When I said that it was to combat the massive burnout I was experiencing, that was true – but it wasn’t the full story. Each night this week I’ve sat down and started a Quest post, only to get a paragraph or two in before I was paralyzed by a panic attack. Not just that I’m an introverted person who is uncomfortable with the spotlight (though that is true) but because I can’t handle the harassment.
Ever been globally mocked and slut shamed? Cause I have now and it’s…it’s a lot to take in. A lot to process.
“Grow a thicker skin”
No, I don’t want to. Something I love about myself, something that I have worked hard in keeping, is my vulnerability. I appreciate my softness. I refuse to lose it in exchange for continuing to do my work. Just as I refuse to accept that I have to give up orgasm to enjoy life for the first time. These are unacceptable choices.
“Look at who you are, look at what you do. You’re inviting harassment. You’re asking for it.”
No. I am a sexuality educator, a pleasure activist. Advocate for conversations to bust stigmas around the intersection of pleasure and mental health. Evangelical sex toy advocate. Unabashed intersectional feminist. None of these things “invite” harassment unless you’ve bought into victim blaming and rape culture. If you believe that I’m “asking for it” – You are the problem. I am not.
Crista Anne is my real name. My full legal name is easy to find. Made that decision, the decision to do my work using my face, my voice, my name, long ago. When I made that choice, I was child-free and did not plan on changing that decision. Eventually though, obviously, I did have children. I divorced. I built a new life that came with even more kids. New readers may not know this, but I dropped off the face of the earth for a few years there – terrified of continuing my work because of the ramifications on my kids, my family, my custody situation. Debated coming back with a new name. Tried that with Pink Sex Geek, but I couldn’t give up the work I’d already done or the connections I’d already made. Started getting “mild” harassment (as if death and rape threats are ever actually mild) which drove me offline again for a while. Stayed connected via facebook and more private means, but this…Professional Oversharer? Openly empowered and sexual woman? This is who I am and this is what I do. Without this work I feel like less of myself. I believe in what I do.
“If you don’t want to be sexually harassed, don’t post NSFW pictures”
Again – No. I should be able to walk down the street nude without being raped or harassed. That’s not the point though. A huge part of why I randomly drop NSFW selfies, beyond my enjoyment in reveling in my beauty, is my leaking my own nudes takes the power away from those who threaten to. It’s worked too. As amazingly fucking sad as that is.
“Do you ever think of your children?!”
Fuck you. (Looking at you Leeann Tweeden, who still will not engage with me now that we’re not on camera.) Concern trolling over my children is bullshit and none of your fucking business. Are fathers asked these questions? (no) Well okay then. In all the pearl clutching about my kids, no one asks about XVO’s role until it comes to how he feels about my masturbating – the toxic notion that my partner deserves all of my sexuality. When I’m writing about Quest, when I’m masturbating, he’s taking care of them. Because he’s an active and involved parent. 90% of my life revolves around my kids. I refused to be shamed because I take 10% for myself.
Many friends have sent that link to me today, and it rings so true. Until #OrgasmQuest, I kept a low profile to cut back on the harassment. For all the claims that I am an “attention whore” (Yeah, let’s examine that label too. Cause that’s a bunch of misogynistic bullshit.) I feel astonishing relief when I see my twitter follower count drop. Relief seeing my webstats go down. Since Quest began I find myself policing what I RT, what I say, trying to avoid backlash.
I do want to touch on the end of that WashPost piece I just linked. The folks at xoJane talk about how they cultivate writers, only to see them leave because of the abuse. A large chunk of that is because the commenting culture on that website is toxic. I do regret posting my piece on Quest there, not just because of the hate spewed at me in the comments. (Like the person who was advocating eugenics and shaming me for having children when I have hereditary health conditions.) After that piece went live, not only did I get rape and death threats – corrective rape threats because I’m queer too – but I received threats against my children. That murdering them would be a favor so they were not raised by a selfish cunt. That’s right, kill my children as a favor to them because their Mother advocates for pleasure and self care.
No, I will not show you the threats. I will not give the authors the attention they obviously so desire. If you don’t believe me – and I’ve seen the threads on get off my internet with people going on and on about how I am lying here – I don’t give a fuck. They happened. They were scary enough that I made plans with my ex-husband for him to keep our kid for an extended period of time if I felt that I couldn’t keep her safe. Do you have any idea how devastating that is? I need to make emergency plans on getting my children out of the house because I fear someone might come to hurt us. Hurt us because I’m talking about sexuality, masturbation and pleasure as a woman.
After my piece on xoJane went live and I posted about the threats, their Social Media director reached out to me. We had a positive interaction, but when I sent suggestions on how I felt they could make steps to combat the toxic culture within their comment sections…*crickets* Now, I grew up on Sassy and Jane, so seeing the current situation there saddens me. Until there is a shift there, I will not pitch my work to them, nor will many of my peers. Cosmo, Bustle, The Daily Dot, Refinery29 – just to name a few. Those are safer places to share my work but overall, I plan to write here and write here alone. That cuts off my income stream from paid articles, but hopefully that can be made up through blog subscriptions, donations and an eventual Patreon campaign. At least here I feel slightly safe, I moderate my comments heavily.
Social media by and large gives absolutely no fucks regarding the harassment that people (worst of all women) receive on a daily – hourly – basis. I’m not getting off social media, I’m not shutting up, but I hold my breath every moment when I open my email. Open my twitter and tumblr. I can’t handle looking at my Other folder on FB, it’s been so full of threats, abuse and harassment that I pretend it doesn’t exist.
My message is good, my information is quality, my work is worthy of attention. It does not “deserve” harassment. You know, by writing this, by putting this out there, I’m going to get more hate. I’m bracing myself for it as I’m writing this.
This is all I know though. “Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right.” My words, my truth, my experience is all I have to share. I don’t delude myself into thinking writing this out will change anything, but I hope that people understand what women writers are experiencing. If you also think it is wrong – speak out and speak up. Call out the harassment you see, especially if you’re masculine presenting.
#OrgasmQuest has helped thousands of people, and I will keep writing for myself and for them. While I’ve been quiet recently, as I’ve processed everything that has happened, the Quest has gone on and I have interesting results to report. So, I’m being brave. I’m squaring my shoulders and writing again. Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. I implore you, reader of this post, say something in response to the harassment you see. Help fix the toxic internet culture we now live in. It’s silencing the wrong people.
Now I work on not letting the bastards get me down.
Originally posted on CristaAnne.com