BODY RECLAMATION REVENGE PORN SERIES PT. 3

BODY RECLAMATION REVENGE PORN SERIES PT. 3

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. 
 

SB1257
Maureen, the journalist who rallied at my side, made me feel respected beyond measure. She stood up on my behalf and filled my soul with the confidence to mic up and tell my story. She helped me fashion my struggle from something rough and disorganized into something eloquent. Together, and with the backing of the state senator and state representative who authored the bill, we accomplished something great. We lobbied. We shook hands, we spoke to members of the house and senate, we answered questions, and we filmed the entire process. She created a 5-part story on what happened to me and we shared it with the world…that’s a little dramatic. We shared it with the Tulsa market, but I’ve seen it referenced in articles from several other cities and states! We helped get that damn bill passed making Oklahoma one of the majority of states that have made revenge pornography illegal. 
 
When my story broke on the local news, people sympathized, people empathized, and people judged. The general population was split between celebrating me taking a stance and judging my decision-making skills. I feel that there was more celebration than anything, but maybe that’s because my spirit was on fire. And I no longer had any secrets because I owned what happened in the same way that I own my body, my life, and my essence. 
 
I was mine again, or maybe it was the first time I truly felt like I belonged to myself. It is hard to say because it started so long ago. I became happier and healthier. I began receiving offers from photographers for shoots to help them build their portfolios, and small-time websites to model a few of their outfits. I’ve posed in art studios, photography studios, old houses, swanky hotel lobbies. I’ve posed for pay, and I’ve posed for fun. I have done implied nudity, clothed, and silhouette shots. My favorites are the pictures of me where I am in a pose that radiates strength. It captures the essence of my soul and my abilities. I confess that I also like the vulnerable looking poses because I feel that they capture my ability to feel and experience emotions. When I post them, it’s me posting them. When a photographer posts them, I consent to it. I get to present myself how I want to be presented. I’ve decided not to hide anymore, and hopefully, I will be going to law school in 2018 without fear of being rejected because of something someone did to me. Something that previously sent me to a dark place where I didn’t know if I would see the next day ahead of me. I’m not going to do it small anymore because of someone else much smaller than I have ever been.
 
So, That’s the General Story
The technology was used to hurt me. I avoided social media for a long time to prevent harassment. One day, I decided it wasn’t good enough for me, and I realized I could use technology to tell my story, use it to produce art, and use it to heal myself.   

That’s why I employ my body to express myself artistically. It’s why I don’t care what people think about it. I’ve already faced public humiliation, and I’m not going to allow anyone ever to make me feel shame again for this again. Sometimes, I find myself judging people for not being accepting about what I post, though I am working on that. We are all drawing our opinions from a different set of life experiences and insecurities. I still find myself asking why many of us are comfortable with the body expression of a stranger, but why are so much uncomfortable with our friends and family doing the same? It is interesting to me that people are comfortable with magazine stands, movies, advertisements, and pornography, but when they see the nude silhouette of someone they know, they judge. I think what makes the people in my life more uncomfortable than implicit nudity is that they see me as a human. They know me, and they can put a personality, history, and the perception they have developed of me to what they see. 

I think people tend to disassociate suggestively posed strangers from having real human qualities—such as good days and bad days, good memories and bad ones, embarrassing moments and moments of triumph. I’ve done this before too, but I don’t do it anymore. I frequently deal with people who do not realize or do not empathize with my humanity. I do not want to do that to someone else. People who follow pages that are covered in sexy-fit photos, or body pride photos, or even boyfriend-girlfriend goals photos are comfortable to do so for the same reason so many people are comfortable with pornography. It is a fantasy…an escape. It is something that does not appear to contain a real human who lives a real life. Not a picture of a subject with thoughts and feelings. Not your neighbor, who also has a body underneath their clothes. Not your co-worker, who possibly wears swimsuits like the women in magazines. Not your child, niece, or friend. Certainly not someone who has faced public humiliation on a decently sized scale for a small town girl and is likely expected to live a very modest lifestyle following. What I do is not how I escape; it is how I find myself. I am reclaiming my body and bringing attention to the way I want to represent myself as opposed to the way someone else represented me without my consent.

Unfriend/Unfollow
I didn’t post those pictures. Even if they had been flattering (they were not), I still didn’t post them. They made me hate my body. They made me hate myself, hate my life choices, and hate my life. I contemplated running away, changing my name (which I did do on social media), and I changed my major so I could do something with less of a chance of being noticed online. I have sometimes thought that I will never leave it behind and there is only one way out, but what kind of role-model would that make me? I will not. I will continue going. I will continue fighting for myself, and for others who have experienced something similar or even something far worse.

If you know me, and you’re uncomfortable, I understand you’re uncomfortable. I love you, but please get over it. Unfriend, unfollow, do what you need to do…but I do this for me. Not for your discomfort, not for your romantic partner's enjoyment, not even for my partner. I am still going to have bad days where my body and I don’t get along well, but ultimately, we all have that struggle. We all cope with our fragility in different ways. I post what I post to claim my image, claim my body, declare that I love myself, and I love the vessel I reside in. I may be pushing the envelope when it comes to what people consider art and what people consider erotic in nature, but I consider my body a work of art, and even if you do not read my story, I can look at my photos and read the story my body is telling me. I see the fight for harmony between my body and my mind. I see what it has been through, and what I have been through...and if I need to be the one to make myself feel beautiful as reciprocity for what we have been through together, that is what I am going to do.

Post 3 Pic 3.JPG

The Good Guy I Didn’t Chase Away
I met a guy in 2016, which I have dubbed as the Year of Shit, and most millennials would agree. His acceptance has changed a lot of things for me. I met him at a point where I was tired of hiding myself, and the first night I met him I told him everything about me. I came at him with a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude. It may have been a little overwhelming, but for some reason, he stuck around. After a month, we made it official. He has treated me with nothing but respect When a friend of his accused me of being thirst-bait on insta and said they didn’t understand how I could advocate for people affected by revenge pornography then post the things I do online, he became annoyed but not with me. He became irritated with society, and he defended me. I was scared he would be embarrassed or ashamed of me, and he wasn’t. He took that opportunity as a chance to educate his friend about consent. He told me that he didn’t care what I posted online because it was my body, not his. He reinforced my belief that I should do what I need to do for myself. This man has become my best friend and has changed what I believe about who deserves to be loved and find a right person to love you. Every day, I think about how people like me beat themselves up because of something someone else did to them. I reflect on how I’m one of the lucky ones that figured out that people like me also deserve love. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of yourself, especially not your romantic partner. Find yourself, and don’t settle for someone who makes you shrink yourself. Find someone who encourages you to love yourself and grow from your experience. 

Empathy Challenge
A lot of people may have viewed these events differently, but I can only speak on my behalf. Which is exactly what I am doing and what I will always do, for the rest of my life. My final note is this: I challenge you to challenge yourself next time you look at someone as a piece instead of as a person. 
 

Heavin | Contributor

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

*Feel free to reach out:
Twitter: @heaventaay
Instagram: @heaventaay
Email: HeavenTaay@gmail.com
 
Havin Taylor: Revenge Porn Series, 2016
February
http://ktul.com/news/investigations/revenge-porn-ktul-investigates
March
http://ktul.com/news/investigations/advocate-pushes-for-revenge-porn-bill
May
http://ktul.com/news/investigations/gov-fallin-signs-legislation-making-revenge-porn-illegal-in-oklahoma
June
http://ktul.com/news/investigations/state-senator-talks-behind-the-scenes-effort-for-revenge-porn-bill
September
http://ktul.com/news/investigations/revenge-porn-bill-signed-into-law-victim-says-this-cant-hold-me-back-anymore