Ask Alison: The App That Lets Women Rate Men by Looks and Income
Good advice from someone who is terrible at dating
I’m in a sorority—don’t make fun, we’re one of the cool ones and we do a lot of charity work—but this week everyone has been freaking out about this new app Lulu. It lets you rate all of the guys that you are friends with on Facebook anonymously. I guess it’s fun but mostly it just makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe in part because by the time I had put the app on my phone, my boyfriend had already been viewed by over 60 people and ranked 9.2. Is it out of line for me to feel weird about that?
Before we get into your question about how weird I think you’re allowed to feel; please know that you don’t have to defend Greek life to me. I will never think it's cool. But you do and that’s great! Being involved and having friends isn't something you should feel bad about, although maybe stop pretending you’re in it for the charity work. I didn't do anything in college except write impassioned articles about D1 baseball that no one read and try to take up as little space in my oversized sweatshirts as possible, so you’re probably doing college better than me.
I’ll start by explaining what Lulu is: Stupid. It’s a stupid nothing of an app, that closely resembles a junior high slambook but with hashtags. Lulu’s website describes the app as “A girls-only space for insights on life and love,” then in hot pink font right below, the promise,”Your privacy is our top priority.” While women are allowed to browse anonymously; selecting from outdated sassy catch phrases and awkward, awful lingo (“#amazeballs”), men are not afforded the same consideration. For any of you fellas out there (hold for loud “woooooooo” from the wine-soaked sitcom studio audience that this app seems designed for), Lulu is Facebook integrated; so if you are on one, you’re on the other. Why, at this very moment, someone could be tagging you as “a work in progress” who is also a “#GreatListener” with “#Big.Feet.” It’s good to know that coy euphemisms from the 90s are still alive and well.
There is no real room for actual insight, the app is completely multiple choice, presumably to keep users from writing slander like, "He is a garbage monster who gave me herpes." Your options for answers in my opinion, put far too much weight on going on a romantic trip to France.
Don’t get me wrong, France is great. I've got no problems with France. France and I are in a good place. But Lulu again and again makes obvious and sexist choices like, “A woman wants a man to take her to Paris.” If the goal of the site is to be clever, man, try being clever. Start calling penises ... penises. For an app that is supposed to let women talk candidly about dating and sex; STDs, sexual practices and techniques are never addressed. But they do rank manners on a 1-10 scale, thankfully. I was introduced to Lulu in the way I assume we all were, by a group of women huddled close together, giggling about what a gift this was. We huddled around a phone, until we found a guy that was at the party with us and called him over to look at his profile. He handled it with much more grace and dignity than I would have if roles had been reversed. In fact, I can’t imagine an app that ranked girls in the same fashion lasting more than a month under the constant vitriol that would come at it from all corners of the Internet. But hey, men are gross and have no feelings so let’s go ahead and rate them by looks and income!
So now, to your question: is it out of line for you to feel weird about people ranking your boyfriend on a dumb app that no one will care about in a month? No, I don’t think so. A little possessive and insecure, yes. But weird? Nah. It’s a weird thing. It’s weird that something so clearly invasive totes itself as sensitive to your privacy but only if you have a vagina. It’s weird that Lulu relies so heavily on gender stereotypes popularized in the mid-90s by hack comedians. A lot of things on the Internet are weird, but we seem to keep letting them be things. I guess be proud that you’re dating a desirable guy? He probably wouldn’t “bone a girl in his pickup” with a rating that high. “Bone.” When was the last time you heard someone use that?
If your boyfriend has a problem with being on the site, which is totally understandable, he can get his profile removed. This is from Lulu’s terms of service:
We have a progressive, responsive takedown policy. There are 2 ways for people reviewed on Lulu to remove themselves:
Log on to LuluDude and deactivate themselves from within Settings. Email their Facebook username to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Facebook username is what comes after www.facebook.com/… when you’re logged in on Facebook. It could look something like Jimmy.Chipwich.22 or JimmyChipwich.1987 or a string of numbers. All emails received at email@example.com are processed promptly in accordance with our responsive takedown policy.
God, I love that line, “We have a progressive, responsive takedown policy.” You know, from that thing you didn’t agree to? We’ll totally take it down before you can sue for Libel or Defamation or Privacy Protection. We’re Lulu! We’re just funny, cool gal pals! Hot pink! Sex and the City references that we found on Wikipedia!
I downloaded the app only after I got this question, and spent maybe ten minutes on it before I got bored. I avoided looking at exes and people I aspire to see naked some day and opted to give a male friend a high ranking because above all other character traits, I want to be known as an excellent wingman. There’s part of me that assumes the app will die not due to legal issues and complaints, but because it is so incredibly lame. They use “manscaped”; it’s so embarrassing.
If you have questions about relationship etiquette, please send them to Ask Alison [at] The Atlantic [.com].