About our first date from another point of view:
It was March. At Stanford the sun began to shine all day, people got out of the stuffy rooms on the lawns and occupied all the green space outside. I wandered from home to school, looked at all these people, and suddenly I felt especially lonely. What do alone people do in March? They downloaded dating apps, of course.
In America, the so-called hookup culture flourishes among young people, the essence of which lies in sex without emotional binding or intimacy between partners. Here sex has ceased to be sacred, sacred, or simply personal, but has turned into a pleasant pastime between unfamiliar people to quench the senses.
The sexual revolution in the sixties was started by students on college campuses. Similarly, hookup culture is most developed among students, but slowly penetrates into other social strata. San Francisco, for example, is heavily influenced by these ideas.
The dating app Tinder is one of the standard-bearers of hookup culture. This app simplifies the search, selection, and communication between partners for casual sex. In a sense, Tinder embodies the hookup culture and has penetrated deep into the culture of contemporary American. Now, any person with whom you maintain contact for periodic sex is referred to as a Tinder date.
Tinder was followed by other applications that compensated for its drawbacks with a more complex selection process, which improved the “quality” of the partners (yes, people really say “quality of partners”). For example, Bumble does not allow the guys to write the first message, and the girls stop receiving a stream of unwanted erotic photos from each match. Another application — Hinge — does not allow users to swipe for potential matches. Instead, it requires one to leave a comment on a photo. This greatly slows down the process, but increases the level of involvement and quality of partners.
Since I’m not interested in casual sex, I decided to try Hinge. I created a profile for myself, choosing six photos, answering three questions, noting my preferences, and opening the search tab. I liked the looks of the first … girl. She wrote that she did not like to follow traditional gender roles, but I did not pay attention to it. I chose her photo next to some exhibit and asked which museum she took this photo in.
For some reason, it turned out to be very difficult for me to continue doing this, so I decided that I had played enough for the day, and closed the application after a single comment.
Of course we matched, or why the hell would I be writing this?
In the very first message she called me to the museum. I was pleasantly surprised, and we agreed to meet the next day at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It turned out that she had a museum membership card that allows her to bring a plus one for free. This was fortunate, as an entrance ticket was $25.
We continued to chat, and I found out a bit more about her. She was an Instagram Influencer (her instagram). She also maintained a blog, interviewed for technical writing positions, and previously worked as a model. And she was a transgender person.
In Russia, people don’t understand trans people too well. Usually, they think that transgender people must have changed their sex, but this is not true. In order to be a transgender person, you just need to acknowledge that there is a discrepancy between your gender identity and the sex you were assigned to at birth. So if I identify as a girl, I am a transgender person.
Let’s say that my new friend prefers she/her pronouns (UPDATE: now he prefers he/him), was assigned female at birth, and presents in a feminine manner … but she does not consider herself as a girl. She identifies as a masculine of center femme, which basically means “I feel like a dude on the inside but I also really like looking girly.” She would gladly change her sex if it could be done without a grueling and long-term procedure. However, sex change operations are currently very time-consuming and painful, both physically and emotionally, and she prefers not to do it. You can read more about this on her blog.
You can say that this whole theory is not important for applications, but as it turned out, gender greatly affected her behavior. The first sign was the fact that she was the one to ask me out. It only got more interesting from there.
Of course, I went on a date with her. For the first time, I felt what it was to be a girl in Russia. She took care of me all day. At first we went to the museum, she gave me a photo session, then she took me to the beach, and in the evening she took me to a bar with a beautiful view of San Francisco, where she gave me cocktails for $20 each.
In each gesture I could read the readiness to start and lead relationships, initiate and simply make decisions. She planned the entire day. She chose restaurants and what to order. She took me to the museum, talked about her favorite works. And that she called me to her place after a day spent together.
Everything was new to me, but I liked everything. I felt all the diversity of the gender spectrum in practice and learned a lot about how things are good in the world. Of course, we talked a lot about gender issues and American culture. I learned fundamental things about gender and orientation, about working in America and blogging, and just about good places in San Francisco. On top of all this, I got a gorgeous photo shoot and a pleasant acquaintance.
I deleted the Hinge application after that. And it was the end of March.