The arc of the sexual revolution is long, but it bends toward a billion-dollar company publicly shaming women for not having sex with strangers. Yes, dating app Bumble’s latest ad campaign has been trying to guilt young women who want to take a dating hiatus into returning to the app. 

“You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer,” one billboard read. “Thou shalt not give up on dating and become a nun,” another read. A commercial for the dating app even features a woman “swearing off dating” and joining a convent — until she spies a shirtless hunk and gets on Bumble. 

This blitz of pro-casual sex ads went over about as well with women as a guy who puts “6 ft” in his profile and shows up to date at a distant 5 feet, 9 inches. 

“Bumble need[s] to f*** off and stop trying to shame women into coming back to the apps,” one tweet with 30,000 likes read. “Instead … run ads targeted at men telling them to be normal.” One commenter pointed out that given Bumble’s gender discrepancy — the app hosts many more men than women — it makes unfortunate sense that it would be the fairer sex targeted by the pro-hook-up lecture. 

While Bumble’s basic offering is free, it also offers paid Boost and Premium accounts that give users more options. If people are growing weary of online dating and deleting the app, it’s not making money. 

Regardless, shaming people into using your product is generally not a good strategy, a lesson Bumble has now learned. “We made a mistake,” Bumble said in an Instagram post on May 13. “Our ads referencing celibacy were an attempt to lean into a community frustrated by modern dating, and instead of bringing joy and humor, we unintentionally did the opposite.”

Bumble’s failed campaign was meant to generate hype for the dating app as it undergoes a major facelift. Bumble began in 2014 as a supposed alternative to Tinder, which was always synonymous with one-night stands. The company was founded by a woman, and it was premised on women’s initiative: Women get to start conversations with men. Now, the app is giving men the option of messaging first, doubtless hoping to get a leg up on competitor Hinge. 

Online dating may be popular, but survey respondents still report that dating today is far from easy. Despite “nearly three in 10 U.S. adults saying they have used a dating site or app, and more than 40% stating that online dating has made dating easier for them,” per Forbes, “47% of Americans say dating is harder now than it was 10 years ago.”

In the chaotic modern dating scene, Bumble may have wanted to position itself as a feminist alternative to more sex-focused or seemingly male-centric dating apps, but its recent campaign has proven that it’s just another business trying to profit from the sexual marketplace. And it misread the room: Members of Generation Z are having less sex and reporting dating app fatigue.

It’s hard to say how a young person is likely to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, but one thing is clear: The apps don’t want to see you cutting cake at your wedding. They want you to keep scrolling.