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If you ask Chuck, men can't commit because they're all crybaby pussies.

Posted by BC | October 18, 2006 4:20 PM

Yes, men are crybaby pussies and women are all bitches. And the course of rational discourse continues along unabated...

Posted by Boomer | October 18, 2006 4:25 PM

It's "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." The "milk" is sex. Get it? It's very Freudian.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 18, 2006 4:25 PM

I'm not seeing the misogynistic part.

Is it misogynistic to not want to get married, to have reasons why one doesn't want to get married, or to write about the reasons for not wanting to get married?

If a guy likes to have sex but still wants to protect his financial assets from the risks associated with marriage, is he misogynistic?

Or is it just the idea that not all men are enchanted by the behavior of the women they've known?

Posted by pox | October 18, 2006 4:33 PM

A gem quotation:

"In some cases, the men even said they were living with a woman who was their version of a second-best partner. These men are continuing to hunt for the perfect soul mate."


Posted by Gloria | October 18, 2006 4:35 PM

OK, OK! Cows=women, milk=sex. Duly noted, and changed!

Posted by ECB | October 18, 2006 4:36 PM

Erica, touched a nerve, eh?

It's conventional wisdom that men, in general, avoid comitting when they can get easy sex. Now you can wish that weren't the case, but if you're going to argue that conventional wisdom is false -- that men don't avoid commitment for that reason -- then you need to do more than stamp your feet impertinently and plug your ears. The burden is on you to put forth an argument or provide some evidence. To do otherwise is insulting to your readers and counterproductive. You're just ranting and that's tedious to read.

Posted by GayGuy | October 18, 2006 4:50 PM

Just look at that list for what it is: Reasons people GIVE for not tying the knot, not their actual reasons for not tying the knot.

Relationships are screwy and messy and goofy and complicated - cool, logical calculation is likely to only play a tiny role, but how do you explain that on a questionaire?

Posted by Dougsf | October 18, 2006 4:54 PM

Do you seriously think women think this way? Unbelievable.

You are trying to say "Hey babe, the truth hurts", but I'm telling you, that whole article is complete horseshit.

Posted by what? | October 18, 2006 4:55 PM

There was a similar article in the NYT awhile back that profiled the rapidly growing numbers of heterosexual men in their forties who have never married and they had the same reasons.
Most weren't ready to start a family, to which I'm thinking "uh-huh, you're in you're forties and you're not ready for kids?"
Maybe some people just aren't meant for marriage. And god knows, a lot of fucks out there shouldn't be having kids. While some of the comments may indeed be sexist, the fact that they're honest about it is refreshing, and a sign that women who want marriage should move on.
Besides, why are men and women in our society so terrified of being single?

Posted by Andrew | October 18, 2006 4:57 PM

What?@9: Women think what way? The article was about how men think.

Posted by pox | October 18, 2006 5:01 PM

Go GayGuy. I like the model of commitment that I think is increasingly pervasive in the gay community. I know many, many gay couples who are very devoted to each other, but they have a different understanding of sex and the role that it plays in their relationships. I used to judge those men who had so-called "open relationships," but then I realized that the extra-marital sex was about nothing more than sex--hot, steamy, lusty sex, together, together with others, and apart--and not about a lack of devotion or commitment to their partners.

I wonder if straight folks could have a similar appreciation for the place that sex has in life as a biological force and a basic human need and if they could give up the cultural baggage. I wonder if straight men would be more willing to commit under those circumstances.

See, e.g., Shortbus (the movie).

Posted by gayguytoo | October 18, 2006 5:06 PM

I think DougSF is right. The reason people don't want to get married to their partner is because they don't want to be married to that person. They stay for the companionship and fear of being alone. Why do we fear being alone? That's a whole other slog...

Posted by reason | October 18, 2006 5:16 PM

What's not addressed in the article is why women "want" to get married. If it's directed toward women, isn't that more relevant?

Also, personal opinion here, I doubt the men in those relationships with their "second choice" aren't being honest about their "second choice" status. They are using those women for sex, housework, stability, and the status of being in a couple (men with partners are seen as more responsible). They (and the article's author) are treating the women (and marriage) as an object and that is sexist and borderline misogynist.

Posted by Soupytwist | October 18, 2006 5:20 PM


I've always wondered that. What would happen if heteros in large numbers hooked up in the same style some (not all, of course) gay men do?
A few bench presses then a quickie with a stranger in the steam room of the gym, for example.

I've seen some of this behavior before, (hello college) but most straight people seem to drop it by age 23. Of course, there are swingers and people who are polyamorous, but they seem to be a very small minority. Men seem better able to differentiate between sex and love/commitment.

I've heard that the biggest, heterosexual male fantasy isn't two women, it's sex without consequences

Hey, straight guys out there!

What's your take?

Posted by Andrew | October 18, 2006 5:24 PM

SoupyTwist@14: Thanks for an explanation. I'm still not sure where the line is between misogyny and just being a jerk. Certainly some women do the same thing - take advantage of their second choice men while they look for someone better - so it's hard to see how it's sexist.

Posted by pox | October 18, 2006 5:37 PM

Here's what makes it sexist/possibly misogynist:

Until recently, the male of the species held all social and economic power. Women who left/were booted out of marriages took nothing with them. That has recently changed (we're talking approx. 30 years at the outside, still recent enough that Boomers have experienced it), women have more equal standing in marriages that end in divorce with regards to child custody, support payments if they didn't earn as much as their spouse, etc. They also come into marriages with more assets, their own credit, etc. Women also don't rely on marriage as their sole sexual expression anymore.
Men who cite financial, sexual, breedng limitations of marriage as reasons to NOT marry thier current partners are attempting to establish a new form of supremecy and control over their partners, whereas in the past, they would just marry them and get all the power.

I think of it as a social phenomenon as opposed to individual men with agendas.

Posted by Soupytwist | October 18, 2006 5:49 PM

I had to go read the whole damn thing just to be sure that MSN wasn't just quoting an article from the Onion. What year is this, 1959? Do people still really think this way?

I can't stand generalizing about EITHER gender this way. Drives me nuts. I know plenty of men who love being married and desperately want kids, and plenty of women with no interest in either.

All generalizations are false. Including this one.

Posted by Geni | October 18, 2006 5:53 PM

Soupy: A man who opts out of marriage for those (or any) reasons is exerting control over his own life, breeding, and finances, not establishing control over someone else's. Especially since, as you say, women now have their own assets, credit, sexual freedom, and financial power. Women are no longer dependent on a man to marry them - they can walk away the minute they get tired of waiting.

After years of feminist thought that characterized marriage as a chattel relationship (and I'm not saying it wasn't), it's odd to read arguments that men wanting not to be married is also sexist.

Posted by pox | October 18, 2006 6:15 PM

I don't see what's so "1950s" about the article. It quotes all the reasons why my single women friends want to STAY single. They like their independence, don't want to feel tied down, are pissed at men they've dated who tried to change them, don't have to get married to enjoy sex, et cetera.

Where MSN was misogynist was in

  • Assuming single women WANT to get married
  • Assuming single men DON'T want to get married (there's a reason my husband proposed to me - I was happy not getting married, he had to talk me into it)
  • Assuming that happily single men's reasons for staying single are unique to men and not to being happily single

Posted by JenK | October 18, 2006 6:15 PM


Assuming most single women want to get married is misogynist? Because wanting to get married is a negative attribute? I don't even see that stated anywhere in the article proper; maybe in the "What wo/men are saying..." sections.

Of 60 men interviewed for the study, none of them were married and they gave reasons why not. There's no assumption about what all men want, just 60 data points.

Nowhere does it say that many women don't have the same or better reasons for remaining unmarried.

It's silly for me to get so involved in this discussion, but it bugs me when "what men want" automatically equals "misogynist." I found nothing odd about flipping the genders in the quotes above - all the arguments still sounded reasonable.

Women do try to change men, marry for $ecurity or because they want to breed, use sex to secure a commitment then let their bodies and/or libidos deteriorate after the contract is signed, and financially screw men during a divorce. Those are not lies invented by the Patriarchy. Not all women, maybe not even most women, but enough so that men are wary. These men are reacting rationally to observed conditions.

(And I have been happily married to a great woman for 17 years, but I've seen what happens to friends and relatives. I'm done. Have a lovely evening!)

Posted by pox | October 18, 2006 6:37 PM

Men might want to get married if their mate didn't mock the idea of a sexy costume.

My wife - though she is, admittedly, a whore of a 7-year-old - loves them. I've never been happier.

Posted by pony | October 18, 2006 6:44 PM

Re:comment 7: yeah Erica, you can't question common wisdom! Seriously, I've been appreciating the feminist articles that have been posted on Slog recently.
And now, Project Runway is on.

Posted by Sarah | October 18, 2006 10:01 PM

@ POX: Not denying or naysaying what you bring up, but doesn't the withholding of a larger commitment in the face of women's independence/power sound a little bit like, "I'm going home and I'm taking my ball with me?"

Not saying only men do it, but that it's a recent and possibly sexist reaction to a loss of power from men.

Or, another way of looking at it, now that women don't have to "settle" for security, men might start having to. They may not get the "perfect soul mate" any more because women aren't in the position to fit into a mold anymore in order to be valued.

Fun to think about.

Posted by Soupytwist | October 18, 2006 11:14 PM

To ECB, thanks. As a single-but-committed-but-not-really-cohabitating individual of the female persuasion, I really appreciate how well this reads in its regendered form.

To JENK @20:You point out the relevant issues concerning the ridiculousness of the premise of the article; your third point is the key.

Posted by Regender Rules | October 18, 2006 11:18 PM

Geni & Sarah: You don't seem able to distinguish between critizing the subjects of a study (the men) and criticizing the messenger (the researcher). You also seem confused about what a generalization is. Generalizations are statements about the average characteristics of a population. They don't claim to describe every member of the group. You rightly state that there is nothing wrong with questioning conventional wisdom. It's just that such questioning is ineffective if it starts with the premise that conventional wisdom is wrong. In debate, that is called "begging the question," and it's what Erica is doing here. It persuades only the already-persuaded. And makes for boring reading.

Posted by GayGuy | October 19, 2006 9:24 AM


No, I don't think it's misogynist to assume that women want to get married. I think it's misogynist to assume that women want to get married and that men don't - aka, to assume that women and men want completely different things out of life.

Posted by Jen Kilmer | October 19, 2006 1:02 PM

GayGuy @ 26:

It's correct that "[g]eneralizations are statements about the average characteristics of a population."

Perhaps. And perhaps if they had interviewed 60 happily single women we'd know whether or not their answers differed from 60 happily single men. But they didn't. Why is that?

Posted by JenK | October 19, 2006 1:10 PM

Men have always been like this and again, women have rights in the US now. They don't NEED to get married, so they leverage their womanhood with men in relationships accordingly, and guys are finding it easier just to not marry or to break up their marriages.

Posted by Gomez | October 20, 2006 10:06 AM

Oh (I keep forgetting to add stuff), and this was a great post, ECB. Quality.

Posted by Gomez | October 20, 2006 10:08 AM

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