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February 26, 2011

The Sexual Marketplace and How The Firesale-Prices Cost of Sex Hurts Women

Very interesting (and conservative-in-implication) article at the amateur webzine Slate about the plummeting social costs of sex, which then engenders (ahem) a loss of sexual power in women. Worth a read in full, but here's the gist:

The idea that sex ratios alter sexual behavior is well-established. Analysis of demographic data from 117 countries has shown that when men outnumber women, women have the upper hand: Marriage rates rise and fewer children are born outside marriage. An oversupply of women, however, tends to lead to a more sexually permissive culture. The same holds true on college campuses. In the course of researching our book Premarital Sex in America, my co-author and I assessed the effects of campus sex ratios on women's sexual attitudes and behavior. We found that virginity is more common on those campuses where women comprise a smaller share of the student body, suggesting that they have the upper hand. By contrast, on campuses where women outnumber men, they are more negative about campus men, hold more negative views of their relationships, go on fewer dates, are less likely to have a boyfriend, and receive less commitment in exchange for sex.

A related thought I've had concerns feminists' religious doctrine that social restraints on sexual behavior is all caused by grubby, oppressive, vagina-shackling men. This doesn't make sense at all, and never has made sense, and is an unchallenged meme in the Grrls Rule, Boys Drool leftist feminist culture not because it makes a lick of sense but only because it hangs all the evils of the world on the Designated Sexual Villains in the feminist morality play. Men, of course.

If one accepts the hard-to-dispute premise that, between the sexes, women prefer a higher-sexual-cost regime in which men are supposed to "work for it," as it were, and men prefer a lower-sexual-cost regime in which their sexual needs can be gratified with almost no work whatsoever (compare and contrast female wish-fulfillment romcoms with male wish-fulfillment pornos, or even James Bond movies, actually), then of course it makes sense that women, rather than men, have a sound motive for increasing the sexual penalties for promiscuous sex whereas men have stronger motive for decreasing them.

Any feminist (from the leftist POV, I mean) examination of prostitution -- oh, I'm sorry, "sex worker labor-trade" or whatever we're supposed to call it -- begins (and usually ends, frankly) with the unexamined and unchallenged premise that it is men who wish to criminalize prostitution, dirty men who make prostitutes social pariahs, filthy men who make the term "whore" a hateful one used to keep sex-working labor-traders in their despised place at the bottom of the social heirarchy.

But men, of course, are the primary consumers of sex-work labor-trade. Whether straight or gay, the overwhelming rule is then men pay sex-workers for genital-labor. There is a niche market of prostitution for women, but it is such a tiny market it seizes the public imagination precisely because it is so rare.

The prominent male equivalent of a sex-working genital-trader for women is not in fact a paid prostitute -- that exists, but in vanishingly small numbers -- but a gigolo, who is primarily a consort, a romantic-type companion who doesn't get paid cash-on-the-barrelhead for sexual favors but rather receives gifts and upkeep for maintaining the illusion he's romantically interested in his sugar-momma. Only secondarily, if at all, is a gigolo a stud for hire.

Given this situation, which of the two sexes has a stronger interest in criminalizing prostitution? Which of the two sexes uses the services of prostitution -- is "helped" by the service, in their own minds -- and which of the two sexes is harmed by prostitution?

It seems to me that, rather obviously, it is women who have the strongest motivation to criminalize prostitution, to drive it away and underground, and to make the trade as socially-penalized as possible. It is women who are harmed by their men inflicting emotional distress on them by employing the services of a genital-trader, it is women who suffer second-hand venereal disease, it is women who see a share of the couple's collected wealth being diverted away, outside the couple, to pay for the upkeep of a prostitute.

That's not nothing, is it?

It is worth noting, I think, that the criminalization of prostitution occurred with the rise of women's rights and women's sufferage. Prostitution was famously legal in Victorian England, for example. (A libertarian English writer at NRO liked to quip that he was all in favor of re-imposing Victorian morality on society, given that prostitution, drugs, and guns were not only legal but barely restricted at all.)

This is not to make women the Bad Guys in new morality play -- women have perfectly reasonable and perfectly valid reasons for wishing to make prostitution (and, more importantly, soliciting the services of a prostitute) as rare and as socially unacceptable as possible.

But it is to suggest that left-leaning feminists are rather, what's the word?, silly in their determination to pin this alleged wrong on men.

Leftist feminists of the younger, sillier generation similarly attempt to claim that it is evil, controlling men who use the word whore to not merely brand actual prostitutes but to control the sexual expressions of everyday women. That is, they assert (and these extremely silly third-generation feminists seem to write about little else but this) feel that social disapproval of female promiscuity is almost entirely a male invention, because men, you see, want to keep women from having sex with other men, so we invent the usage of the word "whore" to describe a sexually-liberated woman and by infecting the culture with this disease of whore-branding, make sexually-promiscuous women feel badly about their sexual choices and force them to conform to a male, Christian-fundamentalist (of course) regime of female chastity.

To the extent that women participate in this oppressive regime of whore-deeming, it's only because a false conscience has been imposed upon them by male-dominated media. Women call other women "whores" not because women wish to wound other women (their sexual competition) but because men have hypnotized them to think this way.

To control their scary vaginas.

Once again, I ask: Does this postulate make a lick of sense? Again I ask: Between the two sexes, which of them sexually profits from a regime of low-cost, easily-obtained sex, and which of them is harmed by this regime?

Which of the two sexes would prefer (as a rule) a slower-evolving sexual relationship in the context of courtship, and therefore would have a good reason to brand their sexual competition "whores" for essentially breaking the rules and cheating and therefore attracting and keeping men (for a time, at least) by behaving promiscuously?

Women, I submit, are hurt by what can be thought of a Sexual Arms Race in which other women are willing to overlook the normal rules of courtship in order to rush to gratify a man's sexual urges. This leads to increased pressure on other women to behave, sexually, in a way they would prefer not to. And this, I submit, once again suggests that it is women, not men, have a stronger interest in propagating a social norm of sexual chastity and enforcing it by the tools of social disapproval -- calling women who seem to be gaming the system to their advantage "whores."

Again, there is nothing I think is wrong with this, and I don't think women are bad at all for this -- every social group evolves norms and methods of enforcement. Every guild attempts to hedge out the competition and promote guild-members.

But I do find it extraordinary silly that lefty feminists continue to insist that it is men, of all people, who workin' as hard as they can to keep women chaste. To keep women from having sex with them, in other words. To make women feel bad about the occasional one night stand so that men can't have the occasional one night stand.

Does this sound like men to you? Or does it sound like a fantasy farce of cartoon men, wearing the Black Hats of Insanely-Counterproductive Sexual Prohibition, concocted by a blame-shifting villain-needing sexual cult?

As has been noted many, many times (not that lefty feminists ever notice), we did in fact have a Sexual Revolution, and men won. And the strangest thing about this is that lefty feminists, while claiming (and falsely believing) themselves to be liberating women, have in fact been eagerly liberating men, liberating men from the need of offering any kind of satisfactory trade-in-kind to women for sexual favors.

In their strange inversion of reality, it's men who have the means, motive, and opportunity to increase the costs of obtaining sex and it's women, on the other hand, who have the strong interest in a promiscuity and commitment-free (or even dinner-date free) sex.

And men, who, in this role-reversed alternate reality feminists have concocted, desperately want women to keep their vaginas chaste, can only be "beaten" by giving it all away for free.

And of course keeping abortion not only legal but socially praiseworthy because, again in this comic-book "What If?" issue of reality feminists have concocted, men only want to have sex to produce children and women, of course, are far less game for procreation, viewing sex as primarily a vehicle for erotic gratification. But that's a dementia for another day.


Somewhat Related Note: I never really watched Melrose Place, but I was forced to witness it by proxy (it was a craze when I was younger, all but inescapable if you were dating a woman or, for that matter, a gay guy dating another gay guy).

But I was always struck by soap opera's go-to "What If?" comic-book premise. The clear pattern on Melrose Place was that most of the women, particularly the pro-active, heroic, popular characters, were all sexually liberated and very nearly sexually predatory, whereas men all pined for commitment and courtship and white picket fences and moped about when they couldn't have that.

This is wish-fulfillment; and there's nothing wrong with that. Popular entertainment is built of wish-fulfillment. And when each gender dreams of sex, it dreams that the other gender would behave as they would or they wish. Thus, in female wish-fulfillment, all the men are devoted and can only think of family and courtship and commitment, while in male wish-fulfillment (James Bond, any action movie, any porno) women are just as willing as the guys to have a bit of boning amidst the explosions.

Silly third-generation feminists watched Melrose Place and didn't realize it was fantasy inverted-world wish-fulfillment, but in fact was describing actual reality, or at least the way the world could be and should be, if dirty men weren't screwing everything up by insisting that Heather Loclear settle down and marry someone.


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posted by Ace at 02:04 PM

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