Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deferred Gratification

Has the sexual revolution come full circle? It is darkly amusing to me how the young woman in the article insists that, in spite of all the heartache, that women should have the option of "acting like men" when it comes to sexual misbehavior. It still makes me wonder how the negative behavior espoused by some (not all) men throughout history should be seen as a sign of "equality" for women. It would make more sense if self-control and restraint were adopted by women who wanted to be seen as being in charge of their destiny, rather than the mimicking the worst vices of men. But perhaps restraint is coming back in style. According to The Guardian:
I'm glad that women can now, mostly, do as they please sexually, without (too much) cultural opprobrium; we should have the option of acting like men. But casual sex has come to seem more of a necessity or an expectation. Young women – and older ones, too – feel significant pressure, from their peers and a culture in which girls who go wild are minor celebrities and Samantha Jones is cast as a role model, to have rollicking sex lives. If they want to wait to have sex, they wonder if something's wrong with them: that they're too prudish or serious or boring, or that they'll be left behind by the men they're dating.

But wasn't feminism supposed to be about choices? And giving women control over their lives? Ironically, contemporary women – with our expensive degrees and good jobs – are more valuable, in a literal sense, than we ever have been before; yet, we've lowered our value in the sexual marketplace. Regnerus points out that young women are competing with each other for men's attention and, in doing so, have lowered the metaphorical "cost" men have to pay to be with them. "When that happens, what men (even substandard men) want – access to sex with few strings – will win out," says Regnerus.

But what if women stopped settling for less? What if we felt assured it was fine to wait until we knew we wouldn't feel used? Till we felt confident that we'd enjoy the sex, and whatever might come after it? We wouldn't have utopia. But women would likely feel more empowered than we do now. Perhaps we'd also begin to feel happier. (Women's overall level of happiness has declined steadily since the early 70s, both relative to men and to women of past generations.)

More sad commentary HERE, on how American women lost their femininity. (Via The New Beginning.) Share


Brian Miles said...

Oh dear, if restraint is coming back it seems to be doing so with halting and imperfect steps.

Ms. Kelly advocates restraint for two reasons:

(1) So women can increase their value in the "sexual marketplace".

Ummm gross. The "sexual marketplace" has long been known by another name.

And (2) so women can feel less used and "more empowered".

Less used is fine, but "more empowered"? How about "beloved" Ms. Kelly, or even "cherished"? Do the hearts of young modern women still long for those things, or has feminism robbed Eve of every good and native desire?

tubbs said...

Can anyone remember the woman writer who observed that women's so-called "sexual liberation" accomplished nothing, but caused lots of hookers out of work?

elena maria vidal said...

Brian, I completely agree!

I can't recall who said that, Tubbs. I wish it had been me.

The North Coast said...

Strange- I am this very "liberated" 70s-type feminist woman and somehow I have never felt pressured, then or now, to have sex when I didn't want it, save for a few isolated incidents with rather forgettable men whose names escape me because I excised them from my life very quickly.

But maybe that's because I don't watch television or read rags like GLAMOR or COSMOPOLITAN.

It's lame to blame the women's movement or our vulgar popular culture for your lack of self-regard and inability to resist the influence of the larger culture. Grow up, already, and take charge of your own mind and life, and find new people to date and socialize with. Turn off the television set. Read good literature. Go to church if you are religious.

If you can't resist the pressure to engage in sex when you don't really want to with men you hardly know because you feel that's the only way you can "compete" in the "sexual marketplace"- what a horrible term!-how will you ever handle really major moral challenges? Will you have the fiber to resist your employer when he demands that you engage in illegal and unethical behavior to make a sale? Will you have the spine to resist your "peer group" of neighbors or political allies or your culture at large decides to descend into barbarism and brutality? Or will you "go along to get along"?

anothertwocents said...

Sometimes I think that some people would be a lot happier if they settled down early, and married and started a family before they have attained all the academic achievements they wish to attain, but while romance is still an adventure, and has not yet degenerated into a "sexual marketplace." Ugh!

Sure, it may have initial disadvantages, but women can most easily give birth in their late teens, and their children are healthier. And there is something to be said for overcoming hardships and challenges together.

So here's to teen and twen marriage and teen and twen pregnancies!

Just my $0.02.

The North Coast said...

The optimal age for for a woman to give birth is between the ages of 23 and 28, as evidenced by statistics.

Teen mothers, including those in their late teens, tend to have more problems, and tend to give birth to more underweight children and children with birth defects, than any other age group.

Also, an 18 year old is going to marry someone very young, which means you have a young mother lacking maturity and organizational skills who'd really rather be hanging out in malls and going to parties, married to a young man at the bottom of the career ladder. The result is that the couple is hard pressed very young and takes 20 years to recover financially, which happened to many couple of my parents generation. That generation, which came of age in the late 40s and early 50s, married very young, and our divorce rate skyrocketed in the 60s as many of these rushed and stressed marriages came apart at the seams. My parents' generation was the first generation to experience super-high divorce rates, and of lot of these were by people frantic to make up for their lost youth.

People who marry later tend to have the lowest divorce rates and are also much better off financially, so I don't think early marriage is a good solution.

It's better just to start editing your relationships and your life, and consider what you're seeking when you date.

anothertwocents said...

I think you need to be very careful with your statistics. Dubious statistics are not that infrequently used to scare people into following social norms.

Do mothers in their late teens have more difficult pregnancies (I assume you're referring to stats for the US) because of their age, or because early pregnancies are not generally fashionable, and those who have them are generally less capable and well-off? It would be interesting to compare the statistics to those for India and other countries where earlier marriages are the norm, and to those for the early pregnancies sacrificed to Roe. v. Wade, wouldn't it? Do your statistics account for the many fetuses with birth defects that older mothers have, which aren't brought to term? If one is pro-life, they must be considered.

Your statistics conveniently suggest that the best ages for getting pregnant are from the age women leave college on. This may not be because the graduation ceremony has some huge influence on coeds' ovaries.

I don't understand why you make sweeping generalizations, when I write that my thinking applies to "some people." I remind you that Bill Gates was a college dropout at the bottom of the career ladder when he started Microsoft.

Unless there are no differences between the type of people who generally marry early and those who generally put it off, you can't argue that early marriage per se affects the likelihood of financial success or getting divorced.

The North Coast said...

I make the "sweeping generalization" about girls in their late teens, because people in this age bracket are still by and large extremely immature, and there is no question that people this age are usually not prepared to make a living that will support a family.

The reasons you cite for the greater incidence of birth defects in teen girls are factors, I'm sure, but they do matter. And I will agree that older mothers also have rather high rates of birth defects, and will categorically state that women over 40 should not have children if possible, and evidence suggest that a woman is a little past her prime over age 30.

The optimum age of 23-29 was settled by medical consensus a number of decades ago. Evidence seems to suggest we humans are at our physical prime in our twenties.

anothertwocents said...

I don't want to start splitting hairs with you, but I would urge you to very skeptical of "medical consensuses;" if you look at them over the last few decades, you'll clearly see that they change and contradict each other, not because of science, but the dictates of the times' politics.

If my daughter turns out to have a compulsion to have a boyfriend, I'll tell her to marry early, that I'll support her financially, if she and the kids change my diapers when I need it later on.