Women turned off by billionaire Peter Thiel”s conservative dating app The Right Stuff
A new pro-Trump dating app backed by right-wing tech billionaire Peter Thiel hasn’t even launched yet, but it’s already facing numerous rejections.
The Right Stuff, which is set to debut this month, was co-founded by former Trump body man and aspiring matchmaker Johnny McEntee, who recruited the sister of former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to help launch the application.
Kayleigh’s sister, Ryann McEnany, is particularly suited for the job. She has 146,000 Instagram followers — mostly young conservatives — and has been given a particularly difficult task: convincing attractive, conservative women to sign up.
His basic pitch, according to Instagram posts reviewed by The Daily Beast, is a mix of flattery and exclusivity: “Hi, I’m working with John McEntee’s team on an exclusive conservative dating app called The Right Stuff which should be launched this summer! We’d love to get you on our list for early access to the app.
But despite the goal of enlisting women on Capitol Hill staff and right-wing politicians, the startup is already facing a few problems.
For one, there’s an emerging legal dispute with another dating service, also called The Right Stuff.
This “The Right Stuff” has been around for over two decades, but it has nothing to do with conservative politics.
The company plans to send a cease-and-desist letter to the Thiel-backed operation, according to Michael Feigin, an attorney working on the case. The “existing dating service is for people who have a higher level of education, and a lot of them are on the left, so they don’t like the confusion,” he said.
The founder of original dating app The Right Stuff, Dawne Touchings, has told The Daily Beast that she owns the “same name” brand that the conservative dating app poached. “There are a lot of other really good right-wing names they could go for,” she said. “They’re very smart, I’m sure they could figure something out!”
“I have a lawyer and he’s contacting them,” Touchings continued. “That’s my incorporated name.”
The Daily Beast independently verified that there was a trademark application for the name, but could not verify that the application had been approved.
Yet another problem is getting users. Instead of drawing singles, the app has so far garnered widespread ridicule, according to Republican operatives who spoke to The Daily Beast.
Two Republican staffers in Washington, DC, said many young conservative women ignored McEnany’s outreach and instead passed mocking screenshots of her messages to group chats.
Other DC Republican staffers — those who brag about having drinks at the Navy Yard watering hole mission and claim their pronouns are “Yee” and “Haw” on their Instagram profiles — told the Daily Beast that the app had an array of possible issues, like liberals posing as right-wingers and the awkward potential of matching them with conservative employees they already know.
“These are all of Mitch McConnell’s staffers,” said a Republican operative, speaking on condition of anonymity because she still works in pro-Trump politics.
But that same conservative officer, who was invited to the app by McEnany, said getting into the swamp – Washington’s MAGA nickname – was a mistake.
“If they’re just going to start in DC, good luck,” she said. “I think they better start in other parts of the country,” she added, suggesting deeper red states like Florida and Texas.
McEnany and McEntee did not return requests for comment, nor did a representative of Thiel or attorneys who have represented him and other Thiel businesses in the past.
Even before its launch, The Right Stuff – not to be confused with the white nationalist-affiliated site of the same name – has already sparked other controversies. When a promotional video directed by McEnany was released in August, the company was ridiculed on Twitter for its fixation on creating a safe, right-wing dating space without pronouns.
The invite-only app would only allow heterosexual matches initially. As the LGBTQ+ website called “Them” pointed out, Thiel, who is gay, is therefore funding a product he couldn’t use. It remains to be seen if the application catches on; other right-wing startups, like Truth Social, Righter, and AlignPay, have not been able to fully compete with their mainstream counterparts.
There have been other causes for skepticism. “I feel like it might be vulnerable to people trolling,” a Republican employee told The Daily Beast.
She also questioned why The Right Stuff was even necessary. “You can meet other conservatives on normal dating apps. It’s something you can filter out,” she noted. More established apps, including Bumble, have long offered the ability for their users to filter potential matches based on political leanings.
Others said they feared limiting their potential dating pool, especially in the politically incestuous region of DC.
“I don’t exactly want the world I work in to know about my relationship status,” a DC reporter for a conservative publication told The Daily Beast.
This same reporter from The Right Stuff’s target demographic lamented that dating apps seem contrary to “mainstream” conservatism. “The internet seems to interfere with biological tendencies, like men courting women,” she said. “It’s not like Alexa is telling you the weather. You can’t upset the natural mating process and call it traditional.
Meanwhile, Savannah Dudzik, an unpaid pre-launch app ambassador who lives in Tampa, Fla., who met with the startup’s representatives at a Turning Point USA rally, added that she didn’t like not historically dating apps (such as Catholic Match), in part because men on the platform were just looking to hook up. She’s hoping for a more positive experience with The Right Stuff — a serious romance only — and is excited to see it take off. “I think it’s going to be a success!” said Dudzik.
Except there’s a catch: Dudzik hopes the app will ban right-wing men on the platform looking for “dating.”
McEnany, for her part, has also been busy promoting other right-wing causes. In recent days, she has championed a Google alternative that highlights ‘censored’ stories, posted a radiant image from MyPillow guy Mike Lindell and shared a movie stage featuring a Mexican mariachi band – in a mocking reference to Venezuelan migrants who were airlifted to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida officials, allegedly under false pretences.
Clearly, The Right Stuff thinks its users will be drawn to this type of ideology – or at least not alienated by it.
In one of its video ads reminiscent of 1950s values, three actresses ridicule the “crazy” world of modern dating, including fictional men who don’t want kids for environmental reasons, ask for a date to pay a meal after forgetting their gift card in a fanny pack and showing up to a bike meeting.
“Download The Right Stuff today,” the ad concludes, “and start dating normal guys.”