Should twitter be for more than following hot women?
July 5, 2012 4:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm bothered that my friend follows mostly hot girls on twitter; how do I deal with this?

Question pretty much says it all. I hate that this is a thing, but it is. I'm a woman, my friend is a man. We've gotten to be increasingly close, to the point where he says things like I know him better than anyone else and he tells me things he doesn't tell other people and so on. I don't feel like he knows me that well. We go through periods of intense, contant contact that then drops off. We've fooled around. He lives far enough away that I don't see him all the time, but close enough that if I wanted to I could see him any given day. I had really liked him at one point-he does have his good points-but now especially I am put off. This is all just context for the friendship.

I do not have a Twitter account. He does. I do read his from time to time and today I clicked on his "following" tab for the first time. He is following nearly 1000 people and most of them are hot women. 10 or 12 hot, young women in a row before another type of account and then it's another dozen women. Repeat. This really, really bothers me, to the point where I am put off and don't really want to see him now. I don't know if I should say something or not. I am a hardcore feminist--I will not even date someone who watches mainstream porn--and this has really changed how I view him. BUT! Maybe I'm overreacting. I don't know if I should say anything or if I should just stop having any contact with him. If I say something, I am pretty sure it would make him mad. He has a short temper and I don't really have any basis to criticize his behavior; we are not in a relationship (and I do not want to be) and I think it might just seem weird that I was looking at who he follows on twitter and disapproving of it. Most of these women are not following him, so I guess he searches out hot women and then adds them.

We've had some arguments in the past regarding gender issues (he will make infuriating blanket statements about women wanting men to buy them things and how women treat him so badly) so I don't think I'm too far off the mark to think that having a list of mostly hot women in his twitter is indicative of him valuing women for looks more than anything. I can't quite articulate it but I am really exasperated right now.

Please don't give me any answers about how men are programmed to look at hot women and that I need to get over that. This is not a helpful answer at all and I don't think it's an excuse. I want to know whether I should say anything to him about it, what I should say, if I should bother salvaging the friendship or not, and insights into why this might or might not be okay. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total)
You have no standing as to who he follows on Twitter. If it bothers you, find another "friend".
posted by HuronBob at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2012 [21 favorites]

If you're a hardcore feminist and he is a man that makes blanket offensive statements about women, I think this Twitter thing is only one thing on the incompatibility list for your relationship.
posted by sawdustbear at 4:51 PM on July 5, 2012 [36 favorites]

What's wrong with him looking at good looking women? I don't get it.
posted by fshgrl at 4:56 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

It sounds like either he is on some level, a jerk, or you think he is, and the Twitter follows are confirming this to you, and you're angry that your friend has this bit of jerk in him.

People, decent people, look at all sorts of puerile things on-line. I don't think this is particularly damning stuff. Sure, I'd think somebody was a bit of a thick-o if I saw something similar, but this is not 'need to talk to him' material, more a 'if it bothers you, don't look' thing.

If you are infuriated by the infuriating blanket statements &c, talk to him about that. But mostly it just sounds like you don't like this guy all that much. And why would you? Short-tempered guy with gender biases -- ick.
posted by kmennie at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Let it go, let him go. I find his behavior more pathetic than anything. The time it must have taken to find all these women...sad. You obviously don't like the way he sees and treats women so why be friends with him?
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2012 [14 favorites]

Are the hot women interesting? Maybe he digs them for their minds as well as their hotness photos? Or maybe he started following one hot women and they turned him on to a bunch of other hot women, all of whom are interested in the same stuff he is?

how do I deal with this?

Don't look at who he follows on twitter.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:00 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

(he will make infuriating blanket statements about women wanting men to buy them things and how women treat him so badly) so I don't think I'm too far off the mark to think that having a list of mostly hot women in his twitter is indicative of him valuing women for looks more than anything.

I don't see how that follows. Did you look at the twitter-women's feeds to see what they were all about? Because hot women can say interesting and intelligent things sometimes, on twitter and elsewhere. I mean, saying nothing about the content of their feeds gives the appearance that you are judging their value on their hotness, which isn't very feminist as I understand the term.

If your friend makes blanket statements about X group and you find that infuriating, then address that with him and decide whether or not it's a dealbreaker for you.
posted by headnsouth at 5:01 PM on July 5, 2012 [13 favorites]

Should you say anything: Since you say that will just make him angry, I don't see why you would. If it would lead to a discussion about women and society etc, maybe it would be worthwhile to talk to him about it.

Should you bother salvaging the friendship or not: That's kind of up to you, are you enjoying the friendship aside from this? If yes, I'd be inclined to partition this off into "things I don't like, but don't really affect me." If this ruins any association with him for you, that's your answer.

Insights into whether it's ok: He's a single guy who is interested in hot young women. This describes the vast majority of single guys. He expresses this interest in a reasonably socially acceptable way, he follows them on twitter and reads their posts or blogs. It seems a bit gauche, but I don't see it as at all morally suspect.

I think you're overreacting (about the twitter thing anyway if not the short tempter and insensitive statements). But that doesn't really matter.
posted by pseudonick at 5:02 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Regularly saying offensive and sexist things is a dealbreaker.

Getting bent out of shape about someone's twitter feed, particularly when you are not actually in a relationship, is control-freakish to a pretty surprising degree.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2012 [44 favorites]

I think it might just seem weird that I was looking at who he follows on twitter and disapproving of it

You know the answer to your question already, so I'm not sure why you're asking us. If this isn't someone you respect, don't be friends with him. Otherwise, mind your own business.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Why would you bother saying anything, it's pretty obvious that you two are long-term incompatible (even though it's not like he is doing anything objectively wrong in the eyes of most people). Why would you want to be friends with someone whose behavior you dislike this much? People don't change, so the best you will achieve is to drive him to keep secrets from you. Leave him alone and find another friend.
posted by yogalemon at 5:14 PM on July 5, 2012

He is following nearly 1000 people and most of them are hot women.

So...are these "hot women" on Twitter or "hot women on Twitter"?

There are a lot of attractive (and not so attractive) people performing various levels of exhibitionism (in the broadest sense) online, especially on sites like Twitter, Tumblr etc. Is he following women who seek that sort of attention or is he following women who post about other interests and happen to be attractive? I think that's significant because the former probably implies casual browsing and the latter probably implies a level of research that the subjects would find off-putting.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:16 PM on July 5, 2012

If you have NO interest in him then why are you spying on his online activities and interests? You saying you have no interest in him but then checking out his activities should maybe tell you something useful.

I have never checked out any of my real life friends' twitter accounts to see who they follow. I would fully expect his reaction to your checking out who he follows to be either a.) pissed that your spying or b.) to give zero shits.

I'm a female, a feminist and I follow more than one hot woman on twitter because they are interesting people.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:17 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like this is a symptom of a larger dynamic in your relationship that is probably going to continue to make trouble.


There is a very specific Twitter thing that *might* be going on - if he is routinely following everyone who follows him, his follow list may well be full of hot-girl Twitter spammers. There are a ton of them, they don't really post everything, and they tend to get banned really quickly, but if he just autofollows in response to every new follow message, that might be what is going on here. If you're desperate to figure this out (which... seems a little over-involved to me, but whatever) then see if a) all those "hot girls" are following him and b) see if they have anything that looks like actual-person Twitter posts. They probably are, and they probably don't.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:19 PM on July 5, 2012 [14 favorites]

It sounds like you have an increasing imbalance in your friendship: He can tell you anything, you know him better than anyone else, etc, but you don't feel like he knows you. Does he make an effort to get to know you? Or is he so busy being understood by you that he doesn't have time for any of your needs?

I think you're already fed up with and maybe haven't realized it yet, and the twitter thing is the straw that broke the camel's back. So push back and make space for yourself (which may implode the friendship anyway), or just drop him.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 5:20 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]

I can't speak to the twitter thing, but I did have a male friend from the very beginning who made negative blanket statements about women.He often said things that I found offensive and would even brag about how he treated women in negative ways.

I will be honest and say that I tried to say things to change his mind (give examples that did fit his stereotype, tell him that I did not like hearing how he treated some people, ignoring him when he made comments about women). Eventually, he made those comments about me, too. He is no longer a friend.

So what did I learn from this? If people tell you the believe stereotypes about group and you are in group X, believe what they tell you. They are not going to change. Unless you want to be treated the same way: DTFA.

Feel free to memail me, I'm not sharing everything here.
posted by Wolfster at 5:23 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]

He is following nearly 1000 people and most of them are hot women.

1000 people is a lot of people to be following, to the point where I don't know that you could extrapolate any really insightful pattern or personality characteristic. And I'm assuming that you didn't actually scroll through all 50+ pages of contacts, yes?

I wouldn't read anything into this.
posted by kagredon at 5:24 PM on July 5, 2012

I've actually idly clicked on friends' "follow" lists from time to time, out of curiosity. I don't think it's that freakish. I also think people are going to beat up on you for asking this question.

1. Do you have a crush on this dude and he is not interested? Very often women serve as fake girlfriends to guys who have no interest in them, being all nice and providing emotional support and holding their coats and so on and meanwhile feeling worse and worse about themselves. This isn't the fault of the guy, but it is the fault of patriarchy.

2. Do you feel inadequate in some way other than having a crush? Stuff like this used to bother me a lot because I am not - when trying to pass as a straight, feminine woman - very attractive or very happy. So when I felt insecure about that stuff, I hated seeing creepy dudely behavior because it reminded me of what I saw as my own failure to be good enough as a female person. (Now that I am aware of a lot of stuff about myself and my gender and feel more self-actualized, I no longer care).

I bet you're right that this dude is following these women because they're hot more than any other reason - I mean, maybe he's into astrophysics and they are hot astrophysicists, but he if he isn't also following, like, astrophysicists he would not like to bang, then he is yes predominantly interested in their hotness. It gets pretty frustrating if you're not hot to realize that no matter how awesome your astrophysicist skillz are, dudes will not pay attention to you intellectually or romantically because you're not hot. That can really eat away at the old self-esteem, both sexually and intellectually.

Honestly, I don't have a lot of time for people who have that sort of "any technology is used primarily to seek out random women I'd like to have sex with" thing going on, because we aren't going to have a lot in common and because it can sometimes tip me back into the old, bad headspace, even though I'm a big old queer, because patriarchy, etc etc.

I suggest that you stop wasting so much emotional energy on this dude. You may "know him better than anyone else"; does he "know you better than anyone else"? Even if this is purely about friendship, does he really reciprocate? I bet he doesn't. Take your emotions and find someone who's on the same page as you. It will not be fun for a few weeks, but in the long run you'll feel so much better.
posted by Frowner at 5:30 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

He's a weirdo. You don't like him. You don't have to be his friend.

You can't change people obsessed with weird stuff. Dude has issues. Not your problem.
posted by discopolo at 5:36 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

It wasn't weird that you were looking at who he follows, it's not spying, these following/follower lists are there for people to look at. I used to have a twitter and found some neat celebrities or whatnot to follow by looking at a friend's list. It's not wrong to disapprove of his list, but there's no point in bringing it up with him because you have no say in who he follows/jacks off to. If you do drop him/create distance, I wouldn't even cite this behavior, he's just going to argue with you about it. I wouldn't want this person - a clingy misogynist with a short-temper? - mad at me.

(Over) Thinking nailed it. It doesn't sound like he makes an effort to get to know you, he already pisses you off. Increase the distance between you by not initiating contact and being busy with other people. Be forthcoming about the general reasons why if he confronts you about it: your aggravation in general, the emotional imbalance, the sexism. Folks here are responding like you guys are in a relationship and that you're being controlling. Neither of these things are true, you're just grossed out, rightfully or not doesn't matter because it's hard to see what's keeping this friendship going. Take steps to alter or eliminate it according to your comfort level!
posted by Sayuri. at 5:38 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's both a little weird that he does this and that you care so much. Neither one is a big deal, though. It sounds like the two of you have some fundamental differences and maybe it's just time to move on. Confronting a friend about how he spends his time in a way that doesn't have any impact on you is just inviting drama. Let it go, let him go.
posted by asciident at 5:52 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's about the friends themselves, but his general attitude towards women. You don't have to continue to be friends with him if you find his general attitude offensive.
posted by heyjude at 5:55 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't feel like he knows me that well.
We go through periods of intense, contant contact that then drops off.
We've fooled around.
we are not in a relationship (and I do not want to be)
He has a short temper
I am a hardcore feminist--I will not even date someone who watches mainstream porn--and this has really changed how I view him.
We've had some arguments in the past regarding gender issues (he will make infuriating blanket statements about women wanting men to buy them things and how women treat him so badly)

Why are you even friends with this guy? It doesn't sound like you have much if anything in common at all, you don't like the way he treats women- aka a group that you yourself are a member of- and he gets all the emotional payoff in the relationship (a person who "understands him better than anyone else"). Does he drop in and out of your life based on how attractive to women/successful/good or not he's feeling (ie, does he turn to you for some bucking up and attaboys when he's down about something?)? You're romantically incompatible, so it's not like you're waiting to see if that will work out, so the only possible payoff is more time spent with him/a deeper friendship. But you already don't really like him, it sounds like. I mean, maybe the Twitter thing is just the last straw, but even outside of it, I can't see why you are trying to salvage this "friendship."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:56 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree that looking at information he's publicly made available isn't any sign of instability on your part.

He certainly has a right to follow whoever he wants for whatever reason he wants. You have a right to count your observations about that alongside the other observations you've made about him. I don't think you'd be nearly as bothered by this if he were otherwise highly respectful of all humans regardless of race creed gender etc, were a really attentive friend that was always considerate of your feelings, and weren't in the habit of treating you like a toy that he can take out of his toy box and put back when he gets bored or finds another plaything. And I sense that that is actually what is going on here, rather than the ebb and flow of respectful, reciprocal friendship, even though the patterns might superficially resemble that. In your place I would be wondering if I was on an equal footing with these 1000 hot girls who aren't real to him and who he doesn't have to see in person either.

I don't think it's his following habits that are the problem here, though I do admit I think that any adult who follows 1000 hot chicks and few unhot astrophysicists is fairly unlikely to turn out to be a really sweet sensitive new age guy when you get to know him. But that's just it. It's not the Twitter, it's that you've gotten to know him and his twitter habits are getting in your face as a sad confirmation of what you've already observed.

He does sound like a bit of a loser and not really that good a friend, and I doubt you'll fix this through rational argument, you'd be criticising something he *is* rather than something he *does* and at that point, I've learned, it's best to step away from the friendship. You don't need to talk about it, just fade. He may grow up a bit and it may be possible for you to be friends later in life - indeed he may start to appreciate what he had in you once it's gone. No need to have a fight, just cross the bridge and don't burn it after you.
posted by tel3path at 5:58 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

First, you like him as more than a friend. If you saw him as JUST a friend, wouldn't the blanket statements he's made about women have already caused you to lose respect for him?

Second, those statements are the important thing here, as far as I can tell, not who he follows. It seems strange that they are secondary in your mind, or at least in your arrangement of this question.

Third, you know him better than anyone else and yet he'd actually get mad at you if you asked him who those women were? Why wouldn't he say either "Oh they're just people who are into [thing] and I like [thing.]" Or "Yeah, I follow them because they're hot." I mean, clearly he's not pretending to be the perfect feminist in front of you anyway, so why would he mind talking about that?

Fourth, and maybe I'm naive and missing something, but I don't understand why someone would follow hot and otherwise uninteresting people on Twitter. Unless they all live in his city and he's trying to meet them in person? (Which seems a really inefficient dating method, but if that's it, if you don't want to date him, why does it bother you?) But aside from that possibility I don't get it. I mean, I guess I could somehow find and follow a bunch of hot guys on Twitter, but I don't see why I'd bother. To see their tiny little hot profile pics while wading through the drivel they post throughout the day? There are far better methods of objectifying people than that! Which he could be doing anyway, without making it public. So I guess my point is, what exactly are you afraid he's doing here, and why are you afraid of it?
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:59 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

DestinationUnknown: probably the reason to follow a hot and otherwise uninteresting person on Twitter is that she tweets photos of herself.

OP, I sympathize, because I've known and cared about guys that were like this - good friends to me sometimes; but also (more) interested in stereotypically Hot Chicks than in my friendship. It's unpleasant because you want to think that dude cares about you more than he cares about Hot Chicks, especially since you did fool around and you still have some vanity invested in it. Unfortunately, in my experience with dudes like this, even anonymous twitter Hot Chicks will ultimately grab more of his attention than his serious feminist friend will, and it hurts, and you're better off without this dynamic in your life.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:07 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

I used to think that I could be friends with people with whom I had serious fundamental differences. Just bracket that one thing, and enjoy the rest of the person.

Gradually that fundamental difference between you and said person starts to grow and grow until that part of their personality dwarfs the other parts, and really really bothers you, and then you start doing things like looking at their twitter accounts to feed your ire. Its like scratching a vicious itch, it doesn't actually make you feel any better, but you can't stop.

My take-away, which I think is true for most people who actually have strong beliefs: you simply cannot be friends with people with whom you differ on those fundamental things. Don't try.
posted by tempythethird at 6:11 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]

Oh, duh. Thanks, fingersandtoes! (That still seems like a really annoying and time-consuming way to access images of hotness, but I guess people do it.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:12 PM on July 5, 2012

I totally get where you're coming from - and I don't think you're overreacting. What's wrong with guys following almost nothing but hot girls on Twitter? Well, nothing's "wrong" - but it does show they're incredibly superficial and doesn't care if people know about it, and his blanket statements back up the idea that he considers women non-persons. Likely he even thinks you should feel honored for actually being real enough to talk to, despite being a woman.

You'll never find someone who's completely on board with your ideals, but this guy sounds like a jerk. Let him find some other jerk friends who think these things are no big deal.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 6:15 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you looked at his timeline and saw ONE tweet where he was being inappropriate to one of these girls, then your feelings would be justified. But your assumptions about why he follows these women are all in your head, not his. Sounds like your own baggage needs to be unpacked, not his.
And if it was me, I'd want my friend to let me know how much she disapproved of who I was following on twitter so I could end the friendship with a good laugh.
posted by FeralHat at 6:30 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

First, you like him as more than a friend. If you saw him as JUST a friend, wouldn't the blanket statements he's made about women have already caused you to lose respect for him?

Putting up with a friend's crap doesn't mean you're in love with them. I've had to ask friends to refrain from discussing women's issues, politics, etc. in front of me because they simply made me uncomfortable. Otherwise they were great people - great tastes in music, politics, movies, etc. I tried to salvage the friendships because of that, not because I secretly loved them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

You can try to salvage friendships without ulterior motives....but I do agree this one's probably not worth it, if you haven't really listed the positive.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 6:40 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

having a list of mostly hot women in his twitter is indicative of him valuing women for looks more than anything

No. If he would only value looks, he'd just save a couple of their pictures and you'd never know. Maybe he likes to read what women are up to these days? Maybe he tries to gain a better understanding of how women think, to figure out why they "treat him badly"? Obviously you didn't ask why he follows them, so you can't know that.

Your question reads as "I have a crush on my friend, but I stand no chance anyway because I don't look like the women he seems to like, based on his Twitter account, so I pretend to myself and the world I don't wanna date him". If this was really just platonic friendship, you wouldn't give it a second thought who he follows or why. I do have platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex, down to the "people say we're a perfect match" territory and I certainly don't care who they find attractive, whose blogs/Twitters/Facebooks they read or why - unless they introduce people to me and it's about me getting along with them. Then it's the same as introducing any other person to me and still has nothing to do with my friends (potentially) finding them attractive.

See, the problem appears to be with you and what you think he thinks. You haven't asked why your friend follows these women, if he finds them "hot" or simply likes to read what they have to say, so there is no way you can know the reason. You can only guess. You say you are a "hardcore feminist". That is clouding your judgement here, and it's just that - hardcore, radical, however you wanna call it. You are past the healthy state of being able to give a man the benefit of the doubt or have a simple conversation about something that bothers you (for whatever reason) because you already decided to disapprove of his behavior and see it "more likely chauvinist than not". In a friendship, regardless of your stance on the feminist scale or the sex of the people involved, talking about things should be the first thought to solve issues. Not silently accusing friends of thinking in a certain way and asking on the internet how to deal with it, with no evidence they actually do think like that. This isn't a feminist-problem. This is a plain old friendship issue.
posted by MinusCelsius at 7:33 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

It's totally fine to like or dislike people for whatever you want, but I'm completely baffled by this. I don't think you will find a single person on the planet who fits your standards for friendship if you're this concerned about who he's following on twitter.

I'm more weirded out that he follows a thousand people on twitter...
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:50 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Are you romantically involved with him? Do you want to be?

If the answer to both questions is "no", then what he does on Twitter is really none of your business.

If it were me, I'd be put off by you bringing it up at all.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:19 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound like there's much in the way of either mutual appreciation OR respect in this relationship. Go your own way and leave him to his (very, very large) Twitter feed.
posted by SMPA at 8:24 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

To me, the most telling thing in your post is that he says you know him better than anyone else does, and that he feels comfortable telling you things he normally keeps private; you feel like he doesn't know you very well. He thinks you two have a great friendship sinmply because he's feeling good about your interactions. Why isn't he interested in knowing more about you? And/or...why haven't you been more forthcoming about the real you? I'm not saying you're hiding anything, but I wonder why the imbalance exists. Do you just not bother, because he's more interested in himself? Are you reticent because you feel like he's just not the kind of friend you can fully trust to respect your feelings and support you?

I'm guessing you don't really like the guy as much as he thinks you do. You don't really need a reason. If you think he's kind of shallow, or his frequent generalizations irritate you, it's okay to talk to him less and see him less -- or not at all. I over-think things a lot, and often I try to come up with a rational reason to avoid someone or something. But a lot of the time, it's just an emotional thing that doesn't actually need a "better" reason. You're not interested. The reasons will become clear after you quit putting up with him.

I don't have any advice on handling the part about distancing yourself. In your shoes, I'd probably still talk with him, but be very honest when I disagreed or didn't understand something. Don't argue with him, because you're easing away . But if you comment and then end the conversation, he's going to feel the difference. He won't be getting that unconditional acceptance that he likes so much -- which is fine, because you actually aren't willing to accept a lot of the things you've noticedd about him.
posted by wryly at 8:29 PM on July 5, 2012

Are you romantically involved with him? Do you want to be?

If you read the post: "We've fooled around....we are not in a relationship (and I do not want to be)"

There's a frustrating amount of projecting going on in these comments; some of this stuff is coming so far out of left field that this post should just be marked resolved. She has a friend, and she's not as invested in him as he is in her, because he's sounds like kind of an ass friend. She's weirded by the substantial twitter porn, wants to know whether she should bring it up to try and get that weirdness of her chest with him, and the general consensus seems to be that it's not worth it to do so, and she should distance herself from this bs.
posted by Sayuri. at 8:40 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here's my take on this, for whatever it's worth to you, OP.

I think it's really easy to say "Oh, what's wrong with anyone following whoever they want on Twitter, even if they happen to be hot." But I think what is disturbing you in this situation goes a little deeper than that. It sounds like you are really disgusted and disturbed by some of ways mainstream culture treats women, particularly with regard to sex. You didn't say what bothers you about that generally or about mainstream porn, but if I had to take a guess, I'd guess a few of the following things:

- That womens' bodies are put forth for men to openly judge, comment on, critique. That this is widely culturally acceptable and the prevailing attitude is that it's natural for men to do and women should accept it.

- That womens' sexuality is offered up as a commodity for men to purchase, in various ways; that many men just don't care about the ways in which this is harmful to women.

- That women are encouraged and even expected to alter themselves to make themselves more appealing to the male gaze; that women are often encouraged/expected to make sacrifices and deprive themselves in various ways to be more appealing to men in general, or to specific men in specific situations.

-That women are punished if they don't behave in ways that men approve of.

-That women are treated as if their entire worth is based on how hot men find them.

Adding hawt babes on Twitter is hardly a crime against humanity but I think that it absolutely can fall in line with all of this, even if it's not really an egregious example. I think it's a rather minor example of his maybe not really being that critical of or not really caring about these issues.

But I think it's frustrating to you because this is NOT the only example of his having weird gender issues, what with all of the other comments he's made. I think you are frustrated by this, even though it is relatively minor, because it's indicative of his larger underlying attitudes.

I would say the thing to do is not make it specifically about this, because this is just a minor symptom. If you try to talk out the larger underlying problem, and he changes, then I think this behavior might change along with it. But if the underlying attitudes don't change then this is going NOWHERE. Personally, if I were you, I wouldn't bother. I can't imagine trying to be friends with someone who I couldn't talk to out of fear for their temper.
posted by cairdeas at 8:43 PM on July 5, 2012 [19 favorites]

I've found that generally there are two different schools of thought when it comes to differences of opinions in friendships.

The first school of thought (which I subscribe to) is that loyalty is the most important quality in a friendship, and that political/moral/religious values are secondary. For example, I used to be a Democrat (and even today, I've a very left-leaning independent voter). One of my best friends is a die-hard Republican. I don't agree with some of his values - and we have the most ferocious debates about it - but if he was in a conflict with somebody else then I would side with him no matter what, even if they shared my exact same values. I'm fine with this, because I know he would do the same for me, and for us friendship comes first.

The second school of thought (which you seem to subscribe to) is that sharing similar beliefs is the most important quality in a friendship, and if somebody opposes your views, then either they must eventually "come around" or the friendship needs to end. I think this viewpoint is unhealthy because eventually it results in you being surrounded only by people who think the same way you do, which means that you never get exposed to different opinions and your intellectual development stagnates. Eventually, you become one of those judgy people who follows a "party line" reflexively, whether that party line is religion, politics, or (in your case) feminism.

If you're okay with the second school of thought, and surrounding yourself with people who share your values is what you're into, then you should probably break off your friendship with him, since these two approaches to friendship are generally incompatable. The first type of person finds the second type to be judgemental and close-minded, and the second type finds the first type to be aggravating and hypocritical.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:43 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a Twitter account I set up ages ago just to follow a few different comedians, and then I forgot about it for months and months. I have almost zero idea how twitter works. I never used the account. I never tweeted anything. I just set it up that one time, and set it to follow about 10 comedians.

I decided to give Twitter a shot again, and made a new account. I then got an iPhone app that let me sign into multiple accounts, and decided to add that old account.

Somehow this account was now being followed by about 30 incredibly hot little avatar ladies. Every single one of them was some sort of spam bot. I have no idea how they got there. They must spam Twitter users that follow very popular accounts. I imagine if there was some way to auto-follow those that follow you and I let this thing run it would just fill up with tons of these, and if I followed more celebrity accounts the number of little spam bots would be even higher.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 8:55 PM on July 5, 2012

This is my personal experience, YMMV:

I had a friend who had 1000+ hot lady friends on Facebook. The problem wasn't that he had so many friends, or that they were women, or that they were hot, but that his hobby was oogling hot women. Know how he got all those friends? By spending many many hours searching and sending invites to as many attractive women as he could. 1000+ accepted but that paled in comparison to the total number of invites he sent out.

Basically, Facebook was his visual harem. He openly admitted that he would love to sit and drool all day at women in public, but he was afraid to be labeled "a creeper" like he had "before" by women who "just can't understand how it's a compliment". Thus, Facebook was like his Magical Hot Babe Oogling Fairyland!

He and I aren't friends anymore, not because "omg I was following his Facebooking like a bad girl not keeping out of his business!" but because his fricking hobby was secretly creeping women. Frankly, I generally like to socialize with people who have a bit more to their life. Plus, eewwww.

My possibly projecting advice:

Screw whether this is your "business" or not. You saw that he is spending his time doing something(s) that makes you feel very uncomfortable. If your gut says leave, trust it. You don't need any better reason then that.
posted by Shouraku at 9:05 PM on July 5, 2012 [14 favorites]

I agree with cairdeas and/or milk white peacock. Seems like the guy's whole approach to gender kinda creeps you out. Best to discuss the matter in total, not focus on the twitter world.

(I also agree with wolfdreams' classification of friendship styles, and you sound like one of the second group, hence this is something you'll need to reconcile with this guy. Except I disagree with the part where he gets all close-minded and judgy about members of the second group being ... all close-minded and ... judgy. Mhm.)
posted by ead at 11:26 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Disclosure: I had a friend like this, except it turned out we weren't friends - he had just adopted a persona to work me and find out my vulnerabilities. We knew each other in real life for about a year, and he had enough social skills that he didn't seem odd or weird. For a long time.

He did have a very bad temper which only came out once or twice - rarely enough that it didn't seem exceptional. Mind you, one of those times was when I'd lightheartedly mentioned a women's issue and he turned completely dark, said women were basically ruthless, conniving gold diggers, but most of the time he wasn't like that. His moods got darker on the last occasions I saw him, but that could also be explained as situational. I kept an open mind.

He ended the friendship by trying to play me off against a woman he had been flirting with on Twitter and friend-dumping me when I didn't respond. (There is more to the story - he used a business situation as a vehicle for doing this, which made it even more bizarre in that he wasn't treating me like a friend OR like a colleague, but it's hard enough to describe as it is so I won't go into the professional aspects any further.) Why would I react, nobody's lunatic enough to blow up over their clearly partnered and unavailable friend seeming to pointedly ignore them and stand them up in order to flirt with a woman over Twitter - I'd be an OMG bitches be crazy just for considering that it might be happening at all, let alone reacting to it. He was also using Twitter to give the world the impression that My GF Doesn't Understand Me. I checked back a couple months later and saw that he had completely changed his self-presentation to become a person I didn't recognise, calculated to appeal to this third woman, and was tweeting put downs of his GF calculated to appeal specifically to this third woman's vanities. He had reached the stage of persistently and publicly begging her to go out with him, while still living with his GF.

I figured I'd seen the last of him. Some time later I opened a Twitter account, and a few months after that Creeper started following me. He didn't email me, didn't call me to explain why he'd treated me the way he had (although an explanation was very definitely warranted given the details of the situation), didn't make contact directly. This is the exact same pattern he'd used with the other women he'd Twitter creeped, though this was a much more select group and he was only trying to take it to the next level with one of them at a time. Finally, four months in (you could set your watch by his pattern) I achieved something he'd always wanted to achieve, and mentioned it on Twitter, and suddenly he deigned to speak to me, because that woman has something he wants so he better go get it. He vanished when I didn't answer (though his use of LinkedIn became another interesting case study). His Dudebro used to make Twilight jokes at him, but I didn't realize the significance at the time.

From what I saw, that guy's Twitter habits were a truer reflection of his values than what I saw of his behaviour IRL. Your friend doesn't sound nearly as deranged, and I'm talking about an extreme example from Planet of the Weirdoes, but they have a few things in common. I actually think that following 1000 women is less sinister than what I saw. But I can't agree that it's completely insignificant or that it tells you nothing about his character. The women he follows are all real people, but by definition he likely won't be thinking of them as such. You sound like you think he doesn't really see you as fully human, more as a source of something to meet his needs for understanding or whatever, but without reciprocity. In addition, his values and belief system are completely in line with this (and interestingly, it closely matches my erstwhile friend's stated belief that women are conniving gold diggers).

I dunno, the extreme examples really tell us something about the more mundane stuff, I guess. Like my friend, your friend also has the right to do whatever he wants, but that doesn't mean it tells you nothing about how he thinks. He doesn't sound like a complete madman, but he does seem like someone who's only ever going to disappoint you and I think that your perception of his social media use as a soft sign of that is probably right, though you could also have made your case without it.
posted by tel3path at 12:43 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you did confront him about the large number of hot women he's following, what would you expect to happen? If he stopped following them, how would that change anything?

My point is that the number of women he's following is not the issue. The issue is what you think that says about his as a person. And that won't go away if he stops following them.

As a friend, you are in a position to influence his views on gender issues and feminism. There's nothing wrong with you doing that, any more than it's wrong to debate politics or religion with your friends -- with the caveat that it can get pretty heated so always tread sensitively.

But at the end of the day, it's one of the unwritten compacts of friendship that you accept, if not embrace, even the things you don't like about them. Because if you can't, you are essentially no longer friends.
posted by londonmark at 5:52 AM on July 6, 2012

I came in to say what restless-nomad did about the auto-follow possibility. If I had some sort of auto-follow system turned on, this is pretty much how my Twitter account would look. I follow less than 100 people and don't add them often, but get followed by spammy accounts all the time.

On the other hand, many of the women I do follow are what would be considered conventionally attractive and their icons reflect this if they use a picture of themselves instead of a cat or a cartoon character. And one person I follow is an actress that would be considered "hot" but I follow her because she is a friend and her tweets are entertaining.

so I don't think I'm too far off the mark to think that having a list of mostly hot women in his twitter is indicative of him valuing women for looks more than anything

If you want to "value women just for their looks", Twitter is a pretty inefficient way to do it. You have a stream of mostly text and thumbnails of pictures (or maybe just a link to a picture) that you would have to click and load individually. If he was following only models on flickr that posted pictures of themselves you might be closer to the mark.

But it sounds like you have the sort of relationship where you talk about things so why not just ask "hey, why is your twitter feed 90% hot women?" and see what he says instead of trying to guess or have us guess? Then with solid information you can decide what you want to do from there.
posted by mikepop at 6:17 AM on July 6, 2012

These are likely follow spammers -- if you're not on Twitter it's hard to grasp how widespread an epidemic that is -- but Twitter is a red herring. Why are you close friends with someone who fairly blatantly disrespects your views to the point where you've had arguments about it? This shouldn't be about cutting off all contact because of Twitter. Forget Twitter. This should be about whether you're compatible as friends.

Well, that and whether you, on any level, want things to be more than friends; the fact that you've "fooled around" and that you really liked him at one point could mean that's going on behind the scenes. I suspect this would be a very bad idea -- see above about disrespecting views -- but if it's a factor, it's got to be acknowledged as a factor.
posted by dekathelon at 7:06 AM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the follow spammers is a very real twitter thing. Before I set my tweets to private I used to get them all the time. I never followed them back, but if I had my twitter feed may well like like your friend's.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:18 AM on July 6, 2012

Honestly, I think both of you need new friends. It doesn't even sound like a real friendship (or at least one that I would find satisfying) and I'm not sure what you hope to accomplish by bringing this up with him. Sounds like a giant waste of time to me.
posted by sm1tten at 7:41 AM on July 6, 2012

One of my very best male friends is a supporter of women's equality and is also the one and only man I've ever talked to who could relate to what it felt like to cope with a creeper trying to make a pass at me out of nowhere. He's one of the good guys.

And yet, he still confesses to having over the years had a crush on "every one of the Bond Girls", and when I asked him recently what he thought of the most current cast of the show Doctor Who, he said that he hadn't made up his mind about the guy playing the Doctor, but when I mentioned the actress playing the sidekick, his eyes gleamed and he said "she's HOT." A person is capable of having contradictory perspectives.

However, I'm not dating the guy either, so I'm able to laugh it off. (Okay, I did date him really briefly and it didn't bug me when I did date him either, because I just teased him back with tales about how I thought the guy playing THE DOCTOR was hot or whatever.) It sounds like you're not comfortable dating someone like that, and that's also fair. In fact, I wonder if maybe the fact that you're uneasy about it says more about what your own state is - we all go through a weird mental reshuffling when we're trying to decide whether the friend we know is really just a friend any more, or should it go further, or could it, or would that be a good idea, and oh hey wait I never really thought about this habit of theirs before oh my god that's SO idiotic, but is it really, or am I just overreacting, in fact why IS that bugging me so much right now when it never did before, what's wrong with me, why don't I KNOW what I want, wait why has this become about me all of a sudden this is supposed to be all about him, and...

You know?

Your own feelings about who you do and don't want to date are valid. This is a trait that doesn't necessarily make him a butt-munchy misogynist; it is a little jerky, but only you know the total picture of the guy and only you can decide whether it's a dealbreaker or not; that is, after you figure out what kind of deal it is you want to be making in the first place, because I sense you're not sure about that either right now. And that confusion may be fueling your reaction and making you just a bit more sensitive to what the guy's flaws are, because it's easier to point to something outside ourselves and say "yes, that, THAT'S what's making me feel all crappy" rather than confronting that "no, it's the fact that I can't make up my god-damn mind whether I want him as a boyfriend or not that's making me feel crappy".

good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 AM on July 6, 2012

I'm guessing that most of us can tell follow spammers when we see them. I've picked up a few dozen of these in the last two years and they're usually banned before I even get the chance to block them.

I have friends with dormant accounts who haven't attracted 1000 followers, even spammers.

One of my interests is women in technology, all of whom are interesting, many of whom are hot. If I started
madly following mostly hot women in technology to the exclusion of unhot ones, to the tune of 1000, I do believe that even I would start to get a few funny looks.

You can argue that spam and auto follow has something to do with it but not without stretching the argument a bit thin. It's not unreasonable to surmise that his follow list has something to do with his choices and tastes, rather than that he turned on auto follow and hasn't thought to turn it off. Plenty of people would think twice about their online reputation, but apparently he doesn't know or doesn't care what following 1000 hotties says about him. It's a very unusual profile which probably didn't get that way entirely in its own.

A number of people are making arguments for why Twitter is irrelevant, that only partially hold up. That makes me revise how relevant I think it is. You can say it's an inefficient way to ogle hot women, but apparently it is one of his preferred ways of relating to women, which is not irrelevant to the unease the OP feels about how he relates to her.
posted by tel3path at 8:06 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, look, as a feminist in a patriarchal society you and I both know that we have to pick our battles or we'll be spending all of our fucking time on this kind of shit instead of nurturing our own lives. I think of intimate relationships (and this includes friendships as well as sex relationships) as homes, where I expect to be relatively safe and comfortable and not subjected to sexism*. Now, obviously not every relationship is perfect, and sometimes you need to do some work on it, but I stick to relationships that are like a house with a solid foundation, completed drywall, finished floors, not too much work to be done (and what does need to be done will not be resisted). That means choosing to spend time in relationships with people who are empathetic, who agree with the basic principles of feminism, and who are willing to change minor aspects of their behavior to make me feel more comfortable.

What you'd be doing if you tried to talk to this guy about his behavior would be equivalent to trying to make a house livable when the floors aren't built to code and the general contractor has an anger issue. Maybe that wasn't apparent from the beginning--and sometimes this shit sneaks up on you--but now that you know the deal, why waste your time? So you can continue to tiptoe around, always feeling uncomfortable and nervous about whether your foot is going to go through the floor if you step in the wrong place?

*obviously sexism isn't the only -ism that can harm that feeling of safety when expressed or accepted, but we'll focus on that for now
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:34 AM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't think you will find a single person on the planet who fits your standards for friendship if you're this concerned about who he's following on twitter.

On twitter I follow my friends first, then a collection of actors, comedians, etc - most of which are not "hot" women (okay, so are "hot" men, but even still, not most of them). I do follow a couple "covergirls", but they're actual friends - I know them as people, not objects. Most my friends are the same way, and likely most theirs the same, and so on.

So no, OP, you won't find a single person that doesn't follow nothing but hot girls on Twitter, you will find THOUSANDS of them.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:50 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most of these women are not following him, so I guess he searches out hot women and then adds them.

So it's not auto-following.
posted by bearette at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been circled by a couple of guys on Google-plus, who had lists and lists of nothing but women with somewhat sexy photos in their circles. I'm pretty un-sexy in real life, but I have a couple of really hot photos from a session I did with a pro a few years ago, and I use one of them on G+, so I get circled by that type.

It *is* creepy. It's creepy to be on the receiving end of that, and creepy to be an innocent bystander to that kind of objectification.

But realistically, you already knew this guy was kind of a dork when it came to how he viewed women. This is just a rather in-your-face confirmation of something you'd prefer not to acknowledge, because as a feminist, you don't like the idea that you're attracted to someone who is a bit of a misogynist jerk.

Feminism is a continuum, not a binary, and he's probably further over on the jerk end of the continuum than you'd really like. Only you can decide if the way he treats you personally and the way he acts within your friendship is sufficiently good to counter the way he apparently feels about women in general.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:50 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go with your gut. I have many friends. Some of them have crazy weird ideas/actions that I would not agree with. But they are who they are, and I just accept them for that, warts and all. If that is not who you are, let this guy go. He doesn't sound like the right friend for you.

BTW, my twitter shows I am following a ton of people. I have no idea who the heck they are. (don't really do twitter, so haven't looked at my account in years.) So a spam situation might be possible.
posted by Vaike at 8:14 PM on July 7, 2012

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