Updated: Apr 15
A book on dating app culture demonstrates how misogyny persists when women *allow* it. When we don’t tolerate bad men, they disappear.
I don’t approve of violence in relationships, but I chose this photo because another article and this one deal with misogynist violence exacerbated in the online dating app world. Photo by Dawolf on Flickr CC0 2.0
Men don’t really care about any of of this. Not if they like you. Don’t waste your money. — Park Avenue plastic surgeon to Nancy Jo Sales
I used to do what Nancy Jo Sales describes in her book Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno, after she fell in love with a man half her age who wasn’t nearly as into her as she was into him.
She waits for him. She moons for him. She doesn’t want to appear too eager or clingy or — Goddess help us all, needy — so she makes few demands, and waits like Shelley Fabares:
(Other fellas) Call me up for a date But I just sit and wait (Da dum) I’d rather concentrate On Johnny Angel (Johnny Angel) ’Cause I love him (’Cause I love him)
Although Sales doesn’t exactly sit and wait while she moons and keens. She tries to ‘fuck her pain away’ on hookup apps on the advice of her male (of course!) friend.
I remember mooning over a guy who rang me once a month for what amounted to a booty call in the decades before we coined the term. I’d come running to his house, we’d watch some TV, usually a movie, then go have sex and I’d stay the night.
A few months later he got a job in another state and picked up and f**ked off without so much as a by-your-leave. I couldn’t rightly ask him not to take it as he’d been out of work for a long time, and I myself lived a precarious temp job existence, but it bothered me he didn’t seem like he’d even miss me.
In my defense, though, I was 23 at the time. Sales was in her fifties. And, like, seven years ago, not the ‘80s.
Not quite sure how she didn’t pick up somewhere along the way what a fool’s errand it is to moon after someone, even if you think you’re in love, if they don’t love you in return.
Had she never read He’s Just Not That Into You?
Life-saving. Mental health-saving!
Once you read it you’ll never waste time on guys who don’t waste headspace on you. It’s a good manual for men, too, as it also applies to time-wasting women.
Sales has documented girls’ and womens’ life experiences for several years. She wrote a Vanity Fair article on over-privileged California teens who ripped off celebrities, later turned into a Hollywood movie. She wrote a book: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers. She produced the HBO documentary Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age.
With Nothing Personal, she documents the increase in misogyny, juiced by the rise of social media, hookup culture, violent porn, and an old-fashioned backlash against women’s feminist gains in the last thirty years, yet she somehow doesn’t ever really apply what she learns to herself, not until later, anyway.
What she never gets is how her own victim-centered feminism contributes not just to her own problems, but to the world of misogyny at large.
We’re all guilty.
Nothing Personal helped me put in better perspective my mostly negative dating experiences in the last twenty years, when I thought I could find someone else to grow old with after my ex dumped me (for the Pope, I like to say. Long story.)
We can’t fault ourselves for not knowing what we didn’t know.
I don’t understand what Sales got out of hookup culture apart from being a much older woman who could nail hot young guys. I sort of shrug and say, So what? So can any woman with a vagina.
I did engage in hookup culture very briefly, for less than a year, when I got fed up with going sexless. It wasn’t what I wanted and contributed toward a downfall in my sex drive beginning at age forty. I didn’t have Sales’s bad experiences, I simply realized, like many women, loveless, emotionless fucking wasn’t my thang.
Sales on the other hand banged a lot of guys. I don’t fault her or slut-shame her for it; I’m in no position to point an accusatory finger.
But as I read her book the feeling persisted that it wasn’t really what she wanted either. Plus, how could she tolerate the rank misogyny she otherwise condemns all throughout her book?
She documents how dating apps are essentially designed to serve up women to men, but never asks why we, as women, tolerate it. That’s what ‘dating’ — hookup apps, really — are all about. One man described Tinder as ‘the most efficient pussy-delivery system ever’.
How Can Women Choke The Life Out Of Dating App Misogyny? Nancy Jo Sales’s book on addictive, toxic mobile apps reveals how women still cater to men and blame it all on 'misogyny'
Sales rarely turns a truly critical eye on herself, or women in general, to ask why we allow and tolerate this foul behavior to exist. She blames almost everything on men and misogyny. Her feminism isn’t as mindlessly victim-centered as some, but many times I wanted to yell at her to just grow the fuck up and take responsibility.
The woman is only a year younger than I. She’s no rank ingenue.
Dating apps may be designed to be addictive and keep us swiping for more — FOMO! — but I’m unclear as to what women think they’re missing out on after more than three or four hookups. My brief experience began at the dawn of hookup culture without the hardcore misogyny and violence devolution, but it still got old quickly.
Nothing Personal functions, for me at least, as a how-not-to-look for finding a healthy, functional adult male. Sales had the misfortune to fall in love with a wonderful, Millennial flake and had a passionate romance with an irresponsible younger flake who she later learned was ‘cheating’ on her the entire time. I’m not sure he actually understood he was in a ‘relationship’ with her. Sales does a great job of what we all do: Hiding what we feel to not seem too ‘needy’.
Her misandry makes her as much a part of the problem as ‘The Patriarchy’.
No matter what she experiences or learns, Sales turns it around on men.
She damns the mobile app Bumble as ‘misogynist’, despite being designed by women, for women. It’s meant to put the brakes on sexual predators, men spamming women to see who responds, and most of all, unsolicited dick pics. On Bumble, only women can make the first move. You’d think that would be a valuable growth experience for men, learning what it’s like to have to wait for someone else to make the first move, but Sales doesn’t think so. She complains men merely sit back and do nothing. Yet she damns every other dating app for giving men the edge as traditional pursuers, where ‘Hello’ often starts with a dick pic.
She doesn’t like men who cheat on her but never addresses her own sexual history: She dumped her first husband for another man. She gives no reason why, but she did end up leaving the new guy who turned abusive and later, stalked and online shamed her.
Now that’s what I call misogyny! Not complaining about men who cheat, when she cheated on her first husband and also engaged in an affair with a married professor in college. Maybe subconsciously she believes she doesn’t deserve better, as perhaps ‘good men’ don’t deserve her.
I’m sorry, but you can’t complain about the problem when you’re part of the problem.
Misogyny is ugly and far more pervasive than misandry (often a reaction to systemic misogyny) but tolerance of intolerance is part of a broader cancer in the world in which we point the accusatory finger at others but never on ourselves.
It’s why I fight misandry, including my own. As much as men are to blame for many of my bad dating experiences (mostly massive discourtesy, ghosting, breadcrumbing, flakiness, evolving alcoholism and complete lack of concern for female feelings), I finally recognize how I came to be as much my problem as men. How I chose to handle it was my responsibility.
I did it poorly. It’s on me.
It doesn’t matter how misogynist some men are. What matters now is whether I let it define me and set the rules, rather than allowing men to do it.
As I define what I will no longer tolerate, bad male behavior disappears from my life.
I’m learning not to beat myself up over not having done it sooner. I couldn’t know what I didn’t know. I want other women to know it sooner than I did, so they can make better decisions too, especially if they were in abusive relationships. Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?
What I decided to do was finally set my rules. First and foremost is I don’t have sex until I’m damn good and ready.
No more cajoling, whining, or subtle pressure to Do It. No more having sex for stupid reasons, like to please the man, hope he sticks around, hope he falls in love with me.
Sales claims misogyny requires a lot of mental compartmentalization. “How else to accept the fact a man has hurt you and treated you with disrespect, and yet you want to run back to him and take him inside you again and again?” Is that misogyny or is it thinking with your vagina? I had some weird sexual jones for the earlier-mentioned Booty Call Boy even though he made me ‘morose’ as my roommate put it. Our vaginas may not rule brains like penises do, but they can still throw common sense and self-respect out the window — and all for a lay with someone you care about more than he does for you.
Sales’s book brims with studies, research, facts and statistics about women but very little about men. She makes little attempt to truly understand the men’s side of dating and mobile apps, even as she documents how angry and ‘unwoke’ a lot of so-called ‘feminist, progressive’ men actually are. She describes the sexual entitlement, how they blame women for blaming men for not caring enough or quickly enough, how women think men ‘owed’ them something, like a relationship, or how “Girls come on to you so sexually, and this is the person I’m supposed to fall in love with?” Sales complains about male ‘whataboutism’ when discussing men’s romantic failings, and plays down a cogent point about ‘mansplaining’:
"How’s it mansplaining if I know what I’m talking about and you don’t?”
It fits Sales’s victim feminist agenda to blow past it all without consideration, along with mentioning only in passing what I thought was her most interesting insight about modern single men:
“…Porn hurts men as well. Research suggests that young men who consume porn have lower sexual satisfaction and are more likely to be ‘depressed, unable to enjoy intimacy, and suffer from desensitization of feelings, dissatisfaction, loneliness, isolation and compulsion.’”
Porn isn’t good for men either? Who knew?
It’s a subject I intend to explore myself, since it fits my power feminist agenda.
Knowledge is power, girlfriends!
While hookup men are getting what they want from women — often porn-taught violent, degrading sex, begun with consent but without her foreknowledge there’d be punching, hitting, slapping, and choking — women continue to do what we do best, cut off our own feelings and desires to please the guy who’s choking them without their consent and whom they’ll likely never see again.
“The trick is, I don’t have any feelings for men,” Sales’s friend Nicky says. Not since her baby daddy said he’d be there, but wasn’t. “I will never trust them again. I will never let them in again. It’s their loss. They don’t deserve me, or most women I know.”
Yeah, uh. I guess that’s empowerment, cutting off your feelings to avoid vulnerability. How so like a man.
You do what you have to do to survive, and for some it means killing your feelings. I get it.
Is that what we’re working for, ladies? A less feeling and compassionate world, rather than a greater one? Instead of demanding better character and behavior from men, denying them access into our lives (and vaginas) if they fall short?
It’s unquestionably still a patriarchal world, and easy to forget how it’s several shades lighter on our side, where there’s no reinstalled Taliban to remind us of just how much worse we had it not long ago.
We have our own Taliban wannabes we must be mindful of, except they wear crosses instead of turbans. Call them the Talibangelists.
Still, we’re light-years away from the new fresh hell of Talibanistan. We have the power to destroy our own Patriarchy, if only we have the labia to keep our pretty little feet on the brake pedal.
Not only must be vigilant with The Patriarchs, we must be vigilant with ourselves. We must root out our own misogynist and misandrist thinking, difficult to recognize when it’s our own. Just ask all those blind, entitled men.
Old habits die hard, and it’s too easy to slip into fear and let Da Boyz set and enforce Da Rulez without any input from us.
But we, unlike our Afghan sisters, still have the power to say No.
NO to dating violence.
NO to Tinder’s conveyor belt ‘pussy delivery system’.
NO to undefined relationships.
NO to our unwillingness to allow genuine human needs to be defined as pejorative ‘neediness’.
Remember: Men are highly concerned with their own (sexual) neediness. We need to be as preoccupied as they with our own needs.
Consider this old-school old-fashioned Twitter quote from Sales’s book: “Straight men do not have the range to have casual sex without being damaging and demeaning.”
Is that true or not? I don’t know. Explain. Debate. Discuss. Comment.
Sad to say, but maybe our great-grandmothers had the right idea, though we can add a feminist twist: Don’t put out too soon or too much unless it’s what YOU really want.
Otherwise, don’t encourage bad behavior and old-school misogyny by rewarding angry little boys with loveless fucking, especially if you have to get drunk to get through it and finish yourself off later with your vibrator.
Millennial women (and plenty of us X’ers and Boomers) are realizing life alone isn’t all it’s cracked down to be. The only baby you have to take care of is your furbaby, which never expects you to provide all the emotional support they can’t provide you.
You never wake up in the morning with bruises on your throat or a sinking feeling when you fire up Tinder.
Public domain photo on Pxhere
When we don’t tolerate bad men in our lives, they disappear.
I never had to deal with fear and violence during my brief blip in hookup culture, but I still let men set the rules about how much I need to cater to their fears of commitment, or emotionalism, or ‘neediness’. I descended into what I call my Angry Drunken Bitch years because I thought they were running the show.
They were. But only because I let them. I wish I’d made my own rules. Woulda shoulda coulda.
I hope Nancy Jo Sales has emerged from her years in the Dating App Inferno wiser about herself than she was.
I guess it’s hardest to root out The Patriarchy from your own head.
I can relate.