Reclaiming YourSelf

“I felt that my silence implied that I *should* be ashamed….”

I LOVE this project, both the explanatory video and the photo shoot to which it refers.  Danish journalist Emma Holten, who had been victimized by revenge porn, on the importance of consent. 

We have seen the results of public shaming of the sexuality of girls and women – we’ve seen it in the suicide of Amanda Todd, the death of Rehteah Parsons.  In the way(s) others use the threat of releasing/sharing such photos to attempt to extort and manipulate girls and women.  And Holten is correct that this is grounded in misogyny, in the hatred and objectification of women. 

It is grounded too in the underlying attitude that female bodies and sexuality are wrong.  If these images, those naked bodies were not presumptively “shameful”, their revelation could not leveraged as a threat.  The judgments that perpetuate the sharing of such photos (“you shouldn’t have been such a whore”) reinforce and reiterate that shame. 

Holten’s response, to refuse to be shamed about her body and sexuality is a powerful one.  The decision to participate in a photo shoot and release those photos publicly – to actively share images of her body, to refuse to feel shamed about her sexuality – is an important one.  By refusing to allow herself to be subverted or silenced, she instead takes the site/sight of her “shame” and transforms it, making of it not only a moment of resistance but a response and refutation.  A celebration and a reclamation.