What 'The Weekly Standard' gets wrong about mating.
February 6, 2010
The Weekly Standard certainly knows how to attract readers. The
magazine's new cover story,
written by Charlotte Allen, is accompanied by a cover photo of a
big-breasted woman in a red dress being approached from behind by a
sleazy looking man. The cover text reads:
"Thousands of years of human mating rituals are vanishing.
Cro-Magnons are once again dragging their mates into their caves by
their hair--and the women love every minute of it."
Before metaphorically turning the page, I asked myself a question:
How will Allen blame this state of affairs on the women's movement?
The answer did not take long to reveal itself. But first, witness
America in 2010:
Louts who might as well be clad in bearskins and wielding spears
trample over every nicety developed over millennia to mark out a
ritual of courtship as a prelude to sex: Not just marriage (that went
years ago with the sexual revolution and the mass-marketing of the
birth-control pill) or formal dating (the hookup culture finished
that)but amorous preliminaries and other civilities once regarded as
elementary, at least among the college-educated classes.
Here is Max's seduction technique: " 'So,' he asked scooting in next
to me. 'Are you coming back with me tonight?' "
Here is how Courtney reacted: "Around 1:30, I told Tucker that I
would, in fact, go home with him. 'Oh, I know,' he replied. 'We have
a cab waiting, let's go.' " [Italics Mine]
But why, why, why?
It helps, of course, that there's currently a buyer's market in
women who are up for just about anything with the right kind of cad,
what with delayed marriage (the average age for a woman's first
wedding is now 26, compared with 20 in 1960, according to the
University of Virginia-based National Marriage Project's latest
report); reliable contraception; and advances in antibiotics (no more
worries about what used to be called venereal disease)...On top of it
all is the feminist-driven academic and journalistic culture
celebrating that yesterday's "loose" women are today's "liberated"
women, able to proudly "explore their sexuality" without "getting
punished for their lust," as the feminist writer Naomi Wolf put it in
the Guardian in December.
The same feminist academics pooh-pooh concerns about the long-term
effects of the hookup culture, arguing that it's essentially just a
harmless college folly, akin to swallowing goldfish, which young
women will outgrow after graduation with no lasting scars. As long as
they take precautions against disease and pregnancy, the current
wisdom goes, it might even be good for you...All this takes place to
a basso profundo of feminist cheerleading.
Allen never bothers to connect the two strains in her narrative. The
first strain is that many women, since the time of the sexual
revolution, are more willing to engage in premarital or casual sex.
The second strain is that many men act like neanderthals, and still
get laid (while, inevitably, nice guys finish last and go home
alone). Allen does label Alpha Men as part of a "seduction
community," and goes on to claim that this community was created
around the time of the women's liberation movement. But that's it.
One of the problems with cultural critics is that they often seem
completely removed from the culture they are critiquing. For example,
read the passage below, and decide for yourself whether it sounds
like it was written by someone who has ever been to a nightclub.
As might be expected, many males would like to help themselves at
this overladen buffet. But there's a problem: While it's a truism
that the main beneficiaries of the sexual revolution are men, it is
only some men: the Tucker Maxes, with the good looks,
self-confidence, and swagger that enable them to sidle up
successfully to a gaggle of well turned-out females in a crowded and
anonymous club where the short-statured, the homely, the paunchy, the
balding, and the sweater-clad are, if not turned away outside by the
bouncer, ignominiously ignored by the busy, beautiful people within.
The howlingly over-the-top final sentence is followed up by a more
serious lament, however:
The whole point of the sexual and feminist revolutions was to
obliterate the sexual double standard that supposedly stood in the
way of ultimate female freedom. The twin revolutions obliterated much
more, but the double standard has reemerged in a harsher, crueler
form: wreaking havoc on beta men and on beta women, too, who, as the
declining marriage rate indicates, have trouble finding and securing
long-term mates in a supply-saturated short-term sexual marketplace.
Gorgeous alpha women fare finefor a few years until the younger
competition comes of age. But no woman, alpha or beta, seems able to
escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for
ladylike and virginal wives (the Darwinist explanation is that those
traits are predictors of marital fidelity, assuring men that the
offspring that their spouses bear are theirs, too). And every aspect
of New Paleolithic mating culture discourages the sexual restraint
once imposed on both sexes that constituted a firm foundation for
both family life and civilization.
One must admire her use of the word "supposedly" in the first
sentence. But notice, again, how Allen switches arguments in the
middle of the paragraph. What is the obvious connection between the
"saturation" of the "short-term sexual marketplace" and the sexual
revolution? If more women are having sex, and having it more often,
why are they necessarily having it with obnoxious cads? Allen never
bothers to ask this obvious question. And it is a smear against
"college-educated" men to say that they are all looking for virginal
wives (it's also silly and untrue).
Finally, the piece has a particularly good example of what in Allen's
world is considered irony:
In other words, if people call you a whore because you, say, fall
into bed with someone whose name you can't quite remember, that's
their problem. Of course, if a man mistakes a woman being "sexual in
any way she chooses" for consent to have sex, it's still rape.
So, women can be sexual but if they don't consent to sex then you are
not allowed to have sex with them. Life is so cruel and unfair.
The sociological interest of this article, however, lies in its
window into the socially conservative mind. Men are becoming too
feminized? Blame the women's movement. Men are becoming too
aggressive? Blame the women's movement. People are having too much
sex? Blame the women's movement. Nice guys are not having enough sex?
Blame the women's movement. If we are now in an age where America has
fallen to such depths that family life and civilization are at risk,
we are still in an age where every social problem can be blamed on
long-haired weirdos from the 1960s. In this sense, we have not
progressed one inch.