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Who Owns My Sexual Agency?

I got a lot of abuse this weekend – uninvited, unwelcome and quite aggressive. Surprising too as this guy was trying to woo me on a dating site.

It got me thinking about my own sexual agency, the things I’ve done, the people who know about it, the pictures I post and the complicated relationship I think all girls have with their sexuality and who owns it.

 

But we’ll go back to this guy and explain what happened there because dating apps are a good place to start. For one, they are how over 40% of all relationships start now (don’t ask me I can’t find the link to those stats but I did read it somewhere) and they are the internet so they are a breeding ground for abuse for women.

I think I’ve detailed on twitter a lot of the sleazy opening lines that have come my way. Those aren’t the worst, they are bemusing at the most, disheartening at the worst. But then there are the insistent ones; the ones that send you one message and then a quick succession of more when you don’t respond. Ones like ‘Hey, I saw you looking, come say hi’ or ‘Are you not going to be polite?’ insert two more identikit messages and then the final ‘Ah you’re all talk’  or my all time fav ‘You’re probably a man’.

 

How lovely.

 

First off, I don’t owe you an answer. And I don’t owe you a response.

 

Then you have the guys who look through your profile, see that you’re pretty sex positive and assume you are for sale, will sleep with anyone and can be bought with a cursory ‘Hey, so you like sex, let’s fuck’. And then move on to being super shocked when you don’t jump at this opportunity.

Or the ones who look at your photo, see one where you’re on holiday, in summer clothes and feel that it’s ok to tell you that you’d attract less dickheads if you weren’t showing it all off. Then tells you that you have great tits.

I promise you that this was said to me, in the year 2016. By a guy who, as it turns out, was ‘only being helpful’ and was surprised when I told him I didn’t need his critique of my pics and I was obviously not for his consumption so he should jog on.

 

I hate my body a lot of the time but I’m not ashamed of it. And on the days that I do wear something revealing I will own it. It is my body and I will show it or hide it as I see fit and this is not a statement on my character or moral fibre. Why random, strange guys feel this proprietorial ownership over my body I will never cease to be annoyed with.

But on the plus side, it does helpfully sometimes separate the chaff from the wheat when they show themselves up like that.

 

But it seems that having that pic where I am laughing at something so glorious, wearing a vest and shorts on holiday – basically showing a bit of flesh, along with my profile that doesn’t hide my sexuality, is somehow an invitation to abuse. I have asked for it, so I have been told. I have brought this on myself by being too open and for daring to have the audacity to be into sex and not be ashamed of it. I’m supposed to hide it, only be coaxed into it? Not revel in it?

But if I liked sex why do I not sleep with you just cos you asked?

 

Which brings me to the oh so lovely messages that I received this weekend. For a tiny bit of context – I am a bad person, I sometimes answer cretins when I’m in a bad mood just to see how far it will go, or worse …. So I can tell you guys about it. And this weekend, I was under quite a bit of pressure so I might have fed the troll. As I said, I’m a bad person.

 

His opener wasn’t too terrible if it did focus solely on my appearance: Hi Abbi, I’m Mark from [suburb of Dublin]. I do [some type of job]. How are you, love your leather trousers, very rock chick.

Not the worst, not the best. I’ve corrected the spelling and grammar mistakes because I’m not able to reproduce them. Also, I wasn’t wearing leather trousers in any of my pics…?

 

So, exactly 32 minutes later he gets arsey because I haven’t responded and says: Thanks for the answer Abbi. I was being friendly.

 

Yeah it sure sounds like it pal. You sound about as friendly as a burglar hiding in my bathroom.

But I’m irked and annoyed at external things and not in the mood to be bullied so I’m afraid I responded to this message telling him he wasn’t owed a response from anyone, but as our match was such a low score that was the reason.

But sure, you can’t reason with the unreasonable. Because as they say, you can’t play chess with pigeons; they knock over the pieces, shit on the board and then strut around like they won. Which is exactly what he did.

 

His next move was to predictably quote the ‘you don’t go by these percentages’. Yes I do buddy, they’re there for a reason and they are quite an effective barometer of compatibility. But he then had a dig at me saying I probably put a lot of faith in star signs too.

(For the record I don’t read star signs, I believe in science.) He ends it with the passive aggressive confirmation that I don’t owe him anything and reiterating that he was sorry for being friendly.

Can you imagine what this guy’s interpretation of unfriendly is?

Can you even fathom it?

 

But he keeps going, he’s obviously forensically going through my profile now, looking for anything to hit me with and if you want to think you can shame me with sex then I suppose you might think you have some pretty big sticks. He tells me I’m kinkier than him and in the same sentence tells me he doubts it – is this supposed to entice me?

He then declares that I’m into threesomes, not really sure where he is getting that from as I cannot see where I’ve said that?

And he finishes that message with facetiously calling me classy as it appears I’d ‘rather have the face eaten off me’. Rather than what!

But I do think I know what he is referring to. One of the questions is what would you rather do on a first date and I’ve said drinks and kissing. As that’s the truth.

 

 

He answered more questions and our match percentage goes up. He tells me it’s only falsely low because of the threesomes, again I have no idea what he is on about.

 

Then he asks about the threesomes that I “advertise” on my profile! For the love of Jebus how is this guy so obsessed with me and threesomes? And where the fuck is he getting this from?

 

And his last message, he tells me that I “take” a strap on (again, not anything that I’ve said in the profile) And asks if I have “given” it with a strap on. Now, if he’d read anything what he might have read was that I have used one. He made his own assumptions as to what way I did. (spoiler alert in case you haven’t read this blog before, I have been the one wearing and doing the fucking)

His closing arguments are: that he still doesn’t think I’m kinkier than him and ends with: So Miss 60% are you going to say HI.

 

I think he’s on glue.

I am incredulous. Utterly speechless at this guy. He abuses me, tries to shame me, speaks to me aggressively and then still thinks that I am going to engage with him? That he has a chance….?

 

 

HOW? How is this the way women are spoken to? How do guys think that this is ok? To speak to women like this online or anywhere?

What scares me is this isn’t the first time or the last time this guy has engaged with women like that. And he is somebody’s brother or friend. There is probably loads of people out there who would vouch for this guy and tell you that he is a great person.

 

You probably know someone just like him. You could be friends with him. This is what makes me so sad. For myself, for the world for other guys.

 

I know, I could block him. But I wanted to see how far he would go with it.

Why do I keep doing that?

 

 

This guy was clearly interested, and though he wanted to sleep with me he also thought that it was ok to try and shame me for my tastes? I wasn’t frightened by this guy, he didn’t have my real name or my number and it’s doubtful he’d fine me in a city of 2 million people, but it angered me so much. It infuriated me that he thought that he had some moral upper hand by trying to imply that I lacked class for being open about sex, while simultaneously trying to say he was into it too? While I don’t feel personally unsafe from this encounter I do feel unsafe that there are so many guys like that out there. With this attitude that I owe them something, that I am here to be deemed acceptable or not acceptable by their standards.

 

I grow ever more weary of humans.

 

But this isn’t the only place that it happens; where I have to be careful of who I am sexually because for some reason I am not my own sexual agent.

I post pictures of myself online. Some semi clad and some bordering on provocative. While I’ve never been abused for this, others have, and my even more conservative photos on my dating profile have seen quite a bit of abuse. For some reason, I am not allowed to be in control of my image. I am cheapening myself or selling myself. Opening myself up for abuse and inviting trouble.

Am I?

 

As I said earlier, I am not always happy with how I look, but I will keep seeking to find the good in my own image. It’s there, I know it is, but I also need a reminder. And when I see it I will capture it and share it; it is my body, my image and I am in control of that. I can’t control what you do with it or how you react to it but neither can I do that with any other aspect of life.

I know the arguments, I hear them: but you’re objectifying yourself, you’re selling yourself, you’re showing girls that they are nothing but an image. Well I refute that.

I’m celebrating myself – on the occasions that I manage to look at myself and like what I see. And I think that is empowerment. It is ME doing this, me holding the camera and I am in charge. I don’t need anyone’s permission and I don’t need their approval.

 

This too is not an assessment on my character. It doesn’t mean that I am lacking in anything else. I show exactly what I want and nothing more. Never nipple and never no knickers. Which is my choice, some things are just for me. And my friends and my partners, not for the internet. And I won’t be coaxed or coerced into showing more.

 

It seems the world is so terrified of female sexuality. Even women want to tear it down. But that’s like turkeys voting for Christmas.

 

 

And isn’t it all fine and well for me to spout all this, safe in my little blogging ivory tower. I see the irony but let me address that for you. If you came across me in real life, I am an average girl, if we get chatting I’ll happily discuss sex if it comes up and I’m pretty open about my sex life. I’m not hiding it. If you were super extra bonus lucky, and you came across my dating profile you would see that I’m not hiding anything I’ve done, I’m pretty frank about what I like and what I’m into.

 

So why am I anonymous on there? Why is my face not in any of my pics? Good question.

Because I have a family and they didn’t sign up for this. As happy as I am with my sexual history, my parents don’t need to know about it. My corporate employer doesn’t need to know about it. But more importantly, and I hope you’ve reached this conclusion yourselves as demonstrated by the dating app story, it’s for safety. For some reason guys see a girl who’s into sex and think they have the right to expect sex, or attention or …. Something from me. I have been propositioned so many times, I’m sure every blogger has, I’m not special. But as lovely as most people are who message me, I don’t know them and I don’t know who else is out there. And as countless court rulings find; the girl was asking for it, if anything happens.

 

 

I am not asking for it. I am just asking for respect to own my own sexuality without fear. And if I want to trade on my sex stories, I damn well will.

April 1st, 2016 at 7:57 am

I’m really pissed that women still have to put up with shit. Some men are such pricks. I’ve had my share when I’ve been on OKC, thankfully not to the extent you have and I’ve not had it on Twitter or the blog. You keep doing what you’re doing, I know I’m not going to stop. Maybe one day with all of us sticking together things will improve. We have to have some hope.
x
And yes, I’ve trolled the odd arsehole too to see how bad it gets 😀

Abbi
April 1st, 2016 at 7:30 pm

It’s shocking how guys think nothing of this and feel that they are entitled to act this way. It wears me out, for sure, but I won’t be bullied or scared off the site.

Abbi xxx

April 1st, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Nor should you be.

April 1st, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Being brand new to dating sites, I couldn’t agree more with this, and I was absolutely shocked at how many men really do have this bullying attitude. It’s ridiculous and insulting, and yes, very scary.

I’m going to share this post.

Abbi
April 1st, 2016 at 7:32 pm

I don’t know if these guys have always been like this or whether the internet has just given them a medium for communicating this way?
But can you imagine someone acting like this towards you in public? On a night out?
No way would they dare.

Don’t let them win,

Abbi xxx

Lee
May 8th, 2016 at 12:55 am

That’s point 1) Relative Anonymity. Trolls love it, Abbilene 😉

Even here on your blog, it’s relatively anonymous : you can see my email address from the database, but it’s not public via the blog entry itself; other people can read comments though. So your blog is like, your own bar on the internet.

Some people, of course, try to be sensible and polite anyway, but I have the feeling that means the rude ones are younger people, perhaps?

And on a dating site, I guess the two of you are swapping private messages, so there’s the private vs public thing added.

Abbi
May 8th, 2016 at 11:52 am

Did you just call me Abilene…?
You saucy pup, you must be paying serious attention.

Carry on.

Abilene xx

April 12th, 2016 at 3:35 am

There are so many fantastic points here! The appalling nature of men on dating sites. Not all, of course, but enough that I’m constantly shocked/worried that this might be a cross-section of actual male humanity. You made such a huge point about these guys being brothers and sons and probably having friends that would say they were nice guys. That is so true and so scary! The owning our own sexuality and how that’s somehow an affront. (eff that, indeed.) And finally your reasons for being anonymous are so so so spot on.

Abbi
May 4th, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Thank you for that comment.
My notifications for comments have been going to my spam folder so I missed out on loads!

I realised a good few years ago when it was my sister’s boyfriend’s friend who forced himself on me. No one believed me, it was the sheer incomprehension that anyone except a monster could be like that. They’re all out there, being great friend’s and brothers and boyfriend’s – of course they are because no one is a monster 100% time. No one thinks they know someone who could do it.

I’ll say it again, it is frankly jaw dropping that any girl ever brings a guy home. It really is, given what we know and what we deal with.

Lee
May 8th, 2016 at 1:17 am

One of the problems is that, somehow, the message that “rape is violence, not lust” became pervasive, and that it’s become associated, as a result, with the use of violent force. That has an automatic association with *stranger rape*, which I read as being 4% of all incidents.

That leaves the unspoken 96% of all incidents: lust motivated rape by *someone who knows the victim already*. Under UK law, at least, any penetration *without consent* is rape, even if there is no force, even if the victim “lets him do it”. Its the absence of consent that is the critical factor.

Close associates of a “known person” rapist, therefore, don’t make the connection because they think that rape *requires violence*. That’s not correct.

The difficulty this presents a decent guy is this; what’s the difference between “indifference, passive acceptance, lack of enthusiasm, and silent non-consent”? That freaks most of us out. Especially when we don’t know you that well yet.

(the Honest Courtesan blog has been a great read for this issue, and many more.)

Abbi
May 8th, 2016 at 11:55 am

Fully accept all those points. But I do feel like you should be able to tell if somone is enjoying themselves. And that’s what should be taught in consent classes – what to look out for.

And in this incidence I did actually say no more than once… he was just taking that as “I’ll persaude you”

April 15th, 2016 at 5:36 am

Stuff guys do you just couldn’t make that up. :p

April 15th, 2016 at 10:24 pm

An asshole is an asshole, and the thing I like about online dating is that they tend to show themselves much earlier. Whereas, if you met them in real life, you might waste a lot of time trying to befriend them, only to find out much later that their brand of asshole was incompatible with yours.

Abbi
May 4th, 2016 at 6:11 pm

That’s true. If internet dating is good for anything it just might be that.

Lee
May 8th, 2016 at 1:20 am

Abbi, for you, what’s the difference between “Asshole” and “Dominant” (e.g. The Yorkshire)?

Abbi
May 8th, 2016 at 11:58 am

I might need more info here?
The Yorkshire wasn’t an asshole, we had great sex, all of which was totally consensual. All parameters were establised in advance, there was nothing that I wasn’t happy with.
I’m very curious to know what you mean, which part are you referring to or why you think he might be an asshole?
I mean, he wasn’t the guy for me and he wasted a load of my time but …. nothing sinister.

Lee
May 8th, 2016 at 3:46 pm

It was clear to me that the Yorkshire was dominant, not an asshole, as far as you were concerned.

I’m really trying to get at what, for you, defines assholery, and if there is overlap between the two, what makes that distinction for you.

Me asking a badly formed question, I suspect. Is that question clearer?

Abbi
May 8th, 2016 at 3:55 pm

You’re asking that as if being sexually dominant and being an asshole went hand in hand – when they don’t.

And being dominant in bed isn’t being a dickhead in bed.

The only place I’m willing to be submissive, is in bed. I can only do that with someone who recognises that in all other spheres I am their equal.

What defines an asshole is different for everybody but I think broadly, where there’s a lack of respect or reciprocity then someone can be an asshole…..
Don’t know if that helps?

Lee
May 8th, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Very Clear. 😁

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