Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No (to Growing Up)

So in a post written long ago, I speculated that men's behavior is highly responsive to what I guess you could call the sexual ecosystem. Basically, incentives matter, and sexual incentives matter most of all. (For young men, I would go so far as to say that practically all incentives are ultimately sexual incentives. Maybe that's true for all adults.)

For the purposes of the sexual revolution, the logic is something like:

1. Women became increasingly willing to have sex with men regardless of their suitability as long-term partners (1960s).

2. Investing in suitability became less important to male sexual success (1960s through today). This may have been exacerbated by high rates of incarceration of men, which shifted supply/demand. The fewer available men there are, the less choosy women can be.

3. Men responded by investing less in suitability (1960s through today).

4. Now, there are relatively few men who are suitable long-term partners.

This concept is by no means original to me. In his post, Douthat wrote of "the understandable male desire not to take a steady but low-paying job when they can work part-time, goof off on the XBox, and still find willing sexual partners."

And in fact, in the 1960s the left-wing movement explicitly embraced the logic of sexual incentives with the famous/infamous slogan "girls say yes to boys who say no" [to fighting in Vietnam] (I don't know how earnest this slogan was - maybe it was always more of a comment on the commodification of female sexuality). And of course, before that there was Lysistrata.

So in broad strokes, our society has de-linked the sexual success of men from their contribution to society. This is part of the general shift toward individuality and liberty, and in some sense it is to be applauded. (As for my part, I'm just waiting for women to realize how socially unproductive Wall Street lawyers are.) But not all of the consequences have been positive.


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