Michaela Okland really wants you to know that girls fuck. So much so, in fact, that she’s printed the sentiment on cropped sweatshirts and flowy long sleeves—both of which are available for sale on SheRatesDogs.com.
SheRatesDogs is the brainchild of 22-year-old Okland. It is, in essence, a Twitter account highlighting the shittiness-slash-cringiness of man. Its bio simply states: “The dogs are your exes. DM for submissions.” Followers—primarily women—flood the account’s inboxes with screenshots of shocking Snapchats, vaguely threatening texts, and cringeworthy Tinder pickup lines. Okland then hand-selects which messages will be anonymously posted to the account. (No identifying information is ever seen in any posted submissions.)
Since its inception in December 2018, SheRatesDogs has grown to over 126,000 Twitter followers, 30,000 Instagram followers, and the aforementioned—and massively successful—online store, which carries a wide selection of mugs, hats, and tees emblazoned with SheRatesDogs’ most popular submissions. A white long-sleeve reads, “my mom said we can live with her and Greg.” A gray sweatshirt simply says, “my dick ISN’T TINY.” And then there is the “Girls Are Cool” and “Girls Fuck” apparel—reminders of female confidence and positivity that a girl might want after reading through some SheRatesDogs Tinder posts. The merchandise has been met with much love; Okland’s giveaway post on Instagram is currently standing at over 4,000 comments.
But Okland is no stranger to Internet success. Prior to creating SheRatesDogs, the Arizona State student was already enjoying a large following on several social media channels. Her tweets—each garnering several hundred likes, with a few boasting over 50,000 retweets along with hundreds of thousands of likes—range in topic. In one, she muses about the issues of child-rearing.
In another, she draws a memory deep from the recesses of our collective consciousnesses.
Some call her the funniest girl on Twitter.
So, I spoke with Michaela about everything from her first viral tweet to the future of her brand.
Lithium Magazine: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Michaela! This is super cool for me—I've been following you on Twitter for a long time and I love everything you post. It’s all so refreshing and relatable. You have an impressive presence on social media—117,000 Twitter followers across three accounts, plus another 126,000 on SheRatesDogs, which we'll get to in a moment. I've seen posts calling you "the funniest girl on Twitter.” What's that like?
Michaela Okland: That’s a very nice thing to call me. It’s weird because so many of my best friends are also people in comedy, and I’m way more inspired by them than I am by myself. I don’t think there’s necessarily a “funniest” person online, but I really love how comedy is changing because of people on social media, and how it’s created a demand for more originality. I’m a huge fan of the fact that we’re holding comedians to a higher standard now and don’t give them cheap laughs for making fun of marginalized groups of people. The internet is having an awesome effect on the comedy world in general.
Lithium: When did you first begin to ‘blow up’?
Michaela: I think the first time I really went ‘viral’ was in February 2017. After this tweet, I started getting more traction on my original account @MichaelaOkland, which eventually got permanently suspended near the end of the year (I was attacked by tweetdeckers). I was at 12,000 followers or something when that happened. I then made my account @MichaelaOkla and started over, and had that at about 87,000 followers when I made @SheRatesDogs in December 2018! I gain the most followers when I have a video or a joke or relatable tweet go viral as opposed to, like, a quote tweet or political tweet.
Lithium: How's college treating you? I know you're currently in your final year at Arizona State.
Michaela: Classes are fine! I’m studying Media Analysis and English Linguistics. It’s a little difficult right now because the SheRatesDogs account just became an actual business, and trying to focus on classes feels trivial sometimes. My friends here are great, but I haven’t “gone out” in, like, over six months. I’ve just been really focused on getting to a successful place, but I wanna go out in my merch sometime for some promo videos.
Lithium: What do your post-graduation plans look like?
Michaela: I’ve always wanted to move to LA after graduating, so I’m probably going to do that! I’m making enough through the SheRatesDogs channels to take some risks and try new things in comedy and entertainment, so we will see what happens in the coming year.
Lithium: I recently saw a video someone posted of their friend yelling and laughing because you'd noticed them on Twitter. What's it like being, well, famous? Realizing that you can make someone’s day by replying to their tweet, having fans—thousands of supportive people who hype your water bottle selfies up?
Michaela: It’s very crazy to me that people genuinely care about what I do and say. Getting nice messages and comments like that make my day, and they always will. All I do is make tweets, so I don’t really see myself as someone who could have “fans,” but I think a lot of my followers just see my posts so often that it builds a connection. It’s really cool. I adore them.
Lithium: Someone recently messaged you about how you brought light to their life after they escaped an abusive relationship. It is very, very cool to me that you tweet random things, whatever comes to mind, and it can completely change people's lives like that.
Michaela: This is honestly the coolest thing about having a platform. I get messages like that really often. Sometimes the messages come from people in extreme abusive situations like that; others come from people who say they’ve been going through a hard time and my account is what makes them smile. Some people are going through a breakup and tell me I helped them get their confidence back, random things. But having an impact on people struggling honestly makes me cry!
Lithium: I really appreciate that you use your large platform to discuss political issues that are important to you. How do you remain authentic to your values in a space like “Funny Twitter,” where people—especially women—are often expected to be simply pretty and funny, and not simultaneously intelligent and multifaceted?
Michaela: Whenever I tweet about politics, a lot of people unfollow me. I think the reason it’s so important to me is because I know these issues are life-and-death situations. I have great parents and I was born into really lucky conditions, but a lot of political issues have life-or-death consequences for people who aren’t born into that security. I don’t think individuals with platforms should be apolitical. If any of my followers don’t care about what I have to say, I don’t want them following me. I don’t need meaningless numbers.
Lithium: I remember the night you tweeted that you were going to start the account, so I like to think that I know the origin story of SheRatesDogs pretty well. But, I still want to hear it again, because it's a great one. So, can you tell me how SheRatesDogs was conceived?
Michaela: Thanks for following me in my infancy. Basically, I had just gotten sick of seeing how, when these exchanges with men go viral, you see a million comments saying “Fake. This didn’t happen.” Being in college, I’m also sick of hearing guys tell stories about girls being crazy, and then hearing the girl’s side be completely invalidated because of the stereotype that they are. There’s also a stigma attached to posting conversations with exes or whomever, because you look like you’re trying to prove you get male attention, or you look like an asshole for invading that privacy. So my account gets to be this anonymous place that shows how these things happen.
Lithium: In just over a month, the account has amassed over 126,000 followers and has been featured on Mashable, Cosmopolitan, FunnyOrDie, and Metro UK, just to name a few. You've launched an accompanying merchandise line with sales so successful that you got flagged for fraud. Was this massive success something you expected? I mean, when you began, did you think that you'd be creating sweatshirts and making international news?
Michaela: NO! I honestly thought I’d make the account as a bit for, like, a day or two, get tired of it, then go back to posting on my regular account. When it got 50,000 followers within the first week, I was like, Fuck, okay, I gotta really do this now.
Lithium: The content you post is all user-submitted via Twitter or Instagram. How do you decide what does and doesn't make it out of the DMs? Like, what are your quality filters?
Michaela: Sometimes, I’ll read things that are just way too awful, or illegal? Or just super bad and I can’t post them and I’ll just message the girl back asking if she’s okay. Other things I don’t post are, like, things I’ve seen a lot or that don’t have anything too different about them, but I get tons of submissions. So many.
Lithium: What's the weirdest submission you’ve ever received?
Michaela: I have seen so much. I have aged so much. I know too much. I get probably, like, a thousand submissions a day. I can’t even word the worst submissions I’ve gotten because the descriptions are so horrifying. You don’t want to know. This is my cross to bear.
Lithium: There's an important statement on the SheRatesDogs website that I'd like to highlight.
“On a more serious note, countless women are caught in the cycle of abuse, and countless others struggle with a distorted sense of self, PTSD, and other mental illnesses as a result of having abusive partners. While the statistics for battered women and sexual misconduct are readily available, the belief in women still isn’t. Nearly one third of women report having an abusive partner in their lifetimes. 1 in 6 women in America have survived an attempted or completed rape. Despite these numbers being proven survey upon study, it seems no man can think of a friend who would be abusive. Despite these numbers being consistently present, 99% of perpetrators of sexual violence walk free (HuffPost).
SheRatesDogs started out, and is primarily enjoyed, as a comedic platform. My goal, however, is to change the dialogue. Girls and women experience degrading and shocking comments daily. Constantly on this account, I continue to be amazed by just how many of my posts get dozens of quote tweets claiming the situation I’ve shown never happens. It happens. This happens. And awareness has become my number one priority.”
I’m really glad that you put this up, because as much as I enjoy SheRatesDogs, there are many messages I've seen on the page that are—for lack of a better term—absolutely fucked up. It's fun to laugh and to cringe, until you remember that these are real and often dangerous guys. How do you foresee using the SheRatesDogs platform to further combat harassment issues?
Michaela: I think sometimes people forget I literally started this account a month ago, I’m a full-time college student, and this became a business out of nowhere. I have tons of plans to start working with foundations, and there is so much in the future that I want to do, but I need revenue [and] time, and I want to do it right. I can’t wait to make this a more integrated part of my platform in the coming months. I want to work with shelters for women and families escaping abuse; I want to partner with different groups. I have product ideas with proceeds for nonprofits for women, but it’s so much planning and it has to be done the right way. So, hopefully in one or two more months I’ll be there.
Lithium: Like you mentioned before, people are always questioning whether interactions as horrible as the ones featured here actually happen. To see content posted so frequently, and with such variance in subject matter confirms that you're never alone in your Tinder horror stories. Was this—serving as a source of validation—one of your intentions when creating the account?
Michaela: Kinda. I don’t know; I really never thought it would be this big. As soon as it started taking off, that’s exactly what I figured out. Every girl has been harboring these horror stories and just not talking about them. It’s like this crazy reaction of, “How did you think of this account?” but also, “How has there never been anything like this already?” I think that maybe women have just overall handled these things differently? Like, we don’t really tell people about the crazy shit men do to us as often in social settings, and when we do there’s somehow much more doubt from the people we do tell. But then I’m always seeing guys talk about their exes or current girls and whatever “crazy” things [they do].
Lithium: A lot of guys get mad about SheRatesDogs, but I feel like their reactions just further prove that violent misogyny is rampant in online spaces. I saw that an offshoot account called "WeRateThots" tweeted something basically asking you why you “roast” men so much without acknowledging that women “act like whores.” And I was like, you're proving the point here. How do you handle comments like that, and threats or hate in general?
Michaela: Honestly, I’m very good at dealing with hate. It rarely affects me anymore. Tons of “HeRatesDogs”-type accounts came out right after mine, but none of them really took off, ‘cause like...those things already existed. About one-fourth of my followers on SheRatesDogs are men. It’s not “man-hating” or whatever someone might call it, and guys only take it personally when they see themselves in my posts.
Lithium: Okay, so I absolutely love all of your merchandise. The shirts are so cute. And I'm even more excited thinking about the deeper community they may foster—I'm envisioning girls bonding with each other at frat parties because they're both wearing tees that say “MY DICK ISN'T TINY.”
Michaela: I love that so much. I really want people to bond over my brand. That’s the best thing in the world to me. It’s a community! And, yeah, half the merch concepts are, like, these funny excerpts from certain convos, and then there’s the “girls fuck” and “girls are cool” stuff that I just like having as this female positivity-type thing. Feeling support from other women is the most empowering thing in the world. So often we’re portrayed as enemies of each other, and a lot of the time it can feel like that—especially when you’re young—but those feelings are always caused by insecurity that’s put onto women from the current way society is stacked up. I could get on a soapbox about that. I’m gonna leave it for now.
Lithium: What are you doing to expand the brand?
Michaela: SO MUCH! Even just for Valentine’s Day, we have a bunch of little additions. One fun future thing we’re working really hard on right now is figuring out how to do branded pepper spray, which is the product I really want to pair with a nonprofit for women. I also want to start adding video content. There’s a lot more I wanna do with SheRatesDogs, but there’s also a lot more I wanna do as myself!
Lithium: So, to wrap this up, I have to ask: what's your absolute favorite submission? Mine is the one where a girl says, “You're making me wanna kill myself," and the guy goes, "Noooo. Would you let someone fuck your throat?"
Michaela: I’m always remembering old posts where I’m like, FUCK, that was the best. I really like the candle wax one. I put it on a Valentine’s Day card. “I’m gonna tie you up and pour hot candle wax on you, but way too much to be sexy. Like, at least a gallon.”
Annie Walton Doyle