Why Bumble's Anti-Bullying Open Letter to a Male User Is Totally on Brand
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On Bumble, women seeking men have to initiate the conversation. The app, which aims to prevent sexual harassment, does not enable men to make the first move. But that’s not where Bumble’s advocacy for women ends.
The dating app’s women-first approach prompted Ashley Helmbreck to message one of her matches, Connor, with a benign question, “How’s it going?” Connor responded, “Great, thanks and yourself?” Ashley followed up with, “Pretty slow at work” and “What do you do?”
Instead of providing a straight answer, Connor immediately took offense. That’s when the conversation took the turn that prompted Bumble to defend Ashley with an open letter shaming him for his behavior.
“Huh?” he replied to Ashley. “Is that always the first question following your opener from you?”
“No but I figured sense [sic] I mentioned it was slow at work I would be nice and ask you what you do,” Ashley wrote.
Connor responded with a long message, lecturing Ashley about her inquiry. His messages generalized women, including Ashley, as being primarily interested in men’s salaries. At one point he wrote, “I don’t have time for entitled, gold-digging whores.”
Ashley notified Bumble of the exchange, which inspired Bumble to post an open letter on its blog, calling out Connor for his discriminatory conduct:
It has been brought to our attention that you lost your cool on one of our female users named Ashley. She made small talk, you felt personally attacked. She mentioned her work day and asked about yours; you assumed that she was prying into your financial status.
We are going to venture a guess into the state of mind of Ashley here, given that we are all working women ourselves. Take a seat, because this concept may blow your mind. Women nowadays work. It’s happened over time, we know, but a vast majority of women from our generation have jobs.
With that in mind — and knowing that Ashley simply mentioned work in the conversation — we can gather that she wasn’t hoping to figure out if your wallet was sizeable enough for her to move into your house and start cooking dinner for you after vacuuming your living room while you clock in a 9 to 5 work day. Instead, Ashley was (wait for it, Connor, because this is where things really get interesting), viewing herself as an equal. It might sound crazy, but people connect over the basic routines of life. You know… the weather, working out, grabbing a drink, eating, and working.
And while you may view this as “neo-liberal, Beyonce, feminist-cancer,” and rant about the personal wounds you are trying to heal from classic “entitled gold digging whores,” we are going to keep working. We are going to expand our reach and make sure that women everywhere receive the message that they are just as empowered in their personal lives as they are in the workplace. We are going to continue to build a world that makes small-minded, misogynist boys like you feel outdated.
We are going to hope that one day, you come around. We hope that the hate and resentment welling up inside of you will subside and you’ll be able to engage in everyday conversations with women without being cowardice to their power. But until that day comes, Connor, consider yourself blocked from Bumble.
The Bumble Hive
This reaction is completely in line with Bumble’s brand as a safe space for young women. It sends the message that Bumble is a supportive community where women are not alone or vulnerable to harassment by men. It demonstrates that the company will not tolerate anything short of an egalitarian attitude. If Bumble looked the other way when incidents like these occurred, the company would contradict its own founding principles.
Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe left a vice president role at Tinder, suing her former company on charges of sexual harassment and sex discrimination. After settling for more than $1 million in September 2014, she launched the rival app, which she envisioned as a “safe and respectful community” for users.
By blocking Connor and penning this letter, Bumble did not risk alienating users. In fact, the ban and letter reassure existing and potential users that Bumble means business when it comes to its anti-discrimination stance.