By now many of us have heard of the dating app Bumble, which gives women the choice to initiate a conversation with a potential romantic partner within 24 hours of being matched with them. Although there are mixed consumer reviews, some find the concept of the app interesting and new. In an interview with The New York Times, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe said that her app is “helping to change some very archaic norms” in the dating game, specifically women being harassed by men on dating apps. Although Wolfe’s idea of having women reach out first may be different from other popular dating apps — such as Tinder and OKCupid — it’s hard to believe it will cause any substantial change in online dating culture.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 42 percent of female online daters have experienced some form of harassment via online dating sites. An app like Bumble will not eliminate problems like these but rather delay their occurrence. Let’s take two scenarios into consideration — one where a man and a woman swipe through Tinder, and in the second, where they use Bumble. If the man in these scenarios is a harasser, he will perhaps begin the conversation by making derogatory comments or continuously chatting with the woman. The only difference is that the comment comes immediately after a match on Tinder rather than after a woman has initiated contact on Bumble. When looking at it in terms of male behavior, the order in which comments are made becomes irrelevant — the men still say whatever they want to, either on Bumble, Tinder or anywhere else. The problem of using dating apps will not be fixed by changing the order of who initiates contact.
Although Wolfe’s goal of stopping online harassment is important, there are larger issues here that cannot be simply fixed with one app. While Bumble’s goal may have been to minimize harassment and to make women feel more confident through greater power, society itself does not change. Jerks online will still find ways to target women, regardless of whether they say it in the first message or the second.
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Email Adryan Barlia at [email protected]