In 2008, Keith Gladdis tried to shame me in his NOTW article claiming I “stripped off and danced for him” and “tried to entice him with sleazy acts” (as if working in a completely private anonymous job, I had dragged him in off the street – judging by e-mails I received, I think a team of 5-10 NOTW employees were assigned to stalk me for a week beforehand.
Tabloid journalists style themselves to be “hard man’s man” types but really are nothing but bullies and hate-filled cowards).
This “let’s shame her into feeling guilty” behaviour was nothing new, really.
Previously, the Daily Mail liked to collect photos of me claiming I was “flaunting myself”.
My mother would claim I was “re-inventing myself” and “ashamed of where I came from” for refusing to participate in her hate-filled charade of a “happy family” which involved appeasing my violent abusive father. The daughter of an abuser herself, I believe she wanted to recreate that dynamic for her children: I cannot recall any basic pleasant, human, interaction in my family beyond lies and manipulation (which is probably why the newspapers loved my father – he was severely mentally ill, and always up for “providing soundbites” or forcing his children to take part in a photoshoot and allowing them access to me as a girl).
That’s in the past now. But I think these people wanted me to be permanently emotionally off balance, a receptacle for all of the shit emotions and decisions they themselves had? Feeling guilty and ashamed and dirty over “something”: feeling I owed the world something.
Guilt and shame are two of the most corrosive emotions known to mankind.
My first foster carer (angry mean-minded woman who fiddled receipts and pretended her husband was a “successful businessman” because she didn’t want to admit she had to foster for money to keep them in their middle class lifestyle) tried to guilt trip me for what she saw as engaging with life, which was “being selfish” instead of “taking responsibility” for my abusive father?
A Mail reader (and a typical one) she didn’t think it was fair that I was intelligent and (reasonably) personable and young and I might have opportunities in life that she didn’t (or had chosen not to take).
She thought I shouldn’t be able to “get away” with anything.
I was 15 at the time, and although I can now dismiss idiots, her hatred met its target, I felt guilty for a long time afterwards.
And ideally, I think after what they had done to me, the media was hoping I would give in to shame and guilt (none of it mine) so I couldn’t “get away with it” either.
They wanted to break me. They wanted me to feel responsible for all their hatred and manipulations. They wanted me to think because some piece of scum had “got the story out of me” I now had no choice but to see my personal life as public property.
The media I encountered wanted me to blame others in my life, to hate myself, whilst they presented themselves as calm, impartial “observers”
(really, you just need to speak to a journalist for five minutes and ask a few mild questions about “What are YOUR motivations?” before they break into a narcissistic, aggressive fit of rage).
Journalists would refer to “the article you chose to do” as if by saying that, it gave their desire to stalk me legitimacy.
(with the veiled threat that if I chose to complain to the police about them, then they’d bring up a previous article as “evidence” I was trying to turn myself into a celebrity, and I’d be shamed for being a liar).
They wanted me to start self-identifying as some “eccentric character” stuck in a rut to go along with their own weird prejudices.
I like being a calm, emotionally self-contained adult who has their own interests and generally I let life flow along and don’t try too hard to be anything, but they wanted me to be some loudmouthed “Hi I’m Sufiah! I’m really crazy! Would you like to hear about my mental past? Look I can do sums! I’m so interesting and only for this reason. I’m stuck in 1997. Here are some articles about me but please don’t judge me.” type. “I’m defensive and over-sensitive about my Public Reputation”.
The media wanted to draw all the crazies towards me.
Maybe I would partner up with some weird publicity seeking guy, and then do a big cheesy TELL ALL piece.
..on how ashamed I was of my past and how I condemned all sex workers and how I was so “lucky” to have someone accept me and be seen with me in public and validate my worth as I was so “dirty” and “slutty”.
(in real life, despite initial fears, the only strong comment I’ve had ever from someone I’ve dated on the sex-work stuff is “when are you going to sue the journalists? You ought to”.
I don’t share my personal life here, but my observation is outside of tacky women’s magazines or articles on the Internet aimed at PROVING THINGS for angry people who live on the Internet, most reasonably personable laid-back men and women who like themselves find getting dates or serious relationships or being single is never a big deal either way – I seem to have slipped into that category).
Oh, and rather than intellectually developing within an authentic life, in a private manner, the media wanted me to “talk about science” and waste energy “explaining and justifying myself” to complete strangers rather than doing it. Maybe provide a collection of bitchy comments and meaningless anecdotes about Oxford?
(generally aimed at the person who spends their time reading “lifestyle pieces” about scientists and looking up Female Mathematicians on the internet rather than picking up a book or learning something new themselves).