Monday, September 08, 2014

The stunning double standards of Christian Rudder of OKCupid

Christian Rudder is president of OKCupid, and like so many men, has double standards about male and female preferences vs. "realism."

I remember being annoyed when I read this piece written by Rudder some years ago. Women rated men in a different way than men rated women and Rudder found this highly offensive:
The female equivalent of the above chart shows a different bias:As you can see from the gray line, women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable. But with the basic ratings so out-of-whack, the two curves together suggest some strange possibilities for the female thought process, the most salient of which is that the average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.
Just to illustrate that women are operating on a very different scale, here are just a few of the many, many guys we here in the office think are totally decent-looking, but that women have rated, in their occult way, as significantly less attractive than so-called “medium”:

Females of OkCupid, we site founders say to you: ouch! Paradoxically, it seems it’s women, not men, who have unrealistic standards for the “average” member of the opposite sex.

Check out the terminology: "occult way." Yes, women are just so completely mysterious.

When he says "rating" he means that on OKCupid you are shown profiles with pictures of people in the age/gender range you specified and asked to give them from one to five stars. The understanding is that you are responding to the photos based on your own personal preferences, not based on some universal assessment of all males in the world. 

So what the person doing the rating is expressing is her own, personal preference.

But Mr. Rudder finds women expressing personal preferences as indicative that women are unrealistic. And you can see how annoyed he is with this resentment-seething passage:
But with the basic ratings so out-of-whack, the two curves together suggest some strange possibilities for the female thought process, the most salient of which is that the average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.
"Aren't good enough for her" is not the issue. The fact that she doesn't rate them attractive but messages them anyway is a sign that the women are accepting that they can't always get what they prefer.

Personal preference isn't based on anything but that - preference. Just as many men would prefer to date a 20-year-old Victoria's Secret model over an older non "model-quality" woman. This is an unrealistic goal for the vast majority of men, but it doesn't stop them from having that preference.

And speaking of entitlement, I have yet to meet a man, no matter how unattractive he is, who doesn't think he's entitled to a much younger, much more attractive mate. But if women actually point out that the men they settle for are less attractive - boy does that make Christian Rudder mad.

Christian has no problem with men having preferences. I know this because in Sunday's NYTimes he is quoted:
Mr. Rudder is particularly interested in the divide between the mates people claim they want and their actual online pursuits. Witness the actions of 35-year-old heterosexual men on OkCupid. 
These men typically search for women between the ages of 24 and 40, Mr. Rudder reports, yet in practice they rarely contact anyone over 29.“I see this as a statement of what men imagine they’re supposed to desire,” he writes in the book, “versus what they actually do.”
By Mr. Rudder's estimation, by limiting the number of women they contact, men are not being "unrealistic" but rather expressing their true un-politically-correct desires.

Now there are problems with Rudder's interpretation of the data outside of his own innate sexism. Foremost it's possible that men are more likely to message women under 30 because there are simply more women under 30 on OKCupid. Another possibility is that many women set their preferred age-range for men older than themselves - so a 39-year-old women might set her preference as 36 - 45, and so the 35-year-old man is less likely to see her profile.

But the issue isn't how Rudder could be wrong - the issue is how Rudder chose to interpret the data. And I would suggest that he does so because he does not approve of women's tastes in men. So he declares women to be "unrealistic" because they have a preference distribution curve that doesn't match men's preference distribution. Clearly men's preference distribution is the norm, the standard, and so if women's vary, there is something wrong with women.

As I discussed the other day, - and as Steinem and Kimmel  noted - until recently all women were property and in some places in the world right now they are still property. Of what advantage is it to men for their property to have aesthetic preferences?

Evolutionary psychology - and I will bet anything that Christian Rudder is a believer - is one of the methods by which male entitlement aficionados attempt to tell women what they are supposed to naturally find attractive - older, powerful men. Aesthetics are not supposed to matter to true, evolved women - evolutionary psychologists are constantly proclaiming that women aren't as "visually oriented" as men. So evolutionary psychology would predict that women's preferences would align perfectly with women's actions in contacting potential mates - because according to evo-psycho theories women don't really care what men look like. And since the data shows something besides what would be predicted by evo-psycho - that women do have aesthetic preferences something must be wrong here - and what's wrong here is these women being "unrealistic" by simply expressing aesthetic preferences.

While 35-year-old men, on the other hand, are not declared "unrealistic" by failing to contact women their own age. They are just doing what comes naturally, according to evolutionary psychology. 

Christian Rudder is a well-spoken professional man and so he can't say what he really thinks but other men are not so circumspect. P. Z. Meyers posted this on his Pharyngula blog recently:

But jesus fuck, I had no idea how stupid the arguments could get.
You deserved this because a girl like you would never date me in real life, no matter how nice and courteous I was. Karma!Sorry but it's not fair that only the guys of your choosing get to see the photos while the ugly, less fortunate guys do not.
You deserved this because a girl like you would never date me in real life, no matter how nice and courteous I was. Karma!
Sorry but it’s not fair that only the guys of your choosing get to see the photos while the ugly, less fortunate guys do not.
Seriously, dude? You honestly believe that women owe you dates and naked pictures? That they don’t get to choose who they are intimate with?
I owe you one photo of me puking in a bucket.

J. Matthew is clearly enraged that beautiful women might prefer beautiful men. Because, the thinking goes, women shouldn't care about the appearance of men. They owe it to all men to make themselves available. Why should property have preferences?

I would suggest that J. Matthew and Christian Rudder are expressing the same attitude in different ways.

Now why exactly do women rate men differently than men rate women? Why do women find so many men unattractive?

Well only an evolutionary psychologist would be stupid enough to think the reason is because women are "unrealistic." There are many reasons why, beginning with the most obvious - women put much more work into their appearance. Now this is changing, but only because younger generations of men are growing up in a world where it is no longer the case that the only thing that a man has to bring to the table is a good job. Women can have good jobs - so women have the luxury of picking mates based on aesthetics, the way men always have.

Of course if you are a fervent believer in evolutionary psychology, you are going to cling to the belief that women don't really - women shouldn't - care about what a man looks like. 

The belief that women don't care about aesthetics in mate selection and that there are/should be two different sets of standards for males and females is so reflexive in evolutionary psychology, they seriously argue that baldness has been selected for! "Selected" means sexual selection. They actually argue that women in ancient times preferred bald men because baldness was a sign of masculinity or maturity.

Somehow though, they never get around to explaining why one of the only cosmetic issues that men have traditionally cared about - even in the days of perfect masculine hegemony - is hair loss. If going bald got you laid, all men would be shaving their heads.

Something that never occurs to evolutionary psychologists is the role that women-as-property has played in human evolution. We don't know for sure that in pre-historic times parents sold their girls to wealthy old men the way they do in parts of the world right now but why wouldn't they? The sexual value of young women was likely to be even higher during a time without a vast array of consumer goods.

So once again it comes back to women being treated as property. Property doesn't get to have sexual preferences. If young women didn't find old bald men sexually desirable it did not matter! The only thing that mattered - to her parents - was how much money he had. And so his baldness genes were passed down to the next generation.

Really, evolutionary psychology is so blinkered you can't believe the theories developed out of stupidity - it must be willful obtuseness.

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