So February isn’t my favourite month of the entire year, just because for a few years running I ended up in hospital and had major/ minor surgery on Valentine’s Day. But it really became the worst month of the year this weekend just gone. I went to work, first time being back in store since being in London for the Lush Summit. Everything was fine and dandy. Did a party with a group of really amazing girls. Got in the car to go home… and that’s when shit hit the fan.
I opened my phone to be greeted by what seemed like thousands of messages about how some misogynistic ‘YouTuber’ had come into my store and taken a photo of some girl who wore a shirt that said feminist that day. Who was that girl who wore the feminist shirt, I hear you ask? It was of course, me. So this piece of crap came into my work place, took my photo without my consent or knowledge and posted it online with my place of work for his trolls to find me and harass me. He incites hate, abuse and didn’t even bat an eyelid when they suggested to rape me…. They made fun of my weight, which is hilarious because they’re all bigger than me by far. They made fun of the fact that I was doing my job, I mean, God forbid I go to work and actually do my damn job. What really made me laugh was, I served his wife because she and his kids really love Lush! So the scumbag saw I was talking to his beloved wife and still decided to proceed with his awful, awful intentions.
So from that moment onward, I became a warrior. As did my mum, my colleagues, my friends, family, and…. PEOPLE I HAVE NEVER MET BEFORE! People rallied to my side. Protecting me. Standing up for me. How insane is that?! My photo, has gone GLOBAL! My story has been seen by thousands upon thousands of people! I never thought this would be a direction my life went in, but here we are. People from America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and so many other places have contacted me asking me if I’m okay, asking what the hell happened. They’ve been fighting my corner. Dealing with these extremists that have been rumoured to attempt to stalk me in person and threaten physical harm towards me.
My friend Jazz has been a complete Goddess with all of this. She wrote a post, she’s been defending me even after I’ve blocked the haters, she’s even looking into starting a campaign to get people like this person off of social media. My friend Rach, who is also a friend of Jazz’s, has offered to teach us some basic self-defence moves. It’s all been so crazy with the amount of support and love and strength that has come toward me because of this disgusting human being and his actions.
A little bit of a back story for you, the person that posted (and then eventually deleted) the picture is called Carl Benjamin. He lives in Swindon and had a wife and two kids. He is well-known for inciting hate crimes against women, people of colour, Jews (which is ironic because, shalom brother, I have Jewish family), and basically has Neo-Nazi views. Should say enough about him right? Well, if you’re not sure and are still sat on the fence about whether we’ve misinterpreted the comments, the post or whatever, he told MP Jess Phillips that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her’…. Classy. He’s a big bully and I’m glad this has happened to me in some kind of weird way. Because if it wasn’t me, it would be someone else. And I don’t know many people who will look him in the eye and tell him he’s a coward and he needs to be stopped. Because I will do this. I intend on facing him, his wife, his family and telling them he is a coward that has put my family, my colleagues and myself in danger because of his stupid tweet to appease his Nazi like followers.
It doesn’t surprise me that he endorses comments like ‘let’s rape her’ or ‘she should be shot’. Let’s just take a quick look back at what I did exactly to cause such an angry response from his followers.
- I’m chunky yet completely funky.
- I have Jewish family, but that’s not obvious unless you know me?
- I served his wife in my store, because it’s my job aka I get paid to sell people bath bombs.
- I wore a shirt that said ‘feminist’ which is clearly something he and his followers don’t agree with.
The cause for all of this abuse, harassment and extremely severe threats coming my way, was a simple black and white shirt that had ‘feminist’ written on it. Wow. I’m surprised my mother even let me out of the house wearing such an offensive piece of clothing. I mean, how could I support a movement for women’s rights as well as a cause that fights for EVERYONE and will not rest until every single person, every single age, gender, race, sexual orientation etc, is EQUAL? It’s unthinkable to be an activist in a world where there’s so much injustice and inequality, right?
People have made me aware that people are attempting to go to my place of work and trying to find me. I have no idea who they are, what they want with me, if they want to support me or beat me up. That in itself is terrifying. Are these people the ones that want to rape me? Kill me? Or do they want to stand with me in solidarity? Either way, it’s creepy and unnerving to hear that people are actively seeking you out in person after something like this has happened. So not only do I have to worry about the colossal amount of abuse I’m getting online, I have to now worry about my own physical safety. Thanks, Carl.
Since the incident on Saturday, Carl has created a video, not addressing me, but my place of work ‘apologising’. He stated I was ‘caught in the crossfire’ – yes Carl, because YOU posted MY PICTURE for YOUR FOLLOWERS to see along with MY PLACE OF WORK knowing full well they are the type of people to PHYSICALLY HARASS people YOU disagree with as well as HARASS THEM ONLINE. So yeah, I guess you could say I did get caught in the crossfire. But now I’m here, now I’m involved, bitch, I won’t let this go. He stated it was my shops fault for ‘making me wear’ the shirt, ‘forcing their beliefs on customers’. Lemme stop you right there, buddy. I CHOSE to wear the shirt because it is in fact, what I believe in. It doesn’t excuse your disgusting behaviour, nor does it excuse the way your followers have tried to exploit me and ruin me. My shop, my company, my managers, even my supervisors don’t control what I wear. They can disagree with what band shirt I wear because they’re more heavy metal than punk fans, but other than that, they don’t tell me what to wear or what not to wear. We have this statement thing that tells customers and employees what LUSH stands for. It’s called ‘We Believe’ and I’m pretty sure there’s a ‘we believe in freedom of speech’ and ‘we believe in equality for all’ – so I respect you for voicing your opinion on feminism. However, your opinions are fascist, bigoted and more than anything, misogynistic which is utterly disgusting. Why you gotta hate on everything man? By the way, I don’t accept your apology. I am however thankful that you’ve asked your followers not to contact me or even go near me. Can that extend to my colleagues and friends too? I also am thankful that you’ve acknowledged that what you’ve done is quite frankly, shit. But your apology does not quite meet the social requirements that contributed to an acceptable and genuine apology. I’m sure you can Google how to write a sincere apology.
I’m a 20-year-old female from South Wales who wants to be able to get paid the same amount as her younger brother (when he’s able to work obviously), I want to be able to be paid the same amount for the same job I’m doing as my male colleagues (which I do, but if I ever had to leave my store I might not). So what’s wrong with me being a feminist?
In the early 1900s, women were advocating for equality the right to vote. Feminism originally comes from the suffrage movement from which our fight as women began. The movement obviously focused around women’s rights seeing as men, whom have never been oppressed by women or anyone at all for that matter, haven’t faced the struggle or the oppression women have, and have the rights and privileges women didn’t and to a shocking extent, still don’t today. They basically had everything women didn’t. However, it’s now 2017, Feminism benefits EVERYONE. Rights and equality for all women, women of colour especially as there is still a huge issue with racism even in this time where we’re all meant to be equal, disabled women, women of various sexual orientations. But why stop there? As the years went on and time progressed, Feminism became a movement that benefits women AND men. Who fights for more custody rights for dad’s during divorcing periods or just custody battles in general? Feminists. Who campaigns against discrimination against disabled men and women? Feminists. I could go on, but I feel like this has proven my point. Most of all, Feminism became an opponent to the oppressive measure of the patriarchy and our patriarchal society. People are afraid of being a feminist because they’re worried of being seen as a threat to the patriarchal society, or what is considered the ‘social norm’. Even though like all things in life, this movement has EVOLVED and stands for total justice and equality for all. Do you see why I’m a feminist now? Or do we still see an issue with it?
Despite all the negativity coming with speaking out about my beliefs, I found countless, incredible people who have made YouTube videos about my story! I think that’s insane. How did I, Lily, end up as topic interesting enough for a YouTube video?! These people making videos in support of me are completely rad and I’d be so happy to link you guys the videos if you asked me to. I don’t want to link anything on here just in case anyone decides to leave hate comments in these people’s videos, which is just not nice and I won’t let people do that to others. Of course, people have made rather negative videos about the situation, saying that because I’ve involved the police I’m ruining Carl’s life.
Do you know what, minions of Carl’s? I really don’t care. He didn’t care nor did he think twice before posting my picture and my place of work out there for his abusive and absolutely abysmal followers to see. So why should I take pity on him? Because of his family? What about my family?! My colleagues?! The police are well aware of who he is, and no matter what happens, I won’t be resting until he goes down and is punished for what he did to me and has done to countless other women (and men for that matter). Other people who were only doing their jobs. Other people who he’s managed to ruin their lives. Carl, hun, you won’t do this to me. You won’t ever do this to someone else. Because this ends with me. I’ll make sure it ends with me, even if I have to take you to court and personally see you into a cell for inciting harassment and online abuse and encouraging rape culture. Your reign of terror, hate, abuse, misogynistic ideas and your normalisation of rape culture will be destroyed. And I, a 20-year-old female, who is chunky yet funky, who has mental health issues, who is a feminist, who is an advocate for mental health and women’s rights, will be the one to start the end of that reign you have going on. Just you watch me.
The police are involved and I don’t know what’s really happening at this current time. And even if I did, I doubt I’d be able to go into much detail about everything. But believe me, I’ll definitely be keeping you all up to date on this entire shitstorm that Carl started.
Yesterday, I felt deflated. I felt almost hopeless. But you know what? There’s worse things that could have happened to me. If anything it’s been pretty great as so much traffic has come to my social media accounts and to my blog of course. For Carl, unfortunately. He did sadly target the wrong person. In the wrong shop. At the wrong time. Because we won’t forgive or forget. We may be small, but we are mighty. I’m not doing this for myself, but for everyone that has ever been a victim of abuse, sexual harassment, physical or online harassment, sexism, racism, or even just a victim of Carl Benjamin and his minions. Or bullies I should call them, as that’s what they’re really called. I’m doing this for everyone that hasn’t felt strong enough to stand up to him, or anyone that’s caused them this much distress. I’m doing this for the women and men that face discrimination and hate on a daily basis due to their appearance, beliefs, religion, gender and so on. This is my awfully big adventure. You can stand with me and support the rights for every single person and stand up against the cruelty that Carl Benjamin has brought into my life and the lives of so many others, or you can stand in the way of progression of society.
To everyone that’s sending love and positive vibes, I’m sending them right back at you! Until next time, have an awfully big adventure and FUCK PATRIARCHY! EQUALITY FOR ALL!