On January 11, the New York Times published an article entitled “The End of Courtship” in which it declared the end to traditional dating or any sort of dating at all, claiming it was replaced with hookups and hanging out. Gone are the days of men treating women to fine French dining or even so much as a movie. The article seems to think that girls are lucky if they can get even a smidgen of commitment out of today’s men.
These themes and complaints aren’t anything new. Not a few articles and books have been published on the subject of traditional relationships disappearing (perhaps the most well known being Fox’s “The War on Men”). Why is everything going wrong? Because men just don’t ask women out anymore thanks to text messaging. They don’t try to be romantic anymore because casual sex is socially acceptable. They don’t care about relationships because they can’t imagine settling down since the “mancession” has left them unable to imagine supporting a family.
Articles like that and recently published books like Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men seem to think today’s culture makes boys into eternal man-children who won’t marry you or take you out for dinner. Some blame the millennial hookup culture. Others blame changing gender roles and feminism. The one thing no one does is make these “man-children” responsible for their own behavior.
Sure, maybe social media and the economy are the reasons that guy won’t commit to you. Also, maybe he’s just a dick. Did anyone ever think of that?
While I agree that dating culture has changed from what it was even twenty years ago, it’s changed for everyone, not just for men. Women are at least as guilty as men of communicating by texting and Facebook. It’s something that’s become pervasive and unavoidable in our culture, but it equally affects everyone.
So what if men in their early twenties don’t want to think about settling down? A lot of women don’t either. Thanks to the oft referenced changing gender roles, a lot of women want to spend time working, looking for a career they love before they think about settling down.
Finding jobs out of college isn’t a guarantee anymore so it takes young men and women a little longer to get on track. While the recession may keep a young couple from going out to a French restaurant in Manhattan, it’s not an excuse for a lack of commitment. You can date cheaply; having a relationship isn’t automatically a financial burden. And why is money a male specific cop out? Today it’s not expected that men simply pay for everything all the time. Except on special occasions, most couples split the check or trade off paying. He pays for drinks one night, she buys breakfast the next day, everyone saves money. Yay feminism.
We’re all adults and we’re all living in the same culture where social media is everywhere and cash is scarce. It affects us all, not just men. And it shouldn’t be used as an across the board excuse for irritating or hurtful male behavior.
As a woman, you don’t have to settle for thoughtless, dead end relationships. It’s not something we just have to deal with now. If you let a man treat you badly, he will continue to treat you badly. If you want a man to date you exclusively, and he doesn’t see why he should, go find someone who does. If all your boyfriend wants to do is hookup and then hang out with his friends, say something. Talk to him about it, take him out somewhere, give him an ultimatum, do something. Women have come too far to settle for going out with complete jerks just because a culture writer tells you that’s all you’re going to find out there. Whatever year it is, whatever the social climate is, an asshole is an asshole. There’s no excuse for that.
If I was a man, I imagine I’d be offended by reading these sorts of sweeping generalizations. There are certainly plenty of immature man-children out there (and there always have been) but there are also men, men who want to be in love and will treat you well. Yes, they may set up a date over Facebook instead of calling you, and dinner and movie might mean he makes you stir fry at his apartment and then you guys Netflix a Nicolas Cage movie. But it sure beats waiting around hoping to get a “hey…u up?” text on Friday night.
So, fellow women, if you read “The End of Courtship” and any of the anecdotes or complaints remind you of a man in your life, don’t just sigh and nod in commiseration. Move on, because that guy is not a victim of society. He’s just a dick.
Allie Lane is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with degrees in English and German. She hopes to obtain an advanced degree in creative writing and teach others the power of the written word.