SAFE SPACE: The Strange Rise of Right-Wing Dating Apps

The dating scene isn’t easy for Republicans. As users cite “rejection discrimination” on mainstream platforms such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and OkCupid, several reactionary right-wing independent dating apps have begun flooding the market promising to deliver on these lustful safe spaces. And just like the right’s preferred politicians, the irony is incredibly rich.

“This app is about love for conservatives by conservatives,” declared Righter founder Christy Edwards Lawton, the die-hard Trump supporter who spoke with Vox about leftist hegemony in the market. “I think people should date who they want to date. If you want to date a blonde, date a blonde. If you want to date a skinny person, date a skinny person. I don’t think that’s discrimination,” she added, “[but] they’re the ones telling us how racist we are, and how shortsighted we are, and it’s like, really? I just feel like it’s very rude. Get on a different app, [leftists]. Righter is not the app for you.”

Righter nonetheless follows in the footsteps of the reactionary competition such as Conservatives Only, Donald Daters, Dating Republicans, TrumpSingles, Gun Lovers Passions, Patrio, and countless others across America. Emily Moreno, the founder of Donald Daters, credits her app to the left for their alleged behavior of walking out on dates “before the drinks had even arrived” when discovering their dates to be supporters of the GOP. 

As framed by journalist Gaby Del Valle, “these conservative apps think liberals who refuse to date conservatives are doing something more destructive than looking for partners who share their values. To them, it amounts to anti-conservative discrimination… which [Moreno] said has intensified under Trump.” 

This is funny given the foundation of Trump’s rise, along with the banter from his base, is about culture-war provocation, as seen in Righter’s own Instagram post where a picture of migrants waiting at a border wall is captioned: “ACCESS DENIED” while U.S. soldiers are stringing barbed wire with the words “FREE BENEFITS,” granting veterans premium access to the site. 

Moreno told the publication: 

“I continue to hear these stories from my friends about how when they’re on these standard dating apps, they’re always told they won’t get a first date. It’s right there in the bio,” she also told Vox. “[It’s always] ‘Trump supporters swipe left’. The people that do get a first date either don’t get a second date or they have to self-censor. I think it’s very telling about where we are right now, and it’s sad that politics has become entrenched in our dating lives.”

It’s not unreasonable to see how these fundamental values hinder the dating scene, especially for an increasingly unpopular ideology according to PewResearch. If you’re truly here for a long time, not just a good time, it’s better to adjust searches by whether a partner supports an individual’s fundamental human rights and their recognition by the state rather than surface level blonde vs brunette squabbles. One of the reasons for their backlash toward Bumble was their recent filter changes which allows users to only see those with similar cultural, personal and, now, political alignments. 

The label options include “liberal, conservative, moderate, apolitical” or can be avoided altogether. The change is entirely optional, while the competition is making politics clearly integrated into their structure. By contrast, Patrio also allows people to show their hobbies and their political views, reportedly called “badges” on their profile. These hobbies, however, are restricted to preselected right-wing chants such as “MAGA,” “free market,” and “build the wall” and the labels only apply to conservatives, classical liberals, the center-right, libertarians or “others.” Bumble ironically allows for more consumer freedom in this regard.

It makes sense why they want to make these safe spaces for ease of selection. The decline in dating right-wingers isn’t an unfounded claim, after all. Del Valle cites an article Politico Magazine which revealed dating trials of millennial Trump staffers proved their support of the president was correlated to their single status, even in the heavily political landscape of Washington DC while Republicans controlled the government. Another 2017 survey by OkCupid found that “74 percent of its users considered voting for Trump a ‘deal breaker’ [in potential relationships]. That same year, a writer for the Federalist claimed that liberals’ ‘refusal to date conservatives is one reason we have Donald Trump,’ which feels like a difficult thesis to prove.”

The general concept, however, was supported by Peter Hatemi, a political science professor at Pennsylvania State University, who told the publication the distance from those with disagreeable opinions is “partially because of a rise in polarization,” while stopping short of discrimination. “It’s rather self-selection,” he argues. “It’s based on really strong data that like seeks out like, but there’s no discrimination against conservatives [on mainstream dating apps]. There’s absolutely no structural discrimination that prevents conservatives from dating.”

There is evidence for left-wing discrimination, as admitted by Moreno. Her statement, serving as the prime example of talking out of both sides of one’s mouth, showcases how the online right-wing entrepreneurs credit their motivation to a politically divisive culture of discrimination they believe was caused by the left-wing, while they engage in such practices themselves. Lawton later told journalists for the The Daily Beast she has “a very nice legal team that will be handling” discrimination against leftists who decide to join. “This is zero tolerance.”

Ironically, the site does discriminate against men by their feature allowing women to report the accounts of men that didn’t pay for the first date — surely bait intended to piss off the right-wing’s base of anti-feminists who reject both intersectional talking points and such discriminatory gender roles. This is before considering whether Men’s Rights Activists even have an actual legal case.

“Men want to be men, Lawton insisted, echoing the structure of Bumble from a right-wing perspective. We are not online to have pen-pals. Females make themselves look different, younger, thinner, better. That’s not going to happen on our app. On Righter, men initiate, women respond. Men are so happy that they’ve found an app where the women will be women and the men get to be men. I’m not kidding you. I’m quoting the men.” 

On principle, Lawton and company are correct in their freedom rhetoric. The people should have the liberty of dating whoever they want for whatever preference on their online platforms, though ruin this through their narrative of political discrimination while engaging in the tactics of big tech themselves. The free market is, amusingly, turning its back on its most passionate preachers by playing by their own rules.

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