Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Ghosting---the act of cutting off all personal contact with someone---is cruel and disrespectful within all types of interactions and relationships. Yes, even casual sex.
Even before realizing I was a feminist, I was never a fan of the patriarchal rigmarole via "rules" people put each other through when dating or hooking up for casual sex growing up. I hated it back then, and hate it now because it still dictates that cis-hetero folks put themselves and each other through so much BS adhering to a system based in rewarding and policing reductive behaviors, and all for maybe 2 minutes of pump-n-hump, where only one party gets off while the other regrets putting on clothes to step outside in the first place. In such an outdated setup, women are relegated to sexual objects for men's consumption, to be used fast and forgotten even faster, regardless of whether or not we gained any sexual pleasure. As a queer woman looking to expand her sexual knowledge and experiences & who finds men attractive, I signed up with a lil' casual hookup website called Adult Friend Finder, hoping that the chances of dealing with folks who play these patriarchal games would be slim.
You'd think on a website where the prime objective is to get laid, cishet men would just be upfront about all their wants but, as it turns out, they still bring their toxic gender bull$#!* baggage with them online. Back in the day, women and girls dealt with being cut off by men after a sexual encounter and all communication ceasing out of nowhere, but these days, there's a word for it:
In the past 6 months since creating an account, my experiences have been:
• men ghosting before an IRL meetup is planned, but continue to view my profile for months. Imagine talking, build a foundation of "okay, this person might could be sane enough for you to have sex with", and then the next day, nothing. No texting back, no messages, nada. And they continue to say nothing to you for months...while stalking your profile.
You're no longer interested in hooking up, but...you're still checking out my profile mad heavy. Is this...the online version of 'negging'?
• men ghosting after definitive IRL meeting plans are set up. You've gone through the screening phase, things seem cool, and the day comes, you're ready to have fun before the weekend, but when you message the prospective partner...CRICKETS. And then have the nerve to send a friend request after you unfriend them months later, peak audacity.
Wasting my time and then try to friend me again months later after getting cut off? Audacity, caucasity, and just outright nonsense and stupidity.
• men ghosting after 1-2 sexual encounters. This particular instance has thrown me for a loop, mainly because I've long been an advocate of FwB (Friends with Benefits) and F#*k Buddy situations, especially if the person you meet up with seems hella cool, and the chemistry is good. You would think folks would be down for that, especially since it's hard finding hookups that are actually real people and not scammers online, but what the hell do I know?
Now, granted, ya girl made that AFF account with eyes wide open; I knew it'd be hard finding sex partners whose gender and sexual politics line up even 50% with mine, so a sistah went into this endeavor with a more than a moderate amount of practicality, cuz at the end of the day, I'd like to get laid. But even with taking into account said aforementioned hurdle, cishet men in general, regardless of ethnicity, are still unable to be honest about their wants and intentions, mainly verbally communicating loss of chemistry, sexual interest, or not wanting repeat encounters. The online aspect enables dehumanization via ghosting quite easily; if one doesn't view the person they're engaging with as a human being from jump, it's even easier to cease the minimal communication that DID take place and dismiss their humanity altogether on the other end of their smartphone or PC, making hookup culture all the more toxic.
I don't feel entitled to a person's life, time, body and attention, but as a woman putting herself out there in this online space where patriarchal gender "standards" and toxic masculinity still runs rampant, I have much more to lose each time I put myself out there. I'm often forced to weigh the worth of having to facilitate the majority of emotional labor and time in getting to know someone, letting them get to know me, worrying about my safety, etc, while men, while cautious to a point, MIGHT consider a woman's humanity for only so long until after their lust is sated. The IRL and online dehumanization of women, lack of healthy communication skills, and the online aspect of being able to choose whatever commodity one wants to consume at the swipe of a finger has detrimentally twisted human-to-human interactions online, so much so that we've become even more objectified within hookup culture. We see each other less and less as fellow social creatures wanting & needing to connect an treated with empathy, and more like commodities to be consumed and discarded at any time. The merging of low social skills and internalized patriarchal dictates, especially the antiquated treatment of the "casual" in "casual sex" as 'lacking any and all traces of human emotion, with consumer culture all make for quite the toxic online climate that I want less and less involvement with the older I get.
Ghosting as an action is lazy, cowardly, and cruel to the person it happens to; folks who endorse it or see no issue with it may say that ghosting lets folks know where a person stands, but I would counter with "not....right away, no", especially when it comes out of left field and after having had nothing but pleasant conversation and/or encounters with a person. Ghosting after good experiences effectively leaves a person hanging without means for closure, meanwhile the person who ghosted doesn't have to deal with being held accountable for their actions. Yes, I do think there are instances where ghosting might be needed, or even a necessity to ensure one's online and physical safety. However, I'm discussing a specific context in which ghosting is used in the place of communicating to one's intentions, whether interest is there or not. It speaks of an emotional ignorance, and maybe that's the real issue: emotion being thought of as the enemy of physical and sexual gratification, when in reality, it isn't. Men are generally taught to be emotionally unavailable, so that maybe a reason as to why they fail to communicate their full intent in hookup culture. Plus, given the patriarchal script women and girls are taught, it may give men even more of a feeling of power of getting a women to do 'bad things' under false pretenses, and 'getting away with it'.
This ripples out to online dating and relationship sites as well, since it's been studied that while 27% of Americans use online sites for casual hookups, 83% use online sites to search for long-term relationships. And while men who utilize online dating have said that feminism has made dating and finding partners easier and more enjoyable for them, online dating has continued to be less enjoyable for women. We need to fully divest ourselves from rigid and inane gender policing and dissociation that feeds the behavior experienced online. We need to understand that the "casual" in "casual sex" does not mean "callous", "unfeeling", or "lacking compassion". And we DEFINITELY need to do away with 'ghosting', as it exemplifies those adjectives entirely.
Among other others...