Tinder’s ‘menducation’ doctrine dispels the notion that women are best served by other women

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Isn’t showing someone your personality the whole point of doing Tinder? (Source: Getty)

A few weeks ago, Tinder announced a new chat feature.

“Designed by the women of Tinder”, says the announcement, “the feature gives women extra tools to express themselves”. It concludes: “sometimes men need a little bit of guidance when it comes to communicating….”

So many things are wrong with this pitch. Tinder’s new chat feature is a range of animated images which aim to convey various emotions. There is a “clap”, for example, an “eye roll”, a “hearts”, a “laughs”, a “nope”. Also an “ugh”.

Read more: LinkedIn: The new Tinder

As a linguist, I am appalled. This product perpetuates illiteracy. If you are unable to express an emotion in eloquent English, you should read Romeo and Juliet and practice composition – rather than resort to pictures, like a two-year-old.

Moving on, isn’t showing someone your personality the whole point of doing Tinder? I can’t see how you can achieve that by sending them a bog-standard image.

Tinder goes on to say that the product has been created by women for women to be used against men.

It refers to the process as “menducation”.

I am sorry, Tinder, but why do you insult men? I am not your customer, but I would imagine that most women who use your service like and respect men. So why do you place your male users in a category which needs to be communicated with in pictures? Would you care to create a similar product for men to use against women? To deal with the dullards, the crazies and the bores? Or are you saying that your female users are all intelligent, well-mannered individuals of high moral character?

Positive discrimination is discrimination all the same. Let’s say you are a nice, regular guy. Let’s say you have joined Tinder with an honourable intention of finding a long term girlfriend. Let’s say you connect with a girl and start telling her about yourself. And if this girl suddenly begins to flash “claps”, “laughs”, “nopes” or “ughs” at you and you want to do the same, you can’t – as the feature is only available to women. If I were this guy, I would take offence.

And then there is this doctrine that women are best served by other women.

Sometimes they are. I admire Coco Chanel. How luxurious yet functional her designs were; how feminine yet bold. But so were the designs of Dior and Saint Laurent and Ford and Galliano. All of them men.

Or take Jane Austen. How well she understood the female psyche, how subtle and complex were her heroines. But Tolstoy, Flaubert and Coetzee created some exceptional heroines as well. In fact, they did it better than Austen. But am I even allowed to say this? Should I not condemn these writers as mansplainers and cultural appropriators instead?

The “women do best by women” argument is frequently used for corporate boards. If a company sells cosmetics, make sure that your boardroom is bursting with female non-execs, and you’ll be fine.

But does this logic really stand?

Let’s take Unilever. What would make Unilever produce better face creams, shampoos and washing powder: a woman on its board, or a great team of scientists in the lab? And, pursuant to the Tinder logic, should the products for men not be developed by all-male teams? In which case, Unilever should remove any female scientists from the team that develops Lynx.

So, Tinder, do continue creating new features. But don’t set men against women. Also, please make sure that the teams behind these features are selected on the basis of skills and expertise – not gender.

A product “designed by the women of Tinder” just isn’t enough of a recommendation for me.

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