“So, this might seem forward, but you look like an open-minded guy. Will you meet me in an hour for no-strings-attached sex?”
I’ve just hit “send”, and my bold message is now on its way to Chris, a 32-year-old guy whose profile says he’s a tradie, looking to meet someone adventurous.
I highlight over the message, copy it, and send it to another dozen men.
I’ve been swiping right for the last three hours, in the interest of carrying out a little social experiment. The objective is simple: proposition a hundred men for sex, and tally up their responses. The practice is decidedly more tedious.
tinder maxes me out of matches for the day after I reach 20 guys, so I download Bumble — another app well known for facilitating sexual hook-ups. This time I get creative and craft individual thirsty messages.
“That shirt looks good on you, Tom. But it’d look better on my floor.”
“If I told you what a great body you have, Brad, would you hold it against me?”
“Nice smile Jason. Wanna f**k?”
It’s almost too easy. All the years of exposure to creeps in my DMs has armed me with an encyclopaedic knowledge of sleazy pick-up lines.
Before long, my phone is buzzing and pinging like a 20-something hipster at Splendour.
The results are in, and they’re … baffling.
What’s not baffling, is the fact around 57 per cent of women experience sexual harassment via dating apps.
Unsolicited invitations for sex and d**k pics are as ubiquitous on tinder as bogus five-star reviews on Amazon. It’s perhaps due to the fact there’s a kind of ego bolstering that goes with knowing another potential suitor is a mere right-swipe away.
The stakes are lower and so the sexual aggressors — inevitably men — are ballsier.
For most women, having infinite options at your fingertips doesn’t translate to increased sexual assertiveness.
While I have friends who’ve had casual sex via tinder (and have done so myself), none of these incidences occurred without fairly intensive vetting first.
Likewise, even my female friends with the most liberal attitude to sex will readily delete and block guys who ask for it in their opening line.
If you’re a purist, this would seem to reinforce the long-held theory that men biologically crave sex, while women begrudgingly exchange it for monogamy. But if you’ve been reading my columns for a while now, you’ll know that’s complete BS.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest women want and enjoy sex just as much as men do. The difference is, we rarely express this desire, particularly in online dating spaces. And there’s a reason for that.
Roughly 45 per cent of women have experienced some form of sexual violence in our lives, and 46 per cent of us have been victims of slut-shaming.
The odds of being assaulted or verbally abused while meeting a stranger online for sex often outweigh the potential benefits if you’re a woman. We’re not eschewing sexual forwardness because we’re disinterested in a quickie; we’re doing it to preserve our safety.
A controversial 1989 social experiment, in which people approached college students on campus and sexually propositioned them, seems to reinforce this.
In a conclusion that was shocking to no one, around 70 per cent of the men approached responded eagerly, while precisely zero women replied positively.
Prank YouTube channel, Whatever, carried out a similar experiment a few years ago, in two videos entitled: Asking 100 Guys For Sex, and Asking 100 Girls For Sex. This time the results were different.
When approached, just 30 men replied enthusiastically, with a total of 70 declining, citing a variety of reasons — ranging from being in a relationship, to feeling uncomfortable, or preferring to take her on a date first.
What didn’t change; the female response. Of the hundred women asked for sex, all 100 said no, with one going as far as to throw her drink at him before attempting to quickly escape the situation.
It could be speculated the key difference between the 1989 experiment and the 2015 one, is the cultural shift in our attitude to sexual harassment.
Movements like #MeToo and Slut Walk have raised public consciousness of the objectification of women and rape culture.
There’s a heightened awareness of the detrimental impact sexual harassment can have on a woman’s psychology, identity and workplace satisfaction and a rejection of the pathological sexualisation of the female body.
These should all be seen as good things, by the way. Any world in which women can go about their day without constantly worrying about attracting unwanted, creepy attention is for the win.
Perhaps that’s why my own little tinder experiment felt so awkward. As a woman, I’m used to being the one fielding creepy messages online, not disseminating them.
After allowing a few hours for my matches to reply, I had four “no” responses, 24 who didn’t answer — perhaps out of disinterest, being weirded out, or just not seeing my message — and a whopping 72 “yes” responses.
I was a little taken aback at how unsuspicious these 72 guys were of my unusually aggressive approach. Though interestingly, once I attempted to start making concrete plans, several guys ghosted me or developed excuses for why it was a bad time. A few attempted to organise a preliminary date with me first.
I wanted to dig further and ask them why they’d backed out. If my sexual forwardness had negatively impacted their opinion of me, or perhaps even challenged their masculinity. I wanted to know how many of these men would have shown up if I’d actually followed through.
But before I had time to ask, tinder and Bumble deleted my accounts.
Apparently the only thing more suspicious than men saying no to no-strings-attached sex, is a woman who actually wants it.
Nadia Bokody is a freelance writer and Instagram influencer. Continue the conversation on Instagram | @nadiabokody