Why some women use Grindr to play games with gay men 

click to enlarge Grindr
  • Grindr
  • Grindr, a smartphone app that allows gay and bisexual men to quickly find no-strings dates, offers women a peek into a seemingly forbidden realm.

When Rebel Wilson tweeted that one of her New Year's resolutions was to "finally create" her Grindr profile, the "Pitch Perfect" actress was just echoing the desire that many of my female friends in San Francisco have been expressing since the launch of the gay hookup app that broadcasts exactly how far away you are from a possible encounter.

Grindr, welcome to your unintended demographic: straight women logging on to experience "gay for play" or using a fake photo and creating a false identity to pretend they are just one of the shirtless boys.

"Women are fascinated by the relaxed sexual norms of queer male culture, and the chance to experience something taboo is perhaps the most alluring part of playing the game for them," said Jaime Woo, the Toronto-based author of "Meet Grindr: How One App Changed The Way We Connect."

I first learned that not all Grindr profiles belong to gay men after meeting Felicia, a friend of a friend who downloaded the app on her live-in boyfriend's smartphone so she could access it anytime. She found her ideal alternate gay male identity by searching for "hot guy" on Google Images. Apparently, some gay men 200 feet away couldn't spot the difference.

Real men flirted with Felicia's fake persona; others suggested a meetup. Felicia agreed to meet up once, but she never showed up out of fear of dismantling her alter ego. Shortly, the girl was living in her own "Catfish" scenario, like the people on the MTV reality show about phony Internet personas.

Other women admit to finding the app intriguing and snatching smartphones out of their gay friends' clutches to get a glimpse of the profiles. Ultimately, they're envious of the double standard Grindr flaunts in front of gay men in terms of casual sex.

"Technology can be a sensuous seductress or a cruel dominatrix," wrote Juana Maria Rodriguez, a UC Berkeley professor and author of "Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces." "Its enchantment lies in the allure of possibilities, new ways to imagine the sensations of the seemingly familiar world."

Rodriguez experienced a similar intrigue in disguising her identity online. But in the 1990s, it was the anonymous sexual exchanges of real-time chatrooms that allowed men and women to explore their fantasies.

Woo said the mechanism that attracts people to play mobile games also is responsible for Grindr's score-a-date formula. The anticipation, excitement, novelty and frustration are all there.

"It's all in the game design, and how users choose to hack it," he said.

While Grindr is a visual game, Woo pointed out that the participants go into it blind.

"There is no 100 percent sure way to verify that the person you're chatting with is who they say they are," Woo said. "But if you are looking for a hot sex chat and that person delivers and you never figured out she was female, does it matter?"

We should be thankful that now women can fulfill their "gay man in a woman's body" complex with their smartphones: curious of owning another's body, drawn to anonymous desire, wired to win as a way to pass the time.

In the end, Felicia left her Grindr facade for the tamer realm of the real world where everyone has to act out their God-given bodies, and it's frowned upon for a woman to voice her desires, unable to exit her skin and meet the gay man of her dreams.

Oscar Raymundo is the head of marketing at a leading LGBT media company.

About The Author

Oscar Raymundo

Oscar Raymundo

Bio:
Oscar Raymundo is the author of Confessions of a Boy Toy. Email him at oraymundo@sfexaminer.com.
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Saturday, Apr 18, 2015

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