Online harassment is a real problem. This dating app is trying to fix it.
Online dating can be pretty hit or miss, as this chat between Ashley and Connor shows.
Sometimes people click; other times, they don't. In the case of Ashley and Connor, two users of the Bumble app, it's pretty safe to say they didn't hit it off. Ashley initiated contact with Connor, trying to make small talk about work — as one does.
It didn't exactly go well. Connor took offense to Ashley's question, "What do you do?" and it escalated from there.
Put off by the (pretty standard) question, Connor tore into Ashley, accusing her of "shamelessly attempting to pry into [his] career" and his earning power.
Whoa, buddy! Later in the conversation, he called her an "entitled, gold-digging whore," and accused her of pushing "this neo-liberal, Beyonce, feminist cancer which plagues society" on him before putting her down for presumably making less money than him.
It was awkward, pretty uncomfortable, and sadly, pretty common.
According to a 2013 Pew Research survey, 42% of women on online dating sites reported receiving "uncomfortable or bothersome" messages. Bumble tries to make this better by requiring that women send the first message. In doing this, they hope to sidestep some of this sort of harassment.
But after that particular exchange got posted to Twitter, the team at Bumble decided to craft an open letter for Connor and guys like him. It was awesome.
The whole thing can be read on Bumble's company blog, but here's a pretty choice section:
"While you may view this as 'neo-liberal, Beyonce, feminist-cancer,' and rant about the personal wounds you are trying to heal from classic 'entitled gold digging whores,' we are going to keep working. We are going to expand our reach and make sure that women everywhere receive the message that they are just as empowered in their personal lives as they are in the workplace. We are going to continue to build a world that makes small-minded, misogynist boys like you feel outdated."
They ended the note by telling Connor they hope he comes around, but that for the meantime, he's blocked from using the app. Boom.
Bumble's message was about so much more than just Ashley and Connor. It was about what's wrong with dating culture as a whole.
"The entire exchange made our skin crawl," a Bumble spokesperson told Welcometoterranova. "He so blatantly represents the misogynist voice that argues against equality, and in turn, holds back anyone wanting to be treated as an equal. We feel like, as a society, we should be past the point of sexism. We know as an app, we can only do so much, but we are taking every opportunity we can to have a cultural impact and shed light on the right way to treat people."
They explained that the company's goal (aside from, you know, helping people land dates) is to fight online harassment and hold people accountable for their actions.
"Our hope is that by highlighting negative behavior, we can somehow, at least in a small way, promote kindness and show that being friendly, upbeat and nice actually gets people a higher chance of getting a date through our app."
"We are trying to level the playing field for women and in turn, take the pressure off of men's stereotypical roles in dating relationships. Our hope is that by highlighting negative behavior, we can somehow, at least in a small way, promote kindness and show that being friendly, upbeat, and nice actually gets people a higher chance of getting a date through our app."