Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Giving Sex Away for Free

The best part of Gracy Olmstead’s article on the hookup Tinder culture is that I said it before… in a post called: Sex With Someone You Don’t Know.

She makes my point well:

We wouldn’t entrust a stranger with our car keys, phones, children or bank account numbers. But in the age of Tinder and casual hookups, our bodies are not one of those off-limit items. And that trust has not been well rewarded.

It would have been better if she had explained that she was writing for women and about women. The female body and the male body are decidedly different on this score, so she should have emphasized that this state of affairs exists because many women have decided, as the old saying goes, to give it away for free. No one ever really says that a man gives it away for free. He might not feel good at being complicit in a woman's self-degradation, but he will not believe that he is giving it away for free

Olmstead continues to comment on the fateful and disagreeable casual encounter between Grace, as she dubs herself, and famed woke man: Aziz Ansari:

Beyond the realm of innocent misunderstanding or regret, many sexual partners choose to ignore the nonverbal cues of a potential sexual partner. Perhaps it was not Ansari’s intent — maybe he was truly surprised and oblivious to Grace’s desires — but Grace describes feeling assaulted after their date. And many of the women who shared their experiences after reading Grace’s story related it to sexual violence and unkindness, a deliberate obliviousness and malevolent persistence that left them with deep trauma and hurt. There’s an inherent danger in having sex with someone who does not know you — and, therefore, does not particularly care about you.

An astonishing insight, which might come as news, when you have sex with someone who you do not know and who does not you, said male person does not really care about you. Wow! Of course, the feeling is no doubt mutual.

Happily, someone has done some studies about the feelings of regret that people of both genders express after hookups:

In a 2002 study in which participants were asked their feelings after a casual hookup, 35 percent were “regretful or disappointed,” while only 27 percent felt “good or happy.” A 2012 Canadian study found that 78 percent of women and 72 percent of men who had “uncommitted sex” reported a history of feeling regret after the encounter. In addition, the American Psychological Association notes that “among a sample of 1,743 individuals who had experienced a one-night stand, Campbell (2008) … found that men had stronger feelings of being ‘sorry because they felt they used another person,’ whereas women had stronger feelings of ‘regret because they felt used.’ ”

Yet, Olmstead does not address the question of how it has come to this. How has a generation of young people who learned how to put condoms on bananas in grade school gotten to the point where they see sex as obligatory, even if they do not know the person they are hooking up with?

Of course, today’s sex educators bear some considerable responsibility. But, today's feminists bear the greatest responsibility. The hookup culture would not be happening if women had not been told that they should be doing it. And they would not be doing it if they had been told by men. 

Modern women believe that they are striking a blow against the patriarchy by hooking up with a man they have never met. Perhaps, instead of studying sex ed in schools they should have been reading more Jane Austen.


Sam L. said...

Feminists hate (other) women. Or so it appears to me.

Ares Olympus said...

David Brooks wrote an idealistic piece in response to the Ansari article, about the need for respect, and the limitations of agency (which honest feminists will wish upon all women), but he doesn't touch the gender divide and that hookup culture is more harmful to women than men.
Two writers I greatly admire criticized the woman in the Ansari episode for not exercising more agency. If she was uncomfortable, she could have put on her clothes and hopped in a taxi.

But that’s not how agency works. It’s not a card you pull out of your pocket and lay on the table. Agency is learned, not bred. And one of the things that undermines agency most powerfully is past sexual harm. The abuse of intimacy erodes all the building blocks of agency: self-worth, resiliency and self-efficacy (the belief that you can control a situation).

Or like women of old were apparently taught to be brave and go out into the world eyes wide open, as this Atlantic article reminds, but it seems modern young women are more naive, that they have any agency to ask for anything better, and follow the foolish idea that you can give away everything for free, and still get what you want in return later. Maybe Brook's "disenchantment" and in a land of unlimited free porn, young women are unable to see their own self-worth that enables them to demand higher standards for how they are treated?

Tonestaple said...

My excuse for foolish behavior was "It was the 70s." Not very good, but it's what I had. But what really makes this possible is the evil of easy abortion. Since you can send the product of your witless coupling down the drain, why not go ahead, even if you know you're going to regret it later.

I am horrified by my behavior, even though I had the baby and gave her up for adoption, but it seems even worse now: all this knowledge about human behavior and girls still don't seem to have the agency to say a big fat NO!!! They just want to send signals without sending the surest one of all: getting up and getting the hell out. I feel like my behavior, in retrospect, was a whole lot more mature, and it wasn't mature at all.

Christopher B said...

I think it was Heather MacDonald who wrote an article about this incident and refered to the change in the default answer to 'will you have sex' from 'no' to 'yes'. That default 'no' meant society had her back when she wanted to reject a man's advances. She didn't have to rely entirely on her own agency to enforce her decision.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I wrote about MacDonald's article on my Jan. 15 post.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Wow, a David Brooks reference. Impressive.