Whether you agree with the sometimes tawdry, often, er, “illuminating” material that makes up the content of AskMen.com, you must also know that it is the largest men’s lifestyle destination on the internet. Every once in awhile, they do the Great Male Survey, which, given the vast numbers of participants, projects an arguably legitimate big picture look into what’s going on in today’s male mind. Surprisingly, the last study indicated some startling results for all of the women out there that stereotype men as the kind of cads that might show up in a Jay McInerney novel. To wit, 42 percent of men claimed they wouldn’t bother pursuing a relationship with a woman who wasn’t “wife material,” (jeez, what ever happened to pursuing a woman for cheap sex?), a whopping 70 percent believe strongly in marriage despite overwhelmingly discouraging divorce statistics, and over half of the respondents don’t fear commitment, and wait for it—only 18 admitted that was due to sacrificing the kind of freedom that accompanies singlehood; the rest cited emotional fears. Aww…
Either guys lie when they’re taking surveys (oh, so entirely within the realm of possibility), or they’re suddenly taking stock in family values in a way we haven’t seen since the 1950s. And lest you automatically jump to conclusions about stilted female servitude, these guys also insist that they consider themselves feminists and most grew up with mothers that work and ran the household, or at least contributed substantially.
Now let’s take a break from the man folk for a sec to consider us gals here. I shudder to conjure up tired Samantha examples from “Sex and the City,” which I know will just make us all puke. (Perhaps that pop culture phenom has actually contributed to this backlash.) Here’s a more relevant example, for this crowd anyway. Tracie Egan, a popular Jezebel blogger formerly known as “Slut Machine,” has denounced her self-proclaimed trampy ways and announced that she’s getting married. The latter-day unabashed sex monster and proud of it writer recently threw up a post that proclaimed “Slut Machine” no more. Can we consider this a microcosm of the death of the one night stand? Meh, but still.
Um, yeah, I know, whatever, but it’s a good example to support my argument. Because living in New York, one of the swinging single capitals of the world (and for the record, contrary to the ire-provoking opening line of that movie, no, most women do not move to NYC to find love and buy stilettos; we come for our careers and we’re so effing busy that we don’t have much time to date, dig?),
I’m sure this is partially to do with the fact that recent statistics have scared the bejeezus out of us. Basically, we all have HPV and that makes us worry more about contracting cervical cancer than getting laid. (And yes, that really, really sucks.) Most of us also have herpes and, crap, HIV numbers are on the upswing too? Really? It used to be that STD statistics were scary but people did it anyway. Now people are simply too scared to screw, you know?
But getting back to statistics, and at the risk of sounding like a complete ass, have we women ever been 100 percent cool about casual sex? Don’t kill me yet — I’ve enjoyed it myself — but I also see so many women beat themselves up about it. There are all sorts of biological arguments why this is so, and I still think we have yet to overcome the societal stigma surrounding women and “promiscuity” and that is truly why so many of us have problems giving in to the pleasure of “taking it like a man,” but still… Is it a case of, and pardon the following cliché, dipping our toes in the waters of sexual freedom and the liquid being so frigid that it gives us brain freeze? Are we mirroring the men in our lives that seem to feel that they desire a marriage and a picket fence after all (taking into account that they’ll somehow do it “better” this time around)?
Hard to say. But, and I’m not judging here — after all, as a love and sex writer I can relate to this quandry — when influential bloggers who go by the tagline Slut Machine are asking their devout following of similarly “enlightened” women to call them “Tracie” from now on for fear of future in-law repercussions — “And I actually might be changing my last name, too, which is something I never ever thought I’d do,” she recently wrote — hey, maybe it’s a sign of the times.