Online dating is sometimes a scary and depressing thing for everyone, but especially for women. Through every point in human history, women have been inherently more vulnerable to violent and sexual crime. It’s a horrible frustrating unfair reality, and it’s necessary for us to acknowledge this in online dating, too. Women are more at risk than men, and they tend to be subjected to a lot more creepy bullsh-t, ESPECIALLY when those creeps hide behind the comfortable anonymity of the Internet.
This xoJane article about smarmy creeps on Reddit picking apart a woman’s online dating profile breaks my heart, but I so appreciate the author having written up this tale and ultimately decided to let the asshats be asshats. Mara’s profile is funny and sweet, and I totally love her goofy Liz-Lemon-channeling picture. That’s the same sort of thing I was going for when I originally shot this picture, which has become my avatar for almost every social media service out there, because I find it charming and hilarious. And yes, over the years, there have been men (and women, believe it or not) who have made incredibly lewd comments as to my open-mouthed expression here, but you know what? The positive outweighs the negative, and that’s why services allow me to block those individuals. It should never have to come to that, but you sort of have to know that if you do anything remotely fun or goofy or even a hair sexually charged as a woman, you’re at some point going to get creepy sexual harassment from it.
We women have to deal with an insane amount of Internet inappropriateness and full-on misogyny, and sometimes very scary threats and harassment. I’m excellent at helping women read between the lines and figure out how to filter out the creeps, but much like a spam filter, it’s impossible to calibrate this perfectly. The fact is that some men’s hatred of women runs so deep that they lash out even when your online presence is innocuous. Heck, back in the day when I was dating via Craigslist, it was very common for women to receive unsolicited dick pics, which are exactly what they sound like. And it was even more common for men to flag personal ads as inappropriate to have them removed, simply because they felt that there was no way an attractive woman was trying to meet someone via that avenue. (How do I know this is what was going on? They’d send me and/or my clients slut-shaming inflammatory messages that concluded with “so I flagged your picture u slut bitch” or whatever; insert your own variation.) And hey, it turns out the dick pic phenomenon is still going strong! This is just one more example of a hatred-filled, broken minority of men making us all lose faith in humanity.
Anyway, decent fellas, I just want to give you a little taste of how truly f-cked up some of your bros can be. HOWEVER, I know there are TONS of great guys online who are embarrassed by their asshat misogynist brothers, and who know that women deserve to be treated with respect and decency (you know, like all living souls). So ladies, just know that even if this type of assholery goes on, there are amazing guys out there on every dating site, who are dying to meet you and who are appalled by the vocal asshole minority. And fellas, if you sense even a whiff of this kind of woman-hating behavior from your buddies, in their real life or online presences, PLEASE call them out on it. Please. That’s how we level up our society’s decency stats; we must all be a self-policing community which leads by example.
For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend paying attention to Amanda Marcotte. She often tweets and writes interesting articles about modern feminism, and some of her online dating interactions have been jaw-droppingly depressing yet hilarious since she does an excellent job of putting jerks in their place. And this article’s author Mara Mercer doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account or whatnot yet, but you can always follow me and I’ll keep tabs on her writings for you.
P.S. While trying to dig up some of the best Amanda Marcotte links, I came across this horrible site that I can’t even stand to link to so go to http://www.returnofkings.com/2099/the-9-ugliest-american-feminists if you absolutely must and now I am done with the Internet for the rest of the day. Sorry, folks I was planning to email. I need a drink.