OK Cucumber is an illustrated series of greetings and pickup lines from popular online dating sites. It is presented as a graphic survey to reflect on the experience of online dating as a racialized subject, using drawing as both a tool of contemplation and an embodied response. Amy was sexually assaulted three years ago, and we matched on Tinder in June.
It started when Amy, who lives in Yellowknife, agreed to go for Sexual harassment online dating with a man named Paul. When Paul finally stopped the car, Amy refused to get out, sensing something was horribly wrong.
Paul tried to pull her out of the car. Then, he forced himself on top of her, kissing her and pulling at her clothes. Amy fought back, screaming at him to stop touching her and take her home. Amy got out of the truck, and Paul drove away, leaving her stranded and alone on the trail at night.
Amy met Paul on the popular online dating site Plenty of Fish. Online dating websites and the mobile apps that followed have made dating and hook-ups more convenient than ever. But conversations have emerged about how toxic these spaces can become for women and marginalized people. The technology makes it easy to forge meaningful connections with people—and to mistreat them. Using accounts on different dating apps and swiping on users across the country, I searched for people who wanted to share their experiences with sexual harassment.
But sexual harassment and assault are social problems—and a culture shift is required if things are ever going to get better. Online dating websites like Plenty of Fish and OKCupid have been around since the early s, initially functioning as classified ads for potential mates. The subsequent Sexual harassment online dating of Tinder in revolutionized the dating scene by turning romance into a game: When there are too few romantic options for people in real life, it becomes difficult to find a partner having to lower your standards.
Tinder took to Twitter to Sexual harassment online dating Sales of unfair reporting. Identifying harassment, however, is complicated by the fact that many users overtly seek out sexual experiences.
Divergent user preferences—for hook-ups, for long-term relationships, for one-night stands—can result in unpleasant interactions when expectations collide. Anecdotal evidence seems to support these findings.
Bridget, who goes to college in P. When Bianca, from Outaouais, The fact that some men treat women like sex objects is not exactly groundbreaking. But the internet can provide a separation from Sexual harassment online dating that emboldens users to say things they would never even consider in person. Most users can brush off an offensive message or two, but faced with relentless or vindictive advances, the impact can be severe.
Repeated unpleasant interactions can also provoke defensive changes in behaviour. After numerous men sent one woman I spoke to lewd comments about her breasts, she self-consciously cropped the pictures on her Tinder profile so that she was only visible from the neck up.
Victim-blaming is a common facet of harassment. Fed up with what she perceived to be toxic user culture on Tinder—and in tandem with a sexual harassment lawsuit she launched against the company—co-founder Whitney Wolfe left the app to forge her own path.
Her brainchild, Bumble, is a self-proclaimed feminist dating app: It gives women the exclusive ability start conversations with their matches. Alongside other policies and campaigns, the company has also proven impressively willing to Sexual harassment online dating shame harassers on their platform.
The efforts of apps like Bumble recognize something important: Though dating apps can facilitate harassment, they can also help stop it. Because men on Bumble wait for women to make the first move, they might think the women who do so are looking explicitly for sexual encounters—which is why Lena believes some men have been aggressively forward once she reached out to say hi. When users log onto dating apps, they do so without shedding their pre-existing conceptions about how the world works.
Bianca told me that her negative reactions to unsolicited advances have sometimes caused men to blame her for their own bad behaviour. What do you expect? The wonderful thing about apps like Grindr, Adshade points out, is that they can help marginalized people connect with one another in a way that may not be possible in real life.
Simultaneously, marginalized people can find themselves particularly vulnerable targets for online perpetrators. Users on dating apps can direct bigotry toward queer, racialized, or disabled people by pestering them with offensive comments or questions, ultimately making the platforms more difficult to navigate for people who experience multiple forms of oppression.
One common form of bigotry is fetishization: Four women who identify as lesbian or bisexual told me about being constantly pressured for threesomes by both men and women on dating apps. Transgender and non-binary people are also frequently sexualized and targeted with intrusive lines of questioning.
Much of the harassment marginalized people experience online mirrors what they go through in real life. Some users I spoke to felt they were regarded as inferior, which in some cases has led to them feeling excluded from the dating scene altogether.
But when people mistake her as white, they treat her with much more respect. Kristen, who lives in Brampton, Ont. On dating apps, she gets intrusive questions, like whether she uses a wheelchair or needs a hip replacement; in real life, people just stare. Sexual harassment online dating dating apps already struggle to control behaviour on their platforms, it can be virtually impossible "Sexual harassment online dating" intervene when users go offline.
Amy is far from the only person I spoke with who experienced or was threatened with assault. Though Joe filed a report with the police, he ultimately decided not to press charges. Inthe Vancouver Police Department VPD launched a public safety campaign focused on online dating and alerting the public of ways to avoid dangerous situations.
Adshade has publicly criticized that campaign, as many of the situations the VPD highlighted—including a woman who met her romantic partner online and later found out he had HIV—could just as easily occur when people meet in person.
A week after I spoke with one of my sources, she emailed me out of the blue. After one of her matches sexually assaulted her, she finally decided to delete Tinder. Could Plenty of Fish really have prevented someone like Paul from assaulting Amy? This is not to suggest that apps are relieved of all responsibility toward their users.
Certainly, facets of online dating can aggravate existing risks. Elements of anonymity on certain apps make it difficult to hold users accountable for their terrible actions. Adshade points out that, unlike Plenty of Fish and OKCupid, apps like Tinder and Bumble require users to sign up with Facebook, adding an element of verification that promotes user safety. The other side that coin is that an easily identifiable Facebook profile or a synchronized Instagram account can put users at risk of being tracked down.
After Rose, who lives in Toronto, posted a selfie to her Instagram story, one of her Tinder matches figured out where she worked, showed up and watched her until she got security involved.