Indian women. They don’t stay out late, don’t party, don’t drink, don’t marry men of their own choice, and they certainly don’t date. That’s what the world mostly thinks.
But think again.
A slew of matchmaking apps and sites like Tinder, Frivil, TrulyMadly, OkCupid, and Woo has made an unabashed entry into India in recent years. And brickbats from conservatives and feminists notwithstanding, women are loving it.
Here’s proof. Online dating app Tinder says the number of downloads for the app in India has shot up 400 percent in the past year, and women are more active users than men, the Economic Times reported. Most users are in the 18 to 34 age group.
“We are truly excited about the rapid adoption of Tinder in India […] women particularly seem to love Tinder, sending more ‘super likes’ than men each week, which is incredibly empowering,” Taru Kapoor, the India head of Tinder, was quoted as saying.
Tinder, which debuted in 2012, is present in 196 countries and available in 30 languages. But here’s another interesting statistic: conversations on the app last longer in India than in any other country, according to Taru.
Around 1 million use the app’s ‘super like’ feature in India every week, with women doing that more actively than men.
What women want
The reasons are not hard to find. Lifestyles are changing. Traditionally in India, women were expected to settle for a match picked by their parents. But many now have more income at their disposal and far greater control over their own lives. Many are postponing marriages to pursue a career.
The mobile internet is shaping a whole new world. Youngsters, mostly college-goers and young professionals in cities, have been quick to embrace global influences.
“I use Tinder as a stress-buster. It is so much fun to find men making a pitch on a website!” a young woman professional told Tech in Asia on condition of anonymity.
Tinder says it is about friends, dates, relationships, and everything in between, and claims to have made 9 billion matches worldwide. A 400 percent increase in downloads in India means an eagerness to experiment with relationships – even if it hides under layers of conservatism, patriarchy, and traditional institutions like marriage.
The consequences aren’t always happy. “A year ago, I was shocked to discover a close friend’s husband on Tinder. She has no idea that he is still out there, looking for dates. It’s horrible,” another woman tells us.
Frivil, a dating app backed by popular matchmaking website Shaadi, admitted in an email to Tech in Asia that it was getting hate mail. Some of them from feminists.
“People seem to be getting up in arms about how we are going about getting data of how attractive everyone is,” a spokesperson for the app said.
One angry missive from a woman goes: “So you’re not promoting sexism, just shallowness?” She adds: “Because the best way to find a ‘date’ is judgement on the basis of looks, right?”
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