A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post in which I pointed out that statistics disprove the media myth of an excess of unmarried thirtysomething females, complained about the parallel emotional indoctrination of women by commercial interests, warned of the uselessness of online dating services, and described a good evening out I’d had instead of going to a singles do organized by such a service. Yesterday, The Times published another one of those articles from an unmarried thirtysomething woman moaning that men are shit. I’m sure there’ll be more of them as that great sap-suckering festival of Valentine’s Day approaches. The sub-headline states, somewhat innaccurately, that its author, Laura Nolan believes that thirtysomething men won’t marry (her) because they are “selfish, mixed-up, man-boys chasing no-strings sex”.
My romantic ambitions extend to asking a woman out for a drink and having her turn up. When I do and a woman doesn’t, I don’t infer that she is a lesbian, frigid, or mentally disturbed; I simply conclude from her not spending time with me that she does not want to spend time with me. That’s us men for you: literal to the point of autism. Just as no one owes me a living, no one owes me a date (though a prompt and polite “no” is usually preferable to being messed around at the last minute).
The best bit of the article is the part where Ms Nolan recounts her bad experiences with past boyfriends who wouldn’t “commit”—and remember: this is a piece that rants against male navel-gazing. She writes of them:
All were thirtysomething, bright, successful bachelors. They had all had therapy. They all talked ad infinitum about their “ishoos”.
Here, I wanted to point at Ms Nolan’s bellybutton and tell her to give it a good hard stare. She is after all a female who thinks that a male who willingly subjects himself to psychoanalysis and unironically refers to his “ishoos” is in any sense marrying material. Does she want a man for a husband or a gold-plated jessie?
When female friends come to me looking for insights into the behaviour of males—which usually means the males they are about to, are currently, or have just been going out with—I point out that most of the ones I know are simpler than Duplo™ and that no imaginative and sensitive interpretation of their actions is necessary.
“He hit me last week . Do you think that it might be because he’s still be upset about his sister dying when he was twelve?”
“No. It’s because he’s a coward and a bully. Dump him. (And please let me be the one to give him the bad news.)”
The typical man is as complex and multilayered as any one of Snow White‘s dwarves. Generally, we are so inept at disguising our natures that we might as well have mobile hoardings floating above us saying things like “kind-hearted”, “unreliable”, “generous”, “bastard”, “affectionate”, “bashful”, or “Sneezy”.
If you get involved with crap bloke then don’t be surprised when he continues to be crap. He won’t be Transformed By Your Love. Though if he is immature enough to fall for decades-discredited middle-class pseudoscience or if you are deluded enough to believe that the sort of man who has to pay someone to listen while he talks about his emotions at excruciating length will be any cop as a father of your children then you deserve one another. What is most amazing about the banners floating over the majority of men in Britain is that some women remain (wilfully?) blind to the 600-point Helvetica, even as their best mates are reading it out loud. Will Laura Nolan’s gf please drag her down to the optician’s?
May I be the first commenter to say ‘I blame feminism’ ?
It’s probably not as simple as that though.
Feminism’s OK – for women. It just doesn’t fit a chap so well (unless he’s cynically pretending to gain the heart – or other parts – of a woman). Going to a shrink – unless you’re actually running naked down the street shouting ‘I, Napoleon’ or permanently curled in a foetus position, shaking – is not a thing a chap should do.
But for the last thirty years the culture’s been ‘Why can’t a man be more like a woman ?’.
Ms Nolan’s boyfriends seem to have made the mistake of taking this seriously.
Damn. I forgot to ask if you’d read Kim du Toit’s rant on the subject, and his wife’s response. Admittedly Mr du Toit is on the extreme wing, compared to us soft Brits …
When there was trouble in the refugee-filled Superdome during Katrina, what did the Brits there do ?
“At one point, up to 30 British students gathered in the dome were so terrified of attack when the power went down that they set up a makeshift security cordon.
Zoe Smith, 21, from Hull, said: “All us girls sat in the middle while the boys sat on the outside, with chairs as protection.”
I hadn’t read it. Thanks for the link. There was some good stuff in that essay.
I read the Times article yesterday, and oddly, I happen to think she has a point, but I think it needs refined.
We live in a Peter Pan culture, for a variety of reasons. The contraceptive culture which divorced sex from reproduction has conflated childhood and adulthood because the responsibility that came with the inherent propensity to reproduce is what divorced childhood from adulthood. Now that division is gone, men in their forties can be seen skateboarding and acting like toddlers. Why should they grow up?
Problem is, women have a body-clock, and a natural urge to bear children. No matter how pumped full of artificial hormones they are, no matter how much anti-child, anti-family, anti-marriage secular dogma they’ve bought in to, they do. And women’s time runs out before men’s.
So there is a tension, as the lives of the men who won’t grow up run parallel to the lives of the women who have to.
I know of a number of perfectly good women whose time is running out, and who have been kept hanging around for years on end by these boy-men.
The boy-man phenomenon had huge ramifications for all of us, and this is just one. Needs further comment and analysis, I think.
I’ll say it again. Men are simple. They respond to incentives. As long as women continue to reward “bad” behaviour men will continue to behave badly. If she wants a child or a marriage and he doesn’t then she should move on. So there’s a shortage of perfect partners out there? That’s nothing: Nigella Lawson won’t return my calls, the selfish, mixed-up girl-woman.
Many women who are “kept hanging around” aren’t “in love” with the man who is keeping them hanging around; they’re just too scared to go out and find another man who won’t. That’s understandable and an admission along those lines would win some sympathy. Writing about how useless men are won’t win any sympathy from this man. Growing up isn’t about getting a mortgage and joining the PTA; it’s about learning not to blame other people for your life failing to resemble an advert for fitted kitchens.
And another essay by a woman that I have linked to in the past about relations between men and women is worth re-reading in this context as well.
Liked ‘the shallow end of the dating pool’, though the site’s a little cruel for my taste. Thank the Lord my site is photoless.
Things like money DO actually seem to be important to women (some, not all), although power is even more important to (some, not all) women.
I quote : “And there are other perceived goods too – like sex and power. Some people believe that these are simply a function of how much money you’ve got. Such people have spent little time on council estates. A violent criminal, even though only successful in his immediate neighbourhood, with a take-home income (mostly illegal and untaxed) of say £40,000 a year, has much more power and respect in his community than the marine underwriter from Dorking, on £100,000 post-tax has in his. He has more – and younger – women, too – especially if he always has access to drugs. People get out of his way. Everyone will know what he does, but no-one will want to tell the police. He gets served straight away in the local. Everyone wants to keep in with him.
The guy who lived four doors up from my father dealt smack and other drugs. Everyone on the estate knew it (he’d served a sentence for just that crime), they assumed the police knew it, but no-one wanted to give evidence and become a ‘grass’. He had the best car of anyone on the estate, and he never got out of bed before two in the afternoon. He had some nice girls, too – nice as in pretty …
Polly Toynbee would have us believe that the guy was ‘poor’ and ‘disadvantaged’ compared to the secondary school maths teacher in his own semi a couple of miles away. He appeared to me to be having a great time.”
There’s an interesting post on men and women by Prof. Roy Baumeister which I found linked at Gene Expression (a blog I presume you’re aware of).
Too much to quote, but well worth a read.
Hmmm…. I do think that the article oversimplifies the issue, but it does make some good points. For example: the inequality in “numbers” created by our culture, which is more tolerant of an older-man/younger woman relationship than the opposite arrangement.
However, I do agree with what PG has to say here about women who do not understand the straightforward nature of men. I, for one love the directness and simplicity of most men, since I tend to be a fairly straightforward individual myself. Life is too short to spend it mincing around the edges. I can cut to the chase with a man, and while it may surprise and intimidate him at first, generally he ultimately appreciates it.
People very rarely change their core personalities, and certainly any person who tries to do so for a relationship’s sake will only be able to sustain that for a short period of time. Men and women alike need to stay in touch with what their head tells them about a person when their heart is talking more loudly. Ask the right questions, and listen very carefully to the answers you get!
Singlegrrl has a point about hearts and heads. Slightly digressing, one of the traps of premarital sex is that you get emotionally and physically involved with someone before being able to make a rational decision about marrying them, which is probably why marriages that don’t involve pre-marital relations last longer than those that do.
Also, of course, if men can have sex without making any commitment, that’s one less reason to.
or it could be that between the ages of 21 and 29 a lot of men can’t get a woman they like their own age to look at them – they are, almost without exception, seemingly all dating men in their early to mid 30’s.
These men can take them away at weekends, own their own flat/car and have enough spare cash floating about
to give them the attantion they want – my £18k starting salary doesn’t seem to have much cachet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter (much) about that – in your 20’s, you really want to have a good time
as you start making your own way in life, so fair play to them.
Whern a man gets to say, 32, has a good job, owns his own flat and has a decent amount of spare cash, then gosh darn it, he thinks, I’m going to enjoy myself – it’s my time now, so to speak. Hence their 25 year old girlfriends.
I know that sounds petty and I hadn’t really thought about it like that till I read that Times article, but that’s the way it bloomed in my head.
Women have the power in their 20’s, men get it in their 30’s (not all women, not all men, a generalisation etc, I know).
That said, the article was the classic “Can I get 1000 words out of a personal experience by extrapolating to society as whole?”
Still, it’s served it’s purpose i.e. genrating online debate and links to the Times’ website
Many of the issues raised on here by men can be addressed by moving to Russia.