Phi Beta Cons

Yet Another Note on the Hookup Culture

With all due apologies to PBC readers, I’ve got to throw in one last “hookup” post and respond to Carol. First, let me start with our broad and important areas of agreement. I agree that the evolutionary biology argument seems strained at best. I don’t follow the field closely, so I’m liable to immediately make a fool of myself when I speak on this topic (when has that ever stopped good blogging?), but I definitely track Carol’s critique. I find evolutionary biology — at least the behavioral branch of it all — to be so theoretical and malleable as to be virtually useless as a guide for understanding human choices. I’m happy for someone to explain to me why I’m wrong and why evolutionary biology can Explain Everything About Life, but for now consider me unimpressed.

I also agree with Carol that feminism calls on men to suppress their natural masculinity, and this leads to the “beta” behavior, and that people are ultimately too complex to be so roughly categorized. But I’ve just got to respond to this:

The truth is, even the merest so-called beta has all the masculinity needed to attract women if only he would exercise it. The simplest masculine look or “male gaze” at certain moments can make females melt. Confidence shown in conversation and interest in a subject can attract female admiration. If men would dress to complement their masculine form rather than wearing baggy shorts, baseball caps turned backward, and oversized Hawaiian-type smock-shirts that used to be the reserve of retired overweight men on vacation, they would be very appealing to women.

Oh how I wish that were true! My life would have been so very, very different in high school and college. The reality is that a “male gaze” has to come from someone a woman already finds attractive. Otherwise, the “ewww, I think David likes me” text messages start flying. And what do women find attractive? On the college campus, one constantly hears students lament “where have all the nice guys gone?” Well, the ones who pay attention and have a modicum of self-confidence often react to market pressures and display the stereotypical “alpha” behavior that may not be “nice” but certainly is “attractive.” As for the ones who stay “nice?” They’re still there, but they’re just as (un)attractive as they’ve always been.

As we hear about the alleged inherent attractiveness of the “good guys,” I’m reminded of what happens when we forget what the market is really like and instead talk about the market we’d like to see. The “good guy” is the Toyota Prius of the dating world: He’s the person you (allegedly) should end up with. But the Ford F150 is where the moneys’ made. The feminist tries to force people to like the Prius — ultimately a fool’s errand. The conservative exhorts F150 owners to use their powers for good and not evil.

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