Tinder’s #menprovement campaign is looking like some cheap misandric bullshit.

Tinder has launched a new advertising/social awareness campaign, they’re calling #menprovement.

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The premise is that there a lot of douchebags on Tinder, and so there’s a scientifically themed effort to improve the quality of men on Tinder.

It features videos of women scientists like these:

And charts like these:

Now obviously this is intended to be a fairly lighthearted kind of campaign – but humour like this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The reason that this campaign is considered a good idea, is because there is genuine sentiment that there are too many douchey men on Tinder.

A starting point – let’s acknowledge the existence of douchey men and abuse women face on the internet.

I want to be clear. I acknowledge that women on the internet, and on dating apps like Tinder, likely face a lot of verbal/written abuse in the face of rejection, sleazy messages, unsolicited dick pics etc.

I’m generally of the opinion that men and women have opposite problems on online dating – where women suffer through unwanted attention – men suffer from a vacuum of attention, and loneliness.

If we consider the wider issue of rape culture / consent culture – it’s very reasonable to consider conducting social campaigns aimed at changing the way people behave, and in this case, the way men behave in the context of a dating app.

So getting that out of the way – I acknowledge that there’s a problem of douchey behaviour from men on dating apps like Tinder, and it would be a good thing to improve on that.

Tinder’s campaign does not address actual douchey behaviour

This image is probably the egregious example:

Wanting a partner who has a job and is nice to your mother? Great – that’s just the kind of thing we want to encourage.

Being six feet tall? – Is that really the problem with Tinder? That there’s not enough tall men? Are short men guilty of being douchebags?

I’m not going to pretend that we shouldn’t have physical qualities that we find attractive, and I’m not offended by the proposition that many women prefer a man taller than them.

The issue I have with this image is the gross insensitivity it demonstrates.

For example, where I think the fat acceptance movement is dangerous; I think obesity should be treated as a health condition, not an acceptable lifestyle, I think all people should be treated with respect – and not be the subject of cruel jokes.

So while I think it’s ok for someone to have a preference for slim women for example – I don’t think it’s ok to make fat jokes. The same goes for short men – show some sensitivity.

Let’s examine some qualities of what Tinder considers douches

 

  • A self employed CEO
  • Has a bluetooth
  • Tips minimum
  • Late because charging vape
  • Is into fitness, and you should be too
  • Posts gym sessions on instagram
  • ‘This body wasn’t built for monogamy’
  • Eggplant emojis as opener
  • Come hungry as closer

Of this list, I’d say tipping minimum is perhaps the only actual douche behavior, and eggplant emoji, depending on whether you’re into that kind of thing.

Here’s where Tinder needs to get it straight:

There’s nothing wrong with being into the gym, being non-monogamous, or owning your own business. 

It’s straight up misandric bullshit to try shame men for possessing these qualities – things that they’re probably quite proud of.

If I’m to hazard a guess here – that these stereotypes are seen as acceptable targets – because they’re ‘successful men’ – and can therefore take take being taken down a notch.

However – what Tinder needs to realise – is that it’s not just men fitting the stereotype, or men who water rolls of the duck’s back of,  that sees these videos.

I think we need to consider men in the context of having higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of computer and video game addiction. Within that context – we shouldn’t be trying to tear men’s sense of self esteem and value away from them. If men get that from owning their own business, or working out – that that should be encouraged, not criticised for being douchey.

What it suggests to me – is that Tinder’s willingness to go along with this campaign – means that they don’t value men’s feelings nearly as highly as women’s. That again reinforces the social norm of male disposability.

Douchey behaviour that Tinder could have used.

The thing is – this could have been quite an interesting and positive campaign – if Tinder had seeked to address actual toxic or unappealing behaviour.

Here’s a quick list, if they need inspiration:

  • Boring first messages, ‘Sup’, ‘How are you’ guy.
  • Main hobbies are playing video games and trolling on the internet, and nothing outside of that guy.
  • Ten days unwashed dishes guy.
  • Responds with abuse at rejection guy.
  • Only wants to talk about you guy.
  • Only wants to talk about him guy.
  • Never suggests going on a date guy.
  • Insists on a first date at your place guy.
  • Is cheating on his girlfriend guy.
  • Selfish lover guy.

How women can foster non-douchey behaviour Tinder

Let’s get this ball rolling.

  • Send the first message. Set the frame for the conversation. Want flirty banter? Want a challenging argument? Want a standard get to know each other conversation? Your message determines that.
  • Unmatch severe douches. Train men with negative reinforcement.
  • Call out mild douchey behaviour. See if there’s a correction of behaviour.
  • Respond to desired behaviour with positive reinforcement. Personally, I like the 😍 emoji

God. This must be what being a Cosmopoliton writer must feel like.

‘But it’s just a joke David, stop taking it so seriously’.

Jokes are never just jokes. Jokes are generally funny because they have a kernel of truth (or what the joke teller purports to be the truth).

Just like how telling racist jokes creates a hostile environment for black people, or telling sexist jokes creates a hostile environment for women  – these guys of jokes create an hostile environment for men.

Now – I would suggest that there’s a brand of feminism that is ok with this – men need to be taken down a notch because either that’s justice, or because that makes it easier for women to achieve equality. I don’t want to get get into this line of argument here – but I would make two points – that this is likely to be not effective, it’s just likely to cause division between men and women, and that this philosophy directly contradicts the argument that ‘feminism is for the interests of both men and women’.

Reactions from the internet

The reactions on their Twitter and Facebook threads has been almost entirely negative – mostly pointing out that it’s sexist and douchey in itself. There’s also a lot of comments from men saying how they don’t get matches – would would seem to confirm comment I made in the first section.

This does take us to a point of personal conflict for me. While I clearly agree with the commenters in this instance – in other gendered hot topics on the internet – there is often a reaction of faux victimisation from what can be fairly considered alt-right types. (I’m struggling to think of examples here right now though – maybe revisit this later).

Bottom Line

A pretty gross campaign.

Not the right way to go about creating a society of confident, respectful men, at all.

I’m curious to hear from my feminist friends about this. While Tinder has faced a bit of criticism on social media about this – the feminist community as a whole are quite quiet about it. There’s definitely no social media storm about it – which does suggest that people simply don’t care about this kind of toxic gender dynamic.

There is though – the chance that this is a long running deeper social critique – that explores things like gender norms around height attraction, and all will be revealed in time. If I was taking a bet, I’d bet against that happening though.

Should I share my posts on reddit?

I have a conflicted relationship with reddit.

My current most immediate thoughts of reddit is that it’s a toxic, addictive and mostly unhealthy internet subculture/habit.

But, there are some really cool subreddits – /r/highqualitygifs is perhaps my favourite, producing such beauties as this:

I’ve also written before about /r/wholesomememes.

 

There’s other cool creative subreddits like /r/photoshopbattles or /r/writingprompts.

There’s good quality image subreddits like /r/historyporn.

Reddit is also a good first place for location based information, eg. /r/newzealand.

 

I have just created a new reddit account – where I actively filter a lot of the popular subreddits – /r/the_donald, /r/politics, etc.

And maybe I shouldn’t be browsing reddit at all – but I have different question.

 

It would be good for the visibility of my blog and other projects to be posting links to sites like reddit. There are plenty of subreddits where my posts would be relevant. /r/theoryofreddit perhaps.

However, I feel conflicted because do I really want my content circulating amongst a toxic culture?

Self promotion seems icky somehow. Lets consider the approach that we’re all really vying for is people’s attention. You could suggest that to improve the quality (the signal!) of what people are consuming, would be a good thing, and so that sharing your material would be a good thing.

 

Stop sharing your outrage about Brian Tamaki.

It started like this – a tweet by New Zealand journalist appears on my Twitter newsfeed:

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If you don’t know, Brian Tamaki is a relatively fundamentalist preacher in New Zealand who follows the ‘megachurch’ model of collecting donations from his parishioners and living a lavish style.

From context, we can see that he’s said something offensive, and here we go we’ve got a reaction going from people outraged by it.

Let’s look at Brian Tamiki’s twitter:

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Who does he sound like? Rich, has a large following,  says hateful things, believes there’s a media conspiracy against him?

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And it looks like he’s a fan too!

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I would argue that a huge part of Donald Trump’s success was that he would say controversial things – which would then get air time, and he grew in popularity.

I would say the best way to combat this kind of hate speech is to not give it the air of attention. 

Let’s think about it – what’s actually wrong with what Brian Tamaki, or Donald Trump said? It disrespects people? It encourages hate?

Ultimately it comes down to words hurt. 

If that’s the case – then repeating those words further perpetuates the hurt. It reminds me of a joke – where a man walks in to a bar holding some dog shit and says ‘Look what I almost stepped in!’.

What seems to happen is that some hateful person says some hateful thing – people see that – get outraged, and repeat the hateful thing to express their opposition to it – more people see it and they become outraged!

This twitter flurry does highlight the pervasive spread of hate though:

Step 1. Someone initially says something hateful (hate).
Step 2. People respond with outrage. (outrage).
Step 3. People like myself respond with outrage to the outrage. (meta-outrage).
Step 4. No doubt there’s somebody out there annoyed that I’m complaining about this. (hyper-meta-outrage).

And in the end we’re all feeling agitated. Ffs.

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Why you shouldn’t take Facebook unfriending too seriously.

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Facebook ‘Friend’ status is a funny thing. Because it’s so black and white – either you have friend status, or you don’t, it can’t accurately reflect the nuances of a relationship between two people.

For example, ‘I’m a little annoyed at Suzy, I think I’ll spend less time with her for while’ can’t be accurately captured by a simple Friends/Not-Friends on Facebook.

On the face of it, moving from Friends, to Not-Friends on Facebook (ie. Unfriending someone) – can be taken to mean ‘I don’t want to be [real life] friends with you at all’, or otherwise cause great offense.

I argue this response draws too much meaning from what’s a very limited interaction on social media.

But the fear of causing offense does exist, and I think it can prevent people from unfriending people they are otherwise sick of, for fear of permanently burning a bridge.

I think it’s good to take a break from people on social media, for one’s own mental health – and that shouldn’t cause great offense.

The rise of social media means that in our social interactions have more, very clear, data points, Friend status on Facebook, whether they like your posts on Instagram, how soon they reply to your messages, etc. We use these additional data points to assess the feelings people have for each other. Perhaps we can make the argument that social relationships are simply more complex and nuanced than they used to be, or if not more nuanced, then at least more explicitly nuanced.

Someone unfriending you does suggest that they’ve made a conscious decision to do so – so it is an insight into something they’re thinking – and perhaps it’s just one social signal we can use to calibrate our social interactions. An unfriend could be an as simple signal as ‘We haven’t talked in a while, so next time we do talk, we’ll have to make an effort if we want to be friends.’.

I would encourage unfriending – in line with my philosophy of quit-what’s-bothering-you  – unfriending actually allows us to be a bit more communicative about our relationships, so long as an unfriend isn’t taken to mean ‘I don’t want to have anything do with you ever.’.