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The idea that women have it easier than men in the online dating world is a frustrating misconception.
There’s a long list of misconceptions that men have about women: that we all love strappy sandals and Beyoncé, that we can’t have sex without forming a romantic attachment, that we can somehow reproduce the results of the science experiment that is Kate Upton’s body in a non-laboratory setting.
Perhaps most frustrating of all: the idea that women have it easier than men in the online dating world.
Until recently, that’s exactly what redditor OKCThrowaway22221 believed. To test his theory, he says, he posed as a woman and set up a fake OkCupid profile. He apparently believed that he would receive a smattering of polite messages from genteel suitors in white gloves and Regency-era costumes, requesting that he kindly accompany them for a brief stroll on the veranda.
According to OKCThrowaway22221’s account on the subreddit TwoXChromosomes, the OKCupid experience began fairly innocuously, with a brief message from a suitor before he had even finished the profile:
Before I could even fill out my profile at all, I already had a message in my inbox from a guy. It wasn’t a mean message, but I found it odd that I would get a message already. So I sent him a friendly hello back and kind of joked that I hadn’t even finished my profile, how could he be interested, but I felt good because I thought I was right that “girls have it easy”
Slightly suspicious but emboldened by the initial show of interest, OKCThrowaway22221 decided to temporarily log off. Yet before he could close the tab, he received three simultaneous messages. While they were, at this point, still fairly polite, the fourth guy who messaged him wasn’t (creepiest parts have been italicized for emphasis):
Then I got another message that opened with a line that while not wholly vulgar, kind of came off a little strange. I ignored it and went back to send the message to person three now. Before I could send it, I got a followup message from Mr.4 which was needlessly sexual in nature. I continued to ignore him and finished.
Then he started to chat:
I then began to have some small-talk with some guys (remember this is like minute 20 of having the profile up) and all of the conversations kind of get weird. One of the guys becomes super aggressive saying he is competitive and he will treat me right, the other is asking for my phone number telling me he is lying in bed and the conversation (without me steering it) is turning increasingly sexual in nature though I tell him I’m not comfortable with it. Then I got the NoStringsAtttached messages, with multiple guys sending me messages asking me to watch them cam, or meeting up with them within the hour, or talk with them on the phone or cyber. I would say no and they usually didn’t take it too well.
Within two hours, OKCThrowaway22221 had been spammed with countless messages from men soliciting sex or nude photos; when he politely denied their requests, they would respond in a threatening or aggressive fashion. Eventually, OKCThrowaway22221 became so frustrated by the experience that he deleted his OkCupid profile, a mere two hours after he’d created it.
Yet OKCThrowaway’s foray into the online dating world wasn’t all for naught. His experience as a woman on OkCupid seems to have resulted in his developing a new perspective on dating and gender. Much like Dustin Hoffman, who tearfully recounted his experience with gender discrimination while shooting Tootsie in drag, OKCThrowaway may have learned a valuable lesson about sexism, harassment, and other fun things women online have to deal with on a near-daily basis:
I would be lying if I said it didn’t get to me. I thought it would be some fun thing, something where I would do it and worse case scenario say “lol I was a guy I trolle you lulz” etc. but within a 2 hour span it got me really down and I was feeling really uncomfortable with everything. I figured I would get some weird messages here and there, but what I got was an onslaught of people who were, within minutes of saying hello, saying things that made me as a dude who spends most of his time on 4chan uneasy. … I came away thinking that women have it so much harder than guys do when it comes to that kind of stuff.”
EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.