Distasteful dating tricks: game of swines reveals the real pigs
'Pulling a pig' is a vile game that sees a man try to woo a woman they deem 'fat and ugly', solely because he and his deplorable friends think it is 'funny'
It is one thing being rejected or ignored by your holiday romance. It is another thing entirely to fly out from the UK to see him in Amsterdam, after weeks of messaging, only to be stood up in the airport with nothing but a text saying the entire affair was a cruel joke and calling you a "fat ugly pig".
But this is exactly what 24-year-old Sophie Stevenson says happened to her after she met Dutchman Jesse Mateman, 21, on holiday in Barcelona. She claims the pair slept together, had a "proper romance" and then spoke regularly when she was back home in Stoke. A month later Mateman convinced her to fly out to visit him in Amsterdam for the weekend.
"We were talking up until I got on the plane," Stevenson said. "But when I arrived, he wasn't there to pick me up. I called him a bunch of times, and he didn't answer. I waited at the airport for two hours and I hadn't heard anything, I was really starting to panic about being abandoned."
Six hours later, she says he messaged her saying: "You were pigged, it was all a joke."
"Pulling a pig" is a vile game that sees a man try to woo a woman they deem "fat and ugly", solely because he and his deplorable friends think it is "funny".
It's part of a wider culture that increasingly relies on trickery, mocking and nastiness in dating. Recent terms like "benching" refer to men keeping a woman they don't feel passionately about "on the sidelines" - just in case. While "kittenfishing" and "catfishing" mean lying on your social media profile to trick someone into dating you.
A particularly appalling example is "chubby chasing" - where men seek larger women "as a laugh" to impress/shock/win a bet. It is heartless, sickening and, as Stevenson simply said, "cruel".
Mateman has denied the claims, after facing a backlash, insisting he never had a holiday romance with Stevenson and that any texts between them are invented. "That is just fantasist rubbish and it is ruining my life," he said.
We may never know the full story. But it still forces us to confront the horrific reality of pigging. This trend is not just cruel; it borders on emotional abuse. Men deliberately target women they find unattractive, purely to sleep with them and laugh about it afterwards, or, in some cases, continue to humiliate them for several months before dramatically rejecting them: extra points for a particularly demeaning denouement.
"I once found out that someone had tried to sleep with me as a joke," says a 26-year-old female friend. "I didn't know at the time, but it was an attempted pigging. When I found out, I felt disgusting and violated."
Everything about the trend is disgusting, but sadly not shocking. Anyone who watched American teen movies in the Nineties and Noughties will recognise pigging. It is a version of the storylines in films like She's All That - which sees Freddie Prinze jnr date the "nerdy ugly" girl as a joke - or 10 Things I Hate About You, in which Heath Ledger dates Julia Stiles because he's being paid.
Not enough of us noticed how disturbing these plots were at the time. But in retrospect, they were a symbol of growing sexism: the first wave of lad culture. And they helped normalise the idea that it was funny to date a woman as a bet.
It's unclear exactly how often pigging is taking place - it takes a brave victim to stand up and admit to it - but it's important that we all call it out and make sure everyone knows just how wrong it is. The only pig in this scenario? The man whose fragile ego is so threatened by women that he gets off on humiliating them.