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April 14, 2010



It seems like we have gotten the point where even the animals court more than we do. Great point!


On the one hand, I can see the point. I would guess that you suspect this emerges from females making themselves so available, that its up to the guys to choose, and if they didn't make themselves so available, it'd be the other way around.
However, in the orthodox single community in areas where that is not the MO, there is simultaneously a belief and sentiment that the guys have the pick, and the matchmakers will perpetuate this idea. So I don't know. I wish I could just say its the result of Skank being the ruling word, but...in areas that it is not, still this is happening at less overt but present levels to some degree. What do you make of it?
Going back to the Torah between Rachel and Leah, it did not seem like there was no competition. When there is one man that two women are dealing with, they have to negotiate...it is not so easy. So is it true that this was never present?
Honestly I much prefer that females be the ones pursued. Switching it back would be great.
However, it's like any adapted societal behavior you wish to change. If everyone in New York City drives like a maniac, and you don't, and you let everyone pass, you won't get on the highway anytime soon. You end up caving to the bad behavior just to survive even though it means you are resorting to something you do not believe in or like or agree with.
If you are in the minority of modest behavior and everyone else is of a different speed, (and of course grabs the guys attention)...well...how are they gonna hear the still small voice, the modest, the reserved? And what do you do about that...?

Melissa May

I agree, it is an excellent point. I've never thought of it like that before. When DID this happen? Hmmm.....something to think about. Thanks Koni.


I think this is a really interesting issue. With respect to CMichelle's point, I think according to the Torah the man is supposed to go out and cleave to his wife--he's supposed to leave his parents and be the one to go out there and find a wife. But I agree with you that unfortunately this is not always the case even when women (and men) behave modestly. I think the key factor is that over the years the female Orthodox population has exceeded the number of religious males, and there is the same imbalance in higher education (more girls than boys). Whenever there are more females than males, it tends to create a dynamic where the women are more competitive, and the men feel less of a need to impress--though in societies where there are agreed-upon rules of behavior (such as among the Orthodox) it does tend to minimize heartbreak and mistreatment.

I think in general, women also put way too much stock in what others are doing to impress guys, instead of what's comfortable for them. The focus needs to be more on authenticity and finding a soulmate, instead of fretting desperately that "somebody else will get him if I don't do this."


And also - in regards to the "if I don't get him someone else will" mindset - People are sacrificing dating. The actual process of getting to know one another goes out the window because its a rat race to be in a "relationship." I hate to be the one to burst society's bubble but hooking up, putting oneself in intimate situations without any commitment or knowledge of the other person, is not a relationship.


I think it's because men in the last half century or so have such skewed perception of masculinity, that anything thats not hyper-macho is perceived as effeminate or gay, which seems to be the thing men are most insulted by.

A Man

My first guess in Google "female mating competition" returns over eleven million hits (you might want to make sure you have safe search on for that one). Several on the first page are directly related to the issue at hand. I'm willing to guess that "this happened" a couple million years ago.

@Shanna. Nice strawman, *sheesh*. Remember the plural of Anecdote is not Data.


@A man: It's hard for me to take seriously someone who doesn't sign his name and gets his information about the world from Google.


This problem is so endemic in our culture, that it's actually a little frightening. Over the years my single (and traditional) Catholic girlfriends have met to discuss the problem that men don't pursue women. Is it a modesty issue? Yes. Is it an immorality issue? Yes. Is it also that men are visual and there are so many scantily clad women to choose from? Yes. But I also think that another key factor in this is that men are not taught "manly" virtues. There are very few decent role models out there that give an integrated example of how to be a good and virtuous man while also being a man who can lead, provide and protect a woman.

I can state firsthand that in my church, there are precious few lectures or homilies showing men how to grow into their manhood.


@Wendy Shalit, you bring up a great point about gender population differences in the Orthodox communities and also in education. The social gender dominance is shifting and this brings gender roles and responsibilities into question. I have two points to bring based in the power shift and the developmental psychology of gender.

When it comes to "romantic"relationships, there are certain gender characteristics inherently female that a gender power shift might appear to disrupt. If you want to be a powerful woman and have a relationship sometimes you need to go get it. If you want to be in a relationship with a man and you are a powerful woman, don't be discouraged if he doesn't "court" you and instead remind him that you are a woman like any other with the feminine qualities that they hunger for. There's a reason why men are confused by this social gender shift and YES it is disheartening for us women to see them so confused because it appears so OBVIOUS to us that women can do much more than history tells us. Men who love ladies don't want to lose them to "masculinity" just as much as women don't want to lose gentlemen to apathy.

Additionally, when we were adolescent little girls we learned about the magical power of our body to create human beings. Boys on the other hand....? Other animal species undergo this differentiation as well. Some even have both parts! I think this plays a major role in the question: "WHO should impress WHOM?" Now we not only have a magic hat in our uterus, but we are climbing the professional ladder as well. What's a boyfriend to do? In their minds, we were special already just because of our anatomy.

Men & woman are different and it's hard to understand men, if you are a woman, and it's hard to understand women, if you are a man. The mating rituals have changed, but if that's what happens for women to live their full potential as human beings then I personally think it's worth it. Men and women need each other and it depends on whether or not you are willing to do what it takes to be with someone so different from you as men and women are so different from each other.

(Important to note, however, is that men don't really want a plastic babe and that is a misguided attempt for a man to preserve the gender roles from the past and ultimately preserve their idea of a lady in terms of power)

A Man

Sorry Emily. Maybe you should give google a try. May I suggest something for your first search?

"argumentum ad verecundiam"

If you tried google you would find a wealth of reseach papers the directly explore this particular subject. So when the original blogger states

"I have noticed though, that in nature it is usually the males who impress females. Male animals have elaborate dances, rituals, bright colors and other ways to attract and compete for mates."

you would find that this is actually not always true. Especially for primates. It's an extremely complex sociological process. But, what do I know, I don't sign my name and I use Google.


Mr. "man": There is nothing wrong with google if you know how to use it to get to peer-reviewed journals and studies but all google hits are not created equal. Responding to questions of subtle cultural shifts by "asking google" is not going to return the wisest answer. You'll always find an example to contradict anything, the question is whether something is true in general and for that one needs to use one's BRAIN. --a woman


Mr. "Man", Miss Emily did not say that male animals always try to impress the females. She said that male animals USUALLY try to impress the females, which implies that there are some species in which females try to impress males. You're defending against an argument she didn't even make.

The problem with your Google argument is that the proof you offered was not an article you found through Google. It's that ""female mating competition" returns over eleven million hits". Google HITS are not proof of much. If you begin to type in "Chinese people" in a Google search box, the first option that pops up is "Chinese people eat babies". Is this the slightest proof that Chinese people really eat babies? Absolutely not. It's not even proof that people commonly search for the term "Chinese people eat babies".

Back to the original topic--I'm not sure that I agree that because male animals often try to impress the females that this is proof that humans should behave the same way. I'm reluctant to draw lines between human and animal behaviour simply because I believe we are so different than animals.

However, I agree that something has seriously gone wrong with our culture and that men should, for the most part, be the ones trying to impress women.


Basically... A Man, your comment was not impressive.

Get it?!

A Man

The original blogger posted a question regarding human mating patterns

"When did this shift occur? Is it real or am I mis-reading? Why?"

This appears to simply be a rhetorical question. My point, that a simple Google search could provide a wealth of information directly relating to that question, is still valid. It's painfully obvious that you can't believe everything you read, to the point that I'm surprised that we need to belabor that point here. I do think, however, that it is an excellent question. I also think that instead of just wondering what the answer was, that some scholarly inquiry could have made for a better original post and perhaps a better, or at least more pointed, rhetorical question. I personally don't think it has anything to do whatsoever with morality. Merely supply and demand.

I find it fascinating that I am being excoriated for talking about peer-reviewed research in response to a blog post that is entirely anecdotal.


This is fascinating to me because it dovetails perfectly with an article I've been reading in first things (http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/04/bitter-pill). The article basically answers this question for us. The author argues, using empirical and economic studies and terms, that artificial birth control is the cause of this situation and has caused women (and thereby children) to be in an inferior bargaining point when it comes to choosing and keeping a mate. Ironically, this is the opposite of what women understood to be the "good" of artificial birth control.

He argues that when you separate what was the "mating market" into the "sex market" and the "marriage market" (which is what happens when, thanks to birth control, you are able to have lots of people having sex outside of marriage) women don't have to barter much to get goods from the "sex market" (i.e. if a woman wants sex, she can get it pretty easily) but when she wants to buy into the "marriage market" she has harder time because of the ease of a man being able to shop at the "sex market."

He goes on to explain how divorce (the proliferation of it, the laws that support it and the lack of a stigma against it), also, weakens a marriage even before you've entered into it!

It is a complicated argument but well worth reading. And I am not doing justice to it. But very interesting to think that a culture that promotes birth control has essentially killed romance.


The real cause of all of this is sex ratios: when there are fewer "eligible" men, women will behave in a more promiscuous manner.

Roissy has a good article about it here: http://roissy.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/sex-ratio-redux/


I haven't seen the studies myself, but my dad says that statistically more women than men reach adulthood. I have also read that more men than women choose lifelong celibacy, for religious or other reasons. So, as Mouse pointed to, the typical circumstance in a community will be more young adult women looking for a suitable mate than there are suitable males to go around. I think this is common among animals, too. I'm no zoologist, but it seems that lots of mammals (lions, gorillas) have one male attracting and mating with several females. We don't want that. [Personally, I have a theory that nature's God's means of restoring human gender balance was women dying in childbirth, which modern medicine has tweaked.]

Moreover, experience teaches that women are more religious than men. [Evidence, admittedly insufficient: Adam Smith says, "Religion reigns supreme in the hearts of women." The rabbis women's greater spirituality as a starting point for all sorts of discussions. The Gospels and Acts repeatedly refer to Christ's women disciples.] So in the religious communities those practicing the virtue of modesty are likely to inhabit, the gender imbalance is likely to be even greater.

Moreover again, romance is one of the few areas where some (most?) people want men and women to act differently. If women are raised to do all the same things as the boys (take the same classes, play the same sports), then go on to enter the same professions as men, adopting the same behaviors (firm handshake, drinks with clients) and dress (tailored suit, white lab coat), it is difficult to turn that sameness off when it comes to romance. A woman simply won't turn that sameness off if she thinks she shouldn't, that women's equality means women's sameness in all areas, including romance. Thus women act even in romance like men more traditionally have. Add to that the gender balance issues mentioned, and you get a situation of women working harder to attract men than men are working to attract women.

On the other hand, traditionally women are "the fairer sex." We get to wear the pretty dresses in all sorts of colors while men stick to dark suits. Paintings of us clothed (Mona Lisa) and unclothed (Birth of Venus) become universally admired at a higher rate, I think it's safe to say, than paintings of men. When they are discussed and admired, people talk about the beauty of the subject, rather than the expertise in execution. Thus, while the particular means and degrees of enhancement may be new, I think the fact that women are using their looks to attract men is not.


Ugh. Anonymouse. Roissy also has posts about how women stay with abusive men because they love them and that they are "true alpha males". Roissy is nothing more then a misogynistic playboy. Dating and social dynamics have changed. Different people form relationships in different ways. The overtly promiscuous and hook-up way are merely the most visible and sensational. Women who do not fall into those hardly register in the media. Roissy is restricted to his own social life, and his rather limited world-view.


I don't think it's a great idea to compare ourselves to animals. Very few animals are monogamous, so I don't think they made great models for human behavior!

Carrie W.

This is an interesting point. I was in a psychology class last semester, and one of the lessons was on attraction. One part of that lesson stated that typically, the "more invested sex" (that is, the gender that has the greatest investment in raising offspring) is the gender that is generally competed over. The gender that has less of a biological investment in raising their young is generally the one that does the competing.

This brings us back to the original question: What about humans? It certainly seems that women are the "more invested sex", biologically (since women are the ones who may end up pregnant). Then again, a responsible man could certainly have his share of "biological investment" as well when it comes to raising children. This certainly is confusing. Perhaps the hookup culture simply goes against nature? That would be my best guess.

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