Women in the modern day have many options. Given the freedom they asked for, they now complain that it is impossible to find marriageable men and mourn the death of the courtship [PDF here]. Women question whether they can indeed have it all. When they fail to achieve their lofty dreams after being given the freedom to succeed and to follow their heart’s desires, they complain about men. And boy do they complain.

In the New York Times article ‘The End of Courtship’, it appears that women are primarily taking issue with the hookup culture. Larry Word, an associate of mine, points out that the hookup culture that is under fire by women in their late twenties are the same women who created and perpetuated the culture in their early twenties. It is ironic, to be sure: young women made their beds with casual one-night stands, and now they must lie in it, alone with the threat of a spinster’s fate.

The truth of the matter is that females control male behavior when it comes to the realm of sex and dating. It is simply the nature of our species, as it is for any other two-sexed species in which one sex must grant sexual access to the other sex. Sexual selection is an overwhelmingly powerful force, one that modern feminists may resent or deny that they have. Yet, it is foolish to ignore such power.

We have all heard of the boy who begins talking about how much he likes modern art in order to strike up a conversation with a girl in order to give her the impression about how sophisticated he is; then, immediately upon the girl’s revelation that she indeed despises modern art and instead prefers classical architecture, the boy changes his tune.

It’s an illustration of how male behavior towards women is guided largely by female demands. Women, being the ones who must grant the sexual access, are the gatekeepers. As the choosier sex, they are the judges of men. As such, they are the ones who hold an immense amount of power. With great power comes great responsibility; it is clear that women have not wielded this power responsibly.

Consider that there was a time when men were mostly gruff and emotionally unavailable. These were times when the strong silent type was preferred. In time, women complained of this, and men eventually changed their tune: they became more “in touch with their feminine side” and became more emotionally sensitive. Now, men are no longer stoic unfeeling bastards; men are now sensitive to the needs of his woman. Emotionally clueless men now fall by the wayside as women snap up more socially intelligent fellows. Clearly, women are the ones shaping the course of history when it comes to social norms as it relates to male behavior towards females.

Right now, there is an entire generation of young men who have never heard of traditional dating. It is the result of a culture of casual sex and non-commitment that has pervaded our modern culture. It is also the result of the relaxing standards set by women and their lack of foresight. Men throughout the ages have always sought out knowledge of how to win the graces of women. In the modern day, the dating advice industry has become wildly profitable business that rakes in billions of dollars a year. Figuring out women is a timeless pursuit of men. Conversely, the market for dating advice for women is much much smaller. Following the money, it’s not hard to figure that women are the ones who make the puzzle that men need to solve.

And it is a puzzle indeed. Ms Rosin says in the article, “It’s hard to read a woman exactly right these days. You don’t know whether, say, choosing the wine without asking her opinion will meet her yearnings for old-fashioned romance or strike her as boorish and macho.” In other words, men would be happy to appease women according to their preferences, if only they could know just what a woman wants. As it stands, women are sending mixed signals. In other words, women are at fault for the mess that they find themselves in. The onus of change lies squarely on the broadening shoulders of women. What women fail to understand is the long-term consequences of their actions. They demanded the freedom to enjoy their sexuality, and it was granted to them. They did not foresee how it would change the dating landscape though, and ignored the traditional advice of mothers all over the world to save sex for marriage. Like I have said before, women are much like immature adolescents: they rebelled against patronizing paternalism long after it died off, and they froze up when they were suddenly given this newfound freedom, unsure of what to do and essentially making a mess of things. A wasted youth, in a way.

How do we bring back the young respectful gentleman though? Let us imagine a scenario. Imagine if all women agreed to strike a pact: “We will not go out with men unless it is a one-on-one romantic interaction, and we will not sleep with men until we have had at least four such interactions.” Men all over the world would begin to scratch their heads and ponder why they are not getting any dates. In time, men would come to understand the female demands and they would conform to what females desire most if they wish to reproduce successfully. Alternatively, consider what it would be like if attractive women would seek out and date a traditional gentleman like me. If an attractive woman is seen in public at a restaurant or other venue with a polite courteous gentleman, other men and women would likely take note and follow suit: what is good for the goose is good for the gander. These other women would begin to demand only traditional suitors and men who did not conform to these standards would be unable to obtain sexual opportunities; in time, this standard would spread to all men and women and become de facto. At some point, women must lead the way for other women and provide more romantic opportunities to the right men and deny them to the wrong ones.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead of demanding traditional dating, women are participating in their own languishing demise. The New York Times article says that young people are “faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from…so they opt for a speed-dating approach [in order to] cycle through lots of suitors quickly.” It takes two to tango, so if women would stop going to speed-dating events, it stands to reason that the number of men who show up would dwindle until no women show up at all; at which point, speed-dating would die out altogether. I have long proposed that speed dating is destructive. Nearly five years ago, I proposed that we return to a more traditional form of dating, one in which we take the time to get to know each other. Of course, nobody listens to this lowly writer, much like nobody listens to the advice of their parents until its too late. In fact, I find it absurd that, given all these women who complain of being unable to find a respectful traditional man, not a single one has yet to find me. I am a dying breed, but that is only because the force of sexual selection is causing my extinction.

All is not lost yet, however. “Cheryl Yeoh, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, said that she has been on many formal dates of late…For her, the old traditions are alive simply because she refuses to put up with anything less (emphasis mine).” Ms Yeoh has it down pat. If she and more women keep this up, men will shape up or ship out; the dating pool will change and the hookup culture will diminish. The dynamics of such things are not that difficult to understand.

There’s no doubt about it: women are the ones who dug themselves into this mire of relational murkiness, and they must be the ones to dig themselves out. As the venerable Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If women want to see changes in male behavior, they need to start demanding it and reinforcing it. The old wive’s adage that men are to be trained by their women is not at all untrue. Men learn how to treat women from women themselves. If you don’t treat yourself with respect and you don’t demand it from your suitors, then why would they respect you? It’s as your mother told you: men won’t buy the cow when they can get the milk for free.

So ladies, start being more forthright about your demands without being bossy about it. It is a seller’s market, afterall. Let it be known that you are a traditional sort of girl who expects a traditional courtship. Men will soon rise to the challenge, if only you would set it. Let us welcome the better times when gentlemen could politely indicate his interest in a girl without fear of her haranguing him half to death with a red earful about this or that. Let us bring back the days of yore when a man would take a woman out to dinner to enjoy her sole companionship. Let us return to a time when we take the time to get to know someone, to give them a chance to win our hearts. Here’s to the rebirth of the traditional courtship.

  • Gary

    "These were times when the strong silent type was preferred…"

    Are you sure this is actually the case? Moreover, are we talking Western culture, or across cultures? I haven't read the Times article you referenced, but I'm a bit cautious about that assumption and the danger of segwaying into "story telling" in lieu of what is actually the case. Kinda like the myth (in Western culture) of chivalry (which historians believe is a farce- the knights of old were just rich, elite brutes that went around doing whatever the hell they wanted.) My contention is that this idea of the "respectful gentlemen" of the old times is also a myth. Just take a look at Egypt where women pedestrians are commonly harassed by men in public. This is a relatively socially conservative culture too. So I really think this idea is a figment of Hollywood imagination, and furthermore, by what measure do we conclude that no such "gentlemen" exist today?

    And doesn't this (and presumably the Times article), address a specific segment or subset of all women? I assume it's the comfortable middle-upper class urban women (although I'd be cautious about my own assumption there.) Perhaps that's all that matters, given we aren't exactly in an African village somewhere, but there are no doubt (to me, at least, based on my personal experience) women that do not fit into that category even here (i.e., the >=middle class, urban group.)

    Perhaps your experiences are more limited than mine, but I'd hardly condemn women so quickly as you have. The entire read has come off as kinda sexist (no offense btw, and in the sense that it seems like you are blaming women for an imagined crisis- not that you are misogynistic.) And that is pretty much my view of it… an imagined crisis of educated, comfortable middle-upper class women who have too much time on their hands. An imagined crisis as much of a crisis of men troubled with deciding whether like the ass or the tits (or something like that.)

    And I say this because there are tons of women out there that would welcome the "traditional" type dates you mention within that group (yes, I'm well aware that anecdotal evidence sucks- so bring on the statistics if you've got them, and I'll be happy to get to the bottom of this with ya.) That you have not encountered them may indicate you might have a relatively restrictive search criteria (the same way, you noted, in your article, "Girls are so smart, can't you tell?" that women cannot find good men) or that they are filtering you out based on other criteria (because frankly, no one really gives a shit about someone else's values unless there is a serious clash of a nature more severe than trivial matters like this.)

    I think I mentioned this before in an earlier comment before, but I think the zerg strategy is probably best. Gotta release your zerglings out and try to hit everything you can. I'm fairly confident you will find the kind of woman you seek.

  • wistfulwriter

    Anecdotally speaking, I have met more than a few elderly women who have professed that men were expected to be "strong and silent" in the sense that they were not to expose their feelings. Though something as elusive as culture is hard enough to capture in our own day and age, the general cultural climate was less progressive back then. For example: before the popularization of psychoanalysis, admitting that you went to a mental health professional was essentially a declaration of insanity and a social death sentence. People were also quite limited in what they were "allowed" to convey: gender roles were rather rigid. As time progressed, Western culture became more accepting and men were given a little leeway with regards to straying form traditional gender roles; women were given much more leeway then men. The cultural climate has, without a doubt, changed quite a bit since the 40's and 50's, and it has changed in the direction of permissiveness. Perhaps a product of the economic times, women back then seemed to be more concerned with a man's ability to provide than his ability to provide emotional support. The more 'comfortable' people got (i.e the less they had to worry about their basic needs) the more they grew to discover their higher wants, like emotional intimacy and such. Today's couples are far more communicative, and relationships are increasingly less about utility (e.g. saving money on rent by living together, having someone to cook and clean for you, etc.) and more about higher ideals like love.

    It is important to note that I am largely writing a reaction the article. I can't speak on individual women, as they are individuals. My writing is directed at the aggregate of women for whom the Times article resonates with. As for my own experiences, I can't speak on my search criteria because the truth is that I have not been actively searching.

    As to who I am blaming. The women who complain of this imagined crisis are the ones I am blaming. I am blaming them for creating this crisis for themselves. I am also trying to draw attention to the fact that women, being that they are the sexual selectors, have always had an immense amount of power in shaping male behavior.

    As for how there are "tons of women out there that would welcome the 'traditional' type dates," that may be the case, but there is difference between what people want and what happens in reality. See, I read this one blog post by some blogger who is semi-popular on the Internet. She said that, at the age of 38 and having been around the block a few times, she wanted an old-fashioned dating arrangement. She had posted a link to her OkCupid profile and I had a look. It turns out that she presents herself as a strong independent woman, with an undercurrent of feminist braggadocio. She also used light profanity in her profile. Well, the sad truth is that her profile would most certainly not attract an old-fashioned gentleman. This is what I mean by the conflict between what a woman wants and the way she conducts herself in the world. It's like wanting to be thin but binging on a gallon of ice cream every day: it just doesn't work. There's a discord between what is being said or desired and how one acts.

    It's interesting that you mention the farce of chivalry. It's become an important theme of my novel, so if you have any leads (books, articles, etc.) about chivalry and the traditional gentleman, I'd appreciate it a lot.