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Online dating and matchmaking apps, though helpful for many, are unfortunately a breeding ground for harassment. Shielded by a computer and a username, people are often emboldened to say some pretty degrading things, and sexual interest is converted into straight-out internet malice. Improper sentences (both in structure and in content) like “Bet your tight” are tossed out into the viral stratosphere, without any consideration for the target.
The expectation is that there will be no response; insulting, violent words will hit a blank wall, and the worst consequence is a “block” from someone you’ll never have to meet or speak to, which is hardly a repercussion. The artist Anna Gensler, a Tinder user who received the aforementioned “Bet your tight” along with other gems like “8==D I love anal” and “your boobs are even nicer than my mom’s,” has an original approach to online harassment.
Whenever she receives an offensive message, she draws her suitor naked and pairs their (unflattering) likenesses with their own words. She then sends them the images and uploads them onto her Instagram. Gensler acknowledges that her images, which she describes as “sad-naked” are “the most immature thing [she] could think of,” but she insists that the punishment matches the crime: “their pickup lines are the most juvenile, basic things, but also still oddly offensive,” she tells Slate.
The drawings are pretty uncomfortable; “I tried to make them look a little chubbier or scrawnier or just not particularly well-endowed,” says Gensler. It’s upsetting to see nudity and sexuality portrayed in such a crude, humiliating way. But these shocking images succeed in humanizing the degrading ways in which we discuss sex on the internet; what should be a pleasurable, respectful, and even loving act is made aggressive and entirely dehumanized by user language. This art is offensive and cruel, but if we try to view and understand it less as an insult aimed in retaliation at ignorant individuals and more as an indictment of online objectification and humiliation, there might be something of value to be gleaned from it.
Thanks to Slate
Images via Buzzfeed