A Dating Site That Puts Women in Charge: Why It's Not as Feminist as It Sounds

A new online dating site allows women to, essentially, “shop” for men, as YourTango.com recently reported. AdoptAGuy.com launched in France in 2007, aiming to cut down on the creepiness that online dating can engender for some women, and now it’s come to the United States. Basically, it works like this: You sign up and fill out a brief profile, including your “shopping list” of desired attributes in a mate. Pretty standard Internet dating stuff, with one caveat: A guy can only approach you if you’ve put him in your “cart.” (And yes, it’s called a cart, and it works just like online shopping.) You can search for men based on age, social type (intellectual, executive, bohemian), and style (chic, eccentric, rocker).

It’s slick and clever, to be sure. The site looks great, graphically, even if it does resemble a very pink banquette. (We get it! It’s for ladies!) The logo — a little stick man falling into a stick woman’s shopping cart — is cute. The interface is witty: “bonus pack” options on searches include “celeb look-alike” and “rich and dying.” There’s a feature board of “daily specials” and a running tab of “adoptions made.” The concept behind AdoptAGuy also adds up scientifically. Women are proven to be the choosier gender, so it makes sense, biologically, to put them in charge from the start. This all adds up to a brilliant marketing angle in an increasingly crowded online dating marketplace. If there’s one way to attract female customers, it’s to put them in charge; if there’s one way to attract male customers, it’s to provide a lot of women. See Ladies’ Night specials for proof.

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Body Type: Curvy

I’ve been in and on and off again relationship with Match.com for years.  We met in 2005, and got off to a fabulous start when I met and dated two guys I really liked right in a row.  To give you an idea of what successful Match.com endeavors look like: one of them sent me roses when I was in Texas on business and the other once talked to me on the phone for 5 hours.  You get the idea – where previously I’d been uncertain about online dating, I now felt reassured – this was a good way to meet mostly normal people, and all from the comfort of my living room couch.  For the person who had grown tired of bars and clubs earlier than most – this was exactly what I needed to keep my love life going. Those guys both lasted a couple of months, then fizzled out.  Sucked at the time, but it happens – dating is really just a department store changing room – ultimately, you’re trying people on to see how they fit.

So the way it all begins is with the Match.com profile.  There are several elements to a complete profile – basic stats, like eye color, height and other things that can be easily communicated via drop down menu choices. Next comes the essay part – where you make your pitch for love and showcase how incredibly witty, interesting and articulate you are. The last part, of course, is the photographs, where you prove that you are reasonably attractive, maybe have some friends, and have left the house, the state or the country once or twice in the last decade. As a writer, I’ve never had much trouble with the essay part, though not sounding clichéd can be challenging – everyone writes stuff like they  want someone who  works hard but can leave work at the office or that they enjoy gourment restaurants some nights, while others, they like to dine in.

I write the same crap – like “I like watching this cool TV show that everybody watches”, and I’ve got plenty of pictures of me all over Europe or clutching a snowboard in Vermont to show I’m cool and worldly and semi-adventurous. There’s only one part of the Match.com profile that has ever given me pause, and it’s supposed to be one of the easy questions.  Body type.

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