In a globalized country such as The Netherlands where digital media are a significant part of our daily lives, dating apps like Tinder have become a tool through which people experience intimacy and sexuality. Considering that The Netherlands is a destination chosen by thousands of expats every year to pursue an academic degree, Tinder becomes an important tool used by female international students to experience intimacy and sexuality in the country. Bearing in mind that the design of the app, as well as its affordances, promotes a patriarchal societal structure, the present study investigates how female international students experience intimacy and sexuality through Tinder in The Netherlands. In-depth interview data, which were analyzed using the thematic analysis method, revealed that female international students had a great agency on the app. They decided how to represent themselves, what partner to choose, and how to defend themselves from harassers. Despite the agency and the active role that female international students had on the app, the Dutch globalized environment seemed to have had a huge impact on the schemes of values regarding sexuality and intimacy the participants have adopted in The Netherlands. The main changes that occurred among the population after having moved to The Netherlands and meeting people on Tinder are three: First, they learned how to communicate openly with a partner. Second, they explored their sexual identities freely. Third, they experienced and accepted new ways of dating. These changes have occurred thanks to the fact that Tinder permitted female international students to meet and get in contact with people that, having a different sexual culture, influenced the scheme of values of the female international students. However, the interactions with men on Tinder did not only bring positive and enriching experiences. Episodes of harassment that include unwanted sexual messages, the lack of consent, the objectification of women, and verbal harassment emerged during the interviews. In conclusion, this study recognizes that even though female international students are not totally passive to Tinder, the dating app has a huge role in framing the experience of intimacy and sexuality in The Netherlands.

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Amanda Paz Alencar
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Laura Mastracchio. (2021, June 24). Tinder mediated intimacies, How female international students experience sexuality and intimacy through Tinder.. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from