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Opinion: What If We Approached Women’s Nudes Like We Did With Chris Evans?

The internet went up in flames last weekend after Chris Evans uploaded a video to his Instagram story that also showed a glimpse of his camera roll, and on his camera roll preview there was an uncensored photo of his penis. There was also a selfie that was captioned “Guard that pu**y” which is…incredible I guess? I love it, at least, and so does everyone else that has streamed WAP no less than 100 times in the last month. But we’re not here to talk about how young people love vulgarity, we’re here to talk about how we grant space and give respect to men that have been violated by the exposure of their nude photos but not women.

As you can imagine, people were entertained by the idea of seeing Captain America’s junk on their Twitter timelines, but for the most part people on social media were respectful of the fact that Evans did not mean to violate his own privacy. The video that contained the glimpse of the two photos was taken down swiftly, but copies and screenshots circulated the web for a couple of hours afterward. The whole thing became one of Twitter’s most talked about topics for a couple of hours, and even Avengers co-star Mark Ruffalo chimed in on the situation.

Chris Evans eventually Tweeted about the situation, making light of the situation by telling Twitter users to vote now that he got their attention. While the initial wave of attention was likely traumatizing to some degree, Chris Evans is unlikely to face any major career setbacks or publicity crises in the ways that women have been subjected to for years now.

Celebrity nude leaks are nothing new, and they’re probably not going to end anytime soon even as people care increasingly less about celebrity gossip. In response to his own nude leaks, Chris Brown admitted that he was embarrassed by the situation but was able to move on from it and come out fairly unscathed. Not even domestic violence and felony assault charges were able to effectively ruin Brown’s career, though they did stifle his success quite a bit. As far as the nudes, though, did anyone really even care?

Former Disney Channel star Dylan Sprouse also had nude photos leak in 2013, and in response Sprouse posted a joke about it on Twitter (and so did his twin brother, Cole) before moving on fairly unscathed. Discourse around the nude photo leak referred to Sprouse’s photos as an “early holiday gift,” and Sprouse wasn’t forced to give any sort of apology.

For female celebrities, on the other hand, nude photo leaks have historically been detrimental to their careers. When nude photos of former Disney Channel star Vanessa Hudgens leaked online in 2008 without her consent, the then 18-year old actress was forced to issue a public apology for having taken the photos in the first place. To this day Hudgens is still answering to the scandal, and even admitted in a 2020 interview with Cosmopolitan that the situation was a source of trauma in her life. Speculation at the time suggested that Hudgens would be fired from Disney for taking the photos, and little attention was given to the person that violated Hudgens’ privacy in the first place.

Though Hudgens’ position as a Disney Channel starlet put her in a unique position as someone in the public eye, the scrutiny toward women for embracing their sexuality often extends toward any celebrity—not just those catering to a Disney Channel audience. Paris Hilton recently opened up about the trauma that resulted from her own sex tape having been leaked in 2003 without her consent.

Nearly two decades after the fact, Hilton described the experience in her new documentary, This Is Paris, as having been a major violation of her trust and privacy. Today that sort of violation without consent is often looked at, legally, as a form of sexual abuse. In 2003, though, Paris’ partner in the video was able to make a reported $10 million from the sale and distribution of the video, while Hilton claims she never saw a dime of that money.

For Kim Kardashian, her own sex tape is widely attributed to the source of her fame, and her (and her entire family’s) entrepreneurial skills are often swept to the side with the excuse that Kardashian is only successful because a sex tape made her famous. If that were true, Kardashian’s 15 minutes would have likely been up back in the early 2000’s, and surely can’t be attributed to the fact that she and her entire family are as close at the United States will ever get to a royal family, whether you like that statement or not.

Today Paris Hilton claims that the treatment she received after her sex tape was released would never happen in a post-#MeToo world. But if we learned anything from Bella Thorne in 2019, it’s that women’s bodies are still being weaponized against them even after conversations about consent and rape culture have been thrust into the limelight. Thorne, who posted her own nude photos to Twitter after her iCloud was hacked, revealed that she was being blackmailed by the hacker who threatened to leak her nudes. Faced with feelings of having no control or consent to do what she pleased with her own nude photos, she posted them to Twitter herself.

For non-celebrities, the stigma around sex work and nude photos is arguably more detrimental to a woman’s sense of autonomy in her personal and professional life. Once a woman does porn or is open about her career in sex work (or outed without consent), her professional life will likely never be the same. Such stigmas surrounding sex work are seldom discussed or brought into mainstream discourse despite the fact that there are millions of sex workers in the world, and many are fighting for the right to do their job in the first place.

Chris Evans isn’t likely to see much result from his own nude leak, which is how it should be and how it should have been all along. With increasing calls to dismantle the sexism in Hollywood and discourse coming up surrounding consent, sex workers are still largely left out of a conversation they should be leading. Even among celebrity women, nude photos are seen as a result of childhood trauma rather than what they are—an act of self love and confidence in one’s appearance.