Internet dating was a test of my ability to withstand sexual harassment.
What was interesting about this was not the harassment itself, which was often quite generic and became old news very, very quickly, but how I found myself changing my online personality because of the harassment. I was getting aggressive, I was quick to pounce on anything perceived as an insult, quick to jump to conclusions, quick to assume innuendo’s when they may not have been there. I was becoming a ‘bitch.’ According to some I have always had a ‘bitchy’ side, but internet dating is what really made it shine.
And the countless smaller aggressions that are just so common. The coercion to do more than you are comfortable with, be it hand out your number, sext, or invite them to your house. ’ because that was mostly what they meant by ‘question.’ When they asked to come over, I’d text-shout ‘I DON’T INVITE STRANGERS TO MY HOUSE!
The whining and emotional blackmail when you don’t do it. ’ because I was so sick of having to explain why I didn’t want them knowing my address and feeling like it was somehow my fault that the world is such a place that women are wary about inviting unknown men to their homes.
He becomes increasingly upset as each date fails to live up to the online photos they post on their respective profiles.
It’s okay though–we ended up dating for a little bit. I had gotten my wisdom teeth out and they were horribly infected–I had full on chipmunk face. All of these apps and online dating sites end up feeling like a job.
I never intended to be like that, I didn’t sign up hoping to argue with men. When the first guy I met told me he ‘regretted ever seeing my ugly face’ after I politely declined a second date, and then started a routine of calling and hanging up at 3am every morning, I just brushed it aside as a ‘one off.’ But it kept coming.
I signed up, perhaps extremely naively, looking for respectful conversation and dates. There was the guy who coerced me into skype chat, then when I declined to give him my number immediately after, told me I must have been raped to have a child because I was a ‘frigid cunt.’ There was the guy who repeatedly wrote about ‘fucking me in the arse’ until I blocked him, and there was the guy who made several different profiles to get around my repeated attempts to block him, just so he could keep contacting me to let me know he was a ‘nice guy’ who was ‘never given a chance’ by women.
Communication seems louder in the virtual realm, people tend to fight harder to be heard above the babble of unrestricted voices, particularly in the competitive environment of dating forums. It’s not easy to resist the temptation to actually be able to use your voice without that particular fear, in a space that is an extreme reminder of the oppression and abuse women face out in the non-virtual world.
Although it may be intensified, the internet is still a microcosmic example of what larger society is like for women.