An Arrow In Your Quiver

Judging from the quiet hum of approval heard around campus, the good readers of The Student Life appear to have enjoyed last week’s column. Kudos, me. Can’t get enough of more non-normative sex acts? I encourage my tender readers to attend “FANTASTISCHE! A Queer Burlesque Show” in Dom’s Lounge on Thursday, April 21. What a fabulous reason to skip Friday morning classes! Hot genderqueer people working the bad stuff: that’s my cup of tea. Is online dating yours? Segue!

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Dear Tender Buttons,

I’m sick of the dating scene at the 5C’s. I’ve hooked up with or dated my share, and I’m looking to expand. My friend recommended OKCupid, but I’m a little freaked to meet this guy I’ve been messaging. We’re hitting it off and all, but, like, I don’t want to be abducted and sold into sex slavery and whatnot. How can I see him and guarantee that I’ll be safe?

Thanks,

Horny But Afraid

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Dear Horny But Afraid,

I’m afraid that there are no safety guarantees. Could your hot online match be a psychotic cannibalistic predator? Yes, yes he could. Could you swim into the ocean and meet an untimely demise thanks to a particularly voracious jellyfish? Yes, yes you could.

Like any activity that’s not crocheting inside an invincible force field, online dating has a certain amount of risk. Determining that specific level of risk, Horny But Afraid, is a task charged to you and the people in your life who care for your well-being. Luckily, your potential suitor has a profile on OKCupid which dramatically decreases the risk of a violent encounter. Riddle me this: would you be more comfortable leaving a bar with a stranger, or sitting down for coffee with a man who posted a ton of information online traceable to him? If you answered the latter, congratulations! You can comparatively evaluate levels of risk!

This is not to suggest, of course, that an online profile guarantees sanity and/or a good first date. All the same first date rules apply: be alert (CONSTANT VIGILANCE!), know the itinerary, keep an eye on your drink, and do not take drugs to “relax” yourself. End the rendezvous the moment you feel threatened or ominously uncomfortable: you never owe a first date anything. Employ your friends to text you at regular intervals.

Online dating faces a lot of negative portrayals in the media. The stars of To Catch a Predator obtain addresses through sex chats. CSI and its spin-offs have done countless episodes featuring serial rapists who ensnare victims online. Rom-coms and chick-flicks rarely feature representations of online relationships, deeming this way of “meeting” inferior to more classic boy-meets-girl narratives. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer jumped in on the online dating-bashing with “I Robot, You Jane,” revealing poor Alyson Hannigan’s e-paramour to be an apocalyptic cyber demon from Italy…?! My point being: there appears to be a lot of stigma and fear circulating around online dating, and I do believe this sort of shame is culturally reiterated and has little basis in day-to-day dating.

Trust your instincts, Horny But Afraid, but don’t sacrifice a good thing to prove an episode of Buffy’s enduring cultural influence. That’s just gauche.

I hated season one,

Tender Buttons

Got a question for Tender Buttons? TSL wants to hear from you! E-mailsex@tsl.pomona.edu, or leave your queries in the office dropbox outside Walker 101. Thank you!

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