A Guy I Used To Work With Who Was Always Very Pleasant With Me Just Sent Me A Porn VIdeo, WTF

A short skirt is not "asking for" sex. Writing about sex is also not "asking for" porn.

Aug 1, 2013 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

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Seriously, why?

I would be seriously skeeved out right now if I didn't have my new intern Rajasri hanging out next to me.

"Oh look," I said to her, checking my overflowing in-box filled with PR pitches and spam and the occasional actual legit email from a real human being. "I just got an email from a man I used to work with. He's a sweet guy. Pretty mild-mannered but we always got along when we used to work together."

But then -- I actually read the email from him. Or more accurately, I read it, and then stupidly clicked a link inside the email from him.

The subject line was "Shameless Photo YOWZA!" (My old co-worker was referring to my new profile photo from Shameless Photography.) In the email he sent me, he asked if I would send him a few shots from the photo shoot I had done for Shameless so that he could add them to his collection of "Mandy Throughout the Years." I thought, OK, that's kind of sweet. I know he means well and has always been a nice guy to me.

But then I kept reading the email. I had noticed that there was a video link near the bottom of what my old co-worker had written, but I figured it was a song he liked or a comedy bit he thought I might enjoy. But then I clicked on it. I stupidly clicked on it.

My jaw dropped.

The link was to an incredibly, incredibly graphic video of a man masturbating and orgasming again and again. When the video popped up on my computer screen, Rajasri was sitting across the room from me, and she immediately saw my face.

"What? Is it bad? What's in the email, Mandy?" she asked.

I didn't say anything. I just contorted my face and said, "Oh, my God."

"What are you looking at, Mandy?" Rajasri repeated. "Tell me."

"Are you OK with seeing penises and graphic things?" I asked her hesitantly.

"Oh, no. He sent you his penis?" she asked.

"No, no, definitely not," I said, hypnotized in shock. "I mean, yes. It's a penis. But it's not his penis."

Rajasri walked over and stood by me.

"So, the person I am looking at on my screen right now is a much younger guy," I said, now turning into Nancy Drew, Lady Penis Detective. "There's no way it's my former co-worker. It's just a man. Some random, faceless man masturbating, and from reading the title of the video, coming -- let's see -- five times, I guess."

Then, after she assured me graphic penis porn wouldn't offend her, we watched the video together. 

My intern Rajasri, who is a very badass math major at Bard and president of her feminist club, looked on sagely and said, "You know, he's really NOT coming five times."

"Yeah," I agreed, and suddenly my shock turned into a shrewd evaluation of the man's performance. We started giggling at the absurdity and the awfulness.

I also immediately felt better that I was not alone in my apartment subjected to the creepy unease of this aggressively sexual email from someone who I have never, ever, ever had a sexual relationship with or even flirted with once.

This old colleague was a fairly quiet, kind man when we worked together. Occasionally, we talked about our love lives. But nothing that indicated anything more than two co-workers keeping each other company. He did tell me once he would almost never date a woman who was taller than him -- but that he would date one "if she looked like me." It was a forward comment, but I always tend to think men's hearts are in the right place when it comes to these things. I brushed it off.

And now I was staring at this video in disgust. Not because sex or penises or orgasming five times or even porn is disgusting. But the assumption that it was OK to send this to me out of the blue absolutely was. It was disgusting.

"Maybe he got hacked?" Rajasri said, clearly exhibiting the same everyone-has-a-good-heart POV I tend to give people, which often, as you've probably guessed, is not the savviest route to take. It can lead to, say, porn videos getting sent to you from people you worked with years ago as a way of saying, "Hi, what have you been up to lately? TL;DR: Penis penis penis."

"Rajasri, he absolutely did not get hacked," I said. "Read the email. He gave me specific instructions with the video in the email. Look at this. He wrote, 'Make sure you turn the volume UP.'"

"Oh," she said, turning to look again at the faceless man on my computer screen as he continued to do his business in front of us. "Yeah, I guess you're right then. He did probably mean to send it. So wait, are you absolutely sure it's not him in the video then?"

"No way," I said, finding myself increasingly mesmerized-slash-horrified-slash-mystified by the grainy porno unfolding before us. "Impossible."

"So why did he send it to you then? Does this coming guy say 'Mandy' at some point or something?" she asked.

"It's almost four minutes long," I said. "I guess I don't have to keep watching it to find out. I can just kind of listen, and see if he does."

So I listened. I listened as this headless pixilated man just grunted -- and then grunted again, and then kept grunting three more times, until the video was over. At no point was there a secret, "Hey Mandy, keep up the great writing at xoJane!" in between orgasms.

Just grunting. That my former co-worker apparently wanted me to hear, and also see, via this unforgettable and very disturbing delivery mechanism.

And then there's another added layer of weirdness to this entire incident.

I don't know if it was clear from what I said, but my former co-worker who sent the video is very much heterosexual. He would tell me of his heterosexual flings.

But the porn link he sent me of the man masturbating was on a GAY PORN WEBSITE.

So while this video was playing, I not only watched the main masturbation scene, but I was forced to see all around that main video -- for the first time, quite honestly -- very graphic gay sex scenes popping up all around.

I mean, incredibly, incredibly graphic.

"Huh," I said to Rajasri. "I don't think I've ever actually seen two guys have sex before. I guess this is instructive. Maybe that's the silver lining here? A little bit of sexual education?"

My intern just shook her head at me and my very strange life. That's when it hit me.

Was my former co-worker coming out to me?

In the weirdest, creepiest way possible?

I truly have no idea.

So I decided to write my long lost co-worker back, and I warned him I was going to write this story. I used the "sandwich principle" of starting out the email with a kindness, then getting into the unpleasantness and then ending with a kindness. You know, like a sandwich.

(Wait -- maybe my co-worker was using the old sandwich principle on me?)

In all honesty, though, the email I wrote my old colleague was pretty pathetic.

The thing is I'm not very good with boundaries or confrontation. It's how I let abusers into my life. Because I hate the idea of breaking someone's heart who I know has a lot of kindness and goodness in there. So I didn't want to straight out tell my old co-worker that it really made me sad to get the porn video. Even though I realize that someone else might tear him a new one for doing exactly that. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So I told him I'd be writing this story -- and that I would send it to him beforehand as a heads up. (He didn't respond when I emailed him it.)

After writing this up, I still don't totally know the precise right way to describe why his actions made me so disheartened, except to say that I really didn't like it. The email felt like a violation. Sure, it was funny. But it was also a violation.

Listen, full disclosure, I have sent porn videos to close friends of mine (and received videos from them) before. But these are friends who I have very flirty relationships with and we talk about sex constantly. The reason it is OK for us to do this is because our boundaries have already been established in a way that both of us feel comfortable with -- and it is fitting and appropriate to the relationship that we have.

Because -- and here's the key -- we HAVE a relationship. As opposed to say, my former co-worker.

I understand he has been reading my writing over the years. But reading someone's writing about sex does not mean you have a sexual relationship with that person. Nope. It just doesn't.

I'm guessing my former co-worker felt that my writing about sex had given him the implicit OK -- the permission and consent -- to do something like what he did.

It did not.

Guess what. My writing -- even when it is about sex -- is NOT me giving consent for anyone to think that we have that kind of a relationship.

You don't know me like that.

And to be clear: I am never asking for it.

***

UPDATE: He wrote me back.

"Mandy, I sent the video because you had written a story about someone telling you they made their man cum five times in a row and you asked rhetorically, 'Is that even possible?' So it was proof that it was possible---researcher to researcher, LOL (or so I thought). Wasn't that your story? Or was it another xoJane writer? If so my 'joke' was a terrible mistake.

"I am SOOOO sorry it offended you! I respect and admire you very very much.

"Of course, I think you're gorgeous, which is why I was asking to see some more shameless photos, not for sexual stimulation. I like telling people I knew you back when. For sexual fun, I'm waiting for the launch of the website, 'Mandy's Masturbation Madhouse,' so I can get off to *and* with you. (Is this also an offensive joke? If so, then I should not make sexual jokes of any kind to you in the future).
 
"Once again, so sorry. I am still the sweet, easygoing guy you knew. Please continue to hold that in your heart. Much love."
 
UGH. I wrote that story TWO MONTHS ago. And it was in no way an invitation for this. Also, just the fact that all of you commenters, regular xoJane readers didn't put this connection together says something -- and points out how truly bizarre this entire email really was. I am wishing him well, but I think my boundaries are finally kicking in.

***

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