We Feel So Dirty
OC Weekly DataLab researchers were recently asked to conduct a study of online dating. We were specifically asked to determine the impact of allusions to sexual congress on responses to online personal ads.
To that end, we created three different female profiles: a young, attractive professional; a physically repulsive and dangerous, unemployed ex-con; and a single
mother of three who devoted her time to charity work. Only the first two hinted at the possibility of sexual congress.
Our hypothesis: male respondents would ignore all other data and focus on even the vaguest suggestion of sex. Furthermore, we expected that men would use extraneous data as a road map, as it were, and parrot whatever buzzwords, phrases and stances they believed were necessary to procure sex.
Below are the results, including excerpts of the raw data. We report those excerpted replies exactly as they were sent—including misspellings, bad grammar and poor (sometimes nonexistent) punctuation.
(Note: the two project researchers say the whole exercise made them feel "dirty.")
"April" served as the study's control. She is a woman of high moral standards and impeccable social commitments. Though sex was never mentioned in her personal ad, phrases such as "old-fashioned values," "God-fearing" and "Touched By an Angel" hint strongly that she would be unlikely to engage in sex any time soon, perhaps not until after marriage. And maybe not even then. Here is the online personal ad we created for April:
A Heart As Big As Texas
Category: Women Seeking Men
Hi! I'm a DCWF [divorced Christian white female], 39 years old, looking for a LTR [long-term relationship] with a gentleman who subscribes to the same traditional values as me. I'm attractive, warm and caring, with three incredible kids aged 13, 9 and 7. I love cooking, occasionally going out to movies, long walks at the beach or just cuddling up at home watching Touched By an Angel. I also spend a lot of time doing charity work like volunteering at soup kitchens and caring for AIDS patients. Basically, I'm looking for a high-quality man willing to spend a lot of high-quality time with me. He should be responsible and respectful with good old-fashioned values. He should also be God-fearing and child-loving. And he should understand that I spend a lot of time with my children. Children are the future—perhaps even our future.
Total responses: 8
Requests for photographs of April: 1
Photographs of respondents sent to April: 3
References to being a "citizen of the world": 1
References to a pet dog soon to be put down: 1
Those who claimed to love kids: 6
Those who claimed to have kids: 3
Those claiming to know "how to treat a lady": 3
Responses from Ohio: 1
Responses from Texas: 1
Respondents to April wrote long, detailed pieces about themselves, including dating and marriage histories, bits about children, and former wives with tied tubes. Clearly sex was not on their minds. Instead, most seemed to talk about themselves, their dreams and their needs with—if we may use a bit of conjecture—the unmistakable feeling that April ought to be grateful for their response:
"If you have ever said to yourself over and over again that you can't find a decent man to spend your time with that treats you good, even tempered and who doesn't hit, then look no more."
"I haven't dated in six and a half years and have been celabit all of them."
"You must be an animal lover partic-
ularly dogs because I have two. Although, one is 16 and on her way to being put down."
"I want to open my own bagel/coffee shop real soon (within the next year or so). I love bagels."
"I have no children no alimony, but love kids. I just married a woman who had her tubes tied and wanted me to pay for a reversal."
"I was just reviewing what I sent to you in the wee hours this morning, and I realize that it may sound like I am currently married. I am not. I have been divorced for 11 months. When I said below that "I just married a woman . . .", I was referring to having married a woman past tense."
"I guess I'm looking for a lady that wants me but doesn't exactly have to have me if that makes any sense."
"Brandi" is our nearest approximation to society's ideal woman. She tells very little about herself except that she works a lot and is physically fit. She hints at sex with the headline "Can You Keep Up With Me?" and the phrase "He listens to me and knows how to please me." She works in public relations and has blond hair and a slim figure.
Can You Keep Up With Me?
Occupation: public relations
Category: Women Seeking Men
Hi there! I'm an active, energetic, typical, Southern California beach girl who works way too much and is tired of meeting the same old guys in bars. I love running, surfing and long walks on the beach (who doesn't?). My ideal guy is a tall, fit professional. He listens to me and knows how to please me. A sense of humor is a must! If this interests you, I'd love to hear from you.
Total responses: 63
Requests for photograph of Brandi: 14
Photographs of respondents sent to Brandi: 13
Photographs of motorcycles sent to Brandi: 1
Crudely drawn butterflies sent to Brandi: 1
References to warm fires: 1
References to full lips: 1
References to Richard Nixon: 1
Those claiming to know "how to treat a lady": 3
References to goatees: 2
Unlike April, Brandi elicited recitations of qualifications, mostly physical and professional. Respondents seemed intent on selling themselves and seemed to make clear that they were the ones fortunate to have come across Brandi. Interestingly enough, the men never mentioned sex but often hinted at it in the context of their physical and professional qualifications:
"Ill run circles around you . . . 5k time 20:09"
"I like to work hard so that I can play hard."
"I have a athletic buildup body and I do jogging for at least 4days a week?"
"I am a computer Eng. (don't ask me how much monery u make?)"
"i want to keep up with u"
"I am 5'11 175, brown hair and eyes, trim goatee .. (guess it's the fad right now but looks great on me)."
"I have been told I am easy on the eyes."
"I live in Orange County and work as a chemist in the sterile city of —— (do you know how hard it is to find a 7-11?)"
"I really love blondes women"
"I think you sound very sweet and nice, which would be a nice change from all of the bar flies I keep meetin."
Brandi also inspired many to claim deeper intentions. Words like "trust," "sharing," "caring" and "honest" came up frequently, as men claimed to want more than just a physical relationship. Interestingly, they never claimed not to want a physical relationship.
"I know looks would eventually fade and have been told that I have an old soul as well as a great masseuse, so I think I can keep you stimulated in many ways more than one."
"As for the knowing how to please you and listening well, every man thinks he knows how to please a woman (I'm not talking just physically). And I am no exception to that rule."
"I love you're intro. I know it's a simple thing, but I use "Hi there" as a greeting in many of me emails to female friends. And I never see it used for some reason."
"'Listening' is a trait I have not always been very good at but due to what should have been obvious necessity, I am getting much better."
"I am a man of substance with a great listening quality."
"Trust me you'll thank me you did!!!"
"I really love blondes women."
If April was an attempt to see how much a woman had to have to make up for not wanting to have sex, "Loosey" was an attempt to see how much men would willingly overlook in regards to personal shortcomings as long as sex was a possibility.
Occupation: weighing options
Category: Women Seeking Men
I do, and your always welcome to come back for seconds. Me: Understanding, non-judgemental self-starter. People say I'm crazy that I'll try anything once. Guilty? Let's just say I've paid my debts and now I'm looking to ring up a few more. You: into fast cars, faster women, ultimate fighting and sharing. Can you pin me? Let's get it on! Better hurry because I'm only in town for the week staying in motel by the airport.
Total responses: 26
Requests for photographs of Loosey: 1
Photographs of respondents sent to Loosey: 1
Requests for clarification of the term "supersized": 1
Number of references to "fun" or "good time": 8
Number of references to "sex": 1
Requests for "immediate response": 11
Those mentioning their close proximity to airport: 2
Those using the term "Let's get it on": 3
Those claiming to know "how to treat a lady": 0
While Brandi's suitors emphasized physical fitness, professional success and romance, Loosey's respondents felt no such inclination. What seemed key to them was to communicate that they were adventurous and, most of all, immediately available. Concepts of time and time/space were of critical importance; i.e., for how much time would Loosey be here and how far were they from getting together with her soon? Their responses were short and to the point, and there was little doubt that they were about sex—but, interestingly, only one actually used the word "sex":
"Recently divorced and interested in meeting someone for whatever. Im a very sensual person that excudes sensuality."
"Maybe we can have a round of it, whatever it is that you want!! I am sure you will not shy away from saying what you really are after!"
"im near you . . . im looking for someone to take charge of me during sex."
"LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE STILL IN TOWN FOR A GOOD TIME!"
"i enjoy doing anything as long as it's fun."
"I am 21, tall, tan, up for anything . . ."
"Hi, if you are still in town, I will to hook up. I'm handsome SBM, with a killer who is very much fun :-)"
"you sound like fun"
"I live 1 mile from the airport, and always willing to try new things."
"Am healthy, happy, and ho*ney!"
"Let's get it on!!!!!"
"Lets get on I like that U crack me up an how supersize r ya i don't want u to hurt me to bad O.C. airport?"
CONCLUSIONS: The data clearly sustains the initial hypothesis: dudes are led by their willies. As a result, project researchers have concluded that being either a heterosexual woman or a homosexual man is too frightening even to contemplate.
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