She went on 29 first dates and two second dates in 31 days in May, nicknamed herself "Extra Cash Cathy Chapman," and called her dating experiment "Operation: No Pay May."
"I may or may not be doing it for the free food," her Twitter bio notes.
Yes, Cathy Smith has read the Internet comments, and yes: People hate what she has done. As part of a challenge from friends, 24-year-old Cathy Smith downloaded eight dating apps and set out to go on a date every single day last month, as we wrote about two weeks ago. She did it really for no other reason than to see whether it could even be done (conclusion: easily)—and also for the free meals, she admits.
She threw a "reveal party" at Eado's downtown Saturday night, an evening complete with dating panels and crowd participation, plenty of musical talent, and Tinder tips from Smith (men, stop writing that you love "traveling" and "good beer" and "working out"—you sound like everyone else, according to Smith). Although the bar full of singles and casual daters erupted in applause when she introduced herself—"Hi, I'm Extra Cash Cathy, and I went on 31 dates in 31 days"—she was met with scorn weeks earlier from Internet people who felt that what Smith did was not a social experiment, but a cruel manipulation of men and their wallets.
"Burn it into your brain, gentlemen. You are not human. You are a walking ATM. A tool that can be used and disposed of for another one at a moment's notice," one Redditor wrote.
"It's funny how she seems bothered that a guy would try to get into her pants while she's trying to get into his wallet," wrote another in Reddit's r/short group, where many short men were extremely offended because Smith (who is very tall) had told us that one of her rules was that she could not date a short man.
One man even went so far to believe that, since he thinks Smith had no reservations or fears about doing this, then clearly, "this is further proof that we don't live in a rape culture, because if we did this woman would never pull this kind of shit." He considered this "the upside" of her dating experiment.
On Saturday, we asked Smith to respond to her critics. To her, the bottom line is, you can't be mad at her for going on a lot of dates and getting a lot of free meals—that's society's fault, a result of longstanding conventional gender roles. "It's the general rules of dating," she said. "If a guy asks a girl on the dates, I assume—and they normally assume—that they're paying. That seems to be a consensus among all my friends, guys and girls. Even if I offer, they still pay."
One of the two men that Smith went on a second date with actually came to the party. She had invited many of them, awkwardly informing them that their date was part of her month-long dating challenge (most weren't exactly thrilled, she said). But only the one she nicknamed Suit & Tie on her blog, where she documented all of the dates, showed up.
We asked Suit & Tie, who is actually named Nathan and is the CEO of a small start-up, what it was like to find out that he was part of "No Pay May." He said it was a little weird to read what Smith wrote about him, that the challenge itself was a little weird, but that he had fun with her. What he couldn't agree with, however, was Smith's conclusion that her experience over the past month has only reinforced and confirmed society's gender roles.
"I don't think dating can be so monolithic to genders," Nathan said. "I don't think all women perceive gender roles the same way and all men do. Some girls serial date, so do some guys. Some guys want to go out and hook up, but so do girls. It can't be so much of her criticizing the guys out there who are like this."
As the night winded down, Smith told us that she can't see herself doing something as crazy as this again (more than a dozen men messaging her all day every day? Yes, it did get a little tiring every now and then, she had told us). She'll be keeping it casual going forward, she said, and perhaps pursue a couple third dates. Smith had even made a March-Madness-worthy bracket for No Pay May, but when she presented it at Eado's only two men—Suit and Tie and another nicknamed Foul Mouth—had made it to the second round. It looked like they had a long way to go, and so we asked Smith who she thought was going to win.
"Nobody," she said. "I'm the winner."