There has been a lot of drama surrounding my university recently about a certain event that possibly shouldn’t have been allowed to take place. It is, without a doubt, a Feminist Issue. I am not going to write about it. This is partly because there’s no good way to talk about it without revealing what it is, which would reveal where it is, and I am ridiculously paranoid about being traceable in real life, and not willing to risk it. But that’s only the practical reason. The main reason is that I don’t have the energy right now to do big important High Profile Feminism. I’m exhausted. On Friday, the day when it all kicked off, I had the second most important interview of my life so far, for a masters placement I desperately want. So my mind was decidedly elsewhere, and while I care (is it ever possible to stop caring?), I don’t have it in me to fight on this one.
Thankfully, because it’s such a big issue, there have been many other feminists out there fighting for me. That’s not an excuse – there are never going to be enough of us – but it means I feel slightly less guilty sitting back and letting myself breathe for a moment. I’m no use to anyone if I’m too stressed and exhausted to form coherent sentences.
So what I offer you instead is a light-hearted break from my last rather more serious post. Here’s an admission to go up there with the fact that I masturbate and like kinky sex: I’ve been trying online dating. Well, sort of. I haven’t actually met anyone yet, but that’s more of a time issue than anything else. I joined for a number of reasons, but it mostly had something to do with the fact that online dating gets talked about a lot both as a misogynistic minefield, and as a haven from strict social convention where honesty and ‘alternative interests’ are allowed to thrive. I was always slightly confused by how contradictory this seemed, so I decided to try it for myself.
And you know what? They’re both entirely true.
I put a bit of work into it because I don’t believe in doing anything by halves. I filled out the profile page honestly but not extensively, using the same mildly flirtatious style I use here. I uploaded a photo – not a posed model shot, but I nice photo all the same. And I answered quite a lot of their personality questions entirely honestly, to give me the best chance of coming into contact with like-minded people. For one thing, I don’t want to have any kind of interaction with anyone who isn’t firmly pro-choice. Does that make me picky and prejudiced? If so, I don’t care. It’s a total deal-breaker for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Also not ashamed to admit that I’m fairly kinky, at least not if it will help me meet other fairly kinky people.
So having answered all these delightful questions, I sat back and waited. And, as I’d been told to expect, the men came to me. (Mostly men, that is. I’ve so far had only one message from a woman, despite the fact that my profile clearly says I’m bi, so I’m assuming a gender bias here.) I get about five messages every two or three days at the moment, which is quite a lot when you think about it, and factor in that I’m not sending out any messages of my own. I decided before I joined that I would reply to any message where I felt the guy had actually made an effort. So, ‘ur cute, meet up 4 sex?’ is not going to get a reply. A short paragraph inspired by something I’d written on my profile, however, usually does. I’m especially likely to respond if they’ve written something to me about either classics or theatre, since those are two huge aspects of my identity, and I mention them both at least twice. It’s not a bad outlook for real life dating, as it happens. I mean, if someone’s not going to take the effort to read two paragraphs about me and actually engage with what I’ve written when attempting to talk to me, they’re probably not worth my time. Sounds harsh, but there it is.
And what have I found? I’ve actually had quite a few good online conversations about art, politics, literature and life in general. Often it starts of being about classics, and veers off in unexpected directions. I’ve discovered one guy who actually goes to my university, and another who went to the same production of a play we both saw in London. Probably my favourite opening to an exchange was a guy who messaged me with: ‘So we’ve just robbed a bank together, are you shooting out the window at the cops, or driving the car? I reckon you’d be shooting. You seem like you might have a violent side’. It certainly got my attention, and was decidedly more interesting than most of the stuff I was getting. It’s also a chance for me to openly talk about kinky stuff from the word go, rather than waiting for a suitable moment in the conversation to chime in with ‘by the way I like to be tied up in bed’. This is delightfully liberating, and something I wish was acceptable in real life. It’s one area where the anonymity and the distance really works out for the better.
And then the misogyny creeps in. Guys who send me one-line, badly spelt messages about how I’m fit and they’d totally do me, then get annoyed and send more aggressive ones when I don’t reply. It’s a safe but still distressing example of something you unfortunately see all the time, men who think you owe them something (a response, a smile, a date, sex) because they’ve taken the effort to compliment you. Compliments are nice, they really are, but they don’t entitle you to anything. And the second you stop complimenting and start getting angry that your compliment hasn’t been received in the way you wanted, you start treading a dangerous line of entitlement and disrespect for consent an autonomy.
Is it a breach of consent when someone I haven’t replied to starts sending me angry messages online? Maybe not in the conventional sense of the word, but I have to wonder, how would the same guy react if I failed to respond if he whistled at me as I walked down the street? Paranoid? Possibly a little, but it’s not hard to see why it’s an instant turn-off for me on dating websites.
Also a turn-off? This guy, whose message I am going to post in full for a bit of light relief to end on. Suggestions for possible responses welcome.
I came across your profile and was quite enamored by such an articulate and heavenly blessed beauty. I would be kicking myself if I didn’t ask, so I was wondering if you would accept an engagement of witty banter between two intellectuals?
Of course this “engagement” may start off as purely platonic but my sensual desires will most likely guide our cohesive unity down more erotic, lascivious, and sexual paths that will include but are not limited to passionate make out sessions under the star lit sky, dry humping, fondling each others naughty parts inducing orgasms, and an abundance of new uncharted sexual positions where I assert my pure dominance in establishing a realm of absolute sovereignty in your nether regions.
Now is this something you might be interested in? 😛