Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Should We Blame Feminism?

It’s a clever idea, even if it isn’t true. Financial reporter Jon Birger thinks he has discovered why women in big cities like New York have difficulty finding dates and mates.

Ready? It’s all because so many more women than men now go to college. A college educated woman who wants to mate with a college educated male is at a distinct disadvantage… because of the scarcity of such men. Too many educated women chasing too few educated men… equals a problem.

Emily Shire explains it in The Daily Beast:

You feel like you’re in romantic purgatory.

It’s real. It’s not a hazy paranoia.

And it’s not a matter of being too fat or too loud, too timid or too aggressive, too slutty or too frigid. If you’re a single, college-educated woman in Manhattan, the cards of love are stacked in favor of you remaining single—but it has nothing to do with texting a guy too soon or (not) sleeping with someone on a third date.

As financial reporter and author of Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game, Jon Birger puts it, “It’s not that He’s Just not That Into You. It’s that There Aren’t Enough of Him.”

In his book, Birger eloquently explains, in terms that even the non-statistically-literate can comprehend, that the gender ratios of college graduating classes in the past few decades reveal that there really aren’t enough single guys. The “man deficit” is real for the graduate set. The current college class breakdown of women to men is 57:43, which means that there will be about one-third more women than men with college degrees when graduation arrives.

Naturally, we all want to know whether feminism contributed to this problem. Shire and certain other authors are happy to give feminism a pass:

Birger points to a relatively-overlooked book Too Many Women?:The Sex Ratio Question, which was written by professors Marcia Guttentag and Paul Secord, and published in 1983. Guttentag and Secord noticed there was an over-supply of young, single women when the Women's Liberation movement and the sexual revolution blossomed. Further research showed that societies tended to skew away from monogamy when men were in scarce supply.

"The sexual revolution and the hookup culture... are both rooted in a statistical over-supply of women," writes Birger. This conclusion that people should lay off of feminism as the culprit for hook-up culture is not the focus of Date-Onomics, but a rewarding one for anyone tired of hand-wringing about whether feminism "hurts" women.

Of course, this is not entirely the case. Allow me to ask the more pertinent question: why are there so many more educated females? Does feminism have anything to do with the gender imbalance?

Of course, it does. Feminism has loaded the dice in favor of girls and against boys. It changed the way subjects are taught in school in order to favor girls and disfavor boys. It took upon itself the task of building up the academic self-esteem or girls and beating down the academic self-esteem of boys. It’s easy. Call on girls more often. Find their answers to be more interesting and intelligent, even if they are wrong. Grade children for empathy, not knowledge. Ignore boys and disparage their efforts.

Feminism launched a war against boys. Now, more women than men are going to college.

And then there is the feminist life plan. Feminists have instructed women to develop their careers before settling down into domestic servitude. They have told college girls that they have every right to have fun in school, but that they should not go there to look for a husband. Thus, said women find themselves looking for mates when they are older, more set in their ways, less willing to compromise. When coupled with the gender gap these decisions make it difficult to find a husband.

Here, we can also ask ourselves whether there  have been other times and places where there was a gross imbalance between eligible men and women. For example, what was the dating scene like in France or Belgium or England or Germany after World War I. We know that the Great War decimated the population of young males in those countries and that women had trouble finding mates.

On the one hand, it is altogether possible that more women felt that they had to choose between being someone’s mistress and being alone. Thus, the situation might very well, as the researchers have suggested, contributed to more polygamous arrangements. On the other hand women were much more inclined to settle, to compromise... even to choose men who did not come from their own communities or social circles.

At the same time, we can ask whether in the 1920s, there was a hookup culture? Did women believe that if they had more sexual experience they would be more desirable mates? Did they try to attract men by sending naked pictures of themselves? Did women choose to defer marriage in favor of career? Did they insist that they would never cook dinner?

For the most part we are obliged to answer these questions in the negative. A woman who is trying to compete against other women for a scarce number of eligible men is likely to behave in way that will be more feminine and more ladylike and more wifely.

On the other hand, men might have held out for better prospects. And they might have been more likely to cheat.

This would have perpetuated an ancient and venerable European custom, of having a wife and a mistress, a wife and a courtesan, a wife and a concubine.

I leave these questions open for the moment. I raise them in order to suggest that the gender disparity in education does not necessarily produce a hookup culture. Human beings are not obliged to react in one way to a problem. They have options; they have choices. And they, not the demographics, are responsible for their choices.

Let’s not be quite so quick to exculpate feminism.


Leo G said...

Ah, it seems that the prophet, Joseph Smith, was quite right. We could easily settle the over supply by allowing a man to marry up to 1.3 women, or rounded up, 2 wives per man.

priss rules said...

Just blame idiocy.

Sam L. said...

Also, feminism tells women to have all the sex they want, or can find--it's all good.

David Foster said...

There seems to be an implicit assumption that a college-educated woman should only date or marry a college-educated man, and probably one with the same level of degree. Again, too much credentialism.

Ares Olympus said...

Scapegoating feminism seems like a tiresome game.

re: The current college class breakdown of women to men is 57:43, which means that there will be about one-third more women than men with college degrees when graduation arrives.

Assuming these numbers are true, we can see the problem is even worse than the college ratios, assuming men will marry "down", but up for stereotypical beauty or social graces, while women generally don't marry down economically, which is presumed to be related to a college degree.

Interestingly nearly 100% of the women I know who are engineers married engineers, so perhaps women who want to marry nerds because they're nerds too, and since there's a feminine shortage of nerdy women, these women have choice picking?

OTOH some say Aspergers comes from too many smart people inbreeding? Maybe some smart women should marry down, or up for stereotypical muscle man brawn, just to keep their kids genes a more stirred up when the sand starts flying at the beach?

Anonymous said...

Well with the type of women that are out there nowadays which they're very much to Blame why many of us Good men are still Single today which many of us men are Not Single by choice.