How I Changed the Mind of a Sexist Jerk on OKCupid

From Sexist to Empathetic in 12 Messages

There is no shortage of men saying wildly inappropriate things to me online*. When I can thinking of something funny to say back, these men usually end up as a part of (or the butt of) the joke on my Instagram. Most of the time though, it’s just a heavy burden to bear. The burden of these men and the way they speak to me (the way I assume they speak to all women, or at least all fat women). These men, who are your friends, your brothers, your future boyfriends, say terrible things and sometimes not that bad things and a lot of the time only-sort-of-bad-mostly-just-lame-things to me and most of the time nothing comes of it.

Which is why I can’t help but celebrate the few times I change someone’s mind. Because isn’t that really why I allow men to sharpen their knives upon my bones, the chance that I might make the world a better place and find some joy in this misery? Or, something more optimistic but less cool sounding.

And thus, I give you, a conversation I had recently on OKCupid, in which I changed a man’s perspective (with commentary).

*women are not obligated to educate you on feminism (that’s what google is for)
*women don’t owe you anything (not their time, not their manners, not their knowledge)
*for examples on why this might be try googling #byefelipe or searching it on instagram

He Said, She Said

It started out much like it always does. Man laughs at a joke written by another and assumes he himself must be hysterical. Calamity and lack of empathy ensue.

For context: my OKCupid profile is really just a list of jokes I’ve written

OKCupid first message

 

Sweet jesus. Did this dude actually just message me to say he wasn’t sure if my (brilliant) jokes are hilarious or just my sweet tits (tits being the least gross way I can characterize what he actually said)? The answer is yes. Yes he did. Even crazier is the fact that he thought this would go over well with me. Like who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of casual demeaning to start off any romantic relationship, amirite.

 

OKCupid first message

 

Ah yes, the age old “I’m not unfunny, you’re just uptight” defence (not uncommonly used by unfunny men everywhere). Followed almost immediately by the “you must have issues with your body because it’s not like me, a stranger, talking about it in a totally gross and offensive way could be at all bothersome.” This dude was on a roll, picking up speed while hitting all the bullshit ways in which terrible men gaslight women into thinking they’re crazy or too-sensitive or don’t deserve even the most basic amount of respect. You know, the kind of guy who says “I don’t take this seriously,” as if you can shirk the responsibility of treating strangers like shit simply by maintaining a lackadaisical attitude (here’s looking at you trolls).

 

OKCupid first message

 

The link I messaged him was to this tweet:


And just like that the tides were turning. Or, so I thought. I mean, he’d realized that perhaps his joke wasn’t quite the Seinfeld-esque banter he’d originally thought but did he really get “it”? Did he really get that it wasn’t simply a case of a joke falling flat but an entire flawed ideology about the treatment of women?

 

OKCupid first message

 

Ah, the age old “no one else has complained” defence. So many excuses, so little time, amirite?!? The truth is that he didn’t get it–not really, not yet. And so, I tried to explain it to him. I tried to explain without sounding bitter and jaded (because no one listens to you if you’re angry or bitter *eye roll so hard I pull a muscle*), about the ways in which women might have chosen/been forced by social pressures to absorb everything from the violent tedium to the violent fists of men (all in a real quick OKCupid message). Keep it light babe, keep it light.

 

OKCupid messages

 

And he got it. MY GOD HE GOT IT. But I wasn’t done. I wanted to add one final note about how maybe he could help with this thing we’re trying to do (ya know, be viewed as human and valuable and stuff).

 

sexist

 

And shit, I mean he really got it. He even understood the thing I’m always trying to tell all the guys who think they’re not “that guy” which is that you’re probably “that guy”. And you’re definitely “that guy” if you don’t think about how your behaviour affects others. Especially online because online is where people have the least amount of protection from the public and accountability from perpetrators. So please, the next time you send a message, or speak to someone, or think you’re absolutely above harming anyone–stop and think. Slip your feet into some empathy and try it on for size.

And if you’ve ever acted like this guy, do better. Be better.

And tell your friends because women are tired of carrying the burden.

How to Talk to Women Online

The trick is to talk to her as if she is a human being. Do not talk about your penis.

Speak to her as if she exists in the real world because this is, in fact, all happening in the real world. The internet is not magic, and you are no wizard. You are no one other than yourself (and honestly, yourself needs to be doing a better job). Treat her like a human being the first time.

If there’s one thing I hear way too much on the internet—aside from “nice tits” and “I bet you’re great at sucking dick”—It’s the standard apology followed by, “I’m actually a really [insert unsubstantiated, unlikely, positive attribute: nice, smart, great, funny] guy, my [minimization of substandard and gross behavior] to the contrary. But I’m here to let you know that this is not true. You are not the person you wish yourself to be on the internet; you are exactly the person you have revealed yourself as. You are not your intentions but instead your actions, the horrible garbage monster you’ve been acting like until you aren’t anymore (you can change right now…or now…still now…yup now too…honestly at any moment you could change your whole way of being and just stop treating people terribly and being ridiculous and boring and predictable and detestable. I promise). So, if you’re writing things like “DTF?” in a first message or “I want to bury myself in your body” (yes, these are super real examples), please know that that is genuinely who you are. You are not a child testing the waters, you are grown up making people uncomfortable because of how little empathy (and respect, and social awareness, etc.) you have.

I wish my advice could be as simple as “just be yourself” but apparently that’s what many men have been doing and frankly it’s not working out so great for anybody involved. So instead, my advice is to be better than your current self. I don’t know who to blame for the way you to speak to women, for the way you’ve confused harassment for honesty and the unsubstantiated sense of self-worth for quality but it has to stop.

[sidenote: if you’re a man who approaches and speaks to women in a kind and intelligent manner, well, this article obviously isn’t directed at you, but then of course you already know that.]

Do not talk about your penis. From the very first moment you noticed this cucumber of an appendage, you have loved it. It has been your best friend, your most cherished possession, and at times your greatest accomplishment. But this is an illusion. No woman will ever love your penis the way you do. Your penis is more boring than a sober academic. Not my penis! I can hear you shouting. Yes. Your penis. It’s boring and tedious and, if I’m being honest, your penis is exactly like my apartment in that we all wish it was bigger. Unless your dick is more like my student loan debt inasmuch as there’s always just way, way too much. Jokes aside, given the data on the female orgasm—something like 75% of women never reach orgasm through penetration alone, 10-15% never reach orgasm at all (omg ladies I’m so sorry!), leaving only 10-15% who have the potential to get off straight from the D (though to be clear that’s just the possibility, it might not be every time and/or with every D)—So like what are we even talking about here? How illogical do you have to be (or how totally unaware of the realities of sex) to think your dick matters? Dicks are basically worthless (not to be confused with men being worthless because obviously not). What I’m saying is that men need to stop buying into the hype that your dick is the part of you that matters. It’s only a tiny part of you, and honestly, I’d rather hear about your degree in Journalism, or your passion project, or your relationship with great Aunt Susan, or what you ate for breakfast (which should tell you a lot because I’m guessing your morning meal is pretty fucking boring).

But if not straight up dick talk, what can I say to interest her?

Interesting people are usually curious, so ask her about her life and then when she asks about yours, go ahead and tell her. Listen when she talks, act as if she may have experienced something of value or even that her very experiencing of something may have given it value. Be empathetic and kind. Don’t talk about your penis.

Try to find a common interest. Does she like wizard jokes? Does she collect Labyrinth memorabilia? Is she crushing a fantasy football league with her team “The Bad Reviews Bears”? Ask her. Have you asked her? Fucking ask her! Once you discover something in common, run with it. Even if it’s something as silly as you both like to attend Kraft Singles events (which I’ve heard are very cheesy). Turn that common thread into a conversational sweater and knit something warm together. Don’t talk about your dick.

When she asks you about yourself, be honest and self-aware (you don’t need to be your own hype man, your actions and accomplishments will speak for themselves). If, when you attend parties, people don’t congregate around you in an orbital bliss of laughter—do not claim you have an amazing sense of humor (your sense of humor is average, which isn’t amazing but it’s fine, I’m sure you have something else going for you, I mean don’t sweat it).  Don’t say things like “I’m young at heart” or “I don’t look my age” because your heart has been slowly dying since the day you were born and honey, in regards to your age, if you have to say it—you aren’t it.  You know why babies never get up in your face to tell you how youthful they are?  Because their shit filled diapers and chubby cheeks do that for them.  The same rules apply for your face.  Also, those pleated khakis already gave you away. Stop giving yourself medals for kindness (to be totally honest, we’re all varying degrees of asshole and the only thing that makes that tolerable is our ability to admit it, so rather than pretending you’re the King of Benevolence because one time you didn’t act like a total psycho when someone rejected your advances, maybe just be real about who you are). You know that cliché saying “nice guys finish last”? It’s not true at all. Nice guys finish first all the time, people fucking love those guys. Entitled jerks who lack self-awareness finish last though (those dudes are the fucking worst amirite? Yuck!).

Now, I know what you may be thinking: How on earth am I going to let her know that I’m sexually attracted to her.

If you’re contacting her on any website or app that is sex/dating related, just assume she already knows this. No one who isn’t completely ridiculous is trying to make friends over on Plenty of Fish or Tinder (and if, by some stretch of the imagination, that did happen, those people usually say it right off the bat). Men often complain (to me—why do they keep thinking I care about their gripes? Like I’m some kind of wish fountain for subpar strangers?) that women on apps like Tinder are all just looking for friends, but I’m going to keep it real with you. While that’s obviously a possibility (anything is possible, I mean we live in a world where men think saying “nice tits” might actually get them somewhere), it’s unlikely. What’s more likely is that there was a possibility of attraction (again my god! this world is so full of possibilities!! Ahhh the excitement!!) that said dude then completely smashed to bits by being unimpressive (at best) or offensive/misogynistic (at worst). So like I said, if you’re having a nice conversation with a woman online, know that she knows you’re attracted (or that it’s at least in the realm of possibilities). Save the “nice tits” talk for when you’ve managed to see them for the first time. Because that’s the thing about sexual comments, context is key. A stranger talking about your body online is creepy as fuck, a man talking about your body the first time you show it to him is delicious.

This may come as a surprise but you don’t have to dehumanize a woman to have casual sex with her (in fact, if you were any good at sex you’d likely already know that the best sex happens when people feel comfortable and relaxed enough to really be themselves and, for lack of a better phrase, let it all hang out). Also, please don’t confuse a woman wanting to have casual sex with the idea that a woman who wants casual sex will definitely want to have it with you. I love casual sex (Big Fan! Huge!) but I have to be attracted/interested in having it with someone. It’s not just a first-cum scenario. You have to be brilliant and hilarious and interesting and kind and socially/self-aware, it’s a whole fucking thing.

That said, if you’re contacting a woman on ANY other website/app, well I mean you probably shouldn’t be trying to get at her in a sexual way. I mean, would you show up at your doctor’s house for a prostate exam? No, so why would you approach a woman via Twitter where she’s trying to make a name for herself writing jokes or promoting her new startup in a sexual way? If your interest lies in her as a person than talk to her like a human being. Honestly, you could just support whatever she’s doing because it’s amazing and interests you, and you could just never impose any other desires or expectations on her, ever. I mean, you can really do that, speak to women for no other purpose than they’re doing creative and brilliant things that you find interesting. It’s okay to just support and value someone. It’s okay to just be a human being with empathy.

Say FRIENDZONED Again. I Dare You.

Heart

Say FRIENDZONED again.  I dare you.

Say it like it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you, that I might open my heart and not my legs.

Say it like I owe you something, like this world took too much from you and I am a part of the repayment plan.

Put a value on my smile.

Assign my hips a scale.

Hug me, but only if you’re hiding a boner.

Say FRIENDZONED like a campaign slogan, hold the antagonism high above your head, an evil you’re working against.

Make sure you’re feeling elitist though, as if the impetus that tells you I’m worthless unless we’re fucking isn’t the same impetus of rapists.

Don’t rest your chair so high.  The pants you wear are a common size.

Say it to my face so I hear it.  So I get to see who you really are.

Say I already have enough friends only minutes after cooing compliments in my ear.

Say I really want you.  I think you’re amazing.  A real cool chick.  I want to put my face in your lap for hours.

Say But it’s whatever you want, I’m cool if we’re just friends.  We can just write jokes together and hang out.  No pressure.  I want you, but it’s cool if we’re just friends.

And then I say the words.  I think we should just be friends, for now.  I don’t have to add the for now, you don’t own my heart and my desire and my future.  But I say it anyway because in this one scenario, this one time, there is possibility.  You came back into my life after being away for too long and I just need a fucking minute to acclimate.  So I say the words you offer, as a pause point, a breather I need to take.

No sooner are the words off my lips then you’re chugging back your beer and holding out a twenty thinking it chivalrous to shuffle me home in a cab.  I have enough friends you spit like an accusation.  You are not a gentleman, you are a monster.

Call the next day to apologize.  Call everyday for a week.  Never leave a message.  Text to ask if I’ll only just listen to your apology, hear the pain in your voice.  It doesn’t much matter now, I have seen who you are.

So go ahead and say it.  FRIENDZONED.  (as I slide all your options off the table)