It was one of those rare 65 degree November nights in the city where magic happens. AEON, a new men’s magazine, was having their launch party in the Samsung store on 59th Columbus circle. Imani and I had met the group of five friends from New Jersey who had founded the mag the night before at a private dinner they had at Duo on Madison Ave. We were invited by Imani’s popular radio host mentor. I reveled in the fact that five men had remained friends (two of which were brothers) for over 15 years, and had capitalized off of several business ventures in various industries. However, they pooled their resources together to create a lifestyle and sex magazine tailored to men.The success they’d achieved in their actual careers allowed them to pursue this without a necessity for profit to pay their bills.
The launch party was like most NYC industry events. Only here would they turn a store that only sells Samsung products into a venue for a fabulous event. Imani and I hit the open bar for several glasses of Barentura Moscato, which did nothing to get me buzzed. We worked the room, mingled a bit. Ok, a lot. The abundance of beautiful black men was unprecedented, at least as far as I had seen. My freshly done 16″ sew-in made for an interesting night of men hitting on me disguised as networking, and it made for even more colorful conversation.
I ran into a guy I’d met at an after work shindig a couple months back. Phil told me he was a designer and his boys bragged about the album cover he’d created for a well known rapper. We talked about my blog that he admitted to reading. Inevitably the conversation trailed down the path of what women and men love to discuss– women and men.
“If I were dating in this city I wouldn’t take any dude seriously,” I proclaimed. “I’d be a chronic dater.”
“I mean, do you know any men under the age of 35 in NYC that are seriously trying to be in a committed relationship?”
In the summer of ’09 I lived in Jamaica, Queens while interning at VIBE. I was single as ever. It was then I’d come to the conclusion that I wasn’t impressed with the men in NY. Meeting guys was never the issue. It was something about them that I hadn’t encountered in southern or Midwestern men. One of the two guys that stand out was an “entrepreneur.” The other had a good city job doing construction. He was apart of the union so he had great benefits, but worked long hours. Both guys were native NY’ers. Between both of them I always felt as if they wanted me to chase them. The courtship was bare minimum and came with a heap of expectations. In 2010 when I came to NY for my 25th birthday a couple of my guy friends warned me about men in NY. In a nutshell they told me that most of them are not serious about monogamy. They confirmed what my southern belle girlfriend living in NYC had told me that same weekend.
“Women in NY are so aggressive. They’re like vultures. You can’t even talk to a man at an event or bar without 10 other women staring you down, waiting for you to walk away so they can holler at him. Men know this and act accordingly.”
Since then I’ve been to enough launch parties, celebrations of book releases, house parties, networking events, music listening sessions and the like to understand not much has changed. I still wouldn’t expect much from any dating situation. Professional men in the city with degrees, jobs and no children believe they are the creme de la creme. They know that women outnumber men. They also know that for every one woman that takes a bit more effort to date, there’s five more that don’t require much at all.
When I took my random thoughts to Twitter I had no idea it’d turn into a full on two hour conversation. Women (and a few men) chimed in with their experiences all over the globe. What many women agreed on was that the desperation for women to create a nuclear family (get married & have some babies) has contributed to making dating difficult. I immediately wanted to ignore this as just another way that patriarchy plays out by blaming women. Desperate women do not dictate how a man treats a woman or if he’s going to play games. But the larger point, which I agree with, was that if women weren’t operating out of this anxiousness to have a man, any man, they’d raise the bar. By raising said bar men would have no choice but to step up to reach for that bar. In following this argument, women actually have the power to set the tone for what they expect from men when dating. And in doing this women start to set the standard.
Alas, that would be a perfect world. One where sexism and patriarchy doesn’t exist. One in which women don’t think they are doomed if they are single and childless by the age of 30. One in which women don’t validate or sneer other women based on their marital status. One in which men don’t have so many choices so they think they are a commodity. One in which women aren’t constantly fed messages via the media and society at large that they aren’t good enough and must change themselves to get a man. One in which men and women weren’t socialized to conform to heteronormative gender roles. But I digress.
Ironically this conversation was sparked opening weekend for Steve Harvey’s Think Like A Man, which beat out Hunger Games raking in $33 million in sales. The number one movie has an all black cast that tells women to think like men because clearly thinking like a woman is just stupid and will leave you lonely. (Important to note: the screenplay for Think Like a Man was written by two white men). If the growing interest in relationship books, relationship experts and “how-to” relationship movies are an indication of anything, it’s that both sexes desire love. Admitting we desire companionship and life partners is the easy part. Where it seems to get a little fuzzy is what we do to attain what we want. That seems to be a bit harder. Something no dating movie is going to change.
Check out the chirpstory of the insightful conversation we had on Twitter.