Sex & Love

Is JDate Bad for Women?

Is JDate a feminist issue? The Jewish quarterly journal Lilith certainly thinks so — their winter issue devotes over eight pages to a package looking at the negative effects of Internet dating on Jewish women. Trying and failing to find … Read More

By / February 11, 2008

Is JDate a feminist issue? The Jewish quarterly journal Lilith certainly thinks so — their winter issue devotes over eight pages to a package looking at the negative effects of Internet dating on Jewish women.

Trying and failing to find love online, writes Susan Shnur, makes women (especially those in their thirties and older) “feel isolated and at fault.” Male-female ratios are roughly equal on dating sites, but women don’t get nearly as many responses as men. When they do find likely candidates, those guys often turn out to be self-centered, married, or both. And online dating promotes a shopping mentality, wherein it’s easy to click past the pretty-good profiles in search of more perfect acquisitions.

I buy all of these facts, but I’m not sure it helps to blame JDate for the unhappiness of unmarried Jewish women. Love was unfair long before the rise of Internet dating, and while sites like JDate definitely encourage non-empathetic behavior, I don’t believe that breaks down by gender. (Shnur inadvertently backs me up on this — all of her quotes about dating-as-shopping come from women.)

To me, it seems like that sense of isolation and personal failure felt by older single Jewish women might be less about the beastliness of the Internet and more about our culture’s unhealthy emphasis on making babies. Mainstream American culture is baby-crazy to begin with, but the amount of pressure on Jewish women is drastically increased because we’re not just supposed to be fulfilling our womanly destinies – we’re supposed to be ensuring the survival of our race.

No one ever says it outright, but if intermarriage is 'finishing what Hitler started' (as the trolls like to point out in our comments section) because it produces insufficiently Jewish children, then what about those Jewish women who don’t produce any children at all? Are they, like, Goebbels's little helpers? And isn't that adding insult to injury — taking women who already feel rejected due to their unsuccessful JDate profiles, and then telling them nothing they accomplish in life matters if they don't have kids? If that's the case, maybe we Jewish feminists should be less worried about the fact that online dating is an impersonal experience, and more worried about how even in this enlightened age — a time when egalitarianism is utterly the norm in some strains of Judaism, e.g. the female-rabbi–dominated Reform movement — we’re still haranguing women to work those wombs.