The Queer Issue

Sizzr Sisters

Why Don't Women Interested in Women Have a Smartphone App Like the Guys Do? Oh Wait...

Sizzr Sisters

James Yamasaki

I moved to Seattle after I got dumped by the first girl I ever dated. We'd been together for almost two years, and the shittiness of the breakup was compounded by the fact that, as I started to settle in, I had no earthly idea how to find other lesbians in a new city.

My first few weeks in town, I met up with a lesbian friend of a lesbian friend to mark my arrival in Seattle the traditional lesbian way: with drinks at Wildrose. That night, like many subsequent nights, the two of us shared the Rose's bar area with a handful of seated, impenetrable cliques while a sparsely populated dance floor stared back at us from the adjoining room. What else were we supposed to do? If there was a better way for a recent transplant to find kind, cute folks who wanted to fool around that night—a way that did not involve lots of booze and awkward spaces that I read somewhere were full of lesbians on certain Tuesdays or every second-ish Saturday—I never discovered it. It would've been nice to have Sizzr, the Grindr-inspired app that's currently being developed for women who like women.

The concept seems like a no-brainer, but similar sites and apps have launched and fizzled before. Sizzr's bootstrapping Vancouver-based founder, Jacqueline Clarke, attributes those failures to three things: creepy straight dudes, too-lesbian lesbians, and patriarchy. No big. She explains that other apps became "harems for men posing as women... straight guys sending each other pictures of their cocks, thinking they were sending them to women, but they were really just sending them to other straight men!" Sizzr's Cock Block feature would allow a user to alert others if she encounters a serial sender of erect-penis-pics.

Other sites and apps were also "too lesbian," which Clarke readily admits sounds terrible before declaring, "Agh, queer politics are so complicated!" She elaborates: "Basically, lesbians don't need to be convinced to go to a lesbian event, because they're already part of the community. I want it to be more like extending our arms to all of the closet cases and all the curious-but-not-sure girls. And that's why our tagline is: 'Come out, come out, whoever you are.' It doesn't matter what your identification is, or what your label is, or how you define your sexuality. It's just: Are you a girl who would like to have more girls in your life? It's really simple." Partly in an attempt to reach out to those women, Clarke brought on burlesque dancer Tristan Risk to be the dolled-up gateway face of Sizzr.

The most significant hurdle for this and other, similar projects, though, is that women have been socialized to not pay for sex. Getting lesbians to participate in funding has been difficult, despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback Clarke has gotten from everyone she's talked to. Her biggest challenge, then, is figuring out how to market to women while tiptoeing around both external and internalized slut-shaming. I'd bet that expounding on "tribadism"—the Greek-rooted word for lady-sex that reeks of diagnosed perversity—in the pitch video is probably not helping things, but Clarke's plan to put street teams together for some of the big upcoming Pride parades is promising.

She's optimistic about Sizzr's potential, and she's confident that there's demand for her product. At the end of our conversation, Clarke compellingly argues that female sexuality and technology have long been intertwined, and that Sizzr is an obvious next step. "What a way we've come," she says, from ancient Greek dildo-wielders ("tribas") to vibrators, the first of which was a steam-powered masturbation machine used to treat hysterical women. "Now, we can just log on to our phone and... hook up."

In the interest of advancing technology-assisted lady-pleasure, and putting to rest (or at least complicating) assertions by the sexuality police that women "have too many feelings" for something like Sizzr and that we just "don't work that way," stop reading right now and go donate: recommended

Jen Kagan, once upon a time, was absolutely positive that she hated poetry, was totally straight, and would be an economist when she grew up.


Comments (8) RSS

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Gern Blanston 1
Scissor me timbers!
Posted by Gern Blanston on June 29, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
The drawing at the top of this article hurts my eyes to look at. Why are they oriented like that??
Posted by The CHZA on June 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM · Report this
Clara T 3
Yeah that one scissor's getting a raw deal.
Posted by Clara T on June 30, 2013 at 7:20 AM · Report this
Man, it takes two weeks for a lesbian to find a girlfriend around here, but I have't found one in decade.

Maybe I should give up male heterosexuality and become a lesbian...are there member fees?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 30, 2013 at 10:19 AM · Report this
@Supreme Ruler Of The Universe, Well being trans is kind of expensive if you want to make physical changes. :p
Posted by Spike1382 on June 30, 2013 at 10:40 AM · Report this
Womyn2me 6
And just to cap @5's comment: most lesbians actually insist that the lesbian they are dating has female lady bits.

I, for one, insist that they be originally installed lady bits.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on July 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM · Report this
@ Womyn2me- Your loss!

I know plenty of lesbians, me included, who don't care what bits you have at all. It's the fact that they're bits that are attached to a woman that matters to me.

Posted by Birdpandabirda on July 4, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
I told you you'd learn to love poetry.
Posted by SporePrint on August 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM · Report this

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