Tinder is a hook-up app

There’s this thing people do when they’re on Tinder dates—they talk about being on Tinder. I think at some point on every single Tinder date I’ve been on, the guy has been like, “So….what’s your experience with Tinder?”

I wait for it, and then I take the opportunity to grill them about what women on Tinder are like. Responses vary from, “Every woman has a picture of herself doing a handstand on top of a mountain” to “Lots of pictures of tigers” (et tu, women?!) to “Tons of drunk Seahawks selfies” (gender parity for the win, Seattle) to “Lots of duckfaces.”

My general answer to “What’s your experience with Tinder?” is generally positive, generic, and vague. “I’ve met some really nice people!” “People are interesting.”

Men: “But they’ve all been nice?”

Men are worried about other men’s behavior online. This is good.

Me: “All polite, nice, gentlemenly types.”

A couple of guys have essentially congratulated me on screening out the creeps. This is not good. I’m wary of this, and always go to the trouble to explain why: it’s a slippery slope from “I have a good filter” to “other women don’t filter as well as I do” to “other women don’t prevent the abuse they get online” to “other women ask for the abuse they get online.”

Welcome to rape culture, where women get congratulated for not getting raped. Fuck that.

I think I’m careful, sure, and predators are generally lazy, but I also think I’ve been lucky and it’s just a matter of time before I’m on the receiving end of nastiness online. I tend to try to think of myself as the rule, not the exception to the rule (you hear that, New York Times writers ranting about millennials?). I don’t think anyone “deserves” the abuse they get. I think women should be able to be online, asking for whatever they want or don’t want and looking however they want or don’t want, without being made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Maybe if women were actually safe in the world we would be having a different conversation, but women are not physically or emotionally safe in the world. Until they are, that’s not the conversation. Get in this conversation.

Do you guys follow @instagranniepants on instagram? Heartbreaking, hilarious, brave, important.

So let’s talk about the hook-up culture of Tinder. Everyone thinks it’s a hook-up app. It started as a hook-up app. Some people still use it as a hook-up app. This is great! We’re all allowed to ask for what we want, including sex. Sometimes we want different things. This is ok too!

My friend swiped on a guy and he asked her about hooking up, and she said, “Whyyyyy?” I took her phone and looked at his profile and it said, “Just looking for casual fun.” So her bad on that one. But also—she wasn’t actually upset. Because asking if you’re interested in hooking up isn’t abuse. It isn’t a threat. It isn’t telling her what filthy thing he’s going to do to her without her consent. It actually was a question, genuinely phrased, that revealed his interest while asking her about hers. She said no. He moved on. Consent!

Plus—isn’t all of this dependent on meeting a person anyway? Even if you’re someone who’s out for random sex, and you’re someone who is attracted to a lot of people, don’t you still have to meet someone and see? Don’t you have to see if they look clean, or if they have a random tic you just can’t get past, like, say, bursting into song during conversation, or calling you “sweetheart”? Aren’t there enough other people in the world that you can sleep with that there is something that could make you go, “eh, not for me”?

Maybe not. In which case, happy swiping and happy schtupping.

But for the rest of us—there’s a lot of grey area that remains to be covered in meeting someone and seeing where things go. Some people you want to be friends with. Some people you want to meet and talk to and never see again. Some people you want to see again and find out more. Some people you want to be close to.

I guess I just don’t think social cues are that hard to read, even online. If a profile says, “hedonist who lives every day to the fullest, fun-seeker, just passing through town for one night only,” then maybe that person isn’t seeking a quiet, non-sexual first interaction. But maybe they are. If you can’t tell from their profile, why not see what you can tell from a conversation? If you can’t tell there, why not ask once you’re having an interaction?

I’m not against direct communication, I just think that most people are going to have to find out in person anyway—and what we want might vary from interaction to interaction, so why not go for the “meet and see”? (I almost spelled that “meat and sea” which is much more entertaining now that I think of it…)

You really can’t waste the 4 text messages back and forth? Your Netflix queue must be really long and urgent.

A real conversation I had:

Him: I was going to say we should hook up but if you can’t do handstands…

Me: Wow! An offer for a hook-up AND a preemptive rejection. Must be my lucky day.

Him: Haha. It’s a crazy world out there, maggie

Grade: A+ 

If he’d continued the conversation past that, I would have written him back. I was much more interested in how well he handled the push-back than anything else.

This sort of easy, low stakes interaction is part of what I like about Tinder. In fact, I get annoyed when guys plaster “not here to hook up” all over their Tinder profiles.

First of all, I have one foot in the world of marketing, where a basic maxim is to always phrase things in the positive. Saying that you’re “looking for something with real potential” or “hoping to meet someone for a serious relationship” accomplishes the same goal as “not here for hook-ups so don’t bother” without the a) ego b) judgment c) dismissive tone.

Sure, you can tell me what you want, but can you do it in a way that doesn’t also attempt to establish what’s ok for me to want or not want? Quit swinging your dick around while claiming you’re keeping it in your pants as an incentive.

I’ve asked for male perspective on “not here for hook-ups” and to the letter, all of the guys I’ve asked have said, “Oh, that’s a move to try to get even more play.”

It’s nice to know men think so highly of each other.

My basic response can be boiled down to: “What’s with the slut-shaming, guys?!?”