Far from the eye and moral judgment, hookup sites make it easier for women to have one-night stands, a sociologist analyzes. These new practices do not call into question the standard of conjugal life, nor do they trivialize sexuality. Have sites and dating apps redefined the laws of love? Appearing in the United States in the mid-1990s, these online services are now thousands and users in tens of millions. Match, Meetic, Once, Tinder, Happn, Gleeden, Bumble …
In a survey the New Laws of Love, devoted to heterosexuals, Marie Bergström, sociologist and researcher at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) decrypts the organization of meetings 2.0. Sites and apps are accused of killing love, write to yourself. Where does this grievance come from? Criticism was formulated at the end of the nineteenth century to advertisements and marriage agencies .
Then towards the Pink Minitel, which appears in the 90s. These services were already considered in their time as the tools of a commodification of the meeting and, therefore, as a threat to true love. Today, modern sites and applications are seen as the ultimate danger. The Trojan horse has definitely brought the logics of mass consumption and self-marketing into the intimate sphere: artificiality, abundance, freedom of choice, selective targeting, standardization.
This “rationalization” would have the detrimental effect of deteriorating emotional ties. Because the love encounter, as told and idealized, is supposed to be an unexpected discovery, a shock, the irruption of the other. The current era is finally very romantic: the very strong indignation with regard to dating services shows our strong adherence to the romantic imagination. These services are also criticized for hypersexualizing intimate relationships and thus competing with conjugality .
The sites and applications have undeniably changed the scenarios of sexuality and have led to a diversification of relationships (sex friends, ass shots, unofficial couples, etc.). But it is a mistake to say that this enrichment of the relational register is killing “the couple”. Contemporary society is always characterized by a strong conjugal norm. It is neither rejected nor truly weakened. Simply, the will to “land” now comes later because the youth period has continued (the extension of studies has postponed the economic independence of young people), resulting in the appearance of a phase of “experimentation sexual. ” In 2013, it is estimated that about two out of five people, 18-25 years old, had already attended a dating site, the most represented age group. If this age range uses dating services for sexual purposes, from the age of 30, the sites are more used to try to find a partner in love. A successful couple life remains an ideal of life today. Apart from young people, who are the other users and users? The upper classes were over represented on the sites at the beginning but these services quickly became popular.
In 2013, 16% of executives or higher intellectuals had already registered at a dating site, compared to 13% of workers for example. The sex ratio of users is also fairly balanced. If the men are in surplus until about 40 years, it is the women who then become majority on the sites. Nothing illogical about this: the curve reversal broadly reflects the trends of celibacy in general. What is interesting to note is that young men and senior women are the most disadvantaged populations on dating services. Men aren’t as picky of age for Tinder profiles as women can be. That is , unless, they are in it for money.
On the other hand, older women who are considered too old do not interest senior men who will rather show an interest in younger women. Another misconception that you deconstruct in your investigation concerns the end of homogamy. You say that the democratization of online dating has not marked the decline of class divisions. Many want to see in these dating services the incarnation of an opening up of dating and sexual encounters and, by extension, a stop for homogamy (this tendency to form a couple with a person of the same social status ).
This is not what we observe in reality. On the contrary, sites and applications reveal the strength and modus operandi of the social logic of self-selection. Take the example of Tinder profile photos: Sexy but not too sexy. Plain, bu not too plain. Specialized services formalize the sorting procedure. The novelty of dating services would be in the “privatization” of the meeting. What do you mean ?
Online dating takes place outside, and often unbeknownst to, traditional sociability circles. Until then, the meeting was associated with contexts of ordinary sociability, such as neighborhood, work, studies, outings and recreation. Today, sites and applications introduce a real separation between these frameworks and places where we recruit partners. This privatization is a real break in the social organization of dating and sexual encounters. A real break that benefits women in the first place …
Let’s say that this insularity offers women the opportunity to experiment and live ephemeral stories without being treated as “easy girls” or “sluts”. For the double standard of the sexes in terms of sexual conduct is always alive: if ephemeral relationships can be rewarding for men, they contradict the social image of “female sexual restraint”. Multiplying partners or simply showing a high sexual appetite is always a good thing for women to make a name for themselves. Dating services give them the opportunity to temporarily protect themselves from this sexual morality, to live a diversity of experiences while maintaining a sexually moderate image in front of their entourage.
This differentialist view of the sexuality of women and men has been largely invested by the designers of dating sites … The designers have readily drawn on gender stereotypes. The sexuality of men, considered as a sexuality for oneself and associated with an important libido, has nothing to do with the sexuality of women, considered as a relational sexuality, more effaced and associated with the conjugal framework. This distinction gives rise to two types of services that correspond to two distinct “products”. On the one hand, sexually explicit spaces with provocative advertising, featuring “sexy” or “unfaithful” encounters for men. On the other hand, so-called serious spaces, with the purified and modest image, which is particularly aimed at women.
This façade of cleanliness also shows the difficulty of designers, mostly men, to really know the sexuality of women. The sociologist Eva Illouz says that dating services give rise to an “emotional domination” of men over women. What do you think ? The idea of Eva Illouz is to say that women are eager to form more intimate relationships. Often in love, while men chained adventures on the Internet at the expense of the desire to engage their female partners. Would women really accept sex against their will? If it’s in the hope of finding love – then yes.
On the Internet, there are also many women who are very happy to have ephemeral relationships! Young women, for example, seek as much as their male counterparts relations “not taken head” as also showed the sociologist Christophe Giraud. As of age 40, the majority of men want to partner and use the sites to find a spouse. The thesis of this tension between the two sexes finds above all a reality among the thirties. At 30, women are generally more eager to start life together in a relationship. This can cause a shift in desires for a few years. But soon, men also show a desire for conjugality. On the other hand, you claim that online dating is conditioned by male violence. It is clear that male violence is always a possible horizon in interactions on sites and applications. There is this fear of meeting malicious men. It is an omnipresent threat, experienced as such by women who, consciously or unconsciously, anticipate the dangers