Tinder isn't exactly known for being a body-positive haven. While a dating app is only as good as its members, Tinder is ubiquitous with nightmare dates, hookup culture, and murder. Sure, there are plenty of success stories, but you'd have an easier time finding someone trying to kill their lover for having a Tinder affair.
To add an even more interactive element to the app, Tinder launched "reactions."
Reactions are meant to either encourage or dissuade people you match with. It works the same way reaction gifs do: If someone says something you're into, you can "reward" him with hearts or a round of applause. If someone pisses you off or says something offensive, you can throw a cartoon martini at his face.
The feature was intended to be used by female-identifying users.
The feature was created by women, for women. While men have access to reactions, too, they won't get as many to choose from as users who identify as female. If you're LGBTQ or don't identify as a particular gender, you'll still get to use reactions.
While it's a good step, we still need way more.
Throwing a cartoon martini at someone for calling me "fat" or "ugly" or for sending me a whale emoji won't teach the person not to do it. It's yet another cutesy, gimmicky way for women to show that the way they're treated online — usually by men — is not OK.
As someone who has been harassed on dating apps, including Tinder, this simply isn't enough. A cartoon won't teach someone a lesson. A gif won't deter someone from realizing that what they're saying is hurting me. Education will. And when education fails, using stricter moderation techniques (for example, removing someone from the app for saying horrible body-shaming crap) can help.
The tool is meant to be empowering, but it seems anything but.
Body shaming, among other kinds of harassment women face in the online dating world, isn't going to be eradicated by sending someone a cute gif, emoji, or animation. It'll be eradicated once apps wisen up to the kinds of BS women deal with online, and make reporting a user for bad behavior easy and final.
Now that's something that truly deserves a round of applause.