Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about Tinder. She said she loved swiping through Tinder because, since the profiles are 500 characters or less (usually they’re much, much less), there’s a bigger air of mystery than OkCupid. “It’s more like meeting someone in a bar. You don’t know everything about them before you meet them,” she said. Well, I call bullshit on that nice theory.
The glory of OkCupid is that it enables me, with a few clicks through their profile, to know if the guy is a Republican, Libertarian, Christian of the Huckabee and Kim Davis variety, or otherwise probably not going to respect the shit out of my vagina. Tinder, with its traditionally ultra-brief or nonexistent bios, gives me no such knowledge. Plus, since I generally don’t do a lot of pre-date texting, I went in knowing very little except he was a civil engineer and his muscles were large. I think my brain went something like: “civil engineer” is a word removed from “civil liberties,” civil liberties like voting rights, gay rights, reproductive rights, I have a reproductive system, so he must support rights for my reproductive system. I think in reality it was just his muscles acting as a shield for the lack of useful information I had on him.
We were meeting for after-dinner drinks at a bar near my apartment because he makes a lot of money and I distinctly do not, so I felt no shame in making him journey to me. I got to the date on time, meaning 10 minutes late, and he was already sitting at the bar. He was wearing a salmon pink polo shirt and khaki pants. I have never been on a date that started with polo shirts and khaki pants that ended well. I had a feeling that this was not a man I was going to be spending the rest of my life with, but I told myself “Hey now, don’t be presumptuous and judgmental.” Lies. I should never not be those things. We did the awkward, “Should we hug? Should we shake hands? Kiss on the cheek? Should we do nothing and just stand here?” dance. I went in for a handshake and he went in for a hug, resulting in me hitting him in the stomach. He asked if I wanted to sit at the bar and I told him unequivocally that I wanted to sit at the table in the corner. The corner table is always best for a first date, because if it’s going terribly then no one will notice and pity you, and if it’s going fabulously then no one will notice you slobbering all over each other and hate you.
Ten minutes into the date, it wasn’t going well. I was in fine form; I was being charming, asking questions, trying to extract any kind of conversation but he just wasn’t having it. I asked him what he found most interesting about bridges and he said, “It’s just a job.” So I treated him to a humorous anecdote about a time when I wore a pencil skirt with little stars and planets on it to a job and my boss told me it was very unprofessional so I cried and almost quit. My date asked what a pencil skirt is and I tried to describe what it is but he wasn’t getting it. “I can’t believe you don’t know what a pencil skirt is,” I teased, “I thought everyone did.”
“Well, I’m a guy. Why would I know?”
This really should have been a tip-off but being that men are taught from infancy that even knowing about women’s clothing, much less wearing it, lessens their manliness, I told myself that it might not have been a statement born of voluntary chauvinism. But then he asked me what job I do now, which is a question that really should have come earlier in the date, but I digress. I told him I write for a feminist magazine and after the obligatory “Well that’s very interesting,” he asked, “But why does it have to be a feminist magazine? Why can’t it just be a humanist magazine?”
Oh dear lord. This was when he suddenly decided to have a thought. Suspecting that this guy was not intentionally suggesting we have a broader conversation about philosophy and ethics, I asked him what, precisely, he meant by that question.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” he patronized. “I’m not anti-women. I just don’t like how feminism has to demonize men all the time. Men have rights too, you know.”
Damn you, Tinder. I asked him if he was advocating for Men’s Rights, he said “of course,” and asked why I thought that it was such a crazy notion. I asked him what rights he feels he’s lost as a result of feminism. He responded with his first joke of the evening: “Well we’d have magazines devoted to us, for starters!” And here I would like to say that I responded with the most witty and insightful defense of feminism, and all the reasons why Men’s Rights, #NotAllMen, Meninism, Return of Kings, A Voice for Men, r/TheRedPill, and far, far too many others, are at best, useless and at worst, misogynistic and vile.
If I had summoned the energy for a cogent argument, I would have told him that Men’s Rights is the demon child of the 1970s Men’s Liberation Movement. That it, like #AllLivesMatter, is a strain of libertarianism that entirely misses the point. Both are like saying that surgeons shouldn’t exist because they ignore psychological problems, so everyone doctor should be a general practitioner. That’s nice, but sometimes you just gotta chop a leg off. I would have employed any number of witty responses in the vein of feministontinder. But I knew there was no way into the light from there. Ninety-nine percent of the time, whackos will continue to be whackos no matter what, and sometimes it’s just not worth it. So I just chucked a twenty on the table and told him we were never, ever, ever sleeping together. Like ever.