Catfishing Strangers to Find Myself
February 24, 2018 6:10 PM   Subscribe

I am suddenly very, very glad I had FurryMuck as a space to figure out my gender issues, rather than game sites being pressed into service as ad hoc cybersex chat sites.
posted by egypturnash at 7:03 PM on February 24, 2018 [14 favorites]

I thought the twist was going to be that [he] discovered that [he] was trans. That's more or less what happened with me; I used to chat with gay and bi men all the time under male names "as an experiment." Even when I used a gender neutral name, people always assumed I was male.

I lived in a small town at the time and they were far away, so there was no expectation to meet. I am a terrible liar so my persona was essentially me with a different name and physical features. This was back when it was very rare to have a webcam and common to have to scan in a picture to be able to send it, so it was plausible that I didn't have one.

It would still take me more than a decade after that to actually transition, but the Internet was invaluable for giving me the space to figure some things out.
posted by AFABulous at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2018 [31 favorites]

The version of this in my mind’s eye had illustrations by Adrian Tomine.
posted by acb at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

The story ended just as it was getting going! I guess the rest of it's in the memoir.

I was a trans teenage netslut. Well, early 20s. I don't know if it helped or not. It was the truest self-expression available to me at the time. The world was dark and dumb about trans things then.
posted by fleacircus at 10:01 PM on February 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

so glad someone found their true self or whatever, thanks NYT
(im bitter)
posted by Monstrous Moonshine at 10:38 PM on February 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

This was a really sweet essay, thanks.
posted by salvia at 11:37 PM on February 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

For my part, I was expecting Jussi to be a woman; perhaps she was.

Interesting to read both about Pamela Anderson's Finnish ancestry - as well as her account of being sexually abused: she was gang raped at about the same age as the article's author as doing his impersonation.
posted by rongorongo at 12:32 AM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

It was (and probably still is) so easy to get some chatting done if one poses as a woman. I mean, just the social contact online is so much harder if one poses as male.
I tried putting up an online identity as a woman once (deep in the 90's) because I wanted to do some research. On the one hand, all the filth, on the other, so easy to find talking partners. But the filth. I was so disgusted with us men that I stopped it pretty soon.
posted by Laotic at 1:50 AM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's easier.

The problem with all of those talking partners who only chat with you because you're a woman is that they're only chatting with you because you're a woman. They're chatting with you because they see you as a different class of being. Even if they're not being actively hostile or filthy, they might treat you as a novelty - or worse, a trophy.

I generally use gender-neutral names online, but when I do reveal my gender, I don't notice an improvement. My interactions with most people are pretty much the same. I just get a lot more of the bad kind of attention on top of it.

And that bad kind of attention affects where you're comfortable interacting, how you're comfortable interacting, etc. It makes it all more risky. That makes seeking out social contact harder, unless you're in already female-dominated spaces. (Where, TBH, dudes sometimes get the novelty treatment - but at least not the abuse.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:11 AM on February 25, 2018 [12 favorites]

Talking to men who like men is not that different than talking to men who like women. Both groups are largely filth who send crude messages and dick pics.

The difference between me talking to a straight guy (as a woman) and a gay guy is that the gay guy will never call me a fucking bitch and threaten to rape me if I tell him I'm not interested. So I can be as curt and direct as I like in a way that women never can.
posted by AFABulous at 10:06 PM on February 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

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