We're hurtling towards the future, y'all, and if you aren't holding on to your cowboy hats you better start now, because the world of hooking up is morphing into a gigantic, horny mass of wires and cell phones, and nothing, I mean nothing, is safe. Even if you're hooking up in a yurt in Bhutan or something, so long as there is 4G, romance and Internet will inevitably unite.
Lulu, like Tindr and Bang With Friends, is another one of those handy apps that focuses on the delightful experience of fornication and brings it together with your social media accounts. But unlike previous romance apps, Lulu isn't about finding a partner. It's about reviewing and rating conquests, lovers, whatever. "You" must be female, and you're scoring dudes. Lulu is Yelp for hookups, in that the guys are the restaurant and women are the reviewers.
Okay so, yes, this sounds a lot like a meat market/revenge site for spiteful exes, and plenty of people have accused the site of being a forum for malicious women to tell the world Joe Handsome actually has the smallest dick ever. But Alexandra Chong, founder of Lulu, has created the app in such a way that the experience is less like a 4chan thread to ruins guys' lives. and more a tool for crowdsourcing womens' opinion on a guy.
Here's how it works: Women must log in using their Facebook pages, which verify that they are indeed a woman. (Lulu has a team of developers that keep out guys who want to hack into the system). Once a woman logs in, she can find a guy — the process is basically a Facebook search — with whom she's hooked up and review him using the format Lulu has created. Although reviewers remain completely anonymous, they have to indicate how they know the dude in question: Are you an ex? Did you hook up? Are you currently together? Maybe he's your cousin and you're doing him a favor. Next, the Lulu asks you to answer a series of multiple-choice questions (the screencap below features just a few; there are endless hashtag options, from #manscaped to #playsdidgeridoo).
Your answers result in an overall score for said guy, with hashtags put into "Best" and "Worst" categories and some sort of zingy phrase that summarizes his person like, "His jokes are hard to laugh at" or "He's shrouded in mystery." No one can leave comments in their own words, meaning the app keeps reviewers from being overly detailed (i.e., there is no place on the app where women can describe penis size). With time, Lulu turns into a database of men with reviews from women — and with over 75,000 downloads, plenty of women are using it.
But with Lulu's growing use comes the inevitable debate about whether the app objectifies men and puts very intimate encounters on a public app. I hesitated about the the app at first— seeing my guy friends get embarrassed about the fact that they had #KinkyInTheRightWays in their reviews made me feel kind of (but only kiiiiiind of) bad for them. The thing is, almost everyone talks about their hookups openly already. If anyone in college ever wanted to know about a hashtag-man-slut, there is a trustworthy group of former flings that would likely fill them in. And it's not a gossipy-man-hating thing, it's an everyone-who-hooks-up-with-people thing. People love talking about this stuff; women are always asking other women for their opinions and experiences. Lulu just harnesses that nebulous cloud of gossip into hashtags and a sleekly designed app.
So how do you maneuver the world of hook-ups and dating when dudes can be reviewed for their relationships? Don't be an asshole, that's all. All of the hashtags a guy can be reviewed with are annoying, Cosmo-esque versions of how my friends and I would talk about someone we've dated or made out with. #SweetThreads and #CleansUpGood (cringe) are Lulu's way of saying he's a menswear bro and that one time I took him as a date to my cousin's wedding, he looked like Wentworth Miller in that one Mariah Carey video. As for negative reviews like #TotalF**ingDickhead, the app serves as a reminder to guys that they can't be douchebags and expect other women won't find out. This was true before Lulu and will remain true after.
My only qualm is regarding the "Best" and "Worst" categorization that put personality traits into a binary world where some traits are made to seem universally unattractive. #VideoGamer often ends up in the "Worst" category, as does #AirGuitarist and #OneTrackMind. Plenty of women are into dudes that get their game on, and I personally appreciate a good air guitarist, so it seems unfair to decide that's a negative trait that could potentially bring a guy's "score" down.
The whole app might leave dudes unsettled but between OK Cupid, match.com, and Tindr, we've been doing this with dating and hookups already. But before it was a cumbersome process of stalking LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. Now the process has been streamlined. Get used to it.