Note: For the purposes of this post, heterosexuality is the premise. Things on dating sites are different (i.e. often better) for women seeking women. Men seeking men are often subjected to the same things that women seeking men are subjected to, but I cannot speak for their experiences.

I am an accomplished OkCupid counter-troll and I’m not private about it. As a result, every time some internet personality creates a dummy profile and writes up their experiences with it, well-meaning friends often think of me and link me. Last week, it was that Cracked article (written by a woman but geared towards a male audience). Yesterday, it was the Reddit post (which isn’t even original). There’s some defunct Tumblr I found after a quick Google search. Hell, some of my male friends have proposed creating dummy female profiles in order to see what it’s like for a woman on a dating site.

tumblr_mqxcq6T9g91sdl36go1_1280

My reaction? Chagrin. It makes me wonder why more men don’t trust women’s experiences instead of setting up fake profiles. Have they never heard a female friend talk about her experiences? Do they not have female friends to ask about the matter? Or do they just not want to believe what we women say about our lives? To go back to my male friends, you’d think that years’ worth of talk from me about my OkCupid experiences would be enough for them to know that they could, you know, just ask me about it, or even just believe me when I talk about it.

I’ve helped male friends and strangers with their profile and messaging mojo. I’ve walked nervous men through initial messages, replies, and follow-ups messages after first dates. I’ve had male friends and acquaintances cry on my shoulder about being lonely, miserable, and rejected both online and afk. Not once did it occur to me to doubt them when they told me about their experiences. Sure, I sometimes wonder about all those unanswered messages I’ve sent to men who claim on their very profiles to be frustrated with the lack of women who initiate, but I don’t doubt the overall fact that many men don’t get replies or message on OkCupid. Enough men I know have told me about it for me to not immediately jump to doubting them.

There is certainly a more charitable view of the phenomenon of such fake profiles, one that speaks to men’s attempts, however flawed, at understanding women’s experiences. We live in a society where men are automatically considered more credible than women even when the latter are speaking of their own experiences. I’d only see the creation of fake female profiles by men as productive if the men were to learn a greater lesson about women’s credibility, one that enables the male experimenter to no longer need to pull such stunts in order to believe women. It seems like an ass-backwards way to approach the problem to me, but if it’s effective, I don’t know if I could complain overmuch.

a dog's butt with sunglasses.

Such a lesson would be contingent on all men conducting the experiment, though, rather than a few men doing it and sharing their results to the warm reception of other men. As it stands, we live in a world where women talk about their experiences, men doubt them, and then a few of those men pretend to be women and report their results to great fanfare. A random man pretending to be a woman on a dating site is somehow considered more credible and coverage-worthy than the majority of women who are using dating sites in earnest and speaking of their experiences. That women are inundated with crude, rude, ridiculous, and otherwise unsavory messages online is not some incredible revelation discovered by a man pretending to be a woman; it reflects the lived experiences of many women. We’d do well to trust the word of women more, even if it is curiosity and a wish to understand rather than a mistrust of women that drives some men to attempt to replicate women’s experiences.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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37 Comments

  1. Avatar of Mankoi
    January 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm —

    I think there is a degree to which having an experience yourself is a lot more real than hearing someone else talk about it, even if you do trust them. If I were to make a fake profile, it wouldn’t be because I don’t know the types of crap women get there, it’d be because I do know. Seeing it first hand removes a level of disconnect when you’re just told about something, even if you understand and sympathize.

    That being said, as soon as one writes a post about your fake profile experiences or whatnot, anyone who reads that post would be exactly as disconnected. In addition, it takes attention away from the women who actually have these problems in their real lives, and increases paranoia about women online being fake.

    • Avatar of Paul
      January 15, 2014 at 4:34 pm —

      You made my point in half as many words. :D

      I disagree with your second paragraph, though. I don’t think it takes attention away from the women who have those problems. The paranoia about women on the internet being fake isn’t going to be significantly enhanced by such a post, either.

  2. Avatar of teambanzai
    January 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm —

    I don’t know anyone that created a fake female profile on OKCupid but I did know a guy that created two profiles, one real one fake so that he could troll anonymously then go back with his real profile for the ones he thought he could score with, obviously a classy guy that would be a catch for any woman.
    My own experience was at times humbling, when you’re shy to begin with when it comes to dating a non-reply hurts as much as a sorry you’re not my type reply, but it seemed obvious to me that it would be the same for a woman. Are there really people that think they’re the only ones that get rejected?
    I’ve seen plenty of evidence that shows just how unpleasant online dating can be for women I’m not sure what a man is seeking by creating a fake female profile, unless they actually think they will suddenly gain clarity from it. Or they’re just looking to troll.
    I can say that my experience ended up being a successful one, and the reason was complete honesty from both of us in our profiles. Neither of us sugar coated anything, that is exactly what drew both our interests. She’s a dedicated feminist, former cult member, Star Trek loving atheist, with two kids, that never wants to remarry, I’m an out of shape, slightly narcissistic Star Trek loving militant atheist smartass who doesn’t want to have children* that never wants to get married.
    *incase you’re wondering the kid thing worked out fine they’re smart and funny like their mother

  3. Avatar of captaintripps
    January 15, 2014 at 1:52 pm —

    My sense is that for many of the men who care enough to do it, it’s not about believe, but wanting to experience it for yourself, in much the same way you might want to visit Chile or see the Sistine Chapel. One’s own experience often seems to be superior to that found second-hand. The degree to which women are harassed online and in these situations in particular is so foreign to many (dare I say most?) men.

    Certainly when I read about it or hear about it from my friends it’s alien to anything I experience online. While I’ve run very popular social media accounts and campaigns in my career and been harassed on the same, it’s not based on my perceived gender. I have empathy and belief, but I can’t honestly say I really know what it’s like. In this situation it’s actually possible to essentially be another gender and see what happens. There’s not often an easy way to go about that in meatspace.

    In addition, as you noted, there are of course plenty of men who doubt at all how much different women’s experience is and, in fact, would believe a man saying the same thing over a woman. Conceivably them hearing about such experiments from other men will help some of them get pointed at an understanding. I don’t believe either is particularly harmful if there’s also an emphasis on the lived experience of actual women as part of the conversation. That would, in my mind, help erode the “male credibility” malarkey.

    Experience isn’t necessary to understanding, but it often speeds the path to it.

    • Avatar of captaintripps
      January 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm —

      Also after rereading for a third time I realize the visit to another country or looking at art probably reads as minimizing of the lived experience of women. I apologize for that.

  4. Avatar of Paul
    January 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm —

    “My reaction? Chagrin. It makes me wonder why more men don’t trust women’s experiences instead of setting up fake profiles. Have they never heard a female friend talk about her experiences? Do they not have female friends to ask about the matter? Or do they just not want to believe what we women say about our lives?”

    I don’t think that’s it, no. Perhaps you have evidence that would support such a conclusion, but my read on this is that the men hear about these experiences and want to see for themselves. I wouldn’t call this a belief in the lack of credibility, I would call it a desire to increase one’s personal experience in a direct manner.

    Really, this isn’t the only arena where people hear about an experience and then desire to replicate that experience in their own lives. This is a rare instance where a man really can put himself in the shoes of a woman, albeit only for a temporary and narrow perspective.
    We often talk about how living an experience is different from simply hearing about it. We listen more closely to someone who has lived through a tragedy than one who has not. While this is somewhat below the threshold of a major tragedy, it is systematic sexism, which is tragic enough in and of itself. Shouldn’t we be celebrating someone who is going out of their way to experience something like this?

    Where I would agree with you is the notion that a man receiving these experiences is somehow more newsworthy than a woman reporting the same. That is a clear double-standard. Really, the only plausible reason it might be interesting is in a comedic Freaky Friday sense, and even that is turning women’s lives into a sideshow, which I do not appreciate.

    Ultimately, though, is this men doubting women, not taking them at their word? No, I don’t believe that is the case. I absolutely believe that it is as bad and maybe worse than women have conveyed. But hearing about an experience and living it is different.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      January 15, 2014 at 4:42 pm —

      What about the part where I don’t need to experience it for myself to believe men? They’re definitely not giving me credit where I give them credit. Also, did you read until the end? I admitted it could be different reasons. Also those questions were rhetorical d:

      • Avatar of Paul
        January 16, 2014 at 2:06 am —

        I did, yes. You’ll notice that I agreed with you strongly here:
        “A random man pretending to be a woman on a dating site is somehow considered more credible and coverage-worthy than the majority of women who are using dating sites in earnest and speaking of their experiences.”
        I find this phenomena to be extremely offensive. You’re right – this should not be a thing.

        I also considered putting in a comment about how you mention that you yourself don’t need to experience it, but I thought I covered it adequately. Evidently, I need to follow my instincts more often.

        My answer to that is: Sure, you don’t, but it is not novel or extraordinary to say that people sometimes want to experience an event for themselves to really understand it.

        • Avatar of marilove
          January 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm —

          “Sure, you don’t, but it is not novel or extraordinary to say that people sometimes want to experience an event for themselves to really understand it.”

          Yeah that happens, but we’re telling you that most men aren’t going into this “experience” trusting OUR experiences: They believe they will prove us wrong and that they will find they are right in their assumption that women have it “easy” when dating online.

          PLEASE NOTE! That one of those experiments that is DIRECTLY LINKED in this post? Is an example of a man who CLEARLY stated, “I believe women have it really easy when dating online, so I am going to pretend to be a woman!” He lasted TWO hours before he realized how wrong he was.

          You’re STILL dismissing me and all the other women here saying: “Men often tell us that we have it easy dating online, but we know they are dead wrong.”

          You are using this elusive “some people want to just experience it for themselves, and that doesn’t mean they don’t trust your experiences!” and yet, you provide NO actual examples.

          “ou didn’t -trust- me to be reasonable when you offered a counterpoint, you -immediately assumed- that I was being dismissive.”

          Holy shit. Talk about gas lighting. Why the hell should I trust you when you’ve provided NOTHING but a vague “opinion” and nothing at all, not even a damn anecdote, to back your shit up?

          “Some men probably just want to experience it for themselves” is not proof in any way.

          And, yeah, I think MY EXPERIENCES AS A WOMAN WHO HAS DONE PLENTY OF ONLINE DATING is far, far, far more trustworthy than some random man who wants to assure me — with no proof to back his “opinions” up — that certainly some men totally want to just experience it for themselves.

          I don’t trust you because you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Avatar of Paul
            January 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

            “Sure, you don’t, but it is not novel or extraordinary to say that people sometimes want to experience an event for themselves to really understand it.”

            Yeah that happens, but we’re telling you that most men aren’t going into this “experience” trusting OUR experiences: They believe they will prove us wrong and that they will find they are right in their assumption that women have it “easy” when dating online.

            And I have taken you at your word, as I clearly stated. You are misrepresenting my comments. Here, presented clearly from one of my other responses to you:
            “I’ll accept your statement as such evidence. I can very well believe that there are men out there that don’t take you (or other women) at their word when they report such things.”

            “PLEASE NOTE! That one of those experiments that is DIRECTLY LINKED in this post? Is an example of a man who CLEARLY stated, “I believe women have it really easy when dating online, so I am going to pretend to be a woman!” He lasted TWO hours before he realized how wrong he was.”

            I did not read all of the linked posts. Perhaps I should have before commenting in such detail – I was responding off the cuff.
            And all you had to do was point this out earlier. Instead, you leapt to insults.

            “You’re STILL dismissing me and all the other women here saying: “Men often tell us that we have it easy dating online, but we know they are dead wrong.””

            This is a CLEAR misrepresentation of what I have been saying this entire time. It’s easy to argue against someone when you present a strawman.

            “You are using this elusive “some people want to just experience it for themselves, and that doesn’t mean they don’t trust your experiences!” and yet, you provide NO actual examples.”

            And you have provided none, either. Yet I’ve elected to take your experience at your word. I would note that you didn’t even present your background when you responded to my post, so I’ve blithely assumed that you are a woman and that you’ve had such experience, which, I am pleased to see, I was correct about.

            “Holy shit. Talk about gas lighting. Why the hell should I trust you when you’ve provided NOTHING but a vague “opinion” and nothing at all, not even a damn anecdote, to back your shit up?”

            I offered an opinion, yes. I ALSO asked for further clarification regarding Heina’s opinion in my post. When I RECEIVED that clarification, I was willing to alter my opinion.

            What I find offensive about YOU is that you couldn’t just offer said contrary evidence without simultaneously insulting me. You had to make an insulting allusion to my gender and made broad assumptions about my attitude. Further, you’re either deliberately or through malicious ignorance mischaracterizing my words and my posts.

            I am not unreasonable in suggesting that you offer to me the benefit of the doubt when criticizing what I say. You didn’t give me a chance to alter my opinion; you wanted to lynch me on the spot.

            Now, I could have been so offended at your ad hominem and strawmen crap that I would have doubled down on my contrary opinion. I’ll let you make of that what you will.

          • Avatar of marilove
            January 16, 2014 at 3:43 pm

            Hey, tip: Stop mansplaining.

    • Avatar of marilove
      January 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm —

      “Ultimately, though, is this men doubting women, not taking them at their word? No, I don’t believe that is the case. ”

      Oh, really, Paul? Is that why I’ve had a handful of men tell me, point-blank, that they think it’s easy for women on dating sites, much easier than men, and that when I tell them, “hahaha, no, it’s not, and here’s why…” they don’t believe me? They actually have told me: “Eh, it’s not as bad as you make it seem, I’m sure.” Or my favorite: “Well, at least you’re getting responses! Why are you getting so stressed out at all the assholes and dick picks? Don’t take it so personally, jeez! It’s not THAT bad!”

      But, hey, PAUL … I’m sure you better understand this situation than I do. Which is exactly why you’re telling women that hey, no, really, it’s not really that men aren’t trusting your experiences! I promise!

      So interesting to me that a man is trying to tell me that men don’t actually doubt women, when I’ve experienced this EVERY DAMN DAY — and not just with online dating.

      Sigh.

      Ironic.

      • Avatar of onamission5
        January 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm —

        Oh the ever burning irony of a guy telling a woman that he doubts that men doubt women’s experiences, despite her experiences to the contrary.

      • Avatar of Paul
        January 16, 2014 at 2:10 am —

        From my post:
        “Perhaps you have evidence that would support such a conclusion,”

        I’ll accept your statement as such evidence. I can very well believe that there are men out there that don’t take you (or other women) at their word when they report such things.

        I’m not sure what the rest of your post is for, aside from vitriol. What, are you trying to make me feel bad? “Oh, hey, GUYMALE, I bet you’re insensitive and a prick.”

      • Avatar of Paul
        January 16, 2014 at 2:48 am —

        To elaborate, I can well believe that you responded to this thinking that I was one of those insensitive pricks. I know the type. I’ve seen them, here and elsewhere.

        However, leaping to the conclusion that I was one is offensive. You didn’t -trust- me to be reasonable when you offered a counterpoint, you -immediately assumed- that I was being dismissive.

        Well, regardless, I will extend you the trust you are denying me.

        • Avatar of marilove
          January 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm —

          AND ARE YOU AWARE that I can read exactly what you’ve written, in black and white?!

          AND I QUOTE:

          “I don’t think that’s it, no. Perhaps you have evidence that would support such a conclusion, but my read on this is that the men hear about these experiences and want to see for themselves. I wouldn’t call this a belief in the lack of credibility, I would call it a desire to increase one’s personal experience in a direct manner.”

          But, hey, I suppose your vague opinion is far more believable and trustworthy than the actual experiences of women, right?

          Even though we have provided experiences and direct link evidence, and you’ve provided some vague opinions about a “desire”.

          Right.

    • Avatar of marilove
      January 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm —

      Also: There is a difference between believing a woman and taking her word for it and UNDERSTANDING HER SITUATION. You don’t necessarily have to fully *understand* something to *believe* or *trust* that what a woman says is true.

      This is a VERY important point. “Wow, it must be tough out there for a woman! As a man, I couldn’t really understand.” Is so much different than, “Nah, it can’t be THAT bad!” Do you not see the difference?

      • Avatar of Paul
        January 16, 2014 at 2:16 am —

        You seem to be under the misapprehension that I disagreed with Heina on that point. No, I think it is entirely reasonable to say that we can believe and trust someone at their word when they claim they have an experience, barring any exceptional circumstances – for instance, I would not believe or trust someone who claimed to have been abducted by aliens – I may trust that they think they had such an experience, but I would not regard it as credible.
        On the other hand, a woman saying she had a terrible, shocking, and offensive reaction at her dating profiles? That is extremely credible. The way women are treated on such sites is offensive and disgusting. The same way I treat claims of sexual harassment at conferences as credible. The same way I treat your statement that men don’t believe or trust your word to be credible.

        Maybe you should think for a second and see how I respond to being engaged before attacking me, next time.

        • Avatar of marilove
          January 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm —

          “Maybe you should think for a second and see how I respond to being engaged before attacking me, next time.”

          Can you BE any more condescending?

          • Avatar of Paul
            January 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

            No, considering that’s a completely reasonable request. Why SHOULD you attack me?

          • Avatar of marilove
            January 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm

            I did not attack you.

            You are dismissing our experiences and insisting that your vague “opinions” are trustworthy.

            Funny: I disagree with you and you consider it “attacking”. Martyr, much?

  5. Avatar of drken
    January 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm —

    Part of it is that the most of the worst stories from straight men are about being rejected. Since most women have some experience with not getting replies, it’s not difficult for them to imagine what it’s like to send out message after message without response. Women might not truly grok what it’s like for us out there (nor do they have to), but they understand rejection and how it can grind somebody down. So, when a male friend tells them about how they haven’t gotten replies to their last 50 messages, it seems a bit extreme, but not unbelievable. Also, since most women on OKCupid have not replied to some messages, none of the behavior in the story seems out of the ordinary. Nobody (except my mom) has ever said to me “They didn’t reply? Why would anybody do that?”.

    On the other hand, I’ve been on OKCupid, et al. for quite some time and I’ve never gotten or sent an overly suggestive email followed by a series of increasingly abusive demands for a reply, so it’s harder for me to believe how many guys out there actually do this. It truly is shocking to us to find out. There’s also the tendency us to think, “I’d love it if I got an inbox full of messages from women who want me” because it sounds better than getting no messages. But, you see that a lot when talking about sexual harassment.

    I guess some of it (at least the non misogynist part) has to do with how the experiences of women on-line are more alien to men than men’s experiences are to women. It’s only when we “see things for ourselves” that the message sinks in. But, the presence of these stories is a good thing because the message about what it’s like for women on-line is getting through. So, don’t be so hard on us if we don’t understand what it’s like for you on-line, more of us do than did before and that’s a good thing.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      January 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm —

      don’t be so hard on us if we don’t understand what it’s like for you on-line, more of us do than did before and that’s a good thing.

      That’s not what I’m hard on men about. I’m hard on men about failing to take us seriously when we tell them exactly how hard it is for us to be online. There’s nothing alien about it if you accept that women are people. A lot of men don’t, and I refuse to not be hard on them for that.

      • Avatar of drken
        January 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm —

        At least they care enough to try to find out. I always believed women when they said they got abuse on-line, but it didn’t really sink in how bad it was until I got the same story from every women I asked about it. I basically went from saying “Really? How can they even think that works?” to just shaking my head and saying “Yep, that’s messed up. It sucks that you have to put up with it just for being female”. Remember, men who never send or get harassing emails, never have to deal with it, so stories like this are the only way they’re going to find out. The way I see it, the more stories that get out, even if they’re from undercover men, the better.

        • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
          January 15, 2014 at 7:31 pm —

          Your situation is different: You heard the voices of women, which is as it should be given that this phenomenon affects women. The way I see it, there are more than enough women talking about and documenting their experiences to persuade men that this is, indeed, a thing, without men having to pretend to be women. Caring enough to find out can be as simple as a Google search or asking one’s female friends. There’s no need to pretend to be a woman to verify women’s real experiences.

          • Avatar of drken
            January 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

            You’d think, but here we are. There are men out there who think that taking women seriously shows a lack of masculinity. Those are the ones who deserve your anger, not the ones you think are becoming feminists wrong. The men who need to go undercover on OKCupid and those who didn’t pay attention until a man pointed it out may be frustrating, but some of them are now more likely to listen to women’s stories. Some of them might even seek them out. It’s not perfect, but it’s still progress.

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            January 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm

            “The way I see it, there are more than enough women talking about and documenting their experiences to persuade men that this is, indeed, a thing, without men having to pretend to be women.”

            I agree that men don’t need to pretend to be women. But I disagree that there’s enough information about this. The women speaking up about it just aren’t being heard in the mainstream. We need more voices speaking up about it and more ears listening to those voices. Women are being victimized regularly through online dating, but they’re not getting anywhere near enough support and understanding.

    • Avatar of John the Drunkard
      January 16, 2014 at 2:01 am —

      It doesn’t take many to generate a hostile atmosphere. There was a Butterflies and Wheels link recently to a study of date rapists and stalkers. These creeps really aren’t that common. But they are relentless repeat offenders and have absolutely NO qualms about what they do.

  6. Avatar of Re: Becca
    January 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm —

    My pet way of explaining this:

    Men* model other men as themselves, and women as some alien machine they don’t fully understand. Or if not a machine, a person of a kind so alien that they can only understand them vaguely. So when a woman describes her experiences the men say to themselves “I can’t imagine doing that myself**”, and therefore they decide that the woman must just be mischaracterizing her experience.

    * Alert, alert– saying “but not me” does not add anything to the conversation, move along.
    ** Note however, that all of us humans are really terrible at predicting our future selves in different physiological states. Or to put it more crudely, horny people do things that the same person wouldn’t predict that they’d do the rest of the time.

  7. Avatar of Grimalkin
    January 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm —

    I can, charitably, understand the men-pretending-to-be-women thing from a scientific standpoint; That is, when you want to learn certain kinds of science, you do that science. If the men doing this really can’t grasp the gravity of this fully without first hand experience, I can understand that. Some of the best intentioned people just learn more by doing than by hearing about it. Of course, if the problem is not about how well they grasp it versus believing it in the first place, that explanation falls flat.

    The other aspect where this becomes a problem is when, yeah, men write about their experiences and suddenly it’s HOLY SHIT DID YOU KNOW THAT WOMEN EXPERIENCE THIS??? with all these women who wrote about their experiences wondering WTF is up. It’s like if when a kid did a chemistry experiment, they published it online and major news outlets published “BREAKING NEWS, BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR MAKE VOLCANOES!” And there’s some actual scientist sitting there going “THIS IS NOT NEWS”

  8. Avatar of John the Drunkard
    January 16, 2014 at 1:56 am —

    I’ve found incredulity in all directions. I’ve posted about the problems on an OKC discussion board. Even if I start out with the issue of women and harassment/spam, the ‘discussion’ degenerates into gender-specific venting.

    In my experience, the male’s problem is NOT rejection. It is simply being completely ignored. Profiles are not visited, and if visited at all, the visitors seem to be random—e.g. enormous distances apart, very low match numbers etc.. AND messages sent out disappear like notes in bottles.

    Women have shared their experiences (and some sample trolling messages) with me and I have had no trouble believing them. Just today, I’ve been exchanging messages with a woman who refuses to believe MY experiences. I think at least SOME people do grasp what their counterparts are up against. But not enough to make a change in the general culture…yet.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      January 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm —

      “messages sent out disappear like notes in bottles.”

      When hundreds of bottles wash up on shore every day with insulting, degrading, and abusive messages inside, how many do you want to open searching for a polite note? When you find out how many of the people writing the polite notes turn out to be stalkers or are otherwise misrepresenting themselves, why would you even bother?

  9. Avatar of delphi_ote
    January 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm —

    In my case, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe my female friends when they said it was bad. My female friends took so many things for granted, accepted so much of this as the norm, that they weren’t communicating HOW bad it really is. They assumed men’s experiences are basically the same as theirs, and that most of the ugly stuff was just the embarrassing part of online dating everybody encounters, but that nobody wants to talk about.

    A very good friend and I started discussing our experiences with online dating. At first, we were just trading war stories and laughing at all the awkwardness involved. The more we started getting into some of her experiences, though, the more horrified I was. She’d been hurt and insulted and treated terribly so much, she just assumed that was the way things worked. Casual details to her were absolutely shocking to me. At one point, I remember stopping the conversation and saying, “Woa! That is not okay! It is not okay for someone to treat you like that!”

    When you’re alone at a keyboard and hoping to make a connection with someone, you can slowly start to accept that being treated this way is normal and okay. When you get hundreds of horrible messages every day, you lose perspective. This situation needs light shed on it. It’s ugly and abusive, and it needs to stop. We need to talk about this in the open. Women need to be able to share their experiences.

    • Avatar of onamission5
      January 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm —

      Honestly it’s like this with a lot of women’s experiences. I know that a lot of the time I don’t talk about how bad it gets or how bad it has been in various scenarios because of the very real fear of people thinking that I am exaggerating, or of them minimizing what I have experienced because they cannot imagine stuff like that happening to them and not walking around in a hulk smashing fury 24/7. And it gets bad, but it’s also background noise. Back ground noise that eats your brain from the inside but you’ve got to keep going because it’s going to be there nonetheless.

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        January 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm —

        Yes. It really is like this with a lot of women’s experiences. I’ve seen that to be true over and over again. But we’re talking about harassment in the workplace. We’re talking about date rape. Not enough, but we’re talking and trying to create better social norms. I think the stigmas associated with online dating are keeping people from talking openly about their experiences with it, and I think the dehumanizing and anonymizing aspects of online dating make it especially dangerous. We just haven’t established social norms for online dating yet.

        That background noise that eats at your brain is one of the main reasons I think we need to talk about this openly. At the very least, it helps to be reminded that the noise is wrong, that you’re not crazy, that you’re not alone in dealing with this, and that you’re a good person being treated badly – reminders that it’s okay to set boundaries, and that it’s okay to hold to those boundaries. If it’s going to be there nonetheless, you should have support and understanding.

  10. Avatar of danei
    May 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm —

    Well, when I did it, it was pretty much solely because I enjoyed the feeling of power I got from ignoring desperate dudes’ terrible messages. There’s probably plenty of dudes doing it because they don’t believe women’s stated experiences and want to prove them wrong, but there are also probably lots of trolls like myself out for a laugh.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm —

      Well that’s just sad, and it makes it harder for everyone to use the Internet to find dates.

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