Sunday, March 16, 2014

Introducing mating rituals to bookstores

Bars and night clubs are known for their role in human mating rituals. In addition to just going out with friends and maybe dancing and drinking, people do and are even expected to look for company, either long-term or just one-night stands. While many young adults enjoy this, there are many who do not, and they may even prefer reading books, and going to bookstores instead of bars. Nice, huh?
One proposal to extend mating rituals to bookstores
This is, of course, a fine opportunity for me to rant about extending mating rituals to improper places.

The image above is from Facebook page Word Porn. I doubt it is the original author of this idea, but it doesn't mention any source. It has been shared all over the social media for a while, and this specific image has about 130,000 likes and 80,000 shares, two days of its original posting on this page.

The good: There's nothing wrong in going to bookstores instead of bars, and a bookstore isn't a bad place to meet people, either. It would be nice if people would understand this, and perhaps book fans (geeks? nerds? outcasts?!) should find it easier to find new people, even mates.

Mates... like in a mating ritual? That's right. The idea proposes extending the heteronormative mating rituals to bookstores. It specifically refers to certain expectations placed upon people in bars. I have been told by several people (both women and men) and witnessed it myself, that men offering to buy drinks for women is often perceived as a mating ritual, and it is a way for a man to show he is interested, has money and maybe has knowledge of different alcoholic drinks. It is also a good way to get the woman intoxicated - and as part of this ritual (or just a social ritual?), many men expect women to have sex with them after having received so many free drinks.

It doesn't always play like this, but there are norms and expectations, just like in this idea. At the same time, bars are social spaces for having fun with friends (and others), dancing, drinking and so on. Bookstores are retail stores selling books (though they can still be very nice places, and maybe you can read there as well!).

In any retail store (books, groceries, hardware), it would be very awkward if there was an expectation for me to buy something for strangers, or for others to buy something for me. I wasn't really aware that there was this kind of expectation at bars, either, but apparently some people think there is.

There's also the issue of books being very expensive in contrast to alcoholic drinks...


  1. A really fine idea. Thank you Mikko to have published it further. BTW you may have noticed in Finland a similar idea has been started by some grocery stores. For people seeking other people there are special shopping carts marked for single people. So if you take such a cart to your shopping round that is an open statement of your status. And as far as I understand this doesn't include even include and responsibility to buy any fruits or vegetables to the person you are interested in :)

  2. I'm visiting bars or bookstores very seldom, so I do not have this kind of experience. I've been more or less happily (mostly more) married since dec. 1999, so this issue is not very topical for me.