Is It Sexist to Create a Pinterest for Dudes?

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
April 1 2013 11:57 AM

Pinterest for Dudes

Is it sexist to create a visual sharing site for men?

130325_BROWSR_Tapiture

Tapiture screenshot

Around this time last year, America began to notice that something called Pinterest was taking over the Internet. By some measures, this image-centric social network was the fastest growing website of all time. And yet it seemed to sneak up on many of us. Where had all these photos of wedding dresses and cupcakes come from?

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

Some suggested that Pinterest’s stealthy ascent stemmed from the fact that most technology pundits are male, while most Pinterest users are female. Nielsen figures reveal that women make up 70 percent of Pinterest’s user base. On mobile devices the ratio skews even higher. First-time visitors who log on to Pinterest’s front page—and see photos “pinned” there by Pinterest users—tend to be greeted by a collage of wedge heels, DIY knitting projects, and recipes. Perhaps men felt vaguely unwelcome in this environment, or maybe they just weren’t interested in the content they found.

Whether or not guys understood Pinterest’s appeal, they had no difficulty intuiting that pins could make them rich. (Investors recently pegged Pinterest’s value at $2.5 billion.) If Pinterest was disproportionately attracting women, thought clever entrepreneurs, why not zag and target an underserved market? The race was on to create a visual sharing site designed for men. Soon enough, an onslaught of “Pinterests for Dudes” hit the scene, starting with Gentlemint and Manteresting, followed not long after by Dudepins, PunchPin, and probably a whole slew of other clones that feature portmanteaus built from the word bro. Strongest out of the gate so far, in terms of traffic and funding, has been Tapiture, which received $825,000 in seed investments in February.

Advertisement

My initial reaction to these sites was that they seemed a little silly. There is nothing inherently “female” about Pinterest. It’s just a tool. Yes, you can use it to archive and organize images of wedding dresses and baked goods, but there’s also nothing stopping you from pinning hotrod cars and power tools. Why should dudes feel a need to escape to a whole new site with nearly identical functionality?

I asked Slate contributor Amanda Marcotte—an avid Pinterest user as well as a feminist blogger—what she thought about these male-targeted pinning sites. “I think if the female-heaviness of Pinterest scares dudes and makes them think they need a separate site that does the same thing, that's pure, unadulterated sexism,” she replied. “Pinterest is great for a variety of interests, and the only reason for men not to use it is fear of female ‘taint.’ ”

130325_BROWSR_Manteresting

Manteresting screenshot

The founders of the dude sites don’t see it that way. Manteresting (a recipient of some recent snark from Jezebel) launched in February 2012, after 27-year-old co-founder Brandon Patchin noticed his wife spending inordinate amounts of time on Pinterest. Where Pinterest has “boards” and “pins,” Manteresting has “workbenches” and “nails.” When I asked Patchin why men need an XY-friendly place apart from Pinterest, he acknowledged that the functionality of the two sites is very similar. But he says that if a man visits both sites for the first time—before he starts following specific users, and begins molding the site to fit his personal interests—he might more easily find topics that appeal to him on Manteresting.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.