I did a shoot last Spring that’s finally up on the site where I do the nude (topless) modelling. One of the facebook “teaser” shots the site used was me in some sexy shoes; just my feet with some heels and the remnants of a reddish pedicure. These shoots are supposed to be representative of “real” bodies – crappy toe nail polish and all…
I have a facebook “model” account for this purpose and will accept any friend request with scarcely a question asked. It’s an odd account, as I haven’t the slightest idea of who most of my so-called friends are. Some of them are random men (unsurprisingly, but probably not more than half) which is what brings me to the point of this post.
I have no interest in feet, but I can appreciate the photographers’ efforts to accommodate all kinds of interests and proclivities within the various sets. However, the resulting message I got from one random “friend” still surprised me:
“I am not into feet, but your pic would wanna make me cum on yours lol.”
I ignored this for a few days, trying to figure out how, if at all, I would respond.
“Sorry Would you let me? Lol”
(I do so wish I could also paste the smileys he included in the messages as well)
I felt unconvinced that he was genuinely asking me for consent.
The lovely Sadey Quinn wrote about rape culture today, and I would argue that this is an example of it right here. While my knee-jerk response to his initial message was: “ew! I like these shoes. No!” This was immediately followed with “well what do you expect? You’re posing topless on the internet.”
My Darlings, this is wrong for a number of reasons. On the most basic level: EVERYone deserves respect. This person and I had no prior relationship that established any kind of consensual dirty talk or propositioning. For this man to think that it is acceptable for one of his first encounters with me to include asking to cum on my feet is at the very least vulgar and lazy.
And my knee-jerk reaction of “what do you expect?” is victim-blaming. It’s a shame when it’s done to yourself, but internalized patriarchy is a bitch sometimes. Society teaches us to be ashamed of our bodies, and women*’s bodies in particular are regulated to the point of oppression. The very reason that I am involved with this site is an act of rebellion: no one has the right to tell me what choices I am “allowed” to make with my own body. And yet, it took me a while to realize that this man’s message was not appropriate, nor was I obligated to laugh it off or accept it as a matter of course.
It was of course incomprehensible to him that I could be participating in a site like this for any reason other than his titillation. Obviously if I am posing (semi) nude, then it must be to get male attention. Or perhaps female attention – but I’m sure he would feel that was dedicated to his gaze as well.
Even as I’m writing this post, I am struggling with the conflicting voices in my head: one telling me that I really wasn’t a victim, and I knew I would get comments like that, and he probably thought it was a compliment that I would appreciate; while the other is asking why it is that it’s OK for men to talk to women that way, why is it we value certain “kinds” of women less (as arguably, posing nude on the internet places me loosely into the sex worker category), why is it that many people would probably agree that I “deserve” those kinds of comments?
Rape culture teaches us that women are less important than men, that our bodies are there for consumption and commodification, and that our voices hold less weight and value. It’s a culture that ostensibly values “purity” and places judgement on a person’s “deservingness” of justice and respect- and sex workers, so-called sluts, feminists or any other kind of transgressive, confident woman does not fit into that category.
Am I broken by his comment? No. I’ve experienced a lot worse, as, I would imagine, has every women I have ever met.
And in response? I sent him this video and told him that once he had watched it completely, with an open mind – then we could talk.
*Cis-women, trans-women, hetero-women, queer-women, I am speaking here about any kind of female-identified body.