*WARNING: this post contains adult content and examples of threat of rape and physical abuse*
Dear anyone who happens to find me sexually attractive; keep it to yourself, I don't want to know.
I've now been publicly online in my smalls for just over 3 years and I think it's about time I discussed the darker side of things.
I've had my photos shared, commented on and abused on (oh hi to the guy who said my parents should send me to fat camp because I'm a heart attack waiting to happen!), they've ended up on soft porn sites, used as advertising for 'Ugly Girls Need Love To' dating sites, various redhead appreciation facebook pages, fake profiles etc. This doesn't feel good. You literally have no control over where your image ends up any more.
Recently on checking the twitter feed of a troll I'd blocked a long time ago, I found this particular person had made some rather disgusting, sexual remarks regarding what they'd like to do to me and how they want my boyfriend to watch. I felt instantly disgusted and almost violated by the fact that someone who doesn't even know me could say such disrespectful things. Over on my ask.fm account I've had , dare I call them threats, from one man who was trolling me about feminism then decided he was going to 'rape my mouth' then behead me and display my head amongst other 'bitches' he deemed suitable for a similar treatment. He then went on to tell me how 'rape isn't that bad' and other things I won't repeat as they are far too sickening to even think about. I've been added to Pinterest boards such as 'I Would' 'Sexy Women' and horribly 'MILFs' (wtf?). I'm regularly told by men what they'd like to do to me ('I would destroy her p***y'!), particularly when I post photos of my latest pair of tights I want to share with the world. I've told the foot/tights fetishists numerous times to back off and stop trying to inflict their fetish on those who are not interested, but they never listen, just carry on asking silly questions about my feet, or what they want to do 'on' them. Yeah....how 'bout no?
Shocking, right? Only sadly it's not. It happens more often than I'd care to think. And this is the dark side of lingerie blogging, and often the dark side of simply being a woman.
The recent campaign #YesAllWomen was of great interest to me as a feminist and with it's slightly obscure hashtag it meant that I was asked by a few men what it meant. My best friend and boyfriend both agreed with the sentiment and both admitted they'll never know how it really feels to be a woman experiencing such things. If you're not familiar, in my own short words it means 'no, all men aren't threatening, whether it be sexually, physically or otherwise towards women, but #YesAllWomen feel the need to guard against it.' In my experiences online, I've found that women block men who send them sexual tweets, Facebook messages, etc, and often seek out the advice from other women to check if a man is a potential 'creeper' (or if a supposed woman is posing as a man, yes it happens) because it's what we're used to, that's what we have to guard against.
You could ask why I post photos of myself online in lingerie/tights/any clothing or why I have a public twitter account or ask.fm account if it bothers me so much, but to deny myself of these things would be denying myself the freedom to be me, and to invalidate the point of my blog which is to help other women with a similar body shape to find clothes and lingerie that fits.
It seems I can't even walk a mile down the road without a man beeping his horn at me, heckling me or in one disturbing case, appearing to follow me. I wasn't fully aware of how much this type of behaviour affected me until I want to a local hospital for a training session last week. I made sure I was wearing my headphones so I didn't have to hear the heckling and car horns, I made sure I was walking fast to get through an area of high hedges, I made sure I carried my phone in a position I could use it as a weapon should I need to...
I shouldn't have to check myself in case some creepy guy decides what I'm doing is sexual. I shouldn't have to cut my head off my photos to prevent them being shared on soft porn sites. I shouldn't be made to feel apprehensive about blogging about tights I was sent to review. I shouldn't be made to feel like an object because a few guys find me attractive and want to tell me what they'd like to d to me. But I AM. And that's why #YesAllWomen is important to me.
I'd love to hear your experiences of online abuse and the steps you feel the need to take to avoid this. Please comment below, and remember, don't let the minority ruin things for us all x
(And yes, I'm fully expecting backlash. I won't engage, sorry trolls!)