Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Dating Game: Drama Queens and Kings

Several decades ago, as second wave feminism washed ashore, women got together to form consciousness raising groups.

There they could feel the joy of sisterhood and could complain about men.

In the process they revolutionized the culture, especially the nature of relationships between the sexes.

Today, their daughters and granddaughters are reaping the rewards of their success. Young women today do not attend consciousness raising groups; they congregate with their peers in groups that are called gaggles.

Feminism has been so successful in undermining the rules of courtship that young women have been reduced to venturing out under cover of darkness in groups comprised of their similarly available peers.

The new term for these groups is: gaggle. As you know, a gaggle is a group of grounded geese.

Young women still want to find romance and relationships. Yet, as the New York Times reported the New York dating whirl is a “confusing, messy muddle.”

The Times explains:

Now the focus is on the so-called millennials, the young women in their 20s and early 30s, many of whom are struggling to find their way at a time when traditional dating seems like a quaint relic.

For most young people, dating is a quaint relic. Too few people do it; too few people even know how to do it.

The result is anomie, a feeling of being ungrounded, of having lost their bearings, of groping around in the dark, of not knowing what is what and who is where, of being lost in a world where you never know what anything means.

The Times describes the anomie well:

 As professional women accustomed to forging their own way, many have been struck by how hard it has been to navigate their love lives, which seem so different from the ones described by their mothers or depicted in movies.

“Nobody picks me up, nobody drops me off at home,” said Anne Zelek, a 27-year-old marketing manager, who says she has embraced Ms. Massa’s approach of simply enjoying the company of the men she meets without focusing on finding Mr. Right.

“Oftentimes I don’t really know that I’ve been on a date until I get home from one,” she said. “It’s confusing. All of our love lives are confusing.”

Nowadays, young men and women often hang out together in groups, leaving some of them uncertain about where friendship ends and relationships begin. A series of hookups may or may not lead to a relationship, which can mean a longer period of uncertainty for women who are increasingly delaying marriage.

Independent, professional women living in a world without rules do not understand why they cannot find love.

It's easy to understand: their mothers decided that courtship was insulting to their dignity as independent free spirits. Today no man even imagines trying to court a feminist.

The result: young women do not know when a date is a date or when sex means something.

They do not know when it’s friendship and when it’s a relationship.

Strikingly, in the Times article, no one even thinks about how to arrive at a defined, socially recognized relationship like a marriage.

According to the Times, today’s dating gurus, namely Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand suggest that young women should go with the flow:

Ms. Massa and her best friend and business partner, Ms. Wiegand, share a similar philosophy. They urged the young women gathered at the happy hour in TriBeCa to embrace their sexuality. If you want to hook up, hook up, they said. And afterward, they advised, be natural. Crack a joke. Have some food. Act as if fun, casual sex is just that: fun, casual sex — nothing more.

“We live in this confusing, ambiguous post-dating world, and we need to embrace that,” said Ms. Wiegand, 29, who, along with Ms. Massa, is the co-creator of the Gaggle concept. “We cannot expect to impose upon this world a set of rules, a set of regulations, a set of expectations.”

It’s a new world and a new reality: adapt to it. Surely, it’s better to adapt to the world than to denounce the second wave feminists who created the mess.

You wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings by telling them that their  glorious revolution was more bust than boom.

In truth, it is dreadfully bad advice to tell young women that they should embrace the hook-up culture.

Why encourage them to go down a path that is going to make them more dazed and confused?

No one is obliged to cling to a cultural fad because it is Now.

In truth, articles like the one in the Times make it seem that everyone is doing it. Yet, many women do not embrace it. Many women do go out on dates, do have relationships and do get married.

When it comes to the gaggle culture or the hookup culture young women have power. They are not the slaves to trends; they have the power to change things.

Perhaps, they should go on strike. They might try closing up shop until men show them some respect.

If there were no gaggles of available women roaming about town, then a man might eventually get the idea that he wants to see a woman he might have to call her.

In today’s dating culture, informality rules. One does need to take it into account, but women do have a right to insist on a certain level of formality. After all, formality signifies respect.

I hope I do not have to explain it, but dropping your date off on a street corner at 1:00 a.m. is disrespectful.

You can see that I am somewhat out of touch with reality. So be it.

While waiting for my wishes to be fulfilled, I will point out that when dating and courtship is not controlled by a clear set of rules—you know, the kind that defined the ritual for Jane Austin—then young people fall back on plan B.

In the world of relationships, plan B is drama. Its the last available way for young people to try to transform informal get-togethers into relationships.

In today’s dating world, you need to know drama. You need to understand why there is so much of it. And you need to understand why it creates so much heat and so little light.

Drama can be a salient characteristic of modern relationships without being a good thing. If your life is so chaotic and disorganized that you can only get together by indulging in drama you are doing something wrong. Better to try clearly defined rituals and routines.

Drama is neither liberating nor therapeutic. When drama rules your life you might feel that you are expressing your emotions freely. Unfortunately, when you are playing a part in a drama the emotions you express are not really yours.

Of course, there is hope.

Writing on her Hooking Up Smart blog yesterday, Susan Walsh offered some guidelines that will help you to learn how to deal with relationship drama. Better yet, she shows how you can move away from drama and toward a more defined relationship.


Dragon Lady said...

Excellent column.
I am watching high school girls choose to be in relationships at least in part because it is protection from anarchy and the hook up culture that they can't quite ignore, (no matter what they have been taught at home).

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

There is a part of me that finds this amusing and interested by what drives people to do what they do. One wonders why young women, in this case, keep following the advise of their feminist sisters when it appears that it leaves them wanting and missing something? At what point does one begin to question the advise they are receiving?
The same thing happens to minority voters. Over and over the Democrat party keeps telling them that if they vote for them then things will get better, but it never does. If unemployment is any example it gets worse for both women and minorities.
In both cases neither young women or minorities get respect because they sell themselves short and they can be taken for granted.
Respect goes both ways. One has to give respect in order to be respected. That means one has to act in a manner that gains respect and also treat others, men, et al, with respect. Allowing oneself to be basically a "throw away" item does not seem the way to attain respect. Being "barefoot and ready" does not improve one's odds. Looking for the government to provide one's needs does not demonstrate that one has the wherewithal to merit respect. If one does not demonstrate respect for one's self then to expect it is foolish.
I have stated this before, "The sins of the mothers are visited upon their daughters." It has never been more true as it is today. How will one's children ever find happiness when those who give birth to them cannot?

Sam L. said...

Perhaps this is endemic to colleges and big cities; I would not know. I suspect that in our great fly-over small cities and towns, this occurs much less.

But then, I'm old, so all tis is unfamiliar to me.

Susan Walsh said...

This is a great post, Stuart, thanks for the link.

In truth, articles like the one in the Times make it seem that everyone is doing it. Yet, many women do not embrace it. Many women do go out on dates, do have relationships and do get married.

Hannah Rosin did the same thing when discussing hookup culture, never acknowledging that the women who so eagerly embrace it are less than 20% of the population.

Men do it when they claim that women hate beta males. Who do they think is getting married?

Perhaps, they should go on strike. They might try closing up shop until men show them some respect.

I've often toyed with the idea of trying to mount some kind of Lysistrata demonstration - perhaps on campuses. The antidote to Slut Walks. Whenever I raise the issue, my readers assure me it can't be done, but I'm not so sure. I would surely be opposed by the Women's Studies profs.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

You have much more influence in that world than I do, but I think it would be a great idea. Do I recall correctly that you have hinted at in on the blog?

I wonder whether any organized groups would support it... like the Network for Enlightened Women.

Susan Walsh said...

It's true, I have hinted at it on the blog since the early days. That's a great suggestion about NEW! You've motivated me to make some inquiries, Stuart, thank you.