Tinder, the online dating app, is in the hot seat after adding a video to the app that shows an Asian man being rejected.
When logging into the app, Tinder users in Hong Kong were greeted with a short video showing off the app’s swiping features, according to Asian news and culture blog Next Shark. The user in the video apparently swipes right on all the prospects presented to her except the Asian man.
A spokesperson for Tinder told HuffPost on Wednesday that the company did not intend to offend anyone with the video and explained that the login video was a part of a temporary test.
Next Shark’s Heather Johnson Yu called the video a “very cheap shot at Asian men.” Indeed, the video furthered a problematic and false stereotype that Asian men aren’t manly or sexually desirable.
These emasculating stereotypes, which are often perpetuated in films and on TV shows, can put Asian men at a disadvantage in dating. One study in 2014 found that Asian men have a harder time with online dating. In a speed-dating study conducted at Columbia University, Asian men also had the most difficulty getting a second date.
“Though it was not our intention, we see in retrospect how the content could be seen as insensitive, and we deeply apologize for any offense caused,” a Tinder spokesperson said in a statement sent to HuffPost. “We believe that everyone deserves the chance to find their match on Tinder and we strive to make it a community of acceptance and inclusivity for all individuals.”
Tinder has since pulled the video from its app, but the damage may have already been done in Hong Kong, where users noticed the video.
“This video not only disrespects the market that Tinder seeks to serve, but also reinforces the stereotype Asian men aren’t attractive to women,” Ariadna Peretz, founder of the Maitre D’ate matchmaking agency in Hong Kong, told South China Morning Post.
The worst part? Peretz said that women in Hong Kong do subscribe to that stereotype and believe that Asian men lack charisma. “The problem is Asian men are dealing with stereotypes that do not represent them fairly,” she told the Post.
JT Tran, a dating coach and founder of the ABCs of Attraction, told Next Shark that people can be “anonymously racist” on dating apps, which is why he says Asian men have such a hard time on them.
“Online dating is inferior to meeting non-Asian women in real life because, just like porn, people use it anonymously and women can be anonymously racist in whom they swipe left or right on,” Tran said. “Tinder just exacerbates that tendency ... which plays into the worst of Asian male stereotypes.”
His solution for Asian men is simple: Ditch online dating and meet people in person, so “you can project a strong, Asian masculine identity that will overcome any unconscious racial biases.”