Clicking on Stolen Celeb Photos Is Not Sexual Assault

'Time' columnist: Labeling it so dilutes the real meaning of the term

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 3, 2014 12:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – What has happened to Jennifer Lawrence, McKayla Maroney, and other celebrities who have had their nude photos splashed across the Internet is both criminal and despicable, writes Charlotte Alter at Time. And while it "is an enormous violation of personal privacy and sexual autonomy," it is not "sexual assault," an argument being made by countless commenters. Labeling it as such dilutes the real meaning of the term and does more harm than good, she writes.

"It is is not the same as being raped, or forced to perform oral sex, or molested as a child, or beaten," writes Alter. Yes, it is another sign that we live in a society where the "widespread degradation of women" still exists, but we must be precise when talking about violence. "If everything is sexual assault, then nothing really is." This is closer to revenge porn, which some states have begun criminalizing. Those rightly outraged by what has happened should channel that anger toward making sure all states follow suit. Click for Alter's full column.

In this March 2, 2014, file photo, Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
In this March 2, 2014, file photo, Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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