March 1, 2016


I needed a place to vent. I'm just...appalled. That's the word.

Yes, I'm part of the online dating world. Yes, I laugh more than I actually accept dates. Yes, I'm gathering fodder for a book that may (or may not ever) get written. And yes, there are more times than not that I'm fantastically appalled, offended, and downright shocked at what men write to women they don't even know.

So, here I am...for the sake of transparency, shared shock (because, wow), and just frustration, posting the conversation that took place just this morning:

Him (keep in mind, this is the FIRST TIME he's contacted me): 

Orgasm Master inviting you to a free one-on-one class on how to have longer and more lasting orgasms. Class will last all night long; I am a wizard with tongue, fingers, and my 11-inch d*ick; call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. (While I am incredibly TEMPTED to leave his number here for all to see, I do have a sense of decency...)

Me, after stewing, brewing, and just being grossed out for the millionth time (because, friends who are already in committed, loving, honoring relationships - I get messages along this ilk ALL THE TIME): 

Why? Whyyyy?

Normally, when men are so vulgar, base, and display a downright lack of integrity and honor, characteristics which so aptly define your behavior just now, I refrain from responding. The whole adage, “You can win an argument with an idiot, but then you just won an argument with an IDIOT” definitely is apropos here.

But, today. Today. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had any coffee yet. Maybe it’s because I woke up on the snarky side of the bed. Maybe it’s because I walked into my classroom and looked into the eyes of my amazing, brilliant, loving, creative, and brave female students, who will some day (oh, dear Lord, I shudder at the thought) have to encounter the vile and filth that is a man like you.

So, today, I respond. Not that you’re going to read anymore of this because you’re probably now pissed beyond thinking that I would deign to call you out. How dare I? I mean, I’m just a woman, and you looked in my direction, gave me the proverbial “wink,” and I’m just supposed to drop to my knees and thank you for your consideration?

Not in my lifetime.

I do have questions, though. Why? Why would you think that’s an appropriate way to get a woman’s attention?

Better yet, how would you feel if someone used that line on your mother? Sister? Considering your age (he's 44), your daughter or niece? I’m sure you would be offended and absolutely appalled. Maybe even want to defend their honor.

But me? Why me? Ooooooh, because I’m not a real person. I’m an image on the screen, something you can fantasize about, much akin to the porn you probably watch.

I’m more than that. I’m flesh and blood (and not just the vagina you’re so interested in). I have a brain. It’s fabulous, really. I’m compassion and grace. I’m strength and dignity. I’m dreams and hopes and grief and joy.

And EVERY WOMAN is. Every picture you click on. Every person to whom you send a debasing message, she is real and deserves every iota of respect that you fail to see her worthy of.

Until you figure out how to treat women as PEOPLE, it’s probably best that you stay away from the world for a while.

I don't share this to man-shame. The number of honorable, loving, amazing men I know outnumber the sleeze balls by a large margin. I am blessed, beyond measure, to have those intelligent, funny, honest, and kind men in my life.

But, friends. This is real. These messages flood my inbox, and I'm just tired of being silently appalled by myself. I am strong. I am smart. And I know that these kinds of messages - and the insinuations and assumptions they contain - do not define me or who I am to the world.

Men. C'mon. As a friend, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a co-worker; as a human being, I'm asking you to stop. Stop the debasing. Stop seeing women as only a tool to scratch your itch. Stop seeing us as potential porn stars to act out every fantasy you've ever seen on your computer.

Treat us as humans. People. And, I think, it takes shifting your perspective, first. To treat us as humans, you need to see us as humans. And, I think the advent of this whole internet-age has succeeded in keeping that from happening, on a very basic level.

Am I still going to stay on those dating websites? For a while. Goodness knows, I need more fodder for my book. 

Am I going to let scum bags like the one above define my understanding of men? Hell, no. I have my dad, my friends, my brother, my uncles, and countless other amazing men in my life who live out respect, honor, integrity, and love so well.

But, I worry about other women - even my students - who DON'T have those examples in their lives.


Edward Lanning said...

Well as someone on the online dating scene that gets almost no messages, I wonder which is worse.

While I appreciate your point of view and revulsion at an obviously inappropriate and vulgar message, I would suggest sometime you write an article on one (or more) of the "honorable, loving amazing men" in your life. To so adamantly express your revulsion and frustration almost gives the sick-o who wrote the message a measure of power in the situation. I admit I haven't read your other posts and maybe you have written about the other men, but if I wrote an article like this about a woman, I would never hear the end of it. Try one for the positive about men! I think it'll benefit both genders!

Anonymous said...

No. Just no.

Unknown said...

To answer your question, Edward, receiving vulgar messages is worse every single day of the week. Because not only is her personhood invisible to such a person but she's being objectified which arguably places her in a position of less than human. I'd much rather simply be ignored.

Why do you feel entitled to come here and attempt to silence this woman's voice? When you tell a woman what she should or should not write about, do you not understand that you are part of the problem? For you to say, "if I wrote an article like this about a woman" is laughably absurd. This article is about misogyny. This interaction, which women experience everyday, is the result of the systemic sexism in our culture. I don't expect you to understand that. Nor do I expect you to want to acknowledge this and check your male priviledge. To cry "I would never hear the end of it" is ridiculous. Do not cry those tears here. I'm not about to let you get away with such nonsense. Not expressing this voice only benefits one sex, I assure you of that!

P.S. The words "sex" and "gender" are not interchangeable.

Anonymous said...

If this if your general consensus of women, there might be a reason why you aren't messaged more often.

April said...

Dear Edward Lanning,

I don't know you. I don't pretend to. What I want to say, sir, is that your argument is grotesquely invalid. "I admit I haven't read your other posts and maybe you have written about the other men [[she HAS]], but if I wrote an article like this about a woman, I would never hear the end of it."

WOULD you write an article about the hundreds of women messaging you via an online dating site with adulterous and objectifying intent? The answer is no. No, you wouldn't. Because when a woman reaches out with such a lurid, pornographic message, it's nearly held more as a compliment to a man's masculinity than an offense to his morales. This debases, objectifies, and dehumanizes women more than you realize. There is a screaming double standard here, and I beg you recognize it.

All the best from above a shattered glass ceiling,

Unknown said...

"Try one for the positive about men! I think it'll benefit both genders!"

Right, because staying silent about abuse always benefits the victim.

Edward, you need to take a seat; take all of he seats. Your language and ideology here is problematic. I pray that you truly listen to all of these thoughtful comments so that you can learn how to be part of the solution instead of furthering the current climate of hate against women.

Anonymous said...

Edward. I agree with your sentiment that good men should be celebrated and praised. For decades men have been portrayed in TV and movies as base, or stupid, or incompetent. We need to lift up and celebrate the good points of both genders. I hear that you are hurt by women not responding to your overtures. And I am sorry for that slight. However you have missed the point completely. To suggest that Jane's experience of verbal sexual assault is potentially preferable to receiving no reply at all is not just insensitive it is furthering the harm caused. You did not dismiss her outright. But others like you would. The problem is that dismissal of these types of interactions, or the notion that women should be flattered by such attention - is what continues to contribute to a culture that questions the victim - that looks the other way in regards to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape.
You want to be a good guy? Applaud Jane for standing up to the vulgarity, apologize for what she has experienced (even though you didn't cause it), ask more about how she feels, and support her and other women in your life like her who have been treated as less than human.

TJD said...

Oh, Ed.

I’ve waited almost 24 hours after reading your comment on my blog because I had to process what I wanted to say. There was so much, soooo much that was swirling in my head, but since other incredibly articulate friends jumped in, and succinctly conveyed my thoughts, I’m happy with what I’m left to explain to you. (Thank you, tribe of amazing friends, for the words that expressed what was in my soul.)

Okay, Ed. Listen closely, and please - listen to UNDERSTAND, not to argue. You’re good at debate, and you listen well to pick apart someone else’s argument. Do me a favor, this time, and just HEAR ME.

Your silence in the dating world, while frustrating, is NOTHING compared to the messages I - and countless other women - receive DAILY. This is not the first disgusting email I’ve ever received. It’s not the tenth. Hell, it’s not even the hundredth. I’ve LOST. COUNT. that’s how many there have been. And, the one above? That’s the least vulgar in all of them. Others? Others have phrases like, “bend you over and pound you until you split in two,” and “force myself into your mouth until you die gagging or take it like the sl*t you are.” DO NOT COMPARE SILENCE TO THREATS OF RAPE.

Because, that’s what we receive. Rape, Ed. RAPE.

Just because it’s verbal and theoretical doesn’t negate the fact that I - and again, countless other women - have been emotionally raped. No person should have to go through the shock, debasement, and trauma of opening an email and seeing, in black and white letters, how a man is fantasizing about destroying you emotionally and physically.

Rape IS about power, Ed. That’s what’s at its core. So, your statement, and I quote, “To so adamantly express your revulsion and frustration almost gives the sick-o who wrote the message a measure of power in the situation,” is wrong. He’s already tried to take the power from me in contacting me in such a degrading manner in the first place.

By writing him back so vehemently, by screaming about this from the rooftops, by blogging about this, sharing my story, hopefully empowering and encouraging other women to stand up for themselves, I’m not giving him power.


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