Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Always Forget I'm Just a Vagina on Legs, Like All the Other Vaginas on Legs

This latest from Salon's "We're liberal, but not in that way ladies" department infuriated me. I was left sputtering with a rage so profound, I couldn't even figure out exactly what was setting me off.

Not a day goes by when we don't hear about the incredible accomplishments of today's kick-butt young women. They outnumber men in college and they are out-earning their male peers when they first enter the work world -- to such a degree that many consider it evidence of a "boy crisis." But the authors of a new book, "Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying," say all this success has come at a great cost to women's sexual bargaining power. When it comes to relationships, they say men are calling all the shots -- which means less commitment and more sex.

Because women want wedding rings and men want a place to stick their dicks, hurhur! And it's all your fault, girls, for insisting upon educations and job opportunity. If you'd just stay in the kitchen where you belong, you'd . . . actually, even this article admits that college-educated women are the most likely to get married and stay married, but why let facts get in the way of slut shaming?

I measure the price of sex in a couple of different ways. I didn't write this theory personally, but social psychologists claim that men's sex has no value per se. In the world of prostitution you never see women paying men for sex. Men pay women for sex, men will pay men for sex, but women don't pay men for sex. You get a sense that she has something of value that he wants.

Any discussion of this sort of thing without acknowledging the patriarchy we live, as well as gender roles and the perceived duality of female desire (the whole Madonna/whore thing), as well as the inherent fear of female desire in our society is just missing the point. Or misogyny.

Beyond that, it's absurd to state that men pay prostitutes for sex because they can't get sex any other way. Seriously, Charlie Sheen hired a hooker because Charlie Sheen can't get laid? Really? I'm just not buying that. Some men might pay for sex because they can't get it for free, but the real appeal of bought sex is that you get exactly what you want, when you want it, and then you leave.

Anyway, I can't possibly review everything that is wrong with this article, because there's just so much and I'm only one vagina with legs, so let's cut to the money shot:

That's a terrible environment to try to get men to commit. The women wind up competing with each other -- not necessarily to marry because they're not interested in marriage at that point -- but they compete with each other to attract men. How do you compete with other women to attract men? Well, sex is the way to get his attention. It's the opposite of a cartel effect where women would say, "All right, we need to band together and artificially restrict the price of sex and get it high, even if we don't want to, in order to extract things from men." It used to be women would shame each other for selling low.

. . .

I think it's a bad idea for women collectively to compete with each other for men and to just sort of say I'll do whatever it takes to be in a relationship with men. Women need to somehow reacquire control over the direction of relationships. They feel like they don't have control. They feel like he calls the shots. That is most unfortunate. Part of that, I think, involves -- and this is what some women don't want to hear -- the artificial restriction of sex until later in the relationship. You might not feel like doing that but it's for a greater future goal. Men who have sex early in a relationship feel little impulse to make strong commitments. Women desperately want that to not be true, but it is. Men and women make relationship commitments very differently. It doesn't sound modern and it doesn't sound natural, but I don't care what it sounds like, I'm telling you how things work. Giving it away early gives a great deal of power to him.

Because men don't care about women, just about the vaginas we're attached to. And if he can't get access to my vagina as quickly as he can get access to another vagina, he'll go find that other vagina. The fact that he might like me as a person, might find me interesting, nice, funny, smart and great to hang out with is irrelevant as long as that other vagina is easy to access.

Never forget, ladies, that we're interchangeable. Men have no interest in anything going on above our waists, other than the boobies!- so you're just like any other vagina out there. And if you allow access to your vagina easily, you're ruining it for every other vagina-carrier out there. Which is so rude! We need to form vagina cartels! (He actually says this, btw.)


  1. He lost me when he used the phrase "kick butt." What is this, the '90s?

    And also, this:

    I measure the price of sex in a couple of different ways. I didn't write this theory personally, but social psychologists claim that men's sex has no value per se.

    Right. That's why male prostitutes don't exist.

  2. "It used to be women would shame each other for selling low."
    ---but you modern women aren't getting that done, so let me pick up the slack.

  3. The "he" you refer to, Fannie, is Tracy Clark-Flory, a female writer. Tracy is a regular contributor to Broadsheet, Salon's feminist blog.

    Also: I went home with my husband on our first date and slept with him on our second. My husband. The dude I'm married to. Hm.

  4. Oops, I see PF calls Tracy a "he" too. Sorry to single you out on that, Fannie.

  5. "Men who have sex early in a relationship feel little impulse to make strong commitments."

    Bullshit. Sheer, unadulterated, pulled-out-of-someone's-ass bullshit. Demonstrably untrue, insulting to men, and misleading to women. Bullshit.

    Which the author then defends thusly:

    "...I don't care what it sounds like, I'm telling you how things work."

    In other words, don't confuse my prejudice with your facts.

    The big problem, though (to my eye, at least) is that the author is talking about sex and relationships as a marketplace - as though having sex with someone, or making an emotional commitment to someone, was a simple business transaction. The problem isn't that women aren't basing their sexual availability on some sort of aggregate bargaining strategy; the problem is that the author can't see why doing so is an incredibly bad idea.

  6. I think the interviewer is Tracy, but she's interviewing a person who is male. I think.

  7. My biggest problem with the article is the way it treats men and women as two completely different hive-mind creatures. "Woman" is a name for the homogeneous mass of bra-wearing clones all sharing a central intelligence, and is completely alien and incomprehensible to the homogeneous mass of boxer-wearing clones called "men".

    No. People are people. Some of the statements about women apply to me. Some of the statements about men apply to women I know. Most of the statements about both groups don't apply to me or to anyone I know because I wouldn't insult them like that.

  8. I disagree with the hostile tone taken by a lot of people towards this article. Maybe because I read far more misogynistic stuff on a daily basis, but I just don't get what you guys are complaining about on this one.

    Yes, there are inaccurate assumptions, but I don't see anywhere even the slightest suggestion that women are somehow "too" successful, let alone that they should "stay in kitchen."

    If anything I think Michael has it dead on, that it's completely untrue that waiting for sex leads to a longer relationship. Without going too far into detail... my wife certainly wouldn't have been considered very ladylike when it came to what point in the relationship we had sex (didn't even buy her dinner or text).

    But the massive assumption I haven't noticed anyone else call "bullshit" on is... maybe women want to have sex, too. *gasp*

    I just don't understand the point of the article. Women are competing for men? Oh no, how will they ever cope... next we'll find out women are asking men out on dates or even *dramatic pause* proposing.

  9. Bret;

    i think you're missing the fact that we're massivily indignant BECAUSE of the inherent assumption that "women don't want sex, we ONLY use sex to force men into relationships"

    because that inherent assumption LEADS to thinking that women have to "DO" X Y or Z to "get" a man, based on the inherent assumption that WOMEN MUST HAVE MEN. that we aren't complete until/unless we HAVE A MAN. THAT is what is pissing everyone here off.

    and that VERY quickly leads to shit like "men want WIVES, not co-workers, so if women want to get married - and all women DO - they shouldn't work. also, men are unable to deal with women who have BRAINS, so if women want to get married - and all women DO - then they need to pretend to be not-smart, and not go to college, and not have any hobbies or interests other than -HER MAN- because these things "bother" men and women who do them don't GET men, and ALL WOMEN WANT NOTHING ASIDE FROM A MAN"

    and yes, it DOES go there - sure, this guy says, it's awesome that women are going to college and getting jobs [except, he notes, it's a "BOY CRISIS" because if GIRLS do these things, obviously MEN can't, because MEN wouldn't be CAUGHT DEAD doing something a GIRL does...] but those women with great degrees and kick-ass careers? they're shallow, hollow SHELLS of women, because they DON'T HAVE MEN, and ALL WOMEN WANT MEN AND CANNOT BE HAPPY OR FULFILLED WITHOUT MEN!

    follow the lines there.

  10. I don't remember reading 99% of any of that in what these people said. I guess I just don't see the conspiracy. I didn't get the impression the guy's study/book was so much preachy as it was observation, based on what he's saying anyway. The only "advice" he seems to be giving is the tired, old "hold out as long as you can, and he'll stay with you."

    Of course, according to this guy's theory, girls cannot do this because they need to win guys over in an environment of harsh competition. It seems similar to suggesting everyone go on a diet during a food shortage.

    Why didn't he suggest women just become comfortable with marrying down? That seems more logical than following the advice of bad sitcoms and PG-13 movies.

  11. what is "marrying down"? and why does that sound like more bad advice?

    it may have been subtext that we get, because we've been forcefed this bullshit since inception.


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