Spotlight on a whiny celebrated economist who couldn’t get dates on Match.com:
Paul Oyer wrote a long piece about his online dating experience and the term, “statistical discrimination.” Oyer, recently separated – SEPARATED – put up a profile on Match.com and was subsequently shunned by the majority of women online. He accuses them of practicing “statistical discrimination” versus “taste-based discrimination” (aka “prejudice”) and identifies himself as being a victim and a target of it.
Statistical Discrimination (Oyer’s words): The economics term for what most people would simply refer to as women acting on a stereotype based on my separated status.
He goes on to say: “What makes this a classic case of statistical discrimination (rather than taste-based discrimination) is that women do not hold ill will towards separated men. After all, these same women will date divorced men, all of whom were separated at some point.”
At the end of the article, Oyer wraps up his experience on Match.com with this insightful statement:
“And it’s been a useful reminder that, while overt discrimination is not nearly as bad as it used to be here in the United States, the detrimental effects of stereotyping are pervasive and substantial.”
First of all, women DO hold ill will towards the category of separated men who don’t bother with the messy details of a divorce, but rather decide to further cheat on their wives by dating other women. So, by way of definition, they are also practicing “taste-based discrimination.”
Second: Divorced men are NOT considered separated, no matter how Oyer attempts to contort the meaning. They will never be considered, by most women and in legal terms, as falling into the category of Separated.
Third: Whether calling it statistical discrimination or taste-based discrimination, to write an article comparing his unsuccessful and trivial attempt at online dating and serious examples of true statistical discrimination, is disrespectful to individuals who have suffered the real and disabling consequences of being discriminated against.
Fourth: The detrimental effects of stereotyping, in the case of the author’s inability to hook up, were not pervasive or substantial. The world will continue to rotate and revolve quite nicely without Oyer scoring on Match.com.
Oyer doesn’t appear to appreciate that most older women possess enough background knowledge, intelligence, self-preservation and experience to statistically discriminate against men who’ll be less-than satisfactory future mates. In his article, he calls this unjust. I see it as being aware and sensible.
As an aside, in my experience, too many older men are incapable of recognizing that there’s this lingering crud, called the ex or current estranged wife, stuck to their souls. In an online profile, it’s almost impossible to know that SHE is in the picture though, because, sadly, the separated man seeking dates is in denial. He has convinced himself that SHE is no more a part of his life than some stranger in a foreign country. It’s a remarkable gift, this ability to partition off something as significant as a still thriving connection to his ex or estranged—a connection very similar to the invasive plant called Kudzu, a climbing vine whose preferred habitat includes disturbed areas such as roadsides, forest edges, and the guy you’re interested in.
Why these men don’t exhibit enough self-awareness to realize they haven’t moved on and shouldn’t be starting up any relationships, even one with a goldfish, is beyond me. But they get online, post a profile and start contacting women. If this separated guy posting a profile on an online dating service possesses something resembling a spine, even a wire hanger version of one, he might admit that he’s in a troubled relationship. He won’t develop a profile that paints a picture of himself as an eligible, available, intelligent and financially well-off prospect.
Oyer seems to be one of these men, although at the end of his article, it appears that he resolved his problem and has moved into the category of “divorced.’
Lament it all you will, whine about it, write an article that gets posted on PBS Newshour—but know this: single women will discriminate. Whether it’s statistical or based on their opinions and feelings about certain classes of men, women will act in their best interests. No amount of whining by men like Oyer will soften us up.
Next time, if Oyer wants us to hear his words about statistical discrimination and take away some lessons from it, it would be best to avoid a nonsensical comparison of his trivial experience to those of real and pervasive discrimination.