Earlier this month, what was supposed to be an innocent showcase of a family game of “Heads Up” turned into a social media nightmare for actor, Chris Evans, as he accidentally leaked a nude photo of himself during a screen recording he posted to his Instagram story. Even though he had removed the video almost immediately, the close up photo was quickly circulating the internet.
“Captain America” fans on twitter were bombarding the hashtag that displayed the leaked nude with photos of Evan’s rescue dog and other, more appropriate, photos of the actor. Users across the app were calling for kindness for the actor, naming his anxiety as the main reason not to target him for his mistake. On Sept. 12, one user said, “I think @ChrisEvans deserves respect and privacy, he made a mistake, report the leaked photos and don’t share them,” Cassandra McCarthy said, “Keep it wholesome.”
This response is incredibly telling of the double standard regarding gender in the media.
In 2014, over 100 celebrities had their nudes leaked by hackers. The event, referred to in the media as “Celebgate,” targeted actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande and Kate Upton, among others.
The overwhelming response to the breach of privacy was a criticism of the women who were targeted. Columnist from the Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian, wrote an article about how the outrage about the event was unnecessary.
“If you are a celebrity, and you pose nude for digital photos, you should not expect them to stay private,” Abcarian said.
The clear inequities in these situations are overwhelming and it is not going unnoticed by public figures. Actress and former co-star to Evans, Kat Dannings, tweeted in response to the leak.
“The public respect for Chris Evans’ privacy/feelings is wonderful,” Dennings said Sept. 13 in a tweet. “Wouldn’t it be nice if it extended to women when this kind of thing happens?”
JournalistAshlee Marie Preston, also publicly questioned the web’s response.
“While everyone is talking about the Chris Evans pic, this would be a great time to discuss the slut-shaming of women whose photos are leaked (usually revenge porn) and how they’re shamed into oblivion,” Preston said “Let’s keep this same loving, protective, supportive energy for them too.”
FSC students, such as Caia Eackles, are also commenting on the contradicting responses.
“There’s a gross double standard that when a woman has her privacy violated by someone on the internet, she’s to blame,” sophomore Caia Eackles said.“It perpetuates the standard that women’s bodies are for men’s consumption and that women aren’t allowed to appreciate their own bodies.”
This unfortunate accident on behalf of Evans has opened a larger discussion across social media about the double standards placed on women. The media expects women to look and act a certain way, enforcing an unhealthy mindset for young girls. Women who are sex postive or who use their sexuality to empower themselves come under fire, creating the stigma that embracing that part of yourself is wrong.
These stigmas have become especially apparent in the music industry with the release of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP.” The song has been heavily criticized for its sexually explicit lyrics and the provocative TikTok dance trend that followed its release.
Comedian Russell Brand commented on the song, calling it a “sort of capitalist objectification and commodification of, in this case, the female.” Twitter immediately criticized his 17 minute long analysis of the song.
“Russell Brand is saying that WAP isn’t feminist because men rapped about sex first and Cardi & Meg are just ‘emulating’ previously established male ideals,” Caitie Delaney said on Aug. 15 in a tweet.
It’s glaringly obvious that there’s work to be done to resolve the inequalities around sexuality in the media and while there is no cure-all for this issue, there are small steps we, as a society, can take in order to make some change.
There is an overwhelming lack of sex education in middle and high schools across the country, a completely under-utilized platform for change. We could be using that platform to drive home the concept of consent, promtion of safe sex rather than abstinance, and the overall presentation of sex as something normal and not taboo. The National Association of School Nurses has been advocating for better sexual education. They said, “Evidence-based sexual health education can improve academic success; prevent dating violence, and bullying; help youth develop healthier relationships; delay sexual initiation; reduce unplanned pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs; and reduce sexual health disparities among LGBTQ youth.”
That’s not to imply that action isn’t being taken. The perpetrators in the “Celebgate” trial have received jail time for their actions, the #MeToo movement has given assault survivors a voice, and we are actively opening up a discussion about these inequities.
Change is difficult, but conversations like this open the door for that change to happen.