I feel all icky and disgusting for having to even write about the difference in online flirting, innuendos, and straight up no-no’s. As an attractive woman online who actually has a brain and passion for her people and the well-being of others, it’s no shock that men will find a strong attraction to me. Some will be attracted to my physical features, some to my brain, and some to both. As a woman who walks the city regularly, for recreation and exercise, I am no stranger to cat calls, car horns, and “yo, baby, what’s up!!??” So, online is a bit more safe to my physical well-being, regardless of how emotionally scarring it still remains.

Because of being attractive, when I speak up and out about how uncomfortable some men make me, I am hushed by many sarcastic, “Oh, poor you. You’re attractive, what a struggle it must be.” To me, this is the equivalency of people claiming Colin Kaepernick is not oppressed because he has more money than they do. The worst part about a lot of men these days is that many men attracted to us actually believe that is enough reason to believe they have a chance with us. Many men feel that the mere fact that they would screw us means that they have a chance to, or, we have an obligation to allow them to try. I have had more men than I can count come to my inbox to tell me that I am lucky that they are married or they would ‘scoop’ me up. I have had even more men ask me if I was single, be told I am not, just to be told that I can still have friends, as if they were informing me of some news I was not privy to. I have had men hit on me, knowing doggone well I was in a relationship or did not want to be. Of all these things, the most disrespectful and disgusting thing that has ever happened to me online is being sent unsolicited penis photos and videos.

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I do not understand why anyone would ever have to explain why it is disrespectful to send pics of your genitals to a complete stranger, but here goes nothing. 

  1. I did not ask for this mess.
  2. You do not know what I have been through.
  3. You would not do this to a stranger in the street–hopefully.
  4. The pics/videos are now my property, to do with as I please. 

The first reason should be enough of a reason to at least reconsider sending nude pics, but online, it seems that people are more comfortable saying what they wouldn’t in person, and, showing body parts they would normally be self-conscious about. The second reason is basically the, “it’s not you, it’s me”, of this conversation. This is not about how you feel about us, but how we feel about penis. We may not like penis at all, we have been sexually violated with penis, and contrary to your belief, this is a form of sexual abuse, bringing me to number three. If it is illegal to do this in person, why would you believe that it is completely legit to do online? More now than ever, the police are now starting to investigate and take these pics seriously, to the point of it being illegal in some states. The final reason listed, although there’s so many unlisted, is the fact that they are now our property and it is completely legal to upload these photos and videos anywhere, because you have given them to us.

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Social media allows us to communicate with people all around the globe and for that reason, so many more men than you will ever know are sending us these pics and videos and crass conversations. It is to the point to where I actually stopped checking my inbox messages on Facebook because of all the random strangers sending me photos of their packages. When it happens not only do I feel disrespected, I feel violated. I feel like I have been mentally molested. Most men would most likely see this as an overreaction, because they are unaware of how many ways women are violated on any given day. I have had a grown man yell to me, while I was outside with my children, “Hey, can I be their step daddy!?” I have had a man speed walk next to my car, trying to get me to pull over and give him my number. I have had a man offer to take a picture of my daughter and I , while I was trying to take a pic of us, who called his phone from mine, who began calling and texting me regularly. I have had men offer me drugs and booze, in hopes of being invited into my home. Now, I am having to figure out how to react or not to random penis pics and men talking about my breasts and/or tongue length in photos of me and my children.

With all of these things being done in person and in real life, it is no wonder I still have as much respect for men as I do. Not only that, I am shocked and saddened by how easy it is for male onlookers to laugh and make jokes about these things, several more times than actually come to my aid and correct men for these actions. Men that claim to respect me as a person, for my mind and activism, who overlook online sexual abuse. How can they claim to respect me regularly and overlook these things just as regularly? How can they claim to see me as a person, while seeing me as an object more so? It is something that I can not fix alone, anymore than racism or homophobia. These are all things that I speak up and against on a regular, because they can not be fixed without being called out. But, more and more, I am beginning to notice that men are not speaking up on behalf of women’s rights, treatment, or the lack of those things. Perhaps, like racism, we are not growing as aware as we believe to be. Are we still as sexist and damaged today as when we had no rights to our own children, bodies, or voting polls 150 years ago?

What exactly will it take for men to understand that we are more than trophies to hunt? When will they see us as human, parents, siblings, and children worth the same respect?Why is it so hard to consider a stranger saying or doing to their mother or daughter, what they plan on saying and doing to us?

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Written by Rae Rivera

An extremely logical and passionate, revolutionary minded, maternally obsessed parental. Never able to stay silent or sane while inequalities and discrepancies are in my presence. Until people's actions meet the same standards as their minds, I will never stay silent. I believe in research, common sense, children are the future and main priority, and politics are pathological con men and women.

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