August 25, 2016

Did Grindr Just Make it Easier to Discriminate?


In an era of openness, willingness, acceptance, and equality, most out gay men find themselves, whether willing or otherwise, representing the greater LGBTQ+ community in one form or another. Some go all out, become activists, engage in dialogue, debate, and conversation surrounding a multiple array of topics, while others are more laid back, and the rest fall somewhere in between. At Edugaytion, we have held multiple conversations about a variety of topics and discussions. One such discussion surrounded gay dating apps and the "Preference vs Racism" argument, and the discussion is nothing new. It has raged on for years now; the debate over whether or not broadcasting that you only want to date one type of man, filtered out by a number of line items (size, ethnicity, age, etc) is any form of "-ist" or just one's personal preference. 

Many of the discussions that I have had that surround these -isms have concluded with the same compromise: You can have your problematic view of the world and dating, but you shouldn't put it out there for others to see. It is more damaging for one to say "No blacks, no femme, no Asian, DDF" than to simply not respond to those people when they approach you. Ideally, if the world were as equal and progressive as we all like to pretend, everyone would have a chance with everyone, or at very least we wouldn't have material for Douchebags of Grindr. 


So imagine my surprise when after a recent update to the app, I was scrolling through Grindr and saw a new addition to the user interface, the "edit my type" button. "Oh lord", I said to myself, "what is this all about...?" I reluctantly clicked
the box and realized, "Oh, it's just their new way of housing the 'tribes' filter... ok." Yes, I know that there are many who take issue with Grindr Tribes, but that is another discussion for another day. I dismissed it until I noticed the filtering options available to Grindr Extra users.



At first I was shocked, but then I quickly recoiled and said "but it's Grindr... what do you expect?" But then I realized, NO, they should not get a pass simply for being Grindr. If anything, they should be held accountable and to a higher standard. For Grindr to allow users to filter people out by Ethnicity and Weight is a bit ridiculous and drives an insidious culture of those who are on the side of "preference" in the "preference vs -ism" war. It's giving people the greenlight to discriminate against anybody who is X Ethnicity or Y weight. This is very problematic.

I do not take issue with the "Photos only" option because naturally one would want to see who they are talking to when considering the use of this hook up app, and I have no place in my bed for people on the DL. I welcome any challenge on my "discrimination" against closeted people vs the rampant racism and body shaming going on with the people who think this update is ok.

Potentially more controversially, I do not take issue with the body type filter. In this case, I believe that body types align with tribes. Twinks typically share the same body type, while bears fit a very specific category which includes a very specific body type. To me "body type" and "tribes" could be synonymous and "body type" seems a bit redundant. "Swimmer" is a body type, and by the very virtue of one being a swimmer with a swimmer's body, they are "fit." The other way of looking at this is seeing that the options (I don't actually know what they are) align more with other dating sites like Ok Cupid, and you are given a choice of "skinny", "average", "fit", "athletic", "bulky", "large" etc. But then why would you need the "weight" filter?

Honestly, these additions seem very poorly thought out. It does seem strange to say, but I'd like Grindr to be held to a higher standard as it is one of the number one (I know you love your scruff, but Grindr is iconic) gay hook up apps in the world. There are millions of eyes on it, and it needs to lead by example. Offering users the ability to filter out entire swaths of the community by getting rid of someone because of skin color, age, and weight is ridiculous. I remember reading that Grindr was thinking about allowing an HIV filter so that users could exclude people living with the disease, and I think that was instantly shot down. In its place, Grindr decided to do the next best thing, and allow this update to go through. Shame on you Grindr. You need to do better.

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