Dating isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Abuse, harassment, and misconduct are rife on dating apps.
The Don’t Be A Dick campaign from sex positive dating app WeAreX aims to promote respect and accountability among online daters.
«Did you know that dickish dating behaviour is shitty and really bad manners?» reads the campaign announcement on the WeAreX website. «Of course you knew that! You’re an adult who understands the basics of consent and respect. High five!»
Dating can be a particularly hostile place for women and marginalised genders. 47 percent of female dating app users aged between 18 and 34 have received an explicit message or image they didn’t consent to, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center study on dating apps. 19 percent of young women say someone’s threatened them with physical violence on the apps, per the same study. Dating app Bumble is campaigning to criminalise cyberflashing — the act of sending sexual images without consent — in the UK and U.S. in addition to introducing its Private Detector tool which alerts users when they’ve been sent an obscene photo and automatically blurs the image.
The campaign is accompanied by a guide to «the basics of good dating etiquette, as well as sharing advice for interacting in sex positive spaces.» The guide covers acts of sexual violence such as «stealthing» (non-consensual condom removal), cyberflashing, and also touches on sexual coercion, non-verbal consent cues and body language during sex, respecting sexual boundaries, and assisting people to say «no» to sex acts they might not be comfortable participating in.
«If someone gives you physical cues, like pulling away, flinching or freezing, don’t assume they’re fine to keep going. Stop and ask them if they’re okay,» reads the guide.
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«If you get someone to say yes to sex, or anything, after asking them twelve times or in an increasingly threatening manner, that yes isn’t really a yes, it’s more of a tactic to try to make the whole horrible experience stop,» the guide continues. «Top tip: if someone doesn’t say yes the first time, feel free to just back up and leave them the sweet fuck alone.»
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The guide starts with a short overview of consent, and goes on to cover behaviours like lying about your age, marital status or whether you’re using contraception.
To launch the campaign, a five-metre giant inflatable penis was displayed in central London for commuters to see during their daily journeys. Flyers with QR codes were distributed to passing commuters, directing them to the «Don’t Be A Dick» page on the WeAreX website.
«WeAreX is dedicated to fostering a positive and respectful community,» stated a WeAreX spokesperson in a statement. «Our goal is to provide a secure and supportive environment for individuals to explore their sexual desires, kinks, and relationships. Through this campaign, we aim to shed light on bad behaviour, raise awareness, and equip people with the knowledge to cultivate better connections and relationships, both online and offline.»