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An open letter to miss rona

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As the weeks of quarantine pile up, physical isolation has me missing a lot of the intimacy I crave: hugging my friends; going on dates; meeting a stranger at a club and becoming best friends for that night; sex. 

As we’ve written already in this column, COVID-19 has completely changed many of our romantic and sex lives. For many of us, this means virtual forms of intimacy, like conversations with a Tinder match or cybersex with a partner, are the new normal. 

Virtual intimacy may be a bit different, but it carries many of the same rules as any kind of intimacy. I (Ty) have unique experiences with the apps and all the rest, just as you likely do. Below, Rezi has some thoughts to share in a letter to the coronavirus: 

Dear Miss Rona,

You got some explaining to do. They closed the bars, diners and movie theatres too. Before you came around, I was out there in the streets, doing just as I please. I had dick appointments and sneaky links. Hell, they even called me the Rotation Queen. Except there ain't no streets no more because of you, Miss Rona. Now, every day I'm just bored in the house or in the house, bored. I'm feeling like Mx.Lonely. And with this new six feet apart rule, I can’t tell if my regular guys are social distancing or distancing themselves from me socially. My dms are open, but my lines are dry. You obliterated my rotation. And my juice has evaporated. Girls and guys have vanished and I can't even get an Instagram like.

Miss Rona, because of you, I am trapped in the house playing with adult toys. The first week I was daydreaming about with swinging chains and writing the 50 Shades of COVID-19. The second week I was playing dramatic R&B on repeat to curb my anxiety. The third week I reached the end of my watch list. I was so horny that I could cry. I even went online to find some stimulus. Check this out, Miss Rona, it is so hard to find ethical porn. My home girl even had to write a guide for the other frisky folx at home since you took away outside. I don’t even want to talk about week four, but you gotta know what you are doing to us, Miss Rona. 

During week four, I went on dating apps like Tinder, Okcupid, Bumble, Taimi, Meet Me, to explore virtual options. I was looking for my Corona Crush, or as the kids say, a Quarantine Bae. I gotta say what I found was shocking. I put up my best selfies which were the perfect combination of brains, beauty, and busty. My bio said I was sucker for “neck kisses, booty rubs, and conversations about love.” I hoped my honesty and humor would bring out the cute guys and steamy chats. But all I found was horny trolls who would spam my chats with unauthorized penis pics or demand for me to send nudes. I would decline their request and they would get upset or call me out. I was blocking people, left and right. Miss Rona, they were so rude and approached me with such audacity that I was losing my sanity. They were bold from behind their screens. They paid no regard for digital consent, which is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity that takes place online. Whether you are in person or online, at home or outside, consent remains a basic human right that is necessary for every sexual activity from all parties involved. 

Miss Rona, did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? And amidst COVID-19, digital consent is needed now more than ever. As we navigate apps and virtual connections, we must look at the role consent plays in our lives. We need to consider how our actions will make someone else feel even from behind our screens. When the bars were open, someone’s entrance to the bar was not an open invitation to invade their personal space. When the clubs were open, people’s outfits were not an open invitation to grab them on the dance floor. When we were outside and in person, we had to engage people in conversation, read body language, and ask for consent before touching someone’s body, entering their space, or participating in any sexual activity. 

Miss Rona, now that you have us quarantined in our homes, behind the protection of our digital screens and anonymity, people feel emboldened to do or say things that violate norms of consent. Without face-to-face interactions, we don’t have access nonverbal cues like tone and body language, so we don’t necessarily know how to interpret people’s responses. We need to challenge ourselves to listen as well as clearly communicate our emotions rather than just sending emojis. Having a profile on an app, matching with someone, or accepting a friend request is not automatically consenting to anything. We have to ask for digital consent. We have needs and we may be lonely or horny, but we are not entitled to people’s time and attention. Unsolicited dick pics and random phone calls are not okay. We need to ask for someone’s digital consent before we send a photo or request to video chat or screenshot a conversation. Or shoot our friend a text to check in before impulsively calling them. Because especially in isolation, we must respect people’s boundaries and limits.

Miss Rona, it’s been real, but this quarantine ain’t no joke. I will stay at home though and sacrifice my City Girl summer. Because we are all in this—alone, but together.

This column was written by Rezilience Williamson, a Trinity Junior and Marketing Director of PASH and Tyler Kopp, a Trinity senior and President of PASH.

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