We were recently asked by a male reader: what are the terms of engagement dating in a post #MeToo era? First, I think we can all agree that 'post' might not be the right term.
#MeToo is still going strong, and hopefully will for many years. If you're a little late to the party, that's OK! #MeToo is a movement to support survivors and end sexual violence.
#MeToo is about giving people a voice. The movement wants to a see a cultural transformation by “encouraging millions to speak out about sexual violence and harassment,” according to the movement’s website. The site describes one of #MeToo’s mottos as “empowerment through empathy,” because the founders believe it is crucial for survivors of sexual abuse to understand that they are not alone.
Tawkify Matchmaker, Natalie Murtaugh, reminds us: "My matchmaking colleagues and I are on the front lines — hearing first hand from singles how social change affects their dating lives."
Director of Operations at Tawkify, Julia Armet, continues the discussion:
"We are at a pivotal point in our country's cultural discourse, where everyday in the press we see stories of female protagonists voicing their past experiences to seize ownership of their future experiences."
In opening a discourse on topics such as consent and pleasure, we are harnessing a collective voice — embodying power, resilience, and ownership of our bodies.
Interestingly, online dating platforms are the frontline for "body politics" so-to-speak. From each person's presentation of self on their profile extending through conversational interactions with potential matches, women and men of all gender and sexual orientations are hyperaware of their agency to accept or to decline advances.
With these platforms allowing for such a high volume of exchanges on a daily basis, it is essentially an open playing field for body politics: where we have opportunities to protect who we are, what we stand for, and what we deserve.
The online discourse is an extension of the #MeToo #TimesUp media discourse, in calling out perceived violations or unwarranted advances. When someone else is not respecting our rights, our needs, and our desires, online sites and applications have the "REPORT" button.
"Through flagging such behavior, we can enforce these movements from the bottom up and normalize the expectations for appropriate sexual conduct."
Professional Matchmaker at Tawkify, Natalia Murtaugh, expands on her analysis of the movement:
Online dating as a courtship tool allows us to see the direct impact of the #MeToo movement on social change. Sharing your political standings have become normative on dating profiles, it's no longer ill-mannered to do so. In fact, it's highly sought out in assessing partner compatibility.
Data generated from dating apps (e.g., OKC, Bumble), are using the political climate and campaigns like #MeToo #TimesUp to guide their algorithms for recommending matches. Further, singles are prioritizing a potential romantic partner's viewpoints as an active match preference, especially if the relational goal is long-term mating.
Consider this: Singles are consciously increasing their match criteria (as a result of online dating). One effect of this is that singles are either ingratiated within the in-group majority (thanks to the power of these movements) or risk becoming undateable as our culture (humanity, really) progresses.
"The less tolerance we have for sexual assault and harassment in our culture, the more we advance. This starts with addressing injustices first. Those who are 'tired of hearing about it' might get left behind."
Professional Matchmaker at Tawkify, Rémy Boyd, speaks directly to the concerns of male daters:
In the past four months I've noticed a surge in discomfort from male clients on how to greet, communicate and follow-up with female dates. Specifically, how to convey interest — both verbally and via body language.
"Body language, vocal tone and inflection are under scrutiny. Many male clients ask what to say during conversation and how to respond to personal questions on a date."
These areas can potentially be a minefield, making men feel that they have few options on how to show interest or get to date #2. Overall, I've heard support and positive ideas on how to move forward with both parties feeling comfortable dating on and offline, but the fear is there and very real!
Professional Matchmaker at Tawkify, Antonia Greco, says it's all about awareness:
The main thing #MeToo has changed about dating culture is awareness. Men are more cautious about the nature of their messages, being careful not to leave a perverse “paper trail” in their interactions online — aka “death by screenshot.”
Women may attempt to screen more carefully in their messaging, taking note of behavior that seems too forward or of ill-intent. However, online persona and offline persona can differ drastically.
"Just look at how wide the gap is between social media and reality — online dating follows a similar course."
The reality is, it’s hard to truly know how someone will act until you are actually with them. We are creatures of curiosity. People don’t do what they think they should do, they do what they want to do. And while both genders may be exercising more caution dating in light of this powerful movement, I believe we are still far from seeing real change in a man’s offline behavior.
Professional Matchmaker at Tawkify, Samantha Campbell, provides a lens to the mindset of a survivor:
"I'm a survivor of sexual assault."
When dating, I'm on the look-out for people who not only respect personal safety, but prioritize it. I'm blown away by the amount of folks (predominantly men) who are willing to invite a complete stranger over to their home for a first date. With movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, it's impossible to avoid the shift in culture — no one can get away with brushing these issues under the rug anymore.
"If you are not conscious of the role you play in making those you date feel safe, it's time to reexamine."
Professional Matchmaker at Tawkify, Tania Abramova, talks about next steps:
These movements are making people more aware of how important communication is in relationships (from the first message, to the first date, to the first intimate experience).
The primary dating frustration I hear from clients is that people are not clear about their intentions. This results in mismatched expectation-setting and ultimately feelings of disrespect experienced by one or both parties.
"While the #MeToo movement is largely focused within the workplace where sexual interest is used to exercise power over someone, it opens up a general dialogue about sex and intimacy."
I think all genders are starting to be more direct about their intentions (i.e., looking for a long-term relationship vs. a hook-up). I am absolutely seeing a trend of men exercising higher caution when approaching women — whether in-real-life or online (via verbal and non-verbal language).