I first ventured into the world of online dating as a joke. There was, realistically, no reason for me to. I am 18 years old and headed to college soon where I can almost assure that the number of people I meet will be at an all-time high.
However, as I continued spiraling into the wild world of virtual dating, I actually found myself coming in contact with people I felt could be compatible with me.
Today is the day of my very first date on Tinder. The fear I have of the situation is substantial. When choosing the location for where we were to eat, I was told time and time again from many of my friends that I ought to pick an exceedingly public place. I actually chose somewhere I liked less because I knew it would be more crowded.
The original restaurant I wished to eat at was rarely busy in the afternoon and it felt wrong that I was seeing other customers as potential witnesses in case the man was some sort of murderer. Bad dates seem to come at a very great cost.
A few months ago, Aziz Ansari had allegations of sexual assault. The story unfolded that he had come on to her repeatedly despite her discomfort and she had obliged out of fear and discomfort. As I scrolled through my Twitter timeline, I saw hundreds of post deeming this entire tragic, scarring event as nothing more than a "bad date."
Incidents like this strike fear in me as a woman.
When a woman is pressured into sex, made uncomfortably, and the word "no" is not heard, the entire circumstance is chalked up to nothing more than an unfortunate miscommunication. As a young woman coming into the dating world this narrative is terrifying. Woman are used often as currency is dating and romantic situations.
The phrase "Well, buy me dinner first" has become one that has been used to the point of being a cliche. The fact that there is entitlement over a woman's body and actions for the price of a dinner is frightening to me. I owe you nothing. It doesn't matter if you purchase the world and hand it to me on a golden platter, I still owe you nothing.
I feel as though I had been taught from a young age to fear men. As I get older, and especially as the revelations of the gross abuse behind the scenes of major Hollywood networks and politics come out it is almost like my fears have been affirmed. I hear all the time of girls who are riding in the car with Tinder dates they haven't met before or random boys of vague acquaintance and the natural heir of skepticism I have kicks in full gear. I have become someone who kind of fears men, who seems them as predators jumping at their every chance to get what they want.
As I went on my tinder date, I walked to refill my lemonade. When I did, I left my keys and my purse on the table. When I walked back, I realized my mistake and was so shocked by it that I verbalized it. "Oh my God, you could have taken my car and my phone and my entire identity," I said.
I would have had literally no way of catching him either, I had left my phone on the table too. He laughed. "Good thing you're not going out with a crazy person." I laughed too.
It was a weird concept to me. I in no way even remotely want to sound like the man-hating feminist white boys so often complain of on Twitter, however, especially as of lately, the facts seem to be there. Every single person you thought was safe was brought out with allegations of assault that they had either admitted to or refused to admit to, but the evidence was still there. I became sort of scared as to who around me had the potential predatory ways as well. It wasn't that I am guarded or have any walls up but just that if history repeats itself as it so often has since the beginning of time, I do not wish to fall victim as well.
However, the thing about falling victim is that you are never given a choice. Although the world does all it can do to make it seem like a woman is to blame for the actions of her assaulter, it should be painfully evident that she is not. Her clothes, alcohol consumption, and words do not excuse any gross actions of an assaulter. A victim is a victim and I hope in this Me Too movement we will learn to view them as such.
I have fear within me.
I fear men.
I don't hate them, but sometimes I am afraid.
I am afraid of the stories I hear and afraid of becoming another name in a long list of victims. I am afraid that it truly is one thing they seek after and know for certain I have no interest in supplying it. I am afraid and that fear has lost me a lot of potential romances and people that I truly believe I couldn't have had a happy life with if that fear was not within me. I find myself not picking a place that I will like for a date, but a place that I think is safe. I avoid going to his apartment, or really out anywhere that isn't super public.
I am afraid and that fear is rooted so deep within me that I am not sure there will ever be a day where I am truly able to weed it out.
I want the romance, the beautiful walks on the beach, the cute dates, and the laughter, but something tells me the corruption in the world that I so often see pop up in my Twitter feed is all that exists.
I guess I have learned to value safety more than love. I hope I am able to live in a world someday where that just isn't true.