The Broad Squad

CutBanana

The internet is a fantastic invention and I don’t know what I would do without it in my life at this point. I use it to search for rare health cases and symptoms like mine. I use it to communicate with my friends around the world. I watch movies and TV shows via four different streaming services while my laptop is propped over me at a tilt. I’m talking to you stranger dangers, for Pete’s sake.

One of the first ways the internet was initially used for “evil” was that producers and distributors suddenly realized how they could reach a much larger audience to pander their porn.

Another is that it is super, super easy to create a profile and an entire backstory for a person that is not at all based in truth.

Hulu has every episode for the show “Catfish: The TV Show,” produced and distributed by MTV. I was a fan of the movie, and now that I have loads of time on my hands, I am watching that show like I’m loading it up on an IV leading directly to my veins. The movie “Catfish” was made because a guy in his mid-20’s, Nev (pronounced “neev”) started an online romance with a woman long distance, and his brother and their friend taped the progress of his relationship. He is a good looking guy (dark hair and eyes, strong jaw, lovely constant 5 o’clock shadow), and the woman he thought he was talking to was gorgeous with caramel-colored hair and big turquoise eyes. Thought. Nev was crushed and confused when his journey that ended with him meeting this mystery person face-to-face. This is not how he imagined his fairy-tale story would end. Turns out the woman was a middle-aged housewife with special-needs kids who wanted to momentarily escape from her life.

Now Nev’s mission is to help others facing the same dilemma. People write to him because they have been carrying on long distance internet romances with someone who they aren’t sure is being truthful about their appearance, their job, their marital status, their gender, their location, their offspring, their names…you get the idea. “Catfish” is no longer a subject – it’s also a verb.

So, have you been catfished?

Internet dating sucks. I’ve said it many times and I’m sure I will again. At the very least, people don’t like to post their recent pictures, usually because their weight has changed from when they were 17. I get it – I would rather people see me at my best too. I actually haven’t taken any pictures of myself for the past few years because bed rest has not been kind. But I have never lied about my marital or relationship status, the city where I live, my age, my name, my gender, or any other item you can dream up. I don’t tell men up front that I’m bald, but those same men also don’t tell me if they have a 4″ dick that is bent at a right angle.

A good friend I’ll call Svetlana is still braving internet dating, and I am presenting you with just one of her stories with her permission. She had closed down a profile after feeling disgusted and defeated by the men who approached her, but she stayed in touch with a few, including one I’ll call Fernando. Up to this point she has not met him. Fernando had finally asked her out on a date, but Svetlana hadn’t had a chance to accept or decline; instead, she received this message:

Hello Svetlana, I am the girlfriend of Fernando and I don’t think you know anything about it. Since July I live in Germany. 10 days ago I came to his sister’s home in Skokie to visit him for a week, just yesterday I came home. I had seen in his phone and the text messages that he sent to you (unfortunately you are not the only one with who he communicate, at the same day another woman probably from Brasil because it was in Portugese language got from him a love message the same words that he said to me words that he said to me a lot of time, I know that because my friend translated it)…so sad because at that time I was with him, what he would do is ruthless,phony and disrespect. He used me just for his advantage and benefits, he needs european passport to stay legally in Europe and after that study in Amsterdam. He asked me to marry him, now I understand that he wanted just passport and then just cold bloody leave me for another woman. Now I know that he is just liar and cheater, he promised me never to hurt me because my ex boyfriend did it and he knew whats happened in the past to me. I am very angry, disappointed and upset what he did to me, everybody helped and like him cause he looks as innocent and lyal person but he is not like that…unfortunately not! I release my self from him. Why I send you this message? because I want to warn you, no woman deserves this pain. He promised me not to dating you when we stay together but I don’t want to share my life with somebody like him. So enjoy his company.”

First and foremost, Svetlana felt like this took a lot of courage for this woman to reach out to her and warn her. Svetlana has done the same thing when she has discovered men who have been lying and cheating, but sadly, she has had vitriol thrown back at her – other women calling her a slut, whore, desperate, and any other derogatory name you can think of. Second, she responded to the woman and thanked her for warning her, because she wanted nothing to do with men who conduct themselves in this manner. Third, she felt immense relief because this woman did not treat her badly, especially since she had not knowingly become one of many other women he was working on.

How would you react if someone contacted you to warn you that the person with whom you were conversing with or in a relationship with was being duplicitous or dishonest? Would you listen to them rationally, or would you call them names and try to shame them for telling the truth?

Svetlana suggested that she could send a message to Fernando saying, “You think you’re so clever, don’t you?” But really, I thought it would leave much less room for him to wiggle out of if she asked him when he’s planning on moving and who he is going to marry in order to get the proper passport. She did and then blocked him.

My wish is that women would stop buying into this theory and practice that we should compete against each other for the attention of men. Every woman Svetlana warned should have thanked her and cut off all ties to the liars rather than turn against her. I would love to start up a Broad Squad, where we take the time to research things like marital status, number of offspring, jobs, cities, etc., using our favorite tool, the internet (because I can’t very well drive around in disguise and take pictures). Then we warn each other. Then we believe what the other women are saying with proof to back it up. Look, I know we don’t want to think the man who is sticking his dick in us and saying very pretty words could possibly be saying the same to other women, but it’s time for the women to stop hating other women for the lying that men do. And it’s time for men to change their internal recordings from “that bitch messed up my plan, now I have to find new victims” to “I’m sorry, and I will never be a shit again.” Really, wouldn’t we all be happier if we were trying to be our best selves?

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The Affair

I am stuck in bed except for times that I need to run out for doctor appointments, so I have become a heavy Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu patron. When Hulu offered a month free of their Showtime shows add-on, I jumped all over that – I haven’t had satellite/cable TV for at least seven years and there are certain shows I was hearing about over and over regarding their quality casting and writing. I powered through “Masters of Sex” and tried to watch “The Affair.”

“Masters of Sex” is fascinating on many levels. First, it’s set in the 1950s-1960’s, when discussion of the nature of sexual response did not occur in public. Second, Masters’ and Johnson’s breakthrough publication immediately preceded The Pill, which as we should know right now, freed a lot of women up to choose if and when to become pregnant, therefore leaving a lot more doors open to pursuing higher education, gainful employment and a variety of sexual partners. Third, it’s fun to see the period costumes and sets; oh, how nostalgic we become in looking back.

If you have not seen the series and you do not know the history of Masters and Johnson, caution: spoiler alert.

They convinced themselves that anything they did to contribute to research – anything – was NOT an affair. Masters was distant towards his wife and children and refused to explore anything sexual with his wife. Johnson was previously divorced with children (also a rarity for her generation) and she took on sexual partners without pretending that the interludes were for anything but sex. So in the name of research, they started an affair. At first, they would run stopwatches and talk about plateaus, but as the proverbial fly on the wall, the audience knows they are making some weak excuses to do the nasty. After a while it just became common knowledge, at least to Mrs. Masters, that Dr. Masters and Virginia Johnson were more than simply researchers to each other.

I could only get about four or five episodes into “The Affair” because it made me uncomfortable. It’s a modern examination of how men and women perceive opportunity. Again, spoiler alert – if you want to see it but haven’t yet, look away. Half of the show is dedicated to the telling from the perspective of the woman, and half is dedicated to the perspective of the man, but it’s not immediately apparent in the first episode until halfway through. When we watch through Noah’s eyes, Alison is a young, attractive woman who wears short shorts and practically throws herself at him. Her face is open, she is giving him bedroom eyes when they interact, there is always a half smile playing around her mouth, she speaks with confidence. Noah is stuttering and fumbling, unsure of himself, but going along with what she is offering because she has invited him. When it’s Alison’s turn to show her perspective, she is perpetually sad because she and her husband lost a child, and she is the one who is unsure of herself and feeling unattractive and lost. In her eyes, Noah is the instigator.

The reason why this particular series gets under my skin is that sometimes when I send another man away, I marvel at the information that comes back to me by mutual acquaintances. Like, were we even in the same relationship? Did he hear nothing that I said? Did he think I wouldn’t catch him lying?

But what if, like in the show “The Affair,” he really believes his version of the story? And what if I really believe my own version? The three men I lived with are no longer in contact, so I can’t ask them what they think now about what happened then. Do they even remember? The first one spent all of his rent money on porn and video games. The second one stole money from me and disappeared for days. The third one was controlling and abusive. What if their version of what went down is to say that I was controlling and demanding, or, I don’t know, wore unattractive socks? How can you even dispute something that the other person takes as fact? Does it ever work to try to change someone’s perception?

And then there’s Josh Duggar. I posted the quintessential meme on Facebook last night: “Marriage is between one man and one woman…and my sisters…and that chick from Ashley Madison.” He’s spending a lot of time now saying he’s sorry. I wonder how he justified all of his actions? When you strip away his church and his parents’ protection, there isn’t much left to hide behind. Duggar can’t claim he was seduced by his sisters. He can’t cry that he was duped into creating two accounts with Ashley Madison or that he didn’t make the profiles himself, since he very deliberately entered his grandmother’s address as his own. Also, is he (or his dad) going to waive the magic penis around and say that Jesus forgives him?