Me,  Words

What’s wrong with her, she’s an old woman? And #CancelJaneyGodley


collage of graffiti and message

This collage is comprised of the graffiti on the building opposite my house, the sign outside my house which is illuminated at night and a message sent via Facebook messenger to my youngest son.  The message was sent in September, I think the graffiti arrived in July or August this year.

When I first saw the eye symbol I felt a chill.  It was too close to me.  I noticed the one on the sign outside my house the following day as I was coming back from shopping in town.  I posted my misgivings on twitter and people, quite rightly, said it was probably a coincidence, the name of a local band or the tag of someone spraying graffiti.  I went back to trying to forget it.  Trying to avoid looking at it each evening, as I drove up to it and then reversed onto my drive.  My car lights illuminating the two eyes and a nose that the person had drawn to represent my name on twitter.  I had a grudging respect for the person who had done it.  It was clever, they had obviously spent some time thinking about it, perhaps drawing and redrawing it until it was both readable and symbolic.  The one on the sign outside my door was more hurried, done at the extension of someone’s reach, nossel pointing upwards, the paint less controlled.  It was quick, dirty, and determined.

I learned to live with it but it began to eat at me.  Somehow it seemed to have a malevolent power – it sparked fear, an invasive sense of unease.  I felt exposed and vulnerable again.

And then I got a message from my daughter telling me that my son had received the message from Tomas Bell which detailed my twitter account and that from there she had seen my blog.  It was a kind message, she tried not to blame me for it, but she said ‘why are you doing this on the internet? Don’t you know that people will say this about you?’  She reiterated that she and her brother didn’t care – you can see from the clip of the message above he asks why they are telling him this and points out that I am a grown woman.  But the shame I felt came up from the ground to meet me.  I could feel my stomach drop and my sense of myself as a good person leach away with every reminder.

The shock sent waves through me every-time it came back into focus in my mind.  I immediately locked my twitter account and made my blog private.  I couldn’t decide what to do about it, I cycled between shutting it all down, making it all private and culling my twitter, and tears of impotent rage and upset at this terrible sense of being seen as bad, or flawed, or stupid by people I cared about.  At this point I investigated methods of clearing up twitter accounts and failed because I couldn’t think clearly enough to see what needed to be done.  The shame silenced me again and I was unable to reach out to people to get help.  I stopped taking and posting pictures.  My internal monologue became critical, calling me names, telling me I was stupid to want to do this, that it was evidence of my flawed state, that I would never be redeemed from this.   I told my housemate because I felt she needed to know that someone was targeting me and had got so close to home in all senses.  She was supportive but honestly struggled to understand what this account was about and why I would court this potential exposure in this way.

Feelings I had worked so hard to move away from in the previous few years and thought I had got under control reasserted themselves.  I could feel myself being pulled into the dark undertow of a life spent hiding again and began to frame it as being able to reclaim my sense of being a good mother if I got rid of all the evidence that I was a sexually active woman with a strong streak of exhibitionism.

I started to try to work out who Tomas Bell might be, the account had been shut down straight after sending the message.  I did google and facebook searches but couldn’t find anything conclusive.  My son had a friend who spelt his name Tomas, could it be him? what was the connection to the school? Who would want to do this?

I had the details but I had chosen not to actually see what the message said.  It wasn’t until yesterday that I summoned the strength to ask my love to send it to me.  He had been sent it by my daughter at my request.  Again the shock waves came over me.  I am an old woman, and I am repulsive and making people sick with my posts.  Any pretence that I am engaged in an artistic or creative act is just that, a pretence.  I should act my age and stop showing off.. Over and over again in my head, the refrain ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ and the sick-face emoji showing the level of disgust I created in others.

It was a swirling pit of self criticism and I trawled twitter looking for evidence that I was bad and it was every-where.  Women calling other women disgusting for posting pictures of their boobs, implying they were disease-ridden if they were sexually active outside of a traditional relationship. Setting up a hierarchy of body parts that said if I post pictures of my stockinged legs I am racy and attractive, if I post pictures of my boobs or full nudity I am ‘thirsty’, or dirty, or disgusting.  Men either hitting on people or if they didn’t get the answer they wanted becoming aggressive.  It was a minefield, and I grappled with opinions that I didn’t want to hold but that seemed to be being dredged up from deep in my experience and memory.

I began to find a foothold in this hardpressed place as Christmas approached.  I realised I wasn’t going to see any of my adult children at Christmastime and I remembered the family Christmas years and then the deserted ones that followed.  The harsh reality of being so cut away from my home and them, and how this blog and my twitter account had allowed me to create meaning in the meaningless world I found myself in.  And I realised that this person, whoever it was, wanted to see me remain in that cut off place and was actively seeking to make me cut myself off again from the people and the creativity I found both within myself and apparent here.   I realised that if I was putting my images up in a gallery as part of an exhibition it would have a air of both daring and respectability that would be protective against this kind of shaming.  I also realised that two pieces of my writing have been part of published books and that has been achieved from the experiences I have had and the people I have met here.  By stepping out of the comfort zone of being a ‘good’ wife and mother and by daring to be me.

It became apparent that I was not going to let this attack stop me, in fact I was going to use the power and energy directed against me to fuel a new connection to my work here.  I moved to self hosting and a new theme.  In the next year I am going to be more disciplined about writing and creating because I believe this matters and that it actually what matters.

Which brings me to #CancelJaneyGodley .  Last night I saw Janey stand up against bullies and use their own energy against them.   Rangers fans sought to cow her with the hashtag and instead of being cowed she used it to sell more tickets and as the inspiration for her next shows.  She knows who she is, knows she is loved and that her comedy is enjoyed.  I found it inspiring and a call to action for me.

So I can say right here, right now, that I am going to carry on being subversive.  This means coming out of hiding with regard to my family so that they can support me even if they don’t understand me because I know they love me.  I want to reframe the narrative around aging and sexuality and attractiveness.  I want to carry on using my own experiences to create new work.  I want to collaborate with others and not hide behind being too busy or too far away.  I want to make this a priority in my life as it feeds me.

Possibly the biggest action I am going to take is to report this to the police on Monday.  It is probably too late for any active trail to be found, however I need to stand up for myself to quell the voices that tell me that I have brought this on myself because I have a strong hunch about who it is.

So, if you are reading this now, you can no longer make me keep silent about this because of guilt and shame.  I am eye and I take back my power and choice to see and be seen.

Addendum 12/01/20

I did report this to the police.  They were supportive but also mentioned that they had seen this graffitti elsewhere.  An anonymous commenter on my blog also pointed this out by sending a link to an article about this in my local paper.  Most of it appears to be close to my house but it does mean that this might not be targeting me.  The person has not been caught, neither has the person who sent the facebook message to my son mentioned above. 

I am not going to withdraw this post as I believe that my response still stands.  I needed to update this for my own well-being and sense of integrity. 

Thank you for the support I received from this post.  I really appreciate it.




  • Monstrous Jaffa

    How appalling that someone who considers themselves to be a friend of your son would do this. I’m pleased that he replied as he did.

    Your blog and your twitter account are a great source of inspiration and interaction with others. You have made that happen by creating these spaces. Your age is an irrelevance other than perhaps the passing years have given you a great deal of insight into understanding how important it is to be kind and to listen to others.

    If the police are unable to do anything with this I hope the mere fact that you have reported it will cause the person responsible to reflect on their motives and make changes to be a better person.

    Thank you for sharing this Eye.

  • Molly

    This makes me want to fight people on your behalf…. actually on behalf of all of us who have been shamed or targeted in some way for expressing our sexual selves online through social media and blogging etc. When they come for one of us they essentially come for all of us and I am fucking done with it especially when I see it come from other women.

    Whatever I can do to help and support you be the most Eye you can be I will do if I can.



      Thank you Molly. I do think this has to be personal and towards me specifically. You are right it is wider than just my experience and I am so done with it now. The feeling is mutual. Do not hesitate to let me know if I can support you too.

      • Molly

        Oh yes I wasn’t trying to take away from it being targeted at you and being very personal. It is cruel and evil and completely unacceptable and I think you have managed it with grace and style and a thoughtfulness that is to be admired. I am glad you have spoken out. I guess what I am saying is I stand with Eye!


  • Cousin Pons

    Your spirit shines forth Eye. You will not give into bullying trolls and sad malcontents. You have had a torrid and horrid time but you will not be cowed. Your warmth, friendliness and intelligence shine out and I for one am more than happy to bask in it.

  • Marie Rebelle

    I read this, holding my breath, and by the end, that last sentence, I had tears in my eyes. It’s horrible that this has happened, and I wish it never happened to you, but Eye, you are so strong, so beautiful, so powerful and this post just shows that. You are a wonderful person and I applaud and support you in taking back your power, and not letting some nitwit make you feel ashamed of yourself. I look forward to all your creative work next year, because I can’t imagine this community without you in it!

    Much love,
    Rebel xox

  • andy Southwest

    There will always be trolls – and the bigger your presence online the more trolls there are.
    Sadly this troll has bridged your private and online lives.
    I hope this doesn’t hurt or worry you too much but it always will to an extent.
    Be strong x

  • Focused and Filthy

    Oh Eye …. I’ve been there and shamed for my presence online and for my creative work…. it scares and it hurts and I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it too. You are brave and strong and I’m so pleased you aren’t hiding. I feel like Molly – I want to fight for you, just ask and I’ll do what I can.
    Missy x

  • melodyinsights

    This is a beautiful and strong post. Like many, over the years I’ve had a fear of exposure and mostly considered it would be through carelessness. What happened to you made me think how it would be if it was the result of targeted harassment. It still sends shivers down my back to think of it.

    How you’ve processed and reacted to this is inspiring. The thought processes must have been agonising. To see you rise up above it and refuse to be cowed is wonderful.

    Help is here if you need it, even if it’s just an affirmative word.

    melody 🌹🧡💋


      I have a hunch who might be behind it and that makes me certain I made the right choices hard as they were. Thank you for your support, it means the world !

  • Sweetgirl

    Exposure, I think we all have that fear of exposure. I hate that some coward chose to victimise and bully you and I applaud your decision to not let them do it any more. ❤

  • Brigit Delaney

    Halle-fucking-lujah! These stories must be told! And I am so glad you have not let them silence you! A new narrative about what is sexy and acceptable needs to be written, and blogs like yours are what help in that rewriting! I applaud you, though this experience must have been scary and very hurtful. You have risen more powerful and I look forward to what you share this year.

  • OnceInWanderingDavesCity (@Desolate_Dave)

    What a strong beautiful lady you are Eye. You are always kind considerate and I have experienced your wise personality and words of wisdom at the right time. There is no place for trolls and bullying and you are rightly getting the support from those that admire you and what stand for.
    Keep being yourself and what makes you shine.

  • Starcross

    What you do really does matter eye, you’re making such a good, positive difference to society – thank you for that. I guess some people, such as whichever coward has been targeting you, will never be able to drag themselves into 21st century attitudes.

    “I am eye and I take back my power and choice to see and be seen” – fuck yes!

  • missy

    I hate that this has happened to you and well done for being so brave and string at dealing with it. Being able to be who you are without shame is so important ❤️

  • Julie

    As I tweeted yesterday this post brought tears to my eyes when I read it while in a pub. I remember so well when all this started and am so pleased that you have worked things through. Glad that you emerge stronger for the terrible experience and that you won’t let this stop you writing and tweeting. I do hope they catch the B****** and they are made to face what they have done. xx

  • May

    So glad u have written this. And you are right if your photos were in a gallery people would say what a wonderfully strong thing to do – But truly they are in a gallery – your gallery, your space. And the blogging world would be a lesser place without your words and pictures.
    I admire you immensely for many reasons – this time it is for facing things head on and not hiding.
    May xx

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