Tinder – aiding and regulating relationships

November 15, 2018

Tinder - aiding and regulating relationships

“We cannot talk about a body without knowing what supports that body… Whose lives were never included in those norms? To what extent is that a masculinist norm?”– Judith Butler, Resistance and Vulnerability.

Tinder is a commercial product that offers a digital infrastructure aiding millions of user across the globe to construct relationships on a daily basis. There are two crucial steps to get a Tinder account. First, under the tab information, the user selects gender belonging – man or womanSecond, under the tab settings, the user selects which gender belonging the user would like to match with– woman, man or both.

In the information tab, Tinder defines the body as definitely feminine or masculine. In the settings tab, Tinder defines possible relationships and accordingly produces straight, lesbian, gay and bisexual identities. The settings tab derives from the information tab and consequently the gender identities offered by Tinder derives from the definition of the body as being definitely feminine or masculine.

I think this separation between the male and female body is worth thinking about. To preserve patriarchy, the masculine body must be distinct and separate from the feminine one. In the age of gender politics and the construction, legitimisation and broader popular acceptance of homo- bi- and transsexual identities, I think Tinder can be understood as an infrastructure that at once allow these new categories into existence as well as it preserves the masculine body intact and separate. Hence patriarchy can continue to be a functioning system in the landscape of new sexual identities.

But most of all, Tinder is a commercial product functioning within a larger commercial infrastructure. In order to sell, you have to sell to someone. Commercial companies have to identify this someone’s needs, wishes and desires and benefits from stable and predictable consumer identities. Tinder is involved in continuously producing and circulating these identities. They are products of Tinder but also products within Tinder, selling the idea of themselves to one another within the framework of the app.

Most of my friends are users of Tinder and some of them have met their partner through its infrastructure. However, when I ask them what they think of Tinder, they uniformly describe it as a masquerade of gender stereotypes. Although Tinder might reveal gender identity as a social construct, it continues to conservatively separate the male body from the female, which brings me back to the quote from Judith Butler: whose bodies were never included in those norms?Non-binary identities and bodies who refuse to exclusively choose the masculine or the feminine side cannot exist within Tinder’s model of thought. I think that many people would feel less distressed in a model of thinking that that was more tolerant towards gender ambiguities but unfortunately it is hard to make a business model out of uncertainties.

Task 2

Agnes Rosengren


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