I’m not normally in the habit of joining dating apps while already in a relationship, but over the weekend I made an exception. The internet was abuzz with news of a website for Trump supporters called Trump.Dating and, well, the temptation to connect with the morally bankrupt fascist of my dreams was too hard to resist. I sat my girlfriend down and broke the news as best I could: “Sweetie, I love you, but I feel like joining Trump Dating is the alt-right thing for me to do. I hope you understand.”
Succumbing to temptation when you’re already taken certainly seems to be something the people behind Trump Dating can understand. The site has been described as a sort of Ashley MAGAson, as you don’t need to be single to sign up. At first you could stipulate if you were “happily” or “unhappily” married, but they appear to have removed those options due to all the bad press. Whatever your relationship status, however, it is important to believe in the sort of good old-fashioned family values the president of the US so stalwartly represents. (It should probably be noted that Trump Dating isn’t anything to do with the Trump Organization itself, despite its history of shambolic consumer misadventures.)
While married people are free to join Trump Dating, gay people aren’t. Because of those old-fashioned family values obviously. This was disappointing to discover, as I tend to lean lesbian. Nevertheless, I persisted and joined anyway. Maybe there would be a nice man on the site who would make heterosexuality great again, you never know.
If you are a Trump fan looking for a serious relationship, my username is white111. I know it’s a bit uninspired, but I thought it was on brand. Also, all the good usernames had been taken. Whitepower had been snapped up, as had Hot4Ivanka and Putin.
Despite my anaemic username, I have, thrillingly, already received one message. I’m rather impressed by this, as I didn’t upload a picture and put my height as 8ft tall. Clearly, however, Gumby75 is a man who believes it’s what inside that counts. It’s also possible he’s a Russian bot.
I would love to relay the message Gumby75 sent me, but what happens on Trump Dating stays on Trump Dating. Particularly as you have to pay $16.99 (£12) in order to read messages – money better spent on literally anything else. Due to this communication impasse, I’m afraid things don’t look too promising for me and Gumby75. Reader, I probably won’t marry him.
While Trump Dating may sound ridiculous, I regret to inform you that the site is not satire. Although, to be fair, most of the new accounts are probably spoofs – if not, someone needs to tell Ivanka that Jared Kushner is cheating on her, stat. No, rather than being a bad joke, Trump Dating is an inevitable byproduct of the sad joke that constitutes our present reality. Our increasingly polarised political landscape has taken a toll on relationships. A 2016 survey by the charity Relate found one-fifth of its 300 relationship counsellors had helped couples deal with arguments about Brexit, for example. And a survey conducted by Tinder last year found 71% of online daters consider opposing political views to be a dealbreaker. These political divides seem to have triggered a rise in niche, politically oriented dating websites. Remainder is an app for those who voted to stay in the EU. And Trump Dating is not the only Trump-focused relationship site; there’s also TrumpSingles.com.
What there doesn’t seem to be, however, is a dating site for Brexiters. So, I am delighted to announce that I am currently working on BrexitLovers.com, a portal for patriotic passion. It’s still early days for the site, but I guarantee that if you join, you won’t want to leave.
I’m happy for Tom Daley, but uncomfortable about surrogacy
Last week, the Olympic diver Tom Daley and his husband, Dustin Lance Black, announced they were expecting their first child. A torrent of homophobic abuse immediately followed, including an odious column by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail that proclaimed: “Please don’t pretend two dads is the new normal.” Instead of just owning his homophobia, Littlejohn had the temerity to pretend he wasn’t prejudiced; no, actually, he was a feminist! He was worried women were being used as “mere breeding machines” by gay men looking to start a family via a surrogate.
Littlejohn’s vile column was obviously indefensible. But please let’s not pretend that surrogacy (which is still most commonly used by heterosexual couples) is unproblematic. Surrogacy is far from straightforward; every case is different. Nevertheless, I find it difficult not to think of commercial surrogacy as being fundamentally exploitative. Perhaps some women rent out their wombs out of the goodness of their hearts, but in most cases I think the decision is driven by desperation and facilitated by a hyper-capitalism where everything is for sale. There is a power imbalance in most surrogacy agreements that I don’t think one can ignore.
It’s not clear how much consideration Daley and Black gave the issue. In an interview on the Attitude Heroes podcast, Black noted that, while planning for a child, the pair had been surprised to find that commercial surrogacy – which is legal in certain American states – was illegal in the UK. It had been “a bit of a shock”, he said, that the UK, which is more progressive than the US, hadn’t made commercial surrogacy legal. I didn’t get any sense from Black on the podcast that they had suffered great angst over employing a surrogate. He didn’t stop for a second and acknowledge the ethical dimensions of surrogacy. Personally, I find that a bit of a shock.
In praise of EF Benson, the Edwardian hero of figure skating
Thanks to the Winter Olympics the world is currently enthralled by figure skating. So, I would like to pay homage to a hero of British figure-skating history: EF Benson. While Benson is best known for writing the magnificent Mapp and Lucia series, he also figure-skated for England and wrote a guide to the sport. He was part of a wonderfully eccentric family, including a ghost-hunting father who became Archbishop of Canterbury and two brothers who were also prolific writers. Seriously, the Kardashians could never have kept up with the Bensons, who are the firm No 1 on my list of Edwardians I Would Have Liked to Know.