OkCupid and Planned Parenthood make it sound so simple: do you support women and women’s health? Then you should support Planned Parenthood.
That’s what I thought when I read coverage of OkCupid’s recent partnership with Planned Parenthood. Under the guise of helping “connect daters with people they’ll really click with,” OkCupid has added the question “Should the government defund Planned Parenthood?” to their dating app. Users who answer “no” will automatically have an “I support Planned Parenthood” badge added to their profiles.
“90% of millennial women on OkCupid do not think Planned Parenthood should be defunded,” OkCupid claims. “Knowing your prospective date supports equal rights, access to reproductive health care and the best, evidence-based sex education is undeniably sexy,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in OkCupid’s press release on the partnership.
Online Dating Is Already Hard Enough
Yet, the reality surrounding support for women, women’s health, and Planned Parenthood can be much more nuanced than OKCupid’s simple yes or no question. By setting up such a false dichotomy, they are shaming women like me, as well as likely a fair number of well-intentioned men, into categories that will not adequately communicate our position. And as anyone who has online dated knows, the smallest turn-offs mean so much more in the two-dimensional realm of dating profiles and seemingly infinite options to swipe right or left on.
There is real pressure to craft an effective online profile profile. Using the right combination of words and pictures, your task is to create an image of yourself that attracts and motivates a potential match to reach out to learn more. Say the wrong thing, and you risk the chance of perfectly good match misunderstanding you and swiping left.
Pro-Woman, Anti-Planned Parenthood
So here’s a confession: if I were currently a user on OkCupid, I would answer “yes,” I do support the defunding of Planned Parenthood. But it’s not because I don’t support women’s equal rights and adequate women’s health care. I know personally several women who have found themselves with unplanned pregnancies and in need some sort of support through the difficult circumstances it presented. I know even more women who are in a lower income bracket and are in need of healthcare that meets their basic needs and empowers them to knowledge about their bodies and health.
But, I can’t not know what I know, which is that Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the nation. I also know women who have had abortions, and have experienced devastating regret from their choice to kill their baby.
The fact is Planned Parenthood is not the only place women can go to get good health care. In fact, it’s not even the best place. There are hundreds of community health care centers that more federal funding can be funneled to, which offer even more comprehensive women’s health care than most Planned Parenthoods.
Why Encourage Knee-Jerk Rejection?
Yet anyone who has also ever met a love interest offline, first—say at a bar or through friends–knows the lens through which we judge potential matches online can very easily not match the impression we develop of a person through in-person interaction. A simple “yes” or “no” to the defunding question could not communicate the personal experiences and facts that have informed my decision on support for Planned Parenthood. And by OkCupid and Planned Parenthood’s standards, it certainly wouldn’t communicate my unapologetic support for women’s rights and authentic women’s healthcare.
One has to wonder, too, if male users of OkCupid are also being shamed to take a definitive position regarding Planned Parenthood. What man trying to woo a woman is going to say he doesn’t support women’s rights? But what if his position on Planned Parenthood is more nuanced, like mine? With a supposed 90% of millennial women users of OkCupid supporting Planned Parenthood, he faces a lot of possible rejection on a surface level question concerning a complex issue
Dating Should Create Connection, Not Separation
Which leads me to my final frustration with this new feature at OkCupid: why do politics, a clear pressure point in America, need to be inserted into the already pressure filled environment of online dating? Most of us know that a compatible relationship doesn’t equal sameness in every value and belief that is deeply held. We also know that political positions and values can shift as facts come to light and issues are civilly discussed. But such civil discussions can only take place when trust and a personal relationship has been established.
Far from bringing matches together, OkCupid’s Planned Parenthood badge discourages the nuance and dialogue that is actually surrounding women rights and health care today. Thankfully, for women like me, we have a plethora of choices in dating apps and sites. So, OkCupid, you get a clear “swipe left” from me, because I believe my support for women is broader than your oh—so—basic question.