As a young girl, I’d always imagined that Prince Charming would ride out from the sunset on a white horse, scoop me into his rippling arms, and then … promise to buy me a boob job or a tank of gas?
A new dating app from MIT grad Brandon Wade offers just that: bribery in exchange for romance. Through Carrot Dating, users (but really men, as the press email made clear) can buy credits to send “gifts” to other users (read: women) so they’ll agree to a first date. That sounds quite like an activity illegal in most of the continental U.S. — prostitution.
Note: The app really does offer plastic surgery, jewelry, and a tank of gas, among other lesser gifts (like dinner or coffee), as standard options.
Aside from being blatantly sexist, Wade’s app clearly won’t “build the chemistry needed to fall in love” as promised in the press kit.
At least Wade’s other startup, aka the web’s leading sugar daddy website, doesn’t pretend to value meaningful relationships.
“It is easy to get people to do things by paying them if you’ve got enough money and they’ve got the necessary skills … But they will keep doing it only as long as you keep paying them. And even if they were doing it before, when you stop paying them the behaviour drops to a lower level than when you started paying them. We’ve done thousands of experiments on this over 40 years and the data is incredibly robust.”
By giving users the means to bribe their way into each others’ hearts, the app also encourages the receivers to keep coming back for more. Guys, if you drop a piece of jewelry for a first date, what will sex or even marriage cost you? Wade went to MIT. He has to know he’s leading men to date vapid, self-absorbed women who base their romantic interests on materialism — and probably significant debt.
Even if a woman bites, the resulting relationship is probably doomed. A bribe signals a last-ditch effort, a move of desperation because you can’t illicit the desired results using conventional tactics. To a woman, showering her with obligatory gifts shows you don’t see yourself as smart, charming, or attractive enough to win her over on your own. And that gives her all the power.
Countless psychologists and love experts have written about the perils of power imbalance in romantic relationships — Dr. Molly Barrow, Dr. John Grey, Dr. Helen Fisher, the list goes on. The best relationships maintain equality, including interest.
“Men and women who continue to maintain that their partner is attractive, funny, kind, and ideal for them in just about every way remain content with each other,” Fisher writes in her O Magazine relationship column. If a woman wants nothing to do with you until an incentive comes into play, a happy, healthy relationship that does not make.
But Wade argues these bribes “get your foot in the door.” After a man buys a woman a nose job, she’ll, of course, realise he’s quite the catch. “We are teaching men that it’s not ok to show up empty handed for a first date and are training them to drive to become more chivalrous,” the press kit’s FAQs states.
In fact, this problematic app is teaching men that women are greedy idiots who can’t see through blatant and pathetic misogyny. And in turn, it’s telling women that behaviour is totally acceptable, nay expected.
In conclusion, as the press kits claims, “give a dog a bone, and it will obey. Give a woman a present and she’ll …” Congratulations Mr. Wade, you just dropped one of the most problematic and downright disgusting ellipses in the history of life, the universe, and sexism.
And for the record, if you offer a woman a present in exchange for a first date, then you’re implying she can be bought, much like a hooker. She might just deck you in the face.