Swipe Right? Professor Clemens Discusses Photos of Gun Bravado on Dating Apps

Monday, March 12, 2018
Photo of Christopher Clemens

BOSTON GLOBE -- But who would post pictures of guns on a dating profile anyway? One woman at Galore asked a bunch of arms-holding Tinder users and came to the conclusion: “Dudes with guns in their Tinder pics are just like regular guys on Tinder (only scary), they’ll do and/or say anything” for sex.

The intent may be more literal than you think, said Christopher Clemens, assistant professor of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University and an expert in media and gender studies.

“I think men are posting [these photos] because they know it signifies ‘masculinity’ and they want to portray themselves as ‘someone not to be messed with’ or in some case, ‘protectors,’ ” Clemens said.

“Some men believe that a woman is searching for a stereotypical ‘men are masculine, women are feminine’ relationship,” he continued. “He’s like, ‘Hey, I’m a heteronormative male who fits within the patriarchal culture we live in.’ It’s also a signifier to other men: ‘Hey, I’m tough. Look at this thing in my hand. I hold power.’ Some men still believe that women are attracted to that vision within this country — but that might not be the case anymore.”

Clemens, who coauthored a 2015 study titled “The influence of biological and personality traits on gratifications obtained through online dating websites,” regularly studies perceptions of masculinity. He thinks Bumble’s decision to move forward with the ban is a positive one for the platform.

“It’s an app made to make women feel equal to men,” he said. “They should feel comfortable while using it.”