It is well known to readers of this journal that white birthrates worldwide have suffered a catastrophic decline in recent decades. During this same period, ours has become assuredly the most sex-obsessed society in the history of the world. Two such massive, concurrent trends are hardly likely to be unrelated. Many well-meaning conservatives agree in deploring the present situation, but do not agree in describing that situation or how it arose. Correct diagnosis is the first precondition for effective strategy.
The well-worn phrase “sexual revolution” ought, I believe, to be taken with more than customary seriousness. Like the French Revolution, the paradigmatic political revolution of modern times, it was an attempt to realize a utopia, but a sexual rather than political utopia. And like the French Revolution, it has gone through three phases: first, a libertarian or anarchic phase in which the utopia was supposed to occur spontaneously once old ways had been swept aside; second, a reign of terror, in which one faction seized power and attempted to realize its schemes dictatorially; and third, a “reaction” in which human nature gradually reasserted itself. We shall follow this order in the present essay.
Let us consider what a sexual utopia is, and let us begin with men, who are in every respect simpler.
Nature has played a trick on men: production of spermatozoa occurs at a rate several orders of magnitude greater than female ovulation (about 12 million per hour vs. 400 per lifetime). This is a natural, not a moral, fact. Among the lower animals also, the male is grossly oversupplied with something for which the female has only a limited demand. This means that the female has far greater control over mating. The universal law of nature is that males display and females choose. Male peacocks spread their tales, females choose. Male rams butt horns, females choose. Among humans, boys try to impress girls—and the girls choose. Nature dictates that in the mating dance, the male must wait to be chosen.
A man’s sexual utopia is, accordingly, a world in which no such limit to female demand for him exists. It is not necessary to resort to pornography for example. Consider only popular movies aimed at a male audience, such as the James Bond series. Women simply cannot resist James Bond. He does not have to propose marriage, or even request dates. He simply walks into the room and they swoon. The entertainment industry turns out endless images such as this. Why, the male viewer eventually may ask, cannot life actually be so? To some, it is tempting to put the blame on the institution of marriage.
Marriage, after all, seems to restrict sex rather drastically. Certain men figure that if sex were permitted both inside and outside of marriage there would have to be twice as much sex as formerly. They imagined there existed a large, untapped reservoir of female desire hitherto repressed by monogamy. To release it, they sought, during the early postwar period, to replace the seventh commandment with an endorsement of all sexual activity between “consenting adults.” Every man could have a harem. Sexual behavior in general, and not merely family life, was henceforward to be regarded as a private matter. Traditionalists who disagreed were said to want to “put a policeman in every bedroom.” This was the age of the Kinsey Reports and the first appearance of Playboy magazine. Idle male daydreams had become a social movement.
This characteristically male sexual utopianism of the early postwar years was a forerunner of the sexual revolution but not the revolution itself. Men are incapable of bringing about revolutionary changes in heterosexual relations without the cooperation—the famed “consent”—of women. But the original male would-be revolutionaries did not understand the nature of the female sex instinct. That is why things have not gone according to their plan.
What is the special character of feminine sexual desire that distinguishes it from that of men?
It is sometimes said that men are polygamous and women monogamous. Such a belief is often implicit in the writings of “conservative” male commentators: Women only want good husbands, but heartless men use and abandon them. Some evidence does appear, prima facie, to support such a view. One 1994 survey found that “while men projected they would ideally like 6 sex partners over the next year, and 8 over the next two years, women responded that their ideal would be to have only one partner over the next year. And over two years? The answer, for women, was still one.” Is this not evidence that women are naturally monogamous?
No, it is not. Women know their own sexual urges are unruly, but traditionally have had enough sense to keep quiet about it. A husband’s belief that his wife is naturally monogamous makes for his own peace of mind. It is not to a wife’s advantage, either, that her husband understand her too well: Knowledge is power. In short, we have here a kind of Platonic “noble lie”—a belief which is salutary, although false.
It would be more accurate to say that the female sexual instinct is hypergamous. Men may have a tendency to seek sexual variety, but women have simple tastes in the manner of Oscar Wilde: They are always satisfied with the best. By definition, only one man can be the best. These different male and female “sexual orientations” are clearly seen among the lower primates, e.g., in a baboon pack. Females compete to mate at the top, males to get to the top.
Women, in fact, have a distinctive sexual utopia corresponding to their hypergamous instincts. In its purely utopian form, it has two parts: First, she mates with her incubus, the imaginary perfect man; and, second, he “commits,” or ceases mating with all other women. This is the formula of much pulp romance fiction. The fantasy is strictly utopian, partly because no perfect man exists, but partly also because even if he did, it is logically impossible for him to be the exclusive mate of all the women who desire him.
It is possible, however, to enable women to mate hypergamously, i.e., with the most sexually attractive (handsome or socially dominant) men. In the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes the women of Athens stage a coup d’état. They occupy the legislative assembly and barricade their husbands out. Then they proceed to enact a law by which the most attractive males of the city will be compelled to mate with each female in turn, beginning with the least attractive. That is the female sexual utopia in power. Aristophanes had a better understanding of the female mind than the average husband.
Hypergamy is not monogamy in the human sense. Although there may be only one “alpha male” at the top of the pack at any given time, which one it is changes over time. In human terms, this means the female is fickle, infatuated with no more than one man at any given time, but not naturally loyal to a husband over the course of a lifetime. In bygone days, it was permitted to point out natural female inconstancy. Consult, for example, Ring Lardner’s humorous story “I Can’t Breathe”—the private journal of an eighteen-year-old girl who wants to marry a different young man every week. If surveyed on her preferred number of “sex partners,” she would presumably respond “one”; this does not mean she has any idea who it is.
An important aspect of hypergamy is that it implies the rejection of most males. Women are naturally vain. They are inclined to believe that only the “best” (most sexually attractive) man is worthy of them. This is another common theme of popular romance (the beautiful princess, surrounded by panting suitors, pined away hopelessly for a “real” man—until, one day . . . etc.).
This cannot be objectively true, of course. An average man is by definition good enough for an average woman. If each woman were to mate with all men “worthy” of her, she would have no time to do anything else. Once again, hypergamy is distinct from monogamy. It is an irrational instinct; the female sexual utopia is a consequence of that instinct.
The sexual revolution in America was an attempt by women to realize their own utopia, not that of men. Female utopians came forward publicly with plans a few years after Kinsey and Playboy. Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl appeared in 1962, and she took over Cosmopolitan magazine three years later. Notoriously hostile to motherhood, she explicitly encouraged women to use men (including married men) for pleasure.
The actual outbreak of the sexual revolution occurred when significant numbers of young women began acting on the new utopian plan. This seems to have occurred on many college campuses in the 1960s. Women who took birth-control pills and committed fornication with any man who caught their fancy claimed they were liberating themselves from the slavery of marriage. The men, urged by their youthful hormones, frequently went along with this, but were not as happy about it as they are sometimes represented. Columnist Paul Craig Roberts recalls:
I was a young professor when it all started and watched a campus turn into a brothel. The male students were perplexed, even the left-wing ones who had been taught to regard female chastity as oppression. I still remember the resident Marxist who, high on peyote, came to me to complain that “nice girls are ruining themselves.”
This should not be surprising. Most men prefer a virgin bride; this is a genuine aspect of male erotic desire favoring monogamy, and hence in constant tension with the impulse to seek sexual variety.
The young women, although hardly philosophers, did set forth arguments to justify their behavior. Most were a variation on the theme that traditional morality involved a “double standard.”
It was said that women who had promiscuous sex had been condemned as “sluts” while men who did the same were admired as “studs.” It was pointed out that some men sought sex outside marriage and subsequently insisted on their brides being virgins. The common expression “fallen woman,” and the absence of a corresponding expression “fallen man,” was cited as further evidence of an unfair double standard. The inference the female revolutionaries drew was that woman, too, should henceforward seek sex outside of marriage. This, of course, does not logically follow. They might have determined instead to set wayward men a good example by practicing monogamy regardless of men’s own actions.
But let us ignore that for the moment and consider the premise of their argument, the double standard. Like most influential falsehoods, it involves a distortion, rather than a mere negation, of an important truth. It is plausible, and hence dangerous, because it resembles that truth.
In fact, men have never been encouraged to go about seeking casual sex with multiple women. How could any sane society encourage such behavior? The results are inevitable and obvious: abandoned women and fatherless children who are a financial burden on innocent third parties. Accordingly, promiscuous men have traditionally been regarded as dissolute, dangerous, and dishonorable. They have been called by names such as “libertine” or “rake.” The traditional rule of sexual conduct has been chastity outside of marriage, faithfulness within—for both sexes.
But in one sense there was undoubtedly a double standard: A sexual indiscretion, whether fornication or adultery, has usually been regarded as a more serious matter in a woman than in a man, and socially sanctioned punishments for it have often been greater. In other words, while both sexes were supposed to practice monogamy, it was considered especially important for women to do so. Why is this?
In the first place, they tend to be better at it. This is not due to any moral superiority of the female, as many men are pleased to believe, but to their lower levels of testosterone and their slower sexual cycle: ovulation at the rate of one gamete per month.
Second, if women are all monogamous, the men will perforce be monogamous anyway: It is arithmetically impossible for polygamy to be the norm for men throughout a society because of the human sex ratio at birth.
Third, the private nature of the sexual act and the nine-month human gestation period mean that, while there is not normally doubt as to who the mother of a particular baby is, there may well be doubt regarding the father. Female fidelity is necessary to assure the husband that his wife’s children are also his.
Fourth, women are, next to children, the main beneficiaries of marriage. Most men work their lives away at jobs they do not much care for in order to support wife and family. For women, marriage coincides with economic rationality; for a man, going to a prostitute is a better deal. Accordingly, chastity before marriage and fidelity within it are the very least a woman owes her husband. Indeed, on the traditional view, she owes him a great deal more. She is to make a home for him, return gratitude and loyalty for his support of her, and accept his position as head of the family.
Traditional concern for fallen women does not imply there are no “fallen men.” Fornication is usually a sin of weakness, and undoubtedly many men who fall into it feel ashamed. The real double standard here is that few bother to sympathize with those men. Both men and women are more inclined to pity women. Some of the greatest male novelists of the nineteenth century devoted their best labors to the sympathetic portrayal of adulteresses. Men, by contrast, are expected to take full responsibility for their actions, no questions asked. In other words, this double standard favors women. So do most traditional sex roles, such as exclusively male liability to military service. The female responsibility to be the primary enforcer of monogamy is something of an exception.
What, after all, is the alternative to the double standard? Is it practical to give sexually desperate young men exclusive responsibility to ensure no act of fornication ever takes place? Or should women be locked up to make it impossible? Logically, a woman must either have no mate, one mate, or more than one mate. The first two choices are socially accepted; the third is not. Such disapproval involves no coercion, however. Women who insist on mating with multiple men may do so. But they are responsible for that behavior and its consequences.
Women’s complaints about double standards refer only to the few which seem to favor men. They unhesitatingly take advantage of those which favor themselves. Wives in modern, two-income marriages, for example, typically assume that “what I earn is mine; what he earns is ours.” Young women insist on their “independence,” but assume they are entitled to male protection should things get sticky.
But the ultimate expression of modern female hypocrisy is the assertion of a right to adultery for women only. This view is clearly implied in much contemporary self-help literature aimed at women. Titles like Get Rid of Him and Ditch That Jerk are found side-by-side Men Who Can’t Love: How to Recognize a Commitmentphobic Man. In short, I demand loyalty from you, but you have no right to expect it of me. Many women seem sincerely unable to sense a contradiction here. Modern woman wants the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities; she wants a man to marry her without her having to marry the man. It is the eternal dream of irresponsible freedom: In the feminist formulation, freedom for women, responsibility for men.
Men usually accept that their demand for faithfulness from their wives entails a reciprocal duty of faithfulness to their wives. In fact, I am inclined to believe most men lay too much stress on this. For a man, fidelity in marriage should be a matter of preserving his own honor and ensuring that he is able to be a proper father to all his children; his wife’s feelings are a secondary matter, as are his own. In any case, the marriage vow is carefully formulated to enunciate a reciprocity of obligations; both the man and woman pledge faithfulness for life. Given innate sex differences, it is not possible to eliminate the double standard any more than marriage already has.
Fallout of the Revolution: “Date Rape”
A few years into the sexual revolution, shocking reports began to appear of vast numbers of young women—from one quarter to half—being victims of rape. Shock turned to bewilderment when the victims were brought forward to tell their stories. The “rapists,” it turns out, were never lying in wait for them in remote corners, were not armed, did not attack them. Instead, these “date rapes” occur in private places, usually college dormitory rooms, and involve no threats or violence. In fact, they little resemble what most of us think of as rape.
What was going on here?
Take a girl too young to understand what erotic desire is and subject her to several years of propaganda to the effect that she has a right to have things any way she wants them in this domain—with no corresponding duties to God, her parents, or anyone else. Do not give her any guidance as to what it might be good for her to want, how she might try to regulate her own conduct, or what qualities she ought to look for in a young man. Teach her furthermore that the notion of natural differences between the sexes is a laughable superstition that our enlightened age is gradually overcoming—with the implication that men’s sexual desires are no different from or more intense than her own. Meanwhile, as she matures physically, keep her protected in her parents’ house, sheltered from responsibility.
Then, at age seventeen or eighteen, take her suddenly away from her family and all the people she has ever known. She can stay up as late as she wants! She can decide for herself when and how much to study! She’s making new friends all the time, young women and men both. It’s no big deal having them over or going to their rooms; everybody is perfectly casual about it. What difference does it make if it’s a boy she met at a party? He seems like a nice fellow, like others she meets in class.
Now let us consider the young man she is alone with. He is neither a saint nor a criminal, but, like all normal young men of college years, he is intensely interested in sex. There are times he cannot study without getting distracted by the thought of some young woman’s body. He has had little real experience with girls, and most of that unhappy. He has been rejected a few times with little ceremony, and it was more humiliating than he cares to admit. He has the impression that for other young men things are not as difficult: “Everybody knows,” after all, that since the 1960s men get all the sex they like, right? He is bombarded with talk about sex on television, in the words to popular songs, in rumors about friends who supposedly “scored” with this or that girl. He begins to wonder if there isn’t something wrong with him.
Furthermore, he has received the same education about sex as the girl he is now with. He has learned that people have the right to do anything they want. The only exception is rape. But that is hardly even relevant to him; he is obviously incapable of doing something like that.
He has also been taught that there are no important differences between the sexes. This means, of course, that girls want sex just as badly as he does, though they slyly pretend otherwise. And are not their real desires verified by all those Cosmopolitan magazine covers he sees constantly at the grocery store? If women are so eager to read such stuff, why should it be so damned difficult to find just one girl willing to go to bed with him?
But tonight, finally, something seemed to click. He met a girl at a party. They chatted, perhaps drank a bit: all smiles, quite unlike the girls who had been so quick about rejecting him in high school. She even let him come to her room afterwards (or came to his). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what she is thinking, he says to himself. This is a tremendously important moment for him; every ounce of his self-respect is at stake. He is confused and his heart is pounding, but he tries to act as if he knows what he is doing. She seems confused, too, and he meets no more than token resistance (or so it seems to him). He doesn’t actually enjoy it, and isn’t sure whether she does either. But that is beside the point; it only matters that he can finally consider himself a man. Later on they can talk about what terms they want to be on, whether she will be his regular girlfriend, etc. Matrimony is not exactly uppermost in his mind, but he might not rule it out—eventually. He asks her how she feels afterwards, and she mumbles that she is “okay.” This sets his mind at rest. An awkward parting follows.
Later that night or the next morning our young woman is trying to figure out what in hell has happened to her. Why had he gotten so pushy all of a sudden? Didn’t he even want to get to know her first? It was confusing, it all happened so quickly. Sex, she had always heard, was supposed to be something wonderful; but this she had not enjoyed at all. She felt somehow used.
Of course, at no point does it enter her mind to question her own right to have been intimate with the young man if she had wanted to. Moral rule number one, we all know, is that all sex between consenting adults is licit. She just isn’t sure whether she had really wanted this. In fact, the more she thinks about it, the more certain she feels that she hadn’t. But if she hadn’t wanted it, then it was against her will, wasn’t it? And if it was against her will, that means . . . she’s been raped?
I sympathize with the young woman, in view of a miseducation which might have been consciously designed to leave her unprepared for the situation she got herself into. But as to the question of whether she was raped, the answer must be a clear no.
Let me explain by means of an analogy with something less emotionally laden. Consider someone who purchases a lottery ticket which does not win the prize. Suppose he were to argue as follows: “I put my money down because I wanted the prize. I wouldn’t have paid if I had known I was going to lose; therefore I have been deprived of my money against my will; therefore I am the victim of theft.” No one would accept this argument as valid. Why shouldn’t we?
For the very good reason that it denies the fundamental principle behind all personal responsibility. Those who want to make their own choices in life must be willing to accept the consequences of those choices. Consider the alternative: If every loser in a lottery were entitled to a refund there would be no money left for the prize, and so no lottery. For similar reasons, most civilized institutions depend upon people taking responsibility for their actions, keeping agreements, and fulfilling obligations regardless of whether or not they happen to like the consequences.
The grandmother of the young woman in our story was unaware that she possessed a “right” to sleep with any boy who took her fancy—or to invite him to her bedroom and expect nothing to happen. It was the male and female sexual utopians of the postwar period who said women should be allowed unlimited freedom to choose for themselves in such matters. Unfortunately, they did not lay much stress on the need to accept the consequences of poor choices. Instead, they treated the moral and social norms women in particular had traditionally used to guide themselves as wholly irrational barriers to pleasure. Under their influence, two generations of women have been led to believe that doing as they please should lead to happiness and involve no risk. Hence the moral sophistry of “I didn’t like it; ergo I didn’t want it; ergo it was against my will.”
To anyone who believes that a society of free and responsible persons is preferable to one based on centralized control, the reasoning of the date rape movement is ominous. The demand that law rather than moral principle and common prudence should protect women in situations such as I have described could only be met by literally “putting a policeman in every bedroom.” However much we may sympathize with the misled young people involved (and I mean the men as well as the women), we must insist that it is no part of our responsibility to create an absolutely safe environment for them, nor to shield them from the consequences of their own behavior, nor to insure that sex shall be their path to happiness. Because there are some things of greater importance than the pain they have suffered, and among these are the principle of responsibility upon which the freedom of all of us depends.
It was never the traditional view that a woman’s erotic power over men was anything she possessed unconditional personal rights over. Instead, the use to which she put this natural power was understood to be freighted with extensive responsibilities—to God, her family, the man to whom she gave herself, the children produced by the union, and her own long-term well being. In order to fulfill her obligations as creature, daughter, wife, and mother she required considerable powers of self-control. This cultivated and socially reinforced sexual self-control was known as modesty. It required chiefly the duty of chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage; secondarily, it involved maintaining a certain demeanor toward men—polite but reserved.
Now, every duty does imply a right: If we have a duty to provide for our children or defend our country we necessarily possess the right to do so as well. Formerly, insofar as sexual rights were recognized, they were understood to have this character of resting upon duties. Thus, a woman did indeed have the right to refuse the sexual advances of any man not her husband. But this was only because she was not understood to have any moral right to accept a proposal of fornication or adultery (even in the absence of legal sanctions therefore).
The reason rape was regarded as a particularly odious form of assault is that it violated this superpersonal moral principle by which a woman subordinated her momentary private desires to the well-being of those closest to her. Modesty had to be respected, or else protected, if it was to perform its essential social function of guarding the integrity of families.
Under Roman law it was not considered a serious crime to rape a prostitute: A man could not violate the modesty of a woman who had none to violate. In later European law it was made criminal to rape even prostitutes. But this does not mean that the concept of rape had been divorced from that of feminine modesty; it was rather that the law now recognized and protected the possibility of repentance for immodesty. (Christianity is relevant here.)
The sexual revolution asserted the right of each individual to sex on his or her own terms—in other words, a right of perfect selfishness in erotic matters. One effect of this change was to eliminate the moral dignity of feminine modesty. It was not to be forbidden, of course, but was henceforward to be understood as no more than a personal taste, like anchovies or homosexuality. When the initial excitement of abandoned restraint had died down it was noticed that the promised felicity had not arrived. And one reason, it was soon realized, was that the terms men wished to set for sexual conduct were not identical to those desired by women. This being so, the granting to men of a right to sex on their own terms necessarily involved the denial of such a right to women. The anarchy with which the sexual revolution began was necessarily a passing phase.
From Sexual Anarchy to Sexual Terror
It is a cliché of political philosophy that the less self-restraint citizens are able to exercise, the more they must be constrained from without. The practical necessity of such a trade-off can be seen in such extraordinary upheavals as the French and Russian revolutions. First, old and habitual patterns and norms are thrown aside in the name of freedom. When the ensuing chaos becomes intolerable, some group with the requisite ambition, self-assurance, and ruthlessness succeeds in forcibly imposing its own order on the weakened society. This is what gradually happened in the case of the sexual revolution also, with the role of Jacobins/Bolsheviks being assumed by the feminists.
Human beings cannot do without some social norms to guide them in their personal relations. Young women cannot be expected to work out a personal system of sexual ethics in the manner of Descartes reconstructing the universe in his own mind. If you cease to prepare them for marriage, they will seek guidance wherever they can find it. In the past thirty years they have found it in feminism, simply because the feminists have outshouted everyone else.
After helping to encourage sexual experimentation by young women, feminism found itself able to capitalize on the unhappiness which resulted. Their program for rewriting the rules of human sexual behavior is in one way a continuation of the liberationists’ utopian program and in another way a reaction against it. The feminists approve the notion of a right to do as one pleases without responsibilities toward others; they merely insist that only women have this right.
Looking about them for some legal and moral basis for enforcing this novel claim, they hit upon the age-old prohibition against rape. Feminists understand rape, however, not as a violation of a woman’s chastity or marital fidelity, but of her merely personal wishes. They are making use of the ancient law against rape to enforce not respect for feminine modesty but obedience to female whims. Their ideal is not the man whose self-control permits a woman to exercise her own, but the man who is subservient to a woman’s good pleasure—the man who behaves, not like a gentleman, but like a dildo.
But mere disregard of a woman’s personal wishes is manifestly not the reason men have been disgraced, imprisoned, in some societies even put to death for the crime of rape. On the new view, in which consent rather than the marriage bond is the issue, the same sexual act may be a crime on Monday or Wednesday and a right on Tuesday or Thursday, according to the shifts in a woman’s mood. Feminists claim rape is not taken seriously enough; perhaps it would be better to ask how it could be taken seriously at all once we begin defining it as they do. If women want to be free to do as they please with men, after all, why should not men be free to do as they please with women?
Indeed, the date rape campaign owes its success only to the lingering effect of older views. Feminists themselves are not confused about this; they write openly of “redefining rape.” Of course, for those of us who still speak traditional English, this amounts to an admission that they are falsely accusing men.
One might have more sympathy for the “date rape victims” if they wanted the men to marry them, feared they were “ruined” for other suitors, and were prepared to assume their own obligations as wives and mothers. But this is simply not the case. The date rape campaigners, if not the confused young women themselves, are hostile to the very idea of matrimony, and never propose it as a solution. They want to jail men, not make responsible husbands of them. This is far worse than shotgun marriage, which at least allowed the man to act as father to the child he had engendered.
And what benefit do women derive from imprisoning men as date rapists apart from gratification of a desire for revenge? Seeing men punished may even confirm morally confused women in their mistaken sense of victimhood—resentment tends to feed upon itself, like an itch that worsens with scratching. Women are reinforced in the belief that it is their right for men’s behavior to be anything they would like it to be. They become less inclined to treat men with respect or to try to learn to understand or compromise with them. In a word, they learn to think and behave like spoiled children, expecting everything and willing to give nothing.
Men, meanwhile, respond to this in ways that are not difficult to predict. They may not (at first) decline sexual liaisons with such women, because the woman’s moral shortcomings do not have too great an effect upon the sexual act itself. But, quite rationally, they will avoid any deeper involvement with them. So women experience fewer, shorter, and worse marriages and “relationships” with men. But they do not blame themselves for the predicament they are in; they refuse to see any connection between their own behavior and their loneliness and frustration. Thus we get ever more frequent characterizations of men as rapists and predators who mysteriously refuse to commit.
Indeed, the only people profiting from the imposition of the new standards are the feminists who invented them. The survival of their movement depends on a continuing supply of resentful women who believe their rights are being violated; one can only admit that the principles which undergird the date rape campaign are admirably designed to guarantee such a supply. Feminism is a movement that thrives on its own failures; hence, it is very difficult to reverse.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition, lists the first recorded use of the term “date rape” as 1975. Within a few years we find so thoroughgoing a traditionalist as Thomas Fleming of Chronicles using the expression as matter-of-factly as any feminist zealot. A second instrument of the feminist reign of sexual terror, “sexual harassment,” similarly made its first appearance in 1975. In less than a generation this has become a national industry providing a comfortable living for many people. Yet again we find this revolutionary concept blithely accepted by many conservatives. They are content to accept without argument that there exists a widespread problem of men “harassing” women, and that “something must be done about it.” My first thought would be: What did the Romans do about it? What did the Christian Church do about it? How about the Chinese or the Aztecs? The obvious answer is that none of them did anything about it, because the concept has only recently developed within the context of the feminist movement. Is this not cause for suspicion? Why are men so quick to adopt the language of their declared enemies?
The thinking behind the sexual harassment movement is that women are entitled to “an environment free from unwanted sexual advances”—meaning, in plain English, romantic overtures from unattractive men. Anyone who has been forced to endure a corporate antiharassment video can see that what is being condemned is merely traditional male courtship behavior.
The introduction of harassment law was accompanied by a campaign to inform young women of the new entitlement. Colleges, for example, instituted harassment committees one of whose stated purposes was “to encourage victims to come forward.” (I saw this happening up close.) The agitators wanted as many young women as possible accusing unsuccessful suitors of wrongdoing. And they had considerable success; many women unhesitatingly availed themselves of the new dispensation. Young men found they risked visits from the police for flirting or inviting women on dates.
This female bullying should be contrasted with traditional male chivalry. Men, at least within Western civilization, have been socialized into extreme reluctance to use force against women. This is not an absolute principle: Few would deny that a man has a right of self-defense against a woman attempting to kill him. But many men will refuse to retaliate against a woman under almost any lesser threat. This attitude is far removed from the feminist principle of equality between the sexes. Indeed, it seems to imply a view of men as naturally dominant: It is a form of noblesse oblige. And it is not, so far as I can see, reducible to any long-term self-interest on the part of a man; in other words, it is a principle of honor. The code of chivalry holds that a man has no moral right to use force against women simply because he can do so.
An obvious difficulty with such a code is that it is vulnerable to abuse by its beneficiaries. I had a classmate in grade school who had heard it said somewhere that “boys are not supposed to hit girls.” Unfortunately, she interpreted this to mean that it was acceptable for girls to hit boys, which she then proceeded to do. She became genuinely indignant when she found that they usually hit back.
The special character of noblesse oblige is that it does not involve a corresponding entitlement on the part of the beneficiary. On the traditional view, a man should indeed be reluctant to use force against women, but women have no right to presume upon this. The reluctance is elicited by a recognition of women’s weakness, not commanded as a recognition of their rights.
Perhaps because women are the weaker sex, they have never developed any similar inhibitions about using force against men. In a traditionally ordered society, this does not present difficulties, because a woman’s obligations to her husband are clearly understood and socially enforced. But the situation changes when millions of spoiled, impressionable young women have been convinced men are “harassing” them and that the proper response is to appeal to force of law and the police powers of the state. Indeed, the system is now set up to reward them for doing so.
Men, on the other hand, are frequently denied due process, ruined professionally, and threatened with particularly harsh punishments for any retaliation against the women accusing them of a newly invented and ill-defined crime. For prudential reasons, some men will outwardly conform to the new rules. But it is unlikely that the traditional reluctance in foro interno to use force against women can long survive the present pattern of female behavior. If I were a woman, I would be worried about this.
Return of the Primitive
Public discussion of the sexual revolution has tended to focus on date rape and “hook-ups,” that is, on what is taking place, rather than on the formation of stable families that is not taking place. Survey results are occasionally announced apparently indicating male satisfaction with their “sex lives” and female unhappiness with theirs. This creates an impression that there really is “more sex” for men today than before some misguided girls misbehaved themselves forty years ago. People speak as if the male sexual utopia of a harem for every man has actually been realized.
It is child’s play to show, not merely that this is untrue, but that it cannot be true. There is roughly the same number of male as female children (not quite: there are about 5 percent more live male births than female—there is not a girl for every boy). What happens when female sexual desire is liberated is not an increase in the total amount of sex available to men, but a redistribution of the existing supply. Society becomes polygamous. A situation emerges in which most men are desperate for wives, but most women are just as desperately throwing themselves at a very few exceptionally attractive men. These men, who had always found it easy to get a mate, henceforward get multiple mates.
A characteristic feature of decadent societies is the recrudescence of primitive, precivilized cultural forms. That is what is happening to us. Sexual liberation really means the Darwinian mating pattern of the baboon pack reappears among humans.
Once monogamy is abolished, no restriction is placed on a woman’s choices. Hence, all women choose the same few men. If Casanova had 132 lovers it is because 132 different women chose him. Such men acquire harems, not because they are predators, but because they happen to be attractive. The problem is not so much male immorality as simple arithmetic; it is obviously impossible for every woman to have exclusive possession of the most attractive man. If women want to mate simply as their natural drives impel them, they must, rationally speaking, be willing to share their mate with others.
But, of course, women’s attitude about this situation is not especially rational. They expect their alpha man to “commit.” Woman’s complaining about men’s failure to commit, one suspects, means merely that they are unable to get a highly attractive man to commit to them; rather as if an ordinary man were to propose to Helen of Troy and complain of her refusal by saying “women don’t want to get married.”
Furthermore, many women are sexually attracted to promiscuous men because, not in spite, of their promiscuity. This can be explained with reference to the primate pack. The “alpha male” can be identified by his mating with many females. This is probably where the sluts-and-studs double standard argument came from—not from any social approval of male promiscuity, but from female fascination with it. Male “immorality” (in traditional language) is attractive to females. Thus, once polygamous mating begins, it tends to be self-reinforcing.
Students of animal behavior have learned that the presence of a female decoy or two near a male makes real females more likely to mate with that particular male. Among human females also, nothing succeeds like success. I hear anecdotes about women refusing to date thirtyish bachelors because, “if he’s never been married, there must be something wrong with him.” In college I observed decent, clean-living men left alone while notorious adulterers had no difficulty going from one girlfriend to the next.
Commentators on contemporary mores rarely show awareness of this irrationality in female mate selection. I recall seeing an article some years ago in which a planned new college was touted as a boon to young women seeking “Christian husbands,” on the naive assumption that they must be doing so. There was no talk of helping young men find faithful wives, of course.
Both men and women find it easier to sympathize with young women than with young men. In the case of male observers a kind of rescue fantasy is probably at work. The literature and folklore of the world is replete with stories of heroes rescuing innocent maidens from the clutches of villains: too much for it to be an accident. The damsel in distress scenario appeals to something deeply rooted in men’s minds, and probably natural. Most likely it is merely a self-congratulatory interpretation of mate competition. Men project their unruly sexual instincts onto others, who are thus cast into the role of predators.
In the contemporary world, the male protective instinct often perversely expresses itself in support for feminist causes: for example, chiming in with the denunciation of harassers and date rapists. This is a form of gallantry singularly well-adapted to the sedentary habits of the modern male, involving neither risk nor sacrifice. Examples abound in the conservative press. College men are regularly spoken of as “preying” upon women—who are in fact quite old enough to be married and starting a family. Joseph Farah of World Net Daily commends a wife for murdering her unfaithful husband. There are calls for bringing back shotgun marriage and the death penalty for rapists. If only sufficiently draconian punishments can be meted out to villainous males, the reasoning seems to go, everything will be all right again. The fundamental error in such thinking is its failure to recognize that the female largely controls the mating process.
Shrewd women have long known how to manipulate the male protective urge for their own ends. The feminist attack on heterosexuality and the family is directed against husbands and fathers for reasons of public relations. No one will sign up for a campaign against women or children, but many men can easily be made to condemn other men. The result is that young men today are in an impossible situation. If they seek a mate they are predators; if they find one they are date rapists; if they want to avoid the whole ordeal they are immature and irresponsible for not committing. We have gone from a situation where it seemed everything was permitted to one where nothing is permitted. Marriage as a binding legal contract has been done away with, and young men are still supposed to believe it is wrong for them to seek sex outside of marriage. It is not prudent to put this much strain on human nature.
Meanwhile, the illusion of there being “too much sex” has led to proposals for “abstinence education,” provided by government schools and paid for with tax money. The geniuses of establishment conservatism may need a gentle reminder that the human race is not perpetuated through sexual abstinence. They might do better to ponder how many families have not formed and how many children have not been born due to overzealous attempts to protect young women from men who might have made good husbands and fathers.
The Revolution Destroys Sex
So far we have focused on female promiscuity, and undoubtedly it is a serious problem. But there are two ways for women not to be monogamous: by having more than one mate and—by having less than one. Let us now consider the spinsters as well as the sluts.
Here again I would warn against a misconception common among male writers: The assumption that young women not having sexual relations with men must be modest. In fact, there are numerous reasons besides religious or moral principle which can keep a woman from taking a mate, and some of these now operate more strongly than before the sexual revolution. Consider the following passage from A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit:
“Pfffffft!” sexual modesty says to the world, “I think I’m worth waiting for . . . So not you, not you, not you, and not you either.”
This is certainly not modest. As one 27-year-old Orthodox woman put it to me . . . “the daughters of Israel are not available for public use.” She was taking obvious, almost haughty, satisfaction in the fact that she wasn’t sleeping around with just anyone.
This is pure illusion, a consequence of natural female hypergamy and not dependent on any actual merit in the woman. But it may be a socially useful illusion. If a woman believes she is “too good” to sleep around, this may help keep her faithful to her husband. Marriage, in other words, is a way of channeling female hypergamy in a socially useful way. (We frequently hear of the need to channel the male sexual instinct into marriage and family, but not the female; this is a mistake.)
In any case, women are not so much naturally modest as naturally vain. Hypergamy implies rejection maximization; if only the best is good enough, almost everyone isn’t good enough. Rather than cheapening herself, as observers tend to assume, modern woman may be pricing herself out of the market. It used to be commonly said that “a woman who thinks she is too good for any man may be right, but more often—she is left.” Why might this be an especial danger for women today?
Formerly, most people lived parochial lives in a world where even photography did not exist. Their notions of sexual attractiveness were limited by their experience. Back in my own family tree, for example, there was a family with three daughters who grew up on a farm adjoining three others. As each girl came of age, she married a boy from one of the neighboring farms. They did not expect that much in a husband. It is probable all three went through life without ever seeing a man who looked like Cary Grant.
But by the 1930s millions of women were watching Cary Grant two hours a week and silently comparing their husbands with him. For several decades since then the entertainment industry has continued to grow and coarsen. Finally the point has been reached that many women are simply not interested in meeting any man who does not look like a movie star. While it is not possible to make all men look like movie stars, it is possible to encourage women to throw themselves at or hold out for the few who do, i.e., to become sluts or spinsters, respectively. Helen Gurley Brown raked in millions doing precisely this. The brevity of a woman’s youthful bloom, combined with a mind not yet fully formed at that stage of life, always renders her vulnerable to unrealistic expectations. The sexual revolution is in part a large-scale commercial exploitation of this vulnerability.
Yes, men are also, to their own detriment, continually surrounded with images of exceptionally attractive women. But this has less practical import, because—to say it once more—women choose. Even plain young women are often able to obtain sexual favors from good-looking or socially dominant men; they have the option to be promiscuous. Many women do not understand that ordinary young men do not have that option.
Traditionalists sometimes speak as if monogamy were a cartel whose purpose was to restrict the amount of sex available to men artificially so as to drive up the price for the benefit of women. (That is roughly what the male sexual utopians believed also.) But this would require that men be able to raise their bid, i.e., make themselves more attractive at will. Monogamy does not get women as a group more desirable mates than would otherwise be available to them. A different economic analogy is apposite here: In sex as in other matters the buyers, not the sellers, ultimately determine the price. And the buyers, by and large, are merely average men.
Furthermore, many young women appear to believe that any man who attempts to meet them ipso facto wishes to take them as a mate. Partly this is youthful naïveté; partly a result of the disintegration of socially agreed upon courtship procedures; and partly due to the feminist campaign to label male courtship behavior “harassment.” So they angrily reject every advance they receive during their nubile years as if these were merely crude sexual propositioning. As they enter their late twenties, it gradually dawns on them that it might be prudent to accept at least a few date requests. They are then astonished to discover that the men usually take them out once or twice and then stop calling. They claim the men are leading them on. They believe themselves entitled to a wedding ring in return for the great condescension of finally accepting a date. Just as some men think the world owes them a living, these women think the world owes them a husband.
When a man asks a woman out he is only implying that he is willing to consider her as a mate: He might conceivably offer her a ring if she pleases him enough on further acquaintance. Most dates do not result in marriage proposals. There is no reason why they should. Rather than blame men for not committing in such instances, they should be commended for sexual self-control and the exercise of caution in mate-seeking.
To summarize: the encouragement of rejection maximization and unrealistic expectations is one reason (unrelated to modesty) that many women today do not reproduce. A second is what I call parasitic dating, a kind of economic predation upon the male by the female. Let me explain.
The decline of matrimony is often attributed to men now being able to “get what they want” from women without marrying them. But what if a woman is able to get everything she wants from a man without marriage? Might she not also be less inclined to “commit” under such circumstances? In truth, a significant number of women seek primarily attention and material goods from men. They are happy to date men they have no romantic interest in merely as a form of entertainment and a source of free meals and gifts. A man can waste a great deal of money and time on such a woman before he realizes he is being used.
Family life involves sacrifice; a good mother devotes herself to her children. Parasitic daters are takers, not givers; they are not fit for marriage or motherhood. Their character is usually fixed by the time a man meets them. Since he cannot change them, the only rational course is to learn to identify and avoid them.
A third obstacle to female reproduction is date rape hysteria. The reader may consult the first couple of chapters of Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After. At an age when women have traditionally actively sought mates, they now participate in “take back the night” marches, “rape awareness” campaign, and self-defense classes involving kicking male dummies in the groin. These young women seem less afraid of anything men are actually doing than they are of male sexual desire itself. In the trenchant words of columnist Angela Fiori “the campus date rape campaigns of the early 1990s weren’t motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of women. They were part of an ongoing attempt to delegitimize heterosexuality to young, impressionable women by demonizing men as rapists.” Self-defense training, for example, really serves to inculcate a defensive mentality toward men, making trust and intimacy impossible.
Part of the transition to womanhood has always been learning to relate to men. Attempts to pander to girls’ irrational fears are now keeping many of them in a state of arrested development. There is little that individual men can do about this, nor is there any reason they should be expected to. Who would want to court a girl encased in an impenetrable psychic armor of suspicion?
Once again, well-meaning male traditionalists have not been free of fault in their reactions to this situation. Fathers encourage self-defense classes and date rape paranoia on the assumption that their daughters’ safety overrides all other concerns. Eventually they may start wondering why they have no grandchildren.
Fourth, many women are without a mate for the simple reason that they have abandoned their men. Women formally initiate divorce about two thirds of the time. Most observers agree, however, that this understates matters: In many cases where the husband formally initiates, it is because his wife wants out of the marriage. Exact data are elusive, but close observers tend to estimate that women are responsible for about nine-tenths of the divorcing and breaking-up: Men do not love them and leave them, but love them and get left by them. Many young women, indeed, believe they want marriage when all they really want is a wedding (think of bridal magazines). The common pattern is that women are the first to want into marriage and the first to want out. Of course, it is easy to get married; the difficulty is living happily ever after.
Typically, the faithless wife does not intend to remain alone. But some men have scruples about involving themselves with divorcées; they wonder “Whose wife is this I’m dating?” There are also merely prudential considerations; a woman with a track record of abandoning her husband is hardly likely to be more faithful the second time around. And few men are eager to support another man’s children financially. Women frequently express indignation at their inability to find a replacement for the husband they walked out on: I call these women the angry adulteresses.
Vanity, parasitism, paranoia, and infidelity are only a few of the unpleasant characteristics of contemporary Western womanhood; one more is rudeness. To an extent this is part of the general decline in civility over the past half century, in which both sexes have participated. But I believe some of it is a consequence of female sexual utopianism. Here is why.
One would get the idea looking at Cosmopolitan magazine covers that women were obsessed with giving men sexual pleasure. This would come as news to many men. Indeed, the contrast between what women read and their actual behavior towards men has become almost surreal. The key to the mystery is that the man the Cosmo-girl is interested in pleasing is imaginary. She is going to meet him after one more new makeover, after losing five more pounds or finding the perfect hairdo. In the meantime, she is free to treat the flesh-and-blood men she runs into like dirt. Why make the effort of being civil to ordinary men as long as you are certain a perfect one is going to come along tomorrow? Men of the older generation are insufficiently aware how uncouth women have become. I came rather late to the realization that the behavior I was observing in women could not possibly be normal—that if women had behaved this way in times past, the human race would have died out.
The reader who suspects me of exaggerating is urged to spend a little time browsing women’s self-descriptions on Internet dating sites. They never mention children, but almost always manage to include the word “fun.” “I like to party and have fun! I like to drink, hang out with cool people, and go shopping!” The young women invite “hot guys” to contact them. No doubt some will, and perhaps have a bit of fun with them. But would any sensible man, “hot” or otherwise, start a family with such a creature?
A good wife does not simply happen. Girls were once brought up from childhood with the idea that they were going to be wives and mothers. They were taught the skills necessary to that end. A young suitor could expect a girl to know a few things about cooking and homemaking. Today, many women seem unaware that they are supposed to have something to offer a husband besides a warm body.
What happens when a contemporary woman, deluded into thinking she deserves a movie star husband, fails not only to find her ideal mate, but any mate at all? She does not blame herself for being unreasonable or gullible, of course; she blames men. A whole literary genre has emerged to pander to female anger with the opposite sex. Here are a few titles, all currently available through Amazon.com: Why Men Are Clueless , “Let’s Face it, Men are @$#%\e$”: What Women Can Do About It , How to Aggravate A Man Every Time . . . And Have Him Beg for Mercy , Things You Can Do With a Useless Man , 101 Reasons Why a Cat Is Better Than a Man , 101 Lies Men Tell Women — And Why Women Believe Them , Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them , Kiss-Off Letters to Men : Over 70 Zingers You Can Use to Send Him Packing, Mess with His Head, or Just Plain Dump Him , or—for the woman who gets sent packing herself—How to Heal the Hurt by Hating .
For some women, hatred of men has now taken on psychotic dimensions. A large billboard in my hometown asks passing motorists: “How many women have to die before domestic violence is considered a crime?” One is forced to wonder what is going on in the minds of those who sponsor such a message. Are they really unaware that it has always been a crime for a man to murder his wife? Are they just trying to stir up fear? Or are their own minds so clouded by hatred that they can no longer view the world realistically?
This is where we have arrived after just one generation of female sexual liberation. Many men are bewildered when they realize the extent and depth of feminine rage at them. What could be making the most affluent and pampered women in history so furious?
Internet scribe Henry Makow has put forward the most plausible diagnosis I have yet seen, in an essay entitled “The Effect of Sexual Deprivation on Women.” Apropos of the recent rape hysteria, he suggests: “Men are ‘rapists’ because they are not giving women the love they need.” In other words, what if the problem is that men, ahem, aren’t preying upon women? All that we have just said supports the theory that Western civilization is now facing an epidemic of female sexual frustration. And once again, the typical conservative commentator is wholly unable to confront the problem correctly: He instinctively wants to step forward in shining armor and exclaim “Never fear, tender maids, I shall prevent these vicious beasts from sullying your virgin purity.” If women need love from men and aren’t getting it, this is not going to help them.
The Forgotten Men
The attempt to realize a sexual utopia for women was doomed to failure before it began. Women’s wishes aim at the impossible, conflict with one another, and change unpredictably. Hence, any program to force men (or “society”) to fulfill women’s wishes must fail, even if all men were willing to submit to it. Pile entitlement upon entitlement for women, heap punishment after punishment onto men: It cannot work, because women’s wishes will always outpace legislation and lead to new demands.
But while the revolution has not achieved its aims, it has certainly achieved something. It has destroyed monogamy and family stability. It has resulted in a polygamous mating pattern of immodest women aggressively pursuing a small number of men. It has decreased the number of children born, and insured that many who are born grow up without a father in their lives. And, least often mentioned, it has made it impossible for many decent men to find wives.
One occasionally hears of studies purporting to show that men are happier with their “sex lives” than women. It has always struck me as ludicrous that anyone would take such survey results at face value. First, women complain more about everything than men. But second, many men (especially young men) experience a powerful mauvaise honte when they are unsuccessful with women. They rarely compare notes with other men, and still more rarely do so honestly. Everyone puts up a brave front, however lonely he may actually be. Hence, men almost always imagine other men to have greater success with women than is actually the case. This situation has worsened since the 1960s, with the propagation of the illusion that there is “more sex” available to men than formerly.
But if women are only mating with a few exceptionally attractive men, and if many women fail to mate at all, there must be a large number of men unable to get a woman. We might, in the spirit of William Gilmore Simms, term them the forgotten men of the sexual revolution. I have reason to believe that a growing number are willing to come out of the closet (to use a currently popular expression) and admit that, whoever has been doing all the “hooking up” one reads about, it hasn’t been them. Simple prudence dictates that we give some consideration to the situation of these men. In societies where polygamy is openly practiced (e.g., in Africa and the Muslim world), young bachelors tend to form gangs which engage in antisocial behavior: “It is not good for man to be alone.”
In our society, a definite pattern has already emerged of “singles” groups or events being composed of innocent, never-married men in their thirties and cynical, bitter, often divorced women. What have the bachelors been doing with themselves all these years? So far, in the West, they have not been forming criminal gangs. They would probably be more attractive to women if they did: Everyone seems to have heard the stories about men on death row being besieged with offers of marriage from bored, thrill-seeking females.
I suggest that today’s bachelors are hardly different from men who, before the sexual revolution, married young and raised families.
Natural instinct makes young men almost literally “crazy” about girls. They believe young women are something wonderful when in fact most are not. The male sex drive that modern women complain so much about exists largely for women’s benefit. As Schopenhauer wrote:
Nature has provided [the girl] with superabundant beauty and charm for a few years . . . so that during these years she may so capture the imagination of a man that he is carried away into undertaking to support her honorably in some form or another for the rest of her life, a step he would seem hardly likely to take for purely rational considerations. Thus nature has equipped women, as it has all its creatures, with the tools and weapons she needs for securing her existence.
So far from being unwilling to commit, many men are only too happy to marry the first girl they meet who is nice to them. The modern bachelor is no different.
Furthermore, many men assume women value honest, clean-living, responsible men (as opposed to death-row criminals). So slowly, patiently, by dint of much hard work, amid uncertainty and self-doubt, our bachelor makes a decent life for himself. No woman is there to give him love, moral support, loyalty. If he did make any effort to get a wife, he may have found himself accused of “harassment” or “stalking.”
Kick a friendly dog often enough and you have a mean dog on your hands.
What were our bachelor’s female contemporaries doing all those years while he was an impoverished, lonely stripling who found them intensely desirable? Fornicating with dashing fellows who mysteriously declined to “commit,” marrying and walking out on their husbands, or holding out for perfection. Now, lo and behold, these women, with their youthful looks gone and rapidly approaching menopause, are willing to go out with him. If they are satisfied with the free meals and entertainment he provides, he may be permitted to fork over a wedding ring. Then they will graciously allow him to support them and the children they had by another man for the rest of his life. (I have seen a woman’s personal ad stating her goal of “achieving financial security for myself and my daughters.”) Why in heaven’s name would any man sign up for this? As one man put it to me: “If the kitten didn’t want me, I don’t want the cat.”
Western woman has become the new “white man’s burden,” and the signs are that he is beginning to throw it off.
Sexual Thermidor: The Marriage Strike
The term “Thermidor” originally designated the month of the French Revolutionary calendar in which the terror ended. By July 1794, twenty or thirty persons were being guillotined daily in Paris under a so-called Law of Suspects requiring no serious evidence against the accused. Addressing the Convention on July 26, Robespierre incautiously let slip that certain delegates were themselves under suspicion of being “traitors,” but declined to name them. His hearers realized their only hope of safety lay in destroying Robespierre before he could destroy them. They concerted their plans that night, and the following morning he was arrested. Within two days, he and eighty of his followers went to the guillotine. Over the next few weeks, the prisons emptied and life again assumed a semblance of normality.
Something analogous appears to be happening today in the case of feminism. Consider, for example, the sexual harassment movement. As it spreads, the number of men who have not been accused steadily diminishes. Eventually a point is reached where initially sympathetic men understand that they themselves are no longer safe, that their innocence does not protect them or their jobs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this point is being reached in many workplaces. Men are developing a self-defensive code of avoiding all unnecessary words or contact with women. One hears stories about women entering break rooms full of merrily chatting male coworkers who look up and instantly lapse into tense, stony silence. A “hostile work environment” indeed.
A more serious development, however, is what has come to be known as the marriage strike. The first occurrence of this term appears to have been in a Philadelphia Enquirer editorial of 2002. Two years later, a formal study gave substance to the idea: Fully 22 percent of American bachelors aged 25–34 have resolved never to marry. 53 percent more say they are not interested in marrying any time soon. That leaves just 25 percent looking for wives. This may be a situation unprecedented in the history of the world.
Men do cite the availability of sex outside marriage as one reason for not marrying. But this does not mean that the problem could be solved simply by getting them to take vows (e.g., by shotgun marriage). Men now realize they stand to lose their children at a moment’s notice through no fault of their own if the mother decides to cash out of the marriage or “relationship” in Family Court. For this reason, many are refusing to father children with or without benefit of clergy. In Germany, which faces an even lower birthrate than America, the talk is already of a Zeugungsstreik, literally a “procreation strike,” rather than a mere marriage strike. Some women suffering from what has come to be known as “babies-rabies” have resorted to lying to their men about using birth control. Of course, men are wising up to this as well.
No woman is owed economic support, children, respect, or love. The woman who accepts and lives by correct principles thereby earns the right to make certain demands upon her husband; being female entitles her to nothing.
Western women have been biting the hand that feeds them for several decades now. It seems to me fair to say that the majority have willfully forfeited the privilege of marrying decent men. It is time for men to abandon the protector role and tell them they are going to be “liberated” from us whether they wish it or not. They can hold down their own jobs, pay their own bills, live, grow old, and finally die by themselves. Every step which has brought them to this pass has involved an assertion of “rights” for themselves and male concessions to them. Men would seem justified in saying to them, with some Schadenfreude, “you made your bed, now you can lie in it—alone.”
Unfortunately, the matter cannot simply be allowed to rest here. Without children, the race has no future, and without women men cannot have children.
One well-established trend is the search for foreign wives. Predictably, efforts are underway by feminists to outlaw, or at least discourage this, and one law has already gotten through Congress (the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005). The ostensible reason is to protect innocent foreign lasses from “abuse”; the real reason to protect spoiled, feminist-indoctrinated American women from foreign competition. Most of the economic arguments about protective tariffs for domestic industry apply here.
Feminists think in terms of governmental coercion. The idea of eliciting desirable male behavior does not occur to them. Some men are concerned that proposals for forced marriage may be in the offing.
Meanwhile, men have begun to realize that any sexual intimacy with a woman can lead to date rape charges based upon things that go on in her mind afterwards, and over which he has no control. Women do frequently attempt to evade responsibility for their sexual conduct by ascribing it to the men involved. Without any social or legal enforcement of marriage, this leaves chastity as a man’s only means of self-defense.
A male sex strike was probably beyond the imagination even of Aristophanes. But I wouldn’t underestimate men. We, and not women, have been the builders, sustainers, and defenders of civilization.
The latest word from college campuses is that women have begun to complain men are not asking them out. That’s right: Men at their hormonal peak are going to class side by side with nubile young women who now outnumber them, and are simply ignoring or shunning them. Some report being repeatedly asked “Are you gay?” by frustrated coeds. This is what happens when women complain for forty years about being “used as sex objects”: Eventually men stop using them as sex objects.
Not long ago I spotted a feminist recruitment poster at a local college. Most of it consisted of the word FALSE in bold capitals, visible from a distance. Underneath was something to the effect: “. . . that we’re all man-hating maniacs,” etc.; “Come join us and see.”
When the most inspiring slogan a movement can come up with amounts to “We’re not as bad as everyone says,” you know it is in trouble.
What Is to Be Done?
We have arrived at a rare historical moment when we men have the upper hand in the battle of the sexes. Much depends upon the use we make of it. The only thing still propping up the present feminist-bureaucratic regime is the continued willingness of many of the hated “heterosexual white males” to live according to the old rules: not only to work, save, pay taxes, and obey the law, but also to sire and raise children. Once we stop doing these things, the whole system of patronage and parasitism collapses.
My greatest fear is that at the first female concessions, the male protective instinct will kick in once again and men will cheerfully shout “All is forgiven” in a stampede to the altar. This must not happen. Our first priority must be to put the divorce industry out of business. A man must insist on nothing less than a legally binding promise to love, honor, and obey him before “consenting” to give a woman a baby.
One proposal for strengthening marriage is the recognition of personalized marriage contracts. These could be made to accord with various religious traditions. I see no reason they might not stipulate that the husband would vote on behalf of his family. Feminists who think political participation more important than family life could still live as they please, but they would be forced to make a clear choice. This would help erode the superstitious belief in a universal right to participate in politics, and political life itself would be less affected by the feminine tendencies to value security over freedom and to base public policies on sentiment. Property would also be more secure where the producers of wealth have greater political power.
Economic policy should be determined by the imperative to carry on our race and civilization. There is something wrong when everyone can afford a high-definition plasma TV with three hundred channels but an honest man of average abilities with a willingness to work cannot afford to raise a family.
Female mate selection has always had an economic aspect. Hesiod warned his male listeners in the seventh century B.C. that “hateful poverty they will not share, but only luxury.” This notorious facet of the female sexual instinct is the reason behind the words “for richer or for poorer” in the Christian marriage ceremony. The man must know he has a solid bargain whether or not he is as successful a provider as his wife (or he himself) might like.
Within the family, the provider must control the allotment of his wealth. The traditional community of property in a marriage, i.e., the wife’s claim to support from her husband, should again be made conditional on her being a wife to him. She may run off with the milkman if she wishes—leaving her children behind, of course (anyone willing to do this is perhaps an unfit mother in any case); but she may not evict her husband from his own house and replace him with the milkman, nor continue to extract resources from the husband she has abandoned. Until sensible reforms are instituted, men must refuse to leave themselves prey to a criminal regime which forces them to subsidize their own cuckolding and the abduction of their children.
The date rape issue can be solved overnight by restoring shotgun marriage—but with the shotgun at the woman’s back. The “victim” should be told to get into the kitchen and fix supper for her new lord and master. Not exactly a match made in heaven, but at least the baby will have both a father and a mother. Furthermore, after the birth of her child, the woman will have more important things to worry about than whether the act by which she conceived it accorded with some feminist professor’s newfangled notion of “true consent.” Childbirth has always been the best remedy for female narcissism.
Harassment accusations should be a matter of public record. This would make it possible to maintain lists of women with a history of making such charges for the benefit of employers and, far more importantly, potential suitors. Women might eventually reacquaint themselves with the old-fashioned idea that they have a reputation to protect.
Universal coeducation should be abandoned. One problem in relations between the sexes today is overfamiliarity. Young men are wont to assume that being around girls all the time will increase their chances of getting one. But familiarity is often the enemy of intimacy. When a girl only gets to socialize with young men at a dance once a week, she values the company of young men more highly. It works to the man’s advantage not to be constantly in their company. Men, also, are most likely to marry when they do not understand women too well.
It is necessary to act quickly. It took us half a century to get into our present mess, but we do not have that long to get out of it. A single-generation Zeugungsstreik will destroy us. So we cannot wait for women to come to their senses; we must take charge and begin the painful process of unspoiling them.
How Monogamy Works
Traditionally, a man has been expected to marry. Bachelorhood was positively forbidden in some ancient European societies, including the early Roman republic. Others offered higher social status for husbands and relative disgrace for bachelors. There seems to have been a fear that the sexual instinct alone was inadequate to insure a sufficient number of offspring. Another seldom mentioned motive for the expectation of marriage was husbands’ envy of bachelors: “Why should that fellow be free and happy when I am stuck working my life away to support an ungrateful creature who nags me?”
Strange as it sounds to modern ears, the Christian endorsement of celibacy was a liberalization of sexual morality; it recognized there could be legitimate motives for remaining unmarried. One social function of the celibate religious orders was to give that minority of men and women unsuited for or disinclined to marriage a socially acceptable way of avoiding it.
Obviously, an obligation of marrying implies the possibility of doing so. It was not difficult for an ordinary man to get a wife in times past. One reason is what I call the grandmother effect.
Civilization has been defined as the partial victory of age over youth. After several decades of married life, a woman looks back and finds it inconceivable that she once considered a man’s facial features an important factor in mate selection. She tries to talk some sense into her granddaughter before it is too late. “Don’t worry about what he looks like; don’t worry about how he makes you feel; that isn’t important.” If the girl had a not especially glamorous but otherwise unexceptionable suitor (the sort who would be charged with harassment today), she might take the young man’s part: “If you don’t catch this fellow while you can, some smarter girl will.” So it went, generation after generation. This created a healthy sense of competition for decent, as opposed to merely sexually attractive, men. Husbands often never suspected the grandmother effect, living out their lives in the comforting delusion that their wives married them solely from recognition of their outstanding merits. But today grandma has been replaced by Cosmopolitan, and the results are there for all to see.
Much confusion has been caused by attempting to get women to say what it is they want from men. Usually they bleat something about “a sensitive man with a good sense of humor.” But this is continually belied by their behavior. Any man who believes it is in for years of frustration and heartbreak. What they actually look for when left to their own devices (i.e., without any grandmother effect) is a handsome, socially dominant, or wealthy man. Many prefer married men or philanderers; some actively seek out criminals.
In a deeper sense, though, humans necessarily want happiness, as the philosopher says. During most of history no one tried to figure out what young women wanted; they were simply told what they wanted, viz., a good husband. This was the correct approach. Sex is too important a matter to be left to the independent judgment of young women, because young women rarely possess good judgment. The overwhelming majority of women will be happier in the long run by marrying an ordinary man and having children than by seeking sexual thrills, ascending the corporate heights, or grinding out turgid tracts on gender theory. A woman develops an emotional bond with her mate through the sexual act itself; this is why arranged marriages (contrary to Western prejudice) are often reasonably happy. Romantic courtship has its charms, but is finally dispensable; marriage is not dispensable.
Finally, heterosexual monogamy is incompatible with equality of the sexes. A wife always has more influence on home life, if only because she spends more time there; a husband’s leadership often amounts to little more than an occasional veto upon some of his wife’s decisions. But such leadership is necessary to accommodate female hypergamy. Women want a man they can look up to; they leave or fall out of love with men they do not respect. Hence, men really have no choice in the matter.
Once more, we find nearly perfect agreement between feminist radicals and plenty of conservatives in failing to understand this, with men getting the blame from both sides. Feminists protest that “power differentials” between the sexes—meaning, really, differences in status or authority—make genuine sexual consent impossible. In a similar vein, the stern editor of Chronicles laments that “in the case of a college professor who sleeps with an 18-year-old student, disparity in age or rank should be grounds for regarding the professor as a rapist. But professors who prey upon girls are not sent to jail. They do not even lose their jobs.”
In fact, this is just one more example of hypergamous female mate selection. In most marriages, the husband is at least slightly older than the wife. Normal women tend to be attracted precisely to men in positions of authority. Nurses do tend to choose doctors, secretaries their bosses, and the occasional female student will choose a professor; this does not mean the men are abusing any “power” to force helpless creatures to mate with them.
I submit that a man’s “preying upon” a younger women of lower rank should be grounds for regarding him as a husband. Men are supposed to have authority over women; that is part of what a marriage is. Equality of the sexes makes men less attractive to women; it has probably contributed significantly to the decline in Western birthrates. It is time to put an end to it.
Marriage is an institution; it places artificial limits on women’s choices. To repeat: Nature dictates that males display and females choose. Monogamy artificially strengthens the male’s position by insisting that (1) each female must choose a different male; and (2) each female must stick to her choice. Monogamy entails that highly attractive men are removed from the mating pool early, usually by the most attractive women. The next women are compelled to choose a less attractive mate if they wish to mate at all. Even the last and least of the females can, however, find a mate: For every girl there is a boy. Abolishing marriage only strengthens the naturally stronger: it strengthens the female at the expense of the male and the attractive at the expense of the unattractive.
Marriage, like most useful things, was probably invented by men: partly to keep the social peace, partly so they could be certain their wives’ children were also their own. The consequences of marriage must have appeared soon after its institution: The efforts previously spent fighting over mates were replaced by strenuous exertions to provide for, rear, and defend offspring. No doubt neighboring tribes wondered why this one had recently grown so much more powerful. When they learned the reason, imitation must have seemed a matter of survival.
It was, and it still is. If the Occident does not restore marriage, we will be overwhelmed by those who continue to practice it.
Reposted from “The Occidental Quarterly”
By – F. Roger Devlin
- “On Women,” in Arthur Schopenhauer: Essays and Aphorisms, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Penguin Books, 1970).
- Dianna Thompson and Glenn Sacks, “A ‘Marriage Strike’ Emerges As Men Decide Not to Risk Loss,” Philadelphia Enquirer, July 5, 2002.
- Barbara Defoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, “The Marrying Kind: Which Men Marry and Why,” 2004, http://marriage.rutgers.edu/Publications/SOOU/TEXTSOOU2004.htm.
- Title of a book by journalist Meike Dinklage, Der Zeugungsstreik: Warum die Kinderfrage Männersache ist (Diana, 2005).
- “Anarcho-Tyranny, Rockford Style,” Chronicles (April 2005), 44–45.