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Testosterone? [knock, knock] Hellooooo?

August 25, 2010

I was doing some number crunching the other day for tax purposes, updating my totals for the Minglers [events I throw out of my home as a way for people to expand their networks – social, romantic, professional; the one caveat is that everyone comes solo].

It was interesting to look back to the very first one, June of 2007, and see how far they’ve come and how different they are.  The first two years, they weren’t actually Mac ‘n Cheese Minglers, they were Mac ‘n Cheese Dinner Parties.  I kept the invite list to seven or eight guests, and served a full meal.  We’d socialize for a bit, sit down for dinner and conversation, and then bust out the board games.  While I enjoyed the intimate nature of the evening, I decided to tweak the format at bit for a few reasons:

  • When I first started the dinners, I knew everyone signing up, so I could choose guests based on personalities and who I thought would hit if off.  As word of mouth spread and I got some press, I no longer knew everyone and thus could only use what little info I knew.  Age became my main selection parameter.  This resulted in some dinners where people didn’t really mesh, and in such a small group, that can be awkward.  And disappointing both for me and the guests.
  • Because only seven to eight people could come at a time, people were on the wait list FOREVER.  Some people had to wait months.
  • Cooking a full meal for seven to eight people is a lot of work.  Planning the menu, shopping, cooking, cleaning.  Not to mention expensive.  I spent too much time in the kitchen, when I wanted to be interacting with the guests.
  • The price of the dinner parties was $40, plus a bottle of wine or an appetizer/dessert.  While I think that was reasonable for a meal and an evening out, events that are $20 or less are more up my alley when I’m a paying patron, and I would’ve liked the dinner parties to be in that realm so that cost was never an issue in someone deciding whether or not to participate.
  • I’m an ok cook.  Some dishes come out amazing, some like poo.  Regardless, I realized, guests were not coming for my food.  Some activities out there, like the underground supper clubs that are all the rage right now, you go to for the eats.  Guests came to the dinner parties to meet new people.

So taking all this into consideration, I changed the format:

  • The dinner parties became minglers.
  • The ideal attendee number is twenty to thirty, though I have gone as low as eight and as high as fifty.
  • Cost is $15 plus a drink or snack to share.
  • At first, the evenings consisted of informal chatting and board games played in teams, where you rotated every twenty minutes or so to another game, playing another team.   Because people were only really able to chat with their teammates, there were often many guests that didn’t interact at all.  And while great team spirit formed, the constant game playing didn’t lend itself to conversation; guests got to see how each other gave clues and drew pictures, but didn’t learn much about each other beyond that.  So I tweaked them again.
  • The current structure is informal chatting followed by a big group activity so that everyone hears a few things about everyone else.  Then, to get that intimate feeling that makes for such a homey, comfortable vibe, guests are broken into small groups.  To help facilitate discussion, a few questions are provided.  Everyone in a group shares their answers with one another, and eventually we come back together as a large group and share. Informal mingling happens again, sometimes just conversation, sometimes people pull out board games.  Often, when I [niecly!] kick people out around 1AM, a group of them head out to a nearby watering hole for some post-Mingler action.

About 100 people passed through my doors the first two years, in the dinner party phase.  About 700 people have Mingled in the past year and a half.  Overall, everything is going along swimmingly.  Friends have been made, significant others begotten, jobs procured, resources exchanged, unique, affordable and fun experiences had.  The one constant hurdle though has been the female to male ratio.

While the Minglers are not a dating service, though yes people do get dates out of them, I like to keep the gender numbers balanced for the dynamic it creates.  It’s weird when there’s twenty females and two males.  But I can’t keep up with the number of female sign-ups.  My database is, and has been since Day 1, about thirty to one, female to male.

Why more men don’t attend has become a hot topic at recent Minglers.  The guys who come often come over and over; they seem to have a good time.  So why is there such a disparity?  Guests cite that most of the activities they go to, especially if they’re in the meet-new-people vein, are female-heavy; based on the bulk of activities I’ve gone to in the past few years, I would concur.

I learned recently when I heard the founder talk at a conference that 77% of Groupon users are female.

A female Mingler guest, who has been to about four or five Minglers, recently recapped her experience at an event where people sign up  for a meal at a restaurant and are seated with other individuals who’ve signed up: The makeup was good — everyone came solo, and I felt totally comfortable going solo.  One amusing thing was that the ratio was 3 guys, 5 girls (pretty good).  But two of the guys were in relationships…as were several of the women.  It launched us into a discussion about why guys do or don’t sign up for thinks like this, Minglers, etc. — the guy’s take was that women are just more interested in “meeting people” in general, and guys just don’t want to work as hard at it. or plan ahead.

Where are all the men?  Why don’t more of them attend Minglers and similar activities?  I can’t believe they’re all stereotypically in bars or on their couches watching football and drinking beer.  I can’t believe they’re not interested in meeting new people.  I can’t believe they’d rather the traditional stuffy networking events or Match.com over couches, flip-flops, and Taboo.  Sports leagues, improv, guitar class – these all seem to be male-dominated.  I know I joined all three of them with the main goals of meeting new people and having new experiences, not necessarily to hone skills.  Wonder if the guys were there to work on their spiral throws, object work, and bar chords, new people be damned.

A million dollars* to anyone who can shed some light on this topic.

*”a million dollars” is code for “immense gratitude from females near and far”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 30, 2010 12:45 PM

    It could be because men are conditioned from a very early age to be strong, self-sufficient and independant people, they don’t need to show emotions they’re not comfotable showing and they don’t need to do any tasks they are not comfortable doing. Why is this? Because nobody is going to force them, because men are the dominant, superior people in society, namely white, middle class, heterosexual, Christian, (but not always) men. I’m speaking generally, of course, based on dominant ideologies and teachings that children are shown in a Western society that people such as ourselves live in.

    Examples of gender conditioning: Girls are taught to kiss and hug people they are not necessarily close to, boys are not taught to show much, or any affection (some cultures don’t follow this rule so closely, like Italian and Greek people, but I’m being general here)
    Girls are taught to talk to people a lot if they ever have questions or need help, they must always ask for help because they often can’t do things physical from a young age, boys are slowly taught to keep trying until they get it themselves because they will need to later on in life when they have a wife and children etc…Be a “provider”

    Girls are taught to be consumers, buying everything and anything you can shake a stick at, because women supposedly need to maintain youthful and therefor desirable bodies for mating and dating, so they spend all their time doing unecessary tasks like pampering their looks, decorating the home in which their live and foreer buying material items of many different styles so they can feel like they are unique and good looking in their own special way. Men are taught to be clean and ruggered looking, not so much worrying about the endless lists of desirable traits in women’s routines like hair style, hair colour, hair length, nail colour, shaven legs, under arms, bikini line, toned and slim body shape, excercise, dieting, plucking eye brows, outfit to wear that make them look typically and therefor identifiably “feminine”, skin quality, softness, cleanliness, scent, youthfulness, jewellery and other adornments, blah blah blah the list could go on for hours…Anyway, point is, these things are all encompassed by a social realm in which women are put as babies onward into adult life.

    Decoration, beauty routines, buying material items, spending money, hosting parties, making friends, giggling and talking to people all the time, these are all social tasks that women are taught right from the time they play with the dolls they are supposed to care for and be motherly to, have sleep overs and giggle and talk during class, wear cute frilly dresses which they go out with mummy to buy, and they soon learn they are always on show for men to judge, so they must always be likable and desirable.

    Men on the other hand have a completely different view point, theirs is objective, while the women’s is subjective, because men watch women while women watch themselves being watched, look at any historical paintings, photographs, films, women are always the object of man’s desire so they are naturally taught to be very happy, well-mannered, bubbly socialities while men are serious, men earn money and work hard and make all the important decisions, because what they do is supposedly more important, so they tend to have less friends, because they either work so hard, for long hours of are just uninterested in being gossipy, going shopping and spending time in the passive, feminine ways that women are taught to. Men don’t play with dolls, because they aren’t expected to care for anything so maternally, they are given guns, electronic devices, manually physical contraptions, prank and joke things that are hard work to play with, or encourage a sense of control, domination and supreme intelligence, which is how men are viewed as adults.

    All in all, think back to your childhood and consider that way you were specifically conditioned, consider how the boys were different to the girls and how that is, and then after all that, know that you are making your own choices in life and choose the things you subscribe to because you have thought about them and have made an intelligent and informed decisions to be a particular way. Do it because you want to, not because you feel like if you don’t you wont be considered a woman, because you’re not doing what other women do.

    Ask your male guests the same questions, why do they attend your dinners? Why do they ones that don’t attend not attend? Find any males you can and ask them, what is a dinner party to you? what do you think of them? and why? Perhaps let them know that they don’t need to not attend just because all the other males wont attend, tell them to leave people’s judgments behind and attend because they should be genuinely interested in getting to know you and your friends and your friends partners etc because that’s what communicating and socialising is all about. If they are above all that, then never mind, they may not be worth trying to entertain anyway, but all of the mature and interesting people will slowly come out of the wood work because they will want to discuss important topics and play interesting games with you and the people you know, who obviously possess a curiosity as to why society operates the way it does, which shows a huge amount of intelligence and willingness to learn new things all the time and question social norms and practices.

    Happy dinner holding, hope I didn’t bore you, it’s quite late.

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