Warning: heavy on ranting, heavy on sarcasm, heavy on ‘Jess is temporarily stunned into silence’ moments.
[Bolded sections are direct quotes.]
You know what’s really depressing?
Everywhere you look, relationships are portrayed as a sort of contract. A tit-for-tat. An exchange.
Example 2: http://www.csom.umn.edu/assets/71503.pdf
Let’s have a look at example 1, shall we? Thanks to Cliff Pervocracy, whose blog I initially stumbled across this via.
“If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.”
Because ALL WOMEN want marriage and True Wuv Forever and Ever, don’tcha know!?
“And it’s all thanks to supply and demand.”
…..Ughhhhhhh. Why do I feel like this is only going to get worse?
“As Baumeister and Vohs note, sex in consensual relationships therefore commences only when women decide it does.”
Well, yes, but more accurately, consensual sex commences only when both (all) parties decide it does. That’s kinda the definition of consensual. Jeez, it takes two people with PhDs to figure this out??
“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.”
Virginity is the Upper Hand? Wow. I didn’t realise I had full control over men thanks to my virginity when I was fifteen, and am at some kind of major disadvantage now that I’m having sex. Thanks for clearing that up. Is it something to do with the fact that I can’t lure a man into marrying me by promising him the Sacred Gift of My Virginity?
“Yes, sex is clearly cheap for men. Women’s “erotic capital,” as Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics has dubbed it, can still be traded for attention, a job, perhaps a boyfriend, and certainly all the sex she wants, but it can’t assure her love and lifelong commitment. Not in this market.”
“Erotic capital?” Seriously?
People, my vagina is not a commodity!
“As the authors of last year’s book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality put it, “Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy.” They’re right. But then try getting men to do anything.”
Here’s the thing: pretty much all the men I know, whether partners or friends or acquaintances, are in fact fully functional human beings, totally capable of accomplishing all sorts of things in life that have nothing to do with getting laid. Perhaps I’m reading this wrong, but it seems to be implying that men won’t do something if they can get access to sex without doing said thing. And that’s…. such a flawed idea I don’t even know where to begin!
I’d say this was sexist, but to be honest it’s pretty anti-women AND anti-men. These people seem to live in a world in which women are for sale (for the right price of love, commitment and a shiny diamond ring, of course) and men are the buyers. Ewwww.
This whole article is about how women trade sex for commitment, and men are now winning because women aren’t demanding marriage before taking their pants off.
So let’s go onto the second piece; the study by Baumeister and Vohs which apparently informed the train-wreck of a piece I’ve just unpicked.
“A heterosexual community can be analysed as a marketplace in which men seek to acquire sex from women by offering other resources in exchange.”
Opening. Sentence. With a setup like that, I really have very little hope for this ‘study.’ It also makes me kind of sad wondering what the hell kind of relationships these people have had in their lives.
“[As a result] sexual intercourse by itself is not an equal exchange, but rather an instance of the man getting something of value from the woman. To make the exchange equal, the man must give her something else in return, and his own sexual participation does not have enough value to constitute this.”
The hell it doesn’t! If I have sex with someone, it’s because I want to have sex with them, not because I hope to get “something of value” out of it. Sex itself, sexual pleasure, spending time connecting intimately with my partner is a thing of value… of much greater value than the people writing this crap would seem to understand.
“When sex happens, it will often be in the context in which the man gives the women material gifts, consideration and respect, commitment to a relationship as desired by her, or other goods.”
Sex in exchange for “material goods?” That’s not a romantic relationship, that’s basically prostitution. And I’ve been involved with far too many men who give me consideration and respect only when they think it’s going to get me into bed with them, then drop the act like a tonne of bricks when it doesn’t work quickly enough. I have no interest in being involved in that kind of transaction. How many women really want to be with a guy who will be nice to you, as long as it gets him laid?
There’s also a particularly sickening “table” in which a bunch of factors are analysed in terms of whether they raise or lower the “price of sex.” The woman being young, attractive, having (or having a reputation for having) no or few past sexual partners all raise the price. The woman being unattractive (by who’s standards? I want to ask,) having “alternate access to resources” or a high sex drive of her own all lower the price. It also mentions “female collusion to restrict men’s sexual access to women.” Yes, all us women are in this together – there’s actually a mass female conspiracy to stop men getting laid! Whoops, you caught us!
They go on to offer support for a theory that marriages would last longer if custody of children upon divorce was automatically granted to the father, because… wait for it… it would reduce his chances with new sexual partners! Yes. Use children to make men stay in marriages, because they think they won’t get sex if they leave. That’s going to lead to millions of happy marriages and well-cared-for children.
“In modern marriages, for example, resources are typically jointly owned by both halves of the couple, and so the woman already technically has claim to all of her husband’s resources. This limits what more he can offer her, thereby removing the basis for exchange or negotiation. Possibly her role is simply to give him enough sex to sustain the marriage.”
Does this really happen? Are marriages which are this cold and joyless really so common? Is it actually normal for women to get married so she can “claim her husband’s resources,” and to then be expected to put out regularly enough to keep him interested? Am I living on another planet in assuming that most marriages are in fact, at least in the beginning, based on mutual love and respect and commitment to building a life together?
“To commence a sexual relationship with a particular woman, a man may have to offer her a fancy dinner, or a long series of compliments, or a month of respectful attention, or a lifetime promise to share all his wealth and earnings with her exclusively.”
I can’t even… I’m struggling to deconstruct this intelligently, when I’m just facepalming repeatedly.
“If all the women [in a community] demand an engagement ring before giving sex, the man is more likely to agree.”
That’s the secret, ladies! If we all conspire together to not have sex until we get a big shiny diamond and a lifetime commitment… men will give us a big shiny diamond and a lifetime commitment! You don’t want those things? You actually just want to have sex with a guy ’cause you kinda like him or you’re just horny? Sssshhh, you can’t do that, you’ll lower the market value for all us good girls who wait until we’re paid what we’re worth. And we know marriage is your ultimate goal, whatever you say, because all women think exactly alike.
“When the supply of eligible women (ie young, unattached female adults) is much larger than the pool of eligible young men, supply can be said to exceed demand.”
Clearly these people have never heard of polyamory. Or of anyone over 35 having sex. Or of the fact that the population is (more or less) an even split of men and women.
(On why women should oppose pornography and masturbation) “If pornography satisfies some of the male demand for sex, then it may reduce the total demand for her own sexual favours, and as a result the prices she can obtain will be lower.”
I…. fuck. I was fifteen the last time I seriously thought that my partner enjoying porn was a threat to me. Also, this would suggest women never masturbate. Of course we don’t, because we don’t actually have sex drives, right?
“A rational economic strategy that many monopolies and cartels have pursued is to try to increase the price of their assets by artificially reducing the supply. With sex, this would entail having women put pressure on each other to exercise sexual restraint and hold out for a high price (such as a commitment to marriage) before engaging in sex.”
Haven’t we, y’know, moved on a little from the days when waiting for marriage was more or less the norm, and shaming a woman who ‘put out’ too early was not only okay but expected? It then goes on to talk about the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Companies. Yeah, anything that talks about petroleum exporting and sex in the same paragraph is something I’m absolutely likely to take advice from. God, this is almost so bad it’s hilarious at this point! Almost. Mostly it’s just frightening and kind of sad.
“The more men desire a particular woman, the higher a price she can command.”
Look, I’m going to be blunt here for a moment. I’m young and not-horrible-looking. I’m not exactly short of offers from men. You know what this doesn’t make me think? It has never once made me think “oooh, I can command such a high price for my sex now! Awesome!” I turn most of them down, not because I’m conscious of keeping my market-value high, but because I only want sex with people I have a certain level of connection and intimacy with.
“To some extent, this reflects the irrevocable fact of physical beauty.”
Physical beauty is not an “irrevocable fact.” Of course physical attraction plays a role in who an individual wants to have sex with, but our widely understood notions of beauty are culturally constructed and significantly narrower than the actual range of human experience and attraction and that ineffable thing called “chemistry.” Otherwise only thin blonde 18-year-olds with huge breasts would ever find partners.
“Flirting, wearing sexy clothes and generally creating the impression that sex with her would be especially pleasant and satisfying, would be sensible economic strategies for a woman to pursue.”
This actually caused me to make a horrified noise out loud.
“In fact, having sex with different partners would be a problematic strategy for a woman. As social exchange theorists emphasize, the value of any commodity rises and falls with scarcity.”
Please explain to me how having sex with more than one person means that sex is now a scarcity? This only makes sense if you buy into the idea that a woman is “ruined” after a certain number of sexual partners. In which case, fuck you and we have nothing more to talk about.
“The amount a man would be willing to give to have sex with a woman would therefore differ according to her (perceived) sexual history.”
The kind of man who’d treat me differently according to my sexual history, whether I’d had one lover or a hundred, is exactly the kind of man I have no desire to associate with. It goes on to talk about how women should safeguard their “reputation,” and if they must engage in sex should keep it “secret and deniable” in order to hold on to the idea that her sexual favours carry high value. Especially because she may need the option to use sex as a bargaining tool to gain resources to which she otherwise has no access.
Forgive me, but it’s twenty-fucking-twelve. (Okay, this article was actually written in 2004, but whatever.) What is there, today, that a woman cannot get access to without the help of a man? Without saying it, this comes dangerously close to advocating “sleep your way to the top” as a sensible strategy for women.
Apparently women have a “mild sex drive.” I, um, feel that my partners may disagree with you on that.
There’s SO much more. I’m less than halfway through this train-wreck calling itself an academic article, but I have to stop now or my head is going to explode. Also, this is getting really, really long!
These were just two examples, but these notions are everywhere. What about all the advice given to women in magazines and the like, suggesting that we shouldn’t have sex on the first (or second or third) date, because we need to make the man commit to us first?
Reading all this and thinking about it, and how far away from my reality it is, this is the question I keep coming back to: where the hell does my relationship fit into this crazy system of manipulation games, supply-and-demand, virginity-for-commitment, tit-for-tat?
Take last weekend. We’d been to see a show, then returned and spent some time as a trio with Nomad’s other partner, so it was pretty late by the time my Beloved and I fell into bed together. Still, we stayed awake, and we snuggled and talked about all kinds of things, some silly, some serious. He made me giggle helplessly. I gave him a massage. We connected deeply. When we had sex, it wasn’t a “oh, he’s spent time cuddling and talking with me, now I owe him something in return.” It was more of a “this is where the mood’s taken us, here’s one more way to share this lovely connection.”
If sex is something I’m supposed to just tolerate in return for romance, then fuck, I guess all those times I’ve said ‘hey, I’m horny, want to play?’ were just out of a sense of womanly duty or something. (That, or trying desperately to lure him into a marriage I don’t even know I want…)
If romance is something he’s supposed to just tolerate in return for sex, then…. I guess those times he stayed up all night talking with me or surprised me with something nice or laid on a beach with me at sunset were all just sneaky tactics to make me owe him my body.
Yeah. I think not.
If, as a woman, I’m supposed to be the gatekeeper of sex…. when do I get to enjoy sex? If, as a man, he’s supposed to give just enough affection and commitment in return for my body… when does he get to enjoy the connection and commitment we’re building together?
Also, where do gay people feature in all of this!? By this logic, lesbians would never have sex, and gay men would never have loving relationships.
Where does love and silliness and the pleasure of just being together and the thousands of tiny, happy, beautiful moments, the shared jokes and experiences that make up a relationship, come into this joyless exchange?
I’m just saying, for all this “man buys dinner/gives flowers/provides cuddles/presents engagement ring, woman consents to tolerate sex until he gets off” …there’s a better way.
And I’m living it.
And it rocks.