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In what continues to be a society governed by patriarchal power relations, struggles against sexual assault and gender-based violence remain life-threatening risks for women (Gavey, 2005; Vance, 1984).
At the same time as women are encouraged to explore their sexuality and be sexually active, explorative and experienced (Farvid, 2014; Farvid & Braun, 2006) they are warned against, and live in a context where, there are real material risks associated with doing so (Farvid & Braun 2013, 2014).
In her highly influential work, Wendy Holloway (1989) identified three discourses governing contemporary heterosexuality (which produce different subject positions and types of power for men and women): the male sexual drive discourse, the have/hold discourse, and the permissive discourse.
The male sexual drive discourse posits that men are driven by a biological necessity to procure and engage in heterosex, and once aroused, must experience sexual release via coitus and orgasm.
We first situate the discourses underpinning contemporary understandings of female heterosexuality, which shape women’s dating and intimate experiences with men in contradictory ways.
Such contradictions provide the backdrop within which women traverse technologically mediated domains such as Tinder, online dating and mobile dating.
Numerous success stories have also been reported, where people have found the ‘love of their life’ via Tinder (Scribner, 2014).
Alongside these positive depictions, the app is also depicted as promoting superficiality (by only focusing on physical appearance), being a ‘hook up app’ that fosters promiscuity (Dating NZ, n.d.), and increasing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (Cohen, 2015).
Within this discourse, women are positioned as passive and responsive to male sexuality, and as distinctly lacking a physical desire for sex.
The have/hold discourse draws on traditional and religious ideals to promote a conventional marriage-type heterosexual union.
Due to its huge popularity, Tinder has attracted great media attention (Newall, 2015), focusing on not only Tinder’s features, but also debates about its place in society (Dating NZ, n.d.).