How Feminism Got Drunk and Hooked Up With a Loser

March 1, 2010

Rachel Simmons set the under-40 femosphere back on its heels last week with a column on her blog:

Is Hooking Up Good For Girls? (click here)

Ms. Simmons is an interesting hybrid – she is the advice columnist for Teen Vogue, but she is also a scholar (Rhodes) on the subject of female aggression and has strong feminist cred. In her post she expressed strong concern about the way young women are experiencing mating norms, especially in college. She relies heavily on Kathleen Bogle’s book Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus, just as I did when I decided to begin blogging about relationships in the Hookup Era. From her post (emphasis mine):

“As a relationship advice columnist for Teen Vogue, I get a lot of mail from girls in “no strings attached” relationships. The girls describe themselves as “kind of” with a guy, “sort of” seeing him, or “hanging out” with him. The guy may be noncommittal, or worse, in another no-strings relationship. In the meantime, the girls have “fallen” for him or plead with me for advice on how to make him come around and be a real boyfriend.

…So what’s the deal here? Is a world in which guys rule the result of the so-called man shortage on campus? Fat chance. More likely, we’re enjoying some unintended spoils of the sexual revolution. As authors like Ariel Levy and Jean Kilbourne and Diane Levin have shown, the sexualization of girls and young women has been repackaged as girl power. Sexual freedom was supposed to be good for women, but somewhere along the way, the right to be responsible for your own orgasm became the privilege of being responsible for someone else’s.

…Does that make me a right-winger? Can I still be a feminist and say that I’m against this brand of sexual freedom? I fear feminism has been backed into a corner here. What, and who, are we losing to the new sexual freedom? Is this progress? Or did feminism get really drunk, go home with the wrong person, wake up in a strange bed and gasp, “Oh, God?”

…These letters worry me. They signify a growing trend in girls’ sexual lives where they are giving themselves to guys on guys’ terms. They hook up first and ask later. The girls are expected to “be cool” about not formalizing the relationship. They repress their needs and feelings in order to maintain the connection. And they’re letting guys call the shots about when it gets serious.”

I cannot overemphasize how significant a development this is. Not only because Ms. Simmons has stepped on the third rail of female empowerment, but because the feminist response to her, while mostly negative, is far more thoughtful and measured than it would have been just a year ago. I’ve tussled with sex-positive feminists before, most notably in these posts:

Why Do Feminists Find Abstinence Intolerable?

Have Women Been Screwed By the Sexual Revolution?

Can Hooking Up Empower You?

In fact, it was exactly a year ago that Jessica Valenti of Feministing.com claimed that hookup culture doesn’t even exist: Speechifying: So-called hook up culture and the anti-feminists who love it:

I actually don’t believe that hook [sic] culture exists. What I do think is cause for worry is the way that conservative and anti-women organizations, writers, and media makers are using this myth of a hook up culture to promote regressive values surrounding gender and to roll back women’s rights.

And in August, 2008, after Donna Frietas’ book Sex and the Soul was published, Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon wrote In Defense of Casual Sex:

Perhaps young women are putting feminist ideals of equality into sex by refusing shame and claiming the traditionally male side of the stud/slut double standard.

Ms. Clark-Flory, who attended a women’s college and admittedly never hooked up while there, plants herself firmly in the I can have sex like a man! school of sex-positive feminism. Aside from the fact that I don’t think women can or do have sex like men, mostly I just don’t understand why we would want to. What’s in it for us? Quite a bit of heartache, it would seem.

Now a whole year has passed, and the cry of miserable college-aged (and beyond) women is being heard by the mainstream media. Claiming that hookup culture doesn’t exist puts you in the world is flat camp. Responses to Simmons’ coming out against no-strings sex as the only viable or acceptable relationship model are more varied, and temperate this time around. Let’s have a look:

Jessica Valenti of Feministing has apparently been too busy to weigh in, but did write a quick sentence saying that Simmons has some super valid points! This served as sort of a smoke signal to other feminist bloggers that Simmons should not be dismissed out of hand.

First out of the box was Kate Harding at Salon:

From where I’m sitting, the problem that needs solving isn’t hook-up culture, but the intense pressure on girls and women to focus on getting and keeping a guy, rather than on getting and keeping whatever they want. Media aimed at the female of the species from adolescence on up hammers on a few simple messages. 1) If you’re not heterosexual — or for some other reason don’t see landing a boyfriend as your primary purpose in life — you don’t exist. 2) Landing a boyfriend is about understanding What Guys Want and doing whatever it takes to become that. 3) Keeping a boyfriend is about continuing to be What Guys Want, and if your relationship fails, it’s probably because you did something Guys Hate.

Newsflash: Most girls and women want guys. They want sex and relationships. They don’t always want both at the same time, it’s true. The problem is that there is a giant sex dispenser on every college campus, but the relationship dispenser is OUT OF ORDER. And if a relationship is what a woman wants, then she’s SOL. Furthermore, for the record, let’s just leave gay folks out of this discussion. Gay men have always had to deal with hookup culture, and they always will, due to the male preference for sexual variety. Gay women don’t have to deal with it because they prefer relationships, for the most part. There are times when issues are heteronormative. Deal with it.

If we encouraged girls and women to place real value on their own desires, then instead of hand-waving about kids these days, we could trust them to seek out what they want and need, and to end relationships, casual or serious, that are unsatisfying or damaging to them, regardless of whether they’d work for anyone else. (While acknowledging, of course, that to some extent, heartbreak and romantic regrets are an inevitable part of growing up.)

Feminists’ knee-jerk response to concerns about rampant casual sex is to claim that a bunch of old fogeys (like me) are waving our hands in the air saying, “Something is wrong with kids these days!” They believe that we want to roll back the calendar and turn all of our young women into Betty Draper. Instead, what I see going on is real concern on the part of parents and educators (like Simmons) observing and responding to the pain that young women are feeling. That was certainly what motivated me to jump into the fray.

The thing is, if only one kind of dating “culture” is acceptable at any given time — whether it’s hooking up or old-fashioned courtship — then anyone whose desires don’t fit the mold will be left out. But if we teach all kids that there’s a wide range of potentially healthy sexual and emotional relationships, and the only real trick (granted, it’s a doozy) is finding partners who are enthusiastic about the same things you want, then there’s room for a lot more people to pursue something personally satisfying at no one else’s expense.

A doozy indeed! What might that trick be? As we know, guys having sex in college want multiple sexual partners. Guys not having sex in college are disenfranchised, shut out, virtually invisible to women. Women having sex in college are all gunning for Alpha, bemoaning his unwillingness to commit. Women not having sex in college are shut out, virtually invisible to men.

As Simmons said so well, we are enjoying the unintended spoils of the Sexual Revolution.

Next Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon weighs in:

I reject the sex-obsessed interpretation of how this struggle came to be. When I see such a large scale power struggle between men and women, I tend to think the reason is rarely biology, and usually socially constructed sexism.  Experimenting with this starting point, I think I have a much better explanation for what’s going on: Boys have power over girls in the “hook-up culture” because boys have power over girls in a male-dominated society.

Patriarchy is not the problem here! Women are outpacing men in school and at work. Boys have power over girls in the hookup culture because they dangle the carrot of a relationship as they hammer away with their sticks.

Men’s social status comes from men, and women’s social status comes from men. As someone who does remember college pretty well as it drifted into this hook-up culture, I can say firmly that getting a capital-B boyfriend was a huge source of social validation and status. But for men doing the validating, there’s not actually much value in monogamy (outside of Twu Wuv). They give something—validation—and instead of getting anything for it, they end up having to pay the price of not having their options open. Who wants that?

What Marcotte says about the derivation of social status is true. What has changed is the way men define status. What she fails to see is that two generations ago, a guy derived social status by having a steady girlfriend. That meant he was a guy with a regular supply of sex, and that was really the only way he could get it. Today, a regular supply with one woman just doesn’t cut it. Today’s male mantra is “I want multiple!”

Critics of the “hook-up culture” quietly tend to accept that while these dynamics dominate the college years, even most of them accept that something shifts when people hit their 20s, and suddenly dating and commitment become the norm. As women mature, we gain jobs and homes of our own, and become more sure in our tastes and our friendships.  For women, this is an enormous power grab.  The amount of our social value derived from male attention shrinks as more of our social value comes from our jobs and the image we project in the world. And as soon as one guy abandons the immature “girls and dating are GROSS” thing, the stigma loses its grip and they start to fall like dominoes.

Fall like dominoes? Everything I’m hearing tells me that hooking up is continuing as the norm well into the mid to late 20s. As kids weaned on hookup culture graduate from college, they export it directly into the professional and dating world they enter. This trend will continue and be magnified in coming years.

The girls are lurching in the right direction, but what needs to happen now is more attention paid to the boys.  How can we discourage young men from validating each other based on displays of misogyny?  How can we get boys to appreciate girls more as human beings?  How can we dismantle a system where social status in youth cultures is controlled strictly by young men?

Blaming men is 100% ineffective. Men are responding to hard-wired cues that give them an advantage in the reproduction sweepstakes. You might as well suggest that we tame lions into house cats. It is not in their nature, and it does not mean they are misogynist. “Lurching” doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, either.

Nona Willis Aronowitz writes on GirlDrive:

“I knew how it felt to agonize over a text message. I knew how much it hurt to hear that the guy I’d been hooking up with “didn’t do relationships.” And I knew what it was like to use sexuality to coax a guy into being with me, only to have it fail miserably.

Feminist or not, that shit sucks. And it happens a lot, to women and girls everywhere. And yet, if you consider me and the vast majority of America who eventually couple up, it seems to end up okay. What to make of all this?

…We need to admit as a culture that teens are sexual beings, and that more often than not, sexual maturity has a completely different timeline than emotional maturity. This is, to be sure, skewed by sexism and restrictive gender roles to make sexual coming-of-age worse for girls. But beyond that, maybe discovering what you want sexually and emotionally is just part of growing up–and that’s okay.

…For that matter, what’s with this still-dominant narrative that all teen girls should want a monogamous, snuggly, worshipping boyfriend? I wanted relationships from fantastic fucks all through high school and college, but something tells me that I repeatedly confused lust for love and convinced myself that I wanted a boyfriend, when really I just wanted a screwfest (although I can’t be sure).

Hmmm, just a bit of backwards rationalization going on here…

We never consider the power of cultural messages amid the mysterious phenomenon of girls wanting relationships more often than boys. I don’t think it’s biological–there are societal patterns at work here. If we’re told that casual sex is unfulfilling and that we’re going to want relationships, chances are we’ll end up wanting them.

Nona, meet Helen Fisher, noted biological anthropologist. Helen can tell you, citing dozens of peer-reviewed scientific studies, and with absolutely no political agenda whatsoever, that it is indeed biological.

The stubborn insistence on the part of feminists that the sexes do not differ biologically has done much to repress women and make them miserable, as the recent Wharton study on the gender happiness gap illustrates. We wanted to have sex like men and that’s just what we got. It turns out we don’t like it much, and we probably need to make some changes.

The women’s movement ushered in today’s sexual norms. The pendulum will swing back when women fight back by making sexual choices that coincide with their long-term interests.

This is not about going back to the 1950s, or any other time when women did not enjoy equal rights.

As women, we do have a choice. And sometimes, it probably ought to involve keeping our legs together.

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4 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • NonaWA

    Hi Susan, I have no problem with you quoting me–I stand by every word I wrote. But I don't appreciate you scrambling my sentences around to fit your agenda. (E.g. There are several paragraphs between me agonizing over a text message and coming to the conclusion that “Maybe discovering what you want sexually and emotionally is just part of growing up–and that’s okay.”) This is far from an honest analysis of my post. As for your incendiary (and frankly gag-inducing post headline, well…now I know what you really think of all of us drunk damaged sluts.

  • susanawalsh

    NonaWA, thanks for leaving a comment.

    I stand by my representation of your post, which contains nothing false. I did not, in fact, scramble any sentences. Everything is in order. I did excerpt your post, which is normal and fair. And I don't think anything is taken out of context. How is this dishonest? Please be specific.

    As for the post title, you can thank Rachel Simmons for that:

    Or did feminism get really drunk, go home with the wrong person, wake up in a strange bed and gasp, “Oh, God?”

    Kate Harding thought it was funny, and so did I. Sorry you didn't appreciate the humor.

    Finally, if you'd take a bit of time and look around my blog, you'd see that what's missing is judgment. I don't judge hooking up, in fact there are times in most young women's lives when it's just the thing. What I do resent is the fact that women are routinely pumped and dumped as they earnestly seek relationships. Men will not change. This is not a question of patriarchy. Women are the gatekeepers, always have been, always will be. And today they're rarely getting to have sex on their own terms.

    A new strategy is called for, and it's not prudish, it's not slut shaming, it's not THE MAN trying to bring you down. It's common sense, it's strategy. Because the way it stands now, many women are reaching the age of 25 without ever having been in a single relationship. I'm glad you're not among them, but the pain of young women is very real, and it goes way beyond analyzing text messages.

    That's the sum total of my agenda.

  • NonaWA

    Susan: Below is the correct sequence of my post–just for accuracy's sake. Thanks.

    “I knew how it felt to agonize over a text message. I knew how much it hurt to hear that the guy I’d been hooking up with “didn’t do relationships.” And I knew what it was like to use sexuality to coax a guy into being with me, only to have it fail miserably.

    Feminist or not, that shit sucks. And it happens a lot, to women and girls everywhere. And yet, if you consider me and the vast majority of America who eventually couple up, it seems to end up okay. What to make of all this?

    Rachel asks in the aforelinked post:

    Now, just to be clear, I’m all for the freedom to hook up. But let’s face it: despite our desire to give women the freedom to plunder the bar scene and flex their sexual appetites, it would appear a whole lot of them are pretty happy playing by old school rules, thank you very much. Incidentally, one of the women smart enough to figure this out just sold her 5 billionth book, or something like that.

    Does that make me a right-winger? Can I still be a feminist and say that I’m against this brand of sexual freedom? I fear feminism has been backed into a corner here. It’s become antifeminist to want a guy to buy you dinner and hold the door for you. Yet – picture me ducking behind bullet proof glass as I type this — wasn’t there something about that framework that made more space for a young woman’s feelings and needs?

    I do feel where Rachel is coming from. But those old models are based on the idea that girls are fragile, that they need to be sheltered from the ills of the world. They’re based on, as Kate says, being the girl that guys want. They’re based on, as Amanda outlines, sexism plain and simple. So if we don’t want to go the “Girls Gone Mild” route and start waiting for dudes to ask us on candlelit dates, does that mean it’s hopeless to find a happy sexual medium as teens and young, single women?

    Kate says no. “[I]f we teach all kids that there’s a wide range of potentially healthy sexual and emotional relationships,” she says, “and the only real trick (granted, it’s a doozy) is finding partners who are enthusiastic about the same things you want, then there’s room for a lot more people to pursue something personally satisfying at no one else’s expense.” That’s one of the smartest statements I’ve ever read on this topic. Amanda, meanwhile, says we need to stop making women shoulder the burden of keeping men in check, and concentration on getting “boys to appreciate girls more as human beings.” A-fucking-men. (No pun intended.)

    But there’s also this: We need to admit as a culture that teens are sexual beings, and that more often than not, sexual maturity has a completely different timeline than emotional maturity. This is, to be sure, skewed by sexism and restrictive gender roles to make sexual coming-of-age worse for girls. But beyond that, maybe discovering what you want sexually and emotionally is just part of growing up–and that’s okay.”

  • synthesis

    I don't think Susan thinks you are either damaged or a slut. Maybe the ellipsis was misplaced? Your article seems to say, yes there was pain and regret, but the past was a learning experience and things turned out alright. That message was not lost in what was cut out. Perhaps she could have includes the two paragraphs starting at: “The interesting thing about my particular sexual history…”

    While you may disagree about Susan's advice about keeping one's legs together, you have control over only your own behavior and so self-regulation is the most expedient action.

  • susanawalsh

    Fair enough, I'm happy to have you set the record straight. However, would you address what I think is probably the more important point? That it is not biological? Do you claim that women and men experience sex physiologically and emotionally in identical ways? Are women more “hard-wired” to seek relationships? Are men more “hard-wired” to prefer sexual variety? How does feminism square the cutting-edge research on brain chemical function during sex with its definition of sexual equality?

  • GudEnuf

    “The pendulum will swing back when women fight back by making sexual choices that coincide with their long-term interests.”

    With respect Susan, I don't think pendulum will ever swing back. Women's behavior is driven primarily by sexual economics, not social norms. And technology has permanately changed the sexual marketplace.

    Have you read Obsidian's article in The Spearhead today? By the time your high school readers have finished college, we will have 3-D pornography. You know how amazing Avatar's special effects were? Think of porno version. And we've already talked about sex robots.

    Now of course, not all men will accept technology as a substitute for a real woman. But it doesn't matter. Even if only 5-6% of the men are removed from the market, we'll see dramatic results:

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevol

    Since it's much easier for technology to simulate sex than relationships, it stands to reason that the price of a relationships relative to sex will only climb. IMHO the boyfriend industry has become a sellers market, permanately.

  • Chilli

    Susan, I love your philosophy because it is all about promoting a woman's choice. You're not telling woman to stay virgins till marriage and you're not telling them that they should have tons of sex because it is the feminist thing to do. You aren't even advocating a moderation between the two really. It's all about using what you've got to get what you want. And it makes sense because it isn't based on abstract ideals that don't.

    “Every woman has exactly the kind of love life she wants.”

    I don't remember who said that, but when I heard it, its truth really resonated with me. At first glance, the speaker may seem to be saying that when a woman gets treated like shit, she deserves it. But what is really being implied here is that women have an immense amount of power in their own relationships, and when a woman chooses not to exercise that power, she does indeed deserve whatever comes at her. Hook-up culture seems to have made women forget that they wield that power. And I bet if the girls interested in relationships (i.e. 95% of them) acted in accordance with their interests and refused to have sex outside of a relationship, restaurants around campus would be buzzing with parties of two within a week.

  • susanawalsh

    GudEnuf, there is no question that a variety of factors will bear down on the marriage market, making it increasingly difficult for women who want to marry and parent. In fact, the visual image I conjur up is one of playing musical chairs. There will be increasing numbers of women who wish to marry and do not have that opportunity. Lori Gottlieb, Mary Pols, Julie Klausner and co. are just the beginning of a long, keening wail we'll be hearing for years to come. That means it's all about intrasexual competition for the reduced number of marriageable men.

    Ultimately, I think there will be a correction, and The Fifth Horseman, blogger of The Futurist and Obisidian's source for much of this, believes that is possible as well IF women wise up to what's going on with men in this country.

    In the meantime, women need to bring their A-game, so to speak, with a clear sense of objectives, and the determination not to fritter away their 20s on men who are not relationship material. Women are having sex with the wrong guys, and that needs to change. We have the luxury of learning from others' mistakes, if only we will take our heads out of the clouds.

  • susanawalsh

    Chilli, thank you so much for your kind words. I totally agree that women do wield power, including the power to walk away. No one can humiliate you or hurt you if you don't let them. Yes, there will be times when you are deceived, and that sucks. It's not something we can really defend against if we want to pursue emotional intimacy with another person.

    I think you're right about women acting in accordance with their interests – but of course, women don't really act in aggregate. Which means it's every woman for herself. Delaying sex when you want a relationship carries its own risks, namely that you will be home alone on a Saturday night. But the price for that is boredom. There is a considerably higher price to pay if you have sex with someone you really like, and then find out you're an afterthought, someone else's “collateral damage.”

  • Bozo Sapien

    Criminy… this society is already obsessed with the well-being of women — to the point of it being a mass neurosis.

    Feminist theory guarantees that “researchers” will discover male bias and oppression in every civilization and time, so you might as well just ignore all of them entirely, lest you come away perpetually confused.

    I'll leave you with one very prescient quote to chew on:
    “…as women shake off their ancient disabilities they will also shake off some of their ancient immunities, and their doings will come to be regarded with a soberer and more exigent scrutiny than now prevails. The extension of the suffrage, I believe, will encourage this awakening; in wresting it from the reluctant male the women of the western world have planted dragons' teeth, which will presently leap up and gnaw them. Now that women have the political power to obtain their just rights, they will begin to lose their old power to obtain special privileges by sentimental appeals. Men, facing them squarely, will consider them anew, not as romantic, political and social invalids, to be coddled and caressed, but as free competitors in a harsh world. When that reconsideration gets under way there will be a general overhauling of the relations between the sexes.”
    – H.L. Mencken (1917)

    That's where we are.

    The action of women for the past 30-40 years has destroyed a huge reserve of generalized goodwill toward women and what they want which the average (generic) man used to have, so it has now become a “pay as you go” situation so far as a lot of men are concerned when it comes to women.

    F. Roger Devlin has an essay on “The feminine sexual counter-revolution
    and its limitations” which might help temper some of what I think is your misplaced enthusiasm about the sort of change you seem to want actually happening.

  • http://FT.com/ VJ

    You know, that's some largely wasted time I'll never regain. But I read ALL of the articles & most of the aforementioned links too. And I've come away with a few quick thoughts.

    1.) Who ever thought that 'dating' or 'hooking up' or simply screwing whomever has anything much to do with biology must be Tripping!

    2.) When we get finished with blaming the very useful but now perfectly nebulous 'patriarchy' for such & sundry, and fully accept Everyone's actions as responsible Human beings, that's when progress in & at anything might be achieved. But evidently we're still a long way away from that enlightened moment. That's not to negate or forget history either, or 'social constructs' etc. But I agree, the fact that 'Bunny' or Chrisy is doing 'whomever' this weekend has More to do with what she wants & desires and Less to do with what her parents, teachers, dad or granddad might have wanted for her. The 'Patriarchy'/'establishment' was pretty clear about that once.

    3.) There's nothing wrong with 'experimentation' and it does serve a useful & valuable function in maturity, including sex. That this 'experimental' phase now seemingly necessarily lasts (at least) about a decade for many is probably a bit dysfunctional for any number of decent & valuable reasons.

    4.) Still let's not all be 'heteronormative' here. Not everyone will want to or desire to marry. Even eventually in their dotage. Today that may represent upwards of 20% of the population, evidently Not including Jessica Valenti either. That's why it's called 'normative', of or pertaining to the overwhelming majority of the population in question. We do not forget the 'other' & gay communities, but if we're old enough? We'd also recall when they'd too recoiled at being automatically included in such a 'degraded, sick, tragic enterprise' such as marriage! And the times, they change quickly.

    5.) Ergo, you come to the inescapable conclusion that people 'hook up' because it's like SEX & it's Pleasurable at a deep Biological level, for many good & valid reasons, and they Like It. Period. Full stop.

    Now true, sex always has some consequences. In the past this was the greater chance of pregnancy, which is lessened today due to access to wonderful pharmaceutical technology. But the risks of disease are still always present. And about 1/3 to 1/2 of all 'sexually active young adults' (however defined) are now either exposed to or carrying at least one STD/STI. But still? despite all the risks, the horrors of 'slut shaming', parental prohibitions & patriarchial rebuke? They're screwing like proverbial rabbits. I still suspect some will continue to attribute these facts to the thought that they're trying to get back at their daddies. Or 'The Man'. Or the 'Man System' or the evil construction of same. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    Cheers, 'VJ'

  • WiseOne

    Hooking up raises a guy's relationship value, real or perceived. Think about it, girls: Whom would you rather be your exclusive boyfriend? A loser who couldn't hook up if he wanted, or a guy who enjoys sexual choice?

    In fact, the incentive to signal value to potential mates is so strong that guys need to hook up more if they want better relationships.

    How about a thought experiment. Jack really likes Jill. Jack is old-fashioned and does not hook up. Jack wants a strong, monogamous emotional connection with Jill. But Jill is a little out of Jack's league. Jack has two options.

    Option A: Approach Jill in the manner of a monogamous boyfriend-to-be. This approach gives Jill the jitters because it feels desperate and Jack is not a high-value guy to begin with. Jack's “dispositions” cannot compare to those of the sexually powerful men whom Jill is accustomed to. Thus, Jack fails. (See “habitus” in Pierre Bourdieu's social theory.)

    Option B: Upgrade your sexual status by hooking up for a few years. That's right, Jack: If you want good relationship sex with girls like Jill later in life, you're gonna have to put up with some lousy hook-up sex for a while. In the process of hooking up, you will learn what women do and do not desire in a man. Maybe no one at all will hook up with you until you make some positive changes in your life. Not only that, but if you figure things out and Jill learns that other girls desired you enough to have sex with you without even a likely relationship, she might change her mind about you! Don't count on it, but it is possible. (See “mimetic desire” in René Girard's philosophy.) Hooking up NOW is the only way you're going to gain the experience, the confidence, the verve, the vastness of spirit that can seduce a demanding girl like Jill LATER.

    Guys, if you are not hooking up, you better start. And in the process, you need to learn and change.

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  • http://FT.com/ VJ

    All well & good, and perhaps even insightful. But mostly? I's all about the 'tingle', er, 'chemistry'. If they're not feeling it? Neither are you. It's as simple as that. No one needs too much French philosophy (!) for that. Women (& men) pursue sex for mostly short term goals (it feels good Now). They can then examine their hidden motives later, and regret at their leisure as it were.

    It's only when the prospect of larger & later goals come into play (possibly something along the lines of family formation & begetting children) do their motivations and desires change somewhat to try and meet these goals. By then after 10-15 years of 'experimentation' (which can & does often include a same sex attraction era/period BTW), Both sexes then face the prospect of a seriously degraded reproductive capacity. Now to some? That's clearly a serious issue. To others, it's a minor inconvenience to be spending 20-45K to try and either conceive after 36 or adopt.

    It's all about making choices, and being responsible for same. Some choices you'll make in your 20's, even while drunk or high or 'imperfectly rational', that can& will determine your life course, well for the next 20 years. Now you can blame mysterious & hidden 'others' for this sad fact of life, or you can accept your share of the responsibility, and shoulder this self with you as you continue to grow & evolve. Or you can forever imagine that they're these mysterious forces outside of yourself that are making you do such idiotic/foolish/harmful things to your self & others. One path leads to accountability & adult maturity. The other evidently leads to tenure (or used to) at some of the finest respectable Uni's in the land where you can forever spout your theories absolving whomever of their greater responsibilities for their own willful actions.

    But what the hell do I know? I've been married for a long time too. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

  • Mike

    Things are getting interesting. Particularly interesting to observe different female perspectives as these things get hashed out.

    From my vantage point, women seem to be separating into those who “get it” and those who “don't get it”. Some are following where the data, empirical evidence, and rational/logical analysis are leading while others cling steadfastly to their ideology (cultural Marxism). The next 5-10 years should be very interesting in terms of male/female dynamics and the mating marketplace because I think how this evolves depends to a very great degree on how many women start to understand and accept reality here versus the number who remain stuck in counterproductive dogma.

    Next Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon weighs in:

    I reject the sex-obsessed interpretation of how this struggle came to be. When I see such a large scale power struggle between men and women, I tend to think the reason is rarely biology, and usually socially constructed sexism. Experimenting with this starting point, I think I have a much better explanation for what’s going on: Boys have power over girls in the “hook-up culture” because boys have power over girls in a male-dominated society.

    LOL. Yup. It's all about “socially constructed sexism”. The hook-up dynamics on a typical college are all a result of the male-dominant patriarchy. Amazing, absolutely amazing the mental gyrations one can spin to believe utter nonsense.

    Susan, as I've said before, I think you are fighting the good fight here, and my guess is your blog is going to attract more negative attention from the hardcore types that believe there are no innate differences between men and women, and that having as much random, casual sex as possible is “liberating” and “empowering” and serves to “tear down the walls” of the patriarchy. Hard to type that without laughing.

    At the end of the day, in this current marketplace, just as men have to compete intensely amongst each other for sex, women will have to compete intensely amongst each other for quality, long-term relationships. No point in wasting alot of effort trying to convince the extremists and ideologues, but you can help women who want quality LTRs.

    The other day I mentioned targeting older men (late 20s, 30s). Another thing that came to mind when thinking of my LTR versus girls I just saw as hookups is the importance of being a complete person with meaningful goals, hobbies, life objectives. I think most quality men are goal setters and achievers, and they want a woman who has goals of her own that she is passionate about. Too many women seem to me to be wrapped up in pop culture and the goings on and gossip of their social circle. Any quality guy will view this type as superficial and put them in the hookup box. I also think many quality guys are waking up to the reality that you want to avoid spendthrifts like the plague for LTRs and marriage so don't be a shopaholic.

  • Reinholt

    Hey, women wanted to be able to be like men! Now they can compete in the dating market just like men, and have to actually work to get what they want. Isn't equality great?

    I mean, I don't see how this could possibly be bad or a problem… if women are identical to men.

    Warning: Post may contain sarcasm

  • http://www.collegehookupculture.com/ Denice Ann Evans

    There is a lot to say about the college hook up culture, but first lets make it clear that we are dealing with a culture that is deeply embedded with using alcohol as a social and sexual lubricant. (pun intended).

  • susanawalsh

    Hi Bozo, thanks for leaving a comment. My thoughts:

    1. To be fair, it's women who are obsessed with the well-being of women, which seems natural enough. As it is natural that men might be sympathetic to men's rights issues.

    2. There are researchers doing good work who ignore feminist theory completely, falling more in line with evolutionary psychology. Dr. Helen Fisher, who I mention in the post, is probably the best known of these.

    3. Re the Mencken quote, I believe in a meritocracy, so I have no problem with women being free competitors in a harsh world. I acknowledge that we are currently reaping the consequences of the Sexual Revolution, which obviously occurred with the cooperation of enough women to change society forever. If you are implying that women should never have had the vote, I find that ridiculous. If anything, women are winning many competitions in this harsh world. They've definitely lost romance, though.

    4. I'm not a reader of F. Roger Devlin, though I know he's quite the mentor to Game types. This quote from Charlotte Allen's article in the Weekly Standard doesn't exactly inspire confidence:

    Devlin holds no academic post, and his oeuvre, besides a published version of his doctoral thesis on Alexandre Kojève, consists of a series of essays and reviews concerning relations between the sexes for the Occidental Quarterly, a paleoconservative publication whose other contributors tend to focus obsessively on the question of which ethnic groups belong to which race.

    I detect the distinct whiff of charlatanism.

  • susanawalsh

    VJ, you are to be commended for reading all of those links, but you can't blame me for the time you lost! Re your views on patriarchy, I am in full agreement. It's a worn out and tired claim. Women need to take full responsibility for their actions, and if they're not getting what they want, they probably want to consider changing things up in some way.

    By the way, the pervasive feminist conclusion that we should train men how to be more sensitive to the needs of women is so ridiculous it makes my head spin. As readers have said on other threads, incentives drive behavior. That's reality.

  • susanawalsh

    WiseOne, welcome! You probably expect me to disagree with you, but I don't. Not a bit. Your advice is perfectly appropriate to the current sociosexual marketplace. Of course, we know that Jack will be looking for the less sexually experienced version of Jill when he's ready to settle down into monogamy.

    So–the natural advice to young women? Don't put out for alpha asshats in college, including Jack while he's in his cad phase. Graduate and immediately focus on guys 25+ who have acquired the necessary Game to win you, but whose true natures allow for commitment rather than perpetual pump and dump.

  • susanawalsh

    Amen re personal responsibility. That goes for all behavior, most notably that which includes alcohol and/or sex.

    The other evidently leads to tenure (or used to) at some of the finest respectable Uni's in the land where you can forever spout your theories absolving whomever of their greater responsibilities for their own willful actions.

    HAHAHAHAHA

  • susanawalsh

    Hi Denice, this is VERY important point. We often neglect to give alcohol its due in the sense that most hookups occur under the influence and many are regretted afterwards. Research shows that both men and women “need” to be inebriated to have random intimate contact with virtual strangers, so we might well ask whether this is even what guys really want. To what extent is hooking up about the validation they receive from other men?

    Of course, another obvious observation might be that drunk hookup sex can't possibly be as physically rewarding as sober sex with a desired partner, not to mention emotionally lacking.

  • susanawalsh

    Mike, I agree entirely that women are in two camps. Unfortunately, the dogmatic camp has the ear of the mainstream media. Still, as I try to highlight in this post, there is some subtle shifting going on. Even Jessica Valenti has backpedaled on the hooking up question a bit, though I did read that she made a virgin cry at a campus lecture a couple of days ago. Rachel Simmons' willingness to go on record is also significant, though her nostalgia for the dating era of the 50s made her an easy target for her feminist peers.

    Thanks for your words of support. You are exactly right, it is about intrasexual competition. It's really going to be like a game of musical chairs, and there are things individual women can do to increase their chances of getting what they want, especially as there will continue to be many women who make poor choices.

    I think you are also 100% correct about the personal development piece. The women's movement gave us so many opportunities, there really is no excuse for being a shallow and superficial woman. Figure out what you're interested in and pursue it. Regardless of whether men find it attractive, it's going to make life a heck of a lot more enjoyable, and you'll certainly need that if you happen to be unlucky when the music stops and you've got no chair.

  • aldonza

    Think about it, girls: Whom would you rather be your exclusive boyfriend? A loser who couldn't hook up if he wanted, or a guy who enjoys sexual choice?

    I think women are smart enough to want something in between your two extremes. Nobody wants someone that nobody else wants, but neither do most women want someone who's dick has been in every willing vagina on campus.

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, Reinholt, I actually think equality is great, or can be. More importantly, I think it's fair. That means that women have to earn their benefits just like men do. You can't demand chivalry if you're every bit as strong and successful as men are.

    Re women being identical to men, I just can't fathom how feminism got derailed on this issue. I don't see the problem with “equal but different.” Hell, the simplest example is comparing estrogen to testosterone. What happens when women are given a lot of testosterone? And men are given a lot of estrogen? The people who can answer that are those who have undergone sex change procedures.

    The jig is up. Anyone who denies the biology piece is willfully ignorant, IMO.

  • aldonza

    Don't sell guys 25+ as automatically ready to settle down. There are guys right out of college who want relationships and there are plenty of guys who don't even begin to come into their own until late 20s/30s and *start* sowing their oats then with those women who now see them as relationship material. Some guys start late because they gain confidence and economic stability. Former betas who get a taste of the alpha life are even harder to tame than natural betas.

    I don't believe this is an age thing. I think the PUAs sell it that way because it fits their agenda. The simple fact women have to realize is that if a guy isn't into a relationship with you, he'll still take all of the sex you give him and that sex is not likely change his opinion about having a relationship with you. It doesn't matter if he's 19, 29, 49+.

    Do not waste the precious commodity of time on asshats of any age. Learn to spot them earlier and earlier in the process. Hint: hookups are not the most effective way to spot asshats.

  • deniceannevans

    I had a much longer post for the topic of alcohol and sexual satisfaction in the hook up culture, but for some reason the post did not go through?

  • Mike

    Don't sell guys 25+ as automatically ready to settle down. There are guys right out of college who want relationships and there are plenty of guys who don't even begin to come into their own until late 20s/30s and *start* sowing their oats then with those women who now see them as relationship material. Some guys start late because they gain confidence and economic stability. Former betas who get a taste of the alpha life are even harder to tame than natural betas.

    I don't believe this is an age thing.

    Well…none of this is black or white, binary 0 or 1, but in general older men will be more predisposed to the idea of committing to one quality monogamous LTR over and endless parade of sexual variety. I know this from myself as I've gotten older (I turned 36 yesterday) and discussions with my friends. The older you get, you become aware of your mortality, and you begin to realize that having someone who truly loves you is much better then minutes of pure pleasure tied to variety. Many guys (at least ones I talk to) are actually somewhat conflicted between what their base drives are and the emotional emptiness (yet no doubt very pleasurable) of a variety of random sex. It really takes life experience and a maturation process to be able to get past that point of being dominated by your base drives.

    8-9 times out of 10, you show me a 20-25 year old college guy who is “ready for a committed relationship”, and I'll show you a beta who has little to no sexual options. The committed relationship isn't a result of a mature choice, but no choice at all.

    Overall, I think being biased towards older guys for committed relationships is the smart move, and if you want to play the hookup game stick with your peer group if you are a 20-25 year old woman.

  • Mike

    I think women are smart enough to want something in between your two extremes. Nobody wants someone that nobody else wants, but neither do most women want someone who's dick has been in every willing vagina on campus.

    No doubt true, but not the interesting question. Here is the more interesting question. Is it a DEALBREAKER? Look hard in that mirror, and try to answer honestly. Let's say the guy is a 8-9 in the looks department, tall, well-built, fairly intelligent, good job, responsible, fun, confident, with some Game. In other words, the kind of guy who probably could sleep with 50-100 women. And he is interested in a LTR WITH YOU, and has in fact had sex with 100+ women. Do you show him the exit door? Seriously. Please, no politically correct answers on this one. I'm interested in sincere answers.

    My guess is you flip the script and make it a high-quality woman who has slept with 100 guys, and it will be a deal breaker 10x more then the scenario I outlined, but I'm not sure. I'm really not sure how women really feel about this at the core of their beings. I know that 90 to 95% of guys will be repulsed, regardless of the political correctness of not having a double standard.

  • aldonza

    Well, if you're looking for the politically correct answer, you asked the wrong broad. I can only answer for me.

    A man who's slept with that many women is not appealing to me for a long-term *or* short-term partner. For a short-term partner I'm just a little too cautious about exposure to disease. Yeah, he could've double-bagged that puppy everytime, but I'd still be nervous.

    For long-term, it has less to do with his romantic market value (which, I agree, might be impacted for a woman in the same situation) and more to do with the fact that men seem to get pretty cynical after a certain point on the pussy parade. Further, the guys I've encountered like that had laughably high standards about what constitutes a real relationship and are too eager to jump ship to the next piece of ass that comes floating across his field of vision when things get at all contentious.

    Would I feel attracted to him and flattered at the attention? Of course. I'm a woman with the same triggers as most women. But I also have a brain and am capable of exercising it when necessary in my own best self-interests.

  • susanawalsh

    Aldonza, good advice here re spotting the DBs. There is also some truth to what you say re age, but I'll agree with Mike here. In general, older guys (several years out of college) are going to be a better bet for a LTR.

    As many guy readers have said, cads are pretty easy to spot if you delay sex at all, because they're the guys who will not stick around. Another reason why it makes sense to take time to know someone before hooking up.

    Mike, I find your assessment of how guys think as they get older very encouraging, except that, to be honest, it sucks for women when guys need to go over 30 to feel that way. A woman who really isn't looking to do “fun and casual” ostensibly needs to rule out her peer group and find ways of meeting single guys ten years older. It's just not as easy or straightforward, and I suspect that it means relying on bars/clubs more, which is a mixed bag.

  • susanawalsh

    Mike, I feel strongly about what Aldonza is saying here. That is, women are capable of making rational choices, despite what the tiny head is saying. One may not realize it to look around, but some women have been burned by experience and are most anxious not to repeat getting involved with a cad.

    Having said that, I acknowledge that it's true that a woman will be more attracted to a man with social proof – he has proven his attractiveness to many other women. This, of course, is the appeal of the bad boy.

    However, I have seen an increasing unwillingness on the part of women to get involved with “man whores.” I believe that STDs are a real factor here, and women often refer to men this promiscuous/successful as “dirty.” I'd say it's the equivalent of a man being worried about disease when he visits a prostitute. With kids learning in sex ed that every time they have sex, it's with every person their partner has ever been with, the geometric progression becomes pretty clear when a guy has been with 100 women, many of whom were also promiscuous.

    Others have pointed out that all of this may be true in college, but it's much harder to discern a guy's history in a large, urban center after that. This seems true – but that isn't the point you're making. I suspect that if a woman had a way of figuring this out, many would take a pass.

    That's part of the reality of the sexual marketplace – in general, people less inclined toward promiscuity prefer other people who feel the same way.

  • susanawalsh

    Denice, give it another try!

  • aldonza

    Susan recommended guys 25+, but you're comparing them to guys 35+. I agree that guys in their mid to late thirties are overall more relationship-oriented overall than guys a decade younger. However, we're talking about very high-value women here, age 22-25, and intelligent enough to read blogs like this. I can tell you that when I was that age, I was *not* interested in a 35yo guy. I wanted someone a few years older but not too much older. My rationale was I didn't want to be chasing toddlers while he rested his weary bones on the sofa.

  • novaseeker

    An interesting series of quotes.

    The key problem, it seems to me, apart from the ideologically-based dissonance in some of the writing about this issue, is that women, individually, seem to face a kind of Hobson's choice.

    That is, unless virtually all women up the standards for dispensing sex, the women who *do* up the standards will lose out to those who don't, at least in the short term, in terms of access of any sort to the types of attractive men that women between say 18 and 28 seem to prefer.

    In other words, let's assume that most women seem attracted to the same sorts of men. This is not a baseless assumption. The recent NYT article about the situation at UNC-Chapel Hill was quite telling in that, despite the lopsided sex ratio, a woman was quoted as saying that 50% of the remaining men are nevertheless “off the table” in terms of not even coming into consideration for either sex or relationships –> this suggests that the anecdotal experience many “beta” males have in college in fact reflects a reality that women's interests in these areas tend to be quite concentrated on 50% or less of the males. One can argue as to why that is, but for purposes of the point I'm trying to make, it's simply important that it is *is* so.

    The reason for that importance is that the concentration of female interest on more or less the same half or minority of the men guarantees a heated competition among women for the attentions of these men — such that men will provide those attentions to the women who are doing what the men deem necessary to be granted those attentions. If virtually none of the women were granting NSA sex, then the men would have to deal with that. But … if a minority of the women starts to grant NSA sex, then the attentions of the men will be focused on that minority of the women who are granting sexual access on cheap terms, and the rest of the women will be shut off from accessing these desirable men — left with resorting to the other 50% of the men who are basically out of consideration and who would therefore be socially demeaning for women to date. So it's a Hobson's choice these young women face: give in to the demands of the alpha for easy sexual access and hope for the best (that you will be the one in a million who tames him to be her own personal alpha boyfriend rather than another notch on his belt), or keep your legs shut and be shut out of access to the desirable men on campus (and in the years after campus as well, today).

    You can sit these young women down and tell them that these alpha cads are no good, and that the relationships will end up scarring them in some way, and that this is not beneficial to them and so on. But the reality is that their social world revolves around their own social status, and being completely shut off from sex and relationships with the desirable men on campus does not augment social status to say the least. Some women are of lower status anyway and they, like the 50% of the guys who are just per se unacceptable by the women who have options, will probably go without a lot of relationships or sex in college because they aren't even able to access the alpha cads by offering free sex, and probably are still not willing to date the 50% of the men who are seemingly in the “untouchable” caste. But for women who have options, and have some status, it's quite a dilemma as to how to deal with this. If you keep your legs shut, you lose status, at least in the short run, unless you are in a small, sheltered religious community. If you open your legs, you gain some access and status and certainly popularity, but perhaps you feel the pain and anguish that so many other young women go through in these hookup or FWB type arrangements. It's not an easy choice, and it's not terribly realistic to assume that most of these young women who are desirable enough to have some access to these 50% (or smaller) group of men will see it as being in their best interests to keep their legs closed at the expense of a loss of all access to the kinds of men who can provide a boost to their social status (or at the very least, a boost to self-esteem).

    The only way this particular genie goes back into the bottle, I think, is if the social standards around sexuality that used to prevail come back into vogue — because social standards tend to impact the behavior of a broader number of people, other than outlier transgressors who exist in any social system. I highly doubt this will happen, however. The technological changes that enabled the sexual revolution really changed sexual culture in our society in a more or less permanent way by detaching sex from reproduction — something which allows the pursuit of sex purely for pleasure to be much more easily achieved. That's not going to change, and so I don't expect the broader social mores around sex to change much, either.

    Individual women, of course, *can* make different decisions about their own actions. And those decisions should be informed by the costs and benefits of what particular courses of action may be, and the relative desirability of those costs and benefits. Some women may decide that the emotional cost of pursuing hookups with desirable alpha cads (the “fantastic fucks” described by one commenter above, quite reminiscent of Erica Jong's sexual fantasies) is outweighed by the opportunity costs and social status costs of keeping their legs shut, and thereby cutting off access to these men. Other women may decide that the costs are precisely the reverse, and choose to avoid hookups and FWBs. We should encourage women to make these choices with careful deliberation, however. My own sense is that this is missing, and in fact what is happening is that attractive girls are simply “falling into” these kinds of encounters or arrangements in high school simply because “this is how it is”. It's that kind of automatic, follow-the-herd type of behavior that is ultimately the most damaging to women because they may be making decisions without understanding the consequences. If we are realists, I think we must acknowledge that whatever our own moral compass, the era of free sex is not going away anytime soon. In light of that, perhaps our best counsel to young women (and men for that matter) is to think through the consequences of your actions and the costs and benefits of them –> those may and likely will look rather different depending on whether you are male or female.

  • susanawalsh

    My own sense is that a woman will happily go up 10 years without worrying too much, in general. After that, the age difference starts to feel more significant, e.g. half a generation apart, which is really quite significant.

    The childcare thing is a really issue too. My brother married late (40) and had kids at 44. They're 6 and 8 now, and he's one tired dude. However, when my kids were growing up, there were always a few dads doing the second family thing – they often had white hair and were mistaken for grandpa. Obviously, they had considerable wealth/social status to attract a second wife 20+ years younger.

  • aldonza

    I will agree that “timing is everything”, and an individual guy who is not ready for a relationship at 22 may be more ready at 28. Or he might just be 22 with 6 years experience.

    Further, if it's alpha guys we're talking about, very few of them are going to want to get off the pussy train anytime in their 20s or even early 30s. A significant portion of those guys may never get off.

    Age is just one variable, and I believe it isn't even the best one to use when searching for someone with LTR potential.

  • aldonza

    I think women today are *less* likely to date that far up in age these days. I talk to my nieces in that age range about dating a lot, as I now have that in common with them. They talk about older guys wanting to date them with a derision normally reserved for really pathetic betas and all of them date within 5 years of their own age. I think it would take a pretty high-status guy to make them change their mind about it.

    When my mother was a girl in the 1940s, her best friend married a guy 16 years older. Nobody said anything, but even then a few eyebrows raised, but that was partially because the girl was 18. That marriage lasted until the best friend was widowed in her late 50s.

    Frankly, I was and am the same way. I've dated 10+ years older and it wasn't for me. The guys were all very successful, tall, attractive alpha types and they did want a relationship with me. I backed away because I wasn't ready to talk about retirement plans, grandkids, and the relative merits of Cialis vs Viagra. I also want to grow old with someone, and I'm less likely to do that with someone significantly older than I am.

  • hambydammit

    Susan, my latest post sheds some light onto a central part of this discussion: Can we use logic to convince girls to want what's good for them?

    http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/soc

    You're going to want a pot of coffee and a little extra time. This one's almost up to academic paper standards. I'll give you the ten cent version: Intelligence has little or nothing to do with our inherent biological goals, only in our solutions to novel problems. How that applies to this question is easy: You're not going to convince young women to stop wanting relationships, and you're not going to convince them to stop competing in the dating market, even when the market is weighted towards men.

  • Decoybetty

    Eek…this has been my problem with feminism since my days at mount holyoke…Where I essentially got so fed up with most of the “feminists” that I stopped listening to them completely. Which isn't to say I don't want equality for women in the work place and blah blah blah. I always thought that the woman's movement was about giving women the choice. If a woman wants to be the CEO of some huge corporation now she can…if she wants to be a stay at home mom she can…It's about choice…And now the choices for dating are well not that satisfactory (in my eyes)…either you participate in hook up culture hoping that a hook up turns into relationship (if that what you want…) OR you go the route I choose which was, granted sometimes lonely, pretending the hook up culture didn't exist and dating only on terms that made sense for me (you). Did it work out for me? well, I am in love with a boy who didn't partake in the hook up culture either.

    I see the real problem, perhaps the one feminists should be tackling, is if women believe they are forced to participate in something they don't want to to achieve their goals. Isn't that peer pressure? I know that we all have to do that – I have participate in the job search which frankly I think jobs should be applying for me and not the other way around and it sucks and I wish I didn't, so maybe I'm a hypocrite.

    There's that How I Met Your Mother episode where Marshall starts working at Barney's corporation and he hates it because the guys in his department are jerks and Barney says “I suppose you could learn to love yourself for the unique little snow flake that you are or you could change your personality, which is so much easier”…

  • susanawalsh

    Novaseeker, I very much agree with your understanding of the sexual marketplace. There's really only an opportunity to make a difference on the margins, as things stand today. Rather than thinking about sexual behavior by society as a whole, we need to be thinking about individual decisions, weighing the pros and cons of each potential strategy. Rather than considering sex in college, or sex among 20-somethings in NYC, we need to look at the microclimates of sex where we can. There are a number of things I'm observing in the culture right now:

    1. The sexual double-standard remains virtually unchanged. Girls who do a great deal of random hooking up quickly get labeled skanks or sluts. Even a “high status” type, i.e., sorority chick, will get a bad reputation quickly if she goes all the way with quite a few guys in succession. This leads women in college to try and walk the line between slut and wallflower.

    2. Many girls will decide that they can do “fun and casual” while in college. This usually means a willingness to hook up with a guy who has no intention of being a boyfriend or otherwise making a public commitment. However, this runs into trouble when men want to “double dip.” Most women find it too humiliating, as well as threatening to their health, to hook up with a guy who is openly rotating women in harem fashion. Despite all the talk of women willing to be in soft harems with Alpha, I find that among women in college with significant expectations of a bright future, this does not occur.

    3. Some men will make a commitment in order to hop onto the gravy train of effortless sex several times a week. From what I've seen, many of these “relationships” are very unsatisfying, as they reflect no real effort at intimacy or communication. They are essentially glorified “fuckbuddy” arrangements. Still, the women use this label to achieve the desired social status, while minimizing their sexual exposure to additional guys and the girls they've been with.

    4. Many college women have essentially given up. They announce that it's obvious they are not going to have a boyfriend in college, and they resolve to work hard and have guy friends where possible. This “giving up” may not be a bad strategy, because it frees women up to have relationships based on friendship, and the pressure to be friends with Alpha types is less intense, mostly b/c Alphas don't really do girl friendships very well.

    5. The woman quoted in the UNC article was a sorority member, who, as you say, would probably rule out any guy not in a frat to begin with. Although I do think a lot of women in college are blind to some of the beta guys, most are open to meeting people in class, group activities, etc. For any of these potential friendships to occur, though, the guys have to bring some Game. Even if girls are open-minded, I really don't think they're going to become assertive about making moves. At the most, they'll meet guys halfway. This has strong implications for those betas, because many of them are understandably discouraged and not inclined to be responsive, much less initiate.

    6. It's not just women who are focusing on a few men. Those guys who aren't getting any sex will often speak longingly of the hot babes on campus. In reality, there are large groups that are pretty miserable being unsuccessful with the top 20%, but they aren't finding each other. I'm not sure how this could happen, but I do think expectations on both sides need a reality check.

    7. Re the microclimate issue, things do vary somewhat within communities. There will be the fast-track, sexually precocious kids on every campus, but one can make distinctions even within the Greek scene, for example. Tri Delts may be known as slutty, Kappas as “girls next door,” for example. Many guys will go for the Tri Delts, but if a guy is hooking up with a known “slut”, he gets less cred from his bros than if he bags a hot, more selective chick. The more selective women get less attention overall, but where you do see college guys in committed relationships, it's almost always with these girls.

    In summary, it really is a balancing act for women, which is why they are desperate for advice on how to handle a Player, how to get inside a guy's head, how to know if a good friend might like you, etc.

    The bottom line is that a woman in college who insists on being treated with respect and having sex primarily in committed relationships is going to have a lot of girlfriends but be pretty much ignored by the guys. Her best bet is to prevent emotional devastation, and bide her time until graduation, after which she will have greater access to more mature men.

  • susanawalsh

    Decoybetty, I want to jump through the internets and give you a hug! I am grateful to the women's movement for providing many different kinds of opportunities for women to compete. But I really reject sex as politics. It's the notion that being a young, empowered female requires participating in casual sexual relationships that I object to. A woman should be free to do with her body whatever feels right for her, and not come under a kind of cultural pressure from other women! I hear many women calling other women prudes – and that is not OK, in my view. I think so many women are unhappy – so few relationship-oriented guys are around, that they wind up blaming each other. Of course, there's also the very real issue of feminists not wanting to take responsibility, or even consider, whether the feminist movement may have had consequences that limit options for women.

    You stuck to your guns without compromising and were very successful, in my view. You had a very, very strong sense of self that enabled you to wait it out, and develop your life, your interests regardless of your relationship status (as your guest post made clear). Unfortunately, most women do not have the personal conviction or fortitude to do that. Most of them will be fine in time, even if they get a bit battered and bruised emotionally.

  • aldonza

    6. It's not just women who are focusing on a few men. Those guys who aren't getting any sex will often speak longingly of the hot babes on campus. In reality, there are large groups that are pretty miserable being unsuccessful with the top 20%, but they aren't finding each other. I'm not sure how this could be remedied, but I do think expectations on both sides need a reality check.

    I think this is the source of a lot of angst all the way around. A 50th percentile women (as if such a grading of humans in the dating market really existed) may try for a 90th percentile man, and in the casual sex game, she can land him. She will not land him for a LTR. The fact is, a 50th percentile woman can land 90% of the men out there for a casual romp. This leads them to inflate their own value in the dating market.

    The vision is likely a lot clearer for the men. They pine for the 90th percentile women, but it's a rare woman who will date significantly downward. Not a lot of gray area there.

  • hambydammit

    Aldonza, I think you're spot on. I think a lot of women have a real problem with the cognitive dissonance of being desired by just about every man, but only being relationship material with a small percentage. It's been shown over and over that men's standards for casual sex are quite low — even as far as beauty. (You know what a moped is, right? Fun to ride, but you don't want your friends to see you on one.) But men get pretty damn picky when it comes to LTRs.

    So yeah, I think a lot of young women are over-estimating their relationship value as a result of realizing their hookup value. I've been talking about this here and on my blog for a couple of weeks now. The hookup culture is giving women an overinflated sense of value by taking the focus away from relationship value.

    And yes, men tend to have a much clearer idea of their own value. Women's selections are much more similar for casual and long term sex. In other words, most women will generally only have hookups with guys they can imagine themselves in a relationship with. So for men, we can usually look at our sexual history and get a very clear idea of what we're worth and what part of the pond we need to be fishing.

  • Decoybetty

    Not according to American television where the rotund not-attractive guy marries the hot chick.

    My Australian boyfriend always asks me if that's how it really is in American… 😉

  • novaseeker

    Lots of great points, there, Susan.

    In many ways my advice to young men is the same — they have two options (I'm talking about the betas, not the ultra-desirables who are getting laid more than ever in history right now).

    One is to learn some Game while avoiding becoming a player. It's actually not hard to avoid becoming a player, because becoming a true player is something quite hard for a beta to pull off well. It *can* happen, but most of the time the guys you're taking about where somewhat alphaish or playerish or otherwise unique that it worked for them (Strauss comes to mind here). The harder problem is convincing them to learn Game. There's a lot of resistance there, because many of them can't be bothered to do the work involved.

    The second option is to wait things out for several years until the mid 20s when they have more life experience, maturity and credibility and can be attractive to women at that stage who are just leaving school. The risk of the second option is that these guys don't learn social skills along the way somehow, which means that while they are better off than they were when they were younger, they are not as well off as they could be.

    The thing that they have to try to avoid — and this is key — is becoming bitter and jaded about the whole thing. That's easy to do. I know on my top 5 university campus watching highly intelligent, lovely women pretty much throwing themselves at frat boys was discouraging to say the least. The discouragement was based on the idea I had that these women, because they were smarter intellectually and I respected them intellectually, were somehow immune to falling for high social status alpha males, and I was very much surprised to learn that I was wrong. But while I became somewhat jaded it didn't make me so bitter as to avoid women after I finished my education. The key is avoiding the bitterness that can come from those disillusioning experiences many of us men have as young men (when we realize that, sadly, you all are just as prone to making dumb decisions about sex as we are, regardless of how intelligent you may be) — and just realizing it's a learning experience and moving forward with a more balanced view of reality.

  • Emma

    Wow! I cant describe how much I enjoyed reading this article!! Coming from the prospective of a 23 yr old, just who's spent the last year dating out of college… I must say that these ideas of the hookup culture could not have touched home any more than they did! How women suppress their feelings of wanting commitment… because GOD FORBID we come across as “crazy” “needy”, the list goes on and on, are SO TRUE!

    I recently wrote in and got advice from Susan about my own form of “relationship lite”, and what do to about the boy I'd been hooking up with, but inevitably ending up wanting more out of the situation, when clearly he did not. Virtually every girlfriend of mine is in some way or another going through something similar.

    So I would like to pose the question, especially from any guys reading this blog…. How are we supposed to combat this issue? If I'm a single girl in her 20's that might want to actually find herself in a relationship in the coming future…. what do we do?

  • susanawalsh

    It depends on what dating downward means. A cute guy with a lot of confidence majoring in comp sci? They exist, and they do OK. Either natural or with Game, women will go for self-confidence most of the time. So a guy can take some action to increase his value considerably.

    Because looks are the be-all and end-all for a guy, a woman is very limited in what she can do to attract a male, other than the usual — clothes, cosmetics, etc.

  • susanawalsh

    Just to state the obvious, this tendency among women to deceive themselves and aim very high has made intrasexual competition for those hookups fierce. As Nova said above, a guy has very little incentive to aim for a woman who may reject him. He can get sex and nearly as much social status by pulling a woman who is “decent,” though nothing special.

    BTW, I'm sorry to talk about women and their looks this way. It's necessary b/c it's the reality of how men choose partners. As Obsidian is fond of saying, Susan Boyle doesn't have any suitors despite her newfound fame and fortune.

  • susanawalsh

    Well, yesterday I posted that link showing what women secretly desire. And it's a round, scruffy guy! So perhaps men who make decisions based on their own history are aiming too low. Then again, I hate to persuade any nice, normal looking guys to go over to the Dark Side, and just try to pull birds~

  • ExNewYorker

    Yeah, but the guy in that situation is always comic relief, portrayed a buffoon, and being kind of an idiot that requires his wife to be the one really running the show… :-)

  • Mike

    Either natural or with Game, women will go for self-confidence most of the time. So a guy can take some action to increase his value considerably.

    Because looks are the be-all and end-all for a guy, a woman is very limited in what she can do to attract a male, other than the usual — clothes, cosmetics, etc.

    Going to disagree here, and I speak from extensive experience with both changes.

    Anyone, and I mean anyone can take their looks up 2-3 points and it is a simple process but hard work whereas changing personality traits/behaviors is much more difficult.

    I graduated undergrad back in 1995 as a 22 year old virgin that was about 60 pounds overweight, but I was tall (6'3″) with an above-average face underneath the puffy blubber, but I was absolutely clueless about women and a complete Beta. This was pre-Game (1995-1996) and at the time I believed female attraction worked like attraction for guys so I figured to get laid I needed to get as good-looking as possible. By 1996, I was lean, muscular, tan, and well-dressed, and no longer a virgin. It was work, but the algorithm for improving looks was pretty straightforward. Eat right, work out 5 days a week with weights, tan twice a week to get some color, and consult my stylish friends for the right clothes. But inside I was still very beta, and looking back I realize the lack of congruency that must have been shining like a spotlight from my outward appearance versus my behavior but I did OK.

    Fast forward through a grad degree, a marriage and divorce, and having to get back in shape after gaining some weight back, I then learned about Game in 2004-2005 and began the process of learning, imitating, and integrating Alpha behaviors and “confidence” (BTW, you really do have to fake it until you make it).

    Without a doubt, transforming my physical appearance was a fraction of the difficulty of transforming my personality/behaviors. Women really have it easier here. There are very few just butt-ugly people. You give me chubby 4-5 female who really wants it, and between myself (I know working out and dieting) and my GF (who is a makeup artist and esthetician) and I'll return an 8 in 6-9 months. No doubt, just day in day out doing what you are supposed to.

    Guys learning Game? I'm convinced that for some it is a hopeless endeavor. There is so much subtlety, complexity, integrating feedback, calibration that some guys simply will never get it. They truly are shit out of luck. And it is a constant battle. To this day, there are times when I can fall back into Beta behavior, and have to constantly tell myself internally, walk right, have good posture, smile and maintain eye contact, say hi to girls walking by. At least for me, I met my LTR before much of it could become fully integrated I think so on some level it is always an “act”, although there are no devious motives.

  • susanawalsh

    I like this balanced view, and I have long thought that betas do indeed come into their own a little way down the line. When I met my husband he was 27, and tho clearly a natural beta, had acquired enough social finesse to be quite attractive in grad school. In fact, he got quite heady with his success there, and it took me quite a while to reel him in, LOL. And of course, the guys in my b-school class (about 500 of them) were probably about 80% beta, very smart. My point is that these smart guys need more time to come into their own, generally, but as you say, if they can avoid become poisoned with resentment, their outlook is very positive by the mid-20s or so.

    When I went to my husband's 25th high school reunion with him, he took particular delight in observing the out of shape, brash, football guys drinking their Heinekens in the corner, while girls who never gave him the time of day in high school tried to pull him aside for investment advice. That's right out of a movie, but there's a reason cliches form.

  • ExNewYorker

    That “training” sounds suspiciously close to the ending of “1984”. And in the end, John Doe loved the feminists.

    It's ironic that some of the feminist rejoinders seem to suggest that women have no agency, and need to be treated with kid gloves.

  • WiseOne

    Thanks for responding. I wish I could be more familiar with your terms. Cad, alpha, beta, game… Do you have a glossary?

  • synthesis

    Because looks are the be-all and end-all for a guy, a woman is very limited in what she can do to attract a male, other than the usual — clothes, cosmetics, etc.
    With looks, there's a point of no return where attraction just isn't going to happen. However, a girl can easily get bumped up the scale with things like charisma, poise, etc. These things are not easily cultivated, though.

  • susanawalsh

    Hi Emma, thanks for commenting! I'm not a guy, obviously, but just wanted to say that older is better. That guy was 26 as I recall. So….next time try 28-30. Most men surveyed say they want to marry around 30-32, so we can assume that a guy in his late 20s is potentially keeping his eyes open for a special connection. You really need to identify which guys are stuck in Guyland, and which are ready to move forward. I would think that would be pretty easy to figure out — if he looks and acts like a kid rather than a man, regardless of his age, he's not ready for something serious.

    I'd recommend going back up this thread and reading all the comments, b/c many of them are from guys and there's lots of good insights there.

  • Lisette

    Susan, why do you think it's unreasonable to ask that men recognize that women are people too? I know men want sex, and I know men are primarily visual. But it's still uncomfortable for me to sit there while the guys at the table debate whether the waitress is a 5 or a 7, or express that they think they're basically entitled to sex with whomever they want. Maybe that doesn't make them misogynists, but it doesn't make me feel like they have a lot of respect for me (or any other woman) either.

  • susanawalsh

    Wow, Mike, I love your personal story! A couple of things intrigue me. First, you met your current GF, who I know you are really into, before you felt really comfortable with Alpha behaviors. I suspect that she saw and appreciated your sensitive side as well. (As you've probably figured out by now, beta is not a pejorative on my blog, as it is in Game circles.) Secondly, I'm so impressed with your total quest for personal development, and I wonder how you got so motivated to do it so thoroughly!

    From what I gather, Game is indeed very difficult to learn and internalize. Guys who have “inner Game” say that about 80% of men will never learn it. However, I think there's got to be some few things that guys can do, say with only 20% of the effort, that will pay off, say with 40-50% of the results. Basic concepts that are “duh” to a woman but elude the beta guy. Most guys really don't need to go sargeing in clubs and gathering dozens of phone numbers — they really just want a fulfilling relationship. As long as they believe they deserve it, I think they can have it. A new approach to Game is needed – one that is more accessible to a greater number of men. Because I think the concepts are extremely helpful. It's just that as you say, few men will have the time, resources or motivation to learn it in the way that you did.

  • susanawalsh

    I recall your saying that once before, synthesis, and I really liked that. I think you said that a girl in class had gotten more attractive as you knew her better. Of course, we women like to think we can win a guy with smarts, wit and attitude. And I have to say, it worked for me!

  • AT

    OK, trying to post my comment again–

    I've said it before in some of your previous posts, Susan, how I feel that some feminists got it wrong in putting forth that in order to be equal to men, we should be exactly like men. We now see how it's working out in the sexual marketplace. The backlash against this sort of behavior has begun.

    More than this, I've had the particularly pleasant (sarcasm here) experience of being considered a traitor to the cause simply because I chose to be a stay at home mom and wife, and for years I've had to deal with women telling me I “wasted” my law degree. But then I made the decision to do what would be good for my family all-around–that is, my boys needed a full-time parent during the crucial developmental years, and since my husband had familial obligations (he runs his family's substantial retail business) he could not turn his back on, it fell on me to suspend my career for the time being just to be there for my sons. I never considered my law degree “wasted” because the way I saw it, I can always go back to my career, but how do I turn the clock back on my sons' childhood, when they needed me most? And yet I was constantly questioned about this decision, as if my becoming a full time wife and mother was a betrayal of feminist ideals.

    I've never believed in that, because I've always believed that feminism gave us women options and the right to pursue these options. However, for some feminists, pursuing these options invariably became a question of “what's in it for us women?” instead of considering that how we exercise our choices can have an impact on everyone else.

  • susanawalsh

    I agree! This drives me crazy! I really get upset when it's suggested that women have no agency, and it's something I hear from feminists and of course, Game guys, who believe that the “gina tingle” is the only master we obey.

    I can't emphasize enough how strongly I feel that sex-positive feminism is a curse to women. Being a virgin is a downright crime, and not going to swinger parties, or engaging in BDSM is just plain uncool. I've read reports of these women enjoying being partially asphyxiated, all in the name of feminism!

    Feminism split when some women didn't care for anti-porn crusaders like Andrea Dworkin. I really don't know what feminism is any more. I don't know that it offers real value to women.

  • susanawalsh

    LIsette, I'm so glad you asked that question. I don't think that men should get a free pass re respecting women. And frankly, I'm pretty disgusted with some of the things guys feel free to tell girls. One woman told me of a conversation where a group of guys told a group of girls what would be required for them to perform oral sex, complete with specific preferences re pubic hair grooming!!!!

    I don't think any woman should put up with disrespect, period. If a guy is treating you poorly, you need to make it clear that is unacceptable. If it continues, you're done. That's not really what I was referring to here.

    My difficulty with the feminist solution to hookup culture is that they talk to each other on many of these blogs, and all agree that the solution is training men from boyhood to be sensitive to women's needs, so that they won't take advantage of women by having sex with them and then disappearing. This is a very bad strategy because it doesn't reflect the way that men think. Men want sex, and they prefer sexual variety. We can't “train” them to deny sex with a willing woman, because they suspect it is not really in her best interest. This is the worst sort of abdicating responsibility. Women do have agency, they are capable of making intelligent choices, and they need to think carefully before deciding to have sex with someone. No woman can or should EVER rely on a man to determine what is best for her. But it's really moot, because it's not even possible to train a man to be sensitive to a woman's needs when it is against his own best interests. A few men of good character will take the high road when they see that a woman is weak, but when a woman is unwilling to stand up for herself, how can she expect more of someone else?

  • susanawalsh

    Sorry, I guess I've gotten used to throwing around these terms! I figured you for a guy schooled in Game based on your comment, but if not then you are surely a natural.

    Cad: This is a Player, a douchebag, a guy who will seduce women, pump and dump them. Think Tucker Max.

    Alpha: The top dog, is good with the ladies, gets a lot of sex. Alpha is aggressive and dominant, a born leader. He is not necessarily good-looking, but he has a lot of confidence.

    Beta: My personal favorite. Beta males are less aggressive and dominant. They tend to be more collaborative in their style, have higher emotional intelligence, and are more creative. These guys are a bit lower in testosterone, and they tend to be smart. Most of the high IQ guys are here. They make the best husbands, IMO.

    Game: A way for guys to move from beta to alpha, essentially. Beta guys who are frustrated by lack of sex in their lives learn the behaviors that alphas display naturally. If you're interested in how this is done, I recommend reading The Game by Neil Strauss. It's a fascinating read, the journey of a super nerdy and unattractive NYX's reporter getting really good at meeting and dating and bedding women, although never relying on deceit or subterfuge. He just polished his social skills and upped his confidence so dramatically, that he was very successful.

    Hope this helps!

  • Lisette

    Ah, okay. Thanks for the clarification :)

  • Mike

    Further, if it's alpha guys we're talking about, ***very few*** of them are going to want to get off the casual sex train anytime in their 20s or even early 30s. A significant portion of those guys may never get off.

    Gonna disagree here, but again it is highly age dependent. I'm speaking from experience here. I've had the opportunity to be friends with and go out clubbing with more then a few natural alphas with just staggering numbers. For every single one of them I knew, it eventually gets old. At some point, they all wanted to get off the casual sex train and meet that “special” girl. I suspect (I wouldn't know) that once you get to 100+, even 200, then it all really becomes a blur and getting to 300 or 400 simply doesn't hold the same appeal for maybe a guy trying to go from 5 to 20. In economic terms, each additional girl has decreasing marginal utility.

    Now the problem for these guys is just like their female counterparts they are damaged goods. They are so jaded, and every woman is a “slut”. They want that special girl, but will always be suspicious and distrustful. Beyond that, the longer they are removed from the promiscuous lifestyle the more the old craving for variety will resurface.

    We probably agree that these guys should be avoided for LTRs unless you happen to meet one who truly is reformed and mature.

  • Mike

    Question for you Susan and Aldonza and any other female who wants to chime in. I'm genuinely curious, what is the rough numerical range that is the transition region between a “Loser” and a “Dirty Man-Whore”. It would be interesting to compare this number to what most men would think would constitute a “Slut”. Take a 30 year old guy. I'm pretty sure 0-1 would be the former while 100 would be the latter. What about 20? 45? I know you can pin it down precisely but from an academic perspective it would be interesting if there is a gender difference on this question.

  • Mike

    Further, if it's alpha guys we're talking about, very few of them are going to want to get off the casual sex train anytime in their 20s or even early 30s. A significant portion of those guys may never get off.

    Is your husband in the investment business? I've actually got my own RIA business. Tell him to take a look at ATPG.

  • Mike

    sorry, in a hurry and cut and paste the wrong excerpt,

  • susanawalsh

    Whew, AT, glad you were able to post. My apologies, I'm still trying to decipher the problem – you weren't the only one who had this experience today.

    I made a similar choice, and spent several years at home full-time with my children. Both of us were fortunate to have that choice. Which brings me to my response to your point. I know so many women who run themselves ragged. They are professionals, but they're also mothers and trying to hold the home together, including all of the maintenance and upkeep that requires. A lot of the women who openly resented me over the years were women who desperately needed a break from having it all. Women in the U.S. are measurably unhappier than they were 40 years ago:

    http://bpp.wharton.upenn.edu/jwolfers/Press/Wom

    We're all women, and yet we judge each other so harshly! I believe that women must follow their own hearts and minds. I reject the notion that a virgin is wasting the opportunities that feminism bestowed, or that a woman who stays home with her children is letting our sex down in some way.

    As you say, we have a lot more choices than we used to have. Perhaps feminism has met its goals. I don't really understand what fighting patriarchy even means, at this point.

  • susanawalsh

    Just my personal opinion here…

    When I think man whore the number that pops into my head is 100. But that's pretty random, as age plays a big role. My sense is that college guys who get this label probably hook up with a couple of different girls a month, at least. They may have a few repeat hookups, but the desire for variety prevails. That would put them at a total of 70 or so for college. That's probably high, even the best players probably have slumps. So yeah, if a guy told me he'd been with a hundred women, I would definitely be grossed out.

    It's interesting, the old sexual double standard has been diminished somewhat, but not in the way feminists want. Promiscuous women are still regarded as sluts, as that post re the woman with a number of 35 showed. Rather than men increasing their tolerance for promiscuity, women have decreased theirs. Aldonza referred to a penis that's been in every willing vagina as gross. And I hear that quite a bit. How special can we feel, how good could the sex be, and what could it mean, if I am your 101st partner?

    I know one lovely young woman, aged 20, and her number is two. She's ashamed of that. A guy asked her and when she was honest, he said, “Aw, that's so cute!” I doubt she'll tell the truth again. She'll choose a number like 7 to seem normal.

    I've also heard from women with some experience that they suspect they took a guy's virginity. And in those cases, they liked the guy and didn't think he was a loser. They were more worried how he would feel about them being more experienced.

    I don't even know my own number, I never kept track. My daughter asked me once, and I guessed around 20. I was off the market at 25, so I was a bit wild there for about 5 years. That seems like a pretty standard number for me, and I suspect my husband's is around the same, though I've never asked, and really don't care.

    45? Hmmm, that sounds a bit high. The biggest problem with a high number for a guy is the doubt that you'll ever be enough. It's what you said – those guys are going to be used to sexual variety, and that is very intimidating to women.

  • Mike

    A couple of things intrigue me. First, you met your current GF, who I know you are really into, before you felt really comfortable with Alpha behaviors.

    I wouldn't so much say comfortable or uncomfortable as I still felt like I was playing a part, an actor on a stage, so it was very rehearsed and planned.

    I suspect that she saw and appreciated your sensitive side as well.

    Maybe partially, but later she told me the thing that jumped out at her the most was my mind. I'm 6'3″ and a hard-core weight trainer so people tend to make assumptions. Really funny to me, because I was the brainy nerd eons before I ever touched a weight (1260 SAT and 680 GMAT). I met this girl in grad school (she was an undergrad) out at the bars one night, and she joked that she used to see me in the gym all the time and thought I was a big “meathead”.

    Secondly, I'm so impressed with your total quest for personal development, and I wonder how you got so motivated to do it so thoroughly!

    Well….22 years of virginity is one heck of a motivator. I don't know. Seems to me there are two kinds of people in this world, people who set goals and figure out the strategy and tactics to achieve them, and people who just bitch and complain about what they don't have, the job they don't have, that they are overweight, that they can't get girls or can't find a boyfriend. Seems to me whining won't accomplish anything so one has to find out how to get from A to B. That is why I think what you are doing here is great. You are essentially educating women on “Girl game” and for those who want relationships helping them get from A to B.

    I lost my job and my wife left me inside the same week in fall 2004 and to compound things she left me in financial distress (credit card debt) so I was forced to move back with my parents at the time at the age of 30. I needed a mental break so a buddy at the gym got me a job bouncing at a bar. LOL, I've got a MBA and I was working as a bouncer, but it was very educational watching/studying male-female interaction one “case study” after another. It was my first glimpse into the Matrix, and how things really worked. I found Game theory on the Internet in the middle of 2005 and its principles was able to make sense of what I was observing on a daily basis. That is when I decided to learn Game. I finally started getting pretty good towards the end of 2005, and started to have success like I never had before (had a rotation going). I met my LTR at the gym in Jan 2006, and ironically would probably not have met her when I did had I not been bouncing. Having seen what I saw bouncing, and knowing what was out there (at least in the bar environment) I knew I would be a fool to let her get away.

    Guys who have “inner Game” say that about 80% of men will never learn it.

    I'm conflicted on this one. I'm not sure it is possible to “learn” Inner Game. Maybe it can be developed and internalized over many years, I don't know, but I do believe the behaviors can be imitated enough for some success although those without strong inner game should avoid 9-10s. Not sure whether it is learned or innate, but super attractive women will test to see if you are the “real deal” or a counterfeit Alpha.

    However, I think there's got to be some few things that guys can do, say with only 20% of the effort, that will pay off, say with 40-50% of the results.

    No doubt, but they gotta want it. There was a guy posting here that I tried to help who seemed to just be wallowing in negativity. You can't help someone who won't at least make an effort. Any guy can improve his “Game” or social interaction with women enough to get a decent looking GF.

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, uh oh is that insider trading? He's a municipal bond portfolio manager, but I'll have him check it out!

  • susanawalsh

    That's a great story. And you beat me on the GMAT by 10 points! I am so glad you saw the value in your GF, that you did it right b/c you knew she would be great for you. So many guys pass up women who would really make their lives better. As for your ex, I'll be catty and say I just hate her. WTF? She takes off AND leaves a credit card balance? I'm glad you were even willing to give another woman a chance.

    As for the guy you tried to help, yeah, he was so negative. It was generous of you to try and help him, and other guys did too from time to time. Even a couple of women chimed in! He is very bitter about being a virgin at 30, and I get that, but I say, don't let it be 31. You're so right – we all need to take responsibility and get the job done. That's where the men and the boys, (or the women and girls) get separated.

  • http://FT.com/ VJ

    Yep. Once again, if you're here pissing & moaning about 'the culture' or aspects of it (hook-ups) you detest, we really need to be first searching for those like minded individuals who share in the same analysis, feelings & ultimately rejection of certain destructive & detrimental behaviors. This does not have to mean 'hanging with the fundies' or the religiously inspired ideologically committed virgins either. Just the folks who have consciously rejected the lies, cant & idiocy seen & spread in the mass media and fed to the masses to motivate them to become more accepting of same & always to consume more.

    These 'strange' people will tend to be a bit more culturally conservative (and yet still can be plenty politically liberal, BTW), but they're readily identifiable. Now according to various taxonomies they might all be classed as some grades of 'Beta', but these by in large are the smart people who have yes deliberately set themselves apart from their immediate environs to either become more or be better or to serve greater future goals. And for the right people? They'll be as noticeable as diamonds lying there on the ground. One possible example (besides DecoyBetty above) was here in the Times recently:

    “I was a Teenage Illiterate”

    By CATHLEEN SCHINE
    Published: February 26, 2010

    “At the age of 26, when I returned to New York after an inglorious stab at graduate work in medieval history on the frozen steppes of Chicago, I had a horrifying realization: I was illiterate. At least, I was as close to illiterate as a person with over 20 years of education could possibly be. In my stunted career as a scholar, I’d read promissory notes, papal bulls and guidelines for Inquisitorial interrogation. Dante, too. Boccaccio. . . . But after 1400? Nihil. I felt very, very stupid among my new sophisticated New York friends.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/books/review/

    Now how many guys do you know might this describe? Decent, respectable, smart, kind & hard working, but absolutely clueless about so many aspects of 'current culture'. Know more about Jazz from the 1920'-40's than Hip-hop & rap from the last 5? Join the club. Know more about madrigals & Gregorian chants than most of the current maniacs? Share in the joy. Think of 'fashion' as matching socks, a clean shirt and everything 'tucked in'? There's women who understand & appreciate this language.

    I know. I married one. And despite what some might characterize the average Beta male as wanting or lusting after all the 'unobtainable' 'high status' women? They're almost always too 'complicated', very 'high maintenance' and tend to break down & wear out fairly early, for any number of reasons. No, always go for the 'easy keepers', the good natured loving, mature sorts. I've always told friends this when it came to the most important decision of their lives, marriage. Chose the dray horse over the race horse. Always. The race horse will always look better, but only be expected to perform well typically for short spurts of time. The rest of the time they require massive amounts of expense for upkeep; housing, transport & grooming. The far simpler working breeds? Will be your life long faithful companions through thick & thin. And if you're asking? Yes, the wife already knows this & has heard it many times too! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

  • grerp

    Completely agree with this analysis, Novaseeker. I went for option #4 below in college – I kept my legs closed, opted out and focused on my studies. I kept on this path until I met my husband when I was 25 and he was 31. By that time, he was looking for something more longer term, and my lack of experience was some sort of proof to him of trustworthiness. At least, that's how he puts it.

    14 years later I still feel that, had I not met him when I did, I would not have married. I suppose I am naturally pessimistic, but the tides and undercurrents of the old/new dating market made failure seem inevitable. Feminism is supposed to be all about “choice,” but the universal availability of sex in the dating market gives little choice to women who are uncomfortable with casual sex or want marriage and stability rather than short-term sexual gratification. It's “Put out or get out.”

    I went back to college and got my master's degree because I figured if I couldn't find Mr. Right, I could at least have a career where I could meet other goals I had for myself. The sad thing is that over a decade later I have no finer wisdom to offer my younger self or girls in Gen Y. I cannot with confidence say, “Follow my example,” and I don't know where other roads lead either – then or now.

  • susanawalsh

    VJ, I love that essay! I've got Schine's new novel on request at the library, it's gotten excellent reviews. Smart lady there.

    Haha, your wife is very, very good natured to be OK with being called the dray horse, but I know from what you've written that she is brilliant, quite a smart filly! An easy keeper with a big brain, I believe that truly is the recipe for happiness, or at least one of them.

  • susanawalsh

    grerp, I just want to say hello and welcome! I believe I've seen you at Obsidian's blog.

    A couple of things I find really interesting:

    Your lack of experience gave your husband reassurance when he met you. I have heard that from other male readers. It is abundantly clear that men prefer women who have not wholeheartedly signed up for the easy hookup scene. I don't know that it's a double standard – I suspect the men who value this most are men who were not exactly screwing their way through college either.

    You state it well when you describe the current scene as Put Out or Get Out. Part of me is reluctant to tell young women to “give up” in college and study, which is why they are really there anyway. It's depressing for a woman of 18 to be told she won't be having a real relationship for 7 years or so. And yet I do believe that the women who come to that realization are perhaps in the best shape when they do reach their mid-20s. They're ready, and they're not jaded and cynical in the same way.

    I too started a Master's figuring I would probably not marry, and I really didn't intend to have children. I wasn't looking for someone special, he was just there, and I went for it. Perhaps the best wisdom is to encourage women to set those goals for themselves, and continue to pursue them. Whether they meet Mr. Right along the way or not, they're much better off.

  • ExNewYorker

    In the Game case, I imagine it helps with a large majority of women. But, like physical beauty in woman, there are always going to be other considerations, so some minority will have other things on their mind besides the tingles.

    I mean, I think most of straight guys might lust after a Jessica Alba/Megan Fox look-alike, but for those of us guys who have other things in our lives, we wouldn't throw it away for a one night hookup. Of course, there are men who would (i.e. Tiger Woods), but no gender is immune from stupidity.

    Modern day feminism seems to have a become a odd mishmash of all sort of ideas, many of which have little application to the day to day living of people. I mean, it the midst of the worst recession in ages, the average woman (or man) is not going to really care about sex-positive or non-hetero-normative feminism, or how language is ableist or cis-normative.

    If we can get feminists to target the kleptocrat banksters, then a lot of us would tag along… :-)

  • Nisie

    Truth be told- I have a friend who is very much a cad. In fact, one of the women I know used to be his mistress when he was married. I know of three other women in my social circle who have slept with him. Sunday, he confessed that he's interested in me romantically. We have a lot of interest in common. He's a MD, a rugby player, very attractive, poly-lingual who has slept with over 120 women in his 43 years.

    In the other corner IT geek who is slightly overweight, balding, has slept with four women in his 36 years. We've known each other for 7 weeks, been dating for three. He makes me smile, he's honest, and he respects me for me. I'm taking it slow and have fallen in like with him… I hope it turns out to be more. We don't have that many interest in common, but he makes me smile.

    My heart is so monogamist that I didn't consider the cad at all. He's too used goods, he has a pattern of going after the easy lays and not being satisfied with what he has. The IT guy feels he's damn lucky to have me- and we haven't slept together yet.

  • novaseeker

    “14 years later I still feel that, had I not met him when I did, I would not have married. I suppose I am naturally pessimistic, but the tides and undercurrents of the old/new dating market made failure seem inevitable. Feminism is supposed to be all about “choice,” but the universal availability of sex in the dating market gives little choice to women who are uncomfortable with casual sex or want marriage and stability rather than short-term sexual gratification. It's “Put out or get out.” “

    More men need to hear this kind of thing, to be honest.

    I think a part of the problem from the male perspective, thinking back on how it was when I was in college (we're pretty close in age actually) is that we notice the women who are visible but the rest of the women we don't notice as much, or if we do we don't pay that much attention to what they are doing. I think for women it seems to be similar in many cases — the attention is on what the alphas, the most successful and so on are doing, rather than the guy in the next cube. It kind of makes both men and women pessimistic and resentful, because many of us of both sexes feel put out by the whole thing.

    It's very important for men to understand that there are women who also opt out because they just don't like the idea of trading casual sex for the chance of intimacy and a bit of social status.

    Your approach may not amount to a “plan” for other women, but nevertheless it's clearly useful for other women (and men) to hear as well. In fact I think that kind of matching is very close to being the ideal for having things work out, but it's very un-PC to suggest that, I realize.

  • grerp

    Your lack of experience gave your husband reassurance when he met you.

    It seemed very counter-intuitive at the time. I mean, when I was in college opting out, people, often women, treated me as if I were Amish just because I didn't party and I didn't have casual sex. I stopped talking about it so as not to seem so freakish. I genuinely think that with my husband, it was a selling point.

    I did also tell him, I think on our second date when he asked me where I wanted to go, that since we were both students and I didn't have any money and presumably he didn't have much more than me, we should just go cheap, Dutch, picnic somewhere, or I could cook dinner at my apartment. I wasn't trying to be manipulative, I was trying to be fair. And I did cook for him lots of times while we were dating. And, in return, he drove me to the grocery store because I didn't have a car.

    He actually started talking marriage well before I was ready to think about it myself. I think a big part of it was that I was honest and straightforward in my expectations, and that didn't change even when we became more serious about each other.

  • grerp

    So I guess this boils down to: I wasn't going to have sex with him, but I would cook him dinner. LOL.

  • grerp

    we notice the women who are visible but the rest of the women we don't notice as much

    It felt that way to me. I got the most attention from my girlfriends' boyfriends who would say, “If I wasn't dating Michelle…” But, again, Michelle was sleeping with him. And I don't man poach.

    I'll put some of the blame on myself. I'm not a wallflower, but I am fairly introverted, and I wanted someone I could converse with, actually talk to. I still have no idea where to meet people with like interests who aren't completely on the make.

  • novaseeker

    It's not so much about blame as much as it is about men and women in their early 20s really setting sights HIGH. Like HIGH HIGH. And I can't really blame them for that — they are in their early 20s, the world is their oyster, and suggesting compromising at that age seems downright miserly, regardless of sex, for men and women who have a lot of options.

    For the rest of us, well, we need to get through that rough period. But I wouldn't say it's appropriate to blame people who were overlooked. It's quite common, I think, that very great people are overlooked by the mating market in college because of the way the system works.

    The irony is that people do not, or refuse to, realize that the level best chance they have of meeting a fantastic, equally-yoked mate is in college. Instead most people dismiss college relations as fun and games and eschew commitment as being limiting vis-a-vis post college options in terms of geography and career.

    So the system and the expectations it breeds are mostly to blame.

  • Reinholt

    Exactly. The problem is not equality of opportunity (which I am a strong believer in), but rather, forcing parity.

    Men and women are not identical; they should both have the freedom to pursue fair and equal choices, but we should likewise expect that, on average, they will not choose the same things.

    I think most of the problems that we see in the current dating market can be traced to one of two problems:

    1 – Perverse incentives
    2 – “Authority” figures flat out lying and misinforming large groups of people

    Most people who have thrown off the blinders are actually pretty reasonable to deal with. It is the ones who either buy into the blind dogma or are profiting from it that are the problem.

  • steveo

    A cute guy with a lot of confidence majoring in comp sci?

    And if we're not cute? Then what? Are we supposed to shrivel up and die?

  • steveo

    it the midst of the worst recession in ages

    Worst recession in ages FOR MEN (aka the 'mancession'). Women are still doing great.

  • steveo

    What if we don't have the option of putting up with lousy hook up sex? What if we're male virgins at 30 through no choice of our own? What if the problem is that no woman wants us and we can't upgrade our 'sexual status'?

    Am I just supposed to accept being part of a an 'untouchable caste' when it comes to sex and relationships?

    Maybe no one at all will hook up with you until you make some positive changes in your life.

    What the hell are 'positive changes'? I hear this type of crap all the time yet no one can tell me what the hell they're talking about when they say these things. It's crap.

  • Reinholt

    Perhaps I will reveal myself for the ruthless son of a bitch that I am here, but I would add a further:

    If you want a commitment, and you are dating a guy who does not want that, give him a few months to figure it out. If he still holds the same viewpoint, dump him immediately and move on.

    There are a few reasons for this:

    1 – You are a depreciating asset, in business terms. For women, you basically peak in terms of market value for dating in your early 20s, and it is downhill from there (or, at least, you trade sideways for a while). Don't waste time; you can't really afford that.

    2 – There are a decent number of guys for whom you will not be on the radar if you are dating someone else, in relationship terms. Though invisible, there can be a pretty high opportunity cost for what you are potentially missing that you will never know about and never be able to get back. Only stay with someone if you actually rather like them and you are both getting what you want. Again, don't waste time.

    3 – You signal to others, down the road, that you have confidence and think you have at least a decently high value if you are willing to break up with people who are giving you a raw deal.

    4 – You signal to men, in particular, that you are disciplined and actually say what you want, and will try for it. Given how deceitful women are in general, having someone who actually means what they say is nice, doubly so if they back it up with their actions.

    5 – Don't delude yourself into thinking you can stay in a semi-relationship and find a better guy to have a relationship with. I'll be blunt – I've slept with women in that situation before, but there is no way I would ever date any of them; if you'd cheat on him, why not me? This ties in with point 2. You'll go on the hook up list and be off the relationship list, which is exactly the reverse of what you want, at least for any guy who can do well.

    All of this, of course, is contingent on being someone worth having a relationship with in the first place, which is an entirely different story…

  • steveo

    The risk of the second option is that these guys don't learn social skills along the way somehow, which means that while they are better off than they were when they were younger, they are not as well off as they could be.

    At what is a guy like me (male virgin at 30) supposed to due about not learning 'social skills'? Assuming 'social skills' even exist. I have always been denied opportunities by women. I have no way of learning these possibly mythical 'social skills'.

    The thing that they have to try to avoid — and this is key — is becoming bitter and jaded about the whole thing.

    Why avoid becoming bitter and jaded? Yes, I'm bitter and jaded. When I wasn't bitter and jaded, what did I get for it? Zilch. I'm bitter and jaded now, but I know where I stand with women.

  • ExNewYorker

    Yes, we prefer someone with a relative lack of experience. And yes, it is a double standard, but it is what it is. That was one of the things that drew me to my wife…she avoided the hookup culture, which showed me she felt respect for herself.

    In any case, as Susan mentions, those of us who have that preference tend to be reasonably fair in following those requirements ourselves (our mates don't want man whores). And once we've found that long term partner, it's really not that hard to make up for lost experience…

  • steveo

    8-9 times out of 10, you show me a 20-25 year old college guy who is “ready for a committed relationship”, and I'll show you a beta who has little to no sexual options. The committed relationship isn't a result of a mature choice, but no choice at all.

    Too true. I will take a committed relationship. I will take a hook up. Anything is better than being a male 30 year old virgin.

  • Mike

    Assuming 'social skills' even exist.

    This is silly. Do you really doubt this? Are you just being argumentative for its own sake?

    At what is a guy like me (male virgin at 30) supposed to due about not learning 'social skills'?

    Get off your ass and learn them and practice. Realize it will be difficult. Or just give up, and stop complaining.

    Yes, I'm bitter and jaded.

    Honestly, you might need some therapy or something. Women are very intuitive, especially to your vibe. You may literally be emitting some type of creepy negativity. It almost comes across in your writing.

    I tried to post some helpful comments to you awhile back because I empathized with your situation as I was a 22 year old virgin. I wonder if you took the ball and even took one step let alone run with it.

    You've got two choices:

    1. Make a sincere effort to improve this aspect of your life. Realize you are not entitled to ***ANYTHING***. No woman owes you a relationship or sex. Not sure what you look like but realize that 7+ might be off the table and you'll be lucky to get a 5 with a sweet personality.

    2. Accept you will die a virgin and most likely never have a relationship. Stop bitching about it. If you don't care enough to make an effort nobody else should.

  • Reinholt

    To give a few more practical suggestions, then:

    1 – Make sure you are in good shape. Dress well. This is not to say be trendy, but rather, that if you groom yourself, keep in shape, and present well as a result, it's hard for a man to be genuinely ugly (and, actually, if you are seriously ugly for some reason but are in great shape and very well dressed, the dichotomy itself makes you unique, which is a positive).

    2 – Be confident when speaking to others (yes, you can practice this).

    3 – Find your goals in life beyond relationships and women, and pursue them ambitiously; women strongly prefer men with a purpose, whatever that purpose may be. When starting out, that purpose should not be them – you need to be competent, capable, and driven for yourself.

    4 – Take care of your finances, as this reduces stress and increases confidence.

    5 – Pick up at least one or two hobbies that would be considered interesting / dangerous by others, and use them to better yourself. Avoid the genuinely socially unpopular ones (which is not to say avoid them).

    6 – Learn to listen to the right people (in this case, men who are successful with other women… if you want a long series of light flings, listen to someone like Roissy… if you want a solid, long-term relationship, the game sphere is useful, but you need to consider the longer timeframe involved and the implications of short-term asshole behavior in that context as well), and never, ever listen to most women.

    Hope that helps.

  • ExNewYorker

    That's one of the biggest ironies. In college, there is a captive audience, where it's easier than ever to see them in their natural setting and to figure out who they really are.

    After college, it becomes harder to do that culling…work sets time limitations (a missed deadline is much worse), and the Sherlock Holmes' work required to sort the wheat from the chaff is more difficult.

    For women, their upper hand is at that college time…after that it slowly transfers to the men…

  • steveo

    This is silly. Do you really doubt this? Are you just being argumentative for its own sake?

    In a way, yes. The problem is that 'social skills' get defined as being attractive to women. If social skills are an independent concept that aren't dependent on the whims of women then objectively I must have them since I lead an otherwise normal life, hold down a job, etc. If 'social skills' are dependent on the whims of women then there is nothing I can do about it except hope that someday some woman will pick me since 'social skills' are completely woman dependent.

    It's one option or the other. You can't have it both ways. I would pick the first one, but anytime when someone starts talking about 'social skills' they seem to be saying the second.

    Honestly, you might need some therapy or something. Women are very intuitive, especially to your vibe. You may literally be emitting some type of creepy negativity. It almost comes across in your writing.

    I wasn't born with the attitude. I spent most of my life NOT having this attitude. I have zilch to show for it. It makes no difference.

    If women are so damn intuitive this blog wouldn't exist.

    Of course, there is plenty of negativity in my writing. Positivity never got me anywhere.

    I wonder if you took the ball and even took one step let alone run with it.

    Yes, I did and I have zilch to show for it. I have been trying everything for the last decade and a half. Of course, you will just accuse me of “not trying”.

    Realize you are not entitled to ***ANYTHING***.

    I never said I was. Stop it with this bull.

    I have the right to be angry at being rejected by half the human race.

    Not sure what you look like but realize that 7+ might be off the table and you'll be lucky to get a 5 with a sweet personality.

    I will take a 1 to 4 at this point.

  • AT

    That's when you work on being interesting. It goes both ways for both genders too, btw.

  • steveo

    Make sure you are in good shape. Dress well.

    Doing that. I think. I'm not sure what exactly “dressing well” means, but I suspect I'm doing it.

    Be confident when speaking to others

    Already doing that.

    Find your goals in life beyond relationships and women, and pursue them ambitiously;

    Already doing that.

    women strongly prefer men with a purpose, whatever that purpose may be.

    Really because it clearly hasn't worked for me.

    Take care of your finances, as this reduces stress and increases confidence.

    Already doing that.

    Pick up at least one or two hobbies that would be considered interesting / dangerous by others, and use them to better yourself.

    What are 'dangerous' hobbies?

    Avoid the genuinely socially unpopular ones (which is not to say avoid them).

    I can't figure out what you're saying here.

    Learn to listen to the right people (in this case, men who are successful with other women…

    Doing that, but it hasn't helped.

    never, ever listen to most women.

    Definitely doing that.

  • http://FT.com/ VJ

    Thanks Susan, But Holy Moley! 97 comments so far?! Geez who knew there were that many frustrated… er, writers out there?! Cheers, 'VJ'

  • ExNewYorker

    And a couple of things that are relevant if you are interested in a man for the long haul…

    1) Does he honor his parents? He may not agree with them, but does he honor the fact that they raised him? And if they were bad parents, does he avoid bad-mouthing them? A good man understands that life is sometimes hard, and doesn't feel the need to blame the world for it.

    2) How does he treat the women in his life? If he treats his mother/sisters/cousins like crap, he's not likely going to change for you.

    3) How does he treat people who don't affect his livelihood? Any guy can be decent to the people who directly affect his well being.

    These are things that are not difficult to suss out…it just takes the time and honesty with oneself if you see the wrong behavior.

  • ExNewYorker

    I wouldn't say we're all frustrated…some of us had a nice home cooked dinner and a bottle of wine, so we want other people to share in the joy of having that special someone… :-)

  • AT

    “Given how deceitful women are in general…”

    How is this so? I'm not trying to start an argument, but I'd like to see where this generalization is coming from, and wonder what your experiences have been that gave you this perspective, so that we women here can understand why some men think this way.

    In my culture, it's the men who are known to cheat and keep mistresses as a way of proving their machismo, and the practice is so prevalent it hardly raises an eyebrow, even when previous Presidents did it, so most women here have a built-in wariness with regard to being cheated on. Older women have been known to counsel younger women, “For as long as he comes home to you, let him have his bit of fun.”

    I grew up with three brothers, and they always emphasized to me when I was single and starting to attract attention that men WILL say what they think you want to hear if it'll get them in your pants. So from MY perspective, if a guy was too smooth and was profuse with flattery, it set my antenna twanging. Nowadays though, what I'm reading is that the opposite is happening–men NEG women to get their attention.

  • susanawalsh

    Aldonza, haha, you are funny. It's very true what you say about marrying someone who's qualifying for the senior discount at the cinema. With women less financially dependent on men than ever before, perhaps fewer are inclined to date older in exchange for financial security, or even luxury.

  • susanawalsh

    Touche, ENY! There is no question in my mind that a man who has been in one long and loving relationship is a FAR better lover than a player with a number over 100. No question whatsoever.

  • susanawalsh

    It's very unlikely for a woman to meet her future spouse in college, and that has a profound impact on relationships. Both women and men are unsure about going down the road of a LTR when graduation looms, followed by probably relocation, then possibly graduate school, another geographic move, etc. If you meet the love of your life at 21, you're going to