I've been having some weird online interactions with strangers this week.
Here are three examples:
Guy A: (First words to me ever) "Tell me something that you have never told anyone else." My response: "Why in any world ever would I tell you that?"
Guy B: After a few casual exchanges, he hits me with the ever-repeating "So, you must only be on [Tinder] for material." Me: "Dudes get so weird, aggressive and accusatory on here when they find out I'm a writer." Him: ::Something, something, more dismissive accusations, brings Champagne & Snark into it:: Me: I already told you what my podcast is about and it's not dating unless that is the guest's choice. Him: ::completely ignores that continues down his bizarrely angry train of thought:: Me: Like I said, my podcast is not about dating. Check it out on iTunes. Him: I'd rather you tell me about it. I guess I can look at it too. Me: "I write about love and I've been really successful at it. I'm proud of my work there. Let's be clear. Your accusations that I am being dishonest in my intentions are very insulting. Additionally, my podcast is not about dating. It is separate. The way you are approaching me is very rude and dismissive towards both who I am as a person and who I am as a creative." Him: Blocks me.
Guy C: PMs me and asks me my political views. This is not someone I have ever met in person and not someone that I have ever talked to before. We're linked up, but we have never engaged before. We exchange a few thoughts on politics. Maybe four or five exchanges. Then, he asks me when I have time to talk because he'd love to hear more about what I feel. My response is that I just gave you my time. And that in itself was generous, as you are a complete and total stranger. Why would I give more time for a one-on-one political conversion? If you're interested in my thoughts, I post them all over the place. They are available for ready consumption at my personal discretion.
WTF is this?!
Guy 1: Thinks that I should tell him, a total stranger, something I wouldn't have already told my best friend. - Dismissive of my right to privacy and personal ownership.
Guy 2: Doesn't listen to the answers I give him and then would rather I drop my life and describe Champagne & Snark to him (AGAIN) rather than listening to it and participating in its success. Also relevant, dislikes that I don't buckle and blocks me when I reject him. - Dismissive of my work.
Guy 3: Sends me a PM, which, honestly, is ALWAYS weird when you have never met the person. It's so presumptuous. Then, completely ignores that I just engaged in the exact conversation that he then requested more time on. I didn't even owe that first conversation. - Dismissive of my time and energy.
To dismiss is to assume there is no value there. But I know there is value there. I determine it.
It's the same shit as when a stranger tells you to smile more. As if my presence is for you to direct.
It's the same shit as when a stranger grabs my butt in public. As if my body is for you to casually possess.
Women do not owe you anything. Time, attention, energy, body.
Men also do not owe women anything.
We do not owe each other, but it can be given. And under the right circumstances, we are happy to. It's our pleasure. Real engagement with a human being who has ownership of themselves can be magic.
I have ownership of me.
These men came to take. They came with empty hands. The desire was to sit at my table, eat and leave. And that they deserved to do so. That I owe it to them.
I don't. Women don't.
To take because it is owed is very, very different than to receive because it is given.