Tinder Co-Founder Sean Rad Says Harassment Happens Because “Men Don't Know What To Say” — But That's Still Not A Valid Excuse For It
Tinder can be a beautiful thing. It's mindless fun and good thumb exercise, and I appreciate egalitarian objectification. But sometimes, as with any application where people can talk to one another with relative anonymity (I mean, sure, they have your first name and some pictures, but that's not really that much info), Tinder can become a dangerous place. Why, though? Why is harassment on Tinder so common? At The Atlantic's New York Ideas event on May 20, Tinder co-founder Sean Rad apparently said harassment happens because "men don't know what to do" — but let's be clear on this: That's not a valid excuse to do it. There is never a valid excuse for harassment, online or otherwise.
Almost every woman I know on Tinder has been subject to some sort of harassment. The Instagram account Tinder Nightmares is a good place to see what I mean if you're one of the lucky few who has managed to skate by on the app without someone messaging you, "Hey bitch, you look like the kind of girl who likes to be choked." That's a true story, by the way — and no, I don't know what makes one look like "the kind of girl who likes to be choked," either. Some of Tinder Nightmare's entries are relatively benign, featuring humorous screenshots of people bumbling through the awkward Tinderverse; there are also, however, tons of examples of blatant, heinous harassment.
So, what are powerful people over at Tinder doing to combat this kind of behavior? That's what The Atlantic President James Bennet wanted to know when he asked Rad about it. But Rad's response according to the Huffington Post smacked of man-scusing (is that a word? It should be a word): "I think a lot of the times, what you see is, men don't know what to do, so it's not they're inherenyl creepy or bad, they just genuinely don't know what to say, so they resort to stupid things. That's the unfortunate reality," he said. He continued, "I think that corrects over time. And I think they're learning. And the more practice you have on Tinder, the more you realize that being rude or offensive doesn't work. And when you realize it doesn't work you stop being rude and offensive."
Huh. OK, so like, dudes can just harass women as a learning experience. The thing is, this kind of thinking is indicative of a larger, "boys will be boys" mentality that excuses harassment (as well as a huge variety of other unacceptable behaviors) as a sort of inherently male process of socialization. But hey, guess what? Not knowing what else to say is not an excuse for harassment. It doesn't justify it, and it doesn't make it OK. Ever.
Actually, while we're on the topic, here are a few other things that don't excuse harassment:
1. Thinking Someone Is Very Attractive
So this is a cool fact: Thinking someone is hot is actually not an excuse to demean her or make her feel unsafe. Weird, right?
2. Believing It's a Compliment
This applies a lot to cat-callers who somehow think yelling "nice ass!" out the window of a moving car is a compliment (rather than an over display of threatening power, which is what it is).
3. Normalizing It
Just because a lot of people think it's okay to harass their Tinder matches doesn't make it OK.
4. Being Nervous
Being socially awkward or nervous is not a valid excuse to harass someone.
5. Having Your Feelings Hurt
Repeat after me: It is never okay to call someone a name for not responding to you.
Images: Giphy (5)