real life

She's a lingerie blogger who gets abused every day. Now she is fighting back.

It was a private message via Instagram, a response to yet another sexy photo Doll had posted of herself modelling designer underwear.

“Thanks for sharing,” he wrote to her. “If you want to see a stranger get off looking at you, just ask.”

His profile picture shows a dorky, 30-something year old guy in a neat black polo shirt and glasses, his hair combed to the side. He looks like just another geek, trying his luck at chatting up a woman he’s seen online. In fact, if he wasn’t proposing to a perfect stranger that they watch as he masturbates over them, you could almost feel sorry for him.

But for lingerie blogger and writer Doll, this kind of message is not acceptable.

“Fuck off,” she replies. “I have clearly stated that my account is for women or for people [who] have an appreciation for lingerie. I am not here for men who will see me as a sexual object for voyeuristic pleasures. That is why my account is on private. Do not try this again.”

The screenshot of this exchange is up on Doll’s ‘F*ckboy Wall Of Shame’, a name-and-shame page dedicated to the infinite number of men who send her inappropriate, rude, sexual, or downright scary messages online.

And that message? It wasn’t even the worst.

If anything, the message above pales in comparison to some of the abuse Doll has received online during her time as a lingerie blogger.

There have been hundreds and hundreds of dick pics, descriptions of masturbation and other sexual acts, and straight-up harassment in which she’s been called a ‘slut’, a ‘whore’, and a ‘fucking bitch’.

She’s even had women sending her obscene messages, like this girl – who’s boyfriend she had never met:

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[image source: Doll Cat Pvssy]

The harassment of women online is prolific.

I'm yet to meet a woman who hasn't been propositioned or made to feel uncomfortable by a male (or, as we can see above, a female) in an online space. In a study from digital security company Norton, 1,000 women were surveyed, with almost half saying the had experienced abuse or harassment online. In women under the age of 30, this number reaches 76%.

Oh, and this is more than just an inappropriate comment, or sexual slur - much of this online harassment is extremely serious.

According to the report, one in seven women have received threats of physical violence–including death, rape and sexual assault; rising to one in four young women. Online bullying is pervasive, and hugely damaging. The perpetrators are untouchable, sometimes even unidentifiable. 

They are cowards, trolling the wall of the victim, before hiding away behind fake names and accounts where they cannot be traced. Little wonder that 14% of victims feel completely helpless at the hands of their online perpetrator - how can you find someone when don't know what they look like? Or where they live? Or even their real name?

You name and shame.

Famous women read mean Tweets about themselves. (Post continues after video)

 'The Fuckboy Wall of Shame' is described on Doll's website as "A permanent gallery of the world’s worst social networkers on the internet; protect yourself and block them now!" With almost 70 submissions so far from both Doll and her legions of female fans, the wall is both shocking and oddly comforting.

On one hand, it's genuinely upsetting to see the levels of anger or sexual aggression directed at women, many of whom were strangers to the men. But at the same time, as someone who has batted off my fair share of online trolls, it's reassuring to know I'm not alone.

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I asked Doll on what she thinks about the people who say she's 'asking for it' by posing in her underwear. "Let's stop teaching women to hide and conform," she says, "and let's start teaching everyone to respect each other instead."
She goes on to tell me a story about a date she went on when she was 19, well before she was blogging. After the date, she went home and fell asleep, waking up the next day to an onslaught of sexually aggressive messages and dick pics.
"When I responded in the morning to say how disgusted I was with his harassment from the night before, his excuse was that 'I dressed like I was the kinda girl who wanted dick picks.' " she remembers.
"And guess what I'd worn on our date? A long sleeved turtle neck top with skinny jeans and heeled boots. I had no flesh showing but my hands and face!"
So whether she's posing in her underwear or covered head to toe, Doll knows that it takes a certain type of man to harass women online. And she's proactive about not just stopping them, but helping women, too: Doll has set up a donation to Women's Aid UK for every post she receives.

"In awareness of online harassment and abuse to women, I’ve created a Just Giving page that donates to Women’s Aid (a women’s crisis charity)," says the page.

"Please, if you see your post featured below, donate some compensation. We recommend you send £30, donations are welcome from anyone, and any amount!"  

(See? I told you this chick was awesome.)

The CEO of Beyond Blue Australia, Georgie Harman, is quick to point out the very real damage these kind of messages can have on young women.

Beyondblue’s work is increasingly being carried out in the digital world," says Harman. "Cyberbullying can have a long-lasting impact and it can be a risk factor for depression, anxiety and suicide. It’s important we look out for each other, both in the physical and online world, and try to tackle online harassment to help improve and potentially save lives.”

But are sexual provocations considered abuse? And, as a lingerie blogger, should Doll expect this kind of response as part of the job?

The short and simple answer is NO. In the same way that rape victims are never 'asking for it' based on what they were wearing, or drinking, or doing; no woman online is ever 'asking for it' when uploading a photo. Semi-naked or not.

Doll created a Instagram account for lingerie lovers. She's young, beautiful, and smart as a whip; and her fans (myself included) follow her for the stunning sets she models, paired with her hilarious captions. I mean, hello! What woman doesn't love amazing lingerie?!

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But for the men who message her photos of their erections, or comment on her weight, or threaten her with violence? They don't see her wit, her empowering messages, or her enviable collection of lingerie.

They see a half naked woman, and for that reason, she's considered fair game.

There is nothing wrong with a man feeling aroused at her photography. They are living, breathing, men; and it would be surprising if they weren't turned on.

But what IS wrong is taking that reaction, and delivering it to a woman in an aggressive or unwanted way. Doll is not a sex worker, nor is she a lad's mag model -  her page is for the appreciation of lingerie, and any man on there for gratuitous reasons is indeed an unwelcome visitor.

What these men don't realise is that their actions are just as perverse as flashing a woman in the street, or asking a stranger for a blow job in the middle of the street. It is not OK.

I admire Doll for her stalwart attitude in the face of her trolls.

On almost every photo she posts - and she posts frequently - Doll is faced with another taunt, another attack. It must be exhausting.

On one picture, for example, a man feigns care - "No baby," he says. "You need to eat."

"I'm not a baby and I'm damn fucking sure I eat more healthily than you," she responds. "Don't patronise me, don't body shame me. Don't call me 'baby'. I'm a size 10, 5 foot 7 woman." And this the daily dialogue she faces from the 43,500 people who follow her.    

There's not much to say to defend the men who are named and shamed on Doll's blog.

Yes, they're young. Yes, they're stupid. And yes, many of them won't even know that what they are doing constitutes online abuse. But the only way they will learn that treating women like sexual objects online is not acceptable, is be embarrassed and humiliated.

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In addition to screenshots of their conversations appearing on the wall, Doll also sends screenshots to the perpetrators family and friends. It's a genius move that raises awareness, and invites the (well deserved) judgement of their peers.   "Too many people think that there are no consequences online, that they can behave disgustingly, trolling and bullying people, or sexually harassing them," explains Doll. "That's not okay and there need to be consequences...Experience tells me that this is the only way to really get someone to stop and realise how ashamed they are, and to effectively prevent them from ever doing the same to another woman."

There is not a woman in the world who would not understand that moment of panic and fear when you receive unwanted sexual attention like the message above.

It's scary. It's infuriating. It's unfair.

Even when it's online, this kind of language reinforces the idea that, as women, we are receivers. We are the silent party, the one who needs to just nod and smile and hope we don't get hurt.

And yet, we do have a voice. And through the bravery of women like Doll, we are starting to feel the power and the permission to use it.

As Doll says,

"It's really not about punishing people. It's about turning something negative into a positive; because a lot of these guys sadly may not even realise just how oppressive and misogynistic their comments were until they're damn well told!"

Go girl.

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