08 April 2009

Cattle call

Continuing the diversion from matters of life and death:

For the past couple of years I've kept a profile at the free online dating site OKCupid.com. Mostly it's been sitting there unattended (and sucking pretty badly) but a few weeks ago I decided to dress it up a bit and see what the site was all about.  I don't expect anything to come of it, of course--there are many other factors precluding that--but I can't temper my curiosity about what makes other people moved.  

What I found was interesting and rather disappointing.  While the site seems fairly progressive, and I think many of the people with profiles there are non-traditonal, general etiquette on the site seems to go along the same strictly defined gender roles as the meatspace dating world.  Men are expected to do all the seeking and competing for the women's attention, while she waits and selects the best candidate from the available suitors. 

Reading a few forum posts giving messaging tips to men, it occured to me how much this process felt like applying for a job.  Indeed, much of the advice I found sounds exactly like the recycled checklist of platitudes you get from employment counselors.  That's largely what has soured me on the site; I've had enough trouble with that sort of thing; I don't have any interest in applying for a girlfriend as well. 

Granted I'm not the best guinea pig for this experiment, being generally ugly, unaccomplished, lazy, and a bore among many other things, but after studiously personalizing messages to several people as suggested and being ignored, I've decided to back-burner the project for now. 

Finally, although women may be more inclined to accept their traditional gender role in this matter (it does give them considerably more power than usual), it still has the same genesis as other roles and therefore shouldn't be dismissed too easily.  The man is still in the role of the sexual conquerer, vanquishing foes to win his desired prize.  Women, meanwhile, are to wait passively until their conquerer comes along, then putting him through the wringer before finally conceding.  Because, of course, sex isn't something women should enjoy; it's merely something to be given away to a man.  And you want to make him earn it.