Your daily “single women die alone” alert.

The endless obsession with how women are going to die alone because they have brains and casual sex has truly become the gift that keeps on giving. Mix one part college student sample, a few scattered inconsistent findings based on loosely correlated “evidence,” sweeping generalizations reinforcing female anxiety around mating and some slut-shaming for good measure and walla, you have yourself “relationship advice” from a “doctor.” The CNN health blog writes about a new book, “Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying,” by none other than “get married early” Mark Regenerus and sociologist Jeremy Ueker.

CNN concludes from a precursory look at the book men have the upper hand in the sexual economy. This is not  because women are judged based on their promiscuity or lack thereof in a way that men rarely are or because men face pressure to have casual sex like a stud and deny their romantic feelings for relationships. Or because when you are a woman between 18-23 male attention and the desire to “be in a relaysh” has more impact on your self esteem then say when you are a 30-somethinger like me. Or maybe because by 23, you still don’t know what you want out of a relationship. No, no, men have the upper hand in sex and dating because women have too much freedom, sex and education.

Researchers found that since women in the 18- to 23-year-old group feel they don’t need men for financial dependence, many of them feel they can play around with multiple partners without consequence, and that the early 20s isn’t the time to have a serious relationship. But eventually, they do come to want a real, lasting relationship. The problem is that there will still be women who will have sex readily without commitment, and since men know this, fewer of them are willing to go steady.

“Women have plenty of freedom, but freedom does not translate easily into getting what you want,” Regnerus said.

Translation: even when you decide to smarten up and close those legs, all those other sluts are going to get your would be boyfriend.

So, women are to blame for other women being promiscuous. Its like circular slut-shaming. And men, well, they are just men, of course! Men don’t want relationships, they are just vagina hungry man-beasts that roam the green earth with their new-found ability to have sex outside of relationships. And it only gets better. Not only do men not want to be in a relationship with you because you are wanting to settle down and they don’t have to, some would even rather watch porn than have sex. No. Really.

The wide availability of pornography has also influenced the dynamics of relations between men and women, Regnerus said. A segment of 20-something men are content to have their sexual experiences by themselves, removing them from the pool of available partners.

Please, introduce me to the man that would rather stay home and watch porn than have sex. Wait, actually, don’t.

A few pieces of inconsistent evidence (i.e., women like to have sex, women like to be in relationships, some women continue liking to have sex, men like to have sex, some men like to watch pornography) mixed with religious dogma become statistical proof that men have the upper hand in sex. At no point is it noticed that we live in a culture that values women on their sexual promiscuity shaming them for having casual sex, or a culture that privileges a type of masculinity that is predicated on promiscuity and how both those factors are directly connected to self esteem when you are 18-23 and that just very well might impact how you behave. Nope, you will just never end up in a real relationship. And what could be worse than that??!

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/wonkyfactory/ Cid

    Doesn’t this beg the question of why you would want to be in a relationship with some jerk who would rather go around having casual sex for the rest of his life?

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    When you strip down the basic argument, pardon the bad pun, this argument is no different than something advanced as “fact” in the 1950’s.

    I’m not really sure what constitutes a “real relationship”. I will say that I myself sort of bucked the trend and always wanted a serious relationship. Dating for pleasure’s sake alone never really appealed to me. Now, at 30, many people I know are at that point themselves. I try not to forget how grateful I am that things changed and that I have a frame of reference now with many others my age and a little younger.

    The process of maturation for both men and women should not be considered the fault of the woman. I recognize now that early on we’re trying to find ourselves and establish a strong sense of identity. There are any number of instances where we can be out of step with our times and it’s so easy to internalize that feeling, seeing it as a kind of wholesale rejection. I was fortunate to have a mentor back then who would always remind me that, in time, the whole dynamics would change.

    I wish we’d talk more about this. It might make several people feeling lonely and isolated recognize that their feelings are valid. So many times I felt hopeless and misunderstood myself.

  • http://feministing.com/members/mlemac28/ Emily

    And they always forget that porn works both ways…..

  • http://feministing.com/members/athenia/ athenia

    I’ve read the book and it’s really depressing. It’s all women’s fault for men behaving badly—PLUS, there’s no data suggesting that having sex negatively affects men so they’re off the hook!

    But what I did get from it is that other’s people’s behavior does effect your experience.

    So whether you are a girl who wants to wait until marriage or a feminist who doesn’t want to shave her ladybits—-the whole “what is everyone else doing” may affect you.

  • Pingback: Texas Sex, Gender, Ladynews roundup! | HAY LADIES!

  • http://feministing.com/members/ejdoyle/ Emmett J Doyle

    My God, do other men really think the way we’re described as thinking in this book? Why the heck should we be only out for sex, and not companionship? Why should we be set up for a paradigm of relatonships in which we are expected to see a female partner as a nag and an expense good for nothing but sex and jealousy, to be discarded when she gets in the way of the bros? What a humbug! I’ve had girlfriends who I’ve connected with and had no sex with, and girlfriends who I’ve had plenty of sex with and not as strong a connection; I can tell you which one I missed more once the relationship ended. Man, I’m sick of this idea that men who care about things are weak.

  • http://feministing.com/members/loviteam/ Jon

    I love everything about this post. Maybe women should stop cheating and people will trust them.

  • sex-toy-james

    So, according the premises here, men don’t want a relationship, but do want sex, and they’ll eventually give in and participate in a relationship once they can no longer get sex without one. So the propagation of the human species through families is the institutionalized enslavement of men through control of the sex supply. That’s a pretty bleak assessment of the male half of the species there. We have only one motivation regarding women and we’re all doomed to give in to a life we don’t want to get it.
    If women would just get together and restrict the sex supply, which I think would be illegal since they’d be forming a cartel or something, then they’d be better off because they could better force unwilling men into relationships. If they could cut off the porn, they could further force more men into relationships, because that’s what women want, men who prefer porn to relationships with women.
    Under these assumptions I don’t see anyone winning. I’d be interested to know how many men and women actually hold these assumptions, and how often they actually form happy relationships.

    I much prefer the alternate model where men will take all the sex that comes their way in pursuit of a life partner with whom they share the same interests and values, and look to form a relationship that’s sexually, intellectually, and emotionally fulfilling. I think that it offers more opportunities for short term and long term fulfillment.

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Well, yes, there are some men who are put off by women who have too much freedom, sex, and education. That’s what makes freedom, sex, and education a good way to filter those losers out. :)

    A partner of QUALITY will embrace a lover’s independence, intelligence, and sexuality.

  • sleepybones2

    Given the premise of the book (that men just want sex and you have to limit the supply to “force” &/or “trick” them into relationships), we’d all be way better off if women just form their own communities and relationships with each other (venturing out on occasion to get a sperm donation if/when they want to reproduce, and maybe some sexual release). Then, men can just have a life of porn made from high-end computer graphics and “real dolls” (or something?)

    Doesn’t sound too great, honestly. But way better than pretending I don’t have a sex drive or capitulating to a million and one whims of a man who seems to hold all the cards in the relationship (considering he’s just barely tolerating me so he can get sex).

    Did the author know he was advocating some kind of women’s separatist movement?

  • http://feministing.com/members/ganymede/ Ganymede

    Wow, this article is incredibly offensive.

    It frames sexual relations as a competition between men and women.
    It assumes that having multiple partners (in sequence? simultaneously?) is irresponsible and “salacious,” the opposite of a “real, lasting relationship.”
    It particularly stigmatizes young women who experiment with multiple partners.
    In fact, it assumes that all men everywhere want sex without commitment.
    It assumes that only men watch porn.
    It assumes that a woman needs a man in order to have a “sexual experience.”
    It equates “high-quality men” with “those who want monogamous, committed relationships.”

    And, it pretends that gay people don’t exist.

    I’m tempted to paraphrase as follows:
    “Women have education, power, and money, and think that they can also have sex without commitment. But we all know sex without commitment is what men do. Silly women! Eventually they figure out what women are supposed to do, but they’re too old to entrap a man into marriage — because all the men are busy enjoying carefree sex with 20-somethings/really great porn — and thus must shrivel up into sexually frustrated spinster-b*tches (my reading of “unsatisfactorily single”).”

    (Yep, that was pretty satisfying to write.)

  • http://feministing.com/members/darsh/ Darsh

    I’m a bit late to see this, but thought I could provide some comments if anyone still reads this.

    [Before I begin, I would just like to point out that I usually talk in generalisations: While there are homosexual people, and some women don't want a man/family/children, and some men don't care for sex or don't care for sex outside of a committed relationship, etc., most people are heterosexual, most women do want a man, family and children (and many/most want a career too), and most men don't care if the sex is casual or in a relationship. Thus, I think it is reasonable to let the discussion continue around how most people actually are. If you believe any of these assumptions are wrong, then I guess we would need to discuss them before the rest of this.]

    I should start of by saying that I’m a 26 year old man, I’ve got a Master’s, a well-paying job, I’m in very good shape and I believe I look quite good (Yeah, I know it’s kinda useless to assessing ones own looks). I stayed a virgin for many more years than I would have wanted, but after learning how to behave around women I’m much better at that part. And the women I’m with seem to like me quite a lot.

    However, I pretty much fit the description of the “would be boyfriend” who goes with “all those other sluts”. I’ve known some absolutely wonderful women who were smart, funny, beautiful, intelligent and going to college/grad school/working. A select few I could even see myself grow old with, and I’m sure I would have been happy. But I never agreed to be in a relationship with any of them. Which isn’t quite true: One girl was so sweet and wonderful that I didn’t have the heart to say no. So we were in a relationship for half a year, and I was always happy when I was with her. Problem was, I wasn’t very happy when I couldn’t flirt or pick up other girls when my girlfriend wasn’t around. By being in a relationship with her I promised that I wouldn’t be with anyone else, and I loathe the idea of cheating. So I broke up with the most fantastic girl I’ve known, to run after “all those other sluts”. I can’t say I feel the least bit good about agreeing to be her boyfriend when I knew I didn’t feel monogamous, or about breaking up with her later, but at least I never cheated on her…

    It’s not that I don’t like relationships, or that I didn’t enjoy the time I spent with my girlfriend. I absolutely did. But I crave sexual diversity. I want to have sex with several women. And as long as sex is easy to obtain outside a relationship, then that want is easy to satisfy. I’m pretty sure I want children some day, so at some point I’ll need to find a great woman and settle down (I believe children need both male and female role models, which ideally could be their parents, as two people are better at providing for a household).

    Women can do this too of course (have lots of casual sex). But what I think the article hinted at is that after their mid-twenties, most men will continue to go up in attractiveness, while women’s looks – and thus a large part of what makes them attractive – will start to deteriorate. Because of this, by the time they’re ready to settle down in their 30’s, women find out that men are more interested in women in their 20’s. While this doesn’t go for everyone of course – and I’ve known some very good looking mid-thirties women – I believe this is the general rule.

    It isn’t immediately clear what can be done about this problem though. As has already been pointed out, it is rather difficult to know what one wants in one’s life when one is in the early twenties. But I can absolutely see the problem this is in the larger picture.

    And about the “segment of 20-something men [who] are content to have their sexual experiences by themselves”, I believe the authors of that book misinterpreted their data. The vast majority of men would rather be with a real woman than using porn. However, I believe the segment in question consists of men who don’t have any luck meeting women (could be their too fat, or smell bad, or are socially awkward, or are too self-centered, or any of the traits that make for a lousy partner). They’re not willingly removed from the dating pool, but they’re simply not good enough – or have given up trying to be good enough – for most women. Thus, they turn to porn as a way of having some kind of sexual life. Of course, this isn’t to say that other people (both men and women) don’t use porn as well.

    And finally, I doubt I would want a long term relationship with a girl who has been sleeping around. I get rather put off by it, but I’m afraid I can’t give much of an articulated reason for why that is. Yes, I know this might sound very arrogant considering that I do what I can to sleep around for now, but we’re all allowed to make our own decisions in life, right? I still have faith that there are a fair number of women who hasn’t slept around left who are also willing to be in a relationship with someone who has.

    • http://feministing.com/members/offfwhite/ offfwhite

      Wow…. that’s some excruciating mansplainin’ right there.