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ASU student uses "SheRatesDogs" account to put a leash on unwanted social media behavior

ASU senior Michaela Okland started the account to call out men for their inappropriate social media behavior


ASU senior and founder of the She Rates Dogs twitter account, Michaela Okland, poses for a photo in Tempe, Arizona, on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

With the name SheRatesDogs, one might expect to find cute dogs, heartwarming stories and friendly pet-lovers.

But instead, the "dogs" in the name refers to men, and the account focuses on the unsolicited advances, serious threats and demeaning insults women may commonly experience on social media.

Michaela Okland, an ASU senior who is majoring in media analysis and English linguistics, said she started the twitter account to display the "sh---y interactions with guys" women encounter on social media.

The account serves as a space for women to come together and bring awareness to the kind of comments that men commonly make toward women, Okland said.

“I’m hoping it changes the dialogue that girls are crazy and the era of doubt that these things don’t happen when a girl talks about her experiences with a guy,” she said. “It’s a gaslighting feeling like girls are crazy because of the way they handle things, and it’s nice to have people on your side who agree with you.”

While she said she expected to get "a couple thousand followers, do it for two days and be done," the account quickly picked up steam.

Okland created the Twitter account on Dec. 15, 2018, where she gained 4,000 followers in the first hour and then 50,000 within a week, she said.  

Two days after making her Twitter account, Okland expanded to Instagram.

After just under two months of creating the accounts, she has reached more than 143,000 followers on Twitter and almost 32,000 on Instagram.

Okland said women have been reaching out to her over social media to talk discuss topics ranging from something as serious as abusive relationships to something as lighthearted as saying "this made me laugh."

With the success of her accounts, Okland created a website to sell merchandise with the help of a designer, which would help expand the brand beyond jokes to something that empowers women. 

The merchandise includes shirts with ironic messages and hats with empowering messages on it like “girls are cool” and other designs.

Most of the merchandise launched on Jan. 25, but Okland and her designer also launched limited edition Valentine's Day-related merchandise on Jan. 31, such as limited edition Valentine’s cards.

"I always get tagged in pictures of people wearing their merch," Okland said. She said she received a lot of positive feedback, and the sales have been "overwhelming."

Kim Adversario, an ASU sophomore who is majoring in political science, said she was a big fan of the accounts, even buying the SheRatesDogs merchandise when it first became available.

"I bought her merch the day it dropped because the merch is super funny and I’ve been a fan for a while," Adversario said. 

She said she recognizes the cause that Okland is trying to promote with these accounts.

“I think SheRatesDogs is hilarious because males get put on blast for things they think are normal,” Adversario said. “It kind of makes men accountable and see how trash they are.”

The launch of the merchandise involved Okland collaborating with 19-year-old Tyler Macke from Jackson, Mo.

Because of his experience with the WeRateDogs account, which the SheRatesDogs account's name plays on, Macke said he jokingly reached out to Okland after seeing her success, asking her via twitter, “Hey wanna do merch, lol?" 

To his surprise, Okland was genuinely interested in producing merchandise, so they collaborated and launched the first season. The merchandise released in January was part of their season one launch, and the two hope to launch the second season of merchandise by March, Macke said. 

Macke helped her build the brand, design the website and make all of the product designs, he said. Now he mainly handles customer service and day-to-day operations, he said.

Because empowering women is important to Okland, she said she hopes to do more serious non-profit work with women in the future and selling something more practical like a branded pepper spray.

"It takes a lot of seed money and time," Okland said, adding that she wants to be at a point where she can effectively carry out the endeavor.

Editor's note: Kim Adversario formerly worked for The State Press on the podcast desk.

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