Nights Out

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The End of Courtship?

Published January 16, 2013 by Tabby

A while ago I wrote an article regarding peacocking and the end of romance. This much more seriously written article is from the New York Times describing “hook-up culture.” In thinking about this, it makes me sad. Instead of actual dating we just hang out and have sex. Oh how romantic. It definitely isn’t the plot of a favorite romance movie. Then I started thinking about my own life, which is never a good thing and often depressing. I realized after reading this article I have not gone on a first date since I was fifteen years old. Granted I haven’t dated a lot of different people but since that first date when I was fifteen it’s all been group hangouts. Facepalm.

So guys, if you are interested in someone and get the Herculean courage to ask someone out…TAKE THEM ON A DATE! Not to a bar with your friends, not to your frat-boy apartment to watch a movie, etc. Please take him/her to dinner, movie, activity, whatever but a date with just you and him/her. And ladies, we need to stop agreeing to these things. Now I like doing the non-date things after date(s) have happened, but not for the initial getting-to-know-each-other phase.

Now think about it, when is the last time you’ve gone on a real date?

Denise Hewitt, “The End of Courtship?” The New York Times, January 11, 2013, http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/single-america-thatll-cost-190100225.html (accessed January 16, 2013).

MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.

“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

For evidence, look no further than “Girls,” HBO’s cultural weather vane for urban 20-somethings, where none of the main characters paired off in a manner that might count as courtship even a decade ago. In Sunday’s opener for Season 2, Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver), who last season forged a relationship by texting each other nude photos, are shown lying in bed, debating whether being each other’s “main hang” constitutes actual dating.

The actors in the show seem to fare no better in real life, judging by a monologue by Zosia Mamet (who plays Shoshanna, the show’s token virgin, since deflowered) at a benefit last fall at Joe’s Pub in the East Village. Bemoaning an anything-goes dating culture, Ms. Mamet, 24, recalled an encounter with a boyfriend whose idea of a date was lounging in a hotel room while he “Lewis and Clarked” her body, then tried to stick her father, the playwright David Mamet, with the bill, according to a Huffington Post report.

Blame the much-documented rise of the “hookup culture” among young people, characterized by spontaneous, commitment-free (and often, alcohol-fueled) romantic flings. Many students today have never been on a traditional date, said Donna Freitas, who has taught religion and gender studies at Boston University and Hofstra and is the author of the forthcoming book, “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.”

Hookups may be fine for college students, but what about after, when they start to build an adult life? The problem is that “young people today don’t know how to get out of hookup culture,” Ms. Freitas said. In interviews with students, many graduating seniors did not know the first thing about the basic mechanics of a traditional date. “They’re wondering, ‘If you like someone, how would you walk up to them? What would you say? What words would you use?’ ” Ms. Freitas said.

That may explain why “dates” among 20-somethings resemble college hookups, only without the dorms. Lindsay, a 25-year-old online marketing manager in Manhattan, recalled a recent non-date that had all the elegance of a keg stand (her last name is not used here to avoid professional embarrassment).

After an evening when she exchanged flirtatious glances with a bouncer at a Williamsburg nightclub, the bouncer invited her and her friends back to his apartment for whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese. When she agreed, he gamely hoisted her over his shoulders, and, she recalled, “carried me home, my girlfriends and his bros in tow, where we danced around a tiny apartment to some MGMT and Ratatat remixes.”

She spent the night at the apartment, which kicked off a cycle of weekly hookups, invariably preceded by a Thursday night text message from him saying, ‘hey babe, what are you up to this weekend?” (It petered out after four months.)

Relationship experts point to technology as another factor in the upending of dating culture.

Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J. A typical, annoying query is the last-minute: “Is anything fun going on tonight?” More annoying still are the men who simply ping, “Hey” or “ ’sup.”

“What does he think I’m doing?” she said. “I’m going to my friend’s house to drink cheap white wine and watch episodes of ‘Dance Moms’ on demand.”

Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach — cycle through lots of suitors quickly.

That also means that suitors need to keep dates cheap and casual. A fancy dinner? You’re lucky to get a drink.

“It’s like online job applications, you can target many people simultaneously — it’s like darts on a dart board, eventually one will stick,” said Joshua Sky, 26, a branding coordinator in Manhattan, describing the attitudes of many singles in their 20s. The mass-mailer approach necessitates “cost-cutting, going to bars, meeting for coffee the first time,” he added, “because you only want to invest in a mate you’re going to get more out of.”

If online dating sites have accelerated that trend, they are also taking advantage of it. New services like Grouper aren’t so much about matchmaking as they are about group dates, bringing together two sets of friends for informal drinks.

The Gaggle, a dating commentary and advice site, helps young women navigate what its founders call the “post-dating” landscape, by championing “non-dates,” including the “group non-date” and the “networking non-date.” The site’s founders, Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand, say that in  a world where “courtship” is quickly being redefined, women must recognize a flirtatious exchange of tweets, or a lingering glance at a company softball game, as legitimate opportunities for romance, too.

“Once women begin recognizing these more ambiguous settings as opportunities for romantic possibility,” Ms. Massa said, “they really start seeing their love lives as much more intriguing and vibrant than they did when they were only judging themselves by how many ‘dates’ they had lined up.”

THERE’S another reason Web-enabled singles are rendering traditional dates obsolete. If the purpose of the first date was to learn about someone’s background, education, politics and cultural tastes, Google and Facebook have taken care of that.

“We’re all Ph.D.’s in Internet stalking these days,” said Andrea Lavinthal, an author of the 2005 book “The Hookup Handbook.” “Online research makes the first date feel unnecessary, because it creates a false sense of intimacy. You think you know all the important stuff, when in reality, all you know is that they watch ‘Homeland.’ ”

Dodgy economic prospects facing millennials also help torpedo the old, formal dating rituals. Faced with a lingering recession, a stagnant job market, and mountains of student debt, many young people — particularly victims of the “mancession” — simply cannot afford to invest a fancy dinner or show in someone they may or may not click with.

Further complicating matters is the changing economic power dynamic between the genders, as reflected by a number of studies in recent years, said Hanna Rosin, author of the recent book “The End of Men.”

A much-publicized study by Reach Advisors, a Boston-based market research group, found that the median income for young, single, childless women is higher than it is for men in many of the country’s biggest cities (though men still dominate the highest-income jobs, according to James Chung, the company’s president).  This may be one reason it is not uncommon to walk into the hottest new West Village bistro on a Saturday night and find five smartly dressed young women dining together — the nearest man the waiter. Income equality, or superiority, for women muddles the old, male-dominated dating structure.

“Maybe there’s still a sense of a man taking care of a woman, but our ideology is aligning with the reality of our finances,” Ms. Rosin said. As a man, you might “convince yourself that dating is passé, a relic of a paternalistic era, because you can’t afford to take a woman to a restaurant.”

Many young men these days have no experience in formal dating and feel the need to be faintly ironic about the process — “to ‘date’ in quotation marks” — because they are “worried that they might offend women by dating in an old-fashioned way,” Ms. Rosin said.

“It’s hard to read a woman exactly right these days,” she added. “You don’t know whether, say, choosing the wine without asking her opinion will meet her yearnings for old-fashioned romance or strike her as boorish and macho.”

Indeed, being too formal too early can send a message that a man is ready to get serious, which few men in their 20s are ready to do, said Lex Edness, a television writer in Los Angeles.

“A lot of men in their 20s are reluctant to take the girl to the French restaurant, or buy them jewelry, because those steps tend to lead to ‘eventually, we’re going to get married,’ ” Mr. Edness, 27, said. In a tight economy, where everyone is grinding away to build a career, most men cannot fathom supporting a family until at least 30 or 35, he said.

“So it’s a lot easier to meet people on an even playing field, in casual dating,” he said. “The stakes are lower.”

Even in an era of ingrained ambivalence about gender roles, however, some women keep the old dating traditions alive by refusing to accept anything less.

Cheryl Yeoh, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, said that she has been on many formal dates of late — plays, fancy restaurants. One suitor even presented her with red roses. For her, the old traditions are alive simply because she refuses to put up with anything less. She generally refuses to go on any date that is not set up a week in advance, involving a degree of forethought.

“If he really wants you,” Ms. Yeoh, 29, said, “he has to put in some effort.”

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No One Goes A’Courting Anymore: Courtship Aggression, Violence, and the Death of Romance in Our Generation’s Search for a Mate

Published August 5, 2012 by Tabby

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Don’t worry, this won’t be a blog about where has Prince Charming gone, whining about the shock that life isn’t exactly like romance movies. This is a blog written by a woman who would rather watch alien movies than “chick flicks” because aliens are more believable for me. I’m also not a complete cynic. I do believe in love, just that it’s never as clean and perfect as the movies make it seem. This is about living as a twenty-something at a time when the eras of courting have been forgotten. Instead, we’ve regressed a few evolutionary steps to the cavemen times. In addition to my observations of the disturbing, but admittedly amusing, quest for a mate, I’ve also noticed the aggression and violence that has accompanied it, which can’t all be blamed on this caveman era.

In times before (but after the idea of love in marriage), to find a potential relationship, men would ask for a lady’s company and spend initial time just talking (under the supervision of parents, historically). After both had become comfortable with the other, they would then progress the relationship, which if positive would often result in marriage.

Next, instead of visiting within the confines and supervision of a parent’s home, people went on dates. These dates would involve going to the movies, having dinner, or perhaps doing a fun activity together like hiking or miniature golf. After however many dates, the relationship would progress in seriousness, resulting in breakups to find better-suited people or marriage.

Today that has gone. Maybe not for everyone, I’m sure there are still twenty-somethings that go on dates as explained previously. However, I’ve noticed two patterns in relationships.

First is a variation of the before-mentioned dating. Instead of going to movies, dinner, etc. to get to know each other better before progressing the relationship, couples will spend their first or second date “hanging out.” This entails meeting at a local bar/pub, often with friends. It serves as a casual gathering, with the couple interacting with all of the attendees instead of really getting to know each other personally. Interaction is even further limited by the loud music preventing any conversation. Talking mostly involves a lot of smiling and nodding, hoping you’re reading the other person’s lips correctly. After one or two “hangouts” and/or shots of tequila, the couple’s interactions are then often limited to hanging out and having sex. The relationship can either progress, become “friends with benefits,” or become serious with eventual cohabitation and maybe moving even further later.

Second is the greatest tragedy, which I’m going to call “club hookups.” Where do twenty-somethings have the opportunity to meet like-aged people to date? Work relationships are almost always a bad idea and school is always the best “pond” to fish out of either. So you go out, to have a good time and maybe to meet someone. But it isn’t about really finding someone to speak with or get to know. It’s about which person to pick out of a crowd, like a lion picks out a zebra from the herd, that you can grind and rub yourself on and hopefully ply with enough liquor to make her come home with you (see my blog on “Peacocking” for further fun on male clubbing activities). This involves either a one-night “hook-up” or rarely an actual relationship that may eventually settle into dating. Not my cup of tea.

Now, I mentioned violence in this new hunt for relationships, remember? It occurs in the second form of dating. Lately, when at the clubs/bars (and various types, not just the rough ones), I’ve noticed how aggressive and sometimes abusive men can get with women they are trying to “court.” Gone are the days of no-contact until a full exclusive relationship, or the exciting first kiss outside your door at the end of the date. Now when women are dancing, men will not settle with dancing next to them. Instead they creepily stare at them for a minimum of five minutes, then grab their hips or waists (sometimes so hard they bruise), and force-hump on the woman, often with wondering hands. It takes strategic dance moves, good friends, a strategically aimed elbow, or an act of Congress to get away sometimes.

I know some of you may be thinking I’m over exaggerating, that this doesn’t really happen. So I will give you a personal honest account of one of my nights out. A few weeks ago, my friends and I decided to have a girl’s night out. We got dressed up and went to a new, upscale nightclub. Since we were all in committed relationships, we honestly just wanted to dance and have fun with each other. (Yes, some girls really go to clubs just to dance). As we are dancing in a circle, I notice that a guy is starting at me, never breaking eye contact. I try to ignore him, hoping that would signal that I was not interested. If only I was that lucky. He comes over to dance. I think if he just wanted to dance next to me, that was no big deal. However, he grabs my hips, so hard I can feel each individual fingertip bruising my skin, and humping me with such force I am almost falling forward. My first reaction was panicked and I considered elbowing him in the face. But my friend saw and rescued me and we went to dance on a raised portion of the dance floor. The guy takes my leaving as the greatest slight. His friend comes up to the raised floor where I was and sits a finished drink (in a glass) on the side. Then he starts slowly pushing the glass towards me. I realize that he is trying to get the glass under my foot so that I would step on it. As I watch him I’m stunned, thinking that if I step on it, that’s glass and that could seriously injure me. I made sure not to put that foot down. In a spark of temper I kicked the glass into the back of the man’s head.

Convinced now? When I later told me boyfriend about that event, which is one of the reasons I’m on a hiatus from the nightlife, he said it happened because I was a pretty person. While I’m flattered, I think that is similar to the excuse that if a woman is raped it is because she was dressed provocatively and therefore “wanted it.” Pretty extreme example, I know. Regardless of appearance or dress, a woman should never be subjected to that. Every time I have gone out in the past year I have had to physically defend myself, and that’s seen as normal. This is not right. What if my dad, mom, and other relatives and friends had never taught me to fight? What if I had not been a kickboxer in college? It’s not like I’m walking down a dark alley looking for trouble. I’m in very public places with lots of people and nothing is done because this is seen as normal behavior.

Men aren’t the only ones to blame, women are guilty as well. Some encourage this behavior by going home with them and supporting these people. In addition, instead of supporting a fellow assaulted female, they berate her for whatever physical flaw and strive to take her place with the abuser. This is a time to stand together and raise our standards.

I sometimes wonder if there is a relationship between the decline of courtship and dating, aggression in clubs, and the impersonal aspect of beginning a relationship with the rise of domestic violence and high divorce rates.

Another example of the regression of relationships is the language we use. We no longer say dates, instead it’s just hanging out. We don’t have relationships or boy/girlfriends, we are just “talking.” We don’t discreetly say making love, instead it’s a blaring…well, you know.

I’m not asking for relationships to be just like romance movies. (Although I would love a head injury where I woke up to Channing Tatum as my husband, but what girl wouldn’t?) But I would like dating a little more personable. I understand that there are plenty of women out there, but get to know me like I’m an individual person and maybe you’ll understand more of who a person is and whether they are compatible or not, as well as form more meaningful relationships. And for god’s sake, stop humping people on the dance floor.

Top Ten Tips to End Rape

Published August 5, 2012 by Tabby

I’m not one usually for overtly “feminist” things, but rape and the associated stigma is bit of a sore spot for me.

I love this graphic seen on atolemdro’s blog. It’s kind of a cheeky reply to recent ads that it’s women’s fault that they’re raped and it’s their responsibility to prevent rape but not drinking too much or dressing too provocatively.

It amazes me that there are still people, in 2012, that honestly believe it’s women’s fault they are raped instead of the rapist. They use similar excuses as rapists to do place blame elsewhere, “She wanted it because she dressed like that,” “She was alone so she was looking for someone,” “She was so hot and that’s her fault,” etc. There are worse ones but I don’t wish to be graphic or give them any credit. And there’s still a stigma on victims of rape. If someone is shot in a home invasion/burglary, there is no stigma and they are seen as a random unfortunate victim. Understandable. But if someone is raped, the questions begin…did she lead them on? Is she a “loose” person and had it coming?” Inexcusable.

I’m not sure as to what kind of solution to offer, only that this outlook and stigma has to stop. Now.

atolemdro

puts the onus more where it belongs (via sil lai).

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The Art of Peacocking

Published November 20, 2010 by Tabby

Many people praise humankind as the most evolved and sophisticated life form on this planet. Always doubtful of that statement, this last weekend I received further affirmation that we really haven’t evolved as much as some would like to think, especially when it comes to modern day mating rituals. Welcome to the art of peacocking.

When in a social atmosphere of mixed genders, typically the men and women separate. As attraction occurs, the reversal of evolution ensues.

Whe women go to a club with a group of friends, they mostly just want to dance. Can we do that without a bodyguard? No. And I’ll tell you why.

As women are enjoying themselves together on the dance floor, the men start to gather and surround the area. They get this determined look, like they are selecting which type of TapOut or Affliction shirt to purchase, or which Axe man-spray they can marinate in. Many change their stance. (I call this the man-stand). They cross their arms to have that oh-so-careless look while checking that they can flex their biceps. (For a good example-think of Uncle Rico on Napoleon Dynamite.)

As they hover like lions gazing at nearby gazelle’s, they analyze each woman. Slowly. Once they’ve made their selection, they stare for a while more. Then they make their move. Cleverly, they sneak up behind their prey, and just start dancing behind them. After the woman is aware of the male’s presence, or is just trying to ignore the creepy guy hoping that he’ll go away, the guy grabs her by the hips and starts to grind. Either he attacks her from behind where she can’t get away unassisted, or he assaults her from the front, looking intense-like that will make her realize what a studly guy she has.

To get out of this really awkward and disgusting situation, a woman has to either tactically dance/maneuver between two friends and hope the guy can take a hint, cleverly assault his manlihood, or what I recommend, having a personal bodyguard (i.e. good friend) step in.

The presence of competition also inspires primal actions, and is where the name “peacocking” comes from. Upon accessing competition, whether it be from fellow single males or an apparent boyfriend/bodyguard, the men start to puff out their chests, walk with a swagger, (constipated penguin) and flex their arm muscles. This is similar to how males peacocks puff out their tail feathers to attract  females and warn other males. How our species has come so far.

So, for the educational portion of this blog: listen up guys. Peacocking is not a good game plan. Staring at me like a stalker while I have a good time with friends doesn’t make me like you. Grabbing me and assaulting me with your denim happy boy parts doesn’t make me like you. Threatening a male friend/boyfriend doesn’t make me like you. Lastly, watching yourself flex, puffing your chest out, and walking like a constipated penguin doesn’t make me like you. In closing, for those peacocks out there, I don’t like you.

Thank  you.

(originally written 11/5/2010)

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