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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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138 Responses

  1. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet January 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

    That was an excellent piece. I was just re-reading Faludi’s Backlash and it appears the media is still printing the same alarmist “trend” pieces from the 80’s. (And I am incredibly grateful my mobile browser refuses to load CiF comments. Maybe it has a strong preservation instinct.)

    1. gratuitous_violet
      gratuitous_violet January 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

      Italics fail. Anyone want to start a pool for how many comments until one of the CiF mouth-breathers calls Jill an alcoholic because she mentioned wine?

  2. Adam Michael Sacks, Esq.
    Adam Michael Sacks, Esq. January 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

    Embracing this “new reality” as something positive is the ultimate form of denial and false consciousness that I have ever encountered. Women do not seem all too happy in the current world, both sexes faces ruinous divorces 50-67% of the time, children grow up in fatherless homes with stressed out and broke single mothers, ETC. Watch yourself an episode of the hit show GIRLS to tell me if you think women are doing GREAT in the current atmosphere, what a joke it is to even imagine such a thing.

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date January 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm |

      Watch yourself an episode of the hit show GIRLS to tell me if you think women are doing GREAT in the current atmosphere, what a joke it is to even imagine such a thing.

      You mean, Girls isn’t fiction?!

    2. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia January 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

      I’m doing perfectly fine, so you must be very wrong.

    3. Andie
      Andie January 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

      Yes. Because fictional television is a great way to learn about real life.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

        He’s also seen an episode of Sex in the City. HE’S PRACTICALLY A WOMAN NOW.

    4. Thomas MacAulay Millar
      Thomas MacAulay Millar January 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

      First, let me just say — on behalf of all the women here because it makes perfect sense for a man to speak for them — that we’re so glad a man showed up to tell Jill what life is like for women in their twenties today. Life experience is a tricky thing; when women live it, it’s really better to have a man explain it. Preferably a lawyer with eighteen years’ experience, so sort of necessarily a middle-aged man. /snark

      We have a word for what you just did around here, and that word is “Mainsplain.” It’s not a compliment.

      Second, the divorce rates you quote are bullshit. The common saying that half of marriages end in divorce is an overstatement due to bad stats, it’s in the forties and has been falling for a generation, and 67% is something you just pulled out of your ass.

      Third, I’m a practicing lawyer. Jill’s a lawyer (currently nonpracticing). This place is fuckin’ CRAWLING with lawyers. We’ve got in-house lawyers, government lawyers, private practice lawyers, litigators, transactional lawyers, the occasional law school faculty member … and all of us immediately noticed that you “esqued” yourself. Outside of formal papers, most of us don’t esq ourselves. I don’t know what you left-coasters’ deal is, but in New York, it’s the kind of unwritten rule most of us pick up very early. It’s a douche move, and if you do it, you’re a douche: a useless, mildly harmful product meant to solve a nonexistent problem. Go be someone else’s problem.

      1. zuzu
        zuzu January 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

        Hee.

    5. gratuitous_violet
      gratuitous_violet January 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

      What the hell is up with citing TV shows as sociological data? It seems like whenever feminists point to television and talk about negative representation there’s someone there to scream “It’s Just A Show!” but wanna make a point about how today’s women are frivolous sluts? SATC is too old now, so thank God for Lena Dunham’s boring-ass show!

    6. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

      Ladies, ladies, pleeeease! Adam One of the Great Menz is here to explain to all of us why we are not happy! If he says we are not happy, it is clear we are all miserable.Sit down and cross your high heels demurely to listen!

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl January 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

        Mr. Sacks is appparently a divorce lawyer, reading between the lines of his blog I suspect his area of emphasis is father’s rights.

        So, trolling, we are Adam? Or simply working the angry, jaded divorce lawyer trope to death?

        1. RoryBorealis
          RoryBorealis January 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

          Well, he added “Esq.” to his name, so it’s a safe bet. (Both trolling and working the angry, jaded divorce lawyer trope to death.) Maybe it’s my snobbery showing, but IME adding the “Esq.” tends to be shorthand for “went to a third-tier school and is hella resentful about it.”

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl January 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

          Well, I agree. Although I myself attended a 3rd tier school as well. Then again, I don’t have Lolagirl Esq. as my id here (or anywhere else, for that matter.)

          But, Adam did also make it easier for the MRAs to follow him home he by putting the link to his blog in his comment id.

        3. RoryBorealis
          RoryBorealis January 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

          Really, the “hella resentful” part is the most relevant bit. Which probably goes without saying for MRAs and their ilk. (Third-tier school graduate some excellent lawyers! I just get the impression that Esq. up there doesn’t fall into that category purely based on his attitude.)

    7. Julia
      Julia January 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

      How about you let the womenz speak for themselves, instead of saying how we “seem”?

    8. shfree
      shfree January 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

      Damn, he must be disappointed that he didn’t get the first comment in.

      And hi, I’m a single parent, and my daughter’s dad is very much involved in her life, as we share custody. I know for damn sure he would be extremely pissed off, as would all single fathers who make a point to remain engaged in their children’s lives, to be painted out of the picture of the whole “single mother” deal. Way to make your gender look like irresponsible, uncaring assholes.

      1. Andie
        Andie January 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

        *high five for functional relationships with exes!*

    9. Alara Rogers
      Alara Rogers January 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

      I see your “GIRLS” and raise you “Mother’s Little Helper” (Rolling Stones, 1966), “That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be” (Carly Simon, 1971) and “Cat’s In The Cradle” (Harry Chapin, 1974). The people who lived through the 1960’s had something to say about men, women and their roles in life, and it wasn’t something pleasant.

      The Stones pointed out that women in that era were getting through the day on Valium. When your life is so utterly meaningless you need to take heavy duty tranquilizers to survive it, almost any change would have been better.

      Carly Simon saw her parents, and her same-aged friends, in miserable loveless relationships where the women, in particular, lost any sense of themselves, and saw that that was the “way she always heard it should be”. The children of those relationships would probably have been better off if the parents had divorced — miserable parents make miserable kids.

      Harry Chapin saw that the demands of work prevented men from acting like fathers… which led to men having to work too hard to have time for elderly dads. The flip side of “mom stays home” was always “dad’s never home”.

      Children are better off growing up with stressed out, broke single moms than abusive dads, neglectful dads, or moms who are basically not even there because they’re drugged out of their minds. And part of the reason single moms are broke is because the revolution feminism started hasn’t finished yet. We need *more* equality, *more* parity in our pay, *more* recognition of the value of mothers’ work and government willingness to help support that work… not less.

      Women were miserable in the 1950’s and so were the men. Just ask the people who were kids during that time period… like Mick Jagger, Carly Simon and Harry Chapin. “GIRLS” is an entertainment product made by a big media conglomerate, but the Stones wrote all their own songs, Carly Simon wrote “That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be”, and Harry Chapin’s wife wrote “Cat’s In The Cradle”, based on her observations of men with their fathers, and Chapin himself agreed with the sentiment of the song.

      You know, no one writes music nowadays about how they wish so much they couldn’t get divorced and that they’d need to ask their husband’s permission to get a job and how they’re so sick of being a dad to their kid and they really wish the mom would do all the work so they could go be a complete corporate tool. I wonder why not?

      1. Thomas MacAulay Millar
        Thomas MacAulay Millar January 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

        Harry Chapin shoutout. Mini-squee.

        1. Niall
          Niall January 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

          “Cat’s in the cradle” has always been one of my personal favourites. For some reason it just speaks to me which is kind of strange since I’m not a dad myself and I’ve no complaints about my own either.

        2. Andie
          Andie January 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |

          I did too. Greatest Stories Live is one of my top ten favorite albums of all time.

        3. Fishing for Insults
          Fishing for Insults January 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          I never understood “Cat’s in the Cradle”. The song’s narrator was a jackass to his kid and I’m supposed to feel sorry for him?

      2. Donna L
        Donna L January 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

        And you can read Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road , published in 1955, I think (and a number of his other books), if you want to know how a lot of people — men as well as women — felt at the time about middle-class married life with children in the suburbs. It’s one of the more harrowing books I’ve ever read. (The movie was OK, but I didn’t think it compared to the book.)

      3. TomSims
        TomSims January 24, 2013 at 11:45 am |

        Women were miserable in the 1950′s and so were the men. Just ask the people who were kids during that time period… ”

        I grew up in the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s and my Mom was NOT miserable and neither were her 4 sisters. It is beyond absurd to say that based on 3 songs, a whole generation of women were miserable.

        1. EG
          EG January 25, 2013 at 12:00 am |

          Yes, yes, women were thrilled to tiny little bits with their restrictive boxes. That’s why The Feminine Mystique bombed, selling almost zero copies, and sinking without a trace.

          Oh, wait, that’s not what happened at all.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 25, 2013 at 12:08 am |

          I grew up in the 40′s, 50′s and early 60′s and my Mom was NOT miserable and neither were her 4 sisters.

          All snark aside, Tom, if you recall, you and I had a little go-around on an earlier thread where you said no female members of your family had been sexually abused or assaulted, and I pointed out that no, what you meant was you *didn’t know if* they’d been sexually abused or assaulted. I think a similar issue applies here.

          My grandmother, for example, was extremely unhappy – and horribly physically/mentally/maybe sexually abused after her marriage, and through her childbearing years, until my father was old enough to defend her. If you ask her how her married life was (she’s a widow now) she’d say she was happy enough, but fuck, ask her about any one day of her life and a whole other story emerges – beatings, starvation, how she cried all day most days, how she had to do household chores while bleeding from the stitches of recent abdominal surgery and it hurt so much she crawled around the house to do it. How her family-in-law refused to accompany her to the doctor while she was in the final stages of labour (my uncle was born within an hour or so of her reaching the clinic, which was 1km away). She went on foot. Alone. Because they had to eat breakfast, dontcha know.

          But, you know. She’ll tell you she was happy. She’ll always tell you she was happy.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L January 25, 2013 at 1:31 am |

          Tom, of course not every woman who was married and stayed home to keep house and raise children was unhappy. But there’s a reason why books like Betty Friedan’s had the impact they did.

        4. TomSims
          TomSims January 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm |

          @macavitykitsune

          I never made a sweeping claim as the post I responded to did. I referred only to my own experience with my own mother and her sisters. There have been and will continue to be people abused and made very unhappy as long as there are humans on this planet. The lucky ones will be healthy and have someone and a family to love them. I’ve been very lucky.

    10. Ismone
      Ismone January 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm |

      First of all, the divorce rate has *never* been 50%. It was in the mid, possibly high, 40’s following WWII. It is now in the mid to low 30’s. The source for that false 50% statistic is people comparing number of divorces a year to number of marriages a year, instead of number of divorces being compared to numbers of still-married couples.

      Also, divorce rates, as Jill pointed out, are lower among well-educated egalitarian couples. Later marriages are happier, stronger marriages. And women’s equality contributes to education for women, egalitarian relationships, and later marriages.

      Re: girls, what is so awesome about it and other women-written, women-acted, women-directed TV series and movies (although they are still a tiny fraction of the whole) is that we have a voice. Finally. It isn’t like TV shows written by men are always a paean to the status quo, either. Also, discussing sorrow, discussing screw-ups, discussing unhappiness can help us get past those things.

      I am divorced, and dealing with dating in the modern era. But I also feel really fortunate to have met the guys I dated before my current steady bf. They were wonderful people, and interacting with them taught me things about myself and people around me. Very few of them were mean or “bad.” If they did not meet my expectations, or I did not meet theirs, I learned to treat that not as a moral failing, but as an incompatibility. Dating as I did made me a much more compassionate, understanding person. And it taught me what things mattered to me, and how to get along with a broad swath of people who sometimes had little in common other than that they found me attractive enough to date.

      I hope my ex is having similarly positive experiences.

      And if you are a divorce lawyer, and it is bringing you down, maybe do collaborative divorce or something less depressing. Life is too short to dwell on depressing stuff.

      1. DouglasG
        DouglasG January 24, 2013 at 8:51 am |

        Thank you for having positive wishes for your ex and for the people you dated. The one change (not mentioned in the article) that strikes me as most for the worse is the way in which incompatibility has come to be treated as being on a par with willful mistreatment. The difference between parting amicably and dumping is rapidly deteriorating. It’s heartening to see someone else with gratitude for past relationships.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |

          Very, very true.

        2. Andie
          Andie January 24, 2013 at 10:25 am |

          It’s heartening to see someone else with gratitude for past relationships.

          x2

          I wish more people would try not to think of an ended relationship as a ‘failed’ relationship. Some are good but just run their course.

      2. TomSims
        TomSims January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        1. Ismone
          Ismone January 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

          Tom,

          Not sure what you wanted to highlight about the HuffPo piece.

    11. EG
      EG January 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

      Why don’t you watch an episode of The Honeymooners in which Ralph threatens to punch Alice, or, better one the episodes of I Love Lucy in which Ricky spanks Lucy, and think about how much better women have it now than we did then. I much prefer the present, thanks.

      And much better to be divorced than to be stuck in an unhappy marriage. That too, is progress.

      1. zuzu
        zuzu January 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

        What’s really awful about those episodes of I Love Lucy is that Lucille Ball had unprecedented behind-the-scenes control for a woman in entertainment, but this is what she felt would be accepted/sell.

      2. Niall
        Niall January 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm |

        Why don’t you watch an episode of The Honeymooners in which Ralph threatens to punch Alice, or, better one the episodes of I Love Lucy in which Ricky spanks Lucy

        I’ll never forget the first time I saw the infamous “grapefruit” scene with James Cagney and Mae West – when he shoves a grapefruit in her face in anger. I was only eleven or twelve when I saw that and it bothered me. It’s been etched in my memory ever since. And apparently it’s considered one of the classic moments of Hollywood cinema. Go figure.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L January 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm |

          Mae Clarke.

    12. Tempy13
      Tempy13 January 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

      I am not sure if your “ESQUIRE” was to give you some semblance of legitimacy/knowledge or power, but it failed. Lean in and I will tell you a secret I learned much earlier than law school…things on TV aren’t real.

    13. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

      I watched an episode of Girls just like you said! Unfortunately, I watched The Walking Dead right before it, and now I’m not sure whether I should be more worried about the undead or the slutty. D: I am so confused. Help me out, manly man! Lend me a chest hair of reason or something!

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah January 23, 2013 at 9:59 pm |

        I think your best bet is to “pull a Laurie” and hook it up with the manliest man you can find to help you escape the zombies. That’s my plan, at least. But, will it make me happy? I can’t know until Adam, Esq. mansplains it to me.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

          But…proper women don’t make the first move!

      2. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 11:56 pm |

        and now I’m not sure whether I should be more worried about the undead or the slutty.

        What’s worst is the slutty undead. Have you seen some of the outfits on those zombies? Flesh hanging out everywhere.

    14. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help January 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

      Hey genius, what would you take: being free to make one’s own decisions about how to live (marry, partner, not partner, type of work, etc) or not have that freedom at all? Because being tied to one role (marriage) was no guarantee of happiness, and left women extremely vulnerable if it failed. I’ll take my chances – as I have done all my life – with things as they are, thankyouverymuch. What you’re suggesting is that being owned by a man was better. Fuck that.

    15. Computer Soldier Porygon
      Computer Soldier Porygon January 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm |

      Yeah, you’re right. But why are we focusing on Girls? Women today have much bigger problems. Have you seen Pretty Little Liars? Teen girls today are getting harassed and stalked by omnipotent ghost ninjas! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING.

  3. Ashley
    Ashley January 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

    So just so I’m not assuming, it can be said that women are in fact happier now than they were in the 50s?

    1. Andie
      Andie January 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

      I can’t say personally if I am happier now than I was in the 50’s. I wasn’t born then.

    2. Alara Rogers
      Alara Rogers January 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

      Judging from the lack of record numbers of women nowadays doped out of their mind on Valium, I would say that yes, it’s plain that today’s women are happier than the ones from the 1950’s.

      Seriously, has everyone forgotten that the housewives of the 1950’s were well known to be spending the decade drugged out of their minds? “Mommy’s little helper”, indeed. It’s a lot easier to endure the unendurable when your doctor will write you a script for heavy duty tranquilizers that let you sleepwalk through your unendurable life.

      As a person who is currently *on* psychoactive medication for depression… even the meds today let you live an active and fulfilled life, for the most part. Try taking Valium. Now try taking it every day. You’ll see pretty quickly that life must have been pretty fucking awful to make *that* a better alternative.

      It’s amazing to me that anyone can possibly question the notion that having the freedom to choose what career you will pursue (if any), the person you will stay married to (if any), the number of kids you will have (if any), the sexual activities you will engage in (if any), and the degree of autonomy you will demand from your partner (if any) would make people happier. Trent Reznor may once have sung mockingly about happiness in slavery (or maybe it was “happiness is slavery”), but the truth is, human beings are *never* happy when they have no freedom of choice, or when they are more or less permanently regarded as second class citizens whose work will never be as important as the work their partner does.

      That being said, when you’re living under dire restrictions but you’ve suffered them your entire life and everyone you love tells you that this is normal and to be expected and it’s just life, you might be happier than if you’re living under less dire restrictions, but you were expecting total freedom and equality and you’re not getting it. The disconnect between what we were told as young girls, that we can be anything men can be and we can have it all and we are equal, and our lives as adult women, when we suddenly discover the existence of the mommy track at work and the men who were so considerate when we were dating (yes, dating) now can’t be bothered to wash dishes and the things that are central to our life experience are barely mentioned in our media saturated culture, does in fact make many women unhappy. But it’s the unhappiness of seeing freedom, knowing its shape, and yet not having it… not the unhappiness of living a life so meaningless you need to take Valium every day to get through it. And it’s the kind of unhappiness that leads to people taking action to improve their lives, not the kind of unhappiness that leads to despair.

      1. Iany
        Iany January 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

        This was a really nice comment! And thanks for including us Ace people, I feel like one of the freedoms feminism has given me is not feeling like an asshole for not wanting sex.

      2. FYouMudFlaps
        FYouMudFlaps January 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

        Alara, you rock, woohoo! *Fluttershy voice*

    3. Ismone
      Ismone January 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

      Happiness is complicated to measure. What we can say is that divorce rates are lower, education levels are higher, and earning levels are higher. These all contribute to happiness. Also, what the commenter above me said about widespread use of psychotropic medications.

      However, being engaged in feminism can be a bit of a buzzkill sometimes. Thinking about inequality is sad. On the other hand, being treated unequally erodes one’s sense of self. I do think that sometimes women in very sexist circumstances can feel very happy, as long as they aren’t faced by some kind of huge, sexist catastrophe.

      Let me say this: women in the 50’s were objectively less free. In so many ways.

  4. TomSims
    TomSims January 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

    Yes I agree completely that courtship is dead and dating or “hooking up” is going well. But actual marriage rates are falling…..

    http://blog.chron.com/believeitornot/2011/12/america%E2%80%99s-marriage-rate-hits-all-time-low/

    And that may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you ask. And on line dating has had some issues too

    http://www.fbi.gov/news/news_blog/online-dating-extortion-and-other-scams

    I’m an old guy and happy I am. Things today seem very confusing and complex. Back in the day, things were much simpler. But I confess I enjoy reading about young people and what they deal with.

    1. Andie
      Andie January 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

      And on line dating has had some issues too

      People can be scammed by people they meet at the bar or the library or the grocery store. That’s not exclusively an on-line dating problem.

      As for marriage rates falling, a few things can contribute to that

      – Greater numbers of people co-habitating without marriage
      – possible greater numbers of people deciding that while marriage is an option, it need not be an ultimate goal for a fulfilled life.

      1. Radiant Sophia
        Radiant Sophia January 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm |

        …or someone finding fulfillment in a non-romantic life partnership.

        1. Andie
          Andie January 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

          Precisely. So many reasons.

    2. shfree
      shfree January 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

      So…what is the problem with the marriage rate falling, exactly? It shouldn’t be perceived as the end goal of a relationship, more that that is where a specific relationship leads to. If anything, pursuing marriage for marriage’s sake is more of a problem than the marriage rate falling.

      1. wanttobeanon
        wanttobeanon January 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |

        If anything, pursuing marriage for marriage’s sake is more of a problem than the marriage rate falling.

        I agree fully. Question though. How would you shut down the argument that marriage is a stabilizing force in society and is valuable for that reason? How to rebut the studies that find married men tend to drink less alcohol, that married men are happier, that married people generally commit fewer crimes? Are those findings irrelevant because long term relationships probably have the same effect? Not sure how to handle this argument when it gets thrown out there regarding the falling marriage rate.

        1. Ismone
          Ismone January 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm |

          You are confusing correlation with causation.

          Some of it may be the stabilizing effect of a relationship, I do not doubt that.

          But very often, it is that people with fewer “problems” are more likely to be seen as marriageable, and both excessive alcohol intake and, sadly, illness, put a strain on marriage.

        2. EG
          EG January 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

          How to rebut the studies that find married men tend to drink less alcohol, that married men are happier, that married people generally commit fewer crimes?

          I would ask them how many people they’re willing to sacrifice to unhappy marriages to get those advantages. After all, if marriage makes people so awesomely healthy and happy, we should be clamoring to do it; if we’re not, are they suggesting we force people into it? Or maybe those arguments aren’t so convincing when it comes to any individual.

          I would also point out that two-thirds of those benefits accrue to men; if men are so eager to get married, then they’d better do everything they can to make the married state appealing to women, hadn’t they?

        3. wanttobeanon
          wanttobeanon January 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

          Thank you very much.

      2. TomSims
        TomSims January 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm |

        “So…what is the problem with the marriage rate falling, exactly?”

        I never said it was a problem, I merely pointed out that they were and it relates to the post’s theme of courtship being dead.

        In fact I thinks it’s great folks have more life choices than their were years ago.

    3. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date January 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

      Back in the day, things were much simpler.

      Yes, people often say this. History suggests otherwise, though.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

        Back in the day Tom was a child. Of course things seemed simpler. Hopefully he’s gained some nuance by now.

      2. OutrageandSprinkles
        OutrageandSprinkles January 24, 2013 at 1:48 am |

        Yep. Whenever people say that things were so much simpler “back in the day” I just think yeah, it was super simple, water fountains and business were clearly labeled and everyone knew where they were allowed to sit. I know we’re talking about dating here but c’mon, what exactly was simpler “back in the day”?

      3. TomSims
        TomSims January 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

        “Yes, people often say this. History suggests otherwise, though.”

        Well if you were not alive then, how do you really know? Well I lived through it and I know how it was first hand.

        1. tigtog
          tigtog January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm | *

          Surely you only know what it was like for you? Or have you been appointed Speaker For Those Who Dated In The 50s and been provided with detailed survey results from Everybody Else Who Dated In The 50s? If so, why not share your quantitative data with the world?

        2. EG
          EG January 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

          I have actually talked to a cornucopia of other people who lived through it. Hard to believe, but true.

        3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help January 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

          So your experience trumps those of, say, everyone else in the world who’s as old as you, or older, and says differently? Or those who’ve read plenty of history and disagree, or don’t see life as having begun in the 1950s?

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm |

          Well if you were not alive then, how do you really know?

          If you haven’t been to Calcutta, do you know it exists?

          *conspiracy theory Keanu Reeves face*

        5. TomSims
          TomSims January 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |

          @tigtog

          Ok I should have said in my own experience and the experiences of others I knew then. The point I tried to make was that in many cases an oral history is more accurate than what written in books and on Wikipedia.

          I had a senior moment. My bad.

    4. EG
      EG January 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

      I honestly don’t see what’s so much more complex today than it was 50 years ago when my mom was beginning to date.

      1. TomSims
        TomSims January 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

        “I honestly don’t see what’s so much more complex today than it was 50 years ago when my mom was beginning to date.”

        Great question. Well for one thing there was no social media. That in and of itself is a huge difference. I think while men and women are basically the same, there are many additional ways to meet each other. Since I’m an old married man and haven’t dated in forever, I have no clue what dating or hook ups are like these days. I rely on young people I work with and I read a lot.

        1. tigtog
          tigtog January 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm | *

          For work-related reasons, I follow hundreds of young comedians on Facebook and Twitter. You know what they’re not generally sharing on their social media accounts? Details of their dates, strangely enough.

          It’s almost like they’ve figured out that people might not like being gossiped/bragged about, and might not like having their reputations trashed maybe, whether it’s on social media or the more old-fashioned way.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog January 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm | *

          In fact, if a comedian is making jokes about dating on social media, it’s a damn good sign that sie’s currently not got a regular squeeze.

        3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help January 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm |

          So you’re not familiar with the dating scene at all now, but still think it was simpler back then? Or do having more choices and a wider social circle translate to “complicated”?

        4. TomSims
          TomSims January 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

          @The Kittehs’ Unpaid Help

          “Or do having more choices and a wider social circle translate to “complicated”?

          I never used complicated to describe dating/meeting these days. I did say there are more ways to meet than in the past. Is that not a fact?

    5. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm |

      …and small furry things from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry things from Alpha Centauri!

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm |

        …And none of this PC “Alpha Centauri-Americans” bullcrap!

  5. Meaghan W
    Meaghan W January 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

    Thank you so much for writing this!! I am so sick of those NYT/Atlantic articles and this was the perfect antidote to them. I’ll raise a glass of malbec in your honor!!

  6. Katie
    Katie January 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm |

    I agree with Jill. Many women of my mother’s and grandmothers’ generation who either fell for a man with a handsome face or bartered their goods for a man with a well-paying job or family-approved character regretted it for a very long time. Now women can devote their energies to developing their talents and interests and to working for the good of their communities, with love and sex and friendship interwoven in a much more natural way.

  7. (BFing)Sarah
    (BFing)Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

    I didn’t really go on traditional “dates” much…I’m more of a get to know a person through friendship, drink together as a group and then one day realize you want to hook up before deciding to be exclusive kind of gal. I guess I did go on “dates” with people once we were already together, though. I don’t like getting to know people through dating, it seems like you are getting the Best Self instead of the Real Self. I always felt awkward. I’m glad I didn’t live during a time when I had to “court” traditionally. It worked out this way. I married a guy I was friends with for a year before we actually thought about the fact that we liked each other. I do have fond memories of our “IM” conversations during law school classes….sigh….those were the days. ;)

    1. Kylara7
      Kylara7 January 24, 2013 at 6:42 am |

      THIS is exactly how all of my relationships have started and carried on. Thank you for articulating this very common “courtship process” whereby certain humans who have friendships and shared activities and commonalities with other humans randomly come into contact with other humans who they find they are sexually attracted to after a period of time and mutually form a pair bond. Yeesh…it’s not exactly rocket science. :)

      1. klaym0re
        klaym0re January 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

        it’s not exactly rocket science. :)

        It can be if you’re not comfortable being romantically involved with people in your social circles (don’t shit where you eat, etc)

        1. Fishing for Insults
          Fishing for Insults January 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm |

          Because dating is like shitting.

        2. EG
          EG January 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

          You…don’t want to date people you meet socially? How…else do you expect to meet people to date?

  8. bleh
    bleh January 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

    Meh, I dated and hooked up in *gasp* the 80s, married late after both making the first move toward a physical relationship and later asking him to marry me, never reproduced, and am happy. An advanced degree, great career, and equitable relationship makes for a happy woman. Courting be dammed.

  9. Donna L
    Donna L January 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

    I wish that instead of referring to “women,” people would start saying “straight cis women.” Because every comment so far, and even Jill’s Guardian post, seems to be entirely about straight women, and to be written as if women who are LGBT don’t even exist. Perhaps that’s because it can’t even be argued that things were better for them in olden days. And don’t forget all the ostensibly straight women back then who were coerced, either directly or indirectly, to live as something they weren’t.

    1. Ismone
      Ismone January 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm |

      Here, here.

      It may be hard to separate the advent of technology from the advent of LGBT people being somewhat less marginalized, but in some ways, I would think technology might help LGBT find partners in ways that in-person interaction might not.

      What do you think? Does technology help/hurt? Do you think online dating sometimes coerces people to reveal things about their sexual orientation they might want to not disclose so early? (I remember dating sites that had a never married/divorced thing, so I felt I had to disclose my divorce, before it was necessary.)

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

      Wait, women who are LBT exist? O_O I must tell my wife about this radical new development!

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm |

        Make sure she’s sitting down first.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm |

          Well, I haven’t told her yet and she’s reading the thread now. Mind you, she IS sitting down…

    3. Katie
      Katie January 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

      you are right, I apologize. I had a great aunt who somehow took her best friend along on her honeymoon – the two of them returned together, without the groom. And lived together for 65 more years.

      1. AMM
        AMM January 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

        … the two of them returned together, without the groom…

        (I feel a Tom Lehrer quote coming on:)

        …All they ever found were some bones
        And occasional pieces of skin,
        Of skin,
        And occasional pieces of skin

        1. Katie
          Katie January 24, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

          Ha! No, actually, he returned with a new betrothed, and so apparently everyone was satisfied. So many unanswered questions…

    4. klaym0re
      klaym0re January 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

      I’m not arguing, but I will say it will be very very nice when this “limbo” period winds down a bit. At the moment, the issue with the “confusing lack of script” isn’t that there isn’t one, its that there is no middle ground between “good” and “zomg evil asshole” when it comes to sex, etc.

      For example, everybody has a different idea of what it means to “not be a dick”. We all have tactics for “shmoosing”, one of mine is telling the bar tender to put the drink of a woman I’m interested in on my tab (that way I’m “buying her a drink” but still respecting that a) she might not want another one, b) I have no idea what she want’s to drink if she does want another one and c) I can look over and let her see me from a safe distance (I’m straight, cis, and male btw).

      Now my reactions to this from women have ranged from “omg thank you for being a proper gentleman and buying a girl a drink like a man is SUPPOSED to” to “so I thought I’d come over here and ask you why you think I’m not enough of an adult to buy my own damn drinks”. I’ve even had one lady approach me with what was left of her drink, pour it on my head, tip my drink over and announce loudly that “the protocol is to ASK the girl if she wants you to buy her a drink asshole!”.

      The same problem arises during that part of the conversation where I try to figure out “how do I let it be known that I’m down for casual sex but if she’s not would still like to exchange numbers and meet up again some time and won’t be offended if she’s not “DTF”“. I’ve had “so I’m just asking respectfully if you wanna get outa here maybe” end in her having the bouncer call the cops inside to escort me out. I have also had it end in very consenting casual sex (yay!).

      I’m only bringing all of this up to try and illustrate what I think the REAL problem is, and that is that everybody thinks the mission is to decide which of these is the “right” way to do it, rather than to say “its ALL good, no really!”

      Frankly this “new” landscape of “courtship” vs “dating” has made me very reserve when it comes to “the mushy stuff”. Because if your philosophy is “don’t be a dick” and you don’t know if the girl your eyeing on the dance floor is going to think your socially awkward and “creepy” for trying to ask her to dance in a loud crowded club or if she’s going to think your giving off rapist signs by casually just coming up behind her (I’ve had women publicly reprimand me for “making it awkward and not being a man” before when it comes to dancing)

      Sadly it seems (for the moment anyway), the only winning move is not to play :(

      1. Donna L
        Donna L January 23, 2013 at 6:40 pm |

        1. I have a feeling that this wasn’t intended to be a reply to my comment about not excluding women who are LGBT from the category of “women.”

        2. if the girl your eyeing on the dance floor is going to think your socially awkward and “creepy” for trying to ask her to dance in a loud crowded club or if she’s going to think your giving off rapist signs by casually just coming up behind her

        We have to hear this on every thread now?

        1. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm |

          But Donna, straight cis men have it so hard! How can they buy a woman a drink? Life is hard.

        2. klaym0re
          klaym0re January 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

          I have a feeling that this wasn’t intended to be a reply to my comment about not excluding women who are LGBT from the category of “women.”

          correct, sorry :(

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

        Dude, have you considered that, since you have had some success and some failure with what sounds like decently respectful (if not MY ideal) dating “moves”, your failures might just be, you know, the usual rate at which all people fail to interest people? On account of nobody ever gets a circle on the Venn diagram of “times I tried” and “times it worked” on anything?

        Sadly it seems (for the moment anyway), the only winning move is not to play :(

        And yet there are seven billion people on the planet. You might consider just chilling out, doing what you figure works (since I can’t detect any objectively creepy shit in what you’ve described) and not making weird circular comments on a random site.

        1. klaym0re
          klaym0re January 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

          Dude, have you considered that, since you have had some success and some failure with what sounds like decently respectful (if not MY ideal) dating “moves”, your failures might just be, you know, the usual rate at which all people fail to interest people?

          Getting turned down I’m OK with, being shamed and physically assaulted, not so much. If the alternative to “winning” is being a publicly humiliated creep who deserves violence then I’m not really willing to play <_<

        2. Briznecko
          Briznecko January 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

          Lemme guess, those few women who acted asshole-ish prove all women are selfish bitchez who can’t see a Nice Guy(TM) trying just so hard to be nice…But if a woman is hyper-aware around men she is overreacting and unfairly painting men with a broad brush.

          Funny how that (non)logic works.

        3. Briznecko
          Briznecko January 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

          That is, if you weren’t acting creepy to begin with. With all of this winy entitlement it’s hard to know for sure.

        4. klaym0re
          klaym0re January 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

          choosing not to engage with people is entitlement?

        5. Briznecko
          Briznecko January 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

          Frankly this “new” landscape of “courtship” vs “dating” has made me very reserve when it comes to “the mushy stuff”. Because if your philosophy is “don’t be a dick” and you don’t know if the girl your eyeing on the dance floor is going to think your socially awkward and “creepy” for trying to ask her to dance in a loud crowded club or if she’s going to think your giving off rapist signs by casually just coming up behind her (I’ve had women publicly reprimand me for “making it awkward and not being a man” before when it comes to dancing)

          Sadly it seems (for the moment anyway), the only winning move is not to play :(

          Blaming women for “forcing” you to choose not to engage in dating? That’s entitlement.

        6. klaym0re
          klaym0re January 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

          who’s blaming women? I said the current state of things sucks, there is nothing in what I wrote about that being the fault of women.

        7. Briznecko
          Briznecko January 25, 2013 at 11:37 am |

          Uh…maybe you should read what you wrote then? That looks a whole lot like blaming to me.

          But I’ll play along, if that is the case, then why come here and whine about how haaaaarrrddd it is? How women can’t see how niiiiiiiccee you are? What’s the point?

        8. klaym0re
          klaym0re January 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

          But I’ll play along, if that is the case, then why come here and whine about how haaaaarrrddd it is

          Well, because I thought it was hard for everybody (all genders and sexual persuasions) not just me. The script sucks, no argument there, but without it there is no “rule book” on how to “ask for what you want” and not be rude in somebody else’s opinion. Obviously “common sense” goes a long way but the fact is the vacant space left by “the script” leaves a lot of “grey area” to be navigated within which a lot of people acting in good faith get labeled “part of the problem” when really they just weren’t sure what the other person considered polite.

          I figured that made it relevant to the conversation, apparently you have a different opinion.

    5. Alara Rogers
      Alara Rogers January 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

      I think it’s the fact that the time period in question completely erased lesbians and trans people that makes it so people aren’t specifically calling out how nightmarish *their* lives would have been. At least straight cis women were understood to *exist* in the 1950s… I think cis lesbians flew under the radar better than cis gay men, but they would still have been completely unable to be open about who they were. And the oppression levied against gender transgressors might have been designed to keep cis men and cis women in their defined roles, but it would have been utterly crushing for gays, lesbians, trans people, and anyone who wasn’t able to manage being a stereotypical example of their assigned gender.

      People got lobotomized and electroshocked for gender transgressions. Gay men got castrated. Trans people got committed to mental institutions. It’s just not even possible to pretend people who don’t fully match up to the gender binary could have been happy during the 1950s; the kind of lying liars who lie about how happy straight cis women were in slavery just pretend gays, lesbians and trans people didn’t exist (or try to make the thoroughly evil argument that people have somehow been “fooled” by modern decadence and freedoms into “unnatural” lifestyles and would have been happier had they been forced on pain of psychiatric violence to conform, but most of them know better than to try to go there.)

      So yeah, we’re talking about straight cis women, not all women; we’re also talking a lot about white women, because WOCs suffered different kinds of oppression. But whenever anyone talks about “dating”, they are, in fact, spinning a line of bullshit about how wonderful life was when you were a white cis straight woman and your interactions with white cis straight men were totally scripted and unalterable. They’re never talking about the experiences of lesbians, trans women, or women of color. They’re also waxing rhapsodic about how it was easier for men in those days, and what they mean is white, straight, cis, middle-class-or-well-off, fully abled, masculine-acting men, because these scripts had no room for MOCs, gay men, trans men, poor men, disabled men, or straight men who liked to crossdress or even just liked women to take charge.

      I think it’s good that you called this out, because I think it’s very easy to fall into the invisible trap of saying “women and men” and really meaning white, cis, straight, abled women and men, and even feminists who do spend a lot of time thinking about intersectionality find it painfully easy to fall into that trap. We should probably call it out every time someone says “Women did blah blah blah in the past” and what they mean is white, straight, cis, abled women.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 11:24 pm |

        But whenever anyone talks about “dating”, they are, in fact, spinning a line of bullshit about how wonderful life was when you were a white cis straight woman and your interactions with white cis straight men were totally scripted and unalterable.

        But…isn’t that what Jill’s talking about? The fact that everyone was assumed cis/straight and that was the only script that existed?

        1. Donna L
          Donna L January 24, 2013 at 12:07 am |

          Mac, unless it’s in the rest of Jill’s article, I didn’t see anything there talking about women other than straight cis women:

          women today are doing better than ever – especially the ones who graduate from college and marry later in life.

          Feminist victories mean that women can enter into partnerships more equally. More egalitarian relationships tend to be more stable; partners in them have more sex; and the male partners tend to spend more time with their children.

          This sounded rather heterocentric to me, as did all the early comments, which is why I said something.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 24, 2013 at 12:14 am |

          Yes, Donna, I was just actually…I read the whole article, and it seems pretty obvious that her takedown was a takedown of the “traditional” script. Which was pretty much basically het/cis itself, so centering lbt women doesn’t seem necessary. I don’t appreciate the lack of, say, a one-time shout-out, but more than that hardly seems relevant?

        3. DouglasG
          DouglasG January 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

          I don’t have quite so much trepidation as Fr Egbert Delaney about taking up my pen, but, cautiously, I had a response similar to Donna’s. One potential comment that formed in mind was, when reading:

          [Every single woman I know, including myself, goes on dates regularly.]

          to wonder how many of those women date women and what the differences, if any, are in their experience from the dating experiences of their man-dating acquaintances.

          I remember the passage Donna quotes about egalitarian relationships being a fairly regular theme of Ms Jill’s. She did once a while back directly address the point of omission, saying that she knew she was writing about heterosexual relationships, but most relationships were heterosexual. I generally agree enough with her points that it would be interesting to know whom she would recommend as worth reading on LBT relationship issues that she skims over or chooses to bypass.

          Interestingly, elsewhere there have been a couple of LGBT-related discussions that seem to touch on this. One touched on how same-sex marrying couples have a great opportunity to set a good example for opposite-sex couples as to egalitarian relationships. (All well and good for those who go in for that sort of thing, but a bit pushy, perhaps, for anyone to expect it of us as some sort of duty.)

          The passage in the article about rules vs freedom brought me right back to a discussion of trans disclosure in online dating circles.It’s not my place to comment on it, but I thought of it at once when I read that passage in the article.

  10. JBL55
    JBL55 January 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

    Sometimes, a retro vision of dating makes it seem like an old-school model would be better, but I’m not sure any of us would actually make that trade.

    We are certainly encouraged to look at that retro vision with nostalgia, but that is mainly due to the influence and urgings of those who think women should be controlled.

    Your column provides an excellent perspective, both historical and political. Nice work!

  11. Courtship is dead; dating has never been better | Online Dating Sites

    […] site: Courtship is dead; dating has never been better This entry was posted in Online Dating, Uncategorized and tagged abortion, archives, daughter, […]

  12. Rebecca
    Rebecca January 23, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

    Wikipedia claims that “Mother’s Little Helper” is about Nembutal, not Valium, because of the line about the pill being yellow. That shouldn’t make too much difference either way except that Nembutal is more risky as far as lethal overdose, which is why Valium is more common now.

  13. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

    Um, seriously, where did this “simpler days” meme come from? I can see why someone from 1250 might engage in useless nostalgia about 1230; there were relatively tiny changes in society. But now? When people can travel faster, get in contact quicker, communicate more effectively and meet people without necessarily having to physically talk to every Mitt, Newt and Rand on the street just in case he’s the one?

    (Also, the end of Romeo and Juliet might have been less memorable if tragedy had been averted wtih a “sup bb btw totes faking death lol” text message, but let’s not get into that.)

    1. EG
      EG January 23, 2013 at 11:18 pm |

      The ending of Romeo and Juliet is stupid no matter what century you’re in.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 11:59 pm |

        Really the whole thing should have ended with an episode of “To Catch a Predator.” Juliet’s how old again? :p

      2. Donna L
        Donna L January 24, 2013 at 12:09 am |

        How old was Romeo supposed to be? After all, the laws exempting minors from being charged with statutory rape themselves when there’s less than a specified age difference between the two people are generally referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” laws for a reason.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 24, 2013 at 12:15 am |

          Mid-late twenties, I thought (I remember 28 but don’t quote me)… and Juliet was like 13…

        2. Donna L
          Donna L January 24, 2013 at 12:22 am |

          A quick Google search indicates that although the play says that Juliet is 13, Romeo’s age isn’t specified; most of the “answers” I saw suggested that he was supposed to be a few years older. Late teens, maybe.

        3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help January 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

          I always thought they were meant to be about fourteen and fifteen.

      3. Miriam
        Miriam January 24, 2013 at 12:20 am |

        I think Romeo and Juliet is only stupid when it’s held up as an example of true love. I don’t think Shakespeare intended it to be used that way, but that’s probably another discussion.

      4. librarygoose
        librarygoose January 24, 2013 at 12:38 am |

        I remember getting called out in high school because on the final test for Romeo and Juliet there was an essay about our thoughts on the play and I answered essentially, “They were stupid and they deserved it.” My teacher was both amused and pissed.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 24, 2013 at 12:46 am |

          well…they WERE. They were bad and they should have felt bad.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L January 24, 2013 at 12:16 am |

      I can see why someone from 1250 might engage in useless nostalgia about 1230; there were relatively tiny changes in society.

      I remember that period, and there were a lot of changes! I mean, just try saying that to the Russians. Or the Jews in France, for that matter.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 24, 2013 at 12:46 am |

        Erk. Fair enough. I was thinking about changes in scientific/communication technology, but I didn’t specify. My bad.

  14. Courtship is dead. Long live dating. « Family Scholars

    […] L. adds, in the comments at Jill’s blog: I wish that instead of referring to “women,” people would start saying […]

  15. Sillyme
    Sillyme January 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

    In the olden days the uglies and fatties and men whom we do not want to be touched by had the chance to bribe us into letting them touch us through their monies, because what is a girl whom isnt allowed to work to do?

    Now we do not have to look at how capable he is to be a suitor, we can just go for men we like. Yay I say.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L January 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

      How many times have you been told that your fatphobic insults aren’t acceptable here? What the fuck is wrong with you?

      1. Sillyme
        Sillyme January 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

        Okay just replace it with anything that is a no go in a guy to you personally. Bottom line is we do not need to sit a guy down to evaluate him as a provider, or take a guy we are not attracted to because we would starve else.

    2. Caperton
      Caperton January 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm | *

      Sillyme, one more fatphobic comment and you’re gone. You’ve gotten plenty of warnings.

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