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Feminist Dating, Naked Trolls and Female Values

Feminism and gender equality have long been on the agenda but it hasn't been until recently where we have seen a natural permeation of female values in culture. We now expect to see women achieving for themselves, on their own terms not as part to meet a quota or a PR initiative. We don't expect to see women in wearing shoulder pads and power suits. Instead (most) now expect to see women in positions of authority and control not a ball-breaker who took the patriarchy head-on but because they deserve to be there, they were simply the best candidates.

The founder of dating app Bumble, Whitney Wolfe, has an interesting point though. In the sphere of dating the expectation still lies with the man to make the first move, women can be successful but can't make "the first move". Furthermore women on dating apps are sent unsolicited photos of men's anatomies everyday ("crotch shots" as Wolfe terms them). Naked selfies are not a phenomenon specific to the male sex. However, the unsolicited and random distribution of them on dating sites largely is.

Wolfe claims Bumble is a feminist app as she defines feminism as equality. It's hard to argue against this. However, the app aims to halt this type of harassment by leaving it with women to decide who to make contact with and I question whether this is this truly equal. I say this not a man decrying men's lost ability to make the first move but by questioning whether it really gets to the heart of the problem.

Bumble absolutely puts women in control in finding a match - probably more quickly as they no longer need to wade through a catalogue of John Thomas' before they swipe right. Giving only female users the ability to make the first move is refreshing but by doing this it restricts and takes some control away from men. If feminism is about gender equality it's unclear how placing restrictions on one gender achieves this. Meanwhile harassment persists on Tinder (co-founded by Wolfe) and Ok Cupid where women continue to receive negative messages and unwanted nudity on a daily basis. Bumble simply annexes the issue and does so by placing restrictions on all men rather than seeking to restrict the minority of exhibitionist trolls.

As it stands, dating apps either give men the control to harass women or women the principle control to pick the dates. Neither is truly equal but as we know some are more equal than others and it is clear that Bumble and apps like it meet a fundamental need. Developed by women as a solution to a problem women face. Claiming to have a million users worldwide it is also a solution that many men clearly want to be seen using and, as a result, Bumble perfectly demonstrates how female values are sweeping through our culture.

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