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This article contains sexually explicit content.
Fifty Shades of Grey has inspired some good things, like wider discussions about the safe practice of BDSM and more openness for the kink community. It’s also allegedly inspired some not-so-good things, like a sexual assault. So it was only a matter of time before the world gave us a Fifty Shades-inspired dating app.
Whiplr is a location-based app in the style of Grindr and Tinder, that allows people in the kink community to connect locally. But unlike Tinder, it doesn’t link to your Facebook or share any personal information, and it allows the user to specify in detail the kinks and fetishes they’re into.
“The inspiration comes directly from the kink community where people are looking for ways to find and meet other like-minded people,” Whiplr CCO Daniel Sevitt told the Daily Dot in an email. “Until now there has never been an app that is tailored to their needs and that can help experienced kinksters connect as well as provide a safe and welcoming environment for the kink curious to begin their journey.”
There are a number of online platforms and social networks devoted to the BDSM community. For years, Tumblr and Reddit have hosted a slew of online kinky communities, and the popular kink-based social network FetLife has a little more than 3.5 million members, according to the numbers on its NSFW website.
But Sevitt says this is the first time someone has created a mobile dating app exclusively for kinky people. He credits the E.L. James’ novel and its film adaptation with bringing the conversation about BDSM into the mainstream, and creating a more welcoming space for sexual exploration.
“I think the genius of Fifty Shades was that it tapped into something that was already happening,” Sevitt said. “People were starting to feel more comfortable expressing their curiosity about BDSM and other kinks and Fifty Shades took one aspect of the fantasy life – handsome, dominant male meets beautiful, virgin submissive – and brought it into bookstores and now the multiplex.”
He hopes that Whiplr will show people that kink is “not something underground.” While people have traditionally associated BDSM with floggings done in locked rooms lined in leather, this app will be a less intimidating way for people curious about the lifestyle to dip a toe in the pool.
Whiplr is available to download for iOS and Android. The basic free version allows users to search profiles and have access to messaging, voice calls, video chat and “animated Sparks,” a way of striking up a conversation without actually having anything to say. The app also offers a paid subscription, called Dekadom, which gives users unlimited access to all the features.
Screengrab via Fifty Shades of Grey/YouTube
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.