To Single Men on Today's Women: Caveat Emptor

Contemporary Woman leaves few good deeds unpunished. Not that She would regard my last column as such, but She did show up in sizable numbers to savage me for it. There were a few sisterly waves of support, but the tide of condescending cattiness flowed from all across the spectrum, both left and right as I would have predicted.  Many of my conservative male friends (who know few women well beyond their wives) assume that fiscally conservative women are also socially conservative in their personal lives. 

You’d have thought the Tanya Tuckers, Sandi Pattys, Amy Grants, Bo Dereks, and Shannen Dohertys would have taught them something by now.  Even Ann Coulter noted the recent promiscuity that has overtaken ostensibly conservative Beltway women. On Judith Regan Tonight on Fox News she confessed to being shocked when, at a small gathering of couples, the women confessed that they would have had sex on the first date but didn’t initiate it because they thought the men wanted to wait.  This means that in some circles the continued shift in sexual tendencies has now made men the prudes.  How unbelievably depressing. 

(On the amusing side there is Shannen Doherty.  She’s now been booted off two television shows [90210 and Charmed] for prima donna grandstanding and a nasty attitude.   She answers few calls these days because she thinks she’s still a huge star, forgetting that her last show was a brainless stinker on the WB channel.  After being fired from 90210 she had taken to changing men like underclothing and even threatening some of them with a .38 revolver [poor Judd Nelson was one of these.]   It’s a mystery to me why she attended the Republican National Convention in 1992, given the flack she’d take in Hollywood for doing so.  Maybe she was denied a right-to-carry permit for her .38 revolver and was angry about it!)

What I wrote last month never elicits any objection in countless off-the-record conversations I’ve had with women. It seems my capital crime was to air the sisterhood’s dirty laundry in a mixed venue where many male eyes saw it and voiced agreement. Reeeeoowww! Out came the cat claws! I so detest hypocritical victimology, and this reminded me so much of the "principled" black people who refer to each other with the N-word like it is going out of style, and then flare their nostrils in umbrage the instant a white person uses the epithet.

(It’s a measure of how far political correctness has gained ground in our culture that men who make even playful, joking generalizations about women are quickly savaged by women (if not men first) for "sexism" and "misogyny." And yet I hear women constantly make the ugliest, broad-brush generalizations about men [either in front of them or behind closed doors] and yet it’s seldom that either men or women will speak up to challenge them. This is exactly why sexual and racial hypocrisies and the double standards that emanate from them will get worse before getting better, guys.)

The dominant theme of the Angry White Females (after perfunctorily admitting that maybe a few women long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away made some mistakes) is that it’s all men’s fault, it’s all men’s fault, it’s all men’s fault.  And there were confused gems like this: How can you say that women like guys who cheat?!!  When did this sudden change come about?  Isn’t the problem really one of men having less and less class?  Your characterization of yuppie men as being perfect, reliable creatures was laughable.   As if these darlings would never think of cheating.  If you wanted to be helpful to women you should have stressed that marriage requires commitment (which men can seldom seem to muster these days) and hard work on the part of both spouses.

Re-read my article, dear.  You better believe women will tolerate (though not necessarily accept) cheating if it’s part of their Pygmalion project; i.e., if it’s one more shortcoming from which they’re going to redeem the jerk.  This was no generational change.   Women have pursued jerks since time immemorial.  They’ve catered to them, had their babies, cleaned their homes, cooked their dinners, and wasted decades of their lives with them.  And then one day they suddenly decide they’ve Finally Had Enough! and (flying to the other extreme) join the Rosie O’Donnell Resentful Dike & Bitter Soccer Mom Brigade.  (On so many relational fronts many women so seldom ever find the rational middle ground.)       

My point was precisely that jerks come in all varieties and women will probably never tire of pursuing them.  They provide a real life soap-opera drama of tension, mind games, and histrionics that women seem to be hopelessly addicted to.  On marriage, my article wasn’t on the subject per se.   (I’ve noticed that it’s become an all-too-familiar tactic to pick a topic that I didn’t write about and then criticize me for not covering it.)  Here’s another gem from a self-described conservative woman: Such a childish rant.  You don’t come close to what the real problem is, the caustic consumer capitalism that is eating away at our lives and relationships.  Of course that’s the last issue anything written on would ever explore.   In an online discussion I’ve been following it was pointed out that even Allan Bloom said that women have it much worse than men in today’s relationships.  I’d recommend you read him, but I’m sure he’d be above your level.

Consumer capitalism?!  Wow, I guess we gals just never had it so good as those women of the Brezhnev era.  Bring back the old Soviet Union!  I have read some of Allan Bloom’s material and have difficulty believing that he made such a carelessly subjective assertion as you’ve stated it (though wonders never cease).  There are certainly men who exploit women.  There are also women who exploit men; just because this is an unspeakable truth in the omnipresent culture of female victimology promulgated on daytime TV, in major newspapers, in women’s magazines, and in college humanities departments doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.  Talk to the 50-year-old physician I know whose wife left him some years ago for a 26-year-old pro tennis player she met at a country club.  How long will a 26-year-old tennis player stay with a 49-year-old woman after her divorce settlement money runs out?   Try 2 months.  Suffice to say the Doc didn’t take her back.      

Now for the men: I’ve been in the ministry for 20 years and can tell you that pursuing jerks is definitely alive and well even among evangelical Christian women.  They marry outside the faith about 6 times the rate of men because they think it’s their will (not God’s) to not only civilize the men but convert them to Christianity as well.  No amount of reasoning will sway them.  The end result is yet more broken families that the church has to take care of.  Hence most 30s Christian singles classes are composed of 5-7 never-been-married men and 15 divorced women, a complete incompatibility.  The women usually end up leaving after I point out that the New Testament (Matt 19:9, 1 Cor 7:10-11) forbids re-marriage for anyone divorced for a reason other than adultery and state that I have every intention of honoring this command.  The wonderful result is that they burden liberal churches with the fallout of their past misadventures while I’m able to use my limited resources to preach the Word of God to people who are really interested in what it says.

Good for you.  You can take comfort in the fact that things aren’t much better on the Catholic side of the fence either.  It amazes me how ministers, priests, and rabbis – the very people who God ordained to protect marriage against the perversions of a secular culture – have willingly participated in the institution’s complete bastardization.   (Tonight – 6/24/01 – I’m watching Fox News’ Only on Fox where a female minister in Seattle is actually holding ceremonies that have the look and feel of a wedding, but are for couples celebrating their divorce!  At the end of the ceremony the parents, children, and minister all gather in a circle for one big "hug-in."  How thoroughly twisted.)     

A truly Christian society where everyone (outside of infidelity and death of a spouse) had one and only one shot at marriage surely wouldn’t be perfect, but would definitely force people to choose their mates much more carefully.  In post-Christian America, where Elizabeth Taylor gets married and divorced 8 times, the institution of marriage is a long-running joke from which either spouse can easily bail.  Unlike most of today’s brides, though, at least Liz Taylor had the class not to wear a white gown after the first marriage.         I’m 31, single, and never-been married. In college women wouldn’t give me the time of day. Now that I’m a securities analyst with a new Z3 convertible, the "twice divorced, with children, and half their looks gone" women my age are suddenly coming from every direction with compliments about my "wonderful personality." They seem to be using a variant of the tactics "the jerks" used to successfully bait and plunder them.  Then there’s the second group with the same traits as the first, but for reasons I can’t fathom, is out looking for movie stars (as if the Brad Pitts would ever be interested in them). What’s going on there?

Denial of reality.  When the grandparents finally tire of providing free babysitting and child support doesn’t cover a growing list of "necessities" for her children (cell phones, Pokemon cards, Playstation II), then she’ll hold her nose and "hit up the nerds."  The disingenuous compliments on your personality are a delicious irony. In the 1970’s, when a man complimented a woman on her looks it became fashionable for the woman to retort, "What about my brain, you pig?!"

I’d love to see once-spurned men like you and my brothers answer these women with the retort, "What about my looks, you money-grubbing freak?!" Then, if you’re in a public place, pour a drink over her head and shriek, "You just DON’T get it, do you?!" and leave in a supremely self-righteous huff. I’m convinced that if women were the tit-for-tat recipients of just half of the petty, prima donna antics they dish out to men, there would be a seismic shift in today’s relationships.  Most men today are just too kowtowed and addicted to sex to ever take a principled stand on anything for long.  They’re putty in the hands of women wielding the threat of sexual deprivation.

As I just mentioned, two of my brothers are currently navigating through the Hades of never-been-married thirties singlehood. They’re tall, handsome, incredibly sweet Italian-American men (nothing like the ugly stereotypes on The Sopranos) with graduate degrees and good jobs.  They’re also good Catholics who take seriously the Church’s imperatives about living a clean and moral life.  Yet none of these qualities comes even close to satisfying the turned-up tastes of Contemporary Woman.   Thankfully my brothers are now starting to see the reality that what they’re really missing out on are some very bad things indeed.   

This was made evident by recent wire reports highlighting a study from the May 2001 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.  The study reported that the annual number of Americans with HSV-2 (genital herpes) skyrocketed 82% from 1970 to 1985 with the sharpest gains among women and twenty-somethings. Women had higher rates of infection than men (9.9 per 1,000 versus 6.9 for men) and among men and women in their twenties, women outpaced men by a substantial amount (22.5 per 1,000 versus 14.6 for men). The study also found that a steadily increasing fraction of women were infected during pregnancy putting their infants at risk for neonatal herpes which can cause permanent brain damage in surviving infants.

Although the transmission process makes HSV-2 easier for women to catch than men, there’s also no doubt that women’s increased willingness to embrace the promiscuous lifestyle is also a factor given the huge increase in the annual rate of infections.  One problem with the study is its sample period ending in 1985.  To call this study a lagging indicator is to make a heck of an understatement, although no one with a straight face could plausibly claim that in the past 16 years sexual standards have become stricter, plenty of evidence suggests just the opposite.  The study’s authors voice their doubts  as well, citing another study showing increases in HSV-2 antibodies in the early 1990s.  They provide the mind-blowing estimate that 35-50% of college students are infected with HSV-2 with 80% of the infected group not even knowing it!!

None of this even gets at the already-well known correlations between increased risks of cervical cancer and women who have had sex in their teens, three or more sex partners, and sex with males who have had multiple partners.  Other dandy jewels making the rounds among Spring Break bed hoppers are HPV (genital warts) and Hepatitis C (which frequently destroys the liver causing its victims to need a transplant).

Despite the worsening dangers, the majority of dating women today persist in behaving like little more than prostitutes.  In fact they’re worse since (according to police reports) prostitutes are now usually earning at least $150 per customer for intercourse. The average dating woman today puts out for dinner and a movie that aren’t even worth a third that much.  And yet popular culture steadily pushes the envelope to ever-lower lows: MTV’s Spring Break, Sex and the City, That 70s Show, not to mention the loads of trashy soaps on daytime TV. 

E-mailers like the woman above can blame "consumer capitalism" all they want, but the beauty of capitalism is that it reflects what people actually value, not what they dishonestly say they value.  In that sense it’s a brutally honest system.  To pretend that men and women were any less shallow and materialistic under communism displays an astounding ignorance of human nature.  Just because the poverty of communism effectively suppressed outward manifestations of materialistic preferences and tendencies hardly means they didn’t exist.  It was a system that, while hypocritically championing women’s rights, was dominated by men who used draconian political power to procure for themselves the best goods and the most attractive women.  If socially conservative women now think that socialism is the answer to the current problems between the sexes, I’m afraid the situation is much worse than I ever thought.     

As I said before and will say again (and women will agree with me as long as it’s off the record), women hold far greater potential power in relationships because their consent makes possible every crucial juncture, from the first date, to engagement, to the wedding day.  Female consent also controls the timing of these events as well as the nature of the man with which the woman chooses to spend her life.  Yet this phenomenal power is continually used in such an irresponsible way and the end results are either a blanket hatred of men or a perplexity as to why they "won’t commit."

This latter point is endlessly examined in supermarket checkout line magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Glamour, and Bazaar which print articles every month trying to unlock "the mystery" of why men won’t commit to women and what to do about it.  The articles are typically written by career women who have had few, if any, long-term relationships themselves.  Hence the advice is that women are always just one makeover, one sexy outfit, one new "in" hairstyle away for snagging their forever beau.  The magazines sell well despite the fact that the advice never works.

Today marriage is increasingly seen as a bad deal for responsible men like my brothers who spent their 20s earning degrees and building their careers as opposed to participating in Spring Break orgies.  Sold on the lie that most women desired stable, faithful providers, they have no interest in trading away their standard of living for psychological baggage and numerous financial burdens not of their own making.  Why would anyone be flattered to be someone else’s last resort? 

As far as the jerks go, men who get the benefits of marriage without marriage don’t find marriage very appealing.  It’s not much more complicated than that.  If women are really interested in getting men to commit, for starters they should put their pants back on.

June 28, 2001