Written by Marisa Wherry.
Art by Kristin Kastein.
Once again, I’ve been confronted with the responsibility to protect myself against unnecessary and abusive behavior while men run around doing whatever they damn well please.
Let’s back up –– It was a Saturday night.
It was a Saturday night and I had just gotten back from a family vacation. I had half unpacked, and not wanting to do the rest, I opened Tinder.
I swiped right and left, moved to Bumble, went back to Tinder, and just like that, someone had sent me a new message. Let’s call him David.
David and I lived close by, so he suggested we go out and get drinks that same night. I agreed and a few hours later I walked to meet David at a local bar.
It went how a lot of first dates went –– I was having fun, but still trying to make up my mind about him. Then he mentioned he worked for the DNC.
It’s important to a lot of young single women, including me, that we find partners who want us to have full human rights (how radical).
If you’re a single woman in 2020, you know that dating is hard right now –– not just because of the pandemic, when your only option for meeting people is through apps, but also because, depending on where you live, it’s hard to find liberal men to date, and with Donald Trump in office and women’s rights under attack, it’s important to a lot of young single women, including me, that we find partners who want us to have full human rights (how radical).
I live in the Philadelphia suburbs where there’s a mix of conservative and liberal people. So when he talked about working for Joe Biden’s campaign, I was intrigued.
I saw him again that Tuesday, just a few days later. We stayed in and ordered food while watching the first presidential debate together. I know who I’m voting for, so I tried to block most of it out to avoid the stress if it all –– but David had to watch it for work, so we chatted while Biden and Trump raged on in the background. I rolled my eyes and complained about things Trump said. David agreed with me, and it seemed like I had finally found a man who was as annoyed by this idiot as I was.
I saw David again a few days later on Friday, just shy of a week after we met. He was moving down to D.C. that day, so we went to lunch and said our goodbyes, but I had tentative plans to visit him the following weekend after he had settled in.
But first thing Saturday morning, I woke up to a bunch of texts from David.
“So before this goes any further, I want to be honest with you.”
He explained that he had lied to me about his political beliefs so that I could “get to know him.”
He explained that he had lied to me about his political beliefs so that I could “get to know him.” He told me he is actually conservative and works for the RNC, not the DNC––but that he had lied because he saw my Tinder profile said “liberal, feminist, BLM.”
David not only lied to me about his political beliefs, his values, and his job, but he also manipulated me, based on my values, into thinking he was a different person––a person who I had sex with, a person who I thought cared about my rights, a person who begged me not to use a condom, even though, after his confession, he admitted he didn’t “like” abortion.
This was an example of an emerging dating trend that men are participating in because women won’t date them since their politics don’t support us having full human rights.
Let me be clear: this was not a ha-ha funny, catfish reality tv show fluke. This was an example of an emerging dating trend that men are participating in because women won’t date them since their politics don’t support us having full human rights.
So now, in a world where women are expected to complete a laundry list of precautions just to stay safe from men on a daily basis, it’s frustrating to realize that there is yet another trend we have to watch out for: wokefishing.
I was shocked and disgusted when he came clean. I called him and yelled at him. I sent screenshots to my friends. I reported him on Tinder. I blocked his number.
But what can a woman do when she gets wokefished?
Almost as frustrating that the actual wokefishing exists is the fact that our only coping mechanisms are angrily venting to our friends, reporting said-wokefishers on dating apps (through which we never get clear resolution), and warning each other to watch out for these dating trends in the future. It further muddies the waters around our list of things “to do” or “not to do” to feel safe: don’t walk alone at night, don’t walk with headphones in your ears, bring pepper spray with you, and now –– quiz him about his political beliefs, check his Facebook for political affiliation, ask him who he’s voting for in local, state, and federal elections?
By placing expectations on women to alter their behavior, aren’t we losing sight of who is responsible for abuse in the first place?
We do these things as women, not necessarily because we believe they’re effective or practical, or that we believe this should be our burden to carry––but because we don’t have many other ways of protecting ourselves from men. And that’s a hard realization to come to.
Women –– do what you need to do to feel safe, always. But we won’t defeat the patriarchy with a can of pepper spray, nor will never traveling to a foreign country alone stop misogyny in its tracks. In fact, it may reinforce it –– by placing expectations on women to alter their behavior, aren’t we losing sight of who is responsible for abuse in the first place?
Dating isn’t just scary for women because we can get rejected. It’s scary for us because we fear men. We regularly fear being assaulted, abused, gaslit –– because too many times, we have experienced and witnessed ourselves, our friends, our female family members go through that emotional and physical abuse.
So men, if you have to lie about your politics to get laid, change your fucking politics. And while you’re at it, stop making women responsible for protecting ourselves from you.
We deserve better.
About The Author
Marisa Wherry is a writer from and currently residing in the Philadelphia suburbs. Marisa graduated from Ithaca College in 2017 and enjoys traveling, reading, practicing yoga, and dangling strings in front of her cat. Her goals include seeing 30 countries before she turns 30, publishing a book, and adopting lots of pets.