Online dating apps. A special kind of hell for most of us. The modern-day place where so many of us look for love…or maybe just a quick hook-up. I know many people who have had successful dates, relationships and even marriages with people they have met online. Believe it or not, I actually don’t think dating apps are all bad. However, my research isn’t focused on what makes them good.
In Canada, the high rate of sexualized violence against women should be of no surprise to any of us. This is not a new issue for women. The fact that sexualized violence occurs in dating relationships is also not new – you can find research articles that talk about this from the early 1900s, a time when dating was referred to as courtship, which I think we can all agree is long dead and gone. What’s new is the wildfire-like spread of modern technology, which includes the surge in popularity of online dating apps. According to eHarmony, 36 per cent of Canadians use online dating apps, with growth happening every year. As dating increasingly moves online and the number of online dating app users continue to grow, there is reason to believe that dating apps may very well be creating a new platform for sexualized violence to occur.
While the link between sexualized violence and online dating apps has not been reported on in Canada, Britain’s National Crime Agency (2016) found a 450 per cent increase in online dating-initiated sexual offences between 2009 and 2014. This increase was reported to be a result of the rise in online dating combined with behaviours and expectations that are fostered by an online environment. Given that we don’t know much in this area, especially in Canada, my research sets out to explore women’s experiences of dating app-facilitated sexualized violence. I only started my PhD last fall, so stay tuned to hear what I find out!
For now, what I do know is don’t send unsolicited nudes and be kind to each other online.