Just Gonna Say It: Victim-Blaming The Women In The Tinder Swindler Is Gross And Misogynistic

Cecile, one of the victims of the Tinder Swindler, crying after she was scammed and then victim-blamed.

The Tinder Swindler documentary has taken the world by storm, but unfortunately so has the disgusting victim-blaming that’s come from it.

In case you need a refresh, Netflix’s latest hit documentary exposes Israeli conman Shimon Hayut (also known as Simon Leviev) for allegedly scamming his multiple, overlapping girlfriends out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The documentary centres around interviews with victims of Hayut’s alleged scams, where multiple women reveal that he lied to them about his identity and love bombed them into trusting him and believing they were in a serious, long-term relationship.

After this trust was established and they believed he was the billionaire son of a diamond tycoon, he would claim his life was in danger from business enemies and ask to use their credit cards for a week or two while he lays low. Well, you can guess what happens next.

When I first heard of the documentary, a part of me felt exasperated at how gullible these women must be. I mean, if you’re giving your credit card to some man, you’re kinda bringing this upon yourself, right? Wrong.

Upon actually watching The Tinder Swindler, it’s clear that this has nothing to do with how “gullible” these women are, but rather the fact that Hayut had his scammery down to an art.

He used what the documentary assumes is stolen money to fly these women around the world in private jets, buy them expensive jewellery, rent them apartments, take them to billionaire-only venues.

The staff at these restaurants, his team of security, even news articles seemed to verify his practically royal status. And at the same time, he made these women feel special, loved, appreciated and seen in ways they have never experienced before.

So, when they were presented with a situation where he was in danger, and the only way to save their apparent soulmate’s life was to just let him use their credit cards while he sorts out his own, of course they did. They loved him, but perhaps more importantly, they had no reason to assume he wouldn’t pay them back.

They have seen this man fly them on private jets spontaneously, take them for a date night in a different country and be back before bedtime, and all kinds of other Disney prince-esque feats.

He appeared rich beyond their comprehension, and $10,000 or $20,000 or $250,000 is just pocket change to him. So of course, they lend him that money — the same way I wouldn’t hesitate to give a loved one $10 or $50 or whatever if they needed it.

The point is, it’s not about being stupid or gullible, because this is what seems to be a verified billionaire asking them for money that he frequently drops on them anyway. If anything, they just feel like they’re giving back a tiny fraction of what he spoilt them with.

But of course, that’s gone completely over the heads of many viewers, who are now taking to the internet to victim-blame the women for being apparently dumb enough to trust a man that literally has given them everything they ever wanted and more. Or worse, men performing mental gymnastics to liken these women’s victim status to gold digging — despite the fact that they’re the ones giving Hayut money.

There’s no shortage of tweets making claims like “couldn’t be me” which is exactly the point — it couldn’t because these women are dating billionaires, and scammers wouldn’t date the type of woman who wouldn’t share money anyway. They prey specifically on women who they think they can take advantage of.

Scammers use emotional manipulation to prey on women who desperately want to love and be loved, who are sensitive and caring and giving. They make victims out of women who are “dumb” enough to be kind.

The Tinder Swindler itself explores the vitriol directed at these women, and how they felt when their story hit the media and instead of compassion they received scorn. Imagine watching that and still finding it in you to berate them.

It’s frustrating to see such rampant victim-blaming when if we want to shame or drag anyone, it should be Shimon Hayut — the man who felt it was okay to literally ruin the lives of these women. Why are we more angry at women for being scammed than men for being scammers?

Why are there more tweets and other social media posts making fun of these women than expressing rage at the fact that Shimon Hayut is a free man?

We know why, it’s because this misogynistic society is obsessed with punishing women, even when they’ve already suffered. And I am over it.