Being a woman on Twitter guarantees some level of harassment. That’s doubly true if you’re a woman who tweets about sex.
I created this post for two reasons: a) for the benefit of dudes who badly need this kind of instruction, and b) as a resource for women to send to douchebags on Twitter (and in other mediums, too, if they feel it’s useful in other contexts).
For that latter reason, I’ve put some page-jump codes into this post so that you can send dudes the link to the specific rule they’ve neglected to follow. Here are those links for easy sharing: Don’t mansplain, don’t answer questions no one has asked, don’t reply when a favorite would suffice, don’t favorite too many tweets, don’t be redundant, make valuable contributions, pay attention to context, read before you respond, don’t ask for pics, don’t oversexualize, don’t explain someone’s joke to her, accept you might be wrong, don’t demand anything, don’t tweet an email-sized query, proofread your tweet, and be generally respectful.
Without further ado… Here are my dos and don’ts for dudes on Twitter. These rules aren’t hard to follow, and yet you’d be shocked how many people break ’em.
Avoid mansplanation. Don’t explain things to women as if you know more than them, unless they’ve actually asked for an explanation or advice. Especially don’t explain women’s own experiences, ideas, and bodies to them – we’d know better than you would. Not sure if you’re mansplaining or not? Words like “actually” can be a tip-off.
If your comment can be expressed by favoriting their tweet, do that instead. You probably don’t need to express your approval in multiple different ways. Favorite, or reply, or retweet. Don’t do a zillion things.
…But don’t go overboard with favoriting. Please don’t be the dude who combs through all my selfies and favorites all the sexual ones in a row. That’s just gross. Back off, dude, your inappropriate boner is showing.
Make sure what you’re saying hasn’t been said by someone else (including the woman you’re tweeting at). Redundancy is boring and not useful. You’re probably not as original and brilliant as you think you are. Especially don’t repeat a woman’s exact point in different words. If you desperately need to express your agreement, see above re: favoriting and retweeting.
Make sure what you’re saying is valuable, relevant, and actually contributes something to the conversation. Don’t just shove yourself into my day for no reason. If you don’t have anything particularly useful, interesting, or new to say, then you don’t need to say anything.
Stay aware of context. If you’re confused by someone’s tweet, flick through her previous tweets, bio, recent blog posts, etc. for possible clarification before you ask her about it. Please don’t be that idiot who has no idea what’s going on. And along those same lines…
Before tweeting about a blog post or link, actually read said blog post or link. I guarantee you, you will come across as a buffoon if you neglect to do this. If you haven’t read a post, you aren’t equipped to write about it, even on Twitter.
Avoid any and all variations of “Pics or it didn’t happen.” If a woman wanted to post a picture, she would do it. Asking for photos of her outfit, face, body, or anything else can come off as intensely creepy and inappropriate. Don’t do it.
Don’t make everything about sex. I know it’s hard for some dudes to get this through their heads, but even people who are openly sexual and sex-positive (e.g. sex bloggers) don’t want every interaction to be lascivious. Use your social intelligence (or if you don’t have any, get off Twitter until you do!) to figure out when a flirty response is appropriate (hint: very, very rarely) – and if in doubt, keep things respectful or just don’t reply at all.
Don’t explain a woman’s own joke to her. It’s surprising and strange how often this happens. It’s like some men don’t comprehend that women are actually capable of being funny, and so they assume that the jokes we make on Twitter are actually serious statements or we just don’t “get” that we’ve “accidentally” made a pun or joke. Assume we are brilliantly funny babes who know exactly how clever we are, and go from there.
Accept that you might be wrong. Exercise humility accordingly. I’m not sure if it’s due to systemic male privilege, or the argumentative nature of the internet, or cultural misogyny, or all of the above, but plenty of men on Twitter have the tendency to believe that they know best and that it’s their job to school other people. Practice saying (and typing!) the words, “You’re right. I’m sorry.” Use them when you need to – which might be more often than you think.
Don’t demand anything. Don’t ask us questions if you can find the answer on Google or elsewhere. Don’t ask us for “proof” of what we’re saying, especially if it’s something unprovable like a matter of personal experience. Don’t start sentences with “You have to.” In general, please remember: you are not entitled to our time or attention.
If your tweet requires a response longer than 140 characters, send it via email instead. Please don’t ask me a barrage of questions on Twitter and expect me to respond instantaneously, or at all. Seek out my email address and contact me there. It’s not hard – most folks will have theirs listed on their website, to which their Twitter profile will link. If you can’t find their email, tweet at them to ask for it, and be gracious if they decline to give it to you.
Proofread your tweet. I can guarantee that I will mock you if your tweet is riddled with errors. Also sometimes typos or autocorrect problems can make it impossible for me to understand what you were actually trying to say. If you care enough to type a tweet, you should care enough to make sure your message will be received and understood.
Anything I missed? What have you always wanted to tell dudes on Twitter? Got any horror stories to share?