Jerrod Laber at the Federalist put up a hot take this week which, to his credit, makes most of the hot takes from the past few weeks look like icicles. It carries a title which really does the job of click attraction on both sides of the aisle while appearing to target liberal women: Your Refusal To Date Conservatives Is A Reason We Have Donald Trump.
Wow. Well played, Jerrod. Well played indeed.
Under the covers this editorial actually picks up on a story which may be of interest. The dating site OKCupid is adding a profile option which allows progressives to avoid the horror of having to make online contact with (or possibly even… kiss!) someone with a different ideological worldview. They’re doing it by partnering with Planned Parenthood and letting users apply a “badge” to their profile showing their support for the organization. This would, they imagine, thin the herd because no conservative worth their salt would possibly swipe right (or is it left? Whichever one means you like something) on a prospective dating partner who “hearts” the noted abortion provider. Right?
Maybe. Or actually, judging by most polls, it would only lock out about half of the conservative base at most. But that’s really not the point. Jarrod goes on to buttress the theory made in the title of the article, arguing that this sort of assortative mating (only reproducing with like minded individuals and presumably producing children raised with similar values) is splitting the herd so badly that the door is opened for a candidate that many on both sides presumably don’t care for. There’s quite a bit there, but this short excerpt encapsulates the essence of the theory I think.
This is all developing at a time of increasing polarization in politics. In 2014, the Pew Research Center conducted a study on this issue and found 43 percent of Republicans had a “very unfavorable view” of Democrats, up from 17 percent in 1994. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats shared the same feeling about Republicans––in 1994 it was 16 percent.
Polarization is a result of the emotional reactions that politics naturally bring out in people. The most politically active are the most extreme of each group––the most likely to surround themselves with only the likeminded, and the least likely to give an inch to an opposing viewpoint.
These groups also vote heavily in primaries, which pushes candidates further left and right. And, as represented by the ascendance of the Tea Party, they demand ideological purity.
Interesting. Some of Jarrod’s examples sound salable. For example, if the highly educated only date other postgraduate degree holders, they probably are more likely to raise offspring urged to follow a similar path. (And become heavily imbued in liberal orthodoxy at the same time.) If the wealthy and the poor predominantly marry within their own economic strata, I suppose that could be a contributing factor in widening the wealth gap.
But politics? At least over the course of my lifetime that seems to be more of an exception. Successive generations of children seem to rebel against their parents in a number of cultural ways, also influencing their political leanings. The short haired boys of the Happy Days produced the hippies and flower children of the sixties and seventies. Their kids were the ones who spun off into business suits and created the Reagan generation. And so it proceeds.
I’m actually more put off by the idea that so many of our younger folk are now making political affiliation a red line in the sand for dating. My wife was already a seriously active, liberal feminist from an all women’s school when I met her and I was, well… me. It never seemed to affect us and we’ve been together more than twenty years. It seems kind of a shame if you’re looking for love and excluding roughly half of the possible target audience based on who they voted for.
Before closing, just in case you want to see the immediate reaction from the female and liberal side of the war as opposed to, well… me again, I’ll send you over to read Molly Roberts’ red hot response at the Washington Post. To say she’s not a fan is putting it mildly. Here’s a taste.
Assortative mating as a sociological concept is worth studying, but the proper response is not to pin the “problem” on women and ask them to “solve” it by swiping right on men they know they’ll come into conflict with.
Assertive mating, in other words, is a very good thing indeed. There should be no need for people to explain that anyone, male, female or otherwise, should choose whom to date based on what they know will make them happy, and not on what in aggregate may or may not have led to the election of a very bad president. As Laber himself points out, “everyone has deal-breakers,” and they can be about anything from a favorite book to a hot-button political topic that has nothing to do with reproductive rights.
But perhaps there’s a reason OkCupid chose Planned Parenthood for a partnership: In a romantic relationship, a partner’s view on abortion can be the biggest deal breaker of all.
Fair enough, Molly. So deal breakers based on deeply held positions and the resultant assortive mating phenomenon are actually not only not harmful, but potentially positive. I do hope you’ll keep that in mind next time one of your colleagues tries to claim that straight men who don’t want to consider dating “trans women” are evil. Put a bookmark in that one for us.