managing their bodies as we operate under the premise of male superiority. We still exist in patriarchy."
The reason for taking a nude picture is irrelevant, and consent in sharing that photo isn't a laughing, meme-worthy matter. Men deserve to have autonomy over their bodies as well as privacy and security in the digital age, as do women. Everyone has the right to celebrate their bodies and take photos however they please without fear — regardless of their gender.