An open letter to OKcupid. 

I got this email:

It left me feeling unsettled and I wasn’t sure why. So I posted it to my friends on Facebook with this text:

“I’m a little unsure what I think about this…. I mean, cheers for the ego boost, always nice.
But the thought that until now you were showing me men that were deemed less attractive??? And what, now I’m ‘worthy’ of more attractive matches?
Surely I should be the only judge of what I’m finding attractive, not your algorithms?!
Just show me everyone within the filters I’ve set and let me be the judge of them (and them of me), is that not how this is meant to work?”

And my friends responded.

Basically, WTF OKCupid??

However you read this email, it’s not okay.

A couple of friends said they’d got the same email so we all presume this is nothing more than generic marketing spam.
This is not okay – do you think all of us that use your site are so insecure or hung up on our appearance that the thought of “levelling up our attractiveness stat” will get us to go back and use you more?
(Another friend said they hadn’t got this email… and did that mean something was wrong with them?!)

I read this email as saying “we are now showing you more attractive people because you are deemed more attractive than you were originally. Congratulations on reaching the level of the beautiful people.” – Many of my friends agreed with me that this was how the wording read, or how it could be read.
This is not okay – This is poorly worded at best, intentional at worst.
Who are you to decide who I should see? Heck, who are you to decide who is attractive? And how the heck do you know what attracts me?! How dare you hold back their profiles until mine has been visited a certain number of times. None of this is remotely okay.

It was also suggested however that this might be grammatical subtlety – Do they mean ‘MORE attractive people’ or ‘More ATTRACTIVE people’?
So, my friend posited, are you seeing a greater amount of profiles or the same amount but of more attractive ones?
Either way, this is not okay…. the suggestion that I’ve passed some kind of probation period is icky in the extreme! To hold back either a number of profiles or those considered more attractive is not how this should work and I’m not sure I want to be part of a site that does so.

Many friends commented this was “seedy”, “creepy”, that it was “negging” their customer base, “operational bullshit”, “full ‘Black Mirror’ nosedive”, “awful” and “bloody ugh” – just to quote a few of my wonderful people.

One advised me to “just accept that you are gorgeous” – which is somewhat missing the sodding point here.

I’ve have noticed no discernible change in either the number of profiles I’ve seen or (in my eyes) the attractiveness level of them. Nor have I noticed a difference in the number of people who “like” my profile or send me messages. So I’m back to assuming this is generic spam that is playing on the insecurities of it’s users.

And that is not okay…

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#youaswell

After the intensity of the #metoo meme on social media, I travelled to work this morning and looked at the faces of the women I saw.

Those dressed in work uniforms, those dressed warmly, comfortably, brightly, smartly, fashionably (not that I know what that actually means).

Those with faces painted with make up or free of it, those listening to music, scrolling something on their phone, gazing out the window or deep in thought.

Those that sat on the bus with me, those that walked by it, those that waited for a different one.

To each face I found myself thinking, you as well? Yes, me too… Because that’s likely the truth. That’s the society we live in, the past almost each one of us carries and the future we hope won’t happen again.

Yesterday was a tough day. Many friends found it overwhelming and withdrew from social media. Not all of us can stand up and be counted. And that’s okay.

For each woman’s face I saw today, for those I’ve yet to see, for each time I think, you as well, my heart fills with compassion.

How can it do otherwise?

How can I walk through this world with anything other than compassion and support, empathy and understanding for all of our experiences and struggles, all our stories.

It’s difficult, and I hear that, I feel that and I struggle with you. It’s overwhelming.

Let us recognise that we are not alone, we never have been and now we know it. Each of us has something to contribute, and the fiery activism of one may not be the soft support of another.

Let this overwhelming realisation fill you with compassion and empathy for each other.

We are here. We survive. We persist.

#metoo

I’ve used this blog to be open about my anxiety in the hope it somehow helps others.

Time to be open about something else too. In the light of recent allegation cases, of some not wanting to believe the scale, not understanding the magnitude, there is a #metoo meme going round facebook.

So me too. But not just once. Many times. In different ways. As I sadly, heartbreakingly, furiously angrily suspect is true for far far too many of us.

Edits to add – more come back to me as my day passes…. as they do, I am including them.

Aged 8 I was walking the dog across nearby fields. A man approached me, he also had a dog, we chatted, I was precocious and confident, this wasn’t unusual. He said his dog had had puppies, would I like to see them. I recognised the phrase from a talk a nice policeman had given at my school. I made my excuses and left to go home.

Fetching icecream in Turkey, age 13, the seller spoke to me in Turkish. Having no isea what he was saying, I nodded and smiled. He then reached over and grabbed my breast.

Same holiday, I walked with someone on the beach. He passionately kissed and fondled me. I blamed myself because I’d been flirting with him. I was 13, he was 33.

Working a summer job near the pier my boss would walk behind us and put his hands on our hips as he did so. We weren’t that tight for space. He only had female employees. He did this to all of us.

A house party after a Rocky Horror theme night at a pub, when things wind down and my friend and I go to leave, they locked the door…. we climb out the window and down the fire escape. We were 16.

Being so drunk at 17 I could barely stand upright in the nightclub, being intimately fondled in front of whoever else was in that room. I was sore the next day.

I refused to go in a back room for a drink with one of the bouncers in a different nightclub. The next week I went there to discover I’d been banned. No one talked about what happened in that room. Everyone knew to refuse.

Over the years numerous catcalls, shouts out of vehicle windows. Commonplace as to be almost expected – oh it’s just a thing that happens…

Messages received on dating apps only this year – yet I know what’s been sent to me is nothing compared to other screenshots I’ve seen.

And…. I’ve counted myself lucky because…. it could have been worse. I haven’t been raped, there’s never been violence …. I count myself lucky?!

We are all together in this. Every single one of us deserves the openess and support for our experience, no matter what it is, no matter when it was. Also, no matter the genders involved.

Silent no longer.

Of Internet Dating – my experience in screenshots.

Finding myself single at 42 for the first time in over two decades, I found myself wondering how I went about meeting new men…

Internet dating wasn’t really a thing in the mid-nineties, certainly not in the way it is now, and not something I’d ever tried. The last time I was single was 1996 where I got exceedingly drunk at a Halloween party, sat on someone’s lap and suggested he took me home. That relationship became a marriage and lasted 20 years. So it was with a lot of thought and no little amount of trepidation that I decided it give dating sites a go this year and see what happened. While not looking for a committed relationship, I did want to create a wider local social circle and, well, a girl gets lonely sometimes. Company is nice. I wasn’t discounting anything, I also wasn’t promising anything. No expectations. No restrictions.

We all hear the stories…. I decided I would publish some of the less appealing offers I received.

For every picture you see, there were others that weren’t explicit, disturbing or funny enough to screenshot and publish, but were still uncomfortable to receive, made me feel like part of a numbers game rather than a person they wanted to know. One that I wish I’d screenshotted before blocking him answered my polite “no thanks” with his penis size… as if that would change my mind.  There were many messages that put a toe just over the boundary line with a mock innocent expression – not enough that you could call it out, but enough to make it was clear they weren’t interested in my sparkling erudite personality. Which is a shame because they’re missing out on a treat there.

So onto the screenshots –

This person had messaged me before and got a polite no thanks. I then took a break and hid my profile, meaning it couldn’t be found unless someone accessed it via a previously sent message:

Sometimes a simple request gets a simple answer:

Not enough coffee in the world for this. Dude. It’s barely morning:

Not even Instagram was safe! I rarely post selfies on Instagram, it’s more about my craft projects, but every now and again a girl feels good and wants the world to know it.

And for the record, there are tons of cute larpers – if you can’t find them they are clearly hiding from you:

My attractiveness has nothing to do with the fact that your age is not a defining factor in wanting to meet you:

For the record, I am exceedingly sexy and kissable, however I suspect the type of friends you are wanting to be comes with benefits and those are earned not given after one message:

Spelling and lack of poo emojis will go a long way:

Absolutely because meeting a complete stranger who’s only interested in proximity is my only requirement in dating. Oh wait. The other thing:

Only with plenty of lube:

The conversation had genuinely been going well until this point:

Sometimes no answer IS your answer. Take it and move on:

Amongst all this were the decent conversations and a few people that I’ve kept in touch with. But there were also conversations that while not warranting a screenshot, were… just off… in their tone. And I consider I got off lightly, while also hating that I’m set up to think this way.