The Internet Defended Chris Evans When His Nudes Leaked. Women Deserve That Too
"How come no one ever has this energy when even worse things happen to female celebs – phones literally hacked, photos shared widely, slut-shamed?"
Over the weekend, Chris Evans’ accidentally uploaded a nude photo of himself onto his Instagram story before swiftly deleting it.
The misstep occurred as Evans’ uploaded a screen-recording of an innocent game of Heads Up. When the game had finished, the Captain America star’s camera roll was briefly shown in the un-cropped video, and amongst the images — including a strange Chris Evans ‘Guard That Pussy’ meme — was a photo of the actor’s penis.
Despite deleting the story, some of his six million Instagram followers managed to screenshot the image and share it across social media. As curiosity got the best of most people and they started to search for the image through the #ChrisEvans and #ChrisEvansLeak hashtags, Evans’ fans had the idea to flood Twitter with wholesome images of the star to hopefully drown out the explicit photo that people were trying to find.
And in a strange turn of events, the plan worked. While Chris Evans was trending over the weekend, a search of his name revealed cute photos of the actor with his dog, Dodger, and stories of how Evans’ had anxiety and so he deserved privacy and love.
In his first TV interview since the incident, Evans’ even took the opportunity to thank his “fantastic fans” that came to his support during the “embarrassing” slip-up.
“It was an interesting weekend, full of lessons learned, lots of teachable moments,” Evans said on the Tamron Hall Show. “Things happen. It’s embarrassing. You’ve got to roll with the punches. I will say I have some pretty fantastic fans that came to my support.”
yes, Chris Evans accidentally leaked his own nudes on his own instagram
yes, it’s funny
but it was an accident and he deleted it, so
please don’t share them
respect his privacy
protect him like he protected the world
— danny (@epDannyEdge) September 12, 2020
The fact that someone has to explain that it is not okay to violate someone's privacy like that is astounding, let alone the fact Chris Evans suffers from crippling anxiety. Everyone making jokes at Chris Evans' expense or sharing/saving the picture needs to grow up.
Take these: pic.twitter.com/cZ9Ir254yH
— MT_Dreamcatcher (@MtDreamcatcher) September 13, 2020
The Double Standard For Women In Hollywood
While true that everyone deserves privacy and it’s a great thing that the internet came to Chris Evans defence, it’s hard not to notice the stark difference in the reaction to Chris Evans releasing his own nudes to when a female celebrity has her explicit photos leaked.
Despite sharing the nude image himself, the internet decided to protect Chris Evans. Understanding that Evans’ nude photo being shared to the world was unintentional, fans wanted to make sure that the actor “felt a bit better” about his slip up by drowning out as many screenshots as possible.
However, when women in Hollywood have had their nude images leaked by others in the past, the photos are shared rapidly. Almost always, blame is put onto these women for being so careless and for even taking nude photos in the first place.
The public respect for Chris Evans’ privacy/feelings is wonderful. Wouldn’t it be nice if it extended to women when this kind of thing happens?
— Kat Dennings (@OfficialKat) September 13, 2020
People are being so nice to Chris Evans after he accidentally shared an explicit photo, and that’s really lovely, but how come no one ever has this energy for when even worse things happen to female celebs (phones literally hacked, photos shared widely, slut shamed etc)
— Moniza Hossain (@moniza_hossain) September 13, 2020
Take Vanessa Hudgens, for example, who as an 18-year-old in 2007 had to apologise when someone leaked her private, nude images.
At the time, Hudgens apologised for taking the photos after she faced major public backlash, where the actress was shamed for ever taking nude photos in private. Hot off of the first High School Musical film, parents felt that Hudgens wasn’t setting a good example for the children who watched her.
“I want to apologise to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me. I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos,” the actress said in a statement. “I am thankful for the support of my family and friends.”
To follow up Vanessa Hudgens apology, a Disney Channel spokesperson said that they hoped that the actress had “learned a valuable lesson” for “what was obviously a lapse in judgment”, instead of supporting the young woman who had just had her privacy violated.
Old enough to remember when Jennifer Lawrence, Kat Dennings, and Vanessa Hudgens were not given the same level of privacy when their nudes were literally stolen/hacked…ah how times have changed. #ChrisEvans
— Jo Ro 🎬 (@StorytellerBB) September 12, 2020
More recently, when Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud was hacked in 2014 during ‘The Fappening’ (alongside 100 other celebrities), the Hunger Games star was also shamed for taking the nude photos that were eventually shared to 4chan.
Lacking any sort of empathy, people started to blame the actress for not being more careful with her private images. Instead of placing blame on the person who hacked her account and violated her privacy, people started to slut-shame Lawrence for simply being a female celebrity in tune with her sexuality. People even begun to justify the hacker’s actions by saying it was common knowledge that “this sort of thing” could happen as a “high-profile person”.
But unlike Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lawrence refused to apologise because she believed that she “didn’t have anything to say sorry for”.
Trying to justify why she took the images in the first place, even though she shouldn’t have had to even do that, Lawrence explained that she was in a long-distance relationship and her boyfriend was either going to look at her naked body or porn.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory,” Lawrence said during her Vanity Fair cover story the same year. “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.”
Even Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, felt the need to weigh in on the groundless backlash Jennifer Lawrence received after her explicit photos were shared to the world without her permission. Watson used Twitter to call out the public’s “lack of empathy” over a woman who had just had her privacy violated.
Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.
— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) September 1, 2014
Women Just Aren’t Allowed To Be Sexual Beings
But this negative reaction that Jennifer Lawrence received wasn’t anything new. This clear lack of empathy towards female celebrities who have their privacy violated is something that most women face in today’s world.
While Chris Evans was awarded sympathy for accidentally releasing his own explicit images, women have been constantly blamed and shamed by the public whenever other people expose them for being sexual beings.
But it’s not even just the general public that shares this idea either. Just last year, Whoopi Goldberg shamed Bella Thorne for deciding to take power back by releasing her own nude photos in response to a hacker threatening to expose her. Goldberg used The View to chastise the 22-year-old actress for deciding to take these photos in the first place.
“If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are. You don’t take nude pictures of yourself,” Goldberg said. “Once you take that picture, it goes into the cloud and it’s available to any hacker who wants it, and if you don’t know that in 2019 that this is an issue… you don’t get to do that.”
In response, Thorne said that she was “saddened” by Goldberg’s decision to place the blame on a woman who had her privacy violated over the person violating her privacy. Thorne called Goldberg’s statement “sick and honestly disgusting” and likened the victim-blaming over her nude images to the excuses that rape apologists often give.
“Saying if you take a sexy photo then it basically deserves to get leaked, like, don’t be surprised at all and don’t feel sorry for yourself,” Thorne said in a tearful Instagram story about Goldberg’s comments. “So, if I go out to a party drinking and I wanna dance on the dance floor, do I deserve to be raped, too? Because to me, I see those two things as really fucking similar.”
So Whoopi decided to victim-blame Bella Thorne because someone hacked Bella’s phone and released her nudes… in 2019… victim blaming needs to disappear from our thought processes! imagine having a platform like that but instead of blaming the attacker, you blame the victim. 🤮
— DEMON WHORE! the Nigerian who was born in Nigeria (@princessalaafia) June 19, 2019
This idea that women should not be sexual beings in fear of what people may think or do highlights a clear double standard when it comes to the treatment of men and women in Hollywood, and in general life.
When women have their nude images leaked, they’re instantly brandished as “sluts” and told it’s their “own fault” for taking the photos in the first place. As Bella Thorne noted, the condemnation of women being in tune with their sexuality and choosing to take nude photos of themselves eerily echoes the justifications people give for other sexual crimes, like rape.
The statement “don’t wear short clothes if you don’t want to get raped,” and “don’t take nude photos unless you want them to be leaked”, aren’t all that different when you break them down. In both statements, the message is clear: When you’re a woman who has been violated, it’s your fault. Whether you were too drunk, or too flirty, or not careful enough with your passwords, if someone else violates you, there is always something you could’ve done to prevent it.
But this victim-blaming when it comes to women taking nude photos is built in deep-rooted sexism where people are taught to be uncomfortable with women who own their own sexuality. It was seen earlier this year when Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released their female sexuality anthem, WAP.
People were disgusted that Cardi and Megan chose to embrace their sexuality while rapping about their wet ass pussies, while men in the industry continue to be openly sexual beings, who brag about their sexual conquests and pussy too, without critique.
My favourite part of "WAP" is that it promotes women articulating sexual agency, prowess, desires, demands and autonomy, and it's also getting men upset.
— sharine taylor 🇯🇲 (@shharine) August 10, 2020
The idea that women cannot talk about sexuality without being labelled as “sluts” and the concept that any woman who takes a nude photo is “asking for it” to be leaked is down-right shameful.
Meanwhile, when men release their own explicit photos — albeit accidentally in Chris Evans’ case — they are complimented on the size of their penis, and protected by the internet so they don’t have to deal with any criticism they may be subject to.
Now that we’ve seen that the internet is capable empathy when someone famous accidentally shares a photo they took in private, one would hope that this gentle treatment of Chris Evans will encourage a similar kindness for the next woman in Hollywood who accidentally does the same.
Michelle Rennex is a Senior Writer at Junkee. She tweets at @michellerennex.