An app to pay women for emotional labor

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

The modernization of the economy constantly brings forth new specialities that are at first astonishing, and in particular, previously unpaid work joins the wage economy. That trends is 500 years old. Women used to create all clothing at home, now clothes are created in factories, and sold in exchange for money.

So what about the emotional labor of trying to make a date work? Here is a type of work that somewhat overlaps with therapists and prostitutes.

Getting exactly what you want as quickly as possible is the general goal of countless other startups. But because the “what” in this situation isn’t cars or bánh mì but human companions, Ohlala, and other apps that facilitate paid dating, are most easily understood in terms of sex work. This isn’t a huge roadblock in Germany, where the app first launched, and where sex work is legal. But in February of this year, Ohlala crossed the Atlantic and launched in New York City, where not only are the laws different, but social interface is as well. Sure, sex workers and escorts can find plenty of work here, but it remains to be seen if we’re comfortable calling that “dating.”

That is the vision of Pia Poppenreiter:

In Poppenreiter’s vision, Ohlala is an app for any woman who thinks she ought to be compensated for her time and efforts when she goes out with someone. It seeks to turn leisure time — a precious, dwindling commodity — into billable hours. In that sense, Poppenreiter’s right: her app isn’t really an “Uber for escorts.” It’s a TaskRabbit for emotional labor. Perhaps that makes it more radical than anything else — with its tasteful design and young, hip founder, Ohlala suggests a world in which there’s no “kind of woman” who sells her time and affection, because every woman could be that kind of woman.

Post external references

  1. 1