An Answer to Our Dating Conundrum


Readers may have caught the passing story of actor Aziz Ansari, who had a hookup go wrong… and then go public.  Some have seen it as evidence that the whole #MeToo thing has gone too far.  Although he responded courteously to every actual request that she made, Ansari failed to read his date’s mind, and so he’s in the same camp as serial sexual predators?  We seem to have lost some important distinctions if that’s the case.

A post by Eric Raymond, which began as a comment to a related post by Megan McArdle, raises some interesting points.  I’m not in a position to judge his accuracy, but Raymond asserts that the dating scene nowadays all but requires women to put out right away for the most desirable men.  He also suggests that women are more biologically inclined toward promiscuity than our cultural narrative used to imply.

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As I said, I don’t have the experience to know what the dating world is like right now, especially for young adults, but the aspect that seems to me worth comment has to do with solutions to this imbalance, as women vie for high-status men in an environment that has drained much of the leverage that once came from withholding sex.  Both McArdle and Raymond are skeptical of the ability of women to agree in sufficient numbers to return to greater prudence with their sexual partners.  I’m not as pessimistic, largely because I see a more plausible catalyst for change.

McArdle doubts the ability of education to change the behavior of individuals.  Raymond thinks we’re battling cold forces of biological imperative, requiring a change of social incentives.  Either of these presents like a Herculean task.

But what if all we really need is a more honest assessment of what our ideological camps want?  Social traditionalists are still a not-insignificant proportion of the country, on the one hand, and feminists want to empower women, on the other.  If the problem is that our new sexual rules disempower women through promiscuity, that would seem to be an area in which these two groups could agree, unless feminists are really more about destroying our culture than helping women.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “He also suggests that women are more biologically inclined toward promiscuity than our cultural narrative used to imply.”

    I think it is worth mentioning that I read “50 Shades of Grey” because it was written by a woman. I hoped for some explanation of why women request to be tied up, etc. I never understood how to respond to such requests, or what it was they wanted. Same old drivel, dominant men, etc. I think there is much omitted from our “cultural narrative”.