Earlier this week I saw a thread on Twitter from a guy telling the story of how he matched with a girl on Tinder, showed up to the date that she had organised, only to discover he was part of an elaborate “prank” in which 100 men were told they were actually there to participate in a competition; the winner of which would be allowed to date the girl in question.
Mmhmm. Turns out that’s a totally true story.
The news this morning was full of the “Tinder-Prank” orchestrated by a “narcissist” in Union Square.
The stunt happened in New York with the would-be-prize, Natasha Aponte, a self described actress, model and singer, ‘surprising’ all these men, who had shown up thinking they were having a one-on-one date with a girl (how naive of them to think this totally normal thing would happen).
Although some of the men left promptly (after realising they’d been well and truly had), others stayed… for as long as they were permitted at any rate.
It would seem Aponte didn’t do a thorough enough reading of each Tinder-profile before swiping right 100 times and organising her legion of dates and so decided instead to list off her criteria publicly. She proceeded to tell the crowd at large that they were free to leave if they did not meet her wants:
- No beer bellies
- No long beards
- No bald guys
- No khakis
- No Toms (“I don’t know why but I hate Toms”)
Those men with flat stomachs, minimal stubble, a full head of hair, a pair of jeans and trainers on that were allowed to stay, were then invited to start physically competing with running races and ‘tests of strength’.
She then told everyone under 5ft10 to leave and anyone looking for “just a hook-up” that they could leave too (honey those guys left houurrrssss ago anyway).
This stunt was pulled off with the help of Rob Bliss, the guy behind the infamous “cat calling” video of 2014 that was viewed more than 47 million times as it raised awareness for the realities of street harassment for women on a daily basis.
The “official video” of this stunt will be released tomorrow, no doubt portraying this as a social experiment highlighting the difficulties of modern dating for women in a Tinder obsessed world, but for now I am desperate to talk about the immediate reaction to this ‘prank’, not just from the men who fell for it, but from the world at large (and by that I of course mean, the echo chamber that is the internet).
Watching this clip on Good Morning America’s Twitter I wanted nothing more than to shove my fingers in my ears and make it stop, such was the level of cringe.
The obvious narcissism, painfully apparent if not, dare I say it, slightly admirable? was the thing that struck me first. I was absolutely dumbfounded by the extraordinary level of confidence that this woman must poses, the likes of which I truthfully did not think existed.
See, like most women, I lack self-belief. Not all the time, sometimes I see myself as the fantastic goddess that I am, but for the most part, I’m not revelling in my own fabulousness. I am ashamed to admit I do spend more time than I should wondering if my boyfriend (of five and a half years!!!) still finds me attractive and, if so, then why.
I’m even less thrilled to adit that I’ve asked him that very question more than once.
With that in mind, the idea of modern dating, any dating, for that matter, scares me half to death.
Tinder was, thankfully, invented after Alex and I got together and as a result, I am a total internet-dating virgin, not ashamed to tell you that I would be about ten million times too terrified to even think about using Tinder or anything similar.
The idea of asking a man, a woman, ANYBODY, to potentially spend the rest of their lives with me based on how I look in a picture and what pithy, endearing bio I have come up with (spoiler alert, I wouldn’t be able to come up with a bio even slightly pithy or endearing)… well I am a mess just thinking about it.
So the idea of shaking off this cloud of insecurity for long enough not just to match with 100 men on Tinder, but to then stand up on a stage and command the attention of all of them using pretty much exclusively my sexuality… well it’s baffling.
In the Good Morning America clip you hear from one guy, Misha, who left when he realised what was going on:
“I think a lot of people were probably ashamed to be there, so I think some people just quietly walked away… but it was a strangely obedient audience for the little bit of time I stayed…”
Shame is something I understand. Dating is hard enough as it is, and with it comes a lot of vulnerability. For me at least the idea of finding myself in a crowd full of people, when not two minutes earlier I had been ready (potentially, assuming I wasn’t there just for a shag) to lay my heart bare is ~mortifying~ to me.
As it no doubt would have been for at least a sizeable chunk of the men that showed up.
As for the obedience demonstrated? The fiery feminist in me would tell ya that these men were just so shocked at being bossed around by a woman they fell straight into submission.
The realist is having a bit of a giggle at the fact that this is the most absurd testament to the competitive nature of men that they’d all stick around to fight for a woman that they not only didn’t know, but one that made them look like massive dickheads.
If I am honest though, the thing that has upset me about this, because yes I am upset, is the male/female conversation that this stunt has elicited.
No doubt the point, as I am sure we will see in tomorrow’s ‘official video’, but even as a feminist I am hard-pushed to this this as ‘powerful’ or ‘meaningful’ or as anything other than shallow, nasty and just a bit unnecessary.
Rather than an influx of comments on this girl’s extraordinary BDE (big dick energy, keep up) and utterly enviable levels of confidence, there have been countless cries of imagine if this were the other way around and a guy had done this to 100 girls!!! which is 100000% fair enough because JUST IMAGINE if this were the other way around – ‘if all the fat women could leave now cause I ain’t about that thanks’.
We have to be really careful, in the internet age, particularly as women, that when it comes to proving points, we adhere to the: if we wouldn’t want it done to us, then why would we do it to anyone else rule.
This video is a direct contradiction of that. If a man had done anything of this nature to as little as TWO women it would be top story on the Daily Mail as we, the world, would beg and plead for men to please stop using women’s emotion for sport.
In the video, as well as giving specific physical criteria, she went on to cull Trump supporters (something that I actually think was pretty smart) before saying that anyone who had been dumped by their last partner should leave because “I completely trust her judgement.”
This is where I found myself getting particularly annoyed. Not only is this a ludicrous thing to say but it is opening this whole rhetoric that when it comes to dating, somehow it is men against women, or in this instance ALL WOMEN against this one man.
Of all the demands she made in her speech, I find this to be the most problematic.
At a time when mental health in men crucially needs to be talked about, this idea that she can say in such a blasé way that individual men who were dumped by one woman didn’t then deserve to be loved by any woman is properly cruel (and properly stupid).
I’m all for supporting the sisterhood, but let’s be careful here. I know plenty of woman who have let very good men go. I know plenty of women not deserving of the men that they’re with, or the ones they lost.
To imply that where dating is concerned, women should be trusted completely JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN is moronic, and will do feminism no favours as we fight for more recruits.
Whilst her confidence is probably to be applauded, this idea that a woman can make herself the ‘prize’, worthy of people fighting for her because, as a female, it is her RIGHT to demand what she wants from the world, regardless of how that affects other people is dangerous.
No one has that right. Wanting the best for yourself is great. Getting it at the expense of other people’s emotions… not so much.
Tinder doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, if anything dating on the internet is becoming more and more prevalent as it becomes safer, and so we need, as best we can (without of course pandering to the whims of lunatics), to work together to ensure that dating, courting, existing even, can be done happily and respectfully and fairly.
As far as I am concerned there was nothing respectful of fair about this prank.
Historically women have been wronged many, many times at the hands of men. Historically too, dating has been harder as a woman. Having never tried Tinder, I can’t comment on what it is like to date online as a woman vs what it is like for a man, but from an outsider’s point of view, I can plainly see that this ‘stunt’ has done no one any favours.