THE BLOG

When Online Authority Is Exploited

29/03/2017 11:41

The abuse of power is never acceptable. Exploiting positions of authority happens in all manners of ways, but the worst is when it's to obtain sexual gratification.

We see it happen with outrage when teachers have relationships with pupils or clergy with choir members, and it's always shocking and despicable. In the workplace, however, it tends to go unnoticed. Bosses using their influence to manipulate sexual relationships with junior staff members is just flirting, it's how adults meet, it's normal. The woman, I say woman as it is almost always the woman, who complains is over reacting and trying to stir up trouble. The accused man was either being lied about or was simply expressing an attraction, which is complimentary.

As more and more work moves online, social networking is becoming a bigger and bigger aspect of people's daily working lives. For writers, such as myself, it is intrinsic in how we make contacts in our industry and lead potential fans to read our work, buy our books. There are networks of writers, bloggers, copywriters, authors, who all share the work of others and interact to boost each other's readership. And, of course, there are those with power (the ones with thousands of followers and well established readerships) and there are the newbies, the ones first starting out in the industry.

For the blogging network it's quite clear how those with power can influence the lives of those without. If your blog is well read and you have, say, ten thousand Twitter followers, if you share the work of another person then their readership instantly blooms. Even though blogging isn't my main work I have witnessed this myself, if a piece of work I write is shared by one of the big players, my audience shoots up and I garner a few more followers. For those starting out, getting in the good graces of a power player can instantly change your working life for the better. And the power players know it.

Recently a woman came to me for help.

One of the power players, a man, had expressed an interest in her. He was helping her, sharing her work, increasing her readership and gaining her followers. She was benefiting from their business relationship and blossoming friendship. However, when his interest moved into being sexual she rejected it. And he took his revenge.

Using his influence over the network she is a part of, he had his loyal followers hound her. She was told to delete her Twitter account to protect his feelings, called names and verbally abused for being so cruel as to reject him. She was pressured to agree to a relationship with him, and when she continued to refuse, began to lose followers, lose interactions. The network, under the influence of the power player, began to pull away and punish her. For refusing a sexual relationship with a man in authority she began to be put out of business. When social networking is such a huge part of a writer's work life, when the network expels you, it hits you hard.

What could she do? Nobody would hear her. Her duty, as a subordinate in the network, was to massage the ego of the power player. She had benefited from their friendship, happily reaped the benefits of being in his favour, and she now had her side of the deal to fulfil.

I was absolutely outraged. And, what breaks my heart, is she had spoken to others. And nobody else saw her side. Men not agreeing I was furious about but not surprised. But women? Women were happy for her to be bullied and abused and have her business impacted because she was unwilling to be prostituted to a man with power.

If a woman is friends with you, you're not entitled to her body.
If a woman flirts with you, you're not entitled to her body.
If you have feelings for a woman, you're not entitled to her body.
If a woman has benefited financially from your friendship, you're not entitled to her body.
If you've given a woman help, you're not entitled to her body.

If you cannot handle a woman being seen in public because it hurts your feelings to see her happy, remove yourself, it is absolutely not her duty to hide herself away. She owes you nothing.

And if you are happy to exploit your power and authority to punish and abuse a woman who sexually rejects you then you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a danger to women.

I am shocked that in 2017 this still needs saying.

You can check out all my contact info and links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There's also www.sirenstories.co.uk where you'll find other work from Siren Stories and extra information. My first novel, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, is out now and available on Amazon.

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