Sexting can be fun — but only if all involved parties have consented to it. So what do you do if you’re on the receiving end of unwanted messages? One possible solution: Shut down the sexting in the most creative way possible. That’s what Redditor u/TheOwlAndTheFinch did in a recent thread on r/CreepyPMs titled “He’s been begging for weeks to do a ‘sexy roleplay’ with me. I finally said yes. I think he regrets everything now” — and her masterful response has rightfully gone viral, both as an example of how to control your own narrative and as a piece of really, really hilarious writing.
The subreddit r/CreepyPMs is a support sub for folks who have been on the receiving end of “creepy, inappropriate, bizarre, awkward, or offensive PMs (private messages).” Those who post come from all backgrounds, and the messages come from a wide array of communication methods: Direct messages on social media, text message, email, you name it. The sub’s rules stipulate that no identifying information may be included in posts; the idea isn’t to point fingers or start witch hunts, but to provide support — and,often, some levity — to folks who have been harassed in online spaces.
This particular exchange occurred over text message. TheOwlAndTheFinch, who can also be found on Tumblr and YouTube, tells Bustle that she had met the guy while playing video games on the gaming platform Steam. “He seemed cool, since he was one of the few people who didn’t lose his mind when I turned on my headset and used by objectively feminine voice,” TheOwlAndTheFinch says. “So I gave him my number. This is why I don’t drink — my decision-making skills are poor enough on their own.”
In a reasonable world, giving someone your number wouldn’t be interpreted as an invitation to repeatedly push for “sexy role plays,” especially when the request has been turned down every single time. Alas, though, we do not live in a reasonable world — but that doesn’t mean that we have to just roll over and take creepy behavior when it’s directed at us.
So when TheOwlAndTheFinch finally said “yes” to the role play…well, let’s just say that she had a plan. I’ll just let you read the whole thing yourself, because it is magnificent:
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! In a later comment in the thread, TheOwlAndTheFinch wrote, “Oh, BONUS: He’s crazy persistent and tried to keep going after this, so I did, too. Eventually he tried to get me to wear a ‘sexy maid outfit,’ so I took it and went to one of the many bathrooms to change, saying, ‘OK, brb.’ And then I just left the conversation.” What’s more, TheOwlAndTheFinch kept the ball in her own proverbial court whenever he tried to get in touch with her after the maid costume debacle: She wrote, “This whole thing was two weeks ago, and now every time he tries to message me anything at all, I just say something along the lines of ‘Sorry, the zipper’s stuck. Gimme a minute.’ It’s worked like a charm.”
I think the phrase we’re looking for here is, “Mic. Drop.”
As amazing as the story is, though, the wider context of it does remain troubling. Although anyone can and does experience online harassment — according to the most recent data from the Pew Research Center, as of July 2017, four in 10 American adults have been harassed online — women in particular experience sexualized forms of abuse and harassment at disproportionately high rates. According to Pew’s data, 21 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 29 report having been sexually harassed online; for men, the figure is only nine percent. Additionally, a whopping 53 percent of women in the same age group report having been sent explicit images unsolicited — all of which demonstrates both an unwarranted sense of entitlement and a complete disregard of consent from the folks who are engaging in that harassment and sending those images.
Indeed, the sense of entitlement from Mr. Sexy Role Play is astounding. Redditor u/Synsane nailed exactly why when they commented:
“YOU'RE RUINING MYYYYY ROLEPLAY”
So OP is supposed to just nod and agree to everything he's saying?
Did he even need you in the roleplay?
The whole situation indicates that he was only interested in what he could get out of the situation — and the lack of any sort of interest or consideration for what the other person may have wanted just boggles the mind. It's even worse when you remember that the other person in this case wasn’t even interested in sexting in the first place.
So: Is he still at it? Happily, no. “He gave up on messaging me after a while,” TheOwlAndTheFinch tells Bustle. “He had devolved from roleplay back to the usual ‘hey,’ but tapered off once he realized that the maid outfit was really, REALLY stuck."
This isn’t the first time that TheOwlAndTheFinch has used this tactic to stave off unwanted advances from pushy, creepy dudes. “I do this kind of thing occasionally, if guys won’t take no for an answer,” she tells Bustle. “I find that, with men who do not respect boundaries, reaffirming those boundaries will do basically nothing. If you want them to stop, you have to make them believe that disengaging is their idea. They usually get frustrated and call it quits pretty fast, but if they don’t, at least I got an interesting conversation out of it!”
Truth. We shouldn’t have to resort to tactics like this; just saying, “No, I’m not interested” should be enough to get someone to back off. But if that for some reason fails, at least we still have options — and maybe… just maybe… utilizing those options might make an impact in more ways than one.