Flat White

The game of marriage chicken

7 March 2022

4:00 AM

7 March 2022

4:00 AM

China is grappling with the problem of what to do with what they call ‘leftover’ women – unmarried women, often highly educated and urban – who can’t find a mate. The officials are finding their proposed incentives to persuade these women to marry unemployed men are meeting stiff resistance. 

Meanwhile, black American leftover women are lining up for a harrowing dose of reality from YouTube sensation, Kevin Samuels. Over 2.5 million viewers have checked out this image consultant’s video, You’re Average at Best, where he demolishes a 36-year-old owner of a pet grooming business who believes she deserves a ‘six-figure guy’. 

Samuels attracts ‘people who cannot look away from a train crash’ (claims this blogger) who admits she can’t stop watching him. There’s certainly a mesmerising quality to his endless interviews with delusional women convinced that their PhD and high earnings will attract a ‘high-value man’ – the modern equivalent of a prince in shining armour – despite these women often being overweight and single mothers. 

Samuels is arrogant, misogynist, and totally wrong on many fronts. But I suspect the big attraction is seeing a man calling out the ‘because I’m worth it’ mentality afflicting so many successful women today. Watching their sense of entitlement flounder on the rocky shoals of today’s marriage market makes for irresistible viewing. 

Black America gives a glimpse of our future. I spent five years living in New York in the mid-1980s and wrote about the growing pool of well-educated black women already having difficulty meeting black men who could match them. They grumbled that unless they were willing to marry down, or broaden their racial preferences, they’d be left on their own. 

Their dim dating prospects have darkened further. The current pool of black students with higher education reveals black women being awarded 64.1 per cent of bachelor’s degrees, 71.5 per cent of master’s degrees and 65.9 per cent of doctoral, medical, and dental degrees. No wonder Kevin Samuels tells them to get real. 

Meanwhile, here in Australia, we are heading for similar problems. The extraordinary success of the feminist mission to promote girls’ education is adding to the already tight market for thirty-plus educated women keen to settle down. Last week I received an email from a woman long married to her university sweetheart who reports her friends are complaining ‘there aren’t enough men on their socio-economic level to form partnerships’. As she says, our society never acknowledges that in order to help women find meaningful relationships we need to promote men’s education/employment.

Her friends are already up against it. In the 25-34-year age group more than half of females now have a degree compared with about a third of males (50.4 per cent vs 36.6 per cent). And the trend is clear – look at this graph:


These successful women show little shift from their traditional hypergamy, still desiring to marry up or at least find a comparable man. A large study of 41,000 dating interactions by QUT economists, Stephen Whyte and Benno Torgler showed women seeking men of similar or superior levels of education right through to their forties. Only when breeding is no longer on the cards do women become less fussy about their choices. 

The imbalance in numbers of well-educated men and women is simply deepening the mighty hole women created in their marriage prospects decades ago. Where it all really went astray was the strategic decision by women back in the 1970s to delay settling down. They embraced feminist rhetoric telling them they could have it all – spend the first decade of their adult lives getting educated, establishing their careers, having fun playing the field and only then get serious about finding the right mate. And that’s what they did. Over the past half-century, the average age of first marriage has shifted from the early twenties to around thirty. 

For years, male bloggers have been gleefully boasting about how well that decade of dating worked out for men. Dalrock, who was one of the first to spot the trend, put it this way: ‘Today’s unmarried 20-something women have given men an ultimatum: “I’ll marry when I’m ready, take it or leave it.” This is of course their right. But ultimatums are a risky thing, because there is always a possibility the other side will decide to leave it. In the next decade we will witness the end result of this game of marriage chicken.’ 

Boy, did those chickens come home to roost… The new social order worked predominantly in men’s favour. Suddenly they didn’t have to marry to get sex – for many, particularly handsome, successful males, that became freely available. They could afford to sit back and wait while their own market value steadily increased. Even nerdy blokes who spent their early dating years being constantly rejected were able to acquire assets, career success, and confidence so that by the time women decided to get serious, many of these men found themselves much in demand.

Allowing most men, particularly educated men, to remain fancy-free for that critical decade means that by the time women hit thirty, the pool of eligible prospects is already depleted. Desirable successful thirty-something males have all the choices, with many fishing outside their pond, some choosing younger women and others seeking partners who offer something other than career success. Almost one in three degree-educated 35-year-old men marry or live with women aged 30 or under. 

For the leftovers – successful women in their thirties facing their rapidly closing reproductive window – the prospects are grim. The solution is easy, many say – they should just get real and marry down. But the reality is most men in their twenties aren’t interested in dealing with the hassle of the older woman’s fertility time clock, when a younger woman means less pressure, more time for making good decisions. And as an online dating coach I found many younger men happy to meet up with my older clients, but sex was usually the only thing on their agenda. 

We have to understand women’s choices. I was once involved in a market research project asking successful single women what they were looking for in a mate. Most expressed a desire to meet men of equivalent income because they didn’t want to be robbed of the choice of staying out of the workforce to care for their young children through being dependent on her higher income to pay the mortgage. Women’s preferences are governed by more than just status.

I should point out that current trends show most people do still get married or will do so over their lifetime. Many of these successful professional women will ultimately find a mate, but may end up missing out on children if they partner in their 40s or later, often with someone who has been married before. And in case you are wondering why I am talking about finding marriage partners rather than just cohabiting, well-educated women pretty consistently prefer to delay breeding until they are married, unlike less advantaged women who increasingly now have children out of wedlock.

Currently what we are seeing in this top-end thirties dating market is a lot of desperate women and elusive men. Here’s my correspondent talking about the trouble her friends are having: ‘The guys are willing to have sex with them but won’t commit to a relationship – let alone marriage. Again, I don’t really blame the men for acting this way, it’s because of the sexual culture the feminists have implemented. A guy will have sex with a girl giving her the impression that a relationship could eventuate then once they’ve had the hookup, they ghost her. Is it any wonder that these women today are terribly bitter and angry? After a while these women feel so furious that they think to themselves they’re going to make out he assaulted them because he led them on.’ 

Furious and dangerous. In this Brittany Higgins era, it is extraordinary men still take the risk of playing with that fire. Surely we must expect to see more men opting out of the whole business, now that women have shown themselves at their most venal and vindictive. The sight of baying groups of females out for blood at the Brett Kavanagh hearing, or at the Higgins’ talk at the National Press Club talk should have sensible men running for cover. 

Clearly some are doing so. Last year the media was agog at this graph, published using data from the Washington Post, showing a third of men under thirty were virgins.

Part of the story here relates to boys’ education. Young men, with lower levels of education, are dropping out of the labour force, many living with their parents, with no income, no prospects, no women. 

The bigger question is how much of this is also MGTOW – men choosing to go their own way. It makes sense in this anti-male culture for these younger men to be wary of sexual contact which could turn around to bite them, just as the older successful men know that the wrong marriage is a very quick way to lose most of what they have. Good reason to expect elusive men to become ever more common.

Read more of Bettina Arndt on Substack.

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