‘Scary’ sex demand sweeping Tinder
"I've gotta get going. I have laundry to do."
That was the excuse a man once made to leave immediately after we had sex.
A guy leaping out of bed to go put his delicates on spin cycle was a new low, even for me. (And I once dated a man who hadn't washed his sheets in three years.)
Still, I only have myself to blame. After all, I swiped right to a profile pic of a shirtless gym selfie. Really, what was I expecting?!!
But that's the thing about dating apps. Spend enough time sifting through dudes holding up dead fish alongside bios consisting of more emojis than letters, and you're eventually going to drop the bar until it's so low, you couldn't even limbo under it after a hot yoga class.
This isn't anecdotal either; research proves we typically abandon our standards when it comes to online dating. A 2017 study conducted by Queensland University of Technology found that, more often than not, people matched with other dating app users who didn't meet any of their criteria for a potential mate.
In part at least, this is a good thing. Any environment that connects people who'd be strangers under normal circumstances is conducive to open-mindedness and even - dare I say it - finding love.
But here's the problem: it can also open the floodgates for unfettered misogyny, sexual harassment, and deeply questionable behaviour. A paper published by Pew Research highlights this - it confirmed something women in internet dating spaces already knew: around half of us have received unsolicited sexually explicit messages from men.
More worryingly, younger women were shown to be the most likely targets of threats of violence online. The same paper found 19 per cent of women aged 18 to 34 on dating apps have been threatened with physical harm. So rampant are the threats and sexual harassment, whole publications have been dedicated to exposing them.
Perhaps the best known of its kind, Bye Felipe - initially a viral Instagram account and now a best-selling book - republishes real screenshots shared by women on dating apps of interactions with men ranging from gross to downright disturbing.
The most common format goes a little like this: "Hi sexy. I like your smile" [Woman doesn't respond] "Hey beautiful, you there?" [Still no response] "F***ing ugly fat b**ch."
When Sydneysider Ebonie Sanderson posted messages to Instagram from a man she turned down on Tinder in which she was called an "ugly, fat, time-wasting wh*re", her DMs were flooded with men speculating she wasn't telling the full story, labelling the event an anomaly.
Meanwhile, more women came forward to share experiences of their own, saying they too had been verbally abused by the same man.
More strikingly, the initial post quickly went viral, sparking comments from thousands of women around the world who resonated with it - sharing their own horror stories of being threatened, sexually harassed and verbally abused by men on dating apps.
And though platforms like Tinder have pledged to filter out abuse by implementing AI technology to flag potentially inappropriate messages, the behaviour only seems to be becoming more overt.
Following in the footsteps of Bye Felipe, Australian Instagram account @TinderTranslators posts screenshots of real men's Tinder bios. A recent post of one such bio reads: "Looking for a lady in the street, but a wh*re in the bedroom! Applicants must be able to keep my stomach full and my balls empty."
Another Tinder user complains in his bio, "Unhappily married. Love my kids too much to split up…fml. Looking to connect with someone that gets me and won't judge me."
As someone who's personally spent a lot of time on dating apps, it's not unusual to swipe past profiles of married men looking for "discreet encounters", or to receive messages like "Do you like anal?" and "That's a pretty face. I'd like to c*m all over it" immediately upon matching with a man. Most women will attest to these sorts of unwanted interactions being an expectation, not a rare exception.
But behind the bravado and sexual aggression of these crude come-ons lies a deep fragility in need of addressing. Research shows men often feel pressured to pursue sex to receive validation from their peers and fulfil perceived gender norms.
Rom-coms depict charming, handsome men unrelentingly chasing female protagonists in the face of rejection as the epitome of true love.
There's a "no means yes" message sewn into porn too, and an absence of education around what healthy romantic encounters should look like.
It's perhaps unsurprising then, there's a palpable sense of male sexual entitlement permeating dating apps, and a disturbing trend of rage toward women who reject this framework.
Cringe-inducing profile pics and post-coital ghosting aside, there's a bigger issue here. It might seem a stretch to link the widespread sexual harassment and casual misogyny on dating platforms to violence against women, but it actually makes perfect sense.
Because when we teach boys sex is a right, and to define their masculinity by how vigorously they pursue it, what we're really doing, is telling them girls don't matter. And that's a scary precedent to set.
Originally published as 'Scary' sex demand sweeping Tinder