I’m Not Here For Whoopi Goldberg Slut-Shaming Bella Thorne

Yesterday, I wrote about how Bella Thorne decided to post her own nudes before a hacker could release them without her consent. Some of you didn’t think that was a power move; I definitely do, because she literally took all the hacker’s bargaining power away by preemptively posting her boobs on the internet. And it clearly wasn’t something Bella felt flippantly about—she wrote that she still felt “gross” and “watched” when the incident happened. But not everyone agreed, and some people went so far as to shame Bella Thorne. One of those people was Whoopi Goldberg. Ugh, Whoopi, no.

Whoopi voiced her comments on an episode of The View, and I’m sure you can guess what Whoopi’s piping hot take boiled down to. Essentially, it’s that Bella Thorne should have accepted the possibility that she would be hacked when she sent the nude photos. “Once you take that picture it goes into the cloud and it’s available to any hacker who wants them,” Whoopi said. “And if you don’t know that in 2019 that this is an issue, I’m sorry, your age does not—you don’t get to do that.” By “do that”, I presume she means, “be upset”.

Aside from the fact that that’s not entirely how these things work (for instance, you can use apps with end-to-end encryption, like Signal or WhatsApp, or just not have your photos automatically set up to back up to your iCloud), this argument is unhelpful and tired. Okay, sure, the best way to not get your nudes exposed is to not take them in the first place, but you could say that about literally any bad consequence that can happen to a person based on a choice they made. Best way to avoid a car accident? Don’t get in a car. Best way to avoid getting robbed? Never walk out in public with any form of currency on you.

In a more insidious way, it feels like very thinly veiled rape culture. Don’t want to get assaulted? Don’t wear skimpy clothes, don’t drink, don’t walk home alone at night. We’ve heard it all before. None of that addresses the fact that the easiest way to not get assaulted is to not happen to encounter a rapist, in the same way that the best way to not get your nudes exposed is to not have someone make the decision to hack you.


Of course, I’m not saying that in 2019 every single person out here sends nudes, and that doing so has zero risk involved. I’m saying that, just like any other taboo behavior people engage in, the reality is that people enjoy doing it, and so people are going to do it. Does that mean that they should accept without question that they will become the victim of a crime (because, need I remind you, revenge porn and extortion are crimes)? Even if you are aware of the potential consequences, does it mean that you’re not allowed to feel upset if the worst-case scenario does happen? The latter question is, in essence, what Whoopi Goldberg is arguing, and let me just say: no.

Ironically, Bella Thorne was supposed to appear on The View, but decided not to because, as she put it, “I don’t really want to be beaten down by a bunch of older women for my body and my sexuality.” Indeed, Goldberg’s opinion is disappointing, but not exactly surprising. The View is essentially a show for older women to espouse their often less-than-progressive takes—or, as my esteemed colleague 50 Shades of Betch described it, the show is “an incubator for bad opinions”. For a show hosted by women, the hosts’ track record of supporting female sexuality is spotty. An example that immediately came to mind when I read about this story was when Belle Knox, a porn actress who, in 2014, was attending Duke and was then outed as a sex worker by her classmates, appeared on the show. The other hosts clutched their pearls over the fact that a woman admitted to watching porn—let alone acting in it—and Sherri Shepherd told Knox she was “breaking her heart.” But interestingly, it was actually Whoopi Goldberg who said to Knox, “What freaked a lot of people out is that you said you felt empowered, which I totally got, but I’d love for you to explain to people how you felt that way.”

It’s confusing, to say the least, that Goldberg supports women expressing their sexuality, but only as long as they are doing it for work. I’ve got to wonder why Goldberg doesn’t extend the same understanding to celebrities, or by extension, to everyday women who wish to express their sexuality to (someone who is supposed to be) a trusted partner. To The View‘s credit, Sunny Hostin empathized with Thorne and attempted to stick up for her, saying, “It just saddens me that these kids have to go through this. For someone to extort her and threaten her with posting these pictures, it’s terrible.”


Goldberg was less sympathetic, and in fact, doubled down on her opinions. “If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are, you don’t take nude pictures of yourself,” she said. Once again, this is unrealistic and dismissive, and doesn’t actually address the issue, but instead puts the blame back on the woman.

At a very basic level, people are entitled to their feelings, so even if you don’t agree with sending naked pictures, I hope you can at least admit that Bella Thorne is at least valid in her distress. And look, most people sending a nude photo know that they are taking a risk—usually the risk they are mitigating is the chance that the recipient will leak that photo themselves. Still, that would be a violation, and a crime. And then when you take that a step further, when an unknown third party has gone out of their way to gain access to your sensitive information, that’s equally a violation, and one you’re probably not expecting. And, guess what? It’s still a crime. And when your trust gets violated, and you get blackmailed, you’re allowed to feel distraught over it—whether you understood the risks going in or not.

Images: ElizabethDeford, Simple_Cinema / Twitter