Body Reclamation Revenge Porn Series PT. 1

Body Reclamation Revenge Porn Series PT. 1

Part I:
Before we begin, I want to say that if you or someone you know has fallen victim to revenge porn, please contact the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative at cybercivilrights.org. 

My Body as a Coping Mechanism
I have always identified as an artist. I have used some form of art to cope with every change and obstacle in my life. Growing up, I mainly did this through oil painting and playing the cello. As an adult, I have lost interest in both of these activities, but have found a new outlet. Today, my body is my canvas and my instrument. Technology is my medium. Photo-shoots I participate in have replaced my bow and my paintbrushes as the tools I use to express myself. I’ve been posing for 3 years, and while it began as a dare to myself to do something brave, it has become a passion of mine. I first posed for a life drawing class but eventually became more confident and evolved into posing for photo-shoots. Many people have questioned me and those close to me about why I do it, and the answer is simple. I’m reclaiming my body after an event that has infected my life in a major way—and I say infect because it was an infection…am an emotional infection that I am still healing from.


Background: 
I had a stalker. He socially suffocated me until I dated him. He managed to do this primarily by following me around and portraying himself as a nice guy in love. His tactics worked on other people, and it strongly influenced their opinion of him, which is why it I eventually convinced myself I should give him a chance. This “nice guy” trope, which involves a guy forever chasing an uninterested girl around while she seeks out relationships with other males until she finally realizes the error of her ways and dates him, is romanticized by a lot of movies and young adult novels. It villainizes a woman for knowing what she wants and whom she does not want. His “niceness” may have clouded everyone else's perception, but as the subject of unwanted advances by a “nice guy,” I can tell you that it’s not as romantic as it seems. 
 
Also, he wasn’t even a nice person, but people thought he became nice because he liked me. There is this weird obsession in our culture with a jerk who meets a girl that puts him in his place and makes him nicer. When I claimed he was an ass to one of my mentors, she told me “well, asses grow up to make the best husbands.” This piece of advice is probably one of the worst I’ve ever received. I’ve realized how disturbing this idea is, and how wrong it is that this type of belief system is sometimes passed down to girls and young women. And this belief system shaped how I tried to feel about him.

I was frequently made fun of for not dating him. People sympathized with him because I allegedly friend zoned the guy. I was also judged for being shallow because I wasn’t attracted to him. Eventually, all of the social pressure, loneliness (guys didn’t like dating me because he was always there), and pressure from him influenced my decision to date him. I didn’t want to, but I felt backed into a corner. Looking back, I don’t see how I could have done anything else with the skills I had at the time, but others could have. I wish someone had seen me and intervened, or that others had just shut their mouths and not tried to convince me to be with someone I didn’t want to be with. I began to rely on him to fill the void that he helped create, which is exactly what he wanted. 
 
Before being in a relationship with him, he once sat across from me holding his phone up as though he was snapping photos. I asked to see his phone, and he had at least 20 photos of me looking at him, confused. I asked him to delete them, and he refused. It made me angry, but I let it go. I recognize this now as complete lack of respect for my consent and wish someone had given me some consent education when I was growing up. After being together for a very short period, he began asking me for pictures—“those” kind of pictures. I didn’t want to because it made me uncomfortable. Eventually, he wore me down and I did it. It made me paranoid and made me feel like a piece of shit. I already felt a strong sense of obligation to be there, but this made me feel even more obligated to stay.

Entitlement Issues:
I only intended to let him have a few pictures, and I never intended to let have any of my face; however, that did not stop him from taking photos anyway. Sometimes he was holding his phone up without me knowing, sometimes he captured my face when he promised he wouldn’t. He pressured me into web-camming and managed to record my webcam. Without permission, he began posting photos and videos of me all over the Internet. He did it before and after we broke up.

He solicited “me” out onto Craigslist. He made up disturbing stories about why he was posting, that I wanted to meet up, and about things I allegedly did with other people. He created dating profiles using my image and my name. He posted my images along with my identity all across the underbelly of the Internet. Looking at these images is depressing, mainly because I know how I felt at the time, and I can see the insecurity and unhappiness on my face; regardless, I was under the false impression these images were private and that I would never have to see them again... 

Heavin | Contributor

*BODY RECLAMATION REVENGE PORN IS A 3-PART SERIES*

Make sure to check out PT. 2 next Friday.