What Happens When a Town Has Lots of Single Men and Not Many Women? Bad Things.


Shale oil formations in the pastures of North Dakota have been reining in men across the country with labor-intensive work and high paying salaries (some men make up to six figures), but the promise of work has had an interesting and unique side effect on the small, remote oil towns. Basically, there are too many men, not many women, and it’s turning the guys into female-starved Neanderthals. According to the census, North Dakota is the state with the third highest ratio of single men to single women, with almost 60% of its unmarried 18-to-34-year-olds made up by men. The percentage is even higher in the counties profiting the most from the oil boom and that’s still only including the permanent residents (many oil workers work seasonally and do not claim residency).

Many of the men living and working in oil towns such as Williston and Watford City describe the environment as similar to being in the military or prison — fitting as several of them have begun acting like criminals, causing local women to constantly feel on guard.

From the New York Times:

Many said they felt unsafe. Several said they could not even shop at the local Walmart without men following them through the store. Girls’ night out usually becomes an exercise in fending off obnoxious, overzealous suitors who often flaunt their newfound wealth.
“So many people look at you like you’re a piece of meat,” said Megan Dye, 28, a nearly lifelong Williston resident. “It’s disgusting. It’s gross.”

It gets worse, with female residents having legitimate cause to fear for their life.

Jessica Brightbill, a single 24-year-old who moved here from Grand Rapids, Mich., a year and a half ago, said she was walking to work at 3:30 in the afternoon when a car with two men suddenly pulled up behind her. One hopped out and grabbed her by her arms and began dragging her. She let her body go limp so she would be harder to drag. Eventually, a man in a truck pulled up and began yelling at the men and she got away, she said. The episode left her rattled.

Yes, needless to say a near abduction by a group of strange men would leave a woman “rattled.”

Local law enforcement blame the influx of outsiders, saying that since the oil boom, there has been an increase in violent crimes against women. Says the deputy state’s attorney in McKenzie County Ariston E. Johnson, “There are people arriving in North Dakota every day from other places around the country who do not respect the people or laws of North Dakota.”

The workers, however, seem less concerned with the violence against female residents and more about their inability to get laid. Men joke about a “Williston 10” — a woman who would be deemed unattractive anywhere else in the country, but becomes a viable option out of desperation — and there’s often talk about bringing in women from the outside.

“It’s bad, dude,” said Jon Kenworthy, 22, who moved to Williston from Indiana in early December. “I was talking to my buddy here. I told him I was going to import from Indiana because there’s nothing here.”

Sorry, dude, but contrary to the way you all are acting, you’re not living in 1870s Deadwood (which, yes, I know is in South and not North Dakota).

Except they sort of are. Alongside the prospering oil business, the small town North Dakota sex industry has also experienced its own boom, with dancers and escorts filtering in from across the country to profit off the needs of the desperate male residents. Unfortunately, while these women might be making money, it’s still not safe for them to live there.

“Will I stay for very long?” says one female resident of Williston, “Probably not. To me, there’s no money in the world worth not even being able to take a walk.”

An Oil Town Where Men Are Many, and Women Are Hounded [NYT]

Image via Thaiview/Shutterstock.

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