Girls Against Boys?

Uh oh.

So I've been reading a lot lately about how millenials are in a "post-dating" world. There's Hanna Rosin's polemic book The End of Men. There are the women at The Gaggle who encourage opening up your eyes to the men you never considered. There are the depressingly spot-on Atlantic and New York Times articles condemning hookup culture, texting, and online dating. There are the Acculturated symposium articles that ask "Can Men Be Men Again?" The (horrible horror) film above, Girls Against Boys, seems to be an extreme prediction of a result of this current battle of the sexes. So, in a departure from my usual film-focused posts (which nevertheless owes a lot to Girls) I'd like to weigh in with my take on "post dating."

Of particular importance here is the fact that I don't date a lot. This is both a conscious and subconscious decision. The simplest explanation is that living in Denmark as a non-Dane, I may be scaring off potential interests because they worry that I'll leave the country (which I did, once, after a French boyfriend broke it off for precisely this reason), so neither of us tries from the start.  But the second-simplest explanation is that it's too hard.

Sometimes I'm full of rage, like these murderous women, that post-feminism has rendered men lazy, unambitious and averse to commitment. Unfulfilling past experiences with "the casual thing" tell me I don't want that anymore, but how do we get out of the cycle when casual sex is everywhere and endorsed? So my anger brews until I (wrongly) peg all men in sight as commitment-phobes without getting to know them.

Sometimes I think it's us girls' fault for putting up with casual sex. Some argue that casual sex empowers women; I think that in a society with more highly educated women than men, we're really just scared that if we stick up for our right to monogamy, we'll scare the boys away because they can chase easier tail. Plus, casual sex is awful and awkward. The insidiousness of hookup options leaves the mature women partnerless.

Sometimes I'm complacent, more interested in my comfy bed with its comforter that hugs me just right, and that doesn't snore. Reading a book on a Saturday night often feels much more fulfilling than braving the sticky floors of bars, only to have unwelcome men barge their way into my (great) conversations with my friends.

Sometimes I simply have no idea where to meet men. In my daily life I'm surrounded by students (I can feel my mom repeating, "they're too young, Kate!") and, worse, startup entrepreneurs. And with a job, a master's program, intensive Danish courses, and an active social life, all my time for new activities is taken up.

Sometimes I pity the men who've missed out on the encouragement and support that my fellow female generation has reaped. Masculinity is confusing these days; how are boys supposed to learn how to be men if Bruce Willis's guns and hipster jeans are the only guiding symbols?

But most of all, I don't date because I am an emerging adult. I have a lot of things to work on, for myself. I genuinely feel as though I do not really know who I am yet. I would argue that most of my peers agree. We're in the midst of deciding careers, lifestyles, worldviews, and finances for ourselves, and this is more than a full-time job. Therefore, none of us can possibly know what we want in a relationship, and what we have to offer the other person.

So I guess I wish that the media would quit ringing the alarm bells about millenial dating, because it's making a pressure-filled situation even more stressful. Could we instead focus on the fact that emerging adults need help and guidance too, much like teenagers and new parents? At this age, I'd much rather be asked the question "how would you describe yourself" than, for example, "what do you do for a living?" The latter implies a fixed identity, while the former hints at the truth - that we have the capacity to decide who we are and who we become. And that we are ever-changing.

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