Let’s back up a moment and assume you don’t know much about the online dating world and OkCupid in particular. [i will confess i have never actually been on OkCupid, so i am telling you my story of what i think is happening there.] One of the things you perhaps don’t know about me is that i am a matchmaker of sorts. I help people find communities, romantic partners and allies in being able to live in the countries that they wish to reside in.
For finding a romantic partner there is no better service (if you are reading this blog) than OkCupid*. It is free (it has ads), it is vast, it has fun surveys and quizs to fill out to help you find people who might have similar values to you and you can write your own quizs and contribute to the content of the social network. It is groovy in three dozen ways; it is to online dating what wikipedia is to online general knowledge. 7 out of 8 friends or allies who have found new romantic partners in the last two years have found them through this service, it is very powerful.
And with any great power comes great danger. For example what would you think if someone answered “yes” to the following question:
Have you ever been in a situation where you tried, but for various reasons did not succeed, in having sexual intercourse with an adult by using or threatening to use physical force (twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.) if they did not cooperate?
This question and others like it are being asked in surveys on OkCupid, but they were developed for criminal institutions to try to discover rapists, who had not already been caught. You will likely not be surprised that the people who said “yes” to this statement are found statistically more likely to be involved in a rape assault. And it turns out that there are a fair few people who answer yes to this question.
So you put this new filter on and a request or message comes thru and the computer tells you this person is high risk. Then presumably you block or discourage the person who gets the red flag. Might you possibly be blocking the suitor of your dreams? Probably not and who cares. The pool is big enough so that we should be throwing away all the fish that are likely poisoned.
The filter is not perfect, of course. Some folks interested in sexual assault are smart enough to get that this question is a trap, so add on apps are no alternative for good judgement. But it is another addition to the portfolio of tools which are helping push back on rape and build a sexy consent culture.
* I should say if you are a Christian looking for another Christian you might have better luck at eHarmony than OkCupid. But i would not recommend this site politically, because it does not permit people to search for intimates of the same gender.
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