Hi, please

Love in the time of Craigslist

“So what’s the secret to getting some tail on CL?” asks a user posting in the ‘w4m’ category of the ‘Casual Encounters’ section of Craigslist peronals. That is the precise question I intend to find an answer to. And for that, I began with looking at what other people post. “All I get is spam, dudes and working girls. what am I doing wrong?” the user asks. “If you can’t tell by now I am a MALE.” Maybe that is all you’re doing wrong. Being a male. While it may be useful to be a male in the meatspace, in the virtual public space of Craigslist personals, it is apparently a major disadvantage. Women make the choice and they are in control.

Let’s look at some interesting real ads posted in the New York tonight:

Are you lonely tonight? – m4w – 55

I can come over .Turn down the lights , light some candles. Give you a great sensual massage …..bring you to orgasm !! Your pleasure is my pleasure. Age or race is not important .Pleasure is ……get in touch if this sounds good to you .

This person’s offer to “come over” shows that he lives with someone. He is probably married or maybe even lives with his son or daughter. “Sensual massage” is an overused phrase with men on Craigslist and is meant to lead the women to believe that the person is caring and cuddly and will make an attempt at foreplay. The fact that he puts a space before rather than after his full stops and exclamation marks possibly means that he is not familiar with rules of typing and therefore most probably new with computers. In saying pleasure is more important than age and race, he touches on a recurring theme on the web: some basic human human feelings, emotions, aspirations can reach across cultures and demographics. No comments on the picture:

Black BBW Cougar ISO Super Young White/Latino Male – w4m – 51

I am a college educated professional… 5’6 inches 250 lbs, very big, flabby, big belly… My body looks like a 51 year old fat womans body, like it should. I am very very kinky and I really want a super young boy… and if he can hold my interest outside of bed, I will keep him.

This ad speaks of the control this woman exercises over this interaction. She has no qualms about her looks and age and is incredibly honest about it. In fact she uses them as a source of power that she can exercise on a young boy, “and if he can hold my interest out of bed, I will keep him”. Earlier in the ad, she says: “I am… looking to have a sex partner that is a White or Latino male ONLY,” (reversal of ‘racial’ power?) “either 18 or 19 years of age ONLY, and must have NYS ID to prove it.” Seeking an ID is an act associated with authority, especially the police, and is the ultimate expression of who is in control here. While she might feel marginalized  because of her age, skin color and body type in the meatspace, she is certainly in control on the web. Because unlike what most of us would think, older women have a sizeable fan following among traditionally good looking younger guys, as in the ad below:

Milf or cougar for younger guy? – m4w – 22

Like every young guy i have a milf fantasy…i love hot older women…. I have face pics and i can host… let’s go.

The fan following for older women is so large that this boy includes “every young guy” in it. He mentions “face pic” because most people on Craigslist post pictures of their bodies – it is arguable though if it is because they think that’s all the viewers are interested in, or if it is because of privacy concerns. This boy is 22 and can host, which means he is fairly well off. As seen in the picture below, he is in good shape and not the kind who would need to find someone online out of desperation. Why is he on Craigslist then, looking for old women?

I need someone – w4m – 21

Let me start by saying that I am a small bbw but I promise I am beautiful and that you will like me. The type of relationship I want is friends with benefits and I would love if you don’t have a girlfriend. I’m a European girl studying here… I really don’t care that much about looks but I do prefer someone who is intelligent, spontaneous, and has a dark side to him.

So, not everyone is confident about their body type. This 22-year-old girl, not originally from New York, had to use Craigslist to find someone. She is clearly aware that her height and weight do not conform with the aesthetic norms of this society, “but” she thinks she is beautiful and had to “promise” that – a desperate assurance. She, in return, does not “care that much about looks”. Compared with the woman who posted the ad cited earlier, this girl does not talk about “keeping” but would only “love if you don’t have a girlfriend”. For me, this ad was really touching.

How far is too far? – w4m – 36

I always thought I was too good to be unfaithful. Not even imagined someone else. But now that I really have it going on, he has lost interest. He is more interested in going fishing with his stupid friends and going to work conferences. Anything that keeps him from being with me.

Conferences and fishing with friends – does this come from a typical desperate lonely housewife, or is it just a stereotyped pornographic image of a desperate lonely housewife being used by a dating site to lure men into joining them? When a user will reply to this ad, he will be led on and then asked to join the dating site (or webcam models site) for the woman’s contact info.

After having looked at a lot of personals, one can recognize a fake one after reading one or two lines. March has just about begun, what kind of a husband has been going fishing in the winter? Weird, right?

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3 Comments

  1. Alexandra 13:33, Mar 7th, 10

    I confess that I don’t understand what a lot of the short hand means. bbw? it’s interesting that after reading a lot of these you have been able to see the trends and power play structures at work. casual encounters is pretty foreign to me so i am not familiar with the culture.

  2. Ryan 17:53, Mar 7th, 10

    This post made me sort of sad. How can you tell a fake personal from a real one. What differentiates the two? How can you find out if the ads actually work and that people respond to them? In other words, how did you find out if these people got any ‘tail’ from these posts?

  3. Harris 23:34, Mar 7th, 10

    Alexandra, BBW stands for ‘Big Beautiful Women’, a neologism used for women who are obese, or just of above average weight.

    Ryan, it’s really hard to tell a real ad from a fake one. The only way to find it out is to respond to them. And there is no way to find out if any of these people get any ‘tail’ from these posts. All I can do is create my own fake posts and see what kind of response men and women of different age, body type, ethnicity and sexual orientation receive.

    And yes I agree, while most people would call this gross, I think some of these ads are really really touching.