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Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

Feminism and internet dating

26 replies

Lacuna · 17/03/2011 13:27

I'm a feminist, and proud to be one. I've also been a single parent for the last 7 years since my marriage ended. I like - in fact, love - many many aspects of being on my own, but equally I'm not sure I particularly want this status quo to remain forever. I know I can be on my own, I know I'm actually great on my own! In the years since I left my xh, I've built a new life and a fab, fulfilling career. But I also rather like the idea of a loving partnership, too.

My work is very women-centred; pretty much the only men I meet through it are married to my clients! Since I'm in my late-30s, most of my friends are also partnered-up. So, I've been toying with the idea of online dating. I like the idea of meeting new people and going out on dates, seeing if anyone floats my boat etc. In one way it seems quite a powerful thing to do - it puts women in the driving seat a bit more. But I also worry that this is an inherently anti-feminist idea - the whole thing of putting pictures of yourself on the internet to be judged by men and 'liked' or 'disliked' just seems really icky to me - equally I'm fairly well aware that a profile with no photos isn't going to work! Some sites have 'most popular members' and they're all pouting 20-somethings... I don't know that I really want to subject myself to this sort of beauty-contest scrutiny! But maybe I'm overthinking it and I should just get on there and have a laugh? It's not as if I'll be putting cleavage shots up there...

What do you think? Any feminists out there who went down the online dating route? Or is it just a nightmare and a complete no-no? Should I just stick to my crochet and Sarah Lund obsession? Grin

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tinierclanger · 17/03/2011 13:32

I'm a feminist and I don't see any issue with it. It doesn't have to be treated like a competition. I met Dh via online dating - just choose your site wisely!

vezzie · 17/03/2011 13:37

There are good sites and bad sites. the good ones have nice people on them and may turn out to be people who already know people you know - people just like you. Sometimes you are just short-circuiting a social process that would eventually have happened anyway. Why not take advantage of technology to do this?
I went on once and invented a fake persona as well as a real one. This was useful because sometimes my two selves received identical messages - you can obviously discount someone who is sending identical messages to all the presentable women on the site. But on the other hand, you would probably have quickly learnt he wasn't someone you wanted to be involved with anyway.
Personally I am pro the whole idea because I think it is good to widen the pool of people you choose from and this makes you less likely to settle for someone who just happens to be around. I am sad when I see women do this and I think this situation lies behind a lot of the threads on here that start "he isn't perfect and I knew this when I married him" and it turns out he is a selfish entitled eejit and the woman wanted children and didn't really know anyone else to go out with. In the long term, dating sites will mean that men like that get left on the shelf. I hope.

Lacuna · 17/03/2011 13:42

Ooooh which site, clanger? I was thinking of Guardian Soulmates as I'm assuming (possibly wrongly!) that it might have a higher proportion of more 'enlightened' blokes!

I don't think that I'd treat it like a competition, more that the whole thing of being judged on your photo etc is rather off-putting...

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ullainga · 17/03/2011 13:42

I'm a feminist, I met my DH on an internet dating site. (Of course neither of us had any pouting naked shots there).

You're overthinking it, it's just another way to meet people, especially people you probably would never meet otherwise - we were even living in different countries. And you would be judged and "liked" even if you met someone in a bar or basket-weaving course, not much difference there.

Lacuna · 17/03/2011 13:44

Yeah, I do tend to overthink these things! I agree ullainga, that we get judged anyway but online it seems a bit clinical, iyswim?

Like the idea of the double persona, vezzie Grin

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ullainga · 17/03/2011 13:51

oh of course I understand. and if you haven't done this before, you will be fuming soon over all those men who just check your photo and then send you some really "thoughtful" emails like "your [sic] hot, do you have a webcam?". Be warned :o

Lacuna · 17/03/2011 14:04

Mmmm, look forward to those! OK, so what sites would you recommend - or avoid?

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ullainga · 17/03/2011 14:11

I used meetic - well, I'm happy with the outcome and it's a big one, lots of choice. But of course it means a lot of erm..interesting people there as well. I've heard good things about , no personal experience though.

sethstarkaddersmackerel · 17/03/2011 15:13

find one of the sites where there is lots of scope for verbal type information rather than just photos.

when I met dh it was which I think still exists.

my particular bugbear was the men who were aged 40-50 and looking for someone aged 20-35. Creeps.

FisticuffsBartholomew · 17/03/2011 16:45

The answer to that one Seth, is Grin

Upload a photo of something other than yourself - a flower, a book etc., which means your profile will show up in a search. If your profile is witty, amusing, interesting, then interesting men will contact you anyway. Those who are only interestd in what you look like, will a) lose out and b) are not what you want anyway.

tinierclanger · 17/03/2011 17:33

I tend to recommend Guardian Soulmates, assuming you're a woolly liberal Wink

StayFrosty · 17/03/2011 17:41

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

msrisotto · 17/03/2011 17:44

I met my fiance through mysinglefriend (whilst on a free trial! Bargain :)).

Would you message someone who didn't put up a picture? If not, put your picture up, if yes, maybe don't. Doubt you'd get many messages though as I think people like to be able to see who they're talking to to some extent!

Don't write everything about yourself in your profile, you'll need something to chat about in your first few emails.

msrisotto · 17/03/2011 17:47

Sorry, that wasn't at all a feminist contribution.

I hate meat markets and dating sites, like bars and clubs feel like meat markets but I am not into pubs and bars etc so if I met someone at one of those places, it would feel false as I don't even like going to those places. I didn't want to meet someone who did like pubbing and clubbing IYSWIM. I see what you mean about being judged but I think that happens anywhere really.

Lacuna · 17/03/2011 17:54

Non-feminist contributions welcome, msrisotto!

I probably would message someone without a photo, if their profile was fantastic... but (massive generalisation coming up) I think men are less likely to do the same. And it's probably fair enough anyway. Attraction is important, after all.

I'll have a look at the ivorytowers one - had never heard of it before. And the good old Grauniad... Grin @ 'better class of perv'

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tinierclanger · 17/03/2011 17:57

Will you post updates? I love vicarious Internet dating. We can perform an ongoing feminist analysis as an excuse :)

Lacuna · 17/03/2011 18:02

No problem, clanger - it will all be in the name of furthering the discourse, obviously Grin

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TeiTetua · 18/03/2011 14:13

I met my partner through an Internet dating site. It no longer exists, but it was called aimed at people who enjoy the outdoors. Like that "Muddymatches" place! It was purely text-based with no profile pictures to agonize over.

Not quite as extreme as posting a picture of a non-human object, you could put up a picture that shows very little, more or less a silhouette. Then rely on your ability to express yourself wittily and to the point (honed at Mumsnet) to do the real work.

As with an ad for hiring somebody, "If the advertisement is written correctly, there will be only one response, and that one will be the right one."

SpringchickenGoldBrass · 22/03/2011 23:21

I don't think it's antifeminist to try online dating (unless you are the sort of extreme separatist who regards heterosexuality as being a traitor to the feminist cause). As to the photo thing, Tetetua has some good advice and after all, when you are looking at pictures of men on such a sight, you're going to look at some and go and decide not to message them, so it's not entirely unreasonable of people to look at pictures.

ElephantsAndMiasmas · 23/03/2011 14:51

Ooh how exciting. I have thought about doing this, but too lazy on the whole, and also having scanned through these sites I find them a bit...weird. I mean, all those smiling men just waiting for approval, it's kind of like a cross between a mugshot gallery and the dog rehoming centre.

Thinking about it what I find strange about it is that it's so easy to criticise people, or rule them in or out based on really shallow things - bad spelling for instance, or them wearing an ugly shirt in the photo - when many of the people I love are dyslexic, and clothing can be removed replaced. It's all about the photo on those sites, whereas in real life how someone talks, smiles, laughs etc is far more important IYSWIM.

YES to vicarious mildly feminist online dating though.

JessinAvalon · 24/03/2011 00:01

Just marking my place! I have very recently joined Ivory Towers and Guardian Soulmates, only on trials though. I will contribute again at a more reasonable time tomorrow.

DilysPrice · 24/03/2011 00:07

Just to add I know a couple of people who've had brilliant success from Guardian Soulmates, so would highly recommend them for Gyardian-reading types.


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Rohanda · 24/03/2011 00:17

Friend of mine, female, 'scored' a realy nice bloke on G/soulmates last year. Still 'Loved up' [bleugh emocion]. Just means you may be limited to blokey grauniad readers......which can be a prob. I suspect.

comixminx · 24/03/2011 00:51

I'm also weighing in for Guardian Soulmates, as that's how I met DP and how my brother met his DW! FWIW I didn't find the experience anti-feminist but I did find it a little bit capitalist in that it was a bit like going shopping, with a list of requirements... It made sense to me to see it as casting the net wider than you manage to in ordinary life, and simultaneously filtering out swathes of people where there's some fundamental incompatibility. That helped.

DilysPrice · 24/03/2011 08:07

Oh hi comixminx! In that case make that 3 people I know. I knew you'd had some good dates on Soulmates but for some reason thought you met your actual DP through work.

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