A Girl on Girl Thing

10 min read
22 Jul 2016
10 min read
1190 words
Being a Nepali woman on Tinder is full of experiences worth writing about
Recently, my mother told me I should start finding a guy to marry. I wondered if I should tell her I’m on Tinder. But that would be misleading because I’m not looking for a husband. Or a boyfriend. I’m not even on Tinder for sex. I’m exploring this highly stigmatised dating app because what society deems ‘unconventional’ for Nepali women is interesting. And being a Nepali woman on Tinder is full of experiences worth writing about. To follow the ventures, check this space every other Friday

But perhaps I should begin by explaining how Tinder has options for what gender you’d like to match with. You can select either ‘men’ (duh), ‘women’ (obvi!), or ‘men and women’ (ooooh, how interesting!). I’ll give you three guesses on what I have my profile set to. Now before you envision yours truly having a passionate affair tangled in the arms of another woman, allow me to list statistics on my foray into Kathmandu’s bi/lesbians who tinker on Tinder:

1) Non-Nepali female profiles: 2
2) Non-Nepali matches: 1
3) Non-Nepali dates: 0
4) Nepali profiles: 4
5) Nepali matches: 3
6) Nepali dates: 1

The number of bi/gay women barely adds up to more than the fingers on one hand; meanwhile during the very same time period, I matched with at least 80 different men and have swiped through several hundred profiles. Previous articles already established how there aren’t as many women on tinder, but when it comes A girl on girl thing to Nepali women looking for other women the figures are dismal.

In general it appears Nepali lesbians are a rare breed, but I’m willing to bet they aren’t as rare as we have been led to believe. Nepali society still doesn’t favour women; I would venture as far as to say a woman in this society isn’t valued as much if she doesn’t have a man (ideally in the form of a husband). I doubt our society would be willing to consider women being with women.

Again, owing to the patriarchy, this society has been slow to encourage women to aspire to be more than wives and mothers. Over recent generations we have been expanding our horizon to many fields and have been taking charge in several arenas, yet any accomplishments in career (or in life) are overshadowed by the prerogative to be a devoted wife and loving mother. Modern women may now be ‘allowed’ to work and have careers on the rise, but we are still expected to become mothers and wives. Experience has taught me that a lack of sindur or wedding ring has downplayed all I have accomplished— my work and I are taken far less seriously as a ‘girl’ versus being a (married) ‘woman’. Not getting married isn’t an option we have, but the only thing more appalling than a woman who doesn’t want to get married is probably a woman who wants...you know...a woman.

Much of the feminist conversation in Nepal revolves around equal rights, but there is almost no talk about women’s sexuality, particularity in regard to a woman’s pleasure. Thus far, ‘progressive sexuality’ is confined to matters of reproductive health, and women and sex is still mostly centred around giving into the ‘needs’ of a man—wives must fulfill their ‘duties’ in the bedroom. Men are known to be sexual beings, but any woman associated with the same are shamed, reprimanded and heavily looked down upon. These double standards—leniency for the men and severe repercussions for women—have persisted for far, far, far, too long. Over the years I have grown weary of explaining why women should be valued for more than our uterus, our ability to cook and clean, and our intrinsic nature to serve and be submissive to men. Some are able to comprehend that there are legitimate reasons as to why a Nepali woman might not be rushed down the aisle or around a fire. Fewer still may be swayed by the perks of being a single woman. But by and large, it is shocking that a woman might not want to marry and have a man, and therefore it is inconceivable that the reason for such could be because she wants a woman.

If we can understand the combination of how women are inevitably guided to marriage and the conservative views we have of homosexuality, it’s easy to see why we don’t hear of (or from) more lesbians. Even in this day and age, a Nepali lesbian would have everything stacked against her. So what does all of this have to do with Tinder? The way I see it, for the first time, something like Tinder provides a space for bi/gay women to seek each other out in a manner that is comparatively safe, free of judgement and entirely convenient. One of PHOTOS: BISHAL PYAKUREL my female matches confessed she isn’t sure if she’s bi or gay, but she’s using Tinder to explore her burgeoning attraction to women. I have very little idea about where or how else a Nepali woman could freely explore her sexuality and who she is.

It’s true that men who comprise Nepal’s LGBT populace don’t necessarily have it easy, but if they’re out and being themselves, they’re possibly more liberated than women who dare not speak up. I’m not advocating for a sexual revolution; I’d like the same freedom for men to apply to all genders—gay,straight,confused, bi-curious—it shouldn’t matter. Although it may seem like the most unlikely of places, Tinder could offer a place for solidarity. It’s a means of finding reassurance in and through others, a way of building confidence and sharing in the experience. I’m under no illusion of Tinder pioneering a revolution of any kind, but I do believe accepting certain components could contribute toward a better and stronger society, for women and for everyone!

The dater is an unmarried Nepali woman in her late 20s. With the help of her friends, she enjoys experimenting in Nepali society. To connect and converse, visit facebook. com/satyasavitriontinder/