Women often complain about the issue of “objectification,” meaning that society puts undue focus on female sexuality or looks, and ignores or downplays their other attributes.
It’s true – this is an issue. Female celebs like Christina Aguilera are critiqued for every pound of post-baby weight gain (um, she’s a singer, not a supermodel), Senators and Supreme Court Justices can’t catch a break from the barrage of bitch and ugly references (seriously, who cares what they look like?), and Angela Jolie loses sex symbol status for removing her breasts… even though it may potentially save her life.
Yep, women are judged irrationally and subjectively all the time, and with the Internet, there are even more opportunities for women to be portrayed as sexual conquests and trophies. For example, I recently made the mistake of looking up what the whole “Keep Calm and Chive On” thing is about, and realized it’s like… mostly butts. Lots and lots of female butts. Oh, and the occasional wet tee and half-assed (ha) memes.
A lot of females find the sexual onslaught overwhelming, and feel like the options are limited — We can try to avoid it, we can try to ignore it, we can try to change our society to one that is less demeaning towards women. Or, apparently, we jump right into the mud with the rest of the animal kingdom.
A few months ago, an entrepreneurial young gal started a new movement with an “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” approach to relating.
In the 5-star spirit of Yelp!/Amazon/Netflix/Rotten Tomatoes, Alexandra Chong created the Lulu app, a rate-a-date database for women to review the men in (or out) of their lives. The categories range from “Manners” to “Shoe Size” (yes, fellas, this is a transparent reference to your penis), and altogether, the app creates a novel and uniquely creepy consumer experience. Honestly ladies, you never cease to amaze me. Amid all the pretty smells and pastel tankinis, a heart of darkness awaits…
While the premise is nothing new – sites like Don’tDateHimGirl and Cheaterville, among others, have already come and gone – there are a few key differences that make this app especially obnoxious. For one, it uses the all-powerful and highly trafficked Facebook. Men are listed with their first and last name, while women raters are always anonymous (definitely a fair method, and definitely not a recipe for disaster).
Then, the categories. The app claims “This isn’t a place to trash talk. We’re all about encouraging good, gentlemanly behavior!” If by “gentlemanly behavior” they mean locker room talk about someone’s sexual kink factor, then yeah. They’re definitely encouraging it.
There are other “fun” aspects, like quizzes on things like his “Ambition.” The questions and answers are provided, so women can answer “In 10 years, he’ll pay bills…” with anything from “in IOU’s” or “by borrowing from the ‘rents” to “for his entire extended family.” Why yes, of course. Who better to judge a man’s 10-year trajectory than that girl he had coffee with two times, or drunkenly hooked up with in the dorms last year?
The point of the app, according to its creator, is a “girls-only app for dating intelligence,” and the homepage gives cheery headlines like, “When you meet a new dude, check his Lulu profile, and find out everything you want to know!” But really. Let’s call a spade a spade. The point is gossip and the endgame is hearsay. There is nothing intelligent going on here, and the only thing I want to know is why anyone thought this would be a good idea.
For guys who think their information is private, or that think that abstaining from the app’s database just means tweaking a few security settings, think again. If you’re friends with a girl, and she joins the Lulu app, you’re joining the Lulu app. Originally, men weren’t even allowed to view their own reviews or “join” in the fun. They just had to sit back and wonder who is saying what. One smart male user did find a loophole, though — he changed his Facebook profile gender to “female,” so he could download the app…and all the information it contained.
After getting bombarded by male attempts to sign into the app, however, the creators did the charitable thing and came up with a solution for the problem they themselves created: Lulu Dude. Now guys can go on and see their own profiles, and perhaps “improve” areas where they aren’t faring well. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that men are essentially defenseless and in the dark while unknown parties divulge intimate details and rate them in bed.
I thought the app wouldn’t last, and the first male attorney to get a bad review would go straight for the jugular, but no… 80 million views and counting. Female undergraduates are apparently a large part of the user base, which makes male undergraduates a large part of the “data” base, which maybe isn’t surprising. College kids haven’t had to operate in the real world yet, and realize that the crazy sh*t the say online can have consequences like getting fired.
Ladies, I get that today’s world is confusing. The mixed messages are endless: “Our country believes in sexual equality! … but using birth control means you’re a slut.” or “Pursue the career of your dreams! … Just don’t act like some macho bitch, and be sure to show a little leg.” We may want to try and prove our sexual independence, or show that we’re just as cool and “evolved” as men, but stooping to this new low is only going to bite us in the long run.
Aside from rude and invasive, using this 21st century stalker tool is most likely huge waste of time that won’t provide any real insight whatsoever. Why the heck do we care so much about other people’s opinions, anyway?
I don’t even know what to say to the women who are posting reviews of their own, but obviously quite a few are. Even if it seems like a good idea, like maybe a super-sweet 5 stars for your favorite guy ‘friend,’ if he’s really a great person, do you want him dating a chick that needs the Lulu app to see that? (Or, heck, who even uses the Lulu app.) Alternatively, if you post a tell-all or bad review, what goes around comes around. It won’t be long before a similar app is created about women, and heck, some already have – See “The Playbook” where guys get to share their sexual conquests with bros.
Not to mention that those comments may find their way home in some e-Discovery subpoena – The none-too-dumb Lulu creator has it embedded in the terms of service that all users are responsible for the veracity of the information they post. So, when it comes to accusations that you’ve advertised the wrong “shoe size,” it won’t be the company that takes a bullet.
As for the guys… I apologize for my gender. The good news is, any woman worth her salt won’t give a second thought to your Lulu rating. Consider it dodging a bullet if any woman blows you off (geez, not like that) because of it. While waiting for this thing to be taken apart, maybe y’all can have some fun with the process — switch your gender on Facebook, review your besties, add to the massively biased nature of the charade. Or, get off Facebook entirely. For guys who find all this distasteful and offensive, though, I implore you — please don’t do what Chong did and sink to the lowest common denominator. Women are obviously looking to men as social role models, so maybe by staying on the up-and-up, you’ll inspire more of them to act in kind.
Overall, this is gross for a lot of reasons, and just another example of how social media sharing has become (Oh, what’s a fair analogy) … the devil? If there’s a market for it, good or bad, it’s going to get a foothold in “social” media.
I feel like there’s the lesson learned, time and again: Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD.