opinion

'I feel gross, I feel watched.' Whoopi Goldberg was wrong to shame Bella Thorne's nude selfie.

Last week, The View panellist and veteran actress Whoopi Goldberg suggested that women shouldn’t take nude photos of themselves.

And if they do, they deserve to have them released to the public.

They deserve to have the ownership of their bodies transferred to a complete stranger, all because they stripped down one day, found the good lighting in their rooms and snapped a few photos.

Watch Whoopi Goldberg discuss Bella Thorne’s recent hacking violation on The View. Post continues after.

On June 15, actress Bella Thorne, known for her roles in Shake it Up and The Duff, shared nude photos of herself on Twitter after a hacker threatened to release them.

In the post, she said she felt “gross” and “watched” – a result of trauma at the hands of what was, by every definition, a crime committed against her.

But when the panel on The View discussed the situation, Whoopi Goldberg had little sympathy for the 21-year-old’s position.

“If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are. You don’t take nude pictures of yourself,” Whoopi asserted.

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“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, I’m sorry. You don’t get to do that.”

Bella responded to the scathing comment – as did a number of Twitter users, criticising the 63-year-old for her victim-blaming attitude and shaming of another woman.

In a teary Instagram video, the former Disney star called Whoopi out, pointing out the damage of a woman publicly telling another woman what she should or shouldn’t do with her body.

“Shame on you, Whoopi,” Bella said.

“Shame on you for putting that public opinion out there like that for every young girl to think that they’re disgusting for even taking a photo like that. Shame on you.”

She added that she was supposed to make an appearance on The View, but was reconsidering because she doesn’t “want to be beaten down by a bunch of older women for my body and my sexuality”.

“I don’t really want you guys talking about your views to young girls because I would not want my daughter to learn that and I would never say that to her,” she explained.

“I’m offended for anyone who has ever taken a sexy photo. I am offended for Jennifer Lawrence who feels publicly raped. I am offended for every person who has committed suicide for someone leaking their nudes.”

In 2014, Jennifer Lawrence was one of more than 100 celebrities targeted by a hacker in an incident known as “Celebgate”.

Jennifer Lawrence engagement
Jennifer Lawrence. Image: Getty.

Several intimate photos of the Mother! actress were released, and she pursued legal action against the hacker, who was sentenced last August.

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While a satisfying outcome, it couldn't undo what had already been done. It couldn't give a woman her privacy back.

Later in 2014 in an interview with Vanity Fair, Jennifer likened the experience to a sex crime, and three years later, she revealed that she was still dealing with the aftereffects.

“[It was] so unbelievably violating that you can’t even put it into words,” Jennifer said in a November 2017 interview on the Hollywood Reporter‘s podcast.

“I feel like I got gang-banged by the f-cking planet— there’s not one person in the world that is not capable of seeing these intimate photos of me. You can just be at a barbecue and somebody can just pull them up on their phone.”

Jennifer Lawrence was a victim of a crime. It's still haunting her.

In Western Australia, such crimes are now punishable by jail terms of 18 months to three years thanks to revenge porn laws introduced last year, which make it a criminal offence to distribute non-consensual intimate images like Bella's and Jennifer's.

Would we feel comfortable having our emails released? Our text messages? Of course not. Nude photos are no different.

What many people like Whoopi Goldberg don't seem to understand is just how many women have taken a naked selfie.

It can be hugely empowering, something to store away privately for whenever - if ever - you choose to share it with someone you choose to be intimate with.

Why should we be punished for how we operate online by having our freedom to express our sexuality under the guise of privacy ripped away from us?

Take nude selfies. Or don't. Sending a naked selfie is not a crime. Distributing one without consent is.

We don't deserve to be violated for being a woman and being sexual, and we don't deserve to be constantly fighting back against opinions like Whoopi's.

But ultimately, Whoopi isn't the enemy here. The man who hacked Bella Thorne's phone is.

The man who thinks that because a private image of a famous woman became available to him through an invasion of basic rights, he is free to do with it what he wants.

The man who made that woman feel "gross", violated, and terrified for her safety.

All because she took a photo.

It's simple: If you wear a short skirt, you're not asking to be raped.

If you take a naked selfie, you're not asking to be hacked.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing your sexuality as a woman.

And if you don't know that in 2019, that's the issue.

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