Sammy Nickalls
Updated August 26, 2015 12:31 pm
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People have a lot of intense and varied opinions about Tinder. The hookup app has been both likened to the death of courtship, love and relationships as we know them, AND lauded as a revolutionary way to find a date or even a long-term relationship. (It’s even helped people accidentally find their long-lost siblings, ahem). Whatever your take on its services, the Tinder community is not without some (mega) flaws—especially for women. Take for example Michelle Thomas, who was recently body shamed by a Tinder date. Her response to the bullying went viral, likely because many women have experienced similar misogyny through the app. Thomas’s experience with shaming and abuse is precisely why women like Laura Nowak are highlighting an important aspect about themselves, upfront in their bios: Laura Nowak is a feminist and wants whomever she’s dating to know right away.

Seems totally normal right? It’s 2015 and we all know the difference between feminism (equality for women) and misandry (man hating), right? Not so fast. Nowak has been taking screenshots of reactions she’s received to the word “feminist” in her Tinder bio and posting them on an Instagram account, @feminist_tinder — and let’s just say the responses from potential dates are…disappointing. (But not Nowak’s replies, which are badass.)

Initially, Nowak’s Instagram account was @feministsontinder, but Instagram took it down in February because it “violated guidelines,” thought it was unclear exactly which guidelines she violated. But that didn’t phase Nowak, who regrouped on a new handle, which has been growing more and more popular by the day.

Though her Instagram has become incredibly popular—39,000 followers and counting!— Nowak started this entire thing as a form of self-empowerment. “This was never meant to be a project,” she told The Independent. “I had been a casual user of Tinder for several months before putting ‘feminist’ in my bio.”

But when she started to see such cruel responses, she knew she needed to spread the word. “I was really shocked at how many aggressive reactions I received and realized that this was definitely something I had to share, to highlight our culture’s misunderstanding of feminism as well as how rampant and active sexist double standards are in the dating world,” she continued.

“In a dream world, I’m looking for intelligent and well-articulated discussions about the importance of empowering women in our culture,” Nowak told BuzzFeed back in February. “In reality, my aim is to share our culture’s, ahem, diverse views on the merits of feminism, in the hopes of raising awareness about what gender inequalities are pertinent today.”

Nowak isn’t the first to publicly call out sexism on Tinder. “Rise of the Feminist Tinder-Creep-Busting Web Vigilante,” an article in the The Atlantic last year, featured Alexandra Tweten, creator of the Instagram account ByeFelipe, which documents cruel, unsolicited messages sent by men to women.

Given the popularity of these Instagram accounts, it seems more women than we even imagined have experienced some form of misogyny, body-shaming, and cruelty from men they’ve swiped right. To Nowak and Twetan, we say: You go, ladies —thanks for highlighting these issues in the name of feminism and so, ultimately, we can all learn to support and respect all females across platforms.

(Images via Instagram)