Mormon Leftover Women?

On the train coming home from work this evening I read an article in my Chicago Tribune about the phenomenon of shengnu, or “leftover women,” in China.  (Here is a copy that is not behind a pay wall.)  You really should read the article, but for the lazy among you I’ll try to hit the high points:

  • Shengnu is a somewhat intentionally pejorative term for single women in their late 20s who remain unmarried, much to the chagrin of both their parents and the government.  (Although I should point out that some women are reclaiming the term, taking it to mean “successful women.”)
  • In China, it is traditional for women to get married by age 27, but the marriage age has been increasing.  Many women are well educated, have good jobs and apartments, and have higher standards in men than used to be the case when marriage was pretty much the only life route available to them.
  • In theory, women should have plenty of men to choose from, due to China’s one-child policy and the reality of selective sex-based abortion.  But on average the women are quite accomplished, and in Chinese culture a woman doesn’t marry “down” in social or economic class.  So in reality there are not enough accomplished, desirable men, and an overabundance of “leftover men,” especially in the countryside, who have no realistic hope of ever marrying.
  • These women are under intense pressure to marry.  Traditional–and desperate–parents hire matchmakers, often paying exorbitant fees.
  • The reality is 90% of Chinese women are married by age 35, so they’re not avoiding marriage altogether, just delaying it (albeit more than their parents are comfortable with).  They just want a man who is worthy of them; they want attraction, romance, love.

As I read the article, I thought it was interesting to compare and contrast this situation with what we find in our Mormon culture.

First, I was interested that 27 is the age at which marriage is expected; our typical marriage age is much younger than that.

Second, I was fascinated that the demographic situations are the opposite: way more men than women in China, way more women than men among Mormon singles.  And yet in both cultures there is a phenomenon that can be described as “leftover women” that don’t want to settle for what are perceived as inadequate men.

So although the situations are different, in both cases we have women who are under tremendous pressure to marry, but for whom the prospects are not perceived as adequate, and who therefore delay or even forego marriage.

So what do you think about this?  Do we have our own phenomenon of shengnu, or “leftover women”?  If so, what, if anything, can and should we do about it?

 

Comments

  1. thelonerider101 says:

    This sounds like a plural marriage argument to me for those who would choose it. And if men don’t want to be left over then they should make themselves worthy of these eligible women.

  2. Interesting and kind of sad that all the pressure and stigma there seems to fall on women. My impression is that in LDS culture it’s more likely to be men who are blamed for being unmarried, while women are more often consoled for it. Sometimes you’ll see modernity and/or feminism blamed for LDS women not marrying, but those are portrayed more as corrupting external forces rather than individual character defects. The article gives the impression that in China women are the ones expected to take action, which is in some ways the reverse of LDS culture. I think stigmas against unmarried LDS women are real but are more subtle and paternalistic. I also kinda wonder what Chinese attitudes toward unmarried men are.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Interesting observations, Casey.

  4. Kristine says:

    Trust me, Casey–being the object of pity is not really any more pleasant than being the object of scorn :)

  5. I am pretty sure most women wouldn’t want to share a husband – because that would automatically disqualify him from “ideal” material.

  6. Casey, I’ve seen a woman being educated as a reason LDS men wouldn’t want to marry her. I think the answer to the Mormon situation is for men to rise to the bar that the women have set (which is not a bad bar – education, motivation, equality, compassion – these are the things that women find attractive).

  7. If we do have “leftover women,” I suppose you could say I’m one of them, though perhaps not, since I’m divorced with children. Even my bare minimum that would convince me it was worth marrying again seems to be way too much to expect.

    And, since I know the alternative, I don’t expect to be giving marriage another chance.

    However, despite being my own exception, I find that the mid-singles LDS scene isn’t so much a case of women delaying marriage because they expect so much as it is men who expect the wrong things. It is a mixture of many attitudes that contribute to this, but just a few: They have been taught that wifely attractiveness is a reward for their good behavior. There are so many women, they always think they can do better than the fish they have caught. They aren’t looking for a match, they are looking for a foil. They don’t want to grow up and have the responsibility of a family. They are looking for a woman willing to bail them out of their own financial irresponsibility.

    There’s more, but you get the idea. The specific excuse is legion, but it boils down to one thing, I think: they don’t really want to marry a real woman, they want someone who will mold to their life, if they want anyone at all.

  8. Sam Bhagwat says:

    The fundamental problem is that when men marry “down,” women who are older, more educated, more successful, etc will be left without desirable matches. Here’s an excerpt from the Economist:

    “More education leaves the best-educated women with fewer potential partners. In most Asian countries, women have always been permitted—even encouraged—to “marry up”, ie, marry a man of higher income or education. Marrying up was necessary in the past when women could not get an education and female literacy was low. But now that many women are doing as well or better than men at school, those at the top—like the “golden misses”—find the marriage market unwelcoming. Either there are fewer men of higher education for them to marry, or lower-income men feel intimidated by their earning power (as well as their brain power). As Singapore’s Mr Lee once said: “The Asian man…preferred to have a wife with less education than himself.””

    http://www.economist.com/node/21526329

  9. Angela C says:

    It seems to me that it’s the separation of the sexes that causes the problem. You don’t marry someone fully formed just the way you like him or her. You build a friendship, a relationship, and then you develop more and more in common. Then you can overlook the other person’s quirks and shortfalls because there is so much more of value. Personally, I think we are wrong-headed when we expect to find someone who is marriage-ready without first being friends. Let’s teach our singles how to be friends and quit pressuring people to marry or “find” that perfect match that doesn’t exist. It’s easy to criticize those people we aren’t friends with in the first place.

  10. whizzbang says:

    Some women play hard to get better then others, just sayin

  11. Eye-opening! As a 35-year-old, never married LDS woman, I’m keenly aware of the numbers imbalance in the Mormon singles population (off-hand, I can think of about twenty or so unmarried women in their 30’s in my stake. I can think of two men unmarried men in their 30’s). But I am surprised to hear that even in a population where simple demographics favor the unmarried woman, people still have a hard time finding suitable companions. This is not encouraging!

    At this point, having spent nearly half my life under the stewardship of one church singles program or another, and having heard many pet theories from armchair sociologists, I really, really wish that there was some solid research about what’s going on with our population. I’ve heard of surveys being sent out to singles’ wards from church headquarters, so maybe there are things in the works. Anyone know? Meanwhile, I’m not sure I buy any of the explanations I’ve heard. Of course, they’re just my observations, but I don’t see any evidence of the single men I know eschewing responsibilities, avoiding educated women, or only dating the most objectively attractive women. Similarly, I don’t see evidence of women snubbing men in favor of focusing on career or education. And the one thing I will say for singles wards is that they gave me ample opportunities to find friends. There was a lot of variation in how much pressure there was to date, but there were always lots of opportunities to socialize.

    I do think there is something (or somethings) going on with my generation, and I really wish someone had a good handle on what the issues are. Surely, there must be someone in one of the BYU sociology departments just dying to take this on?? Meanwhile, it seems popular to blame the men and pity the women. Like Kristine, I’m not really sure which one I find most objectionable. But I’m not sure that either is very helpful.

  12. The whole idea of “marrying up” or “marrying down” is a major part of the problem. Anyone who thinks like that should be avoided at all costs.

  13. And I can’t imagine why anyone would ever pity Kristine.

  14. When I first read this article (thanks for sharing it in the sideblog, btw):

    http://the-toast.net/2013/07/24/ally-phobia-the-worst-of-best-intentions/

    I couldn’t relate to what the author described. I didn’t quite understand the anger she felt:

    “White people get to [discuss racism] without having to feel the pain of racism; they get to see how lucky they are to have such privilege, get to assume that [a discussion of racism] is unproblematic and pivotal in their own personal growth, and also feel a sense of self-satisfaction if they haven’t personally entertained all of the racist thoughts and actions [discussed].”

    And then I read this BCC post. First of all, did anyone consider how a Mormon woman would feel when she read the title “Mormon Leftover Women?” And then to read paragraphs like this:

    “Second, I was fascinated that the demographic situations are the opposite: way more men than women in China, way more women than men among Mormon singles. And yet in both cultures there is a phenomenon that can be described as “leftover women” that don’t want to settle for what are perceived as inadequate men.”

    The word “fascinated” is voyeuristic – the author gets to observe a phenomenon that tickles his fancy, even though that phenomenon is yet another manifestation of misogyny.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Angie, I’m sorry if I gave the impression you took from the post. I read a newspaper article and thought there were some intriguing comparisons and contrasts between Chinese and Mormon culture, and I was curious what our readers would think about it. That’s pretty much it.

  16. Wouldn’t the leftover women of Mormonism be the “menace to society” single men over 30?

  17. Well, I’d be the first to admit that my perceptions are strictly one-way and hardly empirical. I have also observed several problems with single womenfolk, but since I’m not having to date them, I’m not as interested in what might be holding them back from dating me. *LOL*

    I’d be willing to bet that the problems are as varied as the people. But if I had to paint with a broad brush, that is the strongest trend I I have observed in men: that the ones who are generally marriageable, who are dating women, but still manage to stick around year after year, are generally looking for the next biggest fish. In short, they don’t really want to get married.

    My two biggest detriments to dating are my penchant for speaking up and my children. Frankly, I’m losing energy with the former, and am very grateful for the latter. My children automatically filter out most men who aren’t really ready for a family. I find their attitude towards my having children ridiculous, but I’m grateful that it saves me from wasting my time.

    If you’re not seeing any of those things, Laura, you’re very lucky or very unobservant. I’ve had men admit to all of those things. But I’ve been told I’m kind of a girl-next-door, neither very dateable nor verbally judgmental, while being fairly down-to-earth and straightforward, so I tend to get admissions out of people they would otherwise not likely own up to. I have a real problem with singles’ wards: namely that they ARE all about socialization and entertainment. They self-exclude people with responsibilities outside of themselves, which in my opinion are the same people who are most likely to be willing to take on the responsibilities of marriage.

    To be honest, I suspect that many singles, especially male singles, just don’t want that responsibility. Married life, especially married life with kids, is a worlds apart from single life. Coupled with the fear of making the wrong choice for eternity, and it feels like a giant scary step to a lot of them.

    This might be the only time ever I’ve been on Kevin’s side on something, so Bloggernacle Historians take note. ;) I don’t think it is sexist to discuss these things, or draw comparisons. It is hardly sexist to discuss trends or even posit theories as to why they might be. I find myself in a position similar to those Chinese women: what is in marriage for me? I never asked that question the first time around, it never even occurred to me. I’ve learned better. Until the answer is “something,” I simply can’t risk marrying again, not when I will be exposing my children to the problems that will crop up. I have to be sure that there is a benefit to the cost.

    I agree, MCQ: the whole numbers scale thing, and my discovery of how entrenched it is in singles’ collective psyche, factored into my rejection of the whole LDS singles scene.

  18. Somewhat related to the idea of young Chinese people claiming derogatory terms as their own: “Diaosi” has evolved into a pseudo-Chinese hipster.

    http://www.tealeafnation.com/2013/07/tea-time-chat-are-you-a-diaosi/

  19. My Chinese female friends relish the fact that the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. They can afford to be choosy in picking a husband, so it makes sense that they’d go seek out education & a career more aggressively over the last decade- no rush for them.

  20. An observation – Often the fear of being single again post 30 years of age is the glue that holds marriages together.

  21. There are far worse things than being single after age 30. I’m rather enjoying it, in comparison.

  22. Historians again take note: This may be the first time I agree with Silver Rain: “There are far worse things than being single after age 30. I’m rather enjoying it, in comparison.” Amen.

  23. I’ve internet dated for a couple of years using both member and non-member sites. The women I date are generally approaching the empty nest phase of life or already in it, so raising children isn’t much of an an issue. From what I can tell from searching these sites from the viewpoint of both genders and from conversations with the women on them the older we get the greater the imbalance. That is more women want to date than the men their age and this appears to get much worse the older we get. This seems to be forcing women to date younger men on non-member sites and may account for the cougar phenomenon. This problem seems to be considerably worse on LDS sites where I received comments like “Finally we have someone to date!”. Apparently if you are a faithful LDS man the selection is wonderful but if you are a faithful LDS woman your choices are very limited unless you date non-members. As a result I get the sense that LDS woman are just looking for an LDS partner, almost any halfway decent guy will be considered while non-members seem to be more selective, looking for a much better match.

  24. marginalizedmormon says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, yet–but I read the article; it’s . . . a good thing to talk about–

    no to polygamy–

    as for ‘marrying up’ or ‘marrying down’–

    the idea that someone who is well educated and ‘successful’ being based on anything Jesus Christ has ever taught–

    is simply erroneous. I’m thinking of:
    7 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man afared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and bwhatsoever a man did was cno crime.

    I’m not saying that taking advantage of having higher intelligence or greater opportunity is a crime; I’m just saying that if we apply the Book of Mormon to our modern LDS culture, it does make a person ask him/herself some questions–

    why are those who are intelligent and ‘successful’ (rich) more important to church culture? Are they more important to God? Is it more important for them to marry? Just wondering–

  25. CJ Douglass says:

    marginalized – I find that for Mormon women, marrying up means the RM/Eagle scout list. (Maybe its more of an issue with women in their 20’s from the western US though) Being a good prospective provider is probably up there too, but not as a status/social climbing concept.

  26. Regarding marrying down and marrying up, I do find it frustrating when it happens extensively by age — when guys marry much younger women because they only date much younger women. I still fall in the younger category, so it doesn’t affect me directly, but a lot of my friends are in their 30s and 40s, where a big chunk of the men are trying to date only women in their 20s.

    When it comes to education, though…

    It’s not something that gets said in sacrament meeting, or by sunday school teachers, but it’s amazing how tentative people are when they talk to me about going to get my PhD because I’m female. Those who know me well seem almost more nervous — I suspect because a long academic history makes them feel like I am just building an “incredibly intimidating” (several brave souls have actually said that to me) body of education.

    I think many people very much believe that I’m running the risk of not getting married because I’m cutting my dating pool down. Of course, they think that I must only be willing to marry another PhD…

    It’s just interesting how monitored I feel in my life decisions. I’m 25. I’m a faithful church member. Do they not trust that I’ve sought inspiration in my choices? I guess if I had, I’d be married now, right?

  27. Most of the men I know in my mid-singles ward have a genuine desire to marry and have families. They are doing their best, as are the women in our ward. We each have our own unique set of reasons we have ended up in what might be called the leftover population, but I’ve noticed a couple that seem to apply more frequently than not. First, the structure of our lives is not as conducive to creating real emotional connections as it was when we were younger. And second, I often see friends get stuck waiting for an earth-shattering spiritual confirmation of their relationship that simply never comes.

    We have watched our friends marriages. Some are good. But some spouses treat each other in ways that make those of us who are single be grateful for loneliness. I think the fear of ending up in an unhappy marriage is a huge factor in keeping people from moving forward.

  28. I want someone “intelligent”—and by intelligent, I mean willing to ponder things and ask questions—because I’m relatively intelligent. I don’t want to overpower my spouse, I want a partnership. I want someone “successful”—and by “successful,” I mean able to hold down a decent job, and have some direction and goals in life—because I don’t want to marry another parasite and watch the family money drain away.

    Most women in their thirties, especially those with lives and careers, are more or less in line with that. It’s not a question of whether or not that’s “what Jesus taught” and has everything to do with finding someone relatively equally yoked. Why on earth would I hitch my cart to anything else, just so I won’t be lonely? That would be the height of irresponsibility as a parent.

  29. Sharee Hughes says:

    I’d rather be a shegnu than get married just for the sake of being married.

  30. Mormon cultural problems I see illustrated by this post and its comments:
    – Women only willing to “marry up”
    – Men only willing to “marry down”
    – Criteria for “up” and “down” that are inconsistent with the gospel.

    Do we reject a “lateral” partner because we wish to improve our station, or impose a position of power? Of course, not all singles fall into this pattern, but as the comments demonstrate, the selective pattern of up/down exists.

    The whole concept and application of marrying “up” and “down” flies in the face of a partnership based on equality and respect. I have heard happily married couples both say that they thought they married up. They saw in their partner qualities they wanted to improve themselves.

  31. My experience has been that the stigma of being a Mormon “leftover woman” varies pretty dramatically by region. I live in the Chicago area too, and my ward was horrified last week when the mission president’s wife related the story of her entire extended family fasting so that her 29- and 27-year-old daughters could find husbands. There was, by the way, noticeable verbal repugnance when she announced their ages.

    What was interesting to me was that she seemed to think this story was normal, even faith-inspiring, while everyone I saw in our ward was visibly cringing. She’s from a predominantly Mormon community in Colorado, and that seems to match up with my impression of things out west where I grew up. Not that it’s easy to be a single adult in the church in other places, but I do think there are significant regional differences.

  32. I’m married, but I have observed in the non-LDS world, and more and more frequently entering into the LDS culture, some confusion among both men and women about what is actually, biologically attractive to the other sex.

    Men are raised to be nice, kind, gentle, compassionate and to value equality or even to try to do what their wives want above all else, when in reality women are biologically attracted to men who are strong, bold, have goals and their own direction in life, and are good providers and capable of physically and emotionally protecting the family from harm.

    On the other hand, women are continually empowered, told to get education, go for it on their careers and not stress about marriage when they’re too young. But in reality, men are biologically attracted to a woman who is capable of fertility and raising children, who are young and healthy and good nurturers. Men don’t care about her job, education or great career, yet that’s what she often spends her most attractive, most fertile years focusing on. And they’re rightfully scared to get stuck with someone ‘sassy’ or ‘strong-willed’ to actually live with in marriage.

    We too often ignore our biology to our peril.

    I do also think there is some merit to the fear of a bad marriage. Singles in their 30s have plenty of friends with either bad or failed marriages, and worry about the risk.

  33. “Strong Man,” I would appreciate some academic citations of that biological stuff. Also, “And they’re rightfully scared to get stuck with someone ‘sassy’ or ‘strong-willed’ to actually live with in marriage”… I find this both sad and disturbing. It’s implies very reductionist things about gender roles in a relationship, as well as acceptable personalities for close friendships between genders (which marriage involves). And I think it homogenizes men in a way they aren’t, really.

  34. Whoops. For future people who might follow this conversation, I initially commented as “Annie” and it switched over to my wordpress blog name (blog under construction).

  35. FWIW on the marrying up and down issue. I’ve heard church leaders talk about marrying “up”, but not in the sense of someone with a GED marrying someone with a Ph.D. It’s simply been the notion that often it’s nice to marry someone for whom you want to be a better person. It’s the notion of marrying someone who inspires you to do and be better in all aspects of your life. There’s often a bit of pedestal placement in our marriages for a variety of reasons, but I don’t think women are trying to “marry up” or that men are trying to “marry down.” I like SR’s analogy to being equally yoked. The best marriages usually come about as a result of two people who have similar backgrounds, goals, socio-economic standing, etc. There may some truth to the old adage that opposites attract, but at the end of the day, I bet there are more similarities between husbands and wives than there are differences.

  36. As a widower, I find myself single again after more than 23 years of marriage. I’m not sure if I’m a “leftover” or not. And I realize there is often a tendency to idealize a deceased spouse–at the grief support group I attend, one of the widows lamented that she’d already married and lost her “soulmate” and she’s only 35! That made me think about my own marriage and how in many ways my wife was my “soulmate” too. But as I look back with clearer eyes, I realize that we weren’t really soulmates when we first met and married. It was as we grew together in happy times, in sad times, in hard times and in good times that we grew into that kind of closeness. The last few months of her life were some of the best of our marriage.

    I think I’m smart enough now to know that I probably can’t find another “soulmate,” certainly not a ready-made one. However, I think it is entirely possible that I could find someone who could grow into another “soulmate”, just as my wife and I did. I am pretty sure I could be a better husband. One change I would make from when I was dating 20+ years ago is what I would put on my “list” of qualities I would look for. For example, “hot babe” wouldn’t be on it (at least not as high), since I’m not interested in a trophy wife. I would move closer to the top “Someone who loves me in spite of myselt”, which happens to be the best quality of my deceased wife. I’m not sure where that fits in the “leftover women” discussion, or in who those “leftover women” would be, but that is the thing I think I miss the most.

  37. Strong Man, you’re free to your opinions, but don’t hide behind biology. Embrace your chest-thumping chauvinism for what it is. Trust me, if your real-life persona is anything like your comment and your blog everybody around you already recognizes it.

  38. CSEric – You’ve got the additional burden of theology, hoping to find someone who is either ok with polygyny or is willing to be maried for time only. Either has to mesh with your own feelings about it.

  39. Strong Man – I won’t discount the evolutionary biology stuff. It does tend to explain a lot of things. See “Is There Anything Good About Men?”, Roy F. Baumeister, Eppes Eminent Professor of Psychology & Head of Social Psychology Area, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. The article is really interesting, and big help in getting away from the idea that we need to pit the sexes against one another. Anyway, I like to think I got married because I wanted a helpmeet and companion first and foremost:)

  40. ‘sassy’

    so funny…

  41. This is a sincere question: What are some advantages of a childless single man–say, in his 30s–marrying someone who already has children?

    This is in response to SilverRain’s 0721am comment, but I am happy for anyone to answer.

  42. RedPillLDS says:

    Feminism has unleashed female hypergamy (marrying up), which is restrained by successful societies (aka ‘the patriarchy’). We are reaping the whirlwind in terms of spinsters, children being raises without a father in the home, etc.

    Strongman speaks the truth.

  43. I’m 33 and divorced. I had no children with my first husband otherwise I don’t even think I would entertain the idea of getting married again. However, there is no way in the world that I am not having children, and the logistically easiest way to do that (for me) is to get married again. I don’t think that it will be easy (I am not ready just yet to get out there) but I have no illusions about what a marriage is _supposed_ to be in the way that I used to. I don’t know of course what single, never married women in the Church experience because believe it or not I think the fact that I married young affords me some street-cred even though it didn’t work out. I think it is probably very hard for never married men as well, but in a different way.

    A few notes: I am absolutely not looking for someone who is a provider and can _protect_me. I am a grown woman and can provide for and protect myself. Also the notion that a 20 yr old is automatically more fertile and healthy than a 30 yr old is hogwash. As far as I know I am plenty fertile–it was my big, strong, virile, providing, handsome bull of a husband who couldn’t have children.

  44. RedPillLDS says:

    Eor–yes, yours is the voice of unleashed female hypergamy–you don’t want a boring beta male ‘provider’ but rather an alpha cad with whom you feel instant ‘chemistry.’ Good luck at getting him to stick around though.

  45. I’m from the Wasatch Front, Mormonville, Utah, born and raised. I’m 29 and single, and very much in control of my life and career. The only similarities I see with the China’s Shengnu is that more and more women in both cultures are no longer afraid to live the life they want (including “marrying up”). I say more power to us (ie women around the world).

  46. No, no, RedPillLDS, you’re doing it all wrong: if you think Strong Man’s right you should be telling EOR that she’s supposed to want to marry an alpha cad because beta males are not fulfilling their biological roles in a sufficiently manly way. I mean, if you’re gonna subject us to your blithe misogyny you could at least be consistent about it!

  47. I never thought I would actually witness a “Don’t feed the trolls” moment on BCC! Innocence shattered… ;)

    To be fully fair in this comment, I would like to note that I appreciate divergent opinions, including ones extremely different from my own that may even repulse me. I would define trolling as snide, inflammatory, or other antagonistic ways of expressing those opinions.

    Also, @Casey, lol.

  48. RedPillLDS says:

    Casey, it is ‘natural’ for women to prefer
    Alphas to betas. That’s hypergamy. But civilization was built by betas, not alphas. That’s why unleashing hypergamy is so dangerous–it leads to betas playing computer games, is paradise for alphas, and leaves most women as spinsters or single moms.

  49. Heathermommy says:

    Do we know what the average age is for Mormon women getting married?

    Oh and Strongman, all I can say is “ick!”

  50. RedPillLDS says:

    Yup bring on the shaming language ‘chauvinist’ ‘misogynist’ ‘ick’ rather than engage the arguments ( and reality).

  51. Well, Red, if we’re going to be engaging in a rhetorical battle of unfounded sweeping generalities, I blame all our problems on the horseless carriage. We never had problems with our womenfolk until that blasted contraption changed everything!

    @mindandlanguage it’s a personal weakness I occasionally indulge in :). In all seriousness, this is the kind of topic where married guys like me have no right dominating the discussion, so I’ll shut up for a while and let the conversation turn productive again (assuming others are more successful ignoring the mansplainers).

  52. RedPill, are you a woman? I am a woman. I am telling my experience of being a woman and here you are telling me that is not in fact my experience. In fact, I _want_ a big, strong, brutish guy to treat me like dirt and not stick around leaving poor beta male to play video games and forever be annexed to the “Friend Zone”. All of this, while I whine and cry because I am a spinster and single mother (somehow simultaneously). If only I would realize that biology is telling me to be barefoot and pregnant instead of moving forward with _my_ life and goals everything would be all better.

    That is misogyny, chauvinism, and mansplaining personified.

  53. PS-I actually prefer nerdy guys with beards, and I think a man who physically can cross his legs and does so is a major keeper.

  54. More like ProbablyNeedsTheLittleBluePillLDS, am I right?

  55. I’m not qualified to comment on the actual post, but I did want to nominate Ken’s comment for an award. I bow in awe.

    “What are some advantages of a childless single man–say, in his 30s–marrying someone who already has children?”

    Being able to spend your mortal and/or eternal life with someone you love?

  56. The advantage isn’t purely in “marrying someone with kids,” but in the interest of the game, I’ll name a few. First, you know she’s responsible, you can see what kind of mother she is, you know she can handle herself and run a household, you can more easily measure her patience and priorities, you have a better idea of what kind of wife she would make, how she handles finances and priorities financially, and you would have a bit of a jump start on family, since you’re running a little slow on that front. You know she is someone who can move forward in life, and take risks on you even though she had been burned in the past. As you hear her story of her past, you learn how she deals with marital conflict or grief. You would get to marry someone who has already been tested in the gospel and in life, and therefore knows a bit about who she is.

    How’s that for a start?

    Now, if you don’t possess any of those qualities yourself, or don’t value them, I guess the answer is “not much.”

  57. Now that i’m single again, I will just go ahead and agree with SilverRain and Tracy: There are worse things. I haven’t been on a date yet, but I’m kinda looking forward to it sometime soon.

  58. I think BCC or other bloggernacle sites should set up a dating site for all the singles that troll (sorry, read) these blogs. At least we’d know there was some filter, and our chance of remaining “leftovers” who are “acquired tastes” be diminished.

  59. Leonard R. says:

    “This is a sincere question: What are some advantages of a childless single man–say, in his 30s–marrying someone who already has children?”

    I am grateful my father-in-law, who married my wife’s mother when my wife was almost eight, could see that there is more to life than “advantage”.

    Are there cost to marrying someone with children? Sure – which is a great reminder that there are costs to all marriages. But there are also benefits, and I know he feels that the benefit of gaining my wife as a daughter and being able to raise her with my mother-in-law was worth any “disadvantage” that might come with it.

    That he could see what type of mother she was, instead of having to wonder what type of mother she might be, was arguably an advantage too. But as Ray put it, the main advantaage was being able to marry the woman he had come to love, all because he didn’t let the fact that she had a child cloud his mind.

  60. Beauford T Walldrip says:

    Time to learn chinese and start a splinter group! Polygamy is back baby!

  61. john harrison says:

    Many years ago while working in a lab at the University of Utah I was working with a Chinese graduate student. She was getting her PhD at the U and her husband was working on his at one of the UC schools. As we got to know each other she explained the situation in more detail. She said that they couldn’t be at the same school because it would be culturally unacceptable for her to have a degree from the same level of institution as her husband. They decided that the U was a notch below his school and thus acceptable. She also had to make sure to get her degree after he got his.

    I thought this was all rather odd at the time but never bothered to consider the societal implications of such practices. Of course here I am with a mere undergrad degree married to a doctor…

  62. I love the idea of a Bloggernacle dating network. There should at least be a Linger Longer at Sunstone this weekend!

  63. I’ve got a 30ish niece BYU/BYU Law with a successful career in a big DC firm. Wicked-smart, way-beautiful, unmarried. The only angst I discern is that of her parents and her aunts, among them my wife. The attorney herself seems very relaxed about the “situation” and happy with life as it is because, frankly, life is very good. I’m sure she’d like to marry someday, but at her level she can afford, literally & figuratively, to wait. This is called “having options.” Advanced degrees bestow such “options.”

    Educate your daughters.

    Hardly a leftover.

  64. it's a series of tubes says:

    pd, I think I may know your niece. Does she happen to have a brother in law who is an MMA trainer?

  65. ‘Fraid not, Tubes. Not on that side of the family.

  66. Kevin, I generally like what you write. But I find this post offensive for precisely the reasons Angie mentions above.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2013/07/30/mormon-leftover-women/#comment-305759

    Glad someone said it.

    And several of the comments are equally appalling: ” Let’s teach our singles how to be friends and quit pressuring people to marry or “find” that perfect match that doesn’t exist.” Yes, let’s do that, shall we? Let’s also teach our puppies to fetch. Since they need to be taught these things.

  67. Meldrum the Less says:

    Perhaps a bit radical and maybe said (not by me) tongue-in-cheek…

    My 22 year old daughter (raised in the church) and a friend claim that if they are not married by age 30, they are going to have children without a husband, either through artificial insemination or adoption. Two less than perfect situations are common in and out of the LDS faith, perpetual singlehood and divorced with children. They say they would prefer the second if those seem to be the only two options available to them. A less-than-complete family is better than no family.

    Do any of the women who have never had children and over 30 or 35 look on the single parent as a better arrangement?

    Oh, and if anyone wants to try and teach her doggie tricks, she is really quite beyond that at her tender age.

  68. Meldrum The Less, it isn’t as if I see being a single mother as a glamorous option, but if artificial insemination and/or adoption wind up being my routes to parenthood then I won’t cry about it. I can’t delegate my life to whether I feel like getting married again and if someone wants to marry me in return.

  69. Angela C says:

    Melody, I didn’t mean to imply that singles don’t know how to be friends with each other, just that the church’s approach with singles is to encourage formal dating, not integrating the sexes together in normal healthy non-pressure ways. This creates forced interactions and weirdness with high expectations, and makes it harder to get to know people of the other sex.

  70. Melody’s comment reminds me of the many talks I heard in YSA wards about the importance of marriage and families. Who needed educating? The singles who heard the same message over and over again, or the leaders who labored under the impression that increasing pressure would produce more “results”?
    Fetch, Fido. Bring back a mate.

  71. If I didn’t already have kids, I might consider adoption of a disadvantaged child, but never AI. I believe that kids should have a right to know their father and mother, if possible. I see adoption as improving an already unpleasant situation for a child, but purposefully bringing a child into this world just so I can feel like I have something to do with my life just seems wrong on so many levels.

    There are many, many other things that one can “do” with a single life that doesn’t involve creating a child like breeding a puppy, just to give my life purpose.

  72. I quite frankly never thought of up or down or lateral. It’s ridiculous. My wife was my friend first, best friend next, and finally wife, while remaining all of the above. I never gave any analytical thought to the matter.

    In thinking about why we got married, I’ve since concluded that perhaps I was too young (euphemism for stupid) to know better. She was my best friend, we spent all our time together. So marriage just seemed the natural course*.

    I really struggle to think how I could have approached the issue of marriage if I put all the thought (baggage) into it that many seem to.

    *but it certainly wasn’t the easiest considering 99% of everyone we knew pretty much counseled us against it.

  73. Meldrum the Less says:

    Men, realize we have crossed a couple of thresholds in the last decade as to matters of forming new families, reproduction, and raising children.

    First, our boys are in trouble like they have never been before. There is not a single subject at a single grade level where girls do not now out-perform boys. Medical schools are now 60%women. Women are not just achieving equality but are surpassing men in field after field.The glass ceilings are being shattered. Boys continue to excel in violence- committing probably 95% of the murders, all of the rapes, most of the pimping, extortion, theft, drug dealing and every other activity of interest to the district attorney’s offices. Usually with the M/F ratio in the neighborhood of 10:1 Almost all pedophiles are men. Most smut is consumed by men. Almost all internet trolls are male. Somewhere around 30% of girls are sexually molested at some point of their life and in LDS communities upwards of 10% of girls have eating disorders that would disappear if only men didn’t judged young girls by their weight as to their sex appeal. And on a more widespread but less serious level, too many men are messy, lazy and don’t do their chores around the house.

    Second, the reproductive technology now exists to completely decouple sexual activity with reproduction. Judicious use of artificial insemination, cloning, selective abortion, etc., could theoretically produce a self-perpetrating society of only women. Reorienting female sexual attraction entirely towards other females might be possible (genetic engineering and/or conditioning) and would take THAT off the board. Today, with the use of machines and robots there is not a single additional occupation that is impossible for women to do for themselves or each other.

    At what point in the distant future do women start to decide that men are not worth keeping around? It won’t happen all at once and probably not very soon. But what if a brave new community decides to exclude all men, raise up only female children and what if after a couple of generations this community proves to be better for women in every desirable way than those around it? Especially, if they have superior weapons technology and more intelligent diplomacy? They might decide to keep a few of the better male specimens around in cages or in a zoo for amusement. They might not.

    I offer this is as a tongue-in-cheek extreme line of reasoning. But like the last generation crossed the threshold of human directed nuclear war being capable of eliminating all of humanity, it is now possible for the human race to continue on without any Y chromosomes. I see us maybe edging a little bit in this direction, eh?

  74. Bwahahahah!

    Because, no matter what else happens, we will still need someone to open mayonnaise jars.

    Seriously, though. I loves teh men. At least, the ones who are men. I’ve see ample evidence of men who buck the trends you are citing. They are caring, hardworking, righteous, thinking, conscientious, wonderful men. They give me hope and courage. I believe in better than the sitcom men. They are made in the image of God, with all His potential, if they only access it.

    It’s not as bad as all that.

  75. NB: SilverRain and I agree twice in one thread! Huzzah!

  76. Did anyone else feel the ground shaking underneath them? *grin*

  77. RedPillLDS says:

    Meldrum,
    Honestly, it shocks me that anyone would think that way, yet as I have heard it from others: Why not reason instead that with the availability of third-world surrogate mothers, *women* are obsolete?
    As far as schooling goes, I don’t see girls’ school performance (under mostly female teachers–lol) panning out in terms of high-end surgeons, i-bankers, physicists, generals, economists, entrepreneurs, etc.! Still men at high-end! And what evidence–at all-is there that a community of women would have better technology when nearly all tech has been and continues to be developed my teh mens?! lolzlolz at that thought experiment!

  78. Don’t. Feed. the. Trolls.

    Had to repeat that a few times to limit it to this comment.

  79. Angela C says:

    I agree with Tracy and SilverRain on this one. LDS Men Are Incredible! Well, above average anyway. Most of the “problem” men according to the studies I read are in the lower income brackets where women are in fact far better off to steer clear. The government makes a better husband than one who has a drug problem, cheats, or gambles your earnings away. However, I think MtL’s comment would be grounds for an excellent sci-fi novel.

  80. As a career psychologist in predominantly LDS communities in the West for over 40 years, I have been painfully aware of the age-availability problem. It started with my supervised internship at BYU where (because I was already married) I was assigned to counsel a specific group of single prospective elementary school teachers. I was heart broken as I met with these beautiful young women who had preferred to marry right after their missions, but after spending a few years getting engaged to the young man of their dreams, their dreams were shattered by a broken engagement. Their major problem then was to find someone close to their age who wasn’t already married.
    Therefore, I praise the Lord for the inspiration given to our leaders to change the ages of when our young folks can go on a mission. The young men who go at age 18 and stay 2 years will only be 6 months older than the young women who go at age 19 and stay 1.5 years. To me, this not only helps level the age-availability problem, but it also leaves ample time for friendship dating while both are developing their careers in a more side-by-side fashion.

  81. elizarsnow says:

    The “men are incredible” comments reminded me think of this: http://youngmormonfeminists.org/2012/07/30/a-parody-so-close-to-reality-it-hurts/.

    I’d like to go with “some people (of both genders) are awesome, and some people (of both genders) are not.”

  82. RedPillLDS says:

    laverl09,
    Why do they need to find someone “closer to their own age?” Single parenthood, IVF and adoption are ok but somehow millenia of different-aged couples is bad? Whose propaganda book are you quoting from? Older-man, younger woman makes sense on a number of levels.

  83. The mormon dating market is very competitive (in Utah/Arizona/Idaho). The brutal reality is that any woman who is over 25, who is thin and attractive, AND has never married… only herself to blame. This type of woman is constantly pursued by men left and right. She has no problem getting dates.

    The overwhelming majority of never married women in the midsingles scene are the “left-overs”. The unattractive and overweight. There are a very very small percentage of them who are amazing who are waiting for the perfect man to sweep in and solve all their problems. The rest will never get married because no mormon guy wants to be intimate with them.

    Sure, these unattractive/overweight women will work on their careers and become very successful. They fool themselves into thinking “I’m too successful, so I can’t find a guy”. A man as successful as them will desire (and have no problem finding) a younger more attractive women.

  84. Mark Brown says:

    “This type of woman is constantly pursued by men left and right. She has no problem getting dates.”

    I dunno, Joseph. She might get asked on a lot of dates, but what if the overwhelming majority of the men are overweight and unattractive? That is the brutal reality, if you don’t believe me take a look around next week at your elder’s quorum.

  85. Two personal data points. First, some 28 years ago (at age 32), I found myself unexpectedly divorced and spent a year in the LDS single adult dating scene in Utah before remarrying. Second, roughly 12 years ago, I was called into the branch presidency of the District of Columbia Branch (which subsequently became the Chevy Chase Ward, and we became a bishopric), and I ended up being the counselor that many of the single adult women in the branch/ward came to for, well, counsel and blessings. (I think it was because I had been a single adult myself.)

    My observation: yes, there is a very real and significant gender imbalance between faithful single adult LDS women and faithful single adult LDS men, and it makes my heart ache. We can talk all day about the reasons why, but anyone who has served a full-time mission — or who has served in a bishopric — knows the reality that women (as a collective gender) tend to respond more and commit more to religious/spiritual truths than men do. As far as I have been able to observe, this is true across a variety of Western cultures and religions — having served in Central America, I can tell you the cliche of Catholic churches filled primarily with women is no myth — and my sense is that it is likewise true in Africa and Asia.

    Some of the women I spoke with and gave blessings to have, in fact, ended up in good marriages. Some are still single, and I think about them on a regular basis. I have no answers beyond having faith in God and enduring to the end.

  86. Joseph–
    I know quite a few attractive, fit, never-married women in Utah who are in their early 30’s. Many are friends from my high school and my BYU days. I’m sorry you haven’t had the pleasure of knowing many, but there are quite a few of them.

    And over-25 as your age divider? Really?

    For the record, there are also quite a few guys out there in the same boat (albeit not nearly as many). Both of my EQPs from my last BYU ward remained single for a long time–one married an incredibly attractive woman once he turned 40, and the other is still single in his early 30’s. Neither is overweight, and both of them were EQP–not exactly slackers, then.

  87. Hahahah! Joseph, you’re a riot. I can only hope you don’t seriously buy the crap you’re spewing.

    I’m relatively attractive and relatively fit, though no model. I haven’t found it impossible to “get dates.” Dating is only competitive for the people who see it as a competition. I don’t. If I have to “win” my man, I don’t want him. I don’t need a man to solve my problems, I’m quite happy slaying my own dragons.

    I also know several overweight singles. Men have no problem “being intimate” with them. (And by “being intimate” I mean from pressuring for kissing or sex all the way up to sexual assault and rape.) They just don’t value them. Unfortunately, it seems that the world is replete with men willing to use women as walking vaginas, no matter their appearance.

    There are also women who are “unattractive” and “overweight” who get married fairly regularly. In fact, over half of the engaged and married women I know over the last year were definitely edging towards obese. There is nothing more pitiable than a man who thinks his personal inability to see beyond appearance applies to all men and women.

    My biggest problem is finding time to date, and finding the men worth my time dating. I have plenty of other things to do in life, spending time with my kids, taking care of my garden and house, hanging out with my family, handcrafts, art, hiking . . . it’s only surprising I bother to find the time to date anyone. Sadly, the men worth dating are generally in the same boat, because people worth dating have the capacity to live beyond dating.

  88. it's a series of tubes says:

    Fraid not, Tubes. Not on that side of the family.

    Thanks, pd. Then the person I know is yet another example supporting your point.

  89. I’m just checking back on this thread out of curiosity, and I’m disappointed but not surprised.

    First–I’m honestly baffled by the request to cite academic studies to demonstrate the biological differences between men and women. When my wife and I showered this morning, I didn’t need an academic study to tell the difference between myself and her, in lots of ways. My two-year-old can even tell the difference, and she can’t read. If you can’t tell, academic studies won’t change anything for you. But, there are plenty of studies to show that men and women are different in less-visible ways, such as brain structure and hormone chemistry. The Female Brain and The Male Brain by Louanne Brizendine are some examples.

    And for those who propose a all-female society with better technology and more efficiency, you might want to review some basic stats, or just walk around various companies, mines, or construction sites to see who actually does which kinds of jobs. After decades of advantaging women over men in all levels of education and career, men still are the vast majority (like 80% to 99%) of the world’s CEOs, computer programmers, engineers, investment bankers, police, firefighters, military, construction workers, miners, mechanics, electricians. Men suffer the vast majority of workplace and military injuries and death–because they voluntarily, lovingly sacrifice for their wives and children.

    The proposed all-female society, if it truly rejected men entirely, would, for example, not have this forum, internet, or computers or cell phones, electricity, or the homes or buildings, to be able to even discuss this philosophical idea.

    And heaven help this all-female society if an all-male army invaded.

    As to the original post about why we have so many single women compared to men and what to do about it, I still maintain that much of the solution comes back to acknowledging and appreciating biological differences in both yourself and your potential partner.

    Marriage is a union of male and female, which are very different kinds of people with very different abilities and desires. Ignoring those differences or pretending they don’t exist leads to attitudes like the ones above from women who say men are useless except to provide the sperm to make a baby. If I were single, I would run, not walk, away from such a woman, and I’ll encourage my sons to do the same. Thankfully, there are plenty of good LDS women who appreciate their own biology to choose from.

    Oh-and in real life, I’m a very nice guy, loving dad and husband, who values women deeply for their unique contribution to society and the world. I love, respect, and defend women, especially my wife, and women around me at work and at home are impressed by my courtesy and respect for them.

    But my wife is glad I’m not another woman, and I’m glad she doesn’t pretend like she’s a man.

  90. Mark on 8/5 (6:54am): That type of woman has had her entire life to find an attractive guy (and dated as many as she wanted). Now that’s she’s in her 30’s and past her prime I’m supposed to feel sorry for her?

    Tim on 8/5 (9:30am): See my comment to Mark. They’ve had every opportunity in the past decade to find an incredible guy, found plenty of them (and turned them all down), and now we are supposed to feel pity for her? She can still get married if she makes it a priority.

    SilverRain on 8/5 (10:23am): Sorry, you’re not the type of woman I described in my post. But since you took the time to respond to my post, I’ll do the same: In your last paragraph, the excuse “I don’t have time” really means “It’s not a priority”. If it was a real priority, you’d devote time, energy, and money toward that goal. But we both know that deep down you’re paying lip service and that it’s not something you’re willing to work and sacrifice for.

  91. Joseph, commenting like a judgmental jerk undermines your input. You don’t know the actual people about whom you are opining, That alone ought to give you pause – and it’s worth reflection.

  92. renverseur says:

    Re: “This is a sincere question: What are some advantages of a childless single man–say, in his 30s–marrying someone who already has children?”

    Here is a sincere question in response. I view marrying a woman with children as my last hope. I am surprised that no one here has mentioned the widespread phenomenon both inside and outside the LDS culture of cad vs. dad. Women are attracted to the exciting “bad-boy” over the good, diligent, reliable nice guy. As one who LDS women have always treated as a nice nebbishy good friend (if they paid any attention to me at all) rather than anyone they might consider romantically, my fantasy is that a divorced woman with a kid might finally value my “dad” qualities, having gone through her “cad” phase with her ex.

    I am not in a good position to test this theory as there are few LDS divorced women with children in my area (which is not economically conducive to that population). Is there any reality in my hope, or do I resign myself to continuing to be ignored by these older dynamic LDS women described here?

  93. Joseph, nope, no lip service at all. I said flat out that men aren’t my priority. My children are, as they should be. It’s simply unfortunate that I have to choose between them because there is no natural social way in my area in this Church to be an LDS single and a parent at the same time. Most LDS singles activities are specifically designed to exclude anyone with responsibilities.

    You might want to consider zipping up…your ignorance is showing.

    Renverseur, I don’t know you at all, and I don’t know the women in your area. However, whenever I have talk with an LDS man who claims that teh wimmins only go after the bad boy types, it becomes clear in minutes that these men only go after a specific kind of woman. Those women are a minority in the Church. Maybe you live in some high-powered, fashion-oriented city which naturally self-selects for that kind of woman, but I assure you that most of us, raised from babyhood to value families, are looking for good fathers even before we have our own children.

    Maybe the qualities of good fatherhood you see in yourself simply aren’t apparent to women. Maybe it is like I have found with most guys and girls with similar complaints, and you are looking for mutually exclusive qualities and only notice the girls who are unlikely to want the father types.

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