Conversation thread: sexy selfies around the male gaze, taking control over our feelings
Chatting with Melissa Kathryn & Marine Neuilly
Melissa: I had a feeling that we both kind of came to the same conclusion or had the same kind of experience in regards to our sexuality, image, social media, and how that interacts with the male gaze and the patriarchy. You wanted to start the newsletter. You removed your photos from your brand’s Instagram, the photos of girls, the sexy photos...
Marine: I actually removed all the photos. But yeah, that's exactly it and it's funny because it's exactly the same with you because you stopped your Instagram.
Melissa: First I started deleting all the photos that had me in it where I was sexy. I started feeling a bit like, "Whoa, I feel very exposed." And then the next step was just deleting Instagram. It really kind of came from my own personal, like inner journey. I started evaluating my relationships, my life, my life direction, asking myself, “where am I going? How did I get here?”
Marine: And yeah, and especially what you post on Instagram doesn't really belong to you. It's like you're giving free content. Yeah, that's interesting to think about it because most people don't really realize. When I started posting selfies of myself wearing the panties because I thought it would be funny to have a contrast with more artistic photos. And sometimes, I’m just in my bathroom in my panty doing a selfie. But what I completely forgot, is that in that moment, I feel alone, totally alone. And I love that because I'm alone with myself, I feel confident and I can let myself be sexy. I love this feeling. To me, it's very selfish and personal.But then, after that, I would completely forget who is going to watch my stories.
Melissa: Because in a way, it's a way to feel safe and protected while also interacting with the other. Because even though it's on the Internet for anyone to see, because it feels anonymous, almost… there's a screen, a lack of physical presence that can make you almost forget the dangers or just, the eyes, the number of eyes that are on you. You don't feel that gaze, you know?
Marine: Because I never look at who is watching my stories, so I don't see. But then I had some situations where I was in a work meeting and people would make jokes about the fact that they see my stories, and I'm like, “Oh, shit, they saw my sexy selfie.” Because to me, it's about intimacy.
Melissa: At the same time, that’s kind of in a way, that’s what we're looking for. But then we don't want it. It's because you're sharing your intimacy and you're inviting people into your personal world. And I think you really have to be in a place where you truly don't give a shit.
Marine: We should be all able to share that and feel like proud of it, and be like, “this is just a part of me.” As a woman, there are so many emotions and different colors.
Melissa: You have to kind of just live with that and just accept that this was a choice you made in that moment.
Marine: Yeah, totally. And again, we are talking here about Instagram, but this is not the real world. And I think that's important to understand. Because we are so connected to that now, people kind of forget the reality, and they're defining you just by your photos on Instagram.
Which is annoying because you have to play the game. You know, I do it for my work and I'm like, “if I don't post stuff, people think I'm not doing stuff.” And that's why at some point I felt, to me, that sharing these personal photos of myself would interfere with my personal life.
Melissa: It's insane that becomes considered as an invitation, because unfortunately, I think a lot of straight men have a hard time with seeing a woman expressing herself and her sexuality and not thinking, "this is for me, this is an invitation.”
Marine: You know, it's just like, "look, I'm confident, you know, I run my life. You can look but don't touch."
Melissa: Consent is still something that a lot of people don't quite understand. I think, and you'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we both kind of were feeling the same kind of thing where we started posting kind of sexual, provocative things, and then it was like, fueling itself, like, "Oh, this is fun.” It’s kind of exhilarating, pushing the limits; really going into new territory with the self.
Marine: I like to play with that to be honest. I’m an actor on Instagram. It's a funny game, but it doesn't mean I'm like that in reality. And if people are too stupid not to realize that, it's not my problem. It changed when people would come over to me and talked about the brand, but they would talk about the brand in a kind of weird way, just about the sexy photos. But I think it's whatever, you know, it's important to be to stay true to yourself. Like, I don't regret anything. I might still one day want to share a sexy selfie, but I'm very angry right now at the system. I'm very angry at Instagram, at all these rules.
Melissa: It's the business model behind social media, especially Instagram. Social media used to be a tool, but now it is using us instead of us using it. And that was the reason why I was like, I'm going to remove myself from this. I really made a stand about, like, sexiness and women empowerment; why do I feel like almost an imposter?
Marine: We were talking about it earlier, that you're still working as a cam girl? So I think that is very interesting…
Listen to hear the rest of the conversation…. ;)