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Women rate men online, get $2.5 million–what if a man tried something like that?

November 22, 2013

Back when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a student at Harvard, he nearly got expelled for setting up a website in which male students could rate the attractiveness of female students.

The creator of the short-lived but popular Harvard version of the Am I Hot or Not? website said he will not have to leave school after being called before the Administrative Board yesterday afternoon.

Here’s how the site worked:

The website used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the “hotter” person.

Students were ranked within the general Harvard community and individual Houses according to attractiveness.

The result? Outrage from campus women and a disciplinary hearing by the university:

Comments on the e-mail lists of both Fuerza Latina and the Association of Harvard Black Women blasted the site.

“I heard from a friend and I was kind of outraged. I thought people should be aware,” said Fuerza Latina President Leyla R. Bravo ’05, who forwarded the link over her group’s list-serve.

But now a couple of women have set up a website, heavily marketed on college campuses, in which female students can rate the attractiveness of male students:

On Lulu, women can rate men in categories — ex-boyfriend, crush, together, hooked-up, friend or relative — with a multiple-choice quiz. Women, their gender verified by their Facebook logins, add pink hashtags to a man’s profile ranging from the good (#KinkyInTheRightWays) to the bad (#NeverSleepsOver) to the ugly (#PornEducated). The hashtags are used to calculate a score generated by Lulu, ranging from 1 to 10, that appears under the man’s profile picture.

***

[Co-founder Alexandra Chong] got the idea for Lulu during a boozy brunch with female friends the day after an awkward Valentine’s Day setup. “We were all sharing stories about guys, relationships and sex,” Ms. Chong said. “There were tears and laughter.” She concluded that women needed a focused search engine for dating — a “Guygle.”

***

“I think sometimes girls feel like they don’t have that much power in the hookup world,” [Lulu user Sewell] Robinson said, “but this gives them something to bond over, and you can give advice to a girl you’ve never met before.” Appropriately enough, the app was introduced in sororities, which representatives of the company continue to visit. “Sororities are an established network of girls who are talking about relationships, and word spreads very quickly,” Ms. Chong said. “We changed the product a lot with their help.” (She said that a quarter of all college women now use Lulu, according to Mixpanel.)

The result? $2.5 million in financing:

They currently employ about 30 people and have signed an eight-year lease for a 5,500-square-foot raw space in Chelsea, where they plan to move the company early next year.

Um, tell me again exactly why a website in which women rate men according to their hotness is “empowering,” but a website in which men rate women according to their hotness can get you kicked out of school?

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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