Online dating can be a nightmare for women. A 2013 report by the Pew Research Center found that 42 percent of women experience harassment when online dating. Compare that to the 17 percent of men the study reports have experienced harassment, and it’s clear to see there’s a major disparity. Bottom line: harassment and misogyny, both online and IRL, are very real and very prevalent in women’s lives at an alarmingly high rate.
Yesika Salgado won’t stand for that shit. The self-proclaimed “fat, fly poet” and activist has been clapping back at the men who slide into her DMs with gross messages, and it’s glorious.
CREDIT: Yesika Salgado. Photo credit: Aaron Solórzano
She posts the screenshots of the interactions on her Instagram page to teach these harassers a lesson.
“There’s three different points that I’m making with this,” she explains. “1. I’m validating every woman’s experience. 2. I’m showing men how other men behave with women. 3. I’m showing how fat women of color are overly sexualized. My goal is to open up the conversation.”
The messages she receives often vary from overtly sexual…
To seemingly well-intentioned until they’re, well, not.
Sometimes they’re just creepy af.
And other times they’re entitled, rude and can’t handle rejection.
The men she calls out often find her posts, and aren’t too happy about being put on blast for the world to see. However, posting the DMs make her feel like a “vigilante” seeking justice for women who experience harassment.
“I just tell them if you weren’t fucking up I wouldn’t have anything to post,” she says.
Even so, some men place the blame on her, asking her what she’s doing to solicit these messages.
“They’ll ask, ‘What do your pictures look like?’ or ‘What are you wearing in your pictures? Why are you on there if you don’t like what they tell you?'” she says. “Because I’m a fat woman, people think I should be thankful men are interested in me.”
There was one guy whose messages she hadn’t answered, to which he responded by calling her “fat” and insinuating she was obligated to respond to him.
“What the dumb ass didn’t know is he had his Instagram linked on his page, so I tagged him on an Instagram post,” she says. “My followers found his sisters and tagged them to see if they knew of their brother’s behavior.”
Unfortunately, the sisters took the opportunity to attempt a lesson on politeness.
“They defended him, saying I should have been nice enough to answer,” she says.
Saldago says her size plays a huge role in how she’s treated by men online.
When her sister was also online dating, the messages she would receive were way different in tone than the ones Salgado got, even when those messages were from the same guys. While the two look alike, Salgado’s sister is smaller.
“With me it was ‘Do you suck dick” or “Are you down to fuck.” Those type of things. Or always referring to me as BBW, which is used in fetishizing,” she says. “And with my sister it was ‘Hello, how are you,” ‘You have a beautiful smile” or referencing anything she actually wrote in her profile.”
It’s these realities of online dating life she wants to call attention to, and Salgado hopes her posts will encourage men to call out their male friends.
When her male friends get angry about the screenshots or nasty comments from guys on her Instagram page, she turns it around on them.
“Men only care by ownership, whether it’s their mother, daughter or sister,” she says. “But when you ask them if they stop their friends from catcalling, they don’t have an answer.”
It’s time they not only have an answer, but they do the work to keep all women safe online and off. In the meantime, Salgado will keep clapping back and calling out the misogynists.
“We have to be able to laugh sometimes,” she says. “As a woman, how else would we be able to exist?”