If a man doesn’t take you on a date, he’s not interested. “Let’s meet up with friends,” is not a date—it’s a date for him to decide whether you’re truly good enough to date, and that’s not acceptable, ladies. Sex from behind is degrading. He should want to look at your beautiful face.
Recognize these fun tips? They’re from the second episode of Girls, “Vagina Panic,” where Shoshanna tries to comfort Hannah by quoting Listen Ladies: A Tough Love Approach to the Tough Game of Love. This advice is an obvious mockery of books like Greg Behrendt’s He’s Just Not That Into You, but unfortunately, it could have easily come from the headlines of any major publication over the past three months. Suzanne Venker’s “The War On Men” for FoxNews.com, Amy Webb’s “Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart” for the Wall Street Journal, Alex Williams’ “The End of Courtship?” for The New York Times, and Lisa Taddeo’s “The Luxury Rental Girlfriend” for the New York Observer all might as well begin with Listen Ladies, because according to them, we’re royally fucked on the romance front.
These articles, although different in their specific subject matter, rely on the same premise: women roughly between the ages of 22 to 35 are obsessed with marriage and monogamy. Venker coaches career women who have found themselves terrifyingly husbandless into marriageability, while Webb teaches us how to engineer the best dating profile (spoiler alert: don’t mention your career!). Williams covers the “20-somethings,” who are apparently so caught up in hook-ups and Facebook that women can’t get a good old-fashioned date anymore. In fact, “they’re lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along.” Lastly, Taddeo’s article is, understandably, about the men who turn to escorts in order to escape all of the above—the women who Venker, Webb, and Williams essentially describe as taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches to capture a mate.
Yet what none of these articles even tries to address is the fact that we—“the ladies”—may not want your monogamy. To summarize what a generation of women growing up in a social climate radically different from any that came before it want in terms of archaic stereotypes—marriage, doctor husbands, golden retrievers, the Hamptons, roses—is not just lazy reporting, but sexist, heteronormative, and blatantly wrong.
Williams mentions that 20-something men are unsure if traditional dates or paying for dinner will offend women now that we constitute about half of the labor force, but doesn’t mention that perhaps the success of women in the past few years has caused us to change traditional dating patterns. The typical age at which women have their first child is rising, women are more likely than men to live without a spouse, and both women and men are delaying marriage about five years later on average than they did in 1950.
What I’m getting at is: maybe us ladies don’t mind getting your last-minute text for a drink at 10 p.m. After all, we’ve been working our asses off all day, and 10 p.m. sounds great. We may want casual sex because we’re not desperate to settle down at age 30, we may want to split the check, and hey—we might not call you back, because we’re too busy challenging ourselves to earn more than 77 cents to your dollar to cling to our phones. Times have changed, and women should never have to feel abnormal for not wanting the same things women of previous generations did, nor should they have to feel that they’re contributing to the end of men, or romance, or whatever hot-button abstraction is being held under fire this week just because they’re not playing into the stereotype and asking for a steak dinner and candle-lit romance.
So, what do “the ladies” want, nowadays? Who knows. It’s impossible to prescribe one goal to such a diverse generation. But one thing we can probably all agree on is that fluff pieces in the media should stop guessing.