I don't really like online dating at all. But once in a while I give it a try, just to see what happens.
Recently, I made an OkCupid profile. I wasn't finding any good conversations or connections, but I stuck with it because hey, you never know.
But as we've seen in one viral story after another, it is not easy for women on dating apps (or social media in general) to avoid being berated.
Messages from potential suitors
Like any woman on one of these apps, I got a significant amount of comments about my appearance and a lot of extremely forward, sexual messages.
But I've also gotten other kinds of messages that directly address my character. I am a very open person, so I mention on my profile that I work in media, am a feminist (I believe in the systematic, social and economic equality of the sexes) and that I am a nerd (I like pop culture and stuff). I also wrote that you should message me, "If you're not a f*ckboy."
If a guy can laugh at that, then we're one step closer to getting along.
However, I also get called out for my social/political beliefs just as much as I am quizzed on how much of a nerd I actually am. I usually feel like Marissa Tomei's character showing off her automotive prowess in that scene from My Cousin Vinny.
At this point, I'm used to it. If you're a woman who works in the public eye in any capacity, you expect to get some crap thrown at you.
But then I was sent this delightful message:
(Warning: This message contains fowl, potentially offensive language):
In full, the message (the first one the guy ever sent me) reads:
Anyone who writes "fuckboy" has no credibility as a human being. You're not funny and your (sic) not original; you're cunty and have nothing to offer to the conversation. A nerdgirl is so fucking original. You seem like every other misandrist, who invarably (sic) never experienced any hardship or legit discrimination. You probably crap out solipsistic, totally uninspiring shit for xojane..That or some dumbass thought piece for equally uptight tools. And you probably get your news from memes. Oh, and you do not get a chance to respond. Enjoy being a cunt and decidedly not unique.
At first, I tried to shake it off, but that was pretty much impossible. I wondered why the heck anyone would think it's okay to send a message like this. My friends (who were amazing and supportive) wondered the same.
Why this is even a thing?
I think men who send messages like these are insecure in their own unhealthy ideas of traditional masculinity. Some people rely so heavily on their male privilege that if anything or anyone mentions that it may not be the best thing for society, they lash out. Their power is threatened and they don't like it.
At first, I tried to shake it off, but that was pretty much impossible.
This is why men can sometimes act violently when they're rejected by women.
Society undervalues women. We see it when convicted rapists are given short sentences so that their lives aren't severely impacted by this one act, while the survivor has to live with it for the rest of her life, and when survivors who do speak out are often mistrusted. We see it when the right to make decisions about one's own body is questioned and attacked. We see it when women are sexualized and demeaned constantly by advertisers and the media.
These societal actions teach men early on that women don't have the same personhood as them. That leads to the misogynistic tendencies which teach men that they have a right to women's bodies. It leads to catcalling, slut shaming, victim blaming and other atrocities that women face every single day.
But when men have the additional protection of distance and anonymity, they're allowed to say things they'd never say to a woman's face. Just take the comments made to women who work in sports media as an example.
This smokescreen gives them even more "power" than they already have. That anonymity means that they face next to no repercussions for their hurtful, caustic words. The more they get away with saying these terrible things, the more likely they are to repeat their actions.
They get even more power when no one calls them out on it. Although, no woman's response to this kind of attack is invalid. It is completely acceptable to fight back. It is completely acceptable to block and ignore a person. Everything in between is OK, as long as you're not doing any further harm to anyone involved. But when these men are not challenged, the perpetrator gets away with it and will ultimately do it again.
"Do not get a chance to respond," huh?
As you may have noticed, the person who confronted me decided to tell me that I "do not get a chance to respond." This made me laugh.
I could have easily sent an angry message back in the heat of the moment, but I decided to block and report him instead, letting the folks at OkCupid deal with it. (Though I don't know if my actions are the reason, this user's profile was deactivated only hours after I blocked him.)
Luckily, I'm pretty confident and messages like this don't make me think less of myself. But that isn't necessarily true for other young women who are sent this vitriol. And since I have a platform here at Mashable that not many other young women have, I decided I'd use it to bring up a few things to this person:
Luckily, I'm pretty confident and messages like this don't make me think less of myself.
First of all, the statement that I have no credibility as a human being is simply false. You can't glean that from a joke on my profile. And if you don't think it's funny, that's just fine with me.
Third, using a crass word for female genitalia as an insult shows class and maturity, and also shows me just how much you value women.
Being a "nerdgirl" (not a word) is not a ploy I use to appear "original." It's just a part of who I am and I wear it on my sleeve like the Batman costume I wore for Halloween when I was 3 years old. (It was too big for me, but I didn't care. I strutted in that thing.)
I'm not a misandrist. I am very close with the men in my life and I adore them. I'd just like to be valued by society just as much as they are. And FYI, my best guy friend read your message and he doesn't like you very much.
As for the hardship and discrimination I've faced, I've been through my share of tough times. I was bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts in middle school. I've been catcalled almost every day on my way to work this week. There are places I can't go by myself at night for fear that I'll be hurt in some way. But my feminism is intersectional, so I acknowledge that I have privilege because I'm straight, cisgender and white. I have not been discriminated against because of my race or sexual orientation, but I believe in the equality of people of color and those in the LGBTQ community. I know they experience their own set of difficulties and hurdles that make my life look easy.
As for where I write and work, I'm proud as hell to work for a company called Mashable. Not only is this where I get my news, it's where I am surrounded by intelligent and wonderful people who support me enough to let me tell my story and share my voice.
How's that for a "chance to respond?"