|DON'T DATE HIM, GIRL -- BUT DON'T WRITE ABOUT IT ONLINE, EITHER.|
|When I was in college at UC Berkeley in the mid-90s, there was one stall in a women's bathroom where alleged rapists' names were scrawled in black marker by aggrieved students. This was a murky issue even on my largely liberal campus, and I never fully resolved my feelings about it, though I did tend to look at one student who I knew casually with a little more wariness after seeing his name on the wall. But those scribblings, minimal in nature, seem like high theory next to the pink-colored, overly cutesy new website Don't Date Him Girl, which looks like something hatched by a high school|
student whose boyfriend was found in the bleachers fondling a cheerleader. The site's rah-rah tone is evident in its "About Us" section:
Now, women have a new cost-effective weapon in the war on cheating men! Founded by women with women in mind, www.DontDateHimGirl.com is a free service that allows sisters to share their experiences with cheating men by posting pictures and other information about them in an easy-to-use, searchable database.
The site currently features profiles of 70 (and counting -- 15 were added over the weekend of August 27/28) alleged cheaters, include such celebrity heavyweights as Jude Law and Eric Benet. The profiles range from short and sweet ("He's from Swisha, Ontario, Canada and has cheated three times. Beware ladies!") to long, involved stories that would probably be accompanied by much yelling and crying were they delivered in person.
Most are written in a cozy tone, with the frequent use of the second person to let readers know that these guys will con anyone. Take John C. Dykema, a 45-year-old white guy from Shelbourne, Vermont. The anonymous poster has written, "Girls, He is a great player. When he thinks he has got you, he will cheat on you with a friend of yours right under your nose. He makes you think that you are so special and the only one for him. He will do anything he needs to get you hooked on him and then the real John comes out."
Or how about Jeff Falzerano? He gets treated to a long rant by an ex who claims to have had two sons with him, while meanwhile he was making babies with another woman. Or Amos Newton of Wichita Falls, Texas, who the anonymous poster claims is "the nastiest man in Texas!" She also isn't the only poster to allude to or outright state that the man in question is actually gay, which is right up there with cheating as one of the worst things these men could do, judging from the posts.
Of course we all wish there were some directory where we could find out every sinister flaw of our potential mates. This site purports to let the world know who's a cheater (and, by extension, who isn't). Yet it smacks of self-indulgence, along with a false sense of "we're-all-in-this-together," as if women were renowned for trusting each other's advice when it comes to men, when in fact we're probably better known for being even cattier, colder and crazier in our efforts to hold onto said men. A typical signoff on the cheater profile reads "WARNING MY SISTERS, Miami" (for Eric Huff), adding to the false, pink, girlie sisterhood the site purports to uphold. I'd be all for that sisterhood, if it actually had a solid basis in reality, if women didn't commit heinous acts of violence, verbal and physical abuse in the name of love.
The problem is not only the very juvenile nature of such rantings, but the fact that there's no way to prove these allegations. It would be one thing if the descriptions were anonymous and allowed women simply to air their grievances. I'm certainly not going to argue that there aren't plenty of cheating husbands and boyfriends out there. But there are also cheating wives and girlfriends, and furthermore, the chances of you finding your man in their database are slim to none. If you already suspect him of cheating, well, you need to confront your lover or follow the clues he or she has left and you'll most likely get an answer, even if it's not the one you're looking for.
The entire tone of the site assumes some sort of moral superiority on the part of women, one that seems to play into the idea of women as watchdogs and men as horndogs, and it's these sorts of assumptions (that all men are likely to cheat) that further the age-old "battle of the sexes" mentality. Because while their blog claims to be "revolutionizing the way women date," all it's really doing is providing an outlet for scorned, angry women. I'm not going to go so far as to suggest one can spot a cheater a mile away (I certainly know better), but if the first thing you do after you return from your date is scour their database, you're in trouble. In a "guilty until you prove yourself innocent" twist, the site also purports to allow men to write in and tell their side of the story (for a mere $4.99 processing fee!).
It's not that I don't sympathize with women (or men) who are cheated on. Even if we give some of the posters the benefit of the doubt and believe their stories, this site is not about to stop these men. With such a small database, it's highly unlikely that you'll meet a guy at a bar, decide he might be shady, look him and voila, your worries are answered. Secondly, it creates a forum and fosters an attitude where women are encouraged to be extra suspicious of men they may date. Don't Date Him Girl acts like your best friend or older sister, but doesn't actually offer women much more than a place to vent their frustrations and make unverifiable accusations. While the sentiments seem heartfelt, there are probably much closer-to-home ways women can warn other women of a guy's misdoings, or vice versa. Also, there is negligible information about the site or its founders, although their blog, with posts by "TJ," offers commentary on articles about cheating in the news, which is at least somewhat entertaining
How to get rid of that low down, cheatin' motherfucker.
Sometimes, it really hurts when you find out your finacee fucked the flower girl on the day before your wedding. (That's bad. Don't date him, girl.) But going online and fingering him accomplishes nothing. Oh no. There is only way time-tested, 300,000% effective way to make him hurt the way you've been hurt. You've got to tell him to talk to the hand.
Classic Original Style
The Old Lady
solution to a more complex problem, and does not actually do anything to "revolutioniz[e] the way women date." While the bathroom rape wall was used sparingly and provoked heartfelt issues and debate within a small community, DDHG simply gives free reign to womens' worst impulses (and, yes, I do realize that by writing about the site I'm giving them more traffic). There's no easy solution or quick fix for such a widespread problem, and coddling women into thinking they've found the answer in the form of wildly exciting web posts simply offers them a brief respite topped with a dollop of false hope and a sprinkling of sexist assumptions. That doesn't really sound like such a great sisterhood to me.
Rachel Kramer Bussel is a writer, editor and blogger.