Home Dating apps How Internet Dating Empowers Women and LGBTIQA * People

How Internet Dating Empowers Women and LGBTIQA * People

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If you’re over 40, you’ll probably remember when online dating was seen as something only “desperate” people did. Now it’s as popular as toilet paper with that first mention of “containment.”

Today, says marriage officiant, Yvonne Adele, 70 percent of the couples she marries have met online.

This month, on the Australian Academy of Social Sciences’ ‘Seriously Social’ podcast, I asked experts if online dating and the platforms we use to do so are changing the balance of power. in romantic relationships.

There is no denying that the online dating scene still has a reputation for spawning toxic behaviors like racism, ageism, sexism, misogyny and harassment. Almost every woman who has tried online dating has a scary story to tell.

But there is another side to this coin, and it is positive. Something changes for women and some LGBTI + people when they meet men online, rather than in a pub or nightclub.

On dating apps, women can take back some of the power. According to Melanie, a Sydney-based date who spoke to me for the podcast, she went from questioning her motto and attractiveness as a potential mate to suddenly becoming the one who chooses once she does. she started using dating apps. (This is not always the case in real life, especially for older women who have been acculturated to “wait to be asked.”)

Chris Beasley is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Politics and International Relations, with an Interest in Gender and Sexuality, at the University of Adelaide. Chris is also a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

Traditionally, the pace of dating has always been controlled – or steamed – by men. But looking for their new book, Internet Dating: Intimacy and Social ChangeChris and co-author Mary Holmes have found that women feel more secure when technology and a degree of anonymity allow them to “take the reins” and control the speed of the relationship.

Chris and Mary were also delighted to see that some older women are breaking stereotypes and using internet dating for casual sex. Chris explains:

“Freed from the risks of pregnancy, maybe, or their social environment telling them not to do this… older women have much more casual sex than they’ve probably ever had before. Internet dating gives them this opportunity.

LGBTIQ people have also found online dating stimulating. Online, there is usually no doubt about who will welcome a lead from a same-sex or trans or non-binary partner and who will not. And, if you misread the signals, it’s much less dangerous than in real life.

This takes a lot of anxiety away from this first approach. For Bee *, a bisexual, finding love in the “real world” was “like looking for a needle in a haystack”. But, after a few months online, she met his future wife.

According to Chris, people with physical disabilities also benefit from the convenience of online dating. They can meet a lot of people in a wide geographic area, without the physical barriers (and now the health issues) that come with pub crawling.

For those who feel anxious or uncomfortable in social situations, checking potential partners online can make dating a lot less stressful.

She also suggests that online dating tends to lead to intimacy faster than old school dating. But, it’s not just physical intimacy that happens faster. Online, you can ask the kind of interrogative questions about interests, attitudes, values ​​and expectations, or even sexual preferences, that may seem inappropriate if you’ve just met someone for the first time in a pub. And, if you don’t like the replies, it’s safe to end the conversation without worrying about being hassled or followed.

Of course, “online” dating is only a preliminary to meeting in “real life”. But, it gives women a wider range of applicants and a better screening process. Hopefully changing what happens upstream has the potential to overcome some of the issues women face during and after this first face-to-face meeting.

While online dating makes women feel more empowered, Chris believes it also makes men think more carefully about how they present themselves online.

“On dating apps, the most common language men use to describe themselves is ‘easy going,’ says Chris. “I think it’s kind of abbreviated language to say, ‘I know I just can’t do what I want to. “”

As dating apps gain popularity, specialist apps have entered the market. Bumble, for example, was created for the express purpose of empowering women.

Features like photo verification have been added to ensure women are talking to a real person whose identity has been verified. Apps like Bumble and Hinge are designed to encourage conversation rather than presentation, also, arguably, a safety feature.

Wedding officiant Yvonne Adele says some of the couples she married spoke for months before meeting in person.

Lucille McCart is the Asia Pacific Communications Director for Bumble. She says: “I believe that a platform will never be the only answer to solving the gender issues that prevail in most Western societies and in many other societies as well. But, I think the original Bumble philosophy that still stands today is that if you can encourage a woman to take the first step on a dating app, it’s a very small experience, but it’s an empowering experience. .

Lucille believes that once women find their confidence and power in dating, it can translate into other areas of their lives. But she sees gender equality in dating as something that serves all genders.

“It’s not about making the world a better place for women,” says Lucille. “It’s about making the world a better place for everyone and helping all people try to find healthier, more equal relationships. “

Illustrations: Created by Anna Dennis for the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Used with permission.

Written with Kim Lester and Sue White

HerCanberra is proud to support BroadAgenda, Australia’s leading gender equality research-based media platform based at the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation.

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