Yesterday was a thrilling day for the Internet, when paparazzo photos of a naked Justin Bieber swimming in Bora Bora surfaced from The New York Daily News, and there was a golden opportunity to use the "what do you peen" pun (which quickly became a hashtag) and the eggplant emoji to their full potential. Generally the reaction from the Internet was "OMG, Justin Bieber is hung." But if you'll recall the horrible violation of privacy that happened last year when hundreds of celebrity news were leaked on 4chan, including those of Kate Upton, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and Jennifer Lawrence — who unfortunately became the face of the scandal — the public reactions were very different, delivering an onslaught of victim-blaming and cries of "don't take nudes if you don't want them leaked!" Bieber isn't getting any of that criticism. Why?
Making a commodity of celebrities' naked bodies is, sure, a symptom of the hyper-produced culture we live in — but the contrast between such a casual, curious and delighted public react to Bieber's nudes as opposed to the dangerous, sexist, and inherently violent reactions last year in the female photo hack is infuriating.
Thankfully, articulate defense came from some of the victims themselves, like Lawrence, whose publicist declared they would take legal action against anyone who posted the stolen photos. And in a similar vein, many of Bieber's fans are defending him — and he should be defended, because those photos were taken by a photographer of the 21-year old singer on a private vacation at a private villa without his consent. Many Beliebers are asking the public to #RespectJustinsPrivacy and some are even humorously photoshopping over the leaked photos:
When male celebs have their nudes leaked, like Kanye West or Dylan Sprouse, there's usually little to no fear that the "scandalous" private-turned-public photos will ruin their careers. And there's no cries of victim-blaming for Bieber's nudes, the kind of harassment that plagued the female celebrities victimized in the 4chan leak last year. Bieber is not getting any of that victim-blaming — and that's good, he shouldn't be. All he did was exist as a naked human being on his private time. But it's just the age-old tale of sexism that allows him to be exempt from that criticism. He doesn't have to shoulder any of the blame that famous women do for being "irresponsible" for taking private photos or having their nude photos proliferated on the Internet.
So if you Googled "Justin Bieber's penis," consider the lack of implications and negative subtext attached to Bieber's nudes, compared to the disgusting victim-blaming misogyny that always erupts like flames when female celebrities have their nudes leaked. Everyone is responsible and complicit in a culture where leaked, nude photos of male celebrities prompt giggles and joke memes, whereas when female celebrities that are trying to claim autonomy have to arm themselves with legal defense just to have the right to their own bodies. Think about the defense that Bieber is getting, without the attached victim-blaming — that's the kind of response women deserve, too.