I must disagree slightly with your observations, I do think both sides are guilty of idealization of the opposite sex. However, women take the greater constructive criticism a little more. For instance, we have shows that allow you to have your dream wedding and plastic surgery or a show like the "Bachelor" that shows one guy opting for an array of lovely women. I think magazines are finally taking responsibility for their part however it doesn't stop men seeking out pictures on the internet.
Women have come to a crossroads between marriage and being single, children or no children, and independence vs dependence. Women are still trying to have it all yet they are failing miserable.
The message that is pounding in women's head frequently "you can't be happy without the perfect man", "your image is more important than your inside, and "Women need to have a fairytale wedding to be recognized as "fitting in" with society.
I do agree with you on accessibility to a point but I diverge from your path when you say regular women are inaccessible. I think single women today are choosing to stay single than deal with someone who doesn't meet their criteria. Criteria means basic information and personality.
I would say that here it's a more urban setting. The street call out hasn't gone out of style. The men in my neighborhood are mostly married with children, Christian or Catholic, and have settled into a constant rhythm. I'm not saying it's like that EVERYWHERE but I wanted to give you an example of one of the demographics we have here.
Appearance seems to matter more and more on both sides. I read a profile header that stated "Kids? Overweight? Disqualified."
I agree with you about the ideal or perfect mate. I think that's where we set ourselves up for failure when listen to friends and family saying "The perfect guy or girl is out there".
The matter of level of exposure is also a good one. I have lived all over the Canada, and in the far North, people are constantly covered, and the expectations to perfect visuals are quite high here. In my years spent in Florida and the Caribbean, people constantly expose their flesh, the good and the bad, and I found the expectations are much more reasonable in Florida than anywhere I've lived in Canada, and even better than other areas in the USA, even California. Being constantly clothed has allowed humans to live by delusion and projection instead of realism (which is also well reflected in Canada having a higher level of penetration of social media than even the USA, Canadians are often content with the 'idea' of people rather than the real thing). Hanging out in nudist groups is humbling and freeing.
I think the difference between false expectations and reality, as you say, has always existed, but the modern lifestyle, our sedentary, cubicle/screen driven lifestyle, has shifted that perspective to a much wider degree of psychological penetration.
I'm not much of a television watcher, but isn't there a reciprocal female version of the bachelor shows, where the girl picks from an array of guys?
Not ever having been a woman, I can only view women’s perspectives from implications or inference, so of course I can’t speak with any authority on how media influences or societal influences make women feel, or even whether generalizations about such influences make sense. I concede that women are under greater pressure than are the men, to form families and to pursue a self-identity of parenthood. But at least in our part of the country, the message to men and women alike is that "you can't be happy, fulfilled or even a decent human being, unless you have a wife/husband and children". The single person is viewed as an overgrown adolescent, while the childless are wanton ingrates and sociopaths.
But just as being child-free is a disadvantage in dating and in one’s social standing, it ought on the contrary to be an advantage in overcoming the invidious trap of “gotta have it all”. By explicitly desiring less of one particular thing (having children), it should be possible to desire and to attain more of other things, and to feel less hounded by the tension between inapposite priorities.
Then there’s the question of women’s criteria for men. If you’re looking for a genetic complement to your progeny, of course you have to be choosy. But if reproduction is not a factor, if you are individually successful and secure, then I would imagine that the criteria become: (1) not a boor or a parasite, (2) a person of some integrity and responsibility, (3) a modicum of intelligence, and (4) some level of physical attraction. Not all men meet these criteria, but assuredly a great many do. One should not “settle” for a mate failing in any of these criteria, but if a candidate meeting them is found, then why not “settle” then? This is truly a time to invoke the adage, “The optimal is the enemy of the good”.
Another great essay... only one point missing from your 4-pt enumeration, sexual satisfaction. From all the girl talk with the females I've known, that if the male is able to make the female happy in bed (I'm not limiting here to ejaculation), it may overcome failings in one other sector.
Thanks for the new word: invidious
1. calculated to create ill will or resentment or give offence; hateful: invidious remarks.
2. offensively or unfairly discriminating; injurious: invidious comparisons.
3. causing or tending to cause animosity, resentment, or envy: an invidious honour.
May I say your insights are fascinating and thought provoking. I'm curious, how old are you? Plus, I love a good philosophical discussion on social and economical issues occurring presently. I'd be hard pressed to find someone in my city that thinks or observes like in that way.
Yea, "The Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" are shallow attempts to create romance and intensified emotion in front of millions of viewers. People often wonder why they turn each other down once the cameras are off. I think I already know why. I stopped watching TV as much when I noticed how formulaic sit-coms have become. The shows are so far removed from the viewer that the viewer is essentially excluded. I noticed the trend of bringing women together in a group in some convoluted way then they are involved in embarrassing situation that often involve dating. I has often been said that there is a "whitening" of American TV shows. It seem like people of color only make it on comedy shows as fodder. For instance, "Friends" and "Sex in the City" both make the nonverbal claim that only white people live in the city. I understand that they are trying to hit their target audience but when will become more realistic? I only see people of color in shows like "House MD", "Law and Order" (almost most of them), and "CSI". I'm not saying there is a BIG conspiracy however I can't help but notice this facet of the entertainment world. I apologize for digressing.
I agree with you about the societal pressure of marriage and children. I think it is manifested in slightly different ways depending on the sex. For example, when you explained how both are considered infantile and seen as an adolescent in some cases. I think men are labelled more often as "infantile" because they aren't "settling" down. As you pointed out before, in this country a man isn't considered a man in society unless he has married and had children. I think it's deplorable that society thinks of men that way. I have been guilty of believing this as well until I REALLY look at it from a different angle. The typical male Hollywood comedy film involves the man "growing up" or "needing a good woman to fix him". He hasn't gotten serious about his life because he hasn't assimilated to the societal norm. What's your take on it? Being a male, do you think societal rules for me have changed?
For women, it's more about "finding Mr. Right" or "snagging a man". I can tell you that those stupid romantic comedies centered on the woman "getting her man to the alter", "being unhappily single until Mr. Perfect appears", or my least favorite "planning the wedding and disaster ensues". All these women centered films deal with the woman being satisfied by finding a man AND the wedding. The wedding is the gold standard of ostentatious displays. I've known numerous women who have shown off the engagement ring then went into a long diatribe about planning the wedding. They seemed more exciting about the wedding than the marriage. I have to admit that I find this feature of my sex disappointing. "Bridezilla" is a sad case of this point; the premise is a spoiled bride who is a terror up until the wedding. I've noticed too that when my friends feel disenchanted after the music has faded and the cake eaten. They often found themselves asking who am I married to? Do you think that more thought is given to the compatibility of the couple itself or is the wedding the "opium of the masses"?
I do agree it should be praised to follow your own path. After working for years with these people, I've noticed that they don't like anyone who isn't a part of their tribe. It almost seems evolutionary. I don't fit the cookie mold therefore can I be trusted? I have many coworkers I call friends on a slightly shallow level. Most of them are married with children, Christian, immersed in their child's world, and detached from their own personalities. I think that's why I don't want to have kids because pre-baby the women are themselves nonetheless when kids arrive it seems like the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". I understand why this is so on a purely biological reasoning. I scare the people I work with because I'm not miserable enough. I don't have diapers to change, husbands to placate, and piles of laundry waiting at home. I'm not saying the feelings are conscious. What has your experience of being atheist and childfree in the workplace been?
On your last point, I think both sides are catching up to each other on the "dating must haves" list. The standards are way too high to obtain in reality. Personally, I've only had three criteria that are important to me: childfree, atheist or agnostic, and not interested in getting married to maintain a relationship.
I have found that the first two deal breakers have caused me much trouble. Recently, I was crossed off the list of a particular male who pursue me for years yet only to find that the ideal image in his head of when we dated doesn't match who I am now. Also, he was certain he did want children and he was Christian. He was certain the latter point because we had disagreements about this. He often tried to "convert me".
Lately, it appears to have come down to these three criteria that has kept me single. My best friend asked if I could pick out the two most important ones and settle on the last one. I told her that it would be no kids and doesn't want to marry however I'm of the opinion that it's important to share religious or nonreligious opinions. Would you pick two and settle? If you had to choose, which two would you pick?
My only non-negotiable criterion would be the property of being child-free, because the child-free stance bespeaks so much about a person’s world view. While I am not particularly keen on marriage given my personal experience, I am not opposed to it on principle; I’d be OK with the whole spectrum of relations, from casual (assuming that it was honest) to steady boyfriend/girlfriend to cohabitation to marriage. I have no moral objection to “non traditional” lifestyles, and in the opposite extreme, I am willing within reason to accede to the conservative dictates of a woman so inclined. While I would prefer an atheist or at least an agnostic, a non-doctrinaire adherent of organized religion would be fine, provided that she actively sought justification for her views from first-principles rather than appeal to authority, or that religion for her were a matter of cultural rituals rather than personal belief.
TNT666 mentioned the importance of sexual satisfaction. True enough. But I would opine that short of genuine physiological defects, sexual compatibility is not a separate area. It stems directly from partners’ mutual affection. If your partner genuinely likes you and takes the trouble to please you, would this not translate over to sex as well? If your partner is a gifted sexual athlete, but really only cares about his own pleasure, then what good is that? And there is one more consideration here. Presumably sex doesn’t happen immediately. There is a courtship process involved. Presumably the potential mates would dismiss one another on grounds of poor “chemistry” long before the relationship leads to sex. If things are otherwise good, but the sex is lousy, would that be adequate grounds for ending the relationship? Would women say: “You are a roguish fellow and rather obtuse, but let’s go ahead and have sex – perhaps you shall evince redeeming qualities in the bedroom?”
The sexual revolution has by and large been a positive development, and certainly I won’t gainsay progress in women’s rights, in no longer judging people by the confines of their genitals. But from the male perspective, all of this has one crucial negative consequence: men are now much more responsible for the parenthood role. In decades past, the man’s responsibility was to provide materially for his family, to remain faithful his wife, to pursue his career and to maintain the family honor. Raising the kids was his wife’s responsibility, or the servants’ responsibility, if the family was sufficiently wealthy. The implication was that children really didn’t define the man. He hardly saw his son until the son was old enough to go hunting; and he almost never saw his daughter. I reiterate that I don’t condone the sloughing off of childrearing responsibility from men onto women or surrogates. But look at the result for me, the child-free man. 50 years ago, I could have been out on evenings and weekends with my buddies at work, playing bridge, discussing investments, just “hanging out”. Their wives would be shepherding their kids, while they had “man-time” to themselves. That no longer happens. Now the weekends and evenings are spent driving the kids to soccer practice. Men used to own sports cars; now they are proud of their Plymouth Grand Voyagers. They used to count horsepower; now they count cupholders. My male coworkers have become corporate drones: drones in the familial corporation, Mommy and Daddy, Inc. They define themselves as parents first, and as self-contained individuals only second. Their creativity, their passion, their human energy, have been projected onto the role of reproducer. In Christian terms (let’s relish the irony!), they have built a false idol of the idea of their progeny, and worship it more than they worship their god.
At work, we are fortunate to have at least a superficially friendly atmosphere. We have no proselytizers or crusaders, perhaps because the culture wars have already been settled here. My views are known for their eccentricity, and are regarded with the shoulder-shrugging bemusement that one accords to the village idiot, who is inviolable from censure, but who will never have intimate relations with any females in the village.
Harridan20 - I'll be happy to discuss personal information such as age and so forth, but not in a completely open forum. This site has a "personal message" capability, does it not? Then let's pursue that.
Unfortunately, sexual satisfaction is indeed its own sector, there are tons of couples caught in unsatisfying relationships, who are in love and have the greatest affection for their partner, yet the sexual satisfaction is just not present. This leads to cheating and breakups eventually, even though people were ok on other counts. The diversity of sexual preferences is so vast, and the degrees of satisfaction so personalised, that I think it's likely that a majority of people are simply 'sexually incompatible'. In addition, females will often remain silent about expressing their dissatisfaction, whereas most males are more comfortable telling others what they want (same problem happens in the workforce).
Marriages that last are usually based on "not knowing what you're missing". Marriages later in life, marriages after common-law cohabitation, as well as 2nd and 3rd marriages, all have statistically less longevity than blind marriages done young, such as arranged marriages or family-coercion-religious marriages. When one doesn't know better, it is harder to be unsatisfied.
Just to clarify, sexual satisfaction is not limited to 'genital configuration', it also includes lip-fingers-butt-breast-toes-skin-smell-breath etc etc etc. To imagine we're all built the same, or have the same sensitivities doesn't quite work. We are no longer a "natural" species. In nature, 99% of individuals of any species are practically identical. But with Homo sapiens, we've had medicine and religious morals which have permitted non-typical individuals to gain somewhat equal access to breeding, over the years, such out-breeding has greatly increased the morphological diversity of Homo sapiens.
Also, biologically, there is no evidence that male Homo sapiens are genetically adapted to stay at home and raise the kids. From a genetics perspective, we are the same as what we were 100,000 years ago... where males were not staying at "home" (didn't exist) raising kids (done by female groups, not individual females). Of course there are plenty of biology naysayers that think genetics can be overcome by sheer willpower, IMO that's an illusion. Where I live, there are first nations groups who are campaigning to have their dad's be more home-bound... like their religious caucasian conquistadors do, but in first nation culture, the males usually set out hunting Caribou and trapping several months a year, and the females run the home-front. From the perspective of the person spending most of the year running the home-front, having the part-timer returning home and trying to run things makes no sense at all...
This is a big topic in the MRM, but I really don't think it's going to bring long term happiness and satisfaction to those males doing it... unless they get their female peers and family to help with a lot of the responsibilities.
I do agree entirely with the rest of your mummy-daddy-drone rant :)
The primary market for Hollywood flicks is not females... but all teenaged kids... they spread out pretty evenly over the entire entertainment spectrum... but I think yes... films used to be a big night out, a special event... but in the past three decades, films have switched from "7th Art form" to mere entertainment.
And sadly I think it goes way beyond the "knight in shining armour" syndrome... it skews our appreciation of what a normal person looks like. Sure we SAY we know what a normal person looks like, but our subconscious still holds out for that incredible hunk or gorgeous babe we saw in whatever film. It also skews us against common body defects, it skews us against age.
I am pretty certain that films have played a role in my 'lust' factor in sussing out partners... I've always been a huge film buff. The one body trait that I seem to gravitate most towards is (no not that one!) is a large nose. My 'thing' for larger noses places my tastes a little off most. Which is good cuz I almost never dig the same people as my BGFs.
In a pre-mediatised world visual standards, within certain norms, were sufficient for everybody and anybody.
I am single because I stopped settling. I can't date theists. I just can't. No matter how rational or smart someone is in every other area of her thinking, if she believes the god bothering crap, it's a huge turn off. There is always this disconnect that we cannot solve. Unfortunately, there seems to be a weirdly high number of lesbians who are also theists. Not sure why, but there are. I also don't want kids, don't wanna dated someone who is closeted, and don't want to date a Republican.
I am guessing I am single because I am the only lesbian on the face of the planet with those standards LOL.
I hear ya on the not dating theists. The last guy I dated (who totally crushed me, a crushing from which I don't think I'll ever fully recover) made no place in his life for belief in god, but I swear, I think my statement that I wouldn't participate in a catholic baptism for any kid we might have in the future is why he dumped me out of the blue. So I need to make sure I don't get stuck with a closeted theist posing as an irreligious person again. Seeing as how I can't buy a date right now, shouldn't be a problem. ;)
Wow, that one's ... bizarre. You think he was more of a lapsed Catholic, rather than a true atheist?
This makes me think of the "ex-atheists" I've heard from sometimes, who say that even when they were depressed and were atheistic, they still knew that God really exists. We have some who have a horrible misunderstanding of very basic terms.
It's not that he ever claimed to be an atheist, but that in reality he was such a catholic in name only type. In 4+ years, he never once mentioned god. It just wasn't a factor in his life and never posed a problem for us in any way. About 2 days before he broke up with me was the first time he ever told me he actually did believe in god and told me the story of why. I was so stunned because it just didn't fit the way we had lived for so many years.