This is a hard post to write…
I don’t know exactly what went wrong where, but I really convinced myself that I could use Weebly, a website platform, to make a site to host my work. So this week I built a really beautiful site that made me proud, made me feel legitimized as an artist. And I was planning on announcing it today, all ta-da look what I did!! But before I even got to do that, Weebly blocked my account.
It had taken me weeks to figure out what my next step should be. I don’t have access to a lot of options in the first place, mostly for financial reasons. But most of the issues that were coming up were about worth. I still have so many unconscious assumptions that my work isn’t worthy, that I am not worthy. It took some effort to overcome another layer of this paralysis and get to a better place, but I got myself there. Which is maybe how I got excited and hopeful enough to believe that the solution was as simple as a Weebly website.
I got the email yesterday, and again, just like when it happened with Vimeo, it felt like a slap in the face. I am usually a pretty understanding person. But there’s something in my work being censored that triggers the fuck out of me. I felt devastated. And shamed. I spent an hour walking around aimlessly, trying to circulate the emotions inside me, trying to regain my footing, trying to stop crying.
Of course I blame myself. I should have known. I should have checked. Why am I doing these videos in the first place anyway? Why can’t I just make abstract art? Or documentary style reportage? Why do I have to show orgasms instead of just talk about them? Why am I making my life so complicated that what I want to do is the one thing I don’t seem to be allowed to do?
It’s kind of funny, in a not funny kind of way. Maybe I’m a pioneer, or maybe I’m really out of line. Maybe I need to be censored, or maybe I will help change things. As always, I don’t know.
I wrote back to Weebly today. I’ve asked them to reconsider. Or at least allow me to use the website without putting my work on it. Fingers crossed…
On Nov 24, 2016, at 1:37 PM, Weebly Abuse <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
We recently removed your website because of a violation of our Terms of Service, available at http://www.weebly.com/tos.html.
The option to Publish this site has been disabled. However, you may still login to the account to retrieve your work.
If you feel like we have made this judgement in error, please reply to this email with any specific evidence supporting your claim.
The Weebly Team
On Nov 25, 2016, at 3:38 PM, Rain Robert wrote:
I have received your notice of removal and I appreciate the chance you’ve given me to argue my case.
My name is Rain Robert and I am an artist. What I make is not pornography, though some of my pieces may look like it at first. My primary intention is always to make healing art for myself, in hope that it might in turn be healing for the world. I am very aware that the way sexuality is used in both mainstream media and commercial porn is problematic, sometimes even harmful. This is actually one of the drives behind my work. I am trying to create an alternative voice, as a woman expressing her sexuality herself instead of being trapped by the one that is imposed on me everywhere.
I had initially posted all my videos on Vimeo but they also removed my account until I wrote to them to defend my position as an artist. They reinstated it but removed a few pieces (the ones that portray orgasm). I looked for another solution but I had to face the fact that our culture segregates art that deals with sexuality from everything else. The only open public space I could find was a porn platform, which I decided to try. But I am not happy with the association and especially with the exposure to negative advertisement so I kept looking for a new home. A friend of mine pointed out your company to me, as a website builder that offers video hosting and also seemed to be more lenient to erotic content. I was able to confirm this for myself, finding a lot of Weebly sites used by erotic artists. I did read that your guidelines prohibit sexually explicit content but I decided to go ahead anyway based on the fact that others seemed to be able to use Weebly for their art. I chose not to write to you first because I thought maybe the guidelines are there to protect the company from sites you deem pornographic but that, in a case by case basis, erotic art would be acceptable. In hindsight, I see that maybe that was a mistake on my part and that I should have been upfront instead of letting wishful thinking take the lead.
I really do believe that the censorship of sexually explicit art is contributing to the problems of sexual violence in our society. If sexuality can only be expressed within a profit driven context, then we limit and pervert our experiences of sex. I do not sell my work or try to sell something through my work. I am trying to present a natural and healthy version of female sexuality. I believe this is a worthy and important endeavor.
I urge you to consider the possibility of supporting my art and to be a part of my efforts to heal our relationship to sexuality. I do realize that you may face legal and technical limitations that will drive your decision to not host my work. If that is the case, I would like to ask if you would consider restoring my site to allow me to use it to present my artistic intentions, while only adding links to my pieces. Ideally I would love to keep the image gallery to link to individual pieces, but if you cannot allow even those still images, I could also only use text links.
I hope I have managed to convince you of my integrity and I thank you again for the opportunity to open this dialog.