Kit Steinkellner
February 18, 2016 11:03 am

Sarah Khan’s story is all too familiar. She’s been “doing the online dating thing” for a few years, as she writes in an essay she published on The Frisky, she got sick of inappropriate messages from men on OKCupid, and when she tried to explain why explicitly objectifying someone you potentially would like to have at least ONE DATE with is not the move, she was often on the receiving end of “mild abuse.” Again, this is a story we’ve unfortunately heard too many times before from the women in our lives (if we haven’t outright experienced it ourselves).

Khan tried to discourage harassers by making it clear in her online dating profile that she was “a sex-positive feminist and non-hierarchal polyamorist.” Eventually she had to get even MORE clear on her profile, requesting that people who messaged her “lived in [her]city, had a clear face pic, had a complete profile, and knew that [her] being open to casual sex was not an invitation to send [her] sexually explicit or crude messages.” Eventually she had to start sending a form message out to men who ignored her requests, that said “I’m not interested in assholes who blatantly ignore what I’ve written in my profile. Never message me again.”

Khan makes it clear that even though she was on various dating apps and sites, including Tinder, OKCupid was the only place where she was receiving this level of abuse.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, according to Khan, when she contacted OKCupid about the harassment problem, the person assisting her “…suddenly turned incredibly curt and scary when reporting back that I had been blacklisted.” When she wrote back asking why she had been blacklisted, she received no response.

Wait, blacklisted for being the victim of harassment? And then the site not even bothering to explain why she was blacklisted in the first place? In what world does THAT MAKE SENSE?

Khan started a new account, and this time she began documenting the harassment she experienced with screencaps. She responded to every abusive OKCupid user who contacted her with the same form response. OKCupid shut her second account down two months in. What’s even more infuriating is that OKCupid did NOT shut down the accounts of many of the men who were sending her misogynistic, racist, abusive messages.

“Even though I know I did nothing wrong and was totally within my rights (and was actually way kinder than I could have been to some of these dipshits), as I write this, I’m still afraid that some of you are going to read this and ask why I continued to engage,” Khan says, “why I need to resort to name-calling; why I don’t just ignore and block. You wouldn’t be the first ones to ask/wonder that and you likely won’t be the last, but the fact that our first instincts is not ‘Why do men feel it’s okay to be so shitty online’ and is instead, ‘Why do you [the victim] engage with these men’ is terrifying and a huge fucking problem.”

Khan is absolutely right. Her entire essay is well worth a read, and sadly, her situation is one too many know too well. We are shocked at how Khan describes the way in which OKCupid handled (or, rather, didn’t handle) her situation, and we sincerely hope that this call out is a wake-up call for the company, and that they change their policies ASAP. The safety and well-being of their clients should be their top priority, and it sounds like they need to make some necessary changes stat.

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