Tuesday, 21 June 2016

And now a word from the 'No More D*ck Pics' girl - Samantha Mawdsley Pt 1

My name is Samantha Mawdsley and I am not funny, just so you know. If the people who love me the most were to describe me, they would use words like sweet, honest, enthusiastic, caring, generous, ditzy, sensitive, or loud. But they would run through a heck of a lot more adjectives before they got to funny. My dad said "oh, I don't know. You're funny in a quirky way" so even he doesn't rely on me for witty one-liners and acerbic zingers. So know that I didn't do all this to become the next Amy Schumer. In fact the only reason I did do this is because James told me not to. Pure and simple.

I also want to address the fact that I have seen a handful of people dismissing 'No More D*ck Pics' as fake. To be honest, I can see where they're coming from. James did start to turn into a stereotype of the kind of dudebro who thinks sending a happy snap of their junk is an opening line. But rest assured (or depressed), this whole exchange actually happened as reported. I have also been approached by many other women who have received e-Polaroids from Mr D*ck Pic himself. That, of course, does not confirm that James is a real personal profile, but I hope it does confirm that I didn't create a fake profile and send myself unsolicited penis imagery. Of course, if I sent them to myself, they're no longer unsolicited but that's getting a bit circular. Just rest assured that there was somebody I don't know logged into the account known as James.

So what actually did happen? Let me start from the start, in my own words.

I went to bed after having a few drinks while watching the Euros at around 1.30am on what was technically Sunday June 12. As always, the last thing I did was check my Facebook. That's when I saw the little notification - but why in the hell would somebody be commenting on a restaurant review I left months ago? Now I know that James knew what he was doing. If he hadn't commented, I would not have received any kind of notification and would not have checked my filtered message requests for weeks, if ever. Who actually looks at them?! And I guess James wanted to engage with me. Or he wanted me to engage with his penis anyway. But I hypothesise that he wanted both of us to be online at the same time so a conversation could ensue. I suppose I obliged.

To begin with, my immediate reaction was a mixture of revulsion and humiliation. I am not ashamed to admit that I have been the victim of this kind of sexual harassment offline too. When I was 15 and wearing my school uniform, I was in a public library waiting for my trampolining lesson to start. I suddenly heard a strange noise beside me. I looked over at the man there and noticed that he was staring at me intently while masturbating. I instantly went numb and felt completely powerless. I felt a hot mix of shame and fear and for some reason, my body did not or could not react. What I wish I'd done now is jump back while screaming loudly. I wish everyone in that library had turned to see what the commotion was and found themselves staring at an exposed penis and a terrified schoolgirl. I wish he'd been tackled by good Samaritans who came to my aid, and he'd been arrested. I wish I'd bravely pressed charges and, with the support of my family, faced the perpetrator and ensured this never happened to another girl. But what I actually did was quietly shift in my seat so that I couldn't see him, wait until a minute or two had passed, and then quickly take my books to wait in the gymnasium reception. At this point, I wonder if there are men reading who don't understand and feel they would have reacted differently. I wonder if there are women reading who completely understand and feel they would have done the same thing. If that is the case, please take a moment to ponder why that is.

So here I am, twice as old, feeling those same feelings. And with the bravado that can only come from alcohol and a buffer of 4,426 miles, I chose a different reaction - which was anything but staying silent, really!

My first response came from a place of anger and wanting him to just go away. But I didn't want him to feel like he'd elicited any kind of emotional response from me. Yes, I fell back on the lazy and ridiculous notion that 'bigger is better', but I have the feeling that was the level James was playing at and the lowest common denominator is always the easiest. So I googled "large dick pic" and found a somewhat lengthier penis to show James.

And this, dear reader, is where I thought this whole event would stop. But James was not impressed with this response and tried to call me out. When he said he was "nice", I decided to ignore the fact he obviously meant by complimenting my eyes (yeah, ok...) and pretend I thought he meant by sending me a portrait of a penis. I was then as "nice" as I could be, alternating between saving photos and sending them on to James.

James responded with some misogyny. After my cheap shot about penis-size, I suppose I deserved it. But James called on the misogyny and raised me some homophobia - what a class act!

Like that annoying friend showing you their favourite movie for the first time, I am going to poke you in the ribs and say here comes the best part - then I'm going to mouth along with my favourite quote...

I just want to puke just stop please
Cue more phallic pinups...

For some reason, James suddenly decided I had besmirched his penile honour and leapt to its defence! I never insulted his penis, but trust me, it really does have a bump thing on it. I don't know why he got so defensive. I didn't want to go the low blow of penis-size again, but I did want to highlight how unremarkable his penis is, so I told him so.

Then I realised what I had said - "sea of dicks". Like I said, I am not funny, but I laughed at that, and promptly sent him another wave of wangs.

James was unimpressed and tried to explain that there was something wrong with me. I, of course, brought out my piñata of logic and beat it with my stick of truth. But James was too busy missing the point elsewhere.

Happy with my obvious victory, I was content to be done and leave him with a final trading of insults.

Buuuuuut the temptation to get in some more sneaky unsolicited dick pics was too much. I figured he would give up as he was clearly getting nowhere with me - I was impervious to his manly charms!

But James just kept checking his messages. Like, did he think that instead of another wiener, it would be me saying "My beloved! Please wait! I fear I have erred, for I now see that yours is the only willy for me! Whilst thou ever forgive me?"

I apologise if my next comment comes across as homophobic, but please know it was actually meant to be completely seriously! Obviously I don't actually think James is gay, but I do 1,000% think it's ok to be gay! But if I do inadvertantly offend anyone, I wholeheartedly apologise!

For the record, that is the actual site I was getting the penises off. Maybe you could play Bellend Bingo? Or not. So I kept up with my belief that he would tire of my steady stream of schlongs...

And this was very nearly where it ended until this...

If you notice, there is now suddenly a nine minute jump in the time. That's because I stopped talking to him at 1.38am to screenshot the entire exchange, and this took me until 1.41am. It is timestamped that I didn't even consider doing anything with this conversation until this vile little weasel told me not to. I didn't screenshot anything else for another nine minutes.

I swear this was accidental. It was only as I typed "lots of penises" that I was all "LOL - I did it again!". Like I said at the start, I am not funny! I was also unprepared for this because the careful observer will notice that I started repeating penises.

I also gave the piñata of logic another whack and this time it broke! But James dodged all the sweet candy realisations...

Instead, he triumphantly held aloft a nugget of misogyny!

I then vaguely accused him of paedophilia only to have him jump on the word 'little'. I meant the penis pics that were little, rather than the pics of a little penis, but I guess James has a complex or something...

You can see it's now 2am, I am really tired and I just want him to stop. It is only pure stubbornness that is keeping me going at this point (and tiredness is not an excuse, I apologise for the following casual comment which is not trans-inclusive).

You can see again that I really thought the conversation was over (2am screenshot!)

My little cogs are turning over and it is starting to dawn on me that of all the possible outcomes of a guy like James sending a woman an unsolicited dick pic, the one they fear most - perhaps the only one they fear - is being publicly outed as a digital flasher.

Despite how tired I was, I was still clearly remembering the way the conversation went. I am pretty awful to argue with, and wasn't going to let this talent be withheld from James.

You can see I even start getting antsy thinking that he will suddenly delete the conversation (although I am not sure that is even possible in hindsight?) and I screenshot while he was still typing. Turns out he was busy getting pretty damn desperate...

But I am really starting to tire now and don't have it in me to keep arguing.

Realising his feeble attempt at mustering niceness might have been in vain, seeing as I haven't gone weak at the knees over his insistence that he was "kind with me girl", he reverts back to his default position of misogyny and swearing.

I didn't know what I planned to do with the screenshots at this point, but I figured a safe bet was sending them to Bye Felipe, an amazing instagram account and podcast that calls guys out on their behaviour when dealing with women who are not interested them in. I didn't care that he didn't know what the hashtag meant and decided to go to sleep.

Now as I settled in to sleep, I wondered what I would do with the pics. I decided that since James was in America and had a few more hours left of awake time, if he decided to apologise I would not post the screenshots. That was absolutely and honestly my decision as I went to sleep.

Now I only have around 400 Facebook friends, most of whom I know from real life, so the post going viral was not actually a possibility I considered. I thought a couple might get a laugh from my sense of humour, and maybe one or two would even share it. So when I woke up and there was nothing in my inbox (he hadn't even blocked me or anything), I decided to do the only thing that James seemed to fear.

I uploaded 45 screenshots in an album I titled 'No More D*ck Pics', covered the offensive parts of the pictures with Facebook stickers and hit publish. It was such a non-event to me. I called my dad in Australia as I usually do and even mentioned it to him, just so he wasn't shocked to see me posting something so sexual. After explaining what a 'dick pic' is, Dad told me he was proud of me for standing up to the twerp.

When I got off the phone, I checked my Facebook. The post had been shared about five times by then. More shares than I'd ever had before. My friends had also started commenting and two said they wanted to send James pics too. I laughed at the screenshots they sent me when they did. At that point, I knew James would be aware that I had posted it and that was literally all that mattered to me regarding the whole incident - that he didn't get away with it. But then the number of shares started going up. And up. And up. My friends were delightedly commenting s the numbers hit 500, 600, 700. 1,000 and still growing!

The next morning when I woke up, the post had over 10,000 shares. My Facebook filtered messages, a button I never thought of before, suddenly contained hundreds of messages - "Are you THE Samantha Mawdsley?" I was flooded with friend requests. In the 15 minutes it took me to walk to work, 'No More D*ck Pics' was shared another 300 times.

It was then that I said to my boyfriend "umm... I think I'm in trouble..."

Monday, 28 March 2016

Thanatophobia infographic

In 2010, I created a Facebook support group for sufferers of thanatophobia (the fear of death). Managing this account can at times be stressful and difficult, but it is always rewarding - especially when someone tells me how much the group I created helped them.

A lot of questions get asked by newcomers to the group, as they struggle to learn if they are alone in the way they feel. With that in mind, I created a survey for members of the thanatophobia support group to take.

When more than 100 people responded, the only way to extract the complete data set was to pay, but the lovely members of the support group chipped in to raise the money to access the survey responses.

I have interrogated that data and designed this infographic to display, at a glance, some key facts about thanatophobia.

As I work in data analysis, I believe all of these results to be statistically significant, with the caveat that it is true of people who admit their phobia and seek help on the internet / Facebook.

For a high-quality version of this infographic, please follow this link: http://imgur.com/zDjCTjQ

Please note: You must credit SAMawdsley.blogspot.com if you reproduce this infographic.

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What mental illness feels like ...for me

Not everyone knows what it feels like to be mentally ill. And no two mentally ill people feel exactly the same.

But to me? Mental illness feels like...

... looking in the mirror and seeing the worst person in the world - and that's a secret you desperately need to hide from everyone.

... you understand the awful subtext behind everything people say - but then being told you don't. And you don't know whether people are just denying it, or it's really the truth.

... you always need to prove that you are worthy - of your job, of your friends, of your partner, of your family, of... well, existing.

... everyone in the world has your problems too, but they are just dealing with them a lot better than you are.

... you are listening to constructive criticism, but only hearing "you are shit. Like, you are really shit. I'm trying to say this as nicely as I can, so pay attention: You. Are. Shit."

... you just want to rant, and rave, and scream, and cry, and tell somebody all your problems. But then you don't want them to be burdened by your problems, or worse - to think less of you. 

... you're absolutely exhausted from being mentally ill, that even getting out of bed is a massive achievement. But of course you can't celebrate that because everyone gets out of bed every damn day.

... you know people care as such, but they don't want to hear about your petty issues. Not really.

... when you speak, you need to finish speaking as quickly as possible because everyone is just bored of what you're saying and you don't have anything of value to contribute anyway.

... people will only like you if you take medication, because the real you is not good enough.

... everyone thinks you're pretending, or "milking it".

... successes are accidents, circumstantial, easy for everyone to achieve, or not even noteworthy.

... your body is so tired at the end of the day, but your mind needs to go over every detail of the day, the week, the month, the year, every year since you born, before you can finally sleep from sheer exhaustion.

... you try so hard not to get sick, but your body just fails you. But it fails you so often that you're sure that people think you're just faking.

... you don't know if your feelings are real or if you're just "over-reacting because she's mentally ill" or "just sensitive because she has anxiety issues".

... you've told your story so many times that it's just boring to everyone - but you don't have any other story to tell.

... every problem that anybody has is your fault. And if you can't think why it's your fault, then it's because you are so selfish that you didn't even notice you were ruining someone's life.

... people are only your friend because they feel sorry for you.

... you're just waiting for your workplace to figure out you're completely incompetent, so you try really hard to not appear utterly useless.

... you've figured out what people don't like about you, so you try extra hard to not be those things - and instead come off as annoying in a different way.

... every time you're not invited somewhere it's because you are not wanted, or not really a friend. Because if you were - you'd have been asked, right?

... people only invite you to things because they feel sorry for you, or out of social obligation - so you say no so that you don't burden them with your presence.

... you are constantly on the verge of a major catastrophe, and that you need to constantly be prepared for it, but you don't know what it actually is, or when it is actually coming.

... you get that the people you love (and who truly do love you back) don't want you to die. But if you did, while it would hurt initially, eventually they would realise they are in fact better off without you in their life.

... if you don't commit suicide, then you're not that mentally ill.

I searched for an image that represented how I feel, but ultimately it was this image, from the first line of Google image search results for the words "mental illness" that spoke to me the most.
Miss SAMawdsley xx

Please note: This is not a plea for help. Ultimately, I am currently undergoing treatment on the NHS. I am technically classified as disabled, but I work full-time and lead what I like to think is a fun and productive life. This is just putting the figurative pen to paper on what being mentally ill feels like to me.

For clarity, I have been clinically diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, complex post traumatic stress disorder, and thanatophobia.

  • What does mental illness feel like to you?
  • If you've never been mentally ill, can you imagine how it might feel?

Monday, 4 January 2016

Are you secretly a paleontologist? The ultimate dinosaur quiz!

I love dinosaurs, I really do. And I recently did a course called Dino 101 at the University of Alberta. The course if offered via distance education and you can check it out here - It's completely free and I highly recommend it.

From my study notes, I created this Buzzfeed quiz to test others on their paleontology knowledge and to brush up on my learnings myself.

The aim is to get 10/10 and prove that you are famed paleontologist and Jurassic Park consultant, Jack Horner.

Give it a go: Are you secretly a paleontologist? The ultimate dinosaur quiz Be sure to let me know how you get on!

Are you secretly a paleontologist?
Miss SAMawdsley xx

  • What is your passion?
  • How do you keep your mind active?
  • If you could study anything, what would it be?
PS: If that's too sciencey for you, then let me tell you which dinosaur you were in a past life - take the quiz here!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

I know which dinosaur you were in a past life

Through the powers of science and... well... mainly guessing... I have figured out how to determine which dinosaur you were in a previous life!


All you need to do is fill in this quick quiz that I made: I know which dinosaur you were in a previous life.

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Please note: This quiz is for entertainment purposes only and you should not make any decisions based on the results of this quiz.
  • Which dinosaur were you in a past life?
  • Would you have picked me for a Stegosaurus?
PS: If you'd like something a little more based in actual science, try this: Are you secretly a paleontologist - the ultimate dinosaur quiz

Monday, 30 June 2014

My weird, old-enough-to-be-my-dad crush

  • Born on July 7, 1940
  • Started his musical career playing percussion in a skiffle band
  • Joined another band in 1962, replacing Pete Best
  • Left handed drummer who plays a right hand kit
  • "My dog plays better drums!" - Muhammad Ali
  • Has never had a solo UK number 1 hit
  • Honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 2010
  • Married twice, neither time to me, and currently to a Bond girl
  • He was the narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Born Richard Starkey, in Liverpool, England

Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

Miss SAMawdsley xx

  • Did you guess who my crush is? At what point?
  • Who is your favourite Beatle?
  • Who is your secret, not-age-appropriate crush?