When I first published my blog disclosing being the recipient of unsolicited explicit pictures and messages the EduTwitter community was very supportive and understandably outraged. It wasn’t and still isn’t something we want our community to be a part of. However, I feel that sometimes the bigger stuff like the explicit pictures gets a lot of attention but the less outwardly explicit messages can go unnoticed by the community at large. They are seen as less important or relatively harmless. They are not.
Below is an example of just one male teacher who messages me every few weeks.
I’ll be honest. I have only just blocked him. I had hoped that if I ignored him then he would stop. Sadly, this hasn’t happened. You will also noticed it started over a year ago. At at that time I was not in a great place and I was still dealing with the incident mentioned at the beginning of the blog. What frustrates me the most looking back over the messages is that I felt it easiest to use my boyfriend to explain why I didn’t want to accept his phone number. I felt that would be acceptable to him and would be the response least likely to cause a negative response in him. In the last year my confidence has massively increased and I know that my response would now be different, but it’s sad that it has to be.
This particular man messages me every few weeks. I never reply. The latest message is what happens when a woman tweets about the normal boring process of washing herself.
Below is another message from a male teacher that I received after I tweeted about the new camera on my phone. I have never talked to him. I get quite a lot of these types of messages and I find it interesting that the comments are never said publicly on twitter.
Here is a message I received from a male teacher after I said I found it hard to find good books in charity shops. I would like to reiterate I have never ever interacted with this man and yet he feels it appropriate to suggest I meet him for coffee.
I have dozens more. A well-meaning (male) friend told me to close my DMs. I have also seen this advice given to other female teachers on twitter. This is not the answer! We should not have to change our behaviours and lives because men are sending inappropriate messages to female colleagues. And these messages are inappropriate. I do not know these teachers. I have never interacted with them publicly on twitter. I use twitter to develop myself as a teacher and to form professional relationships and friendships. Women do not exist on this platform for men to flirt with.
It makes me angry that women on twitter have to deal with these messages on a daily basis. We have to decide how we will respond in a way that will allow us to protect ourselves emotionally. Which response will cause the least amount of potential aggression from the man in question? So if you are thinking about sending a DM to someone you’ve never interacted with before then just think about why. What is your intent? Is it appropriate? Could you reply to a tweet publicly rather than DMing?