Bella Thorne, stolen bodies, and the art of taking back control
Over the weekend, Bella Thorne shared some nude photos of herself on Twitter.
The model did so in response to a stranger threatening to release them himself, after managing to hack her account and steal some of the most intimate images of her body.
And in a situation like that, what else are you supposed to do?
Posting all of your nudes off the back of a threat may not seem like the most logical of decisions to make, and yet, it completely is.
Thorne explains why in her tweet about the hack, stating that she feels better now "knowing I took my power back."
"I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see," she wrote.
"For too long I let a man take advantage of me over and over and I'm fucking sick of it. I'm putting this out now because it's it's MY DECISION. NOW U DON'T GET TO TAKE YET ANOTHER THING FROM ME."
Thorne uses the words 'control' and 'power' a few times in the statement and she's right to because that's essentially what this is about - control. And submission.
In regular, non-celebrity circumstances, any one of us may be presented with intimate images from a disgruntled ex, someone we vaguely know, or a person we entirely don't.
Chances are if they're showing their hand and not just sending the photos around WhatsApp groups without consent, they're going to demand some sort of payment in exchange for the images.
What else could they gain from simply posting them, after all? Wouldn't it be pointless to share somebody else's nudes unless you were getting something concrete out of it?
But sharing nonconsensual images isn't just a means of scamming money out of people, or a warped way or trying to make somebody you know feel like shit - it's a means of control, and that's exactly what Thorne was doing when she made the conscious decision to get ahead and just post the images herself.
A person who willingly posts another person's nudes without their consent does so with the intention to possibly make money, but also to shame.
They try to take authority away, to belittle, to expose and defile the person, causing them to submit and ultimately become silenced. You can't say anything anymore, not when you can't control what parts of you people are seeing.
Thorne did control it though - she shared the photos, she shared her reasoning, and she got on with it.
There was nothing insidious about the photos of her that had been stolen, just like there rarely is anything insidious about the thousands of intimate pictures of women that are stolen every day.
And yet the assumption on the hacker's part is that exposing such material is The Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen. When in reality, it's not, it's the loss of authority. And the feeling that you should be ashamed and embarrassed, just because somebody else is telling you to be.
Jennifer Lawrence ran a similar attack to Thorne's in 2014 when she talked to Vanity Fair about the nude photos that had been stolen from her.
Lawrence didn't get the chance to share her own images before they were widely circulated without her consent around social media.
The event was one of the first major attacks on celebrities' private content, and Lawrence wasn't the only woman who was targeted - but she was one of the ones who addressed the issue head on some months later calling it what it was: a sex crime.
“It is a sexual violation," she said. "It’s disgusting. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it.
"It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”
Lawrence laid into the hackers throughout the interview. Her words appeared next to glossy photos of herself surrounded by a body of water, her hair tied back, a fuck-off silver chain around her neck.
She's nude but this time it's on the cover of a magazine, on her terms, in her control.
Flat out sharing your own nudes when faced with the threat of them being shared for you shouldn't be an answer.
The solution doesn't lie with the women being attacked, but the men doing the attacking and the simple fact that they need to - eventually, one day, hopefully - be stopped.
But for women like Thorne, Lawrence, and the countless others who have had to put up with similar bullshit, it is a means of fighting back.
It's a way of reclaiming their own sexuality, presenting what they want to present, and controlling who gets to see what and when.
It's a bold move, but it's a brave one. And fair play to her, tbh.