a feminist’s guide to sexting with cavemen
or The Dirty Screen
As I delve into potentially dangerous sexist waters, I am fully aware of the irony of acting the ‘White Knight’ to the ‘Damsel in Distress’ of ‘Male Privilege.’ That being said, as a boy who texts, I wanted to Devil’s Advocate these three angles of the oft-vilified manner in which boys text: Taking the Initiative, Being Direct, and Being Demeaning.
When boys send texts to girls, they are well known for being a horror show of male privilege and penis obsession (as seen on Tumblr’s StraightWhiteBoysTexting).
But I’m writing this because I don’t think most boys want to hurt most girls.
Most boys just wanna have sex.
Boys want to text things that get them laid, at least a small percentage of the time and with minimum effort. So boys try different things and use what works, however primitive, to get them laid. When boys text girls those dirty, direct, and even demeaning things, it’s usually because those are the things that are working for them with the girls in the demographic they are interested in.
#1: The Initiative to Text
This is what StraightWhiteGirlsTexting looks like:
To take the initiative and put something, anything up on that blank screen is embarrassing and emotionally exposing and just plain difficult, for either sex. If you just say ‘Hi,’ you’re boring and cliche and no different from all the other boys. If you come up with something clever and original and amazing but you say it to more than one girl, you’re treating her like a piece of meat. If you compliment her, beware: too sexual and you’re a creep; too non-sexual and you’re Friend Zoned.
A lot of responsibility comes with being The Chaser, including the responsibility of setting the tone of the interaction. If The Chased doesn’t want to be chased, it’s very easy to block a boy’s texts.
If The Chased does want to be chased but has complaints about The Chaser’s style, it’s also very easy to take the initiative, become The Chaser herself, and set the tone. I think most of us boys would loved being chased from time to time, even if it’s on her terms.
(Note: Bumble is an app that aims to parry this problem by encouraging the She-Predator, Tone-Setter wo-mentality.)
#2: The Direct Texts
Think about this: If boys are being direct about what they want, isn’t that a step up from lying? (Lying: the other complaint girls have about boys.)
Or maybe she would prefer he lie to her?
Communicating verbally what you want to someone, no matter how dirty or unseemly, seems like a form of actively seeking prior consent, which perhaps even the most hardcore Third-Wave feminists might appreciate.
Looking at it this way, StraightWhiteBoysTexting seems to be making fun of boys who are trying to do the right thing and ask for what they want even if it looks silly on paper. (As opposed to boys who use physical domination, psychological intimidation, and pharmaceuticals to get what they want; or girls who have to use manipulation, subtlety, and self-justification to get what they want.)
Is StraightWhiteBoysTexting pro-lying or, worse, anti-consent?
#3: The Demeaning Texts
If most boys just want things that get them sex, on the inverse side, maybe most girls just want things that make them not feel guilty about having sex. Which is why acting like the ‘Confident Dirty Brute Who Is in Control and in Charge of Making the Moves on the Scandalized Stainless Steel Princess’… makes sense.
Although it may be ill-advised, I think most boys who text demeaning things are doing it not to hurt her but actually to appeal to the id beast lurking beneath her innocent surface who yearns to be dominated. He is hoping to connect with the creature below: If her beast howls back, a feast will follow; if her beast is unresponsive, he is not interested either.
Boys may also use demeaning as a way to try to communicate the kind of relationship they are looking for (two people casually using each other for pleasure). For the record, there are better, more respectful ways to communicate these things, but I don’t think it mostly comes from a hurtful place.
Maybe we should all be as honest and emotionally exposed as those straight, white boys.
I understand that the target of StraightWhiteBoysTexting is a humorous takedown of harassment and disrespect and privilege. Looking at it that way, sure, it’s funny.
I see most of these texting fails more as clumsy attempts at fumbling initiative, forthcoming directness, and filthy consent. –To which the alternative is lying to her, concealing from her your true intentions, not asking for her prior consent, or just a blank screen because she’s definitely not going to text you anything ever.
But at least your blank screen will be a clean screen.