Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The New Dating Game

Last week The Weekly Standard had a very interesting cover story by Charlotte Allen on the current state of dating and mating among American singles. It's a great piece and well worth reading, even though it paints a bleak picture of modern amor. (In a thumbnail: The sexual liberation of women has created an all-you-can-eat sexual buffet for alpha males, while denying beta males access to young, marriagible women. The macro effects of which are the delay of marriage, decline in fertility, rise of single-parent households, etc. I'm making Allen's piece sound more policy-wonkish than it is: It's a highly readable cultural survey, not a position paper.)

One thing that struck me about Allen's argument--and the arguments of everyone contained within her pieces, from the 17th Wave feminists to the hook-up/player Roissy's of the world--is that they implicitly assume a totally secular world.

Maybe it's so obvious as to be beneath mention, but very little of the behavior exemplified by our new-paleolithics is conceivable among serious religious believers. (Or at least serious Christian believers; I won't presume to know what Wiccans think about the hook-up culture.)

To be caught up in the alpha/beta, neg/peacock, give-it/get-it dynamic is only possible if you surrender the entire field to social Darwinism. If, instead, you hold some religious view of human affairs--a belief in certain defined moral constraints, calls to family life, the sacramental view of marriage, to pick just three--then it becomes difficult (perhaps impossible) to view the mating and dating game the way many of the characters Allen presents do.

This isn't to say that Christians don't hook up or find themselves guided by Darwinian impulses, of course--only that the Christian worldview explicitly precludes these things and that acceptance of serious religion stands athwart the return to prehistoric relations between the sexes in a fairly substantial way.

What interests me is that to the people in the hook-up culture, believers might as well not even exist because they live in such a total remove. Why is this? It's not that people like Mystery or Roissy or Naomi Wolf don't ever cross paths with the religious. Even in D.C. or Manhattan, you'll run into believers here and there. I wonder why they're culturally invisible in this context.

In any case, read Allen's piece. It's great stuff.

1 comment:

emma said...

I'm really glad you wrote about the disconnect between Christian culture and the new hook-up culture. Just to give you one example of many, I was talking to a serious Christian Dad, who was telling me about his only unmarried son. Long story short, the Dad tells me that he is proud his son told him that they hadn't kissed -- yes, kissed -- before the proposal. The would probably kiss during the engagement, but can you imagine telling someone in the hookup crowd that there are 20-something men and women who date and don't kiss? Their heads would explode.