Making the case for celibacy

Making the case for celibacy

If you date men and you’re on Tik Tok, you’ve seen this week’s viral bumble fumble. Last week, Bumble put up billboards addressing the state of relationships, stating “celibacy is not an option.” As you might imagine, the internet had a field day. Telling women what to do with their bodies, especially when it comes to men and relationships, is not the move. Bumble’s viral billboards have sparked quite the convo about dating burnout, apps, agency, and why celibacy really isn’t a bad solution, even if temporary.

Bumble is a dating app that has been long regarded as a safer space for women. On Bumble, women make the first move. Long gone are the days of harassing comments from men degrading our bodies and messaging 50 girls a night ISO the closest one night stand, or so we thought. 

Over the past few months, Bumble has slowly become less relevant in discussions about dating apps and culture. After pressure to make the app more interactive, Bumble launched a rebrand: the dating “wake-up call.” The brand-new-Bumble’s new feature allows men to message first, (the one thing setting them apart). Marketing for the rebrand was headlined by a slew of billboards sporting phrases like “THOU SHALT NOT GIVE UP ON DATING AND BECOME A NUN,” and “A VOW OF CELIBACY IS NOT THE ANSWER.” 

To quote the iconic Julia Fox, “2.5 years of celibacy and never been better tbh.” 

Honestly, in a post-Roe America, celibacy is in fact a very fair answer. Women don’t need to be having sex if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. Sex is vulnerable. And the aforementioned men scheming to manipulate and sleep with women still exist, even if in lesser quantities on Bumble. 

Bumble’s ads ignore the fact that dating (and dating apps) are scary and daunting, often because of men. Bumble is a company built by women for women with the purpose to give the power back to women. The tone deaf billboards blame women for Gen Z’s dating predicament and avoid addressing men. 

We are living in a clash of cultures: women are empowered to express their sexuality, individuality, and to stay single vs. accepting the bare minimum. At the same time the internet is riddled with couples dishing out dating advice, criticism of women who choose career over family, and encouragement to keep putting yourself out there, you’re getting older! All this while the government is placing regulations on our bodies, forcing many of us to reconsider who we choose to get in bed with. And frankly, dating apps add to the confusion. They provide users with a mask of anonymity so many profiles to swipe through, we’ve stopped seeing each other as humans and categorize eligible dates based off of height, location, and the 5 maybe 6 hand-selected (and possibly edited) photos. Sometimes it can feel like we’re dating internet robots. 

A word of advice for Bumble and all dating apps alike, stop forcing dating down our throats. A woman's worth is not tied to her relationship status. It’s ok to be single forever, if that’s what you want! It’s ok to be celibate, for as long as you want! And for those who want to date, they certainly don’t need external pressure to be having sex with strangers. 

Safety should always come first, and in reality you don’t actually know anything about the people you’re meeting on dating apps. Sleeping with a stranger can be fun but it also comes with risks (STIs to name one). If you do choose to go on app dates, here are a few tips to stay as safe as possible:

  • Meet in public. Never give out your address to someone you don’t know!
  • Share plans and location with friends and family
  • Facetime your date before meeting IRL
  • Use protection during sexual encounters

Bumble’s billboards imply that women should *put themselves out there and have sex!* It is important to consider that forcing yourself to hookup with someone can cause problems later on with consent. You shouldn’t force yourself to have sex with someone that you don’t want to, especially not out of fear of celibacy. 

During my first year in college, I had sex with multiple people that I didn’t really want to have sex with because I wanted to feel “cool.” The only person I had previously had sex with was my high school ex-boyfriend, and I was feeling the societal pressure to be more experienced and sexually liberated, let loose, and not to be that girl who wouldn’t have sex. Now, years later, I deeply regret it. Internet dialogue around sex already puts pressure on young people to get out there and get in bed. We definitely do not need an app advertising that if you’re not doing this you’re basically a nun. 

A note: In this day and age, it’s easy to assume that we all know what “consent” means and how important it is in creating a safe, exciting, and pleasurable sexual experience. But, if you’re not sure what consent really means or where the lines get blurry, we like this viral video about tea as a clear explainer. Remember, enthusiastic consent means the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no.” 

BTW — being single (& celibate) can be amazing and freeing. Studies now show that unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. When you’re single, the world is your oyster. You can chase your dream job, move across the country, adopt a pet, or reinvent yourself. Being single means getting to choose yourself every single day. Enjoy it! 

Especially if you're feeling burnt out from dating, it’s best to take a break. The apps will always be there when you’re ready. Take a little dating hiatus. While you’re enjoying a night of catching up on Bravo, write a list of everything you want in this future partner. Be as detailed, funny, or serious as you want. Hold onto this list and keep it in mind while you date. But more importantly, start living by these qualities. If you want someone smart with money, start investing, baby! If you want someone who is loyal to the people in their life, call up an old friend and plan a trip. If you want someone who appreciates art, go to that museum and start that book you’ve been thinking about. When you take the time to think about what is important to you and what you really want out of life and therefore a partner, your bar will be higher, you’ll waste less time, and dating will be more fun. You don’t have to rush it. 

We hope it goes without saying, if you love dating, enjoy one night stands, and find the apps to be a source of fun — keep doing you girl! The point here is that we all deserve to feel empowered in how we date. We deserve agency, and to do what feels best, this looks different from person to person. A word of advice to dating apps and our government: women don’t need to be told what to do with their bodies or how to live their lives. Kindly eff off. 

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