Almost two months ago, the granniepants project went viral. Though the mantra of the project will never be effected by the number of people who may have heard of granniepants, there is one aspect of the situation that has been hugely altered. That aspect, above all else, is my sense of safety. A question that has been posed to me time and time again in the past months is, "aren't you afraid of something bad happening to you because of this?" My answer has been, every time, an unwavering, "no". Every time, that answer has been a lie.
The truth of the matter is, yes, I am afraid. I am afraid because I have been bombarded with very specific, graphic death threats from a man I drew. I am afraid because I know he lives within driving distance of me. I am afraid because my information has become incredibly public. I am afraid because I am a small woman and he is a big man. But more than anything, I am afraid because the police just don't seem to care.
It has been over a month since these threats started and the police were notified. I have kept quiet in the hopes that the system put in place to protect us all would act competently and with care, but that has not been the case. Violence against women is too prevalent to take threats lightly and to not act swiftly against them. I am lucky that my threats have not been acted upon, but too many women are forced to silently deal with violence, abuse, and rape without any real support. Fear is the greatest weapon in silencing people, but it is important to remember that our voice is the greatest tool in enacting change. So yes, I am afraid, but I need my voice to be heard.
This is the truth of the matter:
In the days immediately following Buzzfeed's story, I am inundated with messages. Some of them are negative, but the vast majority of them prove to me how many amazing, kind people exist in the word.
In today's world of the Internet, there are at least a dozen ways to contact any one person. People are communicating with me via email, Instagram, Facebook and, most of all, this website. With a simple click, anyone is able to leave a message in my website inbox. They are asked to give their name and an email address, so I will be able to reach them, but it is also possible to leave this section blank or give false information.
It's April 28th and and I'm sitting in bed checking my website inbox, when I feel my heart fall to the floor. For a moment, I'm not sure what to make of the messages I've received. I'm a deer in headlights staring back at the oncoming tractor trailer. I take a few breathes to calm myself as I take in the messages on my screen.
This is what they say:
The two death threats have come exactly ten minutes apart and sit side by side in my inbox. They are from the same person, who has listen his first and last name as "John". The email address given is obviously as fake as the name he wrote. Next to every message I receive via this website, there is an IP address. I click the IP address and it takes me to a map that pin points the exact location of where this messages are coming from. Now I am terrified. This man knows my name, my story is all over the internet, he wants to hurt me, and based off his IP address he lives in the same city as I do.
Based on the wording, I'm almost positive this is a man I've drawn for granniepants. This fact does nothing to calm my nerves. He has proven that he does not respect women, that he does not value them as human beings, and that he very much has a vendetta against me. I check my personal email account, but there is nothing. Then I check my Instagram.
This comment has been left:
I click on the username and it leads me to a relatively uninteresting account full of dog photos. The only interesting fact is that the message came from someone's real, personal account. This person was also unwise enough to enable the GPS locator on their photos. I click on it and the map leads me to the exact same cross streets as the IP address from the other messages did. This is the same person.
The Instagram comment is left beneath a particular man's photo, let's call him Fred. Plenty of men don't like their naked drawings, but this makes me remember that Fred reacted by threatening me on Tinder before I blocked him. There were no death threats, but he did say bad things would happen. This must be the guy. I screen shot everything.
I pick up my phone and call the DC police. A man answers and I try to explain to him as calmly as possible the situation, but she refuses to listen to me over the phone. Angrily, I hang up and call another police station. This time, a woman answers. Maybe it's sexist, but I was glad. She'll understand this is serious.
When I finish explaining there is a pause, then she says, "honey, just delete the messages."
"What?" I legitimately don't understand what she is suggesting.
"The law's not really caught up with all this cyber bullying, so we can't really do anything. It's best to just delete the messages so they don't upset you," she explains.
I am enraged. She's not trying to upset me, but in this moment I have never hated a person more. "Are you a complete idiot? Deleting the messages does not delete the intent behind the messages," I've completely lost it and can't help but start to cry.
She's obviously flustered by my reaction, but sticks to her guns regardless. "Usually these threats are empty, hon," she says in an attempt to cool me down.
"Yea, well I'm glad you're satisfied gambling my life on 'usually', but I'm not," I shriek as I slam down the phone.
It's a few hours later and my Dad has pulled every connection in the book to finally get a detective's attention. He helped a friend with a situation once and has agreed to speak to me. I'm lucky he has even agreed to that, because it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that is not always the case in these matters.
In the hours since this morning, I've also received a new threat. It is attached to the same IP, but this time it is in the public comments section of my blog.
This is the message:
I'm at Starbucks with my Dad waiting to get a call from the detective because I'm too afraid to wait at home. I give him my phone and show him the new message and I can tell he's rattled.
"Anna, take the drawing down," he says.
I've been thinking about it all morning and I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. The entire granniepants project revolves around the fact that women should not put up with bad behavior from men. We should be treated with respect and if we aren't, we shouldn't have to be pressured into putting up with it. I started the project as a way to stand up for myself and it goes against every piece of my being to succumb to threats. The project, to me, is a much smaller example of these threats, and if I take down the drawing I will be a hypocrite in every thing I stand for.
"I don't negotiate with terrorists!" I shout and his eyes look like they might pop out of his head.
"You need to protect yourself," he implores me, "don't be stupid."
My phone begins to vibrate on the table so the issue is dropped. I answer and the detective is on the other end. Again, I explain my story. I explain granniepants, Tinder, Instagram, my website, the death threats, the IP addresses, the fake email account names, and who I believe the threats are coming from. I tell him that I've printed out screenshots of the threats, IP addresses, maps of where the threats are coming from, his Instagram account, his Tinder photo and name, and I ask if we can meet in person so I can hand the information over. The detective is hesitant to meet me and says I should go home and wait until he's wrapped his head around the matter.
"Can I at least delete the public message on my blog now that I have a screen shot," I ask the detective because I don't want any one else online to see.
He thinks for a moment and then says, "actually, you should respond to him on there and tell him you called the cops on him."
"What? I don't want to make him more angry at me," I say and the detective decides he will leave a comment beneath my blog instead.
The detective writes:
You will only receive this warning only once. Any further contact or threats to Anna Gensler with result in your immediate arrest. I am a Detective with the ------------------ and also a Task Force Officer with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you would like to discuss this further feel free to contact me at -----------------.
He seems pleased with himself, says that this should make the guy stop, and he agrees to call back in a little bit. My Dad, who has been lurking over me throughout the conversation, asks, "so are we going to see this detective now?"
"No," I answer, "I don't think he wants to meet in person."
My Dad, who for better or worse is much pushier than I am, huffily calls the detective back and refuses to hang up until he has agreed to meet us face to face so I can give him the information.
For some reason I will never understand, my Dad and the detective have decided on meeting in a grocery store parking lot roughly half way between us. It's pouring rain and I feel grateful, as we wait for the detective, that the men at least decided on a parking lot that is sheltered by a roof. A shiny black car creeps towards us and a man rolls down the window.
"Anna?" he shouts through the loud rain.
"Yes," I answer.
"Hop in," he says as he waves us into his car. I slide in the front seat and for a moment take pleasure in the fact that my Dad is sitting in the back of a cop car. It feels like a scene right out of a movie where the people meet under cover to exchange top secret information. I hand the detective my bright red folder full of information and an overwhelming sense of relief washes over me. I basically did his job for him, now all he has to do is go get this creep. I know everything will be okay now.
Since I've already explained everything over the phone to the detective, he doesn't have many remaining questions. He explains that they will need to subpoena the internet providers to find out for sure who this person is, then the police will be able to go to his house and talk to him.
"You'll have to decide from there if you want to press charges," he say as he looks over at me. I nod that I understand.
"If you did decide to, it would be a pretty draining process. You'd have to go to court and they'd ask you a lot of questions," he continues. Again I nod that I understand.
"You probably won't want to go through all that, but again, it's your call" he says. His obvious attempts at swaying my opinion are irritating me, but I keep my mouth shut because this is the only person in the world right now who has agreed to help me.
"So what are you going to do about this project of yours," he asks and changes the subject away from court.
"What do you mean," I answer.
"Well obviously this is just going to keep happening to you if you keep this up," he says.
"I hope most people don't think it's acceptable to issue death threats," I say and I hope my Dad will pipe up in my defense.
"You're an adult, so what you do is your decision," he says. I think he's coming around to agreeing with me, but then he continues his thought, " just so you know, we can't just keep coming in to protect you if you keep trolling these guys and they keep threatening you. That's not what the police are set up to do."
I can't believe my ears. The police department isn't set up to protect people? You can't protect me against a person who has clearly broken the law? If a person needs your help more than once, you can't provide it? You believe that I am the problem in this situation, the "troll", when this man started by sending me rude messages online, I drew a doodle of him naked, and now he is threatening my life? I want to shout all these things to the officer, but finally my Dad peaks his head out from the back seat.
"She understands, officer," my dad says. "Thank you so much for your help", my brown noser Dad says as he steps out of the car. I follow his lead before my small amount of self control completely escapes me. Once back in our own car, I agree to take down this guy's granniepants drawing as long as my Dad understands that I'm not going to stop the project.
"Happy?" I ask. I'm anything but happy. Secretly I am relieved that the image is off my site, yet I know it still exists all over the internet and nothing can be done by me to stop that.
The next morning I have two new comments waiting for me under my blog. They are from the guy, with the same IP, and they are in response to what the detective wrote the day before. One is directed at me and one is directed at the detective.
This is what he wrote:
I immediately pick up my phone and call the detective. I read him the messages and again, ask if I can delete them from my blog now that I've screen shot-ed them and the IP addresses. The detective tells me to leave them up so he can get back to his office and print them out himself. I leave the messages up on my blog for the next two weeks, just in case.
Over the next few days, I receive a handful more threats. They are the same IP address, the same guy, and obviously the detective's message did not deter him.
These are two additional messages:
I've been told that getting a subpoena should only take a few days, but I'm far too afraid to stay in my house until then. I ask some of my friends if I can stay with them until this is resolved and they say of course. It's no coincidence that these friends also happen to be big, strong men. I realize that people feel free to issue baseless threats online. I realize that the majority of these threats are never carried out, but I am taking this seriously and I want to feel protected. I feel comforted to know that I've surrounded myself with people willing and able to protect me, yet at the same time it upsets me. I am a strong women and shouldn't have to hide under the wing of any man in order to feel safe. But that is indeed the situation I find myself in.
My friends have quickly made their distrust of the police known and they think I should head to a more public forum to seek help.
"If you put this shit on Reddit, they'd get this guy in a minute," one says.
The other nods in agreement. "Yea, You know that Anonymous group? They'd ruin his life by lunch time."
I can't lie, the idea sounds appealing, but I trust the police and now that I've given them the information I know they'll sort everything out.
Two weeks pass by and I've heard almost nothing from the detective. For some reason, the subpoena has taken a very long time to issue. The detective assured me the issue was being taken seriously, yet I find that hard to believe when two weeks of stagnation drag by before any real news develops.
Finally after two weeks, the detective informs me that the subpoena has been issued and sent to Google. I am relieved, but also confused. Why was the subpoena sent to Google, when the IP address came from Verizon? I ask the detective and he seems baffled by the question.
"Well, this guys email was a Google email," he answers me.
"What email?" I ask.
"The one on your website," the defiant detective says.
At this point I am about to cry, because I realize what he has done. Instead of tracing the IP address, which is something I did on my personal computer in thirty seconds back in April, this detective has attempted to trace the fake email account the guy left as his contact on my website. I specifically explained back in April the email address was fake, that the name was fake, and that they should go after the IP address. If, for whatever reason, he really wanted to trace an email address, the detective should have subpoenaed this guy's Instagram account, which I gave him. You need a real email address to open an Instagram account, you do not need a real email address to write a comment on this website. What makes me even more baffled: the detective knew all this. He himself left a comment on the website two weeks ago. He knew it wasn't through his email.
"The weird thing is, Google says that email address doesn't exist," the detective continues.
My faith in the police has officially left the building. Two weeks have past and we are exactly where we started. It's clear that I'm furious as I explain to him what has happened.
I can't claim to read anyone's mind. I do not know why the detective did not listen to me. Perhaps he just wasn't listening when I explained it to him two weeks ago. Perhaps he never read the papers I gave him. Perhaps he doesn't actually understand how the internet works and how people communicate through it. Or perhaps he just doesn't want to take orders from a young woman.
It's possible that I'm projecting my problems with other men in my life on this detective, but I'm convinced that last reason is true so once I hang up my call, I immediately ask my Dad to call and speak to the detective too. Coincidentally or not, it is only on the phone with my Dad that the detective finally agrees to subpoena the IP address.
Again, another two weeks roll by with little information and it is now May 29th. Exactly one month has past since these threats began and the police have yet to do anything concrete. I have gradually become less afraid that this man is going to act on these death threats, but I am still staying away from my house. If anything, it makes me afraid that I am less afraid now. I am upset at my brain for letting its guard down, when this person is still out there and nothing has been done. It is possible this person is just waiting for the right moment to strike, or it is possible he is nothing more than an internet bully. Either way, it is outrageous that the police have not swiftly acted and treated this seriously. Again, I realize that I am lucky to have even gotten a police officer's slight attention into the matter. By "lucky" I mean it is rare. One should not consider herself "lucky" that the system put in place to protect her listened to her complaint, then ignored it. Threats are issues all the time against women and law enforcement does little or nothing about it and that needs to change.
I'm eating lunch when my phone vibrates with this text message from the detective:
He's obviously referencing the threat towards the himself that the guy put up on my blog. That part of the text I understand. What I don't understand is how in the world the detective is claiming I took it down before he had a chance to copy it. Again, back in April I asked when I could delete it. He said to wait until he got back to his office and had a chance to save it. Again, I ended up leaving the messages up for an extra two weeks just in case. The detective really couldn't manage to print one piece of evidence out in two weeks? The thing about this that makes me so upset is that if I hadn't saved a screen shot of this myself, there would be absolutely no evidence that it happened.
I decide to call the detective to see what's going on and surprisingly, he answers. He says that they finally traced the IP address to the suspect, who was in fact the person I thought he was. I feel slightly vindicated, but mostly sad that this conclusion took a month to come to.
The detective says the police will be going to this guys house later today and he would like the message with the threat aimed at himself to show this guy face to face. "I'm glad you're only concerned about the threat targeting you, detective," I'd like to say, but I don't. At least they're finally going and I can finally decide to press charges.
The next day, the detective texts me again. They never got around to going yesterday. He promises that they will go to this guys house tomorrow or the next day and that he will, of course, let me know when they do.
That was eleven days ago and I haven't heard back.
There is no happy ending to this story, other than that I am very lucky nothing has happened to me. But plenty of other people aren't so lucky and that is why I want to speak up. This issue of violence against women has been at the forefront of the news lately, but it took the tragedy in California with Elliot Rodger for that to happen. This issue should be important enough to not only address after the fact. After the fact does not save the lives lost in California. The police were warned in that instance and they didn't do a thing. They went to the man's house, he seemed nice enough, and they left him alone. He openly admitted that had the police investigated further, his plan would have been ruined. Those innocent people would not have been killed. Yes, I am thankfully alive and unscathed, but for that I thank God, or fate, or pure luck. I do not thank the Police department, because if this man had decided to act out on these threats like Elliot Roger had, I would be dead and the police didn't do a think to prevent that.
My name is Anna, I'm twenty three, I am less than x miles away and I am currently on Tinder. I wouldn't do me after learning only those four facts, but that's apparently all the convincing it takes in this beautiful day and age of the inter-webs. "Name that I will quickly forget: check, age that will not send me to jail: affirmative, a girl within reasonable driving distance- with my definition of 'reasonable' going up exponentially with the number of months it has been since I've gotten lucky (wait, so that would be seventy two multiplied by fifty six, carry the square root, math, math, math, then solve for pi)...fuck it, she's perfect!" Men are such advanced creatures.
Hold on, I nearly forgot the most important factor: the photo. Those four little facts are nothing without photographic evidence to strongly suggest that you are not a deformed swamp creature. Ideally, it is photographic evidence in your skimpiest bikini that strongly suggest you are not a deformed swamp creature. If you're aiming for an absolute home run, it is photographic evidence in your skimpiest bikini that strongly suggests you are not a deformed swamp creature, while also strongly suggesting you have massive tits, big cans, and most importantly, huge boobs.
Because I am a respectable artist and this is a respectable art blog, my photographic evidence really only fulfills the minor requirement of proving I am not a swamp creature. "Anna, is it really a respectable art blog if you have to keep reminding me it is a respectable art blog?" ...Yes, go fuck yourself. But then please keep reading my respectable art blog by me, the respectable artist. Anyway, as a respectable artist, my Tinder profile picture is part photo, part painting ("Anna, are you sure this isn't your Tinder photo because you're not cute enough to do one in your skimpy bikini?"...Not another peep, you imaginary blabber mouthing fiend! You are somehow managing to simultaneously make me sound schizophrenic and more importantly, hideous in swim wear.)
Anyway, here is my photo on Tinder that pops up along with my riveting life story (recap: I'm Anna. I'm 23. If you start driving now you will eventually reach me.):
Some say the picture is a master piece but they're probably still confusing it with Anna 2's work. If you don't know Anna 2, I suggest you read about her in my previous post because she is stunning (I'm trying to be nice but it's giving me an anaphylactic reaction. She's horrid.) The photo doesn't feature any big cans or huge boobs so it obviously hasn't been a mega success with the gentle folk. I'm sure some of you are wondering, "I understand not including the big cans and the huge boobs, but why no massive tits?" To that I would say, "keep up dummies! They're all synonyms! I fooled you before!" Alas, I digress. This is not an english lesson and we are here to focus on art; synonyms will have to be left for another day.
While the photo hasn't made it big with the cave men set, it features a few advanced artist techniques, such as a pretty banging analogous color scheme, that make it great for like minded artists discussing art in a serious setting. Yes, paying for four (five) years of art school is a smart investment because now I can use color theory to make boys want to do me on the internet.
"What the heck is an analogous color scheme ", you say? "Why does it have such a pervy sounding name", you say? I can't answer that second question, here's a quick art lesson: See the nice colors that go together so beautifully in the picture? That right there is a text book example of an analogous color scheme. These schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. According to the inter-webs, this makes for a soothing color scheme that make people convulse into fits of lust and desire until they have no choice but to fall madly in love with you.
Didn't you ever wonder why Cupid operates in all shades of pink, purple and red? Now ya know.
Below is a diagram I created to help explain (I stole this diagram from the internet):
For those of you who have been living in a dark cave clinging to your flip phone a la Smeagol (or is it Gollum? I could never tell Mary Kate and Ashley apart either), Tinder is a smart phone "dating" app where you swipe yay or nay to a person based upon the above qualifications. If two people mutually swipe yes, the pearly doors to the promise land (not you, Jerusalem, it's not always about you) open, the angels sing, and you are free to speak to your one true love.
By one true love I mean hoards of sexually frustrated men. These are men, I can only assume, who believe that their luck has finally changed. Under the protective veil of the internet, sleazy pick up lines that in the past they could only ever whisper to the pages of their well-worn dirty magazines (for a moment let's pretend men still read dirty magazines and the pony express is still how I send my mail) become somehow acceptable to utter to real, live human beings.
Let's play a quick game of "yes or no" to quickly cover a few basics. Yes, I chose by my own free will to download this app. Yes, I was fully aware that said app was for meeting, hooking up, and possibly dating. No, I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. (No, I am not a crazy feminist.) No, I do not expect many serious relationships to come out of Tinder. (Yes, I shave my legs...if it's summer time.) Yes, I know that many guys download this app because they believe it is an easy way to find easy women...and they may be right. No, I still don't think it is acceptable for men on Tinder to send rude, crude, sexist, objectifying messages to the women who they are matched with. (Yes, I wear a bra....if I have to go to a religious event or will be jumping up and down more than usual on said day.)
Point being: If you wouldn't walk up to a woman in a bar and say it, don't say it to her online. Period.
While that point seems as clear as day to yours truly, the man-children of Tinder seem to be unable to grasp such complicated concepts. Apparently there is a secret clause that you agree to when you download Tinder that states that swiping "yes" to a person is a legally binding agreement that you will have sex with them. "Wait really", you ask? "That's what all that mumbo jumbo I didn't bother reading was about? Reading stinks. I just clicked 'accept'", you say? No! Of course not, you crazy people! Swiping "yes" simply means that you find the person attractive enough to be open to having a conversation with said person in order to determine if your personalities and/or interests mesh. That mutual interest could be meeting up at a gas station half the distance between where you both live in order to partake in a no strings attached threesome including you, your Tinder match, and that random elderly lady with blue hair you bumped into while waiting in line to buy the condoms (safe sex is happy sex, kids). That mutual interest could just as likely be finding someone to watch reruns of Survivor with (important side note: if anyone has the inside scoop on how to get on that show, hook a sister up @jeffprobst #dohashtagsevenworkhere). Maybe I'm just an uptight prude (sex is so icky), but that initial attraction- even if I was looking for that grimy gas station three way- has a funny way of flying right out the window the second a man's opening line to me is, "I wanna tongue punch you in the fart box".
"Ooh baby, I love it when you talk about my fart box," has said no woman in the history of planet Earth. Yet that is an actual (gross) opening line from an actual (sad excuse for a) human being with an actual (pea sized) brain. Us ladies are told to act like good little girls and ignore messages like this...and then get the hell back in the kitchen to finish making that sandwich. Well sorry society, I guess I aint no lady, then. The only sandwiches I make are for myself (but how will my father ever find an elderly cousin to marry me off to with an attitude like that!?) and if a creeper on the internet sends me blatantly crude, rude opening lines I'm going to throw him back a little taste of his own medicine (really Dad, you should be thanking me for being such a terrible lady. You won't have to pay the dowry of one hundred camels now. YOU'RE WELCOME).
Again, because this is a respectable art blog and I am a respectable artist (seriously, just go with it), I've decided to use art as my weapon of choice to combat these sad, sad little boys. Besides, responding by saying similarly overtly sexual things to these guys in an attempt to objectify them back wouldn't get the point across at all. Actually, they'd love it. "Score! My opening line of 'I love anal' is getting this chicky all hot and bothered. She's gonna give it to me good in the butt tonight! Wahoo," he would say. Then I would have to calmly explain, "no, no, no, you moronic dip shit. I am responding to your crude, objectifying line by sending you back an equally crude and objectifying line in order to make you feel the same way you are making women feel by speaking to them in this manner. It is a form of social commentary. Get it? Get it? GET IT???You're supposed to be upset. Why aren't you upset? Are you crying yet?" See? doesn't really have the desired effect (or is it "affect"? I think "affect" is usually a verb. I'm sticking with my gut and going with "effect". Man, ladies are so stupid).
After quite a bit of soul searching- and by soul searching I mean giggling to myself in a corner about how to get back at these bozos as my friends debated the existence of my sanity- a little angel (or maybe devil) came to me with the glorious answer. These messages are juvenile, immature, and silly, yet still blatantly objectifying, offensive, and crossing a boundary. Well you know what else is just like that? NAKED DOODLES OF THESE MEN. Yep, that actually has a nice ring to it.
"Oh, really? You like anal? Nice to meet you, too. Here's a drawing of you butt ass naked that I've put on the interwebs. Enjoy."
You want to be sexually explicit right of the bat? Great, I'll be right back. Just finishing up that naked portrait of you. And no, you don't look sexy in it. You look how you actually look on the other end of this Tinder conversation. You don't have a six pack, you have a flaccid blob of a penis that women really don't find attractive, and your facial expression rests somewhere in between that of very constipated person's and that of a washed up old porn actor's.
The men's responses to these drawings is mind blowing. In mere moments they go from spewing foul pick up lines to whining that the internet is no place to objectify people. By "people" they mean themselves. Maybe if they aren't completely selfish, by "people" they mean all men. To them I say, don't dish it out if you can't take a heaping helping of it yourself. If you feel violated by someone on the internet right off the bat imagining you naked, you should realize that same person feels violated when you imagine her right of the bat letting you "beat dat pussy like a spartan war drum".
The mentality is that when a man says these things to a woman it's just "boys being boys", yet when a woman responds in a manner that isn't passive, she is a bitch, a troll, an evil succubus who baits poor, unsuspecting men into her horrible trap. This mentality is wrong and it only is going to perpetuate the conception that people can anonymously, without consequences say these types of things on the internet and that the responsibility falls upon the person who is having these things said to her (or him) to suck it up and keep their trap shut. Ignoring the messages will not solve the problem. Blocking these people only sends them along to the next woman to receive these same messages. I'm going to go ahead and make a sweeping generalization: keeping quiet has never solved anything. I hope one day I have no reason to draw naked men and post them on instagram, but until that day comes, I'm going to keep being that crazy lady in the corner doodling dicks and hoping it will make at least one person out there think twice before harassing a woman just for putting herself out there on the internet.
If we're not already insta-friends, feel free to check out the whole project @instagranniepants on instagram (instagram.com/instagranniepants).
The fat little birds are singing away, the sky is freakishly blue, and the gods have decided to set aside (for at least a little while) the grudge they've been harboring against me since 1997. Maybe they decided to take a "me day" and work through all that incest baggage...
Normally those relentlessly chirpy chicken fingers would drive me up the wall, but today I'm feeling good. You know, that "stare in the mirror and ogle at my pure blend of genius/ greatness/ stunning good looks" kind of good? I've got a bad case of that. Wait...am I starting to grow a unibrow? Go fuck yourself, mirror, don't ever contradict me again.
Anyway, back to the question on everyone's mind: no, I did not cure cancer while simultaneously beating Jennifer Lawrence in a bikini contest. My crowning achievement is almost as impressive, but let's be real: Jennifer Lawrence is flawless and somehow beating her in a contest of any kind would be extraordinary. Anyone who manages to discuss armpit vaginas for more than 2 seconds without repulsing the world is a star.
Why am I am dithering on about armpit vaginas? I am not an Oscar winning actress. I can't get away with doing that without repulsing the world (sorry world) and this is supposed to be a dignified artist blog discussing my great artistic achievement of the day. Suspicions are starting to arise that ADD and blogging are two of those sneaky bastards that seem totally harmless on their own but the second they meet up they turn undeniably ugly. Think Britney Spear and that guy who baby daddy-ed her kids. Pre get together: world famous pop star and vaguely attractive backup dancer. Mix the two together: bald crazy lady and chubby mc chubbster.
Actually, this is an art blog. Scratch the pop culture reference; I'm supposed to be spreading my wisdom about art here. Red: great color. Where would the stop sign industry be without it? Green: my personal favorite. Mix the two together, though, and all you get is a giant pile of shit.
A diagram I spent a few hours whipping up for your viewing pleasure:
Oh my god. I have a problem. What I've been trying to say is that SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY MY ART!!!!!!!!! They love me! They really love me! (I totally get you Sally Fields) Maybe the early death I inevitably face from using too much lead paint will be worth it after all! When I poke my ear out of my grave to catch the end of my eulogy I will hear, "...and some lady bought one of Anna's unique, provocative, insightful paintings for a shit ton of money" and I will die happy. Well obviously not happy, I love the whole being alive thing. Plus, I would undoubtedly throw a temper tantrum from heaven/ hell that my many cigarette- puffing friends outlived me. Ugh...who am I kidding? I just freely admitted to future me being angry that my friends are alive; I am definitely going to hell.
A very nice woman sent a very flattering message via this website that went a little something like this (and when I say "a little something like" I mean I am copy-pasting her email for the world to see), "Hi Anna! I absolutely adore this painting of yours and was wondering if I can order... please let me know :) ."
Did you hear that? She adores the painting! ADORES it! You know it's really serious when the smiley faces start to be thrown into the mix. I'm a sucker for emoticons, totally lost without them. Dear lady, I wasn't sure how you were feeling about your adoration for my painting beforehand, but now that you have thoughtfully recreated your exact facial expression using only the tiny punctuation marks your computer has to offer, we are absolutely on the same page. That's why I only respond to Tinder messages that include winky faces... helps clarify what the boys are after on the creepy smart-phone hook up app. Thanks boys, other wise I would be completely in the dark.
So the woman loves this painting and can you blame her? I love this painting! The whole world loves this painting! I'm sure you love this painting, too! The only problem being you have absolutely no idea what painting I am referring to and sadly, neither do I. It seems as though my new admirer had forgotten to specify which painting of mine she was so enthralled with. Obviously, she must have become so distracted by her excitement that it simply slipped her mind to worry about the silly details. Not to worry, it should be easy enough to figure out which of my amazing paintings she adores.
Maybe she loves more than one! Maybe she wants to buy them all! Maybe she wants to personally bank role my life as an artist and send me to go live in Spain with a very handsome man she has hired as my full time muse! ! My mind is spinning with possibilities when I notice she left a small link at the bottom of her email. Bingo, this must link to the painting she wants.
...And indeed it does. I click the link and it opens to an image with my name clearly printed along the bottom. There is no denying that this piece is an Anna Gensler original. It has the strange animals, the colors, and it is ABSOLUTELY NOT MINE!!!!
I don't understand. It's me, but it's not me. Did a spirit possess my body and force me to make art of freakishly happy, childishly drawn circus animals? What is this black magic? The gods must be back to work after their family therapy session. Gods, you already made me that kid in elementary school with the crooked glasses, the inexplicable obsession with worms and the peanut allergy. I had to sit alone at my own lunch table for crying out loud! Couldn't you have just given me this one?
To clear up any lingering confusion: while the art is an Anna Gensler original, it turns out that I am not an Anna Gensler original. I'm not even an "Anna Gensler the artist" original. Against all odds, there is another Anna Gensler. She is also an artist. This woman adores her art, not mine.
My name is Anna Gensler and I am a doppelgänger.
I would love to at least be able to say, "My name is Anna Gensler and I have a doppelgänger", but it is quickly becoming abundantly clear that this is the story of Anna Gensler 2. I am the mildly amusing anecdote in the peripheral vision of Anna Gensler 2's success story. Because this is the story of Anna Gensler 2, let me allow myself to tell you a little bit about our unlikely protagonist. Yes, I stalked the shit out of her.
Anna 2 is a Polish painter. Her official website (which, I would like to state again for the record, is not this one) says that she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 2012. Thanks for stealing my exact age, too, you sneaky cow. Her website also answers the question of why my email address is email@example.com instead of the much more sensible firstname.lastname@example.org. No, it was not backwards day when I made my email account. Anna 2, the bane of my existence, stole that from me too. I would like to console myself by saying that at least we probably don't pronounce our names in the same way. My name is Anna and it rhymes with fauna, iguana, and Botswana. In the US of A it's safe to assume that most Anna's are the of the Anna Banana breed. After a few hours of researching, I feel comfortable saying that that is not the case in Poland. If you would like to check out an extensive website of "Anna" pronunciations by country (I know you don't), click here: www.forvo.com/word/anna/. Point being, we are both Anna Botswanas. We are basically exactly the same, except she is a slightly better version because she has the mysterious European thing going for her and the great gmail name.
Oh, and she has an art sale and I don't. The one thing I can't manage to get over is how did this woman, the woman so in love with Anna 2's art, come to this site, see my work on this site, and still believe that I was the right person to be contacting? (Maybe there are a few other things I haven't gotten over. I vaguely recall possibly calling Anna 2 a sneaky cow.)
This is the adoration worthy, smiley face inducing, animal art of the great Anna Gensler 2:
Let's compare with a few of my animal themed paintings:
Okay, let's just get the most striking difference out of the way first. WE DON'T EVEN PAINT THE SAME ANIMALS! I would never be caught dead painting a camel and anyone who knows me at all could tell you that.
Besides that though, I will admit that the works are pretty similar. A minor detail though: her animals are cheesing out in their prozac induced oblivion, which would be perfectly ideal for any child's room, dentist's office or day care center in the country, while my animals are busy being...well, not at all suitable for a child's room. But really, I think my animals would rather forego the prozac and be completely disturbed individuals, than be numb and void of real emotions. Is it fair to compare my work with an illustration that is clearly aimed towards small children? Probably not, but it literally fell into my lap. I'm sure Anna 2, despite her stealing of my life, is not a cow and is a fine artist.
Do I wish that I could give my former admirer a good shake and shout, "no takesy backsies! You promised! You said you loved me! No takesy backsies!"? Yes, of course I do. Unfortunately, she lives in Israel. And to be honest, I think the short lived mega success got to my head a little bit. Note to self: stop being such a sore winner. Also note to self, stop being a sore loser. I will have to try to work on that in the future.
You know what, though? Disturbed is interesting and confusing and real. We're all a little disturbed and I love my animals for being a little disturbed, too. There are lots of people out there who I'm sure would prefer Anna 2's work, maybe even the majority of people would, but I have faith there are those who would prefer mine, too. Hopefully one day I find those people, but until I do, I will be coming to you (possibly the people of the internet but most likely my two invisible friends and one invisible work acquaintance) live from right here with "Honest Anna: life as a struggling artist".