Two young tech-type Vancouver dudes were having a drink back in February, lamenting the lack of dude-oriented materials on Pinterest. “We thought Pinterest was great,” says Colin Brown, one of the dudes. “But I just didn’t feel like I was connecting with people who had similar taste. Weddings and fashion design — that’s not really what I’m interested in.”
So they created an online bro space. With a slogan:“Man up. Sign up. Pin up.”
In May, Dudepins opened in Beta to invited users. Brown and his co-founder, Kamil Szybalski, won’t say how many they have now, except that their numbers are growing “30 to 50 percent” every week, and their venture is 100 percent serious.
It could just as easily be read as surrealist parody — dudism by dada. The main page of Dudepins frequently reads like a pre-Mad Men rule book of masculinity: Dudes want to peruse The Ultimate Steak Manual. Dudes would appreciate a poster reading “I have a mustache, therefore I am.” Brown admits that Dudepin’s definition of dudedom is tailored to his and Szybalski’s tastes; the two retain veto power over all posts.
That last caveat has gained the site more attention than typical of a new site. Media writer Mallary Tenore rebuked the site for reinforcing limited views of manhood. Others have speculated that Dudepins — along with similar new sites like Gentlemint and Manteresting — heralds the victory of masculinity in the feminized social networking space.
The lack of “girly” content on Dudepins bothers me not a whit. In brick-and-mortar book stores, the magazine section was always gender-divided. Readers of Better Homes and Gardens were entirely unruffled if Men’s Fitness failed to include a section on, say, crockpot recipes. Dudepins does not purport to speak for all men, after all. Just the dudes.
I find it more interesting that man-culture would feel the need to carve out a corner of the social networking sandbox at all, when the Internet is such an expansive beach of dude. The Web was laid on a foundation of porn, built with walls of lewd jokes, shingled on top with the discussion strains of a Reddit board.
What made Pinterest so noteworthy for so many observers was its resolute femininity. Wedding boards and Etsy communities aside, it was rare to find an online location dedicated so fully to indulging the frilliest netherworlds of the female psyche. Pinterest was the exception, not the rule.
It might be telling that the posts I saw on Dudepins didn’t feel much different than the sharings on my regular Tumblr dashboard, the Tweets on my regular Twitter feed, the links that pop up in the articles I regularly read. It would be absurd to claim that the Internet has only been for men, but less absurd to note that the Internet has reliably been one big gas expulsion.
Dudepins is new, but frankly it already feels old to me — more of the same, perhaps done better than many, with nothing I found terribly offensive or even terribly noteworthy.
As for Brown, he would like to make sure prospective users know that women are welcome on Dudepins, so long as their proposed content is sufficiently manly. “My mother is an active user on Dudepins,” he says. “Her stuff gets liked more than mine.”