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“I can’t believe we even live in that kind of world.”
Jennifer Lawrence has broken her silence over the leak of intimate photos dubbed “Celebgate” in an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair, labeling the sharing of the photos a “sex crime” and calling for a change in the law.
Lawrence rejected the notion that she had done anything to be ashamed of. “It’s not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” the 24-year-old actress told the magazine. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change.”
It’s believed the photos of Lawrence and numerous other celebrities including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kirsten Dunst, and Kate Upton were stolen from Apple’s cloud hosting service iCloud over a long period, potentially several years, by multiple hackers taking advantage of inadequate security measures.
In recent months, calls have mounted to update the law to reflect a range of new, digitally enabled sexual misconduct, “revenge porn” being a key example.
Lawrence also criticized the sites that hosted and profited from the photos. “These websites are responsible,” she said, adding:
“Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and empty inside.”
The actress didn’t mention any websites by name. But during the initial leaks, community news site Reddit (which, like Vanity Fair, is owned by Condé Nast) was a key hub for the dissemination of the photos, and the site’s administrators actively helped those sharing the photos numerous times—before performing an abrupt about-face and banning them. Until those communities shuttered, however, Reddit made enough money to run its servers for an entire month.
Is kind of amazing that JLAW is in Reddit’s sister publication, denouncing reddit, and nobody notices http://t.co/lmwsgloRyH
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) October 7, 2014
The actress has a message for everybody who viewed the photos: “You’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame. Even people I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” Lawrence said, responding to the suggestion that the women affected by Celebgate surrendered their right to privacy upon becoming celebrities. “It’s my body and it should be my choice, and the fact that is is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.”
Lawrence told Vanity Fair that the photo leak caused her emotional distress. While she had planned to speak out sooner, she said, “every single thing I tried to write made me cry or get angry. I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry about. 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’m not crying about it anymore,” the actress adds. “I can’t be angry anymore. I can’t have my happiness rest on these people being caught, because they might not be. I need to find my own peace.”
Rob Price is a technology and politics reporter who served as the U.K.-based morning editor for the Daily Dot until 2014. He now works as the news editor for Business Insider, and his work has appeared in Vice, Slate, the Washington Post, and the Independent.