Monday, June 27, 2011

Hypergamy is a dumb idea

This rant was written, and scheduled to be posted, some months ago, but something went wrong with the blogger posting system.  There are more (and more coherent) reasons why believing in hypergamy is silly, but this only touches the surface.

As many of my friends know, I take great delight in reading a number of men's rights and pick up blogs, because I apparently like to be angry.  I've been told it's a trait common in those who went to law school, but it certainly isn't one JD shares.  I started reading men's right's blogs because of my interest in father's/custody rights, paternity leave, and social ramifications of being a stay at home dad, but I quickly discovered that the bulk of the MRM focus is on... hating women, especially feminists.  Which makes me sad, because I honestly would like to support men's rights in a number of areas, but the people I find as the most numerous and most visible members are all pretty horrible.  But!  End of digression!

One of the concepts the blogs like to talk about is hypergamy.  I had never heard of the concept of hypergamy before reading MRA blogs, most likely because it's an utterly ridiculous false concept.  I have no doubt that in some times, and in some cultures, hypergamy was evident, but to say it's how things work in modern US culture is simply ridiculous.  Hypergamy is the idea that women are always looking to marry "up"-- and in MRA blogs, it's extended to the idea that hypergamy is responsible for most divorce, and that most women will leave a marriage if they think they can get a wealthier partner.  It seems, in most of the areas I've found it, to concentrate exclusively on money and power.

I fell like the hypergamy concept comes at least partly from a certain sense of entitlement some men have towards women and women's bodies.  Not all men, of course, and not even most men-- most men seem to be like most women, decent enough.  But enough to be a small, loud group on the internet.  The idea that a woman would ever dare end a relationship seems evil to them, while at the same time many of them advocate avoiding relationships with women so they can keep dating younger and younger women.   I... see a bit of a disconnect there.  And an utter incompatibility of ideas.

At any rate, it makes sense for people to be upset when they get broken up with for stupid or unapparent reasons.  And, it makes sense for someone to decide that the reason couldn't possibly be their own personality, but that the breakuper found someone younger/smarter/hotter/richer/morefamous than them.  So, it makes total sense for guys who are jerks or negative to women to believe that it wasn't their OWN flaws that caused the breakup, but rather, that she found someone with more money.

Because clearly, money is the only thing we women-- who are all evil harpies-- care about.

Thing is, I don't think hypergamy exists.  At least, it certainly doesn't they way think it does.  Do some people "marry up"?  Sure.  And some of those people are women.  But plenty of other women also marry down.  In my own, admittedly anecdotal experience, women tend to go for men who are at similar levels of everything-- intelligence, religion, money, attractiveness, education level, social skills-- all of it.  Sure, some elements will be higher, some will be lower, but people tend to go for those who are most similar to them.  I'm sure hypergamy was more common when women were married off as bargaining chips to create economic alliances, but in a time when people get to pick their own marriages, most women who aren't Playboy Bunnies end up marrying people they're compatible with.  Especially since women these days can actually get jobs and support themselves, and in plenty of careers even support their whole family as well as a man can.  Househusbands aren't on the rise due to the recession alone, afterall.

Look, there are always going to be a few women who go after the richest or hottest man they can, and a few men who go after the hottest or richest woman they can.  But most people these days seem to be looking for a good partner, someone compatible, someone with like goals and like minds.  The rise in the divorce rate isn't something that thrills me, but it's not necessarily a bad thing-- people these days are able to leave marriages that don't work, rather than just get partners on the side.  No fault divorce means people are able to leave when they're abused without having to go through the mentally harrowing process of proving it in a court of law, and are able to get out earlier, with less risk of danger.

When it comes to relationships, your average person isn't as mercenary as the hypergamy theory suggests.  And if you want to make sure you're finding someone who isn't going the hypergamy route?  Try looking at feminists-- although, if you're a fan of the hypergamy idea, they may not want to look at you.


Kate Goldwater said...

So glad you commented on my post on Feministe- I'm LOVING your blog! I agree with you, this hypergamy business is shit.

Anonymous said...

Pick up any romance novel and you will be proved WRONG.

Go find one hundred long-term couples, married or co-habiting and see how many women got with a guy who earns less money than them.

Once again, you will be proved WRONG.

You can deny that gravity exists. But it will still exert a pull.

Anonymous said...

i think you miss the point, amanda. it's not like men are worse than women cause they are hypergamous.

here is how it goes:

1. a woman wants only one thing, but the best

2. a man wants many things

a man can be kinda happy with his wife if she puts out, and he just wants more variety. sure he wants the VS model too, but more than the hottest chick, he needs variety. look at bill clinton and monica lewinsky, jude law and the baby sitter, etc. men are dogs. we need variety.

a woman is pretty happy with her man, as long as he is "the best". once she feels that he is not good enough, she wants to drop him and find another man. a woman rarely wants variety just for variety's sake.

this is what they mean by hypergamy, and this is why women usually initiate divorce.

Sheryl Warwick said...

You have one life to live. I choose to spend it doing the things I love with the people I love. Regardless of their social or economic status.

Anonymous said...

Money is not on men's radar when dating. Money is very much on the minds of many if not most women in some way. A minority of women actively look for money. Most women don't actively look for money, but will subconscously prefer men who are better off than them, or to be more specific will discard lower men from their dating pool. The typical alpha male (sports buff, muscles, aggressive/assertive) can sometimes substitute for money during dating, but most women when marrying understand that a hot bod doesn't pay the rent. It is a natural, biological function of women to seek a man who can provide. I have yet to see a romance novel in which the man of her dreams is a garbage man or homeless. The romcoms I have seen where the male lead is poor will buck up and be a man at the end and get a good job.

I am not sure why this idea is so surprising or offensive to you. It is not saying women are inferior, anymore than saying men prefer good looks is putting them down. It is just the way we are programmed. Just because some MRAs (not all) claim this means women are horrible doesn't make it true.