Monday, February 8, 2010

News Roundup: The New Math on Campus

The New York Times recently published an article on the gender imbalance in many of the nation’s prestigious colleges and universities.

The article explores the ramifications of a widely noted trend in undergraduate admissions: female applicants tend to have higher SAT scores, better GPAs, and more extracurricular activities than their male counterparts.

So what happens when girls get to campus and find themselves outnumbering the boys? The article argues that the boys have all the power when it comes to dating, and the girls have to play by their rules. According to the author, college guys are more interested in sex than relationships, and the girls who want “something more” have to settle for casual sex because the guys are calling the shots.

While the gender ratio may contribute to this dynamic, it’s not the root cause of the problem.

The author chronicles the mating rituals these coeds employ to find “the one.” Here are the highlights:

Thanks to simple laws of supply and demand, it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box.

‘I was talking to a friend at a bar, and this girl just came up out of nowhere, grabbed him by the wrist, spun him around and took him out to the dance floor and started grinding,’ said Kelly Lynch, a junior at North Carolina, recalling a recent experience.

‘A lot of my friends will meet someone and go home for the night and just hope for the best the next morning,’ Ms. Lynch said. ‘They’ll text them and say: “I had a great time. Want to hang out next week?” And they don’t respond’

Even worse, ‘Girls feel pressured to do more than they’re comfortable with, to lock it down,’ Ms. Lynch said.

As for a man’s cheating, ‘that’s a thing that girls let slide, because you have to,’ said Emily Kennard, a junior at North Carolina. ‘If you don’t let it slide, you don’t have a boyfriend.’

“Women do not want to get left out in the cold, so they are competing for men on men’s terms,” [Kathleen A. Bogle, a sociologist at La Salle University in Philadelphia] wrote. “This results in more casual hook-up encounters that do not end up leading to more serious romantic relationships. Since college women say they generally want ‘something more’ than just a casual hook-up, women end up losing out.”

‘A lot of guys know that they can go out and put minimal effort into their appearance and not treat girls to drinks or flatter them, and girls will still flirt with them,’ said Felicite Fallon, a senior at Florida State University, which is 56 percent female.

So, basically, these girls aren’t making the guys put in any work whatsoever. This sentiment is oh-so-eloquently by one of the (few) men interviewed for this article:

‘You don’t have to work that hard,’ said Matt Garofalo, a senior at North Carolina. ‘You meet a girl at a late-night restaurant, she’s texting you the next day.’

The issue, it seems, is not the gender imbalance, but rather the way these girls are behaving.

When you make things too easy for guys, they’re going to lose interest. After all, if you seem so desperate to date the nerdy guy who monitors the computer lab, he’s going to wonder what’s driving the desperation. And he’s probably going to conclude that you think he’s too good for you. And if you think that, why shouldn’t he?

When girls are borderline-raping guys on the dance floor and taking them home for a one-night stand, the guys are going to assume they can do better. Not because the odds are in their favor, but because the girls seem really available.

And because we all want what we can’t have (especially when it comes to sex), these guys are going to look for the girls who aren’t giving it up as easily.

And if you read between the lines, that’s what the guys are saying.

‘Guys tend to overshoot themselves and find a really beautiful girlfriend they couldn’t date otherwise, but can, thanks to the ratio,’ [a male North Carolina alum] said.

What this guy’s saying is, the guys want to date girls that seem out of their league. But how can you tell who’s out of your league?

Yes, some people fall at extreme ends of the attractiveness spectrum. But most of us are somewhere in the middle. And, at that point, a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Some guys go crazy for redheads. Others are turned on by blonde hair, regardless of the face underneath it.

It’s the same for girls. Some girls want the lacrosse-player shaggy hair, while others like guys who look like they just got out of basic training.

So when a guy’s trying to figure out if a girl’s out of his league, he’s going to take a lot of clues from her behaviors/action.

If she’s texting him the day after a one-night stand to say, “I had a great time last night. Let’s get lunch this week.”, he’s probably going to assume she’s at least at (if not below) his level. Because if she were out of his league, she wouldn’t be giving him the time of day.

But if she’s not even going home with him in the first place, he might start to wonder if he’s good enough for her. And that’s going to pique his interest, not “[doing] more than [you’re] comfortable with to lock it down,” as the girls in the article suggest.

The guys agree.

‘Even though there’s this huge imbalance between the sexes, it still doesn’t change the fact of guys sitting around, bemoaning their single status,’ said Patrick Hooper, a Georgia senior. ‘It’s the same as high school, but the women are even more enchanting and beautiful.’

Presumably, the “enchanting and beautiful” women these guys are pining over aren’t putting out after the late-night diner.

All the guys are quick to point out how easy it is to get sex. But they all also bemoan the fact that they don’t have girlfriends.

The problem seems to be that the girls who put out don’t seem like girlfriend material. And the girls who don’t suddenly become these “enchanting” beauties that the guys actually want to date.

The girls who do put out aren’t ugly. The article goes into irrelevant detail about the outfits they wear and the time they put into their hair and makeup. So the girls who hold out probably aren’t more beautiful in an objective sense, but they seem more attractive because they seem less attainable.

These women aren’t single because they outnumber the guys. They’re single because they don’t know how to behave in a way that encourages men to date them.

And in cities like DC, where smart, motivated, and attractive women seem to outnumber men with the same characteristics, we could all learn a thing or two from these coeds’ mistakes.


  1. No wonder my main man at UNC was my gay boyfriend...

  2. There might be some new math on campus, but it looks like it's the same old gender stereotypes.

    Both the NYT article and this post share an assumption: women want relationships, and men want sex. Who says casual sex represents only men's wishes? These gender roles alienate the women who want casual sex as "easy," and emasculate the men who want serious relationships. Consider the possibility that some of the men "bemoan their single status" because they found someone whom they want to date, but she isn't interested in a relationship. Not all men are DTF just by virtue of having a penis.

    The subtext for the women who take initiative to honestly communicate and ask for what they want ("I had a great time last night, let's do this again") is that they're pathetic. When did that happen? If a guy doesn't respect you for wanting him, or ridicules you for actually having a libido - perhaps it's time to find another guy.