My Cleavage is a Big Deal, a.k.a. A Hate Blog Posted A Picture of My Boobs from BlogHer13 As an Example of Unprofessional Behavior

When I was a kid, I got in trouble quite frequently. I was highly outspoken, realizing early on that I didn’t have to listen to what others told me to do, that I could form my own thoughts and make my own decisions on how to behave – which usually pissed off the authorities in my life and led me to spend many hours in time-out.

As an act of adorable five year-old defiance, I once took a pencil (I wasn’t quite rebellious enough for a pen, I pushed the limits, I didn’t leap over them) and wrote “you hat me” all over the hallways between my bedroom prison and the living room freedom, where my brother and sister were currently playing Nintendo.

When I took up too much space, I was sent away to occupy another, always smaller space, whether it be a corner time-out or a trip to the principle’s office. Leaving my bedroom internment to write “you hat me” on the wall wasn’t just a pouty act, it was a defiant one, my way to reclaim the space I was told I wasn’t allowed to occupy.

My mother never seemed to be in any photos, just taking them.

Me, taking up space.

My parents were so amused by my rebellion, they kept my misspelled political statement up until we moved out of that house four years later, teaching me early on that pushing boundaries can be a moment for us all to laugh and learn (how to properly spell “hate” being just the beginning). These days, my family and some select friends use “you hat me” when we’re joking about someone disliking us or feeling particularly pouty about a situation.

Last night, I wanted to write “you hat me” on the walls of the Internet.

A site, which I will not name or link to because I don’t want to give them any more hits, posted a photo of me and a group of friends sporting our cleavage in a “titcircle” (their amazing new term that I’m totally appropriating) as an example of how unprofessional the women who attend BlogHer act.

The titcircle, cropped so the other women in the photo are not identifiable.

The titcircle, cropped so the other women in the photo are not identifiable. My tits are the ones on the bottom, in the polka dots shirt.

My first reaction to this was to joke “FINALLY, my cleavage is getting the attention it deserves!” Followed by “You know you’ve made it as a sex blogger when you have a whole thread dedicated to your boobs!” I embraced it as a sign of having done something right to garner a reaction from trolls like this.

That phase was fun while it lasted, but then I (not so wisely) read the comments:

“When I started to read this post, I was thinking that if I were the woman in polka dots, I’d be so mortified to see how misshapen my boobs appeared. But then in this link, she proudly outs herself. Huh!!”

“I’m slightly fascinated by the bottom lady’s square shaped breasts.”

“Her fingers and bra really divide up her chest in a weird way.”

“It’s like her head just comes out of her chest. Lovely double chins, too.”

“I am a fat woman with enormous tits (they’re hereditary), and I have cleavage in turtlenecks. You can see my boobs coming from miles off; I don’t hate them, but neither do I flaunt them. Those sad little things are fat sacs, not real boobs. Leave this to the real Tits McGees among us, who don’t have to do the titcircle for the entire world to notice them.”

“Looking at this again, clearly blogher14 should include a session on HOW TO GET A PROPER BRA FITTING. Wow.”

“Right? that picture made me shudder at all the non support.”

“Sorry, BlogHer Titcircle ladies…ya ain’t no Katy Perry’s.”

“I can feel my clit retreating inside my body with each second I gaze at that picture, and let me tell you it hurt when it collided with my gallbladder.”

“All I can think about is that disgusting boob shot.”

I am a strong, independent, self-confident, compassionate, intelligent woman, but there is still a scarred little girl inside of me that has yet to heal from all of the times I was yelled at, disciplined and degraded for being me: loud, obnoxious, outspoken, opinionated and fat.

“Show some self-control. You can have fun without … taking photos of each other touching boobs and showing cleavage.”

Sit down and be quiet. Speak only when you’re spoken to. You’re always so loud, Lauren. Shut up and listen to me.

“What the fuck is that shit? Grown ass women fondling themselves in public? Why would you want this shit photographed and how exactly do you call yourself a professional after participating in such shit?”

Cover yourself up, Lauren. No one wants to see that. Grow up, Lauren, learn some self-control. Stop touching your nipples. That is not how a lady behaves.

“I remember doing this sort of thing with my friends when I was in college, and it was stupid even when I was nineteen. With a bunch of 35+ alleged “career women,” it’s just fucking sad.”

It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it. You’re obviously just doing this for attention. 

GayKidFace

My first reaction was to fight back, to fall for the bait, to play into their game.

“…I need to know what the fuck is professional about taking group boob shots if you aren’t in the porn industry?”

I wanted to remind them that I am, in fact, kind of in the porn industry. That is, I make a living talking about sex, sexuality, gender and gender identity, including lots of talk about porn. Somebody beat me to it, stating that I was a sex blogger, but they didn’t care.

“I didn’t think the porn industry was that juvenile.”

Which was hilarious to me considering the photo above mine on my Instagram feed was of porn producer Courtney Trouble and a group of plus-sized stars showing off their cleavage in a similar shot as mine (something I very much appreciated seeing).

They didn’t care about facts, they all came to the site to build themselves up by putting someone down, and me and my cleavage were on display, “just asking for it.”

IMG_1803

My BlogHer12 titcircle. It was a tradition.

I soon realized that my problem wasn’t with them criticizing the shot or even me, so responding to their comments wouldn’t fix why I was upset. I was upset because they were telling me to sit down, shut up and do as they tell me to do.

Here I am, a 30 year-old decently successful woman, finding myself being attacked, once again, for taking up too much space (which is really what people are saying when they call you loud or fat), this time from faceless, anonymous trolls on a site whose title asserts that the Internet is their property and that others should get off of it.

Well, here’s some news that won’t shock anyone who has ever met me: I will not sit down. I will not shut up. I will not do as you tell me to do.

I will not stop posting photos of my body on the Internet, no matter how often you shame me for doing so.

Not sitting down. Not shutting up.

Not sitting down. Not shutting up.

And I, most importantly, will continue to encourage other bloggers to do the same, including through my #BigDealCampaign, a movement I spoke on at BlogHer13 and created to combat situations like this, situations where women and other minorities are demeaned, put down and made to feel lesser than.

Feel free to use this on your site because you are a big deal!

Feel free to use this on your site because you are a big deal!

BlogHer and similar women-centric conferences are constantly berated for being “a place that women leave their children and husband behind to let loose.” Articles are consistently discussing the “unprofessional” behavior of women who do things like break into the mini-bar and *gasp* get drunk.

Men do stupid drunken shit at a conference and they’re a hilarious fourth member of the cast of The Hangover. Women get drunk and we’re “White Girl Wasted,” something to be laughed at, gawked at, ridiculed and attacked.

Mona Darling stated in a post about this same issue on her blog DeadCowGirl.com:

“I have been to a TON of male centric conventions. You know what happens there? Hookers, strippers, drugs. It’s off the fucking hook…

The next day these men show up on the conference floor with black eyes and barf breath, shove a mint in their mouth, high five each other for their antics the night before and move on with business as usual.

Yup. Business. As. Usual.”

The issue here is not whether or not we were being “professional” – professions vary and therefore descriptions of “professional” vary – it’s about the misogynistic double standard set for men and women. It’s about attempting to control women’s bodies through shaming them when they show or touch them, especially if what they show is fat.

I’m writing this response not for the people who wrote that article or the trolls who commented on it – because really, they deserve a place to write their opinions as much as I deserve a place to write my opinions – I’m writing this post for the people who read the post, or others like it, and internalized that message.

I’m writing this post to counteract the hate in that post, to encourage others to keep rocking the boat, to stop accepting the status quo, even if it means trolls attack you.

I’m writing this post because I think each and every one of you who found your voice in a world that strives to silence you is a Big Deal.

I’m writing this post because little five year-old Lauren needs to know that she can have an opinion, love her body and be herself when she grows up, without shame.

About Queerie Bradshaw

Lauren Marie Fleming is a writer, speaker and motivator known for her intimate, informative and often hilarious look at sex, relationships and body-image. Lauren runs the critically-acclaimed QueerieBradshaw.com blog, writes for major news sources including VICE, Nerve, Huffington Post and Curve, and is the author of her memoir Losing It: My Life as a Sex Blogger. In 2013, Lauren founded Frisky Feminist Press (FriskyFeminist.com) as a way to enhance conversations about sexuality through educational guides, online classes and entertaining publications. A law school graduate, Lauren has spoken all over the United States and is internationally recognized for her dynamic, engaging style. In everything she does, Lauren’s goal is to educate, remove stigmas and encourage people to achieve their desires.
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48 Responses to My Cleavage is a Big Deal, a.k.a. A Hate Blog Posted A Picture of My Boobs from BlogHer13 As an Example of Unprofessional Behavior

  1. Everett says:

    Get it gurl.

    Ev

  2. Lilith says:

    Do you even know how many ‘titcircle’ photos (as well as other boobsy pics) I have of myself both on and off the Internet? And they all look kinda like that, because that is what natural boobs looks like when you smush them together against other natural boobs, lol. At CatalystCon you will have to take a titcircle pic with the Evil Slut Clique. 🙂

    • I have more cleavage shots on the Internet than I can count. This one was a good one too. They can have at the other ones. Much better fodder. And yes, titcircles all around at Catalyst Con!

  3. Mona Darling says:

    HI FIVE! And a low boob two.

  4. Molly says:

    Lauren, I think your boobs are great 😉 Great message!

  5. Maria says:

    Fuck yeah, dude. I’m so glad you’re speaking about this.

  6. TheMaven says:

    Oh noes! a Tongue and cheek photo taken at a blog conference! OH NOES!!!

    THE HORROR!!

    Now I really wish someone had taken a photo of me breastfeeding with my boobs exposed. Ya know, double whammy!

  7. EL says:

    People feel free to be assholes online.
    If it’s of any consequence, you DON’T make my clit retreat!!!!

  8. GK says:

    Love you!

  9. Melissa says:

    Wow I saw your tweets about this but had not had a chance to sit and read your blog. The Internet can be a nasty place when anonymity gives people license to judge and degrade. Your response is raw, real, and showcases the gross injustices that continue to undercut. Thank you so much.

    • Thank you for reading it. I find that when I speak the raw, real truth I have a better chance of making a difference that if I just have a knee-jerk “fuck you” reaction to people who criticize me and my life choices.

  10. Mary says:

    You are a woman, hear you roar! ” We can be just as unprofessional and raunchy as men dammit, we’ve earned the right!”

    You really take yourself too seriously.

    • I am woman. I do roar. I am raunchy. This is all true. But I rarely take myself too seriously. That’s what the photo was all about. That’s what this post was all about. Not having to always be serious and “professional”.

  11. CelenaMurock says:

    Cheers! Spot on and good for you for keeping perspective when people are trying to hurt you and shut you up.

  12. I love that you don’t sit down and shut up. It’s the things most worthy of celebrating about ourselves that the petty and scared people want to use against us. Demeaning and silencing – tools based in fear. Poor little scared, sad trolls…
    Also – always good to see and squeeze you IRL, even if briefly.
    Titcircles forever!

  13. You’re beautiful. Your tits are beautiful. When are women going to stop tearing each other to shreds? God tits… GREAT… that’s hot! Small tits? Well, those are fine, too. Hidden tits? If that’s what makes you feel comfortable, fine. Flaunting tits? Bring it on! Can I join your titcircle?

  14. BiLikesSciFi says:

    I am so bummed I missed the titcircle!!

  15. I’mma need a titcircle pic with you next time we cross paths. Thank you for not letting them win. Your voice is loud and strong and necessary. The world would be poorer without it.

  16. Chrisor says:

    I was sitting next to the lovely Stacy at VOTY & happened to be right next to your group when they took the picture. As an outsider, it took everything in me not to join in or take a pic too. What some people see as “wrong”, I see as having fun! I seriously wonder if the criticism actually stems from jealousy. Some people begrudge others having a good time. They suck!
    I wasn’t familiar with you until I sat in on your session. I instantly thought you were cool. Then you tried to talk to me at VOTY (sparkly shirt) & I went all blank stare on you. I felt so bad. I was so nervous & liked you so much, I couldn’t think of a reply. It’s like I had a stroke. Anyway, continue being YOU & fuck the haters!!

    • I read your post, Stacy sent it to me. I say jump in next time! We don’t bite. We do, however, sometimes act like uppity feminist killjoys who love our bodies. Hope that’s ok.

  17. Dominique says:

    I made the mistake of looking up that horrid post that you didn’t link. Oh, stupid me. I’ve got to go shower, now. Thank you for writing about the double standard! Since reading the WSJ article, I’ve been silently fuming.

    • Yeah, that post is pretty gross. The whole site is. I just can’t imagine running a whole site dedicated to tearing people down. That can’t feel good. There has to be a better way to gain readers.

  18. Schmutzie says:

    The hyper criticism of HOW you displayed your breasts was bizarre, and I was shocked at the lack of consciousness displayed in such comments.

    To level both criticisms — “She’s being too much like a porn star!” and “She didn’t portray her boobs to sexual standard!” — showed their internalized biases that women’s sexuality must be both controlled AND yet still held to an idealized standard, simultaneously and illogically.

    It’s a patriarchal double-edged sword they levelled as skilfully and thoughtlessly as any violent male sexist. They’re defending the yokes they’ve been trained to accept and enforcing them without compassion.

    Who needs men for the patriarchy when we’ve got such great propriety police within the feminine ranks?

    • As usual, you so very eloquently said exactly what I was thinking. The duality of telling me to cover up, but if I’m going to show them make sure they’re good enough to show. It’s always the women who are the worst too. Because we’re told that’s all we can do to stand up for ourselves, we’re told from birth we’re each other’s competition, for men, for jobs, for attention, for anything. So we tear each other down instead of lifting each other up. Luckily, there are great groups of women also lifting each other up. Like you. And me. 🙂

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  20. I just don’t understand women who try to make themselves feel better by putting other women down. It’s ridiculous. But good for you for not letting the trolls kill your spirit. Please don’t ever sit down and shut up. Please keep being you!

    • I think we’re taught to fight each other, like we’re each other’s competition, instead of working with each other and fighting the system that has created only one spot for us at the table. It is ridiculous, but not shutting up or sitting down helps a lot. I’ll keep being me, you keep being you and the world will keep getting better.

  21. I love this post! I especially like what you said about taking up space. As a larger, outspoken woman I find I get more flack from jealous women more than men. I just finished ‘Mean Girls Grown Up’ by Cheryl Dellasega. The comments you received for you boob shot reminded me of the stories in her book. Thanks for writing this!

  22. I wish I could say this surprises me but it doesn’t. I just have to say good for you for not letting it stop you.

    In full disclosure, I don’t know what about a titcircle pic is appealing for the ones taking it, but I support your right to do so. And to do so without commentary.

    As for being the person that gets to see the titcircle pic, it seems like whenever you see boobs just say thank you and hope you get to see more again later.

    I’m sorry I cannot join in your next titcircle, and I’m afriad I don’t have a clit so I can’t speak to its lack of retreat. And it seems like telling you what effect you have on my penis is wholly inappropriate. So just know I support you and your message.

    I swear speaking my mind keeps me an outcast, but I stay true to myself and clearly you do as well. That makes you an insta-ally. Lauren, if you need a new friend, you’ve got one waiting for you in me.

  23. mummymishy says:

    Amen! I need that message too. I need to pass it on to my ten and five year old daughters and eight year old son. Lauren, continue to walk tall, chest out and head high. You’re an inspiration.

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