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Dating gone Lulu

Technology | An increasingly popular girls’ app for rating guys may bode ill

From the world of short-term relationships comes a mobile app attempting to solve an age-old problem: knowing too little about a potential mate. Or a potential date, in this case. Lulu, designed for women ages 17 and up, allows women to rate male friends, boyfriends, or ex-boyfriends by posting their impression of his manners, appearance, commitment, or other traits. The concept may sound like a logical next step beyond dating websites, but it could be a step backward for relationships.

Women can’t write Amazon-style comments about guys on the app, but they can review them by filling in a multiple-choice quiz. In the “Humor” category, for example, a girl can choose how she reacts to a particular guy’s jokes. (I “congratulate myself on finding a funny guy” or just “laugh to make him feel better.”) She can also choose from a wide variety of descriptive tags (#TallDarkAndHandsome, #HasADog, #DudeCanCook, #AlwaysHappy, #BigFeet, #ObsessedWithHisMom). Guys receive a 1-10 rating based on the number of positive or negative reviews.

The creator of the app, Alexandra Chong, says its purpose is to give girls a place to share collective wisdom about the guys they know. Many seem to like the idea. Since Lulu launched in February 2013, more than a million girls have downloaded the app.

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But it’s not a network filled with glowing reviews of nice guys. Women leave highly unflattering tags, too. After an unhappy date (or a series of them), a girl might nail a guy with #ManChild, #CheaperThanABigMac, #WanderingEye, or #StillLovesHisEx. The app also takes a positive view of extramarital sex, encouraging women to rate bedroom behavior or note if he #NeverSleepsOver.

If a guy with #NoGoals and #NoCar gets tagged with #TemperTantrums, is that all his fault? Maybe, and Chong thinks the pressure to get good reviews will help men improve their behavior with women. Lulu (the company) claims 500,000 men have asked for their profiles to be added to the app. They are apparently optimistic that past girlfriends will recommend them to new ones.

Reactions to Lulu vary. Some girls love it. Some guys hate it. It raises questions of whether the reviews are fair and whether it’s appropriate to rate ex-boyfriends on a public network for women to peruse like a used car lot. In addition, it points to a culture in which women have been used and abused by so many men they feel a social networking tool will help them spot phonies.

Actress Sam Ressler, writing on The Huffington Post, panned Lulu as “an unacceptable invasion of privacy,” where women ultimately pour salt in one another’s wounds by broadcasting the faults of men they once loved. She argued: Women can’t demand respect from men while demeaning them.

Bumper tagging

Handout

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Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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