204 Comments
Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Interesting essay. I think you're right that the reactionaries can be blind to trade-offs. A lot of the reactionary female intellectuals are smart, insightful, and have hit on something true - but they also seem to be mostly college-educated with flexible, remote jobs in the knowledge economy. I wonder if they'd be so excited about "trad" life if they could swap places with the fundamentalist women I know, who were "homeschooled" (aka pulled out of school to take care of younger siblings and totally uneducated), have no job prospects higher than Walmart cashier, and would face extreme social stigma, even from their own families, if something was going wrong in their marriage. Trad life sounds fun if you've managed to use modern liberal feminism to wiggle your way out of all of the trade-offs first.

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author

Precisely. But I think it’s hard to argue against them effectively without acknowledging gaps in current discourse

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And yet, these fundamentalist women continue to report higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, social enmeshment, etc., than these wiggly intellectuals..

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I think it's a lifestyle that works well when it works, but leaves women extremely vulnerable when it doesn't.

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True of all lifestyles, no?

Different classes have an acceptance of different types of vulnerabilities. Urban elites may be willing to accept social isolation if it brings financial security, but financial security hardly makes one more or less vulnerable to the travails of life. Perhaps it gives one a stronger sense of agency and control, but more choices almost always comes with less satisfaction.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I think an ideal society would have room for different lifestyles - I wouldn't discourage someone from living a trad lifestyle if that's what they want. And there are definitely trade-offs to any lifestyle - like you said, there's more loneliness and anxiety in modern life. I think the reactionaries are correct to point out the mostly ignored trade-offs in modern lifestyles. But I don't think it's correct to say they make women equally vulnerable - education, income, and more permissive attitudes about divorce don't equal happiness, but they do make it much easier to escape bad situations. I think class privilege has made some of the reactionary feminists a bit blind to the trade-offs of the more traditional lifestyles they like to endorse (but generally don't live themselves).

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

This ideal society you speak of is the modern pluralistic liberal societies that we’ve so difficultly achieved in the West that reactionary forces are mounting against because…why? A visceral inability to live and let live I guess and some nostalgic fantasy about predictable ordered lives in a static moral culture.

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I think Catherine appreciates modern pluralistic societies...

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This is where I land most of the time, too. I think the reactionaries have a point about some of the excesses. For example, I think Mary Harrington's idea about not taking birth control is pretty good, though maybe more as a mindset than literally. BC doesn't prevent any of the downsides of casual sex except unwanted pregnancies, and even that not perfectly - instead, asking yourself if you feel enough love and trust with someone to imagine getting pregnant has helped snap a lot of women I know out of crappy relationships with unreliable or selfish guys. (Though Ruxandra is right that trad is not the opposite of commodification). I think I picture a better society as one where more people choose a little more restraint for their own good.

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Feb 28·edited Feb 28

I agree with all of your points with the exception of one.

I don't believe it is possible to escape bad situations, and in fact our attempts to do so only aggravate our individual and collective suffering. Not that bad situations and pain and suffering aren't meant to catalyze action on our part, but "escape" is certainly not possible.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I think I meant this a bit more narrowly, as in being able to leave an abusive marriage. I agree that we can't eliminate suffering from the world.

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Working class women have always worked. My grandmothers worked, despite being married and having a minimum of 4 children. One was widowed young and struggled to raise her family on the salary a part time job in a department store (the acceptable job for a married mother at the time) gave her. Fortunately her older sister never married and lived with a “lodger” for decades so she wouldn’t have to give up her well-paid Head of Payroll position, so she was able to pass extra money to my mother and her siblings.

The Reactionaries, I notice, are all at least a decade younger than I am and several times more middle class and well-connected. I really value the way being able to control my fertility and take my time choosing a husband has allowed me to climb the class ladder and raise my children to have opportunities I never had.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Reactionaries are peddling their own version of “luxury belief,” but are too firmly ensconced in their bubble to realise it.

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This is a great point. Having experienced many of the finer things of life, it’s notable the reactionaries prioritize different goals than “[being] Head of Payroll, pass[ing] extra money, and climb[ing] the class ladder”.

The grass seems always greener on the other side and envy is found across the class divide. The rich are neither happier nor better than the poor, and vice-versa.

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You make my great-aunt sound grasping. Quite a feat on your part.

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A mariage doesn't fail if proper work is done to keep it going. Relationships are actually demanding in general and it seems to me that all the sides want to have it too easy, especially women, whose entitlement is limitless.

No women would need to be a Walmart cashier if they chose to keep the traditional roles, a man would gladly do that work if it could provide enough ressources for a family. It doesn't, because women chose "freedom".

At some point society will have to face the truth, because clearly it isn't sustainable as it is...

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Eh, there just are people who are too selfish to make a marriage work. They get married and they're confronted with having to put the family ahead of themselves in a concrete way for the first time, and they realize they don't want to. A marriage can only really be worked on if both people are willing to prioritize it over themselves. If one of them won't, there just really is only so much selfishness, irresponsibility, or cruelty the other can take.

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I completely agree. But the currently assumed narrative seems to be that the man is the one at fault in this way most of the time. My personal experience and plenty of first hand observations (you tend to become friend with people who also have divorced parents) is that in most cases the women are actually the one at fault.

They always want more money, more status, more freedom to do whatever and less responsibility at home.

My own mother basically abandoned me the minute she convinced me to go with her instead of my father and still rejected every parental responsibility to my father. She is an extreme case but they are so many similarities in my friend’s case that it is very hard to ignore the pattern and pretend it’s not something that seems to happen a lot.

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I don't really know whether men or women are worse - I've heard plenty of stories of rampant selfishness on both sides - but there is an asymmetry in our culture now where divorced women (or at least those from the right social class) are celebrated in a way that divorced men never would be.

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Yes it is almost impossible to have statistical insight into what sex is more at fault in general. And I agree that both are equally capable of terrible behavior.

As you say, what makes it seem way more unfair for the men is the celebration of this behavior when it is coming from a woman. Thanks for this clarification.

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Yeah, in the first post I was thinking about very traditional subcultures, where I do think it's true that women would be encouraged to tolerate selfish or cruel behavior from their husbands that men would not be expected to tolerate from their wives. This is just what I've seen from growing up in an area with a lot of fundamentalists. I agree it's a totally different situation outside of those subcultures.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

This was an interesting article, and I don't really disagree. My issue is with your framing, which, believe it or not, is still the dominant frame of most women in developed countries. i.e. We can't go back to the past because things were horrible for women in the past. There’s nothing particularly *wrong* about your framing, but overall it will lead to bad results on the important values in life for the vast majority of people. Any valid frame needs to consider the interests of both men and women and families. 


For most people, forming a stable family and being loved by the opposite sex is their greatest desire even if they don’t realize it early on in their lives. Being loved by the opposite sex implies loving the opposite sex, and people genuinely don't want to stick their loved ones with bad deals for some selfish benefit. So any deal likely has to be good for both men and women compared to alternatives.

When looked at in its totality, it's clear the current arrangement does not work. There's a graph floating around on twitter strongly implying only 50% of women born in the 90s will ever marry. Along with this, birth rates keep going lower. It would actually be appropriate to use the word 'unprecedented' to describe this as this level of involuntary childnessness has literally never happened before in history for women. Men historically have seen much worse but let's set that aside. How could the need to be loved and to have children of one's own be better served in our culture than the one a hundred years ago? The statistics look pretty bad.

The current arrangement puts young people into the chaotic churn of dating in their 20s, focusing on their short term pleasure and spits them out in their 30s when they realize they truly desire to be loved, to love and to have children. Freedom and independence and sexual pleasure are all great, but they need to be tamed because they are not the ultimate values in life. And that 'taming' used to be done by society as whole so that when one is ready to get married, one has already been in the practice of subordinating those desires toward more important ones like family and loving others. Children, if left to their own devices will prioritize candy and fun over learning discipline and good character, but a good society continually nudges and shapes them such that by the time they become an adult, they have quite a lot of experience controlling themselves in order to accomplish higher values. The same is true of young adults in their 20s. A young man or woman who has indulged his independence and sexual appetite with no abandon will actually find it difficult to course correct.

That describes one issue, the issue of people being untrained in virtue because nobody tells them what virtue really is or how their view of virtue will unfold over their lifetimes.

The other issue is the mismatch in terms for young men and women. Young men, unless they are very charismatic or handsome, find it difficult to engage in the casual sex their society tells them they ought to enjoy when young. Young women have the problem they don’t very much enjoy casual sex though they can usually indulge it. In our culture, one is expected to get married in their late 20s or early 30s. But many men, who have earnestly believed they wanted a loving marriage their whole youth, suddenly find as they approach 30 that they now *can* engage in casual sex and this is too tempting of an alternative compared to lifelong monogamy with the girl next door. As we mentioned earlier, they have no training in subordinating their impulses for a greater good so they indulge. And, after all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander right? But if this behavior is not corrected, I believe it becomes permanent and many men get stuck in the eternal enticing promise of putting off marriage to the next year. No doubt breaking a lot of hearts along the way.

These things cannot be handled in isolation since one man choosing to forgo marriage necessarily means some hapless woman has to do the same.

I think these two issues go a long way to describing why marriage rates keep going lower along with fertility rates. The hotspots in our culture where people are still getting married are predominantly religious subcultures where they continually focus their minds on the higher order values and focus their minds away from the lower order values. I think Mary Harrington too is getting at something like this, though in a somewhat clumsy way by attaching herself to the anti-pill cause. The lesson I believe she wants to impart is to ask you whether you are using the freedom afforded by the pill in the way that is good for you (and as a result for your future family) in the long run. 

I believe these are new problems so nobody really knows what exactly to do about them. I don’t think we should go back to the mores of 1950. My contribution is to point out that any analysis of gender issues *must* take into account both sexes because it is the union of sexes that has life giving vitality and it is the union that most people desire.

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But I totally agree good relationships are central to a good life! I just don’t get why we can’t transmit this message while also acknowledging that the past was in many ways bad.

That’s kinda what I’m trying to do with my writings, my twitter and so on. Paint relationships in a positive light (among other things)

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It's also just crazy to describe "the past" as if it was made up of happy nuclear families. Child abandonment and neglect was staggering for a tremendous part of Western history -- men fathered kids with women they just walked away from, and those women sort of patchily raised the babies, catch as catch can. The projection of "The American Family, circa 1957" into ancient history is ludicrous.

This very sad book is illuminating on the subject: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/K/bo3633447.html

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author

Agreed! I think there’s a lot of non-empirical romanticisation of the past going on

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Mar 1Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I think though that women’s neediness changes over the lifespan. Most of the post-menopausal women I know have very minimal expectations of relationships and fulfil themselves in other ways. They are often very secure, emotionally and financially, more than almost any of them dreamed possible in their reproductive years.

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author

interesting. In this case, would you say it's rational for women to focus on career when young?

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Of course, the post menopausal cohort had average ages at last birth younger than average ages at first birth today, in aggregate. So the parallels are hard to draw.

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Interestingly the post menopausal women I’m referencing mostly had modest careers (teaching, nursing). But I’m sure this applies more broadly to doctors and lawyers as well. Their revelation that they needed to become financially independent usually arrived after they had children. The children’s financial security became the priority, and often the catalyst to women’s fervid reentry to the workforce. The other catalyst to their careerism was the strength of their peer group bonding. They want to be around their peers with similar lifestyles, and high school was great for that: the next best thing is a workplace populated with their peers.

Most woman with kids realise that the best insurance against loss of a male provider is her own employability and her own savings.

In the contemporary context these play out differently as you can imagine. Peer groups are more brittle, I think. And children must be earned, instead of being a given within the marriage/romance process.

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Apr 7·edited Apr 7Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

> I just don’t get why we can’t transmit this message while also acknowledging that the past was in many ways bad.

Because it’s too complex: <https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/4ZvJab25tDebB8FGE/you-get-about-five-words>. In “Animal Farm” terms, “four legs good, two legs bad”.

EDIT – I originally said “1984” instead of “Animal Farm”. Corrected for accuracy, but feel free to shame me.

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Mar 1Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Very well said. Young women (18-25 or so) have incredibly high sexual market power, and they enjoy exercising it—of course. By contrast, men’s market power grows more slowly, and by the time it peaks, they want to exercise it as well - of course. By then, in their 30s, their same-age female peers, whose market value is now rapidly declining, try to shame them into mating with them rather than the younger women they now have easier access to. But why would they want to do that when they can instead mate with a more attractive, more fun, less “damaged” younger woman?

There is and will always be a conflict of interest between men and women. Neither sex inherently has it harder, it’s just a different type of life trajectory.

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I suspect people are overcomplicating the issue. There is (I think good) research that shows that when there are many women for each available man that the amount of casual sex increases substantially relative to committed relationships. Exactly what you'd expect when men gain more relative market power.

I'm pretty sure all these takes are written by college educated women who see their potential romantic pool as largely composed of college attending men. In recent years the ratio of women to men in college has dramatically increased.

And if I'm right it's not really anything hope to address it with cultural norms about casual sex. You need to fix the gender ratio in college.

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author

Right, that is an issue but at top colleges the sex ratio is quite even

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Would men at top colleges (or degrees from top colleges) be more willing to date women at less exclusive schools than vice versa? This is just an anecdote from the US, but my boss has a masters degree from a state flagship university and his wife is a RN with a degree from a community college. I am not sure how many instances I could identify of things being the other way around.

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I think the question of “dating up” or down is less relevant because of how many highly-educated women even at extremely prestigious universities end up as “opt out” SAHM’s (even if they weren’t originally intending on doing so). It’s not that men aren’t open to dating down in prestige/status (I agree with you that they are much more flexible in this area) but that it ends up not being as necessary.

It’s like how if you look at actual STEM graduates over time it’s quickly apparently that it’s parenthood that’s the limiting factor (47% of first time mothers and even 23% of first time fathers ended up leaving the field). Or this was relevant for my situation at least! Not what I was expecting!

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1810862116

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Yes, men are definitely more willing to date "down" in educational attainment, and as you add in sub-Ivy private colleges, state schools, etc., the college-educated gender ratio becomes more and more tilted towards women.

There likely need to be some real updates about expectations about finances in relationships, but there is still a strong preference for relationships where the man makes more money.

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I was recently reading a paper regarding this and it’s pretty clear in terms of research (as well as common sense and observed evidence for most of us).

The gender pay gap is largely gone for Gen. Z/A- until kids.

Men with children are more likely to receive raises, promotions and opportunities for growth, while women are given dramatically less.

You can parse that out to explain it in all sorts of ways but the simplest makes the most sense:

Since the 50’s there has been concern that post ww2 women didn’t simply get back into the kitchen. Marriage and family continues to be an economic boom for men because of the archaic belief that it automatically makes men less likely to leave. On the other side marriage and family is the opposite for women because of the even more archaic belief that women are less committed and need to work less.

*I intentionally said marriage and family but if we want to be precise it’s marriage for men increases their economic chances while children for women lowers it.

*if we want to get really weird looking at the embedded cultural

Significance of this then we have to consider why since we know that children don’t automatically make women less willing to work, nor less in need of working in the same way marriage doesn’t automatically make a man automatically more stable and more willing to work.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I wouldn't discount this point too easily. The gender ratio may be even at the Ivies and STEM-oriented schools like MIT, Caltech, but many other schools considered "top" are >55% female. For example, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, Emory, Wash U, UC Davis, UCLA, UVA, UNC, UT Austin are all >=55% (some even 60%) female. This has been written about for a while (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/fashion/07campus.html).

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author

And a lot of the takes are written by women at top colleges

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That's true but I think you have to consider the fact that men may very well date women outside that school. Certainly true after graduation but even before. There are infamous buses from women's colleges to the colleges in Cambridge.

Now consider that dating often takes place over an age gap. If women who graduate before their boyfriends don't break up but men do that also puts pressure on the numbers.

I agree it won't be as strong an effect as otherwise but I suspect it exists. Would be interesting to see data on it though.

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I do think there's some nascent wave of feminism that seeks a special carve-out from social progress in the dating realm because that makes straight women happier (and straight women's happiness is the core ideology of this version of feminism). But yes, on the whole in terms of progressive politics, there's been a great reluctance to admit obvious gender differences in men and women's preferred sexual standards. I'm guessing it's because recognizing that would mean there are some innate biological differences, which goes against a lot of the rest of their ideological platform. Also, the very concept of women being needy in any way would undercut their social power, which is again a no-no. Women have to win the race to care less.

I think a big complicating factor is that many of the most strident anti-casual-sex women would probably still like to engage in it if the occasion is right. Say like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have a one night stand with an idol of theirs. Or some short burst of promiscuity to get it out of their system. But then, of course, if these possibilities exist, every guy will then want their shot at also having casual sex, which is heightened by the fact men and women's social peaks aren't perfectly synced. So as long as men think there's a semblance of a chance that they can improve their station later in life to have better sex with more women, many will resist settling down and will become very resentful at basically being told they're not good enough for that kind of sex. The solution to this would be harsh and public slut-shaming of women to get everyone to buy into the system, but that of course has great downsides too.

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author

I fully agree with your framing of the situation. I also believe, as I say in the essay, that such a return to traditional norms would in fact not lead to more happiness

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"The solution to this would be harsh and public slut-shaming of women to get everyone to buy into the system, but that of course has great downsides too."

This is basically the concept of "enforced monogamy".

The other problem is there does seem to be evidence that many women crave status in their male partners so much that, neediness aside, they'd rather be the side chick/mistress of a high-status man than have a monogamous relationship with a lower-status man. Dating apps for men tend to be feast-or-famine; they either get tons of matches or barely any.

Again, slutshaming/enforced monogamy is a very very blunt instrument, but it is the traditional solution.

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> The other problem is there does seem to be evidence that many women crave status in their male partners so much that, neediness aside, they'd rather be the side chick/mistress of a high-status man than have a monogamous relationship with a lower-status man. Dating apps for men tend to be feast-or-famine; they either get tons of matches or barely any.

Maybe this is true for dating apps, have not noticed this in my friends who tend to look for long term relationships

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To the extent it happens via apps, it seems to happen when women have very high standards for who they'll match with (e.g. must be >6ft, handsome, with a successful career) and who complain that every guy they've dated has wound up cheating on them (or ghosted etc.)

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I was just reading a discussion on a forum with a slightly older demographic where someone commented that at a certain age, women start to snatch up all the nice, educated guys who have their shit together pretty quick, it's just a matter of time. Looking at the youth's new norms around dating/sex/romance will always be an incomplete picture.

The apps seem to have reached the end of the enshittification arc, there is no future there. We'll see how things shake out for Gen Z courtship in the years to come.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Your points are well taken; I don't think anyone wants to go back to the dark days of coverture and legalized spousal rape. Also the arguments of Harrington are so theoretical that they often (in my opinion) lose sight of the flesh and blood women who would be losing significant freedoms in her world.

Still, reactionary feminists do have a point about the prevalence of casual sex. I think it's fair to assume that most women don't really want to engage in casual sex, but feel compelled to do so in a world where men can easily get casual sex. This creates a race to the bottom and creates a hook up culture that benefits modern-day Saltykovs who can get almost any woman they want. And those women, like Catharine, yearn for the relationship that they never will get. Of course, these dynamics (super-charged by online dating) mean you have a small number of satisfied Saltykovs, a large number of yearning Catharines and then an army of normie men who can't get the time of day from any woman at all--and some of this cohort goes on to become incels.

Your suggestion on how to change this is a new culture of resilience--women who are rejected by heartless Saltykovs need to get back on the horse and be strong. This is fair, and your point about how modern therapeutic culture has dismantled toughness is well-taken. Still, the way that women traditionally solved this problem was by shaming women who were willing to have casual sex. It seems undeniable that a large enough population of women willing to have casual sex drives down the value of sex, leading to the race to the bottom among women. Obviously, all this was facilitated by the pill. Harrington and the reactionary feminists clearly think that only something as dramatic as banning the pill will turn things around--I share your skepticism on this account.

What you are really looking for here is a cultural shift in which women are more inclined to refuse the Saltykovs of the world--how confident are you that this can be accomplished without using the brutal method of slut-shaming?

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author

I think you’re overstating how bad this is. Most women I know my age do end up in relationships - it’s simply not true that it’s that hard to find someone to settle down with

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I have read that in the US there are pretty large disparities in marriage and divorce rates between those with college degrees and those without. I am pretty sure that if heterosexual people in the US set as a minimum filter for a long term relationship someone who isn’t gay, doesn’t have problems with substance abuse, has a full time job or is pursuing higher education, is faithful, isn’t violent, and doesn’t have a criminal record, there are probably substantially more young women who meet those criteria than young men. People with college educations generally meet those criteria, and in other ways are the most likely to be good candidates for successful long term relationships and marriage. I kind of assume that by the numbers, most of the women and men in the US who cannot find the relationships they want are mostly concentrated among people without a college degree, lower incomes, etc.

My own opinion is that the root of the problem, in the US at least, is that there are far too many men relative to women who don’t meet the bar of “being in a relationship with this person is better than being single”. So far as I can tell, the people who clear that bar do get married and find the relationships that they want.

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author

Yeah I wonder how you can bring more men up to that level

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I think pushing military service and/or the trades as a status-equivalent alternative to college is a good start. See https://notthebee.com/article/this-woman-is-going-viral-after-explaining-that-her-husband-with-a-high-school-diploma-is-making-more-money-than-she-is-with-a-masters-degree-come-december-he-will-have-quadrupled-my-salary

for how it can work (money in trades makes up for less education)

A cultural norm of "go to college or else you're a loser" leaves a lot of men feeling like a square peg in a round hole.

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

How old are your friends, if you don't mind me asking?

I'm curious now because you talk about relationships and not of marriage. We might be talking past each other entirely!

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author

A lot of them are older zoomers/ younger millennials. Relationships of 2 yrs + probably leading to marriage soonish

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I agree that reformers and social critics on all sides want to magnify this problem. Savvy women (and men) have been able to avoid these pitfalls and form successful relationships.

But surely we can agree that it is getting much harder for people to get together, and that the biggest problems we see in the mating market are caddishness from men at the top of the pyramid, heart-break for women in the middle and loneliness for men at the bottom.

Even if we grant that the majority of men and women avoid these traps (and I'm not sure that they do!), clearly larger and larger numbers do not. This is the crisis that everyone is writing about and those of us in successful relationships still need to be realistic about how it can be solved... or if it is solvable at all.

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author

Yeah I’d actually really love to see some data related to this … like exactly how many involuntary relationshipless women and men we have

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According to Jordan Peterson, roughly 22% of women are expected to be involuntarily childless (50% at 30, of which for half its permanent, and for 90% of that group it's involuntary, so 50%x50%x90%=22.5%)

https://twitter.com/jordanbpeterson/status/1640145838134419456?lang=en

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

But will that Someone to settle down with be someone who will minimize that 'loss of satisfaction and sexual interest in the relationship' that you mentioned in the essay? Surely the extent of this phenomenon is pretty dependent on the characteristics of the man she is in the relationship with.

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Yeah ofc. I mean they seem to get along decently well

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Leaving aside the issue of whether it’s hard, it’s just not happening. Marriage rates down, divorce rates up.

College grads came up with a partial solution to this. Get married late in life when it’s too late to have many children and the woman is too old to want to divorce (because the odds of her starting a new relationship at that age are minimal).

This “works” at the price of this class having very low fertility rates that don’t replace themselves, and being quite old before they have any grandchildren. This isn’t a very satisfying life script when you look back on it and is basically a doom loop at the societal level.

If you want a different outcome you’re going to need to spend your 20s assoaciating with people that scorn casual sex and think the purpose of relationships is to find a marriage partner. The only groups that do that are religious.

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

"In many ways, anxiety expands to occupy the space it’s allowed to"...that is a very, very good way to look at things. And powerful sources in society are doing their best to maximize the volume of that space.

Abagail Shrier has a book out on therapy culture...review and comments from Stuart Schneiderman:

https://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2024/02/bad-therapy.html

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author

Yes thank you I heard it’s very good

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Social desirability bias effects on self-reporting can (not saying does) account for most of the gap. Men often think it ummanly to complain they're getting too high a sex:love ratio. We're supposed to be, pretend to be, or want to be soulless fuckboys, they think, but really all I want is to hold someone's hand while watching a Ryan Gosling movie.

But of course there are men who complain about being unlucky in love -- we call them incels. Berkson's paradox strikes again: women are only aware of men who are hot enough to have the opportunity (and incentives) to become soulless fuckboys.

As a tall fit man usually assumed to be a dangerous and soulless fuckboy I'm fairly certain this is all rather nuanced.

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This. Unfuckable men are simply invisible to women. Hence the survival of the myth of the patriarchy in an age in which the average woman is doing better than the average man.

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Wait….so you’re saying that women having the choice not to just settle for (in your words) an unfuckable man is the problem?

Interesting that this is seen as egregious without any real acknowledgment of how this has historically been the plight of unattractive women.

Isn’t it entirely possible that these unfuckable men are simply unpleasant to be around?

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What do you mean by “is the problem”?

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Oh yes sorry! By “is the problem” I meant that it seemed that your original post was saying that if these men were on women’s radar they wouldn’t be (in your words) unfuckable. My point was merely that it seems equally possible that the men themselves aren’t pleasant to be around and that’s why they can’t get laid.

I hope that makes sense. It’s always hard to circle back to a thought from a few days ago lol

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Oh, I wasn’t trying to make a point about the source of the men’s unfuckability - I’m sure there are many who are unpleasant to be around for various reasons. Rather, I was saying that the myth of the patriarchy persists due to a cognitive bias that renders unfuckable men effectively invisible. It’s true that most of the top positions in society are occupied by men, but feminists make the mistake of generalizing this to men as a class.

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I feel like I’m going to regret asking this but…. Can you expound your reasons for believing that patriarchy is a myth?

(Also to simplify this potential glory hole of questions- we are both in America, yes? It’s already a big enough question without also adding in completely different cultural contexts)

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author

can you expand on the fact that you are expected to be soulless?

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Sure. Being tall and confident (and, some would say, handsome) it's easy for people to tell that I'm successful with women. But I'm not married, don't give off any 'partnered' vibes, and if asked am frank about having a fair number of partners just within, say, the last six months. That's surface-level, and the expectation is that my interior motivations are shallow and exploitative: knotches on belt, sexual objects, trophies, whatever. That this isn't the case, that I'm quite sweet and compassionate and whole-hearted, that at the end of a relationship I have always (until recently) wished that I'd said 'no' more often -- these are all invisible at first and (for some) incredible in a strict sense of possessing zero credibility.

Now, if I were happily partnered, had a big ol wedding ring, wore t-shirts with my kids' sports teams on them, and couldn't stop talking about my lovely wife, people wouldn't make the same assumptions.

(And yes of course there's a lot more subtlty to signaling, and some of how I present myself does excuse some of the assumptions made, but let's not make this comment section like an episode of Oprah.)

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My gf often accuses me of lowballing my sexual history (I think she likes the idea that I'm a reformed ex-fuckboy who is settling down just for her). I've tried to explain to her that men peak later, and I didn't always have my current ease getting women (and never really had much desire to be a fuckboy either)

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This is really common. My most recent ex, who’s significantly younger than me and much less experienced, would often try to get me to open up about my prior sexual escapades. I generally didn’t want to - it felt tacky - but she seemed to get off on it. Social proof seems to play a big role in women’s attraction to men.

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To quote Oscar Wilde. "Men always want to be a woman’s first love. That is their clumsy vanity. We women have a more subtle instinct about these things. What (women) like is to be a man’s last romance."

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Very well put!

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Perhaps the incels are right about women preferring fuckboys even if they have to invent them in their minds. Supply apparently can't keep up with demand.

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Not long ago, the general idea was that young people would obviously want to get married when they first fell in love, and their parents would have to talk them out of it (or maybe shouldnt, if the message of *that* movie was true love). The last decades teenagers have started doing this to themselves, so now being very romantic is not rebellious but naive and uncool.

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Your conflating wanting to be married and wanting a very romantic relationship- which is actually a pretty hilarious fallacy if you’ve actually been married for more than a minute.

A lot of the assertions seem really narrow and ignore bigger cultural differences between generations.

For boomers marriage was the threshold into adulthood. The desire to get out of their parents home and be a grown up helped drive early marriage rates. And if we are talking about that golden moment of “family” that is the 50’s then we also have to consider the massive government help young people received, not to mention the ways a war spurs intense ideology for things like marriage (fun fact btw: the highest divorce rate this country ever had was post ww2, way before no fault divorce was even a thought…and since in most states at that time women couldn’t legally leave their spouse it’s pretty clear who drove those divorces)

Modern youth is entering adulthood with very different economic conditions —and if we really want to be honest- often times a pretty jaded view of things like marriage after witnessing so many unhappy ones.

Last point then I’ll shut up: anytime we talk about something deeply entrenched in our culture it’s worth the time to consider how that conversation is approached.

For example: perhaps the solution to divorce isn’t making it harder to get, but to see it as a symptom of the actual problem- marriages that arent good. We live in a country that continues to say marriage matters while showing that what is meant is that looking happily married matters more than being happily married.

The fact is that there’s pretty compelling evidence to show how hard it is for a society to move backwards so in some ways it feels kind of pointless to discuss whether we did it better before rather than considering how we can do it better in the future.

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Hello, Ruxandra and thanks for your perspective. But I'm a bit skeptical about your conclusions, perhaps you could bring perspectives I'm losing.

I don't think women in general are being gaslighted to don't discuss their emotional needs, at least in their individual level of their social circles. Althought the tolerance for casual fling rose a lot, slut-shaming being still a thing is not by accident. And I think female friends still talk about those things.

Even culturally speaking, "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé exploded in the lifetime of most millennial women and some Gen z ones. And, lest we forget, Taylor Swift

I still think hypergamy is a far bigger problem, and just changing "culture" (esp only the female ones) won't help if the competition doesn't cool off. I don't think women should date bottom 10% men (the famous "men are overepresented in genius and felons categories"), but lots of dateable, less desirable men are being threw out the pool because women still prefer men who earn more even after the reduction of men-women wage gap, women being deluded standards by dating apps and the "doom loop" of not learning to talk and flirt with women in early ages and now have to bore even higher barriers to entry in a less physical, more virtual world. Unsurprisingly, lots of them are dropping out from dating pool.

The other side of the coin is that more desirable men live in state of abundance that make them more picky even if they want a long-term relationship and harder to commit. And the fact that most recents gains for women aren't particularly attractive to these men don't help. Upper-Middle Class men in fact usually care about their spouse social class, wiith a bachelor degree, but both a kindergarden teacher and a product manager have one.

This is leading women to fight for a ever smaller slice of a shrinking pie, with 40% of men doesn't dating at all. They will be far more tempted to break the "cartel" of casual sex in the hopes to lure an eligible and avaliable bachelor to a LTR, just like 90's eastern europe (if we can believe in the stories).

Perhaps lots of frustrated women would end dropping dating too (as we are seeing already), but I don't see how this solution would deal with their "neediness".

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author

I think in my generation there is a lot of pussyfooting around the topic tbf. What gen are you?

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Mar 6·edited Mar 6

mid-Millennial, and I hang with mostly older millennial women. With even older colleagues, I've feel more the "don't care about relationships", but not glorification of "casual sex". But I'm a man and there are lots of talkings that I don't belong to.

I live in a declining conservative country(Brazil), but in a relative middle-class setting in a big city (São Paulo), far more influenced by the Western ways and thinking. Most things I've read in anglosphere apply to my experience.

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women initiate most divorces not because they are more fed up with marriage than men, but because they are almost always the poor partner in marriages. Historically, men just walked away -- and many would prefer to do that now, too. They often manage it, in fact. Modern divorce paperwork -- famously hated by men -- settles child support and property outcomes at the end of the marriage. Without it men would be under no obligation to pay anything or divvy up anything. That's why women file more often than men do; often in cases where the husband has walked away already.

That being said, this was beautifully put: "misunderstanding of what female neediness is fundamentally all about: it’ not simply the desire to be tied to someone that cannot get rid of you because of a Law. It’s a yearning for love, actual love, something that cannot be merely be imposed from the outside through rules"

This yearning is part of what is best in women but sets them up for just horrible humiliations, too. Not all -- to be fair -- inflicted by men. The yearning can cause women to set themselves up; every woman has seen it in her friends and done it at least once to herself. I'm a feminist but I also think there is a "human frailty, female version" aspect to this that is sort of inescapable.

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author

Interesting. I agree the admin/lack of money side is often what causes this, but there is also compelling evidence women get more "fed up" on average.

> This yearning is part of what is best in women but sets them up for just horrible humiliations, too. Not all -- to be fair -- inflicted by men. The yearning can cause women to set themselves up; every woman has seen it in her friends and done it at least once to herself. I'm a feminist but I also think there is a "human frailty, female version" aspect to this that is sort of inescapable

Totally agree!

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Though on the flipside, I wonder if there is something to the argument that modern divorce paperwork makes men more leery of marriage. As the MRA talking point goes, "never sign a contract with someone who gets rewarded for breaking it"

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Not a flip side? No argument from me that cost free abandonment of mothers and kids was a great deal for men that many availed themselves of fully.

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There are (or should be) other options besides "men can abandon cost free" and "women can take half the man's shit because she's bored with the relationship".

Modern divorce rules help women protect themselves against the first risk, but the only way men can really protect themselves against the second risk is to avoid marriage altogether (unless they can convince their fiancee to sign a prenup).

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Women are far more likely than men to be poor and to remain unmarried after divorce. I don't think divorce "rewards" more than a handful of women. For example, only about 10% of divorces nowadays involve alimony, and the number of men receiving alimony has been increasing over time.

A woman doesn't take anything a man acquired before a marriage, too. For example, if a man owned his house *before* they got married, it wouldn't be split in the divorce. It's only split when they purchased it while together. I think it's interesting that you frame it as a woman "taking half the man's shit" when the two are splitting the marital assets. Everything the woman earned or purchased during the marriage is also split.

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I'm not necessarily sold on the theory that marriage rates are declining because men see it as a punitive contract to sign, but I've definitely heard more than once about "modern divorce" being a concern, especially since women initiate 70% of divorces.

Statistically, to get married and stay married men generally have to partner with women who earn less (because women have a preference for men who earn more). The Washington Post reported "a team of economists at the University of Chicago showed that when women out-earn their husbands, marital satisfaction is lower, and divorce is more likely." https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/12/in-experiments-researchers-figured-out-what-men-and-women-really-want-in-a-mate/

Politico reported a similar finding

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/women-rule/2020/02/07/why-do-women-prefer-richer-men-488275

But that also means that if/when divorce does happen, the man disproportionately generated the marital assets. Also, as I understand it, any gain in the value of pre-existing assets (e.g. a house) during the marriage gets split

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When talking about disproportionately generating assets, I think it's important to look at the relationship itself as potentially being integral to the generation of those assets. For example, if a woman does most of the housework, she is doing labor that would otherwise cost money for a housekeeping service; if she stays home to watch children, she's saving the couple money on childcare.

In my marriage my husband makes slightly less per hour than I do, but works more hours so he makes more money overall. However, I do more of the housekeeping duties, I fill out and file our tax returns every year, and I handle all paperwork and appointments for us both. I'm the one keeping track of the budgets, paying the bills (as in, the physical act of writing checks), cooking supper 4-5 days per week, doing all the laundry, etc. And if/when we have children I will be the one disproportionately taking time off work to care for them.

So if we did divorce, my husband could get grumpy because he made more money than I did... but I am sacrificing time that I could be working to make sure that our household runs smoothly, and I think those efforts should be considered.

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100%. I tell my boys not to get married. I have been happily married for 35+ years and would never do it again. Men are waking up to the horrors of divorce court. It's a big reason why the marriage rate is plunging

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Another aspect is children and childcare. Men largely do not seek primary custody of their children. If a woman is taking care of children on her own and needs child support, or to qualify for government programs, she needs a finalized divorce in order to do that, so she has more incentive to file the paperwork.

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This was very good. A thought about the "need for status" and how it relates to this though. I think men often see a woman with the "need for status" as exhibiting something they find quite... ugly. In the same way women can be grossed out by men's casual sex behaviors, men can be grossed out by women seeking out status.

I think higher status men also often find it gross and lose respect for women they see showing that behavior. You can imagine how high status men will treat a woman they don't respect because of this: casual sex and it definitely isn't progressing past that.

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Mar 1Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

100%. I find it very off-putting.

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I think both men and women need to recognize that the behaviors/preferences of the opposite sex of which they are contemptuous are expressions of the same thing. It’s not gross or wrong for a man to want to shoot for the hottest woman he can get, and it’s not gross or wrong for women to want a man who’s better off than she is. Obviously there are ways to go about either of those things that involve acting like a huge asshole, but the desires themselves are just born of millions of years of evolution. Both parties are simply trying to maximize their reproductive success. We are animals but we aren’t *just* animals, so of course we can make choices that don’t necessarily align with those things and perhaps there are situations where we ought to. Certainly the social changes for women re: education and career have made it increasingly difficult for women to find men who are better off than they are because the women themselves are incredibly well off, when historically it was basically a given. Something will probably have to give there, but we need a recognition that female hypergamy is not just women being bitches and the male desire for maximal sex with maximally hot women is not just men being disgusting. The challenge is to recognize that heterosexuality does have an element of the adversarial to it without becoming cynical.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I think that a lot of these differences in preferences about sex are downstream of or at least mixed up with attitudes towards family and children. Real equality would mean that the costs and difficulties (and satisfactions!) of having and rearing kids would be shared equally by men and women. The fact that they are not seeps into everybody's sense of self including their most intimate desires.

I'd never say things were better in the old days, but I *do* think that women and men (or upper-class women and men, which is mostly what this discourse is about) are expected to get more of their sense of self-worth from their careers than most career is capable of giving. I don't think that feminism is the reason for this, it has more to do with economic change, but a certain feminism takes too much satisfaction from an ambiguous development.

The old man-works-woman-raises-kids family had a million problems and injustices but it occasionally could and sometimes still does work very well in the right circumstances. It is still a useful compare-and-contrast mirror to look at our new world where women (not just an exceptional minority of them) have careers and sex lives relatively independent of family and childbearing. The reactionaries are at least right that this is a very new world, we are still figuring out how it works.

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Real equality is never gonna happen. The burdens of childrearing are fundamentally UNequal. Gestation, birthing, and nursing are far more demanding than anything a man goes through in childrearing, and they're all mandatory. Plus, to whatever extent they have the chance to make choices, women choose men for their status, and men choose women for their looks.

We should give up on such a foolhardy goal. A far better one would be to just learn to live with our strengths and weaknesses, but to find as best a way as we can to enable and encourage male status acquisition and economic prosperity, while encouraging sociality and conviviality as much as possible early in life so as to give us the best chance to get to know each other well enough to make a reasonably informed decision about the quality of our partners. Male prosperity also increaes overall economic prosperity, which enables women to be able to leave a toxic husband without worrying about winding up starving or destitute to increasingly greater degrees. That, along with a negative-income tax, would either prevent most bad marriages from happening outright, or encourage the ones whom do wind up in one to leave far sooner than they would in a poorer society.

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

It would be nice if everybody were richer but I don't think that the negative income tax will save us from bad marriages, or from men leaving their unmarried partner alone with the baby.

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Nothing will ever save women completely from such fate. There could be measures taken now to greatly reduce such chances, but many of them are so horrifically anti-freedom that even the most reactionary feminists would never agree to 'em:

https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/love-and-liberty

Love is an adventure, and adventure is inherently risky.

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Motherhood would be less risky if we centered these conversations around the importance of being excellent parents rather than on whether or not we got married.

Being a spouse and being a parent are 2 very different skill sets.

Our obsession about marriage as a marker of success is kind of weird if we think raising children well is the ultimate goal.

Honestly it seems like if we focused on really supporting healthy and cooperative coparenting regardless of being married, increased marriage would naturally follow for the next generation

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IDK, I think if anything being an excellent parent is over-emphasized.

College-educated people don't have kids anymore because your kid is expected to be an incredibly expensive and time-consuming extra curricular arts project.

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Mar 1·edited Mar 1Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

> In this way women can self-impose stricter norms regarding their behaviour: if they understand from the get-go that casual sex is probably not going to lead to long-term satisfaction, they can self-select out of this activity on their own.

The historic coordination mechanism for accomplishing this in the West has been the Church. Unlike Eastern Christianity, Western Christianity has been female-dominated for millennia. At its core, it was the mechanism by which high-SES older women prevented low-SES younger women from messing around with their husbands. For example, I remember coming across a paper with data from northern France in the Middle Ages, showing that a majority of legally punished adulterers were men. And a substantial fraction of punished women were prostitutes who had slept with married men. In other words, even though prostitution was largely legal at the time, it was only a legal service for unmarried men.

Arguably, such legal actions are necessary, because women self-imposing stricter norms will never be 100% effective (particularly for low-SES women). And it takes only a small number of prostitutes (formal or informal) to enable a large fraction of married men to cheat.

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author

I think past mechanisms for imposing moral norms were much harsher than you make them seem (which I touch upon in my essay)

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I also disagree with you there -- I think there was substantial variation, but overall it was less harsh than you think. Tbh, I think progressives are no less biased as conservatives when it comes to the pre-modern West, unable to see it as anything other than a nightmare from which they are trying to awake. (I should say that I am an agnostic ex-Catholic, so I don't really have any reason to be particularly favorable to the Middle Ages.) I think this past is instructive, not as something to mindlessly copy or to mindlessly repudiate, but to consider .

For example, in reference to the above, these took place before French laws were nationalized on the basis of the Justinian Code, which did have a rather one-sided interpretation of adultery while making it a capital crime. Prior to that, adultery was adjudicated by ecclesiastical courts and local magistrates; it was not a capital crime, and as I pointed out, it was primarily used to prevent married men from seeing prostitutes. I think this counts against your claim that adultery "was mostly regarded as an affront by a man to another man’s property." (Btw, the paper is: McDougall, S. (2014). The opposite of the double standard: gender, marriage, and adultery prosecution in late medieval France. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 23(2), 206-225.)

Regarding legal marital rape exemptions -- which of course I do not defend by any means! -- more context is also needed. First, there is actually very little de facto difference today, due to the difficulty of providing multiple witnesses to establish guilt. To the extent that marital rape is less common today (which frankly, based on a few of my experiences with the lower orders of American society, I think is limited to the upper-middle and above classes), it is due to improved culture not to the repeal of the legal exemption.

Second, the historical origins of that exemption are important -- not to justify, but to understand. The origins are, of course, religious. It actually dates back to the Talmud, but the relevant text for Christians was St Paul's letter to the Corinthians: "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.' But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." Marital vows were understood to be not only a commitment to not have extra-marital sex, but also to be an open-ended commitment to have marital sex.

Now again, I don't want to defend this aspect of Christianity, but I do think it's a bit unfair to regard this as sexist and oppressive -- with caveats of course around how this was sometimes employed in a one-sided manner. St Paul was saying that the man and woman are equally, and in exactly the same way, property of each other. That was really quite revolutionary, especially relative to the standards of Antiquity. To the extent that pre-modern Europeans tried to live this out (and not to distort it in a one-sided manner) they were actually making a huge leap towards gender equality. One might even understand the marital problems between Peter and Catherine to be a consequence of his failure to follow this premodern text, rather than him just doing what supposedly everyone thought to be okay until the 20th century. Furthermore, putting my libertarian hat on, I don't think it is good for people to be coerced into entering into a contract with terms they do not want. (One might draw a parallel between the marital rape exemption and employment contracts with NDAs, arbitration agreements, and other terms that make it hard for them to seek legal recourse.) But at the same time, I don't think it's wrong for people to form contracts (and for the state to enforce said contracts) with terms that they both agree to. If two people want to enter into a contract that consists of both long-term obligations in addition to long-term prohibitions, I don't think society and the state should try to stop that. Civilization in large part consists in enabling parties to form arbitrarily complex binding agreements across space and time. To be clear, I find such an agreement to be rather strange, and making it obligatory for all marriages, as Christianity did, to be extremely strange. But I don't think it's necessarily bad, and even if I did, I don't think it's my business, or society's business, to get in the way of it. And in fact, I think a society with such agreements available yet not obligatory would possibly be one in which Peter's and Catherine's issues would've been avoided. Again, I don't think we should make pre-modern French law or St Paul's ideas to be the law of the land today, but I do wish modern progressives were more open-minded to learn from past attempts to build a better society.

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Excellent writing. I'm left wondering where is the male mirror image of this essay? Need some kind of yin-yang balance to understand all this. Are there trade-offs here for men, what are they, and are they worth it? Yes, I think. But this debate often assumes a certain passivity from men, and an indifference from women to men's preference, when in reality mostly these are joint decisions. I.e. women's neediness is partly conditioned on their expectations of men's roaming. If the expectations were rather of clinginess and obsession you might see the opposite.

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author

Thank you! I think men are somewhat less likely to discuss these things. Which, incidentally, is why this discourse often features entirely the perspective of women and is maybe inconsiderate to men.

I think the trade-off for men is one of time: do you want to spend loads of time engaging in casual sex? Men can also be motivated by settling down with a woman and delaying this can hurt their career long term (the eternal man child problem). The other issue men have is that they can be entirely unattractive to women, in which case neither casual sex nor commitment are on the radar

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Feb 29Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I'll just add that this puts me in mind of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. "Sigh no more ladies, sigh no more, for men were deceivers ever. One foot on sea, one foot on shore, to one thing constant never." But in the play a lot of that behaviour is downstream of male heartbreak as much as female. And I think that's true now too. Heartbreak, crying on their friend's shoulder, and then a wild phase. Men are often responding to their own experience more than anything.

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author

btw, how did you find this essay ? (doing market research)

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Found via a mention in Slow Boring, by Matt Yglesias

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I think Hanania plugged your work

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I think via another post being liked by another substack I followed but I don't recall which.

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I'm surprised you had to go back through hundreds of years of history to defend the effects of the contraceptive Pill which was introduced in the 1960s, but you do nevertheless draw the same conclusion as Mary Harrington, that "women should self-select out of this activity on their own". I think this is a sensible antidote to the sexual exploitation of girls and they may already be doing so, as teenage pregnancies in the UK are a third of what they were in 2011.

But another issue MH highlights is the stark difference between the career opportunities of the middle class women that benefit from blank slate sexual equality: highly educated and remunerated lawyers, doctors, etc compared to working class women (in Britain anyway). Retail, admin and domiciliary care work do not pay enough to allow a woman to outsource her housework and childcare. Retirement age is now equal to men's which means women with post-menopause arthritis have to drudge along in a repetitive job in a factory until age 67. When I started work, retirement age for women was 60.

With regard to your conclusion, there is another theory: a persistent lack of adversity in life ironically leads to mental distress. Cold water swimming/bath therapy apparently rebalances the chemicals in the brain that get out of whack when life is unrelentingly easy, dull and painless!

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author

My view is very different from that of MH: she thinks that women being treated as commodities has increased after the pill and I argue the opposite !!!!!!!

I agree that rich women benefit more from .... everything really. But that was always the case, even before feminism - and indeed it was much more the case before feminism. For better or worse, feminism has led to a decrease in domestic violence and dependence on violent husbands, which low income women are much, much more likely to suffer from.

*Any* and I repeat *any* ideology will be manipulated by higher privilege people....

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Feb 28Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Women are commodities in the porn industry, aren't they? I don't think you mentioned this. MH identifies this too as a post-the Pill thing, a byproduct of the sexual revolution that's harmed women. I think she's right.

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author

My point is for every situation of today where women could be considered “commodities” there’s many more examples of it before the pill.

Also, women can choose to be part of the porn industry. Being essentially a sex slave to your husband wasn’t really a choice

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Yeah. Plus, prostitution was waaaaay more common in pre-modern times. The sex industry was always a rough place to be in, but it was way worse back in the days before forensics, antibiotics, latex condoms, women's rights, or meaningfully broad economic prosperity.

Pretty much the only benefit was that, on the offchance you could escape your past life, there wouldn't be the extensive visual record that there is of pornstars. But who's kidding who? That was hardly a likely scenario. Almost everybody whose mother was a prostitute was gonna find out at some point. Richard Pryor and Louis Armstrong's mothers were both prostitutes, and I'm positive even the children of most pornstars have happier upbringings than those guys did.

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Mar 8Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

Why is it better for women to self-impose prohibitions against causal sex rather than have those prohibitions imposed by society?

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author

Because decentralised soft Norms are much more responsive to local circumstances than mandated rules?

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Mar 8Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

As a liberty oriented person myself I have sympathy with this answer. Yet, it seems true that if 95% of women are enforcing norms against adultery/casual sex, the greater the penalty for the defectors and the easier it becomes to convince women (and men) to agree to the norm. Conversely a woman holding up norms against philandering on her own seems unlikely today influence other’s behaviour. In this way it seems the obvious Schelling point is to make womanising illegal and sanction violators.

The paradox: does loss of liberty (optionality) increase human happiness?

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author

but my proposal is consistent with 95% of women enforcing some sort of soft norms -- the current absolute denial of any diff in preference for casual sex among genders is pretty new

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Mar 3Liked by Ruxandra Teslo

I would suggest that anyone who believes prostitution exists because the role of the Church has diminished in modern society should look up The Winchester Geese. There's plenty of other examples, but they're a particularly stark one, and unlike Victorian prostitutes the Enlightenment hadn't even happened yet, so science and nascent Atheism cannot be blamed.

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author

thank you very much for this reference!

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You're welcome, I think it's definitely pertinent in light of the "tradition" discussions that are so prevalent on the internet these days.

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