We live in an age where people now use social media to communicate, and to interact with each other. People form communities via social networks and they are an incredibly useful tool.
They are also a space for people to abuse and to behave in a way that would get them a slap in real life and that slap would be well deserved.
Recently Gillette released a new promotional video talking about how men can do better. It has received a lot of positive and negative responses, as these things tend to do. Lots of men, apparently don’t like being told that the behaviours that they think are ok, actually aren’t and have been a little upset by being told by a big brand that they need to change the way they behave and be a better example.
I have been relatively fortunate in my life to not have face too much in the way of being harassed or treated badly by men. I did have one or two things happen as a teenager that I now realise were not acceptable, but at the time tried to shrug them off, I have been flashed in a train station late at night, and had a man try to approach me in a way that made me very uncomfortable on a bus once. I have narrowly missed drinking a spiked drink, and slapped off the odd grope in a crowd.
But recently on social media, particularly Instagram, I have noticed a dramatic increase in “men” who think it is ok to message me, and try and talk to me. To chat me up. To tell me I am beautiful and to ask me for details about myself. These men either want to try and befriend lonely women on the internet for two reasons, to scam them for money, or to get their jollies in the virtual world.
Normally, I string them along for a bit, then block and report them. They have usually stolen someone else’s information, and are claiming to be high powered men, doctors, in the army, etc. They follow female accounts.
It’s common knowledge. They are stupid and can’t do any harm if you don’t give them information or money.
However this week, one of them got nasty with me.
He sent me the usual “you are beautiful” drivel. He then asked me for my age, and where I lived. I ignored him. He then kept asking, and used three different profiles to try and message me. I could see it was the same person.
I then asked him why he was messaging me, told him I was married with kids, not interested in talking to strange men, on the internet, and why would I want to give him personal information about me?
He then came back and said:
“How old are you, 5?” and proceeded to whine that I wouldn’t give him any information about me.
I ignored him for a bit, and then wham… he sent me a photo. It wasn’t of his smiling face, if you get my drift.
I immediately blocked him and reported him. He then contacted me on another profile and sent the same photo and called me an ungrateful bitch.
You see, I am merely a woman. I should of course be so desperate and feel so little about myself, that when a random man, off the internet, who I don’t know and didn’t ask me to contact him, starts chatting to me, I should of course share information with him. I should want to talk to some man I don’t know and should be grateful for his attention. I should be thrilled when he sends me pictures of bits of him that he would be arrested for showing if he exposed himself in real life.
Because I am a woman, and it’s my lot in life to just let men speak to me that way. I should appreciate it. Men, you see are special, and it’s ok for them to speak treat us this way, ok for them to send us pictures we haven’t asked for.
His last response via yet another profile, was that I shouldn’t post a profile picture of myself looking good if i wasn’t interested in being chatted up.
That did it for me.
I don’t normally swear at people, I am not normally rude.
But I lost it, and he got a message back from me, telling him exactly what I thought and where he could go. I also screen shotted the details of all his profiles and have opened a case with instagram. They probably won’t do much, other than delete his accounts but it’s better than doing nothing.
I am a 40 year old grown woman with her wits about her. Being sent willy pics makes me laugh, to be honest. But it’s still not ok. I could have been a vulnerable 14 year old girl, who wouldn’t know how to respond. I could be naive and give away information to someone who could use that to cause me harm.
But it’s ok, because MEN think it’s ok, so therefore we women should just shut up and put up. There are even women out there who think we should shut up about this. Kristina Kuzmic (who I think is amazing) shared this video about her experiences of being hassled by men, on social media and she has even had women defend those men.
It isn’t ok, and just because you are a man, does not give you the right to behave this way. These men are the creeps that used to hassle teenage girls on buses, or try and grope women on the way to the bathroom, before social media existed, in the local pubs. Now they think they can do what they like on social media.
It isn’t ok and I now name and shame every creepy message I get. I do not use social media to speak to strange men, I have never asked or implied on my social media in any way that I want to interact with men, I am married with kids, and don’t use social media to find relationships. I haven’t used tags or made any indication that that’s what I want. I have not asked to be sent photos, or expressed any interest in being approached by any man.
Why would anyone think it is ok to behave like this? Men do, it seems and I should be good with that.
Before you hit me with “not all men”, I know this. My husband wouldn’t do this, and I know lots of men, personally who think this behaviour is disgusting, and shouldn’t happen.
However, it still does, and when a big brand like Gillette say “we want to get men to do better” and thousands and thousands of men go “don’t be mean, this is what men are” and “don’t tell men how to behave”, it shows that we really are nowhere near making the world a place where men don’t think they can basically act this way and we women should just shut up and put up, or even actually appreciate it. If a woman did this, she is called a slag, a slut, desperate, etc, but when men do it we get “oh it’s just something men do” and all sorts of trite excuses to explain away why it’s apparently ok.
I won’t shut up and put up. Message me in a way that’s creepy or gross and I will name and shame you publicly.
I like Kristina’s #outthem philosophy she talks about on her video. The more of us who say no to this behaviour, the better, I think. Maybe one day, women won’t have to worry about this? Wouldn’t it be nice?
This Friday Rant was a bit of a diversion from my usual blog posts.
Thank you for reading, and if you are ever messaged or sent something that makes you feel uncomfortable or harassed, please report it, do not give them information or details about yourself. Report them, block them and if they continue you can seek help to stop them. Just because you are a woman doesn’t mean a man can behave this way, and just because it’s not “real life” doesn’t make it acceptable.