Economics, Feminism, recent, Sex

The Price of Sex

Working as a photographer for a charity a few years back, I was travelling through Malawi and stopped overnight in a mining town. It was a Wednesday, and I headed out to a bar. Other than a woman serving, everyone else there was male. Some were playing pool. Some were drinking, but most were doing neither. I asked the bargirl why there were no women in the place. With a look that suggested I was being dim, she explained: “The men get paid on Friday.”

On the surface, in a mining town, the gender pay gap is huge, with the vast majority of money officially going to men. And yet, by Saturday morning, much of the cash has been transferred to bar owners, prostitutes, girlfriends, and wives. A privileged observer might suggest that women in such a town ought to be liberated to earn their own money. But the point is that they already are. While most fair-minded people would no doubt agree that women should be free to take mining jobs if they choose, it’s unlikely that many women want such gruelling, dangerous, and unhealthy work when being a bar prostitute, a girlfriend, or a wife to a miner is available as an alternative.

The total value of the sex trade could be said to be the value of the net transfer of wealth from men to women. How can we begin to value an industry this big, ancient, and diverse, especially when much of it—probably most of it—is undocumented and untaxed?

During another African trip—this time to Bamako in Mali—I asked a young man whether he had a girlfriend. He explained “Non… pas moto, pas copine.” He had no moped, and so, no of course he didn’t have a girlfriend. He told me that the girls back home in his village were friendly and open, but the big-city Bamako girls had higher expectations. So, naturally, buying a moped became a priority for any aspiring young Malian. I had noticed that Bamako’s streets were filled with mopeds, mostly driven by men, but often with women riding pillion. For a man there, a moped means sex as well as transport. These anecdotes point towards the difficulty involved in calculating the extent of the sex trade. Some percentage of Bamako’s moped sales represent a hidden transfer of wealth from men to women: men buy mopeds, and women get free transport. What is this transfer of value worth?

Now consider how many similar transfers of wealth take place. The UK flower industry was worth almost £1bn last year. Of course, flowers are bought by many people for all sorts of reasons, but many are bought romantically by men for their female partners, or for courtship. What about restaurant meals, hotel rooms, concert tickets, diamonds, taxi fares, cocktails, vacations…? What proportion of money spent by men on these things is related to a promise, a hint, or a mere hope, of sex, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled? Historically, what proportion of the silk carried (invariably by men) along the Silk Road found itself worn by the wealthy wives and mistresses of Europe?

Males (in our species, and others) are, by definition, the low-value sex. The key difference between males and females in reproduction is that males are low investors and females are high investors. Female birds and reptiles lay big, nutritious eggs. Female mammals have to carry (and feed) infants for weeks or months of pregnancy, and then suckle them afterwards. Even in plants (at least those species that produce separate male and female flowers), the females are forced to invest more. It is no coincidence that marijuana farmers destroy male plants, and retain the females for their big, resin-heavy flowers. Females are more valuable, almost everywhere.

This truth about sex displays itself very differently in different species. In humans, it is expressed in a trade that is fundamental to us, and has shaped our recent evolution. In an essay entitled Why Do Men Hunt? (published in a collection entitled Why Is Sex Fun?), the science writer Jared Diamond hypothesises that hunting skills evolved in human males in order to acquire meat that could be traded for sex. Our recent evolution was heavily shaped by trade. Humans may not have the speed, strength, teeth, or claws of most predators, so our brains evolved instead. Our ancestors developed language, teamwork, advanced weapons, and the ability to strategise, because these abilities improved our chances of reproducing. A man who was a good hunter brought meat back to the clan, and a man with meat will mate more often and produce more children. The children in turn inherit the skills of their hunting fathers. The evolution of the modern human brain coincided with the extinction of the largest mammals (megafauna) on every continent, starting around 125,000 years ago. Until the rise of modern man, being big was a tried and tested survival mechanism. Humans changed that, and the largest mammals became an early casualty of the human sex trade.

If Diamond has answered the question Why Do Men Hunt?, the answer to the corollary question Why Don’t Women Hunt? ought to be obvious. Women didn’t hunt (in the traditional sense at least) because they didn’t have to. Hunting was dangerous and required a large investment of valuable calories. Why hunt when men will bring you meat? This does not mean, of course, that women were freed from intra-sexual competition. While men competed with each other in terms of hunting abilities such as strength, agility, and technical innovation, women competed to win the best meat (and sperm) from successful hunters. While female competition was less physical than the male variety, it was no less intense, and was focused on presenting attractiveness and youth (which are proxies for fertility and genetic health). Women therefore took a lot of interest in their own, and their rivals’ appearances, in order to copy techniques that other women employed to maximise their attractiveness, and to socially shun and stigmatise younger and better-looking rivals.

And so, a primitive economy emerged. The sex trade launched technological and economic growth, and the sex roles continued broadly as they had begun. Men relied on innovation, risk-taking, and social status to attract mates, and women became skilled in the arts of attracting (and preferably keeping) a mate. As the male-led industries evolved and diversified from their origins in hunting and fishing, thousands of new industries, roles and professions were spawned.

The original female industry—the sex trade—was undoubtedly far bigger than any of the other (male-created) industries, because its role was to collect a dividend on all male-led activity. The greater the innovation and diversification of male-run industries, the larger the sex trade became.

As civilisation evolved, so did the sex trade. It began with “primitive prostitution”—straightforward trades of meat (and other rare gifts such as honey or decorative items) for sex, but with technological advances such as private property, money, and contracts (verbal or written), it became increasingly sophisticated. Private property allowed a man’s social status to be evaluated by his wealth (which, of course, he took care to display). Publicly acknowledged contracts allowed the development of marriage, in which women could offer exclusive access to their fertility in exchange for a male promise to provide for them (and their children). Sexual exclusivity was valuable to men, because it provided certainty over paternity. In exchange for this guarantee, men paid far more for sex with wives than they would for casual sex.

The price of (female) sex is driven by men’s ability to pay, and by availability. Unlike virtually any other commodity, the supply is fairly inelastic, since biology mandates (approximately) a 50-50 population balance between men and women. This means that, as the male-led industries have grown exponentially, the price of sex has kept track. While the average price of sex is very hard to estimate accurately, the price of prostitution is a good proxy and it is easy to measure. Cultural, economic, and demographic changes have all had the effect of increasing or reducing the price of sex. Wars and famines that reduce the male population more than the female population will naturally affect the ratio of supply to demand and lower the cost of sex. The sex-selective abortion of girls in countries like China and India, on the other hand, will increase it. Similarly, mass migration will tend to raise or lower the price, depending on the culture and gender balance of the migrants. When Polish people won free movement across the EU in 2004, I heard complaints from both low-skilled male friends in the building industry, and from sex workers that rates were being undercut by the new arrivals. The Economist suggested in 2014 that German sex workers had felt a similar effect. But (the same article reports), the price of sex has declined globally in recent decades, reflecting other trends, including online advertising for sex workers, hook-up culture driven by dating apps, and reduced social stigma for sex workers and women engaging in casual sex.

Unsurprisingly, sex workers are better aware than most of the value of sex, and less ashamed to discuss it without euphemism. I’ve seen social media posts from sex workers asking for free services, from photoshoots and car repairs, to video editing and rodent removal.

How does one value all this free stuff, given willingly by men in exchange for sex, or in the hope of sex, or merely to impress an attractive woman? This question is probably unanswerable to any degree of certainty. One thing is sure though: for men, sexual and romantic relationships can be expensive. In 2017, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that men from poor backgrounds in their forties were twice as likely to be single as men from wealthy backgrounds. Another British study revealed that men spend about £1,300 a year more than women on dating. Dating is not just a way to discover a person’s personality, but a way to assess a man’s wealth and generosity. Women are advised by friends to “value themselves” and not sleep with men on a first date. The latest generation of dating apps produce data that reveals the extent of difference between male and female courtship behaviours. A study on Tinder, for example, found that men have to swipe right about 15 times more than women to get a similar level of response. These are not marginal differences, and they shine a light on an old reality: that female sex is vastly more valuable than male.

We may not be able to calculate the extent of the wealth transfer from men to women, but we can gauge the scale of the trade by examining male and female relative outcomes. The gender pay gap has become well known, and is widely (and falsely) presented as evidence of female disadvantage. The gap is typically calculated at between ten and 20 percent. Not only do women earn less than men on average, but they work fewer years of their lives than men. On this basis women must—surely—be poorer than men? If they are, this will be easy to demonstrate via various metrics. A naive researcher might expect the outcomes for gender to be similar to the racial disparities in the United States, where African Americans are paid less (on average) than Whites or Asians. Predictably, this racial pay gap is represented in other metrics: African Americans are more likely to be jailed, to be shot by police, and (most important) to die younger than other groups. Life expectancy is an excellent proxy measure of general wellbeing.

And yet, when the same measures are applied to gender, the outcomes are the reverse of what might be expected. American men are more than ten times more likely to be imprisoned than women and around 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police. Similarly, women outlive men significantly. How is it that women should be nominally poorer than men (based on pay differences, at least), yet by all metrics of wellbeing appear to be better off? This difference in lifespan tends to be blithely dismissed as “biology,” but this alone is no explanation. Yes, biology is the underlying reason men have worse outcomes than women. Not because men are inherently prone to die younger, but because the sex trade requires men to take the greatest risks and the toughest jobs.

The reality of these outcome gaps that black people represent a disproportionate proportion of America’s least successful 20 percent, and so do men. America’s prisons are full of poor people (disproportionately black and disproportionately male) who broke the law, in many cases, because they could find no other way to survive. Middle-class women with little understanding of how poor communities function, may instead be predisposed to find “toxic masculinity” a satisfactory explanations for male criminality. But working-class women tend to see things more clearly. When I interviewed Lady Andromeda, a black, south London sex worker, she explained simply: in poor communities, women can sell sex and do relatively well. In fact, working-class women in London who sell sex can easily earn more than most middle-class men. But what options do men have in the poorest communities? “They steal cars, or sell drugs,” she said. It is not, of course, that women cannot do these things. But they have a safer, better-paying, and (in London, at least) legal alternative. This is why poor men are far more likely to end up in prison, or murdered than either poor women or wealthier men.

So, women, thanks to the sex trade, have better outcomes than men. This still leaves the chicken-and-egg question: does the sex trade exist because women choose it, or because (as feminist theorists may claim) it is forced upon them by systemic misogyny and glass ceilings? Clearly, women do much better than men in poor communities and mining towns, but what about at the high end of society? We are often told that the gender disparity in corporate board positions is proof of a male-rigged system. Wouldn’t women become CEOs too, given the opportunity? It appears not. The book Superfreakonomics outlines a study of male and female MBA graduates. While women earned similarly to men early in their careers, the wage gap rapidly increased. It was found that women “…who leave the workforce are disproportionately those with very high-earning husbands.” It appeared that female MBA graduates often used their MBA to marry high-earning men rather than pursue long-term business careers. On paper, their earnings fell behind men, but in practice, their lifestyles were upheld by switching some of their corporate earnings for sex trade earnings. After all, being a senior manager of a large corporation is punishing, involving long hours, endless travel, and missing out on social and family time. Is it better to be a CEO or a CEO’s wife? Each occupation shares the same wealth, home, vacations, but the CEO’s wife arguably has a better lifestyle than her husband.

From Jared Diamond’s question Why Do Men Hunt? to the modern versions: Why Do Men Mine?, Why Do Men Sell Drugs? or Why Do Men CEO? the answers are similar. But the direction of travel looks positive for equality. The social trends of recent decades—for women to join the once-male economy, for increased sexual freedom, and for the price of sex to fall—point towards a narrowing of the gap in outcomes between men and women. Economic innovations such as Universal Basic Income may help narrow the gap further. Conversely, the current trends towards conservatism and nationalism may halt and reverse the liberal revolutions of the twentieth century, with potentially unhappy consequences for men and women.

 

Jerry Barnett is a technologist, author, and campaigner. His book Porn Panic! documents recent moral panics against free expression that have arisen on the identitarian Left. He runs the Sex and Censorship page on Facebook and you can follow him on Twitter @PornPanic

Featured Image: The Salon in the Rue des Moulins by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (wikicommons)

Comments

  1. Let’s get the obligatory over with: http://www.denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm

    Now, let’s all think about how absurd ratio’s of men’s to women’s “income” are in a world where much of men’s earnings are still being consumed by the women who share their beds.

  2. Men were the hunters,providers of meat, but women groups the gatherers: roots, tubers, mushrooms, oysters, eggs,veggies, nuts,berries etc, an estimate I somewhere came across, some 80% of the average daily energy. So, men needed women as much as the reverse, because that little bit of meat was of the higher quality. Women, because of their knowledge of wild grains and pulses, also invented agriculture, giving them another big advantage. I wonder what all this meant for primitive men (not for us now, we live by other, modern cultural rules and habits in the meantime).

  3. Am I alone in finding all this cod evolutionary psychology about the roles of men and women a load of bollocks?
    So women only trade sex and that sex has an economic value? One wonders how people come up with such asinine ideas. How do the proponents of this ridiculous cant factor in the fact that a substantial number of women will priortise physical attraction over any other attribute of a man.

  4. “Why hunt when men will bring you meat?”

    Yet among a pride of lions, the females do the bulk of the hunting in addition to bearing and rearing young. I guess the lionesses didn’t get the memo.

  5. That’s because the lionesses aren’t planting the rice and the washing the clothes.

    In a pride there is one adult male, several juvenile males who are ejected at age two or so, and many lionesses with their cubs. What happens to these sole males without a pride? They learn to hunt independently (using what skills they learnt in the pride), sometimes in a coalition with a brother who left with him, they scavenge, or they die - only one in eight survive to adulthood. Only physically strong and intelligent males survive to become adults in charge of a pride. Because of their larger size and darker manes that betray camouflage, males tend to be ambush hunters in the dense, thick brush, which is more difficult to film and study - and present on TV. They also hunt more often at night. In the open savannah they are more easily seen than the females, who use stalking techniques, though this conspicuousness can be used to flush their prey toward females. Further, the type of prey hunted plays a role. Wildebeests and antelope are very different from Cape buffalo and the attack strategies differ. Lionesses are about 30% faster than lions, so their speed is more advantageous when hunting light, fast prey. When hunting slower, larger animals, there are repeated charges and counter charges from both parties until the targeted buffalo is separated from the herd, with the male then sent in to pull down the prey. For prides that hunt elephants, the male is also quite involved.

    Female lions do all of the hunting”

    False. Both male and female lions hunt. The reason females hunt more frequently, is because the male must spend more time defending his territory. Another reason is that males are more conspicuous in the bush with their dark coloured manes, while females are more camouflaged and therefore less likely to be detected. When hunting together, females often chase down and catch the prey while the male uses his superior strength to give the fatal blow, particularly for large prey species such as Cape buffalo and giraffe. Additionally, males who live in coalitions without females or a pride will hunt for themselves when they aren’t successful in scavenging meals from weaker predators.

    “Male lions are lazy”

    False. Male lions have a reputation for being lazy, but that is far from the truth. A male’s job is critical to the protection of his pride. Male lions patrol the territory where the pride lives, and will fight to protect it. They travel vast distances to patrol their territory, by scent marking and vocalizing, to ensure other lions who may be a threat, stay away. It is critical for male lions to keep out other males, because if another male or coalition comes to dominate, they will kill all the cubs to keep from expending energy on raising cubs that are not their own offspring.

    “Male lions eat first”

    False. Male lions do not always eat first. If they are on a large carcass with plenty of food, they will share with both females, younger males and cubs at the same time. It is usually only when there is limited food, that the male will fight and chase off the others so that he gets enough to eat.

    Of course the lives of lions and humans - even primitive, stone-age ones - vary greatly, so perhaps not the best like-for-like comparison.

  6. I think it is necessary to consider the voluntary wealth transfer from men to women when considering “male privilege,” the gender wage gap, and the resulting demands for greater involuntary wealth transfers through redistribution. However, characterising this dynamic as “sex trade” seems grossly reductionist and dismissive of the husband-wife partnership that is the building block of civilization. Unsurprising then that someone who adopts such a cynical premise ends with:

    The author assumes that diminishing the wealth transfer from men to women is a good thing, and that the resurgence of conservative values will render men and women less happy. This is contradicted by women today being less happy than in previous generations. Most women want to raise a family. Feminist ideology pushing them to waste prime reproductive years on casual sex, removing the obligation on men to care for them, and adding the expectation of a solid career contradicts biological programming and has resulted in a measurable increase in stress and decrease in happiness.

    I don’t know how the author ends up tripping up at the end when everything that came before spoke to the privileged place women are born into, but it was an unfortunate way to end an otherwise interesting article.

  7. The author, photographer (for a western journal? so has to come with pictures that confirm the prejudices of the readers) enters a bar, sees only men and asks why no women here. What did he mean? Why no female visitors, why men alone without a partner? Or where are the prostitutes? Not clear for me, I had to read thrice before I got the message that it was this third case.
    The scene was in a mine town, where the ordinary role of the working woman (on the field, with a child on the back) and the idling man was reversed. In , e.g., tea plantations (run by Europeans, as are the mines I guess), all the labour of picking is done by women, men are not good in repetitive and secure work (the twigs must be of a certain ripeness, not too young, not too old), but the payment on Friday is in cash for their husbands (the colonial English idea was, and has been kept after independence, men are the head of the family, have to sign the contracts, and get the payments as usual also in Europe at the time). Now, the tasks at that day for the women is, to lay hands on that cash before the men run to the bars and spend it on beer and prostitutes. This they do with help of other, sturdy womenfriends, only few men succeed in keeping it for themselves and spending it in the bar. That was how it went when I was there, I wonder how it is now, because, even there, things change for the better.

    And @Peter, no, you are not alone!

  8. Another, very important something to know where sex roles in Africa and elsewhere are considered: In the West (but also in the Middle East and India if I,m not wrong), the family of the bride pays the young bridegroom the wedding and a sum for taking over the responsibility for their daughter and future offspring. In Africa, the poor youngster has to PAY FOR his bride (generally his parents do, he still has not much money, or cattle, in which units most bride prices are paid, even now). The sex involved is a minor detail I guess, it is the responsibilities, housing, local permissions, education of kids, etc etc, that counts. The wife ( in the villages at least) also works the field, plantain-banana tree corner, feeds the ducks and chicken, harvests the cassava, brings in the water from the well (all on her own, maybe helped by daughters or other women), cuts the firewood, cooks the food and even makes the beer for the men (from millet or banana), until, of course, Western social habits, urbanisation, wages in the mines, and commercial beer takes over (the Dutch Heineken nowadays makes most of their profits in the new African nations, thanks to beer-girls promotion, and seductive TV ads). Where the hell is all this going to end??

  9. What an interesting article. I don’t think this article is intended to be prescriptive. It’s observational, a way of looking the world. Look at the energy (in terms of growing antlers and feathers) that males put into courtship displays. And of course there would be caveats and exceptions. For example, instead of being purchased (wife) or rented (sex worker), sometimes, and more often in the past, women were stolen in skirmishes, like the Sabine women.
    I haven’t watched the Handmaid’s Tale or read the book, but I was just thinking that the premise didn’t make sense to me. If fertile women were at a high premium, this ought to increase their value in the market. In such a society I’d expect to see fertile women doing extremely well for themselves, living in penthouses and so on,not being house slaves.

  10. This still leaves the chicken-and-egg question: does the sex trade exist because women choose it, or because (as feminist theorists may claim) it is forced upon them by systemic misogyny and glass ceilings?

    No woman ever quit her job to enter the sex trade because her business career was stalled at “Vice-President in charge of Regional Sales”.

  11. Women do not hunt in most societies. Women do not engage in war in most societies. It’s not difficult to understand why.

    Babies. If you have a baby to care for, you cannot either hunt or play war games, which require you to travel long distances, and to be silent for extended periods. Babies cannot be made to be silent. Plus they are awkward to carry, require frequent feeding, and take up the use of one arm, sometimes 2.

    You can be a gatherer. If you gather roots or crops, the baby can be put in a carrier at the edge of the field, and you can hear the baby when needed.

    This is why I have such contempt for the librul dummy idea that women can be warriors. There have been women warriors, but they are, in human history, probably 1:10000. Prior to contraception availability, women over the age of 25 were pregnant or caring for a baby probably 50% of the time. You cannot be a warrior or hunter under those circumstances. The exceptions are the rich women. But if you are rich enough to have a child-care person, you are also rich enough to hire a hunter/bodyguard/warrior.

  12. @George: something I overheard in my neighbourhood some time ago.
    Girl of about 4 asking her father: " Dad, can a girl be a fierce, dangerous pirate?’’. Answer of Dad" Of course she can".
    I would have said, - no sweetie, that’s something for the rough boys, not for you-.
    In the meantime, I note ads for movies and series in which fierce women warriors are fighting, in tight jeans around their nice bums, (and win all the time from men and other girls), use crossbows and other dangerous weapons and look fiercely around, as if they can devour whatever comes nearby. Just only have a look at the heroines in The Black Panthers. I really wonder whether all this is doing much good for the psyche of the upgrowing small girls nowadays. Please, I would say, stop this nonsense

  13. What a strange article. It makes some very interesting points - namely, the invisibility of the cost of sex for men in particular, and how that drives the economy; many points well observed - but then also frequently lurches into utterly unfounded assertions as fact, with zero data. This is definitely not the first time I’ve read such an article and I’m beginning to wonder about Quillette’s standards. Does it really want simply a series of assertions based on anecdote? I mean, anyone can say anything with this method. A personal essay is one thing; so is an opinion piece. But an essay with a controversial or debatable thesis needs supporting facts, else it’s just bloviating. To my mind.

    There were several red flags for me:
    “While most fair-minded people would no doubt agree that women should be free to take mining jobs if they choose, it’s unlikely that many women want such gruelling, dangerous, and unhealthy work when being a bar prostitute…is available as an alternative.”

    Really? Based on what study? Personally, I’d prefer to be anything else, including a homeless bum covered in urine. Maybe a miner is the worst job ever - it may well be - but to assert that being a bar prostitute is without explanation the obvious choice over a miner, is just silly. Yes, there are some women - especially those who have been sexually abused and/or who have severely limited economic choices - who turn to it matter of factly, but no. The high risk of injury, disease, abuse, and plain old servitude (you have to do what your customer wants you to do no matter how degrading and no matter how you’re feeling), is just repulsive to me and many women. I’m not saying the author is necessarily wrong, but he needs data to back up a questionable claim.

    1. “The total value of the sex trade could be said to be the value of the net transfer of wealth from men to women.”
      Interesting point, but the author ignores all other sex exchanges, including child trafficking and non-hetero sex exchanges. In some sense he does this because it’s not his point (he is focusing on men having to pay a lot for sex, basically), but it also undercuts his narrative. To take gay sex, you have a male and a male. So how does that fit in with his thesis? In that case, men are offering up their bodies for sex and men are paying. And to take child sex trafficking, this is a booming business, but again, how does that fit in with his thesis, for children are not choosing to do this and the monies go to many other hands, not children.

    Indeed, he also ignores the wider economic equation of the men who ultimately get the money, the pimps, any male-run businesses, and so on.

    What I’m trying to say is that this issue is a whole lot more interconnected and complex than a simple exchange of monies from men to women.

    1. "A man who was a good hunter brought meat back to the clan, and a man with meat will mate more often and produce more children. The children in turn inherit the skills of their hunting fathers…The largest mammals became an early casualty of the human sex trade… The answer to the corollary question Why Don’t Women Hunt? ought to be obvious. Women didn’t hunt (in the traditional sense at least) because they didn’t have to. Why hunt when men will bring you meat? " Indeed.

    So it’s so obvious that he doesn’t’ need anything but an assertion to talk about it? I disagree. There are many factors at play here. First, perhaps women didn’t hunt because they were busy dying in childbirth, bearing and raising children, breastfeeding, all of which were extremely risky to their health, especially giving birth (on top of doing other essential economic activities such as agriculture and making clothes and preparing food).

    Men hunted not simply to bring home meat for their women so they could have sex. Talk about a hammer in search of a nail. They also gained social status amongst men, and power and money; if you control the source of sustenance, you are powerful.

    Why hunt when your man will hunt for you?–Because the risk of the chase can be thrilling? Because you take power into your hands? Because your tribe needs more food? Because you or your babies need more food? There are other motivators besides sex. Throughout, the author acts as though women simply lie back and let men do all the dangerous stuff because they get sex and sperm. The thing is, yes, in part - in our reptilian brains - this is partly true, though I’d frame it differently. But on a deeper level, it’s far more complex and interconnected that he asserts.

    1. “While men competed with each other in terms of hunting abilities such as strength, agility, and technical innovation, women competed to win the best meat (and sperm) from successful hunters.”

    So women did nothing else but dress up for men? They didn’t bear and raise kids, weave, tell stories, sing, pray, bury, care for the elderly and infirm, plant crops, prepare food, and so on? This didn’t involve strength, agility, and innovation? Or does the author simply ignore any action of a woman that doesn’t directly lead to sex?

    I mean yes, it’s interesting to look at it this way, and again, there’s truth to the idea that women can afford to be far more choosy than men, and that a great deal of evolution is spurred by women’s choices of who to have sex with, as opposed to men’s. But the article tips into speculation and a strange view of women.

    1. “Men relied on innovation, risk-taking, and social status to attract mates, and women became skilled in the arts of attracting (and preferably keeping) a mate.”

    This is just silly. Women did a whole lot more than simply attracting and keeping a Man with their Arts. I refuse to believe the author is unaware of the innovations and risks women took (eg childbirth, which is extremely risky; and many innovations within their own purview). So therefore, he is just going on with his own thesis regardless of facts that contradict it or muddle it,

    1. “Is it better to be a CEO or a CEO’s wife? Each occupation shares the same wealth, home, vacations, but the CEO’s wife arguably has a better lifestyle than her husband.”

    Ok so argue it. But no. He just asserts it. Guess what–A nonworking wife is dependent on her husband’s salary. Whether that’s a good or bad lifestyle depends on the woman. You will certainly find women who are willing to give up their autonomy in exchange for this social status and power and economic comfort that stems from her husband. But that doesn’t mean her lifestyle is ‘better’ than the husband’s. In some ways, yes, in some ways no. And her lifestyle is utterly dependent on him, so she is far more trapped than women with other arrangements. To my mind it’s worse, but that’s my own opinion. How do most women feel? Who knows. The author doesn’t bother to ask.

    1. “Conversely, the current trends towards conservatism and nationalism may halt and reverse the liberal revolutions of the twentieth century, with potentially unhappy consequences for men and women.”

    What in the actual? How on earth does he conclude this based on everything that went before? What on earth is he saying? Nationalism may prevent cheap powerless illegal immigrant women from flooding the market for easy sex and prostitution, so nationalism is bad? The “liberal revolutions” --does he mean women sleeping around more and having sex be cheaper? That is increasingly showing to be quite bad for women. Not everything is about sex. Plus, for women, it’s also about babies, not merely getting pregnant. Sleeping around a lot is not good for women in general, ignoring our biological clocks is also bad for women. Women now are unhappier rather than happier in this glorious new ‘lifestyle.’ How does this fit in with his conclusion?

    This seemed a mess to me, filled with some rather interesting points and then some very sloppy thinking, and overall a lack of data to back up any point. I don’t mind reading a viewpoint I partly agree with and partly disagree with, but I would prefer more articles that are not strings of assertions and anecdotes.

  14. Excuse me? I work in software and my experience is that many women are swept into history. Not because they did anything impressive but solely they lacked those dangly bits. Nobody would know the name of Ada Lovelace if it was not for the fact that she was a woman. For every Bletchley girl there were hundreds of men on the same or higher level that nobody ever heard of.

  15. Agree, that was the most bizarre story of all … a computer was at the time a person doing repetitive computations. Same thing for the women of the ENIAC where these women are now heralded as if they had been inventing the first computer while they only wired the computer according to instructions of men that had designed the software and the hardware. Don’t get me wrong, these women were often very clever, well educated, and very important for the projects. However, there were thousands of men on the same level or higher that were never recognized. And none of these women was a Newton, Babbage, Turing, Neumann, Mauchly, Eckert, Knuth, Minsky, Zuse, Kay, Ingalls, Wirth, Jobs, Gates, Bezo, Musk, etc. Sadly, our youth is convinced that the discrepancy is only because women were held back forcefully in the past.

    Sadly, all those recent movies have convinced our youth that this is only because women had no opportunities, ignoring the obvious fact that feminists, unearthing all those women in history, show there were actually many women involved They used to invisible because very few did rise to the level of the geniuses in my field. In the past 50 years, when women have become legally 100% equal to men. Key developer websites like Github and Stackoverflow are 100% free and anonymous if wanted but its users are still way more than 90% male but this does not seem to give them the idea that the discrepancy might have other causes that oppression.

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