Today on Facebook I reposted a powerful essay by my friend Anna Lind-Guzik – the essay deals with sexual harassment and the awful feelings that presidential candidate Donald J. Trump evokes in many of us who know what it’s like to be preyed upon by men. I then posted a picture from a happy day on a nude beach.
The reaction from one of my followers was swift. I am pasting it here in full, without editing a word (for personal and professional reasons, I am omitting this man’s name). I have also written a response, and it is posted below.
Just saw you re-posting a long piece about sexual harasment is bad, and how Donald Trump is a scary man. Then you post a picture of yourself naked on a beach. I thought long and hard about writing a response. Simply put Natalia, I like & respected you for a long time. But when you write “don’t sexually harass me” and pos naked, I have to wonder, just what kind of a double standard you are trying to promote.. ‘Here I am, naked, but don’t grab and harass me’. Because I also follow your (very beautiful) Instagram, I know you also recently posted a picture of yourself with ample cleavage. I like that picture more, the nude beach one is not very flattering though you get bonus point for your nice tummy. I guess the question I have for both pictures is, What is your message? Trying to have it both ways? I like and respect your writing, would it be HARASMENT for me to say that your pictures make me hot and bothered making it difficult to appreciate you? Just thinking out loud and trying to add to the conversation. It seems You want people to vote for Hillary, and you want females to be respected, and then you act like one of those non-credible women that Trump is (I think, baselessly) accused of doing whatever to. It doesn’t make for a very strong message in my opinion. Because of my respect for your dignity I wanted to write this to you in private. But would appreciate your response.
Dear Man on the Internet (I’m leaving your name out of this, mostly out of respect for your family),
I made a rookie mistake. I assumed that my body is my own, and that I can do things that I like with it, and not be punished for it.
Posting about my disdain for harassment AND my love of frolicking on the nude beaches of southern Crete was hypocritical. I want “females to be respected,” after all, but how can I (or any other “female”) demand respect while simultaneously inhabiting a female body and doing what I want with it? These things are mutually exclusive, after all.
You are also absolutely right that it is “baseless” to accuse Donald J. Trump of inappropriate conduct. I mean, what’s the big deal about grabbing someone “by the pussy” and bragging about it? Those women really should have thought about it before leaving the house, pussies in tow.
Coincidentally, Trump’s wife Melania has also posed nude – but that’s OK, because she’s beautiful and, more importantly, married to a
rich conman successful businessman. A rigid class hierarchy is an important function of our social order, and if you oppose that, you’re probably a dirty communist.
You’re right to point out that my picture isn’t very flattering. I had this silly idea that I dress/undress for my own benefit, and who cares how someone might rank my body, but let’s face it, your opinion of me is what really matters. Thank you so much for at least awarding me bonus points for my tummy, because I would have thrown myself off of a bridge otherwise (it would’ve been extra bothersome, because I live in Chania right now, and there aren’t any high bridges to save/end your life).
This line: “I like and respect your writing, would it be HARASMENT [sic] for me to say that your pictures make me hot and bothered making it difficult to appreciate you?” is particularly inspirational.
As many of my friends know, I have a bit of a crush on a famous, award-winning male journalist. I finally know how to express my feelings to him.
“Dear X,” I’m going to say. “I like and respect your writing, but you are also too handsome for words, and so I can’t appreciate you. I want to like you for your MIND, but it’s so hard since you’re so hot, you filthy manwhore.”
Haha, just kidding, I would never say that to a man. Everybody knows it’s OK to denigrate women if they’re too good looking, or not good looking enough, or when they’re being uppity and unladylike and wanting to run for president (lol, let’s face it, that stuff is only cute when a five-year-old girl with pigtails says, “Daddy, I want to be president someday!”, not some old harpy, right, fellas?), but you can’t denigrate men like that, that would just be misandry, and misandrists are all lonely women with a lot of cats, and cat food is expensive.
If I were unfeminine and unsophisticated, I would push back, of course. I would say things like, “I lived in the Middle East, where I was always covered up when I went outside, and that did nothing to stop harassment, not to mention the fact that some of the worst instances I faced happened when I was wearing a bulky coat on the streets of a European city, so maybe the harassment issue has nothing to do with clothes/lack of clothes and everything to do with whether or not we think of women as human beings?” or even something like, “Who are you to tell me what to do, you creep?” but then you might not praise my Instagram cleavage again, and I live for backhanded compliments from guys who can’t spell “harassment.”
So thank you. Thank you from the bottom of said Instagram cleavage. This entire election has already been almost too beautiful and inspiring for me personally – and for women in general – but it’s always good to know that things can always get
worse more beautiful and more inspiring.