Features Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 05:30
Image for representation   "The biggest problem appears to be finding guys who want to date. Apparently everyone wants to have sex," writes the anonymous woman who runs the "50 Dates in Delhi". A look at the number of dating apps in India- there's Tinder, TrulyMadly, Quack Quack, OkCupid, etc.- could perhaps reflect the boom in the online dating scenario in India. But they don't seem to have clicked with most Indian women.  Tinder apparently seems to shave a reputation for being mostly used by those looking for casual sex. PR professional Amrita Hom Ray told Asian Age, “I used to be on Tinder and found some good friends through it. I know that’s not what the app is meant for, but that does happen."  "I have noticed," she adds, "that men who are on Tinder are more single-mindedly focused on hooking up, while girls are okay with other possibilities too. But then one could argue that Tinder is not meant for anything else. For making friends, you have Facebook. I did find a few men I’d have liked to know better, but unfortunately they were only interested in one thing. The very clinical approach to the whole hooking up thing did not work for me. I realised that it’s not a place for me, and I went off it." Then there are those who have been creeped out by their experiences. Ankita Chatterjee (25) a professional working in the entertainment industry tells The Times of India that though she has met decent men through the apps, she has also encountered creeps. "I have had guys desperately asking me for my pictures. This one time a guy jumped the gun and started talking dirty right from the beginning."   In a 2014 report for Scroll, Snigdha Poonam wrote about her experiences of meeting men through Tinder. Snigdha sent a common message to all her matches, "Hey, Tinder tells me we’re a match. You want to get coffee?" One replied saying, "With such a beautiful girl….who will say no…" When she didn’t respond to his message, the person messaged, “Hey hottieeeee babeeee!”. "Tinder," she wrote in her piece, "is quickly becoming India's go-to service for the young and frisky."   While it cannot be dismissed that men too face certain problems when it comes to dating online, the number of men using such apps in substantially higher than that of women. Some men are also said to not take rejection lightly and can tend to be abusive. Such factors can be anything but encouraging for dating.   Image source: byefelipe   These issues however aren't specific to India, but applies to countries across the world. Which is why several women-friendly dating apps have come up in the recent few years to take out the creepiness quotient out from the dating scenario and put women in control. Some of these apps let women decide who can view their profiles whereas in some men can only be invited by a woman. One app allows women to initiate the conversation, thus going against a common thought that it is only the man who is required to first approch the woman.  Here is a list of few such apps. Indian app makers can take a cue perhaps.   Image source: Bumble/Facebook   Bumble: Founded by co-founder of popular dating app Tinder, Whitney Wolfe, Bumble was launched in 2014. The basic feature, of swiping right or left depending on whether someone likes a person or would continue searching for their match, is similar to that of Tinder. The app however allows only women to initiate a conversation. Matches disappear after 24 hours if women do not initiate a conversation with their matches. This however does not apply to the LGBTQ community. "So many times I’ve been out with my girlfriends, and there’s always that cute guy who catches your eye. It’s always so stressful for me — why do we have to wait for them to talk to us? Why is it always 100 per cent in his hands? I didn’t think that was progressive or forward-thinking," Wolfe, who created the app to get more equality in the dating scene, told The Star.  Interestingly, Wolfe, who was the vice-president of marketing in Tinder, had sued the organisation for sexual harassment. A Telegraph report stated that Wolfe had also claimed that executives there had tried to take away her co-founder status from her because they thought having a young woman in a senior position made them "look like a joke". An out of court settlement was made for a reported $1 million in the case.   Image source: Lulu/Facebook   Lulu: Launched in 2013, the girls-only app allows women to read and rate men they know or have dated based on several parameters including looks, ambition, sense of humour and sexual performance. This of course happens anonymously and gives women the option to know thoroughly about any man they wish to date. "I created Lulu because my girlfriends and I needed it."- Alexandra Chong, Founder, Lulu  According to Lulu's website, their goal is "to provide a private network for women to share their experiences and get information to make smarter decisions." "We want more balance in the tech world and most of the dating apps are made by guys. When every other aspect of our internet lives gets a digital rating, why not apply it to the men we meet?,” Chong told The Telegraph. The app has however been criticised for being sexist and for shaming men. However, men can get their profiles deleted from Lulu by placing a request.   Image source: Siren/Facebook   Siren: Siren is another app that puts women in control by giving them the option to decide who can see their profile. "On Siren, women share their profile photo only with men they choose. This small step gives needed privacy and eliminates objectification. When men receive a Siren connection, they know she’s interested. It’s an asymmetric model that benefits everyone," states the app's website. The app also has a "Question of the day" feature which encourages conversation between people.       "If you allow women to control their photo visibility then it does two things very elegantly and quickly – one, it allows women to feel safer about navigating online socially and, two, it allows men to have a clear, more personal signal about who’s interested in them and puts a stop to those aimlessly aggressive interactions. It also stops people, be it your clients, your students, or your boss, seeing your full profile on the app, which women have also said was very important to them,” Susie Lee, CEO and co-founder of Siren told The Guardian.    Image source: Screenshot   The Grade: The female-friendly app owned by Snap Interactive, The Grade, holds users accountable for their behaviour by assigning letter grades to them ranging from A+ to F through a "proprietary" alogrithm and bans single who receive "failing" grades. These grades are based on profile quality, responsiveness and message quality.  According to the app's website, "By expelling low-quality users who receive an 'F' grade, The Grade aims to create a community of high-quality users who are desirable, articulate and responsive."     Video of Wc-OQQBkbeE Image: Screenshot   "We created The Grade based on a lot of feedback from singles who are using other dating apps. Guys complained women never responded, and women complained guys were hostile and offensive and sending inappropriate pictures," Cliff Lerner, CEO, The Grade, told SF Weekly. The results of a survey of 1,000 mobile daters showed that 73% of women who use mobile dating apps said they have received a sexually suggestive photo, 77% have been asked to send an inappropriate photo, and 90% of women have received sexually suggestive messages. When asked if they would prefer a dating experience that expelled low-quality users, 91% of women responded with a "Yes." With such overwhelming data from singles demanding a superior mobile dating experience, we decided to build “The Grade.”- The Grade website    Image source: Wyldfire/Facebook   Wyldfire: Founders Brian Freeman and Andrew White had just ended long term relationships and were looking forward to date once again when they noticed that women they came across seemed extremely wary. "We’d get in these chats with them and it would just end very quickly. We hadn’t even had the chance to say anything creepy or insane to get them to abandon us," Freeman told Forbes.  When they asked their female friends about their experience with online dating, they were told that "indiscriminate and explicit come-ons" from guys were the biggest flaw.   Video of BagXyAops9E   They went on to create an app where women have the power to invite the men, without which the latter could not join the virtual community.   Image source: The Catch/Facebook   The Catch: The Catch is a dating game "where ladies can meet awesome gentlemen". Women browse men's profile and invite the ones they are interested in to play with them. The first four men who respond become the contestants. A woman asks three questions to the men, the responses of which are kept anonymous initially, and the one to get the highest score is likely to go out on a date with her. Shannon Ong, Founder, The Catch told Tech Crunch that her app is special because "a woman gets to ask questions she cares about, and she gets put on a pedestal." "Guys don’t have to spend a ton of time going through profiles and getting rejected," she added.   Image source: HER/Facebook   HER: Formerly known as Dattch, HER is a lesbian dating app. Dattch was renamed and HER was introduced after the company that created the former relocated from London to San Francisco and reportedly got an investment of over $1m. "On HER, you meet women you wouldn’t otherwise. It’s like getting out of your comfort zone. Except in your sofa, wearing pajamas, eating ice cream."- HER website According to a Guardian report, Robyn Exton, Founder and chief executive, HER, wrote, "HER is about creating a space where lesbian, bi, queer, curious, flexisexual, pansexual and not-so-straight women can meet and find out what’s going on in their lesbian world."