If you tried your hand at an online dating platform to connect with individuals, chances are you’ve encountered a message similar to the one above.
But the truth is, even walking down the street as a woman and rejecting a man could get you the exact response, up close and personal. And let us be the first to tell you — that shit is not OK.
We heard the justification of street harassment last week when actress Shoshana B. Roberts put catcalling at the forefront of online discussion with a video showing men imposing their “compliments” on her. Compliments they aren’t. Assuming a woman has to respond to your (more often than not) sexual salutation is misogyny at work and we’re not here for it.
And now we have a place to highlight those examples of harassment — a way to raise awareness about how dangerous, scary, and ridiculous the responses we get from men are. And real.
Enter “Bye Felipe” — an Instagram account created by Alexandra Tweten, where women can share screenshots of harassment and abuse online.
In a blog posted on Ms. Magazine, Tweten broke down her reasons for creating the account:
I created the Instagram account @byefelipe three weeks ago in order to compile harassing and hostile messages men send to women after being rejected or ignored. Since creating Bye Felipe, it has become apparent that a standard trajectory of discourse with men online is this: Man hits on woman, woman rejects or ignores him, man lashes out with insults or even threats.
When a woman on Facebook posted this screenshot, I saw it and laughed, because I, too, had recently received a hostile message from a man on OKCupid. Comparing the two, one comes to the conclusion that women can’t win if they are not interested in certain men. Under their logic, we are supposed to entertain any man who is interested in conversation or a date just because we exist on a dating site. Which is completely ridiculous. You can see their frustration and desperation in the messages, which is why it’s both funny and deeply sad at the same time.
My main reasons for creating the account were: A) Commiserating with other women (you can’t be a woman online and not get creepy messages from men); B) Letting men know what it’s like to be a woman online (it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows!); and C) To expose the problematic entitlement some men feel they need to exert over women in general.
I have been asked multiple times, “What’s the answer to this? What can these dating sites do to curb this problem?” And I struggle to answer, because this is just a symptom of a larger problem. Censoring these messages may help in the short term, but the messages featured on Bye Felipe are like an immortalized version of the catcalls and threats women receive on the street every day, just walking around and existing. Until we change the cultural atmosphere, women will continue to receive these hurtful messages online and in real life.
And hurtful messages won’t be the only thing. In recent weeks, multiple women have been shot, stabbed, and hurt for rejecting the advances of men, and if we don’t do something about street harassment — or harassment of women in general — we’ll have turned a blind eye to the lives that are being lost because a man can’t take no for an answer.
Think about that.