The Sex Economy – Why Buy The Cow When The Milk is Free – Or, When Sex is Free and Easy Why Should Men Bother to Commit to Marriage
✦ This is one of those posts on my blog that contains strong, adult language. As in the “F” word is used several times, so if you are a dainty, wilting Christian flower who faints at the sight or sound of cuss words, have your smelling salts handy. I do not always issue warnings like this when strong language is in the content.
The Sex Economy – Why Buy The Cow When The Milk is Free – Or, When Sex is Free and Easy Why Should Men Bother to Commit to Marriage
It seems like once every year, or every other year or two, a right wing, conservative type of writer comes up with an editorial explaining to women about the sex economy, and why the expression “why buy the cow when the milk is free” still rings true.
Then your secular feminists get angry and write rebuttals to those editorials. I’m not quite sure why secular feminists so deeply object to the concept (though I do have a theory or two), but mainly, I find their objections vague and unmemorable, and I’ve read several of their anti-sex-economy editorials over the years. Despite having read some of their rebuttals, I’ve yet to make sense of why they object.
Here are the links:
✦ 1. The liberal / left wing/ secular feminist perspective ✦
✦ 2. The conservative position ✦
✦ 1. The liberal / left wing / secular feminist perspective ✦
It’s hard to know what sections of what to excerpt from this liberal essay from Jezebel, because its author (who is perhaps Lindy West?) largely engages in ad hominem and a lot of snark.
For example, after quoting a long portion of conservative Riley’s piece where Riley says:
The “price” [of sex] varies widely. But if women are the gatekeepers, why don’t very many women “charge more” so to speak?
Because pricing is not entirely up to women. The “market value” of sex is part of a social system of exchange, an “economy” if you will, wherein men and women learn from each other—and from others—what they ought to expect from each other sexually.
So sex is not entirely a private matter between two consenting adults. Think of it as basic supply and demand.
When supplies are high, prices drop, since people won’t pay more for something that’s easy to find. But if it’s hard to find, people will pay a premium.
The Jezebel writer’s response to that view consists only of these words:
Oh, shut the fuck up.
Seriously. That is all the writer had to say in response.
Go click the link I gave to the page and read it if yourself you don’t believe me.
Much of the rest of the page consists of that sort of rebuttal. Which might be fine on a casual blog such as mine, but Jezebel is a main stream publication which I presume has a wide readership, and if the Jezebel writer is trying to change minds, she is not going to have much success by saying, “fuck you” and not much else.
Here I am, still pretty conservative in regards to sexual ethics, or pretty sympathetic to conservative views about sex, and I’m really, honestly trying to understand her liberal, feminist objections to why she is opposed to the conservative “sex economics” genre of editorial, but how can I arrive at an understanding of her view, when it consists of nothing but a “fuck you” to her ideological opponent?
Here are more excerpts from the Jezebel page (and the only name I see associated with this page is Lindy West, so I assume she is the author, but I may be mistaken about that):
If anything, sex is less commodified now than when my great-grandparents were courting. Before divorce; before reliable, effective birth control; before women’s advancements into the higher levels of the workforce; marriage was ALL about economics.
Now that women are able to leave abusive and unhappy relationships, support themselves financially, and choose when/if to have children, we don’t need marriage anymore.
It’s no longer an economic imperative, which means that people are free to be choosy about who they marry. So you’re damn right marriage rates are dropping and people are marrying later. It’s because we’re getting better at it.
[conservative Riley wrote:]
We now have a split mating market: One corner where people are largely interested in sex, and one corner where people are largely pursuing marriage. And there are more men looking for sex than women, and more women looking to marry than men.
[Jezebel author responds:]
Okay. Wait. So women are banging dudes willy-nilly on the singles scene and it’s lowering their “market value,” but women are also “vastly” outnumbering men “in the marriage market”? Which is it? I’m confused.
My response to the Jezebel author’s supposed confusion on this point: there are some women, who are celibate and waiting until marriage to have sex, such as me.
And yes, women such as myself, find it harder to get married, as we are virgins and are (or were) waiting until marriage to have sex. We find it more difficult meeting men who respect our celibacy- until- marriage lifestyle.
Many men these days (even a lot of Christian ones) now expect or demand sex prior to marriage, because a lot of other women, women such as yourself, have been too happy to have sex before marriage, which gives the men little incentive to respect my wishes (i.e., no sex before marriage, and I’d like to marry).
A lot of people – the ones who scoff at virginity and sexual purity – have this weird-ass view that you should “test drive” your partner prior to marriage to make sure the two of you are “sexually compatible,” see this post,
(Link): Weak Argument Against Celibacy / Virginity / Sexual Purity by the Anti Sexual Purity Gestapo – Sexual Compatibility or Incompatibility – (ie, Taking Human Beings For Test Spins – Humans As Sexual Commodities) (Part 2)
And yes, views such as that make it very difficult for people who believe in staying a virgin until marriage to get many marital prospects.
Next, we have women who do have pre-marital sex but who don’t really want to: they only do so because they are terribly insecure and codependent and are afraid if they don’t “put out” for men that they cannot get a man at all.
There are many such examples of these sorts of women – unwilling fornicators but ones who want to marry and think having pre-marital sex is the only way to get or keep a man.
There are many examples of this type of woman in the secular book “He’s Just Not That Into You,” where such women wrote letters to the author, Greg Behrendt, about their romantic relationships. Some of them expressed heartache and regret over having pre marital / casual sex. And these women were not even identified as being Christians or religious.
These women, these single women, were giving sex away and could not understand why the men they were banging would not marry them, so they were writing the book’s author for insight and advice.
I’ve had female friends before who had this issue: they caved in to sex with a boyfriend, not really wanting to have sex, but fearful that their boyfriends would leave if they did not do so. Some thought if they caved in and had sex that the man would stay; they viewed sex as an incentive that would lure the man into proposing marriage.
So I find it a little intellectually dishonest for secular feminists and liberals to act ignorant about this facet of sex and relationships. Not every woman who is having sex is doing so out of the thrill of sex and because she really, really wants to. Some women feel as though they have no choice.
From the Jezebel piece, the conservative Riley:
Here’s where women are wrong about men: Men are not actually afraid of commitment at all. While women are the gatekeepers when it comes to sex, the deal is that men are in the driver’s seat in the marriage market.
- —[end excerpt]—
To which the Jezebel writer replies:
Huh? So women do want to settle down, but they also want to be nonstop society-destroying sluts? And men don’t want to settle down, but also they’re fine with it? So, if men are so starved for sex in the casual-dating pool and they’re not commitment-averse, then what’s stopping them from tapping into the ocean of ladies looking for longterm partners and settling down with a nonstop slut for a till-death-do-us-part HUMPATHON?
Honestly, guys. How can I trust you to know what’s best for my genitals when you can’t even work out the internal logic of your own 9-minute video? It’s almost as if your entire philosophy is just garbagey word-salad pseudo-science. Weird.
I don’t think the author comprehends that there are many men who may be fine with “settling down” but so long as they are getting casual sex whenever, where ever, with no strings attached, they will prefer that to staying in a committed relationship with one woman that will require work and responsibility (i.e. marriage).
I mean, this is not rocket science, but apparently the writer at Jezebel (I see do not author name attached to this piece) cannot figure this out.
This may also come into play: some men perhaps think of single women as being hot and starved for sex, but once a woman marries, they seem to feel women turn into frigid ice queens who lose all interest in sex.
See this previous post of mine:
(Link): Christian (and it’s sometimes a NON Christian) Stereotypes About Female Sexuality : All Unmarried Women Are Supposedly Hyper Sexed Harlots – But All Married Ones are Supposedly Frigid or Totally Uninterested in Sex
I do not know how true it is, but I’ve heard the old saw that most men prefer sex with 100 different women per month as opposed to banging the same women regularly for the rest of his life (ie, a wife).
If that is true at all, that may explain why a man would prefer to have lots and lots of sex unattached but balk at the idea of marriage.
The Jezebel writer continues:
So stop telling me—”family values” traditionalists, shitty rom-coms, and Zales commercials — that it is my biological imperative to trap a complete stranger into a lifelong contract based entirely on how many diamonds he’s willing to buy me with.
Stop telling me that when you’re choosing someone to sleep next to every single fucking day until you die, your personalities and goals and aspirations are irrelevant.
Stop telling me that my lived experience is “nothing” compared to some numbers cooked up by a repressed bigot with an agenda.
But what about women who are not as averse to marriage as the secular feminist writer here is?
I personally would very much like to get married, and for many years, I held a very traditional view of sex, being that sex should be reserved for marriage only.
I notice that while secular feminists at Jezebel are loathe to accept any sort of sexual standards or limitations upon sex (they embrace everything from pre-marital sex to homosexuality to transgenderism on their site), and they become outraged when anyone adheres to any sort of sexual standards, they don’t mind taking cheap shots at people who have other sexual values.
Secular feminists, like the ones at Jezebel, will claim to, or imply that they, respect all women every where, as well as respecting all sexual choices, but they none- the- less insult and take pot shots at conservative women, women who want to marry, women who want to remain virgins until marriage, and label all such women as being “repressed bigots.”
As a matter of fact, I think this next excerpt probably gets to the heart of the matter – by the Jezebel writer:
When someone who is no one to me— someone stupid and shitty like Rick Santorum or Glenn Beck or Professor Anonymous Pick-Up Artist Internet Coward, Esq.—insists on forcibly applying their self-serving moralistic garbage fantasy to my life, all I hear at this point is, “BABY-MAN BROKEN.”
Wouldn’t want to let women have agency and financial independence—then you’d have to rely on who you are as a human being to attract a partner, instead of just buying one. Wouldn’t want to relinquish any control. Wouldn’t want to risk any vulnerability.
Wouldn’t want to acknowledge that trans people exist, and gay people exist, and open relationships exist, and polyamory exists, and non-binary concepts of gender exist, and asexual people exist, and happily single people exist, because then the numbers on your cute little faux-objective thought experiment might not be so clear-cut.
I’m afraid in her world ‘happy single’ is probably understood to be “slutty woman.”
The author probably has no concept of women who are not thrilled being single constantly, but who are never- the- less celibate and/or virgins, due to their personal choice, religious beliefs, or personal convictions. But note she mentions trans people, homosexuals, and so forth.
She respects those people and their choices, but not the choices or life styles of hetero (and maybe not even homosexual) celibates, or women who would like to marry.
In other words, the writers at Jezebel (and feminists I’ve seen on other sites and in magazines) do not respect all forms of female sexuality and relationship goals, which may include a desire for marriage, celibacy, virginity, and usually asexuality is not mentioned or respected.
I also think the Jezebel author over-states her case. My goodness, the author to whom she is responding, Riley, seems first and foremost concerned about hetero women who desire marriage and are wondering where all the eligible marrying men are, and why they are not getting marriage proposals.
Riley’s page was not an attack on homosexuality, nor was it arguing that everyone and anyone should get married, including people who are asexual or who prefer to stay single.
I agree – and speak out often on this blog – of the annoying, right wing and Christian tendency to make marriage an idol, but I did not get that feel from Riley’s page. Riley was not enshrining marriage, or insisting everyone should marry or were failures if they stayed single, but she was only discussing women who want to get married and the obstacles they may encounter.
The Jezebel writer continues:
- And I literally do not give one shit if you disagree, because this is not a debate. My human agency is not one side of a thought experiment—it is an objective fact.
Right back at you.
By the way, when that Jezebel author says,
- When someone who is no one to me — someone stupid and shitty like Rick Santorum or Glenn Beck or Professor Anonymous Pick-Up Artist Internet Coward, Esq.—insists on forcibly applying their self-serving moralistic garbage fantasy to my life, all I hear at this point is, “BABY-MAN BROKEN.”
Does she not see the hypocrisy there?
She too is guilty of “forcibly applying their self-serving moralistic garbage fantasy to my life,” only she is insisting her side of the matter is the correct one.
Which is fine, in so far as we are all entitled to our opinions, but don’t be so coy or duplicitous as to pretend you are not biased and that you’re not trying to lecture to other women how they should live their lives and handle their sexuality, because you spent that entire blog page doing that very thing.
Where was your support in your editorial for hetero women who desire marriage, or women who have decided to remain virgins until they marry?
In spite of the fact I have been pretty rough on that particular Jezebel page, I do want to remind any readers of this blog that I sometimes agree with some of the material or opinions on Jezebel.
✦ 2. The conservative perspective ✦
- By N. Riley
- With the romantic haze of Valentine’s Day behind us, can we return to the reality of relations between the sexes?
Start with a new film short, “The Economics of Sex,” from the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. The think tank’s “whiteboard video” — the kind where someone is drawing really fast — should be mandatory viewing for every woman between the ages of, say, 16 and 40.
The economics of sex isn’t a new topic and has nothing to do with anything illegal. It’s the study of where the supply and demand curves for sex meet.
The nice thing about viewing sex in economic terms is that we don’t have to satisfy the goddesses of political correctness. Here’s how the video lays things out:
“On average, men have a higher sex drive than women. Blame it on testosterone, call it whatever you want — but on average, men initiate sex more than women, they’re more sexually permissive than women, and they connect sex to romance less often than women.
“Nobody’s saying this is the way it ought to be. It’s just the way it is.”
“Women, on the other hand, are likely to have sex for reasons beyond just simple pleasure. Her motivations for sex often include expressing and receiving love, strengthening commitment, affirming desirability, and relationship security.”
How refreshingly honest — in a way that parents of adolescent girls should appreciate. These moms and dads don’t have an easy task: Though they know (and the research confirms) that their daughters will be happier if they delay sex until at least 17 or 18 and limit the number of partners they have, these girls are surrounded by cultures that offer a different message.
Pop culture says everyone around you is enjoying casual sex; elite culture insists that women and men are exactly the same in this regard.
Most parents, even moderately religious ones, don’t feel comfortable telling their daughters not to have premarital sex because of divine retribution anymore.
…. What many parents never get to, but should, is the next part of the video, which asks: “So in an exchange relationship where men want sex more often than women do, who decides when it will happen?” The answer: “She does, of course. Sex is her resource. Sex in consensual relationships will happen when women want it to.”
It is safe to say that few teen girls, let alone 25-year-old women, understand the truth of that statement, or its significant implications. They feel pressure coming at them from all sides to have sex early and often — even though, ultimately, they hold all the cards.
Or at least they could. And this is where the economics matters. Because many more women than men are in the market for a serious relationship, the video explains, “men can be picky and can insist on extensive sexual experience before committing.” Women’s competition for those men has increased, and so the “price” of sex — what the man has to “deliver,” emotionally and commitment-wise — has gone down.
If girls did actually come to realize that they’re “in the driver’s seat” when it comes to sex (and if sisterhood really were powerful), they could change the market entirely, having sex only when they were ready and only when they saw a serious commitment on the part of their partner.
As the voiceover in the video explains, “Collusion — women working together — would be the most rational way to elevate the ‘market value’ of sex.”
- By Mayrav Saar
- September 25, 2011
In today’s lousy economy, men can take comfort in knowing that there is one sought-after good that is becoming steadily more affordable: sex.
Women are jumping into the sack faster and with fewer expectations about long-term commitments than ever, effectively discounting the “price” of sex to a record low, according to social psychologists.
More than 25% of young women report giving it up within the first week of dating.
While researchers don’t have a baseline to compare it to, interviews they have conducted lead them to believe this is higher than before, which increases the pressure on other women and changes the expectations of men.
“The price of sex is about how much one party has to do in order to entice the other into being sexual,” said Kathleen Vohs, of the University of Minnesota, who has authored several papers on “sexual economics.” “It might mean buying her a drink or an engagement ring. These behaviors vary in how costly they are to the man, and that is how we quantify the price of sex.”
By boiling dating down to an economic model, researchers have found that men are literally getting lots of bang for their buck. Women, meanwhile, are getting very little tat for their . . . well, you get the idea.
Sex is so cheap that researchers found a full 30% of young men’s sexual relationships involve no romance at all — no wooing, dating, goofy text messaging. Nothing. Just sex.
Men want sex more than women do. It’s a fact that sounds sexist and outdated. But it is a fact all the same — one that women used for centuries to keep the price of sex high (if you liked it back in the day, you really had to put a ring on it). With gender equality, the Pill and the advent of Internet porn, women’s control of the meet market has been butchered.
As a result, says Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, men are “quicker to have sex in our relationships these days, slower to commitment and just plain pickier.”
The issue is partly one of supply and demand, and it begins at US colleges, where 57% of students are women. With such an imbalanced sex ratio, women are using hookups to compete with other women for men’s affections. Once they get out of school, the pool of successful, educated men also is imbalanced, and the bed-hopping continues.
… It’s little wonder that the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who are married has shrunk by an average of 1% each year this past decade — down to 46% now. Single women have been catching on, but those who don’t discount sex say they can’t seem to get anyone to “pay” their higher price.
As with many other markets, outsourcing and technology have affected the price of sex as well.
“If men don’t want to take the time to woo a real woman, they can watch sex acts in high definition with images of women who never say no,” Regnerus says. “If you have a suboptimal date with someone you met online, you’re apt now to log on and see who else is available rather than to have another try at it.”
The poor economy is adding to men’s reluctance to commit. Men worry about not being able to provide for a family and about the economic pitfalls of divorce.
So, what can women do to return the balance of sexual power in their favor? Stop putting out, experts say. If women collectively decided to cross their legs, the price of sex would soar and women would regain control of the market. Like a whoopie cartel.
And related (off site):
- FEBRUARY 14, 2008
LIEBAU: America’s popular culture has been letting girls down by teaching them, over and over, that the most important attribute they can have is “sexiness” — that it’s more noteworthy than character, intelligence, or talent. “Sexy” has become the ultimate accolade, which is why everything from hair mousse to shades of lipstick to chefs to cameras are touted as being sexy. When sexiness is the standard for what’s deemed to be interesting and important, then of course you’re going to see more girls doing everything from wearing revealing clothes to engaging in over-the-top sexual behaviors.
All of this has a spillover effect on boys, of course. When girls are encouraged to be coarse, there’s a coarsening effect on boys, too, because boys live up (or down) to the standards girls set for them. Certainly, when girls behave in vulgar or crass ways, it erodes boys’ innate desire to cherish, respect and protect them — which has always been one of the marks of a civilized society. What’s more, bad behavior by girls enables and normalizes bad behavior on the boys’ parts, so there ends up being more of it all around.
LOPEZ: What is do-me feminism? And doom-me? Have feminists doomed American women?
LIEBAU: American women aren’t victims — and feminists don’t have the power to “doom” them without their own complicity. Nonetheless, pernicious attitudes with their genesis in radical feminism have infiltrated popular culture to a startling degree. Chief among them is the concept of “do-me feminism,” which is the idea that somehow it’s “empowering” for girls to act like the worst kinds of men when it comes to sex. In this formulation, sexual activity devoid of emotion or commitment is the goal — and the hallmark of true female liberation.
The problem is that “do-me feminism” sets girls up for failure when it comes to their dealings with the opposite sex. As long as girls are innately more invested in relationships and emotions than boys are (as studies — and common sense — indicate), they will be at a grave disadvantage in a sexual landscape where optional, emotion-free, commitment-less sex is deemed the ultimate in “coolness” and liberation.
Ironically, do-me feminism has made it more difficult for girls to obtain the attention, affection, and connection they want from boys, even as its influence has made it harder for them to refuse what many boys want — sexual activity.
By convincing girls that it somehow makes sense for them to offer their bodies quickly and easily, do-me feminism has essentially persuaded them to surrender their most effective means for securing the kind of male attention that they most desire.
As I argue in Prude, the whole concept of “do-me feminism” has done women a terrible disservice.
Although they are — and certainly should be — considered equal before the law and in the eyes of the culture, men and women simply aren’t the same. Girls are being led to believe they’re in control when it comes to sexual relationships.
In truth, however, they’re living in a profoundly anti-feminist landscape where girls compete for attention on the basis of how much they are sexually willing to do for the boys.
LOPEZ: You write about Best Friends, PALS, and other programs — how prevalent are these abstinence-based programs and what is their secret?
LIEBAU: Best Friends, PALS, and some of the other programs I discuss in my book aren’t as prevalent as they need to be.
A lot of the time, “abstinence” programs take a purely negative physical and/or economic approach to persuading young people to wait — in other words, “don’t have sex or you could become pregnant or contract an STD, be unable to go to college,” etc.
The most effective programs are those, like Best Friends and PALS, that offer young people something both deeper and more transcendent — programs that teach sexual integrity as just one more component of good character overall.
(Link): Marcotte on Anyone Choosing To Be a Virgin Until Marriage: “It’s a Silly Idea” – What Progressive Christians, Conservative Christians, Non Christians, and Salon’s Amanda Marcotte Gets Wrong About Christian Views on Virginity
(Link): Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site