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New York Post

 

Darwinian Dating Favors Survival of the Jerkiest

October 19, 2008

By Kay S. Hymowitz

Men and women have been a mystery to one another since the time human beings were in trees; one reason people developed so many rules around courtship was that they needed some way to bridge the Great Sexual Divide.

Today, though, there is no standard scenario for meeting and mating, or even relating. For one thing, men face a situation - and I'm not exaggerating here - new to human history. Never before have men wooed women who are, at least theoretically, their equals - socially, professionally, and sexually.

By the time men reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. Small wonder if they initially assume that the women they meet are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.

But then, when a single young man walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas. "I've gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex," writes Megan Carpenter on Jezebel.com. "I've slept next to guys on the first date, had sex on the first date, allowed no more than a cheek kiss." Okay, wonders the ordinary guy with only middling psychic powers, which is it tonight?

Women can take a Chinese-menu approach to gender roles. But this isn't equality, say the male-contents; it's a ratification of female privilege and, worse, caprice. "Women seemingly have decided that they want it all (and deserve it, too)," Kevin from Ann Arbor says. "They want to compete equally, and have the privileges of their mother's generation. They want the executive position, AND the ability to stay home with children and come back into the workplace at or beyond the position at which they left. They want the bad boy and the metrosexual."

So the men conclude: No more Mister Nice Guy! They will dump all those lessons from their over-feminized childhood and adolescence. They will join the "Menaissance." And they will buy titles like "The Alphabet of Manliness" (K is for Knockers, Q is for Quickies) and "The Retrosexual Manual."

By far the most important philosopher of the Menaissance is Charles Darwin. The theory that human sexual preferences evolved from the time that hominids successfully reproduced in the primeval African grasslands can explain the mystery of women's preference for macho - or alpha - males. At the same time, evolutionary theory gives the former wuss permission to pursue massive amounts of sex with an endless assortment of women. Culture, in both its feminist and Emily Post forms, hasn't won him any favor with women, so he will embrace Nature in all its rude harshness.

And so Jillian Straus, author of "Unhooked Generation," describes a 34-year-old sales manager from Dallas who says that his current girlfriend meets just six out of his ten requirements for the perfect girlfriend. When they go out together, he's constantly looking for an "upgrade."

Men are convinced that they are no worse than women in making these calculations. With good Darwinian logic, though, they believe that women tend to do their reckoning on the basis of wallet size rather than pulchritude. "Girls are really good at that kind of math," one jaded twentysomething man writes to me about his entry-level salary.

It would be easy enough to write off the dating Darwinists as simple renegades against female empowerment. Easy, but misleading. Menaissance men have not just hard-luck stories on their side, but hard data as well. Forty years after they threw off the feminine mystique, women continue to prefer bigger, stronger, richer men, at least as husbands. They almost always marry men who are taller than they are, men who are several years older than they are (though the age difference has declined in recent decades), and men who earn more than they do (though that number, too, has declined a bit). Most of the women interviewed by Straus say that they're looking for a man who can be the primary breadwinner. A June 2008 New Scientist article reports on two studies that even suggest that women are biologically attracted to "jerks"; researchers speculate that narcissistic, risk-taking men had an evolutionary advantage.

No, the problem with the Darwinian tenor of the Menaissance is neither antipathy to women's equality nor a misguided reading of female nature. It is an uncompromising biological determinism that makes no room for cultivation. Human beings rely on culture to tame natural selfishness. Successful human cultures expect far more of their men than muscle and promiscuity.

But if Darwinian daters fail to understand this, you can't entirely blame them. They see that when the old dating and courting regime fell, it left a cultural vacuum with no rules for taming or shaming the boors and jerks. What do they have to lose?

"I have lived in many places, countries, and cultures," says a young man named Douglas Gurney, from Montgomery, Alabama. "This is a worldwide phenomenon. The behavior of men is simply a response to the changing behavior of women. Simply put, men are a breeding experiment run by women. You reap what you sow - and when a man can sow all he wants and leave the reaping to others, well, why not?

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/seven/10192008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/origin_of_the_specious_134286.htm

 

 
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