Episode 16: "Networking, lying and surveying - has DATING changed at all in the last century?" with Diane Mapes
Alissa Interviews Author and Columnist Diane Mapes on “Networking, lying and surveying – has DATING changed at all in the last century?”
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Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to Just for Women: dating, relationships and sex. I am your host Alissa Kriteman. This show is dedicated to bringing you the most insightful and useful information available today to help you achieve all your love, sex, intimacy, romance and dating desires. This interview is part of my Summer of Love anniversary series where We will explore how dating, in particular has changed over the past 40 years. On the show today I am happy to welcome Diane Mapes, acclaimed writer and columnist, who has studied and written about dating and how it’s evolved over the last 100 years. On today’s show we will discuss a brief history of dating: what has changed and what is still the same after all these years. Stigmas, women, in particular have to deal with around being single, especially in our thirties, and the impact it has on us. And then we’re gonna talk about “Single State of the Union”, a book that Diane has edited, which is an amazing anthology of stories of single women.
Diane Mapes: The big thing that people always complain about now, stuff like, you know, online liars, people who would post photos of themselves that are like 10 years old or 20 years old – that stuff has been going on for a hundred years.
Alissa Kriteman: That’s great – lying is still the same.
Diane Mapes: You know, these beautiful Russian women that keep sending you e-mails - they don’t exist. It’s like, five guys in a cramped apartment somewhere. Erm, human nature doesn’t change. Technology has changed a lot – so we got a new toy: how can we use this new toy to get laid. All women like sex, have sex, want sex, will even initiate sex. You know, but then we have these weird messages: but you can’t ask a boy out on a date or he’ll thing you’re foul. Prostitutes are complaining that the online sex sites were really cutting into their business, that women were giving it away for free. It’s like adult friend finder
Alissa Kriteman: Diane, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Diane Mapes: Thanks for having me.
Alissa Kriteman: For those of you who don’t know Diane Mapes, she is a Seattle freelance writer publishing in local and national newspapers and magazines. She has written a series of stories on dating for Seattle Times called “The Dating Blues”. Now she’s a columnist for Seattle Post intelligent called the Singles’ Files. And she’s the author of “How to Date in the Post-dating World”, and she’s presently just finished a lurid history on dating in titled “The Dirt on Dating” due out next spring from Wiley. I cannot wait for that one. So, Diane, you are, I would say, one of the foremost researches on dating, so, tell us: what is going on in the dating world? How has changed? It’s the Summer of Love anniversary, 40 years have gone by. What is still the same what has changed?
Diane Mapes: I think that it’s interesting, During all the research and writing on dating for me, because I went into thinking dating has changed so much, but there’s some things that are really, really similar between what we’re experiencing now and what we were experiencing, say, 40 or 80 years ago. The big thing that people always complain about now stuff like, you know, online liars, people who would post photos of themselves that are, you know, 10 years old or 20 years old – that stuff has been going on for a hundred years.
Alissa Kriteman: That’s great – lying is still the same.
Diane Mapes: Yes, Women would send photos, you know, of somebody else to soldiers in the trenches during World War II, or men, you know, would place matrimonial advertisements in, you know, like Cupid’s Advertiser in 1910 and then some poor woman in Lincoln, Nebraska, would receive a photo of the guy’s grandson or something like that. And then, of course, the difference is instead of driving across towns in coffee shops to meet the guy and find out that he’s somebody completely different. The poor woman would take a train for three days to go and meet some guy and find out he’s not a thirty-year-old and single doctor from New York – he’s a seventy-year-old carpenter with four grown children, three marriages under his belt.
Alissa Kriteman: I guess that’s the upside, you know, especially with online dating. We can rapidly, rapidly, you know, go to the coffee shop, meet the guy, get that he does not look anything like his profile, so there’s a little bit more speed.
Diane Mapes: Oh, you know, sometimes we don’t even have to leave our house. I mean, that’s one of the things that’s much better these days with regards to dating is that, you know, technology allows us to immediately verify if people are who they claim that they are. I mean you can just Google the person and you can find pictures pop up on them or newspaper articles. or If you really want to be paranoid before you meet the person you can do a background check on them or some such thing, I mean that has really, really changed and that’s one of the things that, I think has changed for the better. I mean, Back in the day we complained about dating and how difficult it is and how creepy men are, or you know, how demanding women are, but back in the day there were some pretty dark things that were going on.
Alissa Kriteman: Right, which hasn’t really changed – it’s just morphed a little bit. But you’re saying that we have a lot more access to information, background checks, and there’s probably a little bit more safety.
Diane Mapes: I think there is a little bit more safety. If maybe not a little bit, maybe a lot more safety. I have no idea how dark dating was back in the day, but, you know, but now we have, some things… Some things haven’t changed, back in the day they had matrimonial swindlers – people who would place personal ads or answer personal ads, you know, with the specific intention to swindle the person, you know, seduce and swindle the person who answered them. You’d have these guys who would, you know, marry fifty women, and you know, take money from every one of them and then they would just move to the next county and change their name and start all over again. These days we have cyber swindlers. They do the same thing via online dating, you know, but maybe they don’t even live in this country, you know, they might live in Nigeria or, you know, these beautiful Russian women…
Alissa Kriteman: It’s just gone global!
Diane Mapes: that keep sending you e-mails - they don’t exist.
Alissa Kriteman: Oh my God!
Diane Mapes: It’s like, five guys in a cramped apartment somewhere. But, I mean, that sort of thing, those correlations, you know, those are the exact same things that are happening now or were happening then and even following the same rules. It’s really, really interesting, it’s just that the medium has changed; instead of doing it through the newspaper they’re doing it through online. Back in the day also you would have people who would not just swindle but you would have men and women both who would seduce, swindle and then slaughter their sweethearts that they had met through the matrimonial advertisement. You would have basically serial killers who would use their personal ads as their personal victim pool. These days when we have, you know dubbed databases of law-enforcement agencies, we’ve got the 24/7, you know, news cycle, we’ve got information available to us, you know, the internet and Google and background check agencies, this doesn’t happen so much because we have the information and all the technology at our fingertips so we can, you know, figure out pretty easily that somebody is, you know, somebody is not quite right. And we’re also, women particularly; we’re much more educated what the red flags are.
Alissa Kriteman: Right.
Diane Mapes: And the best thing of course is that women have so many more choices now.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, not only that. It seems as though, we’ve sort of moved out of , you know, we can talk more about this dating signal that being single is so terrible. And now it’s instead of, you know, rapid dating, it’s like social networking, it’s more like we have to mask the fact that – yeah, we’re single and we’re dating, and, because it’s so bad we have to call it social networking.
Diane Mapes: Well, don’t laugh Alissa, but social networks have been going on since, I don’t know, I mean since 1900 or something, they just called it a different thing. It’s just the opportunity to meet somebody, right. You know, like you’re single, you’re single in a married world, and it was much more so back in the day, and they used to have these groups, the neighbour called them horrible names like the “Left Lonely League”
Alissa Kriteman: Oh my god!
Diane Mapes: I know. And they would have in these church basements, they’d have what they called matrimonial parlours, and basically they would be like singles’ clubs of today. And the “Left Lonely Leagues” and “The National Lonesome Clubs” and stuff like that. I mean now it has sort of morphed into, you know, Facebook and MySpace and Events and Adventures, Great Expectations, you know and the Social Monster and these sort of large social networks that we have now and that’s the funny thing that I really found; that I thought, you know, there’s so many new things that are involved in dating today, but you go back and you can see the roots of how these things started.
Alissa Kriteman: Do you know what’s really interesting, I am just getting in this moment – nothing has changed.
Diane Mapes: Or human nature certainly has not changed and that’s why we still have online liars today
Alissa Kriteman: And stalkers, and social networkers
Diane Mapes: And stalkers, psychotics, or swindlers or those who would deceive or just dorky people who don’t have any social skills, I mean, we’ve all been there. Human nature doesn’t change, technology changes, has changed a lot, but our human nature to, our, our curiosity and our willingness to use it to purposes like dating and sex and entertainment, I mean that’s a very human compulsion. So we’ve a new toy, so how can we use this new toy to get laid? Or hurt somebody, I mean that’s just human nature, I think.
Alissa Kriteman: Right. But it also seems as though especially with the Internet and the E Harmony and all these sites where they’re helping people understand who you are. You know: who are you and what do you want? You know, because it sound like maybe these people know yeah, you know, dating is not new – we’ve been dating and networking for eons, but people are not necessarily tapped into what is it now that I really want. Because people, you know, through the history, you know, back in the sixties, when, you know, the summer of love and sex and the proliferation of people getting together, you know, there were a lot more freedoms. You know, it was ok to have sex now. And so, maybe we can talk a little bit about that, you know, how things have changed because, you know, it’s still quite confusing.
Diane Mapes: I think what is, what’s interesting to me is when you talk about what people want now, I think that, because of the freedom, because of the choice people are able to ask for a lot more now. Back in the day, and this is before The Summer of Love, but, you know, forty years before that, when, you know people would get married it would be, number one, there was a huge expectation that everybody got married, and so, you didn’t really have a lot of choice. You would basically, you know, marry somebody who had two eyes a nose and a mouth, you know, and maybe you had something in common, maybe you lived in the same community, but, you know, it does not get nearly as close as to the huge laundry lift that you see now. I mean you just wanted to marry anybody, if you got along that was great, you know, if you had some shared characteristics it was great, but it was not given, basically you married the person who asked to marry you. Now, people would have these ginormous laundry lifts and to their benefit and sometimes to their detriment. I think that, you know, it’s really great to be able to choosey and to, number one – we could marry for love, you know… back around the turn of the century, the turn of the 20th century, that was not even necessarily given that you would marry someone you love, you might marry somebody who your father wanted you to marry to bring, you know, a business alliance together, or something like that. You know, you might marry someone, you know, a woman you had a big dowry, that’s who you’d marry. If you loved her who cared, you know, she looks like she might have a lot of kids
Alissa Kriteman: So, when did love become the thing to marry for?
Diane Mapes: Well, marriage has gone through a lot of incarnations over the years. There’s a historian, named Stephanie Koonz who’s written a fabulous book called “Marriage – a Brief History”, er, excuse me, “Marriage: a History” and she traces the history of marriage. But love came into the picture pr… love was very late to the marriage party, you know, people would marry all kinds of different reasons, you know, in order to, you know, power alliances, or to, you know, make their clan bigger and more powerful, have kids, so your kids could work on the farm, a social approbation, people married for all kinds of different reasons other than love. Love came into the picture, you know, a couple hundred years ago we started talking about love and then at this point in time that’s our ideal and we don’t even think about marrying for any other reason. We actually look down on people who marry for money or, or, something… We look down on men who take a trophy wife.
Alissa Kriteman: And do you think that’s a backlash because the high divorce rate and people understanding “wow I married this person because I was trying to conform to some societal norm and now I need something more”?
Diane Mapes: I think that there’s a lot of different things that contribute to the divorce rates, the higher divorce rates, I mean, you know, back in the day, when people married for life that might mean 30 years or even less. I mean now when we marry for life, we live so long... I mean, if you get married at 25 and you lived to 85 that’s amazing amount of time to be able to spend with one person. I think that that’s a big part of it – you know our longer life span. I mean, it’s a, it’s a... who knows why people divorce. But people do marry for other reasons, other than love. During the war, World War II, think that they loved and they hurried to marry and the guys went to war and they got caught in, they call it war tempo – everything moved really fast and really quickly. And then the guys would come home from war and they would be complete strangers to the woman that they married and the woman would be complete strangers to them. There were a lot of divorces following World War II, there were a lot of divorces following the Korean war, there were a lot of divorces, you know, when, a lot of women who have would marry, you know, got into the whole fifties and the sixties and seventies and realised: “I am so miserable”
Alissa Kriteman: Which is another key point: that women have changed a lot, I think in their ability to go for what they want and not necessarily adhere to these societal norms about what they’re supposed to do with their life.
Diane Mapes: Oh you know, for God’s sakes – we can actually have sex drives now. Back in the day, women were not even, you know, women were not supposed to like sex, you know. You were given this wedding advice, you know, like, on your, on the eve of your wedding your mother would take you aside and say, you know, just lay there and think about England or think of tanning, or think of the children, you know, and it’s gonna be very grim, it’s gonna be incredibly painful, but you have to do it – it’s your duty as a wife. I mean – get real.
Alissa Kriteman: Let’s talk about bigger implications of that. You know, that sounds like a way of to have women be controllable, right? Like can have their sex drive be something that is socieatally off limits to them…
Diane Mapes: … you know I haven’t that extent of studies, you know, way back from the dawn of time and how, you know, men and women, and how women’s sex drives have been perceived and feared, but, erm, you know, before the Victorian era, you know, women were actually acknowledged to have sex drives, you know, earlier, maybe back in the 1600 and 1700 and they were actually thought to have much more powerful sex drives than men. And then, sometime, I think, during, you know, the age of , you know, like the courtly age, you know, then women became a little more suppressed and in Victorian age we became these angels in the homes… You know, that all we wanted to do is can, and have kids, you know, and crochet and needlepoint and, you know, and maybe play a very passionate piano sonata, at some point in time. But we did not want to have sex. So there has been various means by which women have been, you know, people have attempted, men have attempted to control women and women have attempted to control women over the years. And I don’t pretend to be a scholar of any of this, but you get the general idea…. (Laughing) yes, that thing has got to be suppressed, you know, – let’s try this. Now at this day and age, that’s, you know, one of the thing that has changed a lot in the past, since dating was invented, about a hundred years ago is the fact that women, you know, like sex. Since Helen G. Brown came in with “Sex and the single girl” in 1962. It’s been generally acknowledged that single women, all women, have sex, want sex, will even initiate sex. You know, then we have these weird messages”but you can’t ask a boy out on a date or he’ll think you’re fast”...
Alissa Kriteman: All of that, all of that is just I think gone out the window with what’s going on with the Internet. I mean, you just look at any website out there and there’s women, you know, showing their breasts out there, and look at t... and you know, and all kinds of, you know, pornography… and even, like, soft porn, I mean, anything that you could possibly want is out there now.
Diane Mapes: I know. It’s interesting actually. I think some prostitutes are complaining, I saw a news article not so long ago, the prostitutes were complaining that the online sex sites were really cutting into their business because women were giving that away for free. Like adult friend finder and that sort of thing, which, I thought was very amusing. I just hope people are safe about it.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, well listen… we’re gonna take a quick brake. We’ll get more into this in our second segment. This is Alissa Kriteman, your host of Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. We’re here talking with Diane Mapes, author of “How to Date in a Post-dating World”. And we will be right back.
Alissa Kriteman: We’re back. I’m Alissa Kriteman, your host of Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. We’re here speaking with Diane Mapes, about history of dating. In this segment we’re gonna talk more about her book, well, really the anthology. Really it’s an amazing book. Women, ladies, get out there and get this book – it is, especially if you’re single, I mean, it really covers the whole gambit of, you know, being 25 and, and really bright-eyed and out there to all these things that happen with menopause in it. It’s sad, it’s funny it’s insightful, and the biggest thing I got out of it was the sense of sisterhood that I am not the only one who has a mother, who really only wants to talk about “who you’re dating and did you did you find the man”., you know. It just, it just opened my heart to the anguish and also to the magnificence of being single in this day and age. So, Diane, tell me a little bit about, some of the themes of the book and some of the really juicy nuggets that are in this amazing book.
Diane Mapes: “Single State of the Union – the anthology”, I that is a terrific book. There are over 30 essays by single women which are divided into different segments, so you hear from, you know, women, just a few mentions, whose mothers are always harping at them and they can’t have a conversation without demanding when they’re gonna have grandkids, to you know, single mothers who talk about, you know, the biases they’ve encountered out there as a single mom. Or There’s this terrific essay by Margaret Smith about trying to find Mr Right Sperm donor basically, you know, figuring out she wants to have a child, you know, she doesn’t have a steady bo, so she, you know, does she go to a bar and pick somebody, does she go to a friend, does she go to a sperm bank and, I mean, it’s got some really funny, really real Just little slices of life. And there’s a great essay in it by Michelle Goodman who writes about buying a house without a spouse and the pressure that she gets from all her married girlfriends who, you know, somehow, you know, her buying a house alone, it’s just not significant enough. It’s tragic almost, you know, because she doesn’t have a man to share it with. And these are just really funny, funny pieces and spot on many ways as far as the single female experience.
Alissa Kriteman: It’s kind of wild that a woman, buying a house on her own would not be perceived as a huge success because she doesn’t have a man.
Diane Mapes: Well, that’s our society. I mean, we have a, we just have long have had this pressure that if you’re a single woman you are somehow, you know, half a person until you find your better half. You know, I mean, the good news is though, that single women aren’t buying it, you know, that mindset anymore. I mean, granted, you know, obviously, many of us want to find someone that we can, you know, relate to, somebody that we can get along with, somebody that we can love, maybe somebody that we can marry but many of us are doing just fine on our own too, and you know, pursuing school, pursuing careers, climbing the ladder, you know, marking off those really important accomplishments, travelling the world, you know, whatever it is.
Alissa Kriteman: Right.
Diane Mapes: ..are things that you want to do, and, you know, your life is not insignificant, you know, just because you’re single and this is not the message that guys get as much as single women get. I mean single guys get their own biases and their own stereotypes thrown at them, but single women, they get it twofold or threefold.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, because I think it’s a, you know, we’re longer engrained in it, we were longer supposed to be at home and doing all the nurturing, and yet when we’re out there …. it’s just amazing to me the struggle, the fight for our independence so we can talk a little about the Women’s movement and how in you mind, you know, how that impacted women’s empowerment.
Diane Mapes: I think that, you know, during the sixties and the seventies, you know, during the second wave of feminism, you know that was a really empowering moment, a very important time when more women realised, you know, I’m unhappy in my marriage and I’ve been mad and really feel I want to work for a living and you know, maybe I don’t want to work as a secretary, nurse or a schoolteacher, maybe I want to be a construction worker. And, so, that was a very important springboard for where we are now. And other women realised, you know, I really, I don’t necessarily think I’m heterosexual, what about that?
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, yeah.
Diane Mapes: Or maybe I don’t even know what I am. I just want to stay single and find out who I am and what I’m all about. So, yes, it was a really important time. You know, and then we had, we’ve always had these, you know I write, I research a lot about dating and go back and it seems like we always this, it’s a pendulum swinging back and forth so we have the sixties it was the summer of love, the time of sexual freedom, the time of sexual wakening, the seventies was, you know, you had all these social movements, the women’s movements, the civil rights movements, you know, the gay rights movements. I think it was 1986 when Newsweek had this article that basically told that forty-year-old women who were not married by then, you know, you had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist and there was a huge, hue and cry among single women and, you know, dating became this huge husband hunt and single women were not just single anymore they were desperate and they had ticking biological clocks. And then, right after that we had movies like Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close boiling bunnies and, you know, men running from every blond with a bad perm that they saw, because they thought that she was going to be crazy to marry, I mean, literally, psychotically crazy. You know, these stereotypes of single women, you know, we’ve just seen them over and over again. We, even Sex and the City, when that came along, as fun as it was, the story between the friends and wild dating stories, Sex and the City help to, you know, bring on some new stereotypes about single women. Basically all we like to do is shop for shoes, and, you know, hunt for men. That crazed the daters you know. And then, Samantha Jones, you know who’s a cougar, there’s a new stereotype for single women.
Alissa Kriteman: And the alpha female, let’s not forget that.
Diane Mapes: They were all alpha females, except maybe for Charlotte. She was an alpha female but she would not acknowledge it. Charlotte was very traditional, Charlotte was from the fifties, you know, the girl from the fifties. She’d read the rules and followed them.
Alissa Kriteman: It’s really, really interesting, because what you’re saying is how it’s always been if women were perceived as psychologically imbalanced if we were single, and there was something really wrong with that. And now, these articles and these stories come out, you know, you must marry, you must get a husband, and you’re clock’s ticking and all of this stuff. And now it seems like finally, finally, finally as if never before it’s ok to be a happy single woman.
Diane Mapes: Oh, it’s great, I mean, some really wild things that people have said about single women over the years. In 1912 this minister started preaching sermons in which he thought single women should be shipped off to an island as a waste product. You know, and then in the sixties, there were books that came out, there was this one book that came out by a doctor who was saying that, you know, single women were, basically either lesbians or they were alcoholics or they were frigid or they were nymphomaniacs, or they were too narcissistic. I mean, there was something detrimentally wrong with them. But now, I mean finally we have an age where, I think that there’s enough single women out there, I mean, half the women out there are single, and, you know, we’re, they’re looking each other and going: we’re just fine.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, thank goodness too. And we’re starting to see also women; I think who are writing books. I don’t know if you’ve read “E prays love by Elisabeth Gilbert, and it’s going like gangbusters because women are starting to write about: You know what: I was married, I was miserable in the marriage. And it’s so funny, because it’s like; maybe women are dealing with themselves as single women. Yeah, we want to know there’s more because we want to learn about ourselves so we can have a great partnership because we are living longer, so we don’t have to get divorced.
Diane Mapes: I know, we are marrying later and there’s really… actually, I think that they’ve made some studies that when you marry later and you’re more choosey about selecting a partner. And I fully acknowledge that not everyone is into marriage. Some people, you know didn’t find somebody and didn’t get married. It’s more successful, your relationship is more successful. It takes some time to find out who you are, do the things you want to do, not hurry into something with someone because you feel you have too. And I think more and more women are listening to that and taking it to heart, and throwing off these pressures, you know the traditional pressures from family and friends. You know, family and friends, they say things they don’t realise how goofy they are, how hurtful it can be. I think they’re just saying it because everybody has always said them – they’re just mouthing platitudes, well, you know: I want you to be happy… Well, we are happy, this just in. Alert the media!
Alissa Kriteman: Right, exactly! Which is why I love your book, and why I want all single women to read this book. And even women who aren’t single because the stories are so poignant about going from dating to long term committed relationships or marriages. There’s a sisterhood here, and there’s such fun, funny… I mean some stories I just laughed out loud, because it so resonated with me, I mean, about what we have to deal with in the society about being single and this whole, this whole bridge between dating, I mean, being single and going through, you know, all of these phases that we go through. And whether of not we even want to be married or not? Ah, Diane, it’s been so fun talking with you. Listeners, I want to let you know that you can e-mail me if you have comments about the show or have any questions at [email protected] . Please let me know what you thought of the show… any ideas for the future shows and you can also get text or transcripts of this show and other shows in Personal Life Media at our web site at personallifemedia.com. And to reach Diane, she has two web sites, one is howtodatebook.com and then singlestatebook.com and those are her two fantastic books on dating and being single. And then to e-mail you, I guess they just go to the web sites and all that information is there?
Diane Mapes: There’s e-mail addresses at both sites. I would love to hear from people, love to hear, you know, their successful single stories, love to hear their dating stories.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, yeah, it’s great isn’t it? I love the Internet for that fact you know, that people can come and say: “Hey I thought that this was great and I feel this way and it really gives us the sense of connection. And, something, I think women really need right now as we empower ourselves to go for what we want, especially with dating. And so I really appreciate your being on the show and talking to us about this today.
Diane Mapes: Thanks for much for having me. It’s a fun topic, it’s a fascinating topic and this is a great show.
Alissa Kriteman: Thank you. And so we will look for your book “The Dirt on Dating”, yeah
Diane Mapes: Yes, next spring from Riley. And “How to Date in a Post-dating World” and “Single State of the Union” of course are both out now in all your favourite bookstores.
Alissa Kriteman: Awesome. Thanks so much Diane and we’ll have you back when “The Dirt on Dating” comes out.
Diane Mapes: Oh, I’d love that, thanks so much.
Alissa Kriteman: Perfect. All right, you have a great day and this is Alissa Kriteman signing off, your hostess “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. See you next time!
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