As an artist, my utopian goal is to educate both men and women in subtle and affirming ways on the power discrepancies that still exist between them. I shed light onto where these power structures still exist by putting myself in the midst of them and reporting back my findings to the curious public.
In my dream world, everyone would realize how far we have to come in this power struggle. In this dream world, to solve this problem we would have pleasant debates in which our minds are mutually opened, and we learn from one another. Sometimes, I am fortunate enough to see this happen.
But that is not the reality in most cases. Sometimes, the way men treat me, or their comments on Facebook, Twitter etc infuriate me. I can’t help it. The love in my heart and desire to educate them disappears. I just want to troll those guys so hard. So hard they don’t even know where it’s coming from or why they suddenly feel so shitty about themselves. And this is how I came up with frilling. Or, flirting as a form of trolling.
If a troll is defined as someone who posts deliberately provocative messages with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument (via urban dictionary) then a frill is someone who posts deliberately provocative (but a different kind of provocative no?) messages with the intention of causing maximum sexual tension. By creating and controlling this sexual tension, the frill demands the disruption takes place on her own terms.
If trolls fuck with you by playing on your insecurities that you’ve been societally conditioned by (your looks, your sexual behavior, worthlessness, etc) or their dominance over you as a man, the frill defuses this by fighting fire with fire. The troll’s fire is his supposed superiority as a man. The frill’s fire is her supposed ability to control men via sex. Just as the troll has fully embraced his role as asshole man to get to you, the frill embraces the role of evil temptress and uses it to silence the troll and humiliate him.
There are a wide variety of frilling tactics that can be used. It depends on the kind of troll you’re dealing with. For a nasty random troll you could try a sexual comment combined with an insult like, “Ooo baby dick needs a handjob.” To a guy who thinks he deserves sexual access to you because of some cute selfies you posted, “Why don’t you come over tonight and I’ll fuck your dick so hard until it bleeds?” Or for a more mature/mansplainer troll, “I’m sorry you think this conversation on my Facebook wall about getting more women into art institutions is irrelevant. Why don’t we get a coffee sometime and discuss it in a more intimate setting?” (And never cash in on those offers, obviously).
By fighting fire with fire, you’re denying him the upstanding and respectful woman you know he is trying to break down. You’re letting the troll know he can’t get to you. You are in control of your sexuality, not him. You’re crass, you’re dirty, you have no shame and you wear those qualities proudly. You’re changing the rulebook on him on what you think it means to be a woman. The frill uses the troll’s weapons against him, throwing intellectualism out the window and engaging with the troll on a base level. The troll cannot sexually defile you, because you are telling him female sexuality cannot be defiled.
Male charm is a power used by men to manipulate others. When women use this charm, it is called flirting, and all the sudden it is unfair. But women can’t be allowed to flirt! How unfair, for women to use their sexual advantages over men. I’m sorry—isn’t this what men do all the time? Use their power as a man to get what they want? A woman should be able to use her charms to control crazy trolls, annoying mansplainers and other power hungry or otherwise obnoxious men. Is it “right”? No, but it at least levels the playing field a little tiny bit.
The trolling of women is so commonplace; we sometimes take it as normal. You can’t stop the trolls. Freedom of speech. As women online, we just have to accept the trolls. It is similar to accepting street harassment while walking the streets of an urban city. It’s going to happen, it’s an inevitable truth.
I don’t believe in those inevitable truths and I admire the people who are working on changing those truths such as Hollaback!, Stop Street Harassment and the bravery of someone like Anita Sarkeesian. But these processes take a long time. In the meantime, for dealing with the douchebags out there, frilling makes you feel powerful in what often seems like a hopeless situation. Let’s shed the shame that is often associated with being a woman who flirts to get what she wants. We’re not “cockteases”. We’re just frilling.
Now you might be saying, but not all women can frill. Only young, beautiful women can frill. That is completely untrue. The idea is not to make men sexually fall for you. The idea behind frilling is essentially sexual confidence. Tell yourself, I am a woman who deserves love and sex in the way I want it and when I want it. When I frill a troll, I’m manipulating him into thinking he’s sexually desirable as a means to pacify him and to let him know, he does not determine my value as a human, I do.
You should also frill in a way you feel comfortable with. Maybe you just give a little winky face. A small compliment. An innuendo. It can be hard to do when you’re dealing with someone you find so repulsive, but such is the art of manipulation. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to get things to go your way.
To clarify, the frill is not someone who is giving into the stereotypical smiling, happy, pleasing woman. The frill is an absurdist in her frank sexual candor but also manipulative and powerful. She takes the pornographic fantasy of the woman who is willing to please and shoves it down the troll’s throat.
Frilling is fun, but it does not work for every situation and I recommend being aware of when it is appropriate and when it might not be. I would not frill a close male friend. I would not head into 4chan and just start raging. I would frill an anonymous troll in the Gawker comments, a man I’m not close with who is writing nasty comments on Facebook, or some dick who is just bugging me.
Frilling is not just for women, but for people who come under attack for having “feminine” qualities. I encourage men under fire from hyper masculine and aggressive trolls to frill as well. I suspect it will be equally as effective.
Is frilling problematic? Yes. The frill does not help with the stereotypes that all women are just Eve’s, evil seductresses, dying to get Adam to taste the forbidden fruit. And us feminists constantly struggle with getting men to see women as more than just sexual objects. Frilling will also not produce conversations or instances that will solve any deep issues between the sexes. But let me tell you, frilling feels so good.
There are instances in which I strive very hard to communicate with men and women why we must still fight the good feminist battle. But there are also times when I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. And it doesn’t matter what I throw at my opponent in terms of reasoning, statistics or feelings. I know I’m never going to change that dickheads misogyny against me, no matter what I lay on him. So, it’s much more fun to fuck with him, just a little.