Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Darwinian Dating or No More Mr. Darcy

As a follow to her controversial article about the current state of the American male, Child-Man in the Promised Land, Kay s. Hymowitz has just published her new article in the City Journal.
She begins with.
Now, men and women have probably been a mystery to one another since the time human beings were in trees; one reason people developed so many rules around courtship was that they needed some way to bridge the Great Sexual Divide.
Apparently the time honored established rules of courtship no longer apply.
In other words, Ladies, don't bother looking for Mr. Darcy
and Gentlemen, don't bother trying to be Mr. Darcy.
We all know about the eternal conundrum "What Do Women Want?"
Well the answer it seems is even more elusive now.
Today, though, there is no standard scenario for meeting and mating, or even relating. For one thing, men face a situation—and I’m not exaggerating here—new to human history. Never before have men wooed women who are, at least theoretically, their equals—socially, professionally, and sexually.
But then, when an SYM (single young man) walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas. “I’ve gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex,” writes Megan Carpentier on Jezebel, a popular website for young women. “I’ve slept next to guys on the first date, had sex on the first date, allowed no more than a cheek kiss, dispensed with the date-concept altogether after kissing the guy on the way to his car, fucked a couple of close friends and, more rarely, slept with a guy I didn’t care if I ever saw again.” Okay, wonders the ordinary guy with only middling psychic powers, which is it tonight?
Add to this decades of socially accepted male bashing from the media, academia and popular culture which has trashed the idea of traditional manhood and promoted the new male ideal, the emasculated metrosexual.
Adding to the bitterness of many SYMs is the feeling that the entire culture is a you-go-girl cheering section. When our guy was a boy, the media prattled on about “girl power,” parents took their daughters to work, and a mysterious plague seemed to have killed off boys, at least white ones, from school textbooks. To this day, male-bashing is the lingua franca of situation comedies and advertising: take the dimwitted television dads from Homer Simpson to Ray Romano to Tim Allen, or the guy who starts a cooking fire to be put out by his multitasking wife, who is already ordering takeout.
Add to that the constant mixed messages that men are confronted with.
Young men grew up hearing from their mothers, their teachers, and Oprah that women wanted sensitive, kind, thoughtful, intelligent men who were in touch with their feminine sides, who shared their feelings, who enjoyed watching Ally McBeal rather than Beavis and Butt-Head. Yeah, right, sneer a lot of veterans of the scene. Women don’t want Ashley Wilkes; they’re hot for Rhett Butler, for macho men with tight abs and an emotional range to match.
So what's a guy to do? Go Darwin of course and let loose that alpha male.
So, men like Wytchfinde conclude: No more Mister Nice Guy! They will dump all those lessons from their over-feminized childhood and adolescence. They will join what the Boston Globe has called the “Menaissance.” And they will buy titles like The Alphabet of Manliness (K is for Knockers, Q is for Quickies), The Retrosexual Manual, Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants, and actor Jim Belushi’s recent Real Men Don’t Apologize.
For one illustration of dating à la Darwin, consider what’s known as the Seduction Community. The Community is a loose network of dating coaches, gurus, and their followers whose philosophical origins lie variously in Darwin, Norman Vincent Peale, and hyperlogical geekdom. Women want alpha males, the Seduction Community agrees; with some effort at self-improvement, any man can learn the game—Game, as it is reverently known—that will turn him into a Pick Up Artist (PUA). A highly skilled PUA can get any woman, even an HB10 (Hot Babe who is a perfect 10; Game has more acronyms and rankings than the Department of Defense does). It’s impossible to know just how many wannabe PUAs there are out there, but judging from the multitude of websites like AlphaSeduction, Fast Seduction 101, Grow Your Game, SeductionTutor, and The Seduction Chronicles, as well as chat rooms, conferences, ads for seduction gurus, boot camps not just in the United States but all over Europe and parts of Asia, and books, including Neil Strauss’s 2005 best-selling The Game, their numbers are considerable.

Darwinist dating may explain the litany of stories you hear from women about the troglodytes in their midst. “We can be slovenly from the start,” one interview subject told Amy Cohen in her dating column for the New York Observer, “because we can get laid anytime we want.” Remember those women who want a guy who will open the car door for them? They may be lucky if they find one willing to add “please” to “Pass the ketchup.”
Game goes even further, actually encouraging men to “neg” their “target” women—that is, to undermine their confidence subtly by ignoring or mildly insulting them. The hotter the woman, the more essential it is to neg her.
Then we get the ranking system.
Darwinian mores, or anti-mores, also explain the brutal status jockeying that pervades the contemporary dating scene and that makes the high school cafeteria look like a feminist utopia. Check out DarwinDating.com, a matchmaking website “created exclusively for beautiful, desirable people.” Members rank your picture on a scale of one to five and vote on whether to let you join their honored ranks or throw you into the slush pile of “saggy,” “hairy,” “sweaty,” “nerdy” rejects. My 28-year-old daughter tells me of a friend, a Yale alum and Stanford business school graduate, who asked her, apropos of nothing, “If you ranked women from one to ten, one being Ugly Betty and ten being Elizabeth Hurley, what number could I get?” Jillian Straus describes a 34-year-old sales manager from Dallas who says that his current girlfriend meets just six out of his ten requirements for the perfect girlfriend. When they go out together, he’s constantly looking for an “upgrade.”
And this Darwinian stuff isn't just for men.
Men are convinced that they are no worse—and probably a good deal better—than women in making these calculations. With good Darwinian logic, though, they believe that women tend to do their reckoning on the basis of wallet size rather than pulchritude. “Girls are really good at that kind of math,” one jaded twentysomething man writes to me about his entry-level salary. In a review of the movie Sex and the City, the English author Toby Young remembers the five years he had lived in New York: “Attractive single girls not only dropped their ‘dates’ at the slightest whiff of a bigger, better deal, they routinely betrayed their girlfriends, too.” (As his only half-facetious name suggests, Carrie’s Mr. Big is pure alpha—rich and, as if proving the conclusions of recovering nice guys everywhere, a bit of a jerk.)
So it's all just evolutionary biology.
We are animals, the new Darwinians seem to say; get used to it. They define manhood as alpha-style toughness and unsentimental promiscuity. And in that spirit, they cultivate manipulation, calculation, and naked (in both the literal and metaphorical sense) self-interest. “Nature doesn’t care about hurting people’s feelings,” explains dating coach Mike Pilinski. “It cares ONLY about reproductive success.”
Is this our new norm?
Nevertheless, you might ask, are there really so many dating Darwinists on the prowl? Is dating really hell, as the website would have it, for the majority of contemporary SYMs and Fs? Probably not. It’s a safe bet that for all the confusions and humiliations of dating, most men will still try to be nice guys who say “please” and avoid asking a woman about her sexual history until, say, the third date.
Well it seems that it is.
The behavior of men is simply a response (which is actually a quite logical one) to the changing behavior of women. Simply put, men are a breeding experiment run by women. You reap what you sow—and when a man can sow all he wants and leave the reaping to others, well, why not?”
So the end result is that it all comes down to survival of the fittest.
If you are looking for Mr. Darcy pull out your copy of Pride and Prejudice.
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Deja Pseu said...

Meh. It's best to take that kind of generalizing with a grain of salt. Maybe that's the norm in the urban bar scene, but I've travelled in a lot of social circles where the pool is deeper and both men and women are looking to connect emotionally, not just hook up or conduct a merger based on balance sheets. I find many of these "trend" books and articles to be a lot of hypothesizing based on the authors own milieu and not on any solid research.

Belle de Ville said...

I agree that most of these SYMs are going to eventually marry and end up coaching their kid's soccer team and going to parent teacher conferences.
Still, in large cities where the pool of available women is huge, there is an astounding number of 50something year old men who have never married. I mean confirmed bachelors, and not gay men.

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