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August 13 2015

Not Exactly Cinderella Stories . . .

Charlotte Hays

The Independent Women's Forum has long maintaied that young women (and young men!) deserve better than the hookup culture based on casual sex.  

An article headlined "Tinder and the Dawn of the 'Dating Apocalypse'" in the new Vanity Fair only shows how far downhill things have gone. There is now an app for hooking up. The F-word-laced article, by Mary Jo Sales, focuses on young professionals in Manhattan who use Tinder to meet partners for casual sex.

Guys call the women they meet on  Tinder “Tinderellas.”  Sales writes:

Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about a hundred years, has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship. “We are in uncharted territory” when it comes to Tinder et al., says Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.”

People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, but now Internet meeting is surpassing every other form. “It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually,” Garcia says. “It is unprecedented from an evolutionary standpoint.” As soon as people could go online they were using it as a way to find partners to date and have sex with. In the 90s it was Craigslist and AOL chat rooms, then Match.com and Kiss.com. But the lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in You’ve Got Mail (1998) seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today. “I’ll get a text that says, ‘Wanna fuck?’ ” says Jennifer, 22, a senior at Indiana University Southeast, in New Albany. “They’ll tell you, ‘Come over and sit on my face,’ ” says her friend, Ashley, 19.

Mobile dating went mainstream about five years ago; by 2012 it was overtaking online dating. In February, one study reported there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida. “It’s like ordering Seamless,” says Dan, the investment banker, referring to the online food-delivery service. “But you’re ordering a person.”

The Vanity Fair article has provoked a great deal of buzz, including New York magazine's contention that it created "moral panic" and overlooked data that indicates that millenials have fewer sexual partners than their elders. Some have even suggested that the young folks aren't doing anything different from what Gramps and Grammy did--they just have an app.

"So, which is it? Are we riding to heck in a smartphone-laden, relationship-killing hand basket? Or is everything the same as it ever was?" asks Heather Wilhelm in an excellent critique of the Vanity Fair article. Wilhelm also posits the one thing feminists refuse to admit: the hookup culture has been terrible for women. But they are afraid to criticize it because it is so ingrained in their culture.

Wilhelm writes:

Here’s the key question: Why were the women in the article continuing to go back to Tinder, even when they admitted they got literally nothing—not even physical satisfaction—out of it? What were they looking for? Why were they hanging out with jerks? “For young women the problem in navigating sexuality and relationships is still gender inequality,” Elizabeth Armstrong, a University of Michigan sociology professor, told Sales. “There is still a pervasive double standard. We need to puzzle out why women have made more strides in the public arena than in the private arena.”

Well, we could puzzle it out, but I have one theory: This isn’t about “gender inequality” at all, but the fact that many young women, by and large, have been sold a bill of goods by modern “feminists”—a group that ultimately, with their reams of bad, bad advice, might not be very feminist at all. 

 



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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