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July 3

High standards? Make it a double.

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:58 am

Madonna? Whore? It’s not so complex on February 16, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I have been celibate for six years. Why? The one-night stands got old a long time ago (I’ve been sexually active since age 16), and the chance of AIDS is simply too great to risk my life on a piece of plastic. My buddies ask me, “Why don’t you just get a girlfriend? At least you’d get laid.” However, I can’t justify dating someone solely for the purpose of having sex — it would be an empty relationship at best, and ultimately doomed to failure.

Also, most all of the women I meet nowadays, in my age group (late twenties), quite often have morals lower than the average college jock. I simply can’t imagine that type of woman one day becoming the “mother of my children.” My friends tell me my standards are too high, and that I’ll never find anyone who will “fit the bill.”

Should I lower my standards? Am I being unrealistic? Is wanting a reasonably attractive and intelligent woman, with morals, a sense of humor, and not of baggage too much to ask these days? Right now, my focus is on developing my future so that if/when I meet “Miss Right,” I’ll be financially prepared to provide a comfortable life for ourselves and our children. In the meantime, it’s difficult not having anyone with whom to share things. It can become quite lonely at times. I’ll admit, my standards are high. I may expect a lot, but it’s only because I have just as much to offer. What’s your opinion?

— Hopeful

Dear Hopeful,

We should all have high standards. I don’t mean snobby standards, like those of Rose’s family in Titanic. I mean that we all deserve to date Good People (who can be found steerage and first class), and — perhaps even more important — we all deserve to believe that we deserve to date Good People. “Settling” should be done only by the contents of cereal boxes.

So your standards don’t need lowering, per se; but in Breakup Girl’s opinion — since you asked — they do need a little retooling. Here’s why: the word “morals” always makes BG a little nervous. Not because “morals” themselves are a bad thing, but because of how the word gets wielded. More often than not, it’s used not to hold oneself to high standards, but to self-righteously denounce those whose standards, allegedly, fall short. Your letter, while well-intentioned, smacks of the latter.

When you question the “morals” of the women you meet, I’m guessing that you don’t mean that they’re all into kidnapping, insider trading, or building Wal-Marts in preserved wetlands. You say you can’t imagine “that type of woman” — what, the type who likes sex? Before marriage, even? — becoming the mother of your children. Eeeeuuwww. That perception is what this type of woman calls a Madonna/Whore Complex. (Madonna as in Mary. As in Virgin.) Reams of scholarly papers have been written on this concept, but I’ll define it briefly as the age-old Good Girl/Bad Girl either-or double standard that doesn’t give women a whole lot of breathing room. And if you guys don’t think this beast is alive and well, just consider a Fox News poll asking whether people consider Monica Lewinsky (1) “an average girl taken advantage of” or (2) “a young tramp looking for thrills.” (Factoid credit goes to Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman; BG watches Fox News only on Sundays in a post-X-Files stupor, and that’s IF she’s finished her column.)

So if you want to marry a woman who shares your “morals,” — new-found morals, might I remind you, Mister Sexually Active Since 16 — that’s totally fine. And by all means maintain the “standards” that will make you truly happy. But Breakup Girl suggests that you expand your notion of what and who would make a good mother.

Breakup Girl


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