Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be hard pressed to not know that pictures of dozens of female celebrities have been leaked in the last week by a hacker accessing personal photographs stored on Apple’s iCloud. This has given rise to well-covered questions about the security of cloud technology. For us, this debacle also illustrates the sexist and threatening nature of these hacks and even the dearth of women coders.
As Hadley Freeman points out in The Guardian in her article: ‘The Naked Celebrity Hack: An Outstanding Example of Sexism’: ‘Anyway, the point of these pictures isn’t to give anyone sexual pleasure. Many of these actresses in the latest leak have posed next-to-naked in their various films and magazine shoots already so it’s not exactly like the hackers are revealing much more than is already known. It’s purely a power thing, like when tabloids publish pap photos of celebrities unawares….The only time naked photos of men get leaked onto the internet is when they ham-fistedly leak them themselves….,and the general response is laughter and mockery. With women, that leaking happens when others steal the images from their phones, and the response here is darker, sexual, triumphal. Neither response is good, but the one in regards to women is definitely more threatening. There is no difference between the leaking of stolen naked photos from a female celebrity’s phone and so-called “revenge porn”, when a man leaks photos of an ex-partner. It’s a means of exuding power over someone who thought they were, if not powerful, at least independent’.
Furthermore, the fact that the shots are all of female celebrities suggest the audience, and the perpetrators, are male. As long as heterosexual men are the predominate force in technology, IT products, services, and even security leaks will be focused on what men want to see – in this case, naked photos of female celebrities.
While we do not believe that equality will be gained when we have equal numbers of stolen shots of Ryan Gosling to Jennifer Lawrence, a point raised humorously, but rather coarsely by two female coders in this video (probably not safe for viewing at work), it does make you wonder what ingenuity we are missing if we continue to have our products … and even the destruction of those products, led by men.