Thursday, September 02, 2010

Unmade for marriage?

Hephzibah Anderson is a 34-year-old English journalist. She is unmarried and childless. Can you guess why?

It's the same old story. Hephzibah spent her 20s choosing the wrong sort of men:

I told myself I was looking for something more meaningful, more lasting, yet I consistently chose entanglements with men who weren't really available or keen enough to commit, men who were emotionally or geographically unreachable ... What they had in common was that they weren't likely to impinge too much on a life that seemed to be the one I wanted.

One reason that women like Hephzibah choose the wrong sort of men is that it means that the relationships won't "impinge too much" on the single, career girl lifestyle that women in their 20s are supposed to want.

Her encounters with men weren't exactly chosen carefully:

Sometimes my decision to have sex seemed to be based more on what was appropriate to the moment than on what was right for me. At a certain point in certain scenarios, a part of me abdicated and gave in to the inevitable. Tipsily noticing that it was after midnight and I was far from home, say, in a dwindling group that happened to include a man I’d found myself in bed with sometime before. If anything connected my twentysomething dating experiences, it was a profound disconnectedness.

Unfortunately, the moment I fell into bed with a man, I’d fall at least a little in love. Was it biological? As soon as I went to bed with a man, I’d lose any clear sense of perspective. I had consistently mistaken casual hookups for rose-tinted beginnings.

I did badly want sex to be legitimately momentous again, rather than an inexorable conclusion given the right cocktail of time and place, as had begun to seem the case. I wanted to revel in the intensity of it all, to believe in the meaning that my body gave the experience, without worrying about when or even whether he’d call, and without feeling like a failure for letting the thought cloud the moment.

She reached her early 30s and found that she no longer wanted the casual hook ups. She decided to remain chaste for a year (and wrote a book about it). She also started trying to consider the husband material type of men:

Those Quiet Guy traits that I’m finding so entrancing right now—that hint of reticence, the thoughtfulness that offsets his swift smile—would before have been too subtle to register with me. They are of a different frequency. I’d have been carried along on that other current of deafeningly obvious sex appeal.

Pinning down my own type is tricky ... I seem to pick the ones who really do not want to be pinned. The fly-by-nights, the cads, the all-round rotters.

That's a really interesting way to put it. She thinks that the nice guys would have been "too subtle to register with me," lacking a "deafeningly obvious sex appeal".

To be fair, I think something similar applies when it comes to how men select women. I can remember meeting women in my 20s whom I found too dowdy in dress or too mute in conversation. It's not that I was looking for highly extroverted women, but I did need clear signals of feminine personality and appearance to find a woman appealing. I was drawn to women with an expressive femininity.

Perhaps it's the case that women are drawn more to those men who have an expressive masculinity. In other words, it's not enough for the masculinity to be there silent and hidden. It has to be expressed in some obvious, overt way.

But back to Hephzibah. She wasn't able to break the bad boy habit. During her chaste year,

She gets set up with The Boy Next Door, and enjoys his company thoroughly, but bemoans the lack of a “spark.” The Quiet Guy is an object of intermittent interest, but he lives in the U.S., and he ultimately decides to marry someone else. In NYC she meets the seemingly perfect man, an investment banker who turns into a total asshole when he gets to the Hamptons.

And who does she end up sleeping with at the end of it all? The "total asshole" investment banker.

All of this is more evidence that the modernist pattern of relationships, in which women run with the bad boys until they hit their 30s and only then give the family guys a go, isn't likely to work out well in the long run.

The delay is so long that it's likely to recast the way that men and women relate to each other. And there will be plenty of women, like Hephzibah, who won't manage the transition and who will risk spending their lives with pets rather than with families of their own.


  1. What a screwy name she has.

  2. And, another man sleeps well tonight! Thanks, Hon.

    Anonymous age 68

  3. At the age of 34 she sounds like she's still clueless. She felt entitled to waste her most attractive and fertile years sleeping around, and now feels entitled to the quiet, husband material type. The question none of these women seem willing to ask is what do they bring to the table for these men? It's still all about her, how the man makes her feel:

    "Those Quiet Guy traits that I’m finding so entrancing right now"

    Right now being the key phrase I think. And what, may I ask, would a man find entrancing about her? It's like a flavor-of-the-month approach in what she finds attractive. It's anybody's guess as to what she'll find "entrancing" a year from now.

  4. What indeed does she bring to the table? Will she be loyal to one man, able to resist the siren call of the Bad Boy now? Will she able, never mind willing, to care for a child if she becomes pregnant?

    The answers to those questions are not at all clear. So she wants what she wants, when she wants it, and expects other people to cater to her. This is called "being an independent, strong woman", although it more resembles a spoiled 5-year old child.

    She does not seem to realize that her appeal is not nearly as great as it was 10 or even 5 years back, and therefore she is going to have to work harder to be a woman worthy of marriage. Another victory for feminism.

  5. "In other words, it's not enough for the masculinity to be there silent and hidden. It has to be expressed in some obvious, overt way."

    I speculate the constant exposure to the other sex in our society has dulled their appeal. The availability of women makes them less novel. You'll see among very young women, their interest is piqued easily; they have yet to be jaded by an onslaught of attempted seducers.

    Speaking from personal experience, it's utterly laughable how a woman decides whether to have sex with a man. Logistics looms large in a woman's decision to sleep with a man - she may like him, but if say, they both drove their car to the bar, or his flat is just a block too far, the woman will decide against sex. For every man she has had sex with, there is at least one, and probably two to three, that she would have slept with had the arrangements been perfect.

    The problem is woman's female solipsism. They refuse to acknowledge anything beyond themselves. They spurn traditional wisdom, and have the entire popular culture to laud their ways. They'd look at a woman like Anderson, perhaps feel some sympathy, and continue on unaffected, with no lesson learned.

  6. Thanks for the comments.

    I speculate the constant exposure to the other sex in our society has dulled their appeal.

    That could be part of it. There is less mystique when the sexes are always together right through childhood and adulthood.

    Perhaps now that women are in such large numbers in the professions a man's position at work doesn't have the same mystique and doesn't trigger female attraction as strongly as it once did.

  7. The Social Pathologist has linked scary data for anyone who would be foolish enough to marry the likes of Hephzibah.

    I may be reading the data incorrectly but it shows a total apocalyptic disaster.

  8. I don't care if these women have turned (and there is no evidence that this Hephisod-whatever girl has changed her world-view) - their lifestyles have pushed their share value to almost naught. I wouldn't touch this one even if she espoused the most radical traditionalist opinions and waivered her franchise. She's willingly offered herself to be a dumpster for random smeg, year in year out. What kind of moron male today would want to *commit* to her, unless he was after a pump and dump only - in which case, Hephisod-whatever has condemned herself to finish her days as a prostitute in all but name. A fine end to a life of female empowerment. Couldn't happen to a better person. Hope she goes insane with the weight of the realisation that in her quest for independence, she's enslaved herself in a way no "patriarchy" could ever do. Sucked in.

  9. Men will have to settle for used-up sluts like this. Inferior men I mean.

    It is incredibly insulting of women to give away "free samples" for years and then present themselves as potential wives. And presumably wear white at the wedding.

    Men are fools for putting up with this.

    Men are marrying women who regard them as second-best. They are effectively making themselves cuckolds. They marry a girl who has been used and discarded by other men.

    If she looked like the girl in the picture, some man might find her attractive, if he wasn't too proud to boldly go where many men have been before. But I doubt she looks like that in real life.

    Mark, I think you are quite right about the problem with women pricing themselves out of the market, in terms of the general decline in male status in society. What this has meant is that most (not all) men are "not good enough" for the average modern princess.

    Interesting relevant discussion (to which I contributed) here:

    David Collard

  10. Female here...

    Guys. This woman is a jerk by any standard, and at any age. I saw this article in Daily Mail before Mark posted it and groaned. She's just trying to sell her book.

    Men shouldn't even waste their time with women like her, and the fact that she's not married and very very used shows that.

    End of story.

    There are very good women who do not get married till later in life, and very good men. It's not an age thing, it's a values thing.

    Some people I know who got married in their 20s, I wonder if they really know each other. I had a conversation with my gf once about hispanics and illegal immigration and she proudly announced that she considered herself hispanic. (She's not by the way, if she's Hispanic then I'm Asian as I have Asian relatives) Anyways, I would bet money that her All American husband did not have a single political conversation with her before they married. I'm telling you.....You need to have your values, your morals, and what you believe in laid out before you get married. If you don' matter what age you shouldn't be getting married.

  11. "Perhaps now that women are in such large numbers in the professions a man's position at work doesn't have the same mystique and doesn't trigger female attraction as strongly as it once did."

    Medical Schools and Law Schools worldwide are almost 50% women but it is only in the West that there has been a decline in marriage.

    It is the lack of a formal arranged marriage system in most of the West and the proliferation of casual dating which prepares people for divorce and not for marriage that has lead to the collapse of marriage in Western society.

  12. Mark, thanks for the link, I appreciate it. I really think you're onto something with the idea of expressive masculinity - it's not as reductionist as "social dominance."

  13. She has "I could learn to like a few years" written all over her face.

  14. Anonymous Female said

    "You need to have your values, your morals, and what you believe in laid out before you get married."

    The longer I observe people the more I am convinced that these concepts do not even occur to a large 'average' segment of Western populations, regardless of age. We have become acculturated to more gratifying and facile pastimes.

    You cannot command people to obtain principles and values by which to live with others and with themselves. If the loss of these things is "organic" then traditional heritage must have the capacity to resist some natural order of decay. I believe it does.

  15. She has "I could learn to like a few years" written all over her face.

    It's more or less a natural transition for the "alphasick" female (I think I have permission to use that, as women use the term "pornsick" for certain men).


    Because cats are alpha.

    In comparison to dogs, cats are aloof, self-centered, meet you on their terms only, are exceptional at maintaining their frame and their coolness, and care more about themselves and their environment than they do about you.

    It's the perfect pet for an alphasick woman to grow old with, really.

  16. It's the perfect pet for an alphasick woman to grow old with, really.

    Hmm, that's funny.