Last week, Gizmodo broke the news that according to the date dump released by hackers known as Impact Team, affairs website Ashley Madison was mostly a sea of horny married dudes talking to spambots. Gizmodo editor Annalee Newitz surmised that there were maybe 12,000 actual women signed up on the site (today, she reported that there could be more, but there were definitely even more bots). Upon reading that, I thought “huh, I wonder if any of them read this site, and would they talk to me?”
As it turns out, they do, and they did. While I only heard from a couple of women, I’m not all that surprised – if there were only ever ~ 20,000 or so on the site to begin with, only so many of them are interested in Bachelorette Recaps and snarky throw pillows. It was still interesting to hear about their experiences, their motivations and how, in general, the site was a big steaming pile of shit.
One woman barely signed up, and still someone tried to use the hack to make her life a living hell:
“I was one of the women who actually created an account. I set it up, got kind of skeeved out once I started to really think about it, then deleted it (or so I thought) 5 minutes later. I never even uploaded a picture.
I actually kind of forgot about it and didn’t think twice when I heard about the hack. Then I got an email from “Felix” threatening to out me on Facebook if I didn’t send him 1.05 bit coins (wtf?).”
(Note: Bitcoin is what’s called a “cryptocurrency,” which means that it’s not real and only has value to the people who think it has value. It’s the modern day equivalent of wampum.)
Another woman had, shall we say, a more robust experience with the site. Not only was she active on it, but she still is! She also has, by my estimation, the most reasonable rationale for being on a cheating website that someone could possibly have:
“First of all, let me explain my motivation for using the site. I joined looking to find a dime piece pro to bang while I'm focusing on my career. I want something where it is for certain not going to be drama that will interfere with my actual life and that there will be no expectations of me to commit to a relationship and have to get wifed and have his babies.”
The married bros on the website are also just as thirsty as you’d expect:
“So ya, the majority of my experience on the site can be summed up in two words: DICK PICS. You will note in the attached pic of my mailbox that I was sent 80 photo folders… ya… about 70 of those folders contain at least one pic of the guys dick.”
(The pic she included. She notes that this is just one week’s worth of messages):
She goes on to say that beyond the “scumbags” who lead with dick pics, that there are, in fact, some genuinely loney married guys out there. She also assumes that they’re on Ashley Madison because it’s the wives’ faults for not putting out enough (which is neither here nor there), but she had the following observations:
“So anyway head pro, here are some other things I've noticed :
1. Most men are quick to want to start emailing off the site.
2. Most men are only available “during the day” on a regular basis and very seldom available evenings or weekends. (one guy even suggested I work different hours… Like fucking seriously? A betch never rearranges her schedule for a dude.)
3. Some men honestly believe that they don't need to be attractive (probs why your wife won't fuck you) or have any sort of game and that just because they have a dick that women want them. Another NEWSFLASH BROS: if your wife won't fuck you, doubtful any other woman will fuck you but kudos for trying and have fun cybering.
4. People are very upfront about what they want on that site. Which I found refreshing because I'm busy.
5. Contrary to popular belief (AKA the media) there are LOTS of single men on there too, not just married or committed men.
6. There are some decent dimes on there that's for sure!!! But a TON of men who haven't seen the gym since high school 20 years ago but still think they look like the star quarterback on the football team.”
A few things jump out at me. The first is that these men apparently aren’t stupid – while there was ostensibly some security in staying on the site, Ashley Madison also made it very expensive for men to communicate with women, hence the hasty retreat to email. Second, I question how serious many of the men who contacted her were about having an affair, as most romantic trysts aren’t built during rendezvous at noon on Tuesdays.
The fact that there were “LOTS” of single men on the site is perhaps the most amazing. While I can assume that some of them may be interested in married women for the same reason she was interested in married men, that doesn’t hold up when you consider that she knows this because they were talking to her, a single woman. Sure, they could have been lying, but it still doesn’t explain why single men would use a very expensive website explicitly designed for married people. Isn’t that, like, what Tinder is for?
My contact said that while she’s never hooked up with or even met a person on the site, there is a guy she’s planning to meet this week.
If you’re a woman (or man, for that matter) who used Ashley Madison and wants to share your thoughts, motivations and experiences in a safe, anonymous place, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org