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gender wars
The Sexual Revolution’s Unlikely Winners

Modern mobile dating applications are intensifying the hookup culture and tilting the sexual landscape in favor of shallow, boorish young men looking for no-strings-attached sex. That’s the picture that emerges from a long feature story by Vanity Fair‘s Nancy Jo Sales:

Marty, who prefers Hinge to Tinder (“Hinge is my thing”), is no slouch at “racking up girls.” He says he’s slept with 30 to 40 women in the last year: “I sort of play that I could be a boyfriend kind of guy,” in order to win them over, “but then they start wanting me to care more … and I just don’t.”

“Dude, that’s not cool,” Alex chides in his warm way. “I always make a point of disclosing I’m not looking for anything serious. I just wanna hang out, be friends, see what happens … If I were ever in a court of law I could point to the transcript.” But something about the whole scenario seems to bother him, despite all his mild-mannered bravado. “I think to an extent it is, like, sinister,” he says, “ ‘cause I know that the average girl will think that there’s a chance that she can turn the tables. If I were like, Hey, I just wanna bone, very few people would want to meet up with you …

“Do you think this culture is misogynistic?” he asks lightly.

For their part, the women quoted in the story are not quite as gleeful about the new opportunities afforded by the Tinder-powered culture of sex-on-demand:

“It seems like the girls don’t have any control over the situation, and it should not be like that at all,” Fallon says.

“It’s a contest to see who cares less, and guys win a lot at caring less,” Amanda says.

“Sex should stem from emotional intimacy, and it’s the opposite with us right now, and I think it really is kind of destroying females’ self-images,” says Fallon.

“It’s body first, personality second,” says Stephanie.

To be sure, the Vanity Fair story focuses (probably intentionally) on just one aspect of the modern sexual landscape. Men and women’s attitudes toward no-strings-attached-sex are not uniform—many women find it liberating, many men would prefer to opt out altogether, most people of both genders probably find it appealing some of the time, and most ultimately yearn for something more. But the thrust of Sales’ argument—that on the whole, this free-for-all sexual environment is more suited to male than to female preferences—rings true.

To a certain degree, this creates a problem for feminists, who have centered their agenda since the 1960s around loosening sexual strictures that limited the choices that women could make. Partly as a result of feminist-inspired social change, partly for other reasons, we’ve created an environment where young people have virtually unrestricted access to intoxicating substances ranging from alcohol to ecstasy, we’ve removed traditional prohibitions on premarital sex, and we’ve demolished traditional restraints on sexually adventurous behavior by both young men and young women. Yet somehow the sexual utopia has failed to arrive. Instead of creating a gender-blind paradise of sexual bliss, we seem to have constructed an arena of sexual competition that advantages—men.

This is the paradox helping to drive the sex wars on campus: “liberated” sex often works out better for young men than for young women, so efforts to free women from so-called repressive sexual norms sometimes reinforce male privilege rather than challenging it. Some of the more controversial steps by feminists on campus recently, like dramatically expanding the definition of sexual assault under “affirmative consent” policies, are best understood as efforts to compensate for the unintended consequences of past feminist efforts to create more space for free female choice.

These new efforts, clumsy, clunky, and controversial, aren’t likely to work. The core problem can’t be fixed by bureaucratic methods: The culture of no-strings-attached sexual encounters tends to reinforce gender inequalities even if, strictly speaking, consent is granted 100 percent of the time.

The gender wars are at least as old as the human race; the problems on display in the Vanity Fair piece aren’t going to be solved anytime soon. The Tinder generation will have to come up with its own sexual norms. They won’t be the norms of Mad Men, but they won’t be the norms of ‘Marty’, either.

In the meantime, though, it looks as if the big winners of the sexual revolution are the hordes of shallow, privileged men swiping through scantily-clad women on iPhone dating apps. This is not, it seems safe to say, what Betty Friedan had in mind.

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  • SLMNDR

    Not what Betty Friedan had in mind? Because she knew nothing about human nature – how could what she had in mind comport with reality?

  • M Snow

    Not sure about the title. 40 years ago I could have predicted feminist support for promiscuity would not end well for women.

  • rheddles

    Born 50 years too early. Sigh.

    • f1b0nacc1

      I spend a lot of time working with high school students (volunteer work) and folks in their 20s (professional work), and the overwhelming majority of them are deeply unhappy with the state of affairs (sorry about the pun!). I give thanks every day that I was born to early to be trapped in this soul-destroying mess.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The Tom Cats have no empathy and the Billy Goats have no judgment. Who to blame but Betty Friedan and the feminists? TAI can’t think of anyone else.

    • M Snow

      Well, they didn’t encourage callous attitudes to relationships all by themselves. They had plenty of help from Hollywood.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yes, that is unfortunately true. And nearly all of that was done merely to maximize a box office intake, or to capture a TV audience for benefit of the whole range of consumer products and services. Capitalism is cool—-but not in all ways.

  • lfox

    To have a truly loving relationship, you need a few things:
    – Trust – men don’t trust women (to be fair, with some good reason)
    – An equality of respect – too many women treat men like idiots, and berate them like – their MOMS. Any wonder why the guys don’t want to marry Mom?
    – Enough “hard-to-getness” that it serves as a signal that the female won’t just shuck her panties for ANYONE.

    Why is that important? Because a woman who gets pregnant gets all kinds of emotional & financial support. A man whose sperm contribution results in pregnancy gets NADA – worse, he can be held to have to pay for a child not his, with money he has no hope of earning, and with everyone calling him “deadbeat” and “sperm donor”. No respect. No understanding. Doesn’t matter if he was incapable of consenting, that the female deliberately stole his sperm, or that – due to her catting around – the kid isn’t his.

    BTW, I’m a 41-years married female, who works in a STEM field, and who USED to spout the feminist line – no more, I’ve seen too many women who took advantage of their female parts.

    • GS

      As long as he is capable of refusing, it should work. Yes, it takes some self-discipline, but it is doable, even for the teenagers. “Know whom you are dealing with” is a must.

      • CapitalHawk

        “Know whom you are dealing with” is a must.

        An excellent point. This is why we don’t let people get divorced, because knowing who they are dealing with is a must and if they misjudged, well, too bad for them, they are stuck with that decision forever.

        Oh, we don’t do that? Oh, well then I guess you point doesn’t really make sense then, does it?

        • GS

          Perhaps we better do it. And may you get into a divorce settlement wringer, to open your eyes a bit. As Niccolo Machiavelli wrote some 500 years ago, the minds come in three kinds: the first one comprehends on its own; the second one comprehends on being told [or perhaps from seeing the awful and wowful examples of others – the same “being told” by the other means, but that shades into the first kind], the third one does not comprehend even on being told. The second kind is a bare minimum.

          • CapitalHawk

            There is no need to wish hell upon me (divorce settlement wringer) just because I disagree with you on a website. My eyes are open and I’m well aware of the material downsides of divorce. No, I’m not divorced, but I have seen it work its “magic”.

            lfox made a valid point and you then dismissed it by saying that a person needs to know with whom they are dealing. Well, yes. But sometimes you never really find that out even after years of dealing with person.

            Anyway, I actually agree with your point below that we should limit or eliminate “no fault” divorce. It would tend to improve things (and by “things”, I mean a great many things in our culture) over time. But, under current law, a man is much better off getting the milk for free and not buying the cow, no matter how comely she may seem at the time of purchase.

          • GS

            Michelangelo Buonarroti once said to his apprentice Ascanio Condivi: “If you want to prolong your life, engage in coitus not at all or the least you can”. He did practice what he preached, and managed to attain immortality. Speak of getting the milk.

  • Sarastro92

    This would be a lot less of a problem if the girls would get off Tinder and a) actually try to talk to young men they know in person; b) used dating sites/apps rather than hook-up sites.

    Part of this too is that a lot of the women are looking for what they perceive as “hot guys” (who turn out to ED… ha!) ; and guys with a wad of cash, or on an obvious path to big bucks in a Winner Take All demolition derby. So you have too many girls chasing a small minority of guys. So everyone is kinda’ complicit in his/her own misery.

    I’m not a fan of lifelong monogamy, but there has to be an intermediate ground in all this.

  • LarryD

    But it is what Hugh Hefner had in mind, when he gave that grant to the feminists back when.

  • GS

    The traditional Western [aka patriarchal, heteronormative, oppressive… fill in the rest of PC-BS] social norms and mores are the result of at least a millenium [if not two or three] of social evolution. These norms have been tried and found to work [with regard to preserving and propagating the social fabric], while the culture of promiscuity could work – in a group of baboons, or at paleolithic level. If one needs a person to blame, I would suggest the name of Carl Djerassi, the inventor of the contraceptive pill.

    • f1b0nacc1

      No, the inventors of the Pill created something wonderful, but as is so often the case in our culture, we weren’t smart enough to use it properly.

      • GS

        I do not see the promotion of irresponsibility as in any way, form, or shape “wonderful”. If anything, it is the diametrically opposite.

        • Ofer Imanuel

          First, even married couples do not necessarily want to have unlimited number of children (yes, western societies have too few), and the pill or equivalents are neceaary in this regard.
          Second, people should be allowed to cohabitate for a while, to verify that they do fit each other. Otherwise, you are encouraging semi-blind marriage, and a higher rate of divorce.

          • GS

            Nobody is advocating stoning the fornicators [re “should be allowed”]. And the self-control is necessary even for the married couples, believe it or not. As for a “higher rate of divorce” – what I would be encouraging is the abolition or a serious restriction of the “no fault” divorce, with the corresponding correction of the divorce settlements practice [I have witnessed more than a few of the very messy ones. Know whom you are dealing with, and think with the upper head]. What is necessary is not “semi-blind” but “semi-bind”.

        • FriendlyGoat

          I should have my head examined for, once again, messing with your completely upside-down view of everything. But I can’t resist pointing out that “irresponsibility” is men and women actually creating pregnancies/children they cannot support and care for over a 20-year period—-not preventing those results with help from Carl Djerassi.

          • GS

            You do need to have your head examined, that’s for sure. I’m glad that you are coming to this realization. Better late than never, I suppose. First of all, the contraceptives are not failproof. Secondly, there is such a thing as an “entrapment”, sometimes colloquially referred to as a “honeypot”. And we have not even mentioned the assorted “gold-diggers”. Always know whom you are dealing with, and if you do not know or are not quite sure – proceed very cautiously. Think with the upper head only, the lower head is not suited for thinking. I have learned that lesson the hard way in a faraway land, when my then-fiancee reported me to kgb.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, we have found a point of agreement. Guys should absolutely NOT be doing girls they have not vetted for brains and character, and the reverse is equally true. The best route is to vet and vet and vet and then marry them. Happy to report that I have been married over 40 years to only one woman who is the real deal for both brains and character, true to the core. It would probably amuse you to learn that she picked me as much or more than I picked her at first, and that I still find it remarkable as to exactly why.

            So much in this article and the comments seems to be directed at blaming women, feminists and birth control for social/sexual ills. Beats me as to why a bunch of men do not seem to know that they are never relieved from the duty for sense and maturity in a relationship. As you point out, it is crucial to not be tricked by neglecting to FIRST know who you are dealing with—-but, after that, it is crucial for the men to not behave as though they were (your word)—-baboons. Guys owe kindness to girls, and that thought seems to be missing here.

          • GS

            The guys ought to be gentlemen, the only rule that the late General Robert E. Lee used to impose on the students at Washington & Lee University. By the same token, the girls better be ladies.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I knew I should have my head examined for starting this. There are no “screws” to tighten on women who are not ladies unless you’re decamping to Islam. I’m not. We’re past blame the women, excuse the men.

          • GS

            And who was excusing the men? If you want to construct a strawman and then attack it, feel free. The screws are to be tightened on everyone. The existing family law, as it is being practiced, already tightens them on the men somewhat. This ought to be rectified, for example – no child support for the biologically unrelated children.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Good grief, GS. We recently had a discussion on the political impossibility of electing politicians who will reject public education except for those of the highest aptitude. Now you’re proposing a “tightening of screws” on people’s sex lives and/or family law as though that is somehow adoptable in civic society. Can’t we just settle down and ask men to behave like their Grandma’s would have asked them to? We can’t “enact” morality. We CAN jawbone for it.

          • GS

            ??? Education on the lines “cast not your pearls” is NOT only for those of the highest ability – where did you get it? Seek neurologist’s help for your cognitive difficulties, I am serious. Since what constitutes a “swine” is level-dependent, it merely means that the education of any given pupil should be stopped as soon as s/he starts grunting and oinking. For quite a few it would mean the fifth grade. And as for the morality – one could not legislate morality, but there is absolutely no need to do so. What one can do is to raise the costs of immorality so steeply that the people would start behaving even if they otherwise would not have done so. See the works of Han Fei Tzu [of the legalist school], he expounded on this topic with great eloquence about 2250 years ago. In the contemporary parlance, one gets more of what one subsidizes, and less of what one taxes. Therefore, stop subsidizing the immoral behavior, and start taxing/penalizing it.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I want so badly for you to get your right-side candidates for office singing in unison with you—–but, alas, you have already refused. Total waste of choir-director talent and yet the need to get them repeating your beliefs in public is sooooo great. I just love that one about the children grunting and oinking themselves into swine at the fifth grade. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up, yet it appears before our eyes right here in the comment section.

          • GS

            Continue badly wanting, it might [with any luck] give you an ulcer. “Your right-side candidates” – relatively to you, they are “right-side”, relatively to me, they are pinky lefties, for it all depends. And that’s where one needs to have a highly developed, trained cognition. Neither I nor anybody else can give that “divine spark” to a tutoree, that’s a “Lord’s gift” – but from the experience both on the receiving and on the giving ends I do know how to develop it, if it is already there. Hence the selectivity.

          • GS

            And be it known to you that no lesser light than Michelangelo kept referring to his apprentices as continually showing gross ineptitude and beastly stupidity (or was it stupid bestiality? Anyway, that too). If such a genius held them for the stupid beasts they were, then surely we are allowed to concur humbly.

          • FriendlyGoat

            That’ll work on the political stump too.

          • GS

            Cast not your pearls before swine even from a political stump. It only annoys the swine.

          • Boritz

            Lucy still charges 5 cents (for psychiatric services).

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks for reminding me of that source. We can all hang out in the comment section until we NEED to go see Lucy.

  • lhfry

    This is a surprise? Biologically, men gain by spreading their seed as widely as possible; women by capturing one man who will stick around for the kids. It was the genius of a few men several thousand years ago who sought to structure a society in which families based on legally recognized permanent exclusive heterosexual relationships would provide the basis for civilization. Rejecting these “values” has led us to where we are today and if history is any guide, there is no going back. And I’m one who believes it is not necessary to decide whether God created human beings or human beings out of their great imaginative capabilities, created God.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Your last sentence is food for thought. We are certain that men created the Greek and Roman gods, the nature gods (sun, etc), the physical idol gods—–since, oops, they ain’t real. We can suspect that men created the concept of male-dominance as it exists in the Jewish Old Testament, Hinduism and Islam. But how did we manage to get Jesus and The Holy Spirit?

      • Kepha Hor

        What about Mother Nature, The Cosmos, Historical Necessity, Will to Power, and all those other gods worshiped by the liberated? How about “Humanity”? “Liberty”? John Bull? Uncle Sam? Mother Russia? Marianne?

        • FriendlyGoat

          What about them? Do you have a point?

  • Boritz

    Feminist have created Beavis and Butthead heaven.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Wikipedia says Beavis and Butthead were created by Mike Judge, a man with a physics degree who once worked as a programmer for the F-18 fighter. There isn’t much shown on how the feminists made him do this.

      • M Snow

        Feminists created heaven for Beavis and Butthead types.

        • FriendlyGoat

          You’re saying that feminists created girls suitable for and attracted to Beavis and Butthead?

          • M Snow

            Yes, that’s what I’m saying, but they were only a small influence. The major problem, in my view, is the large number of girls growing up without fathers to give them a sense of their own worth as women. Such women (or girls) may crave male attention so much that they allow themselves to be used by the B&B types. Feminism and Hollywood celebrate sexual freedom with little concern for women’s emotional health. It’s all very sad.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I think we can only ask that some guys decide to take leadership in just being kind and tell some other guys that it’s fun to treat people the way you “know” you should and then have a sweet memory that you did. One reason that high school or college-age guys don’t take on the role of surrogate father or brother or cousin or just-plain friend to confused girls enough is that maybe no one in our society is telling them they’d be cool dudes if they did.

          • Kepha Hor

            As a High School teacher who has seen too many promising girls derailed by pregnancy (or the guilt from abortion), I really think we ought to put a few of the baby daddies in the pillory and make the girls walk around with a red A or F (for fornicator) on their garments.

            And we should publicly burn Hugh Hefner and a few others at the stake [sarc]

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, accepting that it was “sarc”, I agree with you that our culture needed less of the Hugh Hefner mindset.

            I also agree (to the extent you do) that we really, really, really need to be talking our boys out of impregnating those girls with a pounding list of why it is not smart, not cool, not kind and not right.

            As for having the girls walk around with the red “A” or “F”, I assume you 1) taught in a private school, or 2) no longer teach, or 3) have your internet postings sufficiently disguised from your real identity—-BECAUSE—-that kind of talk from a public school teacher is inappropriate in almost anyone’s book of thought.

  • stan

    I assume everyone is familiar with the humor pic showing the male control panel and the female control panel. His has a single switch. Hers has a huge array of dials, displays, buttons, switches, etc. Cute, funny, true. Guys know what they want. Always. Women? They think they know… today, depending on whatever. Not surprisingly, they often end up being wrong.

    From my experience, women are rarely accurate in predicting what they think will make them happy.

    • Kepha Hor

      There’s some on near and dear to me who devoted her life to female empowerment. She is, in her old age, one of the most miserable people I know.

  • Kepha Hor

    It all goes to show that the smart, feminist woman is actually a pretty stupid creature. An old-fashioned prostitute at least got paid for what she offered.

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