Lulu, an application that allows women to anonymously rate willing men, may be a step forward in reducing the outrageous number of sexual assaults that occur against women. 

One in every six women has been a victim of sexual violence in her lifetime. In America alone, 17.7 million women have been raped or have been a victim of attempted rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). These numbers are far too high, and while there have been some great strides towards lessening these statistics, we could certainly do more to combat sexual violence and harassment from a technological standpoint. 

Lulu was created in 2013 by Alexandra Chong, who wanted to facilitate safe dating between men and women. The app started out as a tool that allowed women to rate men on both their looks and personalities while also choosing hashtags to describe the men further. Hashtags include information such as #SnuggleMachine or #ForgotHisWallet. More recently, the app has expanded to include a chat option that can only be initiated by the woman. The chat remains anonymous until the woman feels comfortable revealing her identity, according to People Magazine. 

Numerous stories come out daily on the topic of sexual violence that occurs on college campuses, namely at parties. In these situations, women are often in a strange house or apartment. They may not know where the exits are, how to lock the doors, what the drinks are made with or where to turn to if they are confronted by an offender.  

Juliet Lapidos argued in her op-ed for the New York Times that if it were sororities or women throwing parties rather than fraternities or predominately male households, sexual violence would decrease. Female students could ensure that no harmful drugs were slipped into the drinks and would know the safe area of the house so that they could escape any potentially harmful situation, if one even arose.

While the rating of men on their appearance is arguably barbaric, this app could prove useful by making it possible to warn other women about dangerous encounters that they may have had with that male. Those who have been attacked by an offender before can include that information on that person's profile, both making the attacker aware of their actions (because often the attacker is unaware that they've done anything wrong) as well as give other women the opportunity to know that the male is possibly dangerous. In addition, female students would no longer be subjected to the offensive and often disturbing messages that frequent applications such as Tinder

According to its website, Lulu works to ensure that men are safe on the app, as well. Women can only review men who have agreed to the process, and the review process is multiple choice, ensuring that nothing incredibly offensive is said about the person. To ensure that there are no children on the app, it pairs with Facebook's settings to ensure that the user is 17 or older. Finally, if men decide that they no longer want to be a part of Lulu, they can delete their profiles with the click of a button at the end of the page. 

Of course, the app could do a lot more to improve. For instance, they could be more conscious of the LGBT community within the app. Lulu generally only applies to cis men and women who are heterosexual. Violence and sexual assault against members of the LGBT community, especially the trans* community, is abundant, and little is being done to help. 

In addition, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of using a number to rank people. I'm sure that there is a way to provide helpful dating information about people without assigning them a numerical rating, which can really harm someone's self-esteem. 

All around, Lulu is a huge step in the right direction, especially regarding violence against women. While it could definitely use some improvements, I'm excited for what this means concerning the future of dating. Hopefully in the future more efforts will arise to make dating safer and to be more inclusive of everyone who just wants to find a little love.