How does Tinder work in India

Online dating around the world: how is death in Turkey or India?

What is love? This fascinating question has haunted mankind, across all cultural differences, for as long as it can think. The one correct answer to this still does not seem to have been found to this day. The different feelings, the individually and culturally defined ideas of what love means and contains are too complex and extremely difficult to grasp. Nevertheless - for centuries we never tire of striving for our personal happiness. And most of the time this search is obviously linked to the goal of finding fulfillment in love. Little has changed in that to this day.
With the advancing digitization, the search for love and everything that can be connected with it culminates today in the much discussed global phenomenon of online dating, or to put it simply: the search for a partner online. Or, to put it more simply: on Tinder. Although the number of single people has been increasing for decades, a functioning partnership - in whatever form - is still a prerequisite for many of us in order to find personal happiness.
The exhibition What is love? From Cupid to Tinder in the Kunsthalle Bremen is currently dealing with over 35 works from international art history that want to track down the meaning of love and, in this context, also examines the phenomenon of online dating in a museum context for the first time. For this purpose, five artists were invited, among others, who have made a clear reference to the topic of online dating in their works.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

One of them is the Istanbul-born photographer Eylül Aslan. For your project now on display in Bremen Trompe L’oeil (German: The illusion of the eye) she looked around intensively on the dating app Tinder to question how people present and stage themselves there in order to please potential partners. Aslan's thesis is that love and beauty have always belonged together, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So she got the idea to ask 25 men she matched on Tinder about what they particularly like about their own bodies and what they don't. Then she asked the men again to tell her what they found beautiful about her female body. “Unfortunately, I believe that a large majority still think that men only want to see their boobs and butts. But in my experience that is not true at all. Women often reveal these body parts themselves, which is basically pointless, as some men find a woman's hands or hair much more interesting than her breasts. "

Trompe L'oeil -or: put yourself in the best light

She then captured the sometimes surprising results of her “field study” in photographs and compared them. When asked whether she discovered recurring patterns in the way she was staged when looking for a partner, Aslan replied: "If a person likes a certain part of their body, then they concentrate fully on presenting it as advantageously as possible in almost all photos". And further: “It was kind of weird that while scrolling through the profiles I often saw men with bare chests, but never naked women. Women's bodies are immediately sexualized or put in a pornographic context. Unfortunately, this is a typical sign of the patriarchal structures that are still present in our society. "
Eyluu0308l Aslan Nostrils | Shadowhand from the book Trompe Lu2019u0152il, 2016 photographs

No pre-marriage sex, no Tinder profile

Eylül Aslan studied in Istanbul. She says she owes her great interest in art and photography to her mother, a liberal feminist and suffragette. Her father, on the other hand, comes from the more conservative north of Turkey. He doesn't even know that his daughter is publicly showing herself in her photos. “To be honest, my father has no idea about my work. But I'm pretty sure he would be very upset if he found out what I'm doing. His lifestyle is completely different from mine. He wouldn't like me showing myself as a model in my book. My mother is more open minded, but also prefers me to use other models. ”The parents' generation often can't do anything with online dating and apps, on which you sometimes just meet for sex. “In Turkey, as in other cultures, Tinder is often used to have harmless and casual sex. Unfortunately, there is still a widespread understanding in Turkish society that women who do such things are easy to come by. Most families therefore do not want their virgin daughters to have a profile on Tinder, ”explains Aslan.
Indu Harikumar Instant Connection from the series 100 Indian Tinder Tales, 2016 Drawing 18.5 x 19 cm
Indu Harikumar is an illustrator from Mumbai. Her work # 100IndianTinderTales is also part of the exhibition in Bremen. For her 100-day project, she interviewed various protagonists from India who met through Tinder. She then illustrated every single story, whether it was love at first sight, an embarrassing situation or an unpleasant misunderstanding - an attempt to portray the multifaceted love life of people living in India. Her works, which seem to be inspired by the style of Edvard Munch or Gustav Klimt, are always just an inventory and should not be an evaluation. Of course, she has also processed and drawn her own experiences with the dating app, which, by the way, she has tried out both in Europe and in India.

The swipe to the left gives Indian women more self-confidence

Basically, according to Harikumar, there are no major differences between the behavior of Tinder users in India and other countries. “We humans are all looking for connections. Indians are no different. Some do not want to continue the relationship offline, some want longer-term, others only want to enter into short-term relationships. There are so many permutations and combinations. ”If you listen to Harikumar like that, you really can't tell the difference to western dating culture at first. But the picture of Indian society in this country is different. One reads again and again about arranged marriages, sexual abstinence before marriage and the oppression of women. It is sometimes difficult to imagine that a woman can have sex on a first date just for the fun of it. “But of course I had sex the first time I met, if I found my date attractive. Even if I am Indian, I can of course only speak for a small group of people. "

Experiences in love are valued

Harikumar is thought provoking. About the fact that, as a society, we still think too often in pigeon holes. India is a huge country, in some regions it is still very conservative, but less so in others. Actually similar to everywhere else in the world. “A lot of women from India (and Europe) have told me that it gives them a feeling of strength that they can now swipe left on apps like Tinder. Because often before, only men had the option to reject a woman because of her appearance or other things. Women like this new form of power granted to them on dating apps like Tinder. "
Modern online dating opens up completely new options for people, and in many places especially for young women. While virginity before marriage and restraint have long been considered status symbols and a prerequisite for partnership, experiences in love seem slowly but surely not only to become more attractive, but perhaps even a bit more desirable. What the arrows of Cupid used to do is now done by your own finger in the age of the Internet.