[EXCLUSIVE] Eileen Kelly Responds To New York Post’s Sex Shaming Article
The first time I talked to Eileen Kelly, she told me, “I enjoy talking about things that are taboo that I don’t believe should be, like sexuality and sex education.” She was (and is) in the process of launching a sex-positive advice blog, where young girls can go to ask all their questions about dating, sex, sexuality, and relationships.
Eileen spoke to me about her journey, from being an Instagram model who is often objectified as a sex object, to being a feminist sex-pert for the internet generation. Then two days after our conversation, Eileen was the focus of an article in the New York Post titled, “I Fuel Fantasies of Men Who Want Sex With Young Girls, and I’m Fine With It.” It couldn’t get any more taboo than that.
When Eileen got the call for the New York Post’s interview, she was thrilled. She looked upon it as an opportunity to talk about her goal of normalizing sex and sexuality. Instead, it focused on painting a picture of Eileen as an Instagram Lolita, with not a thought in her head other than her lingerie shopping list. Even the girl who loves talking about sex wasn’t prepared for this one.
Below, Eileen discusses why she was publicly sex shamed and how she’s brushing off the haters.
Stephanie Janetos: You said the New York Post article “essentially used [you] as a vehicle to tear down our generation of young women and make us shut up.” Can you talk more about that?
Eileen Kelly: It’s really easy to stay passive in situations like the one I was put in. To speak out against a big publication took some guts, but I’m privileged in the sense that I have a voice online, so it’s my duty to say my piece when others aren’t so lucky. As young women, we are raised to be quiet, to not make a scene, to not be dramatic, to not take up any space. I take up a lot of space on the internet. They picked on me because of that.
“They wanted to make an example out of me, a negative one. They basically projected the idea that pretty girl feminism doesn’t exist, and that by posting photos in a bikini, and how I look in general, my opinions are no longer valid.”
How can girls stand strong when others try to tear us down?
EK: Just remember that all adults were kids once. It’s important to understand that everyone is learning, and not everything we say or think is right, but that’s part of growing up. In order to be at your maximum potential, you should have opinions, feelings, and let people know. If a situation doesn’t feel right, say something and speak up. If you are reading this interview, then you are on your computer or your smartphone. You have access to information that two thirds of the world doesn’t have. You have privilege because of that. It’s your duty to stand strong for those in the world who can’t. Just some food for thought. I also think it’s important to remember that you can voice your opinion while being positive and uplifting. Also, keep in mind having an opinion doesn’t mean all others are wrong. Saying what you think in a polite, warm manner will get you far. The blog piece that I wrote in response to the article was positive because I shared my views, instead of attacking the woman who wrote it. And that is why it got support.
You sort of touched on this, but why do you think that you were attacked for being sexually liberated?
EK: I think I was attacked because I was an easy target. I’m a young woman in New York who blogs about sexuality, sexual eduction and gender issues in America. I had agreed to do an interview with the New York Post naively thinking the writers would promote my ideologies and were interested in making a difference on the skewed perception of sexual freedom for women all over the globe. In reality, I was taken advantage of and my words were twisted. The New York Post wanted to make an example out of me, a negative one. They basically projected the idea that pretty girl feminism doesn’t exist, and that by posting photos in a bikini, and how I look in general, my opinions are no longer valid. The New York Post took me as a stereotype and ran with it.
“The only way we can fight against slut shaming is to talk about it, normalize sexuality and make people comfortable with it.”
Do you feel like you are a representative for our generation?
EK: I think I’m representative of an aspect of our generation, the media age. I have used social media to spread my voice. I feel very blessed and a lot more confident in my ability to be the type of role model I want to be. I think kids of my generation can relate to me, especially with my blog and what I do when I speak about sex ed. There’s something comforting about knowing it’s not coming from a 50 year old: I’m young, I’m going through it and I understand. I know what it’s like when he doesn’t text you back. I’ve been through a break up over text. This generation is so different than any before, because we grew up with the internet and phones. The way dialogue has changed between people in the 21st century is something that is going to be studied for years to come, and our psyches are changing rapidly. What I am getting at is I’m right there along with you. I remember when Instagram was created, I remember Facebook chat. And as new things evolve, I’m experiencing them too. I’m open to sharing my experiences in order to help anyone who is a little lost or doesn’t want to feel alone.
Even though we’re going through a feminist revolution, there’s still slut shaming everywhere you look. How can we fight against this?
EK: The only way we can fight against slut shaming is to talk about it, normalize sexuality and make people comfortable with it. It’s a natural part of being human. We are so wrapped up in judgement that we often can’t accept people who live differently than us. It all comes down to education, educating the younger generation so they can have it better than we do.
You can read Eileen’s initial reaction to the article on her blog.