Bumble flutters onto the scene
Some time before all the tweetstorms calling out sexism, particularly on the heels of the Weinstein scandal, there’s been a lot of online buzz surrounding Bumble. Having met my significant other through online dating (it will be 4 years in April, hooray!), I was intrigued to learn about the latest app which is designed for women to make the first move.
My first reaction was “neat, women asking men out is a pretty novel idea”, but perhaps because of the plethora of options out there, and the frequent information overload brought on by having an always-on connection with my smartphone, it was later followed by “meh, big deal, another dating app”. I hadn’t actually stopped to think about how it was turning the traditional idea of how we approach dating on its head. Little did I know my entire perspective was about to be changed dramatically!
As I sat down with an older friend (who also happens to be a mentor of mine) over coffee, the furthest thing from my mind was the topic of what it was like to be single again. He is married with about 20+ years on me, and I’ve been living rather happily in a domestic partnership for almost 4 years now.
Moving across random topics as we often do, he started telling me a story of how another younger man he knew was using this new dating app with which women make the first move. I’m always intrigued to hear his tales, so after half joking about how such an app would have gotten me into a lot of trouble when I was single, I leaned in to listen intently.
I hadn’t actually stopped to think about how Bumble was turning the traditional idea of how we approach dating on its head.
As it turns out, the younger man in the story told my friend about how interesting it was to be placed in the spotlight. Because of the fierce competition, he ended up taking pictures of himself wearing fancy clothes, at the gym, driving a nice car, sitting on the beach, etc which he thought “gave him an edge” over the other men on the platform.
In return, he bragged about how many women he was attracting, and how “easy” it was – which is more than a little ironic considering how time-consuming and intricate the mask was that he’d woven for himself.
Also ironic is that many of these same tricks are used by men on other dating platforms. It seems a lot has changed, and very little has changed at the same time!
Addressing the media problem
As it turned out, the younger man my friend spoke of sounded like a pretty “normal” guy. Before we press on, let’s take a moment to analyze what society’s perspective of a normal guy looks like. Here’s what we get when we do a Google image search for the term “men’s health”:
OK, so maybe searching “normal guy” will yield a slightly different result, but the point I’m trying to make is that society and Hollywood have certainly created expectations of men, just as they have with women.
Men are no strangers to being objectified. A lot of us go to the gym, lift weights and work out, not just for our physical health but also so we can look good for the ladies. Later on in life, when we’re disappointed to find out that we didn’t come out looking like Ronnie Coleman, some of us end up accepting our fate and developing a “dad bod” which is another term used to describe men in a “cute” sort of way (but still a form of objectification nonetheless).
But I digress.
To get to the point, there’s one thing in common between the “dad bod” types and the macho types – society typically expects men to ask women out on dates.
Society typically expects men to ask women out on dates.
Now personally I’ve had the privilege of being approached by women a few times in my life, but I always chalked it up to my *roguish features and northern boy charm *(please excuse me for being facetious, it’s my blog after all!) but other than that I never really thought twice about it.
When Bumble came on to the scene, it really got me thinking. And the strange part if anything, as you will later learn from reading this article, was that my success (or lack thereof) in the dating scene always came down to one thing: Whether I was being myself or not.
Playing the game
It’s fairly well-known that men jump through hoops to attract women. A lot men like to talk big, drive fast cars (or big trucks), ride motorcycles (guilty) and participate in extreme sports (also guilty) to make themselves appear stronger, braver or more mysterious than they actually are.
While men are frequently portrayed as “macho”, women are oppositely and equally referred to as “the fairer sex” (although I am sure my SO will tell you this is is a big fat LIE). Women are expected to wear makeup, tight clothing, be a certain weight (“thicc” is the new “thin” yes that’s how it’s spelled), wear perfume, and have certain sized you-know-whats.
But that’s not all. On the opposite end of the “Men’s Health” types (with “dad bod” being somewhere in between), there’s another box that men are “supposed” to fit into:
All credit goes to respective sources; I am not affiliated with Summit Entertainment or Robert Pattinson in any way nor do I watch Twilight or endorse sparkly vampires!
To put Mr. Pattinson’s pouty expression into words, I am referring to the sensitive, effeminate type. Let’s recap quickly:
-One one hand, men are expected to be strong, muscular and dominant (alpha male)
-On the other hand, men are expected to be sensitive, wear skinny jeans and have fair features
-Men who don’t fit into either of the above are often classified as having “dad bods”, which is supposed to be a term of endearment I guess?
The truth is, men are as emotionally vibrant as women are – but speaking from personal experience, I would add that we don’t always process our emotions in the same way. We run the gamut – from anger to calmness, sadness to happiness, dreariness to hyper-activity and so on and so forth (because there are well over 10,000 human emotions; yes I totally just made that number up, and no I am not going to list all of them here).
The truth is, men are as emotionally vibrant as women are – but we don’t always process our emotions in the same way.
So why is this the case? Well, there are different reasons, some of which include how we’re built. But there’s another side of it too; a certain (false) expectation that men are not supposed to cry. Take a minute to watch the following video – oh and and try not to cry, because it’s actually very poignant and might tug at your heart (video credit: American Psychological Association on YouTube):
The age of “always on” advertising
So why does society continue to insist that men should fit into a box? It’s probably for the same reasons they put women into boxes – so they can sell more. From click-bait to clothing brands to makeup and skinny jeans, it all comes down to creating the need to acquire things so big companies can continue to reap larger profits.
It’s important to note that I personally consider myself to be pro-business. After all, I’m in the midst of trying to launch a startup and I also invest in stocks on the side. While it’s easy to look at all the evils in the world and assume that big corporations are out to control us, I’m not entirely convinced that we opened Pandora’s box on purpose.
Sure, there’s a lot of greed out there. Some people will do anything for money, and some of them work for big companies – but from a larger standpoint, the human race as a whole has sort of allowed it to happen. I think that humans are creatures of habit, and our own ideas of advertising have sort of caught up and surpassed us in the same way technology has, sort of like the Moore’s Law of advertising if you will.
humans are creatures of habit, and our own ideas of advertising have caught up and surpassed us.
Given that we’re connected to our smartphones practically 24 x 7, it’s important that we understand how the advertising landscape has changed. Many people are cutting the cord and switching to internet-only streaming sites like Netflix. You would think this would lead to an improvement in the amount of advertising that gets fed to us daily, but the truth is we’re more connected than ever before.
Don’t believe me? Remember the next time you search for something online – I was looking at pictures of motorcycles the other day, and a few days later a Harley Davidson ad started popping up on every website I visited. Targeted advertising is at an all-time high, but instead of carpet-bombing a mix of Tampax, hot wheels and Cheetos during the Superbowl, it’s being delivered straight through our smartphones.
On another note, it’s strange and a bit funny to look back on how we’ve had a decades-long battle over whether companies should be allowed to pitch advertisements to children during Saturday morning cartoons, yet it seems like nobody is concerned over how ads are being delivered on the internet.
Why everyone should not get a prize
OK, so this is a formal trigger warning, because for some this part of the article might be a little inflammatory sounding. I most certainly do not consider myself to be sexist in any way. I absolutely support fair wages, equal opportunity and hiring men, women, transgender, straight, gay, lesbian and any other person under the sun (if I’ve missed something, I make no apologies because as I mentioned earlier this article isn’t meant to sidetrack and go over every little detail).
With that little disclaimer out of the way, I encourage everyone to read the following, because I think it’s very important that we as human beings start taking a more well-reasoned and thought-out approach instead of taking everything we hear on Twitter at face-value. As a matter of fact, because we tend to have short attention spans, you’re probably skimming this article for all the good parts. Therefore I’ve decided to list off the following points in bullet form:
-You don’t deserve a participation award – winners get prizes because they did better, PERIOD. It’s OK for boys to cry, and we seriously need to address the stigma of crying, but we also need to be REASONABLE and teach people that crying is an emotional response for pain and loss (and sometimes joy), not one that should be used to gain sympathy or get our way.
-We need to learn how to dissect what we read online and take it with a grain of salt. I’m not going to use that particular favorite hashtag of the current President of the United States, for fear of triggering a massive backlash, but that exact reason (the backlash) is exactly the point I’m trying to make. We as reasonable human beings should be able to read information from any source, analyze the intent, research additional sources and make our own determinations without incorporating face value and emotional response as fact.
-Men, women and in-betweens are not being singled out. Everyone is being objectified! If we want to take control of our lives, we need to realize that brands are just that – brands, and like other information found online, we should learn to process all of this with a grain of salt as well. You aren’t going to win anyone over by driving a Corvette or wearing Yeezys. But you will definitely attract certain kinds of people when you base your personal worth on what you own.
You aren’t going to win anyone over by driving a Corvette or wearing Yeezys. But you will definitely attract certain kinds of people when you base your personal worth on what you own.
Putting it all together
So we’ve covered role reversal, objectification, information overload and the ethics of targeted advertising. We’ve even highlighted the importance of fact-checking what you hear online and valuing yourself over what you wear and drive.
You might be wondering how I got to thinking and writing about all of these things from hearing about a simple dating app. Remember way back in the beginning of this article when I told my friend’s story about Bumble, and how the person he was referencing boasted about how “easy” it was to attract others based on how he made himself look? The point I was trying to make is just that:
As much as I’d gotten comfortable in my current relationship, hearing about Bumble reminded me more than ever how important it is that we just be ourselves.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, be sure to leave feedback in the comments, retweet this, post on Facebook or however else you feel like sharing it!