WSJ to Women: Only Have Sex With Winners

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An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?”, manages to reassert every outdated and dangerous notion of sex that died with the petticoat and the advent of coed colleges.

On its surface, the article addresses the ambivalence of the “liberated generation” towards the sexual attitudes of its children. But this ambivalence is nothing new, and every older generation feels it toward the younger ones about everything, not just sex. What is really on display in this article is a writer anxiety over sex, projected onto all women of her generation.

The source of her conflict, and what I find the most disappointing, is the complete resurgence of a view of sex that perceives it as a transaction or an exchange of value. An asset transfer. She writes, “scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.” Give away their bodies? With the exception of pregnancy and STD’s, sex does not actually physically alter the people who engage in it. Nothing is shifted or moved, given or received, that persists afterwards. The idea that one person gave something away–their body, their virginity, whatever–is entirely psychological. Imaginary. These are attitudes and structures imposed entirely from within onto oneself, and it is the root of the author’s anxiety over sex. She has confused her perception of sex with the actual thing in reality.

The source of the attitude that sex is an exchange like any other come primarily from eligion and familly, but also from media and our larger social groups. Our culture is awash in it. Women are objectified not only as sexual objects, which is undeniable, but as partial objects in their relationships with others. Think of all the colloquial expressions you know for sex and how they apply to women: give it up, put out, give away. “A piece of ass.” Object, object, object. Object. And the author perpetuates it.

But it’s also buried subtly within the language. She writes What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?

Everyone wants to be attractive. Attractiveness is the quality that draws people to you. Polar bears and peacocks want to be attractive. Attractiveness is a reflection of a natural drive. But “sought-after?” That’s a societal construction. That’s a transactional view of sex. Sex as scarce resource. To be sought-after is to be passive while the active role is taken on by the person doing the seeking (i.e. the guy). This is the view of sex held by many women and men that sees woman as object (and a partial object at that) and man as the subject. To be sought-after is to be the object pursued by other subjects.

Make no mistake–it is this view of sex–in which women are the partial object (the asset) that the subject (men) must pursue, earn, deserve, and ultimately get, that is at the root of “rape culture” that leads to date-rape. The partial object is not merely a part-object, but also the object that creates the desire for itself in the subject. “She wanted it because she dressed like that” means “she is responsible for creating in me the desire for her as sex-object.” It is even more pervasive than that extreme situation. For example, when men believe that a woman they date should put out because they bought her an expensive dinner, they hold in their heads the same idea of sex as transaction that leads mothers to caution their daughters “he won’t buy the cow if you give the milk away for free.”

The author follows this line of thinking when she wants kids “not to give away their bodies so readily.” Furthermore, what does she mean by “readily”? To answer this, you have to turn to her original formulation: “to give away their bodies.” The implicit message here is “to give away their bodies for free.” The opposite of giving it away for free is not keeping it, but rather giving it away for something. Hence “readily.” Because latent within her mind is a belief that there are times when your body is worth giving away. And in her mind, those are times when you get something valuable or worthwhile in return. But if, as she says, both “sons and daughters” are giving away their bodies, she isn’t talking about getting another person’s body in return.

For the author of this article, “not to give away their bodies so readily” means “give away your body in exchange for something valuable.” To someone who deserves it, who has earned it, who has said and done all the right things, met all the formal expectations and requirements of your parents, culture and religion, and has now earned his prize. This is the view of a woman who sees her body as a prize, an asset, that is to be won.

Because that is the primary subtext of this article. Sex as wealth. (This is the Wall Street Journal, after all.) The article is laced with references to wealth: “a cushy East Coast suburb”, AmEx cards, “an all-girls private school in New York”, parties at clubs, and “the mommy-daughter manicure.” The article is dripping with references to money, wealth, and the status it brings. Because in fact that’s what this this article is all about–wealth.

This view of sex as a transaction where the woman’s body is an asset that should only be “given away” for something of value not “readily” obtained is latent, not expressed explicitly or overtly. That’s how she can write without any irony “many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this–like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves.” This conflict between the worldview she holds to be true unconsciously and what she sees are the heart of her neurosis. She writes, “It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret.” But really the conflict is hers. She was never as liberated as she claims. To be liberated is to be free of rules. Or to alter the rules. What she says about her own past suggests she merely broke the rules. She still held those rules in her mind, and she chose to violate them, but she never cast them off, never erased them.

She holds a subconscious view that sex is something valuable, but when she perceived women to display that attitude openly (through dress and makeup that are coded in her mind alone as “dirty” or fast) she declares them prostitutes. Judgment steps in not to enforce the social code on others but to prevent the social code as embedded within her.

The whole article is about wealth. It’s about how young dirty are being frivolous with their money, only the money is sex.

But you know what isn’t in the article? Love. That word does not appear a single time in this article. It’s can’t. Sex as she views it can’t have anything to do with love. If it did, then it would be okay for teenagers to sleep with people they love (or think they love, however fleetingly). But teenagers are going to have sex anyway regardless of what rules she or I or anyone set. So the distinction is really how much guilt you want them to fell afterward. 

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80 Responses to WSJ to Women: Only Have Sex With Winners

  1. rDigital says:

    Don’t spend all of your money in one place ; )

  2. She actually seems to want girls to become prostitutes, since what her problem is, is that they are giving it away for free, just for fun.

  3. George says:

    So this is actually a parody of an article for partial objects written in the voice of a narcissist who has uncritically accepted the narrative of cultural liberalism. How clever.

    • flurie says:

      This comment conveys my sentiment in far fewer words that I would have used. Bravo.

    • Pastabagel says:

      So, wait, am I the narcissist, or the WSJ author? And who’s is the narrative of cultural liberalism?

    • CubaLibre says:

      You’d need to be an irony geologist to dig out the layers of it here. Guess that’s easier than actually criticizing the post.

      • John R says:

        Let me tease out some big problems in your article, PB. (Btw, I’m John, thanks for writing, good to meet you, I’ve been enjoying your articles for some time now, I hope this doesn’t come across as unsympathetic or anything.)

        “But you know what isn’t in the article? Love. That word does not appear a single time in this article. It’s can’t. Sex as she views it can’t have anything to do with love. If it did, then it would be okay for teenagers to sleep with people they love (or think they love, however fleetingly).”

        Yes, you’ve identified problems with transactional sexuality, and that’s fair enough, but here you sort of toss out this answer “love” at the last second with no development. Do you not see that “love” itself can be and is too often so commodified that it perpetuates rather than contradicts transactional sexuality? That this fleeting “love” may often be more consumerist media construction than profound alternative?

        “With the exception of pregnancy and STD’s, sex does not actually physically alter the people who engage in it. Nothing is shifted or moved, given or received, that persists afterwards. The idea that one person gave something away–their body, their virginity, whatever–is entirely psychological. Imaginary.”

        Unfold this: Isn’t “love” one huge thing that is shifted or moved, given or received? How is “love” not entirely psychological, imaginary, while what you’re criticizing is?

        “The source of her conflict, and what I find the most disappointing, is the complete resurgence of a view of sex that perceives it as a transaction or an exchange of value… The source of the attitude that sex is an exchange like any other come primarily from [r]eligion and familly, but also from media and our larger social groups.”

        What does ‘resurgence’ mean here? Where did transactional sexuality come from? When did it disappear? From what I can tell it has only proliferated exponentially in recent years. Trace the history of love and romance, and contrast it with the treatment of women as property or objects. Compared to “religion” and “family,” the consumerist mentality expressed by “it would be okay for teenagers to sleep with people they love (or think they love, however fleetingly).” is much more decidedly in the negative column, at least if we’re looking at proximate cultural shifts.

        • Pastabagel says:

          John R:

          Nicely said, and there isn’t much you wrote that I disagree with. I introduced love because that is often the easy safe harbor for people trying to establish rules about sex to impose on other people. The argument goes-no casual sex, but only sex between two people who love each other, and if they love each other they should get married. And note that buried in that is the bilateral notion of love. Yes, you may love him, but does he love you? If he did he would marry you. But the author doesn’t even fall back to this. That is my point. Then entire article is just about sex as a valuable asset that shouldn’t be given away “readily”.

          All your points about love being subject to media construction are all valid and I agree wi them. I didnt introduce love as an alternative rule, I highlighted it’s absence to show that her idea of sex has no emotional component except that of seller’s remorse.

          Your last point is really interesting. I would argue that transactional sexuality where woman is the partial object of the male subject’s desire is at least as old as the paintings of nudes on commission in the Renaissance. Many of those nudes are the mistresses of the patrons who desire the painting to basically show her off to his friends. I think in recent decades you are seeing this idea in tension with the sexual liberation movement, and more recently with post-feminist “sex positivity”, so the tension is much more acute.

          • paige says:

            So is this article a defense of sex-positiveness and liberation or an analysis of the tension between the new ways and the old ways? If it is a defense of sexual liberation then it is a bad defense. If it is simply an analysis of the tension then it has more merit.

          • John R says:

            Thanks for clarifying your mention of love in the article; it was pretty confusing the first time around. Moving on, I do see an emotional component. (Or, I don’t know if ‘emotional’ is the appropriate word, since my training was in philosophy not psychology — at any rate, it transcends concerns strictly of wealth, transaction, objectification, economy.)

            I.
            ” We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom.”

            “scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.”

            “I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past.”

            Combine these and you get: We had all this sex to become true women, to become something other than (partial) objects, Feminine Mystique in hand, but in retrospect what we were actually doing was giving ourselves away, commodifying ourselves. So full humanity, dignity, flourishing, agency, identity is what they were after, but this goal was compromised into transactional sexuality. Right, she is transactionally-economically driven — the article is indeed dripping with Wall Street wealth — but nonetheless she intended for something more than just that.

            II.
            Then you get the boring live-vicariously-through-my-daughter stuff, an analogue to MILF porn:

            “What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular? And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.”

            Clearly the mother wants to be valued highly as part of a transactional sexual economy, but the vicarious finding-identity-in-daughter stuff isn’t just about money, it’s wanting to be of value in a non-transactional sense. In the end, of course, she’s got no non-economic language with which to think that, but she wishes she did. So the big driving force of the article wishes it could be something other than economic, and at the level beneath the words it is, but her imaginary is so economically defined that she’s got no other mode of expression.

  4. glt says:

    “Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that’s certainly the norm among my peers.”
    So all women either wait until marriage to have sex, or “drown” in regret for the rest of their lives.

    “with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.”
    Why can’t the rest of us make proper decisions about sex, like the always sexually well-adjusted religious fundamentalists?

    “In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with “sexting” among preteens, “hooking up” among teens and college students, and a constant stream of semi-pornography from just about every media outlet”
    Except for “sexting”, how is any of this recent? Does the 70s count as recent?

    It could not be any more obvious that this woman is projecting her own regrets, insecurities, and (serious) issues about sex onto every woman around her. The repeated use of the words “my generation” in place of “me” could not be more obvious.

    • jukebox says:

      “The repeated use of the words “my generation” in place of “me” could not be more obvious.”

      You’re absolutely right.

      All of the evidence for her position is anecdotal – either from her specific experiences, or second-hand recounts of friends’. And suddenly it’s a generational paradigm. The problem isn’t your generation…

    • SmilingBob says:

      The dreaded false consensus effect.

  5. 79zombies says:

    That was actually a good insight on the author’s thought process, or at least one that explains her motivations to writing that article. I specially liked when you say that to be free is to alter the rules, not only to break them. I had never pondered about that.

  6. Jackie says:

    My take on this article is different — more in tune with the WSJ writer.

    In my neighborhood, a few years ago, middle-school girls were sporting rubber bracelets with different colors to signify, “I’ve gone all the way” “I like oral sex”, etc. Some of their parents — mothers — seemed to be proud of this.

    Where are all the bracelets now, I wonder? Are they displayed in the home, like football trophies or college diplomas? Will the bracelet wearers brag someday, “When mommy was in 7th grade, she was voted the Most Likely to **** by boys who were in High School!” “Boys who never talked to her again!”

    But it’s only partially about sex — it’s more about value, and not monetary value. Do we want children in our society to think so little about themselves that they believe they’re only worth something if they “put out” — which means unprotected sex these days — or look like they do? Do we think it’s healthy to sexualize children? BTW, children who act out sexually fall into several DSM-IV categories.

    Another way to look at the value: Are you discriminating with your time? Do you like to spend your (valuable) off-hours with random people in bars, or with family and friends? Do you let that bore in the seat next to you talk your head off on a transAtlantic flight, or do you get some work done or read? The WSJ article is saying something similar to that about sex and young people, boys and girls. Don’t just give a (valuable) part of yourself to anybody and everybody who wants it, be discriminating. Learn to value yourself.

    And I disagree that “sex does not actually physically alter the people who engage in it”. Hormones are released during sex that are related to bonding.

    • glt says:

      “In my neighborhood, a few years ago, middle-school girls were sporting rubber bracelets with different colors to signify, “I’ve gone all the way” “I like oral sex”, etc. Some of their parents — mothers — seemed to be proud of this.”
      Did this ACTUALLY happen in your neighbourhood? Because it sounds an awful lot like an urban myth pushed by the media (remember “rainbow parties?”). I was in middle school when this whole “sex bracelet” thing was at the height of its media-induced hysteria and while the bracelets were popular, they were popular like any other gimmicky fashion accessory – they had nothing to do with sex. Though after a while, the girls who wore them stopped because they were being teased because of what Oprah and the evening news were saying about these so-called “sex bracelets.”

      “Do we want children in our society to think so little about themselves that they believe they’re only worth something if they “put out” — which means unprotected sex these days”
      I’m going to need to see some evidence to back up this claim about unprotected sex.

      “Do you like to spend your (valuable) off-hours with random people in bars, or with family and friends? Do you let that bore in the seat next to you talk your head off on a transAtlantic flight, or do you get some work done or read?”
      You make it sound like any time spent in a bar socializing is a waste of time. Or that I should avoid making polite conversation with a guy next to me on a plane and should instead ignore him in favor of reading. Why are you polarizing all of these nuanced things? All of these things that are supposed wastes of valuable time are perfectly healthy ways to spend some time (with proper boundaries). If I spend time in a bar, then I don’t value myself or my family or friends? If I talk to a guy next to me on a plane for a while, I’m wasting precious time that I should spend working or reading? Why can’t I do all of these things? Make smalltalk with the guy on the plane, then excuse myself to work. Spend time in a bar socializing and then spend time at home with my family/friends? Nevermind the fact that when most people go to bars, it is in the company of friends.

      “And I disagree that “sex does not actually physically alter the people who engage in it”. Hormones are released during sex that are related to bonding.”
      How is that a physical change? The next day, are these “bonding” hormones still in my system?

      • Jackie says:

        Re your comments:

        Bracelets: Yes, it actually happened in my neighborhood. Maybe the kids here didn’t know it was only an urban myth — they heard about it, and did it. Some of them probably still have cell the phone pictures.

        Unprotected sex: I don’t personally have evidence but there are whole shows about this, eg “Teen Mom””16 and Pregnant”

        Socializing: I’m not saying don’t go to bars, don’t talk to the guy in the next seat. I’m saying make your choice, be discriminating. Don’t let the other guy make the choice for you. I happen to enjoy talking to strangers — and interacting on blogs!

        Hormones: Not sure about the long-term effects of hormones, but if the objective is to promote bonding with the person you’re having sex with then the effects probably stay around for a while. I think this is similar to the hormonal *mother-newborn* bonding. And my view is that since hormones exert changes on the body/brain chemistry, it’s a physical change — albeit not a permanent change.

        • boeotarch says:

          “MTV has a show about, therefore it must be true” is actually exactly the kind of thinking this site is supposed to be challenging (at least as I see it). Same goes for the kids who started doing that ridiculous wristband thing once they heard about it on the tube. Once something is presented to you by a media outlet, whether you approve of it or not you’ve already accepted it as real.

        • shaydlip says:

          Hi Jackie,

          If I am interpreting your posts correctly, I think I am understanding from you that you believe someone should not engage in sex unless it’s their choice.

          I think the point pastabagel is trying to make is that people do have sex by choice, but questions the motivator of that choice. The language of the woman in that article suggests nothing about having sex to connect with another human being, for love, for experiencing stimulation. It’s all about what you ‘get’ from it, not why you choose to have the experience of sex with someone else.

    • DJames says:

      I don’t know if what Jackie wrote just now is in tune with the WSJ article, but it certainly communicates a much more valuable thesis. Are the little boys and girls making love or f*cking for lack of self worth? (A little Fight Club reference for your afternoon Irish coffee.)

      Not entirely certain that a person who can’t love herself is really capable of loving someone else. But let’s not take it too far.

    • philtrum says:

      I’d also like a citation to something other than an MTV show for evidence that “these days” teenagers are having more unprotected sex than they did in previous decades. But even leaving that aside — the WSJ article isn’t primarily about girls having a lot of sex; it’s about the clothes they wear. Moses claims promiscuity is on the rise, but as an aside, and she offers no proof, just as you offer no proof that young people as a group need to be reminded not to have sex with anyone who asks.

      Do we think it’s healthy to sexualize children? BTW, children who act out sexually fall into several DSM-IV categories.

      This is one of those times when laws seem to me to be shaping attitudes in a profoundly silly way. Developing sexual feelings is a normal, almost universal, part of puberty. Teenagers are children according to many age of consent laws, but they are not children in the sense you are using that term. You can argue that a physically mature 14-year-old would be wise to delay sexual activity until a bit later in life — and I’d agree — but there is nothing pathological about having sexual urges at that age.

  7. glt says:

    One thing that just hit me after re-reading the original article:
    In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with “sexting” among preteens
    I really don’t understand this hysteria about preteens sending each other nude photos and so on over their cellphones. As if preteens showing each other their genitals is something new and dangerous and only started happening recently with the advent of cameraphones.

    When I was a lad, from the ages of 4 until 11 or so, I had numerous experiences playing “show me yours” games with various girls around my neighbourhood. There was even some poking and probing involved. Little girls and boys have been showing each other their underwear, and their wee-wees, and their hoo-hoos since the dawn of time. It’s a normal and natural part of growing up and discovering the differences between boys and girls. The preteen “sexting” the author laments is the exact same thing, just done with new technology.

    Is it worrisome that kids now are recording these explorations, certainly, and there have already been incidences of young girls sending pictures of themselves to boys in their school only to have said pictures making the rounds from cellphone to cellphone, or posted online. That’s worrisome.

    But the idea that sexting is some sign of dangerous new levels of promiscuity is ludicrous. Little girls were showing me their junk up close and personal in the bushes behind the train station back when cellphones were the size of refrigerators.

  8. paige says:

    Sex does have a transactional value because every single act of sex has the potential of conception. The risk may be small or great but it is almost always present, especially with teens who are both fertile and unlikely to be surgically sterilized. Each act of sex is the potential “giving” of an egg or a sperm toward a new human being.

    All women know this either consciously or subconsciously which accounts for their hypergamous behavior. Women are biologically programmed to give their egg toward a worthy cause, because they are stuck with the result.

    The question is: are we going to accept that our biology influences how we think and feel, or are we going to continue to pretend like it doesn’t and then scratch our head at the result?

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      Right.

      Interesting that all the women are siding with the author, whereas all the males are on the “let teenage girls dress like whores and fuck as a way of saying hello” side of things.

      If you are a woman, you know everything she’s saying is true.
      It’s in the WSJ so there is more of an emphasis on money and status. However, in every other respect the point is no less true. It’s not just a rich partner you’re looking for. What about an intelligent partner? A motivated partner? A creative partner, a brilliant man who thinks of novel things and leads people? A talented partner with great writing, musical, artistic or other talent? A socially engaging partner who has a talent for bringing people together to his cause?

      If you want to your children to have the genetics of a man who is worth anything at all, combined with the long term commitment to support those children, you would NOT be benefited by acting like you are on MTV. Fact.

      This is what women in general.
      Evolutionarily speaking, this is as important to women as naked teenaged ready & willing female bodies are to men in general.
      To say otherwise is to deny nature.

      So much of our modern society benefits men, it’s really a laugh that women have been brainwashed into believing they have been “liberated” compared to the evil oppressive 50s.

      We now compete with men for jobs (end result: everyone gets paid less while a few fat corporate pigs profit), while also still cooking & cleaning & raising kids (end result: we stop sleeping, are overstressed, eat cotton candy for dinner, and everyone is morbidly obese and diabetic and depressed from it all).

      We lose our virginity at 13 years old, and sex/porn is so available to men that women frequently become single mothers or spinsters because men are just not as motivated or have nearly as much incentive to settle down and get married as they did in previous generations (thus the reason women are competing for jobs in the first place – they rarely have long term marriage partners because of their whorish behavior).

      In many ways modern society sucks a lot of ass for women. I sure am glad I never ever will have children, it’s pretty much impossible to be female and have children today. Men still have the option of comfortably having a family, because whenever men have children they are guaranteed a partner (many, many women are interested in a long term relationship, it’s just a matter of his choosing). Plus, the female role is still well defined as “female only” (whereas the male role has been shunted onto the female due to societal brainwashing and an unprecedented number of men totally uninterested in long term partnerships due to the chronic whoring of women). Things suck really badly for women right now, yet if you ask any one of them they would probably say the opposite. Brainwashing is great, isn’t it? Thank god we’re not in the 50s anymore, where women didn’t have to work 2 jobs and still cook/clean and had stable husbands who supported the family. Fuck that shit, give me 16 hour shifts and 4 children by 4 different men and a cocktail of psych meds to keep me going. Liberation time!

    • Psychohistorian says:

      When I go skiing, there is a very real risk I will break my leg. I do not require the ski resort to pay me; indeed, I pay them. The mere existence of a risk does not create a transactional value for that risk, and it certainly does not necessitate direct monetary compensation a la sex-for-resources.

      “All women know this” – well, what about the slutty ones? I know women who basically sleep with men based on how they look. I know women who don’t much care about a man’s wealth. And don’t say, “status.” The idea of female hypergamy is circular when overapplied: women sleep with men they perceive as having high status. How do we know they perceive them as having high status? They slept with them! Yes, this is a very short treatment of a rather complex issue.

    • passtheconch says:

      Two problems with this post:

      1. You’re only relating “biological programming” in ways that confirm your bias.

      For example there are many countervailing biological forces you’re ignoring, such as sperm competition, that are against the idea that women have to treat sex as some special gift. Hypergamy is not mutually exclusive with sexual exclusivity.

      2. You’re assuming there is a homogeneous unified biological influence and that whatever psychological/cultural concepts we have, need to be in sync with them.

      Your use of the word “pretend” is highly disingenuous. It implies the only options are A) follow biological programming (as you narrowly define it) or B) pretend it doesn’t exist.

      For the vast majority of human history murder and cannibalism of babies was incredibly common (based on existing archaeological evidence, between 10-40% of all babies during the neolithic period where killed/cannibalized). Where people back then pretending to want to kill and eat babies? Or are we pretending now that we don’t?

      You cannot separate culture and biology, especially with burgeoning evidence of how important epigenetics is.

      Acting like biology is the primary factor of the transactional value of sex is way off the mark. Transactional value is almost entirely dependent on context. Put 1 guy in a house with 9 girls and you will get completely different sexual dynamics than if you put 9 guys in a house with 1 girl. Humans are far more complex than having some simple factory setting when it comes to sex.

      The more important question you should be asking yourself, is why am I trying to justify some objective sense of sexual morality based on a thin sliver of cherry picked evolutionary biology (which is mainly a just so story anyway)?

  9. BluegrassJack says:

    Pastabagel,

    You have posted many pieces to this blog and TLP that were very perceptive.

    This one was not. In fact, it is really dumb.

  10. FrederickMercury says:

    i actually really enjoyed reading this article. and in my opinion it is one of the more valuable articles on the site currently, given the blog’s mission statement, the varied responses, and the amount of activity it has generated.

    however, i’m going to challenge the one of the main points pastabagel’s post: sex absolutely IS a resource, especially if you remember that humans are animals too.

    it works the same for everything from snails to whales and everything in between. the male proves (to the female) that he should get to pass on his genes, the female decides (that is, it’s at her discretion, and her discretion is almost entirely biologically predetermined) with which male/s she’s going to reproduce, and only the most worthy males get to use the females to pass on their genetic code.

    put simply, the male earns (competes for) sex, the same way the male competes for meat or control of the pack. it works that way for essentially every species, it worked that way for every extinct apelike species, it worked that way for humans since prehistory, and you’re not going to outrun it, ever. i know that doesn’t jive with many people’s perceptions of, or goals for, the human race, but we’re not going to fight 3.5 billion years of evolution (which specifically selects for reproduction first and foremost) just because we like to deconstruct internet articles.

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  12. octo says:

    “Women are objectified not only as sexual objects, which is undeniable, but as partial objects in their relationships with others. ”

    oicwutudidthur

  13. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    Sorry, disagree.

    Women who give up sex readily to men are not marketable marriage partners. As lovely as it would be to pretend that such things do not matter, they actually do matter to many women.

    News flash: the sexes are different, this is a patriarchal society originating from a tribal structure which was just as male dominated. We are biologically wired to live in a society where males are in control. We also live in a monogamous society – “1 woman for 1 man only”.
    There are not enough good men to go around for women; women who don’t want to end up settling for a poor partner (both in terms of security, prosperity, as well as genetics) would be wise not to play their hand so that they are zoned as a trashy whore who would not make a good mother or wife. That means having sex all the time with a lot of different guys is a very bad idea.

    Mothers worry about these things more than daughters because mothers are more intelligent and more educated than daughters are. Daughters are educated by TV, which is controlled by men and geared for male entertainment. TV tells girls “sure, dress nakedly and have sex in public with tons of guys, it’s all good, liberate yourself”.
    Mothers know better but most girls go through such a phase until they become mothers themselves. It’s a good thing sluttiness is so ubiquitous in the west, it’s almost common for women to go through a period of being an abject whore, only to clean up & do a 180 when they want to settle down and select a marriage partner.

    When women guard their sexual value (virginity, monogamy) they are not objectifying themselves. They are merely being smart in a world which isn’t fair and never was fair and never will be fair. Men do everything they can to brainwash women into being more whorish because it benefits all men when women give it up to whoever, whenever, for a pack of cigs or a dinner at applebees. But you know, it’s actually very important to most women to get married to a successful man, and to have children. Not all women want these things (I sure as hell don’t) but from what I can gather by talking to other women is that this is very important to almost all women. No man wants to marry a skank.
    Men value virginity and sexual exclusivity in a partner because of the whole “concealed ovulation” thing (see next discussion). If your girl is a ho-bag, you have no way of knowing whether or not that child is genetically your offspring, you’ve been cuckolded. Naturally, sexual promiscuity is a very very big deal to men interested in long term relationships (and these are the only men women want). When men say it doesn’t matter if a woman is promiscuous, he might as well be saying he has no intention of ever settling down in the near future (or alternatively he is already married and only looking for a mistress).

    This is the primary reason males evolved an interest in very young partners (giving rise to paraphilias such as pedophilia and ephebophilia in men). Young partners are much more likely to be virgins, which means sex with such a person almost guarantees she will be pregnant with your offspring if she is successfully impregnated. Women do not value youth in partners, however male brained people – whether they be interested in men or women – men are very very interested in youth. Something about a masculine brain gears the person toward juvenilles, people on the cusp of puberty, not older than 23 as a maximum. The often cited reason is females are more fertile at this time – this is false, females are not more fertile as teenagers, the most fertile time for women is the early and mid 20s.

    So, in summary, I guess it depends on who you are and what your priorities are (whether or not one should advocate girls being promiscuous)

    If you are a man who likes women – sure, encourage girls to have as much sex with as many people as possible! More for you.

    If you are a woman who never wants to marry and have children – go ahead and be as sexual as you want, because the only point of sexual modesty in women is to attract a long term, high quality marriage partner.

    If you are a woman who wants to marry and have children – don’t be a skank. You will kill your chances of ending up with anyone decent.

    • maktaba says:

      I have a whole slew of objections to your line of thought, but the biggest one — and consequently the one I will address — is your repeated use of evolutionary justifications for behaviour, which is simply not a valid form of argument. For any given behaviour, regardless of whether the behaviour is common or uncommon, accepted or not accepted, real or imaginary, it’s completely and entirely possible to come up with an evolutionary Just So story that justifies it in some way or another as a consequence of “how [group] evolved/developed.” Sure, the argument appears sound, but just appearing sound isn’t enough to have a valid, cohesive argument, just as how most conspiracy theories make perfect sense as long as you accept their premises.

      A few specific points:

      “This is the primary reason males evolved an interest in very young partners (giving rise to paraphilias such as pedophilia and ephebophilia in men).” Both as a result of my personal masculine sexuality, my contact with other males of a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, and my exposure to mental health professionals, I labor under the impression that pedophilia is far removed from normal male function, and is in fact a highly aberrant behaviour. Pedophiles aren’t simply an extreme case of normal male sexuality, and can’t be used to justify ideas about normal male sexuality.

      “News flash: the sexes are different, this is a patriarchal society originating from a tribal structure which was just as male dominated.” We — speaking as a white North American, anyway — have not been a tribal society for a long time; at least, not in the primitive sense you’re using it. In social terms, ten years can be an eternity, and we are far more than ten years from old tribal structures. Using what the “tribal societies” would (presumably) have done as the basis for an argument about today is like using the Code of Hammurabi as the cornerstone of your courtroom gambit. (Not that traditional societies can’t be relevant to today, but it’s more complicated than, “It was true then and it’s true now!”)

      “Men value virginity and sexual exclusivity in a partner because of the whole ‘concealed ovulation’ thing…” This, like most of your comment, presupposes that men (and women) are essentially mindless algorithm-performing animals. While consciously, I may despise children and want to stay childless as long as I can, and emotionally, I might be attached to a person and hurt if they incorrectly led me to believe that we had exclusive sex, the real reason I care about her not fucking anyone else is apparently so I know the baby is mine. Humanity is a complex emergent organism, with multiple levels of social interaction, cognition, kneejerk emotions and complex, bubbling, long-term emotions. The reason I want exclusivity might not necessarily be the reason that another man wants exclusivity with his partner, and most of them can’t be explained using only half-baked semi-justified evolutionary theories.

      Hypothetically, evolutionary and biological descriptions of modern human behaviour are possible and would be helpful, but in practice (especially in the context of internet comments) it’s impossible to take into account the full range of complexity involved, and it becomes a vague, pseudoscientific justification for whatever beliefs you already had, i.e. “Women shouldn’t have wanton sex because of marriage, men want all women to be sluts except when they don’t, &c.” Maybe those beliefs do have justifications (I doubt it, but you know) but whatever those justifications may be, they are not, “And the Tribal Society did this and it was Just So!”

    • Psychohistorian says:

      “No man wants to marry a skank.”

      Empirically false. I would vastly prefer to marry a woman with 20 past sexual partners than marry a virgin. And, as credible as this claim may be on the internet, I’m very desirable on paper – rich, confident, tall.

      The only evidence for “men prefer virgins” comes mostly from a bunch of misogynists on the interweb, many of whom are no doubt in their 40′s and beyond. Many men, particularly in the upper middle class, are not seriously hung up on this thing. In particular, men who value women as human beings and partners and not as objects and accessories are much less likely to care about the exact number of penises she’s come in contact with. If you want to marry some 40 year old dude who likes to rant on the internet, or someone who is very religious, you should guard your virginity vigilantly.

      Some men no doubt do prefer virgins. Some men prefer non-virgins. Some don’t give a damn. Many women who are not good marriage material (are undesirable or insist on batting out of their league) are likely to rack up a lot of partners but not a spouse – this does not mean that racking up partners prevents you from getting a spouse. It’s possible that it really matters tremendously to most desirable men in the real world, and it’s possible they actually dislike virgin brides (you don’t get hitched on the third date, and a virgin won’t put out on the third date. Since dating generally precedes marriage, the lack of premarital sex is an excellent reason not to want to marry a virgin) but you need actual evidence before you make such a broad claim.

      • AnonymousAtLarge says:

        You’re probably like those guys on the millionaire matchmaker. They talk a lot of nonsense about how they want to find a wife and settle down (really, now, at 45+ you want to settle down?), but they consistently choose 24 year old girls who look like they know how to party.

        In other words, they are clearly thinking only of sex and short term fun meanwhile lying to themselves (and others) about wanting a serious partner/family. Really now, you have so much in common with that 23 year old? What do you talk about, how you’re back is starting to ache at the end of the day like your dad’s did, and she talks about what her college pals are doing? LOL.

        I never said men consciously prefer virgins. Well from a biological standpoint , men are wired to prefer virgins, though they are consciously unaware of this: many of the personality traits and appearances in females which turn men on are indicators of sexual naivete + fertility. I don’t think men go around thinking “gee gotta find a virgin” any more than they think “gee I want to sleep with all the women in my social circle, and I do very much hope they all get pregnant with my child”.
        The genetics of a man absolutely push him to try to impregnate as many women as possible (and male sexuality is so geared to have as much sex as possible with as many partners as possible, selecting the youngest & fertile partners first). In spite of the fact the sexuality of men drives them to fertilize whatever they can, absolutely NO MAN you will meet would actually consciously want to succeed in this goal because it would be disastrous for him in modern society. When it comes to sex, what our bodies want/do is very different from what we think or know is best for us.

        Consciously men may not prefer a virgin (the sex won’t be as fun, she won’t be as experimental) but their behavior and preferences drive them otherwise. When a man is drawn to very young women/teenaged girls, or women who look younger than their age, or young girly feminine personalities (who act coy and naive and childlike)… this is all to do with virginity , indicators of it. Women know this, unconsciously, so women who are older do everything they can do to appear younger, they also behave younger than their age. The stereotype “blondes are stupid” is based in women trying to appear younger and more attractive to men (some women dye their hair blonde – an indication of youth as hair darkens with age, and they also speak/behave in a naive/youthful manner – which comes across as being unintelligent to a casual observer…and so the myth that “blondes are stupid” is born).

        It is entirely possible for men to say and truthfully mean “oh no I don’t want a virgin” but then the partner they select looks/acts exactly like a girl who would very likely be a virgin in a natural environment (late teens/early 20s, baby face, with a youthful naive personality, with blonde hair, with a small adolescent-like build). So you have to say to yourself, after observing the types of women men find irresistibly attractive, that clearly men are biologically wired to select virgins / sexually inexperienced partners… even if CONSCIOUSLY they don’t want a virgin.

        People often confuse cause/effect.

        Traditional societies value if not violently defend female monogamy and virginity BECAUSE of male biological imperatives, not the other way around. The cultural mandates reflect the biological imperative.
        Both women and men collaborate in guarding female virginity because it benefits both sexes. When females are monogamous, the men who invest in them will not be cuckolded. When females are monogamous, women are guaranteed long term investment (because if few women are sleeping around, men need to commit if they want sex, and men definitely want sex). Everybody wins. This is why every society up until recently value and violently defend female virginity and monogamy. The reason society now encourages women to be freely sexual is because traditional family units have almost entirely fallen apart, no one really gets married and stays married, women work like men traditionally did while raising their litters of illegitimate children, and it all sorta fell apart. There aren’t many mothers left telling their daughters not to be skanks, because no one really truly expects to get married forever. Girls hope for it but divorce is a total expectation.

        Actually, given how sexual and promiscuous women are now, it might actually hurt a girls chances of finding a good husband if she isn’t sexual as well. Why would he bother to date a woman who isn’t giving it up *at all* when 99% of women are? Today, virginity is not practical or a good strategy for girls… sexual modesty and fidelity is though (don’t sleep with the foot ball team and don’t have sex too fast in a relationship).

        But in your case… you clearly sound like the sort of man who is lying to himself about wanting a long term marriage partner, when in reality you are very much enjoying your lifestyle of casual sex with multiple partners. A lot of wealthy high status guys are like this because their wealth/status makes them attractive to women (women who actually are searching for a potential husband/long term partner).

        Not that their is anything wrong with that at all, just be honest. Take a lesson from Charlie Sheen. Ironically someone like Sheen is less harmful from a social perspective because he does not pray on normal women – he pays money for casual sex and is fully open and honest about his desires. On the other hand, men with less money and men with less honesty create elaborate lies and fantasies to get regular women to give it up, all the while leading them to believe that something more might come from this arrangement…and then just dump them after when it all becomes boring sexually (someone younger comes along or someone hotter or someone newer)..

        • Psychohistorian says:

          You have reached true circularity. Evidence against you would make you wrong. But you’re RIGHT, so that evidence is actually invalid. You know nothing about me (I’m 25, and plan on marrying in my mid-30′s; sleeping with random women does get tedious and effort-intensive, and I want a family. Is it possible I’ll change my mind? Yes. Can you conclude that I will *necessarily* change my mind because it would shatter your worldview if I don’t? No.). Your objection is perfectly general: anyone who would be evidence against you is automatically assumed to be lying. You claim to know thousands if not millions of men far better than they know themselves. You are well past the point where you can be reasoned with if this is your position.

          The ultimate claim you’re providing support for is: “Men have a subconscious preference for virgins of unknown magnitude.” The claim you’re making is, “If women want to find a decent man, they need to remain virgins or at least with very few partners.” Even if you are correct about the former (which is pretty much impossible to prove one way or the other – suggesting it’s bullshit), it has virtually no bearing on the latter. The fact that there is a slight subconscious preference does not mean that there is an overall substantial preference. As an obvious example, if men have a conscious preference for women who are better in bed, and sluttier women are better in bed, this could easily outweigh any subconscious virgin preference.

    • philtrum says:

      Men do everything they can to brainwash women into being more whorish because it benefits all men when women give it up to whoever, whenever, for a pack of cigs or a dinner at applebees.

      Interesting how you can’t get past the prostitution model of sex. Even “whorish” women must be having sex for a price, just a low price.

      The class markers are interesting too — you don’t write of women having sex for an organic latte, you write of smokes (smoking being increasingly coded as a low-class behaviour) and chain restaurants.

      I really am curious about whom you’re picturing here. Everything I’ve read and experienced indicates to me that while premarital sex is widespread, promiscuity of the kind you’re describing is exceptionally rare, unless we are talking about people who literally charge for sex. Where are you getting the image of these “whores”, and what are you getting from it?

      • AnonymousAtLarge says:

        I suggest you look up “humor” and “parody” in the dictionary because you are tragically unfamiliar with it.
        I thought it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t literally saying woman have sex for cigarettes or cheap dinners at applebees, but rather I was parodying the modern sexual behavior of females ( by analogizing it to prison sex, or a truck stop hooker, clearly intent to be a mockery as this could never realistically happen yet it gets the point across that women have rendered themselves sexually worthless).

        • philtrum says:

          Ah, “it was satire/parody”, the last refuge of crap commenters.

          No, Annie, I did not think you were accusing women of literally trading sex for cigarettes. Your signifiers are interesting nonetheless.

          And again, “women” have rendered ourselves “sexually worthless”? All women? How can this be when so many of us are still having long-term relationships and getting married? More to the point, why do you feel the need to believe this?

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Humor is sometimes interjected into argument so as to make it more emotionally compelling. If you understood that my “sex for cigs” remark was intentionally humorous and tongue in cheek, why then did you dedicate a post to deconstructing it?

            Yes, women have debased their sexual value so that men have no compelling need to stay in a committed relationship.
            Many women are getting married, but many are also getting divorced a few weeks later. How long do marriages last now, what, a few months, years? Why would a man stay married to his 41 year old wife when the hot 21 year old secretary at his job is giving it up to him? Why would a man stay with the same boring woman when her best friend will sleep with him? (who has no husband and is divorced, or perhaps does have a husband but he’s more interested in porn than her).

            The chronic sexual infidelity which is so commonplace today is a major reason people are not staying married. Marriage is kind of a joke today. I wonder why the religious psychotics are so angry that gays want to get married – why not, give gays the chance to get married and divorced on a rotating schedule just like heterosexuals. It’s not like marriage means anything anymore for most people who get married.

            I have no “need” to believe this, I merely am a human being that interacts with other humans in our society. Throughout my daily life I observe constant whoring and sexual infidelity, married, single, doesn’t matter. At my place of employment everyone has slept with everyone else it seems, or is actively trying to. Relationship status is irrelevant to these people.

            The only ones I see who actually do respect marriage and the solidarity of the family unit are those who are recent immigrants from other , non-western countries. Those people do not flirt and sleep with each other like americans do. They get married to one man/woman and have children and that’s it.

          • philtrum says:

            Well, interesting that that’s your milieu. It sounds rather awful, but it doesn’t reflect my experience. In my experience, plenty of people are in long-term exclusive relationships, and plenty are getting married and staying married. And since you’ve made it clear that no study or statistics will change your opinion since “statistics can be faked”, experience is all we have to go on, yes?

    • passtheconch says:

      “We also live in a monogamous society – “1 woman for 1 man only”.
      There are not enough good men to go around for women; ”

      This is a simplistic reading of sexual dynamics. Assuming for a moment monogamy was practised perfectly (it isn’t), that is by far the only or even most important factor when it comes to sexual supply and demand. Men offer up sex far more readily than women which means the supply of male sex partners is vastly greater than the supply of female sex partners. Men also demand sex from women far more than vice versa (possibly because of higher supply side competition, or it may be inversely caused), which increases any individuals worth far more than they would have outside of the system.

      Go out to a bar with a reasonably attractive woman, and then with a reasonable attractive man. Tally how often they get hit on for a ball park figure of how “1 man for 1 woman” is off the mark.

      “If you are a woman who wants to marry and have children – don’t be a skank. You will kill your chances of ending up with anyone decent.”

      This is pretty transparent “women who’ve had sex with a lot of men make me uncomfortable”. Even if all your arguments are true, your conclusion is obviously personal bullshit, since women should just lie about how many partners they’ve had. Unless you think most men will hire a private eye to investigate a womans sexual past.

  14. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    The more abridged version:
    Just because something sounds bad doesn’t make it not true.

    It sounds “bad” to admit that women’s sexuality is an object with value, but it does NOT make it untrue. It is very, very true. Pretending it is not true doesn’t change anything in society, it just fucks up your chances at landing a good catch because you’ve been zoned as a party girl drunkard fuck buddy.

  15. Fifi says:

    “If you are a woman who never wants to marry and have children – go ahead and be as sexual as you want, because the only point of sexual modesty in women is to attract a long term, high quality marriage partner.”

    Wouldn’t a “high quality marriage partner” be someone who loves you for who you are, which includes your life experience? Someone who views you as an object and gets all outraged because you had a life before them is hardly “high quality”, they’re actually generally going to be a pretty low quality partner that treats you merely as an extension of themselves or some sort of trophy. And what’s stopping any woman who is fertile and having sex from having children? You hardly need to be married to have children. The amount of sex you have doesn’t impair your ability to get pregnant or give birth (more sex actually means more chance of conception).

    The other thing I find weird about this assumption is that it totally denies women’s own sexual desires and curiosity. You know, some of us ladies actually enjoy sex and sharing pleasure with other people. I highly suspect that a lot of men and women who view sex as a commodity don’t actually enjoy sex that much – they may enjoy the transactions around it but it seems like the actual sexual experience is being devalued here. By that I mean that sex for sex’s sake isn’t seen as valuable (the experience itself is stripped on intrinsic value), it’s only what you can get from someone else by using sex as a commodity that is valued.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      That’s a nice romance novel you’re writing there, but it won’t exactly work out for societies of people on average. There are always going to be those exceptions to the rule.

      There are decent men who will look past a girl who slept with the entire football team and marry her, commit to her anyway. There are also men who don’t even want to have sex with women and are homosexual. The fact that exceptions exist to rules does not invalidate the rules.

      The rules state, in general, men do not want to commit to a hobag.

      In general, a girl who sleeps around with lots of men and has a lot of partners does not end up married to a great guy with kids all from the same father.
      In general, teenaged girls who have sex often are obviously more likely to get pregnant, and are faced with the choice of abortion (which can damage your body and harm future fertility – go to the antenatal unit of any hospital and check out room after room of premature labor due to incompetent cervix) or alternatively giving the kid up for adoption (emotionally difficult), OR raising the kid as a teenager (horrible decision).

      It’s just obviously *such* a bad idea for women to be promiscuous or sexually liberal. It never benefits a woman, it only benefits men. The overwhelming majority of women are not even all that sexual (it’s that lack of testosterone thing, allows women not to care too much either way about sex most of the time). Most of the time when women do have promiscuous sex, especially young girls, it is usually for emotional reasons – she wants a guy to like him, she does not like herself and wants approval, or similar reasons. Women, in general, do not have the sort of sex drive men have (wanting to fuck just to fuck because that’s what they want to do). It is a social and cultural myth that women are sexual like men are sexual in the same ways men are sexual. What can I say, our society specializes in bullshit and lies.

      Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. Some women are very sexual, but most are not. Some women never want to marry and have no interest in children. There isn’t any law which says we are all exactly the same. However if you interview 20 females between teenaged years and 30, I’d easily bet substantial $$$ that at least 15 of them state they want to be a mother some day and are very interested in landing a husband. Ask 20 men that question and I assure you far less say “landing a wife and having children” is high on their priorities.

      This conversation is focused on what people in general ought to do, assuming they conform to the average expectations of average people. Most of us are average in every way.
      (I’m not, not because I”m special, but because I”m a social recluse who does not deal with others and I am also bisexual. I’m also slightly insane. But that’s okay. Lady GaGa said so.)

      • FrederickMercury says:

        Your worldview is fairly out of touch with reality, statistically speaking. You also seem to be putting a lot of blame for what you perceive to be women’s situation on men (“Men do everything they can to brainwash women into being more whorish because it benefits all men when women give it up to whoever, whenever, for a pack of cigs or a dinner at applebees”).

        I would argue the opposite, that that kind of behavior is driven almost entirely by women, and it’s through the language of transaction and value. If a man can’t get laid often, he’s a loser. If he’s never been laid, he’s a freak and he’ll probably never get laid. If his penis isn’t big enough for the girl when he does get laid, he’ll be made fun of after the fact. If the guy wants to get laid in the first place, he had better pay for everything, or he’s a jerk.

        The entire conversation of sexuality, and sexual roles, is framed by shaming and objectification! If you don’t want to be treated like an object, don’t behave like an object.

        • philtrum says:

          I would argue the opposite, that that kind of behavior is driven almost entirely by women, and it’s through the language of transaction and value. If a man can’t get laid often, he’s a loser. If he’s never been laid, he’s a freak and he’ll probably never get laid. If his penis isn’t big enough for the girl when he does get laid, he’ll be made fun of after the fact. If the guy wants to get laid in the first place, he had better pay for everything, or he’s a jerk.

          You, sir, are hanging out with the wrong women.

      • Psychohistorian says:

        ” Ask 20 men that question and I assure you far less say “landing a wife and having children” is high on their priorities.”

        http://danmerica.com/2011/03/21/studies-men-more-interested-in-marriage-than-women-relationships-changing/

        Facts are fun. I’m not calling that high study a paragon of methodology, but it strongly suggests it’s a lot closer than you think it is.

        Your system of beliefs about what people want seems to be largely unshaped by reality, and shaped instead by media and some of our society’s “founding myths.” I agree that some women are not very sexual, and some women are. I think everyone here agrees that having sex because the guy wants to and you want him to like you and validate your existence is an absolutely HORRIBLE idea. But, unless there’s good evidence I’m missing, it’s unclear that women aren’t sexual on average (back in the middle ages, people knew that female sexuality was “obviously” equal to or greater than male sexuality). It’s unlikely that sexual women are so rare as to make female promiscuity a universally bad idea.

        The issue is further muddled by the EXACT attitude this article describes, which is the social construction that men want sex and women withhold it to get non-sexual benefits.

        Also: “Most of us are average in every way” shows a rather comprehensive failure to understand statistics. Whoever you are, you’re probably at one of the far ends of the bell curve in *something.* Just because, on average, people have one ovary and one testicle does not mean that the average person has one ovary and one testicle.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          Hehehe. I don’t believe it, not one little bit.
          It defies *common frigging sense*. If you are a human being who is not autistic, who is at least somewhat engaged in the world with other humans, you’ll quickly be disabused of the notion that men want long term relationships/sexual exclusivity for themselves more than women do. I mean, come on. Silliness.

          One thing we should have picked up after trolling TLP is that studies conclusions can be fabricated.

          Again, women are quite simply biologically not as sexually motivated as men are. This is plain biology. Testosterone and dopamine (both higher in men) control sexual interest. There are many women out there who can’t even have an orgasm, some who can’t feel sexual pleasure at all for biological reasons. This does not happen in men. Find me a man incapable of climax, or a man who needs to be shown how to feel sexual pleasure, or who needs x y and z in place before he can get off? Oh come on.
          Are we really trying to say that women are just as sexual as men?

          Sex is not some gift from an all knowing diety. It is a drive rooted in biology which is informed by our genes. The drive for sex exists because we are organisms that reproduce sexually. We crave and desire sex because we are trying to spread our genes. Women are capable of reproduction only 4 days of the month, *at best*, whereas men reproduce any time, any where, and are only limited by their available fertile partners. Given the differences, what sense would it make for the latter to have a drive for sex equal to the former? It would be like an infant craving food as much as a truck driver. It would not happen, could not happen, because the neurological event we experience as sexual interest/arousal is a function of our reproductive capacity and biology. Females of our species naturally desire it less, and only situationally, with very specific partners, assuming they aren’t mentally ill or engaging in prostitution or something.

          Yes, most of us are average in any way. Yes, in all the multitudes of ways to measure a person I’m sure all of us are extreme in some capacity. However, we are speaking specifically of sexuality/relationship interest here, and most people are average in any way. There are some on one extreme end (such as myself, given that I avoid relationships and my sexual orientation is markedly atypical, I am not at all average in this regard). But if you rounded up 100 women and 100 men, on average you would find they tend to behave think and desire in certain ways. There will be exceptions – a homosexual man will be an exception, or a woman with a really high sex drive will be an exception, or a heterosexual man who is not interested in having casual sex with no consequences is an exception. There are general trends in the way people think about these issues because sexual behavior, desire, interest is so fundamentally biological.

          Observe the eating habits of 100 people and you’ll find most people like sugar and potato chips, whereas they do not like broccoli. This is informed by biology as well. The reasons why people prefer sugar and potato chips over broccoli is obvious. Broccoli is very poor in calories. On the other hand sugar and fat and starch are rich in calories. Our primitive brain says “wow sugar and potato chips are awesome” and we gravitate to that. What you are doing now is basically trying to say that most people do not prefer sugar and potato chips , people actually prefer broccoli. … and any junk food preferences are clearly socially influenced and have no roots in once evolutionary adaptive behavior.

          Sex and sexual behavior is just like eating and food preferences. Men and women reproduce differently, have different interests and priorities.

          Why am I even arguing this, lol. Who knows. It’s so obvious but there are some people who like to believe cultural myths no matter how specious and awkward they feel.

          • Psychohistorian says:

            I’m not going to cite evidence. I’m just going to point out that many of my intuitions run exactly opposite yours. It’s “obvious” that a man is not going to fall in or out of love with a woman because she’s slept with +/- 5 partners. If he is, he’s a pretty sorry excuse for a man and she shouldn’t want to be him anyhow. My intuition says they’re obviously wrong, so by your own evidentiary standards, you have been refuted. As you see, you can’t simply pick your own particular intuitions and beliefs and generalize them as fact. The 1950′s did not define the natural human condition, no matter how much people like to think it did. Much of ev-psych is post-hoc just-so stories that are untestable. Just because a story makes sense doesn’t mean it is the correct explanation.

            Seriously though, actual evidence. On your argument about fertility: humans are one of a very small number of species that hides its fertility. This suggests that there is good reason for women to have sex besides procreation (non-procreative sex is energy-wasting, effort-wasting, and increases vulnerability to predators or other enemies). Sex certainly serves the role of procreation, but if that’s all it did, we’d be like 99% of other species and have conspicuous ovulation. Given that sex has purposes beyond procreation, the argument that men and women must act as if its sole purpose is procreation collapses.

            Also, on the whole ev-psych thing: the ancestral environment was NOT 1950. There’s substantial evidence that humans were something analogous to polyamorous in the actual ancestral environment.

            Ultimately, I’m not saying you’re definitely wrong. It’s possible that a vast majority of men care dearly about the virginity of their bride. It is perhaps likely this was true several hundred years ago, or in certain other countries. The point is that, given that “men” is a large and diverse group with lots of internal variance, and that as an actual point of fact, few women maintain virginity until marriage (especially non-religious ones), you need evidence to back up this claim.

            “One thing we should have picked up after trolling TLP is that studies conclusions can be fabricated.”

            You cannot arbitrarily dismiss evidence against you by saying that it could, conceivably, be wrong, and then argue that you don’t actually need evidence. Consider reading this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/he/knowing_about_biases_can_hurt_people/

          • passtheconch says:

            “It defies *common frigging sense*. If you are a human being who is not autistic, who is at least somewhat engaged in the world with other humans, you’ll quickly be disabused of the notion that men want long term relationships/sexual exclusivity for themselves more than women do. I mean, come on. Silliness.”

            What’s really silly is to ignore some empirical evidence (flawed as it is), and posit that your claim is correct because of your anecdotal experience.

            The correct response is to post more valid data or to withhold your claim because you don’t have reliable data.

            Don’t worry, you can still have an opinion, you can just be intelligent and preface it with “I have no idea whether this is actually the case, but from my experience it seems like:”

            If you don’t understand why your anecdotal experience is not reliable you need to go back to the drawing board for trying to interpret the world.

            Or try a little thought experiment. Recall anyone who’s ever said a claim you deem to be ridiculous “aliens exist”,”all black people are criminals”, “magnets cured my cancer” because of anecdotal experience. Now realize that your anecdotal experience is no more reliable than theirs. And realize that the field of human dynamics is vastly more complex than whether magnets cure cancer or aliens exist or what % of black people commit crime.

  16. cat says:

    Jennifer Moses has three children (according to her bio). I presume at least one is female. I wonder how much of her op-ed comes from a sense of loss of control over her daughter, and maybe some envy about her daughter’s sexuality as she feels her own is declining.

    Her writing sounds like the sort of nostalgia for a time that never existed, the “my generation was so much more pure and innocent” is obviously not true. If she has a grown up daughter, she must have been a teenager in the Sixties, perhaps the early Seventies?

    Perhaps Moses has read one too many Jane Austen novels, which are packed with the same debate about how young ladies should behave so as to preserve their value as objects (or partial objects) to men. In Pride & Prejudice, the plot features a youngest sister who goes to rowdy dances, wears slutty clothes and has sex before marriage. It’s presented as shocking, but only because her behavior potentially ruins the transactional value of her older sisters. Moral – shut up and keep your legs crossed, or you won’t marry the rich man (the marriage is purely a business transaction, although love is mentioned it’s clear that the men are desirable as love objects because of their wealth.)

    Same, it seems, for Moses – girls should be chaste and pure not because that’s good in a moral sense (why would it be?) but because, in her world, it increases their chances of a better transaction.

  17. Jackie says:

    Pastabagel: Interesting post, stirring up a lot of debate.

    Here’s a question for you guys out there: You meet a great woman. There’s something special about her, so you don’t want to screw it up by moving too fast. Besides, you’re enjoying the “chase.” And even though you hadn’t been thinking of marriage/LTR, you’re thinking of it now — with her.

    You’re getting to know each other. She tells you that she’s slept with 100 men. Or 1,000 men. Would your opinion of her change in any way? Does it matter whether she had cared for any of the men, or if they had all been hook-ups?

    • philtrum says:

      I am not a guy, but I would like to point out that a woman who has had sex with 100 or 1,000 men is going to be a statistical outlier. All the “don’t be a slut” comments on here seem to rest on the assumption that sexual behaviour is a binary — either you have dozens of partners or you wait until marriage. This doesn’t describe the behaviour of most people I know and I’m not sure why the “debate” is happening this way.

      • AnonymousAtLarge says:

        How about a woman who has had sex with 30 people?

        • operator says:

          It’s just as telling that there is a fixation on the number.

          100 is an outlier (but perfectly reasonable for an adult film actress or a former sex industry worker – apparently that’s legal in some places) and, if either were to choose to settle down, that figure certainly wouldn’t put off someone who was otherwise aware of her past.

          30 is also an outlier, though a more commonly-encountered outlier – outside the context of a “working girl”, this figure would suggest either a disinterest in lasting relationships or some other idiosyncrazy which would be otherwise evident (unless it is actively being hidden… in which case it wouldn’t make much sense to lie and say “30″).

          • Fifi says:

            The focus on a number seems to be another way to quantify and commodify sex, or merely a logical artifact of this kind of thinking. If sex is a commodity, then it’s rarity that drives it (or perceived rarity, which is what drives commodity pricing). What’s interesting is that it’s not actually the amount of sex acts that counts to people who think this way, it’s number of partners, so it’s not really sex or sex acts that’s important per se but competition with other men (or women, depending on who is doing the competing for social worth/value – it’s ultimately the social value of the person who is doing the judging as reflected by who they partner with and what other people will think of the person doing the judging).

            It’s also relevant to note that while there’s certainly a market for young girls in porn, there’s also a market for MILFs – this indicates that some men are much more interested in women with sexual experience than they are with women without sexual experience. I

          • Jackie says:

            operator: There is no fixation on a particular number on my part. My question was about what we would do if we found out we were dating an *outler* — whatever that term means to each of us. I used 100 or 1,000 just to illustrate the point.

            Would our abstract thinking on the subject change when it came down to our own personal relationships? Would we walk the walk?

          • Jackie says:

            Fifi: Some people watch donkey porn but I don’t think that tells you what they’re looking for in a personal relationship. Well, not in most cases.

          • bogdanni says:

            That’s interesting, because there seems to be little actual discussion about why the number matters (apart from this evolutionary psycho-babble little relevant for real people) – 30 is definitely an outlier, if you encounter more than one like that, maybe a change of environment is needed.

            In the limited sampling of 1 (me, in Europe – I mention this because, by reading this thread, one may get the probably wrong impression that the Americans are horribly f***’ed up on the topic of sex), it’s actually desirable that the woman had several partners in the past for two reasons: 1. experience (let’s be sincere, most men and women are inept practitioners) 2. it’s less likely that one of those was a white knight tragically disappeared only to return when she is 40.

            Just my worthless 2 eurocents.

  18. Fifi says:

    “This conversation is focused on what people in general ought to do, assuming they conform to the average expectations of average people. Most of us are average in every way. (I’m not, not because I”m special, but because I”m a social recluse who does not deal with others and I am also bisexual. I’m also slightly insane. But that’s okay. Lady GaGa said so.)” – AnonymousAtlarge

    Thanks for clarifying what you’re focusing on in this conversation and that you believe yourself to be abnormal/special but an expert on others you consider “normal”. I’m not focused on proscribing what people “ought to do” but discussing what they actually do (from both my personal and subjective observation and experience, as well as what I’ve gleaned from science) and how things function in reality). As pastabagel is pointing out via the deconstruction of the article and by discerning the author’s subjectivity, what people believe women “ought” to do is a social construct (and often quite different than what we women actually do – it’s clear that you don’t speak for all women Anonymous and some of us have quite different views of sex than you do). In the case of the author, it’s also a highly personalized psychological construct around sex and her own discomfort with sex and view of it as a commodity transaction that she’s projecting onto others. It’s also worth noting that if the author of the article being deconstructed believes having “promiscuous” sex lessens ones abilities to obtain a “valuable” partner, and that she regrets her own sexual history, that she believes her own partner (that she is/was married to and had children with) is of lesser value than she would have been able to obtain if she hadn’t engaged in the sexual activity when she was younger that she now regrets.

    It’s also worth noting that there’s good evidence that, on an evolutionary level, women/female apes are not actually particularly sexually monogamous and engage in promiscuous behaviour that promotes sperm competition (multiple partners). On a purely biological level, females are always going to know their progeny are their own, males aren’t.

    • philtrum says:

      Anonymous is an interesting study. Why would a person who is attracted to women (bisexual) openly describe women as “sexually worthless”?

      It’s also worth noting that if the author of the article being deconstructed believes having “promiscuous” sex lessens ones abilities to obtain a “valuable” partner, and that she regrets her own sexual history, that she believes her own partner (that she is/was married to and had children with) is of lesser value than she would have been able to obtain if she hadn’t engaged in the sexual activity when she was younger that she now regrets.

      That’s a good point. Or, at any rate, there’s something she feels she lacks that she believes she would have if she had a different sexual history. But there’s no evidence in the article that she’s right about that.

      • AnonymousAtLarge says:

        Your reading comprehension isn’t the best. In that exact post I specifically stated there were exceptions to the rule, in that there are some women who have no interest in marriage and children (such as myself, Hi!!!) so promiscuity / exclusivity has no relevance to their future. For those who are female, and want to get married to a good guy, behaving in a sexually promiscuous way is a bad idea.
        Being privy to the conversations of most women of all ages, it seems as if normal/average women really want to land a great guy for marriage and children. Since I am half a queer as well as completely uninterested in any relationships, I can’t possibly relate to any of this… but all the same, it’s evident that most women are very interested in long term relationships, marriage, children.

        It’s hard to imagine that you innocently misconstrued my point. It seemed as if you wanted to focus attention on my sexual orientation so as to discredit my arguments (e.g.””gay people are weird therefore your points are not worthy of examining”) or something along those lines of red herring/ad hominem.

        • philtrum says:

          No, you misconstrued my point, which is that for a woman who is attracted to women, you don’t seem to like women very much. In fact your misogyny rivals that of many frustrated straight men.

          And you’re the one who brought up your sexual orientation and various other personal attributes. No one asked.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            I am *far* from a misogynist. I simply speak what I perceive to be truthful, without much regard for diplomacy. I am incapable of accepting social science nonsense and cultural memes as being valid, which means I inevitably piss people off (as most people accept the nonsense lies in our culture as being true, unquestioned, unexamined… e.g. “proimscuity in women is good and liberating” or “men rape because they want to control women” and such other nonsense).

            I hate men and women equally, although in different ways ;).

        • Fifi says:

          Being bisexual doesn’t automatically mean you don’t want to get married and have children, whether you’re male or female, in fact a lot of queer men and women have fought very hard to get married and have children. What was being pointed out wasn’t your sexual preferences, it was your desire to Other yourself from women in general (and inability to see women as individuals). There are also straight men and women who have no interest in getting married or having children so your whole premise that your, or anyone’s, bisexuality is relevant to discussions of an article regarding sex being used as a commodity is flawed. If anything, bringing up your sexuality is the red herring and trying to make the discussion all about how “different/special/exceptional/Other” you think you are is bringing it into the realm of the personal (so you can claim that any discussion or quoting of of what you’ve written is an ad hominem attack).

          • Fifi says:

            “Being privy to the conversations of most women of all ages, it seems as if normal/average women really want to land a great guy for marriage and children.”

            So how does a “social recluse” become “privy to conversations of most women of all ages”….. By that do you mean you watch daytime talk shows a lot? Your ideas about what both men and women want seem to be more based on watching The Bachelor than authentic discussions with individuals. In fact, you seem to want to claim individuality and personhood for yourself while objectifying everyone else and essentially negating their individuality.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            No, you are right, there are many homos who want to get married (why, I have no idea: why would you want to mimic an institution which is fundamentally based in socially archaic behaviors?)
            I like the concept of civil unions, though. People tend to want to settle down with one person and start a family (or at least attempt to do so), I think society should divide couples into “religious-married” and “secular-civil union”. That would solve the problem stat. Our government is supposed to be separate from church; when marriage becomes fully separated from religion (as in a civil union) there is no basis to deny the right to marry to gay people, none at all other than homophobia. I also think a lot of straight people who think religion is a joke would like the option of validating their unions without being shunted into religious psychosis by default. I know if I were ever to get married (either to a man or a woman) I would totally prefer the option of a civil union. The concept of “marriage” in relation to religion makes me so uncomfortable and skeeved. I refuse to support a group of people that hide pedophiles and promote bigotry.

            But that is so totally off topic isn’t it.

            I am othered by default. Being bisexual is only part of it, I’ve always been very different and unable to relate to others. I am an agreeable person (I’m not like a sociopath or anything, I don’t get into trouble and I respect everyones rights) but I am pretty much incapable of and disinterested in relationships of any kind. I realize this makes me sound narcissistic… but truthfully I really am very much a loner. I reject any social invitations, platonic or otherwise.

            I only brought up my sexuality as an example of a person who is an exception to the general trends of thought (woman – “want to get married to a great guy and have lots of kids” man – “want to sew my oats and have a lot of fun with a lot of girls”).

            I mentioned it specifically to give an example of a sort of person who is exempt from these trends. However if I ask any of the girls I went to school with, they *all 100% conform* to the desire to get married and have kids. In fact, I’ve never met another woman who has shown a clear disinterest in both marriage and children. In fact, to be female and state such a disinterest is so remarkable that famous women are often cited and quoted when they make the proclamation (kat von d has been noted to state she never intends to have children and has no maternal feelings – this was remarkable enough to print and quote).

            philtrum purposely took my statements and chose to comment on them in an inappropriate and irrelevant way (“funny that you said women are sexually worthless when you are bisexual”). She chose to redefine my definition of “sexually worthless” to mean something it did not, and the purpose of her doing this was just to point out that I was bisexual (thus a weirdo and not relevant, I guess).

            But all the same, I am tired of talking about this/defending myself and my identity. It’s more than evident what had occurred. There was absolutely no reason for her to take that ONE LINE out of a whole post and then purposely misinterpret it.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            I’m not literally a recluse, obviously.

            People tend to gravitate toward averages. If you examined all of the ways people can be different, then all people are at the extreme in some or many ways, but in any single way most people will be average. When it comes to sex and relationships most people tend to think in similar ways, as sex and relationships are so fundamental to our survival thus biologically/genetically informed to a significant degree.

            I would point out that shows like the bachelor mimic life to some degree.

          • Fifi says:

            “But all the same, I am tired of talking about this/defending myself and my identity.” – Anonymous

            That’s odd, you seem to continually place your identity at the centre of any discussion and then getting your nose out of joint and launch into ad hominem attacks when others don’t affirm it for you or agree with you.

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  21. lorgalis says:

    This is exactly the problem I’ve seen as well. Furthermore, with a phenomenon such as a strip club, you’ve got women up on stage who like being valuable commodities, women supporting that because it’s “liberating” to not be a hoarded commodity that someone else is in charge of, you have women (like the author) who, though happy to see women in charge of their own “value,” are disappointed to see that they aren’t hoarding this value themselves, and then you have women who dislike it because the women up there offer “business competition” (i.e. they’re offering the commodity at a lower cost, even though it’s really more like renting). All of these women accept their own sexuality AS a commodity, and aren’t disturbed so much by the fact of the male audience’s leers. Note: The last of these groups of women don’t like the leers, but mostly because the leers are directed towards the “cheaper goods,” and they see it as transactional greed (which it is, but this is accepted as fitting the situation).

  22. arsro says:

    @AnonymousAtLarge : “I refuse to support a group of people that hide pedophiles and promote bigotry.”

    They dont hide pedophiles, they hide child-molesters. They treat everyone who has a different sexual orientation (like pedophiles or homosexuals) like if they were ‘sick’, but yet they used to hide child molesters, not pedophiles. For the church pedophiles are ‘sick’ just like homosexuals, and their only ‘sickness’ is not being attracted to women.

    And by promoting hate against people whose only crime is to have a different sexual attraction you are promoting the very same bigotry you critic.

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  25. Gabe Ruth says:

    This is a little old, but what the hell. Didn’t read all the comments, but John R is excellent.

    First, psychological != imaginary. Completely ignoring any possibility of social mores corresponding to something true, you may not be interested in your cultural heritage, but your cultural heritage is interested in you.

    I agree that the transactional language is pernicious, and you take it apart well. But your skirt clutching horror is hilarious given your preferred solution (Let free love reign!). What percentage of the men (or women) in the world do you imagine are capable of escaping this type of thinking? So, you’re not trying to show those people a better way, you’re trying to get intellectuals to be aware of these mental habits in order to try to avoid them, and gradually lead society away from a mental model that leads to rape culture. And in order to do this, we must simultaneously deprogram this transactional attitude AND loosen up the stuffy Victorian hangups that still plague us, because those are the root problem. We’re just mammals, sex is fun, there are no REAL consequences, etc. Been lied to by yourself lately? What do you think of Charles Murray’s latest? Still think those psychological consequences are unimportant?

    “For the author of this article, “not to give away their bodies so readily” means “give away your body in exchange for something valuable.” To someone who deserves it, who has earned it, who has said and done all the right things, met all the formal expectations and requirements of your parents, culture and religion, and has now earned his prize. This is the view of a woman who sees her body as a prize, an asset, that is to be won. ”

    And at the end you have the gall to wax sentimental about love. That is precious. Many times, those objects of derision will be all image, no substance. So your solution is to discard even the images that take some effort to fake? And leave them with nothing but hormones and pop culture to make their decisions for them? And then call it love? The meek might inherit the earth yet.

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