Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Are Haredi Girls More Open Minded When it Comes to Intellectuals?
Michael Makovi has a post on his experiences with dating girls to the right and more modern girls. As someone whose religious views are still fairly liberal in many respects, one would expect that he would have an easier time dating more modern girls. Such girls would be expected to be more "open minded" and accepting of him. Judging from his experiences with dating websites like Frumster, this is not the case:
Whenever I write to MO women, specifically ones whose profiles evince some basic compatibility with me in terms of both hashqafa (weltanschauung or ideology) and general intellectuality (she doesn't have to be a nerd like me, but she at least has to be intellectual enough to appreciate one), the response I usually get is quite negative. That is, if I get a response at all; about half of the women don't respond at all. (They have premium accounts, so that's not the problem.) Just earlier this week, one wrote back to me, saying, "relationships with high-maintenance, socially-unaware, overbearing people who suck me dry are exactly what I just cut out of my life." ...
By contrast, when I write to the more yeshivishe or Beit Ya'akov-ish women, I almost always get a very warm response. I don't know how many times the woman has said that if only my hashqafa were further to the right, that she'd be very willing to date me. In fact, several times, I've been told that even with my left-wing hashqafa, she'd love to be platonic friends, if only she were willing to have platonic friendships with the opposite sex.
I have had some similar experiences (one of the reasons why I am still gloriously single). I have used Frumster from time to time with little success. Like Makovi, I focused on trying to contact girls, who appeared to be well educated, open and having similar interests to mine; in essence Modern Orthodox girls. I rarely got a response back, and fewer still led to any meaningful contact. Contrary to expectations, I find that I have an easier time getting to conversations with Haredi girls. Even when they do not understand what I am trying to say, they will make the extra effort to ask and try to understand. Maybe this has to do with Haredi girls being actively trained to be polite and make the extra effort to be kind to strange creatures like me. It also might have been to my advantage that most of these situations where non-dating ones to begin with.
My theory is that Haredi girls, coming from a "patriarchal" mindset, expect a man who is smarter than they are and who can talk over their heads. Remember these girls are supposed to be looking for a "Talmud Chacham" and the "best boy in Lakewood." Girls from the Modern Orthodox camp are operating in an equality framework and expect someone who is their intellectual equal or even someone they can intellectually dominate. This is not to question the intelligence of any women. The problem is that they are also very defensive about this intellectual parity. They will see any situation where you can out talk them as you attempting to be a show off out to prove that you are their intellectual superior.
In her last email to me, my ex-girlfriend Dragon wrote: "I know you consider yourself an intellectual, however, that does not mean I am an idiot and have little knowledge on some subjects. You have in the past insulted my intelligence when having conversations with you."
I could swear on a stack of bibles, that I never called her an idiot or questioned her intelligence. She was a very smart person; otherwise I would not have agreed to date her in the first place. What we did have was me speaking in my normal string of association fashion. One needs to be fairly well read in the sorts of things that interest me (the sorts of things that I regularly discuss on this blog) to follow what I am saying. Some people do better at this than others. This, though, was transformed into a personal attack even if experience with me told her, on an intellectual level, that this was not the case. Dragon may have been a very smart person, but she emotionally needed to be clearly acknowledged as being the one on top. Anything less would mean accepting inferiority.
In my personal situation there is also the Asperger syndrome element. I would argue that this merely plays into this model. My style of speaking is connected to my Asperger situation. Ironically enough, it is my attempt to relate to people within an Asperger context. The difficulty with Asperger syndrome is forming emotional relationships. I want someone I can talk to, that is what a relationship means to me. Modern girls can be expected to wish for some sort of emotional connection that is beyond my understanding and my ability to give, putting me in an unwinnable situation. With girls who are a little "less modern" I still have a chance. They are more likely to think in more pragmatic terms, the good man, the intelligent man. These are things that I can deliver.
I have no idea what the situation is like outside of Orthodox Judaism. I put the challenge out there to feminists of the Maureen Dowd school; is it really that men cannot bear to deal with intelligent women or is it the feminist women who cannot bear to deal with an intelligent man?