Out of thought came the word
Black Men & Women On Tinder: Why Single People Of Colour Seeking Love Should Be Wary About This Online Dating App
Despite the popularity of online dating apps like ‘Tinder’, single black men and women in particular are at a disadvantage, receiving fewer messages and swipes, and more abuse than white online daters. By Ben Arogundade. February. 19, 2022.
SEX, RACE & TINDER: Single black women face more hazards online dating than their white female counterparts. Many single females of colour face racial stereotyping and abuse at the hands of white male online daters on apps such as ‘Tinder’.
IN AMERICA ONLINE DATING APPS are now the most common way single people meet, while in the UK the figures are following the same trend. A 2018 study of 2,000 people by the BBC reported that 45 per cent of 16-34 year-olds had used online dating apps at some point, and that only 18 per cent of them met their current partner through friends, family or on a blind date.
ONLINE DATING APPS FOR SINGLE BLACK 0WOMEN
Nevertheless, the new online dating experience differs greatly according to race, as I outline in my new guide to Internet dating. A blog post by dating app ‘OkCupid’s co-founder, Christian Rudder, noted that data collected from heterosexual users showed that the strongest biases were against single black women and East Asian men online dating. Most males on the site rated black women as less attractive than women of other ethnicities. It also reported that they received 25 per cent fewer first messages on the ‘OkCupid’ app than women of all other ethnicities. This comes on the back of research revealing the black women are already the most abused group within social media generally.
HAZARDS ONLINE DATING AS A BLACK WOMAN
The overall statistics on who swipes who overwhelmingly conclude that most white people choose other white people within online dating apps. Research conducted by Gerald Mendelsohn, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, revealed that over 80 per cent of the online contacts initiated by white members were to other white members, with only three per cent to black members. By definition, blacks within online dating apps are at an inherent disadvantage to whites.
On the occasions when single black men and women are actually contacted by online dating’s mainly white audience, the motivation is often sexual rather than emotional. They regularly find themselves on the receiving end of post-colonial stereotypes about possessing a more voracious sexual appetite or outlandish sexual preferences. Black writer Stephanie Yeboah came up against these sexual stereotypes during her time online dating. “Some blatantly exclaim that they would want to be in a relationship [with me] to ‘get a taste of jungle fever’ and to see whether black women are ‘as aggressive in bed as they’ve heard,’” she said.
Online dating is very effective at revealing how stereotypes about the sexuality of people of African descent are still very much alive. The concept of ‘black sex’, or ‘African sex’ — the assertion that members of this ethnic group are sexually and biologically different from whites, and with a more developed sexuality, dates back to the early 1600s, as the English first began exploring Africa. They focused on the sexuality of the locals, as they often wore no clothes, many tribes were polygamous, and their matrimonial practices differed from those of Christians — all of which European travellers found provocative, if not uncivilised. In today’s online dating world, with the remnants of this past still in play, black women in search of love find themselves having to be additionally mindful of white men with a sexual fetish for their ethnicity.
BLACK WOMEN AND TINDER DATE APP
The stereotype that sex with a black person will yield a more heightened experience from that with a white person continues to drive many hook-ups and one-night-stands on dating apps like ‘Tinder’, the market leader. The majority of its massive user base is white and male, and so single black women who sign up to ‘Tinder’ may attract those who only see their blackness sexually, and in line with racial stereotypes. The sexual overtures of this group inevitably expose black female online daters to insulting or abusive behaviour, which prematurely erode their tolerance for online dating as a whole, often driving them away from the platforms altogether. Therefore, black woman seeking a long-term relationship should avoid ‘Tinder’. A better option for women of colour is to explore the apps that are less overtly sexual. No dating apps are completely free of sex pests and abusers, although others may have smaller numbers.
TINDER AND BLACK LIVES MATTER
‘Tinder’s position on race was dramatically illustrated recently in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, and the subsequent reactions of the Black Lives Matter movement. Dozens of black women ‘Tinder’ users complained of being banned from the platform for using the app to promote the movement, urging fellow users to sign petitions or donate. Others had their dating accounts blocked simply for adding the Black Lives Matter hashtag to their profiles. These moves contravene Tinder’s guidelines, which prohibit the use of accounts for promotional purposes. But after news of black women being banned hit the headlines, ‘Tinder’ capitulated, issuing a statement in support of the movement, and pledging to donate money to the cause. “We will not be silent when we see injustice in the world,” the statement said.
BLACK BEAUTY DOWNGRADE
But ‘Tinder’s initial position provided further illustration of the lack of support for black women online. As a result of the downgraded status of black single females on dating apps they have to work harder and be more resilient than whites females in order to find appropriate matches within online dating apps — and this takes its toll upon them. Their disappointments and disillusionments go some way toward explaining why they are the least prevalent demographic across online dating apps. After Yeboah’s experience, she went through phases of quitting and rejoining, until she finally quit altogether. “I don’t see any point,” she lamented.
It is easy to extrapolate, on the basis of all these conditions, how a black woman can end up feeling more angry, more sad, more cynical and more disillusioned than a white person about the online dating experience. This is driving the growth of “splinter apps” catering to specific ethnic and cultural niches unsatisfied with mainstream offerings, and which attempt to create a safe space where communities can find each other and where women can escape discrimination. But dating apps generally have a long way to go in eliminating abuses of all kinds. My book has a chapter specifically aimed at women of colour, which offers guidelines and best practices.
Hi there. I am a London-based author, journalist and broadcaster Discover more about me and my work at Ben Arogundade bio.
*ONLINE DATING FOR SINGLE BLACK WOMEN - ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Black women on Tinder”, each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Dating black women”, each month.
The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Single black women and online dating”, each month.
*All figures for “Online Dating For Single Black Women - According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.
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THE FLAMES OF LOVE: ‘My Terrifying, Shocking, Humiliating, Amazing Adventures In Online Dating’, by author Ben Arogundade, has become the UK’s bestselling online date book, and is now being adapted for television. Available now in print or eBook formats.
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