One night in February, while drinking scotch and smoking cigars, Colin Brown and Kamil Szybalski had an idea. They both liked Pinterest but thought it was missing something.
“We said, ‘You know what? There’s not a lot of male-oriented content, there’s not a lot of dude stuff,’” Brown recalled in a phone interview. “We could provide a platform for dudes to do that.”
After spending a few weeks conceptualizing their idea, the two 24-year-olds worked with a developer to create Dudepins.
The site — which launched last month — is being described as “the man-cave version of Pinterest” and “a place for men to be men.” Its design and functionality is similar to Pinterest, but its users are asked to post only “male-oriented” content. The site’s slogan is: “Man up. Sign up. Pin up.”
“Pinterest is mainly females sharing female-oriented content, and their pins really just take up the visual landscape of the site,” Brown said. “I’m looking at Dudepins now and I see a cup of bacon and a fighter jet with a laser coming out it.”
Brown is right that most of Pinterest’s users — about 80 percent — are women, but they are free to post most any type of content they want. Dudepins wants only to publish “male-oriented” content.
So if there are sites geared toward women, why not a social network for men? Because Dudepins is neither a true social network — which would allow people to share content freely — nor an inclusive representation of what men like.
It’s not hard to find images on Dudepins that perpetuate stereotypes of women. There’s the pin that says a “quiet man is a thinking man, quiet woman is a mad woman,” and the one that shows a clothing tag with the instructions: “Give it to your wife. It’s her job.” The caption reads: “I know…..respect women. But this is damn funny!” It depends, of course, on who your audience is.
Women — who make up less than 10 percent of Dudepin’s users — can join the site with the understanding that they should post content that’s of interest to men, Brown said. He wouldn’t share the number of overall users, but said the site is growing by 30 to 50 percent week over week. Similar to Pinterest, users have to request an invitation to use the site.
Brown and Szybalski, who both live in Vancouver, monitor the site throughout the day. If they don’t think something is manly enough, they’ll remove it and send a notification to the user who pinned the image. Unlike Pinterest, Brown said, Dudepins is “less about arts and crafts” and more about things like sports cars and man caves.
Brown admits that the term “male-oriented” is subjective, but said, “this is our site, we get to choose.”
“My sister’s getting married in a month, but if she put up a wedding photo on our site, I would probably take it down, to be honest,” Brown said, noting that he still uses Pinterest in addition to Dudepins. “I don’t think it fits with dude stuff.”
But what’s “dude stuff”? What if I wanted to post a photo of a kitten? Not manly enough? How about a kitten with a mustache? Or one with a bow-tie? And what’s so manly about bacon, anyway? I know plenty of women who like bacon. For that matter, I also know some women who would love to own a sports car. So creating a site for male-oriented pins implies that all guys like similar things — and ignores the fact that some men have interests that aren’t all that “dude-like.”
Both men and women post recipes on Pinterest, which is the site’s most shared vertical. Dudepins has some recipes, but I’m guessing this colorful cupcake recipe I recently shared on Pinterest wouldn’t fly.
Brown said he and Szybalski want the site to be work-friendly and have had to remove some photos of “scantily-clad” women. “The last thing you want to have to do is hide your computer screen from your co-workers,” he said.
The system isn’t perfect. Shortly after my conversation with Brown, I noticed a photo of Jennifer Aniston topless on the home page. When I asked him about it a half-hour later, he said he couldn’t find it and that Szybalski must have removed it. (The link to the image, however, is still accessible.) To be fair, there are also scantily-clad photos of Aniston and other women on Pinterest.
As my colleague Jeff Sonderman pointed out, it’s an interesting trend, and not one that you typically see on other social networks. “Often the main network that gets big first (like Facebook) just diversifies to include other types of communities and content,” he told me. “You don’t usually see new ones pop up and succeed unless they have different tools and benefits, not just different content.”
Brown said he’s already heard from several people on social networks who have praised the site and expressed interest in joining. Some have said the name of the site is “stupid,” while others have said that they don’t use Pinterest and aren’t about to start using Dudepins.
“We’ve already received a fair bit of criticism from people talking about gender segregation and saying it’s not fair, and ‘Why should guys only have a place to do this?’” Brown said. “We don’t judge people, though. We just judge content. That’s no different than us choosing not to have inappropriate pictures on the site.”
But it is different. Imagine if Pinterest told people they could post only content on food, family, fashion and furniture — because they’re womanly.