I was having drinks with a new friend lately and she asked me, “Oh, god. You’re not one of those magical people who manage to stay friends with their exes, are you?”
I gotta admit, the question threw me. The answer’s sorta tricky. On one hand: there are dudes I have dated that I have no idea what they’re doing now. On the other: those tend to be, like, the guys I dated in high school, and let’s face it: you probably don’t know what anyone you hung out with in high school is doing right now either. On one hand: there are some wonderful guys I have dated that I now consider my friends. On the other hand: maybe that IS totally weird. Is that weird? I’m really not sure.
I have dated some pretty sweet, wonderful, handsome, funny guys, and I probably dated them because they possessed those exact qualities. So when I stopped dating one of those guys, it stands to reason that someone with those qualities would be a great person to have around, right? I mean, we clearly didn’t work as a couple, but– we’re both awesome people! Let’s skip right to the part where we give each other bro-like fistbumps when we go out and wingman for one another.
On the other hand, let’s be real. I’m also, you know, a woman. Which means that when I stopped dating any of the aforementioned sweet, wonderful, handsome, funny dudes, I spent endless weeks trying the patience of every other friend in my life as I cried big mascara tears, drank gin and tonics while ending a lot of sentences with “…. but it’s just not fair, you know??!” and pretending I was totally fine, like totally totally fine when new pictures of hot girls with Pantene hair started popping up on their Facebook wall. (Confidential to everyone I’ve ever subjected to any of this nonsense: I owe you big time, and the next time anyone does any stupid jackass thing to one of you, I keep a sleeve of Thin Mints and a bottle of Bluecoat in the back of the freezer for just such occasions).
I think it’s possible to be friends with an ex. I also think that this takes a lot of time. I also think it’s a really good rule that the things you say about your ex in the throes of breaking up should never be repeated, to anyone, ever, outside of the context of that sacred crying-on-your-best-friend’s-shoulder-situation. I am sure I’m not the only woman who has ever found herself saying some downright nasty things in the aftermath of a breakup, things I would never ever ever repeat in the light of day. And the good friend who is patiently not even mentioning that you’re weeping big boozy salty tears on their new shirt? It’s kind of his or her job to agree with you. Even when you’re being a big sad sappy baby and you both intellectually know that you’ll snap out of it soon and be totally fine and feel awful that you told someone else about that weird thing he said in bed that once.
So that’s why my brain exploded when I learned today that THIS EXISTS.
The Lulu app describes itself as “Sex and the City Meets Facebook.” I’m describing it as “Bullshit That Made Me Super Effing Angry.”
The basic premise is that allows ladies to review the men in their life in much the same way as writing a restaurant review on Yelp. Ladies only – men are filtered out as you have to log in via your Facebook account. Completely anonymous. It claims to be “a discrete, private place for girls to talk about the most important issues in their lives: their relationships.”
Because nothing says discretion and privacy to me like blasting my opinions all over the internet.
When I was eighteen years old, a few weeks before I entered my freshman year of college, I went to an alumni event at a fancy-pants country club. My college had been an all-male institution until the mid-1970’s, and most of the women at this event were the spouses of the older graduates. This one older gentleman, already pretty red in the nose, introduced himself to the gaggle of incoming freshmen clustered together. There were eleven of us there, ten of whom were women. He pointed this fact out, hiccuped once, and said “You know, back in my day, there weren’t any women on campus. No, what they’d do is, they’d bus ‘em in from the other colleges or the trade schools nearby, see, for us to take ‘em to dances and what-have-you. And so we, we’d all stand around and look right for the legs as they got off that bus. At least I would. I’ve always been a leg man myself, and we’d say amongst ourselves, ‘That one’s a seven!’ or ‘Ohhh boy, that one’s a three, Richard, she’s all yours.’ Yes, things sure have changed around here, let me tell you.” He then belittled my choice of wanting to major in English Literature (“Good luck finding a job with that one, sweetheart!”) and staggered off, hopefully to die behind a well-manicured bush somewhere on that golf course.
Kidding. Sort of. My point is: This kind of sexism was disgusting then, and it’s disgusting now, and the anecdote from that drunk wrinkly old asshole is no way different than that kitschy pink app that you can download for free on iTunes. I’m appalled because it’s a version of sexualizing some awesome dudes in my life, a way of looking at them not as people but as someone to reduce to a series of hashtags like #NoChemistry or #JustFriends or #Big.Feet. (Seriously? I mean… seriously. How long until they add #GrowerNotAShower or #HangsToTheRight?) I’m angry because the woman who created this should know better: it’s turning the tables on men, but perpetuating the same kind of catcalling and sexualizing that has made us really angry for a long time. It doesn’t feel good to be viewed as a sexual object. We of all people should know this.
But mostly I’m angry because I can all too easily imagine the world in which thousands of women are upset about a breakup and now have quick and easy access to an app specifically enabling them share their hurt feelings with the rest of the internet. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about most of the guys I have dated – now. But in the moment of nursing my own wounded ego, I’ve said some horrible things about guys I actually think are awesome. And I would never want to hear those words again, let alone commit them to public record.
You can be friends with your ex. I’m proud that I’m friends with many of mine. And I don’t think it’s weird at all.
But I’m not going to review you on Lulu, if it’s all the same to you.
(ps: click here for a more in-depth look at how this thing works).