For an Indian woman, Tinder often feels like the mental equivalent of being groped on a DTC bus. It’s not just the disturbing number of men who are still obsessed with Friends in 2019 and insist it should get leeway for being sexist, homophobic, and transphobic “because it was from the 90s”, or the type who comment furiously on UNILAD videos about how women who wear make-up are cheating them with their dark mastery of Revlon products.
Thing is, men who may have just begun learning how to handle rejection gracefully, how not to hyper-sexualise women and be generally respectful of their space and agency, seem to believe that the rules are different online. A dating app culture that on one hand thrives on candid conversation and on the other allows for secrecy and elusiveness with very few checks in place has facilitated the predatory and entitled behaviours that many urban, educated Indian men generally keep under wraps in real life. Here are some manifestations that could perhaps inspire Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s next ‘hero’, but have women wanting to press delete forever.
1. The ones that slide into your Facebook and Insta DMs even after you’ve not matched with them
When a woman creates an online dating profile, she may as well be opening applications for ‘friendship’ on all her social media accounts. Most women would concur that the moment they signed up on the casual dating app, their ‘others’ folder basically doubled up as their Tinder recycle bin, full of the users who refused to give up after a left swipe. Many of these disbelieving men end up shooting their second (or third or fourth) shots on Facebook and Instagram, unmindful that this persistent entitlement to a woman’s time and attention is not only intrusive, but also goes against the very spirit of this online subculture. Tinder’s defining feature is allowing users to text each other only after they mutually swipe right, and the app is designed to grant complete control to its users over who they choose to engage with (on the app at least). These rules of engagement are sacrosanct, and anyone who doesn’t honour them should rightfully be banished—from your matches, if not the app.
2. The ones who break the ice (and seal your legs shut) by going from zero to ‘DTF?’
When the “Wanna fuck?” message arrives as a conversation starter, it feels an awful lot like an unsolicited dick pic. Tinder has built a reputation as a booty call app, and neither the company nor its users—not most of them, anyway—have any qualms about using it the way the tech-gods intended it. So, propositioning someone for sex is acceptable, if not expected of you. But even then, this particular MO gives away not only a lack of communication skills but a dehumanising attitude toward women. Do I hear you whine, “But I just want to be upfront and not mislead anyone”?
The difference between spending the night drinking wine straight out of the bottle alone, and swirling it around in your mouth pretending to be a sommelier, and making up an origin story to impress a date, could be this slightly longer, more polite message: “Hey brand new match, would you mind if we got straight to the point and figured out if we could get together/hook up, and when?”
Kids, remember, when in doubt, talk it out.
3. The ones who assume every lesbian/bi-sexual/pansexual woman is dying to have threesomes with them
If pornography or a handful of obscure coming-of-age art films are to be believed, all non-heterosexual women spend their entire day unravelling the mysteries of their bodies and testing the boundaries of their sexual desires. Non-hetero women are highly fetishised not only in porn but also in pop culture, and these associations and perceptions follow them everywhere. Given the cushy illusion of anonymity that online interactions provide, queer folks get directly propositioned for threesomes painfully often. Some have even complained of being asked by cis male matches if the latter could join just to “watch”.
While the patriarchal notion that women’s bodies are inherently sexual has been widely documented, here’s a crucial intersectional observation—non-hetero women are subjected to this creepy entitlement much more rampantly. And sadly for them, life off the app is no different. They are accustomed to being asked questions that are all too personal, all too inappropriate (“do you like licking or scissoring better?”), all too often.
4. The ones who list truly brag-worthy achievements in their bio, like “Taller than you in heels” and “Can cook better than you” and… that’s it, that’s the whole bio
Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own wrote, “Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magical and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.” Just about every woman with A Tinder Account of Her Own has felt this too when she encounters a dude who defines himself in relation to (his idea of) his female audience. There are those who believe they should be showered with accolades and matches for picking up a skill that they clearly believe is a ‘woman thing’, marking them as extra special and sensitive. As for the guy whose USP is that he’s “taller than you in heels”(?) all you can do is congratulate him on being able to more easily reach the lightbulbs he was born to fix. There’s nothing like a bit of reverse sexism to restore the balance in the universe.
5. The ones who like “big women” and cannot lie
Some men like to proclaim their love of fat women on their bio. Now, try to think of the last time you caught a woman describing her specific body-type preferences on her Tinder profile. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all women are brimming with body positivity towards men—it’s just that contempt for big men is not the default for them, so they do not feel the need to make any disclaimers. Moreover, men who articulate their desire for larger women are most likely not coming from a place of body positivity—it’s garden variety objectification and fetishism only dressed as inclusivity. They typically view large bodies as a thing of novelty rather than normality, and reduce them to a porn category. Several women have confessed to being told it was a check-list item, too. What’s worse, in their warped heads, these men are doing a kind of charity; social media is crawling with screenshots posted by plus-size women who call out this fetishism, but instead, are asked to be “grateful” that someone finds them desirable at all.