‘Baffled.” That’s how a woman named Diana described herself.
Last week, she called in to WPLJ, a popular top-40 radio station in New York, for a segment called “Blown Off.” After a wonderful first date she had with a guy named Paul, which even included handholding and talk of seeing each other again, Paul was now refusing to return her text messages.
Perhaps the only thing more cringe-inducing than reality TV is reality radio. But just like most other aspects of our degraded popular culture, there’s something to be learned from it. In this case, it’s that feminism has blinded women to the differences between the sexes.
So back to Diana. From her description of the date, the DJs — Todd and Jayde — are equally confused by Paul’s response. So they put Diana on hold and call Paul. At first he begs off, simply saying he doesn’t want to go out with her again. But they keep pressing and he explains, “It was a great date, but her number was just too high.”
The DJs seem confused at first. “Her social security number?” No. The number of men she has slept with. “A girl that’s slept with 20 guys. I’m just old-fashioned. That’s just too high for me. I don’t like that.”
The radio hosts immediately start defending Diana. “Maybe you shouldn’t have asked a question you didn’t want the answer to.” “At least she was honest.” She wasn’t with them all “at the same time.” And then Diana interrupts, explaining to Paul that anyone in their 30s is going to have a large number “unless they’re a monk.”
And then she really starts to unleash. “We had the same freakin’ number. That he doesn’t like it coming from a female, that’s amazing to me.”
There is so much that is amazing about this conversation, not least of which is the fact that there are a couple of million people listening to a woman humiliating herself on the radio. But it’s not amazing to find that men have a different view of sexual encounters than women. And that they see women with a high number differently than men.
No matter how forcefully a DJ insists that “it’s exactly the same thing,” Paul says it’s “gross.”
Different men will no doubt have different views on the subject, but it would be hard to imagine a better example of how gender is not a social construct. More than a half-century of feminist indoctrination has resulted in women believing that honesty is the best policy, but it hasn’t changed men’s instinctive reactions much.
When surveys ask people the number of sexual partners they have had over the course of their lifetime, men tend to put that number at about two to four times the number that women do. Of course, it’s possible that many men are simply sleeping with the same few women. But it’s more likely that men think it reflects well on them that they’ve had more partners — and women don’t.
Norman Brown, a professor of psychology at the University of Alberta who has studied these responses, says that women and men arrive at their numbers differently: “Women are more likely to rely on enumeration . . . They tend to say, ‘I just know,’ and if you ask them to explain how they know, they say, ‘Well, there was John, Tom, etc.’ This is a strategy that typically leads to underestimation.”
Maybe it does. But it also tells you something about the way women view these encounters. They’re thinking about the individual people involved.
On the other hand, says Brown, “Men are twice as likely to use rough approximation to answer the question. And rough approximation is a strategy known to produce overestimation.” Rough approximation is also a technique for people who aren’t spending too much time mulling over each one of the encounters — or even attaching a name to them.
It’s not that all men see all of their sexual experiences as meaningless one-night stands. But many men still seem to make a distinction between women they’re willing to sleep with and women they see a future with. It’s a truth they may not hear from their parents and certainly not their college professors.
Who knew drive-time radio could be so educational?
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.