On Sex

by Little Miss Attila on February 28, 2011

Kathryn Jean Lopez discusses the weird sexual imbalance we’ve got going on in society right now. Because she is a better Catholic than I am, she emphasizes birth control as a contributing factor more than I would, though as a former hippie I find the notion of staying on oral contraceptives for more than several years at a time fairly shocking: ladies, that is no way to cardiac health, and you need to break it up with abstinence, barrier methods–something. Manipulating your hormones is a short-term strategy; one doesn’t run a body that way.

I’m one of those who thinks this has more to do with the misuse of feminism than the misuse of birth control, and I know I occupy a strange middle ground inasmuch as I’m not quite a proper social conservative.

Yet what we’ve created at this point is a situation in which women and girls attempt to ignore their own emotions and “out-detach” the boys. In practice, this means many have trained themselves to be sexually available, and make no demands whatsover–and, yes: in some circles, a request to spend time with a guy doing anything other than sex is considered a “demand,” as Wendy Shalit has documented extensively in her books.

This is not the world I want my niece and church sponsee to live in (and I’m delighted to say that they haven’t bought into this nonsense at all). But we have to get back to a place wherein “sexual freedom,” as a cultural norm, actually includes the freedom to say “no.” This in turn requires that we celebrate the notion of dating as something that doesn’t require sex, and we appreciate the wonders of human attraction without having to act on them every single freakin’ time, for crying out loud.

This is something that’s difficult to talk about or write about without using the cartooney images of men as always-horny, or of women as wanting-marriage-rather-than-sex. (As if! I, for instance, planned to be a sexually active spinster all my life, until I fell in love with the man I later married. In fact, spinsterhood of both the celibate and the non-celibate varieties has a long, respected history among intellectual women.)

Right now, we live in a culture in which the structure of male-female relationships is broken, and everyone senses it. When I talk to my lefty friends, they acknowledge that as well, but they would really like it to be the fault of corporations, so they tend to talk a lot about “making sex into a commodity.” But that isn’t all of what’s going on, either.

Instead, what happened with premarital sex is what happened with abortion: something that started out as a “choice” turned into a cultural imperative. What was possible became a mandate. And women/girls were screwed not in the nice sense–but eventually, more and more, in the not-nice sense.

There needs to be a course correction. Not an over-correction, but a simple turning back to the ideal of treating each other decently, as people rather than as representatives of our respective genders. Decisions about whether (and when) to have sex should be based on mutual respect, and erotic restraint has to be acknowledged as the wiser course, rather than treated as weirdness.

Heterosexual males and females should go back to learning from (and about) each other. Dating needs to return as an institution that doesn’t require a hookup to be considered a success, and “who pays” is less important than whether the conversation over dinner or drinks was actually interesting. Men who treat women as notches for their bedposts should be shunned, as should women who judge men by their bank balances–because each approach is equally dehumanizing.

In short, sex should be part of the human experience, but we must work our way back to treating each other as humans–that is to say, we must act humanely, above all.

UPDATE: Kay Hymowitz talks about the sources of male anger.

UPDATE 2: This post by Glenn collects some of the currents that have been swirling around for the past week on the subject of sex and dating. The last time I’d seen it he simply linked that shmuck, Roissy, and noted–quite reasonably–that he’d never bought a drink for a woman he didn’t know.

My thought when I read that was, “what kind of woman accepts a drink from a man she doesn’t know?” I mean, unless there’s some special circumstance, such as you’re very familar with each other’s work to the point that you virtually do know each other–or if the woman has left her wallet at home and only realized it as she got to the bar, and the man is being gallant (And why is she in that bar? I’m only in a bar to either 1] meet friends, or 2] have a quick cheeseburger with a beer or a martini when I’m in the middle of a project, and/or at a conference of some kind.)

UPDATE 3: And then, there’s Ace, whose post did, I think, have a few stereotypes hitchhiking through it, but still made some good points.

UPDATE 4: Stacy McCain (who is, by the way, a male) makes some good points, and then quotes the Ace essay with its ghostly sexist presences.

Then he goes into his usual “anti-feminist” routine, critiquing the “second wave” of feminism ushered in by Betty Friedan and ignoring the third and fourth waves. Even in Stacy’s formulation, though, the suffragists were the first wave. And . . . I like voting.

Besides, “[w]hen I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. . . . The question is, which is to be master — that’s all.”

UPDATE 5: Cassandra wins the comments thread, with this:

Sooner or later we all need to decide whether sex is a guilt-free pastime like watching football or crocheting a sweater or an act that invokes powerful and primitive emotions (and one that can have life changing consequences for both men and women). Either way, the conflation of moral courage with weakness is a real problem.

UPDATE 6: An Anchor-lanche! Elizabeth has a general roundup that includes a mini-roundup on the New Modesty/New Restraint, that’s, um, sweeping the nation. I hope. Catch the fever!

{ 8 trackbacks }

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Let’s talk about sex… « Da Techguy's Blog
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Soap Operas Are Not Documentaries (and ‘Feminism’ Is a Word With a Definition) : The Other McCain
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Whiskey! Democracy! Sexy! Linkaround | The Anchoress
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Oh, about Little Miss Attila… | World's Only Rational Man
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I don’t remember if it was Chuck or Tony… « Da Techguy's Blog
March 2, 2011 at 5:15 am
Stacy Explains that He Agrees with Me, Conceptually, and So Does a Reader/Colleague of His.
March 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm

{ 121 comments… read them below or add one }

datechguy February 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

The biggest problem has been the blurring of the difference between Sex and love.

I believe Aquinus definition of love is “Wanting the best for the other without thought to self”.

If that rule is used then restraint and restraint will come from it.

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Cassandra February 28, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I believe Aquinus definition of love is “Wanting the best for the other without thought to self”.

Yes, but that requires the maturity to admit that their just might be something more to life than self gratification. I think there’s a more fundamental problem.

As a society, we have grown uncomfortable with the very idea of right and wrong. Morality has been defined down to the lowest common denominator: so long as we can point a finger at someone else’s bad behavior, our own gets a free pass.

“It’s not his fault – those bad [fill in the blank] made him feel bad about himself.”

“Don’t criticize her behavior – everyone else is doing it.”

Standards are uncomfortable. And hard to live up to. But until we start holding ourselves to some higher standard than the worst example we can find on the Intertubes (now *there’s* a gift that keeps on giving), I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

My sons are grown men now, and happily married. But when they were teens my biggest challenge as a parent was disabusing them of the notion that morality is relative. I don’t buy into the idea of allowing others to define our own moral standards: that’s a responsibility that cannot be delegated. Morality isn’t a dirty word – it’s a mechanism that encourages us to try to become better people. Something to aspire – or live up – to. But saying, “It’s OK for me to be a complete jackwagon because I can always find people who are doing worse/the same things” is the same as saying that two wrongs make a right. That seems to be the animating principle these days, and it’s nothing more than a race to the bottom.

Until we start admiring honorable behavior instead of treating nice people as chumps, nothing will change.

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Cassandra February 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Aye yay yay… I really do know the difference between “there” and “their” :p

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Paul L. Quandt February 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Proof-reading before hitting “submit” does wounders for ones image.

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Got Irony? March 1, 2011 at 2:52 am

Proof-reading before hitting “submit” does wounders for one’s image.

And the award for best intentional irony in a comments section goes to …. Paul!

Don’t you love it when I rise up and bite someone on the tuckus? I know I do.

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Cassandra February 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I guess I’d just like to say one more thing. Why doesn’t anyone worry about what the sexual climate these days is doing to boys?

I don’t believe men are little better than deranged minks . Yes, nature gives boys and men strong sex drives but it also gives them a whole host of other abilities and attributes: a broad range of emotions other than simple lust or aggression, intellectual curiosity, the willingness to sacrifice for the good of others…

The list goes on and on. Why are our expectations for boys so low? “The soft bigotry of low expectations” comes to mind.

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I R A Darth Aggie March 1, 2011 at 9:44 am

Why are our expectations for boys so low?

Because there is this notion that everything in the world would be hunky dory if every one were a woman. So we’ve had a K-12 educational system geared toward social engineering: boosting girls, and tamping down on those icky boy traits.

And now we’ seeing the fruits of that as more and more women ship off to college, and fewer men choose that route. And don’t even get me started on the potentially bitter fruits of marriage.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

And yet the world I grew up in continually told me that women were only suited to be mothers, teachers, stewardesses, or nurses. My mother – an excellent student who wanted to go to college – was told by her counselor that girls don’t need college and that she should just find a husband and have children. I remember being told (despite having just outscored all but one other student in HS in math) that I didn’t need advanced math courses :p

It used to be that girls outperformed boys academically until puberty. Then, boys surged ahead. Feminists and progressives claimed that girls weren’t succeeding because schools weren’t “girl friendly” enough. And conservatives claimed this was a bunch of hogwash and that if women wanted to succeed, they should work harder and conform to society rather than the other way around (IOW, act more like men).

Now the shoe is on the other foot. Girls appear to be doing better and boys are lagging behind. And now conservatives seem to be arguing that schools aren’t “boy friendly” enough, so boys get discouraged and refuse to try.

I was one of those who argued (back then) that if girls/women wanted to succeed they needed to do whatever it took. So I suppose I’m a bit confused. The schools I went to in the 60s and 70s didn’t tolerate bad behavior, but now I hear conservatives arguing that boys are unable (or shouldn’t be expected) to meet lower standards than the ones their fathers and grandfathers had to meet.

I guess I don’t believe that’s true, though.

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Little Miss Attila March 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

It’s so easy for people to airily dismiss what a mind-eff it was for bright women to be waved away from challenges worthy of their talents.
And when we point this out, some misunderstand and think we’re putting down the raising of children, which–well, my “team” has done that for thousands of years, and it’s done a damned fine job of it.
But both are important. Even if a woman has decided to stay at home with kids for a few years, that doesn’t mean she wants to turn her brain right off. Or that she can.

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datechguy February 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm

that’s a very good point, you don’t know how hard it is to teach teenage boys restraint when their counterparts don’t believe in it.

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Cassandra February 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I tried very hard to teach my sons that real men possess the courage to stand up for what is right even when everyone else is going in another direction. To me, that’s the true essence of manliness. The world will always need men like that. Riffing off something a dear friend once said wrt to good women, “Where will we find such men, if we let them be scorned”?

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Roxeanne de Luca February 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Wow – lovely post, LMA!

From what I’ve seen, one of the big problems is that the absence of standards came with the absence of justifications for those standards. As but one example:

But we have to get back to a place wherein “sexual freedom,” as a cultural norm, actually includes the freedom to say “no.”

The problems is that men (and many women) don’t have a good basis for saying or respecting “no”. Once we said that sex is all well and good, in any situation, it became ridiculous to say no – something I’ve found out in some frightening ways myself.

Now, as much of a ridiculous prude as I am, I know the difference between adult sexual activity (like real adult – my age adult) and adolescent sexual activity. Some of it is the ability to assess partners, to not take their garbage (many nice people, both women and men, find themselves exploited by or used by people who are not nice), and the ability to deal with the consequences. A thirty-three year old who gets pregnant has real options that aren’t available to a sixteen-year-old, as well as emotional, financial, and educational reserves. Not perfect, but it’s possible.

So I guess my question is: if sex outside of marriage is acceptable (at least among self-sufficient adults), where are the lines? What is the basis to say no – why would a healthy, sexual woman (or man) turn down sex?

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Miss Ladybug March 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Because some healthy, sexual women know they cannot separate the act from a feeling of a real commitment; if she knows there is no chance for commitment, she will not perform the act…

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htom March 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Because they understand the dangers of engaging such a broad-band communication channel with the depths of their body/mind/brain, and know that they will be unable to control the consequences of that merger, even if pregnancy was not a possible outcome?

Because they’ve told their partner they won’t?

Because they’ve made an agreement with themselves not to under the circumstances?

Because it’s their decision to make.

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Cassandra March 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Because it’s their decision to make.

Exactly, htom.

To thine own self be true
And then it must follow as the day, the night
Thou canst not be false to any man (or woman)

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Roxeanne de Luca February 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Dating needs to return as an institution that doesn’t require a hookup to be considered a success, and “who pays” is less important than whether the conversation over dinner or drinks was actually interesting.

Just as a quick note: I’ve found that a man’s willingness to plan and pay for dates is an amazing indicator of his level of interest. Now, he doesn’t have to take me to dinner on Newbury Street – I’m happy with the free night at the Museum of Fine Arts and then ice cream – but the men who have planned dates, taken me out, and paid (even for my coffee, when we were all broke, living in DC and interning for free) are the ones who were interested in me, Roxeanne. Not just for sex, not just because they could, or because they sort of thought they might try to hit on me, but the ones who have been interested have acted in a very traditional manner.

In my youth, I was happy to buy the pizza and watch movies at his place. In my old age, I can’t help but see that as a reliable signal of indifference.

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D March 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

“Just as a quick note: I’ve found that a man’s willingness to plan and pay for dates is an amazing indicator of his level of interest. ”

Just a quick note: I’ve found that a woman’s willingess to go on dates that I plan and pay for is an amazing indicator of precisely nothing.

After you have lathered, rinsed and repeated washing that skunk, it’s still a skunk.

Overall the problem is just that in abolishing rules of behavior, in the name of egalitarianism, often leaves everyone adrift. As if those rules meant nothing, as if the people who made the rules were daft in the first place. Men and women are slightly different in many ways, yet everyone tries to act like it’s not true.

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Little Miss Attila February 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I got to know my husband over cheeseburgers that I paid for, because I made more money than he did, and I thought he was too thin–he couldn’t afford to eat much in those days.

But I realize I’m out outlier, in all kinds of ways.

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Roxeanne de Luca February 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Perhaps Da TechGuy will jump back in and discuss the Two Generation Rule.

I’ve heard a fair number of women of your generation – smart, educated, West Coast, even! – say that they paid half, or they paid, when they met their husbands. What I don’t know of is many (or any) women of my generation who followed that pattern.

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Tim February 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Loved dating, back when I was single. Loved sex too. I found that it was pretty difficult to get both from one woman. The women I dated were good friends. Either you dated her, and she disrespected you as boring, because you didn’t come on strong, or you came on strong on the first date and got the sex. Not too many women were ‘romantic’, wanting to be courted.

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Gov98 February 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

The thing is…and the hard reality is…

Do you not know a little leaven leaven’s the whole loaf.

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newscaper February 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

The ‘Cosmo Girl’ strain of feminism is in large part to blame, in a way that borders on insane:

Many proto-feminists wanted to stand up to — and demand better treatment from the law with regard to — cheating or abusive husbands or the players & users. Of course traditional judaeo-christian morals were against these things too (even where not exactly for ‘equality’) — but in the rush to oppose ‘patriarchy’ this had to be denigrated.

So what did the 70s era feminists decide to do? Push the idea to young women that empowerment lay in emulating the *worser* element among men.

And today, in the midst of a small backlash against the hookup culture, some women are finally realizing the obvious — that being promiscuous only makes them fodder for the wrong guys.

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datechguy February 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm

There was a time when the love and admiration of a woman was something to be earned. Now to many guys it’s a trophy to be hung on the wall.

And yes it took two generations for this to be the norm, for the standards that all held to be abandoned and forgotten.

Like the black family with the great society, 60′s feminism biggest losers when it comes to relationships are women.

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wolfwalker February 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

“Why are our expectations for boys so low? ”

It isn’t so much that society doesn’t expect boys (and men) to succeed, so much as it is that modern society doesn’t want boys (and men) to succeed. Because most of the things that boys (and men) do well are things that modern society sneers at. Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, builder, explorer, hunter, farmer, rancher — all the traditional man’s jobs, all viewed with total contempt by the Beautiful People.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 3:59 am

It isn’t so much that society doesn’t expect boys (and men) to succeed, so much as it is that modern society doesn’t want boys (and men) to succeed.

My mention of standards had nothing to do with career choices or material success, but with moral standards. I agree with datechguy – it’s awfully hard to teach your sons to be honorable men when their peers (other boys) don’t understand or respect the notion of honor. I think the real problem is that in our rush to do whatever feels good and be all fuzzy and tolerant and standards-free, we stopped holding up good examples to our children.

If sex is a morally neutral act, then it makes no sense to blame girls and applaud boys for promiscuity. If sexual promiscuity is morally problematic in certain circumstances, then it is just as wrong for men to be sexually promiscuous as it is for women.

Too many people view sex as something a man “does to” a woman who “lets him” rather than an activity two people enjoy with each other.

This attitude crops up in the comments section of many blogs. Usually if a man tries to link morality with sex, he is accused – by other men – of being gay, being a wimp or a pu**y or a beta. In others words, he’s subjected to “blaming and shaming” behavior, not by feminists but by his fellow men.

For daring to suggest that there may be such a thing as right and wrong. I’m not surprised today’s kids are confused about sex. We parents aren’t showing a whole lot of clarity on the issue either.

Sooner or later we all need to decide whether sex is a guilt-free pastime like watching football or crocheting a sweater or an act that invokes powerful and primitive emotions (and one that can have life changing consequences for both men and women). Either way, the conflation of moral courage with weakness is a real problem.

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htom March 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Too many people view sex as something a man “does to” a woman who “lets him” rather than an activity two people enjoy with each other.

Exactly. This view or practice of sex turns it in to an unappetizing form of mutual masturbation. I suppose if it’s the only exposure you’ve had, it could seem strange to wait for something much, much better.

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ErikZ February 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I think you’re over-thinking this.

The problem is that women don’t really *need* men anymore. Oh sure, they might like them, or want them. But need?

How long do you think a relationship will last when you’re not needed? That’s the other side of the independence coin.

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TJ February 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm

You mention feminism. Are you willing to take a closer look at that aspect?

That Hymowitz gal has been all over the internet, radio and maybe TV peddling her book, decrying that young men aren’t stepping up to marriage and responsibility whereas the young ladies are all together and such.

The way the marriage and divorce industries treat men, I don’t blame them for not wanting to engage with women other than for casual sex. 50 percent chance you will be divorced and 70 percent chance it will be the woman who files divorce. These kids are smart and know how to use the internet.

Or as one fellow put it ” is this the line to get in to lose my home, my children, and half my stuff after 18 years of marriage?”. It is undeniable that men get screwed unless they are very smart and somewhat well off.

I am not young, nor have I been divorced, but if I was out there today I would not be wanting the trap that awaits, either.

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Mark C March 1, 2011 at 4:11 am

Agreed. But in direct response to LMA’s post, the sad and simple fact is most women in America aren’t worth my (or any other mans) non-sexual time. The women I meet when I am in the states (and I moved overseas 10 years ago so its not very often) are spoiled, entitled, whining, uninteresting, selfish, and self absorbed. They are so uninterested in anything other than themselves, that they just aren’t interesting. To put it bluntly, I’d need a lobotomy before Id even consider spending any time with them beyond sex. Add in the negative consequences of a relationship or marriage as noted by TJ above, and I see no point in wasting my time. However the women I meet overseas, in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia, are interested in me, my thoughts, my hobbies, and my desires, and as such they become interesting to me as well.

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newscaper February 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm

But ErikZ, a very big part of that disruption of the old yin-yang mutual need of men and women for each other has been from government action in social engineering thru various forms of welfare.

All of these single mothers don’t ‘need’ a man… but they need the tax $$s taken from the husbands and father of other women and children.

I’ve been thinking of an outrageous analogy lately:
The situation we have is effectively equivalent to young promiscuous women being something of whores, with Uncle Sam as their pimp, with the only difference being that this pimp muscles money from the men who *aren’t* the johns.

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Walt February 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hey, if I use you, and you use me, it’s a really okay because we’ve each obtained our objectives in a contractually attractive way. That can be enough, but it doesn’t have to be.
There might also be a chance that we could care for each other.

And finally, we can not only care for but also take care of one another. It’s good to know somebody has your back and that you are trusted to have theirs. At depth, it becomes a trust issue and the most satisfying relationships have to contain a lot of trust and trustworthiness.

Could this sort of relationship grow out of a casual hookup? Sure, why not. Does it? Depends on what comes after the hookup, if anything. If a person has kids, or a career, or a hungry ex, or any combination, you probably don’t have all that much left over to give to a relationship. Your hook-up buddy knows without thinking that there will be times when you won’t have their back, because you are busy taking care of other demands. And of both of you are in that kind of busy life, chances are it can’t ever advance beyond the hook-up stage.

But at least you get to hook up.

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M. Simon February 28, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Yes, but that requires the maturity to admit that their just might be something more to life than self gratification. I think there’s a more fundamental problem.

When I was growing up, Jewish men had on average 12 partners and married later. As a culture they were known as “good husband material” – generally – every group has its stinkers.

I didn’t marry until I was 38 – the first mate was 8 1/2 months pregnant. Twenty-eight years and four children later still going strong. BTW we never kept any of this secret from the kids. So far no grand kids that I know of.

We do have problems though – demographics. The mancession isn’t helping.

Demographics

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Ed February 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Just as a quick note: I’ve found that a man’s willingness to plan and pay for dates is an amazing indicator of his level of interest.

I’ve found a woman’s willingness to have sex is an amazing indicator of her level of interest. Good luck putting the genie back in the bottle.

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M. Simon February 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

When it comes to mating games men are the romantics and women the calculators. What does that tell you – the greater the self worth of the woman the more likely she is to wait.

Example (jr year in college study IIRC females): Art students 0% virgins. ChemE students 87% virgins. (my daughter is ChemE. 6′ 1″ tall and a beauty [not the usual dumpy nerd girl] – her odds are good in many ways).

But all the above is just besides the point: the women being calculators will do no more than required to be competitive. I read that in colonial times 1/3rd of the weddings were shotgun weddings (not in fact – just that the women were likely pregnant when they got married – the blushing bride). So we deal with it all differently these days because birth control has made sex cheaper. When you might end up marrying the guy you had to be choosier.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

“When it comes to mating games men are the romantics and women the calculators. What does that tell you – the greater the self worth of the woman the more likely she is to wait. ”

Circular reasoning. Some women calculate; some do not.

Practical women are criticized for being “calculating.” Impractical women are criticized for being “overemotional.”

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Steve Poling February 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm

You said, “Right now, we live in a culture in which the structure of male-female relationships is broken…”

I have a modest proposal: Don’t participate in the brokenness. I married quite well back in 1980 and I intend to stay that way. There are Commandments in the Bible, that when followed avoid several pitfalls. Conservatives love traditional values, because they survived and were workable long enough and well enough to become traditions. Reagan said that there are simple answers to social problems, but they are not easy answers. So, you do the hard work of selecting the best mate, being the best mate, and maintaining it for the rest of your life. Maybe I’m lucky.

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M. Simon February 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

So why art students and not ChemE students? M/F ratios in class. ChemE is majority male in most places. About 4 to 1. Art Class? The other way ’round.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 4:02 am

Or it could just be that people who major in Art are about as different as they can possibly be from people who major in ChemE, regardless of sex.

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Roxeanne de Luca March 1, 2011 at 6:02 am

ROFL. Wow, my college major (well, one of them) and that fit me and most of my female peers. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity, just for lack of desire – especially lack of desire to repeat my parents’ mistakes.

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MthePix February 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I think one of the negative contributions that the feminist movement deposited was that in many ways we expected women to get equal rights by being the same as men, we blurred the beautiful distinctions between the sexes, and frankly people don’t like to talk about it honestly.

What makes us different should be enjoyed, not feared. Typically we fear to some degree (or at minimum ignore) what we do not understand, and anyone who has spent anything resembling intimate deep conversation with the opposite sex has to appreciate the fact that we think differently.

Single dad I am, raised 5 kids by myself 4 of them girls, all very powerful women, my oldest just took her second bar exam (passed in Calif. , now adding Az) and managed to do it with a 6 month old newborn breast-feeding, she passed the Cali bar while 8 months pregnant, and having their second child between L2 and L3.

My point is this, power and intelligence and beauty are not mutually exclusive that goes without saying, but somehow in our culture we no longer value the capacity of someone beautiful being powerful and intelligent and DIFFERENT from the masculine unless we can somehow objectify the package.

Why is it so rare to sit with a woman and simply enjoy the way she thinks, or perhaps understand that feminine is just as powerful but extremely different?

Why can’t we just enjoy one another without demanding some kind of physical gratification as part of the deal?

I went to the symphony recently, all Chinese music, not my cup of tea, loved the experience pretty much hated the music, if I can manage my expectations with a symphony why is it a cultural phenomena to not expect a kiss, or a tumble in bed when I’ve just sat in the symphony of another personality?

There are creatures on our planet that are delicate and beautiful and the touch of their skin can kill you just as dead as a lightening bolt, both are powerful but in a different way…

If nature accepts such diversity in power and design, why should we fail to appreciate it and create a culture that honors the distinctions?

We have created a culture of uniformity hoping to achieve unity, we’re building with bricks and not stones and we wonder where our wonder went.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

This is amazing. Thank you.

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Kat February 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm

So I guess my question is: if sex outside of marriage is acceptable (at least among self-sufficient adults), where are the lines? What is the basis to say no – why would a healthy, sexual woman (or man) turn down sex?

Perhaps because it isn’t just something to do, like dinner, a movie, and sex? Some people like to get to know someone, and after they do, find that they just are *not* attracted to that person. Or maybe that internal alarm goes off, and you just know that sleeping with this guy or gal would be a really big mistake.

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Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame February 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Q: What do you call a man who truly understands the way women think?
A: A misogynist.

LMA, I truly understand where you are coming from, but you have to realize that it comes across as, “Oops! The mask has slipped! We need to get back to fooling men so we can get what we more of what we want before we fuck men over.”

The Sisterhood of the Easily Removed Pants demands that you push for a better situation for your fellow women at the expense of men, even if you’ve already found your patsy-for-life.

…okay, okay. I’m not always this cynical.

In fact, being a man sucks. Being a husband sucks even more. But the paradox is that men should embrace the suck. Men were born to relish self-sacrifice for a woman that can appreciate him. I think you can’t really be a true (mature?) man if you don’t embrace the suck. And when men selflessly embrace the suck, they can lead their wife to otherwise-unattainable levels of mutual satisfaction with life.

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Mark C March 1, 2011 at 4:25 am

“Men were born to relish self-sacrifice for a woman that can appreciate him.”

And therein lies the issue. American women are incapable of appreciating anyone other than themselves.

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Miss Ladybug March 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Nice broad brush, there, Mark…

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Little Miss Attila February 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Nathan, what happened to you? What’s your damage?

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Passingby March 1, 2011 at 5:46 am

Nathan is 100% right.

The fact that so many guys are waking up to this is the circumstance Hymowitz and you, to a lesser degree, find so troubling.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

None of this affects me in any direct way; I’m too old, and I’m too married.

But the bitterness and cynicism I see out there strikes me as self-destructive.

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STALLION March 1, 2011 at 12:10 am

I found this article identical to pretty much any article where a woman discusses sex and relationships – trite, glib, and an utter waste of time.
I expected so much more when I clicked on the Instapundit link about an article posted by someone who called themselves “MISS ATTILA.” If you’re not going to live up to the moniker, don’t use it.
There’s only one thing that your niece needs to have to prevent her from either becoming a sex toy for players/”seduction artists” or for her to do the same to them:
Your niece needs to have a background, education, upbringing and instilled (as in tried and stress-tested) set of ethics and standards which lead to CHARACTER and MATURITY.
It’s not the result of gently and calmly discussing a set of fuzzy, politically correct, middle of the road platitudes of which your article is so full.
You teach your niece – by case study, book, story, example. Then you test. You proportionately, properly and invariably punish for failure, because failure has consequences. Learning well always involves some level of discomfort or pain or the lesson won’t have value and won’t stick.
And it’s not “We” who have to do this – it’s YOU. With YOUR NIECE. If you really want her to grow up mentally healthy, strong and resilient so that she can handle herself, teach Her like a good aunt would, like your mom and dad’s grandparents, uncles and aunts did to them.
If you’re not prepared to do that, then you shouldn’t have written the article.

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STALLION March 1, 2011 at 12:11 am

One more thing, to give the proper perspective:

Mattie Ross would NEVER have written an article like that.

Case Closed.

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Ernst Schreiber March 2, 2011 at 8:22 am

Mattie Ross was a spinster, who chose to AVOID rather than navigate the intricacies and complexities of sex (in both senses of the word). Not exactly a viable solution for those less saintly in their resolve.

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M. Simon March 1, 2011 at 12:24 am

L.M. Attila,

You don’t get it. This is the truest exposition of how to get the very best possible relationship between a man and woman. Godly even. Or so it has been my experience:

In fact, being a man sucks. Being a husband sucks even more. But the paradox is that men should embrace the suck. Men were born to relish self-sacrifice for a woman that can appreciate him. I think you can’t really be a true (mature?) man if you don’t embrace the suck. And when men selflessly embrace the suck, they can lead their wife to otherwise-unattainable levels of mutual satisfaction with life.

We are expected to protect, fight for, and if necessary die for the mate and children. And if we hold up our end we demand you be nice. Result – otherwise-unattainable levels of mutual satisfaction with life.

These days proper surrender is difficult for a man and near impossible for most American women. The women can surrender their sex well enough. Their souls are much more guarded. Thus the high divorce rate. If you want to mate for life you have to be willing to go through a LOT of pain. You must open your soul to many who will not appreciate it in order to find one who will. We learn from our mistakes.

The head office sent me my mate. Almost matched my specifications perfectly (she was 1″ too short) and there were signs and portents. I kid you not. You can ask her.

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Maureen March 1, 2011 at 12:32 am

Nobody would ever say, “We’ve just met. Let’s trade houses and cars!” or “We’ve just met. Let’s go through each other’s wallets together!” or even “We’ve just met. Here, go through my garden and uproot whatever you want to take home, including whole trees!”

And yet, people let total strangers sleep with them (and not just sleep, either). It’s deeply insane from any rational viewpoint. Heck, it’s a tribute to the strength of our species’ drives that so few people get murdered, robbed, sexually assaulted, or given horrible diseases in the process.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 12:38 am

“We are expected to protect, fight for, and if necessary die for the mate and children. And if we hold up our end we demand you be nice.”

So . . . the man expects that he will protect and fight for his wife and kids, and be ready to die for them if need be. And in return, he expects only that the woman “be nice”?

I have never seen this in practice, and I have doubts about whether it would work for most couples.

And I still think Nathan sounds very angry, and very unhappy.

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M. Simon March 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

So . . . the man expects that he will protect and fight for his wife and kids, and be ready to die for them if need be. And in return, he expects only that the woman “be nice”?

It is working for me. But it did take a while for the mate to get to nice. It took her a while to figure out if I was the man of her dreams or nightmares. She got to dreams eventually. Ecstasy.

Yeah. It is unrealistic. Handled correctly (moderation) it papers over a lot of faults. Oh. Yeah. It takes thirty years off your face. The mate LOVES looking younger.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

If it works for you, it works for you.

And I agree that long-term marriage is generally tough and painful–albeit immensely rewarding.

But it seems to me that a bright, loving woman should be able to bring more to the table than “niceness.” YMMV, and apparently does.

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backhoe March 1, 2011 at 1:29 am

Good essay.

“Right now, we live in a culture in which the structure of male-female relationships is broken…”

Maybe not broken so much, as badly distorted… I see reflections of this in popular “culture,” or in all the junk the media peddles as normal.

A year ago all this would have been of academic interest to me, because I was still married to my second wife of 25 years- then, she dropped dead on me last summer. My first wife did the same thing 29 years ago.

So I’ll just toss out this Bon Mot: “You kids sort it out among yourselves- I’m sticking with dogs…”

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 11:50 am

I’m so sorry.

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backhoe March 2, 2011 at 4:50 am

I thank you.

Frankly, I am still in shock- Miss Emily was a decade younger than I, in good health, and came from a family full of 80 and 90 year-olds.

Back to the subject, all I know is what I observe around me, and what I see is an increasing army of un-grownups, male & female. They seem stuck in perpetual childhood, with childish attitudes.

Then again, my Mom always told me “you were born old…”

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eggmerchant March 1, 2011 at 4:07 am

It is The Doctrine for a Christian Marriage. The husband is expected to lay his life down for his wife; as Christ did for The Church. The wife is expected to love, honor, and obey her husband; as we are expected to love honor and obey Christ Jesus. Our society has a problem with the “obey” part of this doctrine. My own wife of 32 years bristled over it at first. We understand that I am to love, honor, and respect her. I am not her “master”. She has free will, free speech, freedom of association, etc…
When we have a decision to make, we openly discuss it, I make the final call. That is part of the “obey”. I have the right to make the wrong decision (which I have been known to do.). That is where Christian Grace comes in. I confess my error, she forgives me.

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mariner March 1, 2011 at 4:12 am

Just as a quick note: I’ve found that a man’s willingness to plan and pay for dates is an amazing indicator of his level of interest.

Just as a quick note: I’ve found that a woman’s interest in my paying for everything is an amazing indicator of her level of desire … to use me as an ATM.

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Charlie March 1, 2011 at 4:18 am

I read this… and the referenced articles… and the comments… and we definitely have a “blind Indian men and the elephants” thing going on here.

I’m holding on to two different parts of the elephant. One, I was a summer-of-love hippy who hopped several freight ships to pay for college. I got real friendly with sex.

Two, I’ve got three very handsome sons in their twenties. One went to the most radical school in the US and is now in the movie biz in NYC. Another to one of the most conservative schools and moves between SoCal and Austin. The third has a few months to go in art school in SF. All three have 1000+ FB friends–they’re popular.

Despite the fact all three student bodies skewed female, their sex-love-dating experiences have been far more idealized and yet low key than what was going on in my day. All three adhere to the concept of commited relationships. For all three, dating takes a backseat to work; two in particular will go months without even worrying about the dating thang.

As far as I’m concerned, all three are prudes and are passing up the chance to have fun and learn at the one time in life you can do that, but when I point that out they make it clear that my latitudinarian notions of sex don’t work in today’s scene.

This doesn’t square with what the author is claiming, but that’s what I’m feeling on my part of the elephant.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

I am curious, Charlie: I thoroughly enjoyed your comment but I’m having struggling to understand why you would call your sons “prudes” simply because they made different choices? It sounds as though you disapprove – as though you think it is wrong or abnormal not to sleep around.

I looked up the word prude, and it doesn’t seem to fit the context here:

Prude – a person who is excessively proper or modest in speech, conduct, dress, etc.

Do you believe that young women who choose not to sleep around are prudes? Or is it only young men who choose committed relationships who are prudes?

Thanks :)

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Charlie March 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Thanks for the great reply, Cassandra. Glad to see my post FINALLY got moderated.

I meant sexual prudes. Casual sex was a healthy part of my life and a great learning experience. Thank goodness for all the patient, helpful women who helped me become a considerate lover. And thank goodness for the chance to satisfy all my curiosities as it allowed me to pick out a splendid mom for those boys and stick with her without outside temptation.

They may be forgoing that, and that’s why I often remind them that “There’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called college.”

However, I did not mean to shine a light on my point of view. Only to dramatize that the boys (and this goes for their male friends too) do not fit the picture Miss Attila painted *despite* parental guidance to give it a go.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I dated quite a lot before I met my husband, and my relationships included guys who had more and less experience.

I have to say that I was never able to draw any connection between sexual experience and being a good lover… in the aggregate.

In raising my two boys, it often struck me that different children need different experiences to round them out and help them grow. Could it not be the same for your boys? Perhaps you needed your experiences to become the person you wanted to be, but your sons have found a different way that suits their needs just as well?

I remember being rather surprised that my boys didn’t seem all that enamored of drinking themselves into a stupor the way kids of my generation so often did. Part of it, I think, was that I allowed them to drink socially (i.e., have wine at dinner on special occasions) from the time they were about 12. So drinking perhaps didn’t have the same rebellion value.

Likewise, after a lifetime spent moving every 1-3 years, spending 4 years at the same college campus was novel to my youngest son. His now-wife grew up in the same house, never moving. And so to her, spending a year as an exchange student was novel and helped her grow as a person.

Maybe the same is true of your sons and sleeping around? In a world where everyone sleeps around, self restraint is… dare I say… subversive? :)

Thanks for the response!

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Charlie March 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I agree right down the line with all you say. We had similar parenting outlook it sounds like. Don’t get the idea I was giving the boys grief for not being more sexually active… it’s more that I’m kind of astonished at the generational contrast. I’ve had to rethink my notion that horniness drives all young men.

Part of it, I guess, was that I arrived at college the same year that young ladies were able to get access to the pill without having to fake being married. They arrived at college just when casual sex was no longer seen as a highly possible death sentence. But the difference is stark, and I don’t see it falling along the lines of Miss Attila’s take or the linked articles.

Charlie March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Sorry, I was interrupted several times, Cassandra, while replying and forgot to answer the $64,000 question.

Yes, I believe young women who choose not to sleep around are prudes… per the definition you give above, ie, that they are being proper in their sexual conduct to too great a degree. I encountered very few women who were victims of sexual indulgence and tiptoed the other way when I did. For most women, enjoying a variety of sexual experiences is a positive.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Yes, I believe young women who choose not to sleep around are prudes… per the definition you give above, ie, that they are being proper in their sexual conduct to too great a degree.

I think it matters *why* a person chooses not to sleep around. If that decision is based on moral conviction or self knowledge, I think it makes total sense. No one should feel pressured to do something that makes them feel bad or uncomfortable.

It is a cliche on the right that girls who are curious/adventurous wrt sex must be suffering from self esteem issues. That definitely happens. I’ve seen girls do things they are uncomfortable with b/c they lack the confidence to stand up for themselves and what they want. But I’ve also seen plenty of girls who are just naturally adventurous (more like boys). These girls aren’t traumatized by a little experimentation.

It doesn’t bother me one whit if people object to such behavior on the grounds of religious or moral conviction because they are entitled to their opinions and I don’t believe that someone else’s disagreement (per se) says anything substantive about the validity of my own take. Of course such opinions are more intellectually consistent if they’re applied to boys, too! Let’s face it: if you think premarital sex is always morally wrong, it can’t very well be only always wrong for girls :)

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Charlie March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Just to be clear, it is my rock-bottom conviction that people should run their lives according to what they think is right, not what I think is right.

Joan of Argghh! March 1, 2011 at 4:45 am

I wrote this shortly after my son, who on his first date told the young lady of his intentions to seek with her the possibility of marriage, or to thank her for a lovely evening, married her within six months:

It flows both ways. We have the same hope for happiness for our sons as you do for your daughters. Some parents really do want to grow their sons into the fullness of Humanness, despite the incredible and growing assertion that as humans, we’re all a bunch of animals. That may be good enough for your kids, but not for mine. We want our sons to be treated with kindness and respect from a true young lady, not nagging narcissism from some spoiled princess or wild child.

We must teach our children how to live with, respect, love, and grow with another human being. To allow kids to think their tender feelings or tumultuous urges are the center of the world’s attention is to raise a monster, whether boy or girl.

Worthiness is a two-way street, and in today’s male-bashing world moms may feel a bit more anxious than you’d think.

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Joan of Argghh! March 1, 2011 at 4:51 am

Unfortunately, it is just too easy to convey to children– usually by never communicating its opposite– that they are simple animals and must make practical choices to account for their weaknesses. And so parents tend to arm them with birth control and technical information and phony Self Esteem, but never fortify them with an Ideal. It’s just too impractical!

Well, the most impractical person you’ll ever meet is someone who has never developed any self-possession or restraint; one who has never forged their natural energies and desires into an Ideal. Amoeba-like, they are doomed to merely respond to present surroundings, and will never even open that pack of Trojans or take that BC pill. Kids today have more information and practical support than ever they had when the only choice was to have and Ideal or be forced to live with the shame of failing that Ideal. And yet, more children are born out of wedlock and “by accident” than at any time in our history. Why? What changed? And why is it seen as a better and more “practical” approach. You’d think that our current crop of pseudo sociologists were born yesterday and had just discovered sex today.

Ideals are as strong as the people who hold them, and are not at the mercy of the weaker animals who sneer at them or ridicule them. Find the Ideal mate. Look for the Ideal purpose. Live the Ideal of your convictions. Even when you fail, you’ll still be farther along than the amoebas.

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TallDave March 1, 2011 at 5:17 am

It’s interesting that when you loosen social restrictions and decouple sex from pregnancy, what you get is evolutionary psychology unleashed: men seeking promiscuity and women seeking hypergamy.

That’s why, increasingly in the modern age, modern romantic movie themes for guys either involve the beta male geek (mysteriously) getting the pretty girl over the alpha despite her natural tendency towards hypergamy, while women’s tend to have the highly-desirable guy who is (equally mysteriously) sensitive to her needs and seemingly uninterested in fucking every PYT that crosses his path. Those are the things you increasingly see less in a sexually free society, for better or worse.

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Brett March 1, 2011 at 5:29 am

I have not observed women suffering from a widespread inability to say “no.” Quite the contrary.

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Mike March 1, 2011 at 5:38 am

Marriage is dead. Killed by the logical end result of feminism. Civil, divorce and family courts have become so biased against men, that men essentially have absolutely no say in their married lives or the lives of their children. The older men that have experienced this warn the young guys and the young men have seen it themselves in the lives of their Fathers and Uncles. Young men have decided in large measure to not get married and essentially give away their life’s work to a person that may very well, with full societal support, deny them their right to see their children. The situation has now debased women to the point that there is absolutely no need for men to marry. Sex is free and easily attainable without being saddled with a harpy. Men have decided to take sex and go. Women moan: where are the GOOD men? Answer: mostly in divorce court trying to get to see their kids.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 11:57 am

Interesting, since the trend over the past 10-15 years as been toward shared-custody arrangements, wherein kids divide their time evenly between the two households. Are you behind the times, or do you live in a state that takes the old approach of granting full custody more often to the woman?

And what does a man have to do these days to be denied not only custody, but also visitation rights? I believe that takes some doing.

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Micha Elyi March 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Shared custody doesn’t mean what you think it means.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Well, you’d best tell me what you think it means, because I’ve seen it up close and personal via close friends’ divorces. And while you’re at it, you’re going to have to cough up a state–because the state one lives in is a pivotal fact in terms of the way divorces tend to be settled.

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Ron March 2, 2011 at 6:21 am

Wow, you finally got told the truth and you sure aren’t taking it well. Cultural knowledge of the courts lags actual legal changes by some decades. Men’s common knowledge is formed by their fathers and uncles, what was going on the courts in the 1980′s. The situation even today is confused, as the courts assure us they are all fair now, and men coming outside are saying nothing’s changed and it’s worse than ever.

It doesn’t matter. Mike gave you an honest answer. You went on the attack. Which means you don’t want the truth. Fine.

Little Miss Attila March 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

In response to Ron, I don’t see how expressing skepticism about how current someone’s information is is tantamount to “going on the attack.”

I’m asking those of you who maintain divorce courts still favor men to specify in which states this is actually so–if it is so.

Cassandra March 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

It’s a strange world in which responding to a comment with a request that the commenter tell you why he thinks as he does constitutes either “not wanting to hear the truth” or an “attack”. One would have thought the simplest way not to have to discuss something would be to ignore it :p

I worked in family law practices in two states with very different divorce/custody laws (California and South Carolina). Family law is state law, not federal law. During the time I worked in family law, I saw both men and women get the short end of the stick.

I think part of the problem is that because family law varies by state, it’s hard to get good statistics. Instead of data, we get anecdotal horror stories that demonstrate that *individuals* have been treated unjustly (hardly a surprise) but do nothing to establish the seriousness or extent of the problem.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on this topic and from what I can see, the overwhelming majority of custody awards go to the mother (though that is changing, just as more women are being asked to pay alimony because they are the high earner in the marriage). There are many reasons for this, primarily that the “best interests of the child” standard presumes that custody should go to the parent who has spent the most time with the child and that custody awards should minimize the amount of turbulence and uncertainty in a child’s life. It quite literally puts whatever the court decides is the child’s interest ahead of “fairness” or the rights of either parent. So if Dad can’t show that he has been the one taking the child to the doctor, caring for the children, etc., he is unlikely to get custody unless he can demonstrate that Mom is an unfit parent (and sometimes, not even then!).

While I don’t agree that courts always do a good job of awarding custody, I do think that the child’s interest should come before the interest of either parent.

And I think that if the parents can avoid using their children to hurt or revenge themselves on each other, then custody ought to be shared as much as possible without completely messing up the kid’s life. Kids need fathers AND mothers.

Without good statistics, we have no way to assess the extent of this problem. Looking at how many fathers or mothers get custody of their kids is meaningless unless we also know how many fathers or mothers asked for custody. It’s not unfair for the mother (or father) to get custody if the other parent never even tried to get custody.

One of the only sources I was able to find on this subject contained some fascinating numbers. I never used it because I have no way to know whether it is representative of outcomes at the national level or whether it only reflects a single state. So while it’s an interesting way to frame the discussion, I don’t regard it as dispositive:

How is child custody decided?
51% agreed on their own
29% settled without third party involvement
11% decided during mediation
5% resolved differences after a custody evaluation
Only 4% went to trial (of the 4% that initiated litigation, only 1.5% actually completed it)

An even more interesting set of stats suggests that fathers are roughly TWICE as likely to gain sole or joint custody from the courts:

When parents mediate
Sole possession to mother 63%
Sole possession to father 6%
Joint possession 25%

When parents go to evaluation or trial
Sole possession to mother 44%
Sole possession to father 11%
Joint possession 40%

Anyway, for whatever it may be worth. I think fathers who want visitation/custody should fight for what they want.

Ernst Schreiber March 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

I’m thinking there’s some general validity to Mike’s point in the sense that perception (mis)creates reality. I graduated H.S. in 1990 and I remember thinking then that the possibility of getting screwed in divorce court made marriage a risking proposition for a man. Obviously that’s true for women as well, even if the causes for worry (losing half your income and hardly ever seeing your kids –we’re talking stereotypes here) may be different. But here’s the thing: I came from an intact family, and so did all of my friends, so the only reason I had to think that way was because it was part of “the culture.”

It also seems to me that “the culture” has only gotten worse regarding the never-ending battle of the sexes. If I had to navigate the hook-up culture of today (assuming I was foolish or naïve enough to participate), in addition to the divorce worry at the back of my head, I think I’d also have to worry about a woman repenting of our previous nights’ sexual transaction, and having to live with the legal and financial consequences of her repentance.

The point here being, by de-coupling to greater and lesser degrees the sex act from love and marriage and baby carriages, we’re left solely with the transactional nature of the sex act itself, and like the good commercialists we are, we wonder who’s screwing over who when we negotiate to screw. So to speak.

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Cassandra March 2, 2011 at 11:08 am

…by de-coupling to greater and lesser degrees the sex act from love and marriage and baby carriages, we’re left solely with the transactional nature of the sex act itself, and like the good commercialists we are, we wonder who’s screwing over who when we negotiate to screw. So to speak.

Bingo. FWIW, women (especially women who choose to stay home and raise their children FT) take enormous risks when they marry. This has always been the case, and even the rising numbers of women who finish college and have careers haven’t eliminated that risk.

Case in point: my husband and I both attended an elite private high school. We both scored in the top 5% of SAT takers and were competitive enough to be admitted to at least one Ivy apiece. For him, having children meant taking on a big financial burden but it really didn’t change his career plans much. And it didn’t impact his freedom b/c he could rely on me to watch the kids.

I, on the other hand, stayed home with the children. That meant that I was totally, 100% dependent upon him and his income. Had we divorced, there is no way he could have cared for our children (though I would never have denied him visitation). He was just at work or deployed too much of the time. He had the freedom to pursue his chosen career (but assumed the sole burden of providing for our family).

I left the work force and wasn’t able to finish school until I was in my 30s – once our boys were in school all day so we didn’t have to pay a babysitter. My earning power suffered dramatically. Try getting hired when you have literally no work history, no experience at anything, and haven’t finished school. I don’t blame him – we made that choice together. But there’s no doubt in either of our minds that I took a HUGE risk. Had he died or divorced me, I could not have supported our children in anything like the manner my husband was able to.

And having been married to a military man for decades, I can testify that it is much more expensive to maintain two homes than one. So I understand the purpose of alimony and child support. I won’t say they’re never abused, but I find it interesting that now that 1/3 of wives make more than their husbands, more women are being ordered to pay alimony to their ex-husbands.

Now that our kids are grown I work full time and take care of our home, too. My salary has quadripled since I finished school and began working FT, but I’ll never catch up to my husband’s salary.

I wish people were able to see both men and women take risks and incur responsibilities when they marry.

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Ernst Schreiber March 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I wish people were able to see both men and women take risks and incur responsibilities when they marry.

Well now, that would involve men and women seeing each other as men and women rather than as objects for selfishly gratifying one’s own desires, wouldn’t it? And if that, i.e. a culture that stresses that gratification of the carnal as a (if not the) highest good, is the problem, then it seems to me we, men an women alike, are all too aware of risks taken when we conjoin for however long that might be. So aware in fact that we neglect the rewards that can be reaped when we face those risks and surpass them together.

(Just to tweak your emphasis in a slightly different direction.)

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Cassandra March 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

It’s funny – I never thought about the risks until I was smack dab in the middle of things (i.e., after my husband deployed for a year and I was left with two small boys and a living room full of amorous gerbils that my boys had for some unknown reason seen fit to release from their cage to greet me on my 26th birthday…

Maybe there’s a reason we’re not so smart when we’re young :)

Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 6:13 am

It’s interesting that when you loosen social restrictions and decouple sex from love, what you get is evolutionary psychology unleashed.

Or, what this gentleman said.

Marriage is a support structure developed over centuries of human experience to foster stable families and maximize wealth. It’s no accident that 90% of folks in the top income bracket are married (men and women in the lowest income bracket are overwhelmingly single).

It’s certainly possible for men and women to treat each other with respect and consideration (and build wealth) outside of marriage. It’s just more difficult to do so.

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Oligonicella March 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

It is meaningless to speak of any changes on any level other than the personal as long as statistics still indicate that it is a generally dangerous idea for a man to get married.

Culturally, marriage is being played as if it’s a win/lose game. Problem is that once one side achieves an overwhelming advantage in a freely participatory game, the other side ceases playing. If the game is to go on, it must become a game both gotten into and out of equally as easy or difficult for both sexes.

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Roxeanne de Luca March 1, 2011 at 8:28 am

Re: Ace’s post. As I keep saying, most men are like, “Whoa, feminism is about sex without consequences? PLEASE empower yourself! Right now. Um, there’s a dark, soft spot behind those bleachers.”

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Howard Towt March 1, 2011 at 8:29 am

LMA:

I can’t quite desconstruct what is happening here, but your post is sublime. I’ve read through each of the comments, and I agree that Nathan’s is the most impactful. He spoke of “a woman that can appreciate him.”

Doesn’t that get to the heart of the matter? We are human beings looking for respect; respect for our journey and respect for “where we are.”

That transcends gender (and sex).

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M. Report March 1, 2011 at 8:35 am

…foster stable families and maximize wealth…
Hmm… Heinlein listed raising children and conserving wealth,
both social survival imperatives throughout human history
(and herstory :)

What happens when a society becomes so advanced, so rich,
that survival is no longer an issue ? What other motivations
will drive individuals to become adults, when it is so easy to
remain an adolescent ?

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art.the.nerd March 1, 2011 at 8:37 am

> we have to get back to a place wherein “sexual freedom,” as a cultural norm, actually includes the freedom to say “no.”

We have such a place. It’s called “marriage.” My (ex-)wife exercised that freedom very very frequently.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm

That’s too bad; sexless marriage is a real tragedy. Absent a health condition, repeated and sustained uninterest in sex is a guaranteed marriage-killer.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 9:11 am

As I keep saying, most men are like, “Whoa, feminism is about sex without consequences? PLEASE empower yourself! Right now. Um, there’s a dark, soft spot behind those bleachers.”

With all respect (because I’m enjoying this conversation), I don’t believe “most men” do anything of the sort. I am not naive enough to believe that every man is perfect (nor is every woman), but I do think *many* – even the majority – of men are intelligent enough to see where that sort of standard leads and mature enough not to let their testicles run their lives. Jokes about human foibles are fun but I worry sometimes that we confuse the anecdotal for the universal.

What happens when a society becomes so advanced, so rich,
that survival is no longer an issue ?

Excellent point. I truly believe that while radical feminists have definitely helped erode traditional sexual morality and cultural norms like marriage, they are FAR from the only forces – or groups – who have done so.

One of the most compelling points in Hymowitz’s recent book (which I read a few weeks ago) is that even in countries where there’s no convenient feminist movement to blame for our troubles women are marrying later, having fewer children, and earning progressively greater shares of baccalaureate and advanced degrees. In Japan, women entrepreneurs now open businesses at TWICE the rate of men. I wrote a post a while back in which I showed that the present trends began well over a hundred years ago – well before man hating feminazis conveniently offered us all the incentive we need to take refuge in simplistic answers to complex questions.

I certainly didn’t agree with everything Hymowitz had to say, but her book was far better researched than her admittedly inflammatory attempts to market it would suggest. She bashes feminism plenty in her book, but she also identifies other forces that bear scrutiny. Sadly, at this point people are more inclined to shoot the messenger than think about the message.

Sometimes I think men and women are so busy trying to blame each other that we forget that we’re in this together.

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Joan of Argghh! March 1, 2011 at 9:18 am

when it is so easy to remain an adolescent ?

Because one won’t always be young, or healthy, or fortunate. One’s money may be able to buy them the ministrations of a home-health nurse at best, or if one prefers, a state-run agency will supply them with such tender mercies as we can expect from such.

No, no. It will not happen to the beautiful young, the eternal adolescents. . .

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Southern Man March 1, 2011 at 10:32 am

Interesting…one reason I like conservative blogs in general is the relative lack of name-calling. But it looks like Roissy brings out the worst in some folks. I thought we were better than that.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I’m not going to suddenly acquire a bunch of respect for a blogger (or an entire PUA culture) that degrades both men and women to such a degree, even if I do agree with Glenn Reynolds that the discerning quasi-autistic can learn a thing or two from the PUAs about interacting with women.

I only wish there were people out there–male, female, whatever–who taught about how to relate to the opposite sex without engaging in putdowns.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

even if I do agree with Glenn Reynolds that the discerning quasi-autistic can learn a thing or two from the PUAs about interacting with women.

The amusing thing about all of this is that if you go to any of the myriad sites that advise women how to relate to men successfully, you’ll see *exactly* the same advice without all the name calling, shaming, and chest thumping. So it appears that not only does what works on the goose work on the gander, too but it’s possible to get the message across in a way that is actually respectful of both the reader and the opposite sex.

Who knew?

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Southern Man March 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm

The proof is in the pudding. At my age I’ve no interest in dating or PUA; when my buds and I go to a bar it’s to lift a few, shoot some stick, and make rude comments about whatever sport is showing on the bigscreen. But what I picked up on Roissy’s site on just general female psychology has made an enormous difference in my relationships – with my ex (who just the other day said she has more respect for me now than when we were married), my teen-age daughter (who went from barely speaking to me after her mom divorced me to moving in and now is happy to call and text and chatter away for hours at a time), my female supervisors (who now actively seek my advice on just about everything) – the list goes on. The sad truth is, most men (even those of us who aren’t quasi-autistic) have no idea how to relate to women. Amid the silliness on the PUA sites are clues that a lot of men can use. It’s certainly been useful to me.

And it’s all Glen’s fault; I found Roissy through a link on Instapundit about a year ago.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm

It’s too bad that he has to do it in that sneering, woman-hating way, then. And of course it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of women out there who are very feminine, and yet have engineer-like minds–I believe that Cassandra, Roxeanne, and I are all too left-brain to be in the middle of the female bell curve (well–too brainy, period, to align perfectly with a lot of groupings). So don’t get too “formulaic” in your approach to the female sex! Some of us are, on some levels, “one of the guys.” Yet still feminine, as weird as that sounds.

And I’m sure you realize why we can’t take much of Roissy–just mentally substitute your own ethnic group/religion/sports team/whateve for females when you read him one day, and you’ll see how many “fighting words” there are on every single page.

One isn’t always in the mood to be put down for having two X chromosomes.

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Cassandra March 2, 2011 at 4:24 am

what I picked up on Roissy’s site on just general female psychology has made an enormous difference in my relationships … The sad truth is, most men (even those of us who aren’t quasi-autistic) have no idea how to relate to women. Amid the silliness on the PUA sites are clues that a lot of men can use.

Roissy wouldn’t know “general female psychology” if it bit him on the ass.

As I pointed out earlier in another comment, the exact same advice can be found on plenty of sites that advise women how best to relate to men (except that these sites urge women to love, respect, and understand a man for who he is rather than despising or trying to control him). For all our built in empathy, trust me – most women really do not intuitively understand how men think. That’s because most men don’t think at all like we do.

I applaud the desire to learn about women, but if I were looking for a teacher and my goal were to build better relationships with people who were worthy of my time and attention, I might be looking for a teacher who didn’t so clearly despise women.

I’ve only read Roissy a few times – once when I clicked through from Instapundit and was instantly sorry, and a few more times when doing research for posts that dealt with dysfunctional relationships. The first time I read something over there, he was going on and on about how men have no choice but to lie, cheat, and be verbally/emotionally abusive to keep the upper hand in a relationship.

Wow. Just wow. Perhaps my favorite post was his advice on how to save a faltering marriage.

Short version: lie, cheat, act like a complete jackwagon. Having been married for over 30 years to a man who never flirts with other women and has never given me the slightest reason to doubt either his love or his fidelity (and whom I love and respect for these reasons) , I feel pretty comfortable about saying that Roissy known absolutely nothing about healthy relationships or what makes a good woman feel desire for a man.

My other favorite Roissy post is the one where, shortly after claiming that men would respect and behave decently towards women if we weren’t all such sluts and whores (Wow – what would you think of a site that talked about men that way? Would you respect the author?), he proceeds to encourage a young man to “nail” a young virgin (i.e., ignore her stated desire to save herself for marriage and bang her with no intent to commit) who is exactly the kind of woman he says men *would* respect, if they existed. Interestingly, the day after I linked to and quoted this post it was deleted.

Given that the animating principles behind his site seem to be “women are sluts and whores” and “the end justifies the means”, perhaps it’s not surprising to see people defend the kind of advice that one would ordinarily expect to arouse outrage and disgust rather than admiration. I guess it’s OK to say those things about women

It is no surprise (and hardly a trait unique to women) that some people knuckle under when they are treated badly. That’s why nagging and bullying work: some people respond to them by giving in rather than fighting back. There are plenty of men and women who are always/only attracted to partners who treat them badly, either b/c they have issues or because they can’t tell the difference between the adrenaline rush that comes from constant drama and a relationship built on trust and mutual respect. If that’s the kind of woman a man is looking for (or if one believes relationships built on insecurity and mistrust are a good thing), I agree that one could hardly do better than sites like Roissy’s.

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Cassandra March 2, 2011 at 5:07 am

The best advice I’ve ever seen on the differences between men and women is in a book called “You Still Don’t Understand” by Richard Driscoll.

I thought I knew my husband pretty well, but this book helped me understand when he does things that I find puzzling, and why things I say or do with the best of intentions are sometimes misinterpreted or even backfire.

Men aren’t generally big on talking about their feelings, and that’s OK. Men aren’t women. But that can make it difficult for us to understand and react constructively when conflicts arise (and that happens in ALL relationships from time to time). We aren’t mind readers, either :)

This book helped me appreciate the way my husband sees the world without forcing him to examine his feeeeeeeeeeelings for hours on end. I made some very simple changes to my own behavior and that made a dramatic change in the way we respond to each other.

htom March 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

(Having now looked, Roissy sounds like a jerk of the first order. I suppose there are people who want to be abused by such. He probably considers me an extreme beta. I’m crushed. *snort*)

Sadly, I’ve been called an incorrigible flirt for half a century by more women than I can count, by friends, relatives, and strangers, from fifteen to ninety-five; so I suspect it’s true. Spice (my wife) says (a) I’ve always been that way, as if I am Colonel Pickering, treating every female like a lady to be flirted with, and she watched me doing so for years before we started dating, (b) up to a line it’s fun for all concerned, even her, since she knows I’m coming home with her, and I shouldn’t worry about it, and (c) if I go over her line with someone she’ll tell me, with either words or a kick under the table. So far there have been no complaints, only questions like why someone got only a quick hug, or no kiss. Usually I don’t know. At some gatherings, she has actually told me to be sure to flirt with a girl friend she knows is feeling down.

Maybe I’m not doing it properly? ;)

Ernst Schreiber March 2, 2011 at 9:07 am

I only wish there were people out there … who taught about how to relate to the opposite sex without engaging in putdowns.

They used to call them parents.

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Cassandra March 2, 2011 at 9:12 am

I think that wins the comment thread.

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Roxeanne de Luca March 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

though as a former hippie I find the notion of staying on oral contraceptives for more than several years at a time fairly shocking: ladies, that is no way to cardiac health, and you need to break it up with abstinence, barrier methods–something. Manipulating your hormones is a short-term strategy; one doesn’t run a body that way.

As a bit of a hippy myself (“crunchy con” being the term du jour), I concur. I would also add that for women who have not ruled out having children completely (some are happy without kids, some are okay not having kids, but most women – and men – want their own babies), it’s no way to run a life. It is strange to hear women say, “It’s so ironic that you spend your teens and twenties trying not to get pregnant, then your thirties and forties trying to get pregnant.” That’s not irony; that’s sad.

I certainly do not beat the drum that all women need to have popped out a kid by the age of 25, but just pointing out that a lot of women use the Pill for years on end, then go for artificial conception methods later on. For most women, it’s in their best interests to encourage men to commit and settle down on a schedule that somewhat resembles the timetable that nature gave us.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I think getting married by 26-28 and having babies by 30-32 is a reasonable compromise.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm

we have to get back to a place wherein “sexual freedom,” as a cultural norm, actually includes the freedom to say “no.”

This is what made me ask Charlie (a few comments up) why he would call his sons prudes for choosing commitment over promiscuity?

I think women do have the freedom to say, “no”, but that freedom doesn’t shield them from social pressure, competitive pressure from other men/women who choose to sleep around, or disapproval. In that way freedom to have sex is similar to freedom of speech – the freedom to engage in both does not imply freedom from disapproval or other negative consequences.

If what you’re saying is that you wish self restraint was viewed more positively, I agree whole heartedly. The problem is that when it comes to sex, people who think of themselves as tolerant and sexually liberated don’t seem to be any less judgmental about other people’s choices than those who describe themselves as social conservatives :p

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Keith Richard Radford Jr March 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

You want too know how very bad sex laws have become ask the Dective Dave Kleinfield that came out too my apartment this week to tell me personaly, warm me! not to contact/email/write/call my plublic servents. Tell the law makers that passed laws after a point of order was ignored. Tell the people that us laws to embezel/steel/incarcerate for touching someone. The laws are so off balence on this planet the we need too paint a clown face on the other side of the planet and call this BOP~PO the clown planet instead of earth.

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David March 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I’m 51. I wasn’t interested in a long-term monogamous relationship…until I met the woman I married (I got married at 25). I had “been there, and done that”, to wide-ranging extremes…and then I suddenly wasn’t interested in anything, or anyone, else.
We had sex the first date.
We’re still married, 25 years later.
And happy.
We have two children, a son and a daughter. I gave them both the same speech, when they were ready: “Sex is not Love. Love is not Sex. Both are great fun by themselves – both are orders of magnitude better when combined. Don’t spread diseases. Don’t make babies you aren’t ready for.” That was it. No pressure – no rants – no wild freakouts by the parents. You want condoms? OK, I’ll pick some up. You ready for the pill? OK, let’s make an appointment.
Yet, neither of them was in all that big a hurry. My daughter once said to me, “It’s weird. My friends aren’t allowed to drink or have sex. They’ve been doing both since they were 14. You let me try anything you open up, you told me to have sex when I was ready…and I don’t drink and I’m still a virgin.”

What does this mean? One approach doesn’t fit all…
But the people who are talking about how much one value’s one’s self seem to be on to something. That appears to be a common component.

Oh – my son (the older of the two) has a bit more experience than my daughter – but has still preferred serial monogamy and long-term relationships when he could get them – and is now engaged to a delightful young lady.

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Concho March 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Excellent posting. You are quite brilliant sometimes.
My God, just look at the number of comments! Way to go, girl.
You and I have spoken in the past about what it was like for me to grow up in the ’50s, how different sex was then, what little there was, at least in small town in Texas where everyone was a Baptist or Methodist and knew each other’s parents. Almost everyone I knew waited until at least they were engaged. The pill changed everything. I’m still amazed that our culture survived the late ’60s and ’70s at all. Oh wait, maybe it didn’t.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm

“Excellent posting. You are quite brilliant sometimes.”

“Sometimes”? I must . . . I must be slipping ;)

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Micha Elyi March 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

[Glenn] simply linked… Roissy, and noted–quite reasonably–that he’d never bought a drink for a woman he didn’t know.

Tell me something else Glenn has in common with Roissy. In the linked article, Roissy was pointing out a female and her tips to other girls on how to pillage* men at bars for free drinks.

*Or maybe another word associated with Attila? I leave the decision to your expert Attila-hood.

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I can’t imagine that Glenn has anything else in common with Roissy, with the possible exception of bilateral symmetry.

And I saw the article; I’m certainly aware that there are girls who accept free drinks from men they don’t even know. I’m just not sure why they do that–unless they are dyed-in-the-wool alcoholics, or have a huge sense of entitlement. But I see that the word “female” was really important to you–italics noted, and all that.

It appears to be some sort of a game that they play with the men involved; perhaps it’s a substitute for competent flirting.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I only got so far into the comments at Roissy’s before my bile meter was pegged for the year, but I seem to recall one commenter pointing out that he had gotten himself all in a lather over a parody, the point of which was to deride women who act that way (and sympathize with the guys they “victimize”, if not being forced to buy a drink for a woman in a bar can ever truly be thought of as victimization) :p

Since the link didn’t go to the actual article, I had no way of gauging the truth of the comment, but I admit to being a bit amused by it.

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Cassandra March 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Charlie March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Just to be clear, it is my rock-bottom conviction that people should run their lives according to what they think is right, not what I think is right.

That was the impression I got, but thanks for the clarification :)

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Cynthia Yockey, A Conservative Lesbian March 1, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Are you all quite sure that it is immaturity and callousness that are destroying heterosexual relationships rather than gay marriage?

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Little Miss Attila March 1, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Wait! Now that you mention it . . .

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beejeez March 2, 2011 at 7:08 am

I’m struck by how categorical this discussion seems to be. “Women just want …” “Men just want …” Really, folks, this is your experience? In the world where I circulate, every individual seems to have completely different motivations for his or her relationships and knows that Results Can Vary. Most people I know accept responsibility for their decisions and, other than as joke fodder, don’t leap to generalizations about the other sex and why it is to blame for any dissatisfaction they feel. It’s almost as if the “new relationship crisis” is a bunch of manufactured BS.

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ice9 March 4, 2011 at 4:43 am

You said:

know I occupy a strange middle ground inasmuch as I’m not quite a proper social conservative.

No, you occupy some ground with a bunch of people who’ve agreed that saying “everybody senses it” is evidence, but just for the half-hour or so it takes to become fact through the magic process of echo-agreement among a small, tight-knot group of people who occupy ground but have agreed that it is in fact very middle ground because they all sensed it more than a half-hour ago, using their especially acute observational, historical, and scientifical perception, which everybody senses is superior by the way, which accounts for their very humble evaluation of what ground they occupy.

ice9

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Little Miss Attila March 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

No. The fact is, I’m just as much of a misfit among my conservative friends from the blogosphere as I am among my liberal/left friends from high school and college. The difference being that the cons are more tolerant and will still talk to me, whereas more and more of the libs don’t want to deal with me at all.

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Cassandra March 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Attila, you ignorant slut :p

Friends do not impose ideological litmus tests on each other. Of my oldest and dearest friends, I can think of only one or two who vote the way I do and none who agree with me on every issue.

Thank God.

I suppose what I’m saying is that you are perfect just the way you are.

PS: Your independence is arguably

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Cassandra March 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm

*sigh*

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.

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