Yes, a bloke ACTUALLY said this to me recently on a dating site.
I’m on a dating site — RSVP. I have been off and on it for about 10 years. More off than on. Still being single, not one to be clubbing, pubbing, partying and with a small-but-great group of friends, I just don’t seem to ever have opportunities to meet single men.
A few Saturday evenings ago I received a notification that someone had made contact with me. Now this is important. HE approached me — not the other way around. So, I did what anyone would do and I checked out his profile. He had awesome eyes, nice smile, clearly liked the outdoors; lived in Ocean Grove, so I decided instead of choosing the option to send a generic response back, that I’d use a ‘stamp’ and send him a proper message.
I introduced myself. Spoke a little about what I like, asked a couple of questions to engage in a dialogue and left it at that. I signed it off, ‘Warm regards, Ingrid.’ Pretty normal kind of message. Now I should say, RSVP in my experience is NOTHING like Tinder. I have only had a few catch-ups on RSVP over the years. Nothing has clicked. But they have never been a waste of time. I find RSVP has really genuine people looking for genuine connections.
Well. He messaged back in under five minutes and said something I can’t repeat on here — or to anyone. It was just the most revolting thing anyone has ever said to me (and it wasn’t sexual, it was just plain nasty). I sat at my computer pretty dumbfounded. Then I wrote back and essentially said, “I’m just a nice girl, looking for a coffee date; why would you even say something to me like that?”
To which he responded, “You aren’t even a girl — you’re a bloke. For fuck’s sake, your Adams apple is the size of a grapefruit.”
It was absolutely humiliating. I was so upset; I felt really, really sick in my stomach. I knew not to engage further so I just sat there for a few moments. Now I’m not one to complain but I thought, “Bugger this; that is so profoundly cruel I shouldn’t need to deal with that.” So I contacted RSVP and explained that I felt the dialogue between this member and myself was completely inappropriate and uncalled for.
I wrote that I presumed they had access to the private messages and that they should read his to me and do something about it. Someone on the end of RSVP was clearly working on this Saturday evening and they wrote back to me within 10 minutes. Fortunately, they agreed, said that they issued him a warning, and they refunded me my stamp.
Five minutes later, I went back to his profile and the schmuck had taken his whole profile down. Good. Unfortunately, it didn’t make me feel any better. This incident profoundly ruined my night and really, pretty much the next day too. It was extremely nasty — going at a lady’s femininity is just horrible and I can’t for one moment imagine what transgender and gender diverse people must go through. I mean, it must be horrendous.
Now, I know some of you will say that he has problems. And yes, he probably does. But my reality is that doesn’t actually make me feel any better. The damage is done once the words have been said. I can’t unhear them, just as no-one can unhear their damaging words. And I guess that’s why bullying in younger years has such an overpowering impact on people even when adults.
If you haven’t been bullied to a large degree, if you haven’t had your gender questioned, then you may be aware of these issues but I’m afraid to say there is likely to be what’s known as an ‘empathy gap’. Keep working on understanding it though, so that you can be supportive to those who are subject to it. Because it really affects self-esteem, confidence, the building of other relationships, and we (those being bullied) can end up turning things into self-blame.
I get these attacks so often and it really, really wears you down. It’s no wonder I retreat into myself and my home on weekends instead of putting myself out there. I strived in my 20s, 30s and early 40s to attain a physique I loved and wanted. I can even say I guess I wanted attention — for having a ‘hot body’. The funny thing is, now I absolutely love my body — the way it looks, the way it moves; the things it does are outstanding — and yet I hate being in public where it’s scrutinised and sometimes very publicly shamed.
With normal daily stress — like being stuck in traffic, spilling your protein shake all over the floor or screaming at your kids — our cortisol rises, but returns back to normal levels after about 40 minutes. But when someone takes a shot at our self-esteem, our cortisol stays high for several hours.
“Above all other stresses, the feeling of being personal criticised takes the biggest tolls on our bodies and on our ability to think clearly,” says Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything.
Just for the record, you male readers: I really, really hope you’ve been brought up to respect the female form in all shapes and sizes. I also hope your parents brought you up well, that you would never say such things to a fellow human; that you just know these kinds of comments cross a boundary that shouldn’t be crossed.
Otherwise, for me, it’s the same old options again. Quit weight training, try to put on some body fat to make my face less gaunt (I’m not trying to be lean, I just am) and ‘soften up’ to make society more comfortable…or continue as I am and learn to deal with it on a weekly basis. And, pretty obviously, I am going to go with the second option — but it’s wearisome. It erodes my sense of self-worth as a woman and disappoints me over and over again how horrible people can be.
And this is never going to change. We can shine the light on all kinds of bullying, name calling, trolling, etc. but people are always going to judge, no matter what lifetime you are living. And that’s shit. So, it’s up to those of us on the receiving end to disengage from our emotional brain. We need to see truth and not-so-much-truth, and then we need to decide if we even give a fuck. If you like the way you are, then good for you. Don’t change.