Hello, Katy Preen and thank you so much for your thoughtful — and thought-provoking — reply. You literally ARE the counterpoint I mentioned in the piece.
I agree wholeheartedly with you on the value and importance of the personal essay. There’s no question whatsoever that it is an accessible form of writing that goes a long way toward helping writers reclaim their agency and freedom (especially regarding sexual assault, but also mental health), dispelling taboos, and generally making the world a more open, tolerant, and enlightened place.
In my experience, if you’re able to articulate, explain, even document something that has been eating you up then you’re definitely getting stronger even though it may not feel like it. There are formidable writers on this platform documenting all kinds of harrowing things with extreme clarity, and educating the rest of us on what it means to be in their shoes.
My beef here is with folks shoving a naked pic of themselves slap bang in the middle of such an essay and banking on shock value to get the clicks. While a picture can be worth a thousand words, doing this more than once makes me wonder about their motives. This, to me, is going too far, along with anything that may jeopardize one’s privacy or that of others. (As a journalist, you know how easy it is to get people’s personal info online, but I’m not sure everyone is aware of this and it scares me.)
Sticking an unclad pic of yourself on the internet in the middle of an essay is basically the line for me, and it’s quite possible I didn’t do as good a job of explaining it as I would have liked.
There are always exceptions however, and if your body is part of your art or occupation (think porn performers or sex workers for example) then what I wrote doesn’t apply as nudity comes with the territory.
Meanwhile, your reply has made me curious so off I go read some of your work. Thanks again for your input!