Caught in the 'Net
Let's call today's cheater Ralph. We're not www.dontdatehimgirl.com, so we won't use his real name. Or his picture, for that matter.
But if you went to the six-month-old site on March 14, 2006, you'd see that Ralph is the featured cheater. Click on his name, and you'd see a pic of Ralph of Norfolk, wearing his Black Sabbath T-shirt and sideways baseball cap. His head is cocked slightly back and up, his forearms down and facing the camera, so you can see his wicked tats. It's a hackneyed worship-me pose; something Scott Stapp might do when he's not banging hookers with Kid Rock.
"[Ralph] and I were married for 2 year," the accompanying text begins (proper grammar is as rare as Bigfoot on this site). "I had given up so much for him. I moved away from my family and friends to be with him...One day he came home and said that I needed to go home. Well, come to find out he had a girlfriend. They had been seeing each other a few months..."
See, Ralph is just the sort of lying bastard this site was created to expose. The hope is that women in the greater Norfolk area will run away screaming if ever they encounter Ralph.
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And Ralph's anonymous accuser adds this tidbit: "He had a girlfriend when we started going out. I guess once a cheater always a cheater!!!"
He had a girlfriend when we started going out.
That's right, she participated in the cheating; www.dontdatehimgirl.com has its share of "other women" who don't have to reveal their names or faces.
The posters don't even have to prove their accusations. Domestic abuse, herpes, child molestation, hidden marriages, down-low homosexual encounters, penis size -- it's all fair game. Some testimonies, if true, are genuinely heartbreaking. And the site itself is riveting; the perfect workday-wasting guilty pleasure. There's just no way to tell whether the people who post are completely full of it.
Tasha Joseph says she was cheated on twice in college. Lucky for those guys, she didn't create DDHG until 14 years later.
"I can definitely relate to what it feels like to be cheated on, and it's not a good feeling," the 33-year-old Joseph says from Miami. "And had there been a Web site like this back when I was in college, I definitely would have used it to warn other women about these guys."
Joseph, a publicist and former Miami Herald reporter, says the idea was born one night when she and her girlfriends were sharing tales of infidelity. She launched the site in late 2005, and while there are only about 1,000 profiles right now, Joseph used her media savvy to bring her Web site to The New York Times, the Today show, Fox News and others. In April, she will launch www.dontdateherman.com, as well as a weekly podcast.
Women who post to the site must check a box indicating that the information is truthful. Joseph and her attorney say they are protected from libel charges by federal law, and it appears they're right. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 states, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
University of Houston law professor Ray Nimmer agrees, saying that Joseph is probably safe. The accusers, however, might be liable if their postings showed "reckless or intentional falsity."But, according to information on the site, the guys are not always notified of their newfound infamy. So even though they have the option to post a rebuttal, most are probably unaware they're even on there.
Again, some of the women who post to the site are cheaters themselves.
Take the accuser of Sam in L.A., who writes, "I lost a wonderful husband over my affair with this slime ball."
And the woman wronged by Alex in Alaska: "[Alex] and I worked together and became sexually involved. He said his girlfriend would never suspect him of cheating."
When asked about the prevalence of cheating women, Joseph says, "We are not here to judge what is said in these postings...What I think about those women is that even though they know what they're doing is wrong, a lot of them hold out hope that this guy is going to change, or this guy is going to leave his wife, or this guy is going to be with me...When you're in a relationship like that, when you get out of it and you realize that the guy is not going to leave his wife...that's when they come to the site to post the guy, because obviously the guy is a cheater."
Joseph writes the site's blog, which operates mostly as a sounding board for women to praise DDHG as the greatest invention in the history of the universe. However, there are critics among the commentators.
One woman writes: "If nothing else, this site exposes how daft many women are, and what stupid relationship choices they make -- and how they take no responsibility for making stupid choices -- even when the writing was on the wall from the start. How pathetic. All this site does is perpetuate further friction between men and women. Shameful, if you ask me."
Yet critics run the risk of being torn apart by wolves. Manhattan-based writer and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel felt the claws when she wrote about DDHG for the Web site The Black Table in 2005.
Bussel writes that DDHG "smacks of self-indulgence, along with a false sense of 'we're-all-in-this-together,' as if women were renowned for trusting each other's advice when it comes to men, when in fact we're probably better known for being even cattier, colder and crazier in our efforts to hold onto said men."
She continues, "The entire tone of the site assumes some sort of moral superiority on the part of women, one that seems to play into the idea of women as watchdogs and men as horndogs, and it's these sort of assumptions...that further the age-old 'battle of the sexes mentality.' "
Bussel also addresses the site's unverified allegations and ends with a call for a better way to tackle the problem of infidelity: "There's no easy solution or quick fix...and coddling women into thinking they've found the answer in the form of wildly exciting Web posts simply offers them a brief respite topped with a dollop of false hope and a sprinkling of sexist assumptions. That doesn't really sound like such a great sisterhood to me."
In her rebuttal on the DDHG blog, Joseph dwells on Bussel's sexuality, first describing her as "a lesbian writer," then stating, "While I agree that women also cheat, this Web site is dedicated to men who cheat. Start one for cheating women and lesbians if you'd like!"
She writes, "I don't think her comments are worth addressing," meaning that questions of libel, sexist stereotyping and pandering are not valid topics of discussion. In touting her background as a "journalist," Joseph implies she knows credible discourse when she sees it.
And because Bussel is a lesbian (actually, Bussel describes herself as bi/queer) who raises questions about the site, Joseph says, the concept of sisterhood is "something you may not know any- thing about."
That's when Joseph's supporters jump in:
Rachel has a bitter mindset and is not deserving of our attention.
Rachel is just one negative comment, all the (straight) girls I've told about this website are more than exited to visit it [sic].
Don't let the words of a lesbo discourage you.
Houston has its share of alleged louses -- again, we won't use their real names.
There's 21-year-old Tom, of whom it's written, "He had posted some nude pictures that I had sent him online. He had the audacity to deny doing so." We tracked Tom down, but unfortunately he didn't want to talk.
There's 50-year-old Harry, who, for reasons known only to him and his accuser, is pictured standing upon the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
"This man is a wolf in sheep's clothing," his accuser writes. She claims that, while they were dating, Harry was wooing another woman from Boston, who quit her job to move to Houston to be with him.
Then there's the incredible story of Albert, 24, a former Texas State University baseball player. He's pictured in his uniform, catching a fly ball. His accuser claims that Albert posted the following description of himself, and his brother Martin, online:
"We look just alike, so the fun is double-dipped. We both have serious girls, and [Martin's] is fat, big-boned, so for the most part he and I do what we want. You can treat big girls however, for the most part...We like to have freaky fun on the DL with dudes, so for those wanting to have some flings holla at us."
Apparently, DDHG will have you believe that Albert freely identifies himself by name, athletic affiliation and graduation date when he trolls online for discreet homosexual encounters. We tracked down Albert, who of course denied the claims. He said he had no idea he was featured on the site, but he also didn't care.
One guy we couldn't track down was Helmut, the German Casanova. That's because his accuser -- the girl who slept with him -- didn't know his last name. We really wanted to talk to him because he looks like a major stud, posing shirtless, wearing a look of extreme self-satisfaction.
"He wooed me, pressured for me to sleep w/him and then blew me off...Now I see him on-line, w/little messages...like 'Please send love, kisses, bra sizes, pics and even phone numbers...He used me for sex and all the while dating other girls on-line...A waste of a good girls time [sic]."
If only she had somehow learned his last name, we really could've held Helmut's feet to the flame.
Outside Houston, we tried to track down Tyrone in Dallas, who is described as a "MENACE 2 SOCIETY," but we were able to reach only his mother, who sounded like she couldn't be bothered.
We also tried Elliot in North Richland Hills, who supposedly knocked up a Hooters girl (twice!) while he was married. But it sounds like he won't be cheating on anyone else because the woman who answered the phone said he's dead.
Finally, we got through to someone: Bill in Dallas, who wasn't aware he was on the site. But as soon as we told him, he said he knew who the woman was.
His accuser writes: "He also has about seven to eight kids but will only tell you about three or four. That's how he lies when it comes to kids. His kids got about six to seven different baby mamas now you know what a male whore he is. Also, he has given women STD to women and dont like to where condoms either, that's how nasty he is [sic]."
To which Bill says, "She can write what she want about me. I don't care."
Okay then, here's some more: "He also doesn't pay child support for the babies he's making out their and at 50 he needs to take his old ass somewhere and sit down for making what he can't take care of. So for every woman out there watch out for this loser [sic]."
Bill was glad to tell his side of the story, which is that his accuser was bitter about being dumped.
"She wrote it because I don't want her, see," he says. "She's bad for me, see. I don't need her in my life. See, women are funny. When you quit them, they can't take it. But when they quit you, they want you to accept that and go on about your business."
When told that the woman also accused him of mooching off her, he says, "When I first met this woman, she had a hooptie. A hooptie is a car that might make the next block and it might not. I bought her a car. Gave her a car. Dated her for a few years...when I ask her for money, then it's 'Uhhh, well...' I gotta go back down memory lane and hear this bullshit about this and hear this about that...See, the things that men do for women don't count, no matter how big or how small. They don't count. But if [women] do one little-bitty, teeny-weeny-ass thing for you, they're going to make sure that you never forget it."
He says he helped raise the children she brought to the relationship. And as for his children, he says all but one are grown and were well taken care of.
"I ain't mad at this woman who put this on here, you know, but it's cool though. Just one of them things...It's not going to stop me from dating, I bet you that. Matter of fact, she might've did me a favor...to tell you the truth, she had a couple of friends that wanted to date me, see? What can I say?"
Darrett and Jen (real names this time) met online last spring. He says he was freshly dumped from a yearlong relationship.
"I guess I just went into man-whoring mode, 'cause I was really hurt by that," the 34-year-old Darrett says from his parents' home. He moved back there after being laid off from his IT job in 2003. He has an associate's degree in business administration from San Jacinto Community College and is now studying finance and economics at the University of Houston.
Darrett was one of only three Houston-area-alleged-lying-bastards we tracked down, and the only one who wanted to talk.
He says he liked Jen's picture online. She's a bigger girl, and he digs that. As he says, "Truth be told, I actually like a little meat with my potatoes."
When they talked on the phone, she sounded cute. And sane. He says he told her he was also dating two other girls, who knew that he was dating other people. They went on a date. They saw The Dukes of Hazzard and met some of Darrett's friends at a bar in Seabrook. They went back to Darrett's place and had sex. She visited twice more in the next few weeks.
When he told her he had decided he wanted to exclusively date one of the other girls, well...
"To make a long story short, she's fucking nuts," Darrett says.
The psychosis revealed itself, he says, in harassing e-mails to Darrett and his new girlfriend, in which Jen accused Darrett of giving her an STD. Then she went to www.dontdatehimgirl.com.
Next to a picture of Darrett looking slyly at the camera with a cigarette dangling from his lower lip, she wrote: "Girls DON'T date this man. Well, I met this man via the Internet and I found out he was sleeping with 2 other girls. Just take my advice and steer clear of him."
He says Jen notified him of the posting, which he characterizes as "complete and utter bullshit." He says he e-mailed the site, giving his side of the story. And while DDHG allows guys to post rebuttals, he says he never heard back. Nor did his friend Tracy, who says she also e-mailed the Webmaster on Darrett's behalf. (We asked Joseph to check on Darrett's e-mail, which was sent in August 2005. She replied with an e-mail on March 17 saying that they had just located the message, which was immediately posted.)
Tracy says she explained that she'd known Darrett for years and they had once dated.
"Jennifer basically went psycho on him," Tracy says from her home. And, she says, she knew it would happen right away. She met Jen at that Seabrook bar and instantly recoiled at the bad vibes. She says she pulled Darrett away and told him, "She's got problems."
Darrett gave the Houston Press Jen's phone number, and while she first agreed to give her side of the story, she failed to respond to voice- and e-mails. She did, however, fire off a zinger of an e-mail to Darrett's current girlfriend, in which she says Darrett gave her a child -- and perhaps more. Darrett was kind enough to provide Jen's e-mail and his girlfriend's response, to wit:
Jen: "I am not sure what darrett has told you...but he and I used to date...but, not for long...but I did end up pregnant...which I am due in May. Darrett will not be in the babies life at ALL....The main reason I wanted to send this email...is because just recently...at my last doctors visit...I found out I have HPV (which is warts)....well...I dont know if I got them from Darrett or not...but I have only slept with 3 people in my life...sooo it probably is a good chance I did. HPV can lie dormant for years...so..just protect yourself girl...I DONT want Darrett back...I really dont ever want to talk to him again..but I thought I would give you a heads up....I do wish you the best, and maybe you can rope him in... and teach him a bit about life...who knows [sic]."
And the reply: "I HAVE BEEN WITH DARRETT MANY TIME'S.. AND I HAVE NO HEALTH PROBLEMS AND EITHER DOES HE... LOL TRUST ME STUPID SHIT THERE WOULD BE A FUNK... AND IF YOUR PREG... I WILL FIND YOU AND WE WILL HAVE A DNA TEST... YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO KEEP THAT BABY FROM HIM OR HIS MOTHER AND FATHER... HOWEVER YOU KEEP THIS UP I WILL PLACE HERASSMENT CHARGES ON YOU...YOU WILL NOT SCARE ME OFF.. THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN CHACE ME OFF WILL BE DARRETT AND I DON'T SEE THAT HAPPEING ANYTIME SOON...
"PEACE OUT FOOL [sic]"
Sadly, we lost contact with Darrett while researching this story, so we do not know if Darrett and Jen resolved their differences.
Fortunately for Andrew, his profile is no longer posted. But for a while, the 47-year-old Californian's picture appeared next to a set of the nastiest allegations on the site. The anonymous poster wrote that Andrew was accused of molesting his daughter and was physically and verbally abusive. And gay. And a mama's boy. With a low sex drive.
Just about the only good thing she had to say about Andrew was couched in a backhanded compliment: "Girls beware, he's very good looking, tall, beautiful eyes...big d#@$, but you know what they say, guys with big d#@$ are inevitably BIG D#@$!!!! [sic]"
When asked about Andrew's disappearance from the site, Joseph says he could've been lost during a site update, or perhaps his accuser asked for him to be removed. We found a phone number for Andrew, but the woman who answered the phone (his mama?) did not want to hear about his being called a gay incestuous child molester, and she hung up. Twice.
Joseph subsequently reported that Andrew's accuser asked for him to be removed from the site. And Andrew probably wouldn't be able to face his accuser, who ostensibly can ask for his profile to be reposted anytime she wants. As Joseph wrote on her blog, "Like any good journalist, I would rather be thrown in jail than reveal the confidential source of a posting!"
If Andrew is indeed guilty of those crimes, then it's a shame he's no longer on the site. If he's not guilty, it's a shame he was ever up there in the first place. Only Andrew and his accuser know the truth. Joseph surely doesn't.
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