My ethnographic approach to this project has not turned out significant results. After tweeting at these organizations I did not receive much feedback. I then tried private messaging these organizations via twitter, asking if I could set up an interview with a representative of the organization, again no response. From here I decided to go through the various websites and email every site, either through the site or by personal e-mail. I received only two responses, both stating that they had no time for an interview but to post on their websites and get responses from other feminists. Which is exactly what I did! I joined a forum on Everyday Sexism where I posted about my project and a few questions: 1)What are your impressions of online dating? 2)Are online dating sites safe? 3)What actions do you think should be taken to prevent and fight cyber sexual harassment via dating sites? In one week, I’ve received two responses the first one goes as follows:
First of all, I have to say that I don't understand online dating sites overall, in spite of trying a couple of times. This may have an effect on my answers. But I have this impression that there is a big problem of mismatching expectations over there. People don't want the same thing out of these sites, and they are not always honest about what they want to either themselves or others. And they don't always know how to read what others have written about that, if you know what I mean. Thus, for 1/ I'd say that these sites can be safe if you are ready to deal with annoying people, and make sure to fully understand people's motivations before you take it offline. But it depends what you call safe. For fighting cyber sexual harassment, I kind of like the current approach of allowing abusive users to be anonymously reported to the moderation team and banned. It is a good example of an "innocent unless proven guilty" principle. To prevent banned users from creating a new account right away, technical measures exist, such as disallowing multiple users from sharing a common credit card number on paying sites. To implement more stringent security measures than bans, such as the threat of legal prosecution, would require a way for the website to know the postal address of a user, or some similarly unique identification. That's difficult to do in practice, though not impossible if someone really wanted to.
This user brings up a good point about the current safety measures that paying sites use. The banning procedures if a user breaks protocol seems secure. However, the measures Match.com and other sites are implementing (running members against sex offender databases) are more proactive towards preventing offline harassment. It is very easy for anyone to create an innocent, and normal facade over the internet. Yes, this is good but there needs to be more.
The other comment offered short insight into men harassing other men on dating sites. A perspective I had not considered.The response goes as follows:
I guess that explains why women don't trust men much, wow, pretty crazy. I was on singlesnet for a while and they had a chat room, I'd see a few guys on there trying to start trouble with other guys , talking a lot of trash that I never saw on any other chat rooms. I wondered if they might have been some kind of throw backs, they acted like male elks in rut or something, it was pretty weird.
I felt like this comment really generalized feminism. No, this does not mean we don’t trust all men, or hate them. These questions are merely pointing out problems that happen to some women and some men that can only be stopped by changing the cultural norms.
What do you guys think of the responses?