Tinder: the good, the bad and the vain

SO in my quest to enter the modern world of dating, I joined Tinder. Two things prompted this decision. My ex had met his fiance on Tinder and I had heard a few other stories from people about starting actual relationships via Tinder. I really didn’t believe this was going to happen for me, but I was curious as to how Tinder really worked. So I joined. I put up a profile with several headshots and a basic run-down of myself. I mentioned my height first, being a super-geek next and the fact that I am absolutely not looking for hook-ups. I went in with NO expectations.Then I began the great swipe-fest.

DISCLAIMER: My search parameters are set to men and women but there was a ratio of men to women of about 50-1 and many of the women’s profiles I saw were very vague about whether they were looking for a romantic meeting or a purely social one. So I only swiped-right a couple of women. There were SOME women who were clearly looking for hook-ups and I swiped-left on all of them. So all of the following is based on my experiences with men.

Here was my criteria:

SWIPE-LEFT

  • no profile information (its a hook-up)
  • no picture (what are you hiding? Its the modern age, you can upload a selfie in .005 seconds, no excuses)
    over 5’11” (purely a practical matter)
  • frowning (wtf dude)
  • REALLY bad lighting (C’MAN)
  • flashing “I’m a wannabe gangstah” signs (I bet you work for FedEx, amirite?)
  • posing with dead animals (no, I do not care that you caught a big fish or shot a deer)
  • posing with beautiful women (what are you looking through Tinder for? Is that supposed to make me feel competitive or something? Newsflash: most women will just deflate and feel inadequate. How would you like it if I put up a picture of me cuddling someone who looks like Vin Diesel? You’d think that’s what I expect to find, that’s what)
  • picture of dog in pic pool (I am not looking to date your dog no matter how much you love him)
  • pic with tiger (yes, there are a LOT of pictures with tigers. I do not know why but I have my suspicions)
  • pic with expensive car/watch/boat/champagne (I do not care about how rich you pretend to be or how rich you actually are)
  • pic in obvious foreign location (you travel a lot. that means you’re not around much. I do not have the luxury to travel a lot right now)
  • corporate headshot (seriously? you can’t take a damned selfie in your natural habitat? Oh wait, maybe that IS your natural habitat. Yuck)
  • pic with sport-team love (MAYBE you’ll find a woman who adores your sports team but honestly I don’t think that is a good basis for a relationship)
  • profile stressing travel (see “pic in foreign location”)
  • profile stressing outdoorsy/sportsing/workout stuff (I’m disabled and trying to get my health back up but for now I can’t keep up with someone who wants to hike the Appalachian trail)
  • profile marrying the word “woman” with any of the following: Classy, sexy, special, or real (I might think I am all of those things but I have no idea if you’d agree with me. That bar is too vaguely high for my tastes besides its so FUCKING CLICHE)

SWIPE-RIGHT

  • something in the picture that makes you look a little “different”
  • actual smiling (there’s a difference and its in the eyes and you can’t fake it)
  • mentioning being a father but NOT putting more than a photo-bombed headshot of your kid(s) in the pic pool (seeing full pics of your children makes me uneasy. we’re looking for a romance, and you’re splashing your kids’ pics on a very public place… that seems entirely too reckless)
  • talking about things you like AND things you do (we don’t all get to do the things we like and sometimes the things we do may seem boring to us but are interesting to someone else)
  • being frank about what you want in a RELATIONSHIP (not a person; people can be so many things at once its intimidating to read a laundry list of vague qualities you are hoping to find)
  • profile reads like you’re happy already but wanting to share your happy life (I don’t want to be with someone who hopes I will “complete” their miserably empty existence)
  • equally okay with doing things “out and about” or “stay home”

I swiped-right on about 50 profiles. Of those, I received messages from four people first. I also sent messages to about six people and about five of them replied. In every single case, the person I was chatting with, asked me to text them on their phone within about three sentences. Not being comfortable with sending my phone number to strangers I managed to demur.(I had a not-great experience doing that with someone from OkCupid. Even though we had talked for nearly a month and realized we weren’t dating material for each other, we decided we were cool with hanging out occasionally. Next thing you know, I’m blocking him for drunk texting suggestive things to me *sigh*) I suggested meeting up with two people. One ended up begging off later (he was here to attend a funeral so I really understood him changing his mind) the other never responded. So my actual contacts with people show that Tinder guys have the exact same problem as OkCupid guys: they don’t have the whatever-it-takes to actually follow through on a dating prospect even when its handed to them on a silver platter. Suffice it to say, I’m not interested in dating someone who can’t get it together to finish a conversation, respond to a request to meet up or even message back. And those were men I swiped-right who had swiped-right on me. So its not like they were repelled by my unsexiness or anything. They already decided they liked me (pic and/or profile) yet could not bring themselves to even say hello (or much beyond that) The one and only guy who managed a good fun conversation and said he wanted to meet was only in town for a few days for a funeral and we just couldn’t get our schedules together. He did text me later to apologize and ask if I was free later which sadly I was not. Ah well.

So all the men I swiped-left? Oy and Vey. Endless streams of “look how great I am” pictures and profiles. It became boring, in fact. And somewhat depressing really.

Overall, I have ascertained that Tinder is in fact pretty much what I expected. I wasn’t interested in using it previously because the notion of finding someone based on a picture was just rather… superficial. And that’s pretty much what Tinder is: superficial. The vast majority of what I’ve come across (and I’m talking about the ones who say they don’t want “just a hook-up”) are braggarts and swellheads. The vast majority of pictures I see are all about showing how superior the subject is in the arena of money, material possessions, adventure and/or looks. I can’t possibly speak for all or even most women but the subset of type of women I belong to and the fact is that we generally aren’t interested in snagging the Most Superior Male on the block. In some ways, that’s a turn-off, in fact. To be with someone who sets themselves up as superior, you feel as if you also must be a superior specimen and face it, most women do not go around feeling superior to other women. Hierarchy and competition is not a common thing among smart, lively women who take command of their sexuality. No matter how awesome we view ourselves (and most of us do) we do not do it relative to other women or by a standard of measurement that society sets out. So my only conclusion is that Tinder is a social meeting place for the most banal, average and superficial folk. Not to say there aren’t women that like, of course there are, but considering the qualities that most men say they are looking for, Tinder doesn’t offer much in the way of choice for women who actually have those qualities. Because women who are bright, lively and take command of their sexuality are generally looking for someone who is in a similar mindset, not someone who wastes energy bragging about their accoutrements of acquisition. The spending of money and the position of power within one’s career does not translate into personal qualities beyond the average, it just indicates that you have been more successful (which implies plenty of luck) than others. But success doesn’t indicate personal fortitude or work ethic or even smarts – just opportunity. Relationships aren’t successful because of opportunity. Matching up with someone isn’t a just a matter of chance, its a matter of matching someone’s projected qualities with your desires, now and for the future. That’s not something that I can judge based on what car you drive, how many fish you caught or how much you love your dog.

Goodbye Tinder. You’re definitely not for me.

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the things I have learned about men from OkCupid

THE FOLLOWING IS SATIRE AND SNARKY

1. Men clearly are more interested in finding “that special lady” than women are in finding “that special man” In fact usually women are trying to find “new friends”
2. Saying “just looking for new friends” translates into “SKEEVY MEN PLEASE MESSAGE ME”
3. Many women are actually a couple
4. Signing up for OkCupid is enough; there’s no real need to waste anyone’s time telling them about yourself
5. Further: don’t even bother filling out basic personal information. Just post a blurry photo and mention how you’re a laid-back uncomplicated man
6. Exchanging one or two messages is plenty. Move on before you get attached to them
7. There is no need to actually read an entire profile before messaging someone
8. Further: there is no need to actually write a personal message – make up a form introduction and send it out as soon as you see a new profile go up. Form letters are proper corporate etiquette so it will be super-impressive to make one for a dating site
9. Photos are for wusses. If you must put one up, either get your work pic or take a selfie right now. Don’t worry about the lighting or your expression. Sitting around scowling in the dark is what you do normally anyway
10. If someone seems interested in you, answering with any enthusiasm is foolish. Appear aloof and cool

(note: I am bisexual and so far have managed to make contact with exactly three women in the two years I’ve been on OkC. All I’ve learned so far is that women are really unlikely to actually use OkC for its intended purpose)

Pain Internal Chatter

Adult: See? I told you! This is real. This hurts. Stop pretending it isn’t going to happen.

Inner Child: But I don’ yike it. It make bad sad time to need pills.

Shitty Committee: We just want to say that clearly this happens because you’re a lazy weak shameless addict who lies about needing medicaiton just so she can get happy pills

Adult: Shitty Committee is overruled. They have things entirely backwards and besides since when is it a bad thing to want to be happy?

Body: Shitty Committee is going to be ignored today. We’ve been sending out pain alerts for a while now and getting no answer. Without alternate solutions, we will continue sending out messages until we are heard.

Shitty Committee: See? You are whining for pills like a damned addict

Body: WE WILL DROWN YOU OUT IF YOU DON”T SHUT UP

Adult: omg everyone please stop. there are things that have to be done

Inner Child: I don’ wanna do nuffin. hurts.

Adult: there is a child needing to be attended to today. Body will ratchet down a notch at least when child is present

Inner Child: Really?

Adult: Not talking about you. Go take a nap

Inner Child: Don’ wanna

Shitty Committee: You negotiate with Inner Child? Ugh, you are so lame and stupid. Can’t even take control when its called for.

Body: WE WILL SHOUT LOUDER THAN YOU

Adult: Shitty Committee WILL shut up or body will just send more urgent messages… you guys are locked in a vicious cycle. Somebody step away!

Inner Child: alcohol will shut them both up

Body: Message reprint: ad infinitum until resolution, that is all

Adult: Alcohol is a bad idea, we need to be alert and in charge today

Inner Child: but Whyyyyyyyy?

Adult: omg go have a candy bar. will that make you happy?

Inner Child: maybe… let’s try a couple and see

Body: No, it won’t make us happy at all

Adult: wasn’t talking to you.

Body: message reprint

Adult and Inner Child and Shitty Committee: YES WE KNOW

Body: okay okay everybody take a break

Adult: *sigh* finally!

Inner Child: Where’s my candy bar?

Shitty Commmittee: …can’t even get a candy bar? You’re so

Adult: OMG SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU

Body: break’s over.

Adult: i’m geting a candy bar and some chai

Inner Child: that’ll work

Shitty COmmmittee: *omph glomph nom nom*

Body: Flood of confidence complete.Shitty Commmittee silenced temporarily

Adult: thanks

Inner Child: I need another candy bar

Adult: no problem

Body: commencing reprint of messages

Adult: oy vey

Female Characters that are actual characters and not caricatures

Its a problem now, this “Strong Female Character”. Used to be, females in film (and most other media but let’s stick to film) existed only as romantic fodder or foil for the male hero. Thus the “damsel in distress”. She was two dimensional, (or worse) she was petty, she was not very bright but she was ravishingly beautiful. And I use the word “ravishingly” for a reason.

Over time, this became tiresome for people. Yes, women mostly spoke up but it can’t be ignored that men, when asked, by and large were pretty tired of having good movies ruined by vacuous caricatures that women played. If you can’t put a decent character in there, then don’t, seemed to be the overall agreement. Though most men weren’t exactly clamoring for SFC, they certainly weren’t against them. So, Hollywood responded.

It started small, with female leads not being weak – women knew self-defense. Women weren’t afraid to talk back to the hero when he was being a jerk and they proved they were smart. Women started kicking ass occasionally too. Male viewers were thrilled – women kicking butt is sexy, after all. But it wasn’t quite what was asked for. It felt like a bone being thrown – here; have some physical prowess, some brains and you don’t have to bow and scrape. But they were still weak, weak as characters.

But hold up a minute… I agree that the ratio of male to female characters is WAY off (come on, 50% of the world is female and we’re lucky to have ONE female co-lead in any story?) and I agree that the mainstream idea of “good female character” is really a comic-book version of a hero with some boobs attached and I absolutely agree that the vast majority of movies don’t pass The Bechdel Test (which isn’t the arbiter of what makes a good female character or good feminist-sympathetic movie, its just a good indicator of sad trends)
HOWEVER
I also think something else is going on… I think we are starting to have Fading Female Syndrome.
There are, in fact, many movies and more every year that rise above those problems in hollywood and break the usual expectations about female characters and feminism itself. But we can’t seem to remember them

Take Black Widow… from teh Avengers? Remember what she did? The really super cool thing she did that NOBODY else could do? You don’t remember? She was just a babe in a black vinyl suit who kicked a few butts and ran around showing her tits? Yeah, wasn’t that the same thing she did in the new Captain America movie? Yeah, run around in leather and show her tits?

Wrong.

In the Avengers, Black Widow was the only hero who managed to get Loki to reveal himself. She was the ONLY one who could mind-play better than he could. If you recall, his face was pretty shocked when he realized he’d been played too. And she DNGAF. Her neckline was no lower than Hawkeye’s. She was the person who negotiated half of what the Avengers did. She was the one Hawkeye talked to – without a shred of romance – when he came out of his brainwashing because he knew she had been through similar. As noted in the article, she was the one who closed the portal that let all the aliens in!
So in essence, Black Widow wasn’t just a SFC (although being a counter-spy, interrogator and heroine she had to be some kind of strong, they all were) she was interesting. She carried her own scenes. She added to the story. She contributed to the group dynamic. She was a real character, not a caricature. And that film probably doesn’t even pass the Bechdel test.

But let’s go back… other female characters who carry scenes, add to the story, move the plot and contribute to the group dynamic – women who are interesting characters. (and who may or may not pass the Bechdel Test)

Jane in Thor (1-3) (passes)
Giselle in Enchanted! (Passes)
Merida in Brave (passes)
Tiana in Princess and the Frog (passes)
Mulan in Mulan (doesn’t pass but given the plot that makes sense)
Maleficent (passes)
Snow White and the Huntsman (passes)
Rapunzel in Tangled (passes)
Mother Gothel in Tangled
Caroline Fry in Pitch Black (passes)
Alexa in Aliens Versus Predator (passes)
Vasquez in Aliens (passes)
Ripley in Alien (passes)
Susanna in Girl, Interrupted (passes)
“Haley” in Hard Candy (doesn’t pass – only two characters in teh whole movie- however, the main character does talk on the phone to another named female about other subjects. However it fails because that other female was never shown or heard in the movie so she is not a real character)
Juno in Juno (passes)

These women are real characters. They mean something to the movies they are in. Most of the are central characters but some of them aren’t even that. They are still important characters to the plot of the movie and if they were replaced by a man, the story would not really be the same.

These aren’t the only ones I’m sure but they are the ones I particularly remember. How many do you remember?

How many did you watch on screen, enjoy watching, in fact, because they were interesting, competent, real characters yet promptly glaze over in your memory later? I’ve heard different views on the quality of each of these films but I often wonder when I hear someone else talk about them, if the person saying so does not remember the main character like I do? Didn’t have the same visceral reaction to experiencing a real woman on-screen. A woman I could really get into, worship, love, hate, or otherwise be immersed in was up there onscreen for 2-3 hours? Did they see the same characters I did? Did it not mean anythign to them?

How often have you seen a character – especially NOT a main character – played by a female where the character wouldn’t have been the same, had the same impact, wouldn’t have nuanced the story if it were played by a man?

Going on the first linked essay.
If Trinity had been played by a man, and Neo were gay, how different, REALLY, would the Matrix storyline have been? Aside from teh whole socio-political fallout, let’s pretend society DNGAF about gay characters anymore and society even accepts that gays can fall in love and love each other just like straights do. Now does the story change?
No. Because Trinity, bless her wall-climbing heels, exists to fuel the main character to action. She provides an excuse for the villain and the strength of her character is how much she believes in the hero. If it weren’t for her belief, he wouldn’t be the man he becomes.
Nope. Wouldn’t be any different if Trinity were a man.
Because there’s no nuance to her. There’s no depth to her. She exists purely in service to the male characters entirely. And the Matrix franchise fails the Bechdel test too! Even though there’s more than two females!

So in addition to the Bechdel test, I propose the “real character test” (Or hey if it get popular, call it the smibbo test, that’d be awesome)
1. is there a female in the main cast who has unique lines?
2. does she get a scene to herself?
3. when she has a scene, does it NOT revolve around one of the main heroes? (Damsel in Distress, Fall of the ass-kicker, romancing the stone-heart etc)
4. if she were replaced by a male actor, would the story seem much different?

Now, after all that, the question I ask of you is… will you now remember that character? Or will her boobs blind you to the fact that there’s some excellent writing and acting going on right now? Will you look back and know the reason why you liked that movie was because the FEMALE CHARACTER made it what it was?

Because if the character wouldn’t be the same if it were played by a man, then why can’t you remember how very real she was?

Again with the Feminism

I was having a discussion about visual media from the 80s and 90s. I said I had gotten tired of watching “Boys’ stories”. My friend said the gender equivalent of “I don’t think in terms of race” . He asserts that it didn’t (doesn’t) matter to him who is the protagonist of the story, a hero is a hero. so I pointed out that its easy to feel that way when 90% of your heroes are easy to imagine yourself as because they are your gender with your stereotyped gender traits. Labyrinth was brought up. I love Labyrinth but its only barely a heroine’s tale. She still is sexualized and tempted by romance LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO TO GIRLS. The same goes for Legend. It was a lovely story but who was the hero? and what did the female do? I know this is hard to understand for most males but, it gets tiresome never being shown a heroine you can aspire to.

A good heroine story? The Rats of NIMH. Alice in Wonderland (any version). Totoro. Kiki. Actually any female from Miyazaki. Sorsha of Willow. Then when you go look at Sci-Fi there are a few good heroines there. Alien franchise. Terminator franchise.  Hardware. Those are stories of females with fortitude and determination and overcoming obstacles without romance or girly fluff getting in the way. They aren’t just pursued throughout the film (shrieking the whole way) and manage to somehow survive, they are proactive and they WIN.

But you notice something? They are highly fantastical females in highly fantastical settings. Any gritty, realistic, heroines set in modern times?  No, all the female protagonists in 80s and 90s movies were either romance-fodder or they were complete fantasy creations. Because if a woman is going to kick some ass (whether literally or figuratively) she can’t possibly have any connection to the reality WE live in, amirite?

Why is it SO very unrealistic that there would be a female heroine? Even if the story does not require physical altercation, they still couldn’t have a female hero. Why?

 

I do think things are changing, albeit slowly, but I do still tsk-tsk at the amount of fantasy inherent in the idea of a woman being the main character without a man to play off of romantically.  Heaven forfend we have a female coming-of-age story that doesn’t center around romance. The only one I recall was Old Enough.

Does it truly not matter what gender is used to tell the story? I think it does. For one, as I said, its part of having privilege that you don’t notice how prevalent your story is. Boys stories and girls stories are different. Whether its a construct of gender expectations imposed by society or whether its intrinsic doesn’t matter when you are telling the story. What matters is how the protagonist grapples with the expectations and how they emerge from teh conflict. Do boys and girls tackle problems differently? For the most part, yes, they do. But even that doens’t matter, because the important part is how the individual handles the situation. What gender you are does have an effect on your life, whether its in the outright rejection of societal expectations or whether its meek submission, the point is the expectations are different from each other. If I, as a female, want to reject the notion of giving birth and raising a child the pushback from taht choice will be very different in strength and scope than if a male wants to make the same rejection of familial expectations. If I, as a female, want to reject the notion of being able to beat someone up should I be accosted, I doubt that’d even be a story. It wouldn’t “sit” with most audiences. If I wanted to learn to sew and cook how would that be a different story than if a boy wanted to learn to sew and cook? Not even in the expectations of whether they should do so, but in how that will be played out. You know its true.

 

Just as ignoring race is a naive and privileged way of avoiding the dialogue that needs to happen, pretending that female representation in common media doesn’t matter is to ignore the very real experiential differences each gender goes through. And we are talking about the commonality along with the individual – which is what pop media gives us – not the aberrant. Nowadays, the story of a woman choosing to go to medical school could easily be exactly the same as a man choosing to go to medical school the different gendered experience no longer exists. That’s an accepted commonality among people. What’s left to tell is the individual story only.

But let’s not pretend everything in life is accepted as common to both genders. If you give a little boy a pink stuffed animal you will still incur the raised eyebrows of many segments of the population (including the boy himself) and that would be the least of the reactions.  Coming-of-age, heroism and fighting against a systemic problem are all experienced differently by males and females. This cannot be denied. And I believe this is precisely why we have changed so slowly in pop media when it comes to using female heroes.  It is a systemic symptom. Males comprise the majority of the providers of pop content and therefore are uninterested in producing female-influenced narratives.

At least we have good female characters finally.

But think about this simple fact: females do find interest in male-influenced narratives yet males are not interested in female-influenced narratives unless it is framed around a male’s experience or it is fantastical (even then).

What do we have to do to change that?

Letter To Me

Dear immune system,

I know I don’t treat you right and for that I’m so sorry. I think part of it is that I never really had much role modelling about how to treat my body and instead inherited a very strict work ethic and ego-destroying philosophy. On the whole, I’m okay with that (I get stuff done! I’m responsible! I’m humble! I mean, I think I’m humble, maybe I’m not?) but I do recognize, at the fresh young age of 47, that I am probably making things harder than they have to be. I have friends and I have seen them do strange things like stay in bed all day because they are sick. This used to baffle me because the only thing that would make me stay in bed all day is broken legs or being in a hospital bed (even then, I’d probably be getting up and trying to vacuum the floor or something)
Its the incessant work ethic in me. The incredible self-denial legacy my father handed down from his Buddhist belief system. Thanks dad, I learned that my own desires are no reason to do anything. Everything must be decided upon by how it affects everything outside of me, but MY desires? Inconsequential.
Now I know my dad doesn’t really believe that so strictly as I learned it but it’s kind of too late: his experiment to raise a self-denying child kind of worked. I have managed in all these years to learn to embrace and love my desires but for some reason, health just hasn’t really been included in that quest. Frankly, I think that’s your fault, immune system. Maybe if you didn’t work quite so well I’d be more inclined to give in to occasional lassez-faire.

Anyway, I’m getting away from the point here. I’m trying to explain, dear immune system, how sorry I am that I treat you so bad. Granted, we both know that I actually eat pretty good; I’m not a packaged food kind of person and I really don’t like fast food. I love treats but I don’t eat them every day. I triumphed over my eating disorder many years ago (and what a battle that was, right?) and I don’t fret over my weight too much. So we both know its not diet that’s the problem here. I’ve even been exercising again (taking a while to get back up to speed but we’ll get there)

Its the sleep and the work, isn’t it?

I know, I know, I hate to “rest”. I hate to stop doing things and go lie down. Hell I have a hard time watching the few TV shows and movies I like, don’t I? I can’t even play a game for more than an hour before I”m ready to jump up and go do something “more productive”

And now you’re compromised often because of some stupid disease I contracted in some mysterious way a decade ago. I’m real sorry about that. It was not my intention to saddle you with little parasites you are forever fending off. I know it sucks to be invaded and now live under military threat all the time but its already done, they aren’t leaving any time soon so we both might as well move past apologies and entrench ourselves for the long haul.

There’s just one little issue I really want to bring up here. You fight too much. There are times, dear immune system, when you aren’t really going to win this battle right away. There are times you need to wait for reinforcements. But you keep slogging away, at half-capacity. This is not cool: I wish you’d just either do your job or take a break. My problems with allowing myself some relaxation and recuperation aren’t going to get any better when you fight with dying breath. I can’t decide “its time to take some time off” and do the right honorable thing like “I’m sick, I need to take it easy” when you keep the sickness barely at bay. I mean, its obvious I’m “getting” sick but I never seem to ACTUALLY get sick here. Just a kind of almost-miserable sort-of sick. Never enough to justify being laid up but never quite leaving me alone either.

Please, just make up your mind: do you want to eradicate the invaders or do you want to wait for back up? Cuz I can tell you right now, either method would probably be more effective and less time-consuming than what you’re doing right now.

Whatever you want me to change, I’ll change, I swear. I am sworn to start really taking good care of all of us around here but its really hard to do that when you make me too miserable to do important helpful things (shopping and cooking, exercising) but too functional to just hang it all for a few days.

I’m not mad, lord knows you do an amazing job! but dang I am getting frustrated. Like I said, I see my friends do this amazing thing called “days off” and I’d really like to give that a try… I hear staying in bed is the way to do it right but the last time i ever did that I was so doped up from surgery I couldn’t even begin to remember what it was like. As I understand it, resting is something that is really beneficial when you get sick. I’d like to give it a try. I can’t do that if you won’t work with me here.

Let’s do this together, shall we?

Love,
Me