So I’ve taken a small hiatus from ~fashun blogging~ but never fear, I’ll be back rearin’ to go in 2013 with plenty of advice you may scoff at, then promptly disregard. In the meantime, please enjoy the following non-fashion related piece. Just picture me writing it in soft lighting, boyfriend jeans, and a 20-ft long scarf artfully draped around my swan-like neck. Ta-daaaaaa fashion.
Is our desire for P in the V increasing as our morality plummets, or are we just enjoying the sexual freedom that comes when death by stoning is off the table?
Dr. Peggy Drexler, gender scholar extraordinaire, recently published The Scarlet Manifesto: The Rise of the Adulterous Woman, identifying said rise based on a study for match.com by biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher. The study claims men have become more traditional concerning sex and relationships while women have simultaneously become less so. According to Drexler’s Manifesto, “Men want marriage, babies, and stability; women want personal space and regular nights out with friends. More poignantly, women view their sexuality based on notions of what they want to do, versus what they’re told they should do.”1 She goes on to give several personal anecdotes about some lady friends who unabashedly engage in extramarital affairs. Evidently, Dr. Drexler is viewing the data through glasses heavily tinted with her pals’ crumbling marriages, and not, as she should, through History’s telling eye.
Let’s put aside indignation over Drexler’s assumption that all women want families and babies and prioritizing a night out with friends is weird, not to mention the disservice she does to men when labeling their want for stability a “nontraditional” icky lady-feeling. Save that righteous fury for her primary conclusion: adultery in women is on the rise because sexual feelings based on personal wants (versus traditional ones) are blossoming. Makes sense right? We are living in a modern age and can finally let our freak flag fly! Not exactly. Drexler believes it just recently occurred to wimmin-folk that we might want to do something about that funny tingle down below; the only reason we never cheated before is because we had hesitant girlie-bits.
Her exact phrasing is “newly confident about making choices,”2 because I guess previously we demurred gladly to societal demands, being naturally passive creatures with ne’er a wandering eye. Drexler draws this simple conclusion citing findings from a Kinsey Institute study, which found that women have caught up to men in the adultery game. Or perhaps the fear of shunning, poverty, ruined reputation, and in some cases, death, kept us from displaying our “confidence.” Relatively speaking, it only recently become somewhat safe for a woman to publicly express her sexual choices, whether within the confines of marriage or otherwise. We are experiencing a point in history where women are free to follow our hearts–or more accurately, our vaginas–without fear of immediate and horrifying repercussions. Like my butch eighth-grade English teacher always said: it’s a great time to be a woman! And not because our meek souls now have the “confidence” to make choices. We just won’t be slaughtered for them.
Let’s dig into the major finding of Dr. Fisher’s study, and the primary reason Drexler believes ladies are throwing tradition to the dogs. In a blog entry on match.com, posted in February of this year, Fisher claims “46% of men and 26% of women would expect to move in together before they’d been dating someone for less than a year.”3 Does this indicate a set of morally conscientious men wanting to settle down with a good woman but can’t because we’re all out banging randos willy-nilly due to our newfound confidence? Again, considering Humanity’s bloody history with adulterous and/or openly sexual women, I look at those numbers and conclude something different; namely, men have a perfectly natural desire to settle down and have a family. But they still expect to enjoy all the sexual privileges they have always enjoyed, i.e., exercising their sexuality based on “notions of what they want to do.” This is enforced by another statistic from Dr. Fisher on that same blog entry:
Men are more likely than women to be willing to make a commitment to someone who has everything they are looking for in a partner, but whom they are not in love with (31% of men and 23% of women)…And they’re also willing to make a commitment to someone who has everything they are looking for in a partner, but don’t find sexually attractive (26% of men and 22% of women).4
For a man, commitment isn’t all that scary in a society that traditionally forgives male adultery. Whether consciously or not, men know they have more leeway when it comes to dipping around in the community pool (guffaw, guffaw, high-five), and as result are less hesitant than women to settle down, even if not sexually attracted to their partner or in love with them (You can always marry the gal with child-bearing hips and bang the slutty neighbor, amirite?). The lower percentage of women willing to make such a commitment could be a result of bucking tradition, as Dr. Drexler seems to think, or we simply wish to avoid cheating, and a loveless, sexless marriage to boot. This indicates a stronger sense of morality and integrity in women; perhaps we don’t wish to inflict the pain of sexual betrayal on a partner. I’m sure these statistics are true in a pure sense in some cases; far be it from me to deride the appeal of steady and convenient booty. But I’m not going to assume it means men have suddenly had an awakening in regards to the spiritual benefits of committed cohabitation.
This is not to say men are cheating dickwads and women are angelic moral pillars and anyone who says otherwise is absolutely wrong; that statement is in direct opposition of the Kinsey Institute’s findings. But the Manifesto’s interpretation of Dr. Fisher’s study propagates the myth that women now enjoy sex outside of committed relationships because our carnal desires are freshly emerging and we just can’t manage to keep it in our pants like our chaste ancestors, dammit, while dudes are just dying to make honest women outta us. In reality, being a modern, “confident” person doesn’t make me want to bone everything, but enjoying sex without the threat of a rousing stoning does. Yes, adulterous women are on the rise, but that only signifies we’ve eliminated the death penalty for having a libido. To those clutching their pearls and claiming it’s a new age of inexplicably randy (and confident!), morally bankrupt women: I don’t buy it. And neither should you, Dr. Drexler.
1. Drexler, Dr. Peggy. “The Scarlet Manifesto: The Rise of the Adulterous Woman.”
The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peggy-drexler/the-scarlet-manifesto-the_b_1963499.html? (accessed 15 October 2012).
2. Drexler, Manifesto.
3. “Introducing the Singles in America Study by Match.com.” Match.com.
4. Singles in America.