The Hazards of Internet Love

March.  March is the month of dating.  So I told myself in January and February anyway.  But now that March is here, the prospect seems daunting.  Does one go to bars and stand around looking available?  Does one respond to cat callers on the street?  Does one ask out a co-worker and hope it doesn’t end badly?  None of the above appeal to me in the least.  So, being a single twenty-something lady, I find myself faced with the temptation and terror of the online dating world once again.  

A few years ago, I experimented with OkCupid because it was free, and well, investing actual money in online dating seemed like a poor choice before I knew what it was all about.  So I joined the site, uploaded three decent pictures of myself, crafted a sweet profile, and went about the business of answering some of the hundreds of questions that help the site determine compatibility with possible matches.  And just like that, messages filled my inbox.  10-15 a day!  Imagine the thrill!

But look, I’m an academic.  My first impulse is always to look for the catch.  This impulse of course, is not common to all academics.  Consider the case of The Professor, The Bikini Model, and The Suitcase Full of Trouble.  This is the love story of a lonely but brilliant physics professor at UNC Chapel Hill and his fake girlfriend who gets him jailed in Argentina for four years on drug trafficking charges.  And there’s always Manti Teo’s fake dead girlfriend which you can’t have missed.  You may have missed this autotune masterpiece though.  You’re welcome.

Anyway.  Some pitfalls for online dating based upon my personal experience.  

1) You love information and you think information gives you power.  

OkCupid provides tons of information if you are willing to spend enough time looking.  You get sucked in, and often you find something seriously creepy, or just downright sexist (nice guys of okcupid).  Then your faith in humanity plummets.  

2) You can fill in all the gaps.

This guy and I have sent each other messages back and forth.  I know he likes Battlestar Gallactica and Iron & Wine.  I know he has a college degree.  Now’s where the fun begins.  I start imagining us watching BSG as our future baby lies asleep peacefully in the other room.  I assume we share values and sleeping habits, beliefs about friends and work, hobbies and food preferences.  But I don’t actually know.  I have just invented a person who does not exist.  Talk about unrealistic expectations.

3) People on the internet lie more than people not on the internet

It is true that trust is a fundamental part of any relationship.  But the internet just makes it so easy to stretch the truth.  Maybe you post pictures that are a few years old.  Maybe you exaggerate about your salary but just a few thousand dollars.  OR MAYBE YOU FORGET TO MENTION YOU HAVE A WIFE.  

So there you have it.  My major problems with internet dating.  But the funny thing is, the eternal optimist will always try anyway.  We shall see if my inner optimist or my inner pessimist wins out.Image


International Women’s Day: Feminist links, Part 1

Today is International Women’s Day. Now I know what you’re thinking: we get a WHOLE DAY?! Yes, a whole day for 50%+ of the human population! A day for all teh ladiez.

But wait, that’s not all! We get a google doodle!

Sarcasm aside, today is as good a time as any to start sharing some of our favorite links on women, feminism, gender issues, et al. Some will be timeless classics to be read and forwarded to people when you get tired of, you know, explaining to them for the millionth time what institutional sexism looks like. Some will be current event-ish things that you may or may not remember the context of in a month’s time. And some are even funny!

But let’s start with some basics. For now.

Feminist classics

Shakesville’s Feminism 101

This ultimate compendium of feminist issues covers anything and everything you could think of and several things you would probably never think of. Within this collection of blog posts there are subcollections of posts on rape culture 101, helpful hints for dudes, and fat shaming. If all of this sounds like a brand new language to you, I suggest reading journey of an envious girl, which has a certain kind of resonance that is hard to describe but easy to appreciate when you read it.

The Original “Mansplainer”

The term “mansplaining” came up in a group of friends the other night and surprisingly few knew what it was. Thus the original link to Rebecca Solnit’s essay “Men Explain Things to Me.” She never used the term, but her story of a man trying to “explain” her own book to her (a book he coincidentally hadn’t read) while not realizing she was the author has become a classic. Also worth checking out: the academic mansplainer tumblr.

mansplaining Paul Ryan

As long as we’re calling this category “feminist classics,” we might as well go into women’s history mode and bust out some of the key texts of second wave feminism for you—yes, all free and accessible on the interwebs!

The Problem That Has No Name

The first, of course, is the first chapter of Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Its post-WWII story of white, affluent, college-educated suburban housewives feeling trapped may seem like a world away now, but it’s still required reading if you want to understand what it was like when many ideas we take for granted could seem so pathbreaking.

Betty Friedan

Why I Want a Wife

Also required reading is Judy Syfers’ 1971 essay “Why I Want a Wife.” Believe it or not, most college students still get a kick out of reading it. Syfers’ humor and succinct summary of  married gender roles as she saw them is both witty and to the point.

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No More Miss America!

Finally, ya can’t leave out the radical feminist protest of the Miss America Pageant in 1968.The top ten list of things they were protesting began with “The Degrading Mindless-Boob-Girlie Symbol” and just got better from there. Although contrary to popular belief, no bras were ever burned—that would have been a fire hazard on the wooden boardwalk, so they only threw them into a freedom trashcan.