Okay, so Jennifer Lawrence. Kat and I actually discussed her in one of our first Culture War Correspondences ever, back when the actress [or actor, I haven’t decided how I feel about the term being gender neutral] and the positive attention she was garnering online was creating an equal if not greater amount of backlash. However these days people aren’t talking about how much she loves food or her general sense of coordination when walking up to receive an Oscar.
Kat’s most recent post delves into the perception of the leaked nude photos of Lawrence, falling firmly on the side [the same one I do] that the people who should really be blamed are the ones who invaded her and many others’ personal privacy. To once again quote the same two sentences from her Vanity Fair
interview that so many have been latching onto, and rightly so, “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime.”
I could have easily left it at that, except that her interview with Vanity Fair went just a little bit further. Lawrence explained that she had no reason to make any apologies to anyone, which I continue to agree with, but justified
the action of taking the pictures in the first place she said:
“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.”
I first came across these words, and a damning criticism of them, via LifeTeen, a website for Catholic youth. The article title was He Doesn’t Need Your Sext: A Response To Jennifer Lawrence, and I can’t not find it hilarious because the only way I can read it is in the same voice as James McAvoy’s young Xavier, yelling the line made famous by all those X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailers–
The reason I’m so quick to move past that particular response to Lawrence’s words is because they come from a decidedly religious perspective, and while I’m a Christian and not at all ashamed to be one I think it’s important to come at this from a more secular point of view so as not to alienate or exclude anyone. Thankfully I can find a similar sentiment in an open letter to the actress [really though, I do feel guilty about not just using “actor”] from Fight The New Drug.
As far as I can tell, Fight The New Drug [henceforth referred to as FTND] is not affiliated with any religious groups, and exists “to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using science, facts, and personal accounts.” The information they provide largely concerns the way porn affects our brains, relationships, and society as a whole, and they’ve done extensive research to pack it all up. I want to write more about them, but let’s return to the actual topic of this post-
FTND [no author credited] pays particular attention to her usage of the word “healthy” to describe the relationship that she and her boyfriend shared. According to them her statement that given the distance between them he was either “going to look at porn or [. . .] going to look at [her]” speaks of a greater underlying problem. The blame falls directly back to porn, and they elaborate by asking:
“Think about this question, Jennifer. Should any person ever have to feel that they need to give their partner something because if they don’t then their partner will turn away and get it from someone else? Especially when that something is as important in a relationship as sex?”
They then go on to lambast the porn industry as a whole, which I of course have my own issues with [among others], but I again want to pull back. I totally agree that the fact that Jennifer Lawrence may have felt, and I say “may” because I don’t want to assume anything about the situation, compelled to send nude pictures to keep their relationship going in order to keep her significant other’s attention on her instead of magazines or websites, etc., is messed up. In general, though, I want to devote at least a paragraph to this unnamed boyfriend [you may know who she’s actually talking about, but I didn’t care enough to look it up].
It’s the general idea I perceived behind her statement that “boys will be boys, eh?” [I guess I imagine her as being more Canadian than she really is, I don’t know]. Going beyond the existence of porn the fact is that they have a need, and it needs to be fed. What are you gonna do about it?
I’m aware of what a gross oversimplification that is. I also acknowledge that people have sex drives [yes, even me, there is proof] and that sex is an important part of a great many relationships, of course. The thing is that it speaks to how we as a culture view men and women and relationships. How would we have reacted if Nicholas Hoult [that’s her boyfriend now, right? Beast from the X-Men movies?] had his nude pictures leaked? Would we have dubbed their very existence scandalous, or allotted him even a fraction of the damnation we gave Lawrence? On that same note, how would we have in turn viewed her in this situation? When a man sexts his significant other how do we, and should we, view that?
My bottom line as far as Jennifer Lawrence and these leaked pictures is that their getting out was, and I’m going to use that same word again, a crime no adjectives or descriptors needed. That shouldn’t take more than a second of thought from any of us [hint: the thought should be “I agree.”]. What we should ruminate on a little more, though, is why she sent them, and it means if we truly do live in a world where, at least for women, there are only two options: either their male romantic partner is staring at them or at pornography.