Context: Included in the photos on my online profile is a blurry picture of me winning my second boxing fight. Below is a copy paste of a POF message correspondance between Online Dude (“OD”) and myself, over the course of a few hours. This is the first time Online Dude reached out to me.
OD: Oh wow. Have you ever punched any ex bfs? :p
Me: No history of domestic abuse
OD: Lol. U got a police report to prove it?
Me: Your due diligence is pretty thorough.
OD: It should be these days 😉
OD: Especially with the equation being reversed
Me: Yes, domestic abuse is so much more embarrassing when it’s the girl doing the abusing, right?
OD: Yes, especially when they will think it’s the guy who did the abusing 🙂
OD: I won’t be embarrassed though if I was abused by a gal, there r some tough women out there haha
Me: So either way, my rep is safe whether I hit you or not.
OD: Ya well I won’t say anything to anyone, i’ll take it n shut up lol.
Me: I’m relieved
OD: You should be. But just to keep me motivated in that relationship theoretically ud let me land a few punches from time to time right?
OD: Awww so only u gets to hit 🙂
Me: I know you were trying to be funny, but I find this topic pretty vulgar and insensitive. Domestic abuse, violence, all of that, just isn’t funny, and asking me if I hit ppl, bc I am a boxer and a girl isn’t a good opener, it’s rude.
OD: Wow apologies, I got the sarcasm and just played along cause I thought if it bothered you you would have said it off the bat.
Now, I already know what many of you will say: I need to chillax; I shouldn’t be so picky or judgmental; online dating is awkward; the guy was trying to be funny, give him a break. But here is the thing: it isn’t funny. It is rude to approach a stranger, and ask them if they are in the habit of hitting people, EVEN IF IT IS DONE SARCASTICALLY. It is especially asinine to think common rules of politeness don’t apply because I am a girl.
But wait, you say! This has nothing to do with me being a girl!
Really? If I had a picture of me playing tennis, diving, figure skating, or any other more socially acceptable “female” sport, people would not periodically ask me if I hit people. “So, do you like to smash tennis balls into your ex’s faces?” or “I bet you twizzle the shit out of any assholes you’ve met, right?” sound like idiotic comments – because they are idiotic. I am aware that there would still be guys making inappropriate comments about my flexibility, and how that is a transferable skill into the bedroom, but unfortunately, those crude comments are just so common, I’m resigned to them.
Still not convinced? Let us “reverse the equation”, to use OD’s phrasing. Imagine a good looking dude with an online profile of him winning a fight, or training with a punching bag. Next, try imagine how many girls would start a conversation by asking him “So, have you ever punched any ex gfs? ;)” or my personal favorite “I guess I’ll be careful not to make you mad! :)” Slightly harder to picture, right? I struggle to imagine the guy reading such a message and feeling flattered – if he was, he fully deserves such a girl.
Let it be known that I have had similar remarks made to me by my own coworkers. Interestingly, only my male coworkers ever make such comments. No doubt out of friendliness, right? I’m not so sure. I have never heard a male coworker ask another male coworker whether or not he likes to do dirty checks to unsuspecting passerbys, just because he plays hockey. Or if he has a habit of dropping to the ground in exaggerated pain if he is a soccer player. Or if he tackles people for fun because he is a football player. The argument, oft expressed, that my violent sport makes it more justifiable for people to comment about violence doesn’t seem to explain why men playing violent sports are relatively immune to such ridiculous comments.
Similar interactions to the one above happen frequently in the online world: approximately 1 in every 4 guys that messages me says something to that effect. That ratio drops to 1 in every 6 guys that meet me socially in real life. Yes, it disappoints me every single time. No, this really isn’t the end of the world – it isn’t remotely as offensive as the guy who thought I disliked black dudes just because I didn’t say hi fast enough for him. Yes, I can see that the guys who are say these things aren’t intentionally trying to upset me, but are acting out of friendliness or interest which are both positive things. No, that doesn’t mean their words aren’t indicative of an unconscious bias, and no, I shouldn’t calm down about this. Bias, even when unintentional, is still a problem. It is definitely a problem in any guy I might date. I don’t want a man talking to my cousins, nieces, and unborn daughters that way. And I definitely don’t want him talking to me like that, and expecting me to laugh and find him cute.
Online dating is such a rat race, posers, idiots, fakes it just get old after awhile. Happy hunting to you (just don’t hit anybody). This guy looks like he was trying way to hard to be funny.
I know, for sure he wasn’t trying to piss me off. But it doesn’t matter. Good manners do!
I think of online dating as mutual catalog shopping. Online dating profiles are more or less the sales pitch; maintain a healthy dose of skepticism and after a while you learn to pick up certain signs or clues on what to look for or avoid.
As a man, I see a lot of women’s profiles don’t necessarily need a well-written or expansive written section. They’ll get flooded with messages, crass offers, etc regardless. I try to look for the profiles where the person has written more than three lines. It usually implies the person is putting more than cursory effort, gives clues on what topics or icebreakers to discuss and can be a good indicator of the person’s personality.
Yup, my main sorting for online dating is just plain length of profile, before I even consider the content.
That first conversation made me feel horribly uncomfortable. What happened to questions like do you win much, or does boxing allow for travel etc.? In public situations I find conversation difficult and do a lot of research on how to approach people. Egads, with the birth of Google one would think people would learn how to behave.
I agree!!! It isn’t a question of boxing, or bias, really, but a question of good manners!
I feel bad for leading him on, since clearly he was taken aback when I finally called him out on his inappropriate remarks, but I was too curious to see how long this tone-deaf conversation could last!
Boxing skills or not, that conversation made me feel completely uncomfortable. Knowing that I, who can get very uncomfortable initiating conversations frequently research conversation starters. One would think with A constant access to Google, people would know how to behave.
You shouldn’t “get over it”. Domestic violence is never funny. EVER. This is why I quit online dating, which in turn, has lead me to quit dating period. 🙂
I wish you nothing but the best in your adventures! xoxo
I have quit online dating 3 times so far (I have been single for a small eternity). The frustration it causes is sometimes crushing – I know there are nice, funny, kind, normal guys out there… But online dating makes me doubt that!
What depresses me in this whole scenario is not the frequency with which guys make those stupid comments – it is the frequency with which I am told to not turn it into a big deal. By my friends, by my family.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I completely get it. Believe me. My friends and family tell me all the time “don’t take things so personal”, “don’t let your feelings get hurt so often or easily”, “let stuff roll off your back”. Yah. Ok. I’ll work on it. It’s not who I am.
I’ve been single for the better part of 5 years. And if you count my unhappy marriage, I’ve really been single for a lot longer.
I’m rooting for you to meet that Mr. Right!! xoxo
LikeLiked by 1 person
Me too! 5 years, with a few adventures sprinkled throughout.
I wish the same for you! Xox
Wow. It’s a DAMN FINE THING you get to weed through these folks before engaging further. Men with morals wouldn’t even joke about that kind of thing. I mean. “I don’t know you, but I can see you enjoy boxing. How about letting me punch you a few times?) It is a big deal, especially when you’re feeling someone out. Once again, amen for natural de-selection.
Right??? What happened to common sense and basic manners?
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is a fantastic post! I am so glad that you called that guy out on his incredibly horrible comments. Most people don’t realize when they say things that perpetuate gender bias. Which is why I think it is so important that it be pointed out, otherwise people will not recognize that they need to change the language they choose to use.
I still wonder if I am oversensitive, and if I should be more mellow about it. Yet I can’t stop the severe resentment and irritation that bubbles up every time this happens to me. And one day I decided that I shouldn’t be the one to bear all that irritation caused by others’ behaviours.
I agree with you: the only way to work through bias is by talking about it. It’s easier to be quiet, but that prevents growth and change.