COLUMN: Chris Evans can laugh off his leaked nudes—women aren’t so lucky



Chris Evans, photographed at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards.

Last week, the world erupted when Chris Evans accidentally leaked his own private photos of himself on Instagram. Thankfully, much of the reaction afterwards was in respect to the actor — people making sure that the images weren’t spread around, and that his privacy was respected. There were very few negative comments made about the actor’s appearance and his image. 

“I saw lots of people coming together to make sure that if anyone saw it to report it and urge others not to share it,” said DePaul senior Annie Toner. “Most of the tweets surrounding the incident made light of the fact that it was shared on accident, but regardless advised others to respect his privacy.” 

It goes without saying that no matter who the person is, famous or not, that their privacy should be respected whenever these incidents happen. Nobody deserves to have accidentally leaked photos circulated around the internet, nor should they be the subject of conversations, body-shaming and or any other type of shaming.  

It was an uplifting event to see –– that the world came together to respect Evans’ privacy during this incident after he himself leaked the photos on accident. But much of the controversy around the event stirs around the fact that when this incident happens to women, it is not handled the same way –– especially given incidents in the past, photos of women have been leaked after they were stolen when their phones and accounts had been hacked. 

It’s a real shame and disappointment that still, women are commonly subjected to unwarranted attention, body-shaming, and lack of privacy and respect whenever their private photos are leaked. 

“In the case of a woman’s nudes getting leaked, I feel like there’s less of a rally cry to respect someone’s privacy,” Toner said.“That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but I tend to see less of a narrative of respecting privacy when a woman’s nudes are leaked.” Toner said. 

This event took me back down a road of memories that I wish I never had to remember or experience in the first place. 

When I was in high school, there were rumors floating around about a lower classman buying nude photos from guys who had girlfriends. He would get in contact with the boyfriends whether that be at school or on social media and ask them if their girlfriends had ever sent them “nudes.” 

If they said yes, he would ask if they were willing to sell the photos to him, and what their price was. 

When many girls around the school heard about this, they were second-guessing their boyfriends’ intentions and the relationships they were in. But things got worse when everyone found out that not only was he buying the original photos, he was distributing them all around the high school, reselling them to other men. 

There was tension in the halls. Girls floating around with the worry over their heads that fellow classmates may have seen leaked private photos of them. They panicked whenever they saw people exchanging phones and making glances towards the girl, talking in hushed tones. 

I recall people gossiping about specific photos, girls crying in bathrooms to each other because they found out their boyfriends were some of the few that sold off their photos. They became self-conscious of their bodies, covering up and concealing after they heard people commenting on about them, talking about the size of their chests. 

The halls erupted in hushed conversations of “slut-shaming.” People were talking about their friends, shaming them for sending and having said photos in the first place. Guys were pointing at different girls, some even making comments to their face about the photos they have seen and giving girls their unwanted feedback. 

The bodies of the girls in our school became mere objects — just images that first appeared on the screens of strangers, who didn’t even know they were real people. 

Bodies became the subject of conversations, subjected to unwanted attention, comments and interest. I don’t recall this environment ever dying down –– after I graduated, it seemed like this type of situation still circulated. The private photos of women always seemed to slip into the hands of the wrong people, their photos and bodies were the undying objects of fascination. 

This kind of fascination around the leaked private photos of women and the way they are treated afterwards stems from the fact that society still persists to sexualize the bodies of women and to visualize them as objects, permissible to commentary and exposure. 

It seems that when society encounters a leaked private photo of a man, it acts vastly different –– it comes together more to respect his privacy and to add light to the situation rather than responding harshly to his body, his intentions and privacy. 

Leaked private photos of celebrities are nothing new, and Evans’ incident does not stand alone. In the past, there have been many similar incidents involving celebrities like Chris Brown, Dylan Sprouse, Noah Centineo, Vanessa Hudgens, Kim Kardasian and more. But if one takes a walk down memory lane , they can see that the reactions across the various celebrities and these incidents are all very different.

Many people may not even remember the incidents involving Sprouse, Brown, or Centineo since it was quickly brushed off and made light of. But to this day, Hudgens still answers to criticism of the incident that happened in 2008 where she had to issue a formal apology. Earlier this year, she shared in an interview with Cosmopolitan that the incident was a source of trauma for her after experiencing all of the backlash and criticism she did. 

The world just reacts differently when private photos of women are leaked versus if they were of men. 

“We still function in a patriarchal society where women are sexualized constantly. In the case of celebrities, there is a heightened sense of sexualization towards women especially since many are expected to sell sex in order to be popularized,” Toner said. “When the content is leaked, it gives the audience an opportunity to sexualize them even more.” 

Nobody should be mad about how the world reacted towards the incident with Chris Evans. It’s uplifting to see how the social media world came together to respect his privacy and his body. But it would be great if the same reaction was reciprocated towards women. 

Women today are still overly sexualized and objectified, and much of the reaction towards having their private photos leaked can be traumatic in the way they are spread, commented on and shamed. The respect the world gives to men when these accidents happen needs to be the same towards women.