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.