An interesting essay that draws a connection between our modern day obsession with sex, and declining birth-rates. (also hints at the reason feminism arose at exactly the same time as the TV in every house).
SEXUAL UTOPIA IN POWER
It is well known to readers of this journal that white birthrates worldwide have suffered a catastrophic decline in recent decades. During this same period, ours has become assuredly the most sex-obsessed society in the history of the world. Two such massive, concurrent trends are hardly likely to be unrelated. Many well-meaning conservatives agree in deploring the present
situation, but do not agree in describing that situation or how it arose. Correct diagnosis is the first precondition for effective strategy.
The well-worn phrase ‘sexual revolution’ ought, I believe, to be taken with more than customary seriousness. Like the French Revolution, the paradigmatic political revolution of modern times, it was an attempt to realize a utopia, but a sexual rather than political utopia. And like the French Revolution, it has gone through three phases: first, a libertarian or anarchic phase in which the utopia was supposed to occur spontaneously once old ways had been swept aside; second, a reign of terror, in which one faction seized power and attempted to realize its schemes dictatorially; and third, a ‘reaction’ in which human nature gradually reasserted itself. We shall follow this order in the present essay.
Let us consider what a sexual utopia is, and let us begin with men, who are in every respect simpler.
Nature has played a trick on men: production of spermatozoa occurs at a rate several orders of magnitude greater than female ovulation (about 12 million per hour vs.400 per lifetime). This is a natural, not a moral, fact. Among the lower animals also, the male is grossly oversupplied with something for which the female has only a limited demand. This means that the female
has far greater control over mating.
The universal law of nature is that males display and females choose. Male peacocks spread their tails, females choose. Male rams butt horns, females choose. Among humans, boys try to impress girls, and the girls choose. Nature dictates that in the mating dance, the male must wait to be chosen.
A man’s sexual utopia is, accordingly, a world in which no such limit to female demand for him exists. It is not necessary to resort to pornography for examples. Consider only popular movies aimed at a male audience, such as the James Bond series. Women simply cannot resist James Bond. He does not have to propose marriage, or even request dates. He simply walks into the
room and they swoon. The entertainment industry turns out endless unrealistic images such as this. Why, the male viewer eventually may ask, cannot life actually be so? To some, it is tempting to put the blame on the institution of marriage.
Marriage, after all, seems to restrict sex rather drastically.
Certain men figure that if sex were permitted both inside and outside of marriage there would be twice as much of it as formerly. They imagined there existed a large, untapped reservoir of female desire hitherto repressed by monogamy.To release it, they sought, during the early postwar period, to replace the seventh commandment with an endorsement of all sexual activity between ‘consenting adults’. Every man could have a harem. Sexual behavior in general, and
not merely family life, was henceforward to be regarded as a private matter.
Traditionalists who disagreed were said to want to ‘put a policeman in every bedroom’. This was the age of the Kinsey Report and the first appearance of Playboy magazine. Idle male daydreams had become a social movement. This characteristically male sexual utopianism was a forerunner of the sexual revolution but not the revolution itself. Men are incapable of bringing about fundamental changes in heterosexual relations without the cooperation – the famed ‘consent’ – of women. But the original male would-be revolutionaries did not understand the nature of the female sex instinct. That is why things have not gone according to their plan.
What is the special character of feminine sexual desire that distinguishes it from that of men?
It is sometimes said that men are polygamous and women monogamous.
Such a belief is often implicit in the writings of male conservatives: Women only want good husbands, but heartless men use and abandon them. Some evidence does appear, prima facie, to support such a view.One 1994 survey found that ‘while men projected they would ideally like six sex partners over the next year, and eight over the next two years, women responded that their
ideal would be to have only one partner over the next year. And over two years? The answer, for women, was still one. Is this not evidence that women are naturally monogamous?
No it is not. Women know their own sexual urges are unruly, but traditionally have had enough sense to keep quiet about it. A husband’s belief that his wife is naturally monogamous makes for his own peace of mind. It is not to a wife’s advantage, either, that her husband understand her too well: Knowledge is power. In short, we have here a kind of Platonic ‘noble lie’ – a belief which is salutary, although false.
It would be more accurate to say that the female sexual instinct is hyper-gamous. Men may have a tendency to seek sexual variety, but women have simple tastes in the manner of Oscar Wilde: They are always satisfied with the best. By definition, only one man can be the best. These different male and female ‘sexual orientations’ are clearly seen among the lower primates, e.g.,in a baboon pack. Females compete to mate at the top, males to get to the top.
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 alright 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.
In any case, hypergamy, as above noted, implies rejection maximization: if only the best is good enough, almost everyone is not 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 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 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. 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 naÃ¯vetÃ©; 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 requests. They are then astonished to discover that the men usually take them out once or twice and 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 being blamed for not committing, such men should be commended for sexual self-control and the exercise of caution in mate-seeking. Many men have been only too happy to marry the first girl who is nice to them.
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 enough 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 divorcÃ©es; 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 them 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. He is the affuent fellow with moviestar looks who is going to fall for her after one more new makeover, after she loses five more pounds or finds 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 and that if women had behaved this way in times past, the human race would have died out.