Earlier this year, I went to an event organized by some ladies in my community. It was called "Meet the Shadchan" and was meant to give the single girls in my community an opportunity to meet out-of-town shadchanim, as well as local shadchanim. Being naive and optimistic, I went. I dressed up, printed out my resume and picture (only for the Shadchan's eyes, of course) and headed off to meet the shadchan (read: meat market). It was kind of fun in a way-- seeing all my friends in one night. Obviously so, we were all feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. I met with two out of town shadchanim and a few locals. I left feeling excited because someone had also mentioned my name in association with a local boy. So yea, I felt great. And ten months later, they arranged a second event. In the time between the first and second event, I did not hear from a single shadchan. Not. One. Single. Shadchan. I sent emails with updated resumes and pictures. I did what I was supposed to do and I did not hear anything. Not "Oh, thanks for getting in touch" or "we are thinking of you." NOTHING. So when this second event rolled around I was completely less than enthusiastic. I have definitely changed in ten months. My perspectives on the shidduch system have become a little darker, a little less optimistic. Now, I can't complain. I am young compared to others. I am not at the point of desperation or thinking of "settling." But I am upset.
So I didn't want to go. But, after some convincing, I paid my dues, and went to the event. It was just as awful. And it was worse because this time I could see how flawed it was. Tens of girls were lined up, looking DROP DEAD GORGEOUS in Shabbos clothes, heels, makeup and jewelry to the nines. To meet the SHADCHAN! It felt like something straight out Mulan... off to meet the matchmaker, minus the synchronized song and dance. And it just felt wrong. I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to put on a good show. I was chewing gum, wearing my double-sided studs, no heels and did not take off my coat. I was told off by one of the event planners to throw out my gum. I left on my coat. I met with one out of town shadchan who hardly looked at me and one other Rav who seemed genuinely interested. But so far, no calls, no email.s
Now why do I think this event is wrong?
First of all, a five minute conversation is not enough time. These shadchanim could care less. They get paid to come so its worth their while.
Two, why are we dressing so nicely like we are prancing down a runway? We aren't marrying the Shadchan!
Three, WHERE ARE THE BOYS?! Let's get real people- if you want to make shidduchim, stop looking at the paper. Yes, checking out backgrounds and hashkafos is important, but I bet if you put the boys and girls in the same room FOR TACHLIS you would have a better chance of making a shidduch than a five minute interview and paper filed away for later reference.
Another thing-- where are the local shadchanim? I noticed there was an important (or two) local shadchan who was missing on the scene, a shadchan with a monopoly on a group of boys.
Like I said- I can't complain. I am young, I am still picky about who is redt to me, and BH I have a lot going for me so dating would be nice, but I am not forlorn or desperate. But it bothers me INTENSELY to see a room filled with beautiful girls INSIDE AND OUT, girls who I personally can attest to their maalos and kochos, having to hawk themselves to a market of buyers who just file them away.
Now you might say, putting the boys and girls in the same room would be the same thing, because everyone is just seeing the outside, how they look and what they are wearing, and I get that. I do. But this system, this meeting the shadchan, is unnatural. Strangers coming in to inspect our girls? Do they actually care? If you don't fit their "type" then forget it.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am just bitter and jaded (and I haven't been dating for so long) but it's gotten personal. It's gotten personal when my close friends are struggling because they have been written off as not good enough. When my good friends are rejected because they aren't a size 0 and well off. When incredible girls are struggling because the shadchan doesn't like how they look. And a billion other reasons.
I don't have a solution. I don't have an answer. I have my own silent pain and rage. I have my own tears and frustration over all the boys who I have loved and lost. I have anger. And so maybe that's why the shadchanim don't call.