Saturday, 15 October 2011

Chesterton Would Vomit

More doom and gloom today because a reader sent me this link to a rival Auntie. Here is a snippet:

"Dear Margo: My daughter, 22, refuses to go out with men. Why? It seems that girls of her generation have created a situation where the young man summons the young woman to his apartment to "hook up." That's the date: no phone call, just a text message. Then, after the event, the girl wonders why he doesn't call. In addition, the young lady is expected to wax her privates and carry baby wipes in her purse so she can be fresh and ready for anything. This is because men like "young" girls.

If you recall our college days, gentlemen called you no later than Wednesday for a Saturday night date. They wined and dined you and walked you to the door for a goodnight kiss, if they were lucky. Sex came later, when the woman felt she was in a committed relationship. Young women today should all unite, stop waxing and "take back the night." — Sally"

Go read what Margo says and then what the daughter says and then come back to me so we can wring our hands and wail about the death of civilisation together. And you were wondering why so many Islamic immigrants are so in love with the idea of sharia law.

But I have a lot of quibbles with this letter. First of all, I wonder how old Sally is, because I am almost old enough to have a 22 year old daughter myself, and in MY college days, very few gentlemen called you no later than a Wednesday for a Saturday night date. This was because they didn't read The Rules, which says that is what men SHOULD do. They did, however, call because there was no texting yet. There was still such a concept as the "Saturday night date" although, really, once you had a boyfriend, you just hung out as much as possible.

Also, you got walked to your door only if you insisted on it. In my college days, college age men were generally clueless about how scary it is for women to be out on their own after dark, particularly from the bus stop. One night a male friend of mine thought it would be a really good joke to scare me as I made my way home from the bus stop. He met my Inner Banshee. Most men of my generation had no idea, NO IDEA, what it might be like to be a woman when they were in college.

Men and women of my college years, like men and women of my grandmother's generation's college years, made out like bandits. (My grandmother was born in 1904, and didn't go to college, but she told me she would catch her college-age sister "necking" on the sofa.) The "good-night kiss" was a first date, will he/won't he, will I/won't I, worry, although even when I was in high school, a few girls would make out with cute strangers on the dance floor.

Sex probably "came later" for the vast majority of undergrads who did not get drunk at parties to steel themselves to do what they wrongly thought the majority was doing. I'll give Sally that. We did not reside in the sexual world she describes, with its Brazilian waxes and baby wipes.

Now I'll talk about that. First of all, I don't think this world was created by the college girls of today. It was created by p*rnographers. It was created by HBO. It may have been created by the writers of "Sex and the City". It was created by the music industry, possibly inspired by Madonna Ciccone. (In the 1980s, children, that far-off decade in which you were born, female pop stars wore big baggy clothes. The only pop star who pranced around in underwear was Madonna Ciccone, and those of us who copied her made it look 80s instead of sexy. The very daring might wear a bra over her shirt, not just a bra. Boy, those were the days.) I spend the 1990s in Goth clubs, but I recall that most women wore jeans to class. Jeans and t-shirts and no make-up. Make-up was so high school.

Incidentally, Naomi Klein was an undergrad at the University of Toronto when I was, and the feminists of that era loathed Camille Paglia and pro-porn feminism. They were beginning to waffle on "sex work", but they were still generally against porn. In so far as they thought about having children at all, they were sure they would bring up their sons to respect women as partners and equals and all of that. I doubt any of us could have predicted that their sons would summon girls to their beds with a text-message or that our daughters would simply shave their private parts and go.

The shaving thing would have made us all, radical feminists and Catholics, throw up, and indeed I do feel a twinge of nausea because only prepubescent girls do not have pubic hair. I suppose, though, that porn actresses don't either, because I can't imagine where else men would get the idea that adult women don't have pubic hair. (John Ruskin was a different headcase altogether.)

And the text message summonses would also have made us throw up, as would the baby wipes. My feminist pals carried condoms in their bags to protect themselves from disease, not baby wipes to make themselves all fresh and nice for non-paying clients.

By the way, you'll notice that I am taking Sally's ideas about today at face value, which might be a mistake. If she wildly exaggerated the (snork snork) chivalry of the 1980s or 1990s, she might be exaggerating what her daughter told her. However, my heart broke at [high-profile American soi-disant Catholic college] when a professor reported the findings about Frosh Week, which was that incoming students, in their shyness and fear and who knows what, get absolutely smashed at parties so as to be able have sex with each other later. After that, it is easy to believe thousands of American girls are trotting around to men's bedrooms like absentminded hookers who forget to ask for payment.

Why do women act like this? I almost wrote "girls", but maybe that is part of the problem. Maybe we should hark back to the 1990s, when it was considered wrong to refer to any woman over 12 as "a girl." It could be that women think they are SUPPOSED to. But who told them this? And why do they believe it?

Meanwhile, I am absolutely sure this situation is not fault of children born in the late '80s and '90s. They were groomed for it--but by whom? Surely not just Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda?

Incidentally, one of the commentators scolds Margo about her advice that Sally's daughter should accept dates. So far nobody has asked Sally's daughter on a real date, so she is quite right to say no to everyone who just invites his over to their place. Personally, I would ask Sally's daughter why she picked the pseudonym "Virgin Whore". She is quite obviously not a whore, and refuses to act like one or be treated like one. If it is because she feels sexually frustrated, that's just mad because most adult women feel sexually frustrated at least of the time. Meanwhile, she's only 22. Most men are not old enough for marriage at 22. She should wait for a grown-up. A grown-up will ask her out for dinner.

Now that we are all depressed, I will tell you that the male university students I know do not summon women to their beds with text messages. They are Catholic and Polish and wish to be married. They have fiancees or they hope to find one soon. So there is hope for your generation, particularly if you are Polish.


margaret said...

I guess Sally could be anywhere from about 42 to 66. Her ideas about dating certainly seem to belong more to a slightly idealised 1950s than the 1980s but even in Edinburgh and Cambridge in the 80s guys would walk you to your door. I'm afraid I could only bear to read some of the comments, when it got to the one that accused the girl of being snooty I reached for my paper bag and gave up.

The Sojourner said...

I couldn't walk yet by the end of the '80s, so I have no comment on whether men would walk you to your door. (Maybe I'll ask my mother sometime.)

I can say, though, that pretty much none of the male university students I knew would ever summon a woman by text. (In my four years there, there was one guy who set off my spidey sense, and I avoided him, but even he didn't seem the sort to text. More to lure you to his house and then proposition you.) And it was a well-known cultural expectation on my campus that if you were ever afraid at night you could call one of your male friends to walk you back to your door, no questions asked. It did not have to be your boyfriend, and the gesture was not seen as romantic in any way.

I'll admit I went to a very unusual college, but still. Hope for the future?

theobromophile said...

Perhaps Sally grew up in the South; even today, dinner dates are the more common ways of asking a woman out, not this business of "want to hang out and watch a movie?".

While I can't comment on the prevalence of waxing nor how men expect it, I don't think that Sally is really far off in her description of the college dating scene. While I did know a few people who had steady boyfriends (and boyfriends who were willing to wait), the vast majority of the "dating" involved a man inviting the girl to his room to watch a movie on his computer and to make out - and then browbeat her for being a tease or not a proper feminist. (Older men, and men who grew up in more traditional households did not act like that.)

The best way that I can explain modern, non-Catholic dating is that I've had several dozen men ask me for sex but I was thirty before a man gave me flowers. (Let that one process for a bit. Yuck.)

Little Mary said...

Sally seems to be very Margot-aged to me... I think it's really interesting how her generation got to say no to guys who didn't call by Wednesday but our generation should accept hook-up invites and try to change them into dates "or we'll never meet someone." !!! Young women need to know that it's okay to say no to invitations from men; saying no to Mr. Wrong frees you up for Mr. Right. And if Mr. Right never comes along, at least you're not stuck trying to entertain and change Mr. Wrong!

Jam said...

My first month at college, 2004, I was walking back from a church event with one of the few people I had met at the Catholic center so far, and somehow ended up saying something about how I hadn't dated at all in high school but I hoped things would pick up in college. She told me in no uncertain terms that I was a naive idiot; there was no such thing as dating in college; and your choices were hooking up or being alone. By my senior year she had been proven right, which messed violently with my head for about a year or so. It's a cruel, hard, upsetting world out there.

Katie said...

For my age group (mid thirties) I think the programme 'Friends' has a lot to answer for. I still watch re-runs (because it makes me laugh) but I cringe at the sexual morality (or lack of it) it pushes episode after episode. This is what I grew up with as a late teen and in my early twenties. Some examples: Ross laments he has not had sex in 3 months and this is treated as scandalous, the boys constantly refer to pornography in a way that makes it acceptable and necessary, Joey sleeps with anyone and this is supposed to be cute (no mention of STDs!!), I could go on.
The effect this programme (and other stuff ofcourse) had on my thinking as a young impressionable college student led to some pretty poor decision making.

Seraphic said...

Oh dear, Jam, that's terrible. That's absolutely terrible, and I think I'm going to go through "Humanae Vitae" to see if it predicted that situation would happen if society continued with the Sexual Revolution.

If it's any consolation, there was dating in graduate school in 2004. As women get older they generally get more confidence, and as men get older they generally grow up. (Sadly women falling into their beds like sunny, unpaid prostitutes rather retards their growing up.)

And, ironically, because I don't really like how they work, dating websites do mean at leas one date, not hooking up. And if you stick with Catholic dating websites (like Ave Maria Singles), then you are less likely to meet the kind of guys who just want to get laid.

In real life, of course, all I can say is Newman Center, Newman Center, Newman Center, St. Thomas More Society, and any other trad Catholic group on campus.

What a bizarre situation in which college men have less respect for college women (although they might not understand that's what it is) now than they did in the 1990s.

Katie, I think you might be right about "Friends". A constant diet of "Friends" reruns would certainly change how people relate to reality.

What a strange situation. People used to "read their Bible", and thus they had that shared heritage. But for the past few decades they have watched nightly TV instead, and so that's what people talk about and, unconsciously, learn from.

I_A_ said...

Moist towelettes?

"As if everyone did not know that while saints can afford to be dirty, seducers have to be clean. As if everyone did not know that the harlot must be clean, because it is her business to captivate, while the good wife may be dirty, because it is her business to clean."
-G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World.

Alisha said...

"But for the past few decades they have watched nightly TV instead, and so that's what people talk about and, unconsciously, learn from."

Indeed. Those who tell the stories in culture form the culture and many get victimized by it....but really, we have to take some of the blame on ourselves, as Christians - we currently are practically non existent amongst the prominent storeytellers of our day (read - the media, creators of shows etc.) If we are putting up with a culture without Christ, it's because we've not made Him visible. He doesn't lessen or fade - we fail, are lukewarm, don't act out of conviction and then are influenced by and victim to what we allow.