So, to be honest, I really don’t know how to start this whole post. It’s a topic that has been going around in the wonderful (and as you may notice when you keep reading, not so wonderful) world of internet. This January seems to be the month when people have started to speak up about sexual assault and violence, especially on the internet and social media, so after talking about the topic for a while, me and Charlotte from CurvyGirlThin (click to read her brilliant post!) came up with a idea of a mutual hashtag for this conversation – enter #NotForYourPleasure. I have to give credit to a few other bloggers though who spoke up before us – the first ones to post about this alarming phenomenon were Leah Shanks, Rolls & Curves, Rachel BeeGee and where I initially found the convo, Le Curvy Kitten. I also had Charlotte asking me for a quote for her piece on the matter, and we brainstormed together the hashtag to go with our posts – to say, this is not okay and we should not be putting up with this.
I started lingerie blogging pretty much three years ago; I was 20 years old, kinda naive and wanted to help women to find their right bra size and to give them an array of options when it came to well-fitting DD+ bras. Little did I know what it actually meant to model for your very own tiny little blog in your undies. At first, I did photograph my bras with a top on because I was so afraid what people might say about me – I knew slut shaming was a big thing and as someone still finding her way out in the world, I did not want to put myself out there too much. At some point though, I was left with a choice – would I be giving my blog my all or leaving it to what it was, my own little place in the internet. I have always been ambitious and when my life turned upside down about two and half years ago, I decided I would take the plunge and not care what other people might think about me.
I would be lying if I said I had encountered the same amount of sexual harassment in my three year of blogging as the ladies that came out with the matter about a week ago – I haven’t got rape threats, I haven’t received dick picks and the creepy messages have been far and few between. But it doesn’t mean that my few experiences don’t matter – I still have experienced my body and my blog being sexualised on a regular basis, whether it’d be porn-filled Twitter accounts following me or men emailing me about their fetishes – even women emailing to me about their lingerie fetishes! I have had my blog linked to a public online forum where the whole point of the conversation was to drool and wank over lingerie bloggers and try to peek their nipples through a see-through bra. I have had people impersonating me online, on Facebook in fact, using my bra pics in their profile and using it to do God knows what. So I have definitely had my fair share of harassment.
The thing that really baffles me all the time while encountering these problems is that WHY do people choose to target women in lingerie or even fully-clothed as something (yap, something, not someone) that are there for their pleasure and even think that we would be glad to receive such attention? There is ACTUAL porn online, there are cam girls, there are people who strip butt-naked on the internet either for money or for fun/ their own sexual satisfaction and I personally feel it’s pretty easy to tell if someone enjoys certain kind of attention or not(for example you can be pretty sure that on a porn site, the person on a web cam wants to be there or at least gets some money for it). But then again, these people who assault and harass us are not just looking for porn – they are looking to use their power over us, to use our vulnerability to violate us for their own pleasure. Because they are usually just pure dickheads and/or sadists who want to push their own “masculine power” and fantasies over us. Because, they simply can.
I have heard countless times that rape culture does not exist. It makes me so frustrated not only because these people shut their ears and eyes from what’s happening around them, but also belittle our experience as women who face these problems EVERY SINGLE DAY. If it’s not online, it’s there on the streets. It’s the feeling of not being able to look someone in the eyes, because you are worrying about giving them a wrong signal. And it’s so wrong! Cause no matter if I looked down or winked at you on the street, there is no way anything I do is an “invitation” unless I say that I actually want something sexual with you. Same applies to clothing: whether I am online or offline, wearing a burka or a lingerie, it does not say anything about my wants or sexual desires – I have a mouth for speaking, I don’t need clothes for it.
I don’t only encounter harassment online because of being a lingerie blogger – I am always hesitant to mention my blogging niche, especially to guys, as it usually gains some kind of an unwanted reaction. Finnish people are mostly quite chill about it – that’s how our culture is, we try not to show our emotions or reactions too much to other people – but as I lived in UK, I really felt some men found it easier to push my boundaries as I had already put myself out there in a way that is commonly seen as “sexual”. I am also terrible in uncomfortable situations like that – I try to laugh it off even though I am boiling inside. Some might say that I am doing a disservice to myself by not saying anything to those douchebags, but if you are a woman and have experienced anything like this, you know that it is also an issue of safety. Laughing it off is kind of self defence that is sometimes crucial when you don’t know if the harassment and/or assault is going to get worse after saying something negative to the person harassing you.
I am tired of being scared anymore. I am tired of people saying some girls “are just asking for it”. Cause well, we literally DIDN’T ask for it. People have words for expressing their desires and not me nor any of my lingerie blogger friends have ever put up a dating ad on our blogs or social media. None of us have said, yes please, send me dick pics and talk dirty to me. Wearing lingerie online does not say anything about us. Not even that we have a thick skin and can take the bullshit that comes with our beloved hobby. I could write a whole post about lingerie not even being inherently sexy or sex-related but that is a whole another topic, which is eg already addressed on the Lingerie Addict. Please read that article if you think otherwise.
If you feel like taking part in this conversation and telling about your experiences with sexual harassment and assault, especially online, we will be using the hashtag #NotForYourPleasure on social media from now on. Also, feel free to write a blog post of your own and leave a link down below in the comments so I can check your post out and promote it on social media. All experiences are valuable and need to be heard so we can tackle this problem so many women encounter on a daily basis!