[Note to my regular readers: the first part of this post is aimed for newcomers. The second section will contain material aimed more towards my regulars.]
The short answer to the above question: Because most women these days will give it up when pressured, or even without being pressured.
The first part of this post is aimed at young women interested in marriage (and primarily Christian women, although it is still valuable to non-Christians) who have asked that question before or are frustrated by the constant pressure for sex by most men in the dating scene. The long answer to that question, which follows this paragraph, is more complete and provides an explanation of why things are like this right now. I’ve broken it into segments for ease of understanding. The first segment deals with men, the second with women, and the third ties it all together. The second part of this post is designed for my regular readers, although it might interest newcomers at well. It covers some of the implications and wider impact of this paradigm, plus personal anecdotes. Expect to see some “insider language” in the post and in some of the discussion to follow. If you have questions feel free to ask in the comments below. Now, on to the long answer:
I. The Long Answer.
While trying to fit people into neat categories is usually problematic at best, it can really help with a general understanding of people’s motivations. Towards that end, I think it is helpful to break men into five different categories based on their attitude towards sex and marriage in order to understand male behavior in the dating environment.
1) Men who aren’t interested in marriage
2) Men who are interested in marriage but won’t marry a woman they haven’t slept with
3) Men who are interested in marriage and will push for sex before marriage but won’t insist on it
4) Men who are interested in marriage and won’t push for sex before marriage but will happily accept it if offered
5) Men who are interested in marriage and won’t push for sex before marriage and will not accept it if offered
Before I talk about the different categories, it is essential that female readers of this post understand how powerful the male sex drive is. Even at the peak of their cycle and with all of the right environmental factors in play, the female sex drive never gets to be as powerful as the male sex drive. To put it another way for the women reading this: Think of when you were the most sexual excited, the most aroused in your entire life. Then realize that feeling doesn’t come near to what men experience every minute of every day from the time they hit puberty until the time they die of old age. While it isn’t the only thing that men look for in women, sex is by far the most important need that women can meet for men.
For the purposes of this post, the men in category 1 are mostly irrelevant. They aren’t interested in marriage, only in sex. The problem they represent in the dating system is that it isn’t always easy to distinguish between them and men who are interested in marriage but push for sex. Before “dating” became the norm such men were both less common and easier to spot because their attention was directed primarily at prostitutes and “loose” women. They are more common now than in the past for a variety of reasons. Among them are changes in the family law system, the diminished respect for marriage and husbands/fathers in society and the greater availability of of sex outside of wedlock.
The next two categories, 2 and 3, are both very similar. The only difference is that men in category 2 insist on a “try before you buy” model of dating. I suspect, though cannot prove, that they are far, far less common than men in category 3. The most important thing to understand is that the overwhelming majority of men fall into category
3 2 [In the past category 3 was the most common, but with talk in the culture of “sexual compatibility, and concerns of frigidity, category 2 is probably the most common now]. And this has almost certainly always been the case. These men want sex and marriage, but they want sex more than marriage. If they can get sex without marriage, then great. Otherwise, if they have no choice, they will marry.
Categories 4 and 5 are, for the practical purposes of this post, nearly the same. The only difference is that only the men in category 5 are truly chaste (which is as much about thought as deed). Understand that the men in category 5 are the rarest by far, and this has probably always been so. Men in category 4 are more common, but not by a whole lot. At least, not these days.
With all of this in mind, it is important to understand that the majority of “Christian” men fall into category 3 as well. Despite clear commands in the Bible against fornication, most Christian men see no problem in ignoring them. When it comes to sex, men are very capable of rationalizing away nearly anything. And most men exercise this ability as often as they can.
Now on to women.
These days the vast majority of women are willing, and often more than willing, to have sex prior to securing commitment from a man. But this wasn’t always the case. Before the “sexual revolution” (which actually started decades before the 60’s), most women were far more circumspect in their sexual activity. As a general rule women wouldn’t have sex with a man prior to his committing to her. This was because of the high cost of sex at that time. In an age before effective contraceptives and wide scale use of abortion, sex could easily lead to an “inescapable” pregnancy, which if it happened out of wedlock was social death for a woman. Even if pregnancy didn’t result, the social costs to a woman were still significant if it was discovered that she was having sex out of wedlock. The major effects of these costs was to severely curtail a woman’s chances of marrying, much less marrying well. Considering the limited work opportunities available to women back then, this meant a abysmal standard of living for all but the highest class women.
Because of this, most women (outside of the lowest classes) insisted that a man commit to her before she would have sex with him. I say commit and not marry for two reasons. The first is that in the past there were a large numbers of “shotgun” weddings, perhaps even a majority of marriages involved the first child being born before nine months had passed since the wedding. As for the second reason, in the past engagement actually was a form of commitment on the man’s part. A man who broke an engagement with a woman was potentially subject to a civil action known as Breach of Promise to Marry. Couple that potential financial liability with a social penalty to a man who unjustifiably broke an engagement, and most men really were committed when they became engaged. This protection is largely gone now, as the social penalties are pretty much non-existent and Breach of Promise only exists in a handful of jurisdictions these days. The only kind of secure commitment that exists now is found in marriage itself.
With the above in mind, you can see that the reluctance of women to sleep with men prior to commitment was mostly based on self-interest. Some women might have been influenced by morality or religion to not have sex until marriage, but not all given the common occurrence of shotgun weddings. Certainly it wasn’t because women didn’t want sex; they do, provided it is with the right man. It is just that women wanted commitment, and the security that went with it, more than sex. All of this has changed. Women have far more job opportunities than they did in the past, and can rely on government support to cover what they cannot meet themselves. The social costs of sex out of wedlock and even children born out of wedlock are pretty much gone at this point. Not to mention contraception and the widespread availability of abortion further reduces the costs to women of sex.
C. Then Versus Now
Now to combine all of this together.
In the past, men, just like now, wanted sex. A lot. And so they pressured women for it. But most women would not give in until they secured commitment from the man. Essentially men demanded sex and women demanded commitment. The category 3 men were thus faced with a choice: either accept the woman’s terms and propose to her, or “dump” her and court (there was no “dating” back then) another woman. However, the odds were not in his favor, because most women would make the same demands. Thanks in large part to this solidarity amongst women those men who pushed for sex had to play by the rules women set. Since men valued sex more than they valued withholding their commitment the women won out.
This brings us to today. Men are the same as ever. But the vast majority of women have changed. They no longer insist on commitment before sex. Or at least, real commitment. They still want attention and validation and material resources if they can get them. But their security is not tied up to commitment like it was before, and so they are far freer to indulge their passions. And men know this. When a man from category 3 faces a woman who won’t sleep with him until they are married, he faces the same choice as before: accept her terms or move on. But the math is different this time; unlike before, the majority of women are more than willing to sleep with him before securing commitment. This means the odds are in his favor now. If he leaves the woman holding out, the odds are good that the next woman he dates will give him what he wants, without making him commit first. Because the old solidarity amongst women no longer exists, men no longer have to play by the rules that women set.
This brings us back to the question which started it all: why does my boyfriend pressure me for sex? The long answer is that he not only wants sex more than anything, but he expects to get it. Personal experience and/or the culture has told him that most women will sleep with men before they marry. Men want sex more than pretty much anything. They want it now. And nearly all don’t want to have to pay for it with commitment if they can help it. Truth is, most men have always pressured women for sex, and they always will. What has changed is how women act. So long as the majority of women are willing to give men what they want without demanding commitment first, men will pressure women for sex and leave if they don’t get it.
If you are looking to blame anyone for this present situation ladies, don’t blame the men. Blame the women who are empowering them.
II. Further Thoughts
This section is aimed at my regular readers. For those curious as to why I wrote the part above, and why I did it in that manner, I had a couple of reasons. The first is that I wanted to create a post that I could link in the future to provide female newcomers to the ‘sphere when they had a question along this vein. Over time expect to see more of these types of posts. The second reason is because I wanted to reply to one female commenter over at Peaceful Single Girl who asked this question in this thread. As for the title, I have seen it pop up on search inquiries that lead people to my blog in the past, so it seemed appropriate. While the answer itself seems obvious, I thought that there was some depth worth exploring there, plus it might help out younger women trying to come to grips with the SMP/MMP.
A. The Good Guys
There are a number of commenters in the ‘sphere who insist that there are a lot of “Good Christian Men” out there whom women ignore. That if only women would give those men a chance then they would find someone to respect them and treat them right. However, the truth is that a large number of these Christian “nice guys” fall into category 3. They are not chaste, and would gladly leap at an opportunity for fornication if it should become available. It is not a stretch to realize that if Christian women engage with them romantically then these “Good Christian Men” are just as prone to pushing them for sex as the bad boys are.
I know this because I know men like this. Guys who aren’t even nominal Christians, but seem to take their faith seriously. Except when it comes to sex. In that one particular field they are no different than their secular counterparts. Let me back this up with a personal anecdote.
When I was younger I went on a road trip with a friend of mine back from high school. He was an Evangelical Christian, and was more fervent in his faith than I was at that point. We arrived at one of our stops, which happened to be a rather fancy hotel that we got a great deal for. Basically a mini-resort kind of place. Well, after we check in and drop our bags inside our room we find out the hotel has an attached night club. We investigate and find out that it is a “happening” place most nights because there aren’t any other spots like it nearby (the hotel was kind of out of the way). Upon discovering this, my friend turns to me and tells me that if he lucks out that night I would be sleeping in the car. I was so surprised by this all I could respond with was a hesitant ok, while my mind tried to wrap itself around my friend’s words. Here was a guy who had “found Jesus” during high school and was very active in Christian activities, and yet had no qualms with the sin of fornication. Though the memory faded in significance over time, I never really forgot it.
And so when I read accounts from female readers of my blog via e-mail, and read comments by Christian women on various blogs all talking about how most Christian men don’t respect their desire for chastity, I didn’t dismiss them out of hand. The story I mentioned above, and others like it (and yes, I have more like it), all remind me that male chastity is a rare thing, perhaps even rarer than female chastity. Good Christian Men swim in the same sewer of modern culture that women do, and pick up the same messages about sex. And they are still men, with the corresponding male sex drive. While the female Rationalization Hamster is more active than the male version, men have a Hamster too. And sex is the one thing guaranteed to get the male Hamster spinning that wheel at full power. The truth is that only a handful of men have the discipline and the devotion to pursue a chaste life.
B. Looking In From The Other Side
I feel a lot of sympathy for chaste women out there who are trying to make their way through this mess of a Sexual Market Place. They don’t even want to be there in the first place, but the Marriage Market Place and Sexual Market Place are both basically existing in the same space. Chaste women are as much losers in this present system as are men who are looking for a chaste/virgin wife. For women, if they stick to their values there is a very good chance that most men they date will leave them and look elsewhere. It can take a very long time to find a man willing to respect their chastity. For men, we can spend a very long time looking for a woman who has been chaste and not find her. Or even if we do, we find that we are incompatible in some way.
The only way to turn this system around is to make the cost of sex significant again for women. Going after men won’t work for a variety of reasons, but the past has proven that if you convince women that being promiscuous is against their best interests then most women won’t be promiscuous. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to convince other people, even (or maybe especially) Christians of the importance of punishing promiscuity in women. Here is a quick story to help explain why.
I was talking with a female Christian acquaintance a few weeks back and mentioned the impact that other women’s behavior has on Christian women who desire to maintain their chastity. When I explained to her how I knew women who had trouble finding a husband because the men they dated kept on dumping them when they refused to have sex, she was flabbergasted. She had trouble believing this, not understanding how a man could fail to appreciate them. What she couldn’t grasp is that women with Marriage Market Values close to average (either just above or just below) don’t have the kind of value to keep a man around if they won’t put out. The woman I was speaking with did have a high MMV, on the other hand. Very few women match her value, and most any man who thought about dumping her because she wouldn’t sleep with him prior to marriage had to know that he really couldn’t do any better for a wife. But other women, women aren’t aren’t as good looking and don’t necessarily have all the other traits that make for a high MMV, they can’t rely on that. There are plenty of other women out there just like them, and they know it and men know it. The lower the woman’s MMV, the worse this system is for her.
As this story indicates, men and women with very high MMVs are less affected by the present MMP/SMP. Their value gives them the leverage they need to either find a chaste wife or to maintain their chastity. They don’t really feel the effects of the overall dysfunction. And because of this they don’t feel the same pressing need to change the system. Those from more protected backgrounds are probably the same way, because they never felt the full effects of the SMP/MMP they don’t see it as a problem worthy of what they are apt to call extreme measures. All of this makes it difficult to convince even those who should support a change culture to endorse the methods necessary to bring about change.
[I may include a part C here at some point if I can somehow collect my thoughts.]