Love Makes the World Go 'Round - Or Is It Sex?

The price of liberated womankind.

In the late 1800's, Charles Dickens wrote, “'Tis love that makes the world go round, my baby.”  This sentiment later inspired a popular song.  President Reagan once observed:

...If it wasn't for women, us men would still be walking around in skin suits and carrying clubs.

People assumed that men worked to take care of women out of love and their labor made the world go 'round.

Recent news - to say nothing of modern lifestyle choices - suggests, however, that it isn't love that drives the civilized world, it's sex.  The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.  [emphasis added]

The search for a man who's willing to grow up can drive women to distraction: "They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home."

Why Won't Men Grow Up?

The women's complaint boils down to wondering why men are so immature.  Why won't they grow up?

The problem is that women's lib succeeded.  Women graduate from college in greater numbers than men and many college-educated women make more money than men.  Men expect a woman to maintain herself rather than relying on male support.  If she'll cover "her share" of the expenses, why should he work hard?

This is a perfectly rational male calculation.  The New York Times wrote:

The turning point for American women really came on the unknown day when the average American couple started planning their futures with the presumption that there would be two paychecks. ...

A while back, I was visiting a college in Connecticut where most of the students were the first in their families ever to go beyond high school. I was talking with a group of young men and women, and I asked the men how many of them felt it was very important that their future wife be a good earner.

All of them raised their hands.

Jobs in the modern knowledge-based economy are competitive and people have to work very hard to get themselves established.  Having children during the "get started" years is a serious drag on future earnings; Bill Gates didn't get married until after he had become a billionaire and Tiger Woods delayed matrimony until his career was well underway.  Even then, Tiger's marriage didn't work out well for either party, as he doesn't seem to have had enough maturity or self-control.  Maybe in another decade or two?

Given long-term career uncertainty, it's no surprise that couples delay marriage.  In 1970, nearly 70% of 25-year-olds were married; by 2000, only 30%.

The Drive for Sex

The main reason men used to grow up and take responsibility was that women demanded it.  In bygone days, a woman wouldn't give herself to a man unless he married her and she wouldn't marry him unless he had a job.  Men wanted sex, so they grew up, got jobs, and got married.

Now that women prefer to support themselves by having their own careers, there's no need for men to work much.  As the Journal put it,

So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do[emphasis added]

The Journal correctly observes that men tend to treat women as toys, but note that "Women put up with him..."  Why would any woman let herself be treated as a disposable toy?

By participating in the sexual revolution, women did themselves a disservice.  Women enjoy sex, but one frequently cited study shows that women want sex a lot less than men do.

When women withheld sex until marriage, men got married.  Now that sex is freely available, why should men marry?

Slate reviewed Premarital Sex in America which pointed out that sex ratios affect behavior.  Virginity and marriage are more common in colleges and churches where there are fewer women than men.

Where women outnumber men, however, women are far less satisfied with their dating experiences.  The book told of Jill, whose campus had more women than men:

Jill, a 20-year-old college student from Texas, is one of the many young women my colleagues and I interviewed who finds herself confronting the sexual market's realities. Startlingly attractive and an all-star in all ways, she patiently endures her boyfriend's hemming and hawing about their future. If she were operating within a collegiate sexual economy that wasn't oversupplied with women, men would compete for her and she would easily secure the long-term commitment she says she wants.  [emphasis added]

The book speaks of supply and demand in the "college sexual economy" as if men and women were interchangeable objects as opposed to people with individual strengths, weaknesses, and needs.  Prostitution and slavery are explicit about this - women are bought and sold as products instead of being respected as people.

Jill said she wanted long-term commitment, but gave herself "patiently" to her boyfriend.  She did not demand commitment before giving herself.

Hasn't Jill heard, "Actions speak louder than words?"  Based on her actions, what she said about commitment meant nothing, not even to her, so what she said was a lie.

Why would any sensible man commit himself to a liar to whom commitment meant nothing?  Why make a serious commitment to a used toy?  Why would a man wipe his face with a used Kleenex?  Play with her, sure, but stay with her?

Toy or Treasure, Play or Stay

The Wall Street Journal speaks of men treating women like "disposable estrogen toys."  Given that slavery has been outlawed, men can toy with women only if women let them.  If a woman lets men treat her as a commodity, her price rises and falls with supply and demand as opposed to being based on her personal qualities.

Most boys are happy to play with an attractive toy, but they'll throw her away when they're tired of her or someone better comes along.  Women do not like being treated as sex toys, but that's what happens when women stay independent.

Why should a man care for a woman who takes care of herself?  As Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality put it,

Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy.

If a woman wants commitment, she'll have to stay out of the hookup culture.  She'll have to state firmly that she doesn't want to be a toy and that any man who dates her will have to agree that his goal in being with her is to decide whether he treasures her enough to marry her.

No man will accept that if all he wants is sex - he can get sex without commitment.  If, however, he's attracted enough to her as a person to realize that she has more to offer than sex, which should be the case for all couples, he might consider growing up enough for a long-term commitment.

The Woman's Dilemma

What's sad is that so many writers accept the idea that women are commodities to be bought and sold on the "marriage market."  Women should not be treated as toys, whores, or objects valued solely for short-term pleasure but they don't understand enough about how men think to defend themselves against this.

Every woman has to decide what she wants.  She can have all the boyfriends and all the sex she wants, no questions asked, of course.

If a man can have a woman without marrying her, however, she's not worth marrying.  If she wants marriage, she'll have to put the prospect of marriage on the table up front as women did in the past.

A woman can save herself "whiplash of the heart" by remaining aloof from men who won't consider marriage.  By urging a man to think about committing himself to her and to her children, she not only benefits herself, she benefits society.

If a man values a woman enough to commit himself to her, he values he enough to work to take care of her.  This usually means working harder than before marriage.  "Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine" points out that married men work so much harder that they don't have time for former gangs.

This love and sex-driven work benefits society.  Some historians have said that civilization is built on men loving their wives enough to dedicate their lives to making women more comfortable.

Civilization also makes it possible for women to live without depending on men, but the time they spend working comes out of the time they used to spend raising children.  Once men no longer had to support women, they worked less, women worked more, and children got less parenting.

It will be ironic if the wealth made possible by the labor of former generations makes it possible for so many men not to work that civilization collapses back to muscle-powered agriculture.  If that happens, women will once more have to depend on men.  They'll re-learn the old lessons of trading virginity for commitment.  Men will have to grow up, get married, and go back to work in order to have sex.

History suggests that this has been the age-old pattern of human culture - sex drives the advance of civilization.  This brings an era of free love, less work, and eventually, collapse and a return to the old ways that work during hard times.

Lee Tydings is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Lee Tydings or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Great article, Lee! Really enjoyed it.

March 25, 2011 10:10 AM

"If a woman lets men treat her as a commodity, her price rises and falls with supply and demand as opposed to being based on her personal qualities."


March 25, 2011 10:15 AM

A great and perceptive article, and one that should be paired with the well-known article on the Double-Income Trap.

I strongly suspect that another consequence of the phenomenon of women giving themselves cheap(and thus keeping men in perpetual adolescence)is that birthrates will fall drastically. It only follows logically that a woman who must support herself does not have the money+time resources to raise a large family, and it's a demographic fact that even a stable population requires a fertility rate of slightly MORE than 2 children per couple (to make up for accidents, infertility, homosexuality, etc.) I think we see this in the falling -- and aging -- populations of western Europe, Russia, and Japan.

How such aging and shrinking societies can maintain themselves for more than another 20 years or so is utterly beyond my comprehension. The social and economic trainwreck is coming down the tracks straight towards us pretty fast.

April 4, 2011 1:59 PM

"How such aging and shrinking societies can maintain themselves for more than another 20 years or so is utterly beyond my comprehension"
I think there are few possible answers to that question. Either the retirees incomes will be savagely reduced (whether by decree or by inflation - see Argentina under the Peronistas), or brutal taxes will be levied on the dwindling producers, causing them to flee to suddenly-attractive fiscally conservative countries.
I think the most likely outcome will be the first one.
My heart goes out to those who have spent decades paying into the SS fund (not even asked if they wanted to, but docked from their checks before they even saw them), and will in all probability be condemned to an old-age of penury.

April 4, 2011 2:30 PM
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