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I was texting a couple of weeks ago with a friend who was trying to figure out what to do about the co-founder of a lit mag who was sending her inappropriate emails in the middle of the night. She suspected these missives coincided with excessive drinking. When she gently called out the dude on Facebook for his track record with women, he lost it.
She demanded his lit mag remove an essay of hers that it had published on its website. When he refused, she went public with the emails. Less than 48 hours later, several other women came forward with negative interactions they’d had with this man, and the lit mag closed up shop.
In the middle of all of this, one of Louisville’s favorite sons sent me a text asking me if I was still ignoring him. I let my lack of response serve as my answer. I don’t know the dude very well. He started following me on Instagram, and about a month after that, we randomly ran into each other. He asked me to a lunch that never came to fruition because he got kinda weird with his text messages. It felt like he was making a weak attempt to gaslight me, and I politely bowed out of further engagement, despite his insistence that I continue to defend my decision to not strike up a friendship or anything else with him.
The timing of his text and my friend’s situation made me wonder why well-known men would attempt to engage with women who have made it clear they have no interest in engaging with them via emails or text messages that could easily be made public. I hadn’t responded to any of this man’s text messages in months. You know, of all the women in Louisville who a well-known man could send unwanted texts to, you’d think one with a whole ass relationship advice column would not be the one.
And apparently, you would be wrong.
Trust me, I’m surprised too.
I don’t have any interest in exposing this person because the texts weren’t threatening or sexually inappropriate. Just weird and containing the kind of mind games young dudes try to play but don’t work so well on us ol’ biddies in our 30s. But you know this city is always thirsty for tea, so why would someone with an image to maintain even risk it? At worst, it could result in lost opportunities and at the least be embarrassing and gossip fodder for the week.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me, so I put the question out on Instagram: What’s the appeal behind this risky behavior? Especially, because there’s very little to be gained by it. My bestie was quick to respond to my post, chalking it up to “entitlement via ego via ‘masculinity’ via patriarchy.”
A toxic mix for sure.
Someone in my DMs backed her up on this, also citing “pervasive patriarchy” as the issue. Add to that a lack of experience when we’re younger about how to handle these conversations, and these issues can snowball and give these men a false sense of power about the situation.
Another follower slid into my DMs to say that their mom always says, “It’s because they don’t believe that fatty meat is greasy,” which is to say, “They feel like they’re immune to scandal, immune to repercussions.”
While I’m out here asking questions, I also had one for myself: Why hadn’t I blocked this dude’s number? Like after the first discouraged, unsolicited text, why not just pop into my iPhone settings and handle things from my own end? I counsel my friends all the time to block numbers and reroute unwanted emails to their spam folders. Then, I get frustrated with them when they don’t listen. But I’m doing the same-ish. I guess there’s this part of me that wants to trust that a person can respect a boundary that’s been set. I think there’s also this part of me that wants to know if someone is still capable of making me uncomfortable, so I stay aware. In some unexplainable way, I feel safer knowing they’re still out there lurking. Going forward, without excusing anyone who transgresses my boundaries, I want to challenge myself to put that block to use — expeditiously.
Anyway, after I asked on Instagram, “Why are men like this?!” I suddenly had one less Instagram follower. And block or no block, I don’t think I’ll be receiving anymore of those unwanted text messages. •