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I was a long time member of one of the sister sites of Russiancupid.com, Afrointroductions.com, while I was living in both Mauritius and South Africa as an expatriate. Russian Cupid used to be known as Russian but was gobbled up by the Cupid Media Network and given a re-haul.

Internet dating should be illegal

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Online daters tend to fill in the information gaps with positive qualities in a potential partner; on the other hand, everyone wants to make the self appear as attractive as possible to potential dates by exaggerating the self desirable traits. There are gender differences in both preference and messaging behavior on online dating sites.Women weigh income more than physical characteristics, and men sought physical attractiveness and offered status-related information more than women. The service users preferred similarity on a variety of (mainly demographic) categories (including child preferences, education, and physical features like height, age, race, religion, political views, and smoking).Quite clearly this person meant to frighten and intimidate her.Some men even speak frankly about harassment as a motivation.Add to that the heightened amount of control that women have over online conversations (politeness norms can make it more difficult to assertively deflect romantic advances in face-to-face conversations, nudging women toward showing greater politeness than they might otherwise feel) and you have what social psychologists might call “a masculine identity threat”.In a culture where men are generally still expected to take the lead in sexual relationships, being denied all of these opportunities may make some men feel powerless in the online dating game and so turn to harassment or intimidation to try and re-establish a sense of power.What would possess someone to send a graphic image of themselves without ever being asked for one, or even thinking to check if it might be appreciated?When it comes to the internet, it seems common sense to think that the physical distance and anonymity the online world provides allows, even encourages, people to do things they wouldn’t normally do “in real life”.

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It’s essentially cyber-flashing, the real world’s online equivalent, and should be treated as seriously.

Consider the following story relayed to me during my research: my interviewee, after declining a man’s interest on a popular dating site, described receiving a message from him with a picture of an erection next to a kitchen knife.

This disturbing juxtaposition suggests an intended reading of the penis as a weapon, with the ability to hurt or “punish” this woman for her apparent “transgression” by rejecting him.

But to assume that these “misguided” attempts at seduction explain the rise and rise of such cyber-flashing tells only half the story.

Misogynistic harassment is a serious issue for online dating services.