I saw two different articles today on internet dating. One had a liberal take and the other a conservative bent, yet both portrayed an ugly view of internet dating (I would argue one is more concerning than the other).
First, Jezebel posted an article with an analysis of the site "Nice Guys of OkCupid", (OkCupid is on online dating site). In the article, Jezebel discusses the disconnection of men complain about how women don't want to date them, despite their self-described label as a "nice guy". They seem to miss the contradictory information provided on their profile which are often homophobic, racist, sexist and otherwise entitled attitudes, directly in contrast to their identity as a "nice guy".
On the other hand, the Atlantic posted a piece on how online dating sites have made dating so easy that it's a threat to monogamy and the institution of marriage. Their basic thesis is that by decreasing the barrier of access to multiple potential partners, individuals will be less likely to settle in a relationship and will otherwise continue to try to upgrade their partnerships. It's a little difficult to believe their premise, let alone empirically show the association between online dating and the end of marriage.
With these two articles in contrast, I have to wonder if the advantages of more potential partners might skew more towards an advantage for straight men than any increase of potential "upgraded" possibilities for heterosexual women. Then again, if they are posting they think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved, gays and lesbian couples shouldn't be allowed to have children, men should be heads of their households, and interracial marriage should be illegal, maybe their dating pool isn't getting all that much larger after all.
In any case, regardless of your political leanings, internet dating doesn't look too good for anybody based on today's commentary. Although, I have to admit I'm way more concerned that these men feel it's okay to post their entitled and ignorant attitudes these days than I am about the so-called demise of marriage.
Update: Jezebel's take on the Atlantic article.
Another excellent blog post by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence today: How's Your Relationship? Kelly Starr raises a very good question in deed. Why don't we ask each other about our relationships? We celebrate unions, and many ceremonies talk about the necessity of support from family and friends for a healthy marriage. Yet, after the wedding ceremony, the conversation tends to stop. Ask most unmarried couples about how often people ask when they are planning to get married and you're likely to elicit a lot of responses. But, I'm guessing most people aren't asking about the quality of the relationship, especially long after the marriage. The media certainly has a lot to say about relationships: how they should be, what they look like, speculation of celebrities relationships. Could we all really tell you more about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship than our best friend's or our sister's partnerships? Why is that?
Given the multitude of conversations relating to the recession and recovery of the US economy, it's not altogether surprising that the discourse has involved speculation about marriages and divorces. A few folks have speculated about the rise and decline of marriages and divorces during the recessions (Do the rich get more recession divorces?).
What really interests me though is the juxtaposition of dialogue that suggests on the one hand that marriage is the cure for children living in poverty and on the other hand marriage is the "End of Men" because wives are becoming more successful than their husbands.
Let's look at the thesis suggesting women should just get married to solve child poverty. At the beginning of September 2012, the Heritage Foundation proclaimed that the solution to child poverty was marriage. For some great responses on debunking this claim, check out Professor Stephanie Coontz's response on CNN and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence's blog. What women really need to support their children is access to resources and a stable paycheck. As WIFE.org proclaims, "A Man Is Not a Financial Plan". We can do better for women and children in society and offer families and girls real empowerment.
In contrast to this notion that somehow all of our problems will be resolved if damsel's in distress every where could just find their prince on a white horse, we see competing narratives that suggest women are doing so much better than men. Hanna Rosin is coming out with a book titled, "The End of Men: And the rise of Women". In it she pronounces that for some classes in society, women are more likely to be the breadwinner in married couples (See her article in the Atlantic here) and that women are rapidly outpacing men in the workforce due to them getting more education than men and their ability to be adaptable to change. Obviously, this proclamation is not sitting well with everyone, given that the majority of statistics would just not support her thesis that women are taking over. Check out a review of the book by Jennifer Homans in the New York Times and the many blog postings by Dr. Philip Cohen on Family Inequality for some counter argument.
I'm not entirely sure how both of these things can be true at the same time: women need a man to support themselves and their children AND women are ending men as we know them because they are just so much more successful than men. How can women both need a man and NOT be the primary breadwinner at the same time?
What this really does is say to women, your place is married and in the home. Make sure you have a man in your life but don't emasculate him. Really, what we're seeing is just the double edged sword that women experience in multiple facets of their lives. Be thin, but not too thin. Be fierce, but don't be bitchy. Be strong, but don't be arrogant. Be a wife, but not one that makes too much money.
A few days ago I linked to an article about how more people are delaying marriage these days or choosing not to marry at all. What I think was noticeably absent from the discussion during the time when this topic was back in the news, was the lack of commentary on the stereotype of the single African American woman in relation to women of other races. In fact, historically their has been all kinds of media analysis on the disproportional numbers of single Black women (Black Women See Fewer Black Men at the Alter from the NYTimes to be one of many examples) but it hardly gets a nod in the current "revelation" that many people are opting out of marriage. The closest mention was of how economics plays into marriage decisions with the rich marrying at higher rates than those with lower incomes. Check out an interesting response to the prior commentary: Don't lecture black women about marriage.
On a similar note, apparently a campaign was started back in 2010 to encourage black men and women to wed before having children as a response to the high number of single parent families in the black community (http://noweddingnowomb.com). While I am mostly befuddled by this "intervention", I also find it heterosexist and, to borrow a phrase from the domestic violence community, victim blaming. I found this reaction helpful in clarifying my reaction: Black women are not the problem and marriage is not the cure for the black community’s woes;