Chris Evans and the double standard of explicit photographs

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Graphic by Daniya Siddique

Last week, Captain America star Chris Evans found himself in an understandably uncomfortable position. 

Evans had intended to share an innocent video of his family playing the popular iPhone game “Heads Up!”.

When the video reached its conclusion, the screen-recorded clip was minimized, further exposing the content of Evan’s camera roll. Along with some confusingly narcissistic photos of Evans’ headshots, present was also a low lit picture of male genitalia. 

The video was quickly deleted but unfortunately for Evans, fans had done some screen recording of their own. Aside his crude exposure, a photo of Evans can be seen with the caption “Guard That P*ssy.”

If past cases of celebrity nude exposure hold true, the reaction to Evans’ accidental leak should have been heinous and cruel. Fortunately for him, this was not the case.

Celebrities, friends and fans alike jumped to Evans’ aid, sharing sentiments of support and understanding. Avengers co-star Mark Ruffalo joined in on the fun, posting to Twitter, “Bro, while Trump is in office there is NOTHING you could possibly do to embarrass yourself.”

Knives Out co-star Jamie Lee Curtis also had something to say about the matter, posting “My boy! Proud of him. Got MY attention!” Respectfully, Evans took advantage of his phallically- prompted fame by posting, “Now that I have your attention [face-palm emoji]…. VOTE Nov 3rd!!!”, to his Twitter page.

To the passive viewer, the story is over. We saw a dick, the dick laughed it off and there’s nothing more to be said, right?

Well, actress Kat Dennings doesn’t seem to share a similar point of view. A few days after Evans’ post, Dennings posted to Twitter, “The public respect for Chris Evans’ privacy/feelings is wonderful. Wouldn’t it be nice if it extended to women when this kind of thing happens?”

Dennings has had her own experience with a similar incident. In 2010, Dennings private, explicit photos were leaked to the public through online hackers. And she has a pretty damn good point.

Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kate Upton—as well as her husband Justin Verlander—are only a few of the many celebrities to have fallen victim to Apple’s iCloud hacking scandal.And were these celebrities greeted with the respect and understanding like Evans’ was? Not at all. They were shamed for their promiscuity and made to feel embarrassed for the photos that were never intended to reach the public eye.

When nude photos are revealed, society empathizes with and even celebrates men’s sexuality and bodies while simultaneously shaming, vilifying and lashing out at women in similar circumstances,

Sarah Scanlon, Sexual Violence Response Coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University

There’s a double standard throughout the media. Women are labeled “slutty” or “floozy” for their accidental indecent exposures. They’re expected to feel shame and guilt for their “immoral, unbridled ways”.

On the other hand, men are labeled “endearing”, “charming” or “hunky”—I’m paraphrasing for the sake of modesty—and given the opportunity to laugh off the misunderstanding. 

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander—photographed alongside wife Kate Upton in her leaked photographs—was commended by fans. Regardless of his participation in the content, he was shown respect solely for his association with supermodel Kate Upton.

Jennifer Lawrence was a key contributor in the effort to break this double standard. “It is not a sex crime. It is a sexual violation,” Lawrence said in response to the criticism. “I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for.”

There is one key factor between Evans’ case and the case of the iCloud hackings: control. Evans had the choice to share his explicit content. The fact that a photo of his genitals was broadcasted to his six million Instagram followers is solely on him.

Lawrence and Upton never had that choice. They’d been robbed of their privacy and subjected to the harsh, unwitting criticism of the public eye. 

“When nude photos are revealed, society empathizes with and even celebrates men’s sexuality and bodies while simultaneously shaming, vilifying and lashing out at women in similar circumstances,” said Sarah Scanlon, Sexual Violence Response Coordinator at Laurier. 

“These disparate responses are even more harmful when women’s photos are being released without their knowledge or consent,” Scanlon said. “Regardless of people’s gender, image-based abuse such as leaking photos or sharing nude photos without explicit consent is an intentional act of sexual violation and exploitation.”

Always keep in mind that Laurier provides support for those going through familiar circumstances to those mentioned above. “You deserve support. It is never your fault and you are not alone,” Scanlon added. “Laurier’s Sexual Violence Support Staff are able to provide support, advocacy, accommodations and information on reporting and complaint processes. Please reach out to svinfo@wlu.ca.”


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