Saturday, February 12, 2011

How To Get What You Want?

As might be expected, most people are dismissing Jen Doll’s new article on the difficulty of finding love in the big city. Subtitled, “The Plight of the Single Lady,” the article is entitled: “Dear Single Women of New York: It’s Not Them. It’s You.” Link here.

Last year Lori Gottlieb famously chastised young women for being too selective about choosing a mate, thereby, missing out on marriage and children.

Strange as it may seem, young women who have mastered the art of hooking up, who have allowed themselves every manner of sexual liberty, seem to believe that they should be able to find the One and only perfect mate.

For many young women today the arc of their dating history extends from being utterly indiscriminate to the excessively discriminate.

One senses that the effort to overcome traumatic hookups led them to overcompensate, by being overly selective about whom they would marry.

It feels as though they are looking for the one and only true love who will redeem the pain they have incurred while sowing what used to be called their wild oats.

Doll offers her own experience as testimony. By her analysis young women have too many options and too many possibilities. This has led them to think that they can try out everything.

Everything means every manner of experience and relationship mode. It also means every manner of man, with an occasional woman thrown in for variety.

For today’s young New York woman, having it all means having everything, exploring all possible human experiences.

It almost feels like a bad trip into the world of the human potential movement. You have the potential to date different men from different worlds and do many different and strange things with them… ergo, you must do it all, because that is the only way to fulfill all of your human potential.

Of course, this will make you unfocused and scattered and self-indulgent. If you follow it religiously you will either look like a child who has gotten loose in a candy story or an adult who has decided to have it all at the Las Vegas dinner buffet.

Given this anti-ethic, it is hardly surprising that Americans are the most overweight people in the world. Indigestion is the least of their problems.

If we are focusing on New York, as Doll does, other problems arise. It is well known that there are far more single women than single men in New York. For women this disproportion is disempowering. An abundant resource is always less valuable than a scarce resource.

Add to that the fact that New York offers far more variety than many other places on this planet. A New York woman can easily date an Argentinian polo player, a Viennese dance instructor, and Crocodile Dundee.

How multicultural can you get?

There are so many options, so much variety, so much freedom to try it all out… why would any woman ever want to settle down? Or better, why would she ever want to settle for just one man?

If you take off your ideological blinders you will also see that this new life style increases the possibilities for failed relationships and for disappointment. When these thrilling relationships fail to lead to a more permanent attachment, women, especially, suffer traumas.

The more they are traumatized, the more their judgment is impaired. And impaired judgment will tell them that their suffering will be redeemed when they find true love with the One.

Strangely, Jen Doll offers a cogent analysis of the sociology of the New York dating scene, and then concludes that the problem is all in the minds of young women. They do not know what they want.

As I see it, Doll is recommending that young women should go into therapy to discover what they want. Presumably, they are confused because they do not know what they really, really want.

Of course, she does not exactly say that women need therapy, but we all know that the hallmark of Freudian therapy is the notion that women do not know what they want.

Remember Freud’s oft-quoted statement: What do women want?

One is somewhat surprised to see this concept paraded around in a supposedly progressive publication by a supposedly progressive writer. After all, it is grossly insulting to suggest that women do not know their own minds.

Worse yet, the reason men want to convince women that they do not know their own minds is that the same men will try to explain that they know better than the women themselves. If she does not want him, he will try to convince her that she does not know what she wants.

It is much easier to convince a woman to do something she does not want to do if you can convince her that she cannot trust her own mind or her feelings.

In trotting out this idea Freud was merely following a principle laid down by all of the world’s great seducers. I promise you, it is not an innocent enterprise. And it is anything but respectful of women.

The truth is, most women do know what they want. Even Jen Doll knows what she wants. Unfortunately, women no longer seem to know how to get what they want.

At the risk of generalizing, when it comes to dating and romance, most women want to be involved in a long term committed relationship. And most women want the relationship to lead to marriage and family.

If a woman acts as though she does not want to be on the path to the alter, that does not mean that she does not know what she wants. It means that she does not know how to get it.

How does a young woman get so completely confused? In one way she is following the dictates of the human potential movement. In another she is following the directions that feminists have been setting down: put your career first, postpone marriage and children, and go out to explore your sexuality.

By acting as though her relationship life has neither purpose nor goal, a young woman will learn more than she needs to know about having fun but less than she needs to know about sustaining a relationship.

Ultimately, it is a wasteful exercise. It is easy to rationalize it as therapeutic. The therapy culture might claim that a young woman who luxuriates in a variety of romantic experiences is discovering what she does not want.

Eventually, the only thing remaining will be what she does want.

But given that this path involves repeated traumas and impaired judgment, the woman who sets out on it will, even if she finds a suitable mate, not have developed the skills required to sustain a relationship.

She will, as I suggested, come to believe that she need but find the one and only true love, and that this love will redeem all the pain but will not even require her to compromise or negotiate or to work on a life in tandem.

What’s a girl to do?

How about organizing her dating life with more of a purpose in mind. If the goal is marriage, then she should not be wasting her time with men who would never make suitable husbands.

Admittedly, this is a greater challenge in a city that has such a variety of possible mates. But if a woman’s dating album looks like the United Nations General Assembly, she is not on the road to matrimony.

Of course, a woman should focus on the men who are suitable mates, and to give them more than a chance. She should not exclude them because they do not provide her with enough cheap thrills.

As Doll astutely notes: “For every loser I've screamed at, there have been nice, normal single guys with perfectly acceptable ZIP codes and ages and jobs and habits who never did a thing wrong but for some reason were chucked after the first or second, or maybe even third, date for being boring, predictable, too nice, too normal, not successful enough, or . . . admitted to no one, perhaps not even myself: too available. The scariest of scary words.”

As I said, the problem is not that Doll does not know what she wants; she does not know how to get it.

Next, a young woman should invest her emotional and sexual resources wisely. She should not be  spending them today as though there were no tomorrow.

There is a tomorrow; act like you will be there.

If a woman wants men to respect her as a woman, then she should act as though she respects herself.

And also, forget the soul searching; forget the psychic catharsis that therapy promises will set you on the road to true love. That is the way to perpetual singlehood.

You cannot learn about how to function in a relationship with a suitable man if you have never been involved in a relationship with a suitable man.


Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Is It Possible That....

The truth is, most women do know what they want. Even Jen Doll knows what she wants. Unfortunately, women no longer seem to know how to get what they want. -- Stuart Schneiderman

....'most women' cannot express, let alone PRACTICE going after what they want?

I think that Chris Muir, in a recent series of items in his daily Day-by-Day on-line cartoon series, expressed this quite effectively. The series had to do with Skye, the sister of one of the primary protagonists in the on-going cartoon, is being advised to exercise her right to protect herself from a violent ex-boyfriend by packing her CCW semi-automatic.

Skye acquiesces and puts the pistol inside her belt behind her back. Covered by her loose top.

At the rendezvous with her ultra-liberal cohorts in feminazidom, they see the concealed weapon when she bends over to retrieve something. These 'liberated' women ridicule her to no end because {HORROR!} she has a GUN!!!!!

I suspect the same could apply to this particular venue as well. It parallels the business in feminazidom that a woman MUST have an abortion, i.e., murder a baby, as a 'rite of passage'.


[These days, misery doesn't enjoy company, it demands it.]

Anonymous said...

P.S. The beginning of the series at Day-by-Day beings here....


Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: The Question REALLY IS....

Eventually, the only thing remaining will be what she does want. -- Stuart Schneiderman


I say this because there is a dichotomy at play here.

Women tend to be gregarious. They, i.e., MOST WOMEN, are not ones to go out-on-their-own. They tend to be 'herd animals'. The 'herd' being their clique, group or affiliation.

Their challenge is are they capable of overcoming their desire to be part of the clique, the 'herd', to become what they ALSO WANT? Or will the desire to 'fit in' overwhelm their desire to raise a family of their very own?


[The road to salvation is narrow and gate is small. The road to damnation is wide and the gate is too. -- Some Wag, around 2000 years ago]

Susan Walsh said...

Ha, great minds think alike! Good post, Stuart. Jen Doll is the newest entrant in the spinster lit genre. So many poor choices...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Susan. I just read your post on Jen Doll's article, and I recommend it highly: Link is:

Dennis said...

I think one of the best parts of your comments is "If a woman wants men to respect her as a woman, then she should act as though she respects herself." May I add that if one wants respect then one needs to give respect. Far too many women want respect, courtesy, et al, but fail to even consider giving it to others, especially the men in their lives.
No one should expect something they fail to give themselves. I would further suggest that large numbers of both men and women have no idea what they want in an enduring relationship. One night stands are easy because there is an expectation that it is something one can walk away from and made more so by the fact that it is based almost entirely on sex or using someone else for personal gratification.
I would agree with Susan about Doll even as I wonder why most people like Doll seem to be more lost than those they attempt to sway.
I have to admit that I feel some sorrow for young men these days, especially in New York so it would seem from your comments.