Whitehead on the dating game

Social historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has two unmarried daughters in their thirties and has written a book about their problems: Why There Are No Good Men Left. The basic problem, she seems to believe, is a sort of mechanical lack of opportunity. Young women today are raised to find careers rather than husbands. When they eventually become interested in settling down, they’re likely to be trapped in a routine that includes work, working-out and a circle of friends, but not the pool of eligible young men they knew in college. So they don’t get married for lack of prospects.

So what to do? Not question the upbringing, expectations and conduct

that lead women into a dead end. After all, Professor Whitehead points out, waiting brings maturity, good judgement, and financial security, all of which are good for a marriage if one should come about. So for her the answer is to develop new courtship mechanisms tailored to fit the needs of busy professionals. Already, innovations like online introduction services and “SpeedDating” events have emerged. These and other ingenious improvements, she hopes, will “revive [women’s] flagging faith that it is possible to find lasting love and to integrate a loving marriage into a life of individual career achievement.”

All of which seems somewhat unlikely. Can a mechanical failure in markets really be what’s behind a problem like this? To extend the commercial metaphor, deals close faster and the ensuing relationships are more likely to be stable if each party supplies something different that the other needs. It seems likely that something of the sort applies to marriage as well, so that the “strictly equal” marriage will always be something of an anomaly. If the sexes have no pressing practical reason for marriage they’re much less likely to marry and work out marital problems. Marriage may be important for personal emotional fulfillment, but it can’t work when that is its main purpose. And in any case, women—especially women trained to value themselves and therefore others on career success—aren’t likely to marry down no matter what they say in interviews. So it seems unlikely that a technical fix of the sort Dr. Whitehead favors is likely to emerge.

An incidental but characteristic feature of her views is that she is convinced that the problem she sees in the marriage market applies only to women. On the face of it that seems strange: if fewer women get married and have children, then it seems—if you assume men are not declining in number and you ignore the somewhat unlikely possibility of polyandry—that the same would hold for men. The solution seems to be that men don’t mind marrying down, so the men who lose out are those she calls “guys who were not quite so well-educated.” And those are men who, as a professional woman thinking about marriage, Dr. Whitehead could hardly care less about.

7 thoughts on “Whitehead on the dating game”

  1. You’re right about the
    You’re right about the nature and dimensions of the problem, Jim. And, of course, the Naomi Wolffs, Susan Faludis, Gloria Steinems, and other women’s libbers will find SOME way to pin the blame exclusively on men and “the Patriarchy.” (I reject the term “Feminists” as a designation of what in the early 70s were called “women’s libbers.” Both terms are lies: this movement neither liberates women [it enslaves them] nor has aught to do with their femininity, except to destroy it. I don’t see why I should go along with the replacement one lie by another just as brazen, merely because the first lie had become associated with embarrassingly bad press resulting from the movement’s own idiotic antics.)

  2. There’s truth in what Ms.
    There’s truth in what Ms. Whitehead says, but I think the biggest reason these women can’t find good men is that good men simply don’t want these women, regardless of their age or circumstance. Good men understand that the marital union is not intended primarily for the sake of the emotional or sexual gratification of either member, but rather for the sake of family; i.e. it is fundamentally ordered to the procreation and raising of children. In fact, an honest observer will note that, far from the man being the center or “most important” member of a family, as liberals stupidly assert, it is actually the children and the mother that the (healthy, normal) family exists for. The simple fact is that women who deny this natural truth and the natural order it reflects are supremely unattractive to marriage-minded men, just as men who deny their responsibilities to their families are similarly unattractive to marriage-minded women.

  3. “If the sexes have no
    “If the sexes have no pressing practical reason for marriage they’re much less likely to marry” – Kalb

    Since all women, married or not (except for the rich), now have to work in almost all marriages, a huge incentive for marriage is destroyed. If the women are going to have to work anyway, why not just stay independent, and never go through the trouble of having kids or sharing their lives with someone else.

    In addition to the destruction of this practical reason for marriage, there is a simultaneous destruction of the values that would make women realize that marriage and child-rearing is more than a burden. This destruction of values is what makes the men less interested in marriage, since working and living independently has really always been a practical choice for them.

    I saw a female place-kicker try to kick the first point-after-touchdown ever in college football history at New Mexico’s bowl game earlier this week. The kick was blocked. My only regret was that she did not try to run any real plays and get tackled and broken in half.

  4. I have three unmarried
    I have three unmarried friends over the age of 34. Their prospects are pretty dismal. The only attention one has received in the last several years is from a married man. She is considering an immoral relationship out of loneliness and desperation. Hopefully she will not succumb to this temptation.

    We discuss feminism and without a doubt, we all feel lied to. We talk about how feminism has made life harder for women and men. I realized with time how feminism denies a homelife and focuses on career goals to the detriment of everything else. As a Christian, the values of feminism dont line up for me; My friends say things to me like “we were lied to”, “Things used to be better”, “Life is not meant to spend alone”. “the work place is not a happy one for women”, “I wish I was home with kids”, “I am going to get too old to have children soon”. “Here we are working our butts off for these low-paying and unsatisfying jobs”—the idea of a the high-paid executive “professional” only applies to a minority of women.

    I hung out on the MS. magazine message boards long enough to realize how disconnected feminism was from the average woman.

    None of the careers panned out for all four of us even with years dedicated to school and jobs. I was a teacher and became disabled, the most successful of the three is a therapist who tells me everyday that she cant barely handle all the problems of others while she goes home to a lonely apartment.

    I have realized the harm feminism in some respects has done to women. I am happily married and I realize I was lucky, I was an older bride at the age of 29 (met husband at age 25) and I remember thinking its time to get married. While all my friends at that time, thought their time was endless, believed I was in a hurry to get married, and they could devote more years to careers and being single.

    Marriage is one of the greatest joys of my life. It far outdistances any job. One other friend who got married around the age of 32, has told me she is far, far more happy.

    This society is breaking up connections between people. Feminism is one main thing that is doing it.

  5. Victoria’s point is an
    Victoria’s point is an excellent one. Just from my own observation, I would have to say that feminism is probably the single most destructive influence in Western society today. When I read some of David Horowitz’s comments on the background of Betty Friedan (a Marxist from the 1930s on), it soon becomes clear that the whole idea is to destroy the institution of marriage – and families. Improving women’s lives was secondary at best, a smokescreen at worst. Hence the muted criticism from the feminists of Islam’s treatment of women – directed only at 3rd world Islamic states – while Muslim immigrants here are exempt. After all, the Muslims here share the same ultimate goal as Steinem, Faludi, et al of tearing down the ediface of traditional Western culture.

  6. Feminism’s darkest deed was
    Feminism’s darkest deed was to influence generations of women into perceiving themselves as victims of men which thereby mentally crippled them as marital candidates.

    Emulating the single man’s competitive employment life, women also surrendered the tradition of female momogamy in mate selection in favor of multiple sex partners and the birth control pill.Having rejected the handed down experiences of generations of their traditional female ancestors is it any wonder they havent a clue?

    The lie they bought led to their search for an elusive equality with men, and was paid for with loss of their traditional hearth and home life. The after effects continue to the present as discussed in the Whitehead article.

  7. One problem I have been
    One problem I have been hearing lately is that there is a tendency of feminists to define themselves in terms of men. This seems to be true. Feminists observe what men do and conclude women must do the same thing or women cannot be respected as equal to men. This is like saying Albert Einstein must be allowed to play basketball with Michael Jordan or Albert cannot be as respected as Michael.


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