That all may well have been the intention of the hacker or hackers who posted pics of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and others to 4chan.org and have threatened to release dozens, if not hundreds, more photos of mostly (though not exclusively) female celebrities. Yet the fact of the matter is that none of the women involved will see their careers affected negatively by any of this. That isn’t to minimize the legal issues of invasion of privacy, the psychic pain of exposure, the loathsome misogyny of the hackers and their comrades on 4chan and Reddit, or the frankly rotten security offered by Apple’s cloud service.
But it’s worth noting that, over the past few decades, American attitudes toward sex and nudity have changed dramatically—and for the better. No longer are women in or out of the public eye yoked to the sort of universal virgin-whore complex that long dominated the imaginations of Hollywood producers, literary novelists, and pop-music songwriters. According to the old dispensation, women could either be saintly and chaste or slutty and sexy. There wasn’t a lot of gray area in between the two extremes and even the hint of “art photos” surfacing from your early, struggling years was enough to sink a career or launch a lawsuit or three.
But that was then. Gone for good are the days when Miss America could be dethroned for old nude shots coming to light, as happened to Vanessa Williams in 1984 (Williams is now even listed as a winner at the pageant’s official site). The sort of early ‘80s sex tape scandal that helped stop the career of sportscaster and B-movie queen Jayne Kennedy would barely raise an eyebrow in today’s post-Pam Anderson, Tonya Harding, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian world. Jumping Jeebus, even an unforgiving moral crusader such as radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger was able to easily ride out a nude-pic scandal back in the late 20th century.