Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tyrany of Soft Expectations

The title of this post comes from a comment on my last post left by the lovely Lanafactrix. In case you didn't see her comment, she said:

I think, as far as men our age go, they're suffering partly from the tyranny of soft expectations. American culture tells them that they shouldn't want a steady girlfriend or a wife or, God forbid, children. Young men in serious relationships are ridiculed constantly by their peers, whereas young women are congratulated by theirs.

Her comment reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times a few weeks ago ("On College Campuses, a Shortage of Men"). While not about online dating, the article pointed out how men, particularly when they are in the minority of a population, "have all the power to control the intensity of sexual and romantic relationships."

What I find particularly interesting about all of this is that the gender split on my dating site seems to favor women. From what I can tell, there are significantly more men on the site than there are women. I did a sample search using my standard criteria (straight, 25-32, within 25 miles of me, single, no smoking) for men and then women. There were over 1000 men, but only 840 women who fit that search. Sure, this is not the most scientific data, but I'd wager it's pretty accurate. Add to this the societal pressure for men to send the first message and women can really be picky.

But then, perhaps this is all one vicious downward spiral: More men than women, women can pick and choose from the messages sent by men, but then fewer men want long-term relationships, etc. My head is starting to spin… What do you think?


Carolyn said...

It sounds like economics, there is supply and demand. If the women in college have to compromise on less serious relationships to get men when they're scarce than on the dating sites maybe it will shift to more men in serious relationships in order to date at all. The only problem is that boys are cute and maybe plenty of women also don't really want a serious relationship.

I was thinking this "scarcity of men" is at play in the work world as well, I'm always on the elevator at work with mostly women, but maybe that is just my building. That can possibly help explain the 35 year old successful women who can't find dates, I heard the some sectors of the business workforce are becoming female dominated.

Superquail said...

That whole article was an offensive absurdity. It was totally unbalanced! Their definition of an "overwhelmingly female campus" included schools where the student body was 55% female. This doesn't even take into account that a number of college women are either gay, bisexual, asexual, or not interested in dating while in college. I knew a number of women in college for whom dating was simply not their priority.

The article also mentioned that there are campuses in the US that are majority male, but they never bothered to interview any men or women on those campuses to ask about their dating experience.

Basically, this article was just another item in the whole cannon of "men win and women lose!" theory of gender politics. If women are the minority in schools, they lose because they ogled, ostracized and disrespected. If they are the majority at schools, then they lose because they have to fight tooth and nail for a man.

If you want a thorough take-down of that article, check out this on Jezebel: