A feminist professor complained in a blog post Sunday that the Bumble dating app failed to deliver on its promise of female empowerment.
Writing for The Conversation, health studies researcher Treena Orchard said she joined Bumble in part because it requires women to ask out men. As she noted, the app markets itself as a “100 percent feminist” solution to misogyny on other apps.
However, Orchard soon decided that being “empowered” is sexist, too. She expressed resentment at having to perform the traditionally male task of sending “invitation after invitation to potential matches” while the men “largely sit and wait for their invites to come.”
“Will he respond? Will this one like me?” she recalled agonizing. “Putting myself out there repeatedly made me feel vulnerable, not empowered.”
To cope with her hardships on Bumble, Orchard began documenting her experiences on the app with academic rigor. The results were not pretty. By her count, only 60 percent of her pickup lines were successful, and she reported going on dates with “just ten men in five months, which is a nine percent ‘success rate.'”
Treena Orchard demands Bumble “do better”
Apparently still single at the end of the process, Orchard blamed her constant rejection on men not being “comfortable waiting to be asked out.” As proof, she recounted being mistreated on the app because she is a feminist.
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“Some Bumble men view the app’s signature design as a way for women to rob them of their rightful dating power,” she said. “Many openly critiqued us for acting ‘like men’ and I was ghosted, sexually degraded and subjected to violent language by men who resented me or what I represented as a feminist.”
“These insights not only shocked me; they impaired my ability to have meaningful dating experiences on Bumble,” she added.
Orchard further accused Bumble of practicing an “outdated brand of feminism” that wrongly assumes female empowerment is possible in a “patriarchal world.”
“The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements continue to illuminate how much unfinished business we have ahead of us before gender equity is a reality,” she said. “Bumble needs a serious upgrade it if truly wants to empower women and make room for men en route to more meaningful dating experiences,” she said.
Orchard suggested a number of fixes for the app, including the creation of a “forum” for users to discuss their experiences on and screening men for their feminist views.
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Her main proposal, though, was for Bumble to “remove the ‘she asks’ and ‘he waits’ design so both partners can access one another as soon as a match is made. She presented her plea like a novel idea, but it would make Bumble just like most of the supposedly patriarchal apps that it was hailed as a replacement for.
The #MeToo mentality
Orchard’s argument against Bumble is not exceptional. Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg made a similar case in May after a study by her feminist advocacy group, LeanIn.org, found that #MeToo activism seemed to be causing men to avoid female subordinates for fear of sexual misconduct allegations.
“It’s not enough to not harass us,” she said during an appearance on CBS. “You need to not ignore us either.”
For both Orchard and Sandberg, the assumption seems to be that real female empowerment is impossible until the patriarchy is fully toppled. However, critics of feminism ― and of social justice ideology in general ― have pointed out that this standard effectively dooms members of supposedly disempowered identity groups to perpetual victimhood.
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