The magazine didn’t have a very clear idea on what they wanted when they contacted me. Hot stories? Hot pics? Or was the interview request a wile of the pretty-faced reporter to maneuver himself into the lair of his online cougar LS Harteveld? The latter was unlikely. The journalist was known to flirt strategically, just to keep the lines of communication lubricated. He didn’t do it to have sex, didn’t need to either.
I had just positioned myself in a stand-off with my fans, foes, and a handful of admirers who had crossed the boundaries of courtesy, privacy and good taste. I was sick of them calling me names, leaving rude comments, and next to their foul mouths, I was annoyed by men not taking NO for an answer. NO! I don’t want to have sex with you “for an erotic story”. That was kind of included when I said I didn’t want to have sex ever. NO! You’re not my type, and I told you once and I shouldn’t have to tell you twice. NO! You don’t need to call me out of the fucking blue to criticize my work! NO! NO! NO! It was one of those weeks when you know the next hard cock pointing at you, will have you grabbing for some scissors.
After two days the reporter wrote a formal request to me and the rest of the mixed-age group of female writers with dirty minds. The magazine had decided on their demands: a) you had to write hard core porn and b) agree to pose with your face to the camera. (dramatic pause) That’s right: they were planning on publishing the portraits of women who describe every deviant sexual act in the Universe, to it’s last pounding, shivering, succulent detail. “The more explicit the better”, the reporter hammered his point, hopefully referring to our work not the pictures. “We’re a man’s magazine!”
There is a famous blog by Joris Luyendijk, about the banking world of London. He interviews the people who willingly plunged whole businesses, countries and ultimately continents, into financial mayhem. It would have remained a very small blog, if the confessions were to be published with portrait pictures, instead of with light blue standard avatars. Six-figures-a-year suits in the City have rights. Massacring gang members in El Salvador have rights. Robbers, rapists, stalkers and double murderers; they all have rights. And no one would dare to violate them.
But what about the victims? What about #bedofshame where a guy tweets a photo of a naked one night stand, that he secretly takes in the morning? Your ex placing your old sex videos online? What about the women who are followed home when they return at night, or can’t leave their house without some weirdo on the street making kissing sounds?
Victims do not have any rights, until the moment they are brutally violated. Until that video of you getting raped in the school yard is played on the late night news. Until your son is beaten, MS13 style, on a school square in effing Den Bosch. Until it’s all too little too late, and no one saw it coming. The moment the knife of your stalking ex slits your throat, that’s when you get your rights.
So yes I refused. And I will keep refusing. My stories are for everyone, but my face is for myself. Not that I don’t want to show it, but because I don’t live in a secured all-white suburban compound, with two pit bulls and a house ninja. I live alone in a small house, on the ground floor, in what they call “a colourful neighborhood”. Since I write erotica I have had prank calls on my home phone, old dates calling my cell in the dead of night, and strangers emailing me why I deserve the worst. They react on first impulse, exploring the boundaries of what they can and can not do in a trial-and-error like fashion. Until now, they all seem reasonably docile. They retreat when I scowl them, leave when I slam the door, and stop calling me after a month or two. But I’m not going to give any rejected date, jilted lover or perceptive neighbor, a reason to focus on me, more than I apparently already do.
They all have two topics, the men’s magazines we have in the Netherlands: sex and crime. And if I am to end up in the crime section, it will not be as a victim. I will poison the reporter. I will slay my competitors. I will breed an army of 22 year old cubs, who will kill at my command. Because then at least, none of the mags is allowed to show my picture.