Friday, January 23, 2015

Message from a Boy (Harassing a Lady)

Yesterday, at about four, I revived my OKCupid profile. Within hours, I received a proposition from a man asking if I'd ever thought of being with "a couple? How about a couple of writers?" which, hey, you do you, dude; however, you are twenty-two years older than me, so no thanks.

At eleven o'clock I got this:

My reply, with my face for reference.

Here's the thing, I don't expect much from dating sites. I've been on three dates in my life. I've done a lot of chatting-that-goes-nowhere. Whatever. All in good fun. And I go back and forth about officially disclosing my disability on my profile. I get more messages if I don't, but it's such a huge part of me, that often I do.

I fall into the category of rabid feminist. I will defend other women's--and men's, and nonbinary folks'--rights to do whatever they want with their bodies in a safe space. But I have a hard time identifying with the issues of unwelcome sexualization other girls face. It never happened to me. I wasn't just a girl to my guy friends in high school, I wasn't a girl at all. Not one they'd consider dating. Not a deeply romantic person with with nascent desires, just like they are. (Full disclosure: I did get asked out once, by my best friend. We had one date. No bases involved.)

So, I don't get the "hey sexy" messages on OKC. I'm sure this makes me lucky, in the realistic scheme of things. For someone raised in thee contemporary world of hypocritical beauty expectations for girls/women, it is perversely disappointing. My body is not sexualized. It is also not fetishized,in the way of other disabled people. It is desexualized.

And I've grown accustomed to that. I try not to hold myself to beauty standards my body can't attain. I like make-up, and having long, pink-streaked hair. My face is my face, I do with it what I can. Most people I know seem to understand that. Believe it or not, I'd never gotten a message like this before. Dumb luck, I guess. Or maybe it's that I've usually lived in metropolitan areas, where people had better things to do than abuse a disabled girl on the internet. The fact that this guy doesn't like it isn't what bothers me about this message--at least not consciously. What bothers me about this message is that he bothered to send it. It bothers me that a self-identifying nerd, who has interests similar to mine, decided to waste his inbox allowance on this. He's not a neckbeard--he's pasty, but not unattractive. He has a good job. Works for the Navy. And yet.

And yet. Our society has such little acceptance for desperate--no, for DISABLED--appearances, that it is okay to say things like this. The shouts and slurs that used to be given whenever disabled people went out the door have now been moved inside, and online. This is not a positive development. But it is also not this particular bastard's fault. Our city has a smalltown mentality, but it's not small. I doubt he's ever seen me in real life. He probably doesn't have much experience with people with disabilities--some of our schools mainstream better than others, after all--perhaps all he knows how to do is express his knee-jerk reaction to the unusual. But it is the fault of society that enforces beauty standards so intensely that a guy not only can't see past the superficial, but must also scream his discomfort to the heavens.

I can take this. It's nothing I haven't heard, or thought, before. Not all disabled people can. Next time you're going on about being sexualized by MRA assholes, please remember your comrades who are desexualized, as well. Remember us. Speak of us. Fight with us.

Otherwise, the predators will have free reign over yet another oppressed group. No one wants that. Right?

1 comment:

  1. Horrible! I can't believe the insensitivity and ignorance out there!