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Opinion: How women use Facebook to warn each other about predatory men

By Laurel McBride
July 17, 2023

Throughout 2023, there has been an explosion of closed groups popping up on Facebook under the banner of “Are We Dating the Same Guy,” each specific to a particular community/region of Canada, as well as, internationally including the US, Australia and United Kingdom.

Each group is managed by a few women living in that respective area and the membership is limited to other women who have agreed to follow a number of ground rules.

The groups act as a platform for women to share information with one another as they navigate the fraught heterosexual dating scene. The type of information exchanged runs the gamut from the titular question of if a potential lover is currently dating other women that he’s failed to reveal to disclosures of manipulative and controlling behaviour and even, sexual, and physical violence.

It is the latter type of disclosures that have particularly grabbed my attention as an anti-violence worker in Vancouver. In my work on our crisis line with women who’ve experienced different forms of male violence, I hear from women often that their motivation for making a report to the police is to protect other women from the man who attacked them.

The Criminal Justice System’s utter failure to hold the men who rape accountable in any genuine way leaves women vulnerable to predation. Looking at our own work with sexual assault victims, of the several hundred women who made the decision to report to police in the last 5 years, only 14 of the cases (2%) made it to criminal court. This abandonment fuels women to create alternatives to warn one another, hoping the next woman may be spared.

The rise of women using social media to share their own experiences of abuse in order to warn other women is inspiring and comes on the heels of the formidable #MeToo movement that saw not only those who reside in Hollywood outing their attackers but the average among us adding to the refrain that they too had been subjected to men’s violence.

While these groups are not infallible with posters veering into unfair characterizations and members breaking the ground rule of sharing the contents with the male subjects of the posts, the groups have acted as an important hub and counter the pressure on women to remain alienated from one another.

As is the case with other strategies that women use to keep ourselves safe; planning how to get to and from an event, watching over drinks, meeting dates in public, ultimately women cannot solely rely on these groups for protection but the resourcefulness and solidarity of women participating in Are We Dating the Same Guy is comforting and encouraging.

The article was first published in Vancouver Is Awesome

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