Responses are pulled from friends’ anecdotes and sites like @tindernightmares that expose the way this kind of man talks with women. Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, which discusses male-dominating behavior, was a constant point of reference during d.bot’s development. (Collinsworth said d.bot is definitely a bit of a mansplainer).
A lot was culled from Chin’s own experiences. For her, comments from men not only tread gender issues but also incorporate race. Hints of these experiences lie in d.bot’s microaggressions, including “Where are you from?” “What’s your nationality?” “So exotic!” and “I dated someone who kind of looks like you.”
You can also submit your own examples of what guys have said to you. Chin said submitting her own has been cathartic, and she’s hoping that aspect of the project will grow. And there’s a good chance that component will.
Instagrams like @byefelipe and the aforementioned @tindernightmares receive hundreds of submissions showing messages men have sent women. In October, Mia Matsumiya entered the spotlight for her Instagram @perv_magnet, where she posts all the sexist and racist messagesshe’s saved over the course of a decade to call out online harassment.
“Personally, I don’t know any woman who hasn’t been the recipient of creepy behaviour. It’s unacceptable and so depressingly rampant,” Matsumiya told Dazed. “I want my account to be a place where women can commiserate and men to just learn what women can experience online.”
Is this really how it is IRL?
The creators were partly interested in creating this chatbot to get at the “subtly chauvinistic or subtly prejudiced comments,” which Collinsworth said are less explored and just as important to acknowledge as the outrageous ones. They’re the kind that don’t seem offensive on the surface, so d.bot’s messages range from innocuous to extreme. The creators’ hope is that people can engage with d.bot long enough to bridge the gap between the two.
“I think it’s hard to unpack as a woman how much of the things that people say to me I have been conditioned to accept as normal when in fact they really are small cutting things,” Chin toldMashable. “How do we point out the things in our culture that are generally considered okay?”
When I talked to people about d.bot, a question that came up, mostly from men, was whether d.bot actually aligned with my and my peers’ personal experiences. Even with @tindernightmares, it’s hard for some people to believe these conversations are real. Last year, a Redditer who joked about girls having it easy on dating sites decided to pose as one to see what it was like. Spoiler alert: He barely lasted two hours. With d.bot, anyone can simulate the experience the Redditer and many women actually have.
A few headlines like New York Magazine’s “How Not To Message A Women Online” andJezebel’s “The Online Dating Douchebag” also show this is in fact a thing. Comedian Aziz Ansari even dedicates a section in his book Modern Romance to messages.
Offline conversations play a part in d.bot, too. The creators wanted to explore the chat situation because they were curious if online platforms really provide anonymity, and if it’s actually different than “just having a conversation with someone who is acting like a douche.” The