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Female Choice and Its Discontents

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Would morality be different if we had evolved from big cats instead of great apes?

Nature’s moral horrors are monstrous and plentiful. Lions exhibit a polygynous mating structure, in which males compete for territories containing groups of females and their hunting territory. A male lion usurping the territory of another will kill all the cubs sired by the previous male (in order to promote his own genetic line at the expense of others).

If we had evolved from lions instead of from Australopithecus, would we find infanticide by stepfathers to be completely morally acceptable? Perhaps more importantly, would it actually be morally acceptable? (This latter question is really a question about the existence of moral facts.)

Are some mating and survival strategies inherently more legitimate than others? Is parasitism less honorable than predation? Is predation less honorable than photosynthesis? Is K morally preferable to r? Does symbiosis have a privileged moral status?

Some of our moral feelings about the natural world are mere products of our biological history. If we see parasitism as worse than predation, it may be because we have been predators, but never parasites, and we see things from the point of view of a predator and a “host.” But we also reach for – and to a limited extent, I think, find – a more abstract moral sensibility that may be applied to the natural world and human history alike.

I suspect nearly all moral realists would agree with me that if we had evolved from lions, it would still be wrong to kill babies. Contra Wittgenstein, it is even possible that we would have come to realize that infanticide – along with, perhaps, other central aspects of our evolutionarily determined life – is wrong.

I will argue here that most of our evolutionarily important sexual behaviors are immoral and undesirable from the perspective of our most abstract, species-neutral, organism-centered perspective. Specifically, I will argue that socially imposed monogamy is immoral, despite the fact that it is a strategically viable solution to mating coordination problems and may encourage investment in socially optimal behaviors. I will argue that the social conditions necessary to enforce monogamy include reducing female economic self-sufficiency. I will argue for individual ownership of our own bodies (including a legal right to prostitution), but with the caveat that women are not morally entitled to exploit the structurally unmet sexual needs of men, either through prostitution or through economic marital support. And I will argue that while monogamy should be permissible (from individual body ownership), we are not ethically required to recognize the monogamous sexual contracts of others.

Female Choice and the Kenyan Baboons[1]

Baboon mating strategy is bimodal. Males compete for rank among themselves, and the alpha male mates with any females in estrus and prevents other males from mating with them. We can call “alpha male” one strategy. However, lower-ranking males frequently engage in years-long liaisons with a female, grooming and being groomed by her even when she is not in estrus, sleeping snuggled up with her, and even babysitting her children (who are often not his genetic children). What is the point of this “friend male” strategy? When in estrus, female baboons often sneak off out of the view of the alpha male (who may be otherwise engaged in combat) and mate with their “friend male” grooming partners, allowing the lower-ranking males mating opportunities they would not have had if not for the “friendship.”

Male baboons essentially have two choices: either compete with other males for dominance and the mating opportunities it brings, or compete/cooperate with a single female for a mating opportunity with her, unmediated by the usual dominance hierarchy. In the former situation, females do not have genuine choice as to whom they mate with; the alpha male determines this by force. The latter situation is driven almost entirely by female choice.

For much of human history, especially since the introduction of agriculture, sexual access to females has been largely controlled by competition between males, not by the individual females themselves. A female was a special kind of chattel to be sold by her parents to her husband.[2] Only very recently, and in certain enlightened parts of the world, has it been widely believed that an individual female owns herself, and is herself entitled to choose her sexual liaisons.

In baboons and humans, it often appears that female choice necessarily entails a move in the direction of monogamy. However, enforced monogamy is only a first – and very unsatisfactory – step toward true female choice, and toward individual sexual choice in general.

Monogamy as Schadenfreude

The essence of a monogamous relationship is limitation. It is a special kind of contract that is mostly characterized by promising to refrain from doing something (having extramarital sex). It is what in the law is characterized as an output contract – a contract wherein a seller promises to sell his entire output to a buyer, who in turn promises to buy the entire output. It is not, in practical terms, a requirements contract – a contract wherein a seller might promise to sell to a buyer all the goods the buyer requires. The promise entailed by monogamy is the promise not to have sex with anyone else. It is not a promise to meet the sexual needs of one’s partner (nor is this kind of promise desirable, much less enforceable – what’s less sexy than being obligated to fuck?).

The person contracting a monogamous relationship is gaining utility from his partner’s promise to reduce her own utility. It is, in essence, an agreement explicitly to benefit at the expense of one’s lover.

A more idealistic conception of love (and sex) is one in which one desires one’s lover to be happy and have as much pleasure as possible – a situation in which one derives utility directly from one’s partner’s utility. Non-monogamous paradigms (open relationships, polyamory, swinging) allow participants to be ultra-cooperators – to mutually agree to refrain from limiting each partner’s sexual opportunities.

Within nonsexual social relationships (e.g., friends), the idea of gaining utility by limiting the utility of the other is repugnant. The idea that one should shut oneself off to cooperation with all but one friend is ludicrous (and would make for a social nightmare). In the abstract, monogamy appears to be the morally worse option. So why is monogamy broadly considered the moral gold standard of sexual relationships?

It’s because our morality hasn’t yet caught up with technologies such as birth control, paternity testing, and female citizenship. It’s also because monogamy is a solution to a coordination problem. Monogamy really was the way to go when there wasn’t any birth control, a simple test wouldn’t reveal paternity, and females could not support themselves through their own efforts. From the perspective of a female under such conditions, monogamy was her best chance of having surviving offspring. And to a monogamous woman, a sexually receptive non-monogamous woman is a threat to her ability to extract resources from a male. Therefore, women – not just men – attempt to enforce chaste or monogamous behavior in other women.

In this way, in premodern societies, monogamy functions as a kind of sexual minimum wage for women – that is, it specifies that the only unit in which sex may be acquired is a whole woman for her life, and the only currency it may be acquired in exchange for is a promise of lifetime support and monogamy. This makes some amount of sense when babies are a likely result of sex, paternity is uncertain, and a woman cannot support herself. It makes a great deal less sense given that we now know where babies come from and can prevent them, we can test a baby’s DNA to determine its parentage (if that is, in fact, morally relevant), and women are as able to support themselves as men, if not more so. If all the justifications for socially imposed monogamy have disappeared, perhaps it is time for sexual monogamy to go the way of infanticide.

Given that consensual non-monogamy is an option – one that many people in our society choose – why would anyone choose monogamy? One possibility, which I think is true for many people, is that they have a special preference for monogamy, perhaps because they find sexual jealousy to be an insurmountable obstacle. Such people would freely choose monogamy even if it were not socially enforced. Another possibility, which I also think is true for many people, is that they genuinely want to have multiple lovers, but are prevented from doing so by barriers – such as lack of available partners (men), the fear of slut stigma (women), or the fear of other social sanction (both).

Economic Constraint of Female Sexual Liberty

Many heterosexual males find chastity in females to be aesthetically appealing. But females only have an incentive to be chaste when women’s ability to provide for themselves is constrained. The social conditions necessary to promote monogamy are incompatible with female economic self-sufficiency. And self-sufficiency is broadly socially desirable.

Again, the biological basis of monogamy is to promote paternity confidence and paternal investment. Because of DNA testing, legal father-child relationships and obligations, and female suffrage and economic equality, these objectives are no longer morally relevant.

In societies in which males do not heavily invest in their sexual partners or their children, females have more sexual liberty.[3] Conversely, in societies in which women are economically dependent on males and are structurally prevented from being economically self-sufficient, sexual chastity (for women) is strictly enforced. For this reason, we should be extremely suspicious of norms of sexual chastity.

Supporting a Wife

Sexual chastity, then, is a tool (whether wielded by society or individual women) to get men to invest in wife and child. Children are morally entitled to investment from their parents, at least where their parents voluntarily conceived and bore them. Children are unable to provide for themselves. However, it is far from clear that an adult woman is morally entitled to seek investment from a man.

Women experience sexual desire for men, but male sexual services to women are so oversupplied that their value is zero (or even negative, at times). Women are born with[4] a naturally occurring, enormously desirable “resource” largely unrelated to productive activity, or to any morally relevant characteristic. Men have no comparable resource.

Women are in the position of a hereditary landlord – born with a desirable resource that others desire and are willing to “pay” for (whether in currency or otherwise). But while I do feel that women should be properly considered the “owners” of their bodies, this does not entail that we should legitimize the equivalent of rent-seeking in women. Women are morally entitled to decide who they have sex with, and to have sex with anyone, for any reason – including, I think, for money or the promise of lifetime monogamy and economic support. But this does not mean we as a society should legitimize such transactions, either with state-sponsored marriage or through slut stigma.[5]

Restraining Women’s Sexual Freedom: Cui Bono?

Some men and some women benefit from restraining women’s sexual freedom. Men who have the resources to do so and wish to “purchase” a female for life have an incentive to restrict the sexual freedom of their “property.” Similarly, the subset of women who wish to attract such lifetime investment benefit from restricting the sexual freedom of other women.

But this is not to say that ALL women or ALL men benefit from restricting the sexual freedom of women. In fact, as I have argued, most people would benefit from lifting most of the societal sexual restrictions currently in place. Societal restrictions on sexual freedom function as a governmental taking: they prevent individuals from using their resources for their own pleasure, for the alleged benefit of the group (or at least those in positions of power in the group). Many writers, both male and female, confuse the issue by assuming group heterogeneity of preference. But “good for women as a group” does not justify an involuntary welfare transfer from individual women to the group, especially with a resource as intimately connected to the individual’s body as sex.

Are Married Folks Morally Off-Limits?

Long-term output contracts are rare, and are generally entered into at arm’s length. Lifetime output contracts executed under conditions of undue influence (inherent in almost any dyadic sexual relationship) are especially suspect compared to other contracts. And they are frequently entered into by young participants with poor access to information and a great deal of hormone intoxication.

The more a contract is obtained by shady means, the less we should feel inclined to enforce or abide by the contract. Contracts obtained by force or fraud are not enforceable at all, for instance. For these reasons, we are not always morally obligated to respect the lifetime sexuality output contracts of others. Doing so in fact assists with the undesirable rent-seeking behavior described above. It does not make sense to expend a huge amount of resources enforcing long-term contracts, when little is expended in making sure those contracts are voluntary and informed, and that other options exist.

Respecting property rights is as much a voluntary act as asserting property rights. We may be morally entitled to have some property rights enforced, but “property rights” in the private actions of agents that do not directly affect us are extremely questionable. When we respect property rights, we are actively giving support to the institutions and policies that created those property rights. I have argued that monogamy is broadly socially undesirable; respecting the lifetime sexuality output contracts of others when one party wishes to “breach” his or her contract promotes monogamy and the flawed social policy on which it rests.

How Will the Sexual Market Clear?

To review, women are born with a resource unrelated to productive effort. Men are born desiring this resource, but without any comparable resource. If material transfers to women from men in exchange for sex are morally undesirable (and I think they are), how will men’s sexual needs be met?

One thing to remember is that the sexual market is far from clearing in its natural state. This imposes a great deal of suffering on men.

As humans, we intuitively feel that sex should be a gift. Sex provided enthusiastically, out of an altruistic desire to please one’s partner and to be sexually pleased, is the ideal. As I have argued, this is incompatible with sex-for-resource-extraction (either in the form of marriage or of prostitution). How will the non-monetary market (gift economy) for sex ever clear when men’s sexual services are worth only a tiny fraction of the value of female sexual services?

One solution is already being tried by a growing group of men. Sexual seduction techniques are really a way of learning to provide better sexual services to women in a way that they desire – increasing the value, to women, of male sexual services and making a gift economy possible for at least a lucky subset of the population.

Another solution is only possible on an extremely macro level: increase the ratio of women to men (while maintaining female economic self-sufficiency). This was “tried” in a natural experiment involving the Kenyan baboons mentioned earlier. The most dominant and aggressive males, but not the females or less aggressive males, would raid a nearby open garbage pit. As a result, those dominant males all contracted tuberculosis from meat refuse and died, nearly doubling the female-to-male ratio.

The result was a surprising cultural change in the affected baboon population. Male-female grooming drastically increased – males were groomed by females more frequently, and less time passed between a new male arriving at the troupe and his first being groomed by a female. The stress experienced by low-ranking males plummeted, measured both by prevalence of anxiety behaviors and measurements of the stress-related hormone cortisol. Essentially, everybody chilled the fuck out.

So one solution to the problem of the male-female sexual market not clearing is just to have fewer males – especially males of the type who attempt to subvert female choice. A rare male is more valuable than an oversupplied male. The sexual market could clear as a gift economy under those circumstances.


1. Sources for this section include Barbara Smuts’ book Sex and Friendship in Baboons and the article A Pacific Culture among Wild Baboons: Its Emergence and Transmission by Robert M. Sapolsky and Lisa J. Share (2004). You may also enjoy this Radiolab episode about the change in baboon culture.

2. Except, of course, in societies that utilize a dowry system, which tend to be societies that enforce monogamy, thereby driving up the value of high-quality males. Women generally do not choose their own mating partners in dowry societies; they are still very much property. As Elizabeth Cashdan puts it (in “Women’s Mating Strategies,” Evolutionary Anthropology 5:134-143, 1996),

…cross-cultural analysis shows that the co-occurrence of stratification with socially-imposed monogamy is the best predictor of dowry, although it is also found in the upper strata of some extremely stratified polygynous societies. We might wish to add to the criteria of stratification and socially imposed monogamy the additional one of degree of female dependence on male investment. Competition for investing mates should be most intense where the payoffs to such investment are highest, hence greater economic independence of women might be expected to discourage the prevalence of dowry payments, even in monogamous, stratified societies. [Emphasis mine.]

3. See, e.g., Gaulin, S.J.C., and Schlegel, A., “Paternal confidence and paternal investment: A cross-cultural test of a sociobiological hypothesis. Ethol Sociobiol 1:301-309 (1980), and Hartung, J., “Matrilineal inheritance: New theory and analysis.” Behav Brain Sci 8:661-668. Cited in Cashdan (1996), Note 2 (supra).

4. Okay, not “born with,” but you know what I mean.

5. This is why I find it surprising that the “men’s rights” camp can so frequently be found attempting to re-impose slut stigma. Slut stigma is directly opposed to female choice; most men, especially men into “game,” benefit directly from enhanced female choice (one-on-one competition and body ownership).

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Written by Sister Y

April 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm

81 Responses

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  1. Bravo for this essay! Two points:

    1) Some of the tactics used by the “seduction community” indeed can be considered efforts to improve men's sexual services, but others are efforts either to disguise inferior sexual services as higher-quality ones or to convince women to accept lower-quality services, often by downwardly revising women's estimates of the quality of services they can bargain for.

    2) Monogamy promotes not only a sexual minimum wage for women, but also a sexual minimum wage for men. If more desirable men are limited to one woman, then less desirable men still have options. My intuition tells me that most women would prefer less frequent sex with more desirable men than more frequent sex with less desirable men. Undesirable men who lack the resources to double down on paternal investment have little to offer women who are free to choose higher-quality partners, who can control their own reproduction, and who can provide just as well for themselves as men can.

    JasonSL

    April 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

  2. Jason Malloy says a high ratio of men to women is more socially desirable.

    teageegeepea

    April 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm

  3. yesterday i tried posting the same thing malloy was writing about. nigel barber has found that fewer males makes a more violent society likely due to increased mating effort.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ab.20291/abstract

    Anonymous

    April 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm

  4. Great work, as usual.

    Virgins considering marriage likely have particularly severe hormone-clouded judgment, and, not surprisingly, that is the situation encouraged in cultures where women have few options for, or are discouraged from pursuing, economic self-sufficiency. The virginity culture causes people to get married younger, under more influence of hormones and without the help of a fully connected frontal lobe.

    btw, I loved this question: “Is parasitism less honorable than predation?”

    neq1

    April 4, 2011 at 2:23 am

  5. 1. There can be no true freedom as long as female mate choice is situated in a perverse system of laws and incentives. I have no objection against women choosing their sex partners as long as they stop (financially) ass-raping men (unless they are into that sort of thing…). As White&Nerdy puts it:

    The biggest part is taxes. I pay a lot of them even despite using every trick I can to reduce them (and being self-employed for several months now I have quite a few available now). Around 80% of my taxes are going to women. It’s not just welfare. Social security and medicare also go mainly to women since men die earlier. Most government workers at all levels of government minus the military, homeland security, and law enforcement are female. And of the military, homeland security, and law enforcement have all of their own female BS that I’m paying for. This is not just a matter of women holding these jobs. Government acts as a massive (useless) jobs program for women.

    It doesn’t stop there. I pay (and you do too) for government regulation that employs women in the private sector. There’s affirmative action, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. HR departments are mostly female and completely useless. I pay (and you do too) extra for everything you buy to pay for the salaries of these useless women. Everything would be cheaper if all these women were not employed doing nothing.

    There’s the legal fees I have had to pay to consult lawyers due to the sexual harassment false claims I have had to deal with. It isn’t that much because the women who accused me of that were all stupid but since it’s happened to me multiple times I have had to consult lawyers to be on the safe side. I have gotten sizeable “payouts” from various employers because of the false claims against me but that was not paid on behalf of the women who made the claims against me. It was paid so that I wouldn’t decide to sue my (now previous) employers so that doesn’t count as a resitution payment against the half million USD.

    Since I haven’t had the money I’m supposed to have, there’s also losses due to the fact that I didn’t have money to invest so that has to be factored in. Add this all together and I estimate what has been stolen from me at about half a million USD. It’s probably more than that, but a lot of this is the prinicple of the thing so I’m not going to chase down every cent.

    In theory the system is supposed to work as “I scratch your back. You sratch my back.” When it comes to women that has fallen apart for me. Thus anything going to women in payment that’s beyond what would have been paid without feminist socialism is theft from me. There is no reason I should be paying people who are hostile to me. In any other circumstance this would be considered theft. Thus I should get back my lost property of half a million dollars cash. Until that happens I’m fighting a defensive war, and I will treat it as such.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

  6. 2. You wrote that slut-shaming is a solution to an coordination problem. However, so is morality itself. In fact, argumentation is coercive, in the sense that it literally non-voluntarily changes someone's mind: one does not choose one's own beliefs. From a non-cognitivist meta-ethics, What is morality if not shaming language (as a solution to a coordination problem)? Slut shaming is an attempt to influence female behavior by calling it “bad”. I see moral discourse as a way of influencing other people's behavior by explaining why one thinks it is “bad”. In particular, calling marriage and prostitution immoral does not differ from “marriage shaming” or “prostitute shaming”.

    (to be continued)

    The Plague Doctor

    April 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

  7. “Most governent workers at all levels of government minus the military. . .”

    Right, so if you remove the extremely large fraction of government spending that goes almost exclusively to men, then most government spending goes to women.

    The poster is also forgetting interest on debt, which goes to large banks, foreign and domestic, which are headed by men and have most of their profits accrue to men. The 80% figure is already hand-waving B.S., and it's probably not even qualitatively true given debt service and military spending (together 28% of the federal budget that's even more tilted toward men than SS and Medicare are tilted toward women).

    More importantly, however, why does the fact that the poster's tax dollars go in part to pre-sexual-revolution 70-year-old women on SS and Medicare have anything to do with whether 25-year-old women on the dating market today should enjoy more sexual liberty? He seems to think that womankind is a coherent whole, and since it (according to his likely spurious guesstimates) collectively transfers resources from mankind, negative attitudes and behavior toward individual women are thus justified.

    “[sexual harassment claims have] happened to me multiple times.” Most men go through life having zero sexual harassment claims filed against them. It's possible that you're just unlucky, but consider what each of these claims has in common: you.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  8. The examples you mentioned are not income redistribution because everyone benefits from them (e.g., everyone benefits from defence), but only the recipient benefits from social programs. NOW, the National Organization of Women, admits that social programs (which are about half the US budget) mostly benefit women.

    Isn't a 25 year-old a future 70-year old? And I didn't see him justifying negative behavior toward individual women anywhere in the thread.

    I will leave it to W&N to defend himself from your irrelevant and unsubstantiated ad hominem.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  9. I think what we agree on is that gender is a morally irrelevant category for receipt of redistribution.

    I think gender is also a morally irrelevant characteristic for distribution of suffering.

    The problem is identifying morally relevant characteristics (as Plague Doctor points to in his comment 2.). Since almost everything that we often consider morally relevant, such as intelligence and ability to postpone pleasure, is determined prior to the formation of an agent (either genetically or environmentally or both), I always push skepticism of ANY characteristic on which we might like to base the distribution of suffering.

    In response to JasonSL's first comment – few things are as irritating to me as a man learning to project all the correlates of being a good lay, but not, in fact, being a good lay. That is my personal cross to bear, though.

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm

  10. TGGP, even if sexually deprived men were well-behaved, I do not think that justifies keeping them sex-deprived, either by maintaining an even gender ratio or by incentivizing women not to have sex with them for pleasure.

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm

  11. I think Karl Smith's piece on genetics and egalitarianism abstracts it even further.

    As commenter Bruce True (on the above post) explains, one of the reasons we create legal rights to benefit from genetic or other non-moral endowments is that supposedly everyone benefits from individuals having a private reward from exploiting them. But this is not the same as claiming we are individually morally entitled to exploit our traits.

    As I put it, “the reason we wish a private reward for talented individuals is that their gift benefits others. There’s still no moral entitlement to its fruits. We would do very well to keep this in mind when we consider what portion of the benefit of one’s labor one is entitled to, and how much society is entitled to for the favor of enforcing one’s right to exploit one’s undeserved genetic gifts.”

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  12. Also: at least in sub-Saharan Africa, one writer finds that increasing violence in a society leads to greater male power (versus female power):

    “According to Saidi (2010, pp. 12-19), sub-Saharan Africa saw a relative shift of power from women to men from around 1500 onward—apparently as a result of warfare induced by the slave trade. On the one hand, war enhanced the prestige of men through the plundered wealth they brought to their communities. On the other, women looked to men for protection during times of war.”

    (Peter Frost of Evo and Proud, explaining C. Saidi, in “Are African Women Oppressed?”)

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

  13. Hey,

    So, yeah, I know it sucks when guys “project all the correlates of being a good lay.” Soo annoying right?

    Maybe you could tell us some stories about that? Like what these correlates are? And how they are projected? What are the most effective ways of projecting such correlates?

    Wiploc

    April 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  14. Re: Warfare increasing Male power:

    Could it also be simply that warfare disproportionately kills men (or sells them to slavery)? And that a supply shortage of available husbands increases their power?

    April 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm

  15. Sorry, should have read the entire post before posting my previous comment. I see you already mentioned it. Please delete these comments if you like.

    April 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm

  16. In response to JasonSL's first comment – few things are as irritating to me as a man learning to project all the correlates of being a good lay, but not, in fact, being a good lay. That is my personal cross to bear, though.

    If this happens with enough frequency that it's a perennial peeve, doesn't that mean that the correlates you're using aren't very good? Are there women you know who have a large enough sample size and who do significantly better or worse than you do? When you find the sex disappointing, are the signs that mislead you the sort that PUAs work to develop? Or some other kind?

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

  17. Maybe you could tell us some stories about that? Like what these correlates are? And how they are projected? What are the most effective ways of projecting such correlates?

    Yeah, 'cause that would totally promote my interest in receiving good information . . .

    But I'll answer your question. Most people who are naturally great in bed are very body-aware, confident, and respectful without being subservient. They are good at eye contact, social touching, and nonverbal communication. They are horny but not hard-up. They are playful cooperators, and respond well to playful teasing and even throw it back. They are sensually aware and are interested in receiving sensual pleasure and in watching others receive sensual pleasure.

    Unfortunately, a man without that natural orientation toward his senses and the senses of others can nonetheless learn to appear to have this orientation. The illusion won't last long (unless you're in one of those societies that doesn't let you try before you buy . . . ), but potentially long enough to have some mediocre, disappointing sex.

    I'm very much in favor of Game – I just wish it was more often packaged with a norm against false advertising of this sort. I mean, if you're going to take the time to learn bullshit like astrology, maybe spend the same amount studying actual sex?

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

  18. i, I think it's a possibility – I'm not aware of gender ratios changing during the relevant periods, but I haven't read the Saidi book.

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm

  19. If this happens with enough frequency that it's a perennial peeve, doesn't that mean that the correlates you're using aren't very good?

    Yes. I wish I had better ones. I'm constantly developing them.

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm

  20. TGGP: Jason Malloy says a high ratio of men to women is more socially desirable.

    SisterY: TGGP, even if sexually deprived men were well-behaved, I do not think that justifies keeping them sex-deprived, either by maintaining an even gender ratio or by incentivizing women not to have sex with them for pleasure.

    It's unclear whether it's sexual deprivation itself that's doing the work in keeping men better-behaved. Men desire sex, and being deprived of sex causes them suffering, but men also desire status and power. The value of a trophy wife is less that the sex with her is actually that much better in a vacuum — rather, the value derives from elevating one's status, and secondarily from hotter sex as a consequence of knowing that one has bagged a prize.

    Status is zero-sum, but sex isn't. Keeping men status-deprived may be enough to get them to behave better, even if women are freer across the board with their sexual resources. Encouraging women to have sex for pleasure seems to be the easiest and least-coercive way of alleviating male suffering from sex-deprivation. Similarly, discouraging jealousy among men facilitates this mildly-polyandrous arrangement. Jealousy is partly inherent, but it's also partly learned, just like relative prudery among women. To the extent that we can reduce suffering that owes to social limitations on the sex women have and social encouragement of male sexual jealousy, we should.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

  21. Encouraging women to have sex for pleasure seems to be the easiest and least-coercive way of alleviating male suffering from sex-deprivation. Similarly, discouraging jealousy among men facilitates this mildly-polyandrous arrangement. Jealousy is partly inherent, but it's also partly learned, just like relative prudery among women. To the extent that we can reduce suffering that owes to social limitations on the sex women have and social encouragement of male sexual jealousy, we should.

    I could not agree more heartily!

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm

  22. I'm very much in favor of Game – I just wish it was more often packaged with a norm against false advertising of this sort.

    Yes. I wish I had better ones. I'm constantly developing them.

    It seems like this, then, is a welfare-enhancing function of gossip. Men have no incentive to actually improve their sexual services instead of falsely advertising them or, to speak polemically, “perpetrating psychic violence” against women if those techniques provide a greater return on investment. Women can share notes on a man's performance, which increases the value to a man of improving his services relative to the other aspects of game.

    The problem is that gossip communities aren't expansive and dense enough for this to work with men who meet women in disparate social circles. I wonder whether, if men's ability to falsely advertise develops faster than women's ability to discern the truth, we'll see an increase in male prostitution, where a number of women have prescreened the prospective partner, and potential clients can effectively do gossip over the internet without knowing their gossipmates.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  23. Isn't a 25 year-old a future 70-year old? And I didn't see him justifying negative behavior toward individual women anywhere in the thread.

    He says that a lot of women should be fired because their mothers and grandmothers are recipients of SS and Medicare, and their mothers and grandmothers are of the same sex. He does not say that their male co-workers should also be fired. Even if you consider that implicit, he's selecting for kinds of workers to fire on the basis of the probability that they're female.

    A present 25-year-old is indeed a future 70-year-old, but a present 70-year-old is not a current 25-year-old. Unfair benefits accruing to present 70-year-olds does not justify penalizing current 25-year-olds.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  24. “But I'll answer your question. … ”

    Thanks! Sounds too hard though. Guess I'll stick with men.

    “… hard … stick . .with men.” It's already sounding better

    Wiploc

    April 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  25. “Women can share notes on a man's performance, which increases the value to a man of improving his services relative to the other aspects of game.”

    A yelp-like site for reviewing male performance?

    Anonymous

    April 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

  26. The problem is that gossip communities aren't expansive and dense enough for this to work with men who meet women in disparate social circles. I wonder whether, if men's ability to falsely advertise develops faster than women's ability to discern the truth, we'll see an increase in male prostitution, where a number of women have prescreened the prospective partner, and potential clients can effectively do gossip over the internet without knowing their gossipmates.

    My girlfriends and I pass around our boyfriends (and each other). There's still an enormous oversupply of high-quality male sex partners, lucky for us.

    Social networking sites with rating systems geared to similarity of taste (like with Netflix) could be helpful here.

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  27. The examples you mentioned are not income redistribution because everyone benefits from them (e.g., everyone benefits from defence), but only the recipient benefits from social programs. NOW, the National Organization of Women, admits that social programs (which are about half the US budget) mostly benefit women.

    This is now OT, but not everyone benefits equally from military spending. Military contractors, for example, benefit a whole lot more than the rest of us. People who have the most property to lose benefit the most from enforcement of property rights, etc.

    And conversely with social programs, especially those that benefit the young and the poor. Poorer people are more likely to commit crimes for reasons that have in part to do with the fact that they're poor. Poor people diminish their neighbors' property values. Better-educated and healthier children provide large positive externalities to society generally.

    Why is sex a relevant classifier here? What if the poster you quoted had blood type A, and it turned out that social spending went disproportionately to recipients with blood type O?

    I will leave it to W&N to defend himself from your irrelevant and unsubstantiated ad hominem.

    I can see how you thought I was making an ad hominem attack w/r/t sexual harassment; perhaps I should have been clearer. The poster (W&N) cites a number of sexual harassment complaints against him as evidence that society unfairly takes from men to give to women. This would indeed be unfair if the complaints were baseless. But sexual harassment complaints do not fall out of the sky like hailstones — they're especially likely to be filed against men who sexually harass. W&N may, by bad luck, be in an environment where women are especially likely to file unjustified complaints, but given that most men, even in such environments, have zero complaints filed against them, the fact that he's had many provides evidence that there is something dysfunctional in his relationship with women. If this is the case, then the complaints are not baseless, and their existence owes not to unfair treatment of men relative to women, but to this particular man's difficulty in interacting with women.

    It's as if you make bets on the outcome of boxing matches and do a lot worse than chance, and then say that the people you're betting with must have it in for you. Well, first you need to compare how well you do betting against those people to how others do betting against the same people. If you're the only one consistently doing really poorly, then it's a lot more likely that you're simply bad at picking winning fighters. This doesn't mean you're a bad person.

    It just so happens that my argument against W&N, which is structurally the same as this boxing example, makes him look bad.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

  28. Sexual jealousy (and perhaps especially male sexual jealousy) strikes me as a fairly profound source of commonplace suffering, and I am personally very skeptical that it is significantly learned or trainable. If sexual jealousy is largely intractable, it seems possible that “slut stigma” and culturally reinforced monogamy, by discouraging jealousy-triggering behavior, might serve to prevent or alleviate a great deal of psychic pain.

    Another slice of bioreality that shouldn't be forgotten is that women tend to form emotional bonds with sex partners. This makes adaptive sense in the context of mate selection and childrearing, but it may also mean that encouraging greater sexual freedom — in the cultural arena — could have a net downside for many women who will suffer from emotional dissonance and depletion after sexual encounters.

    I'm not suggesting that such factors rebut your analysis; it just seems that it is important to consider the dimensions of suffering that might increase under a more licentious social order.

    Chip

    April 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  29. Chip, agreed. The costs of sexual jealousy are huge, both in suffering and in violence, and I don't think sexual jealousy is learned (I couldn't learn it, and I know many people who have tried and couldn't un-learn it – and the rate of wife killing varies much less by country than the rate of other homicides varies by country, indicating it's somewhat culturally independent). I think there is a huge group of people – perhaps the majority, even the vast majority – who are naturally inclined to monogamy, and would suffer greatly from attempts to live in the manner I suggest. What is necessary is pluralism. (My boyfriend suggests that there should be something like a Kinsey sexuality scale for mono-poly.)

    I can't speak for the desire for emotional closeness, as to me it has always seemed separable from the desire to restrict one's partner's sexual expression. I understand that is not the case for most people.

    We should expect our evolutionarily/culturally received norms to be at best local maxima of well-being for those in power – far from the global maxima of well-being for all that conservatives generally assume them to be.

    Sister Y

    April 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

  30. Sister, as long we're willing to entertain far-out possibilities (like radically changing the sex ratio), how about this “solution” to sexual jealousy: Universal bisexuality.

    There's at least some evidence that sexuality, while it's almost certainly biological, isn't unchangeable. That is, we have both male and female “wiring” in the brain, and only one gets turned on at a time. I strongly suspect this is true for men, especially (how else to explain the almost exclusively male phenomenon of people who are stereotypically masculine in every way, except they want to wear dresses?)

    At the very least, that would equalize the supply and demand.

    Unfortunately, I think most straight men would view such a proposal with antipathy, a view I (as a gay male) find strange. As I believe sex is a good thing, I'd love to be attracted to women as well, and would happily take a pill to do it. The more the better.

    Anonymous

    April 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm

  31. Some or most or all of sexual jealousy may not be learned, but the way people manage it and act in response to it is.

    People can run with the emotion, and let it justify all sorts of destructive behavior. People, especially men, are encouraged to display it and act on it — until recently in many states (or still?), murdering your spouse's paramour incurred a more lenient sentence than other forms of un-premeditated murder. Men who are fine with their girlfriends or wives enjoying sex on the side are seen as something short of “red-blooded men”–it's bad enough to be cuckolded, but to acquiesce to cuckoldry? Society is more sympathetic to women who put up with (why can't it be, “are fine with”, or even, “encourage”?) a philandering husband.

    Because jealousy can be so valorized, I'm suspicion of just how much people who try to unlearn it put their hearts into it. And likewise, for the rare person like Sister Y (or myself) who seems to have been born with the sexual jealousy module missing or installed in reverse, I doubt that one would be able stop self-limiting in an effort to pick it up.

    So we need to stop valorizing jealousy, while at the same time not trying to shame people for it, which would be unnecessarily harmful as well as counterproductive in an effort to lessen the negative effects of jealousy. (Although, there are polygynandrous cultures that *do* shame jealousy, as well as what the Panoan Matis of South America call, using a single word, “stinginess with one's genitals”. That these polygynandrous cultures, which exhibit a lot less jealousy than monogamous ones, exist makes me doubtful that jealousy–either the emotion itself or the negative responses we have to it–is entirely unlearned.)

    Jealousy should be treated like fear or guilt — it's something we should learn to let pass by and not cause us to do things harmful or limiting to ourself or others. Instead we seize on it and consider it a justification or even an imperative.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm

  32. Anonymous: There's at least some evidence that sexuality, while it's almost certainly biological, isn't unchangeable.

    The link you cite is for a study on fruit flies. Bisexuals will often say that the frequency of women versus men that interest them fluctuates over time, but there's a distinction between changeability in the sense of inconstancy and changeability in the sense of manipulability that is directable and sustainable.

    That is, we have both male and female “wiring” in the brain, and only one gets turned on at a time. I strongly suspect this is true for men, especially (how else to explain the almost exclusively male phenomenon of people who are stereotypically masculine in every way, except they want to wear dresses?)

    I'm doubtful that it's not a mistake to conceive of attraction to men as a female phenomenon (whether you want to call it “wiring” or something else) and attraction to women as a male phenomenon. I'm not aware of studies on this; all I can say is that from personal experience talking with male and female bisexuals, many feel their attraction to one sex to be seamless with their attraction to the other. I for one find that a chiefer division among my modes of attraction than sex of the attracting person is whether it's more of a buddy/partner kind of attraction or more of a pretty-thing-that-I-want-to-pound kind of attraction. The former correlates with generally older people, people I admire, people who are intelligent and confident, and people I would get along with and want to be friends with apart from sexual interest; the latter with people younger than me and people who are physically beautiful. I suppose you could call the former a “female” mode of attraction and the latter a “male” mode, but this seems odd, as the partitioning into these two categories of people who attract me is similar for men and women. If you try hard enough, you'll always be able to align the elements of one dichotomy with those of another, but an effort to do so here seems like it would amount to petitio principii.

    Masculine, heterosexual men who dress up like women do not, generally speaking, think like women.

    As I believe sex is a good thing, I'd love to be attracted to women as well, and would happily take a pill to do it. The more the better.

    Desiring something is not the same as deriving enjoyment from something, and neither is any guarantee of acquiring something. Desire is evolutionarily advantageous, but most human suffering — that which does not owe to physical pain or ill health — derives from frustrated desires.

    JasonSL

    April 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm

  33. Some of the sociobiology-related links here might be of interest to some readers of this piquant comments thread.

    Rob

    April 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm

  34. What to be jealous about would seem to be dependent on one's environment to me. What about the Sex at Dawn theory of foragers having many sex partners and being mostly peaceful? If we are somewhere between a tournament species and a pair-bonding species, it seems possible that our social environment could push us one way or the other

    neq1

    April 5, 2011 at 3:02 am

  35. JasonSL:

    Thanks for your comments there. Of course, I don't want to push a theory based on fruit flies too hard. After all, human sexuality is more complicated than flies. Although, I will point out that studies with mice have reached similar conclusions. And while, again, humans are more complicated than mice, in the raw, basic, pure attraction of one sex for the other, I wonder if we're really that different.

    I think most researchers agree that sexuality is heavily influenced by prenatal conditions. To throw in an personal example, I'm gay. My identical twin brother is straight. To me, it seems vastly more plausible that we both share the same basic neurons with one switch rather than having developed completely different sets in utero.

    As Simon LeVay, about as mainstream a sexuality researcher as I can think of, put it in his recent book (which I very highly recommend) Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why when summing up the current state of research:

    There are suggestions that brain circuitry capable of mediating sexual attraction to the nonpreferred sex does exist in adult animals and humans, but is functionally disabled by inhibition from brain centers concerned with attraction to the preferred sex.

    My ideas may be crazy, but they aren't that crazy.

    As for cross-dressers, I'll take your word for it, as it's something I know very little about.

    Sorry for the slight thread derail, Sister Y. Love the blog.

    Anonymous

    April 5, 2011 at 4:01 am

  36. neq1, “we” exist as a distribution of individuals, with some of us better or worse at monogamy, and some of us better or worse at polygamy (some people are bad at both!). I think you're right that the central tendency is somewhere between comfortable polygamy and comfortable monogamy: we've had too much time as farmers to be polygamous but not enough time to be comfortably monogamous. Conceivably over the next twenty generations or so things could be worked out more felicitously — perhaps even assortative mating wherein people predisposed toward polygamy have children together and people predisposed toward monogamy people have children together.

    By “tournament species” do you mean polygyny w/r/t sex or w/r/t paternity? That is, are males fighting each other or is their sperm?

    JasonSL

    April 5, 2011 at 4:02 am

  37. Hi Anonymous,

    I'm not a neurologist and don't have much lay knowledge in that area either (by the standards of a natural scientist, at least), but it does seem that since a previously absent (post-utero) attraction to (persons of) a sex cannot be brought about by hormonal treatment, there must some sort of brain-architecture difference between gays and straights. It's possible that, relative to comparably significant differences among humans, the difference in brain architecture causing differences in sexual orientation is minor, but this doesn't necessarily mean that we'll be able to modulate it through surgery or medication especially easily.

    I'm curious about you and your brother. Sexual orientation is of course far richer than simply “gay/straight” — the sex of our objects of lust and affection is just one of many dimensions. Aside from your being interested in (some) men and his being interested in (some) women, are your sexualities otherwise similar? I don't think anyone's done any research on this, which is a shame.

    JasonSL

    April 5, 2011 at 4:25 am

  38. “People in many small-scale societies believe that a human fetus is formed by many repeated ejaculations of sperm into the womb. This belief means that a child can have multiple fathers, who share paternity according to the number of times they had sex with the mother prior to birth (in anthropological parlance, 'partible paternity'). In response to this cultural belief, women in many of these societies actively seek out extramarital copulations, often to provide their child with extra fathers. And, while male jealously from the husband is sometimes a problem, it is regarded as socially inappropriate and thus suppressed.” (Source, one of whose co-authors is an expert witness in the BC polygamy case.)

    Rob

    April 5, 2011 at 4:51 am

  39. Rob, what is “a problem”? Is it a problem like an uncle at family gatherings who has trouble pacing himself with the alcohol, and becomes boorish and starts ranting and you have to lead him gently to the living room so he can be sedated by the television, or is it a problem like a man who sees another man ogling his woman and picks a fight, and someone ends up with a punctured lung? Do we have any idea how much the jealous man suffers silently?

    I personally would love to believe that jealousy is broadly surmountable. But given the deep-seated jealousy I observe (the reactions to which are in part responsible for the sundering of a six-year relationship that I thought was to be for life), and the fact that forager societies have been largely genetically separated from agricultural societies in which monogamy-favoring alleles have proliferated, I'm skeptical that culture is the chief barrier to happy polygynandry for present-day children of agriculturalists.

    On the flip side, I question the implicit assumption in, “In response to this cultural belief. . .”. What you quote implies that this polygynandrous arrangement only works because people (male and female) erroneously believe that paternity is partible. This implies that if men (at the minimum) understood the truth of single-father paternity, acceptance of women taking multiple mates would falter. It further implies that women's desire for multiple partners owes to error. Why couldn't it be that women (unconsciously) seek out men with competitive sperm, or that women seek genetic diversity among their children?

    JasonSL

    April 5, 2011 at 6:00 am

  40. I think this write-up is almost totally agreeable EXCEPT in the concluding part, where it treats continuation of our species as a good thing, even its “success”. http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

    Sister Y, I don't understand why you separate “seduction” from marriage and prostitution: after all, giving gifts, make up and everything too costs money.

    The “natural” sex ratio for humans is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.05 males, which is the exact opposite of what is suggested for reducing sexual frustration. And why not? Overproduction / variation is a necessary component in evolution, and “selection” is the another. Nature loves there to be a lot more men than are needed to satisfy women (and a lot more men than can be satisfied) so that the men shed each other's blood until the fittest survive / get selected to complete the cycle.

    This post came suddenly, and there are SO many comments! I have been only through the first few of those yet.

    Srikant

    April 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

  41. After universal bisexuality has been suggested as a “solution” … how about universal homosexuality?

    I am also homosexual, and I feel very put off by how much the bodily beauty of men is undervalued (Sister Y in a way seems to agree with me, since she says there's an oversupply of sex from men for women) — and if we have more men and fewer men, it will be further undervalued.

    I come a place where male homosexuals are ridiculed, and I feel it could be because they are seen as “underambitious”.

    Anonymous

    April 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm

  42. I'm at work and don't have time to look up the source, but I remember seeing some data — it may have been on Steve Sailer's blog — about population differences in sexual jealousy. Plenty of room to argue over why, but my hunch is that divergent natural histories play a role. This would probably tie in with the Sex at Dawn thesis, but I haven't read the book.

    Two good books on jealousy:

    ~The Dangerous Passion, by David Buss
    ~This Sweet Sickness, by Patricia Highsmith

    The latter title is, of course, a novel — and a kind of rejoinder to Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. It's worth reading because it provides a wincingly accurate account of the anguish that people experience.

    Somewhat controversially, the beleaguered sexologist Michael Bailey argues that hetero cross-dressing can often be explained in terms of autogynephilia, which is posited (with substantial evidence from personal histories) as a sort of inverted male heterosexual response that typically locks in at adolescence. See his book, “The Man Who would be Queen.”

    Chip

    April 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  43. Srikant – I don't understand why you separate “seduction” from marriage and prostitution: after all, giving gifts, make up and everything too costs money.

    First, I am arguing against moral entitlement to receive support, money, or even gifts in exchange for sex. One group is not morally entitled to receive resources from another group solely based on an accident of birth and need. Second, there is a widespread intuition, perhaps moral but perhaps merely aesthetic, that pure mutual gift sex is the ideal. Sex even seems to lose some of its value when provided as a market commodity (thought certainly not all its value, else there wouldn't be prostitutes). I am arguing that our norms should, if anything, promote pure gift sex, not the cartel/extortion of marriage or prostitution.

    I wonder what is more demoralizing for a man (hetero or homo) – to hire a prostitute, or to receive a pity fuck?

    Sister Y

    April 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

  44. Anonymous – yes! Part of the reason the sex market fails to clear is majority obligate heterosexuality. Is it insulting to posit that heterosexuality may be a curable condition? <3 Unfortunately, for the time being, bisexuality is a privilege.

    Chip – thanks. Dan Savage wrote a really good piece on autogynephilia a few years ago.

    Sister Y

    April 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm

  45. Perhaps we could move closer to a “cleared” sexual market if young men and women were given real sex education — as in, “how to have good sex.” Women obviously find men attractive; why else would Justin Bieber have a career? But adolescent sex is notoriously clumsy, and one's first experience with such an emotionally charged part of life can really warp one's attitude. Speaking from personal experience, my deflowering was a horrorshow that put me off sex with men for years — and I had been extremely attracted to the male in question since I was 13! Anecdotal evidence suggests that if vaginal penetration continues long enough, a man will get off, but a woman might just be in pain.

    If, before they were allowed access to young women, young men were trained and informed (perhaps by sexually experienced women employed by schools, which in this scenario would probably have to be sex-segregated from about 8 years till after sex ed came to its satisfying conclusion) who already knew how great the act can be when done right, adult women would do less masturbating over Brad Pitt and have more actual sex with men they actually knew, and a better outcome might occur.

    Although I'm sure a few cases would backfire into a perpetual cougar fetish, this might actually serve (now that I think about it) to also even out the market for older women's sexual needs, which (come to think of it, I wish this post had addressed this) are often just as painfully neglected later in life as men's are near the beginning.

    (By the way, older guys, if you're perpetually mooning over women thirty years your junior and snubbing the ones in your own decade of life, you are going to have a harder time getting any sex at all… if you're afraid of older women's issues, you might want to think about the fact that some of those issues might be the result of falling from being the post of most desirable creature in the world to a target worthy merely of ridicule simply because the earth has gone on going around the sun. I know, payback is a bitch, but empathy is a grown-up quality.)

    And yeah, ending obligatory heterosexuality might help, but then again women tend to be more bisexual than men, so it would do more to help women. And porn.

    Ann Sterzinger

    April 5, 2011 at 8:26 pm

  46. WOW. I think I just made an argument for state-sponsored prostitutes in high school. My logic is craaaaazeeee today. Plague Doctor, would you and White n Nerdy be OK with paying taxes for that, or would we have to use volunteers? Just find the female-pedophile section in the local jail and switch their sentences to community service, maybe? We'd actually save tax money that way, come to think of it…

    Ann Sterzinger

    April 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm

  47. 3. Children are not the only reason for monogammy, here is also the STD aspect (a kind of 'negatibe externality' of promiscuity).

    4. You are arguing for an Orwellian definition of freedom: freedom of contract and freedom of expression are seen as exploitative and oppressive, whereas absensce of freedom of contract and absence of freedom of expression are seen as true freedom.

    Regarding freedom of expression: The article obfuscates the difference between “slut shaming” and legal prohibitions against sluttery. “Slut shaming” is just a manifestation of freedom of speech, not a restriction of freedom. You can't have freedom without the responsibility to suffer the consequences. As Ferdinand Bardamu puts it: “Feminists in particular start shouting in these situations “YOU DON’T CONTROL MY BODY I CAN DO WHAT I LIKE YOU MISOGYNIST”. Of course you can do what you like, you silly girl. But you don’t live in a vacuum – every action you take has consequences. Respect is repaid with respect…derision repaid with the same. Ye reap what ye hath sown.” [context]

    Women already have freedom of choice: nowadays, nobody is arguing for treating women as cattle or stoning them to death for consensual premarital or extramarital sex, so it isn't clear who you are arguing against. Looks like Sister Y is the one with the “discontent” about female choice. It it is the prostitute, moreso than the slut, who plays the role of a 'scab', by breaking the restrictive stronghold of the pussy cartel.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 6, 2011 at 7:11 am

  48. 5. Regarding freedom of contract: yes, monogamy is limitation, but the limitation of monogamy is voluntary. He relevant aspect of gift is voluntariness, not lack of reciprocity or that it is gratis. This distinguishes scabs from sluts, in that scabs evade forced unionism. It is no more a restriction of freedom than agreeing to play a game of chess is limiting because you must obey the rules, or have only one opponent, or a BDSM session is limiting. Indeed the limitation may be enjoyable for both the woman and the man, see e.g. the “Taken in Hand” movement:
    A Taken In Hand relationship is a wholehearted sexually exclusive marriage in which, to the delight of both spouses, the man actively controls the woman. The degree of control and the way the husband retains control vary from Taken In Hand couple to Taken In Hand couple, but in all cases both husband and wife actively want the husband to have the upper hand. No matter how strong, tough and forceful a Taken In Hand wife may be, and no matter how hard she might try to take control in their marriage, she would be aghast if her husband were to let her get the upper hand. Likewise, no matter how loving, kind and considerate the husband may be, he prefers to keep his wife firmly in hand.

    Indeed, if reduction of suffering is the goal, then by all accounts I know of, the happiness-maximizing total number of sex partners equals 1.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 6, 2011 at 7:12 am

  49. 6. Regarding freedom of contract (continued): Marriage and prositution are compared rent-seeking, because they involve extraction of income transfer by restricting access to a resource. However,

    (a) Marriage only incidentally, not necessarily involves wealth transfer. Dating also often involves spending money or buying presents, so no clear line can be drawn. Heck, even escorts will sometimes give freebies for regular customers. Distrinctions with dating are therefore moot. I would argue that protitutes are the only moral, honarable women. 🙂 You call it exploitation; I call that — honesty.

    (b) Abolishing this rent-seeking implies allowing 'tenants' access to the resource without payment, i.e. to allow rape. Instead you suggest subjective whims as determining access instead of money, i.e. the 'landlord' may reject out tenants not because of lack of payment but beacuse he does not like the color of their skin, for example. I don't see how this makes it any better. This does not abolish the rent-seeking behavior, but only shifts the requirements to payment in kind (sufficient “game”) instead of payment in money.

    (c) The distinction between rent-seeking (bad) and profit-seeking (permissible) is spurious, as argued by several libertarian/Austrian economists. If this is the case, it is no more exploitative than a baker asking money is exploiting the need for food, or a therapist asking money is exploiting need for human attention. Not respecting freedom of contract is equivalent to rejecting out those tenants who cannot get a landlord to freely give access, not abolishing the rent-seeking. Quite the opposite of Jason XL, not protecting freedom of contract imposes a MAXIMUM price of ZERO.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 6, 2011 at 7:13 am

  50. 7. The problem with “game” advice is that it is a crock of shit. Not because it is “dishonest” to women as manginas claim, but because being a woman-pleasing dancing monkey is fucking degrading to men and doesn't work anyway. Th only thing this mess of cliché advice and regurgitated evo-psycho voodoo is good for is filling the money coffers of the PUA gurus. The whole thing is based on the infantile notion that you can make someone like you. As Awake writes:
    College taught me a lot about people at their core though. You can try to be good, you can try to be socially accepted and as high-status as you want but in the end, nobody really cares. It is like doing magic tricks for a dog.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 6, 2011 at 7:14 am

  51. 8. I and my esteemed colleague stongly endorse Sister Y's solution of increasing the female to male ration! All for the good of the human race, of course!

    9. “most men […] benefit directly from enhanced female choice”. You must be joking? As other bloggers have pointed out, unconstrained female choice is only good for the topmost popular men. Leveraging their income is one of the few ways unpopular males can improve their value on the sexual market. Free female choice would tend to serial monogamy with the most polpular males, or soft polygyny, not monogamy, and certainly not polyandry.

    Anyway, this whole discussion is pointless because as soon as realistic sex robots hit the market, civilization will collapse.

    The Plague Doctor

    April 6, 2011 at 7:17 am

  52. Plague Doctor,

    This post is based that on the notion that sex is a different kind of commodity, which is best given and received as a free gift. One “reason” for this is that a person is born sexy or not. While it is true we can employ exercise, make-up and dietary measures to be sexier, we can't influence that all that much.

    Sex is very special in that many would enjoy getting it as a free gift from an “averagely” sexy person than pay an ultrasexy person to get it. Indeed, that a person would have sex for money makes them considerably less sexy, whatever their phisique or vital statistics.

    In this context, I remember the “Would you sleep with me for five million pounds?” joke attributed to Winston Churchill. http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/what_kind_of_woman_do_you_take_me_for_madam_weve_already_established_that_c/

    Srikant

    April 6, 2011 at 8:40 am

  53. Plague Doctor,

    Your point #5, however, is very strong. While it has already been argued that sexual jealousy might be just an offshoot of the prevailing monogamy/monoandry norm, I am not sure of it. This particular “free gift” does become immensely more valuable when it is exclusive too.

    However, as long as the number of heterosexual sex-desiring men and women differs, there will be sexual frustration unless at least some individuals violate monogamy/monoandry.

    I must note, however, that when polygamy was acceptable, it was practised too, but now I don't think many men want multiple wives. Then again, it could just be that supporting multiple wives has become just too difficult. Even though women can now support themselves, I think most countries' laws make it obligatory for a man to support his wife if she doesn't make enough money (even if that's because she's plain lazy) — and that, even after a divorce! Blood-boilingly, however, I don't think it is commonly mandatory for people to support their children (especially sons) after they reach a certain age.

    Srikant

    Anonymous

    April 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

  54. Ann – sign me up!

    The oversupply of male sexual services is immense, such that even extremely attractive young guys have a hard time even getting access to ancient, withered vaginas like mine. Unrelated to age, one study found that being overweight, as a female, actually increases your odds of getting laid: “Overweight (92.5%) and obese (91.5%) women are significantly more likely ever to have had sexual intercourse with men than normal-weight women (87.4%).” It's like there's a premium on unattractiveness, for women who prefer sex for its own sake.

    In fact, in an unscientific experiment, I found that as a female, seriously understating one's attractiveness, and even lying to make one appear less attractive (overstating age and weight) is associated with greater interest from higher-quality males in non-monetary online casual sex markets. There is such an extreme dearth of females honestly seeking sex for its own sake that attractiveness is a signal that one is fake (or a prostitute). I think this finding (that in an online dating forum, women whose ratings were mixed received more attention than those with consistently high ratings) is a function of that.

    It is good for a market participant to have an unusual preference – if you're a man who prefers overweight or older women, you're in a much better position to have your sexual needs met than one who prefers the cultural and reproductive ideal. (Still, I don't think sexual desires themselves have moral connotations – being sexually shallow is no moral blemish.)

    Sister Y

    April 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

  55. Plague Doctor – thank you for your multi-part response – it's going to take me a while to respond, but I will try to do so piecemeal over the next few days.

    Sister Y

    April 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

  56. One thing I want to point out in response to Plague Doctor's point 4. I actually agree with Bardamu's statement – we are not morally obligated to respect the behavioral choices of others. “Slut shaming” is not and should not be punished – it's inherently political speech.

    But I think both males and females need to realize whose interests, exactly, they are promoting when they engage in this kind of derision. It's essentially imposing a cost on a free, mutually beneficial, extremely fun exchange – for the good of people whose bodies are not involved. A woman engaging in slut shaming is saying, “you are wrong to have sex freely; you, like me, should treat your body as a commodity and keep it restricted in order to sell it for a higher price.” A man engaging in slut shaming is saying: “you are wrong to have sex freely; you should make me and others exchange resources for it.”

    If that's what they really believe, fine, but it's nonetheless a repugnant message.

    Sister Y

    April 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  57. In response to Plague Doctor's Point 6 – I think the argument I'm making here is an extremely radical one and more general than just the sex case. I do not think we are strongly entitled to benefit from any of our genetic endowment. (See this comment and my reply.)

    I am making a distinction, though: body ownership without entitlement to benefit. Body ownership precludes allowing rape. What I am essentially saying is, it causes great harm to people to usurp their bodies for the alleged public good, yet people have no special moral entitlement to exploit what is essentially a windfall.

    This is similar, though not identical, to the case of the sale of human blood. None of us should have his blood forcibly taken to save the life of another. In many countries, however, blood was and is freely donated to help those who need it. Some countries (the United States is one) began to allow individuals to sell their blood; not shockingly, in those countries, both the available blood supply and the quality of supply went down. People were not giving blood anymore, and the people selling blood were not the healthy, civic-minded people who had originally been donating their blood.

    I actually do think people should be free to sell their blood, and even their organs. But sale is obviously a sub-optimal solution to the problem of blood provision. (Also, while again not tying anyone down and taking their blood against their will, I think injured folks and hemophiliacs are morally entitled to get the blood they need – needing blood is not a morally relevant characteristic to base transfer of wealth upon. Those with blood are not morally entitled to make money off this need.)

    We should be free to heap scorn on those romantic individuals who still donate blood, just as we may heap scorn on slutty women . . . but to whose benefit, exactly?

    Sister Y

    April 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm

  58. Srikant: While it has already been argued that sexual jealousy might be just an offshoot of the prevailing monogamy/monoandry norm, I am not sure of it. This particular “free gift” does become immensely more valuable when it is exclusive too.

    This seems like it might be circular. For sexually jealous people, the gift indeed is immensely more valuable when it is exclusive. And it's not just the gift of sex whose value depends on sexual exclusivity: most of the rest of the value of the relationship does as well. That said, I think there are plenty of cases where one partner almost automatically concludes that the relationship is over when their partner cheats on them, even if they'd on balance be better off with the compromised (and, hopefully, repairable) relationship than with no relationship.

    For non-jealous people, however, the value of the gift is largely independent of whether it comes with exclusivity. If it weren't independent, then these people would be jealous! In fact, if I, as a non-jealous person, were in a non-monogamous relationship and my partner offered to be exclusive with me, I would worry that it meant at least in part that they weren't comfortable with non-monogamy, and that their offer to be monogamous was a bid to guilt me into curtailing my excursions and my freedom to go on them.

    JasonSL

    April 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  59. Plague Doctor: 9. “most men […] benefit directly from enhanced female choice”. You must be joking? As other bloggers have pointed out, unconstrained female choice is only good for the topmost popular men. Leveraging their income is one of the few ways unpopular males can improve their value on the sexual market. Free female choice would tend to serial monogamy with the most polpular males, or soft polygyny, not monogamy, and certainly not polyandry.

    On this point, Plague Doctor and I are closer in agreement. The only way SisterY's preferred arrangement doesn't screw over unpopular males is if the pies women offer are not just distributed differently, but made larger. That is, women not only are not disincentivized against non-monogamy through things like slut-shaming, but they also have more sex generally. An unpopular man thus could enjoy as much sex with his partner, but his partner would also be having sex with more popular men as well.

    I'm not sure this arrangement can be stable, however. From what I gather from talking with and observing heterosexual women and what I read, semi-regular sex with higher-quality males “spoils” a woman such that she gets little pleasure in sex with lower-quality males. So it's not just male jealousy that stands in the way of arrangements where women have relationships with men of the same “quality” as them, but then slip out once a week to bang an alpha.

    JasonSL

    April 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

  60. Plague Doctor: 7. The problem with “game” advice is that it is a crock of shit. Not because it is “dishonest” to women as manginas claim, but because being a woman-pleasing dancing monkey is fucking degrading to men and doesn't work anyway. Th only thing this mess of cliché advice and regurgitated evo-psycho voodoo is good for is filling the money coffers of the PUA gurus. The whole thing is based on the infantile notion that you can make someone like you.

    I do agree that men paying to go to PUA training camps or the equivalent are getting hoodwinked as much or more than the women on whom they employ the techniques they learn there.

    That said, being seen as trying to make someone like you in a sexual-romantic context is usually not likely to cause them to like you. But that's not what game is. A lot of it is self-improvement: it's changing the “you” into something that will be more popular. And some of it is getting people to act in a way that will make them feel that they like you.

    Surely your behavior affects how others see you and behave towards you, in general. Game is to a large extent learning the behavior that will make it most likely that someone else will behave towards you in a desirable way. If game is degrading, then so is taking into account others' feelings and motivations in familial or work or other settings and modifying your behavior to produce superior results.

    JasonSL

    April 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm

  61. “Unrelated to age, one study found that being overweight, as a female, actually increases your odds of getting laid:… It's like there's a premium on unattractiveness, for women who prefer sex for its own sake.” – Sister Y

    Isn't this due to different mating strategies of the females, not desirability? I think less attractive females have to compensate by putting out easily, whereas attractive females can be stingy and hold out for a male who will invest a lot in her and her potential offspring.

    April 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

  62. i – yes, I think that's exactly what's going on, to some extent (“If I have sex with him, he'll love me and I'll get to be a wedding princess!”). But it may nonetheless be that fat women's sexual welfare is enhanced by their fatness, because their very lack of an asset to protect frees them from (often) welfare-detrimental protection of said asset. By “asset” I mean beauty of the kind that would allow a woman to demand mutual monogamy and support for life (for her and any number of children she may bear, at her exclusive choice). Without that – and/or with the recognition that such demands are inherently unjust and wrong – one is free to pursue one's pleasure as a free agent, without the humiliation of preserving one's virginity for later sale.

    I like “stingy” as a word choice here!

    Sister Y

    April 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm

  63. Plague Doctor: 5. Regarding freedom of contract: yes, monogamy is limitation, but the limitation of monogamy is voluntary. . . .Indeed the limitation may be enjoyable for both the woman and the man, see e.g. the “Taken in Hand” movement.

    If this truly works for the couples involved, good for them. It sounds like a recipe for battery and dehumanization, however. I don't see how we get objective data on the extent to which this kind of arrangement aggravates or ameliorates suffering.

    I think I sense some general tension between where Sister Y is coming from and where Plague Doctor is coming from. People err. They voluntarily act or make agreements (present choice to limit future choice) that makes things turn out worse for them. This can owe to bad or incomplete information, social pressure, irrationality, etc. To oversimplify, Plague Doctor seems to be more on the side of “as long as everything is voluntary, it's not unjust”, whereas Sister Y seems to think that since various factors make it so that people's voluntary choices lead to bad results and since people wouldn't have made the same choices were they better informed and had different social expectations, etc., justice (or perhaps simply compassion or suffering-minimization) requires that correct these factors.

    I think Plague Doctor's point #2 is a serious one — is Sister Y really respecting people's liberty if she, by argumentation, causes them to change their minds? I think she is. When any of us engages in argumentation, we accept the risk that our minds might be changed in such a way that our present selves would disprefer. Yet we still think it's fine for people to argue, just as it's fine for people to contract. Both are cases of the present self agreeing to or accepting the risk of the future self being coerced. And just as people find that entering into contracts is on balance good for them, people find that engaging with people who disagree with them on balance causes their views to be changed for the better. This is ex-post ratification, which I'm skeptical of as a basis for determining that something is good, but it's ex-post ratification of one's own choices, rather than completely uninvited coercion, and I don't see what the alternative is (at least for already-existing persons).

    JasonSL

    April 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

  64. On the idea of a jealous and a non-jealous subset of the population:

    The idea, I think, is to create a society in which both models function. Monogamy-minded folks should absolutely be able to have monogamous relationships with each other. But they are not, I argue, entitled to impose monogamy on the rest of us – even though our very sluttiness might be said to impair their ability to find and maintain their chosen relationship type.

    Say, to vastly oversimplify, that there are two groups: M and S (for “monogamous” and “slut”). M folks want sexually exclusive relationships. S folks just want to get down.

    Traditionally, it is thought that by allowing an S strategy at all, one precludes the M strategy. This may occur in two ways: (a) people are less willing to enter a mono relationship when they have other options for sex; and (b) people who have committed to a monogamous relationship may be tempted by the existence of other options to stray.

    However, if we believe that people may be either M or S, then it's a benefit to Ms to allow Ss to pursue their sluttiness. If M is the only way to go, then S has to pretend to be an M to get any sex at all. Ms therefore get worse information in a society less opportunity for sluttiness. Given the opportunity for plenty of sex, a true S will just opt out of M strategy altogether, making it more likely only true Ms are pursuing monogamous relationships.

    Sister Y

    April 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm

  65. I think that makes sense. I wonder though: is it just the mating strategy that changes, or the actual sexual welfare utility function? Maybe more attractive females are actually satisfied with less sex?

    Do you know if there are corresponding studies to the one you mentioned to see if overweight women are more/less satisfied with their sex lives?

    In other words:
    Do hot chicks get off on playing hard to get?

    April 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm

  66. Gay (male, at least) communities are an example of a society that's in the direction of the dual-model society Sister Y proposes. M is still privileged, however, in the sense that monogamy is assumed absent explicit arrangements otherwise. But I think there are differences between homosexual and heterosexual communities that make the success of the dual model in the former not necessarily translatable to the latter.

    The distribution of M vs. S preferences and aptitudes may be uneven among males and females. Contrary to popular imagination, most gay men aren't dichotomously “tops” or “bottoms”, so the market isn't prevented from clearing based on an excess of Ms or Ss among one of the two sexes.

    I also think gay men are on the whole less jealous — greater non-monogamy owes not just to an understanding of male sex drives and male thirst for variety such that gay men are more likely to accept a tit-for-tat arrangement, but to inherently lower levels of sexual jealousy. Why being gay makes a man less likely to be jealous I don't know, although I have a rather “deep” and taking-a-long-time-to-explain theory.

    The greater desire for sex among men than women means that less-popular S men may still be nudged out since S women will opt for higher-quality men. Yes, if women start considering sex to be an abundant resource and not a scarce one that needs to be guarded, the absolute quantity of sex less-popular S men receive may not go down, but for reasons discussed by myself and others above, I'm not confident that this will happen.

    Also, relative deprivation sucks absolutely. So you may have some would-be S men having to play M anyway. Which segues into:

    However, if we believe that people may be either M or S, then it's a benefit to Ms to allow Ss to pursue their sluttiness. If M is the only way to go, then S has to pretend to be an M to get any sex at all.

    This is very important, at least in my personal experience. With regard to sex at least, I'm more of an S. I met an M and had a multi-year relationship, and suppressed my sluttiness. I wasn't “pretending”, but my partner knew I would prefer to sleep around now and then. This made him insecure about being able to satisfy me, and made him worry that I was far more sexually discontent than I actually was.
    When I had a series of nervous breakdowns a couple of years ago, he thought I'd be happier if I went and slept around a bit, but then he felt that he ought to as well, and then he met someone and got attached (even though they only were physically intimate once), which, among other things of greater importance, indirectly caused our relationship to fall apart.

    If S weren't an option, then we wouldn't have opened our relationship, and while I think we would have broken up anyway, we may not have and I wasn't in any event feeling sex-deprived — the preference for S over M is mild so long as the sex is good and frequent enough within the M relationship.

    On the other hand, if S were more full-fledged as an option, we may not have gotten together in the first place, as he would have categorized himself as an M and I as an S.

    JasonSL

    April 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm

  67. If the “gamers” are practicing slut-shaming, if to participants in this discussion that may sound strange, it's probably because this post and the comment thread are taking the question on a “for-the-general-good” level, whilst the gurus are selling their secrets for personal profit, and the gamers are trying to beat out competing males on the sex market. We're thinking about a social problem, they're solving an immediate and personal problem. From a gamer's POV it makes perfect sense: snare as many women as possible and KEEP THEM ALL FOR MEEEEEEEEEE!

    Ann Sterzinger

    April 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm

  68. To the anonymous referencing Anton Lavey's research, what do you think of Greg Cochran's theory?

    Alex Tabarrok on those OkCupid results.

    JasonSL, surprised to hear monogamy is the assumed default. I recall reading an article in the NYT or similar paper saying that most civil unions between men were somewhat open.
    I interpret the weight correlation along the bargaining power lines suggested above. The same is the case in inner cities with a skewed sex ratio due to male incarceration. Although weight could also have correlations with impulse control and what some might refer to as “higher” vs “lower” motivations.

    TGGP

    April 8, 2011 at 1:24 am

  69. I think you meant Simon LeVay, LOL.

    Anonymous

    April 8, 2011 at 2:08 am

  70. TGGP,

    I think you mean Simon LeVay. Anton LaVey was the founder of the Church of Satan.

    Chip

    April 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm

  71. TGGP, regardless of the proportion of civil unions that are something other than completely monogamous, the norm is still monogamy. I think it's not so much a “moral” norm as a default. It's like the settings on your web browser: even if most people change the settings, it comes with factory defaults.

    Is this the article?: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html

    The study was completed in 2007 and looked at ~500 gay male couples in the Bay Area. About half were open. There are tons of potential confounds and biases here that make me reluctant to generalize to gay communities worldwide:

    People who choose to live in the Bay Area may be especially predisposed toward sexual liberality (both meanings intended). Living in the Bay Area may also make one become more sexually open.

    The study looked at people who had been together for at least three years. It seems intuitive to me that relationships are more likely to open up over time than they are to close down over time, and so putting a lower-bound on the duration of the relationship selects for longer-term relationships, and thus for relationships that have had more of a chance to become open.

    With regard to overweight women having more sex, that evidently means that there are larger factors at play than hormonal ones. Obesity in women can be contributed to by lower levels of testosterone, which would also weaken the sex drive. So all things being equal, you'd expect women with less testosterone to be less sex-driven and more overweight.

    JasonSL

    April 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

  72. My bad, 2010, not 2007.

    JasonSL

    April 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm

  73. Blogspot ate my post, but I responded to TGGP with something to the effect of saying that whether or not monogamy is the majority arrangement, it's still the default setting. Non-monogamous relationships have the boundaries and conditions negotiated from a starting point of monogamy: couples decide what's allowed, rather than what's not allowed.

    Was this the study?: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html

    The study was of ~500 gay male couples in the S.F. Bay Area. About half were in open relationships of some sort or another. There are some possible confounds and biases with the study:

    It may be there's a selection bias: the Bay Area selects for people with greater sexual liberality (both meanings intended). It may be also that living in the Bay Area makes one become more sexually open.

    The study has a lower bound of three years on the duration of relationships. Since, I believe, couples are more likely to become open after some time than to become closed, the study selects for the kinds of relationships that have had more time to become open.

    JasonSL

    April 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm

  74. Really sorry about the shitty comment-spam-detection system. Unfortunately, it's not optional (they want to force all users to participate in training the spam filter). I'm thinking about moving to another site.

    Sister Y

    April 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm

  75. TGGP: “heteroscedascticity makes you hot” – that is exactly the concept I needed. Not very catchy, though…

    Sister Y

    April 8, 2011 at 6:32 pm

  76. The Plague Doctor said

    “as soon as realistic sex robots hit the market, civilization will collapse”

    A comment made in jest; but of course, it's not true. Human civilization can live with robot dependents, though culture would change. The big change is when “the robots” (here I include artificial intelligences, and the whole “machine kingdome of life”) achieve autonomy from the human race. But that's a different subject.

    Mitchell

    April 9, 2011 at 11:42 am

  77. WordPress is so much better than blogspot.

    TGGP

    April 10, 2011 at 4:34 am

  78. Something I intended to mention a while back but forgot. There is apparently a tradition in normative philosophy for considering acts to be morally required, but nevertheless not sufficient make it right to force someone to act in such a manner. I think I first heard of this concept of “imperfect duties” from Gary Chartier.

    TGGP

    April 10, 2011 at 6:56 am

  79. I read Sapolsky and Share's Olive baboon study that you linked and they found that other troops with a 2:1 female to male ratio were no different in behavior than typical baboon troops. Although perhaps the high F:M ratio is a necessary prerequisite for the other factor that caused the behavioral change.

    Interestingly, however, the reproductive success of the males didn't change with the skewed sex ratio. Male rank was just as correlated with success in the relaxed troop as in the stressed troop. Subordinate males don't appear to have done any better reproductively with the improved sex ratio.

    I haven't read Smuts' book, but I don't think the friendship she reports is common to all baboon species, for example, in Chacma baboons male-female friendships do happen but it's initiated by females as a anti-infanticidal strategy. The friendship lasts only as long as the infant survives. The male doesn't appear to “agree” to the friendship for future mating opportunities either. It hasn't been confirmed, but it's suspected that the male friend is often the infant's father.

    Anonymous

    April 27, 2011 at 8:32 am

  80. Sapolsky and Share found significant differences in anxiety (using two measures) and latency period before first being groomed by a female. They found complicated significant differences in the hierarchy positions between combatants between gender-balanced and gender-skewed troupes. Several other factors did not reach significance.

    Read the Smuts book for a better explanation of the “friendship-as-future-mating-benefit” issue. It may be true that the infant is “often” the offspring of the friend male, but not always and probably not even in the majority of cases for the studied olive baboons.

    Not only is it not common to all baboon species, it's not even common to all olive baboon troupes. That's why it's often described as “cultural.”

    Sister Y

    April 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm


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