I Tried “Feminist” Dating App Bumble and It Made Me Feel More Depressed Than Empowered

Bumble is a new dating app used by young singles who claim they want to support the feminist agenda.
Publish date:
August 4, 2015
feminism, online dating, Tinder, Bumble

I’ve been depressed lately, and not because I’m confused about where my career is going, or because New York is an overheated hellhole, or because all of my friends are in meaningful, long-term relationships.

Actually, a lot of those things are probably leading to my inherent inability to get out of bed.

But I’m also depressed because of a little app called Bumble.

Bumble is a new dating app used by young singles who claim they want to support the feminist agenda. It’s a cuter version of Tinder, with little beehives and yellow hearts dotted around the profiles.

What makes it different is that once there’s a mutual right swipe, the female is required to send the first message. She has a 24- window to send a “hello” or a “heyy” or a coy emoji before that match disappears forever. Her silence might lose her a potential romantic partner. It may also save her from a horrendous first date or a serial killer. You never know.

As a feminist and a single lady, I decided to give Bumble a try.

The best thing about Bumble is that regardless of who I swipe right on, and who swipes right on me, I easily avoid those horrendous first Tinder messages that ask me for threesomes or whether I like dragons, and if I do, whether I want “these balls dragon” across my face.

But being required to send the first message is also the worst part. I finally understand what it feels like to debate how to start the conversation.

I never send the first message on apps like Tinder. It’s so easy not to. I’m not committed enough to that scene to work hard at it and I figure if someone likes my profile, why not let them reach out to me?

I suppose if I cared more about making true connections on the site, I’d get the conversation going, but I just don’t. Also, I may be a little insecure and bad at communicating with men, but I digress.

By forcing myself to take Bumble seriously after downloading it, I realized how hard it really is to reach out first. I understand now why some guys crack and say disgusting things. Their brains are haywire from all the pressure. It doesn’t mean I excuse their behavior in any way, but I (sort of) understand it.

Once in a while my own brain would think disgusting, dirty things about the attractive guys on my screen. The difference here is that I would never say them aloud or send them via message. I wouldn’t even send these thoughts via carrier pigeon.

It’s vital to humanity that we all have a filter in some way or another. The guy who wrote, “I think you need a guy who’s nicely hung” to me after I complimented his glasses should maybe consider this.

My go-to conversation starter always had something to do with a guy’s interests. They aren’t normally listed on the profile but it’s easy to tell if a guy is into something from his photos.

Is he fishing? “Where were you fishing?” suffices.

Is he holding a dog? “That dog is adorable!” is good enough.

Is he holding hands with another girl and looking longingly into her eyes? Maybe don’t message that one at all.

I did a pretty good job at getting responses from the guys I messaged in the beginning. They seemed genuinely happy to hear from me. But in typical online dating fashion, conversation naturally faded and nothing came of our quick chat about what it was like to be a film major at the generally business-and-science-heavy UPenn.

One guy in particular took a liking to me and asked for my number. The thing about Bumble, at least for me, was that after sending the first message as the female, everything went right back into the male’s court. He asked for my number. He asked me out. (He also stood me up 20 minutes before we were supposed to meet.)

Bumble makes me feel like I should take more power and have more confidence. This is a lesson I’m still learning, and it’s also what depresses me about Bumble and online dating in general. Why can't I just take control of the situation? Am I that shy? That uncomfortable? Or is it really that I just don’t care enough to bother?

I will say that this supposedly feminist dating app did make me feel a little bit more in control because I was able to decide who could have contact with me. But I actually now believe Tinder to be more of a feminist online dating choice, as everyone has equal opportunity to send messages and because it includes all genders and sexual preferences.

I believe Bumble is just attempting to find something unique to offer in an otherwise saturated online dating market. It’s not necessarily here to make a statement. But after making a serious attempt at using the app, I’d rather do all of my dating organically at a disgusting bar or an overpriced coffee shop or a hip farmers market.

After losing interest or contact with countless guys throughout my online dating experience, usually before I even manage to meet the guy in person, I’ve decided to delete my online dating presence.

Let’s see how feminist I feel when I let myself meet people in the real world on my own terms, without the Internet there to police me. No one can tell me whether I do or don’t have to approach a man first. I want to give reality a try, as I believe online dating has caused me to forget how.

And if I get too desperate after this online dating hiatus, look me up on Bumble. I’ll make sure to comment on how hot you look standing next to your ex-girlfriend.