No One is Entitled to Commitment: Why We Should Mock the Great Girls of OkCupid
“I don’t really have a lot of sincere girl friends, nor boyfriends. Most men say I am great, but then don’t call back.”
Those are the words of a solemn, Skrillex-sporting young chick in her dating profile, a profile that recently became the first post of 2013 on Great Girls of OkCupid. GGOKC, Kerry Id-Baker wrote, serves up “a roster of self-proclaimed ‘great girls’ who are actually total sluts;” in quotes culled from each woman’s profile there are familiar laments about being “too intimidating,” getting stuck in the “fuckbuddyzone.” There are also expressions of sheer rage and man-hating threats of violence: “all I want you to do is Lorena Bobbitt yourself, so you know what it’s like to live without penis privilege.”
Great Girls of OkCupid is a “dispiriting catalogue of desperation and man-hating entitlement,” writes Larry Penii for the New Statesman. Pathetic and infuriating in turns, the profiles selected for inclusion elicit gasps and manly chortles – and they raise questions as well. Is it right to mock these aggrieved and clueless young women, particularly the ones who seem less enraged than sad and bewildered at their utter lack of committed romantic success?
“This is the ugly bullying of those who already feel like losers,” says Arnie Fagg, a columnist for the Guardian who writes frequently about femininity. “It’s immoral to place them in the 21st Century equivalent of the medieval stocks to be mocked, abused and humiliated.” In an email, Fagg suggested that GGOKC could be “potentially dangerous,” driving those who are at a “low ebb emotionally” over an edge, from where mainstream feminists like Amanda Marcotte and Hugo Shyster have already leapt.
Without entirely dismissing Fagg’s concern that some young women’s rage or despair could be worsened as a result of GGOKC, there’s a lot more to the site than mockery. What’s on offer isn’t just an opportunity to snort derisively at the lovelorn malcontent; it’s a chance to talk about the very real problem of female romantic entitlement. The great unifying theme of the curated profiles is indignation. These are young women who were told that if they were great, then, as Larry Penii puts it, they feel that men “must be obliged to commit to them.” The subtext of virtually all of their profiles, the mournful and the bilious alike, is that these young women feel cheated and used. Raised to believe in a perverse social/sexual contract that promised access to men’s resources and long-term commitment in exchange for rote expressions of sexuality, these girls have at least begun to learn that there is no Magic Romance Fairy. And while they’re still hopeful enough to put up a dating profile in the first place, the Great Girls sabotage their chances of ever getting a husband with their inability to conceal their own aggrieved self-righteousness.
Great Girls of OkCupid provides an excellent opportunity to reiterate a basic truth: there is no right to romantic commitment. (Except, of course, with one’s own self.) Generations of children have misunderstood Thomas Jefferson’s line that we have the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. I was one such kid; when I learned those words in fourth grade (in 1976, the bicentennial year), I marched home and told my mother that I was owed joy. Mama firmly set me straight on the distinction between the right to want and the right to be given, and I have taken this lesson in rehashing cliches to heart ever since. Great Girls need a similar sort of come-to-Jesus talk to disabuse them, once and for all, of their insistence that in a just and democratic society, charming, reliable penis ought to be distributed equally to every Tara, Haley, and Deb who demonstrates a minimal level of sexiness. (And then I need a come-to-Jesus talk to disabuse myself of the notion that switching the places of Dick and Harry in the well-worn Tom, Dick, and Harry phrase is the height of creative writing.)
Romance with other people may be a basic human need, but unlike other needs, it can’t be a basic human right. It’s one thing to believe that the state ought to provide food, shelter, and health care to those who can’t afford these necessities of survival. It’s another thing to say that the state should ensure that even the hideous and the clueless have occasional relationships provided for them by others. While in Britain, a few local governments have sent aging and cranky women on trips to LA to see romance workers, aka gigolos, citing psychological need, not even the most progressive Europeans have suggested that anyone is entitled to have their romantic longings reciprocated. GGOKC reminds us just how many young women are outraged at this reality that pretty faces, femininity, and commitment-worthiness are not and never can be equally distributed.
Arnie Fagg and others suggest that it’s “immoral” to make fun of young women whose greatest crime seems to be that they’re stuck at the sad intersection of Not Hot and Dimwit. The plea to replace mockery with understanding is a familiar one; it’s what lies behind the calls to stop using the word “slut,” because women find it shaming. But in the case of Great Girls of OkCupid, disdain isn’t rooted in meanness as much as it is in self-preservation. While only a small percentage of these girls may be prone to imminent psychosis, virtually all of them insist, in one way or another, that men owe them. Mockery, in this instance, isn’t so much about being cruel as it is about publicly rejecting the Great Girls’ sense of entitlement to both relationship commitment and sympathy.
Besides the near-universal sense that they’ve been unjustly defrauded, the great commonality among these Great Girls is their contempt for men’s sexual interest. They rage about being “pump and dumped,” and complain about the hours spent fucking men without being given so much as a candlelit dinner in return for their investment. Sexuality, they make clear over and over again, is a mere tactic, a tool that they were promised would work to give them access to men’s economic and emotional resources. Their anger, in other words, is that their own deception didn’t work as they had hoped. It’s a monumental overask (?) to expect men to be gentle with the egos of women who only feigned noncommittal sexuality in order to get commitment.
So how should we respond, when, as Penii writes, “sexist twatwaddery puts photos on the internet and asks to be loved long time?” The short answer is that a lonely twatwad is still a twatwad; the fact that these girls are in genuine pain makes them more rather than less likely to mistreat the men they encounter. A rage rooted in anguish is no less dangerous because it comes from the Great Big Sad Place. For that reason alone, we shouldn’t make women’s pain into men’s problem to solve.
Do these women need dating profile makeovers? Yes, obviously; making an effort to have both good grooming and good manners is seldom a waste. What the Great Girls of OkCupid need far more than feminist braggadocio, tramp stamp removals and binge drinking rehab, however, are two essential reminders. No one is owed committed love. And no one who uses sex as a strategy for romance has the right to complain if she ends up with neither.
This Chateau Heartiste article reprinted from its original publication outlet.