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The media reporting of the case was extensive and in the summer of 2014 Whitney was the subject of vicious trolling from strangers of both sexes.
‘Emails, texts, tweets, people showing up at my house – really weird and horrible stuff happened,’ she remembers, shaking her head.
Pleasant exchanges can quickly turn hostile if a woman doesn’t respond in the desired way, or sexually explicit pictures may arrive out of the blue.
Behaviour like this on Bumble leads to users being banned. ‘We count anything that offends a user as abusive and we strongly encourage women to report it straight to us.‘The men who use Bumble appreciate a confident woman, a woman who has a voice,’ she continues.
After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and got a job at a start-up ‘incubator’, an organisation designed to help new businesses succeed.
Bumble removes that fear as they don’t have to make the first move, so it benefits both men and women.’ She believes this reversal of stereotypical gender roles itself encourages better behaviour.
She looks more like a college sorority president than the CEO of a global tech company, and has a fizzy, perky presence. Whitney recently appeared on ’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list, an annual round-up of the most influential young innovators.‘I think that early on a lot of people thought women making the first move was a gimmick and that we were just some cute girly dating app,’ she reflects.
‘But we’re serious about putting women in the driver’s seat and chipping away at societal expectations.’The second strand of Bumble’s mission is to stamp out the aggressive, lewd messaging that has grown rampant in a dating environment in which strangers can hide behind screens.
‘When someone feels rejected, they become insecure and can lash out.
Remove that rejection and replace it with flattery – a woman has messaged them – and it leads, generally, to better behaviour.’What if, I venture, by doing all the running, women are emasculating men, robbing them of their innate hunter-gatherer nature?