2005 Double Standards in Dating
Chananya Weissman

2005 The Jewish Press (?)

Let me preface my remarks by pre-empting the criticism that anonymous, unthinking, negative, highly reactive people are bound to level at me. I am about to observe trends of bad attitudes and behaviors that are increasingly prevalent in the female population. The fact that I am male is entirely irrelevant to these observations, and neither supports nor damages the credibility of my remarks. I write this not from a standpoint of "us against them", and I have no vested interest in "proving" that "men are better than women" or the reverse. These are exercises for fools, feminists, and the religiously confused.

         There is a lot of talk about men having the upper hand in dating as if it's supposed to be a competition. Who knows, for some people perhaps dating really is a competition, a competition to land the best learner, or the best earner, or the best looking, or whatever silly criteria of little relevance to a successful marriage that so many people are chasing. This is a different matter, but there is definitely a perception that men enjoy better treatment and more options in the world of dating.


         Yet no one seems to be talking about the following double standards, all of which counter this perception:

1) The attitude toward a woman of 30, 40, or whatever age is considered "old" who has never been married tends to be empathy and concern. One frequently hears that a woman is so beautiful, from such a fine family, so full of chessed, etc., and what a tragedy it is that she hasn't found the right person.

Conversely, the attitude toward a man of similar age tends to be derision, even contempt. Why doesn't the bum get married already? What's wrong with him? Why is he so picky? Does he have commitment problems? Does he have psychological problems? Is he a player? And on and on. There is more suspicion than sympathy for the older single who is male. There is little attention paid to his difficulty in finding the right person, little consideration for his fine qualities, only skepticism that he's really doing his best and conviction that his difficulties in finding the right person are entirely self-inflicted.

Whereas everyone feels sorry for the woman who struggles to find the right person, the man who struggles to find the right person must justify why he isn't married and prove that he really is a normal person trying his best.

2) When someone has an idea about setting two people up, they almost invariably first check with the guy to see if he's willing to go along with the idea before checking with the girl. Why? Because if the girl agrees to a date and the guy declines, the girl's feelings will be hurt.

This sensitivity for the feelings of women is admirable, but where is the concern for the feelings of men? Why are people willing to sacrifice the feelings of men to protect the feelings of women? It is not fair to assume that the man in question can get an appropriate date any more easily than can the woman in question, nor is it fair to assume that the woman will be more let down by a rejection than will the man. This is an unfair double standard.

3) Women tend to be concerned about the height of prospective suitors. Very concerned. So concerned, in fact, that quite a few women will not go out with a man unless he is 4 inches taller than her. It is extremely difficult to find a woman who doesn't mind dating a man who is approximately her height, even a bit shorter.

The popular reaction to completely dismissing men due to a physical preference is one of sympathy and understanding. Of course, women are uncomfortable dating men who are not significantly taller. Even if the man in question is absolutely perfect for her in every other way, women need to be comfortable standing next to their man and even be able to wear heels. This is extremely important to women, and we need to respect that.

Conversely, a man who prefers not to date overweight women, who states that he is not attracted to a woman because of her weight, is condemned for being shallow and making objects out of women.

A man is supposed to see the inner beauty of a woman he finds unattractive and understand that weight is beyond some people's control. A woman is not expected to see the inner beauty of a man she finds unattractive (short, balding, etc.) and understand that height and baldness are completely beyond a man's control, while most people can realistically take measures to control their weight.

Women are not condemned for being shallow and making objects out of men. On the contrary, their shallowness is rationalized and supported.

This is a terrible, completely unjustifiable double standard that must be recognized and abolished. Either it's fair for men to turn down women based on physical preferences, or it's unfair for women to turn down men based on physical preferences. You can't have it both ways, ladies.

4) It is quite common nowadays for women to go to an event, take a peek inside, decide on the basis of this quick look that there is no one inside that is good enough for them, and leave. Women tend to have a much quicker trigger for turning down events and people.

At the recent ETM West Hempstead Shabbaton, 25% of the female participants (6 out of 24) didn't show up for the event and needed to be replaced with people on our waiting list, which messed up many of our hosting and meal arrangements. Some of them canceled on Friday, forcing the organizer to scramble on zero notice to work things out, while the rest didn't bother to cancel -- they just didn't show up. Only a couple of these people had decent reasons for canceling at the last minute.

We had no such problems from the men.

Several female participants have raised issues about their meal placements, even forcing us to switch lots of things around just to please them.

We had no such issues from the men.

On the Teaneck Shabbaton we had to cancel the Motzei Shabbos activity because the women decided at Shalosh Seudos that they weren't going to attend, and the men understandably didn't want to go if the women weren't going to be there.

I would also venture to suggest that the vast majority of break-ups that occur in today's shidduch world are orchestrated by women. From what I gather, men tend to be more flexible, more willing to overlook various "incompatibilities", more willing to try to make it work if they like the person. Women tend to be more rigid, more hung up on the differences, less willing to try to make it work if they like the person.

It is usually the women complaining that the men aren't good enough for them, not the men complaining that the women aren't good enough for them.

Society's reaction? Blame the men for not being good enough for the women, and praise the women for being so outstandingly wonderful and superior to men.

What often happens is that after many years of rejecting suitable men, the women get older and less attractive, and the volume of suitors drops considerably. These women then have two options: settle for someone who is beneath what they desire (good luck having a satisfying marriage with that approach) or continue to place themselves on an unreachable pedestal and hold out for the man who is a world-class talmid chacham, runs a successful business, has movie star looks, and has no perceptible imperfections. This is the man who is worthy of our beautiful, successful princesses, after all. Men who decide to date younger women who might not have this edge or attitude of entitlement about them are lambasted.

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These are the most serious and widespread inconsistencies that exist in today's world of dating. My opinion is that this is a result of feminism. Today's average observant Jewish woman might not be marching in the streets or running a women's prayer group, but women today tend to look down on men. This is a result of feminism, whose pernicious influence has extended into even the most cloistered Jewish communities.

It is no longer about "Let's see what we have to offer one another and if we can build a wonderful life together", but "Show me what you have to offer me, and if you're good enough then I'll warm up to you." This is a recipe for marital disaster or long lives of loneliness, not happy and stable Jewish marriages.

And it's not 50-50. The onus at the present time is mostly on the women. This statement won't win me popularity contests, but don't bother disagreeing with me unless you can make some sense.