Having To See It To Believe It: Men and Online Sexual Harassment


[Content note: sexual harassment]

Jezebel recounts the tale of Reddit user OKCThrowaway22221, who pretended to be a woman on OkCupid and was so dismayed, disappointed, and disgusted with the messages he received that he shut it down after two hours.

OKCThrowaway22221 is pretty clear about the fact that, at the outset, he did not truly believe that women’s* online dating experiences can be really awful, and, in fact, believed that they “have it easy” with online dating:

Last night I was bored and was talking with a friend on skype about her experiences with online dating. I was joking with her that “girls have it easy on dating sites” etc. etc. I had never really done anything in the online dating world but I had set up a real profile a few years back and didn’t use it much aside from getting a few nice messages and decided it wasn’t really for me. But, as I said, I was bored, so I decided that I would set up a fake profile. Set it up as a gender-swapped version of me essentially see what would happen. So I did the username, and I was up. Before I could even fill out my profile at all, I already had a message in my inbox from a guy. It wasn’t a mean message, but I found it odd that I would get a message already. So I sent him a friendly hello back and kind of joked that I hadn’t even finished my profile, how could he be interested, but I felt good because I thought I was right that “girls have it easy”

But soon enough OKCThrowaway22221 is realizing just how wrong he was:

At first I thought it was fun, I thought it was weird but maybe I would mess with them or something and freak them out and tell them I was a guy or something, but as more and more messages came (either replies or new ones I had about 10 different guys message me within 2 hours) the nature of them continued to get more and more irritating. Guys were full-on spamming my inbox with multiple messages before I could reply to even one asking why I wasn’t responding and what was wrong. Guys would become hostile when I told them I wasn’t interested in NSA [no strings attached] sex, or guys that had started normal and nice quickly turned the conversation into something explicitly sexual in nature. Seemingly nice dudes in quite esteemed careers asking to hook up in 24 hours and sending them naked pics of myself despite multiple times telling them that I didn’t want to.

I would be lying if I said it didn’t get to me. I thought it would be some fun thing, something where I would do it and worse case scenario say “lol I was a guy I trolle you lulz”etc. but within a 2 hour span it got me really down and I was feeling really uncomfortable with everything. I figured I would get some weird messages here and there, but what I got was an onslaught of people who were, within minutes of saying hello, saying things that made me as a dude who spends most of his time on 4chan uneasy. I ended up deleting my profile at the end of 2 hours and kind of went about the rest of my night with a very bad taste in my mouth.

I came away thinking that women have it so much harder than guys do when it comes to that kind of stuff.

That’s exactly it. The experiences many women have with online dating* are just so fucking icky that they made a dude who “spends most of his time on 4chan” uncomfortable.

As usual, I have two very different thoughts about the whole stunt.

On the one hand:

I’m tired of this. I’m tired of men getting attention for saying things that women have been saying for ages. I’m tired of the fact that men don’t believe women’s experiences unless they find a way to have those same experiences for themselves. I’m tired of the fact that women’s experiences are constantly being dismissed as overreactions or distortions or outright lies–until a man comes along to validate them. I’m tired of the fact that these men can then delete their online dating accounts or take the women’s outfit off, but I can’t stop moving through the world as a woman.

On the other hand:

Gender certainly plays a role, but so does the fact that most people aren’t that great at imagining how they would feel if they went through an experience they’ve never gone through. Just like appeals to kinship, experiencing something for yourself often helps make it feel more important and relevant to you. I hate the fact that this seems to be the only way this guy learned, but I’m still glad he learned. That’s one more person who’s going to stop spewing the bullshit that women are “privileged” when it comes to online dating, one more person who will hopefully be a little more supportive of his female friends when they get harassed and abused online.

I’ve seen a few comments about how this guy is speaking for women and whatnot, and while that obviously happens a lot, I don’t think that I see it happening in this case. He did a little personal experiment for himself, not for some grand political purpose, and shared it on a subreddit frequented mostly by women. The fact that his perspective inevitably gets elevated above many women’s perspectives is not something that he is responsible for as an individual; it is something that we are all responsible for collectively.

In that way, what happened here–the fact that this man didn’t believe women when they talked about online dating, the fact that he only started believing them when he pretended to be a woman, the fact that the story of his daring escape from the Land of Women Have It So Easy has been upvoted and shared so many times–this is not the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem.

It’s not just with online dating and harassment that this sort of thing happens. A little over a year ago, for instance, Cory Booker (then mayor of Newark, NJ; now senator) made the news for taking the Food Stamp Challenge, in which you live on the equivalent of a food stamp budget for a week. Writing at xoJane, Melissa criticized the stunt:

Dear Mr. Mayor and anyone else: Want to know what it’s like to live on food stamps? Read thisthis or this — or ask the 46 million Americans who do it every day, not as a “challenge” or for publicity but because they can’t afford food.

[…]There’s a big difference between being someone who is “challenging” themselves and has all the immaterial benefits of being not-poor, and being someone who is truly poor, and who’s suffering and has probably at other times in their life suffered from lack of food. It’s like Tyra Banks putting on a fat suit and acting like she gets it.

(Wearing a fat suit is, in fact, not very much like being fat.)

Of course, the difference here is that Booker is a well-known person, not a random throwaway Reddit handle, and was doing this to raise awareness–and probably for political reasons as well. Although he certainly didn’t intend to, Booker did sort of end up speaking for the millions of Americans who are actually on food stamps rather than elevating and centering their voices and experiences.

In her article, Melissa also points out that living on food stamps for a single week can’t possibly resemble the actual experience of a person living on food stamps, who may live in fear of losing what little resources they have and who may be chronically malnourished–and who doesn’t have the comfort of knowing that after the week’s over, everything will be back to “normal.”

OKCThrowaway22221’s experience is slightly more similar to that of a woman on OkCupid than Booker’s is to that of a person living in poverty, but at the end of the day (or at the end of two hours, rather), he could delete the profile and never have to think about it again. A woman can choose not to do online dating, but she can’t generally choose to stop being perceived as a woman by men and treated accordingly. The abuse women get on online dating sites is not unique to online dating sites.

I don’t want guys to stop doing things like this if that’s what helps them learn. In fact, I’ve suggested things like this to men in the past when they’d ask me, “Why do we still need feminism?”

I also want every guy who does this, or who learns something from reading about it, so ask himself why women’s stories weren’t enough.

~~~

In case you’re curious, here are some of my OKC experiences:

youlldo

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 6.30.01 PM

alpha

feministbuttplug

answermebitch

*It’s important to note that not all women experience sexual harassment in the same ways or at the same levels. Women who are marginalized in other ways besides gender are often harassed in ways that interact with those marginalizations (for example, this). Some women are largely ignored by men when it comes to sexual attraction, so it’s important not to present online dating experiences like these are representative of all women.

Edit: Heina of Skepchick also has a great post on this, which I didn’t see until after I wrote this because I’ve been traveling.

Comments

  1. Irrational Rationality says

    The internet tends to be a pure raging id. I’m not surprised by this result. Most people act like the internet is a consequence free environment where you can express yourself in any way you choose without any real impact on your life. People show you who they really are on the internet. Their politeness in person is just a display to gain social status and control. In reality, most people are self-centered narcissists. This is the way it is and this is the way it will always be. Without something to impose reasonable standards of behavior, most people are evil. I can see why some people turn to believing in totalitarianism. It’s an alluring idea, when you realize how shitty humanity is. It’s only real flaw is that the rulers are shitty as well. The only way to correct this behavior is to somehow make the internet have more dire consequences. There is ultimately a trade off between good behavior and privacy. You can’t have both. You either fear the behavior of your fellow peasants (99% of us are really peasants) or you fear the behavior of your totalitarian overlords. There’s no other options outside this continuum.

    Males tend to have an interest in obtaining as much NSA sex as possible. Females tend to wish to move up the social hierarchy as high as possible so that they may have a better selection of potential male stock to breed from. Humans rarely see each other as anything more than a means to their own selfish ends. In the end, with very few exceptions, this is all humans are, animals that breed, kill, eat, shit, and die. The only difference is the evolution of language and deception through which we trick ourselves into believing that we’re something more.

    • says

      Second paragraph looks an awful lot like a load of Evolutionary Psychology bullshit. “Females” tend to want to move up the social hierarchy and apparently “males” just wanna have fun O_o

      Whereas research shows that women given a less male pleasure centred sexual experience are actually quite interested in the no-strings-attached sex you mention. Women were also found to not rate partners on their “social status” when studied dating. However ask them and they often state they are interested in those traits, presumably falling into thinking this stereotype is true themselves.
      http://skepchick.org/2012/08/femalesexuality/

      • Irrational Rationality says

        Since female humans bear the greater risk in coitus, would it not be purely rational for them to be more cautious and choosy about whom they breed with? It would also be rational for human females interested in reproduction to select only the best human males available to them for potential breeding specimens. Superfecundation is nearly unheard of in humans, after all.

        On the other hand, any human male looking to breed would have no rational reason to stick with only a single female, excepting the avoidance of sexual jealousy and the ensuing consequences. Any human male desiring to maximize its* progeny would rationally favor breeding with the widest selection of human females as possible. Being overly selective is not a good strategy for a human male.

        Add to this the fact that sexual selection is nearly always females selecting males and not the other way around, and you’ve got some compelling arguments. Any economically rational human that desires maximizing its offspring would employ selectivity if it’s a female. On the other hand, it would attempt to breed as widely as it is able to (subject to other constraints), if it were a male.

        *”He” and “she” are meaningless artifacts which reify human exceptionalism. Humans are just a complex kind of object, so each human is simply an “it.”

        • Onamission5 says

          The fact that not everyone wants to “breed” and there are such occurrences as gay and lesbian relationships seems to have completely evaded you.

          • Irrational Rationality says

            Which is why the initial post contained tendencies rather than universal statements. Note also that the sexual behavior of male and female homosexuals are rather different from each other at a statistically significant level. The sexual behavior of gay males and lesbian females tends to emulate the male strategy of promiscuity and the female strategy of selectivity, respectively.

            Also, while many humans desire not to breed, their bodies and brains are inherited from an ancient line of successful breeders, and they carry much of this legacy within them in the form of unconscious desires. An individual may not wish to breed, but they possess unconscious desires that, in a Pleistocene context lacking modern contraceptive technology, would tend to be successful reproductive strategies.

          • says

            So … You got nothing then?

            Did you miss the [citation needed] implication of my comment and clearly stated by Miri? So far it’s a load of word salad that is refuted by actual research …

        • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

          ……..

          citation (saɪˈteɪʃən)

          — n
          1. the quoting of a book or author in support of a fact
          2. a passage or source cited for this purpose

          [….]

          Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
          2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
          Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

        • smrnda says

          You understand that human beings have no obvious fertility signals, so a man isn’t likely to get a woman pregnant unless he has sex with a particular women a lot? Or that humans can only function collectively, so individual single men prowling the prehistoric landscape looking for casual hookups with women just doesn’t make much sense?

          My own take is that the internet is a place where someone who has sadistic impulses can indulge them, consequence free, mostly since doing so *in real life* isn’t so cool.

    • Irrational Rationality says

      It’s also rather strange that all of the focus has been on the second paragraph. Is the first paragraph completely non-controversial? That is unexpected.

      • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

        Actually, my “not this shit again” was initially settled on by

        This is the way it is and this is the way it will always be.

        And the demands for citation would seem to apply as much to the claims in that paragraph.

    • says

      Goddamn, this shit is so irritating. Look, whether your ideas about biology and sex drive are legitimate or not (and honestly, it’s funny how perceptions of sex drive relative to biology just always seem to back whatever view is popular at the time — did you know in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, women were considered much more sexual? and in the classical era, too; look up Tiresias, Zeus, and Hera), it’s really irritating how whenever people talk about social phenomena like dudes being shitty and entitled about women’s bodies and sexuality, some person has to come along and regurgitate some crap about mating habits and reproduction. Whatever ineffable ~Pleistocene biological drives~ are going on inside of people with regards to sex, people are in fact conscious, language-competent creatures with the self-control not to do and not to say all kinds of shit. Because it’s wrong, in fact — wrong, and entitled — to say the kinds of things these guys say. This has jack-all to do with reproduction. This has to do with people basically being expected not to be shitheads.

      Also, I feel like this goes without saying, but I have no idea what the “best” human males constitute. What the fuck is a “best” human male? Everyone has some good qualities and some bad qualities — OBVIOUSLY, the qualities that these dudes think result in “alpha” males are NOT qualities that I (and many other women) would respond positively to or find fuckable. Which is one massive part of why evopsych crumbles upon itself. I’m plenty interested in NSA sex. So are plenty of women I know. The problem, really, is finding someone you can have it with who isn’t creepy, and the options there are more limited — more constraining — for women, especially when the other person is a dude. There is a difference, a BIG DIFFERENCE, and a lot of guys seem not to see this — and I don’t think the culprit is goddamned biology — between NSA sex and LITERALLY seeing someone as nothing but a vehicle for fucking. I could have NSA sex with a good friend, were I sufficiently attracted to them (and have, before, fwiw). The difference is I don’t see said friend as just a sex receptacle for my pleasure. The NSA part has nothing to do with it! People are people and recognizing their humanity comes before sex. But obviously, for the guys quoted above, that’s not the case. For many people, including me, in spite of what you seem to think, it IS the case and it IS possible to recognize people’s humanity even while desiring NSA sex (or sex with strings attached, or whatever one desires from someone else, sexually/romantically/etc.); the two are NOT mutually exclusive.

  2. angharad says

    Meanwhile I see people are still popping up to complain about your ‘Why You Shouldn’t Tell That Random Girl on the Street That She’s Hot’ post…

  3. Jackie wishes she could hibernate says

    Perfectly put, Miri.

    Maybe OT, but with all these “alpha males” swearing that women are attracted to their ickiness I wonder why they seem so upset when they are rejected. Aren’t women waiting in line to screw them? Why do they even need singles sites? I thought women were salivating to get next to them because they are so attractive to us? You’d think a man that much in demand would be able to sit back and watch the invitations to blow him come rolling in. It’s almost as if being disgusting punks online is just as unappealing as being one in person.

    • Onamission5 says

      I’ve never understood that. I can stand there and tell a guy what it is about his behavior I like and do not like, and he will look me dead in the face and tell me that I am wrong. “No, you, oh woman, are wrong, women like it when men act like this, I know because other men have told me so.” The sheer gall!

    • says

      The issue here is that men don’t learn how to treat women from their interactions with women, but at a far younger age probably from their fathers/uncles etc. When something gets taught at a young age and becomes part of someones behaviour, single instances of things happening (such as rejection from a woman) will not change the behaviour.

      So if someone’s been taught women like alpha males and men should behave like alpha males, someone who does not agree with that is simply in the wrong.

      The reason these people will not start being less of an alpha male is because from their point of view, being less of an alpha male is wrong. So if they’re not having any success, there’s a good chance they’ll try harder to succeed… by being more of an alpha male. (Which is the “right” thing to do.)

  4. smrnda says

    I think my take on this is mostly because we have a case of a man 1. not believing women and 2. finding a way to sample the online treatment and 3. admitting he was wrong. It’s that 3 that kind of makes me feel the way I do here. Of course, this *experiment* is so simple that any man could have done it, and I’ve even known a number of men who have gone online using a screen-name that appeared female and who noted that immediately, men were more hostile – not necessarily on dating sites, but this is no real discovery.

    I’m actually not sure if online dating sites are really being used by men to actually *find women for relationships or even for sex* but more as a drive-by harassment deal. There are so many male behaviors that obviously never work in terms of getting sex or a woman interested in any type of relationship (take street harassment.), but which some men persist in doing regardless. So I think the real objective is just the harassment in and of itself.

    • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

      I’m actually not sure if online dating sites are really being used by men to actually *find women for relationships or even for sex*

      Some of us. That doesn’t make the harassment any more acceptable though.

    • says

      The harassing male population will by definition always be louder than the civil male population. That doesn’t mean the civil male population does not exist. And please don’t disregard us as a thanks for being civil. ;)

      • says

        I don’t think anyone here is disregarding the fact that civil men exist, except perhaps Dr. Evopsych, PhD up there. Not every comment about abuse we have received at the hands of men must come along with a disclaimer that I’m not saying all men are like that or anything.

      • smrnda says

        Duly noted that not all men are just using the internet to harass women, and plenty of civil men exist. I suspect that men using a dating site to find women they actually want to get involved with are probably fairly selective in what women they contact, and careful about what they say. Men harassing women are probably looking to hit some quota of harassment and it doesn’t take much thought or imagination to spout the same nonsense time and time again. Takes a bit more to say “hey, I checked through the books you liked” and then actually write something interesting.

        I suspect this can cause major problems in terms of the online dating scene, as women might simply drop out since filtering through the harassment can become tiresome.

      • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

        If the civil male population is so big, why are those of us trying to “dude, not cool” the shitheads into oblivion so rare?

        • smrnda says

          I don’t notice that I made any comment about the relative size of those groups of men, and I admit that I wouldn’t be a good judge of it either.

          Something that is probably a factor is that I think men who *get it* and men who are shitheads probably exist in nearly totally separate social scenes, with possibly a little intersection, but I doubt much overlap.

  5. sobkas says

    Not dating releated, but it happend on the Internet:
    http://imgur.com/XPZ0VjB

    I don’t know what to say, such reaction to criticising/making fun of a game? Only because two gamers that happend to be of a “female kind” taken part in it?

    How does it even make sense?

  6. Nepenthe says

    Even very unattractive women get this shit on dating sites, if in less volume. I’d probably be considered a 1 or 2 on a 10 point scale by the vast majority of men and about 90% of the messages I got were of this nature or just straight up abuse.* It was just once a month rather than several times a day.

    Add on fetishists and let’s just say I deleted my account the day my beloved and I started dating.

    *Examples: “Stop eating hoho’s bitch.” “You’re face looks lik the inside of your anus.” etc. etc.

  7. Glenn Charles says

    *Just play a femme toon in any RPG and a perspective has changed. Which was a hilarious aspect in, for instance, Runes of Magic. Remember too another lesson from that; most people have confused imagination with reality to some extent. Then again, to an extent, that’s what language is. I actually came to the conclusion that sex and love rarely if ever met a long time ago.

  8. suttkus says

    Everyone sees the world from the perspective of their own experience. That’s inevitable. I expect that when most men find tales of women experiencing harassment online difficult to believe, it is primarily because that sort of experience is so very alien to our own. Even more-so, the feelings that kind of experience generates in a person is difficult to comprehend without some sort of parallel to draw from.

    A male voice explaining his experience of the problem helps bridge that gap to other men. The fact that he thought X and then had the experience and changed his mind to X’, helps communicate the weight of the problem, in a way that simply stating the problem doesn’t.

    • says

      I think I would agree with you entirely if the women speaking out about this issue had simply been going “yo I get harassed online and it sucks.” But there are entire blogs dedicated to chronicling harassment on online dating sites, and articles have been written in places like Salon, Slate, Medium, Huffington Post, and so on that don’t merely “state the problem,” but provide detailed, lurid examples, like I did with my screenshots above.

      • suttkus says

        Well, most men don’t read all those blogs, and the articles only make a transient impact if you’re not paying attention to the field. Of course, this article will also just have transient impact. You’re right, of course, that this should be more embedded in popular awareness.

    • Onamission5 says

      I’d grant your point if I hadn’t, on multiple occasions, had guys see me get harassed right in front of them and they *still* came to the conclusion that it wasn’t as bad as I said it was, and that some of the things we’d both just seen happen didn’t in fact happen. Wasn’t until another guy spoke up that anyone else responded to me favorably.

      I’m not even talking on line. I am talking about things happening in meatspace, with witnesses, and my experience gets dismissed until it’s validated by a man.

      The will to believe that women are weak and we overreact to everything and that men are the arbiters of truth is some powerful shit.

      • suttkus says

        I can’t wrap my head around that, either. It’s also “alien to my experience”. How do you watch someone being made to feel blatantly uncomfortable and not feel sympathy for them at the dead minimum?

        So, yeah, I don’t get men either.

    • says

      I completely agree with this. It doesn’t excuse anyone, and Onamission I am sorry that some people around you are douchebags and don’t believe you when you say you’re hurt.

      But in the end, this only reinforces the point suttkus makes. The experience of harassment is so alien to us (men), that even when we see it happening, it’s hard to register how this might feel for the person being harassed. (Note: for some more than others.) It’s easy to underestimate the power of not having experienced something.

      Just for the sake of clarity I will repeat: this does not excuse anybody. But if you’re looking for the answer as to why men aren’t naturally as sensitive to women’s harassment as women are, I think this answer goes a long way in the right direction.

      (Hint: thinking men are naturally douchebags will not lead to more understanding ever, with anybody.)

        • says

          If this is the seriousness of the replies I can expect when trying to bring something valuable to the conversation, just because I’m a man, i’m not the sexist here.

          • A. Noyd says

            Mansplaining. Cookies.

            Your twin attitudes of “spoon-feed me” and “recognize my specialness” (see comment 16) are pretty damn typical of wannabe male allies in conversations about women’s oppression and feminism. And those attitudes are sexist. Rather than anything valuable, you’re bringing a drain on other people’s resources. If you really want to be an ally, you have to get over yourself first.

          • Nepenthe says

            You can tell that this is the response we have to all men, because all the self-described men who’ve commented have been treated the same way.

            … except that didn’t happen. Consider, perhaps, that you’ve behaved differently?

    • Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

      suttkus,
      I don’t get this.
      I’ve never been homeless, or in an abusive relationship,. When an online acquaintance talks about their experience with one or both of those tings, I can’t possibly relate to it, but I don’t disbelieve them. I don’t try to deny the thoughts and feelings they have about it.

      I’ve never had to worry about the next meal in other terms than feeling too lazy to cook it, or not having enough time because I had to work (with a chance to stuff myself with food after work)… but I can empathize with someone who is trying to spread a meager budget to last for a month.

      Empathy, sympathy. Listening to people when they relate their experiences. Those work wonders.

  9. voidhawk says

    I know this experience well. I used to be a member of a chatroom with a sexual element where I would roleplay as different characters of different genders, nationalities, histories, etc. When roleplaying as male I would only ever receive PMs after a fair bit of interation in the lobby so people hawere able to see what “I” was like. Whenever I roleplayed as a woman I had to regularly block people and turn off the notification sound because I’d be inundated with messages from the moment I logged on.

    The worst was people saying hot ‘hot’ or ‘cute’ I was when I hadn’t even described myself, apart from to say that I was an [x] year old female.

  10. Kootiepatra says

    “Feminist […] sweetheart” and “feminist […] dear” …These both struck me as being particularly infuriating.

    Having grown up in the U.S. south, I’ve always tried to hold out faith that men who use these kinds of pet names on strangers are just doing it “because that’s how they were raised”. Surely they can’t really intend for it to come off as infantilizing and dismissive as it sounds. Surely they were just trying to be perceived as “sweet”.

    Nonsense like this makes it much harder for me to believe that.

    • smrnda says

      I’ve noted that saying “dear” or “hon” is kind of standard for both men and women from the south at least from people that I’ve talked to from there. My partner (who is originally from the south) tells me that it’s actually meant to be patronizing, but that by saying it in what appears to be a considerate and polite way it gets a social pass.

  11. says

    Reminds me of a book and movie from my childhood, Black Like Me. Looks like people are still as blind to what goes on around them unless they experience it directly.

  12. says

    Your take on this is excellent. Personally I’ve only needed the reports of my friends and, for instance, prominent folks like Rebecca Watson to know and believe the level and type of harassment directed at women. I must admit to, what I believe to be, a natural impulse to want to experience for myself. However, I believe that stems mostly from curiosity and empathy.

  13. Kushi says

    Great take on this Miri. This is my take on why this happens: “You’ll do, You up for something “casual”?” sounds like harassment to anyone reading this. A guy can send that message out to 100 girls within an hour with minimal effort. However, 1 in a 100 girls may see it as flirting, not harassment. Because of a small minority of girls that go for guys like that is the reason guys continue this kind of harassment. Whether you’re online, on the street, or at a bar, being an alpha male asshole may not be the best strategy for getting laid, but it’s simple and continues to work over large numbers. As long as guys like that keep getting laid, the harassment won’t stop.

    • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

      Bullshit. Pure, un-adulterated bullshit. Nobody’s behavior is anybody’s fault but their own. The reason these guys continue this kind of harassment is BECAUSE THEY ARE HARASSERS. It’s because they make a choice to act that way.

      • Kushi says

        Good point. I didn’t mean to make it seem like I’m blaming anyone. I agree that the harassers are responsible for their actions and it’s in no way the fault of women.

        My take is about what these guys might be thinking when they send those creepy messages. I believe that what drives at least some of those guys to harass is not always as simple as them just being harassers. I think some of them are trying to get laid and think they might actually be successful over large numbers.

    • Nepenthe says

      When I’m hungry, I go to restaurants and start eating off of other people’s plates. I mean, sure 99% of the time they’re upset for some reason, but the other 1% invite me to eat with them and as long as I get fed once in a while, I ain’t stopping. ~From the annotated “Shit that Never Happened”, vol 2

      Why is my story different than your story?

      • Kushi says

        It’s different because eating off peoples plates may lead to getting embarrassed or arrested but sending creepy messages on a dating site has no consequences.

        • Onamission5 says

          The behavior men engage in on dating sites is an extension of men’s behavior in other spaces, not a divergence. The hand waving away of their behavior in this comment thread is also an extension of the hand waving away of women’s experiences in other spaces. We are hardly ever believed when we say things can get as bad as they do. Someone will always, always have to interject that maybe it’s not so bad as we say, or maybe it’s our fault, or maybe we shouldn’t judge all men because those guys are just assholes/just drunk/just having a bad day/just teenagers and this guy isn’t like that.

          It would be so awesome if for once when a woman highlights the harassment and abuse she receives, if people would simply say, “that sucks.” No excuses, no explanations, no hand waving, no cover, no deflection. Every time someone deflects, every time someone excuses or minimizes or provides cover for harassment, abuse, and bigotry, they are contributing to the problem. No, not every single woman will receive this same type of gendered harassment, but enough do. No, not every man will engage in this type of gendered harassment, but enough do. If something is more likely to happen than not happen, then that’s a problem, and it is not a problem which will be solved by making excuses for the perpetrators.

    • smrnda says

      I’ve actually seen somewhat well-designed *experiments* that demonstrate that the (as you call it) ‘alpha male’ approach never works. NEVER. That it works is a myth perpetuated by PUA who want to sell books that don’t work, so guys can be disappointed and buy the next one.

      Seriously, reasonable, respectful guys who talk to women like human beings actually do get into relationships and do end up having sex. Stop pushing the myth of the ‘works 1% of the time.’ Guys like that are just out to harass women .

      • Kushi says

        smrnda, I’m just stating that from my own personal experiences so you might be right.

        I’m open to changing my mind if I saw some well-designed experiments that demonstrate that the ‘alpha male’ approach never works. Do you or anyone else have any links?

        I’m rooting for you to be right because I much rather live in a world where girls NEVER go for those stupid lines :)

        • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

          K, let’s say you’re right and 1% of women are actually turned on by being treated that way. He’s still demonstrating an utter disregard for the boundaries of EVERY woman he comes into contact with. Stop trying to find a silver lining. It really is as simple as “these guys are harassers.”

          • Nomad Exquisite says

            I think a good analogy is the Nigerian spammer.

            Can’t find the reference offhand, but a study a few years back showed that spam emails look the way they do–bad grammar, weird formatting, and all–because they have actually EVOLVED to work. They work very, very rarely…but if you send enough, and you have a payoff of a few grand, it starts to look attractive in a place like Lagos. Because there is *no other option*.

            I think a lot of harassers are the sexual equivalent of dirt-poor scammers in some shantytown Internet cafe under the oil pipeline. These guys aren’t gonna get any play, even from most of the women around them (who themselves are not the best catches in town). They don’t even know why women ignore them, even laugh at them (something every man is the most afraid of). Just as the scammer doesn’t know why he was born in Lagos in a slum, and there are rich people a world away who eat food every month worth more than he will see in a year. He thinks he has no other option, and he’s sure not worried about the elaborate ethics of scamming some rich old man out of his retirement.

            And yet every once in a while it pays off. And in the meantime, it may make a helpless loser feel a little bit better to himself…if he cared what YOU thought, he wouldn’t be a helpless loser.

            Do you feel personally insulted and attacked when you get a ATTENTION PLEASE BANK TRANSFER REQUIRED email? Of course not. The jackholes on a dating site are no more real than those spammers, and there’s no need for you to extend them the courtesy of thinking twice about them. If you’re really pissed, laugh at them. Or send them scam-the-scammer emails and make them meet you in the next state over. Or if that’s too risky, just tell the other ladies online about them and put something about them in your profile. You may find, in fact, that stuff like that will actually attract more good guys.

        • smrnda says

          I’ll have to dig through the history on another computer to find them, so I may come back to this thread and post what studies/experiments I’ve found if I can get to this in a timely fashion.

          I just want to re-iterate the idea that ‘well, it works 1% of the time.’ If something is 99% likely to offend a random person, you just don’t do it. I’d say the only defensible situation of doing something that’s possibly going to offend someone is if you’re looking at maybe a 50/50 chance, and you’re willing to profusely apologize if the person takes offense. I’d also say that, given that *we know these things don’t work almost ever* the burden of proof is on someone to prove the existence of this mythical 1% of women who do find such things appealing. The existence of at least 99% of women who don’t is well-substantiated, but the 1% that like it are kind of like unicorns. I can’t disprove they exist, but there is no evidence outside of mythology. The evidence is pretty strong that almost no women, and possibly ZERO WOMEN, like the supposed ‘alpha male’ behavior, and the only people saying it works are PUA. I think it’s proper to be more skeptical that the 1% exists than that they are real.

          The other thing is that if you are just looking for casual sex, there are locations/subcultures/sites that are accepting of that, provided you follow some basic etiquette. The ‘alpha males’ could, if they wanted to, limit their harassment etc. to situations where the norms are different (but where they’d probably still be viewed as creeps without some changes) but their refusal to do so makes me think the real reason is that harassing women scores some ‘points’ either with just themselves, or to some dude-bro pals.

  14. A. Noyd says

    @Robert-Jon
    When you say “we’re not all like that” to oppressed people who are complaining about oppressive treatment at the hands of a class you identify with, then you’re showing that you, personally, are “like that.” Maybe you disapprove of and avoid doing many things oppressors do, but you’re still part of the problem when you demand explicit recognition for what you don’t do. Generalizations oppressed people make about their oppressors do zero harm to you, and your concern comes off as making oppression you don’t face all about yourself. Just don’t even bring up exceptions and trust that the oppressed already know not everyone in the class they’re referring to does the same amount of harm.

    Here’s something more productive you can say: “You’re right, far too damn many of us are like that. I’ve probably contributed in ways I’m not even aware of. I’m going to look into ways men can help put an end to harassment. Women deserve better”

  15. Foible says

    I read your article waiting for the big reveal that OKCThrowaway22221 was really a woman, (perhaps you or Heina) thereby proving that men only listen to people they think are other men. Instead I was disappointing by how much complaining one guy’s moment of enlightenment generated.

    Really, if all it takes is a apparently male persona to reach an audience then why don’t you have a few sock puppets championing your causes? There are no barriers to creating them on Reddit and many other places.

    If it works then you’d have pulled off a “life hack” for building a bigger audience for your message, if it doesn’t then you’d have more data on how men communicate with other men.

    • says

      First of all, please don’t refer to someone’s thought-out analysis as “complaining.” I examined an issue from several sides and pointed out how it reveals some problems in the way we as a society think about women and harassment. Dismissing that as mere “complaining” will not earn you any points here, and makes me much less likely to engage with you.

      Second, there are plenty of men in the feminist community making the same points as women are making. While the men face slightly fewer repercussions than women, often they also receive disgusting amounts of harassment and abuse just for agreeing with feminist ideas. So clearly that’s not going to work.

      Third, the point is to dismantle the system in which men’s ideas and opinions are automatically treated as more legitimate and credible than women’s, not participate in it. That’s what we help do by “complaining”–I mean, by pointing out the double standards in how people of different genders are treated.

        • says

          Foible in translation: “I’m too lazy to address your arguments and rebut them, so I’m going to smugly pretend that I’ve managed to win an argument without actually making one.”

          And yes, women demanding respect for their writing is just soooo beneath you, amirite?

          • Glenn Charles says

            You know, a bit more than 40 years ago I tried demanding respect for my writing. They laughed at me, men and women alike… Perhaps I should start an organization of equal rights for poets–that’s not a flame, it’s an observation–the problem being the one Gene Wolfe and Samuel Delany had, among others; many times the message is lost in not only the image but the image as reflected, refracted and distorted by the preconceptions in the perceivers’ minds. Then again, that may be the first problem all writers or even thinkers encounter.

        • says

          LMAO, no need to engage O_o … But, there you are, engaging! I think it’s fair to say you had a very pressing need to engage and are not being entirely truthful :-D

  16. queequack says

    Well, I’ve actually done this, and my experience was not at all similar to the one described in the reddit post. In fact I came away kind of resentful over how much easier I perceived that women had it in that department. So, I’m not sure what to think about this. I’m open to possibilities.

    • Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

      Well maybe you can believe women when they say they get harassed without having a man confirm what they said or having to experience it yourself? Kind of like what we do with other everyday stuff? I’d think that’s a logical place to start but that’s just me.

        • queequack says

          To clarify, I did get some creepy messages. Here’s one. But that sort of thing was the exception, not the rule. Most of the messages were perfectly cordial, if maybe a little desperate and/or grammatically challenged.

          • says

            Well, as the guy in the Reddit post points out, a lot of the creepiness, rudeness, and abuse started not necessarily with the initial message, but when he didn’t respond to the messages or politely turned the guys down. I’ve often had it happen that I’d get a message like “Hey wanna meet up tonight?” and I’d be like, “Sorry, it doesn’t seem like we really have anything in common, have a good one!” and then receive back “fine you fucking cunt, you’re too ugly anyway.” Or worse.

            And as my own screencaps in this post show, it often takes very little to bring out the nasty sides of people’s personalities.

          • queequack says

            Ok, maybe. I’ll try engaging some of my dozens of suitors in conversation (I just logged on, and I have 25 new messages! Jesus.)

Trackbacks

  1. […] This article is a little different — it’s another tale of a man who gender-swapped online to prove his theory that women have it easier than men on dating sites — but the commentary is about how so very often men seem to need to experience sexism for themselves before they believe women. From FTB. I believe the language around how men sometimes talk about women — as wives, mothers, daughters — reflect how difficult it is for men to imagine what it’s like to not be a man. […]