Men seeking women: Awkwardness, shame, and other affective encounters with dating apps
This paper draws on qualitative research conducted with cis men aged 18–35, who used dating apps to meet women both before and during COVID-19 lockdown. Men in our study — which sought to better understand the aspects of app use that make young people feel safer or less safe — offered affectively loaded accounts of app use, which featured racialized and gendered experiences of ‘awkwardness’, shame, and contempt. Our analysis engages with Bollen and McInnes’ concept of ‘sexual choreographies’, which focused on the inter-affective and embodied aspects of cis gay men’s sexual learning practices as a means of reframing our thinking around the ways cis men who date women engage with dating app technologies and cultures. Drawing on Elspeth Probyn’s theorization of shame as a pedagogically productive affect, we argue that the affect-response of shame-humiliation can be turned to a productive, self-reflexive opportunity for improving gendered experiences of app use.
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