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Attention Creatures of The Night!

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May. 9th, 2008 | 02:01 pm
music: Power of Love - Judy & Mary

I had a dream (nightmare) last night that I made a comment on someone's livejournal that may have effectuated the harassing calls I have been receiving. (They have ceased by the way. My telephone is broken!) I dreamt that I made the following statement:

"I am sexually aroused by telephone calls, chats and SMS!"

I had a minor panic attack when I woke up this morning and spent a good half-hour going through livejournals searching for the comment. Then I came to my senses, realised I never made this post, and went about my day. But I still feel anxious about this...

I think it's because I'm starting to blame myself for inviting this sort of bullshit. I do know deep inside that I haven't done a fucking thing wrong. All I've done is try to be myself to the best of my abilities and keep a level head.

Sometime around the new year my comic got a surge of attention. I was really ecstatic about this but I also found myself ill-equipped in dealing with the influx of readers and "admirers". Thanks for thinking I'm sexy and exciting Internet, but should you see me in the street you'd walk right by. Anyways, my strategy in dealing with this was to just try be myself. What else could I do? And I'll tell you, Rene Engström is a pretty shy, but also friendly human being. I hate shit like status and pretension, so I never wanted to hold a huge distance between myself and my readers. I was so happy to have you guys, you know?

And then THIS happens. Where does that leave me? How the hell am I supposed to act now? I feel like I'm just as ill-equipped now as I was back at the new year, despite heaps of advice from well-meaning, experienced web-cartoonists.

Being myself means being pretty open about a lot of things. I'm not ashamed of things that are perhaps slightly more "tabu" in other cultures, things like sexuality for instance. I posted a picture in the Half Pixel forums (as a joke) of me with bare shoulders. I ended up taking it down, much in the same fashion as I would have with my nightmare post from last night. I got scared. I have also deleted several hundred people from my list of Facebook friends. I have nothing to hide there, why shouldn't I friend a fan of Anders Loves Maria? Why shouldn't I post a picture of me with my bare shoulders when I normally have no problem with this?

How much have I changed? I mean change is necessary but I don't want my apprehensions to come about by way of threats. I have also always been rather proud of my naïvité and trust in people.

So balls to that! I'm coming back soon (not next week but hopefully the week after, this all depends very much on matters outside of my control). And I will try not to let this asshole affect me all that much. I will be keeping most of my private life and internet life separate. But just because I won't be "friending" people I don't know or have a good reason to trust, doesn't mean I am going to shy away from my values, let myself become a damn victim, and above all blame myself for this shit. If I feel like posting a picture of my bare shoulders, I will do just that. And if I feel the need to tell The Internet that I am aroused by telephone calls, chats or SMSs, I will. (Incidentally, I sometimes do, just not with you, Internet.)

See you soon!
Rene

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Comments {33}

rstevens

(no subject)

from: rstevens
date: May. 9th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
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I have never felt so lucky to be a dumpy-looking guy. Good luck!

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 9th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
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Oh Richard! You knows you got the girly groupies! They're just well behaved.

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rstevens

(no subject)

from: rstevens
date: May. 9th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
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You know what I mean- girls always seem to get followed by creeps in affairs of the internet. It's almost as if there are socially-awkward men out there who use computers!

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
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Best I don't wear the proverbial short skirt lest I want to be inter-raped!

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Carly Monardo

(no subject)

from: whirringblender
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
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It really sucks that you had to deal with this shit, especially that you questioned yourself for even a moment. But I'm really glad to hear that you're not letting it stop you :D Three cheers for Rene!

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 10th, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
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Thanks Carly! :) You have always been really nice to me! :) Three cheers for you!

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kaiki

(no subject)

from: kaiki01
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
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^_^ I am happy to hear you are coming back and you overcoming this challenge! Your hiatus has made the suspense in Anders -heart- Maria that much more intense.

I think it's because I'm starting to blame myself for inviting this sort of bullshit.

STOP RIGHT THERE! It's not your fault in any way. You have the right to act in the ways that you have been acting. Even with the cultural difference in viewing sexuality you still have that right. The fault is with the people that harass you. They know that you do not want this type of contact and continue anyways. So please, ust because one random man started harrasing you, do not think that you were asking for it.

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_w_o_o_d_

(no subject)

from: _w_o_o_d_
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
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Are you SURE that the phone harassment thing is connected to your webcomic ?

I think you mentioned earlier that the creep didn't say a word, just heavy breathing, so maybe he just picked your number at random in the phonebook ? Or maybe (god forbid) he knows you from somewhere else ?

Also : don't blame yourself.

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
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There is a chance that it isn't. Perhaps. But I don't see else I would be receiving foreign crank calls.

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_w_o_o_d_

(no subject)

from: _w_o_o_d_
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
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Who knows ? There are thousands of possibilities, really.

First, maybe it's a guy who targets foreign persons so the police won't trace the call ? Or maybe it's a foreign person you've met on some occasion or another ? Someone who used to live in Sweden ? Or didn't you travel to another country ?

What I'm saying is you shouldn't take assumptions as facts.

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 9th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
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I'm not. I'm taking it as my best, and let's be honest, most plausible guess. This isn't even the first time I've had this sort of treatment since my comic grew in popularity.

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kaiki

(no subject)

from: kaiki01
date: May. 9th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
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=( you are a real soldier for going on like you have. I probably would have taken A<3M down and released it as graphic novel if I had faced that type of stuff.

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 9th, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
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I have gained a lot more than I have lossed publishing online. I have seriously considered leaving, but this is definately a community I feel at home with.

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glad you're not scared to come back

from: anonymous
date: May. 9th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I think it's because I'm starting to blame myself for inviting this sort of bullshit.

You know, that's the equivalent of saying "that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been wearing that skirt."

Your thoughts in this post mirrors that of many other women who have gone through harassment, assault, stalking, etc. You've definitely got a great survivor attitude. Just know that how you feel and how you're reacting is completely normal. Also, it's normal for it to take awhile until you're not out of sorts about it. Just take care of yourself.


You might enjoy reading into how women are treated in the public space (and the internet is definitely a public space). This feminist site has a great example: http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2006/06/fuck-fear.html

You know, you are allowed to be yourself in public, you can talk about sex in public, you can show your bare shoulders in public--it doesn't mean that any dude that sees you in public can do what he will to you. You didn't invite any grody phone calls. You have every right to exist in public, to be out there on the internet. That guy had no right to treat you like that.



p.s. I randomly found ALM earlier this week through a link-aggregator site that posted the "draw yrself as a teen meme." I clicked on yours b/c of the delightful name "eggstorm," found your comic, and had to read through the whole archive. Twice. In one night. You definitely are truly talented, and I can't wait for your comic to continue.

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ferociousj

(no subject)

from: ferociousj
date: May. 9th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
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When you come back, I think you should post a video to Facebook of you swirling a cape around yourself dramatically. It is the only way.

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 9th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
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Hells yes!

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skoolmunkee

(no subject)

from: skoolmunkee
date: May. 9th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
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I just want to share that I have those dreams too, where I'm convinced I did something and then get all anxious and try to fix it. I lie there not wanting to wake up yet because I haven't fixed things yet- except if I woke up I'd realize nothing needs to be fixed!

PS people on the internet are jerks

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(Deleted comment)

Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 10th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
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Ha ha! You are the best! :) Thanks! I feel so much safer! :)

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Becca

(no subject)

from: kinokofry
date: May. 10th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
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What everyone else said! Hooray!

Enjoy the FUCK out of your break while you can ^_^

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::~hush~::

(no subject)

from: aikurushii
date: May. 11th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
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When I wrote music/comic/stuff reviews, I did so under a male alias. After about a year, I wrote a story about being a woman in art and media, and admitted I was a woman. The harassment lasted about six months.

Why do men have it easier on the stupid Internet?

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Darku Andoru

(no subject)

from: risen_daemon
date: May. 11th, 2008 03:16 am (UTC)
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I'm glad the comic is coming back. Wish you well on adjusting to being "internet famous", which as we know is not as crazed as being regularly famous.

Incidentally, "I am sexually aroused by telephone calls, chats and SMS!" is a hilarious line, and you should work it into the comic. *giggles*

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Rene Engström

(no subject)

from: eggstorm
date: May. 11th, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
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I don't even think I qualify for B list internet fame. I'm just a girl on the internet that draws ding dongs and bajajas.

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the_new_build

Hiyo.

from: the_new_build
date: May. 11th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
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There isn't much I could add to what has already been said by others here ... but I just wanted to tell you that I absolutely love your comic and your artwork in general, and that I'm glad you're determined to continue.

Keep up the awesome work, Rene. You've created something truly special.

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Rene Engström

Re: Hiyo.

from: eggstorm
date: May. 11th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I will! :)

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: May. 11th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
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Dear Ms. Engström,

I am so sorry that this happened. I read Anders Loves Maria every day, and I love it. You've made really believable characters, and that's something that a lot of webcomics forget to do.

Either way, I am so sorry that after opening yourself up to us so completely, you were harassed.

Sometimes the Internet is a real fucking jerk.

Yours, etc.,
Katherine

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(no subject)

from: misterpeh
date: May. 12th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
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For some reason... I'm filled with pride, Rene.
You're strong, and that will is what makes me proud, to know there are still people who can hold true to who they are even while being attacked.

And you know who you are.

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It's more common than you think...

from: anonymous
date: May. 12th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
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Hi Rene, Just a note from one of the 'quiet' ALM readers: It's really common for people who are being abused to feel that they did something to provoke the ill-treatment they are receiving. Even when your head knows that you didn't, for some reason you start to think, even if only a little bit, that the abuse is your fault. It's not. Even if you posted the most sexually suggestive images on the internet or said something to the effect of "I am sexually aroused by telephone calls" it *in no way* gives anyone the right harass you in any way. I'm truly sorry about what's happened to you. But please don't let it change who you are and how you express yourself. Perhaps a little more caution is warranted, just enough so you are comfortable again, sharing yourself and your life with your readers. The fact is, I wouldn't be writing this to you now, a total stranger, if you hadn't positively affected my life in some way, and I felt that I might be able to help. For every ill-willed person out there, there are thousands who just want to experience your art and learn a little about the artist. You seem like a really kind, intelligent and caring person. I would hate for you to feel like the internet is full of monsters. Part of the joy of the internet is that everyone is able to express themselves on the same level. Unfortunately, that also brings one or two 'crazies' who would normally be out of your circle. Anyways, *gets off soapbox* You're an intelligent woman, so you probably know all this already, but sometimes it's nice to hear it come from someone else. Even if it is just a stranger. It's not your fault. I look forward to the future of ALM. All the best, ~Kara

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Re: It's more common than you think...

from: anonymous
date: May. 12th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
Link

Okay, so that was my first post EVER on this sort of thing. I am going to re-post so that it is legible...



Hi Rene,

Just a note from one of the 'quiet' ALM readers:

It's really common for people who are being abused to feel that they did something to provoke the ill-treatment they are receiving. Even when your head knows that you didn't, for some reason you start to think, even if only a little bit, that the abuse is your fault.

It's not.

Even if you posted the most sexually suggestive images on the internet or said something to the effect of "I am sexually aroused by telephone calls" it *in no way* gives anyone the right harass you in any way.

I'm truly sorry about what's happened to you. But please don't let it change who you are and how you express yourself. Perhaps a little more caution is warranted, just enough so you are comfortable again, sharing yourself and your life with your readers.

The fact is, I wouldn't be writing this to you now, a total stranger, if you hadn't positively affected my life in some way, and I felt that I might be able to help. For every ill-willed person out there, there are thousands who just want to experience your art and learn a little about the artist.

You seem like a really kind, intelligent and caring person. I would hate for you to feel like the internet is full of monsters. Part of the joy of the internet is that everyone is able to express themselves on the same level. Unfortunately, this elevates one or two 'crazies' who would normally be out of your circle.

Anyways, *gets off soapbox* You're an intelligent woman, so you probably know all this already, but sometimes it's nice to hear it come from someone else. Even if it is just a stranger.

It's not your fault.

I look forward to the future of ALM.

All the best,
~Kara

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Re: It's more common than you think...

from: anonymous
date: May. 17th, 2008 09:20 am (UTC)
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'For every ill-willed person out there, there are thousands who just want to experience your art and learn a little about the artist.'

Hear, hear!

Striking the right balance between openness (and the benefits that brings) and privacy (and the security that provides) on the internet is always going to be difficult. I'm sorry to hear that someone has abused your openness Rene, but from your initial post here it sounds like you have a good mechanism to deal with it and put it behind you.

As a previously silent ALM reader I'd just like to say that I think it's a great comic and I look forward to the next instalment. :-)

NB

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rachel

(no subject)

from: rachel_edidin
date: May. 30th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
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"I think it's because I'm starting to blame myself for inviting this sort of bullshit. I do know deep inside that I haven't done a fucking thing wrong. All I've done is try to be myself to the best of my abilities and keep a level head. "

HELL, YES.
You are so awesome, and brave, and badass.
Stay safe, and don't let the bastards grind you down.
/Rachel

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viperpaktu

Rawr

from: viperpaktu
date: Jul. 29th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Link

Hiya! I just heard of your comic today from QC, and..Well, I have done nothing (except for showering and eating a late lunch) over the past 5 hours except for reading your comic from page 1 to the most recent. xD And I have to say it's WONDERFUL!

I've laughed my ass off, I've cried, and even got Emo/sad when the cheating with Tina and whatnot happened. All it's missing is a huge explosion! (...Yeah, sorry. I'm a typical guy; I love big guns and for things to go boom. >_>; )

Also, I know I'm replying to a semi-old post, but I hope the person that was bothering you has stopped. :( ...I really should read more recent posts to see if you've mentioned it/him/the stalker again. x.x;

Anyways, hope you're well, and goodluck on continuing the comic! :D

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Rene Engström

Re: Rawr

from: eggstorm
date: Jul. 30th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
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Yes it's stopped completely. First my phone broke so i only had my mobile, and now I've moved completely. And all the other readers are wonderful angels. Like yourself!

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viperpaktu

Re: Rawr

from: viperpaktu
date: Jul. 30th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Link

Oohh, That's good!! :D

Looks like your site handled the Questionable Content swarm rather nicely, aswell. :) (though, I Don't know if "Swarm" is the right word to use here. *laughs*)

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