HER sounds great at first. It’s a dating app for women who love women, negating the need to use aggressive and male dominated apps such as Tinder and allowing for a safe, Sapphic space to meet and flirt with others without the anxiety that you’ve misread someone’s sexuality. Although HER offers a wide variety of inclusive language to label yourself with on your profile, it’s far from inclusive.
When I first opened the app, I did so with hope and excitement. Both of which were quickly dashed when I scrolled through profile after profile of women who asserted “don’t message me if you’re bi,” and “don’t bother if you’re bi or pan.” This was theoretically a space for queer women, bisexual and pansexual women included, but members are actively hostile towards queer women who aren’t lesbians.
This biphobic culture doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In the Community Guidelines, HER does not mention biphobia once. There are vague guidelines about being supportive and kind, but there is nothing explicitly barring bigotry against members of the community. The moderators of the app are not only silent on the issue, but they seem to encourage the exclusivity with their marketing.
Although their website uses the phrase “queer” occasionally (and the phrase “bisexual” even less often), it mostly markets itself as a lesbian dating app (even the tab of the open website says “Her- The Lesbian App). Subscribers to the app also receive daily news and polls- all marketed towards lesbians. When I was subscribed, I regularly received polls asking me questions about my favorite food, music, and television in order to contribute to assumptions about what lesbians are into. I’m not a lesbian- I’m proudly bisexual and my profile says as such. I have nothing to contribute as far as data on lesbians goes. But the emails I received never bothered with inclusive language, nor did they bother with my demographic.
Having specific spaces for lesbians isn’t a bad thing- but when you claim that you cater to queer women only to then sponsor and cultivate a hostile landscape for queer women who don’t identify as lesbians, then you’re attempting to capitalize on a demographic that is already marginalized within the community without combatting that marginalization. It’s dishonest, and it’s cruel.
If you identify as a lesbian, you may love the app HER. If you identify as queer, you may love the app HER. But for me at least, the biphobia was too much.