Are we in the midst of a dating apocalypse?
Romance is in its death throes. In the future all hetreosexual fornication will be of the ‘hit it and quit it’ variety. We will not fall in love. We will not respect each other. We will simply stick it in and slip out unnoticed before the alarm goes off in the morning.
At least, that’s what Nancy Jo Sales is suggesting in her long-form piece for Vanity Fair’s September issue Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse.
In the opening paragraphs, we are introduced to three mid-twenties Manhattanite men with well paying jobs, and attitudes towards women that border on pathological. One man, Alex, explains that he loves Tinder for its “large sample sizes”. The location based dating app gives him access to hundreds of women in a night, which is important because “Guys view everything as a competition… Who’s slept with the best, hottest girls?”
Not only is it a competition – Alex is winning. He’s slept with five girls in eight days, and his friends can remember these women’s names better than he can.
There’s a word for men like Alex, we learn. Economically aspirant party guys whose ability to see women as humans extends only to the exchange of bodily fluids are called ‘fuckboys’.
Fuckboys have always existed (we used to call the cads), but the piece argues that dating apps have sparked a rapid evolution. Now fuckboys have access to willing women whenever they want, and because being nice is no longer a necessary component of sexual success, more young men are becoming fuckboys.
A 20-year-old uni student tells Vanity Fair that “one hundred percent” of the men she encounters on dating apps are fuckboys… And yet, she fucks them.
Because the role of women in Jo Sales’ dating apocalypse seems to be one of begrudging consent. Women participate in anonymous hookup sex, asking men over to their places to “smoke weed and watch movies”, but they’re not happy about it. If you’re not having sex with strangers you met on your iPhone, “it’s like you’re weak, you’re not independent, you somehow missed the whole memo about third-wave feminism,” says one young woman.
I’m not sure if that’s exactly what Kathleen Hanna had in mind when she wrote “It’s hard to talk with your dick in my mouth… I’m so sorry if I’m alienating some of you, your whole fucking culture alienates me,” but I don’t doubt the women who confided in Jo Sales believe what they’re saying to be true.
Whenever a new piece of technology comes along, it’s tempting to think that it will change everything. To an extent, it will. Tinder and other apps like it have made it easier than ever to find a warm body to cuddle up next to. Tinder as a platform thrives on the perpetuation of the idea that it, and other apps like it, are a great place for anonymous sex. There seems to be this collective delusion that location-based dating apps are the silver bullet all men have been looking for – the innovation that will make women want to fuck like men.