Sex and the Single (Working Class) Guy

 

IMG_1157In recent years, we’ve been treated to plenty of articles regarding the romantic and sexual habits of the young and college-educated. In general, the observation is that the ladies are finding it difficult to find men who are interested in committed relationships or marriage, while the guys are blithely bouncing from bed to bed. While no stereotype is true of the whole — as my early-20s self of a decade ago would have bitterly pointed out to you — this one seems to reflect at least a part of reality.

Though there’s no shortage of likely causes — including the ongoing effects of the Sexual Revolution — two factors that have rightly attracted attention of late are the power of scarcity within different dating markets and how those markets are largely demarcated by education (e.g., college graduates generally limit their dating pools to other college grads). Among college-aged Millennials, for instance, there are four women for every three men. In that demographic, this means that men’s preferences dominate, not in spite of their low numbers, but because of them. Consequently sexual mores tend to be loose and committed relationships relatively rare. (“Won’t sleep with me? Sorry, baby, there’s plenty who will.”) When you factor in youthful hormones, it’s little wonder that sex tends to happen relatively early and requires less commitment.

(The outcome is deeply ironic, given that most feminists seemed to assume that, as college become more dominated by women, their preferences would become ascendant. Chalk this up as yet another example of the dangers of political thinking divorced from economic understanding).

Of course, if women are over-represented among college graduates, then that also means that they’re underrepresented among those without a degree. Indeed, according to Jon Birger in this Cato Daily Podcast interview, there are about 9.5 million single, working-class men in their 20s and only 7 million comparable women. And while this demographic’s romantic life has fewer think pieces and Hollywood screenplays devoted to it, the dating market here is apparently much more commitment-friendly. As such, we’re in the weird position where even Pajama Boy types can wrack up notches on their headboards, while middlingly-attractive working-class guys either marry relatively young or go to bed alone (I’m not wholly sure how to reconcile this with Coming Apart, though I sense part of the answer is that Belmont and Fishtown are extremes, and that Birger’s research focuses more closely on the young).

Birger predicts that something is going to break, and that the most likely point is our hang-ups about inter-class dating; specifically, that college-aged women are going to start dating (and marrying) firemen, plumbers, soldiers, and technicians who are skilled and gainfully employed, but lack a college degree.

Given that many of these careers now offer impressive salaries based on a few years’ training and education, going to technical school just became that much more attractive.

There are 83 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not having a college degree, and as many of my female friends have discovered, if you seek higher degrees you can end up degreeing yourself out of the dating pool. After all, what would a woman with a doctorate of musical arts have in common with a fireman? While a fireman a very important role in our society, he’s not going to have much to talk about with a woman with an advanced degree. There’s a lot of talk about being “equally yoked” in the context of marriage; that doesn’t apply to just religion.

    • #1
  2. The King Prawn Member
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: college-aged women are going to start dating (and marrying) firemen, plumbers, soldiers, and technicians who are skilled and gainfully employed, but lack a college degree.

    I already see some of this in the military. There are guys serving who simply aren’t the primary bread winners in their households. They’re a tiny minority, but they do exist, and I’ve seen their numbers grow over the last decade. The dynamic is pretty interesting in that the young men are freer to stay or go from the military and can pursue degrees of interest rather than worth while serving. For most guys in the my part of the Navy, by the time you have 8 years and wrack up a wife and a couple of kids you’re in the golden handcuffs of a lifer. Bringing in $60K+ net (only about $45K is taxable), free healthcare, all the other benefits (oh how I miss the commissary…) makes the decision to separate rather than retire (and collect 50% forever) extremely difficult.

    Edit: I just did some math, and a submarine E-6 with 14 years stationed on a boat would be pulling in $74K. Sometimes I really miss the Navy.

    • #2
  3. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    I am one credit short of a college degree; my husband dropped out of college after one semester, but he is far better educated than I am, because he attended excellent primary and secondary schools. He went to a very posh boys school in Scotland, where he was taught all about art history and classical music; no one in America without a graduate degree in those subjects can keep up with him. He isn’t very good at spelling, though :) Whenever he asks me what the nuns taught us in the Catholic schools I attended, I just smile, and I say, “They taught us how to spell.”

    Nowadays, it really isn’t very difficult to know more about art and literature than your average college grad. Working class guys who crack a book once in a while will have no problem conversing with college graduates.

    • #3
  4. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Vicryl Contessa: After all, what would a woman with a doctorate of musical arts have in common with a fireman? While a fireman a very important role in our society, he’s not going to have much to talk about with a woman with an advanced degree.

    Would you care to expound on this theory?

    • #4
  5. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Birger predicts that something is going to break, and that the most likely point is our hang-ups about inter-class dating; specifically, that college-aged women are going to start dating (and marrying) firemen, plumbers, soldiers, and technicians who are skilled and gainfully employed, but lack a college degree.

    I think this prediction is just flat out wrong.  Evolutionary instincts drive the female desire to marry up.  Such instincts are not easily overcome by simply doing the math, and making the logical choice.

    • #5
  6. Topher Member
    Topher
    @Topher

    Judithann Campbell: Nowadays, it really isn’t very difficult to know more about art and literature than your average college grad.

    Yep. It amazes me how ignorant many college educated people are.

    • #6
  7. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Among college-aged Millennials, for instance, there are four women for every three men. In that demographic, this means that men’s preferences dominate, not in spite of their low numbers, but because of them. Consequently sexual mores tend to be loose and committed relationships relatively rare. (“Won’t sleep with me? Sorry, baby, there’s plenty who will.”)

    This seems to contradict everything we’ve read recently about the wave of feminazism sweeping campuses where men, in fact, do not control the narrative.

    I don’t think times have changed all that much since I’ve attended and graduated college; quality relationships are nurtured and develop due to the quality of the behavior exhibited by both parties. I think we’re hearing lots about the hedonists and not nearly enough about the majority who do value monogamy and committed relationships (albeit not celibate ones).

    • #7
  8. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    Judithann Campbell:I am one credit short of a college degree; my husband dropped out of college after one semester, but he is far better educated than I am, because he attended excellent primary and secondary schools. He went to a very posh boys school in Scotland, where he was taught all about art history and classical music; no one in America without a graduate degree in those subjects can keep up with him. He isn’t very good at spelling, though :) Whenever he asks me what the nuns taught us in the Catholic schools I attended, I just smile, and I say, “They taught us how to spell.”

    Nowadays, it really isn’t very difficult to know more about art and literature than your average college grad. Working class guys who crack a book once in a while will have no problem conversing with college graduates.

    You’re absolutely right that a college degree (especially a bachelors) doesn’t make one smart or knowledgable. The most important thing is that both people have compatible levels of inquisitiveness.

    • #8
  9. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    Miffed White Male:

    Vicryl Contessa: After all, what would a woman with a doctorate of musical arts have in common with a fireman? While a fireman a very important role in our society, he’s not going to have much to talk about with a woman with an advanced degree.

    Would you care to expound on this theory?

    A firefighter, who is more likely to be focused on the practical aspects of life, isn’t going to have much to talk about with a woman who lives in the philosophical world of academia and has a doctorate of art history. That’s not to say that a firefighter with a high school education who is passionate about art can’t be perfectly happy with a professor of art history, but it’s not as likely. Most people want to marry someone that is generally in the same league, both physically and intellectually. That’s not to say that people won’t marry someone that doesn’t approximate their own level of attractiveness or intelligence, but it isn’t as common.

    • #9
  10. The King Prawn Member
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Vicryl Contessa: A firefighter, who is more likely to be focused on the practical aspects of life, isn’t going to have much to talk about with a woman who lives in the philosophical world of academia and has a doctorate of art history.

    But have you seen the calendars? At some point raw biology is going to insert itself into the situation.

    • #10
  11. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    The King Prawn:

    Vicryl Contessa: A firefighter, who is more likely to be focused on the practical aspects of life, isn’t going to have much to talk about with a woman who lives in the philosophical world of academia and has a doctorate of art history.

    But have you seen the calendars? At some point raw biology is going to insert itself into the situation.

    Very funny. Trust me, if most firemen actually looked like that in real life, I’d fry rice krispies treats once a week to start a fire in my kitchen. I say that, but the muscley look isn’t my thing.

    • #11
  12. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    The King Prawn

    But have you seen the calendars? At some point raw biology is going to insert itself into the situation.

    I was a single (white collar) woman in NYC for years and I would have to agree with this. :)

    In all seriousness, a firefighter I dated was the son of a RN and a police chief. We were able to talk about a lot of things and one of those things was his enormous pride in his mother’s earning power and professional accomplishments.

    Also, never underestimate the intelligence, confidence, and ego of FDNY; they make it their business to know a lot about a lot!

    • #12
  13. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    I was just at an event full of thirty-something college graduates, all very cultured and sophisticated (you could tell by the hair products, the upspeak and the carefully-chosen shoes) and now (whiplash warning!) I’m at a conference of thirty-something cops. No hair product, no upspeak,plain old shoes and, okay, a few weapons too….ahhhhhhh.

    I think what made my first husband and me compatible wasn’t background or education, but a shared moral vision of what life was all about. It wasn’t fully-formed (we were only 23 when we married) but it was definitely there, and turned out to be the one absolute constant in our shared life. When we met, BTW, he wasn’t even a police officer—he was an art student. So go figure.

    • #13
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: In general, the observation is that the ladies are finding it difficult to find men who are interested in committed relationships or marriage, while the guys are blithely bouncing from bed to bed.

    I thought women only needed men in the way that fish need bicycles?

    • #14
  15. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Misthiocracy:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: In general, the observation is that the ladies are finding it difficult to find men who are interested in committed relationships or marriage, while the guys are blithely bouncing from bed to bed.

    I thought women only needed men in the way that fish need bicycles?

    That quote can be attributed to the glorious Gloria who had every eligible and handsome man in NYC after her. :)

    • #15
  16. Douglas Member
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Frank Soto:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Birger predicts that something is going to break, and that the most likely point is our hang-ups about inter-class dating; specifically, that college-aged women are going to start dating (and marrying) firemen, plumbers, soldiers, and technicians who are skilled and gainfully employed, but lack a college degree.

    I think this prediction is just flat out wrong. Evolutionary instincts drive the female desire to marry up. Such instincts are not easily overcome by simply doing the math, and making the logical choice.

    I think it’s wrong not because of evolution, but because it underestimates the feminist mind. “The math says there aren’t enough men in my social class? Pffft. I can have it all, and dammit, I deserve it all. I don’t need men, I just want an acceptable one, and if I wait long enough, I’ll get him. Because Feminist“.

    The feminist mind is very will to power, and quite spiteful in this regard. “God made woman as man’s helpmate? **** that God. Women need men? Like a fish needs a bicycle. I can’t have it all? Watch me.” This mindset means many will never “settle”, and will stubbornly hold out against unsuitable men until after they’ve hit what pickup artists call “the wall”; that age when they lose their youthful beauty, and men stop chasing them (ANY men, not just in their social class), only realizing how wrong they were when it’s too late.

    • #16
  17. Douglas Member
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    EThompson:

    Misthiocracy:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: In general, the observation is that the ladies are finding it difficult to find men who are interested in committed relationships or marriage, while the guys are blithely bouncing from bed to bed.

    I thought women only needed men in the way that fish need bicycles?

    That quote can be attributed to the glorious Gloria who had every eligible and handsome man in NYC after her. :)

    Steinem is perhaps the premiere example of the hypocrisy of feminism. Here’s a woman that made her career crafting an image of powerful women than didn’t need men, even demonizing them, and yet in her older years, when the rubber met the hard road of reality, she shamelessly bragged how she used her feminine wiles to capture a man (and she indeed said “capture”). And she didn’t even come up with the woman-fish-bicycle thing. She just made it famous. Irina Dunn actually said it first.

    • #17
  18. Lazy_Millennial Member
    Lazy_Millennial
    @LazyMillennial

    EThompson:

    Among college-aged Millennials, for instance, there are four women for every three men. In that demographic, this means that men’s preferences dominate, not in spite of their low numbers, but because of them. Consequently sexual mores tend to be loose and committed relationships relatively rare. (“Won’t sleep with me? Sorry, baby, there’s plenty who will.”)

    This seems to contradict everything we’ve read recently about the wave of feminazism sweeping campuses where men, in fact, do not control the narrative.

    I don’t think times have changed all that much since I’ve attended and graduated college; quality relationships are nurtured and develop due to the quality of the behavior exhibited by both parties. I think we’re hearing lots about the hedonists and not nearly enough about the majority who do value monogamy and committed relationships (albeit not celibate ones).

    The wave of feminazism is partly a response to the men controlling the narrative off-campus, and from graduation onward. The “quality of behavior exhibited by both parties” is trending downward in quality, and “the majority who value monogamy and committed relationships” is either getting smaller or waiting longer to commit: average age of first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men. In 1990 it was 23 and 26, respectively.

    • #18
  19. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Douglas:

    EThompson:

    Misthiocracy:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: In general, the observation is that the ladies are finding it difficult to find men who are interested in committed relationships or marriage, while the guys are blithely bouncing from bed to bed.

    I thought women only needed men in the way that fish need bicycles?

    That quote can be attributed to the glorious Gloria who had every eligible and handsome man in NYC after her. :)

    Steinem is perhaps the premiere example of the hypocrisy of feminism.

    She is and she isn’t. As a young woman, she received enormous heat from the establishment feminists for wearing mini-skirts, coloring her hair, and looking fabulous. On the other hand, young women like me were attracted to her message, in no small part, because she looked like us.

    I have mixed feelings about her. I despised her socialist politics but I surely did admire that je ne sais quoi.

    • #19
  20. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    Lazy_Millennial:

    EThompson:

    This seems to contradict everything we’ve read recently about the wave of feminazism sweeping campuses where men, in fact, do not control the narrative.

    I don’t think times have changed all that much since I’ve attended and graduated college; quality relationships are nurtured and develop due to the quality of the behavior exhibited by both parties. I think we’re hearing lots about the hedonists and not nearly enough about the majority who do value monogamy and committed relationships (albeit not celibate ones).

    The wave of feminazism is partly a response to the men controlling the narrative off-campus, and from graduation onward. The “quality of behavior exhibited by both parties” is trending downward in quality, and “the majority who value monogamy and committed relationships” is either getting smaller or waiting longer to commit: average age of first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men. In 1990 it was 23 and 26, respectively.

    My old pastor once said, “Thank goodness we married when we were young and impulsive, because if we knew the importance of what we were getting into, we might never have done it!” The problem with being older when you get married is you know the consequences of picking the wrong partner, so people may become immobilized with fear  and never marry at all.

    • #20
  21. Douglas Member
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Speaking of holding out until too late…. (Warning: some salty lyrics here, so don’t listen if offended by such)

    • #21
  22. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Douglas:

    EThompson:

    Misthiocracy:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: In general, the observation is that the ladies are finding it difficult to find men who are interested in committed relationships or marriage, while the guys are blithely bouncing from bed to bed.

    I thought women only needed men in the way that fish need bicycles?

    That quote can be attributed to the glorious Gloria who had every eligible and handsome man in NYC after her. :)

    Steinem is perhaps the premiere example of the hypocrisy of feminism. Here’s a woman that made her career crafting an image of powerful women than didn’t need men, even demonizing them, and yet in her older years, when the rubber met the hard road of reality, she shamelessly bragged how she used her feminine wiles to capture a man (and she indeed said “capture”). And she didn’t even come up with the woman-fish-bicycle thing. She just made it famous. Irina Dunn actually said it first.

    I heard an short interview from Steinem on NPR recently-I didn’t know it was her speaking-she described a suicidal mother who fell in love with another man, but stayed married and blamed married life on her misery and not being able to pursue career. She loved her dad. Either she or her mother tried to end a pregnancy by falling down stairs – both Gloria and her mother were chronically depressed.  I had no idea. But now I understood – her mother was not a good example.

    • #22
  23. RabbitHoleRedux Member
    RabbitHoleRedux
    @RabbitHoleRedux

    Vicryl Contessa: My old pastor once said, “Thank goodness we married when we were young and impulsive, because if we knew the importance of what we were getting into, we might never have done it!” The problem with being older when you get married is you know the consequences of picking the wrong partner, so people may become immobilized with fear  and never marry at all

    So true!

    Most times it’s better to be lucky, than it’s lucky to be smart, particularly in marriage.

    I have quit worrying about marrying off my two son’s and daughter and just started praying regularly.

    • #23
  24. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Vicryl Contessa: The problem with being older when you get married is you know the consequences of picking the wrong partner, so people may become immobilized with fear  and never marry at all.

    Very true.  I say, immobilized with fear after a horrid divorce.

    • #24
  25. Mike LaRoche Member
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    I don’t take feminists or feminism seriously.

    • #25
  26. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Frank Soto:

    Vicryl Contessa: The problem with being older when you get married is you know the consequences of picking the wrong partner, so people may become immobilized with fear and never marry at all.

    Very true. I say, immobilized with fear after a horrid divorce.

    Take some time and date lots of people. By the time you’re in your late 20s or even early 30s you’re armed with some potent information and have matured a bit.

    My brother and I received this advice from my Greatest Generation mother who married at 30. All three couples (parents/son/daughter) have been married to the same individual for a cumulative 108 years. :)

    • #26
  27. Roadrunner Member
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    All this bad behavior and evolutionary rationalizations got me thinking of “A Boy and His Dog”.

    • #27
  28. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Mike LaRoche:I don’t take feminists or feminism seriously.

    No need to Mike. You already like and respect women without all the hoopla.

    • #28
  29. Mike LaRoche Member
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    EThompson:

    Mike LaRoche:I don’t take feminists or feminism seriously.

    No need to Mike. You already like and respect women without all the hoopla.

    Yep! :-)

    • #29
  30. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Vicryl Contessa:

    Miffed White Male:

    Vicryl Contessa: After all, what would a woman with a doctorate of musical arts have in common with a fireman? While a fireman a very important role in our society, he’s not going to have much to talk about with a woman with an advanced degree.

    Would you care to expound on this theory?

    A firefighter, who is more likely to be focused on the practical aspects of life, isn’t going to have much to talk about with a woman who lives in the philosophical world of academia and has a doctorate of art history. That’s not to say that a firefighter with a high school education who is passionate about art can’t be perfectly happy with a professor of art history, but it’s not as likely. Most people want to marry someone that is generally in the same league, both physically and intellectually. That’s not to say that people won’t marry someone that doesn’t approximate their own level of attractiveness or intelligence, but it isn’t as common.

    We should not assume that because someone is a fireman that he is uneducated.  The next person you buy a pair of shoes, or some carpeting, or a car from might very well have a college degree in art history, education, or theater.  We should also be cautious in assuming education and intelligence to be synonymous.  We’ve all met college-educated dummies and most of us have met intelligent, successful people who never went to college.  Some even dropped out of high school because they were bored and wanted to get on with life.

    I do take your point that someone who is very smart would probably grow weary of being married to someone who is pretty dumb.  It’s just a risky proposition to make assumptions about intelligence based on a person’s profession.  Many people might assume truck driving is a job for people too dumb to get a desk job, but one of Ricochet’s most revered writers is gear-jammin’ Dave Carter.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.