I did not have a summer fling.
In the late-August drought, the only thing drier than the withered grass was my phone. Even with the slight stat boost — I went from a 6/10 in New Haven to an 8.7/10 in Montana — I could not find a single person on Tinder who I would even consider looking in the eye. I’m queer, but it seems all of the women-loving-women or non-binary-loving-women in Montana have wisely vacated the Tinder arena.
As a result, Montana Tinder consists of a cohort of mostly straight, beer-guzzling, cowboy-hat-wearing, Very Country men. Unfortunately, I view that population with the same vague curiosity incurred by admiring a newly-painted beige wall or flipping through a waiting-room tabloid — which, incidentally, is not the desired emotion for selecting a potential partner.
I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what made these Montana Men so … unappealing. Perhaps it was the subtly-homophobic energy exuded from every snapshot of a jacked up truck. Perhaps it was their identifying odor, a delicate combination of feet, sweat, musty sheets and Axe body spray, which was so strong it diffused through my phone screen like the “before” part of a cologne ad. Perhaps it was the not-so-subtle bloody fingers and proudly grubby cheeks, sure markers of a blue-collar worker with a hunting hobby. One remarkable profile contained no less than five pictures in which a smiling occupant cradled a raw fish between his meaty palms.
Whatever the reason, I was swiping left on every profile. The summer dragged on and still, I was as far from flung as it was possible to be. But the more I swiped, the more I realized the profiles followed a pattern. In fact, many seemed nearly identical. They contained similar phrases like “just looking for a mom for my dog,” or “I can outsmoke you.” Like any good scientist, I figured this pattern merited investigation. If I could just pinpoint the issue with Montana Tinder men, perhaps the lack of eligible partners could be rectified for other male-attracted people. I wasn’t getting a date, but at least I could get some data.
Emboldened by this new, noble, highly scientific goal, I drafted a spreadsheet containing variables I found to be common across profiles. Then, when things were slow at work, I swiped left until my thumbs hurt, taking care to mark each data point on the spreadsheet. Co-workers became invested in the survey once they saw my lengthy tables. Every week, they would demand a status update on Montana Tinder men and ask when my findings would be analyzed and presented.
After a few hundred swipes, I’d exhausted every single match — not just in my town, which contains fewer people than Yale’s campus, but in my entire region of the state. That’s when I knew my work was near completion. I had only one task remaining: to collect all of this raw (lol) data and share my findings with the world.
Without further ado, I present the capstone project of a summer spent swiping:
The Redneck Dilemma: An Analysis of the Behavior and Mating Rituals of Montana Men with Implications for Declining Birthrate in the United States
It’s a well-known fact that Montana faces severe population shortages. A recent study of the state reveals that the cow-to-people ratio has now reached a striking 2.5 cows to every person. This survey seeks to uncover factors behind the falling birthrate by examining a primary mechanism by which Montana Men — in Latin, Montanus idiotus — seek a mate.
In nature, male members of a species often produce an auditory signal in order to attract females to a breeding site. This phenomenon, called a “mating call,” is best witnessed in several species of songbirds. However, Montanus idiotus dwells in a state where fifty miles is an acceptable, nay, convenient distance for a match. Such remoteness means that the auditory signals of males often go undetected by potential mates.
Montanus idiotus has developed a unique biological adaptation to combat this setback. Instead of auditory mating calls, the mating calls* of Montanus idiotus are produced in the form of photography and short blurbs, and distributed via the online dating site Tinder. Thus, Tinder provides a vital mechanism for Montanus idiotus to attract a member of the preferred sex. Tinder profiles serve as the latest evolutionary adaptation in a long line of mating calls. But are they the most effective?
The mating practices of Montanus idiotus are vastly understudied. While initial results of this survey appear promising, additional research, especially into the field of female receptiveness to the mating cries of Montanus idiotus, is required to truly understand this peculiar species.
* The reader should note that at the time of writing, scientific literature is divided over whether cries emitted by Montanus idiotus are actually mating calls, or in fact, cries for help.
In this study, 103 Tinder profiles were analyzed: 30 in a preliminary survey and 73 in the principal survey. In the preliminary survey, subjects were scored in 12 categories. In the principal survey, this metric was expanded to 16 different categories, encompassing both photographic and written aspects of each profile. In addition to survey statistics, several profiles which warranted specific attention were chosen as the focus for case studies.
Part A: Survey
The primary demographic for the principal survey was overwhelmingly white males, aged 19-25. 73 profiles were surveyed.
We theorize that the following categories are reflective of many Tinder users. Out of the respondents:
- 36% had a picture with dog
- 16% wrote their height in their profile
- 29% contained at least one shirtless picture
- 27% mentioned the gym in their profile or had a picture in the gym
- 11% had a picture containing a blunt or a smoking occupant, and an additional 5% mentioned smoking
- 23% had a picture where the occupant was holding or drinking alcohol
- 4% explicitly stated they were looking for hookups or friends with benefits — we believe this number is low compared to other demographics of Tinder users
We theorize the traits analyzed in the following section are more specific to Montanus idiotus:
- 3% mentioned hunting or fishing in their profile, and an additional 12% had a picture involving hunting or fishing
- 23% had a picture with cowboy hat and/or horse, including one profile with four pictures in four different cowboy hats
- An additional 4% mentioned farming or ranching in their bio
- 16% had a picture of a vehicle — car, truck or dirt bike — including one profile with a picture of a toy truck and one profile with four vehicle pictures and no pictures of the subject
- A slightly alarming 4% contained at least one picture of a Trump flag or assorted paraphernalia
- 13% contained at least one picture of a gun
We can only conclude that the inclusion of these details is a primitive tactic utilized by Montanus idiotus to demonstrate that the subject is a good provider and would make a biologically sound mate.
Part B: Case Studies
Case studies were not originally intended to comprise part of the study. However, we hope that they will provide additional insight into the dire plight of Montanus idiotus and their mating prospects.
Subject 1 — “Will,” a male aged 20 — opened his profile by describing himself as “one dense mother f*cker.” He proceeded to list his statistics, writing that he is 6’2” and weighs 190 lbs. Presumably, this is to indicate his viability to any potential mates. Regarding the height and weight statistics, Will then asks, “Is this good? I hope so.” If you have to ask, maybe it’s not good.
In the included photo, an unsmiling Will clutches an olive green water bottle with both hands, holding it in front of him like a shield. This is a common tactic employed by males who fear female attention and seek to place any available barriers between themselves and the nearest woman.
Subject 2 — “Larry,” a male aged 22 — displayed a black and white image of himself, outfitted in chaps and a cowboy hat, his gloved hand adjusting some unseen implement near his crotch. Larry opted for a simple, but profound opening line: “I just like choking shit. Take that as you please!”
NO, LARRY, I WILL NOT TAKE THAT AS YOU PLEASE.
Subject 3 — “Teajay,” a male aged 20 — was one of the most exemplary specimens of Montanus idiotus examined in this survey. Teajay left his bio entirely blank, perhaps with the intention of cultivating a mysterious persona, or perhaps because he was incapable of forming basic sentences.
It is the opening photo, however, that proved most noteworthy. In the image, Teajay stands, arms spread wide, with a beer can in each hand. This pose reveals the full extent of his wingspan, and hints at his capacity to ingest alcohol. Teajay is entirely nude, save for a large cowboy hat covering his crotch. He stares into the camera, with a look both stoic and defiant. Teajay is a Montanus idiotus, and he’s proud of it. This is his mating call.
After conducting the preliminary and principal surveys, we suggest that any male-attracted Montanans who are considering downloading Tinder should immediately burn their phones and sanitize their eyeballs to avoid contact with Montanus idiotus.
We also strongly advise that Montana be sold to Canada for spare parts.