It’s that time of year when we dredge up old stats and check them again! And in so doing, we can confirm, via Census data and the New York Post, that women outnumber men in the city “by 52.5 to 47.5 percent,” translating to 410,045 more women then men overall, and nearly 10 percent more women than men among 25- to 29-year-olds. This, says the Post, echoing many, gives “scientific evidence” to the age-old moan and groan that you can’t find a good man in this city, which, paradoxically, they dub “a man’s city.” Earlier this year I wrote some words on the subject; you can read all that here, but the subject seems worthy of some new discussion.
First, the assumption that the existence of fewer men means, necessarily, that there are fewer good ones (why couldn’t there be fewer men, but more good ones, say? Since when does greater quantity denote greater quality?), well, there’s really no scientific basis to this claim, nor to the claim that single ladies lookin’ for love should go West, because there are more single men than women there. These nuggets of wisdom sound like something your mother would tell you to get you to move home, and have you seen the guys hanging around there? Such gems of romantic undermining, cloaked in the guise of comfort and understanding, also are based on the presumption that if everything were equal — if there were exactly the same number of men and women in New York City, or the world — we would all pair up perfectly and be happy ever after. A doubtful proposition.
Says one afflicted-by-the-numbers woman to the Post:
“Men are running rampant because of the numbers, treating women however they want with no consequences,” said Rhea Nanos, 26, who works at a Manhattan tech start-up. “They can hit on 1,000 girls if they want.”
Except, of course, women can hit on thousands of men, too, providing they have the time and inclination, and they can deliver consequences to the men they date (i.e., stop dating them if they treat you badly). Are we to assume that women in New York are only faced with hideous, unworthy-of-hitting-on men who hit on everyone else? And that men have the opposite problem — can they be so hopeless as to have failed to find “good women,” despite the fact that such women are clearly everywhere, at least, anecdotally speaking?
Meanwhile, Peter Lobo, deputy director of the Population Division of the Department of City Planning, says that the existence of more women than men is “the natural order of things,” because men, by and large, are more reckless and violent, leading dangerous lives and dying earlier. Wait, those are the good ones?
What we do have in New York, I think, is not an uneven distribution of men and women in any way that matters as far as how those of us reading this blog post date. (The socio-economic and racial implications of what Lobo is talking about do matter, and greatly, but that’s not about finding love or men hitting on women or any complaint you might hear from the girl sipping the fancy drink at the bar). What we do have are fewer people getting married, and at a later age, and a wealth of unprecedented opportunities of things and, maybe, people, to do before getting married, if we decide to get married at all.
What we do have are doubts, worthy of thought and expression, as to whether this whole marriage thing is an outmoded concept, and how to do it differently than the way we’ve seen it done historically (which hasn’t, frankly, always seemed that great). What we do have is the chance to look at relationships in a new way, to stop complaining about the same old stupid numbers imbalance — which is probably the least of our relationship worries, really — and to figure out how we want to do this the way we want to, the right way, for us, now.
Numbers are one thing; proximity and personal choice are another. On the plus side, there are 8 million people surrounding you here — not all of them single or of dating age, mind you. So, chin up! 817 Jaydens, some of whom will surely grow up to be lovely guys, were born just this year! (This is too young for me, but perhaps not for you, say, in 20 years or so?)
The point is, opportunities abound, if you stop whining about how there are no good whatevers in New York City.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 29, 2011