...Where have all the men gone? Instead, we have an overload of man-boys – which leaves a generation of single, thirtysomething women who are their natural mates bewildered. I am one of those women.At the risk of being one of those females who blame women, I have to say that perhaps she is simply making bad choices among the available men. If she continues to attract or to seek out these neurotic, childlike men, the fault may be with her. Maybe she is looking in the wrong places for the kind of man she wants. There may be a trend toward more childlish men in some quarters, but they are not all like this.
I am often told that our problem boils down to bad timing. In our early twenties (the age at which our parents tended to meet and marry), we, arguably the first generation of properly educated and professionally ambitious women, were not ready to settle down and start having babies.
By our late twenties many of us did end up reconnecting with our first loves, or met men of a similar age who were still young enough to want to match and hatch. But for those who didn’t, life is increasingly complicated – and infuriating.
The assumption seems to be that it is our fault that we can’t find “him”. I have lost count of the number of articles by female columnists that I’ve read, urging “career women” like me to get pregnant before it is too late. I want to point out that I work to eat, and that earning a salary funds the social life needed to meet new people.
What do they think we are doing? Take India Knight’s attack, in The Sunday Times, on what she called “the sweetly retro notion of mooching around pining for Mr Right as the (biological) clock ticks away”. “My advice to all my girlfriends is, just do it,” she announces. “Get pregnant. Don’t wait. Mr Right can turn into Mr Wrong overnight: there are no certainties.”
And we wonder why men are afraid to commit, when women like me are depicted as hormonally charged sperm-bandits interested in nothing beyond the urge to have a child.
My last few years of dating reads like either a therapist’s dream or a dictionary of neuroses. On the neurotic front, one man-boy aged 32 had a panic attack at dinner, which he thought was a heart attack until we got to A&E and he was assured otherwise. Another wore a watch that monitored his sleep patterns.
Another invited me to Spain after one date, only to say at the end of it that it was “all too full-on”. Another couldn’t stop sending soppy texts, until I sent one back. All were thirtysomething, bright, successful bachelors. They had all had therapy. They all talked ad infinitum about their “ishoos”. But not one of them asked about mine. I listened, and either left, or they did.
In some big cities, including London, there are more women than men. There is debate about the reasons for this, but it is nothing new. The thirtysomething single status is new, however – mainly because women now leave it later to marry. In their mid-thirties they find themselves in a predicament, whether they outnumber men of their age or not.
A study I carried out on lonely hearts ads indicated that, while single females typically advertise for men three to five years older than them, men advertise for women of a certain age irrespective of their own. Their preferred age is 24 to 25. So the men that the women want are looking for women, but younger ones.''
It's also obvious, though most women will bristle at this suggestion, that women are past their peak of attractiveness by their mid-30s. Most women reach their peak of beauty in their late teens, and although there are many women who maintain their attractiveness into middle age and beyond, there is something uniquely beautiful about the first blush of womanhood. Women who wait until their late 20s or 30s or even later are probably diminishing their chances of attracting a mate, although this is not an idea that women like to hear. Of course ideally looks are not everything, and men ideally should look for character in a woman as well as superficial beauty. But the fact is, beauty is what initially attracts, and this factor can't be ignored. From a fertility standpoint, a woman's fertility declines even by her late 20s, so if a man wants children, a younger wife is preferred.
In earlier times, most women were 'married off' no later than their early 20s, usually with family assistance; appropriate matches were sought, courtship ensued, and marriage.
Needless to say young women were strictly taught to be chaste and innocent before marriage. Human nature being what it is, there were exceptions, but society expected that young women be sexually pure until marriage. Mothers used to teach daughters that 'soiled goods' would not be appealing, and such was usually the case; promiscuity decreased a young woman's chances for marriage, at least, for a successful marriage. In our day, how many women avoid promiscuity, or at least serial sexual involvements, before marriage?
There have been studies showing that cohabiting couples are less likely to marry and stay married than non-cohabiting couples. I wonder if it's also true that the number of sex partners is a factor in whether or not a woman -- or a man -- marries or stays married?
One of the consequences of a prolonged sexually active singlehood is that young men and women are likely to enter relationships in their twenties with the baggage of adolescent disappointments, jealousies and betrayals, not to mention the misery of an occasional sexually transmitted infection. They may find it more difficult to trust a partner or to fully invest in a relationship. We saw evidence of such mistrust among some in the group. When trust is difficult, so is commitment.
Secondly, postponing marriage increases the likelihood of cohabitation. The social science evidence indicates that cohabiting, and especially a series of cohabiting partnerships, may foster habits and dispositions that undermine marital commitment.''
The obvious source of many of the problems Laura is encountering -- though Laura does not want to hear it -- is feminism. At some point, beginning in earnest in the 1970s, women were encouraged to believe that they were entitled to 'careers', which usually required at least four years spent in college, a few more in graduate school in many cases, and some kind of career advancement early on in life -- after which there might be time for marriage or at least 'long-term relationships.' The marriage age for both men and women began to climb as people postponed marriage.
Feminism played a big part in this, but overall I think the trend was already moving in that direction, away from earlier marriage and away from traditional roles within marriage, as part of the ''sexual revolution'' which began long before the 'feminist movement' of the 60s and 70s. The general trend towards hedonism, premarital sex, and the emphasis on materialism and the consumer lifestyle all militated against traditional marriage and sex roles. It's easy to blame the feminists like Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem and the rest, but Hugh Hefner and his 'playboy philosophy' were already popular long before Ms. Magazine and NOW came along to brainwash women.
Men and women were already on a divergent path before feminism caught on among mainstream Western women. I could say that this was a conscious plan by the propagandists, to divide society every which way, and to undermine the most basic institutions in our society: marriage and family.
While it's easy to find the faults in Laura's attitudes, the comments, mostly from men, are very disheartening, for example, this one, from a man:
I wish I could remember who the actress was who said that men and women should live next door to each other and visit frequently. I can't think of any good reasons why I should want to live under the same roof as a member of the opposite sex. I suppose it used to be a matter of economic imperative, but then people also used to share their beds with their children and their houses with their livestock. Everybody needs their own space and these days we can all have it. Marriage is a barbarous and wicked institution, really. It is odd that so many people are still so keen on iot.[sic]'''
And this from a woman:
as a 34 year old female I can say, that I don't want marriage I most certanly do no want children.
I am happy with a couple of lovers and if i do get into a long term relationship (even that gives me the shudders) it will be and open one.
I did the relationship thing in my 20's and it just does not suit me, granted the lads were pillocks and I was not much better.
Life is a candy store - I like to Sample and have regular sweets.
But there are some rather more encouraging ones:
A fairly poor journalist deliberately writes on a well worn theme for want of anything better to write, and gets a cheap and easy reaction. Men who think women are all psychotic, self-centred and "emancipated" golddiggers just waiting in some side alley to have children and steal all their assets, and women who have managed to reduce an entire sex to no more than a set of equally ludicrous and inapplicable male stereotypes. Not really representative of the world or even England at large.
I am successful city type on a 6 figure salary, just turned 32, getting married for the first time to someone I have been going out with for almost a decade (from way before either of us had any money), who is the same age as me. I love her, she loves me. We're both monogamous, and have always been straight with one another. No games, no war of the sexes rubbish. Not all men and women are whiny losers like some of the people posting here. Grow up - men and women alike.
Buck the Trend, London''
I haven't read the whole thread; it's quite long and exhausting to read. But one recurring theme among the men who make negative and bitter comments is that they believe any woman they marry is likely to divorce them at some point and take everything they have. While this does happen, (I can think of at least one -- no, two cases like this in my family) surely this could be avoided by a prenuptial agreement, if there is so little trust between the prospective spouses. Ideally, prenups would not be necessary, but we don't live in a perfect world.
Another theme mentioned a time or two among the men's comments I read is the idea that it's British women (as many Americans say of American women) who are the problem; the solution proposed is that men should seek foreign wives. Most often it seems that Filipinas are the popular choice among men who hate feminism, (although I've known plenty of Filipinas who are anything but shrinking violets) but some mention Russians as their ideal women.
This, I think, it an unfortunate phenomenon and it speaks volumes about the lack of trust and the lack of loyalty among our people.
One very noticeable thing among many of the posts that I read is the avoidance of the subject of our low birth rates in the West. We are always hearing in the media that our native birth rates in Western countries are in most places declining, barely at replacement levels. And it's sad, not to mention very telling, that few people even consider this fact, or consider the future that will come to be if we fail to reproduce. It's obvious that we live in a society which does not look to the future -- nor to the past. At earlier times in our history, people thought of 'carrying on the family name' or the family lineage. Some even thought about the future of the 'race' or the people and the civilization. Now, it seems we truly have become a society that focuses to an extreme degree on our individual wants and needs, and only those of the moment. It's all I, me, mine. Now.
It's about what the individual wants and needs and requires of others for personal gratification.
It's easy, as I said, to pick out one factor, like feminism, and blame this whole sad scenario on that, but it's all part of a larger picture, part of the war on traditional morality and Western civilization in general. The trend toward materialism, selfishness, lack of regard for past and future generations, the devotion to hedonism and sexual libertinism, have all led to this situation. There is a great deal of emphasis on sexual activity but there is a lack of love and trust between the sexes, the ingredients necessary for any kind of functional relationship.
Things were not perfect in the old days, which is something that the cynics of today seize on as a justification for overthrowing tradition. Feminists claim that women were little more than domestic slaves or brood mares in the old days; the men who shun marriage claim that men were exploited by the traditional relationships. It's true there has always been a ''battle of the sexes'' but it's hard to make a case that things have improved after the ''sexual revolution'' instigated by people like Hugh Hefner and Gloria Steinem. It seems evident to me that things are worse than ever; the vaunted ''sexual freedom'' has made for a lot of lonely (though sexually active) men and women who don't like or trust each other, and who still want to mate and marry despite their distrust and bitterness. This makes for a great deal of unhappiness.
Just as the Civil Rights revolution worsened relations between the races and fostered infinitely more bitterness and alienation, the sexual revolution has resulted in a lot of wounded and scarred people who may be permanently impaired in their ability to form happy relationships.
If we are going to continue as a people, we will have to find some way to mend the broken relationship between the two sexes, to bridge the gulf that has opened between us. Returning to traditional roles would seem essential, but that will not be easy in a society in which we are all so heavily indoctrinated away from those roles.
Nothing short of spiritual regeneration would seem sufficient to mend the breach. There's no political solution to this one.