Pride & Prejudice & Hooking Up

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a functioning body must be in want of a single woman, at least for the night.

Rounding out a fantastic weekend of wandering the east side and singing along to Cinderella on Broadway, I dedicated the end of my Saturday night to playing wingman for a friend. We surveyed the people around us at our go-to West Village spot, mentally eliminated anyone already engaged in conversation with the opposite sex, too inebriated to hold themselves up and/or wearing Ed Hardy, and were left with a few interesting prospects. I won’t go into details of our as-yet 100% successful uh… method to making new friends, but it did give me something interesting to ponder on the way home.

Much as I love Jane Austen and still faithfully read Pride & Prejudice at least twice a year, things have changed slightly since her novel of manners was published. I love losing myself in those pages, trying to understand the rules and decorum of a time where “weekends” were a foreign concept and bonnets were still socially acceptable, but let’s be real: husband hunting is not the only goal in life for educated women anymore. While there are the modernized versions of overbearing-mother-matchmaking (looking at you, Christian Mingle), by and large relationships seem to skip the “getting to know you” phase in favor of the fun parts. Only after the fun parts are deemed at least passable on both ends do we ask for important details, like last names and thoughts on Beyonce. I give you: hooking up.

I'm sure that's what Jane meant.

I’m sure that’s what Jane Austen meant.

The same prides and prejudices that led Darcy and Elizabeth to bicker their way into true love haven’t really changed from the eras of “courting someone” to the hook-up culture of our generation. True, you can’t compare a fancy dance at a ball with twerking at Village Tavern, but whether husband-hunting or looking for a friend to “walk you home,” we scan the room and determine: who is “good enough” for me, who isn’t, and why. What if Jane Austen were writing another novel of manners set in today’s day and age? Obviously we’d have to replace the long letters the characters exchange with 140 characters or less, and Darcy would probably work on Wall Street, but if you think about it, the major themes of the book would be fairly similar, save for a few exciting nights out with Lydia and Kitty. Hooking up may kill some part of the mysterious allure of dating, but it also forces people to be more open and honest about things earlier in whatever the relationship is. You’ve already had yourself out there physically, so why not put it all out there emotionally too?

I’m sure Jane Austen is rolling in her grave at the idea that her beautiful novel is in any way related to a culture where a guy from the bar last night thought it was a good idea to grab my waist before asking my name (hope you enjoyed that beer down your pants bro). But our generation just took the concept and gave it a fun spin. Their prides and your prejudices aren’t limited to finding a man for a lifetime. Sometimes it’s fun to work on that skill just for the night.

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