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Fb. In. Tw. Be.

All the oppressive things we already have to deal with in our material world only become amplified in the virtual world.

I quit, y'all. I put in a solid few years on dating apps and I’ve decided that I'm not carrying them with me into 2019. This isn't to denounce dating apps as being completely useless or frivolous or anything of the sort. Plenty of people enjoy this method of meeting others and have had successful experiences with it. I am not one of those people, and it goes beyond the struggles I wrote about when I covered why dating while on the asexuality spectrum is so complicated and difficult. I was never in this to seek out romance or a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship. I was also never in this for one-night stands or casual hook-ups. These are positions that I make abundantly clear in my profile, but it still seems to confuse the vast majority of people—that is, the ones who even bother to read it. Dating is not a monolithic experience or set of goals. Some people date with the objective of finding a lifemate, some date because they like starting and ending relationships, others date for consistent access to sexual escapades, others date because they enjoy meeting new people, and the worst people are nothing more than emotional vampires, parasites, and predators who use dating as a way to carry out their abuses on as many people as possible. I want dating for myself to be about genuinely connecting with someone, enjoying their company, and being intentional about cultivating intimacy in an ethical, healthy, reciprocal exchange that is not monogamous or romantic (at least in the rigid, traditional sense), but queerplatonic in nature. I recognize that this is not the way most people want to date. This is not how we have been socialized to think about dating, and this is why I am always upfront about it and it's why I always leave room for an open conversation about my wants, needs, and boundaries, as well as theirs. The issue is that, I'd say 98% of the time, we never make it to the point where this conversation can be brought up because a huge percentage of the people I've interacted with on dating apps are absolutely abysmal at the art of conversation to begin with. I'm visible to, have interacted with, and sought out people of all genders, sexualities, and orientations, as well as those without gender, who are interested in people of my gender, but the vast majority of the harassment, abusive messages, inconsiderate treatment, and traumatic exchanges I've had have been with cis straight men. Surprise, surprise. Sometimes, people just don't click, and that's not at all what my complaint is about. Even though things with numerous people who aren't cis straight men have fizzled out in one way or another, these people have at least been nice to talk to for as long as it lasted. Who do I talk to about conducting a sociolinguistic study on how gender impacts the way we approach texting and online messaging? I can't be the only one who recognizes that cis straight men are notoriously bad at it. There have been studies about gender differences in verbal communication, including ones which debunk the myth that women talk more and highlight just how much men interrupt other people. However, these studies and the psychology articles I've read on this subjects are cisnormative, heteronormative, and biological essentialist, with most attributing any findings to the differences in how men and women are “hardwired” to interact with the world rather than considering the impact of gender cultivation and environmental factors. A recent study has reinforced what had long been speculated by people of color, that dating apps amplify sexual racism, but as far as I can tell from my own Googling, there isn't anything that comprehensively analyzes how gendered expectations and permissions play out in online messaging and texting, and particularly how it impacts our experiences on dating apps. I know my visible identities as well as how I describe myself in my profile impact my experience. I am unambiguously Black, fat, and formally educated with my Masters degree listed, as well as my relevant interests. There are many other things that describe me and that I have included for users to see, but I believe these three things have been the major factors in my experiences because they are usually the things that are focused on in the unsavory messages I've received and interactions I've had. Allow me to enumerate them for you in an extensive, but far from complete, look at many of the initial messages and brief interactions I've had throughout the years.

I thought I didn't like sex, but really, I just didn't like feeling like shit afterwards.

This essay discusses coercive and violating forms of sex in detail. I tried to enjoy sex with men—cis and otherwise—for several years before I began seriously questioning my sexuality and gender. I hated a lot of things about sex with men, the things surrounding it, and the language used to describe it, but I tolerated the things that I didn't like about it so I could enjoy the few things that I did like, and later I learned that I could get those things elsewhere and in more healthy ways. Finally, I came to the realization that I just didn't like the kind of sex that I’d been having, the only kind that I had ever experienced, since the very first guy I ever had sex with coerced me into it. The kind of sex that I was conditioned to believe was normal, that I was expected to accept as standard, natural, and unchanging, as something not shaped by environmental and social factors, and gender cultivation. I know now that I could enjoy sex with men more if they were at all interested in making it comfortable for the people they fuck. Instead, they seem to get off on making the experience uncomfortable and painful for their partners, regardless of whether or not that's what we want. I'm not talking about BDSM, kink, power play, power exchange, or the things related to them. These are all valid forms of sexual expression and engagement, and can absolutely be fulfilling and rewarding when all people involved are consenting to all agreed upon aspects, communicate desires and boundaries effectively, and commit to practicing these forms of sex ethically. This is about men who are interested in nothing more than reproducing the things that they see in pornography or hear in mundane social conversations and colloquialisms about sex, because they think this is all that sex is and should be. This is about men who are never interested in talking to me about what I want or need from sex. Men whose idea of sex is nothing more than a sum of various fantasies produced by a paternal and misogynistic society which amount to degradation and subjugation that I am expected to accept as not only normal, but necessary parts of sex with them. A normalcy in which I am supposed to accept being in agonizing positions, and subject to being tossed around and repositioned at their will, regardless of how I feel, because they believe that's how sex is “supposed” to look. A normalcy in which the prospect of making me orgasm is always about their ego and never about my ecstasy. And they push harder against me or pull me back to them when I adjust or pull away because something feels uncomfortable or painful or overwhelming. And they say, “Come back here” and “Stop running” and “Don't fucking move” because I'm not allowed to react to what's happening instinctively, because they don't care that this position hurts me. In fact, it's supposed to hurt me, and I'm supposed to just stay here and take it, because that's what they really get off on. They've been conditioned to be aroused by women in pain. Because it makes them feel good about the size of their dick or the stroke of their strap-on. Because they think that fucking hard and rough without nuance or sensitivity constitutes good sex.

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