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Naked Manifesto: Why I Post Nudes Online

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It didn’t take much more than a suggestion from a textually active younger man I was dating (I was 27, he was 22) to inspire my earliest nude self-portraits. He didn’t know then he was creating a monster. I realized instantly how technology was going to be a game-changer for a woman’s ability to seduce a man—an ability that gave me great, GREAT pleasure. It was emboldening. The power to be able to give a man a smile and a boner from 3,000 miles away while he was in the middle of a meeting was intoxicating.

Nothing could cure a case of the blues faster than email-blasting some ex-lovers after a hot self-nudie shoot. (Yes, email, that archaic method of communicating. For those of you who don’t know a world without “selfies”—in 2006 smartphones weren’t yet ubiquitous and images were gasp impossible to text. All of that changed practically overnight.) It also occurred to me that however easy it was to send pictures, it would be just as easy for them to spread, and that could be incriminating or worse…embarrassing.

Instead of living in fear of the inevitable happening, I decided to take control of my image and post the photos myself. So as long as my website, Phetasy.com, has been around (which is 10 years now), long before the explosion of social media, I’ve been getting naked online.

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Then, three years ago, I got addicted to Twitter. Until recently, the above was my profile pic:

The photo was supposed to be a metaphor for how I felt on stage (a comic) and online (a jackass).

It was also, of course, supposed to get attention. That’s what the social media game is all about, right? Getting attention?

Wrong. I thought I could be cheeky and get away with it, but Twitter is a hardcore game of wit. The Twitter cliques (Hollywood Twitter, Comedy Twitter, Feminist Twitter, Black Twitter, Twitter List Twitter etc.) don’t take kindly to using your sexuality to get attention unless you’re already famous, a porn star or fat. Both men and women alike seemed in agreement that trying to be funny AND naked was strictly forbidden.

Of course once I found this button—I had to push it.

Many (most) people saw my behavior as a desperate cry for help and validation. I got called A LOT of names: an “insecure attention-whore with raging daddy issues” or “a narcissistic exhibitionist with daddy issues” or the classics “a dumb whore,” “a stupid slut” or the worst yet, “middle-aged lady” also with, you guessed it, daddy issues.

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My compulsive need to bare my body unintentionally became a 10-year psychosocial experiment and through it, I learned a lot—not just about society but also about myself, Internet culture and you, the red-blooded American male.

1. First and foremost – I’m an exhibitionist. And don’t kid yourself; if you’re on social media, you’re an exhibitionist, too. On one hand, at my most shallow, I love attention, even if it’s negative. On the other hand, my exhibitionism is an act of rebellion. I’m rebelling against deeply buried societal conventions. I view the world the way a kid views an elevator—I want to push all the buttons. It took me years to learn there are consequences to these actions, like stopping at every floor or being called mean names online. I push the boundaries often at my own expense.

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2. People feel the need to label you. She’s a porn star/stripper/cam girl. She’s famous. She’s a model. She’s a feminist making a statement. She’s a nudist. When you’re a writer/comic who occasionally gets naked for the hell of it—just an average nobody—people don’t really know what to make of it. I’m an artist. Period. This is part of my art. It’s my truth. My job is to work towards unlocking my mind, my heart and my potential by challenging my own beliefs, constantly, in whatever way that manifests, whether it’s a blog, a photo, a five-minute set or a fucking haiku. My mission is to defy labels. Question authority. Find my edges AND yours. And push them.

3. For a country that values freedom, Americans are a bunch of prudes. If I lived in France no one would bat an eye if I showed my breasts. When it comes to sexual identity, America behaves like a child. We still get worked up about boobs. BOOBS. Remember the infamous Janet Jackson nip-slip? You can’t even fathom the millions of media dollars that went into covering something so trivial. It’s insanity. My pictures are one small way I can fight the prudish, Puritanical ideals so buried in our psyche. In MY psyche.

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4. The male appetite for nudies is voracious. It’s never enough. Some of my Twitter followers have seen my boobs hundreds of times. You’d think they’re sick of them but nope. It’s biology. In this digital era every single man I know at any age (and many married ones) have virtually hundreds of partial nudie shots from women all over the world, whether they grabbed them online or were sent to them personally. Just because a man looks at a female body doesn’t mean he’s going to stray. It just means he’s a man.

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your mother-in-law hates me.

5. I may or may not be a feminist. I don’t know. I thought I was because I believe in equal rights for women. But according to many feminists who have felt the need to school me, I’m guilty of self-exploitation, self-objectification and a laundry list of other oxymoronic offenses too long and convoluted to detail here. Apparently I’m so inculcated with misogyny I can’t see outside the Matrix of sexism to realize that in getting naked—even if it feels empowering—I am nothing more than just a shill for the patriarchy. I’ll be honest. I don’t know enough about feminism to say I understand all the ins and outs of the ever-changing waves of dogma; these same feminists who have given me a hard time about my nudity are also the first to call Lena Dunham “brave.” The only heads or tails that I can make of it seems to be that misogynists and feminists are united in one ideal: feminine beauty is a power that needs to be oppressed and should never be wielded under any circumstance. What’s more destructive to feminism—me getting naked and exploring what that means or so-called feminists waging a witch-hunt against other women living their truth? And who is more indoctrinated with the hatred of women—women who allow other women to do their thang or “feminists” who attack other women for doing theirs?

6. The world wants you to be ashamed of your body. Instead of being encouraged to love our bodies, respect them, revere them and be comfortable in them, from the day we are born most of us are taught to be deeply ashamed of our meat suits. Change them. Judge them. Hide them. This fruit salad of religion, morality and advertising buried in our psyche has torn us in two. Love yourself but hate your body. Trust your gut but ignore your animal instincts. The war we’ve waged on nudity and sexuality casts a dark shadow and with it a whole host of perversions evident in any list of porn categories on the dark web. If we want to be healthy, whole individuals, it’s time to integrate the sexual and the spiritual instead of divorcing the two. This starts right here in our bodies.

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7. According to most of you (and my shrink) I have “daddy issues.” I’m not denying there isn’t absolutely some trauma working itself out here. I’m a writer/actress/creative type, which makes me, almost by definition, insecure. Like all women, I have body image issues. Add to that I was raised Catholic where shame and sexuality are two sides of the same dysfunctional coin. Plus, I was raped at a young age. Honestly, it’s a perfect storm of all kinds of issues, not just daddy, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to point to the link between my past and present exhibitionism. But what I’ve learned, and as you can see from many other examples, is my nudity is a reaction to a lot more than trauma, and to simplify it as such is another way to pathologize any woman who is perceived to be misbehaving.

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8. Saying “nudies are beneath you” drives me crazy. These remarks go up my ass sideways because they point to a much deeper truth in our society that agrees women who get naked are somehow “cheap” or not as valuable. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all play into the silent shaming of women when we agree that a prude woman who doesn’t get naked is somehow more respectable than a sexual woman who does.

9. Maybe I WANT To Do It: The other one I always hear is: “You’re smart. You don’t need to do that.” Like I’m some teen from Eastern Europe starring in an adult film hoping to “make it.” No shit! Do I look like someone who does anything I really don’t want to do? Being naked and smart isn’t mutually exclusive. When you say that to me, you’re projecting YOUR value system on me. I appreciate the concern. But I’m coming from a place that’s authentic, and this is my authentic self: I hate clothes.

10. Your reaction says more about you than me. So instead of pointing the finger at me, maybe ask yourself why you’re so annoyed, angry or offended. My boobs are the Rorschach Test of the Internet. I understand how they can be perceived. We’ve already discussed many different versions of the way a singular act is observed (exhibitionist, insecure, crazy). Like Oscar Wilde said: “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator and not life that art really mirrors.” My message is more simplistic: “It’s not me. It’s you.”

11. My only nudie shot rule: No pussy pics. Men BEG me for them. It’s the Holy Grail of the sext. I don’t put them out there. I have seriously thought about it because I have a beautiful, artsy-fartsy black and white shot that was taken at Burning Man. But I put enough of myself out there and, honestly, I just want to save something for my lover.

12. Parents think I’m a horrible example for young adults. Maybe. Maybe not. Instead of a culture of Goddesses, we’ve created a culture of Girls Going Wild. If you’re a parent, hear me out—your kids are watching porn, they’re on Snapchat, they’re sexting, too. Wouldn’t it be better to have someone help them navigate that world instead of acting like it’s not happening? The only examples they have are porn or the Kardashians, which is basically one in the same. I’m trying to fall somewhere in the middle.

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13. Men are more respectful than you think. People assume I get 75 dick pics a day. False. With very, very few exceptions, considering how many thousands of nudies I’ve taken, men have, for the most part, been nothing but courteous. Occasionally I’ll get “I’m gonna fap to that” talk, but that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m aware you’re going to masturbate to me. That’s fine. Get your rocks off. Just keep it to yourself. There’s a block button for a reason.

14. Boobs could save the world. Nudity is never “needless.” In fact, we need more of it. The human body is wonderful, beautiful and usually puts a smile on someone’s face. When we have a particularly heavy week of news, I always try to cheer up the masses. I’ve found the quickest way to happiness is undoubtedly…boobs. With great power comes great responsibility, which is why I use my body parts to bring awareness to freeing the nipple, saving the Internet or helping the underfollowed on Twitter (current calculations quote my boob stock being worth about 300 followers).

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15. None of this matters…but all of it does. At this point, I don’t waste any more time analyzing it. I do it because I can. I do it because I have the freedom to do it, and we still live in a world where women are repressed every day. It’s taken me 10 years to get here, but I know that when I post a nudie, it’s not a reaction. It’s just me being playful. It makes me happy and amuses me. It’s art. I believe we are all creative works of art in motion, and my body happens to be yet another way I get to express myself. The sun is 4.5 billion years old. The dinosaurs roamed the Earth for 160 million years. Homo sapiens have been around for a measly 100,000 years. I’m not even a blip on the radar of life. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter all that much in the scheme of things if I post a picture of my boobies.

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Bridget Phetasy is a writer and comic in Los Angeles. Twitter: @BridgetPhetasy.

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