Here are two Youtube videos: one where a girl asks 100 guys to sleep with her and another where a guy asks 100 girls to sleep with him. The results — not one girl agreed to have sex with the guy, while hardly any of the guys didn’t turn down the opportunity to have sex with the girl — seem to reflect our current state of dating. Or, more specifically, why there’s only Grindr for men (and not for women).
Overall, the videos seem to suggest: men will fuck anything that walks; women have much higher standards when it comes to the people they’ll have sex with; and most significantly, men are entirely capable of having casual sex, while women are not.
But is it really true that the average man’s default state of emotions is wholly unconnected to his sexual activity? Literature would seem to suggest otherwise. Clive James in Cultural Amnesia argues, “Troy burned because Paris was smitten by Helen’s beauty.” Even Alexander Pope, James continues, was deeply hampered and debilitated by his all-consuming infatuation with women,
Pope’s poetry might seem to scorn courtly love, but the poet’s mockery of trivial young ladies is a clear attempt to offset the boggling effect of their beauty on a mind deprived of the bodily means to do anything else about it.
As was Goethe supremely affected by his love for Ulrike Von Levetzow,
The tendency for the love object to grow younger as the genius grows older was exemplified with embarrassing clarity by Goethe, who was in his seventy-fourth year when he fancied his chances with the nineteen-year-old Ulrike von Levetzow…The greater the mind, the bigger the fool.
Yet somehow, as humans have evolved, so too has this image of man’s overwhelming obsession with woman. Today, we all but accept that men are inherently complacent towards intimacy and affection.
In his opening monologue for SNL this year, Louis CK lamented the state of guys right now, some of whom his daughters will soon begin to date,
I was talking to my friend and he said his girlfriend is mad at him and I said, ‘What happened?’ And he said, ‘Well I guess I, uh, said something. And then she, uh, got her feelings hurt.’ Such a weird way to phrase it: she got her feelings hurt. It’s like saying, ‘Yeah, I shot this guy in the face. And then I guess he got himself murdered.’
Louis paints a picture of the average man today who is virtually devoid of emotions. A look at recent history, however, suggests that this isn’t true — or certainly not true of all men. In the past couple years, we’ve seen an inordinate number of male politicians who couldn’t contain their adulterous urges. If it’s true that men are inherently wired to separate their emotions from sex, then surely it should not have been so hard for these men to stop themselves from committing adultery, and ultimately, destroying their careers.
On last night’s Mad Men, we finally saw some real concerns with existing gender roles. As Peggy was trying to come up with an idea for their client, “Burger Chef,” talking aloud and detailing the pristine family image they were attempting to portray, she finally had the impulse to stop and question herself, “Does this family exist anymore?…Are there people who eat dinner and smile at each other instead of watching TV?” Peggy knew, all along, that this image was false; she just had to let this truth surface on her own terms.
Obviously our society’s gender roles are not as sexist and isolating as they once were, but to this day the majority still does maintain that all women ever really want is monogamy and a faithful husband, despite the fact that most research does not corroborate this claim.
In The Cut, Terri Conley addresses men,
The reason women are turning you down for casual sex seems to be that, for one thing, a lot of you are calling them sluts afterward. A lot of you aren’t bothering to try to be good in bed. Until you can try to get that under control, it’s kind of hard to take seriously all these complaints about not having access to casual sex. It’s largely a product of your own behaviors.
In another piece, Ann Friedman says, “Long-term monogamy actually saps women’s sex drives,” and “[Daniel] Bergner makes a pretty strong case that women are socially, not biologically, discouraged from initiating and enjoying sex.”
Broad City is one of the only shows out there that’s made a clear and concerted effort to portray women accurately — by which I mean, according to actual research; again, in The Cut, Terri Conley remarks,
I would talk to journal editors about [whether or not monogamy is best for us], and they’d say, Everyone knows that non-monogamy doesn’t work, we did a lot of research on that before. Okay, so, where is that research? I can’t find it.
On the show, Ilana is casually hooking up with Lincoln (Hannibal Buress), and in a wild twist, it’s Lincoln who wants to settle down with Ilana, and Ilana who wants to have fun and not be tied down. Perhaps this emotionally detached, casual approach to dating comes so easily to Ilana because of the safe space she and Abbi have created; in the world of Broad City, we rarely hear derogatory terms like “slut.”
With Monica Lewinsky’s recent reemergence also came her declaration that she was abandoned by feminists during the height of the Clinton scandal. She wrote,
The movement’s leaders failed in articulating a position that was not essentially anti-woman during the witch hunt of 1998. In the case of the New York Supergals, it should not have been that hard for them to swoon over the president without attacking and shaming me. Instead, they joined the humiliation derby.
Lewinsky was dubbed a slut and “Sluts” are sometimes a murky area for hardcore feminists. It’s sad to think that, since that scandal, Clinton’s image has only progressed, becoming increasingly more faultless, while Lewinsky’s image has only gotten worse (if not forgotten entirely). The story, as we look back on it, goes like this: Clinton had sex with her, snubbed her, and then forgot about her. As we see it, he had all the power. But why? She was the one who, singlehandedly, almost dismantled his entire presidency. Oftentimes, a woman is much more powerful than she realizes.