An article in the New York Post made the internet rounds last week, featuring “hot” men and women who gave up dating the best-looking members of the opposite sex and settled for dating merely attractive ones.
Predictably, lines from the article’s main interviewee, 40-year-old Dan Rochkind—like “I couldn’t have [anyone] I wanted,” and “…[my less-attractive fiancé is] 5-foot-2, so she can’t be a runway model”—set off swarms of online mockery and outrage.
However douchey (or deceptively-edited) the delivery, underlying the rage-response from the Facebook legions is a left-wing culture that cannot accept certain basic truths about men, women, and sexual attraction that a generation or two ago were commonly known. Triggering truths like: men value physical attractiveness highly in a mate, 40-something successful men can date a string of 20-something models while 40-something women have difficulty finding men their own age, and women value power, dominance, or the ability to provide financially over rock-hard abs.
Part of the anger focused around Rochkind’s supposed disrespect for his fiancé by labeling her “a soft beauty,” but perhaps not “the hottest girl [he] could find.” The only problem for the increasing rage-spiral is that the fiancé in question doesn’t seem to be offended. In fact, she wrote a response to the backlash, stating what used to be obvious: “Everyone knows that in the dating world, a man in his 30s, who’s good-looking, smart and has a good job, is heavily in demand.”
In fact, the only thing about the article that rings false, rather than simply rude or impolitic, is the insistence on finding female counterparts who spout tales of “giving up” on dating physically hot men in exchange for other, supposedly less-shallow qualities like social dominance and power. As anyone honest with him or herself knows deep-down, but few dare say out loud, women simply value other kinds of shallow characteristics over physical attractiveness when initially picking a date. Which is why it’s common to see beautiful, young women with older, uglier, but richer and more in-charge men. Examples of the reverse, on the other hand, are rare enough to stand out as exceptions.
Recognizing Sex Differences Doesn’t Make Us Slaves
Acceptance of these truths doesn’t mean we, as a culture, should stop encouraging both sexes to base long-term matchmaking decisions on something a bit longer-lasting than their lowest animal impulses. But ignoring the basic facts of male-female sexual attraction and desire has unintended consequences.
One such unintended consequence is the emotional devastation women experience—and corresponding life-ruining danger men face—in today’s campus hookup culture. One only has to witness the frenzied efforts of modern feminists to put the sexual revolution genie back in an updated, “consent”-labeled bottle to know that women having casual sex like men hasn’t quite turned out like the free-love revolutionaries hoped it would. (Another obvious truth they could have learned from no less a culturally approved source than “Sex and the City.”)
Harried campus administrators, angry slut-marchers decrying the “rape culture,” and Princeton Mom deniers would do well to harken back to the words of Roman poet Horace: “You can drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she will ever hurry back.”
Work With Human Nature Instead of Against It
The men (and women!) interviewed in the New York Post article undoubtedly appear shallow and obnoxious. But the message of the article itself—that while looks are incredibly important to men in particular, they don’t necessarily close the deal or make a happy marriage—is one our grandparents would likely find too obvious even to merit discussion.
Female youth, beauty, and (ahem) proportions will always be incredibly important to men, who tend to be more visual. Power, financial wherewithal, and experience are attractive to women. But none of these initial attractors are sufficient to keep couples in love until their 50th, 70th, or 80th (!) wedding anniversaries. So men and women in the market for long-term happiness would do well to make sure they’re not allowing these important factors to overwhelm others, like compatibility, shared values, and a common vision for the future.
The relentless drive to make men and women not only equals but interchangeable, especially in the realm of relationships and sex, is not only doomed to fail—sometimes with spectacularly bad unintended consequences—it makes us all, men and women, more unhappy in our relationships with one another.
Instead of being offended at a few insufferable guys looking for their bit of fame by displaying their unrestrained sexual ids for the world to see, our culture would do better to internalize those kernels of common sense from days gone by, and work with the differences between men and women, instead of against them. Rather than exhibiting the worst of each of our natures to each other and the world, we should use our natural complementarity to establish happier relationships and marriages.