As a white woman in America, there are a lot of shitty things that I do not have to endure. In fact, there are probably way too many to list. For one, I don’t have to deal with racism, covert or blatant. Society in general looks at me differently than it does women of color. Even the fact that I am a convicted felon means very little. I’ve been told on numerous occasions (by various white people) that I am not a “real” criminal. While my record states otherwise, we can all surmise what that means. I’ve always been enraged by the double standards from which I have benefited and have tried my best to be a voice for what is right and just.
When I heard the news that Leslie Jones was once again the victim of an online attack, my first response was outrage. While I can relate (a tad) to how it feels to be threatened, denigrated, and harassed via social media, it’s nothing compared to what she has endured. Not even a proverbial drop in the bucket.
It seems to me that the anonymity of the internet is devolving us as humans, and we are completely losing sight of what it means to be empathetic beings. Now that we don’t have to look someone in the eye while we are saying or doing something horrific, it’s as if we are straying away from everything that makes us inherently compassionate. I am by no means above this, and have been known to get in the mud with a troll who has pushed my buttons from time to time. However, I always walk away feeling dirty and disappointed in myself.
The “internets” aren’t all shit though; some amazing things are happening out here in cyberspace. Take the massive support that Leslie received via Twitter, for instance, when so many people came out against this horrific and hateful invasion of her privacy.
In the days that followed, I began to think about the most compromising picture I have on my phone and how I would feel if it ever got out. I toyed with the idea of Tweeting it to her, but felt sick at just the thought. It’s not “good” naked by any stretch of the imagination, but rather an awkward picture of me standing in my living room while a friend – unbeknownst to me at the time – took the shot. I keep it, because it reminds me of a great day of hunting down Banksy’s art and drinking in the city.
When I told my husband I was thinking about writing a piece and using the picture along with it, he said I was insane; while I do agree with that sentiment, he also said some things that I do not agree with. His main argument was that any person who has incriminating pictures of themselves on their phones or computer “should know better.” This argument reminds me too much of the if you don’t want to get raped don’t wear slutty clothes defense. It’s deplorable. I am not sure if these pictures of Leslie were stolen or given to the hackers by some burned ex, but either way, it doesn’t matter. This is subjugation, no matter how you slice it. Are we wrong to expect a certain level of decency from one another?
While my initial piece was ready to be published Thursday night, after heeding the advice of a friend and my most excellent editor, I decided to give myself 24 hours to think it through. After all, once something is out on the internet it cannot be taken back. However, in this situation I am fully in control and nobody is trying to take power away from me. I recognize the distinction between our situations.
We could talk about many issues here, like why some men are so depraved they feel the need to humiliate a woman in this way, or why society still allows it. Either way, our sexuality has been used against us for eons. People are constantly saying “we’ve come so far,” but have we? These are things we all need to ponder.
I have thought about what it means to be a human a lot this week, and I don’t want to live in a world where there is so much antipathy. We are here to do much better things with our lives… and for one another.
So in summation, I can’t offer Leslie much beyond my support and “bad” nakedness. This is in no way meant to diminish what she has been going through, or to even insinuate that I can fully understand. It’s just my simple act of solidarity.
#SolidarityWithLeslie #IAmAllInWithLeslie #StandWithLeslie #LeslieJones
Author: Cynthia Tarana is a heavily tattooed Ex-Con with no college education and very bad punctuation. She currently lives on Long Island, NY where she pays extremely high taxes, likes to drink, rage against the machine and shop at the GAP.
Contact Cynthia at firstname.lastname@example.org