Rant: does Tinder empower women?

I constantly hear stories from my single friends about different dates they’ve had or new guys that they’re speaking to. This influx of romantic experiences is a direct result of the, um, mass penetration of mobile matchmaking app, Tinder.

Likened to the digital equivalent of brushing shoulders with someone at a bar, Tinder presents the user with an endless stream of potential partners. Physical appearance is the first impression upon which the user can choose to swipe right (to register their interest) or swipe left (to keep on walking.)

Tinder claims to empower its users to create new connections that otherwise might never have been possible. This is certainly true, as almost all Tinderers can account for an unlikely new connection made via the service but whether that’s empowering is another question. Christina (name changed), a Tinder advocate, says the dating app has given her a newfound confidence. Her instant access to potential suitors and the steady flow of male attention makes her feel more desired, while conversations with multiple men offer a quick antidote to feelings of loneliness.

For Christina – and countless other women – Tinder has created an exciting dating scene, where women can meet new people and develop their social and sexual prowess. On Tinder, Christina feels more in control of who she meets and when she meets them.

The ease of arranging a new date is a breath of fresh air in comparison to pre-Tinder times. Back then it seemed the only men who approached you were the ones you wanted to avoid. And compared to their male counterparts, it’s more likely for Tinderellas of all shapes, sizes or narcissistic selfies to get a right swipe, giving women a rare advantage (and nice ego boost).

Yet as enabling as Tinder has proven to be for women, once you’re matched it’s pretty much the same complicated game of love or lust as it has always been. A slew of romantic ventures that hit a dead end are inevitably disheartening. Multiple shallow ‘connections’ are more exhausting than solitude. Often, users go through bouts of deleting their account to take a longed-for sabbatical from Tinder merry-go-round.

While most people say they use Tinder for fun, a large number of women eventually want those good times to transpire into something more lasting. Therein lies the conundrum. Tinder allows for immediate, minimal fuss, romantic scope-out or straight-up sex, but is this what women actually want? Often the “root and boot” play leaves women feeling used and ill-treated. That’s not to say that some women aren’t happy to keep things casual, but that’s my point. If you’re a woman who wants the same things as the men (or women or couples) you match with, there’s no doubt that dating apps can be empowering. But so long as women and men have different agendas around sex and love, Tinder will be just another uneven playing field. One which women will often limp away from feeling battered and bruised.

Words by Justine Estigoy