I wanted to sell some things online. I decided to choose olx for the same. I posted a few ads and started getting responses instantaneously. 99% of the responses were from men. Initially I got genuine queries about the product, price etc. I shared my contact details with a few people as they wanted to discuss in detail. I even shared my address for those who wanted to come over and inspect the products personally. I live alone these days as my husband is posted outstation.
However, soon people started to insert personal questions while enquiring for the product. Like how old am I, am I married, where am I from etc. I told them off immediately. Then I started getting compliments on my display picture. I didn’t realise my picture was visible so I removed it. Then people would ping me under the guise of asking about product but immediately making clear, that they have no intention to buy the product and just wanted to chat and flirt. Addressing me as “dear”, sending personal messages on whatsapp, never ending questions or getting personal or over friendly even after making clear that I am not interested.
After all this, I was scared. What if people take my number and harass me. Take my address and stalk me. Worse, they break in and rob, rape or murder me? I started being fearful. I didn’t know how to differentiate between genuine buyers and lechers. I felt unsafe.
I am an educated independent woman who is adept at all tasks, whether inside or outside the house. But this time, I felt at a disadvantage being a woman. I wonder how many men are scared of getting replies from women online, how many men get personal questions and compliments on their picture or looks, how many men get stalked or harassed on whatsapp, how many men fear for their safety from women on online spaces? I’m sure almost none. And I’m sure almost all women have had bad experiences like these online. It is indeed a sad state of affairs.