Siren: Contraction to Expansion

The last eight weeks has been a WTF crash course for me in the catastrophe that is the gender landscape in tech and beyond. Regardless of any intellectual awareness, I wasn’t prepared for the physical absorption of this WTF reality that nearly brought me to my knees.

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In the tech world, I’ve been told over and over that I should be nicer. I’ve been advised to be patient and let a man drive the conversation. They said being cute would always help, until it wouldn’t. Silicon Valley said the women on Siren must all be fat and ugly, otherwise why would photo discretion be needed. They said they weren’t interested in an app where they couldn’t check out the goods. They said women between the ages of 35 and 50 were undesirable for any man, so God forbid, we attract them. They said that more “hot” people were needed, or we would fail. They said oh, just another dating app, and dating apps were sooooo over. And they said this all in the name of “Just being honest here…..”

It sounds so ridiculous that you’d think I’d just brush it off. I mean, my family focused on integrity, discipline, and intelligence. They didn’t give a crap about how I looked, and neither did I. I drove hard as a scientist, pianist, karateka, teacher, and visual artist, seeing myself sans gender attachment.

Yet for all that, I’m not all ferocity, fists, and bared teeth. In fact, in nearly every unfamiliar situation, I have gone small from insecurity and doubt. It happened when I lost confidence sparring and got smashed in the face with blood pouring everywhere. When teaching a class the other staff members called “all trouble,” sitting in my car at 6am everyday in tears. When hiding in the corner of my studio carving small figures that one professor called boring in every way possible. And when I left a relationship, then pleaded to make up, promising to not argue and to not cause trouble.

And so I found myself in the last eight weeks feeling small in the tech world. Particularly with so much telling and relentless advice giving, at some point, the underlying message becomes: you’re not good enough, you can’t handle things, you’re not doing things right, so doubt sets in, and I began to go small.

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But enough contraction leads to an explosive expansion.

Ultimately, I’m not made to be small. Decisions and actions driven by fear eventually piss me off. I staunch the bleeding and get up. I throw out bad teacher advice and go with my gut to win over the class. I break the small figures and create Consummation that sells out at Miami Art Basel. I don’t hold my tongue, argue my last argument, and leave again.

So we are done feeling small with Siren. We’re not seeking approval in the very same system that fosters the toxic and dehumanizing gender landscape we are trying to redress. Those who snicker that a woman admitting to nearly buckling underscores weakness, do not know the muscle strength to get back up. The machismo bravado of never showing weakness just gets you stupidly arthritic joints.

We are not just another dating app. Bring me the dating app where the entire community shares their thoughts on where rain sounds best in the most poetic ways. Tell me the dating app where someone can proudly say the last Youtube video they searched was Obama’s speech on marriage equality. And show me the app where women say they feel respected and safe to express desire.

We’re a human-focused technological solution to the lack of real connections. We’re creating a roadmap for our allies in the LGBTQ community to join us in our humanizing mission. Let it be known that we didn’t go small in our vision. We’re a goddamn movement.

Reprinted from Business Daily on Medium