Feminist Craigslist Dating Experiment: The Trolls

The world of dating-while-feminist can be a challenge. For me, it is a prerequisite that my potential date identifies as a feminist, or at least is interested and can hold a conversation about feminist subjects. I also subscribe to ye olde adage “Just say no to sex with anti-choicers.” These prerequisites can make it difficult to find a contender. As Jaclyn Friedman puts it, “If I had a hardcore litmus test, the pool of men I could date would be so tiny. And then when you weeded out men who are gay, the men I don’t find attractive, the men already in monogamous, committed relationships—really, I would never get laid again.”

I recently pondered, “Can’t someone invent a feminist dating service? What would happen if men I tried to date knew up-front that I’m a feminist and were glad to hear it?” So I posted a Craigslist personals W4M ad to test my theory, which consisted of this:

Honestly, I didn’t really expect to find any good candidates, but I figured putting the word “liberal”  in the headline might deter any unwanted conservatives/freaks and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Out of 68 replies, only four were spam, two included pictures of penises, and two or three were anti-feminist:

Real men do no like left wing feminists. Just saying.

Feminists killed Marriage and Trust between men and women. That’s why there’s so many divorces and single parents in the western world.

I hope this one was a joke:

I hope you wrote that ad from the kitchen, where you belong.

Some were frankly honest:

Liked your ad.
But first things first, I may be what you consider a creeper.  I’m 45.  But I don’t act my age or look it.  It’s not my expectation you’ll jump in bed with me, or possibly ever be more than friends, but I liked your ad and would at least like to try talking?

Um, no. But thanks for the warning, dude.

Others said they were feminist but obviously didn’t understand what it meant:

I am a single white college educated 27 year old male who is a strong believer in Female Surpremacy [sic] and Feminism.  I love everything about it.

Well, I’m definitely a feminist: I make sure they pay their own way, that they make the first move a fair share of the time, allow them to drive and make a fair share of the plans and decisions, even!

This one may have been the creepiest:

I am 27 with 4 sisters and was always last in evertything [sic] next to them, youngest of 5 kids. I have been conditioned to know ladies are always right and mostly guys are just jerkoffs, i like ladies that share this opinion.

And then it went on to say some other creepy things about pleasuring himself while talking about women being better than men.

There was even a conservative anti-choice reply:

I know I’m not “your type” or what-have-you, that being because I’m a Republican who doesn’t support abortion, I think we’d get along pretty well because I have a better understanding of where you’re coming from than those other nasty Conservatives.

Astonishingly, the majority of replies actually sounded sincere and sweet. There are real men on Craigslist who like indie bands, are vegetarian, have good grammar and identify themselves as feminist. Who knew? I’ll talk more about them in my next post.

What are your tactics for dating while feminist? Do you have criteria?

Above: Craigslist trolls will say anything. Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/eraphernalia_vintage/ / CC BY-SA 2.0


  1. Dominique says:

    Oh my gosh – a man who would let me drive! What a keeper. Can I have him, can I, can I?

    Aside from that, I’ll take the 27 year-old who loves Female Supremacy. Bwahahahaha.

    Your post was fun to read. Thank you.

  2. It can be debated about whether or not seeking a date online is the best way, as well as this or that online source might be more successful, but I daresay that Craigslist would rank waaaaay down at the very bottom for feminist findings.

    Perhaps you didn’t know that they’ve been making the news lately [ http://bit.ly/cLVT82 ] regarding their refusal to stop making a fortune from all of their sex trafficking ads, since they profit greatly from helping pimps sell women and children? You can sign the petition to stop their adult services section at http://bit.ly/du9tat

    Girls Are Not For Sale has been promoting Kijiji [ http://www.ebayclassifieds.com ] , a free post & search alternative that is committed to ban the sorts of ads that traffickers use to sell women and children for sex. They might have a higher class of feminist men worth dating there as well.

  3. INTPLibrarian says:

    I honestly think you might have done better with an ad that didn’t seem so… well, so much like troll-bait. The “don’t bother if you don’t know what a feminist is!” comes across as presumptuously defensive. In my experience, ads come across a lot better when people say things like “email me if you ARE…” instead of “DON’T email me if you ARE… or AREN’T…”

    FWIW, I’m openly feminist and not a woman who is afraid to say that she is. I have that t-shirt that’s on the troll and wear it. (Actually, it’s not a bad ice-breaker.)

    Valerie: I clicked on those links and the one that’s a petition to Craigslist to remove their adult services section doesn’t differentiate between trafficking and prostitution, so I couldn’t in good conscience sign it. They’re not equivalent and to conflate them harms everyone.

  4. Why is your upper-age limit set at 27?
    Do you find men who are older than that to be unappealing or incompatible?

  5. 24-yr-old feminist says:

    I disagree with Valerie. I’m a 24-year-old feminist, and I think Craigslist might be one of the best sites for your search. I know a number of young, liberal men who use the site, and some even have good grammar. I might just post an ad myself.

  6. I don’t think it’s ‘astonishing’ that feminist-y men exist. The break down of the responses sounds pretty much like what I’d expected based on your ad. I’m more interested in the guys who responded in a way you found appealing, so I look forward to hearing more about those. And I also hope you write about the dates you go on. You are planning to go on dates with these dudes to find out if they simply look good on paper or if they can actually walk the walk, right?

  7. Darlene says:

    This is the kind of stuff that could be turned into a book. Hilarious! Thanks for putting a smile on my face. Sort of.

  8. This is great! Can’t wait to read the next installment of your Feminist Adventures on Craigslist.

  9. I really wonder if the mothers or sisters of the first three men know that they say stuff like that way. I’d be so ashamed.

  10. I’m not interested in anyone I haven’t met face to face; I prefer to be introduced by friends whom I trust. I’d NEVER use Craigslist or any of those bogus personal ads to meet someone. How desperate are you ladies? Men will say ANYTHING to “make nice” and many women will, too. Buyer beware! Stay close to home and close to your true friends.

  11. Online dating solicitation = desperate? How do you figure that, Virginia? What difference does it make if you meet someone through a blog or through your mother’s boss? The person you meet is a stranger either way, and less degrees of separation isn’t going to make her or him any more or less of a sleaze or fabulous person. And many times our immediate communities are too small to offer us what we want or need, so we utilize methods that broaden our communities.

  12. Kodiak says:

    Thanks for writing on this subject; anything with Craigslist content is sure to be interesting. I have no idea why people send dick-pics, but that appears to be a common theme, oh well.

    I just wanted to drop a line and say that conservatives come in all types, just like liberals. There are plenty of fiscal conservatives out there like me who are totally socially liberal, or really, libertarian-leaning and are all for personal liberty in the form of control over your own health decisions. It bums me out when people rip on conservatives in general, or liberals in general, because these are wide groups that can’t really be pigeon-holed as so many try to.

    I’m totally fiscally conservative, but also am a long-term vegan (stick that in your pipe 😛 ) am engaged to a feminist (who linked me to the article), a huge environmentalist, etc.

    So maybe conservative isn’t a good disqualifier word for you to use in your experiments.

    Just sayin’

  13. Christina says:

    Wow! This was really interesting, I think this is a really cool micro-social experiment… thing.

  14. cecilia says:

    I like the answer of feminist review to mariamariposa. i would love to see a post about “desperate” women. Like it’s the worst thing in the world to act “desperate” whatever that means.
    sometimes you want to be forward or ask a guy out and one of your girlfriends will probably say: “but he will think you are desperate!” or “be careful a man knows when a woman is desperate”
    (like horses or dogs, that “feel” if you are fear of them)
    (sorry my english, spanish is my first language)

  15. Fun post! I really do hope some of those were jokes, though. Lots of creeps out there!

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing the next installment.

    I had success in finding “the right guy” on Singlesnet, actually, and OK Cupid is really good, as well. I made a good number of friends there. You can go into a LOT of detail in your profile there, and there is a matching formula that actually works pretty well.

    I’ve also heard of Concerned Singles, but I don’t know anything about them. Just that they are “left-leaning.”

  16. Unfortunately, there are many creeps on CraigsList. I once posted an ad for the charity with which I volunteer. I posted a picture of a group of three Ukrainian orphan girls along with the ad. Apparently, many men (yes… just men, no women) thought that I was advertising prostitution. I received many emails asking me questions like, “How much for 1 hour with the girl on the left?” CraigsList creeps almost make me want to lose faith in humanity.

  17. Trazaboyd says:

    I’ve never ever met a signifying male feminist who wasn’t also a absolute jerk and hypocrite in his relations with women. And the louder he signifies his sensitivity and liberated consciousness, the bigger heel he will turn out to be. It’s an iron law of dating. Gender politics are the one area where you are better off starting with raw, unformed material and working to shape it as you go. Even conservative dudes are a better bet than the dreaded “male feminist.”

  18. The problem I run into most frequently is *men* not knowing how to project that they are feminists *as well*. They tend to trip over their own words and it takes a while to sort out where they stand and what they actually believe. On top of that you have the guys who think they’re feminists just because they’re liberal and woooo is there a big ass difference. Supporting equal wage + Pro-choice /= feminist.

  19. Melissa says:

    What Trazaboyd says is interesting because in general I subscribe to the theory that the louder you have to exclaim that you are something (i.e., Christian, straight) the less you actually are. That being said, I’ve never actually met a proclaimed male feminist so I can’t be sure this theory applies to them. It’s interesting.

  20. One of the problems is the equation of being a feminist with being pro-choice. A lot of people make this mistake. There is much more to being a feminist, and you can be against abortion while being a feminist as well.

  21. Actually when it comes to craigslist I truly believe that weird people find other weird people and normal people find each other. I have looked for both roommates and dates on craigslist and all of them have been successful/and I've met normal people. And by meet, I mean I went out to coffee/ or chatted with these people not SLEPT with them. Answering ads for sex and even "cuddling" is utterly ridiculous to me, especially since as a woman, out of safety, the only wise thing to do is to meet men in a public place. Also, I don't give out my phone number.

    That said, I think you can meet plenty of great people on craigslist, as long as you abide by some 'safety rules'.

  22. While it kinda sucks finding folks to date on craigslist, it’s way easier to pick through the ads with craigsdate.com. Looks like an email program, can zip through the ads way faster than the real site. Not that you’ll find anything though… 😉

  23. Belle of Acadie says:

    The only thing I didn’t like about your ad is that you put a lot of how you looked in there. I would not mention that at all.

  24. Ya! Go Girl!…Christians are feminists, too! church leaders, battle leaders, queens, and the first peeps to see the resurrected Christ were ALL WOMEN!!!!!!!!

  25. This is awesome!

    I love the idea of using craigslist for the experiment. It would be great to repeat this and use the same ad in all the major metro areas in the US. Analyze the data and do a “Top 10 US cities for feminist dating” post. I’d read it.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kaira Marsh. Kaira Marsh said: Fem Craigslist Dating Experiment: The Trolls – http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/05/03/feminist-craigslist-dating-experiment-the-trolls/ […]

  2. […] Hess’ recent interview with Jaclyn Friedman “Fucking While Feminist” has opened the floodgates for honest discussion about the challenges of dating while feminist. It’s […]

  3. […] a follow-up to my first post highlighting the “bad and ugly” anti-feminist responses I received to my Craigslist ad for feminist […]

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