Why That Slate Article Pissed You Off (And Why You Should Be Livid)

by Violet Blue on February 26, 2011

shoe store punishment on Divine Bitches

Yesterday a lady friend tweeted that she’d just read this Slate article, and while she normally loves Slate the article really offended her but she couldn’t quite put her finger on why. I responded with an answer, and then… I started getting emails, messages and comments from women I didn’t know, all about the same article. One woman* man wrote, “I thought I would send it along in hopes you could help me figure out exactly why it pisses me off so much.”

The article is Sex is cheap: Why young men have the upper hand in bed, even when they’re failing in life by Mark Regnerus (Slate Magazine).

I’ll tell you why you’ve got that nagging anger somewhere in the pit of your stomach. But it will only make you angrier.

In short, Regnerus is policing gender roles by way of slut shaming. The article is based on the belief that a woman’s true value is in the goal of marriage, by behaving like “the marrying kind” of girl – from the 1950s. (All references to female sexual relationships are defined as “pre-marital” as in, if you are not married then surely you are going to be and are just waiting, absent reality of non-marital or post-marital states of being.) It’s a pretty narrow definition by which to view female sexuality and female sexual power, and so outdated that it is, in fact, inaccurate.

Now, let’s look at Slate’s big doody bubble a little closer.

In “Sex Is Cheap” Regnerus begins by bemoaning “the end of men” as posited in this Atlantic article, which talks about a forthcoming Western-industrialized-nation power and culture shift from men to women based on data showing women are set to outnumber men in the workplace, especially in educated roles and positions of power. More chicks graduating college than doods. Regnerus closes his first graf reassuring readers that men are still hold power over women in one area: “premarital heterosexual relationships.”

To hold Regnerus’s shakily masculine hand and let him lead us down his garden path requires that we buy the assumptions in that last sentence. It’s worth it to get to the second graf where the flowers are especially noxious, but understand that last line to really see where you’re being told to go in your head. Nevermind the need to reassure about male power in straight relationships. She is either about to be married, or married. If she is not, she is…. Well, he’s not in power. That’s in the next graf, which is only as far as we need to go.

Step over the steaming pile of what Regnerus says about ‘what young men want’: I’m guessing he is not one of them. Get to the line about ladies:

If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.

Regnerus is measuring female power in heterosexual relationships. If women were in power:

* more impressive wooing efforts
Regnerus is not impressed. Men would be trying harder. You’re not worth it.

* longer relationships
Regnerus prefers LTRs. Being single devalues you. Having a man validates you. Why can’t you keep a man?

* fewer premarital sexual partners
Regnerus does not approve of you banging the football team before your man finally makes a real woman out of you. If you were a powerful woman, your sexual behavior would reflect your vigilance against tarnishing your impurity. Women should be exchanging sex for commitment. This line is actually the most revealing, as it holds all the judgement about women having sexual agency as they define it for themselves. He’s got it 100% backwards here. Basically, you should be saving yourself for marriage.

* shorter cohabitations
Regnerus wants you to hurry up and get married. What’s taking you so long, slut?

* more marrying going on
Regnerus is not amused by unmarried hos. Women: take back the night and get married!

If you’re like me, you read the first two paragraphs of Sex Is Cheap and thought, Yes, I’d like to put a ring on it. The kind attached to a ball gag.

Take the idea of women’s power, value and worth being equated to being “the marrying kind” and what is the argument, exactly?

After this silent but deadly fart of virulently heteronormative values, Regnerus explains in detail that women are sexual gatekeepers for men. Do not want. And when we do decide to give it up, we don’t seem to want anything – or enough – in return. The whores are not charging enough. The reasons for this insanity according to Regnerus is, hilariously, “high-speed digital pornography” and THE PILL. I admire that Regnerus stopped just short of saying abortion.

Did your grandpa write this, Slate? The one who sometimes mentioned he hated fags? This dude wrote “Premarital Sex In America” – nice job giving him a platform with which to sell his damaging viewpoints, and products.

Sex Is Cheap asks the question, why is sex cheap? Its answer is that it is because women make sex cheap by having sexual agency (sexual freedom and power), the “oversupply” of women in colleges, and that women who have sex outside of marriage are not making men pay a high enough price for it.

Seriously: Fuck you, Slate.

This whole thing is like backwards day. For women to have power (over men) in Regnerus’ world, we seem to need to be doing the very things that have kept us powerless all this time. It’s also Regnerus elaborate explanation that men don’t have the problem: it’s actually her fault. Essentially, it’s fairly sophisticated show of slut shaming for girls who act too much like men sexually. All to shore up the fragile masculinity of guys who really wish the sex and gender roles of Mad Men season one would come back – in a creepy, gross way.

Ends with a Freud quote. ’nuff said.

* I made a mistake and cited the gender of the email sender I quoted as female, when they are in fact male – I guessed incorrectly based on name of sender and identified gender majority of those who reached out to me on the Slate article. Correction in place and apology sent. I see in the comments here and on social media channels he was not the only man deeply offended by the gender policing in Slate’s article. Now, only if we cold get Slate and Regnerus to correct *their* misrepresentations…

Image via Divine Bitches.

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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{ 29 comments }

1 Jenna Grenata March 25, 2011 at 8:20 am

As a 20 something year old woman whose friends are mostly women who enjoy casual sex, I have to say that I find the whole concept of there being a “type” of woman based on her sexual habits completely preposterous. “How is it that someone like I, with very little sexual experience, is able to get along so well with these women?” is an insane question that is perpetrated by stupid articles like in Slate and also a lot of women’s magazines. When you look at a person, and how they live their life, and what they really wanted, none of these categories are solid. You can have a woman who just wanted to get married and live in the country with four kids end up having so-called “casual sex” for a long period of time, because she is really in love with the man even though the relationship is minimal. Is that “slut” behavior? Call it dumb, call it sad, call it whatever … but “slut” ? As in,” lacking self-respect?”

Honestly, my true answer is…. Maybe.

But so what? Why is woman’s self-respect subject to such (self-) surveillance and scrutiny? Sometimes it’s making love, and sometimes it’s “just a fuck.” Your pattern of sexual behavior doesn’t mean you don’t want or deserve the same things as the “prudish” girls do … like being appreciated. There’s no need to typecast yourself at all. Experimentation is wonderful and empowering. So why denigrate one “category” at the expense of another?

On the other hand, a woman who feels chemistry and has sex once with her friend’s boyfriend … is that “slut” behavior?

What is a “slut,” really?

2 Tiffany Santos March 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Thank you! A friend showed me the article too. I am still thinking of reasons why it is such crap!

I may be a conspiracy theorist, but articles like this are a type of veiled propaganda. Poor women! Now that you are educated you will never be able to get married and have babies and keep your uterus from floating around making you crazy and you will never be truly happy. I think there is also a bedrock bias that a women’s sexual power is equal to or greater than political or social power (why have the right to vote if you can get him to want to fuck you). I, for one, have the personal goal of doing a lot more whoring in my 30s!

3 David March 1, 2011 at 11:17 am

While I certainly do agree with many of the sentiments about the Slate article expressed here and elsewhere, and I do find Regnerus’ approach lacking, it’s worth noting a few things…
His background, at least in terms of where he has worked, clearly shows someone who has emerged through a series of christian-based/oriented places. It’s not unreasonable to presume that a large part of his thinking, and therefore hiw sork in academe, flows from this environment. I don’t find anything to suggest that he is a rabid fundamentalist, but…
Second, as much as many of us here dislike and disagree with and can put really good solid arguments up against what he says, it is important to recognize that we and he are in two really different worlds. Why does this matter, you may ask? Well, simply put: Regnerus is in a position where what he writes and how he is heard is far MORE likely to wield influence where it counts than most of us are. Some examples…. local governments at many levels make laws, sometimes stupid, shitty, ignorant laws, that affect many lives. They take input from a lot of sources, not the least of which are their constituencies… who read things like Slate and the Washington Post (Regnerus was interviewed there) and Christianity Today…. That in turn translates to opinions forged out of, in this case, a very well-sharpened p.o.v. It’s not enough to say “he’s an ass” or to blow off his work. we may not like it. The more salient question is: what might a useful response be?

4 jon March 1, 2011 at 6:12 am

Great article (although I don’t pay any attention to Slate so hadn’t even noticed the idiotic article until I saw this — sometimes ignorance *is* bliss :-) ) Women’s sexual agency sure is threatening to some guys, isn’t it? And they sure do find it easy to get article and books published, don’t they? Sheesh.

5 Srednivashtar March 1, 2011 at 12:43 am

Mario, you make a valid point. ALthough I haven’t read any articles on the matter, I do know that this idea of men nowadays being “childish”, “unproductive” or otherwise “crap” does seem to be a theme than underlies a lot of popular media.

However, the Slate article actually seems to accept this hypothesis. It’s like the author is saying “Yeah, men are crap…but it’s all women’s fault!”

Perhaps some of these authors need to take a few steps back and see that gender roles and society as a whole are changing…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! If people in general are making different life choices than we were 50, 20, even 10 years ago, then perhaps there’s good reason for that.

6 Amen February 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm

That Slate article explains the views surrounding me when I grew up more succinctly than I ever could.

7 freeman February 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

There are always classes of people who get no sex at all. I think that is a missing part of the discussion.
Also, the myopic focus on college puts it all askew. I see clearer as I go how different a world that is from the one I live in.
The sense of moral panic engendered in the slate piece comes from the ethics of raising children. This conflict will bite the most progressively feminist among us, when we try to reconcile the expectations on our kids to the libertine throes of our extended adolescence. We all exhibit double standards about sex and we always have.

Some follow apollo, some dionysis. These threads are dionysis heavy. Apollo couldn’t get any for all his quality. How ugly our baser desires can be!

Marriage often works best across an age difference. In our day, it is how we transcend a shoehorned ‘equality’ that we clamor for in word and piss all over in deed. I do not seek an equal, but a compliment. I meet fewer Daphnes now that I have taken in that lesson.

Maenads leave torn critters in their wake. They throw great parties, though.

8 freeman February 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

My experience certainly is at odds with the slate piece. I think this is because I walked away from college. I am a rare person in our day… liberal in temperment but not in skewl… I make as much as many college grads based on good old fashioned work.

I agree with some of our posters above that economic metaphors are nearly as useless here as in ‘economics’; I take economists just marginally more seriously than psychologists in our world of nihilistic equivocation. The comments have shown more insight than the original piece.
Witnessing divorce soured me on the whole business. We always impugn the players and ignore the game; I say law written for trial lawyers have eroded the very relevance of marital agreements.
The girls like their slackers. They have their reasons, even if some are not consciously
realized.
And I have mine. College sluts make great redtube fodder, but my distaste for such in real life is visceral. Perhaps I am just getting old.

We all do. And our feelings about these things change. I think this whole controversy is a symptom of our culture’s obsession with youth. It is our elders who tell of the worth of lasting marriage. Tweenagers and their senseless drives can rationalize circles around themselves till they are blue in the face. All will face a different song after they are done being kids.

The slate article was garbage. The comments, however, have been a blast to read.

9 Ann M. Skowronski February 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I had a hard time reading the article as closely as I might the first time have due to the searing white hot rage boring holes in my computer screen. First off, a lot of the research he cites is anecdotal. I don’t think most scientists (even-gasp!-those who practice the dark art of soft science) could rely primarily upon anecdotes from a few college-aged girls willing to participate in an interview session as evidence of jack shit.

Second, I agree with other commenters that the piece makes men sound terrible. Misdirected sexual energy is at the core of a man’s desire to succeed? Shoot, define ‘success.’ Are we talking money, prestige, power? Or, are we talking happy home life? Or happy hippy artist life? I assume he means the money part, though.

In that case, what of women like me who are successful business lady-types? All along I thought I was going to law school and establishing myself in a good career because I did not want to be broke anymore. I didn’t realize that I did all this to get access to better cock.

Wait! I’m not supposed to be after cock. I’m supposed to be after a good-earner with good genes for my babies.

Anyhow, this was a totally offensive article that did not belong on Slate! Grr. I don’t mind reading articles written by folks I might not agree with, but this article was utterly sexist crap that did nothing other than reinforce the stereotypical gender narrative. I’m tired of that point of view. It’s the proverbial dead horse of idea-land.

10 redpesto February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

If you can stomach more of the same, here’s Maura Kelly from the Guardian (UK) online – ‘Deferred gratification makes sexual politics sense’: ‘Finally, two sociologists with a new book make the case for something I’ve been encouraging my female friends to do: hold out, ladies!’

Fail.

11 Srednivastar February 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

So…not only are women sluts, but we’re causing men to become lazy? Wow.

This article is offensive to all women and couples. I have been living with my partner for over three years and we aren’t getting married anytime soon. How dare he devalue loving, consentual relationships!

12 Ian February 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

I too was bothered by this article. Unfortunately its difficult to dig out the portions of the article that might actually be useful from the garbage, largely because the study focuses on college students, which is hardly the most stable or easily analyzed demogrpahic.

There were a couple of points that the original author touched on that did seem to back up his thesis. The one that stood at most was the number of women participating in sexual acts that they didn’t actually want to participate in. That does not speak of women’s sexual liberation.

I think following up further on that point, and also on the point of ‘what these women say they want’ in the surveys, rather than what the author’s idea of what they way (marriage, children, LTR, etc) would also be informative. If these women are participating in behavior that contradicts their own personal desires, then the author may have a point. But he didn’t seem to spend any time on that topic.

13 TM February 28, 2011 at 6:30 am

@Mario – could you maybe give us some links to those articles?

@Darren – the article in Slate was “robustly researched”? It gave a couple of links to studies that are either obsolete (the 1989 one) or point to drastically different conclusions than what he is claiming, for example, this study (http://www.jstor.org/pss/2780366) that the author of the Slate article claims concludes that “when men outnumber women, women have the upper hand” actually claims that if there is an under supply of women, female rate of illiteracy increases, women marry young and do not participate in labor force. Quite an upper hand they have.

14 Paul February 28, 2011 at 6:23 am

Mario makes an interesting point. There have been a ton of features written in the (usually conservative) popular press recently that have engaged in blatant shut-shaming on the basis of archaic gender roles. But the proper response to slut-shaming by women….is not slut-shaming by men. If Regnerus could not refute those articles from a point of enlightened feminism, he shouldn’t have written anything at all.

15 Mario February 27, 2011 at 10:37 pm

The Slate article is written in response to a number of recent articles, usually written by women, that complain that men nowadays seem to be merely overgrown boys who don’t want to take on any “adult responsibilities.” Those “adult responsibilities,” according to these articles, boil down to fulfilling the dreams of these female writers, and presumably their female readers, for marriage, babies, and a house in the suburbs. If you don’t believe me, you haven’t read any of these articles.

Now, anyone is welcome to think anything they want about the Slate article. It may very well be offensively antediluvian. I assure you, as a man, I find these “where have all the real men gone” articles equally offensive. I don’t define my manhood based on a woman’s idea of what my “adult responsibilities” should be.

Maybe, what we need, are more articles from women sharing how happy they are with how things have become, instead of articles from these frustrated princesses.

16 Neverceasedtobesuprised February 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I also giggle at the delight of some right wing armchair culture warrior who I would guess is drawing a check from the Cato/Reason/Heritage/AFP nexus of wingnut welfare smugly judging people men who don’t seem to be striving hard enough as Galtian Capitalsts As He Sees It, when ‘success’ for these folks consists of showing up and parroting the right talking points uncritically.

17 Neverceasedtobesuprised February 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Leave it to a ‘free market economist’ type to equate dating and human sexuality to market theories that, incidentally, don’t even seem to work in economic markets.

I mean really, don’t you poor women know that sexual pleasure is really just currency to get you a diamond and a house and if you don’t think of your vagina as some sort of fiat printing press that you’re really causing orgasm inflation due to your sexual (fiscal) irresponsibility which of course results in your whole gender humping your way down the Road to Serfdom where no one will buy you drinks in bars and even worse, it might lead to pussy hyperinflation where guys cant walk out of the house without slipping in a puddle and getting laid 14 times, but since its all devalued, the only girls who will get to live out their obvious life long dream of being married and breeding are the ones who have wheelbarrow’s full of vagina’s to beat the vagina/marriage exchange rate. However all is not lost girls, so long as you keep your vagina’s pure and pristine and pray for a husband every night, those few will be valued as gold.

Lets run with the metaphor eh? Maybe we can pool and securitize female sexual desire in order to better manage risk, since they were never educated in finance they cant know the value between their thighs. We can collect all of that risky devalued extramarital sex and break it into tranches, then issue a debt swap obligation to cover the liability, and in no time women will only be fucking republicans and criminal bankers and the rest of the country will need an ass bailout.

Side notes, a bunch of textual citations to crap is not evidence, and the plural of anecdote is not data. Also, and I could be way off here, but I think the examples laid down in the past two or three generations in regards to marriage in the US has done more to turn people off to the idea than women deciding they can screw how and why and who they want. On one hand, live and enjoy yourself and feel pleasure and think fondly on the lovers of your lifetime, on the other, fight about money, and kids, and housing, and cheat on each other once the source of your never ending responsibilities ceases to turn you on, and then fight in court for a few years and bankrupt yourselves and spend the rest of your life fighting proxy battles at each other through your children. I know what I plan to pick.

18 Law Fairy February 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

You forgot to bring up my favorite part of the article — the part where he basically says that since men have no incentive to work for sex, civilization is doomed. Since, you know, men are the only ones who *do* things. All those degrees women are getting nowadays? Wasted! On VAGINAS that should be popping out BABIES! Everyone knows that women don’t build societies!!

19 Darren February 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I’ve read both the Slate piece and your response. Looking at them objectively, I’m struck by the robust research in the Slate piece, and the apparent lack of research in your response. I understand that your response is meant to inspire and invigorate, but I think it fails on a strict intellectual basis to disprove what Mr. Regenerus posited.

20 T-Bone February 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Preface: I’m a 27 year old male in the demographic everyone is talking about here. Although, I do have graduate degrees, don’t read Maxim, or play Call of Duty. I can see why women would be offended (I think)

Regnerus is saying, “listen folks, you think we’re all lazy slobs who sit around play video games and smoke pot all day? That’s because we have no incentives not to! Haha! Maybe if women would quit putting out, we’d have incentive to get our shit together” I don’t think he’s digging into gender roles or questioning masculinity at all. He’s bragging about great we’ve got it, like that loud asshole in the men’s locker room. I think you’re all giving him way too much credit.

As an over-educated dood trying to find a job right now, it’s frustrating (and at times feels emasculating). I have tons of experience, 2 masters degrees from prestigious universities and the best work I can find is a very junior position. Maybe $40,000/year if I’m lucky. I think a lot of men are frustrated with this; feeling nostalgic to the days when you could get a relatively solid gig straight out of college. Thus, rather than accept that things are different, guys like Regnerus just pass the blame to women for taking the jobs once given to us. Then, they overcompensate by bragging about not moving through the ranks and becoming successful. They could if they wanted, they just don’t want to. Right.

21 Jane February 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I am happy to say that my own daughter raised my awareness to this issue.
I am a 49 year old woman with “fluidity”, as well as a strong global feminist perspective.
Much of my own life has been designed and experienced to accommodate the inhumane confines of this society’s patriarchal edifice; however, I will not allow the blatant ineptitude of this individual author to interfere with my own integrity as a human being. Hence, my desire to share the following:
Regardless of gender, sexuality, social “status”, and education (or lack thereof, as may well be agreed in both literary and philisophical forums), I believe this article exhibits misogyny, indeed, born of primordial FEAR. Nonetheless, this same journalistic (I use the term loosely) expression has elevated rather acute awareness with the subsequent analyses and discussion, Where does it go from here? My hope is that all of this magnificent energy will find only a positive direction for anyone affected, thus creating a stronger foundation for human equality.
I invite Mark Regnerus to ammend this clumsy attempt at proliferating human oppression. I’ll get the coffee. :-)

22 Trish Smith February 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

Summed up brilliantly toward the end:

Fuck you, Slate.

Ditto.

23 Jeremy Meyers February 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

A lot of great commentary about this bit of ridiculousness over on MetaFilter, too.

http://www.metafilter.com/100944/And-the-battle-of-the-sexes-continues

24 Davi February 27, 2011 at 2:34 am

I dimly remember during the Bush years Slate having some decent articles on politics. However, I long, long ago learned to just look away whenever they had anything to say on sex and relationships. If I didn’t know better (and really… I don’t), I’d swear they were writing this stuff just to provoke a hostile reaction in their readers. Certainly got one out of me.

25 John February 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Let’s not overlook the fact that the article is plenty offensive to men, too. Using Freudian – Freudian! – ideas to claim that a society with sexually satisfied men will be unproductive? Talk about self-justifying Puritanism. Ugh. It’s really entirely gender-neutral slut-shaming, as far as I can tell. It’s calling sexually satisfied women failures and it’s calling sexually satisfied men lazy.

The article’s also based on the recent all-too-common popular media trope that modern youth are failing to mature and failing to thrive, which is as far as I can tell nothing but aging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers griping bitterly at twentysomething Millennials who DARE to continue to have fun even though the economy sucks.

What a shitty, petulant piece.

26 Bef With an F February 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I know nothing of slate, but I DID see the article link at the bottom “reckless rogue abortionists & how we can stop them.” so…. I guess I know what they use to get pageclicks, huh?

27 AK February 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Whenever any writer says “the evidence shows it’s true” (like Regnerus does), then that’s the clincher right there that the article serves one particular agenda and not worth my time as a living breathing human being with other things to do. I’m definitely tired of writers discussing what women experience/ought to be/what they are/whatever, and when the writers are male, it annoys me even more because they use their article as a valid male opinion that generalises to represent male opinion, which is bollocks.

Evidence doesn’t prove any truth per se. Sociological, even sexual or psychological studies don’t prove anything for an entire population. The accuracy of a study depends on its external and internal validity, but authors overlook all this and use weasel words to make women paranoid. All correlations (in studies) only show relationships, they don’t even show causation and that is basic statistics 101. It doesn’t matter what study it is (as far as I’m concerned, any self report or sociological type of study is riddled with flaws), causation is never proven and no credible researcher users the word ‘true’ or ‘proven’ in their study. So for a writer to do the same in their article, less than half way through, is a sure indicator of the article’s invalidity. However, rather than this being a sign for people to stop reading and paying attention or (editors) even publishing such shit (as Slate has) that is reworded as fact, these articles cause angst because women have been socially conditioned to buy into them, and I’m not imagining this because many women’s magazines operate on this level, putting the blame on women, shaming women then praising women, they don’t even know what they’re on about. Women are always bombarded with information on how to ‘be’ and this, as a woman, pisses me off. After reading women’s periodicals for two decades, as well as plenty sex guides, I no longer bother. I’m over it. It’s all targeted toward profits anyway. At the end of the day it doesn’t make a difference.

No, I haven’t read all the Slate article. The third paragraph, and it’s evidence as truth quote, is sufficient. Don’t need to, not when I the idiot author – before his concluding paragraph – says the evidence is true. In my opinion, these sorts of articles only make women second guess themselves. Women need to be more critical about what they read. No, we don’t need to read everything some idiot writes, but this is the way sex is marketed isn’t it? It’s targeting women all the time, like women are in desperate need to know every minute detail about sex, sexual politics etc (ad nauseum), so that they can ‘buy it’ all. As for Regnerus, no I don’t care if he thinks younger men have the upper hand in bed. There are so many theories that can be raised about this, from the most simplest being that the higher female to male population ratio is more advantageous for men. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that in the human world, as opposed to the remaining animals (where males are the more decorative or have to work harder for the female), women work harder to attract males. This has nothing to do with how good we are in bed. It’s about numbers and a bunch of other more superficial aspects that tie in with things like sexual reproductive attraction (you don’t necessarily have to reproduce, just the primal notion of it motivates people), that aren’t politically correct to discuss. In other words, when faced with a choice out of five women, a man will choose the woman that is, by Darwinian terms, ‘fitter’. And because we live in a society that is economically geared, as it has always been, women are also viewed as a commodity. Hell, even porn stars sell themselves as sexual commodities, but say this to women, and all hell breaks loose. If sex is cheap, it’s because people cheapen it for their own reasons (and there are many reasons that an article cannot cover) and the very definition of cheap varies from one person to the next.

28 Nongenerica February 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Another reason women are so irked by this post is the deterministic position that Regnerus is taking on women’s gender behaviors.

This is an inherent problem with the research that he cites. Some of the biggest criticisms of research on gender “differences” (including the “frequently cited” study that he refers to in this article) is that social context was not considered. Regnerus says “Call it sexist, call it whatever you want—the evidence shows it’s true.” Yes, true, but WHY it is true is a much more important question to examine. The underlying assumption in his article is that woman ARE this way (biologically) and men ARE this other way (biologically). The research he cited operated under this same assumption and faced much criticism in the scientific community. The research by Clark & Hatfield that he refers to was published in 1989. I repeat: 1989. Since then there have been many developments in social scientific and women studies research disproving the biological basis of women and men’s gendered behaviors. So John Gray is probably now off in a corner somewhere crying.

The fact is – Women are taught to (brought up to, told by media and peers to…) not act slutty or be sluts. So of course most women are not going to say “yes” when asked to have sex with a random opposite-sex stranger (especially 22 years ago, I’d be interested to see how women would respond now). An example of this socialization emerges in social attitudes research. For example, research on attitudes research shows that women are judged less favorably by others if they carry condoms with them than if they are just having unprotected sex (Crawford & Pop, 2003 “Sexual Double Standards: A Review and Methodological Critique of Two Decades of Research,” http://www.jstor.org/stable/3813767). This finding suggests that unprotected sex is more favorable because it can lead to what women “should” be doing (going quickly from pre-marital to marital) as oppose to what women shouldn’t be doing (having sexual autonomy).

Similarly, men get “I’m a macho, manly man who scores lots of bitches” points in his socially constructed masculine world for accepting such an offer. So it’s no wonder that the men in the study say “hell to the yeah!” to some random sex offered by a confederate female researcher. Here’s an example of how this social construction for men starts young, “Emphasis on masculine prowess starts early. For instance, onesies available for infant boys include ‘Now Accepting Hot Girlfriends,’ ‘Chick Magnet,’ and ‘Pimp Squad’ One of the popular Halloween costumes for young boys last year was ‘Mack Daddy’ – a pimp costume with fur-lined coat and hat, cane and handfuls of play cash to pay working girls” (source: truechild.org ‘Fast Facts’). Furthermore, anyone can attest to this: a man who doesn’t accept random sex in our society runs the risk of being called a fag.

So, pretty shitty repercussions for everyone, wouldn’t you say?

(I’m a PhD candidate in social psychology focusing on gender and sexuality.)

29 Andrew February 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm

A thousand thank-you’s. I posted the link to that crap article on my Facebook page this morning, with my thoughts from a different perspective.

1. 3/4 of men will agree to sex with strangers because they have less to be afraid of. The same proportion of women may want to say yes but be rightfully wary.
2. Males and females of the same age have always exhibited different levels of maturity.
3. Men and women don’t enter relationships based on the outcome of a rational economic analysis.

I’m only speaking to the flaws in his analysis: the cherry picking of crap data to back up a crap assertion. Your calling out of the slut shaming tone is excellent, and something I hadn’t picked up on, I suspect because I was so annoyed at what he was saying and how poorly he backed it up.

All in all, bad on the usually decent Slate.

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