Funnily enough I remember meeting a girl from an Eastern European country that specifically went to Couchsurfing meetings to pickup Black guys because that was what she was into and she was quite open about it.
I think rather than creating a website that acts as everyone’s nanny, have options that people can tick on their profile that specifically say you’re not comfortable being hit on, etc and then when someone searches for a host they’ll see that this was so important to you that you ticked that option and they’ll be far less likely to do anything that offends you because it’s clearly marked on your profile.
I think that’s better then the profiles you see that begins with the words “This is not a dating site”
As a woman I can tell what you are saying is NOT true, in any country or culture in the world. Is actually completely disassociated with reality. I suggest you have a real conversation with a woman before making this kind of delusional comments that disregard our problems as non existent. Thank you.
of course it exists. All girls I know, know how to get rid of an annoying guy. No idea if the phenomenon is measurable by sociologists and stats, but it’s certainly minor, most guys don’t have dating or romance in head. So there are the ones who are the more or less harassing type and the dangerous ones, and these ones, you can just mark them with a bad feedback, but that’s not the capabilities nor the job of an hospex to go around doing preemptive social police. A hospex is a virtual tool, the rest happens in real life and is to be dealt with as is, like people do deal with any bad issue and if needed by local police.
the real problem is instead that if you get hosted by a guy who is seriously harassing (he doesn’t get back to normality when told) you have to incur expenses for hotel, unless you find an adhoc replacement hoster. If you are the hoster, you kick out the guy. But again, what happens in real life, this or rape or robbers or serial killers, is outside the scope of an hospex, excepted for blacklisting or deleting profiles afterwards.
No, seriously: On CS in particular there are way too many users just looking for hookups, and that’s bad because there’s such a stark asymmetry between horny surfers and hosts who don’t want these guests. If everyone were on the same page there wouldn’t be a problem.
In the end it depends on how we’re fostering the userbase, which actively of course can be done only so and so far. I’m pretty much agreeing with @archer that I don’t want a nanny site with a global policy, but having a clear and moderate way of action in cases of actual problems would already make us better than CS.
exactly, so how about a policy that this isn’t to be used as a dating site?
… but why not… because you still want to be able to use it for dating? I don’t understand. Everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable using this app, and that would include the assumption that my host/tour guide/couchsurfer/person I’m meeting up with to travel with will not hit on me/make a move on me/proposition me. I don’t think some of you guys understand how much of a problem this is and how much of a barrier this is for 50% of the population to enjoy couchsurfing. Being with a stranger in a foreign country, or letting a stranger into your home puts you in a vulnerable position, and I think we deserve this kind of basic respect.
If you end up really liking someone… why don’t you wait until after you’ve hosted them/showed them around etc and then message them or whatever?! Can you not keep it in your pants for long enough to show them the respect of not risking making them uncomfortable in your home/hometown? We are talking about common decency here, not nanny rules (although it may feel like being a nanny considering some men’s attitudes).
It doesn’t matter that one of your female friends wanted to use it for dating (why wouldn’t you given the environment lol). It doesn’t give men the excuse to say “well SOME women in Cs want to be hit on!”. In the vast majority of couchsurfing situations and people we don’t. If we did, we would use tinder. Or go to a party. Or literally anything else. Or meet up with the CS person again in a different context! Couchsurfing with strangers involves too much trust and vulnerability, can you at least wait until you know someone a BIT better.
Right, so wait till it happens (which it will inevitably will a zillion times) and then do something. I get what you at saying here but I really dislike this attitude. This does not make us feel comfortable using Cs as we still know it’s likely to happen as nothing has been done to prevent it. This is exactly the reason many women won’t use couchsurfing. I agree repercussions are important too but since when was prevention not better than cure?
*Also sorry for my gendered language I understand sometimes this issue is the other way round, but I am talking from a females perspective here and I think we can agree this is the majority of cases.
I too have actually dated someone from couchsurfing. But this person was not meeting with the intention of dating and DID NOT make ANY kind of move on me during our first meeting. It wasn’t until later after messaging and meeting up a few times later things started to happen. It’s really not that hard. If you want instant gratification this is not the place. A policy doesn’t need to say you can never make a move on people again but there are times and places it is really important that you don’t. And this is what I think would really make couchers stand out from other sites
If the sad decline in number of female hosts on CS wasn’t enough proof, you need only look at the distribution of signups we’d had so far to see that this is indeed very true. There are far less women signing up then men; far less women on the forums, and less women on the volunteers team. It’s not that we want it this way, it’s just that a lot of women have given up on or are already skeptical of the concept because of all the bad experiences they’ve had or heard of others having.
We need to signal that we have considered the issues women face carefully when building up Couchers.org. It can’t be something that we just gloss over, because it may eventually become almost exclusionary, like CS has: “you have to be brave/tough enough to potentially refuse the advances of your host if you use this platform.” I have heard myself saying that to women who are interested in CS, and it sucks to have to say.
You’re absolutely right, thanks for your long post.
The CS couples I’m thinking of were exactly like you described, hosting first and meeting up later. I agree that dating shouldn’t be the priority nor the expectation, I just didn’t want a stigma on the people that got quite happily together – coincidentally via CS, not by using it as a means.
Where I disagree for now: I don’t think there’s a much better way to combat people who come off as creeps but are practically harmless than through a better, more critical reference culture.
What would you like as a reaction from the site if a guest or surfer were hitting on you?
Rather than having to read between the lines for obtuse gaps in what’s said I’d have this stated in that bloke’s reference outright. Amongst all the hosts I’ve head I could think of two or three that I definitely wouldn’t recommend to girl friends – all of them with nothing but glowing references at the time. But that’s something I think we need to establish as a culture right from the start, it’s hard to enforce through rules.
How about opening a dedicated category to the topic, that can hold several threads? To me it’s already difficult to keep focus when one post is about message spamming, the next wants to talk about dangerous folks, one about how to respond to unwelcome advances irl and the next about prevention and culture in general.
I think it’s good to have strong opinions, especially on this topic, but if no one feels properly heard, the discussion will get heated without clear purpose.
Hey Nolo! I think you might be right! This is a really multifaceted issue, and having its own category might be warranted. Will have a brainstorm and figure out a good way to organize all the ideas in this thread. Thanks for the suggestion!
So you’re saying that of course it exists, but since it doesn’t happen to you, it shouldn’t be addressed. How cute. You are exactly the problem, because you are the kind of guy that enables assholes, and of course you think it doesn’t happen that often: no woman would seek help on someone with such self centered mentality.
I’m sorry but I’m not ok with this type of mentality. I won’t be patronized when I’m stating a problem that has certainly been measured by sociologists and law inforcement all over the world. And I don’t know this guy in particular, but I do know the type: guys that say it’s not a problem are usually the ones doing it, and they don’t think it’s a big deal and woman (or males or trans or whatever) should just shrug it off and move on. Wellp: I’m f*ing tired of shrugging it off and moving on. And I actually feel upset, and uncomfortable by this bs and don’t feel like engaging in the forum that much anymore. See? That’s how you get less and less woman in this platforms: only another woman called on this. The rest just played it cool.
I’m not a kid, I know how to defend myself, but I’ve also have been through a lot of shit. And I’m tired. And I don’t want this kind of attitude to be ok in spaces I am part of. I’m not wanting to be partbof a community that let’s someone get away with saying “this is not a real problem, guys don’t do that, you need to shrug it of amd taughen up”. Not cool.
Sorry for the long (and angry) reply
After some consideration of all of the above issues and proposals, I have one of my own that may work (it’s pretty low maintenance) I am also skeptical that much can be done about sex pests in real life, but as far as limiting their involvement in the platform, you could establish an Uber style rating system.
Everyone starts with a certain amount of stars or points or whatever and all of their sent messages are open to anonymous rating. That way, any individual could only send a certain amount of “hey there beautiful” messages before they lose their points and get removed from the platform. Sex pests would be quickly eliminated and the anonymity would aid in reducing ‘revenge review’ shenanigans. Feasible? To me it would be far easier to institute than an AI filter.
You could make it less severe by giving the sender of such messages a warning everytime they lost points or stars or whatever.
I just want to say that I for one am extremely glad you’re here, and hope you’ll keep expressing your honest experiences and ideas. I’m sorry that no one from the core team has clearly made a stand against this mentality/behavior yet, but trust me, we are not ignoring it. I think we’re still in a stage where we are building our identity. In parallel, we want to provide a platform for everyone to voice their opinions so that we know what we agree and disagree with, and understand the people in our community better.
Personally, I’m happy to let these discussions play out because it gives insight about the problems we’re going to be tackling and how best we can tackle them.
I can’t speak for everyone on the volunteers team, but I take this issue extremely seriously and I am advocating for us!
Thanks for the reply. I know. The people in here seems pretty nice.
I personally thing it´s not a problem that can be fixed only by the mods/volunteers side, so I´m not putting that on you guys. I think this is a cultural problem that all of us, as a community, need to adress. In this or any platform. For this kind of issues (sexism, racism, homofophia) the only solution is a colective response against it. I mean: if someone was to say “well racism is a small problem that hasn´t been meassured by sociologists, and my black friends know how to deal with it so people just need to shugg it off” that would be a scandal. So people that think like that auto expell themselves from the community. The same rule should apply to sexism. And to homophobia, and trasnphobia, and so on. Or the community as a whole rejects this, or we will continue to have issues.
We do not tolerate opinions that deny the experiences of others, especially when related to issues of sexism, racism and homophobia that are prevalent on hospex platforms.
@antoniob your comments here are attempting to invalidate the experience of women, not only in a couch-surfing context, but also in general. The issue is in no way “certainly minor”. Any future comments you make in this vein will be deleted. You can see just here how they can have a damaging effect in the community.
@Aleja I’m sorry it took us this long to say something. Reducing these issues to make the couch-surfing experience more accessible and safe (especially for women) is an absolute priority for us. I really hope that you will continue to participate and help shape the direction in which we’re heading.
Once again: I belive more in naming and shaming than in blocking and deleting. I found it more… educational. People need to learn that others do not agree with nor supports their vision so they can quention themselves. A block or delete feels to unilateral and from above. Pairs are the ones that set the bar in real life =) But I do appeciate the support and response a lot. Thank you.
This is… sensitive territory. I honestly don’t think that anyone here is truly suggesting this issue should go unaddressed. I do think that some people, myself included, have some reservations on some proposed solutions due to what they/we believe can be realistically achieved (and what can not be)
A solution that doesn’t achive anything but sounds politically correct for the sake of political correctness will only serve to be a turn-off to normal users. CS’s unsupported “policies” on sexual harassment only annoyed people, especially women that I have met that had been harassed on the platform. A mission statement is something you do when you want to say you have addressed an issue but don’t intend on actually doing anything.
A recent CS facebook post regarding the BLM movement rang of hollow virtue signally to me and many others. Me myself, I am not white, but I am hesitant to promote any anti-racism policies or mechanisms on any proposed hospex platform. Why? Firstly, I don’t think any platform could ever gaurd me from racism and secondly, I feel it undermines my ability to handle it out there in the world. I never looked to CS to nanny me through my travels - we are not children. As guests, we are adult travellers, as hosts, we are adult homemakers.
Of course, I feel that if I reported racist behaviour to the platform, there should be consequences for the racist. An investigation - expulsion if there was credible evidence to the legitamicy of my claim. Just as I would expect any report of sexual harassment should be throughly investigated and dealt with. But as far as automatic expulsion goes (or any other knee jerk reaction) I feel it creates other issues - What about those that may cry wolf for personal reasons?
See, this is the kind of knee-jerk reaction I feel you should avoid. To me, @antoniob’s comment was just his own honest appraisal of the situation. Why I do not feel sexual harassment is a ‘minor’ problem, I did not necessarily feel as though he was trying to deny anyones experience, I felt he just had a slightly less uptopian idea of what can be done to remedy it. I personally find it more realistic than some other ones that can be found here. Does that mean I am also denying their experiences?
I think he was entirely suggesting that it should go unaddressed
I also think it’s tricky to have an own, honest appraisal of a situation you’ve never really experienced, which is why I think he may have ended up at the conclusion that it was a bit of a non-issue.
It is absolutely denying experience to call those issues ‘certainly minor’. It is not denying experience to question the effectiveness of the methods we’re trying to implement to address them. I hope that’s clear.
I think you know my thoughts largely agree with yours in terms of prioritising platform design over just having policy documents (which obviously didn’t work in CS’s case), but I honestly don’t believe in this case that it’s just a ‘politically correct’ reaction. We have a goal here which is to make the platform safer for women, and that can’t be achieved effectively without listening to women. These kinds of opinions turn people away as you can see, and so we need effective moderation in a forum setting.
btw you should check out our proposed community standing system and how it will impact safety. It’s very much similar to what you’re describing
Hi Frleon, thank you so much for your reply I really appreciate your words.
Oh ok yes I totally agree, I didn’t realise “this is not a dating app” could be interpreted as “you may not date or have any intimate relations from anyone you meet on this app ever” I meant the intention of using the app FOR dating. So perhaps this needs to be expressed differently.
Also sorry for targeting your post, you just had some good quotes that I could address but I was referring to some attitudes expressed by other posters as well.
I think these “harmless” people (although we can never know for sure who is harmless and who is not for sure, as we are meeting complete strangers here), I believe some perspective on the impact of using the app to meet foreign women for sex/dating, (i.e. that it is a widespread problem and how it makes the app very hard for most women to use) would make the harmless people think very differently about using the app for this purpose, and also how they interact with people on the app in general. As of now I can’t think of anything that would make most people think this is not ok, and this I think is due to the lack of awareness on the negative effects of this. I for one would feel much more comfortable giving a guy a poor review for making a move on me if I knew he had actually known beforehand that this wasn’t ok. Relying on negative reviews addresses the problem only one individual at a time (very inefficient) and is more likely to be met with defensiveness and anger (as they had been completely unaware that they were doing anything wrong, and doesn’t give people the chance to go “oh, this isn’t about me, I would never do that ”).
Again, I would prefer this would not happen to begin with, for many people it could be prevented by some simple education. But if when it does, if the site could send a message saying WHY this made me uncomfortable and WHY it is a big problem it may prevent them from trying it on with another person. And then if this behaviour was not ceased for them to be banned. But I don’t see why this information should not be available before these things happen.