Who Benefits From The Sexual Revolution? (Part 1)

Frequent Freedom Twenty-Five foil Lilly has emitted some truth today. Or at least, circled around it like a shark its prey.

Give it up, she implores her estrogenic readership, but only if it’s right.

Parsing the banal wording (is there any X, for which  “Do X, but only if it’s right” is bad advice?) Lilly is suggesting that modern young women actually think for a minute before sleeping with a guy they’re dating. Hopefully Jezebel et al overlook this transgression against the tenets of sex-positive feminism, and restrain themselves from reporting A Pre-Life Crisis to the SPLC.

Quoth Lilly:

“It’s typically in the interim between no and yes–the pursuit of sex–that a man will end up falling in love with the girl who made him wait. Not the other way around.

Of course, being more discerning doesn’t necessarily make dating easier. If anything, it makes it harder because now you feel like you are wading through oceans of men with single-item agendas. Or drowning–one of the two. And yet there is a refreshing sense of confidence that comes from putting a high value on oneself. Not to mention the satisfaction gained from watching all the little num-nut men who have such egos around banging every girl in town be so hopelessly transparent about their true intentions.“

Such sanity! Susan Walsh would be proud. Should I take credit for this? Perhaps. But this post is not about wallowing in self-adulation. Rather, I’d like to answer the question: Who Benefited From the Sexual Revolution? Lilly provides the default female perspective:

“In some ways, it seems like the women’s sexual revolution has done more for men than it has for women. On the one hand, it has liberated women and given them more freedom with their sexual identities and behaviors. On the other though, it’s kind of a man’s dream come true: easier access to sex. Which then means it’s harder for a girl to find a guy willing to stick around.“

From a young woman’s perspective, this is exactly true. But to correctly understand the sexual revolution, we need to look at it from a (literal) Who? and Whom? perspective.

Imagine an idyllic, Leave-it-to-Beaver utopia of faithful, monogamous marriage. There is no pre-marital sex, no infidelity and no divorce. In this theoretical world, the outcome of the mating game is simple – every man and every woman matches up with the person nearest to their own attractiveness level.

But now imagine that the social convention of monogamy starts to break down. Women are free to do what they want, and they quickly realize that the men they can persuade to have short-term sexual relationships with are much, much more attractive than the men willing to marry them. Attractive men are free to eschew marriage, and instead maintain a harem of rotating friends-with-benefits and one-night stands. Super-attractive men (professional athletes, rock stars, bloggers) can spend every night with a different coterie of young, attractive women, railing lines off their ass cheeks and banging them senseless.

Sounds great for men. And not too bad for women either, who get to shag NHL players and bloggers instead of their ho-hum husbands.

But every woman who elects to join a harem, must necessarily leave a lonely man behind in the great mating scramble. And if she was one of the “top” girls, every woman behind takes a step forward to a slightly more attractive man. Iterate a few million times, and you start to understand the plethora of seemingly average men getting towed around shopping malls by obese, shrewish hags. The men at the bottom are left to their RPGs and porn.

So there you have the effects of the sexual revolution on men: Great for the few, awful for the teeming masses.

For women though, it seems like a win-win scenario. Everyone gets to take a step up! But wait a minute…

What about the top woman? The ultimate hottie? Previously, she had the top man all to herself. She literally could not have asked for anything more, assuming as I do that women naturally gravitate toward sleeping with the one man who is their best option at a given time, while men are only as faithful as their options. Suddenly, her man is beset by hussies, plying him with offers of cheap sex. How does Betty Draper feel about the breakdown of monogamy in her world?

More generally, the top women had a pretty good deal under monogamy – exclusive access to the top men. Now they must choose between sharing, or settling for a man far below her previous catch. Meanwhile, uglier women can choose between monogamy with a man far above her previous level, or a shared slice of one of the top men. She is unequivocally better off, as the hotter women are unequivocally worse off.

So in semi-conclusion: The Sexual Revolution harms attractive women, and unattractive men. It benefits unattractive women, and attractive men.

Wait, semi-conclusion? Ahh, but there is so much more to discuss. Continue on to Part 2.