Not Ok, Cupid! Dating Online and Misogyny


Not Ok, Cupid! Dating Online and Misogyny


For both sexes, online dating can be challenging. It can be frustrating to put oneself out there on the internet, portray yourself as best you can with a few pictures and a short message, and then wait for random strangers to "approve" of you. But hey, Lord Byron said that finding true love (or sex) is not an easy undertaking.

The specter of the internet is a two-edged sword: while it is quicker to swipe right on someone you like than to approach them and introduce yourself at a coffee shop, the anonymity of the internet also allows for a terrible lack of accountability and frequently robs individuals of fundamental decency.

Through the safe distance that screens offer, people can be far ruder than they might have been in person. Consider my male friend, who was ghosted after we mutually decided on a time and day for a meeting with a Tinder match. He texted her a confirmation the night before the date to make sure it was still going to happen. She outmatched him in return, and he never heard from her again.

But being a woman on an online dating app exposes you to specialized and targeted misogyny that goes much beyond simple rudeness. Instagram accounts based in the US and Australia, such as @byefelipe and @feminist tinder (now deactivated), have been documenting instances of men acting aggressively, abusively, and threateningly when they receive rejection or lack of interest from women on dating apps. I made the decision to get in touch with other Indian ladies and hear about their experiences with internet dating as women.

Since I don't use online dating services, I tweeted to women and requested that they share their experiences with me. My Direct Messages tab suddenly become a very dismal area. (Please take note that all names have been changed to preserve anonymity.)

The most frequent behavior that women identified as grating was persistence. Even if the women did not respond, guys would still message them. Even though left-swiping or unmatching is an evident sign of disinterest, the guys frequently found the women on Facebook and messaged them there if they had left-swiped or unmatched (on Tinder).

As in the case of Latika*, who reported that a man from Tinder found her on Facebook and began "liking" all public events that she had clicked "interested" or "going to," even though she had not swiped right on his Tinder profile or accepted his friend request on Facebook, the relentless messages can quickly become creepy and end up limiting women's engagement with public spaces. She felt so uneasy about this that she avoided going to those gatherings out of concern that he may appear and meet her there.

When men experience rejection, persistent messages can quickly give rise to hostile, misogynistic ones. Priyal* recalled a moment when she was away from her phone for a while and returned to find that two men had started sending her unpleasant texts for swiping right and not responding to them. Words like "pricey," "didn't want to swipe right anyhow," "fucking bitch," and "slut" were used in these communications. Vanessa* came in to tell us about a guy she had a nice chat with at first but lost interest in when he kept bugging her for nude photos she didn't want to share. She deactivated the app since she had a poor experience with online dating overall, but she still remembered his response word for word because of how savage it was. He wrote, "You obese feminazi cunt, I wouldn't fuck you with a ten-foot pole. In any case, your vagina appears to be contaminated. Afreen* described a similar event in which a man became hostile and combative when she delayed responding to him since she was not interested in him. She looked like an "old aunty," he said, adding that he felt bad for her because that's why she swiped right.

Many women wrote in with similar accounts of how males often become defensive and angry after being rejected. Men respond to rejection with hostility and overt misogyny, exhibiting an uncontrollable rage at being turned down. Since these are the only qualities that these men appear to respect in women, their initial response is to condemn the woman, usually for their bodies and sexuality.

But body-shaming does not just happen in response to rejection. Negging is a well-known pick-up technique that men employ to flirt with women. It entails slowly eroding a woman's sense of self to increase her openness to their attempts. Priyal* claimed that she frequently got the standard "you're pretty for an overweight girl" rejection. Tulika* experienced a subtler variation of this; despite never having asked him for his advice or opinion, the man she had been paired with continued telling her how to pose so that she would look better in photos.

Of course, after the male has been rejected, body-shaming rapidly becomes much more acute and targeted. Nupur* complained about a man who asked her if she had a "big pussy" because he'd "love to bang one" as his opening line. (Men, are you listening? Since this is the ideal method for picking someone up!) He said, "You should be thankful I have a fat woman fetish because otherwise, she was too unattractive for any attention to be paid to her," when she reacted with contempt. Naturally, Nupur* disqualified him right away. She matched with another gentleman a few days later, and it proved out to be the same man with a phony profile.

Similar to Nupur*, other women have also been the target of sudden sexual advances, which is reportedly a standard opener in the world of online dating.

Why do men think that making sudden sexual advances on women is a smart approach to get their attention? This is a part of a bigger trend in dating services that shames women for being women. There is a pervasive belief that women who use applications like Tinder are 'easy' and merit the use of blatantly sexual, unwanted language due to the hook-up culture that these apps are thought to promote. Although being 'easy' or wanting sex is not in the least bit a bad attribute, the value assessment that these men and the wider culture attach to it is.

Women risk intense animosity from their partners when they do not respond favorably to explicit communications. One popular criticism is, "Why did you swipe right if you didn't want sex?" Men anticipate being laid right away, says Puneeta*. They respond, "Come on yaar, cool, I know you are not a virgin, I know you have done it before," if you refuse. As a result, women who dare to have a presence on these websites are subtly or blatantly chastised. The message is that if you have an OKCupid or Tinder profile, you must be easygoing and want to have sex with me. When the ladies in this story reject these men, the men do not know how to handle them and become violent. Puneeta* describes how one man begged her to have sex with her father after being rejected.

On other platforms, this slut-shaming is still there. A hotbed of slut and body-shaming is an app called "Secret," which enables your network of friends and friends-of-friends to submit anonymous confessional comments. Female app users reported seeing multiple instances of women's bodies and sexual life being discussed in public on the app while remaining anonymous. These women's complete identities and Twitter handles were frequently disclosed so that those who did not know the women might form their own opinions about them.

The unwillingness to accept the word "no" appears repeatedly in all of these stories. The most terrifying account I heard was from Shilpi*, who met a Tinder match for a prearranged "friendly date" to show him about the city as he had never been there before. Following the date, Shilpi* started to get numerous messages from this man praising her as "ideal" for him and requesting that he present her to his parents. He started to pursue her and send her constant texts after she told him she wasn't interested in him. In an effort to get close to her, he added her Facebook and LinkedIn friends and colleagues. He started physically following her, discovered her residence and frequented locations, and sent her threatening texts. He even went so far as to say that she would "wish she were dead" for what she had done to him. Shilpi* had to abandon her job, relocate, and delete any trace of herself from social media as a result of the harassment in order to escape this man.

What unifying factor unites all of these contacts, which range from routine Facebook friend requests to actual stalking, harassment, and abuse? a male entitlement mindset. The idea of male entitlement holds that men are entitled to sex just because they are male. Male entitlement shows out in both overt and covert ways. For example, it may be seen in the relentless friend requests and messages sent to women. If one tries hard enough and sends enough friend requests, the lady in question must accept! These males, therefore, have a hard time understanding what indifference is.

If women's choices and consent do not match what males expect, they are assaulted and devalued.

In the aforementioned situations, male entitlement is more overtly manifested as aggression and abuse. One of my respondents stated that "the males come at you with their hackles rising."

When this "truth" fails to materialize, they revert to misogynistic insults, mocking women for being women in the belief that this must be the real source of suspicion.

Therefore, online dating is rife with the same misogyny that permeates other aspects of "real life." In reality, the anonymity offered by the internet encourages sexism to flourish even more openly since the antiseptic light of a phone screen causes the standards of human decency and communication to wither. The apps themselves provide a certain amount of protection with tools that let users "report abuse" or "block" abusive profiles. However, they have no control over the exchange of information between two individuals or the spread of harassment on Facebook.

Because of the bigotry, they must put up with, women are frequently forced to delete these apps. As a result, many of my responders removed the program before sending me screenshots. Once more, we observe that the online dating experiences of women are restricted rather than the harassers being expelled.

The experience has not been all negative, according to my replies. Several women mentioned the satisfying relationships they had forged as a result of meeting people on dating applications like Tinder. I have met some extremely great guys who I now consider friends, as Tulika* stated. It might be a coin toss. Similar to life! We must be conscious of the fact that the internet, like the real world, is a specifically gendered experience where women encounter the same sexism and harassment as they do in their regular lives.

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