By Dominique Sisley

Brutal relationship advice? Female Dating Strategy is at first blush a dating site designed to empower women to set higher standards. But is its philosophy promoting misandry? I shared my opinion with @VICE. #FDS #misandry

Dominique writes, On first scroll, Female Dating Strategy looks like any other straight women’s self-help site. Between its bright pink borders, you’ll see a selection of #empowering memes, a bustling advice forum and articles on getting over heartbreak. You’ll see “Women Don’t Owe You Shit” slogans and pastel-coloured platitudes about becoming your “best self”.

The core message behind it all? Men are “braindead” and “ass garbage”, and they need to be “ruthlessly evaluated” before you form an emotional attachment. Even if you think you’ve met a decent one, you should remain on your guard.

“Thinking ‘not all men’ is DETRIMENTAL to your safety,” reasons one poster. “‘Not all men are rapists… But if I gave you a pack of gummy bears and told you one was poisoned, wouldn’t you treat each of them as potentially lethal?”

“FDS has helped my self-confidence tremendously,” says Kristen*, who has been an FDS subscriber for 14 months. She credits the subreddit – which encourages self-development over finding a man – for pushing her into therapy, business training and helping her to find a new job. “My self-esteem has been nothing, always,” she tells VICE over Reddit PMs. “But through FDS, I realised self-improvement should be the main priority.”

Needless to say, FDS is divisive, and not just among men’s rights activists. Many of their views come across as simplistic, strange and mean-spirited. Women are told not to date any man with a mental illness, for example, or anyone struggling with their finances. One-night-stands are a no-no, as are men with small penises. Forced vasectomies are good, but sex work and pornography are bad. The moderators are also proudly kink-shamey, claiming that BDSM and polyamory are disrespectful and only ever explored for a man’s benefit, rather than because a woman might have a genuine interest herself.

Relationship experts also seem unimpressed by the site. Some FDS principles are received well, like the focus on independence and finding self-fulfillment before entering a relationship, but otherwise, it’s all too generalising.

“Much of FDS is similar to the advice your BFF would give you if you were in an unhealthy relationship,” says New York-based relationship expert Susan Winter. “But the underlying tone on FDS smacks of ‘all men are like this.’ That’s where I have concerns. I’ve known good men; kind, thoughtful and devoted partners and husbands. I’ve been loved by good men and loved good men in return.” The inferral that most men are ass-garbage, Winter says, presents a “real issue.”