Monday, February 8, 2010

NY Times on the undergraduate sexual economy

Just as Katherine Bogle found: The NY Times reports that women are outnumbering men on campus, and turning to hookups in hopes of hooking a man. Based on both what I've learned anecdotally and also read in Rachel Greenwald's qualitative study of dating among adults, that's counterproductive. As someone told me when explaining why he thought early sex was intrinsically casual sex, "Everyone knows that if you have sex on the first date, you'll never see each other again."

If their concerns are long term, as many of these women and those in Bogle's study said, the women's decision to eliminate half the men to start with is also counterproductive. The article describes a campus that is 60% female where half the men are undesirable, and half of the desirable are coupled. Take a campus of 1000 students (all straight): 500 available women, 200 "undesirable" men, 100 available "desirable" men, and 100 each coupled "desirable" men and women. Effectively, the women have created a situation where the gender ratio is 5:1 female to desirable male, when it would otherwise be 5:3. Of course all the women expect that they are going to be the lucky 10% in a couple, so it would seem that this situation doesn't hurt them. In fact, since it seems likely that even couples are more unstable in a 5:1 gender ratio than a 5:3 gender ratio, labeling half the men as undesirable hurts even coupled women.

As one woman quoted in the article said, "As for a man’s cheating, “that’s a thing that girls let slide, because you have to. If you don’t let it slide, you don’t have a boyfriend.”" (Obviously counterproductive, no matter what the gender ratio is.)

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