Posts Tagged ‘craigslist’

tips for dating via personal ads

March 15, 2008  |  essays  |  8 Comments

I’m trying this dating thing again, and I’ve answered a couple of personal ads on Craigslist in the last few weeks. No dates so far – seems the flirtation dies out pretty quickly, and frankly, I could pursue it, but I’m not willing to do all the work. Some, yes, but you’ve got to make it worth my while, you’ve got to pique my interest. I’m definitely more picky than I used to be, and I’m not so willing to compromise – hell, I’m not quite even sure I’m ready to date, I’m still dizzy from the ending of that last relationship with DD. I’m not in a hurry, but I am getting just a wee bit anxious to get laid.

Meanwhile, we’ve coined some new terms: DND, definitely not dating; email chemistry, for what kind of feeling you get from someone via writing; small-r vs big-R relationship.

I’ve noticed a few patterns in this dating adventure. Here’s some things that keep coming up for me. Got any tips for me, or for others? What have you learned by dating on the internet? Lay it on me, I can use all the help I can get.

  1. When placing an ad, make sure you have time in the next two weeks or so to go on follow-up dates. Clear your date nights – Friday and Saturday – or, if you can’t do that (if you work those nights, for example), have a few other options open, brunch on the weekends, or typical happy hour time for those who may be doing that 9-to-5 office thing. You don’t have to go out with everybody who answers, of course, but you want to be able to pick two or three of the good responses and be available to actually meet in the near future.
  2. When sending photos of yourself:
    a) ask your friends to help you pick out the shots that actually look like you, even if they aren’t what you consider to be your most flattering photo;
    b) include a shot of your face and a shot of your body;
    c) do not include photos of you with your ex. Have your friends take new shots of you if those are the only ones you have;
    d) resize your photos to somewhere around 600px by 400px. Attaching huge, giant photos directly from the camera is very inconvenient for the recipient, and are hard to see.
  3. Your social networking site is also a personal ad. Send on your Myspace/Friendster/Facebook site upon sending your name or your photograph (your potential date will probably Google you anyway). If you use your Myspace profile for something else (keeping an eye on your kids, connecting with your high school students) make a profile that just highlights you, where you can actually write things. No need to be smutty and intimate and TMI, just have it be an authentic representation of you. This profile should be PUBLIC, with some photos that you haven’t already sent onto your prospective date, because why else would we be looking at your profile? To gauge whether or not you are physically interesting & attractive. That doesn’t necessarily mean “conventionally beautiful” – it means, whether or not I’m intreagued by the way you look. If you need to keep this private, for whatever reason, then after your prospective date sends you a request to be added, please follow up on that quickly.
  4. When you set a tone in your personal ad, it’s best to follow up with that tone too. You created a persona for yourself in your ad, if you can’t follow through with it, best to put up a persona that you can follow through with. Sounds cheesy to say “be authentic,” but, come on. Be authentic, even if that authenticity is NSA dating & sex. That’s authentic too.

careful, your prejudice is showing

March 14, 2008  |  essays  |  7 Comments

Dear Angry Anonymous Girl on Craigslist,

The Closet Musician is so right about thickened skin. Reading your posts, I feel the hatred you carry, but only down to a certain level before it just simply stops. Your words hit my bullet-proof armor and don’t penetrate any further. And that armor is made up of years of self-examination, of friend’s and lover’s support and care, of gender theory and feminist theory and queer theory, of reading memoirs and listening to my community’s stories. I haven’t internalized any of what you’ve said about female masculinity, about butches, bois, tomboys, about ME – which is good, that’s an improvement.

Perhaps sometimes I’m not as sensitive as I think.

But I know that you’ve hurt others, deeper than me. I know how fragile it is to come to and then embody this female masculinity, how fragile these gender identities are, how easy it is to sometimes tear them down. You’ve hurt my friends, my lovers, my people, and that is not okay.

In the tone behind your words I can tell you really mean what you’re saying. You actually believe this hatred, you actually believe that masculine-identified female-bodied folks are responsible for discrimination against lesbians, that this type of female masculinity is ugly. That surprises me – that kind of deep-seated hatred always surprises me, on anybody, for any group.

This post of yours, the subsequent comments on Craigslist and on the various lesbian blogs, have reminded me how radical it still is to exist outside of gendered norms. How subversive it is to break the sex/gender assumption that dictates that female-bodied folks must be feminine and male-bodied folks must be masculine. How dangerous it is for me to walk around in men’s clothes, get my hair cut at a barber shop, buy cocks and pack.

Gender is still the dirty little secret in the worlds of activism and social change. It is still possible to deflate a female women’s rights worker by calling her “mannish,” still possible to discredit gay male activists by calling them “flaming” or “fairy.” There are consequences to subverting the paradigm of the sex/gender binary.

And you know what? That must mean that us activists, us queers and butches and bois and femmes and drag queens and fags and radical fairies and trans guys and girls and genderqueers – we must be doing something right. We’re a threat. If we were that easy to dismiss, if we were that marginalized and insignificant and deviant, we would not have to be called out as “ugly” on a public forum by a cowardly anonymous genderphobe.

That revelation I feel in my bones, past that armor, all the way down to my defenseless bloody organs. A vibration of hope, a vibration of power.

Last night, I said to The Closet Musician that I was grateful for all the comments that have come after the original post, I’m grateful that my community of genderqueers are not taking this lying down. I’m grateful for all of the comments here on Sugarbutch, for all the reactions of surprise and love and care, for all the angry rants and the articulated defenses. Here are a few:

It’s in the way that they are both gallant…and in / private moments raunchy, sexy and hot, that makes me shudder / It’s the Butch Mystique, which I would never pretend / to know, but that I understand and love.

It’s too bad you can’t appreciate the beauty of female masculinity, the amazing variety of genders in the queer “community”, and the sheer fun of fucking with gender.

I know for a fact that there are plenty of attractive, femme women who love their butches. Objectively hot women, even by glossy magazine “normal people” heterosexual standards. … Even hot women are occasionally rejected (there’s always another hot one somewhere down the line) so the argument that someone would like a butch for no other reason than she can’t do any better really doesn’t work. And what makes you think butches aren’t picky?

For many of us, there is simply nothing hotter than a really butch woman.

u don’t like masculine women but who died and said u can dictate who a individual is and how they should look. … im not a butch but I LOVE THEM because they are the bravest of our kind to put themselves out there and be who they are. I think you should find out who you are and stop judging what u don’t know. Remember lesbians in general have to struggle to be accepted and its more than effed up to kno that 1 of our own is holding us back. I hope ur proud of yourself ur famous.

The entire post was pure internalized homophobic spew. Nothing sickens me more than a member of a disenfranchised community further discriminating against others … we are the ones on the front lines, as much now as then. … It has been our fight, our visibility and our scars that have allowed you to have increased freedom and safety. … The next time you want to put down butch, maybe you ought to think a little harder about your history.

But even so, I wish we were at the point where even though you are thinking these awful, prejudiced things about female masculinity, you would never, never voice them to others, because gender discrimination would be a faux pas, so politically incorrect that you would never put it out there into the world, because there would be huge social consequences.

Wait, I just realized something. What you’re saying is hate-speech. It’s prejudice against a group of people, and it violates Craigslist’s Terms of Use:

You agree not to post, email, or otherwise make available Content: a) that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, or is harmful to minors in any way; [...] c) that harasses, degrades, intimidates or is hateful toward an individual or group of individuals on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, or disability.

Like many of the posters have said, I don’t care if you aren’t attracted to butches. Just like I don’t care if you are or aren’t attracted to men, to redheads, to big breasts, to high heels. Attraction is personal, yours is yours and that’s just fine. But I do care that you’re taking your personal preferences and turning them into hate speech, to discrimination. Your hatred is fuling gender discrimination and transphobia, both of which have very serious consequences in our society. I am so tired of seeing yet another headline for a trans person murdered in a hate crime, and your hate crime, your post, is precisely the same kind of misunderstood, misguided hatred that fuels these crimes.

But, like they say, karma’s a bitch. If you have any desire to cover your ass, I suggest you educate yourself. Figure out your own internal shit. Live and let live. Stop spewing such hatred. And while you’re at it, donate to the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a non-profit organization that “works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed – whether or not they meet expectations for masculinity and femininity. As a human rights organization, GenderPAC also promotes an understanding of the connection between discrimination based on gender stereotypes and sex, sexual orientation, age, race, and class.”

Perhaps I will practice some lovingkindness meditation and think of you – may you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease. Maybe through that practice I’ll come to some new place of generosity and be able to forgive your ignorant prejudice. I’d like to be able to do that. I’d like to be that generous.

For now, I wish you peace in your heart.

Sincerely,

sinclair

responding, à la Lorde

March 12, 2008  |  essays  |  6 Comments

A response to the girl who posted that awful rant against female masculinity on Craigslist from The Closet Musician, one of my very best friends. Thank you.

I feel like there’s no way to properly respond in this particular forum that would have much of a chance of softening the angry girl’s mind about any of the angry things she said. So, what do I do? It’s obvious that all of this hurt and fear is in her from somewhere, and her default reaction is to put it back out in a hateful, anonymous add that anyone, from anywhere, in any place or state of being can run into.

So, what do we do?

Personally, I tucked right back into that slightly tougher skin of mine, so not to have my heart impaled by a hateful, cowardly stranger on Craigslist. This is that thicker skin that queers, people of color, disabled people, anyone different from the “norm,” have been wearing since the dawning of time. The one that at some point, we all have to learn to throw on at the drop of a dime, at any moment, for an immeasurable amount of unpredictable moments of attack. In this case, the one that all of us queers grew or will grow at some point: when we first cut our hair short, the first time we shop in the clothing dept. that doesn’t coincide with our biological sex. This is the skin we put on before we go into a public restroom, or when we are awkwardly sir-ed in a crowded place, or spat at, or threatened, beat up, ignored, laughed at, or when a really close friend or perfect stranger or parent or lover says some of the same things that the angry girl on Craigslist posted. This is the skin we wear when we aren’t butch enough, too butch, faggy, not gay enough, wear makeup, wear a suit, when we are insulted, rejected, fired, not hired, gawked at, thrown out or any of the other plethora of things that happen to us because people like this girl cannot or will not deal with their own internal issues of hurt and insecurity and so shove it on us somehow, carelessly and spitefully in the form of hate and discrimination. This is nothing new, right? We are just taken off guard, angry and offended and confused and hurt … again … or maybe for the first time.

Most of us aren’t counting the hits anymore, but there are some of us that ran into this post and got hit in that soft unarmed place, where our true and fragile identities are trying to bloom, for the first time. Some of us just cut our hair really short yesterday and then walked down a busy street, some of us just admitted to ourselves that we’re queer and that this was okay, some of us braved our first gay bar last night, some of us just had our first queer kiss, some of us just came out to someone and it went ok, some of us finally went out in a tie or a skirt for the first time and were told we looked handsome or pretty for the first time ever, by a pretty girl or cute boy or a parent or a friend or a stranger – and then we read this post and got hit in that soft place for the first time – and that thicker, tougher skin, that I’ve been wearing for a few decades now, that filters what can and can’t get into your heart, started to grow. And this makes me mad, this makes me very, very sad.

I wonder, even though it’s pointless, I wonder why she wrote most of everything she wrote. It didn’t really have anything to do with anything and was so careless and aimless. She just opened fire on anyone who ran into it. She hurt a lot of people.

Regardless, it’s out there now, for most of us as a reminder, for some of us as a harsh awakening, that our identity, our self understanding is just that: it is our own and it is deeply personal and sensitive and pliable and impressionable, breakable, insecure, vulnerable, real and very, very… very important. And as you discover you, you have to wear it, claim it, right? It’s who you are.

And I think that when who you are is hit with hate, go ahead and feel it, give yourself permission to react, just chose your reaction consciously so that maybe the hatred going around will lighten up and so that maybe insight and acceptance can have some room to get somewhere, and so that maybe this girl, who, like it or not, is everywhere, might learn something from you … and …but … maybe she won’t. But, for all of us who are brave enough to be who we are and let our identities free to style our hair, dress us, create our stride, our speech, and any and all of the infinite possibilities of potential expression for the identities we claim – good for us!

Audre Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” As a boi, butchy, lesbian, dyke, girl, androgynous, top, bottom, sister, partner, writer, daughter, friend, gardener, Cher-loving, liberal, sexy, funny, handsome, cocky, fragile, political, sensitive, angry, kind, self-loving person, I really like that quote.

And now my comment directed to the girl that wrote the original ad on Craigslist:

Angry, Anonymous Girl,

If your misplaced hatred is at all removable and you are even slightly open to things that don’t make sense to you, I (by myself) or some of my friends and I (a lovely bouquet of butches, bois, dykes, fags, hags, trans, femmes, studs, bi’s, queers, and straighties) would be more than willing to have an open discussion with you. If you promise to leave your sword at the door, I’ll take off my thicker skin and talk to you from an honest place: girl to girl, lesbian to lesbian, boi to however you so choose to self identify at that particular moment.

If you are going to respond to this letter with hate, please warn me first, maybe in the title, so I can put on a layer first.

Thanks for listening.

“lesbian does not =”

March 12, 2008  |  essays  |  30 Comments

I use an RSS reader somewhat obsessively, and it has significantly cut down on the time that I flounce around the internet, following link to link, surfing. I save that for lazy weekends or evenings instead of doing it during my workday, and it’s lovely. It means I keep up with my friends’ writings, with interesting blogs I might otherwise forget to check. I come across new ones and add them on a trial basis, I go through everything I’ve subscribed to about once a month and weed out those that are not so interesting.

One of my RSS feeds is the Women-seeking-women section on New York City’s Craigslist – but not just every post, I took the feed for posts containing the words both “femme” and “butch.” Because frankly, if you’re not a femme looking for a butch specifically, I don’t want to date you. There’s a lot of “NO BUTCHES/NO MEN/FEMMES ONLY” posts happening over there, and I usually just skip right by them.

Last night, a new post went up, and reads as follows:

lesbians does not = bois, studs,butch, soft butch. no confused females

Reply to: [email protected]
Date: 2008-03-11, 5:54PM EDT

To all you bois, studs, butches, soft butches or whatever you want to call yourself, this is not back in the old days in which you had to dress like a boy or man in order to go out late at night without getting raped and harassed so why is it that you still dress and look like a male? Why would I want an imitation of a man when I can get a real man if I was straight. It defeats the purpose of being with another woman if I’m with a “female” who looks, acts and wants to be a boy. It’s such a turn off.

Why do you all act like you’re all that when you’re not? I realize the ones who act the most cocky and over confident ones are usually the ugliest too- go figure. You make the rest of the population think we as lesbians are freaks when the majority of us are not. Be born to be who you are, if you are born a male be one, if you are born a female then be one, but if you’re unhappy with your gender then get a sex change but stop looking like a adolescent 15 yr boy girls. Girls actually go down on you?! gross!! makes me want to gag.

For those of you who are femme who like and date these male wannabes, you have no taste LOL, have low self esteem, don’t want anyone to be better looking than you, you want all the attn or not real lesbians. Why anyone would want an imitation male or female is beyond me. Take off your beer goggles LOL nasty! you are why the rest of the population shuns away from us and we don’t have the same rights as straight folks.

If your appearance looks like you are confused with your sex/gender how can you expect the straight world to take any of us seriously? I don’t even take you seriously and I’m gay. You look like a pathetic wannabe. We will never get equality because of you. Do the rest of us a favor and get a sex change and really become a male, and if you were born a male and want to be a female then do it, instead if going in drag, it’s so fake. The rest of us will respect you more for it. Don’t be a coward and go through with the sex change instead of pretending to be something you are not. Stop bringing the rest of us down. You are not a representation of the majority of us. We shouldn’t all pay for your identity issues. Stop trying to stick out like a sore ugly thumb.

I don’t even want to reproduce the whole thing here because, frankly, it’s offensive, personal, below-the-belt punches, and I would not want any of you potentially reading this to feel hurt about this. I want to protect you, see? I want to be the buffer against the big bad world of gender-phobia and only write cool, celebratory things, yay femmes!, yay butches!, yay to people who don’t claim a label but understand why we do! But that’s not what it is all the time, I guess.

And frankly, I’m hurt by this. Me, personally. My identity, my gender, my sense of self – hell, my very mission of activism and tolerance and acceptance.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m fine, I’m not asking for your comfort or praise. I know I’m too damn sensitive. Generally, my butchness is pretty damn well accepted in my life – I’ve never had a single issue at my current job, I have fabulous friends who love me and celebrate my gender expression, I have community, I have this amazing space to write about things, I have lovers who appreciate my boyishness and have their own gender fetishes that compliment my own. I don’t feel ugly or like a “pathetic wannabe” or responsible for the inequality of homosexuals, for which that poster is blaming us butches. I know better than to believe that.

But it’s surprising. People really think this? Lesbians really think this? In New York City, in 2008? Really? Maybe I’m being naive here – but honestly the gender discrimination I’ve experienced in my life is usually about ignorance, not flat-out hatred.

I am tempted to pull the posting apart and write a response, but that idea just makes me exhausted. I’m too tired to defend my identity and sense of self and very essence and sexuality and sexual orientation toward femmes and gender and fetish to someone who has drawn angry, prejudiced conclusions about a group of people who she clearly does not understand. I’d like to write something; perhaps tomorrow I will feel more inspired and articulate. Today, I’m not even sure where to start.

This has created a little bit of lively discussion over on Craigslist; I’ve sorted through it and posted the responses after the jump. The original poster replied to a couple of the responses, most of which are people saying “you’re an idiot,” though one of which – the last one – was in support of the original post. Read them at your own risk, they’re hard to read, and may be offensive.

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