Q: I get this a lot with social interactions online.it's the aggressive,
menacing sexual innuendo that makes me wonder "what
makes them think they can *say* that? A friend was telling
me today about a man who read her profile on AOL, started IMing her,
and--as an enticement to call him--emailed her a photograph. Of his
erect penis. (At least, he claimed it was his.)
Now, where do people pick up that this is an acceptable thing to send to
someone who's essentially a complete stranger?!
A: oh, you know, that's very common. i usually try to educate them. i like to ask them what they think they're playing at. of course, there's things you can put in your profile that encourage it, or discourage it. i think online it's different, though probably symptomatic of the same underlying attitude. i tend to find you get a lot more full-on racists online too. i think online you can say stuff that you'd never say face to face, because you don't have the inhibiting presence of the other person. that's where i tend to come unstuck, i think, because i tend to type just as i would speak. only because you don't have the non-verbal stuff, a lot of content gets lost. in the case of flame wars i think it's because good parts of the communication get lost, and in the case of sexist or racist stuff, the person doesn't have to see or care about your non-verbal reaction, so it's the other way round. having said all that, and precisely for those reasons, i prefer online sexual harrassment than the real-life sort. in the latter you never know (in the extreme) how far it's going to go. online harrassment can never be as satisfying for the perpetrator as real life rape, say, can it?