Earlier in the week, I put a picture of myself in my underwear up on the site.
Whatever potentially unkind thought you refrained from expressing as a result, don't worry. I probably heard it from one of my friends, which is why I love them and keep them around.
Such thoughts included:Hahahahahah how long did you spend posing in your underwear, dumbass?andI know that mirror! That's your skinny mirror!!!!and Don't come to me freaking out when you get creepy emails.A word about that last one!I know it isn't a stock problem for people who don't write about handjobs or routinely expose their breasts for an online audience. But I think that to some degree, any woman with a Facebook or OKCupid profile or Twitter avatar of her face has probably dealt with unwanted Internet attention. (I've hashed out the topic more minutely in a post about blocking weirdos and one about the deeply silly concept of "creep shaming.")
I believe the original motto of XOJane was "Attention is attention!" but I recently, I've found myself on the receiving end of some of the seriously unwanted kind. You can only get so many dick pics and what-my-stepmom-would-call-"inappropriate" notes from married men on Facebook before it wears you down a little.
Still, I tend to blame myself.
I suppose there's an extent to which you should expect "NICE TITS!" when you post pictures of your nice tits. But ultimately, I don't think it should matter whether you're Lisa Ann or Tipper Gore or the Whore of Babylon. Unwanted is not necessaily unexpected, but it is still unwanted.
I hate that I feel like I've done something to deserve it when I am afraid for my safety, or when a person makes me think very unfeminist, hack-comedian thoughts about men as a gender. I don't like feeling disappointed in myself and humanity.
But this week, I had a few bad days in a row of that.
So when a strange guy emailed me saying he liked my writing and asked if I would get a drink with him, I had a full fledged Overreaction. Usually when someone takes the time to send an email, mean or nice, I write back "Thanks for writing!" which is always sincere and is only maybe a little bitchy, depending. If I have managed not to thoroughly bore somebody, great. I'd rather you get mad or call me out for being a dick than be bored. (Although I won't say that it doesn't hurt a little when somebody writes a hate post about me or calls me fat or whatever.)
When a person I don't know asks me out, I guess I should think, "Wow, he likes my writing so much he wants to put his penis inside me." Which I guess is kind of a compliment, if you think about it, but for some reason it makes me feel offended and uncomfortable.
From a purely vain standpoint, it presupposes that A) I am available and B) I am so available that I am willing to go out with a complete stranger without knowing even what he looks like, because he gives me a compliment.
I hate the whole "Men are visual creatures!" argument because, what are women? Scented candle creatures made wet by emotion? Christ alive.
I'm not a "physical beauty" person to extent that personality is paramount for me, because I am better than all of you people who get hung up on stuff like "nice eyes" or "alluring bottom." Call me superficial, but I would still like to know whether or not somebody looks like the dumpster creature from Mullholand Drive before I agree to meet him for a beverage.
So, TAPPITY TAPPITY TAP INDIGNANT TAP, I wrote back asking if he'd ever go out with a woman without knowing her age or weight or what her face looked like, or if he'd meet with a stranger who emailed to say "Hey! Love your work. Maybe you'd be interested in getting together in a situation that might eventually involve my dick being in your head." (I know. I'm sorry. It was a long week.) It was basically a not-very-articulate, No, seriously, please explain what the fuck is wrong with you type of response. I don't feel good about sending it.
Funnily enough, he sent back a thoughtful and measured response. What he's saying doesn't exonerate the creeps, but I guess it makes me think twice about whether to fly off the handle at the next guy who DMs me something doofy.
So with apologies to Jezebel, I'd like to present to you a Great Email from a Dude. I asked him if I could use it here and he said sure, although he didn't want to see it if I made him look like "a bit of a tit." (He's English, so excuse the weird spellings and adorbable Briticisms like "bit of a tit.")
Hey,I've had a bit of time to think ... but haven't really come up with any solid conclusions, so I'll leave that up to you. I never was one for a well structured essay either I'm afraid. I started of thinking why men in general send these emails, then I realised that this presupposes that lots of men do, but I can't think of a single one of my friends who would, but then, obviously I did, so I'm not sure if there's general rule or profile. I imagine though, that the sense of anonymity on the internet makes it more prevelant online than anywhere else as it's clearly much easier to send an email to a beautiful woman than it is to walk up to her in a bar/park/supermarket and be charming. There's plenty of time think about what you're going to say without getting flustered, plus any crushing rejection is reasuringly private, so at no stage do you need to return to your mates for a thorough piss-taking.I was thinking earlier that I'm probably fairly atypical when it comes to things like this, but then I imagine the phrase "I don't usually do this, but" comes out with monotonous regularity. So while I can't really talk for anyone else, here's the lead up to my email at least.By way of background, I've always been something of a serial monogamist, but am 28 now and getting increasingly impatient to do a Cat Stevens and 'find a girl, settle down', but I'm not quite ready to compromise on finding my ideal woman yet. So it's a fairly frustrating path, but I'm sure I'm not the only one on it.Anyway, on Monday, I was [Identifying Information Redacted -- he works on the Internet and found my Twitter profile and work on XOJane]. At the end of this, I'd built an image in my head which may well be way off the mark, but that didn't really matter at the time, of yourself being fun, confident, attractive, feminist, successful, and in my age bracket.This is basically my ideal woman, so I thought I'd give it a go. Would I go out with someone without knowing what she looked like? Honestly, probably not. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they look, and in my experience, sometime you can just tell: "I am not going to get on with that person."As to whether one should be flattered or creeped out, people rarely get in touch with me about a beautifully written website and ask me to dinner, so it's hard to comment but it does sounds like a bit more of an occupational hazard for you ... just assume even the oddest emails are no more than misplaced attention seeking behaviour. I'm sure there are some nefarious men out there and the odd misunderstood pervert, but I'm not sure they bear worrying about.Ok, I think that's about all I've got to say. Sorry it was so long.[Redacted.]
He also attached his photo. He's a total knockout. Go figure.