Monday, January 9, 2012

I sometimes make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.

Wow. I almost lost an entire night to an internets' comments section. Again. God, I'm such a sucker for arguing with random strangers in an anonymous format where people can't even appropriately measure sarcasm unless you actually say, "I WAS BEING SARCASTIC!" because tone of voice doesn't exist. These are the arguments punctuated by emoticons. These are the arguments where EVERYONE takes EVERYTHING to the most extreme conclusion because they can. These are the conversations we're starting to have more often than the regular kind...and people wonder why Tea Partiers actually get elected!

I mean, just as an example of how ridiculous these internet comments discussions are: The post in question is on the topic of why older men are attracted to younger women. Of course, we can't think about this in any other terms than "SEVENTY YEAR OLDS LOVE FOURTEEN YEAR OLDS, OKAY?!," so it's automatically a whackadoo conversation, most especially since I've been led to believe that a lot of 70-year-old men only have fond, wistful, and vague memories of sex when they see 14-year-olds, not actual boners. The argument twists and turns, and several commenters mention how age is all relative an' shit. Like what we think is young now was like how old grandmas were in the 1200s. At some point, a commenter says this: "Most animals die before becoming old." Okay. I'm not really sure what that means? I googled life expectancies for animals (seriously, just like that: "life expectancy of animals"), and there's a kind of parrot that has the average life expectancy of 104 years. Sounds kinda old, right? Sure, your cat will probably only live to be maybe 20, and your dog, if she's big, could only live to be nine (the larger the breed of dog, the shorter the life expectancy), but PARROTS, MAN! They live to be OLDER THAN PEOPLE DO ON AVERAGE. So that commenter did what people do in internets' comments sections around the virtual globe: he said "most," and then made some really vague argument based on some seriously generalized, vague knowledge of the world. Some other commenter said at some point that until recently, people only lived to be 20, at which point I'm thinking, "DEFINE RECENTLY!"

But let's discuss the topic of the actual post. Older men think younger women are hot. Real yawnfest. One of the things I noticed was that the author of the post points to research that shows that bonobos like established females, not young ones. Why is this important? Well, if you follow this stuff, many people like to claim that we can learn a lot about our sex drives from the bonobos, our "closest evolutionary relative." We're actually just as close to chimpanzees as we are to bonobos, but they're jerks, so we try to forget that as much as possible. Chimps are like our weird uncle Joe Bob who wears overalls with no shirt underneath and makes meth in a trailer near a lake. Meanwhile, bonobos are like your slick uncle Rick who has a different date EVERY SINGLE NIGHT with some HOT BITCH. People love to point out that BONOBOS ARE NOT MONOGAMOUS, like, constantly as proof that we are not meant to be monogamous. But here we see that they also like old ladies. Hmmm. What's so interesting about this is that a lot of the same commenters to this post who immediately cry, "WE ARE HUMANS, NOT ANIMALS!" have previously said, "BUT I CANNOT BE MONOGAMOUS BECAUSE BONOBOS!" I mean, make up your mind, folks.

I know that because they're all regular Savage Love commenters, an internets' comments section with which I'm very familiar.

As I started to get REALLY WORKED UP about a lot of stuff going on here -- the complete inability of the privileged to admit to their privilege, the fact that people say "MANY" and "MOST" like that shit is SCIENTIFIC FACT, the fact that people so very much want to believe in their autonomy that they refuse to admit to the influences of society on their thinking, the fact that our constant framing of everything sexual in terms of the male appetite even when discussing the female appetite just allows the male appetite to continue to dominate the discourse -- I realized something. I'm tired of this conversation. Men like young women. SO WHAT. Most older ladies I know either have dates or have husband or don't want either. I don't know that it necessarily damages women for me to find younger women attractive. Now, if a man over the age of, say, 30 actually wants to date a woman under the age of 25, I say, "Good luck to you!" While it's not unheard of for this arrangement to work, it's...generally tenuous. The reason we have this conversation is because it's indicative of a historical power imbalance And research has shown that in societies where men and women have more equitable relationships, the age differences in couples will begin to diminish. In other words, most of the cultures in which we see 58-year-old husbands of 12-year-old brides are the ones where women can't legally drive, either. But for the most part, the average age of first marriages for men and women are fairly close in age, especially in the United States. What does that tell me? Older dudes may be jacking off to porn of younger ladies, but they aren't really pairing up with them.

So, really, it's a STUPID ARGUMENT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING. And focusing so much attention on the sexual preferences of males who can't have the 14-year-olds they so ardently desire and the supposed damage that does to American females (this conversation has to be had in terms of western culture and specifically American culture, as the article and corresponding comments section were generated in the west) just continues to put the focus in the worst place. The underlying message here is that I am supposed to care that "most" men prefer "young" women...even though this bit of information has absolutely no discernible bearing on my life whatsoever unless I WANT TO BE PERCEIVED AS SEXY ABOVE ALL ELSE.

Having a conversation wherein it appears that women have something to gain by "proving" that men are attracted to older females instead of younger ones keeps us objectified. It tells us that we must prove our desirability in order to prove our worth. Why not simply say, "Who cares?" This is supposing simply that men find young women attractive. It does not allow that a 40-year-old man having sex with a 14-year-old should therefore be legal or moral. It simply supposes that as long as the average trends hold true -- most adult Americans seem to be in relationships with other adult Americans relatively close to their own age -- then it doesn't matter what men think. Countless jokes I've seen on shows such as Arrested Development and Community make light of the fact that women with low self-esteem are more amenable to focusing solely on male pleasure at the abandonment of their own (it would stand to reason both sexually and non-sexually). Going, "It isn't faaair that men like young women!" keeps us right where society wants us: amenable to abandoning other pursuits in order to pursue the most important pursuit -- desirability.

The best counter to this conversation is to promote discussion of what females find sexually preferable. Which is a lot of different and varied things, and this discussion will probably require many more years of the, "Yes, women can like sex, too!" conversation (as elementary as that fucking seems to me). But let all of this be a lesson to you guys.

Next time you feel like taking shit up in an internets' comments section, write a blog instead.

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