I can’t tell whether the hyper-feminist vision that the ‘adopt-a-guy’ (the English translation of Adopteunmec.com) website gives out is ironic or part of the art of surfering the consumer wave. In any case the site is one of the biggest French internet successes in the past few years. Only women get a say on it: they can surf and select the meek male prey of their choice.
‘Adopt-a-guy’ was created by the geek and flirt expert duo Florent Steiner and Manuel Conejo. The 34-year-olds launched their site in September 2008, fashioning it as a distant cousin of the more popular Meetic and other-sites-for-singles-looking-for-love. They angled their own vision of young, urban types who were looking for a bit of everything: a date for the night, a serious relationship or a bit of a flirt. The girls get first and only digs: they decide whether they will be meeting up with Bogoss78 (slang for ‘beau gosse’, aka ‘hot guy’ - ed) or Misterlove. Men are presented as products and are graded by girls for their assets – be it in massage, DIY or culinary skills – and their ‘accessories’ (a double bed, or a car for example).
Men not offended
‘Adopt’ knows it is being tongue-in-cheek. Were the concept to be reversed and men were ‘adopting a chick’, we’d be screaming scandal. 'It’s fine' to treat a man as an object for once, especially when we have their consent and adjusted sense of humour for the situation. Three twenty-something men who are subscribed as potential lover boys tell us that they liken the portal to any consumerist site, which has both its good and bad sides. Jules* says he signed up for the first time two years ago and took a break for a while before getting back on the ‘market’ one month ago. He would connect for two hours a day as a student and around five minutes a day nowadays. ‘I just want quick sex if I need it and that small chance of meeting a girl who makes my head turn,’ he says. ‘Of course' he adds, his longest relationships have been with girls that he has met IRL (in real life). That little ‘of course’ is a nod to nights out at bars, office couplings or dating mutual friends.
'In a way it’s almost more respectful than how it usually plays out in real life or in a club'
Maxime is a former 'Adopt' user who says he found love on the website. He thus finds that the portal has its merits and doesn’t take the language that targets a younger, more urban and relaxed audiences seriously. He is not embarrassed by the fact that it might reduce him to being an object, he says. ‘I’d rather see it as me being presented as some sort of source of amusement and fun, a ‘service’ of sort, LOL,’ he types. David, who signed up in October 2012, likes the ‘seduction game’ which carries with it the ‘fun’ of the experience, he finds. Mostly he appreciates the position that the girls have been elevated to, one carrying with it ‘full powers’, as he calls it. ‘If the girls really get into playing the game, then it is quite fun and nice, because the roles are reversed,’ he continues. ‘They are are flirting as they are selecting and inviting us guys on a date. In a way it’s almost more respectful than how it usually plays out in real life or in a club. And meeting a girl this way is better because she would know me less well, as we wouldn’t have spent hours talking online.’
The boys who surf ‘Adopt’ share a very pragmatic vision of the site. David feels men are always ‘treated like objects’, whilst Jules finds that the portal is very much a reflection of our era, where there must be far worse out there. ‘It’s a bit of a provocative website,’ he admits. ‘It does a good job of placing us in our sexual and sentimental relations today, where meeting people has become a very industrialised notion.’ It’s a black vision of this generation Y everyone is always harping on about; all you need to be today is ‘hype’ for a young girl to lust after you in all legitimacy. Jules also remarks how it was far easier to grab a girl’s attention on the website when you post that you live in Paris, as opposed to the suburbs. After all the laurels that such a site rests on are those little white lies that make your life seem more more appealing and thus seductive.
Whilst the boys I speak to on the site seem to be cool, they don’t really seem to know how to handle the sparky girls who are ruling the game. ‘A typical man today is a hunter who adapts himself to new-age approaches, or meeting in digital supermarkets in this case,’ says Jules. David simply says that men are ‘complicated’ the world over. As for us girls, there’s nothing new really that we have learnt from the experiment. I mean clearly we prefer to ‘go shopping’ than hunt for boys. Girls of our age alternate between finding the perfect man who is adorned with all of the things that make him on our mental lists, and a light irony on life, seeing as we know all too well that Prince Charming only existed for Cinderella – although probably our grandmothers did not agree. It’s a place for the girls to exercise their own power of seduction. It’s a chance for the boys to ‘stamp themselves up all first class’, as Maxime says. Ultimately the secret behind ‘Adopt’ is its staying true to the strange idea of the rapport between sexes, leaving it to the men to come up with the evening’s plans, and making women mistresses of the table.
Images: courtesy of © adopteunmec.com official facebook page