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Emily Ratajkowski’s Devastating Essay Reflects How Men Violate Women’s Agency And Our Misogyny Lets Them Get Away With It

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I, like most girls, have a love-hate relationship with Emily Ratajkowski’s Instagram. I won’t even need to explain it to you if you just looked at her profile. Her Instagram grid has levels upon levels of photos where she is flaunting her gorgeous body, in stunning outfits and at spectacular locations. And all of that just arouses a lot of feelings inside you—from envy to jealousy, even judgement about your own body or life not being anything like that, and definitely lots of adoration. Because it takes a different set of guts and confidence to pose the way EmRata does. And yet, when you find out goes on in the mind of the woman in question…. I woke up this morning to Emily Ratajkowski’s essay for the New York Magazine, titled ‘Buying Myself Back’, and I had a fierce respect for her.

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Just dropping in

A post shared by Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) on

[TW: Sexual assault]

First, Emily could write and how. Her essay chronicles past instances of being sued for using her own paparazzi clicked photos, over which she had absolutely no claim, resonate a sentiment echoed by other models like Gigi Hadid. But Emily goes beyond just pap flashes and talks about how the art world too, specifically artist Richard Prince and his ‘Instagram Paintings’ series, found a way of depriving her of any agency over her own Instagram photos. The most difficult part of her essay comes towards the end, where Ratajkowski recounts in detail how an unpaid modelling assignment morphed into sexual assault.

Also Read: The Moral Policing Of Actress Samyuktha Hegde Isn’t About Protecting ‘Indian Culture’. It’s That Women Who Do Their Own Thing Make Us Uncomfortable

However, even when it gets hard to read about her every little thought process during each of these incidents, it is Emily Ratajkowski’s stark and impactful writing that keeps you hooked. I found myself, a fellow writer, marvelling at how compelling her words were at one moment, and feeling horrified by the utter helplessness she must’ve felt the very next. Can you imagine being constantly reminded of that devastating emotion by men who exploit it for the sake of money every chance they get? The artist who used her photos exhibiting them; the photographer who clicked her nude polaroids and allegedly sexually exploited her going on to publish and republish those photos in books?

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Day 1 as a blondie

A post shared by Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) on

“All these men, some of whom I knew intimately and others I’d never met, were debating who owned an image of me.”

Emily’s powerful concluding lines resonated with me, and every woman who read it, because this was the only way a woman could seize the control back.

“Eventually, Jonathan will run out of “unseen” crusty Polaroids, but I will remain as the real Emily; the Emily who owns the high-art Emily, and the one who wrote this essay, too. She will continue to carve out control where she can find it.”

Twitter was abuzz with praise for Emily Ratajkowski’s writing as well as her courage to come out with these stories, and a shared empathy for how women have, are and perhaps continue to be deprived of agency by men, who stake their claim on it without so much as a second thought.

Emily Ratajkowski’s essay also opens up a dialogue on how enabling our misogynistic mindsets can be for men who exploit women in such a manner. When people, including women, see someone like Emily, who is a model and in the business of flaunting their perfect body, they automatically assume that they are always ‘down for it’. When several female celebrities nude photos were leaked on the Internet, people were so quick to assume that the actresses would’ve taken the photos and leaked it themselves,. Or why were they creating such a fuss over it? Their bodies are flawless, and haven’t they done this before? How does it matter? As if their consent is just a free-flowing stream you can dip into anytime! And this, in turn, makes these women think that perhaps it is was their fault for perpetuating such an image about themselves to people.

Furthermore, there’s also this barrier in our minds that prevents us from seeing that even the women who appear ‘perfect’ or ‘flawless’ to us physically, might have inhibitions and struggles that we are not aware of.

If you were to look at the response that fashion photographer Jonathan Leder, who was accused by Emily in the essay, has put forth, you’ll understand the entitlement that men feel in such instances, all because the society enables them to dismiss women’s agency and make whatever they want of it.

As one of the women on Twitter put it. Emily Ratajkowski or any woman for that matter, could be roaming naked on the street and that would still not be consent for anything—to take her photos, lech at her, touch her, or violate her.

Thank you, Emily, for these powerful words, and for reminding us that this entitlement and enabling of men has to stop.

Also Read: Guilty Or Not, Nothing Justifies The Media Mobbing Rhea Chakraborty. The Invasion Of Her Personal Space Needs To Stop

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