Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sex Trafficking on Campus

Writing in the Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith describes a young woman who got caught up in the college hookup culture.

Let’s hope that Nicole is the exception, not the rule:

Not long after she arrived on campus in September, Nicole had started hooking up with a guy who belonged to one of the more popular fraternities on campus. As she explained to me over coffee that day, one night in the fall, she got drunk and ended up having sex with this guy in his dingy frat room, which was littered with empty cans of Keystone Light and pizza boxes. She woke up the next morning to find a used condom tangled up in the sheets. She couldn't remember exactly what had happened that night, but she put the pieces together. She smiled, looked at the frat brother, and lay back down. Eventually, she put her clothes on and walked back to her dorm. Mission accomplished: She was no longer a virgin.

This was a routine she repeated for months. Every weekend night, and on some weekday nights, she would drink so heavily that she could remember only patches of what happened the night before and then would have sex with the same fraternity brother. One night, she was talking with someone else at the frat when the brother interrupted her and led her upstairs to have sex. On another occasion, they had sex at the frat, but Nicole was too drunk to find her clothes afterward, so she started walking around the house naked, to the amusement of all of the other brothers. She was too drunk to care. Eventually, everything went dark. Next weekend, she returned to the frat.

On that spring day, as Nicole told me these stories, she didn't make eye contact with me.

When I asked Nicole if she was still hooking up with the same frat boy, she shook her head. She explained that the entire time she was having sex with him he never once spoke to her or acknowledged her outside of his fraternity's basement. Not in the library, not in the dining hall, not at the bookstore.

"One time, I waved at him in front of the food court and said hi, but he just ignored me."

"Was he with anyone?" I asked—as though that would make a difference.

"A bunch of his friends."

Emotionally, Nicole has been severely damaged:

She talked less. She stopped exercising. And she started walking around with her eyes to the ground. The lively girl I had known in the fall, who reminded me of so many freshman girls I had met as editor of a campus publication and vice president of my sorority, had recently been placed on suicide watch by the university health clinic.

Ask yourself this: Would Nicole’s experience be significantly different if she were being sex trafficked?

Yes, it would be, you might think: Nicole is doing it of her own free will. She was not kidnapped and coerced by a crime syndicate. She is not being forced to do anything she does not want to do.

If that is your view, you are missing the crucial point. Read through Smith’s story and you will see clearly that Nicole is acting as though she has no free will. If she were exercising her freedom she would not have to drink herself into semi-consciousness to do what she was doing.

The hookup culture persists because women have been persuaded that they have no other options. They know that there are more women than men on campuses these days. Young women are induced to believe that hooking up is the way to go if they want to have relationships.

They are told that they can choose between hooking up and nothing. At that point they have effectively been disembarrassed of their free choice and free will.

It's as though a mugger were to tell you to choose between your money or your life: he is not offering your a free choice.

College administrators who counsel young women are permissive about hooking up. They believe that women like sex just as much as men and therefore that if a man likes hooking up a woman must like it too. They are comfortable with the idea that abuse is not abuse if it is consensual.

Thus they encourage hooking up and pretend that it is normal behavior.

Young women have learned from the ambient culture that the alternatives to hooking up, dating and courtship are oppressive. They have learned that abstinence is unnatural and repressive.

As I have often mentioned on this blog, feminism deserves considerable responsibility for this state of affairs.

Feminists encourage hooking up. They are pimping out young women for the cause. They must count among the sex traffickers.

In her recent book, The End of Men, Hanna Rosin said what many other feminists have tried to obfuscate.

Hooking up is part of the feminist life plan. A young woman who hooks up in college is less likely to develop a relationship that will deter her from achieving the career goals that feminists want her to have.

If a woman comes to believe that she is doing the right thing she might become a true-believing feminist. That is, she might develop a Stockholm syndrome.

True enough, none of these young women are chained to a bed. They are not threatened with physical violence. They are not beaten and harassed.

Yet, our culture has imposed mental constraints that are every bit as powerful as physical coercion, but far less difficult to identify.

It has taught young women that when they hook up they are making free choices and are doing something that Hanna Rosin and the sisterhood approve of. Forcing young women to hook up by persuading that they have no real choice int he matter is utterly contemptible. 


Dragon Lady said...

OK,Stuart, now I want to throw up. Let's operate on the assumption that most of your readers agree with you, at least more or less, on this sex/girl/relationship stuff. Now what?
What do you have to offer instead to young women who are convinced that sex is so important that it can't wait, and who have only the real options that the culture affords. You don't have to be as much of a sick puppy as the girl in this story ... but most girls want male attention, and the options are limited.
Frustrated mother who hopes she has done a better job than this, but still worries.

Anonymous said...

Lady, this is the culture that you throw your kid into. It can't be avoided by "teaching them right." It is this or no attention at all. The solutions are two: wreck the system and replace anti-culture with culture or simply don;t send daughters to college.

Sounds terrible don't it? If so, you know now why only men can make tough decisions. Girls go to college to do as Nicole, I know this and so do you. No one is really learning anything anyway, college is a diploma mill.

Don't send her to college. Don't do it. Girls don;t go for the hard sciences anyway, so anything they want to learn (if they actually want to learn and not do as Nicole) they can learn it online or at the library.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

What do I want them to do?

I want them to do what Smith suggests they do and that I chose not to repeat in this post because I have said it so many times before: to withhold sex, to get on with their studies, to go on strike... a la Lysistrata.

Anyone who wants to do a search for the term Lysistrata in my blog will find lots of posts about it.

That might bring back dating and courtship, but at least it's worth a try.

Don't you think that these girls would get plenty of the right kind of attention if they refused to accept anything else.

Besides, wherever did these girls get the idea that sex is so important that it can't wait?

Girls used to think that it could wait... were they all deluded?

Anonymous said...

@Dragon Lady, certainly you must be joking. This must be sarcasm. What do I expect of young women?

I expect young women to pay attention to the world around them -- to nature, to other people, to the high achievements and low points of humanity, and make a choice: How are you going to carry yourself? What is your self-worth? Are you being yourself and being attractive, or are you trying to use your body and sexual machinations to have someone else tell you what you're worth? If it is the latter, things will not end well.

Who told them that sex is so important that it cannot wait? Because I've had enough of this victim-oriented swirling around this culture that someone "convinced" them. Sure, this woman is perhaps an aberration, but her fate is instructive nevertheless: Don't expect others to provide for you what you cannot provide for yourself. Self-respect is free. It may be challenging amidst the onslaught of hormones and curiosities, but so is everything worth having. The most important skill successful people have is self-restraint (Martin Seligman), and our culture doesn't do a lot to encourage it.

So most girls want male attention. Got it. What do they get for it? Is there no exchange? Do they have to just fall over themselves in a hurry to get on their backs and do the nasty so they can get something out of the way? Do you consider what you are saying or asking? "Options are limited???" Are you serious? That's what you use to excuse the clearly devastating consequences of this behavior? Do people need "options" to have self-worth regarding sexual pleasure?

I can appreciate that you are frustrated. And I can understand that you hope for a better outcome for your child. But let's be serious, these are her choices now. A parent never stops worrying about their child. That said, you know that a young, impressionable woman who is desperate for attention will put her dignity at the mercy of another man's attention, and that man has one thing on his mind. Add the binge drinking that accompanies the stupidity of a nationwide 21-year-old drinking age, and these things go underground where they cannot be observed. It's as though the predatory males designed the system, but it was not... it was designed by feminists.

What has our society come to? This is not civilization. This is self-destructive madness. In the past, young women were protected. You may not have been able to protect an alcoholic woman who liked hanging out late at fraternity houses, but you could protect those in the main. This was a recognition of man's sexual nature, the vulnerability of women, and a general understanding of what it means to lead a good life. That is dating and courtship. It may seem old-fashioned, but maybe it works. Lysistrata, indeed.

I say bring back the parietals. Recognize hormones for what they are, put them in context and let's move beyond the sexualization of young people en masse. Please.

rogue wolf1 said...

And while Nicole is on suicide watch for chasing the popular frat brother and joining his de facto harem. Eugene the boring but lovable computer nerd, whose last kiss was from his grandma, wonders what he has to do to get women to pay attention him.

THAT is the real issue. Young women like Nicole would rather be depressed sharing the popular men that all the other women want than "settle."

Dragon Lady said...

Besides, wherever did these girls get the idea that sex is so important that it can't wait?

Where did they get that idea? I dunno...maybe from roughly 360 degrees of our very sad, degraded culture. That would include about 85% of what's on TV, in current youth fiction, and taught in classrooms. As the article you mention says, the deans and administrators are all onboard with the hook up culture. That is fairly true in most high schools as well. The only brake I've seen on push sex at kids (besides what they are taught at home, and through religion), is fear of disease.
That strike business worked for Lysistrata -- and for middle class women in America through the early 1960s -- because it was, effectively, a cartel arrangement. The women who undersold their sexuality were punished (at least in theory) with downgraded reputations, rendering them less marriageable. Much harder to compete in what has become a 'race to the bottom' sexual marketplace, if you are withholding, when all sorts of otherwise nice, smart girls don't honor the pact.
Look -- I agree, of course, that girls should not sleep around in high school or college. But it is that much harder to really drive that lesson home when the culture is against you; when that behavior is a norm; and when young women who are promiscuous pay no price socially, or careerwise. That they are emotionally damaged is probably as much a preceeding condition as a result. And yes, the binge drinking culture just makes it worse.
Most teens are followers. That's why there has to be a serious, widespread, larger cultural effort to change the nature of dating and relationships. Unless there is some affirmation for it in a respectable part of the culture...it remains an option for kids strong enough to be willing to be outliers. That is asking a lot. Better to make a real effort to re-educate the young, and have it look okay on TV and elsewhere in the culture. One by one ... unlikely to succeed.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, DL for another thoughtful comment.

Surely you are correct that children are exposed to sex too often when they are too young.

Yet, who controls the media and the schools? Why tells them that it's normal and healthy to live out their sexuality any which way.

So, while I agree with you I did want to point out that the people who are disseminating the message are invariably culture warriors who lean toward the political left.

I also agree that it is extremely difficult for girls to refrain or even abstain when it is the cultural norm.

I would respond that messages in the media contribute to making hooking up a cultural norm. Also, considering how many young women have indulged the practice one hesitates to say that it is bad for fear of offending them and being held responsible for any negative emotional reaction.

I think it necessary for some of us who are older and wiser to speak out about this... perhaps it will contribute to a shift in the culture.

I am not sure what to make of your idea that the girls who hook up do not suffer any emotional damage from their activities. First, because I do not think that it's true.

Witness the proverbial walk of shame. And witness the incidence of eating disorders, excessive alcohol consumption and depression among young women today.

Nicole is only one girl, so her situation is anecdotal, but I would be very surprised to learn that a girl who behaves as she did will not come away with emotional scars. She may insist that she feels good about herself and she may have enough medication to numb her to the consequences, but I think by now there is enough evidence that these girls get hurt by their hookups.

I would be happy to hear some other ideas about how to reduce it.

SlartiBartFast said...

I concur with rogue wolf. While men may be in short supply on campus relative to women, there are still many men on campus. Men that don't have the options of a frat brother from a high-status fraternity. It doesn't have to be Eugene the computer nerd, just a regular college guy. I have to believe there are some men on campus that would be willing to date a girl for a couple of months before bedding her. The problem is, the women would prefer to slut it up for the higher status men rather than 'settle'. These women are so pumped full of 'grrrrl power' and 'special snowflake syndrome' that they all believe they deserve the quarterback or Biff the frat guy. They believe this to the point that the other men on campus simply don't exist. The problem is, these high-status men have so many options, and the 19 year old libidos to exploit them all, that the girls are setting themselves up for failure.

Anonymous said...

The real way to reduce this sexualization nonsense is three-fold:

First, if we're serious we must realize this is a slog... a block-by-block war to take back the culture. Yes, there is media everywhere, but we choose whether we consume it. Every great movement started in a kitchen somewhere.

Second, a clear understanding that the media culture is completely oriented to instant gratification. I mentioned Martin Seligman, who has been very clear on what separates the haves from the have-nots: it's delayed gratification, more commonly known as self-control. This goes for alcohol, hook-ups, consumerism, etc. One can be a well-formed human being and be sober, a virgin, and frugal.

Third, there has to be a little truth out there, in the form of a massive campaign to educate people. The chief reason for the separation of the haves and have-nots in our society in recent years is the decline of social institutions, especially the nuclear family. The poverty numbers for the married with children and single-parent with children are enormous... truly massive. People have an opportunity to make responsible, informed choices, but the media culture does not pay attention to that.

I appreciate that self-control is challenging for young people with racing hormones and @DL's point that most teens are followers. Adolescence is when they make their own social arrangements and find their "fit" in society. That's why adults have to be leading the way, and we are not. We are too busy, putting up our hands and saying it's somebody else's business or manufacturing reasons or instituting government programs. Not a recipe for responsibility, yet we're expecting our young people to exercise some responsibility. Not likely.

And I'ld like to reiterate something else that I said. The prohibition culture around alcohol is crazy. Alcohol is a part of our culture, and we have made such strong efforts to keep it out of the hands of 18-20 yr olds that it's gone underground, and I'm not surprised that the hookup culture is in tow. It feeds right into the adolescent desire to rebel. We hear all the time about teen sex and hook-ups that "they're all going to do it, so we might as well make sure they're safe." But someone 34 yrs old walks up to buy a case of beer and they ask for I.D. as a laughable charade of "enforcement." Mothers Against Drunk Driving did a great job in the 1980s/90s changing the culture around driving intoxicated, and we have all benefited. Yet we have silently lost the fight on responsible sexual behavior and what it takes to form committed relationships that yield stable, two-parent households. I wonder how many lives are similarly scarred by unprotected sex or serial partners. I'm no Pollyanna, but we seem to have our priorities out of whack. Instead, we have binge drinking and STDs on the rise. A correlation, perhaps?

We'll get adolescents transitioning into our culture to become contributing adults when we raise our standards and ease them into adult society instead of giving them a draft card when they're 18 and letting them drink when they're 21.

rogue wolf1 said...

I'm sorry Mr. Schneiderman this is not a "culture" issue (per se) this is a sexual market issue.

Hot popular frat boys are in high demand. If you're a young woman like Nicole that leaves you with a couple of choices. Don't go for popular frat boys, essentially settling for something "less." Or try your best to out compete every other woman. Since popular frat boys have women literally throwing themselves at them to get exclusive attention, a woman like Nicole has to do at least that just to stay in the running. Turns out all she was good for was drunken sex and being the common joke of the frat house. Knowing the best she got wasn’t even worth being acknowledged afterwards is what broke her heart not the sex in and of itself.

Before de facto harems were tolerated for popular men, at least out in the open. A popular man picked the most impressive woman and stayed a mated pair, meaning on down the line somebody ended up with somebody at about their level of attractiveness. Now popular men have de facto harems. Unpopular men wonder wistfully about the orgy they always hear about but never see. And women like Nicole cry in their beer that they weren’t special enough, despite giving their all, to even be treated like a human being. Give it like ten years and Nicole will be wondering why the men she ignored to have drunken sex she doesn’t even remember aren’t lining up to meet her now that she’s ready to “settle” for them.

It really is madness that no one wishes to acknowledge what is ACTUALLY going on instead of moralizing that women should wait until some arbitrary time to have sex with a man. The wait doesn’t matter. What matters is that the man realizes by the very act of a woman having sex with him that she is placing herself in a position of vulnerability and he respects that act and her by extension. If Nicole never had sex with the popular frat boy he still wouldn’t respect her. Why would he? She’s a commodity like food and water is for a person who’s never starved, and she was treated as such. If she instead chose among the remaining men she’d probably make out like a fat rat. Yeah, her friends would wonder why she was with him. But in twenty years they’d wonder how she was so “lucky” to end up with such a great man while all they dated were jerks.

Anonymous said...

This seems an important fact:
"College administrators who counsel young women are permissive about hooking up."

My sense is that the "permissiveness" side comes from a false idea that shame and guilt are always bad and need to be purged for freedom from them.

So that's my expanation, why something obvious is missing - telling a young woman is acting self-destructively and to STOP!

I can understand the anger that feminists feel when young women are called sluts (accurately or inaccurately) while young men have no equivalent shaming.

So my thought is that some women decide they have to be "shameless" to avoid being shamed from the outside, but then their inner shame harms them anyway, when they can't discern their own self-destructiveness, or that of others under their care, like this counsellor.

On my experience as a male, when I was in college (20 years ago), I really thought keeping a few close females friends meant I could give them positive attention without any expectations or pressure. But then I was disppointed in one friend when she confided in me that she had sex with her new boyfriend, and I suddenly had to question my motives - was I jealous, did I want her?

No, I decided not, but just wanted her to stay innocent longer, so she was carrying part of my own resolve to avoid complex relationships in college that I wasn't ready for. I do wonder if women want their male friends to disapprove? Certainly it cuts down on details men don't want to know!

I think if people are honest, and aren't projecting their shame onto others, that shame can be good, teaches us that there are costs to growing up, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, the Tree of Knowledge isn't for sissies, even if it took a feminist sister to get the apple rolling!

Dragon Lady said...

Three points:
1 Stuart I agree entirely that hooking up regularly is damaging to a young woman, and sorry if I was unclear about that. I was trying to say, though, that a young woman who behaves as Nicole does, has come in to the party already damaged. There are many options for how she got that way -- starting with an absent father. But to behave that way you need to be a bit more vulnerable than the average girl, who has a more solid sense of herself.
This gets to 2 -- I agree with everything Anonymous says. Especially about the destruction of the family, and its consequences. One consequence is that girls have less of a firm, clear life narrative by which to guide themselves. They are aware that they need careers so they get education and start working. Then maybe, after their careers are established, they will get married. The path to that is currently vague for middle class girls, and missing for working and underclass women. But probably that marriage will end in divorce, so maybe it"s okay to just have a baby by yourself. In which case, what are you waiting for when it comes to sex? And, no culture ever asked women to wait for a decade between puberty and sex. Young marriage was the answer. It's no longer the answer because we put careers first, and that is considered part of the ability to defer gratification Anonymous refers to.
Yes, re-establishing the marriage culture, and quasi-traditional sexual norms will be a slog. But even MADD didn't take off till it got media approval, and -- this is crucial -- got the federal government to tie highway funds to the passage of state laws raising drinking ages. (I fought that one in the 80s.) I cannot imagine what pro-marriage, anti-hook-up laws we could persuade the feds or the states to pass -- if we were the sort of people who thought that the government should be involved, or would be useful if it were.
3-- Stuart, of course this madness is a product of the left. They have worked long and hard to destroy the family, and the attachments it creates. Promulgating a culture of radical sexual atomism, removing all meaning and association with love and marriage and family from sex, is a great way to make everyone, and certainly all women and their children, reliant on the state. The Obama Administration has taken this to new heights, in their ideology and policy. I used to wonder if I was delusional about assuming that they did this purposefully. But the Life of Julia, and the Lena Dunham political ad confirmed every suspicion I had.
So.. here we are. If they win tonight, it will be impossible to fix this. If we win...it will be the slog Anonymous described.

Finally, as for the sexual marketplace and the problem of status mismatch in dating...of course it would be better for Nicole and the nerd to get together and have a real relationship, in which they are equal, and respect each other. If you are Nicole, in addition to undervaluing yourself, you are that much more likely to respond to a guy who emits a lot of testosterone, and is smooth about seduction. Frat boy knows how to make things happen. Nerd does not know how to assert himself even enough to let Nicole know that he is interested. She is insecure enough to need a sign from him. And he is too insecure or unslick to make a move. Nicole might be better off with him...but he has to be able to help get things going. So, boys need a little work too.

rogue wolf1 said...

So with respect Dragon Lady, you're basically saying it's partly nerd boy's fault that Nicole is too insecure to give clear signals of interest (let alone getting those signals wrong can have legal consequnces). That she'd be falling all over him if but for that. That she just ended up in this popular frat house at the start of the semester just because.

Frankly I'd tell nerd boy not to waste his time with a woman that has so little self respect for herself that she'd willingly go back to be with men that laugh at her while she drunkeningly looks for her clothes naked.

Really think about what you're saying for a moment. These are nerd boy's options:

1. Grow depressed forever wondering why he gets no attention. Maybe in a few years when Nicole is tired of being treated like a piece of meat she'll marry him and every time she gets a "headache" and doesn't want sex he can remind himself of the lengths she went to get sex from a man she actually did want.

2. Basically give up and go on with his life. A woman that treats herself as no more than a life support system for her vagina is not worth the trouble.

3. Become exactly like the jerks women say they hate but chase in droves. A woman that treats herself as no more than a life suppoer system for her vagina is not worth the trouble of treating as anything more than that.

Here's the real deal. Tell Nicole the truth. She's not special. Having sex with her is not a special event, in and of itself. The power of her love has no magical powers. What is special is when someone considers you special despite the fact that neither you nor anyone else actually is. If you want to screw frat boys while they laugh at you that's fine. But don't delude yourself into thinging that you had any actual relationship other than that.

David Foster said...

"Nicole was too drunk to find her clothes afterward, so she started walking around the house naked, to the amusement of all of the other brothers. She was too drunk to care. Eventually, everything went dark."

The role of alcohol abuse in all of this seems pretty significant. Susan Walsh has posted data showing that in many if not most hook-ups, BOTH partners are pretty drunk...not just a glass of wine or two to relax, but actually at the impaired decision-making level.

Why do so many college-age people want to be less than fully conscious so much of the time? I saw a quote somewhere "happiness is the moment we would not trade for non-existence"...being bombed out of one's mind is a pretty good approximation to non-existence.

A very intelligent and nice woman I knew finally reached the end of a long and unpleasant legal proceeding. When I asked her how she was going to celebrate, she said "Get drunk and get laid." (I told her that my advice was to get drunk on one night and get laid on another--I pointed out that it would be sad if she couldn't even remember the lay-ing the next morning. Doubt if she took my advice though.)

At least she was getting laid by a guy she knew and eventually married, not a random hookup....I still don't get it, though.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

This is a great conversation; thanks to everyone for contributing.

I'm glad that we are mostly on the same page, with a few variations which reflect more on tactics and less on goals and principles.

For the record, I agree RW on the points about the sexual marketplace, but I consider it a part of what I would call our culture.

DL raises an important issue, namely, what are young women to do when they are being told-- by the culture-- that they must not marry young.

As long as women are told not to marry young, then clearly hooking up has an advantage of ensuring that they not get tied down by children and family before they can become full-fledged feminists.

And it is worse now because young people often do not have the financial means to settle down anyway.

So, let's admit that it's going to be a long slog-- made longer by yesterday's election-- but that somehow young women, in particular, need to learn that it is good and beneficial to marry young.

If a young woman is looking for a husband she is not going to see men the same way as she would if she is looking for a quick connection that will not lead to any real attachment.

rogue wolf1 said...

Mr. Schneiderman, for what it's worth I'm 28 and don't know a single woman my age or younger that wants to have children. Now I don't want to have children because for a man that's like testing for dud grenades by pulling the pin. But in any case, a number of the women are utterly scared to death of having kids. Those that have them are by "accident." Only a few women I know want to get married, but even then it's just a distant nothing that will happen at some point in time in the future. ...We can see why young women broke for Obama over the issue of abortion.

Men are getting screwed big time by the culture. But I think long term women will suffer worse. I'm approaching the age where the Nicoles of the world are starting to pay me attention. I look at them and politely say, "no thanks, I'm enjoying myself too much as a single man." And they actually agree that that is the wisest choice.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Most likely, I do not know as many 28 year old women as you do... and I am shocked to hear that so many of those that you do are terrified of having children.

It would be unfortunate if they had to wait until they were 45 before discovering that they do not want children.

Keep in mind, that more than a few women will openly state that they do not want to have children because they do not want to scare men away.

If they find the right guy in the right situation, they can probably be persuaded.

On the other hand it seems that the culture has told young women that childbearing is the new curse... a very sad state of affairs.

I wonder what anyone makes of the fact that the same situation pertains in many foreign countries where people are not reproducing enough to replace themselves... thus leaving a smaller young cohort to manage the debt accumulated by a larger older group.

rogue wolf1 said...

They tell me this in casual conversation, not in a dating situation. I have three sisters (I'm the middle child) and they don't want children. All their friends...same deal.

Anonymous said...

It does seem that the "motherhood instinct" is programmable by society to a greater extent than once would have been believed possible.

If a woman is raised a Mormon or an Orthodox Jew, she's likely to want several children; if she's raised by secular cynics who watch a lot of television, she's more likely to want one or none.

One would have thought that evolution would have arranged for this instinct to be stronger, but I guess as long as sex automatically led to children and there was a strong male sex drive (sometimes even a strong female sex drive) it really wasn't necessary.

Anonymous said...

Very sad post, but spot on. I'm 38. I went to college in the early 90's - a 60% male college, so this all reads quite foreign to me. Hooking up was rare- a big deal, few people did it, most were looking for, or already in, a relationship or were busy studying (imagine that). What I can relate to is what comes after college. Women in their 20's who don't want to get married "any time soon" and are dubious about kids and the whole "settling down" thing (or so they claim). I'm also around a lot of women in their mid to late 30's who are fully 180 degrees on both matters and are essentially assuming the frustrated, demoralized, and bitter postures that most of those average men in college are experiencing. "Where are all of the good men" is a chokingly common meme. Hooking up may start out as a college issue but for many young women like Nicole, the costs extend well beyond as the messages continue to tell her that 'this (hooking up) is empowering', etc. etc. And guess what, those regular college guys are now regular working men in their mid 20's and the game goes on. Women chase the older men, the players, the status, the fun, the awesomeness and delay the critical processes of understanding their own attraction, understanding male attraction, delaying gratification, and focusing on the long-term. I can't remember the last time I met a single woman under 30 who was interested in a real relationship, let alone marriage or a woman over 30 who didn't have a college or post-divorce or grad school or peace corps or backpacking 'round the world or post-breakup or too-busy-with-career phase in which that college hookup scene reemerged and was enthusiastically greeted. As a single man who was largely ignored through college, busted ass to provide for the future in my 20's - married at 27 and lost a wife to cancer at 35, I have zero interest in being the 'next guy' or the 'settle down' guy or a sperm donor just in time for the sudden shift of priorities. I'm not bitter, not much has changed for me. I know the score. But I actually WANT to get married again and I find it sad that these overarching messages are so strong that the entire SMP is infected. Plenty of my single 30's friends have given up on marriage. They stay busy working, saving, building, and enjoying the empowering no-strings sex that the perpetual population of 25 y/o seem to be more than willing to provide. Looking back at the younger versions of themselves, what do the 35 y/o women have to say? Go with the shorter skirt, get some drunk on and compete. They see no connection. They see no mirror. They have no wisdom to share. When one attempts to, history is rewritten and the story becomes about how 'empowering' it is to be single at 38 and how overrated being a 'wife' is and how liberating it is to be free to continue to hookup, travel, spend $ on yourself, etc. There are so many messages telling them not so settle, telling them that they have done right, are doing right, and that the problem is men not "manning up". Not only have they completely reduced the price of intimacy to zero, commoditized relationships to sound bites, facebook posts, and casual sex they have similarly commoditized and marginalized men - the very men who have always been there. And after a generation of those men standing on the sidelines, they are opting en masse to Rogue Wolf3's option #3 - become like the players. This girl's story may be an exception, but the themes are deeply entrenched. Growing up in the AIDS scare era, I now find that I have come full circle. Where once abstinence, restraint, selectivity, and future orientation were actually believed to be a matter life or death, now the bar is simply just not having an (obvious) STD.

Anonymous said...

These comments are good, and thanks to our host for sticking his neck out to say these things and get a conversation going.

I'm of the same generation as Anon above - I was in Uni for '88-'92, in the southern hemisphere. It seems I was one of the perversely lucky ones - I had a painfully underperforming social life until my mid-20s (long story), and was blessed enough to meet my wife in a love-at-first-sight event, the day after I landed in London.

It looks like nothing can change until female sexuality is harnessed again. This might sound like Evil Patriarchy, but can anyone prove me wrong? Would young women throw themselves at alpha males if they knew they would almost certainly get pregnant? No amount of slut-shaming works as well as naked fear. And, if the Nanny State is always there to pay for your little surprise, there's an added disincentive for caring about the outcome.