Bumble Has Apologised After Its Ad Campaign Poking Fun At Celibacy Was Dragged Online

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Bumble has released an apology and offered to make amends after its latest ad campaign poked fun at voluntary celibacy, leading to immense backlash on social media from women who stopped dating out of fear for their safety.

The “women-first” dating app has gone through a “rebrand” in recent weeks, complete with a new ad campaign designed to educate users of its changes (one of which includes an option where men can start a conversation with women — the first time the app has done so).

The controversial campaign includes a commercial where a woman who decides to “swear off dating” and become a nun abandons her new life when she sees a sexy shirtless gardener and is given a phone with Bumble’s newly-updated app.

Alongside the ad came bright yellow billboards plastered all over LA which said “You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer.”

The anti-celibacy message has been criticised on TikTok and other social media sites as dismissive of the reasons women decide to stop dating. While some women do opt out of dating because there are simply not enough options, others are increasingly choosing not to date out of fear for their lives due to men’s violence.

Bumble admits it missed the mark with its anti-celibacy ad campaign. Image: Twitter.

Bumble, for its part, appears to have understood the message. The company apologised to its users and the wider public on Tuesday, and vowed to learn from its mistake.

“To our beloved Bumble Community: We made a mistake,” the statement began.

“Our ads referencing celibacy were an attempt to lean into a community frustrated by modern dating, and instead of bringing joy and humor, we unintentionally did the opposite.

“Some of the perspectives we heard were: from those who shared that celibacy is the only answer when reproductive rights are continuously restricted; from others for whom celibacy is a choice, one that we respect; and from the asexual community, for whom celibacy can have a particular meaning and importance, which should not be diminished. We are also aware that for many, celibacy may be brought on by harm or trauma.

“For years, Bumble has passionately stood up for women and marginalised communities, and their right to fully exercise personal choice. We didn’t live up to these values with this campaign and we apologise for the harm it caused.”

Bumble said to make amends it would not only remove the ads but also make a donation to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (an organisation based in Texas), among other organisations.

“We will also be offering these partners this billboard space to display an ad of their choice for the duration of our reserved billboard time,” the statement continued.

“Please keep speaking up and telling us how we can be better. We care about you and will always be here for you.”

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The apology has been met with mixed reactions — while some appreciated the apology, others accused it of being disingenuous.

“Leaned into the frustration of disappointed incel men is the accurate description of what y’all did,” one commenter on Instagram wrote.

“The celibacy community isn’t pressed. We didn’t ask for allyship from you. You dressed those ladies as nuns to insinuate that celibate women are recluse and limited. We aren’t. Don’t free us, we’re good.”

Another echoed these sentiments and accused Bumble of “leaning into the feelings of men.”

“You made it a woman’s problem to fix the lack of sex men are having. How about addressing why women are not interested in having a relationship with men? Maybe tell the men to fix themselves instead of the women to give in. Do better.”

Some people simply asked for receipts of any donations Bumble makes, whereas others praised Bumble for taking steps to make amends.

It looks like it’ll be a long road before trust is completely restored — but donations and amplifying domestic violence services is a start.

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