Certain factors have emerged as non-negotiable, when looking for a match online. While compatibility and empathy are the core values that people look for, women’s equality has also emerged as a crucial deal breaker. Millennials and Gen Z in India are becoming increasingly vocal about women’s rights and gender equality on dating apps, and they expect their prospective matches to do the same. Bumble, a women-first dating app, has found that 86 per cent of single Indians believe that women’s equality is a deciding factor in dating someone.
Nearly 30 per cent of single Indians assert that they won’t date someone who doesn’t believe in women’s rights. How a prospective match feels about equal pay has also emerged as an important consideration. According to Samarpita Samaddar, of Bumble India, it’s hopeful to see how today’s millennials and Gen Z in India are looking to connect with someone for whom issues such as gender equality, fighting sexism and equal pay are a priority, thus leading to meaningful connections.
Women have, in fact, emerged as a critical part of the active user base across dating apps. QuackQuack, a home-grown dating app, witnessed a 30 per cent increase in its female user base last year. “The new additions to the women’s user base have seen far more active participation, with female users logging in 26 times a day into their profile on an average as compared to 20 times a day by men,” Ravi Mittal, founder of the app, had stated in an interview with Lounge, in October 2020.
The closing of gender gaps in the online dating space is heartening, albeit a little slow. According to an article in The Indian Express, last year, like the rest of Indian internet, this surge in online dating has a problem: Too many men. “Sixty-seven per cent of the 31 million Indian dating app users in 2020 were men. For women on dating apps, this does not always equal to a luxury of choice. In a patriarchal society that struggles to understand the idea of a woman’s sexual consent, it makes them the objects of unwanted attention and ardour that can shade into stalking and harassment,” it stated. “The internet is not firewalled from the real world.”
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Dating apps have tried to rectify it with the addition of new features: with Tinder enabling women to initiate conversations first and Bumble adding a new layer to protect the privacy of its female users. Apps have also added to the list of pronouns, with some like OkCupid allowing users to define their pronouns in a bid to make virtual dating a more inclusive experience.
This is gradually bringing more women and members of the queer community to the apps and also redefining the rules of online dating. It helps that boundaries have become more transparent in the virtual space. According to Tinder’s Future of Dating report, the pandemic has brought up more discussions of personal boundaries. Tinder members have used their bios to make their expectations clear: ‘boundaries’ is being used more than ever (up 19 per cent), and the term ‘consent’ rose 11 per cent. It now waits to be seen how the idea of gender equality will be taken forward in the online dating space in the months to come.