Alida Harper is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has performed in stand-up showcases in Virginia, Maryland, DC and North Carolina and is a contributing writer on the Facebook page, Let’s Not Date (@LetsNotDate). She has attended comedy classes at The Second City in Chicago, Illinois and The Coalition Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. A marketing person by day, she has an aggressive pile of hobbies that include volunteering, costumes, pin-up fashion and rock climbing.
FB & IG: @alidaharperrva
“Trolling Mr. Can’t-Act-Right for Fun and Profit “
There I was, single at 30. Something inside me snapped. Having left a toxic relationship, I tried to put myself out there and date again. I set up a profile on a dating app, begrudgingly. I could not get over the amount of men entitled to ask to f*ck me.
Delete. Block. Delete. Block. Delete. Block.
Months of deleting and blocking. Until one day, I got the message that broke me. Why this was the message that did it, I’m unsure. I guess I had a basket in my mind that could only handle so many gross messages and this one overflowed it.
“Can we have sex without any games or drama?”
Hands shaking, I decided to write something snarky as a response. (Yes, it is tame by today’s standards.)
“Yes. Human beings are capable of such.
Or, do you mean you and I together?
In that case, no.”
I expected to be called the c-word, but he took it in stride and left me alone. I felt powerful. It felt as though I wasn’t avoiding this barrage of messages anymore. Armed with sarcasm and crass, I was dealing with these men on my own terms. And sharing the screenshots with my friends. Maybe I wasn’t going to find Mr. Right, but I could at least troll a plethora of Mr. Can’t Act Rights. It turns out, writing scathing responses to these men did more than just amuse:
- Sharing screenshots ensured I wasn’t suffering alone. I never assumed I was the only woman in the world who got insulting messages on dating apps, but putting them out into the world and sharing experiences with other women created a much needed bonding experience in my life. Currently, my favorite Facebook groups are dedicated to shaming this problematic behavior, such as Hurry Ladies, While He’s Still Single, A group where we all shame the random creeps in our DMs , and Men bringing up sex at wildly inappropriate times’.
- Sharing my screenshots has taught men about the horrors of existing while female. I’d rather show than describe how the veil has been lifted:
It might not be much, but to me, it’s a glimmer of hope that men will stop contributing to problematic behavior and maybe one day, call it out when they see it.
I’m a better comedic writer for the experience. From my first timid message, I continued on this journey, writing men into weird scenarios on dating sites. Eventually, I got paid for stand up comedy: my sets filled with dating jokes. After a few comedy festivals, a scholarship to The Second City and a contributing writer gig at Let’s Not Date, I’m grateful that I made lemonade from the lemons that messaged me on dating apps.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
3 Questions I asked Alida….
- How has comedy been an effective tool for dealing with Mr. Can’t Act Right?
At first, trolling Mr. Can’t Act Right was a measure of self-preservation. From there, I found community and opportunity.
- What should people know about Alida that they do not know?
As a DV survivor, if you need support dealing with a problematic relationship, you have my support 1000%. Reach out. You can do this. I’m happy to help.
- What advice would you give to all the F*** boys reading this article?
Put the work in to be a better person. It’s a rare trait these days. And it’s an admirable one.