Over on the Men’s Rights Subreddit, PacmanWasALangolier is taking concern trolling to a whole new level. Apparently, according to some unspecified research, the women of today have gotten picky — tragically picky — about the men they date.
It turns out that a lot of women aren’t interested in dating just any dude out there! They cruelly, selfishly, wantonly insist on choosing whom they date and whom they don’t.
Mr. Pacman is concerned, “honestly concerned,” for this can only end in disaster, not just for men but for those poor misguided women themselves. And possibly civilization itself.
To drop the sarcasm for a moment, let’s look at his “evidence.” First, that bit about how, historically, only 40% of men have passed on their genes. This figure comes from a paper by psychologist Roy Baumeister that’s a favorite amongst the Men’s Rights crowd, and the claim seems to be true — at least if you’re talking about the whole span of human existence.
Does this prove that women have always looked down their noses at the majority of men, refusing to have sex with decent average Joes in favor of riding that old “alpha asshole cock carousel,” as manosphere assholes so delightfully put it?
Well, not exactly. It merely suggests that in the past, more powerful men had sex with more women than the poor and subjugated, and thus were far more likely to pass on their genes. (Or at least that, however many partners they had, their babies were more likely to survive to produce babies of their own.) The figure tells us very little about the actual preferences of women, because many times the choice about who had sex with whom was made by men. Powerful men collected women into harems; male soldiers routinely raped women on the defeated side; in patriarchal cultures, fathers decided whom their daughters would marry. And so on.
Mr Pacman might also be referring to an interesting post on the OKCupid blog that revealed some interesting data on how the dating site’s (straight and bi) men and women rated the attractiveness of members of the opposite sex. But (if that is indeed what he’s referring to) he’s leaving out half of the equation, and thus totally missing the point.
Yes, it’s true that women on the site rated roughly 80% of the men on the site as “below average,” while men were much more “charitable” in their choices, with “a woman … as likely to be considered extremely ugly as extremely beautiful, [while] the majority of women have been rated about “medium.”
But Mr. Pacman has left out the most interesting part of the findings. Even though men on the site were charitable in how they rated women, with their assessments of female attractiveness falling roughly along a normal bell curve, they were more selective — much more selective — in whom they contacted. As the OKCupid blogger, Christian Rudder, puts it, “when it comes down to actually choosing targets, men choose the modelesque.” Women at the top of the bell curve in terms of attractiveness (at least as rated by site members) get
nearly 5 times as many messages as a typical woman and 28 times as many messages as a woman at the low end of our curve. Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women. So basically, guys are fighting each other 2-for-1 for the absolute best-rated females, while plenty of potentially charming, even cute, girls go unwritten.
For women, the results are strikingly different. While they tended to be pretty selective when it came to rating men on their looks, in practice they were far more open to dating men they considered average or below average in looks. As Rudder notes,
women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable. … [T]he average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.
Of course, the data here might be skewed by another factor that the blogger doesn’t address: on OKCupid, when someone rates someone else highly, and that someone else has also rated them highly, the site sends out a message informing both of them of a possible match. Women rating particular men as unattractive may not actually think of them as unattractive, but may be simply trying to avoid getting a lot of spammy messages from guys whose profiles they may not have looked at in detail.
So, yeah, once again, the real world is a lot more complicated, and much more interesting, than the world inside the head of the typical MRA.