As you read, can you think of anything more gender divisive, more reinforcing of the gender wage gap, and more 1950s regressive of male-female sexuality? Mind you, although many feminists will say, as one told me recently, that men control things and make the rules, this ForbesWoman commentary was written by a woman responding positively to recommendations proposed by a woman, and it was approved of by the vast majority of the female commenters at the end. And never mind that many other women, such as Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, have laid down “The Rules” for women to control men’s behavior.
It is long past time that men demanded an end to female sexism, to female control and rules.
A Male Matters statement follows the commentary.
In the world according to Catherine Hakim, we’re all for sale – most of us just aren’t charging enough.
In her new book Erotic Capital, Hakim says sex appeal is our most valuable asset and we should deploy it without shame. It went on sale this week, and it’s required reading for anyone under 35.
Erotic capital is “the fourth personal asset, alongside economic capital (money talks), human capital (what you know), and social capital (who you know).”
Like money, you can be born with it, and like friends, you can work on getting more of it. It provides measurable and significant advantages to people who have it,just like being tall.
Women have a lot more of it than men, but men want more sex than women do, a global phenomenon Hakim calls the “male sex deficit.” That means erotic capital is a valuable asset in high demand and short supply. (“Male sexuality is worthless, because of excess supply at zero cost.” [It’s not quite as bad as that but it’s the direct result of the sexes’ imbalanced inititive-taking, which sexists like Hakim want to perpetuate: Male Matters])
Unfortunately, we’ve never even heard of it.
Hakim says erotic capital is an “unacknowledged asset” that we’ve been tricked into giving away for free, and she blames an “unholy alliance” of the patriarchy and radical feminists:
Patriarchal men have always found it in men’s collective interest to… generally reduce the price of sex and erotic entertainments by lowering the value of women’s erotic capital (“Beauty is only skin deep, hence worthless”) and by squeezing the cost of sexual entertainment (“Only depraved women would sink so low”)…. Women who openly deploy their beauty or sex appeal are belittled as stupid, lacking in intellect and other “meaningful” social attributes.
We have special names for such ambitious women. Hookers charge for it and sluts give it away for free. Gold diggers want the ring for it and trophy wives are the lucky ones who get the ring.
Morality, Hakim says, is “deployed by men to restrict women’s ability to exploit their one major advantage over men and to humiliate women who do succeed in gaining money or status through those activities.”
She says the strategy is ironically supported by whole generation of Anglo-Saxon feminists “so brainwashed by patriarchal ideology that they have been quite unable to understand how sexuality and erotic capital can be sources of female power.”
The reality is we’re all for sale, whether explicitly or implicitly, whether we like it or not, in a “broad spectrum of deal-making” that extends from college girls to call girls. And all that separates you from the big P is the price and the currency:
“Men have always had to pay for sex – in money, marriage, respect, long-term commitment, or willingness to help raise children. In the past, men accepted that they had to pay a price. Today, the sexual revolution in attitudes to sexuality leads many young men to assume that they should get full sexual satisfaction, free of charge, all the time.”
Free love? Fairytale. Friends with benefits? Conspiracy to get it for free. Ditto on picking up the bill. Sexual equality? An intellectual swindle “even more disastrous to women than free love.“
Smart women recognize the value of their erotic capital and make the most of it, in one way or another, while the rest of us call them names and sell ourselves short:
“Too often, women throw away their most universal assets, sexual access and erotic capital, because they have been brainwashed into believing that only money and qualifications have value. Recognition of the value of erotic capital and women’s unique fertility skills provides the basis for a truly feminist Manifesto for Women.”
Which is all a fancy way of saying, “If you’ve got it, charge for it.”
It’s controversial as hell, it’s long overdue, and it’s frighteningly good advice for a younger generation that is not only primed for it, but appears to be taking it literally. Hakim may just have written the Feminism 2.0 Manifesto.
For Gen Y – we’re about 15 to 35 years old – feminism is a dirty word we associate with angry lesbians, The Vagina Monologues and general unsexiness. Which is really a shame.
Go ahead, ask someone under 35 if they identify as a feminist. Lady Gaga said, “I’m not a feminist. I love men.”
When Harper’s Bazaar asked Beyonce, she said,
“I don’t really feel that it’s necessary to define it. It’s just something that’s kind of natural for me, and I feel like… you know… it’s, like, what I live for. I need to find a catchy new word for feminism, right?” LikeBootylicious.
Gen Y grew up on Girl Power and Beyonce ballads. Indendent Women. Single Ladies. We reaped the benefits without burning any of the bras: birth control, better wages, less guilt about having casual sex. Add that all together and we’re enjoying a good extra decade of fun before we choose to settle down.
So it’s ironic that Gen Y hookup culture has its roots in the feminist movement we’re so quick to distance ourselves from. We might not want marriage or monogamy, but how about a text the next day?
Gen Y women have no idea what we should be asking for. But it’s high time we figured out what we want and started asking for it, whatever it may be.
Hakim suggests cash. “The puzzle,” Hakim says, “is not why intelligent and attractive women become prostitutes, but rather why more women do not choose this occupation, given the high potential earnings for relatively short work hours.”
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the ladies of Gen Y already are.
Take, for example, SeekingArrangement.com, “a dating site for those seeking mutually beneficial arrangements” that has over 100,000 college women (as verified by their .edu address) registered and looking for sugar daddies (gag). Since the economy tanked, the site has seen registrations rise, and we are not just talking aspiring dental assistants: registered universities include NYU, UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley, and yes…even Harvard.
[See the instructions, as late as July 2012, received by many collegiate females on how to snare the success-object: “These gentlemen (at least the ones in your dating pool) … take hard classes that will inevitably lead to a high salary job….” This is an extant popular way that women can help keep the gender wage gap wide, so that politicized feminists can keep blaming men and hence keep pressuring politicians like President Obama to push for ever-more laws that promise women something for “nothing.” -Male Matters]
This is not just an American phenomenon. Hakim says, “young women on Jiayuan, the biggest dating agency in China, say explicitly that they are seeking older rich men who will support their studies and pay for a desirable lifestyle.” They call it the “si you or four haves: a house, car, high salary, and a prestigious job or business.”
And why stop at your undergrad degree when you can pay for your PhD? Britain’s most famous call girl was known only as Belle de Jour as she escorted her way through her doctorate studies in forensic science. Belle enjoyed years of anonymity and two best-selling books before coming out in 2009.
Then there’s Katherine Frank, a cultural anthropologist who paid for her PhD working as a nude dancer. Dr. Amy Flowers worked part-time as a phone sex operator, which “led her to develop the theory of phone sex as an example of the tertiary relationships that proliferate in the twenty-first century due to the Internet and phones replacing face-to-face encounters.”
Gen Y is more primed for this kind of transaction than our elders would like to believe, and I think the internet is largely to blame.
Starting with the fact that the internet is for porn, and kids these days are growing up watching it.
(Internet porn, The Atlantic says, “bares an uncomfortable truth that the women’s-liberation movement has successfully suppressed: men and women have conflicting sexual agendas. Pornography neatly resolves the contradictions—in favor of men. They f*** with impunity. Women never dream of staying.”)
Cindy Gallop, the reigning Cougar Dame of New York and creator of MakeLoveNotPorn, says Gen Y is getting their sex ed from watching porn, then acting out what we learn in the bedroom.
Which is to say, hooking up is starting to look a lot like porn.
“Affection is not the point with young people’s hookups, and sexual competence is demanded, sometimes to professional standards,” Hakim says. “The dividing line between amateur and professional sex encounters vanishes.”
Professional sex doesn’t carry the same stigma for a generation that grew up on internet porn because it doesn’t look all that different. The truth is, Gen Y has a hard time understanding the difference between paying a professional for sex (illegal) and watching two professionals who are paid to have sex (legal).
Besides, porn isn’t even about professionals anymore, so why should prostitution be? The biggest porn site on the planet (by a landslide) is a webcam site called LiveJasmin, where you pay for a 1-on-1 live video session. So is that internet porn or internet prostitution, or are they the same thing?
The confusion extends offline into the hottest clubs for twenty-somethings, from New York City to Las Vegas. In the aptly titled Rachel Uchitel is not a Madam, Tiger Wood’s favorite lady says, “A promoter is a glorified pimp…. A bottle waitress means you’re half a stripper and half a pimp…. But then everyone is a pimp.” But wait, “money isn’t exchanged in most cases.” Wait, what?
If you really want to make your head spin, consider the rising popularity of “the girlfriend experience” (GFE for shorthand; Google it) among men paying for escorts. They want the trappings of a nice dinner and a sexy date along with the main entree. So now we’re treating professionals like girlfriends and girlfriends like professionals.
“We lump these things together but that’s only to spare ourselves any mental exertion,” Tracy Clark-Flory argues in Salon. “Most of us don’t like to acknowledge the complex relationship between sex and money.”
For Gen Y, they all blend together even after profund mental exertion. The “broad spectrum of deal-making” looks like shades of grey. So the thinking goes – if they all look the same – why not charge for it?
That’s certainly Hakim’s recommendation, but that’s not all of it:
“Women must learn to bargain and negotiate with men for a better deal. They must bargain for greater recognition for their contribution to private life before they can bargain successfully at work with managers, colleagues, and employers. if you cannot negotiate successfully with a man who claims to desire, love, and respect you, you are unlikely to develop the necessary skills for dealing with men who are colleagues in the same organization, or friends, or strangers such as deliverymen, service providers, and the myriad of people we all have to deal with in everyday life.”
Whatever the currency we choose, it’s high time we ask for a fair exchange. And for Gen Y, anything is better than free.
A Male Matters statement:
There is only one thing that gives females their “sexual power ,” their “erotic capital”: the sexes’ imbalanced initiative-taking. Now read “The Sexual Harassment Quagmire,” Male Matters’ in-depth look at the sexes’ most destructive behavioral difference.
Here are some of the gender stereotypes, busted by LiveScience, that guide the sexist thinking of such people as Catharine Hakim and Julie Ruvolo, who no doubt rail about men who stereotype:
1. Men Think About Sex More Than Women Do
The cliché that men think about sex every seven seconds is not true. And while it’s true that men think about sex more often than women do, they also think about other bodily needs, such as food and sleep, more than women do.
In a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Sex Research, psychologists asked research participants to record their thoughts throughout the day. They found that men pondered sex 18 times a day to a woman’s 10 times a day, but men also thought about food and sleep proportionately more than women. That suggests sex doesn’t hold as vaunted a position for men as you might expect.
2. Men Want More Sex Partners Than Women
If you ask a lot of men and women how many sex partners they’d want in a given period of time, the numbers provided by men average higher than the women’s numbers. But it seems that a few randy fellows at the top are skewing the results as a whole.
Calculating an average does not always give you the clearest view of the data. (If, for example, researchers asked 10 men how many sex partners they wanted in the next year and nine said “one,” while one said “20,” the average would be 2.9, and you might expect that any given man wants about three sex partners in a year.)
If you look instead at the “typical” response to the question of how many partners people want, you find that the majority of both men and women offer the same answer: one.
Again, survey responses may be more about what people believe they should say, rather than what they really want, Conley said. That issue may be exacerbated because most sexual preference studies are conducted using college students, she added, and the young men are eager to conform to expectations of masculinity.
How about how many sexual partners men and women actually have? Studies generally find that men report more partners than women. But in 2003, researchers reported in the Journal of Sex Research that if you trick research participants into believing that they are hooked up to a lie-detector test, men report the same number of sexual partners as women.
3. Men Want ‘Sexy’ & Women Want ‘Status’
An underpinning of evolutionary psychology is that men look for sexy women who are likely to provide them with attractive, healthy offspring, while women are more concerned than men about getting a high-status mate who can be a good provider.
When psychologists ask research subjects (mostly college students) to imagine their ideal mate, that is indeed what they typically find. But when people in an actual speed-dating event rated the importance of attractiveness and status, these gender differences evaporated, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
When the research participants met potential dates face to face, there was no difference in the way they rated their romantic interest based on those people’s attractiveness and earnings. So it seems real-world attraction may go beyond simple stereotypes. [10 Things Every Woman Should Know About a Man’s Brain]
“Thinking about ‘ideal’ elicits more stereotypical thoughts about women and men — and what women and men ‘should’ do,” Conley wrote in an email to LiveScience. “When someone evaluates a real person, it is a little different.”
4. Men Like Casual Sex More Than Women Do
For a 1989 study, researchers trained young men and women to approach opposite-sex individuals of a similar age and proposition them. In a striking contrast, 70 percent of the men approached by a woman seeking sex said, “Sure.” Not a single woman agreed.
The result could be taken to mean that women aren’t interested in casual sex. But there is evidence that cultural factors play a major role, Conley and her colleagues wrote. When women are asked to consider a hypothetical offer from someone more familiar or very attractive, they become much more receptive. Likewise, gender differences in one-night-stand interest evaporated when men and women were asked to consider sleeping with someone famous.
Conley, in yet-unpublished research, said she has found that women being propositioned by a strange man simply expect him to be no good in bed.
“Women accepted fewer casual-sex offers from men than vice versa,” she wrote, “because male proposers were perceived to have relatively poorer sexual capabilities.”
5. Women Are Pickier Than Men
Evolutionary theory holds that men want to spread their seed, while women are choosy about whom they mate with. But this may not be universal, according to Conley and her colleagues.
A 2009 study published in Psychological Science found that people are choosier when they’re approached by a potential partner, and less choosy when they’re doing the approaching. The experiment, conducted in a real-life speed-dating environment, showed that when men rotated through women who stayed seated in the same spot, the women were more selective about whom they chose to date. When the women did the rotating, it was the guys who were pickier.
Because guys are traditionally the ones who make the first move, women may simply get more of a chance to be choosy. Perhaps, Conley and her colleagues wrote, women’s pickiness is tied more to dating rules than to innate desires.
Conley said that these against-the-grain studies highlight the importance of following the data to their conclusion, even when that conclusion isn’t what you’d expect.
“Psychologists – including me – always have to be looking beyond their own biases. They need to avoid getting so attached to a particular theory or perspective that they go out of their way to protect the theory,” Conley said. “Data should be the guide, and you have to look at data in every way you can think of to see if the story you are telling is really the best one.”