On 8 March 2023, the world celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD). Customarily, Instagram was flooded with collages of female friendship groups celebrating one another while sipping mimosas. Over on Twitter, netizens used their voices to chastise the United Nations (UN) for its lack of gender equality and, quite rightly, call upon governmental bodies to prioritise the safety, well-being and protection of oppressed women across the globe.
IWD is a complex event. It’s a day where we need to reaffirm and refocus our energies towards fighting for the rights of all women (including anyone who might identify as such). It’s also a day where we should take time to celebrate the achievements of women, and shout out those who’ve championed us along the way.
One company that’s put the rights of women at the forefront of its ethos is dating app titan Bumble. From pushing for the criminalisation of cyberflashing in England and Wales, to providing aid for any female employees seeking abortions following the devastating Roe v. Wade overturning, Bumble has always prioritised the experience of both its female employees and app users.
One of the only apps that places women solely in charge of any potential match-making, Bumble has also played an integral role in understanding the dating habits, wants and needs of gen Zers. Our generation are some of the most politically-minded and social justice-oriented cohorts ever, and our romantic lives need to reflect that.
So, with all this in mind, I—eager to celebrate the day any way that I could—headed to a Bumble IWD-themed dating event with our TikTok Creative Social Media Editor in tow, to see some action play out in real life, gaze upon singles mingle, and sample as many free Margaritas that I could get my hands on.
Aptly titled ‘Bumble: IRL’, the in-person events are geared towards taking online flirtation to the next level, all while making sure that the women are still in control of the situation. The event I attended was being held at Shoreditch’s Old Street Records, a cosy bar which acted as the perfect spot for a potential meet-cute.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, and the copious national lockdowns that followed, it’s always nice to see a crowded room, hands touching rather than recoiling. And, what was evident from the event—and indeed the insights later shared by Bumble—was that gen Z are truly redefining what it means to date in 2023. We might be an anxious-ridden group, but we definitely have high hopes for our romantic futures.
According to the dating app, gen Z are particularly optimistic about dating this year, with 73 per cent of gen Zers “seizing the date” and stating that they’re excited about any romance that might lie ahead. The team shared with SCREENSHOT: “Younger generations are casting aside outdated romantic norms, joining the 89 per cent of women in the UK comfortable with making the first move and asking someone on a first date.”
Moreover, while the whole ‘main character energy’ concept might just feel like a cringeworthy symptom of TikTok culture, it’s definitely rubbing off on young singles at the moment, with 43 per cent of gen Z Bumble users feeling more motivated to go after what they want when it comes to romance after the past two years.
And it makes sense why so many dating apps are now pursuing IRL events as gen Z singles have no issues shying away from tackling dating head on. Supposedly, ‘hardballing’ (ie. not messing around when it comes to your love life) has taken a front seat, with more than 52 per cent of gen Zers globally stating they are much clearer with partners from the start about what they want from a relationship, and 85 per cent saying that being honest and upfront is the most important thing in a relationship.
Also, not to flex too much, but studies have categorically shown that gen Z are the queerest generation of all time. So, ensuring that dating apps are user friendly no matter how you identity is another absolute must.
Dating can be a hellish experience at times, but knowing that your fellow gen Zers are going to be approaching romance with an open-mind—and a bag full to the brim with green flags—is always a comforting notion.
Events like the Bumble IRL series can prove to be the perfect opportunity for those of us who’ve become far too content being cooped up at home, to step out of our comfort zones and try something new. Oh, and if you change your mind at the last minute, there’s always the equally valid option of an early night and a Deliveroo. It’s your choice.