Friday, January 27, 2023

Why Do People Send Dick Pics & Other Dating Apps Stories: The NZ Survey Asking The *Hard* Questions

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The books we're reading, the vibrators we're using, the rants we're having and more in our weekly EDM.

A new survey from Project Gender is looking into the sex lives and dating apps world of Aotearoa and it needs your help to make things safer and sexier for other Kiwis

Project Gender is a social change agency creating positive impact through insights research, breakthrough campaigns and real-world solutions and their latest project wants to look at the dating apps scene in Aotearoa.

If you are over the age of 16 and have been on a dating app in the past year, Project Gender wants to know about your experience to create a wider picture of how Kiwis are using dating apps – and what that world is like. They then want to turn this research into solutions to help make the dating app world a safer and happier one for all involved.

It’s aimed to be as inclusive as possible a survey and they want as many people from all walks of life to take part to create as fuller picture as possible of what it’s like to use a dating app in Aotearoa.

Project Gender is run by three women – Angela Meyer, Tania Domett and Erin Jackson and we had a quick chat to Tania about why this research project is so important and how her own dating experiences shaped the questions!

Why is such a research project important?
In the last ten years, dating apps have arguably changed the way we meet people who we might want to end up having sex with. Of course, people are still having it off with their work colleague(s), or chatting someone up in a bar, but chances are, these days, if you’re single and wanting any kind of action – you’re also on a dating app. 

Just listening to the anecdotal evidence suggests that there are some big social shifts going on out there in terms of what’s considered acceptable behaviour now – in terms of social practices i.e “ghosting”, what counts as “normal” sex – and so we thought time to go and investigate and put some stats behind the stories.

Why is it important to be canvasing such a wide slice of the population (e.g. making it so inclusive, which is awesome)
We want to hear from as many New Zealanders as possible so that we can find out if there are any differences between how men are experiencing online dating compared to women compared to non-binary people, whether it’s different for gay men or lesbian women, what disabled people’s experiences are and so on.  

What about your own dating experiences made you think that this was a necessary research project?
I started using dating apps about five years ago after my marriage ended. The last time I had been on a date was literally last century – it was a baptism of fire! I’ve had the full range of experiences, gone on dates where my exit strategy has been deployed almost immediately, met some truly wonderful, interesting people and even fell in love (briefly!), but as a social researcher I’ve been reflecting on my experiences within a broader, social context and given what I’m also hearing about others’ experiences, I think it’s time to lift the lid and see what’s going on. The survey is exploring how frequently people are being pressured into and/or engaging in “rough sex” and whether and how they are consenting to that, how safe people are feeling, but also what the apps are delivering more positively – are they trying new things in bed, sleeping with people they’d not normally consider their “type”, how much fun they’re having basically! 

How did you come up with the questions?
As a researcher I’ve been designing online surveys for over 10 years now. My colleague Jennie and I had a great time with this survey – one of the more interesting surveys we’ve built in our careers! We also enlisted a few experts in sexual violence, disabled and LGBTQI+ people’s experiences of online dating to review our questions to make sure we’re making the survey as safe i.e. non-triggering as possible and that the various pathways through the survey are inclusive of all NZers.

What are you hoping to get from this?
We’ll be able to report hugely valuable insights that will enable us to come up with a range of real-world solutions to help people have a better time with apps, a safer time and a more enjoyable one

Why are we all so interested in other people’s dating and sex lives?
Because the stories are often so, so good. Not to mention hilarious. People’s sex lives have been a source of fascination for centuries, and now is no different.

If you’re over 16, have been on dating app in the past year and have a spare 10 minutes to anonymously take part in this important project, click here to do the survey.

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