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.

14 thoughts on “Uppity lady writer wanted bodily autonomy and respect. What happened next will not surprise you!

  1. There is, perhaps, a social custom involved. In a social situation such as a nudist camp where nudity is normal it is no big deal to see people nude and although there is a sexuality involved since the average and quite polite human who sees an attractive member of the opposite sex cannot control a hormonal reaction even there. But, under any circumstances a forced imposition on another person is always inappropriate. But in a special case where nudity is unusual the very exhibition of one’s self nude has implications of intended sexual request of one form or another. It is rather strange that this implied intention should be denied and that denial indicates an opinion that people should not respond to what seems to be a sexual invitation.

  2. jiisand — “where nudity is unusual the very exhibition of one’s self nude has implications of intended sexual request of one form or another. It is rather strange that this implied intention should be denied …”

    DISAGREE. A nude woman outside a nudist camp SEEMS to be making a sexual request only in the minds of those men who think themselves entitled to decide on behalf of the nude woman what her nudity ‘means’ socially, and in doing so, such men are denying the nude woman any right to decide for herself the social ‘meaning’ of her nudity.

    I suspect that you wouldn’t assume that male nudity implies a sexual request by the nude man. You probably would let the nude man decide for himself what his nudity ‘means’ socially. That’s because, in a patriarchal culture, men are granted autonomy over their own bodies, whereas women aren’t granted such autonomy.

    Think about it.

  3. jiisand:

    I just checked Natalia’s Facebook selfie that her critic referenced. It’s my impression that, in the selfie, Natalia is signaling that she is NOT making a sexual request because in the photo she covers her sexual markers from view. So I don’t see how Natalia’s critic could have been offended. I certainly didn’t find the photo provocative. Instead, it seemed to be an emphatically conservative self-portrait.

  4. My gosh, I think I love you. Thank you, for being unashamedly, unapologetically woman. People like your Facebook commenter there, need to learn that ‘woman’ is not a dirty word. Oh yeah and that tiny, insignificant little detail about, y’know, not having to justify ourselves or our choices regarding our own bodies to anyone. Especially shallow, misogynist men.

  5. What I indicated was my suspicions as a man who has, all his life, been directed by the basic impulses out of his physiology and a culture addicted to view a woman’s body to stimulate delight in reproduction and I find this delight nothing to be denied nor negated. This powerful driving force has been abducted to merchandise everything from automobiles to rides on airplanes and the mere exhibition of a wonderfully constructed woman nude or well clothed can give her worldwide fame. It cannot nor should not be denied since it is fundamental to the nature of being alive. The most odd Christian tradition of demeaning sex and its pleasures may have it’s roots in a power to create new life in every man and woman which possibly is in competition with the power of a deity but that is a personal view.. As a heterosexual man I have little if any deep understanding of what emotional forces operate in a woman viewing a naked man but that his genitals are generally hidden indicates to me that something of the same forces must be in operation. The appreciation of a woman well formed extends to all the proportions of her body, not just her sexual apparatus and as an artist who spent many hours in class drawing both nude men and women I am well acquainted with their profound differences of form.

    Sex is a very fundamental and necessary and delightful function of being alive and only when it is used to dominate and demean people should it be regarded negatively. It is, of course, only one of many features of any individual and that individuals differ in all of their qualities plays an important part in their social acceptance.

  6. Priceless!

    Thank you for a perfect reply to a stupid concept. I am a man, and I expect the same respect. Why would anyone think another person deserves less?

    And I have no pictures on the beach. I am so ugly it was determined my nude pictures were a menace to society. But I remember hiking naked up the Topanga Canyon river in the 70’s. It was the definition of personal freedom.

  7. One of the rather important considerations in this area is probably that nature has endowed women with a power over men that some men see as subtracting from their necessity to feel in control, a basic survival characteristic. A woman does not necessarily have to emphasize in any way this natural endowment but it cannot be denied since the sex drive in men forces them to admit women have this control. Some cultures demonstrate this fear of female power to such an extent that they drape their women totally so no female characteristics are visible. And yet, within these societies, men so fear this female power that they traditionally treat women abominably in many ways so women are totally subjugated. A woman does not have to openly invite sex. To many men, just being a woman indicates their sexual power and they see this as a threat to overcome.

  8. jiisand — “nature has endowed women with a power over men . . . the sex drive in men forces them to admit women have this control.”

    NOPE. An individual woman has “power” or “control” only over herself, not over anyone else. You’re making the rape-apologist’s argument that men just can’t control themselves. In actual fact, mature men can and do control themselves. Testosterone surges are not disabling, at least not for mature men.

  9. Yes, of course this post can be shared. In fact, it’s meant to be shared.

    No, the concern trolling about women’s mystical power over men is not appreciated. Especially because my post had nothing to do with that – and everything to do with the fact that someone I know wrote to tell me that I have no right to demand bodily autonomy and respect since I frequent nude beaches and post about them. It’s a ridiculous argument and it was personally very disappointing to me to have to hear it from someone I’ve met.

  10. Too bad that the identity of that guy was not revealed. Otherwise, if he were ever to post a picture of his shiny fast car, I would know that he is cool with me just hopping in and taking it for a joyride.

  11. I never claimed the power was irresistible. Merely that it was strong. And there is no excuse for rape.

  12. Wow–part of me was laughing, chuffing, rolling my eyes, and applauding in turns. Seriously, you were making a VERY excellent point on respect of your own body and answered his commentary very well. I liked this. Hugs to you and keep going strong.

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