The Gender Experience Project, episode 1

The profiles I made have been up for six days, and the results of the experiment at this juncture are interesting, if unsurprising. So far the female profile has received 30 messages (two of them from one guy who apparently doesn't take being ignored well), while the male profile has received only 9 messages.

Responses to the male profile are generally innocuous, along the lines of, "Hi! You're cute!" and sometimes "I'd like to get to know you better." The women responding almost never suggest meeting; only one suggested going out for drinks or coffee. The men who responded to the profile with my picture on it, however, are a different story entirely. Here's the numerical breakdown, in non-exclusive categories I devised off the top of my head:
16 of the 30 messages were in the "normal" category, generally along the lines of the responses to the other profile.
6 of the messages suggested we meet in person.
11 of the messages I filed under "weird"-- these ranged from the message whose subject line said "HEY THERE" and whose body consisted solely of a dirty joke, to the guy whose message said only "write me back," to the guy who wrote a second message attempting to convince our fictional subject that she was wrong to ignore the message he'd sent only the day before.
10 of the messages made some reference to appearance, ranging from the benign compliment of "you're cute," to the breathless and unconvincing, "my jaw literally dropped when I saw your photo!"

Only one message was explicitly sexual in nature, and it was so poorly written that I actually laughed out loud when I read it. The subject line was "lets enjoy hot and good and nice" and the message read:

i'm near disneyland
i'm Totally safe in every way, not a player, I love being sensual and i really love giving oral till u cum over and over and over , i just love that. I especially love foreplay and touching and being tender and experimenting what we like together to be pleased
I'm ,, 6'1 , 190 dark hair,slim build,, fit,, single , live alone ,very kind nice guy very safe and clean I'm well hung, very open minded and easy going and very discreet
kisses
hugs

[phone number redacted to protect the guilty]
kisses

Yes, friends, he included his phone number.

While the crudity of that message was a little shocking, it was more funny than creepy. The only message that truly rose to the level of "creepy" was the aforementioned second message from the guy who didn't like being ignored. His first message, sent Tuesday the 15th at 10:27 a.m., read:



Hi there...

Wow, you're cute!

Wanna go out & laugh a lot?

-[name redacted]

He did not receive a response, of course, because the woman at whom he directed his message doesn't actually exist. He doesn't know this, however, and the very next day at 4:29 p.m. he sent a second message with the subject "C'mon, it'll be fun!" It read:


Hello again....

Here's the thing...

I'm a nice guy, I'm very funny, I'm an expert people-watcher, and I think you're really cute!

How bad could it be?

Let's go have some fun.

Cheers,
[name redacted]
Now, this guy probably thinks he's being persistent and charming, but I'll hazard a guess that most women would agree with me when I say he's got NICE GUY written all over him, and contrary to how that might sound, it ain't a good thing. (Right about now, the dudes have their testes in a twist because they think I just affirmed the stereotype that women only like men who treat them poorly. Not true. Read this to understand just what's wrong with being a "nice guy.") In addition to coming on too strong, he's offering a tiny glimpse of the entitlement to female attention that so many men seem to feel: he thinks I am cute, therefore he is entitled to my attention. This attitude is frequently exhibited by street harassers, who at their most benign will command a strange woman to "smile" for them, and at worst call her a bitch or physically assault her when she doesn't respond favorably to their unwelcome advances. I'm certainly not suggesting that this guy's two messages on an online personals site constitute harassment or a proclivity to violence, or even that he's aware of how subtly demanding he's being; I want merely to point out the assumptions which underlie his statements and actions. He took a 24 hour silence, which on such a site is essentially equivalent to "I'd rather not date you," as a cue to talk his target out of her position. I hate to speak in cliches, guys, but no means no even when it's unspoken, and desperation isn't attractive.

I originally planned to leave the profiles up only for a week or two, but the messages (and the issues they raise) have been so entertaining that I may leave them up longer. If nothing else, they will yield the occasional comically bad missive, which I will of course pass along to be ridiculed by all of you.

I don't think there's any real conclusion to be drawn from this tiny slice of online dating life, but I think even this dinky data sample shows that men's and women's experience of social interactions, both online and in the real world, are sometimes starkly different.

Posted byMJ at 1:53 PM  

3 comments:

BrainCase said... 5/18/2007 8:12 AM  

Why u knot wriiting me back? Cause ur cute and i'm good person. We can have good dateing.

Anonymous said... 5/18/2007 10:41 AM  

It is truly fascinating to see the different ways men and women interact in a somewhat anonymous format. I wonder about the "success rates" of some of the men you quoted. Do they actually score dates after saying such things? Are they looking for a date, or for a sexual partner? (That one's a no-brainer, in my cynical opinion.) Do they think ALL the women on these sites are only seeking sexual partnerships?

And all those questions lead me to this one: Have these guys ever met a woman in real life?

Fascinating to watch this experiment unfold...

belledame222 said... 5/22/2007 2:47 PM  

Interesting.

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