Loco for Lulu
Before going to see a movie, chances are most people have already seen a preview or at least read a review to decide if it’s worth watching.
Wouldn’t it be nice if previews were available for real-life scenarios, like being able to see how a relationship with the guy who won’t stop making eyes at you across the room pans out before deciding to approach him?
Think it’s impossible? Think again. Think Lulu.
Lulu is an app that allows women to anonymously rate men without their consent based on a series of questions, much like a Cosmopolitan quiz.
“Lulu is the place to do your research. Except we’re not going to bore you with whether he’s registered to vote. No way. Lulu tells you the stuff you want to know: is he a heart-breaker or your future husband?” co-founders Alexandra Chong and Allison Schwartz explain on Lulu’s FAQ page. “Lulu is the fastest way you can find out if he has a good track record with the ladies.”
To access Lulu, users must log in through their Facebook account. And only accounts with the gender listed as female can use the app.
Just like a girls-only clubhouse sign, no boys allowed.
“It’s not like us girls don’t do it anyways,” said junior Lauren Funk. “Now it’s just on a larger scale.”
And that’s exactly how co-creators Chong and Schwartz came up with the idea.
“Here we were, a bunch of 20-something women. Not everyone knew each other, but it was a safe environment because it was just us girls,” Chong said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
And its mission is simple: “Tap into the power of girl talk … that moment when girls get together in a safe environment and help other girls make smarter decisions,” Chong said.
To make these smarter decisions, women can rate any male who has a Facebook account because that means he has have a profile on Lulu as well.
“It makes me curious, but it doesn’t bother me,” said sophomore Kip Allen, who has a rating of 8* on Lulu’s 10-point scale.
To get started, users select who they want to rate and then answer questions like “The first kiss made me feel … ” from choices in a drop-down list. But girls can only create reviews of guys they know and are friends with on Facebook.
And guys can add photos to their Lulu profiles, edit information like their relationship status and add hashtags to describe themselves by using Facebook to sign in to the app’s companion site Lulu Dude.
“Guys know girls do it anyway when they’re together, so it really is harmless,” said junior Christopher Winfree, who has a 9* rating. “It’s a stupid way to pass time, but I see how it could be fun.”
Allen also said he could see how it could offend people, but that it shouldn’t be taken seriously.
And Funk agreed.
“It’s funny, but I would never take it seriously and not date someone because of it,” she said.
Because ex-girlfriends and those girls guys promised they’d call but didn’t can post ratings, the numbers may be biased.
After all, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
“It’s probably not all truthful,” said sophomore Mike Rolman, who has a rating of 8.6*.
If guys don’t want to be reviewed on Lulu, they can go to http://company.onlulu.com/deactivate. But to have their profile removed, guys must first log in to Facebook so their identity can be verified. Lulu’s website says the profile will then be deleted immediately.
The app’s rating and labeling system has been under media scrutiny as to whether or not it promotes sexism and cyberbullying.
“This app asks women to publicly sexualize and shame (#BabyDaddy) the men in their lives without their consent,” Slate’s Amanda Hess told The Huffington Post. “It’s the textual equivalent of leaking your ex’s naked pics to the Internet – it’s not wrong because it’s sexual, it’s wrong because it’s nonconsensual.”
Writers Atoosa Moinzadeh and Sohrab Andaz for the University of Washington’s student newspaper, The Daily, encouraged students to boycott the app.
“This app only perpetuates the unfortunate stereotype that women are catty and gossipy. Lulu pretends to empower women, but instead it allows women to defame men and conform to stereotypes in the process,” Moinzadeh and Andaz wrote. “Undoubtedly, Lulu is a form of cyberbullying.”
But with over 1 million users, Lulu seems to be going strong.
What if the roles were reversed, though? What if there was a male-only app for men to rate and label women?
“Guys don’t really make a big deal out of this,” Funk said. “If guys were doing it to girls though, we would make a big deal out of it.”
If boys were to do this, they would be seen as dogs and shallow, Winfree said. “Girls would freak out and get offended.”
Allen said that men don’t care that much about it to make an app.
“Guys do the same thing, but it’s just not on a page,” he said. “We don’t really care that much.”
Both Allen and Winfree said their ratings made them feel better and that a majority of what was said was true, so they’re not offended.
“If I could use an app like this, I would, but just for fun,” Allen said. “But I’d rather just find out for myself.”
* All scores were collected when researching for the article and might have changed since publication as Lulu scores are regularly updated.