I do not miss dating.
Sure, there was the excitement of potential. You meet new people and hope for riveting conversations. You grab hold of the tiny chance that the numbers game may have finally worked in your favor.
This one might just be a meaningful connection.
But, let’s be honest. Most of the time, the date is a disappointing use of your limited time and dwindling faith.
For women, a big part of why dating devolves into a necessary evil is the rampant misogyny that goes largely unchecked. Even scrolling through our daily messages requires emotional fortitude. I’ve heard men complain that women get more attention on these dating platforms.
A lot of that attention comes in the form of sexual harassment.
“How much for one night?”
This is just one of the many outrageous messages I have received. I’m not an anomaly. Women are often harassed, stalked, and assaulted. Then there’s the confusing message with a photo of something…
Oh. It’s another man exposing himself without any consideration of your consent.
I can reach into my bag and pull out other horror stories that many women also relate to.
Dating as a survivor is retraumatizing. Online dating companies don’t care about the safety of women on their platforms. They are offering a service of personal connection, but they absolve themselves of ethical responsibility. The vast majority of other social media companies follow suit in reneging accountability.
A woman is the biggest stakeholder in the action plan following the violation of her boundaries.
There aren’t nearly enough safeguards to protect women.
My friends and I would joke about the graphic, disturbing comments we would get from men who messaged us online. When I think back to it, I see that it was a coping strategy. We tried to use laughter to lighten our own loads because we believed that we couldn’t change the system.
Except, laughter won’t help you feel better when you’re on a date and the man keeps groping you. It won’t help when he disregards your “no” and pushes himself onto you. It won’t help when he asks deeply personal questions with all the entitlement of your best friend.
I’m sure you want to know what kinds of bad boys I was dating.
An engineer. A Ph.D. from a top-tier school. A healthcare worker. My dating pool included mostly highly educated men. This is how I learned that professional success does not equal the presence of humanity.
One of these men lectured me on the negative effects of watching porn. Another one considered his professor’s unwanted advances toward a female colleague to be harassment. They could point out problems elsewhere, but they didn’t think that invading my boundaries qualified as an issue.
I hope they start asking themselves how they contribute to a sexist culture.
While a man’s biggest worry is aesthetics, a woman doesn’t want to get assaulted and/or killed.
Sexists feel immutably entitled.
I have had to file a police report against a man who stalked me for years. In 2016, we met online and proceeded to have one solitary wine date. He still found ways to harass me up until 2019, when I got the police involved.
If I told him to stop, his messages would further devolve into sexist profanity. Even blocking him wasn’t enough. He would find new forms of social media to contact me.
Are you still thinking, “what kind of guys was she dating?”
If so, I ask that you consider this question instead: “What kind of world are we living in?”
By the way, he was a successful software engineer at a Top 5 tech company.
Not that it matters, though, because victim-blaming is lazy and ignorant.
It’s time for things to change.
I once read a study that polled both women and men who were active online daters about their biggest fear. The most frequent response by men was that they feared their date would be fatter than her pictures. Women, on the other hand, most frequently responded that they feared their date would be a psychopath.
For those who don’t understand male privilege, this is an excellent example. While a man’s biggest worry is aesthetics, a woman doesn’t want to get assaulted and/or killed.
There’s nothing funny about this. It’s pretty grim, actually. That is, if you consider women to be human beings.
All of these online dating companies that make money from women should care a whole lot about our safety and well-being. Anyone who profits off of us should treat us with respect and humanity.
Sex doesn’t happen to women. Assault happens to women. Harassment happens to women. Rape happens to women.
Each woman should feel empowered to protect her boundaries.
We need clear, easily navigable, responsive, and transparent procedures for reporting harassment and assault. This includes harassing messages. We deserve to know what action was taken.
Let’s talk in business-speak. A woman is the biggest stakeholder in the action plan following the violation of her boundaries.
I want to see each and every online dating platform take a firm, vocal stance against sexism and misogyny. I want them to implement consistent checks that make predators feel scared and help women feel safe.
I wish I had reported each predatory message I got. There were just too many.
I wish I had reported each assault I was the victim of. I didn’t because back then, I still believed that sex was something that happens to women and that I shouldn’t destroy a man’s life over my discomfort.
Of course, this is wrong.
I don’t think this way anymore. At all. Sex doesn’t happen to women. Assault happens to women. Harassment happens to women. Rape happens to women.
Sex is consensual.
We women don’t need to protect the fragility of men who harm us. This will only keep them from growing through accountability, and it will prevent us from making the world safer. The next generations of girls and women deserve what we haven’t received: equality.