This is what Tinder is like for lesbians. Honest. Photo: Getty
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Like so many things in life, Tinder is just different for lesbians

I feel like Tinder is a place where lesbians play badminton and drink iced tea, while straight women trawl through skips while dodging rotten turnips that are being lobbed at their heads.

“My dick has died, can I bury it in your arse?”

It’s almost art. My inner literature student wants to call it something like “verbal brutalism”. Anyway – it’s Shakespeare; it’s Byron; it’s Virginia bloody Woolf. Presenting: a message a man sent to a woman I know, on Tinder.

Over a pint, some of my straight female friends are comparing gross things that men have said to them on Tinder. For those who aren’t in their twenties and single, Tinder is a dating app with around ten million users worldwide. You know how, in Fifties America, young people supposedly met in malt shops? That’s exactly what Tinder is – a gargantuan, spermy, digital malt shop. And it recently emerged that everyone’s hook-up generator of choice is run by at least one heinous person. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, one of the brains behind an app that men are regularly using to vent their disgustingness has been accused of sexual harassment. Former Tinder executive, Whitney Wolfe, claims that the app’s head of marketing, Justin Mateen, called her a whore and was generally quite medieval about the whole her being a woman thing.

But back to the pub. After listening to stories about dick pics, Poundland-quality banter and the least appealing anal sex offer I’ve ever heard, it’s my turn to reveal my Tinder burns. I’m struggling. In all honesty, the most traumatic message I’ve had on the app was one in which there was a “your” where there should’ve been a “you’re”. Like so many things in life, Tinder is just different for lesbians.

I’ve been using it since last year, and Tinder has generally treated me kindly. When I message a match, we usually chat about twatty London things, like how great Brixton Market is, or where does the best flat white. Not once have genitals (let alone deceased ones) entered the picture. One of the few downsides for me is that, in spite of having my preferences set to “women only”, men regularly crop up. I have no idea why this is, but it means I have to look at a lot of pictures of the Tinder stalwart that is “man stands next to sedated tiger and pretends he’s some kind of fucking beast master”.

But apart from having to left-swipe male intruders, my experience with the app has been everything from “fine” to “quite good”. I’ve been on a couple of Tinder dates (not including the one where I was stood up, but let’s not go into that) and even know people, both gay and straight, in bona fide Tinder relationships. Broadly speaking though, I feel like Tinder is a place where lesbians play badminton and drink iced tea, while straight women trawl through skips while dodging rotten turnips that are being lobbed at their heads.

The recent sexual harassment scandal probably came as little surprise to the turnip dodgers. Before speaking to them, I didn’t know the full extent of the app’s generalised horribleness. Maybe I should have been less naïve about a dating model where you look at someone’s face for a couple of seconds before deciding whether or not you’d like to sleep with them. But could Tinder actually be one of the near-mythological areas in life where lesbians get a better deal? For the ones who are after primitive gruntings about sex parts, no. But those of us who get off on gentle discussions about beverages, Tinder is queen.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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The Brexit Beartraps, #2: Could dropping out of the open skies agreement cancel your holiday?

Flying to Europe is about to get a lot more difficult.

So what is it this time, eh? Brexit is going to wipe out every banana planet on the entire planet? Brexit will get the Last Night of the Proms cancelled? Brexit will bring about World War Three?

To be honest, I think we’re pretty well covered already on that last score, but no, this week it’s nothing so terrifying. It’s just that Brexit might get your holiday cancelled.

What are you blithering about now?

Well, only if you want to holiday in Europe, I suppose. If you’re going to Blackpool you’ll be fine. Or Pakistan, according to some people...

You’re making this up.

I’m honestly not, though we can’t entirely rule out the possibility somebody is. Last month Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss who attracts headlines the way certain other things attract flies, warned that, “There is a real prospect... that there are going to be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of weeks, months beyond March 2019... We will be cancelling people’s holidays for summer of 2019.”

He’s just trying to block Brexit, the bloody saboteur.

Well, yes, he’s been quite explicit about that, and says we should just ignore the referendum result. Honestly, he’s so Remainiac he makes me look like Dan Hannan.

But he’s not wrong that there are issues: please fasten your seatbelt, and brace yourself for some turbulence.

Not so long ago, aviation was a very national sort of a business: many of the big airports were owned by nation states, and the airline industry was dominated by the state-backed national flag carriers (British Airways, Air France and so on). Since governments set airline regulations too, that meant those airlines were given all sorts of competitive advantages in their own country, and pretty much everyone faced barriers to entry in others. 

The EU changed all that. Since 1994, the European Single Aviation Market (ESAM) has allowed free movement of people and cargo; established common rules over safety, security, the environment and so on; and ensured fair competition between European airlines. It also means that an AOC – an Air Operator Certificate, the bit of paper an airline needs to fly – from any European country would be enough to operate in all of them. 

Do we really need all these acronyms?

No, alas, we need more of them. There’s also ECAA, the European Common Aviation Area – that’s the area ESAM covers; basically, ESAM is the aviation bit of the single market, and ECAA the aviation bit of the European Economic Area, or EEA. Then there’s ESAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, which regulates, well, you can probably guess what it regulates to be honest.

All this may sound a bit dry-

It is.

-it is a bit dry, yes. But it’s also the thing that made it much easier to travel around Europe. It made the European aviation industry much more competitive, which is where the whole cheap flights thing came from.

In a speech last December, Andrew Haines, the boss of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said that, since 2000, the number of destinations served from UK airports has doubled; since 1993, fares have dropped by a third. Which is brilliant.

Brexit, though, means we’re probably going to have to pull out of these arrangements.

Stop talking Britain down.

Don’t tell me, tell Brexit secretary David Davis. To monitor and enforce all these international agreements, you need an international court system. That’s the European Court of Justice, which ministers have repeatedly made clear that we’re leaving.

So: last March, when Davis was asked by a select committee whether the open skies system would persist, he replied: “One would presume that would not apply to us” – although he promised he’d fight for a successor, which is very reassuring. 

We can always holiday elsewhere. 

Perhaps you can – O’Leary also claimed (I’m still not making this up) that a senior Brexit minister had told him that lost European airline traffic could be made up for through a bilateral agreement with Pakistan. Which seems a bit optimistic to me, but what do I know.

Intercontinental flights are still likely to be more difficult, though. Since 2007, flights between Europe and the US have operated under a separate open skies agreement, and leaving the EU means we’re we’re about to fall out of that, too.  

Surely we’ll just revert to whatever rules there were before.

Apparently not. Airlines for America – a trade body for... well, you can probably guess that, too – has pointed out that, if we do, there are no historic rules to fall back on: there’s no aviation equivalent of the WTO.

The claim that flights are going to just stop is definitely a worst case scenario: in practice, we can probably negotiate a bunch of new agreements. But we’re already negotiating a lot of other things, and we’re on a deadline, so we’re tight for time.

In fact, we’re really tight for time. Airlines for America has also argued that – because so many tickets are sold a year or more in advance – airlines really need a new deal in place by March 2018, if they’re to have faith they can keep flying. So it’s asking for aviation to be prioritised in negotiations.

The only problem is, we can’t negotiate anything else until the EU decides we’ve made enough progress on the divorce bill and the rights of EU nationals. And the clock’s ticking.

This is just remoaning. Brexit will set us free.

A little bit, maybe. CAA’s Haines has also said he believes “talk of significant retrenchment is very much over-stated, and Brexit offers potential opportunities in other areas”. Falling out of Europe means falling out of European ownership rules, so itcould bring foreign capital into the UK aviation industry (assuming anyone still wants to invest, of course). It would also mean more flexibility on “slot rules”, by which airports have to hand out landing times, and which are I gather a source of some contention at the moment.

But Haines also pointed out that the UK has been one of the most influential contributors to European aviation regulations: leaving the European system will mean we lose that influence. And let’s not forget that it was European law that gave passengers the right to redress when things go wrong: if you’ve ever had a refund after long delays, you’ve got the EU to thank.

So: the planes may not stop flying. But the UK will have less influence over the future of aviation; passengers might have fewer consumer rights; and while it’s not clear that Brexit will mean vastly fewer flights, it’s hard to see how it will mean more, so between that and the slide in sterling, prices are likely to rise, too.

It’s not that Brexit is inevitably going to mean disaster. It’s just that it’ll take a lot of effort for very little obvious reward. Which is becoming something of a theme.

Still, we’ll be free of those bureaucrats at the ECJ, won’t be?

This’ll be a great comfort when we’re all holidaying in Grimsby.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Brexit. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.