Zoe Russell finds that hook up sites work perfectly for her, but worries that the stigma stops others from enjoying them
I have been using the internet to find people to have sex with for about five years. I don’t mean online dating, though I do have a few accounts with more conventional sites for that purpose. Instead, I’m referring to hook up sites, which exist explicitly to connect people for sexual encounters. Profiles are less likely to talk brightly about a love of travelling and brunch and focus more on favoured forms of impact play or availability for threesomes. There’s no suggestion that relationships or emotional commitment are on the cards (though of course, there are people who find serious partners this way).
This works exceptionally well for me.
Let’s start with the obvious. I like sex. I particularly like a lot of sex with different people. That’s not for everyone, but I also doubt I am unique. And this is a really good way to have a lot of sex with different people. Other ways have seemed to me a lot more hit and miss. I have found myself going to house parties or clubs with the specific hope of fucking somebody, often when I haven’t been that bothered about the actual event I’m going to, and either ending up not finding somebody right or going back with somebody when we’re both a bit tired and maybe a bit drunk and we have no idea if we like the same sort of thing in bed. Or balking at having two or three dates with somebody from Tinder before having any idea whether we’ll be going near a bedroom at some point. It’s not that other approaches have always been unsuccessful, but they often don’t work out perfectly. And the several times that I have been a lot more blunt about what I want in more so-called vanilla contexts, I’ve almost always met with a bad reaction.
The fantastic thing about hook up sites is further that you can be very clear about what you want, and are therefore more likely to get it. In a forum that encourages openness about kinks and fantasies, there’s no need to hint and guess. This is incredibly freeing. What’s more, it leads to better communication in general; when you’re already being this honest about what you want, it’s easier to make it happen in a way that you’re all comfortable with. And because there’s a shared recognition that you’re primarily there for the sex, I find that people care more about making it a mutually pleasurable and memorable experience. Meanwhile, I’ve met such a diverse group of interesting and lovely people, whose paths I would never have crossed otherwise.
Why does all this matter? Because although I’m so positive about hook up sites, I recognise that being on them carries stigma. I’m probably more open than most would be about being on them. But remember how a few years ago, online dating was still seen as niche and not really the sort of thing most people would do? I’m pretty sure almost every single person I know has used some sort of online dating site or app now. So it’s not insurmountable. Things change.
But it will be hard for it to change in this instance because of how squeamish society is about women who want sex. Not a relationship. Not a commitment. Just a good fuck.
There is such a strong societal belief that men want sex but women want relationships. Meanwhile women who deviate from this are censured. A huge number of derogatory words for women are rooted in the idea that promiscuity is bad. While we’ve certainly made progress over the last several decades, most people would still consider being a slut somewhat negatively. It’s a word I’ve embraced but I’m still aware that most people using it mean it as an insult.
There are women out there who would never use hook up sites, even if they actually would provide exactly what they wanted. There’s the fear of being found out. There’s the feeling that this can’t possibly be for someone like them. Or they may not even know they exist. I know some people reading this probably think this all sounds horrific, but there may also be some who want exactly this sort of arrangement.
I’d love it if more people felt able to make choices that enable them to have the best sex life possible, which might be realised in very different ways, and not have women’s desires impeded by concerns over societal condemnation.
In future blog posts, I will probably spend some time critiquing both hook up sites and the diverse world of BDSM and highlighting areas where, from a feminist perspective, they could do better. But before I do that, I wanted to be able to stress that my experiences have, on the whole, been great and that I see this way of doing things as a clear improvement in my life. And if anybody has any questions or concerns about it, I’d be happy to talk more in the comments or write more on this topic!
The photo is by Chu 3D and is used under a creative commons licence. It shows a brown brick exterior wall with a street sign on it. The photo is cropped so only the second part of the road name can be read: “SEX RD”. Further writing in red indicates the postcode, E6.