Boy Bye: A Feminist Defense of Ghosting (2nd edition)

In Bob Fischer (ed.), College Ethics: A Reader on Moral Issues that Affect You (2020)
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Abstract

“Ghosting”, the act of ceasing all communication with someone with whom you have been romantically involved, is now a normal part of modern dating. The common moral judgment of ghosting is negative, that it is a bad behavior that treats people disrespectfully, and trains up a lack of empathy and accountability in those who engage in it (Abad-Santos 2017; Guilluame 2016; G 2017; Smith 2017). These behaviors and traits are at least morally undesirable if not outright wrong, and so, consequently, it isn’t permissible for anyone to ghost. But is this the whole story to be told about ghosting? In this paper, I offer quite different responses to these two questions about ghosting. Focusing here on gender identity, I claim that it is permissible for women to ghost men. This is because, I contend, women’s practices of ghosting are a justified response to men’s practices of misogyny within the context of heterosexual dating. As such, I argue that contrary to the common perception that ghosting is rude or disrespectful, it rather serves a self-protective function for women and can at times qualify as an act of resistance against women’s oppression. In this way, not only is ghosting done by women minimally permissible, it might even be considered laudable.

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Nicole Dular
Notre Dame of Maryland University

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