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Day: July 8, 2012

The day I became a woman for 12 long hours…

I love that title. It is going to weird out a fair few people before they actually get into the meat and drink of the piece. As a significant number of readers of this blog will have previously read I have blogged about the bizarre world of online dating. The first installment can be found here and the second can be found here. However I was always looking at from a male perspective – which might not exactly be surprising – but still there is another gender out there.

Last night I was at my PC showing a female friend of mine the profile of the girl covered in marmite (which she thought was awesome – it is) and also I found the girl that ditched a second date with me because she decided that she had too much washing up to do so I was showing her that girls profile. Anyway whilst we were doing this she commented that 40 people had clicked on the ‘meet me’ feature saying they wanted to meet me and she asked me how many guys had clicked on the ‘meet me’ feature for her in her three or so weeks on that dating website. I said 117 and she shook her head. I said 27 and she said no but it was higher. Eventually it turned out that it was around 310 in three weeks. I have had 40 girls say that in what nine odd months? Maybe more…?

I was stunned. I put it out there on twitter and I was told that there are more guys on these dating websites than women and that was a fair point. I remember being told that someone had received 28 messages in her first day on the site. I thought this was crazy and several girls who I know in real life have told me about some of the awful messages that they get from men on these sites so I decided that I would try it out.

I know it is dishonest and not good. I did not message anyone that messaged me or anything and deleted my profile after 12 hours because it was just so insane. I think I had more than enough research for this blog after just 12 hours and I am starting to get a feel for how hard it is to be a woman on these sites. I’m going to share with you some of the messages and some of the facts behind my 12 hours of having a fake profile on a dating website.

I just googled for a random picture of a girl and then produced the following profile:

Not really much to say about me really. I like doing some things but I don’t like doing other things. I’m a private person until you get to know me so don’t expect to find out everything in just one profile.

I have a job that keeps a roof over my head and wine in my throat. I’m not sure what exactly makes me unique but my flatmate has decided to give this a try and I’m game for a challenge.

My goals in life include to have a profession. At the moment I have a job which isn’t exactly a profession but as I said it keeps a roof over my head and wine in my gullet.

I am not expecting anything from this and I am here under protest as my housemate did challenge me as I have been moaning a lot recently – and not the type of moaning that keeps him awake at night – more the type of moaning that annoys him when he’s trying to watch football.

So in short. I’m very cynical and probably very difficult. If I were you I wouldn’t message me as I’m a pain in the backside. Just hoping one day a guy will think I’m worth all the earache!

I wouldn’t say that is the most overly positive profile ever. The picture (which I won’t post here) was of a girl looking pissed off at a camera. So anyway how did the men of the UK react to this profile?

Well in 12 hours no fewer than 109 men had messaged this profile. A grand total of 60 of those men did not even write more than 15 words. 23 of these messages were only one word. One word. Why would anyone ever reply to a one word message? The word was usually Hi or Hello but also Pretty, Beautiful and Sexy were used. Another point I want to make is of the 109 men, a grand total of 17 of them were showing their torso in their man profile photo. 16 men had selected the profile as a favourite and in just 12 hours no fewer than 383 men had viewed the profile. To put that in context that is more than the amount of women that have viewed my profile since I joined the site at some point last autumn.

Now to me that kind of stat just blows my mind. It has little to do with my looks but it goes to show just how many men are out there looking for women online. Out of the 109 men that messaged the profile I think only two messages were decent enough to warrant thinking about a reply and one was actually good enough that I think most people would say was interesting enough to probably reply:

I’m a pain in the bum as well! But I’ve just about managed to convince myself it’s down to meeting the wrong people, it’s all their fault i’m sure!

Your right to be cynical about this place, there are some very socially inept, peculiar people around, I’m probably one of them, but in a good way!

and

Hello 🙂 I like your profile, you honest, straight forward and speak you mind. They seem to be very rare traits these days. How are you faring on here? Is it as bad as you thought?

And for the good one…

Hey,

I like cynical and difficult. I would have chosen “challenging” though just for a positive spin. But I have a few questions (if I may).

Why are you a “random” girl? I dislike the word “random”. It’s over-used. Very little in life is random.

Who actually keeps wine in their throat? I keep it in my fridge (white) or a rack (red) or my stomach. But I’m going to try the throat tonight and see how it holds.

Stop moaning to your flat mate. He jut wants to watch football in peace (that is a guarantee).

Anyhoo, enough rambling. Maybe take a nosy at my profile and if you like what you see/read, it’d be nice to hear from you.

Take care
(redacted)

Not saying either of those messages are exactly great but they were genuinely the cream of the crop. If that is what women have to deal with then I wonder why they bother. I also happen to feel a lot better about my opening messages and the quality of them. The fact they rarely get a reply is just a sign that I’m not the most beautiful creature on the planet. I can deal with that but this blog isn’t about me but more about the calibre of men that seem to be on the free online dating websites (I suspect those that are paying for eHarmony, Match et al are probably of a slightly higher calibre).

Shall we get on to some of the short sharp messages that depressed me? Go on then…

Congratulations you have just won a date with me lol,so please don’t be shy and reply asap!!! this is a free service,and you won’t be charged by your network,and I know this message is guaranteed to put a smile on your face,hope to hear from you soon.xxX

Yeah I’m won a date with a guy. I didn’t even know I had entered that competition but wow…yay!

Hey there!! I know I’m prob not going to get anywhere cos tbh you look absolutely stunning and I really dunno why your single but I thought I’d say hi and hope that you’ll reply and let me get to know you better! I’m a lovely guy trust me, i hope you give me a chance…that’s all I ever ask for! Hope I hear back from you x

Can we say too needy…?

What sort off bait do I need 2 chat u

A decent grasp of the English language possibly?

Well being as attractive as you are im guessin a bloke would put up with earache on your looks alone..xx

Yeah. It is all about the looks…

A man got arrested the other day for being suspected of stealing hay. He has been released on bale……

Boom, Boom!

Hey gorgeous,how’s your weekend going ,Thor I’d drop by and show some live ,xxx

Is Thor, the hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, hallowing, healing, and fertility really involved here or does this guy not know how to spell ‘thought?’ and live and love are two very different words and what is that comma doing floating about?

Hi (username),
Well im not messaging you because your profile didnt catch my eye and in not hoping you will message me back so you cant get to know me to find out how much of a pain in the arse I am.So you probably like my profile and will message me back as you will be interested lol xx

Reverse psychology and the use of the term ‘lol’ – not for me…

Hi. I look nice.

Do you? That’s nice. This is from a profile with no picture as well…

fancy a sugardaddie 😛

Yugh.

Oh wow.bit of a hottie we have here.usually just click click click through profiles but I had to say hi.x

Is that it? What is a woman going to reply to that?

So yeah there are a few of the short messages that really made me wonder if these guys ever get any responses. It is just a typical mix of what I received on this profile and remember this was just in half a day. There is no way I could have ever replied to everyone who messaged me. No way in hell so I can see why women pick and choose who they reply to extremely carefully. I logged in this afternoon and by the time I had read the 14 unread messages there was already seven new ones in my inbox just in that time. Imagine if I had tried to reply properly to one or two? I’d have had 20-25 unread messages clogged up in my inbox easy.

Therefore I can say this – I will never moan if a woman doesn’t reply to me ever again. Having a profile on a free internet dating site would be hard work if it was a full-time job let alone if you are just someone who doesn’t spend their whole life at a computer. I am trying to imagine if I could only log in once a day. Imagine having 109 messages waiting for you from guys in one day for you to read in an evening? Of course you are only going to reply to those who write something interesting and do it for you physically.

At this point I want to mention the worst message I received and is was from a profile with a username of ‘one night stand or two’ but with a couple of spelling errors. I’m not actually going to publish any username as I think that isn’t fair but I had to give you an inkling of this guys username because it is important in the context of the message:

“Please ignore my screen name 🙂 ”

Ciao , my name is (redacted).
I read your profile and I’m interested .You seem like a lady I would want to get to know and spend time with and your the prettiest girl I found on this site 🙂

I think we should be spontaneous together , what’s the worst that can happen 🙂

So the receiver of this message should forget about the username that implies that he wants either a one or a two night stand. Ok then…

I must say that message really made me despair about my fellow males. I have no issue with people wanting (or having) one night stands – each on to their own – but to have that as a username but tell people that they should forget about it is flat out dumb.

Here is a message that shows that he had not actually read the profile and just has a generic message that he sends everyone:

how are you?

Nice profile….

I’m in a In a silly mood so how about some random nonsense to break the ice….

When was the last time you played air guitar?

What should never be on a pizza?

Favourite crisps make and flavour?

That’ll do for now haha.

Anyway, hopefully speak soon

xx

It has potential but at least show that you have read the profile surely? With my male hat on I always try to say at least a couple of things from the profile to show that it has actually been read. Just sending through random nonsense is meh but compared to the last piece I’m going to copy&paste then it’s way better. This is a genuine opening message that I received today on this profile:

Hi

I saw your profile and thought I’d drop you a note as I’m sure you’re not a pain in the backside really. I’m not really one for batting one liners back and forth and discovering weeks later that we’re not compatible, and so will make some effort to give you a reasonable insight into who I am now, so I hope you don’t mind reading.

I’m a successful professional, with my own consultancy business and am well educated, confident and intelligent. I’m very easy going, good fun, good company and easy to get along with. It’s fair to say that I’m also quite dominant in nature and so am decisive and like to take the lead, and perhaps a little rough around the edges, but not in an uncouth way.

I have a good social life and enjoy the usual things like films, theatre, reading, nice holidays, good restaurants, having fun, laughing, relaxing over a cocktail or two and generally trying not to take myself or life too seriously. I have a nice life and a happy and optimistic outlook, and wake up happy (hungover) most days and so generally consider myself a lucky person.

I’m quite open and direct, which although I believe is a good thing, is not always to everyone’s taste. I’m a long way from being a metrosexual so if your heart yearns for someone in pink trousers and a floral shirt, who cries more than you do, then you might want to stop reading now. However, if you prefer someone who thinks a man should be a man and open doors, pay the bill and say what he wants, without faffing around, then we may well get on.

Lookswise I’m 5’9, medium build, with short dark brown hair and green eyes, and am confident enough in my appearance to say that I’m nice looking, but in any case I’m happy to send a picture if you want.

Hopefully you’ll like what you’ve read so far, but if not then I hope my message, if not entirely welcome, is a little less unwelcome or intrusive than idiots just sending you shirtless pictures and asking for casual sex. Unless of course you wanted casual sex, you’re perfectly entitled, you’re a modern woman, so it doesn’t mean you’re a slut, just “free spirited” and “independent”.

If however if you do share a similar outlook and are more drawn to a man who’s decisive, knows what he wants and can express it without dithering and, after a few exploratory messages, are open to a drink ot two, can handle a bit of banter, no doubt inappropriate flirting and the odd less than sober attempt at putting the world to rights, without any promises or expectations, then I’d love to talk to you some more and hopefully get to know each other a little better and see where it takes us.

I should point out that if we did meet then drinks would be on me, whether you’re unemployed or a millionairess, but that doesn’t mean I have any expectations or am trying to get in your knickers, assuming you’re wearing any (I so hope not, and so please don’t feel obliged to on my account). It’s just that I have a more traditional outlook (I’d say chauvanistic but I think political correctness has clouded it’s once positive and more caring meaning), and believe that it’s up to the man to pay on a date. I’d therefore prefer to say I was somewhat dominant, but that conjures up images of someone way too serious and in black leathers, which isn’t really me. But I have to admit that I missed the meeting where a bit of lovingly applied domestic discipline suddenly became domestic violence, and can only imagine just how many women are equally missing the odd spanking when they push their luck a bit too far:) Thankfully though, having previously found that women tended to hide, suppress or feel guilty about any submissive longings, along comes 50 Shades of Grey, which has made being open about submissiveness more popular than zumba (whatever the fuck that is), and made things so much simpler.

Anyway, if you’re sane(ish), easy going, playful and even a bit cheeky at times then I’d love to hear ba

Yes. It is so long he ran out of characters and didn’t even notice. I have to admit I didn’t even bother to read it. It was the only opening message I didn’t read in full but knew I wanted to quote it because of its sheer length. I have now just read it back and he talks about domestic violence in some capacity and that he thinks many women miss ‘the odd spanking’ which is an interesting theory. Also he says he wakes up hungover most days – is that really a good thing? Really…? So many things about that message irk me but mostly I know that very few women would even bother reading it. It came from a profile with no photo and is clearly something that is sent en masse. It just seems like a giant waste of time.

So what have I learned from this experience? Well I think it is very clear that there is a vast difference between men and women when it comes to online dating and vast is possibly understating it. Women have it a lot harder to sift through the messages they receive but quantity and quality are two very distinct things. The messages with quality really did shine through mainly because so few messages were anything more than ‘how are you?’ or ‘you got a nice weekend planned?’ or just ‘hello’ – if that is the quality of messages then it is no surprise men don’t always get replies.

I have also worked out that every single message needs to be unique just to even have a chance of a reply. I know that women might not even have time to look at every profile of a guy that messages them let alone look at every profile of guys who have viewed them or clicked ‘Yes’ on the ‘Meet Me’ feature. There is aren’t enough hours in the day so if someone actually looks at your profile after the opening message then it is a good sign as it isn’t as much of a gimme as you’d expect.

Mostly though I have a newly-found respect for women who even dip their toes into free online dating websites. Guys are crude and in the majority of instances aren’t even interesting and don’t even read the profile and just look at the photos. I will never moan about people not messaging back ever again (unless they explicitly say that they reply to everyone or reply to everyone who uses a codeword to show that you’ve read their profile etc…

Being a woman in the free online dating world is just crazy. It is absolutely insane. I don’t know how they deal with it. I know there is no way that I could. If I had to deal with that then I’d delete my profile straight away and runaway and cower in the corner. Men need to understand just how many messages women get on these sites and just how hard it is to read the same rubbish and the same mind-numbing messages over and over again. The message really does matter and you just have to hope your profile and photo can back up a quality and interesting message. Saying ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ or ‘You’re gorgeous’ and that being it is just not going to do it guys. It just isn’t going to cut the mustard.

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Are All-Women Shortlists really a good thing for women in the long term?

Ah the old chestnut of All-Women Shortlists. It is a fun one. I posted the following over on SpeakersChair yesterday. I am posting this and then I plan to hide under the duvet for the rest of the day (well I don’t as the Grand Prix and Wimbledon are on and the big HD TV is not in my bedroom) but still you get what I mean. Saying you aren’t in favour of AWS generally doesn’t go down well but I think I have pointed out the reasons relatively fairly.

Oh well as Kel would say ‘awh here’s goes…’

Around the Southend based Labour blogosphere the talk of women in politics has resurfaced and the old ‘positive discrimination’ lark with regards to all women shortlists. It is always an enjoyable topic to blog on because I get shouted at a lot because I’m a man and therefore I am an idiot that can’t see the real picture. If I was a red-headed lesbian trying to break into politics and seeing what I was up against I’d know the real issues out there. Lucky for me I’m not because if I was red-headed (straight or not) ‘d not get anything done because I’d probably die of starvation looking at myself in the mirror (seriously why are all red-headed women hot – like all of them?) Anyway I have massively digressed and already pissed off 92.7% of people that will ever read this.

So here are the pieces that have inspired this piece – firstly Politics is sexist and I found that via a piece just called Women. I must say Julian’s title is rather simplistic but I think it gets to the point. Jack’s is quite blunt and has more than a ring of truth to it. Politics is sexist. I am not denying that (now only 88.1% of those reading this hate me) but the question is whether AWS is the way to fix this issue. I think it is well known that I do not believe that it is.

When Zadok Day blogged a piece about Ed Davey replacing Chris Huhne as a Liberal Democrat member of the cabinet he probably didn’t choose the best headline in the world of Opinion: Calm Down, Dears!. It was never going to lead to him being lauded as the face of a diverse Lib Dem Party. However large parts to what he wrote was pretty fair. I think there are certainly Lib Dem MPs who would make excellent cabinet members. I have no doubt – and I mean no doubt – that Jo Swinson would – and should – be the Scottish minister instead of Michael Moore. No offence Michael but I just think Jo would be brilliant in that role. However it is not me who makes these decisions.

In the case of the Lib Dems – and our all pale male cabinet members – it is Nick Clegg who decides who is best suited to the role. He knows all his MPs a lot better than I do. So either I have to think Nick Clegg is sexist or he isn’t. I choose to believe the latter. This of course may be wrong but I’m pretty sure I’m not although that might be the arrogance of another white male talking.

So anyway back to AWS and whether they need to used to create a more representational balance. The argument that is strongly used is that women need to see a plethora of other women being elected before they’ll think about it themselves. I just don’t get this. I won’t say I never will but the likelihood of me getting this argument is slim. I’m inspired by many women as well as men. I don’t feel the need to see a man do what I want to do before thinking that I can do it as well. The thing is many women are MPs and we’ve had a female Prime Minister and a female leader of the opposition (albeit briefly).

More needs to be done and the make-up of top-level politics is not fairly balanced but is a way to make it fairer by forcing certain parties in certain constituencies to only consider women? Now I’m against the quota system as a rule but I can see merits for it in certain situations – i.e. when South Africa returned to the sporting world and they ensured that at least one rugby player had to be black and two cricketers had to be black for a few years. This is because a group of people had been oppressed against. However there is no oppression against women in politics. It isn’t easy for many women but it’s not easy for many men either. Most people in politics have a lot of time and money on their hands.

I ran in Westborough here in Southend earlier this year and if everyone had an equal time, money and resources then I think there is no doubt Kevin Robinson would have won for Labour. As it turned out Kevin working insane hours and his independent opponent Dr. Vel being able to afford to take time off from work to doorstep and canvass enabled him to hold on to his seat. Is that fair? Does that need to be looked at?

One line of Ms Jack Monroe’s piece screamed at me though. It hollered and rattled by bones, ‘As a woman in Southend politics, I am surrounded by a lot of men and a few very good women.’ Did you see what I saw? There are a lot of men, ok that is fair and a few women but wait, there is an adjective thrown into that sentence. Yes the women are ‘very good’ whereas the implication is that men are not. If you want to press my buttons on feminism (and to be fair she describes herself as not a feminist in her blog post) but that sentence screams out the type of feminism that gives feminists a bad name. There are bad men, there are good men, there are good women but do you know what? That are also bad women in politics. Yes folks not every woman in politics is a benefit to the political world.

This is why I can’t abide by AWS. What happens if there are good candidates who get passed over for worse ones due to their gender? This happens. The problem is what if all the women who apply are terrible? What happens if these women win? (as usually AWS are only in safe seats where you could put a chimp with a red rose/blue rosette on and they would win). Does having a terrible MP so out of her depth do anything positive for the female cause? I know that is an extreme situation but it is also not one that is completely beyond the pale.

Good women will get into politics as will good men. Bad men will get in too as will bad women. That is the nature of the game. A friend of mine is currently relocating as it looks as though she’ll be a Lib Dem PPC in a winnable seat. I won’t name her in case she doesn’t want it to be public knowledge yet but she is set to get the nomination because she has worked bloody hard and spent a lot of time in the constituency doing what politicians have to do. Should she get the nomination then I know she’ll work just as hard and if she wins then she’ll be an asset to the country. I’m positive she wouldn’t have wanted it to be handed on a plate to her – and if it was then I doubt she’d be as good of an MP as she potentially can be.

I firmly believe that if things are in essence handed to you on a plate then you aren’t going to be as equipped to handle what is thrown at you. I think that it is far better for women in politics to work hard and slowly get more and more hard-working MPs in than to throw in a lot of people who have been picked and might not be ready. I think exactly the same about male MPs. MPs who have had to work hard will be better MPs who don’t. I just think this. Is it better to have lots of female MPs quickly who may or may not be the cream of the crop or is it better to slowly get women into the House of Commons who have earned it and shown that hard work and dedication pays off? I know I think the latter is the best way forward.

As an aside as I have waffled on for a fair while. If the House of Commons should reflect the make-up of the UK fairer then at what point to we draw the line? A 50/50 balance or so gender wise but what about sexual orientation? What about ethnic minorities? A significant number of the UK population are racists do they need to be represented too? It isn’t an easy one of that I’m sure but I just don’t think AWS are the way to go. All they’ll do is artificially inflate the amount of women in the chamber, what AWS doesn’t do though is ensure a better calibre of MP.

This was first posted on the SpeakersChair website

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