Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

Dating Realities in the 21st Century

with 15 comments

Just for the heck of it, I’m taking a brief break from politics to waste a post on a topic that I despise writing about: dating.  After ten frustrating years of failed relationships, game-playing and bad experiences in general, dating has become my least favorite topic of discussion – not to mention a complete waste of time.  My life already revolves around a full-time job, a full-time graduate school course schedule, coaching softball, being involved with two community-oriented organizations that enable me to act as a mentor to college students interested in pursuing careers in the public sector and help raise scholarship money to prepare female college students for such careers, and, of course, spending time with my amazing friends and my family.

After everything I’ve endured in the treacherous world of dating, I’ve come to the rather conceited conclusion that women like me are just too intimidating for most of the single men of today to handle (this, of course, excludes my very good male friends, male relatives, and my brothers who already know how much I adore them as well as male acquaintances I know through work and school with whom I also get along quite well).  And, for the record, I’ve never considered myself a “man-hater” or a “man-basher,” especially since I only have brothers for siblings.  My conclusion is simply based on repeated personal experiences that I’m sure other women can relate to…

I was very excited to see my conclusion validated recently when I came across an article by Kate Fridkis on mydaily.com  inquiring about the rise of powerful women turning today’s men into boys.  Fridkis’s article features an interview with Kay Hymowitz, author of the recently published book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys.  After being subjected to article after article on my Yahoo! homepage featuring nothing but fluffy nonsense about “not giving up” and how “the right guy is still out there waiting for you,” reading about Hymowitz’s book was the best eye candy I’ve enjoyed in a long time.  It was truly a breath of fresh air.  I kept thinking, “Finally, someone who really gets me!” 

Now convinced that I am not alone, I thought I would devote this post to my fellow overly-ambitious, overly-motivated, intelligent and driven workaholic single ladies determined to succeed professionally in life despite the harsh criticism, mockery, belittling, and even cheating we’ve endured from certain members of the opposite sex.  I’m sure this post will ignite some fireworks, but at the same time I hope it serves as a learning tool as well.

Anyway, in addition to her interview with Fridkis, Hymowitz published an excerpt of her book in The Wall Street Journal on February 19th, titled “Where Have the Good Men Gone?”  I’ve been wondering that myself for years.  Hymowitz writes, “Single men have never been civilization’s most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers.” 

Continuing, Hymowitz explains, “Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven – and often does.  Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man.”

 For the most part, Hymowitz’s excerpt (and quite possibly her book as well) focuses on the real-life single men of today who are often portrayed in the movies by actors such as Will Farrell, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey and Seth Rogen.  They’re the immature types ill-prepared for the challenges of adulthood and are unlikely to become husbands and fathers anytime soon until they “man up.”

The downside to Hymowitz’s excerpt is that she doesn’t address any other types of troublesome men out there that also force women to give up on the idea of marriage and head to the sperm bank.  Quite honestly, the Adam Sandler and Will Farrell types don’t seem so bad when compared to the “Casanova players” and the types that are absolutely incapable of displaying any support and respect for a strong, career-oriented woman looking to somehow include a man within her busy life.

Yet, just when she’s under the impression that things are going well and he could be Mr. Right, she’ll either end up getting cheated on or he’ll simply disappear without any warning.  On the other hand, a relationship could evolve over the course of two to four years… until she finds herself having to answer questions like, “Why am I not enough to make you happy?”  “So, when are you finally going to give up on this whole political career thing?”  Eventually, those questions will just boil down to a simple phrase he’ll eventually utter – repeatedly, “The only place where a woman belongs is in the kitchen.”

Just wait until the break-up conversation and you ask him a question for a change about what he really ever loved about you.  His answer: “Well… you’re tall and really pretty…”

There you have my dating experiences in a nutshell.

For those of you still foaming at the mouth as we speak, rest assured that I am not some bitter, sexist feminist clinging to her single status forever.  My experiences have simply emboldened me to demand respect from the opposite sex and I would hope my fellow single ladies feel the same.  Never sell yourselves short, ladies, or give up on any of your dreams just to be with someone.  As I’ve learned from my experiences, if he’s really the right man for you, he will support you in every way possible and respect you for the fearless, fabulous woman that you are.

One of my favorite quotes, believe it or not, is from Lady Gaga: “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams.  If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

As for the male readers who managed to make it this far in reading this post, use this as an opportunity to prove relationship experts like Kay Hymowitz wrong and reverse the image in which she portrays men of today.  Unfortunately, today’s women are highly ambitious and driven to succeed – a trend unlikely to change anytime soon which means you may need to be slightly more motivated and competitive in getting attention from these women, and ultimately earning their trust and affection in the long run. 

Who knows?  Maybe in five to ten years, Hymowitz will publish a book about the return of powerful men and what their revamped image means for their female competitors… maybe….

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Written by Stephanie

March 27, 2011 at 6:10 am

15 Responses

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  1. Very interesting commentary, Stephanie. I really think you nailed the fact that women are more involved in their careers than ever. I have to wonder, though, whether the pressure to “settle down” has changed over the years.

    From a biological perspective, this makes sense for women, as they have limited time to have children. Men, on the other hand, can father children late into life with no problem.

    Does Hymowitz comment on any changes in the pressure to settle down, get married and have kids? If so, does she look at gender differences?

    Marianne English

    March 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Marianne! Hymowitz also alludes to the biological pressure that women must still endure if they want to raise a family – and with men who fully appreciate them. Other than that, Hymowitz didn’t elaborate too much on the biological pressures women face in settling down – at least in the excerpt she published in the WSJ.

      Stephanie

      March 28, 2011 at 4:05 am

  2. Hello,

    I read through this whole thing (including the linked article) and I wanted to offer some thoughts on the topic, which you can take or leave as you will. I will start out with somewhat of a disclaimer (in much the same vain that you did) that I am hardly some woman hating chauvinist who wishes that you would ( to paraphrase the immortal words of Eric Cartman) “Get your butt in the kitchen and make me a pie”, but I honestly think that you are heading down the wrong path with a lot of this.

    First of all, Lady Gaga is wrong. Her career will leave her one day. Think about the music she does and ask yourself whether or not you honestly believe she will still be a big deal in 5 years. How about 10? How about 20? If she happens to hold on for long enough, she will one day retire, and what then?

    If you want to know the answer to that, I would suggest spending some time poling men in a local retirement community. Find out how many of them dedicated themselves to their careers instead of family (either because they never had one, or because they did but made the decision to focus their attention elsewhere). Of those men that chose their careers, find out how many of them would make the same decision looking back. My guess is that the numbers would be pretty small.

    You describe yourself as one of a group of “overly-ambitious, overly-motivated, intelligent and driven workaholic single ladies determined to succeed professionally in life…”. Ambition is good. Motivation is good. I am not suggesting or recommending that you give up on either one of them. However, on both counts, being overly so is bad. On a similar note, I have known a lot of workaholics in my life (some may consider me to be one), you are the first to describe themselves that way without at least a hint of shame. Maybe it is different for women, because I think that the opportunity to be a workaholic is relatively new to them, but it is a lesson that men have had knocked into them forever. That is not to say that all men have learned it, but I think that they are more accustomed to hearing it. Which is a real shame, because I think that it is sad to see women walking down the same failed path in the name of “progress”. Because I know you are catholic, a quick quote from Ecclesiastes Chapter 2:

    17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.

    My point being that there are a lot of things that people work for, that don’t amount to much in the end and that working for the sake of working or ambition for the sake of ambition, is not a good thing.

    On a separate, but I think important, note. I want to point out the underlying message in this post. You are demanding that men change in order to accommodate you. A real man (in your words) would bend to your ambition and to your goals. To a certain degree, I actually agree with you. A man that does not recognize or support your goals is not worth being with (or at least should not be with you, as there could easily be someone else whose ambitions and goals they do support). However, I question whether or not you are willing to apply the same standard to yourself. Another quick biblical passage 1 Corinthians Chapter 7:

    4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

    In the modern era, that is a rather controversial passage, but allow me to take a somewhat high level view of it, and point out that if you are entering a relationship demanding that the other person change, then the relationship is doomed to fail. Period. This goes for both men and women. The man you were discussing in the post who was demanding you spend your life in the kitchen was demanding that you bend to his goals in life, and was a jerk for doing so. Don’t make the same mistake and also be a jerk in response.

    And keep in mind that things have changed for men in the last few decades at least as much as they have for women. You have been taught your whole life that you don’t need a man in your life to be happy (which may or may not be true, depending on the individual). Men, on the other hand, have grown up being told that women don’t need them. Women, so we hear, don’t need us to be good fathers or good husbands. Women are “independent” and can do it all on their own these days. So why exactly do men need to grow up? Mind you, I disagree with that mentality. I think that one of the biggest problems that we have in our culture is that too many people (again, men and women) are refusing to take responsibility, they are refusing “grow up” in general. But, I am hoping that you can see where some people can fall into that kind of belief system. Yes, there are plenty of men out there that need to take more responsibility, but there are plenty of women out there that need to recognize that many men need to be needed before they are willing to do so.

    2 final notes. The first is that there are plenty of days where I am not convinced I am even a decent man, let alone a “good” one. So I don’t know how relevant this is, but when I was in college I spent most of my time studying at the library, or at home trying to care for my sick mom while my family fell apart. Now, I am mostly happy to spend my evenings at home reading a book (or even playing a video game). If someone was looking for me, they wouldn’t have found me at the bar or the latest dance club, or the hottest party. Nothing against the type of people that frequent those places, and I am sure that there are a lot of good guys / girls there, but that is also where the jerks go. So, I don’t know where you are looking, but maybe the places you are looking for a good man are the places that you are least likely to find them.

    The second, is that I don’t think that you need to be in a relationship to be happy. It has been a long time since I have been in one, and the older I get the less likely it seems that that will ever change. Sometimes I wish it would, but, I recognize if I die at 85 never having been married and never having had kids, then I don’t think that that will mean that my life was wasted. Despite what I have said above, I am not trying to say you should sacrifice your goals. Don’t settle for someone that is not the right someone. However, I don’t think that you should delude yourself into thinking that professional success (whether that means being the anchor on the evening news, the CEO of a major corporation, or president of this country) are a good measure of a successful life either.

    Alright, that is just my opinion. Sorry that it might be longer than the original post :). I hope I didn’t overstep my bounds in stating it. Take it, leave it, love me for it, hate me for it, it is up to you. But hopefully you will think about it and take it in the friendly spirit for which it was intended.

    Nathan

    March 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

  3. I had never heard of Kay Hymowitz before, but her ideas seem pretty interesting. I can only hope that there are still some good men out there that haven’t been turned into puddles of jelly by successful women! The music videos are a great addition to the post!

    Erin Podolak

    March 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    • LOL! Thanks Erin! I’m glad you enjoyed the music videos. 🙂
      Just in case he found and read this post, I will defend one guy that I’ve met in the last year who doesn’t seem to be a “puddle of jelly” around me. 🙂 He’s very successful in his own right, has been honest and respectful of me thus far, and he hasn’t been very critical at all of the goals I’ve shared with him. Here’s hoping… 🙂

      Stephanie

      March 28, 2011 at 4:12 am

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience, Stephanie! I think we are in a strange generation for gender relations…lots of strong women and seemingly few men that can keep up and fulfill our high (and rightfully so!) expectations. I wonder if it’s a matter of men needing to catch up with a changing paradigm? I have lots of thoughts on this–too many for a blog comment. I also recommend bell hook’s All About Love. It’s not really talking about the same stuff that Hymowitz seems to talk about, but I found it a very beneficial resource on relationships.

    Jenny S

    March 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    • Thanks Jenny! I may have to check out your book recommendation.
      Yeah, I really don’t know what to make of today’s gender relations either. As I just replied to Erin, I have met one guy recently who seems comfortable with me and seems to respect the professional goals I’ve set for myself beyond grad school. He’s definitely a first. 🙂
      Again, here’s hoping for all of us single girls. 🙂

      Stephanie

      March 28, 2011 at 4:18 am

  5. “I’ve come to the rather conceited conclusion that women like me are just too intimidating for most of the single men of today to handle”

    Now I certainly haven’t had as much experience as you dating the men of our generation, but don’t you think you’re painting with a pretty broad brush here?

    I believe (and this is just a personal feeling, one that could be wrong and could also be very different than other men) that I’ve grown up in a culture that has always stoked the drive of women in their careers.

    Maybe it was the way I was raised, or the area I grew up in, but I don’t think I have any male friends who are put off by a woman with a work ethic and big dreams.

    Granted my area of exposure is limited, so I can’t speak for all men, but from personal experience I don’t see it the way you guys do. That’s just me though.

    Tom S.

    March 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    • Hi Tom! Thanks so much for reading through that post and for commenting. I very much appreciate the male perspective on this. 🙂
      I did mention at the beginning of the article that I was making an exception to the guys I know through work and school as well as those who are good friends of mine.
      I must say you are definitely among needles in a haystack. 🙂 In talking with a number of my girlfriends – many of whom work in politics with me – we were pretty much in agreement that it’s been frustrating for us to find men willing to accept us for who we are: professionally-driven women. I won’t get into their dating horror stories, but they’re pretty similar to mine.
      I honestly debated and debated over whether or not to publish this post, but in the end I thought it was relevent in an indirect way to the primary focus of my blog (about politics of course, but here I’m addressing the “politics of dating, well, women in politics ;)).
      I very much appreciate your perspective!

      Stephanie

      March 31, 2011 at 4:23 am

  6. Yowza! I love your audacity here. As a single woman myself, I can certainly relate to some of your frustrations. One thing I do when I’m feeling frustrated is ‘look within’ and reflect on whether or not I am contributing negatively to the relationship, or somehow creating my relationship woes. After all, it takes two to be in a relationship!

    I’m a believer in the idea that relationships fall into place when the time is right – and for me, that happens when I’m feeling confident, when I have found balance my life,and when I have actually have the time to be in one! I mean, after all, my life is the only one I can control, right?

    I’ve also noticed, since we’re talking in broad, ideological terms here – I’ve noticed that sometimes when a relationship falls apart, it was because there were problems present at the beginning that someone didn’t want to recognize. I don’t think relationships just unravel – those issues, the beginning of that dynamic, that immaturity, was there from the beginning.

    I’ve personally never had a partner not be supportive of my career goals (or god forbid, tell me to go back to the kitchen where I belong)! However, I’ve just recently begun to really focus on my career goals in grad school – it definitely might come up in a relationship in the future. I’d like to agree with Tom though, in that I’d be wary of way over-generalizing. I know a lot of sweet guys who feel used by ex-girlfriends, and women can be evasive in relationships as well.

    Hooray to you for bringing up such an honest account of this issue, and for examining how the media plays into it as well.

    Victoria

    March 30, 2011 at 1:20 am

    • Merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire, Victoria! I hope I said that right. 😉
      I really appreciate your feedback and, as I replied to Tom, I did debate about publishing this post. In the end, I thought it might bring some consolation to the single women out there in the same shoes as me – they’re hungry for that top rung of the career ladder, but frustrated with meeting one guy after another that runs in the other direction as soon as he learns she can actually work hard and think on her own. A number of my girlfriends who work in politics and even in the legal field have dealt with this time and again. So, it was actually a relief to learn about Hymowitz’s book and read about her take on how men view women of today. Such are the politics of dating. 🙂

      Stephanie

      March 31, 2011 at 4:29 am

  7. Engaging post, Stephanie — I like the music videos!

    I still recall a high school boyfriend who told me I should dress more femininely — and a later beau who was shocked when I told him I could open the door by myself.

    I tend to think that our male contemporaries vary greatly in their interest in dating career-minded women. My husband has always supported my career ambitions, including my returning to school for yet another graduate degree (I tend to disagree with Lady Gaga 🙂 ). My mom worked longer hours and earned more than my father — that never threatened him. Among my neighbors here in Madison, three that I know of are stay-at-home dads. But I’ve met other men here, including younger men, who seemed quite different.

    My experience has been that to make a relationship work long-term, both people have to be willing to invest time and energy (and make geographic compromises, etc). And so I think there’s an opportunity cost to being in a serious relationship, whether one is male or female. Perhaps that cost still tends to be higher when one is female — the average number of hours married men versus married, working women spend on housework would suggest so. But I fully agree that there’s no point whatsoever in settling — it only sets someone up for disappointment, since long-term partnerships are challenging enough even when they’re based on acceptance and mutual respect.

    Amy Karon

    March 30, 2011 at 3:15 am

    • Thanks so much, Amy, and that’s awesome your husband is so supportive of you. 🙂
      Obviously, there are a number of exceptions to what I laid out in my post out there and I’m glad you and several others in the class have pointed them out to me. Until now, my argument was primarily based on my personal experiences, my girlfriends’ experiences, and what Hymowitz provided in her excerpt.
      The politics of dating are difficult to navigate as it is, but things get even more frustrating when you want to pursue a career that you’ve put tons of time, money and energy into but also while having someone there in your corner supporting you along the way. In some case, as Hymowitz pointed out, more and more women out there seem to be left with having to choose between the two.

      Stephanie

      March 31, 2011 at 4:36 am

  8. Great post, Stephanie. It’s definitely an issue that women, especially successful women, have long struggled with. The NYT columnist Maureen Dowd has brought it up from an East Coast power perspective, I know. And in response, you occasionally find books, by men, like “Is there Anything Good About Men?” by Roy Baumeister, which somewhat defensively try to explain why human males are still a good investment. In the end, I suspect, it’s ever going to be a very individual decision.

    Deborah Blum

    April 3, 2011 at 3:03 am

  9. Thank you, Deb! I’ll have to check out Maureen Dowd’s opinion on this given how prominent and successful she is. And, I’ve never heard of Roy Baumeister, but his book sounds interesting as well. Alas, the battle of the sexes continues…

    Stephanie

    April 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm


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