More than a decade ago, when I was just a teenage girl in a bar, a stranger would walk in on me, ask for my number, and I’d tell him it was a joke.
He would laugh, wink, and say, “I love you!”
I’d be like, “Oh, you’re a fucking dickhead.”
He would leave, and years later, I would find him.
He’d be gone, never to return.
It’s not that I’m ashamed to admit it, I was a dickhead for a long time.
I was never sexually active.
I did have sex once, with a woman who later committed suicide.
But it wasn’t my fault.
I am, in a way, a victim of sexual predators.
I would have been less afraid of a guy walking into my bar in the middle of the night and asking for my phone number if he had a beard and a hot-ass girlfriend who could handle his weight.
I think that’s how society can make sense of the internet age.
We’re constantly bombarded with the message that there’s no place like home.
The internet makes us feel like we have an endless supply of options, and it makes us more vulnerable.
But that’s only part of the problem.
I think that, instead of treating sexual predators as heroes, we should treat them like criminals.
I believe in the power of anonymity.
It’s an easy thing to say, but it’s also something that has helped me survive.
It lets me find people who I would never want to be with.
People who have never hurt me, people who have hurt me for no reason, people I can trust.
I can say to myself, “What if this guy really was a predator?”
It’s not just that he’s a dick, it’s that he has no right to be in my life.
I have friends who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.
I’ve also met a few trans women.
In my mind, they’re all heroes.
They’re all people who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect other people.
It takes courage to stand up for yourself, and we need to be more courageous in our dealings with strangers online.
It might not be the easiest conversation, but if we want to live in a society that values people, that respects their privacy, that protects the rights of all, we have to be open and honest with each other.