I was shocked and amazed to read Charlotte Allen’s long cover story for the February 15 edition of the Weekly Standard, entitled “The New Dating Game.” It is an exploration of the sexual mores of contemporary American society, either as they actually exist or as they are being imagined and described in a range of sex commentary blogs, which the author surveys with great interest and precision. Either way, Ms. Allen’s article is a fine piece of social science, and seldom is social science so arresting. At any rate, it sure beats Max Weber’s Wissenschaft als Beruf for late-night reading.
If Ms. Allen is anywhere near correct in her account, I gather that we are no longer living in Jane Austen’s world. True, beneath the surface, there are some alpha males lurking in Ms. Austen’s society, and one can detect in some of her females incipient cougar leanings. But all these things are partly channeled and controlled by the weight of convention and by the consequences of sexuality in a different technological era. Well we have broken through, for better or for worse. A pincer movement of advanced technology (birth control devices, new antibiotics) and a new morality of a male-style feminism have breached the walls of convention, which are tumbling rapidly, even since the recent and more halcyon days of the hook-up culture. Ms. Allen describes the return of a Paleolithic age that has none of the grace found in the Flintstones and none of the agonizing sensitivity of the cavemen of the Geico ads (these last, as Rousseau said of the men Hobbes described in his state of nature, only place modern man into a fictive primitive setting). It’s quite a world out there now, best accounted for in Allen’s speculation by Darwinian evolutionary models. George Gilder had seen this all before, a long time ago, even before he had all the biological studies that the modern analyst can cite. And it seems to be ending just where he thought it would.
There is much room for commentary from our esteemed stable of writers, whom I invite to weigh in, along with the deeper thoughts still of Pomocon readers. Besides, it will boost our circulation hits beyond those of the Porch.