In this deeply personal documentary, actress and comedian, Emily Atack, opens up her life, and her social media DMs, to the public as she attempts to understand why she - and so many others - are sexually harassed online on a daily basis and what can be done to stop this.
For the first time, Emily delves deep into her own story, unpicking things that have happened to her as a result of attracting unwanted sexual attention from a young age. She admits that throughout her life she has felt blamed for this negative attention and has been repeatedly told, ‘but you’re asking for it’.
During lockdown, the online abuse Emily received escalated dramatically and she began sharing this with her followers. Many of the women who follow her came forward to say it happens to them too, and that they also thought it was normal. In the film, she reaches out to some of the men who routinely send her sexually explicit content to try and understand their motives.
Emily meets with experts, including a sexual violence and abuse councillor and online safety campaigners, to learn why this has been normalised for so long and interrogates why the blame for unwanted attention is so often put on the victim.
She continues the debate that took her to parliament to try and make cyber-flashing illegal as she meets with the police to explore whose responsibility it is to make this behaviour stop, and whether enough is being done to protect young women and girls online.
Emily admits that for so long she has used humour as a defence mechanism to cope with the unwarranted attention, but now questions that maybe it’s not funny anymore as she realises she’s been carrying a lot of baggage.
In an emotional scene, she speaks to her parents about this for the very first time and reflects on how these incidents have shaped her, in the hope that she can finally stop blaming herself and realise that she was never ‘asking for it’.
Emily Atack: Asking For It airs on BBC Two.