First, a little shout out to Shadow_Nirvana, who has been known to visit and comment here: I was very sorry to see how some of the ladies piled up on you over at Manboobz yesterday. What offended me most was one comment that referred to you as "some random dude" when, as far as I know, you've been reading and commenting in that space as long as I have.
For other readers, to make a long story short: David Futrelle posted a link to a story about a math whiz who "gamed" OK Cupid in order to get more hits from the kinds of girls he preferred. What this has to do with "misogyny" I have no idea. I find this fellow's behavior a bit obsessive and eccentric, but hardly "creepy". Anyway, most of the ensuing criticism centered on his "cheating". What "cheating" means in this context is also highly subjective. I mean, don't we all post our most flattering pictures? Don't we all omit the least savory aspects of our histories? When it comes to online dating, as in any form of marketing, caveat emptor.
Shadow_Nirvana simply pointed out that women will "game" systems in order to increase the odds in their favor, so it was perhaps unfair to characterize this as something only men do. And for this he was immediately and sharply quashed. (Curiously, everyone assumed Shadow_Nirvana was a male, and I didn't notice that h/she claimed otherwise, but up until then I had no idea of his/her gender and didn't really care.)
Manipulating systems in order to give oneself an advantage is hardly a gendered behavior, of course. Nor is it necessarily an unethical one. Shadow_Nirvana's comment could have led to an interesting conversation about the ways women also try to turn tables to their advantage. But, as we all know, manboobz is not a forum for self-reflection or even tolerance of divergent points of view. (This is not a criticism, BTW, because I enjoy the website very much and think David does a superlative job monitoring the whacky world of the manosphere, but it's just the nature of a group of this size to become rather rigid and controlled by a few dominant voices.)
Back in the day, when I was a buxom, bodacious blonde, I had a colleague who was always trying to pull me on to blind double dates with various successful, older men, none of whom, unfortunately, I found in the least bit attractive. I didn't understand why Frances, a tall, slender Scottish lass with masses of gorgeous red hair, exceptional tits, and a rapier-sharp wit, was willing to squander her precious Saturday evenings fending off the lecherous advances of fat, sweaty, balding businessmen. "I'd go out with a gorilla for a free meal!" Frances would exclaim. Neither could I understand how Frances could characterize those meals as "free"; from my perspective, they were damn hard work.
However, Shadow_Nirvana would probably assert that Frances was demonstrating one of the most time-honored feminine forms of "gaming the system" and I'd say he was exactly right.
As I've mentioned before, I used to be a bit of a slut, but I like to think I was always an "ethical slut". I never let anyone buy me anything once I had made up my mind not to take things to the next level. In other words, if I knew for certain I did not intend to sleep with a man, I would not allow him to buy me a drink; in fact, I was more likely to buy him a drink (perhaps as a consolation prize?). I was very careful that way. On the other hand, if I knew I wanted to have sex with a man, I had no qualms about letting him pick up the tab: I was going to make it all very much worth his while in the near future, and by paying for my meal or my movie, he was demonstrating he was interested too.
That's all in the past now, of course. Thank God I have finally found someone I can contentedly pair up with and don't have to return to the dating trenches.
What also struck me about this OK Cupid story (and the many, many references to this particular dating site I have seen) is how technology makes dating even more exhausting and tedious than it was twenty years ago. I'm sure I'm not the first person to observe that having to sift through huge databases of prospective love interests not only requires hours of monotonous labor, but also the sheer volume of potential suitors has a tendency to ratchet up one's expectations to a stratospheric level.
When I come home to a pile of unmarked essays, I have been known to steel myself with a stiff martini or two. I can't imagine having to process a dozen daily missives in my OK Cupid inbox on top of that.
We are drowning in consumer choices, and dating has become no different. Of course, at some point, most people must "settle". Has it not been ever thus? To keep oneself "on the market" forever is to consign oneself to a special level of Hell (and yes, that goes for men as well as women, regardless of what "The Game" boys imagine).
Truly it is one of the few consolations of aging that, even if something were to happen to my SO (God forbid), I am no longer hormonally driven to seek a sexual partner. If you're not yet post-menopausal, you may not believe this, but just take my word for it: Loss of libido can be very liberating.
OK, true confession time: I met my SO online. She hates me to share this, but we actually met through an ad I placed on craigslist. This was nearly ten years ago, before craigslist personals had become the sea of utter depravity it now appears to be. What makes the story unique is that there was no category for what I was seeking (woman for trans), and so only someone who was seeking the exact same unrecognized configuration could have found it. I didn't have many responses, of course. The fact that I had hers gave our meeting a magical sense of destiny, or kismet. I mean, what were the odds?
What's even more amazing is that, in contrast to the unusual way we met, what drew us together was the absolute and utter sense of familiarity we discovered with one another. Talk about "six degrees of separation"! My SO and I were born and raised within a few blocks of one another. Her family attended my sister's church. She went to summer camp with my brother-in-law. We hung out at the same roller skating rink. We played the same games, with many of the same people, and watched the same favorite television programs. We are both of German-Scandinavian Protestant heritage. We know exactly what the other's childhood home looked like and smelled like. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that when we're out and about, strangers often assume we are biological sisters. It's a vibe we give off, I suppose, which may strike others as unromantic, but is exactly what both of us long for in a partner at our respective ages (mid fifties / mid sixties).
Well, for Pete's sake. I sat down meaning to muse about the ways women game the dating system, and I wound up telling you all about how I met my partner. So I'll just have to return to this topic at another time...