The crowd over at Dear Sugar has noticed a problem. New York Magazine is on the case. Here is the problem:
On this week’s Dear Sugar podcast, hosts Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond read a letter from a 34-year-old single urban woman who bemoans the fact that good guys seem to be “scarce,” wondering if she will have to “settle” with someone. Strayed and Almond mentioned that they’ve recently gotten a steady stream of similar letters from unhappy single women who argue that “all the emotionally available men are spoken for.”
Naturally, New York would want to turn to a behavioral economist, but before evaluating his wit and wisdom, allow me to make a couple of observations.
First, it might not help the 34 year old single woman, but someone should be telling the young women out there that, as they get older, there are fewer marriage prospects. You see, not all women are dumb enough to buy in to the feminist ideology and postpone marriage in favor of career. While feminists are putting it all on hold, other, more savvy women, are snatching up the best available men.
It’s a competitive marketplace and women who wait too long find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
Second, when a woman arrives in her mid-thirties her biological clock starts ticking more loudly. Thus, she will be looking for a man who wants to have children right away. This will, I suggest, influence her judgment. But it will also make her come across as desperate. Most men are not very attracted to desperate women.
Third, I will suggest, on very little evidence, that this woman has done too much therapy. From her many hours of therapy she has learned that she must have an “emotionally available” man.
In principle, a man who is emotionally available is fully in touch with his feminine side. He must be willing to marry a feminist and to share all household chores equally. Not only has our young over-therapied feminist put herself at a competitive disadvantage because of her age, she is probably setting down no conditions that very few men would voluntarily accept.
Note that she does not care whether he is solvent, whether he can provide for his family, whether he has good character, or whether he is trustworthy and loyal. You see, she doesn’t really need a man except to fulfill her emotional needs. She does not understand, because her therapist never told her, that when a woman wants a man to be an emotional crutch he will feel diminished and demeaned. If he can think at all, he will do everything in his power to avoid having anything resembling an entangling alliance with such a woman.
Now, to the wit and wisdom of our behavioral economist. Paul Oyer, a Stanford economist who considers himself an expert in online dating tells New York Magazine that the woman in question should not feel that she needs to settle and should not be looking for perfection.
What would we do without behavioral economists?
I am not sure where Oyer got the idea that she was looking for perfection, but I will grant that she seems to be looking for a soulmate. Anyway, the woman seems to be wearing ideological blinders and does not really understand what makes a man good or great or perfect.
One must also note that an older unmarried woman has probably suffered from more failed relationships. Such traumas make it more difficult for a woman to know the difference between good from bad men.
Next, Oyer points out, quite correctly, that large American cities are suffering from too many single women chasing not enough single men. Given the surplus of single women, men can naturally be very selective. A woman who leans in with a list of demands will not be very high on anyone’s list.
Finally, Oyer points out that this woman can solve her problem by online dating. It worked for him—a male 50 year old Stanford professor--so why can’t it work for her?
Do you think that she has never tried online dating? Does Oyer understand that men and women are in seriously different positions in the dating market? Does he know that the surplus of available females skews the market and makes it more difficult for any individual females?
If the problem is that men have too much choice, the solution cannot really be online dating. Surely, some people have found their spouses via online dating, but one suspects that it is more the problem than the solution.