Part 3 of 4
Return of the Primitive
Public discussion of the sexual revolution has tended to focus on date rape and “hook-ups,” that is, on what is taking place, rather than on the formation of stable families that is not taking place. Survey results are occasionally announced apparently indicating male satisfaction with their “sex lives” and female unhappiness with theirs. This creates an impression that there really is “more sex” for men today than before some misguided girls misbehaved themselves forty years ago. People speak as if the male sexual utopia of a harem for every man has actually been realized.
It is child’s play to show, not merely that this is untrue, but that it cannot be true. There is roughly the same number of male as female children (not quite: there are about 5 percent more live male births than female—there is not a girl for every boy). What happens when female sexual desire is liberated is not an increase in the total amount of sex available to men, but a redistribution of the existing supply. Society becomes polygamous. A situation emerges in which most men are desperate for wives, but most women are just as desperately throwing themselves at a very few exceptionally attractive men. These men, who had always found it easy to get a mate, henceforward get multiple mates.
A characteristic feature of decadent societies is the recrudescence of primitive, precivilized cultural forms. That is what is happening to us. Sexual liberation really means the Darwinian mating pattern of the baboon pack reappears among humans.
Once monogamy is abolished, no restriction is placed on a woman’s choices. Hence, all women choose the same few men. If Casanova had 132 lovers it is because 132 different women chose him. Such men acquire harems, not because they are predators, but because they happen to be attractive. The problem is not so much male immorality as simple arithmetic; it is obviously impossible for every woman to have exclusive possession of the most attractive man. If women want to mate simply as their natural drives impel them, they must, rationally speaking, be willing to share their mate with others.
But, of course, women’s attitude about this situation is not especially rational. They expect their alpha man to “commit.” Woman’s complaining about men’s failure to commit, one suspects, means merely that they are unable to get a highly attractive man to commit to them; rather as if an ordinary man were to propose to Helen of Troy and complain of her refusal by saying “women don’t want to get married.”
Furthermore, many women are sexually attracted to promiscuous men because, not in spite, of their promiscuity. This can be explained with reference to the primate pack. The “alpha male” can be identified by his mating with many females. This is probably where the sluts-and-studs double standard argument came from—not from any social approval of male promiscuity, but from female fascination with it. Male “immorality” (in traditional language) is attractive to females. Thus, once polygamous mating begins, it tends to be self-reinforcing.
Students of animal behavior have learned that the presence of a female decoy or two near a male makes real females more likely to mate with that particular male. Among human females also, nothing succeeds like success. I hear anecdotes about women refusing to date thirtyish bachelors because, “if he’s never been married, there must be something wrong with him.” In college I observed decent, clean-living men left alone while notorious adulterers had no difficulty going from one girlfriend to the next.
Commentators on contemporary mores rarely show awareness of this irrationality in female mate selection. I recall seeing an article some years ago in which a planned new college was touted as a boon to young women seeking “Christian husbands,” on the naive assumption that they must be doing so. There was no talk of helping young men find faithful wives, of course.
Both men and women find it easier to sympathize with young women than with young men. In the case of male observers a kind of rescue fantasy is probably at work. The literature and folklore of the world is replete with stories of heroes rescuing innocent maidens from the clutches of villains: too much for it to be an accident. The damsel in distress scenario appeals to something deeply rooted in men’s minds, and probably natural. Most likely it is merely a self-congratulatory interpretation of mate competition. Men project their unruly sexual instincts onto others, who are thus cast into the role of predators.
In the contemporary world, the male protective instinct often perversely expresses itself in support for feminist causes: for example, chiming in with the denunciation of harassers and date rapists. This is a form of gallantry singularly well-adapted to the sedentary habits of the modern male, involving neither risk nor sacrifice. Examples abound in the conservative press. College men are regularly spoken of as “preying” upon women—who are in fact quite old enough to be married and starting a family. Joseph Farah of World Net Daily commends a wife for murdering her unfaithful husband. There are calls for bringing back shotgun marriage and the death penalty for rapists. If only sufficiently draconian punishments can be meted out to villainous males, the reasoning seems to go, everything will be all right again. The fundamental error in such thinking is its failure to recognize that the female largely controls the mating process.
Shrewd women have long known how to manipulate the male protective urge for their own ends. The feminist attack on heterosexuality and the family is directed against husbands and fathers for reasons of public relations. No one will sign up for a campaign against women or children, but many men can easily be made to condemn other men. The result is that young men today are in an impossible situation. If they seek a mate they are predators; if they find one they are date rapists; if they want to avoid the whole ordeal they are immature and irresponsible for not committing. We have gone from a situation where it seemed everything was permitted to one where nothing is permitted. Marriage as a binding legal contract has been done away with, and young men are still supposed to believe it is wrong for them to seek sex outside of marriage. It is not prudent to put this much strain on human nature.
Meanwhile, the illusion of there being “too much sex” has led to proposals for “abstinence education,” provided by government schools and paid for with tax money. The geniuses of establishment conservatism may need a gentle reminder that the human race is not perpetuated through sexual abstinence. They might do better to ponder how many families have not formed and how many children have not been born due to overzealous attempts to protect young women from men who might have made good husbands and fathers.
The Revolution Destroys Sex
So far we have focused on female promiscuity, and undoubtedly it is a serious problem. But there are two ways for women not to be monogamous: by having more than one mate and—by having less than one. Let us now consider the spinsters as well as the sluts.
Here again I would warn against a misconception common among male writers: The assumption that young women not having sexual relations with men must be modest. In fact, there are numerous reasons besides religious or moral principle which can keep a woman from taking a mate, and some of these now operate more strongly than before the sexual revolution. Consider the following passage from A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit:
“Pfffffft!” sexual modesty says to the world, “I think I’m worth waiting for . . . So not you, not you, not you, and not you either.”
This is certainly not modest. As one 27-year-old Orthodox woman put it to me . . . “the daughters of Israel are not available for public use.” She was taking obvious, almost haughty, satisfaction in the fact that she wasn’t sleeping around with just anyone.
This is pure illusion, a consequence of natural female hypergamy and not dependent on any actual merit in the woman. But it may be a socially useful illusion. If a woman believes she is “too good” to sleep around, this may help keep her faithful to her husband. Marriage, in other words, is a way of channeling female hypergamy in a socially useful way. (We frequently hear of the need to channel the male sexual instinct into marriage and family, but not the female; this is a mistake.)
In any case, women are not so much naturally modest as naturally vain. Hypergamy implies rejection maximization; if only the best is good enough, almost everyone isn’t good enough. Rather than cheapening herself, as observers tend to assume, modern woman may be pricing herself out of the market. It used to be commonly said that “a woman who thinks she is too good for any man may be right, but more often—she is left.” Why might this be an especial danger for women today?
Formerly, most people lived parochial lives in a world where even photography did not exist. Their notions of sexual attractiveness were limited by their experience. Back in my own family tree, for example, there was a family with three daughters who grew up on a farm adjoining three others. As each girl came of age, she married a boy from one of the neighboring farms. They did not expect that much in a husband. It is probable all three went through life without ever seeing a man who looked like Cary Grant.
But by the 1930s millions of women were watching Cary Grant two hours a week and silently comparing their husbands with him. For several decades since then the entertainment industry has continued to grow and coarsen. Finally the point has been reached that many women are simply not interested in meeting any man who does not look like a movie star. While it is not possible to make all men look like movie stars, it is possible to encourage women to throw themselves at or hold out for the few who do, i.e., to become sluts or spinsters, respectively. Helen Gurley Brown raked in millions doing precisely this. The brevity of a woman’s youthful bloom, combined with a mind not yet fully formed at that stage of life, always renders her vulnerable to unrealistic expectations. The sexual revolution is in part a large-scale commercial exploitation of this vulnerability.
Yes, men are also, to their own detriment, continually surrounded with images of exceptionally attractive women. But this has less practical import, because—to say it once more—women choose. Even plain young women are often able to obtain sexual favors from good-looking or socially dominant men; they have the option to be promiscuous. Many women do not understand that ordinary young men do not have that option.
Traditionalists sometimes speak as if monogamy were a cartel whose purpose was to restrict the amount of sex available to men artificially so as to drive up the price for the benefit of women. (That is roughly what the male sexual utopians believed also.) But this would require that men be able to raise their bid, i.e., make themselves more attractive at will. Monogamy does not get women as a group more desirable mates than would otherwise be available to them. A different economic analogy is apposite here: In sex as in other matters the buyers, not the sellers, ultimately determine the price. And the buyers, by and large, are merely average men.
Furthermore, many young women appear to believe that any man who attempts to meet them ipso facto wishes to take them as a mate. Partly this is youthful naïveté; partly a result of the disintegration of socially agreed upon courtship procedures; and partly due to the feminist campaign to label male courtship behavior “harassment.” So they angrily reject every advance they receive during their nubile years as if these were merely crude sexual propositioning. As they enter their late twenties, it gradually dawns on them that it might be prudent to accept at least a few date requests. They are then astonished to discover that the men usually take them out once or twice and then stop calling. They claim the men are leading them on. They believe themselves entitled to a wedding ring in return for the great condescension of finally accepting a date. Just as some men think the world owes them a living, these women think the world owes them a husband.
When a man asks a woman out he is only implying that he is willing to consider her as a mate: He might conceivably offer her a ring if she pleases him enough on further acquaintance. Most dates do not result in marriage proposals. There is no reason why they should. Rather than blame men for not committing in such instances, they should be commended for sexual self-control and the exercise of caution in mate-seeking.
To summarize: the encouragement of rejection maximization and unrealistic expectations is one reason (unrelated to modesty) that many women today do not reproduce. A second is what I call parasitic dating, a kind of economic predation upon the male by the female. Let me explain.
The decline of matrimony is often attributed to men now being able to “get what they want” from women without marrying them. But what if a woman is able to get everything she wants from a man without marriage? Might she not also be less inclined to “commit” under such circumstances? In truth, a significant number of women seek primarily attention and material goods from men. They are happy to date men they have no romantic interest in merely as a form of entertainment and a source of free meals and gifts. A man can waste a great deal of money and time on such a woman before he realizes he is being used.
Family life involves sacrifice; a good mother devotes herself to her children. Parasitic daters are takers, not givers; they are not fit for marriage or motherhood. Their character is usually fixed by the time a man meets them. Since he cannot change them, the only rational course is to learn to identify and avoid them.
A third obstacle to female reproduction is date rape hysteria. The reader may consult the first couple of chapters of Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After. At an age when women have traditionally actively sought mates, they now participate in “take back the night” marches, “rape awareness” campaign, and self-defense classes involving kicking male dummies in the groin. These young women seem less afraid of anything men are actually doing than they are of male sexual desire itself. In the trenchant words of columnist Angela Fiori “the campus date rape campaigns of the early 1990s weren’t motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of women. They were part of an ongoing attempt to delegitimize heterosexuality to young, impressionable women by demonizing men as rapists.” Self-defense training, for example, really serves to inculcate a defensive mentality toward men, making trust and intimacy impossible.
Part of the transition to womanhood has always been learning to relate to men. Attempts to pander to girls’ irrational fears are now keeping many of them in a state of arrested development. There is little that individual men can do about this, nor is there any reason they should be expected to. Who would want to court a girl encased in an impenetrable psychic armor of suspicion?
Once again, well-meaning male traditionalists have not been free of fault in their reactions to this situation. Fathers encourage self-defense classes and date rape paranoia on the assumption that their daughters’ safety overrides all other concerns. Eventually they may start wondering why they have no grandchildren.
Fourth, many women are without a mate for the simple reason that they have abandoned their men. Women formally initiate divorce about two thirds of the time. Most observers agree, however, that this understates matters: In many cases where the husband formally initiates, it is because his wife wants out of the marriage. Exact data are elusive, but close observers tend to estimate that women are responsible for about nine-tenths of the divorcing and breaking-up: Men do not love them and leave them, but love them and get left by them. Many young women, indeed, believe they want marriage when all they really want is a wedding (think of bridal magazines). The common pattern is that women are the first to want into marriage and the first to want out. Of course, it is easy to get married; the difficulty is living happily ever after.
Typically, the faithless wife does not intend to remain alone. But some men have scruples about involving themselves with divorcées; they wonder “Whose wife is this I’m dating?” There are also merely prudential considerations; a woman with a track record of abandoning her husband is hardly likely to be more faithful the second time around. And few men are eager to support another man’s children financially. Women frequently express indignation at their inability to find a replacement for the husband they walked out on: I call these women the angry adulteresses.
Vanity, parasitism, paranoia, and infidelity are only a few of the unpleasant characteristics of contemporary Western womanhood; one more is rudeness. To an extent this is part of the general decline in civility over the past half century, in which both sexes have participated. But I believe some of it is a consequence of female sexual utopianism. Here is why.
One would get the idea looking at Cosmopolitan magazine covers that women were obsessed with giving men sexual pleasure. This would come as news to many men. Indeed, the contrast between what women read and their actual behavior towards men has become almost surreal. The key to the mystery is that the man the Cosmo-girl is interested in pleasing is imaginary. She is going to meet him after one more new makeover, after losing five more pounds or finding the perfect hairdo. In the meantime, she is free to treat the flesh-and-blood men she runs into like dirt. Why make the effort of being civil to ordinary men as long as you are certain a perfect one is going to come along tomorrow? Men of the older generation are insufficiently aware how uncouth women have become. I came rather late to the realization that the behavior I was observing in women could not possibly be normal—that if women had behaved this way in times past, the human race would have died out.
The reader who suspects me of exaggerating is urged to spend a little time browsing women’s self-descriptions on Internet dating sites. They never mention children, but almost always manage to include the word “fun.” “I like to party and have fun! I like to drink, hang out with cool people, and go shopping!” The young women invite “hot guys” to contact them. No doubt some will, and perhaps have a bit of fun with them. But would any sensible man, “hot” or otherwise, start a family with such a creature?
A good wife does not simply happen. Girls were once brought up from childhood with the idea that they were going to be wives and mothers. They were taught the skills necessary to that end. A young suitor could expect a girl to know a few things about cooking and homemaking. Today, many women seem unaware that they are supposed to have something to offer a husband besides a warm body.
What happens when a contemporary woman, deluded into thinking she deserves a movie star husband, fails not only to find her ideal mate, but any mate at all? She does not blame herself for being unreasonable or gullible, of course; she blames men. A whole literary genre has emerged to pander to female anger with the opposite sex. Here are a few titles, all currently available through Amazon.com: Why Men Are Clueless, “Let’s Face it, Men are @$#%\e$”: What Women Can Do About It, How to Aggravate A Man Every Time . . . And Have Him Beg for Mercy, Things You Can Do With a Useless Man, 101 Reasons Why a Cat Is Better Than a Man, 101 Lies Men Tell Women — And Why Women Believe Them, Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, Kiss-Off Letters to Men : Over 70 Zingers You Can Use to Send Him Packing, Mess with His Head, or Just Plain Dump Him, or—for the woman who gets sent packing herself—How to Heal the Hurt by Hating.
For some women, hatred of men has now taken on psychotic dimensions. A large billboard in my hometown asks passing motorists: “How many women have to die before domestic violence is considered a crime?” One is forced to wonder what is going on in the minds of those who sponsor such a message. Are they really unaware that it has always been a crime for a man to murder his wife? Are they just trying to stir up fear? Or are their own minds so clouded by hatred that they can no longer view the world realistically?
This is where we have arrived after just one generation of female sexual liberation. Many men are bewildered when they realize the extent and depth of feminine rage at them. What could be making the most affluent and pampered women in history so furious?
Internet scribe Henry Makow has put forward the most plausible diagnosis I have yet seen, in an essay entitled “The Effect of Sexual Deprivation on Women.” Apropos of the recent rape hysteria, he suggests: “Men are ‘rapists’ because they are not giving women the love they need.” In other words, what if the problem is that men, ahem, aren’t preying upon women? All that we have just said supports the theory that Western civilization is now facing an epidemic of female sexual frustration. And once again, the typical conservative commentator is wholly unable to confront the problem correctly: He instinctively wants to step forward in shining armor and exclaim “Never fear, tender maids, I shall prevent these vicious beasts from sullying your virgin purity.” If women need love from men and aren’t getting it, this is not going to help them.
1. Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty: Rediscovering the Lost Virtue (New York: The Free Press, 1997), 131–32.
2. Katie Roiphe, The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism (Boston: Back Bay Books, 1994).
3. “Feminism’s Third Wave,” May 23, 2003, http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/fiori3.html.
4. July 7, 2003, http://www.savethemales.ca/000177.html.