Stable Positions on the Monogamy-Hypergamy Continuum.

I noticed a paradox when reading the recent blog posts at Lost Art of Self Preservation for Women and Hooking Up Smart on Jaclyn Friedman (Not Safe For Your Lunch) and her celebration of sluttyness.

In Piece of Advice #61: Do NOT embrace your inner slut grerp argues

There are so many things I disagree with in Jaclyn Friedman’s message here, but even if you don’t, take this away: if this is what the dating pool now looks like, think of the market value a slim, chaste, not certifiably insane young woman has by her sheer scarcity.   Supply.  Demand.

As usual, it is pretty hard to argue with grerp.

But then Susan Walsh has a different take with her post titled Deconstructing the Sluthood of Jaclyn Friedman

Sexually discriminating women have every reason to withhold support from sluts. Sluts are wreaking havoc on the supply side.

Susan also makes perfect sense (as usual) arguing what appears to be the opposite position!  I find myself torn between two very smart women.  Which side to choose?

Luckily for me I don’t have to choose.  They are both right.  This is the case because they are speaking about different positions on the Monogamy-Hypergamy Continuum.

The Monogamy-Hypergamy Continuum

We all know that men are programmed to want a variety of women, as well as avoid investing in women who may not remain faithful.  So men need to either choose between high investment accompanied by a high likelihood of female fidelity, or low investment sex with a variety of women.  A third option would be to have it both ways.

On the other hand, women want to maximize the investment they receive from men as well as keep their options open to choose a better man.

The chart above depicts how this continuum likely looks for women when the contradictory wants of men and women intersect.  However, it is a bit misleading because parts of the continuum tend to be very unstable.  They might be an option available to many women for a brief period of time during social upheaval, or to a small number of women due to exceptional status.  Traditional Marriage and the options to the left of it are generally fairly stable options.   However, the options to the left of Traditional Marriage are unattractive to women for obvious reasons.  Traditional Marriage is a happy medium of the needs of both men and women, and therefore tends to be stable so long as society is ordered in such a way as to foster this.

However if society fails to offer the required structure, the only women men are generally going to be willing to marry are those who have enough moral strength to convince a man she is marriage material.  These are the women grerp is referring to.

The remaining women (the ones Susan is talking about) are likely to feel the temptation to continue moving farther to the right (more choice).  As they do so fewer and fewer men are going to see the value in offering investment (fidelity, wealth, care of offspring) in women.  As a result, a woman might shoot for Serial Marriage (2.0) and find herself pulled by competition from other women through Serial Monogamy, etc all the way down to Hooking Up (the next stable point on the continuum).  This is of course exactly what we are starting to observe.

Unfortunately for women, once a woman has moved much past Serial Monogamy her options for moving back to the left tend to evaporate.  In addition, as time erodes her beauty her opportunities tend to shrink as well.  This is perfectly illustrated by the Aging Feminist Jaclyn Friedman and her self publicized descent into Craigs List status.  Since she is no longer attractive enough to move to any point of higher male investment on the continuum, this is where she is stuck.

This entry was posted in Ageing Feminists, Choice Addiction, Feminists, Finding a Spouse, Marriage. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Stable Positions on the Monogamy-Hypergamy Continuum.

  1. grerp says:

    Once again, thank you for your kind words, dalrock. I noticed that Susan and I seemed to be contradicting each other in what we said, and yet I agreed with her position too. So your post is illuminating.

    I found that in college when the men around me weren’t interested in settling down, getting a boyfriend was very much complicated by the fact that I wasn’t interested in having sex outside of marriage. Again, since men were just looking for women to spend time with and sex was a significant draw in searching out a girlfriend, I was cut out of the market. This is what Susan is talking about. It’s been twenty years since I went away to school and I think the hooking up requirement has only gotten more hard and fast. So in essence you have to hold your assets from the market to keep their value and just hope and pray you don’t hold too long. And you have to be motivated to marry because why else would you bother? I mean, I wanted a boyfriend. I just didn’t want to be used and discarded. And I didn’t feel confident that I would be able to tell the players from the long-term investors. So yeah, as Friedman’s defenders are mockingly putting it over at HUS, the sluts mop up all the menz. Because they are giving away for free what men would otherwise negotiate to have, and who turns down a free offer? And in that type of situation anyone requiring more has to either gamble or opt out.

    However among the small-getting-smaller pool of men who still want to get married self-restraint is an indicator of trustworthiness. I suspect that, now matter how popular the MGTOW movement is, there will always be men who want to marry and do the settle-down thing. For this group, the type of woman I was talking about only becomes more and more desirable because society is producing fewer and fewer of them.

    Given the above, I suppose my advice to a woman very interested in marrying would be start looking early (and I mean early as in late teens/early twenties), open your search to include men older than your own age bracket (because they are more likely to be ready to settle down), and do not overvalue what you have to offer. Also, as Susan says, develop an appreciation for the Beta.

  2. dalrock says:

    Very well put. I think we are saying exactly the same things, in slightly different ways.

    I wanted a boyfriend. I just didn’t want to be used and discarded.

    What got me first thinking about this curve was Susan’s point about competition. It made me think that what you and I were sold when we were young (and most of our generation still believes) was a very unrealistic situation. I’m talking about the assumption that one could have a string of committed LTRs and then find a spouse. But as I thought about it, I struggled to find a situation in history (aside from then) where this was normal. It struck me that it must have been inherently unstable, which I think we have found. The middle ground we were all so confident was the right way turns out to be more like a water slide to Hooking Up or (worst case) Craig’s List.

  3. Susan Walsh says:

    Dalrock, thanks so much for the link. What a great analysis here! Interestingly, grerp’s position is critical to my blog. That is, I encourage women to be that scarce woman who has sat on the sidelines patiently while her slutty peers misbehaved. And I agree with grerp’s advice to focus on men aged 25+. This means that man women will not have their first real relationship until they are out of college.
    I’d also like to say that you are quite gifted on the graphic front. I like this chart. And I’m glad that you agree that Craigslist is the absolute bottom of the barrel.

  4. J says:

    You know, I’ve actually been so disturbed by what I’ve been reading about the hook-up scene that I’ve been asking people about it IRL. I have a some co-workers with college age kids and others who are recent college grads. What I heard from them was actually somewhat encouraging. While everyone was aware that the hook-up scene exists and descried it, few people thought that refusing to participate was harmful to good girl’s dating and snagging a mate or that young men who were not players would be stuck taking sloppy seconds off the players. The consensus was that college students who had a social circle that revolved around a common interest or background tended to date within that group rather than hooking up randomly. Students who were less connected to others sought out more random contacts with whom they had nothing but sex in common with.

    The advice of a recent grad school grad and new bride was that freshmen should immediately seek out clubs, organizations, religious groups, etc. where they can associate with like-minded students. Those students are more likely to date in a trraditional fashion and build relationships around common values than they are to hook-up.

  5. J says:

    Also, as Susan says, develop an appreciation for the Beta.

    I hate that term as much Dalrock hates women planning their widowhood while their husbands are still alive. ;’-)
    A moral, upstanding guy is not Beta to me. Those are exactly the traits that a woman should not compromise on. A good guy has HV than a player.

  6. Vincent Ignatius says:

    I wonder how this would look with a third axis for environmental conditions e.g. laws or sex ratio.

    Clearly, traditional marriage is no longer a stable point in modern America.

  7. dalrock says:

    Good info J. Lacking hard data, it is really hard to pin this down. I think both sides are right. Something is happening. Check out Susan’s About page for some very troubling stats. I also did see evidence of a significant decline in women marrying in their 20s in just the last 10 years (Grey divorce P2). But as you and I have pointed out in several places, the marriage market hasn’t ground to a halt, etc.

  8. dalrock says:

    I think traditional marriage is a stable point for women who set out for it and can make a convincing case that they are worth the risk. But overall I think you are right. It likely isn’t as available an option as it used to be.

  9. dalrock says:

    Thanks Susan! Somehow I knew you would like that chart!

    I think part of the reason you and grerp are taking so much feminist fire is that your respective messages really hit a cord. Instead of Hero of the Feminist Union, Jaclyn has turned herself into a cautionary tale; a modern day one woman Scared Straight program for using good judgment when dating.

    The feminist reality distortion field is strong, but even it can’t change the way young women will view her descent into craigslist status. Sometimes it is more effective to appeal to someone’s vanity than their morality or good judgment.

  10. Aunt Haley says:

    Good analysis, grerp. Based on my own experience, I can’t disagree.

  11. J says:

    Instead of Hero of the Feminist Union, Jaclyn has turned herself into a cautionary tale; a modern day one woman Scared Straight program for using good judgment when dating.

    I wrote a post at HUS about JF probably being mentally ill. You night find it interesting.

    The feminist reality distortion field is strong, but even it can’t change the way young women will view her descent into craigslist status.

    You know, I must really be getting old. The idea of advertising to get laid really astounds me.

  12. J says:

    Good info J. Lacking hard data, it is really hard to pin this down.

    Thanks. What I wrote is admittedly anecdotal, and I’m sure the stats present an accurate picture for a segment of society. It does however make me feel better to know that people are avoiding this situation by sticking to their values.

    As I’ve said before, I’m more interested in learning about solutuons than in wallowing in descriptions of the problem. From a practial point of view, it’s more important for me as a mom to know what keeps kids off the carousel than to know why Jaclyn Friedman feels “empowered” by hoping on.

  13. dalrock says:

    As I’ve said before, I’m more interested in learning about solutuons than in wallowing in descriptions of the problem. From a practial point of view, it’s more important for me as a mom to know what keeps kids off the carousel than to know why Jaclyn Friedman feels “empowered” by hoping on.

    I agree, but we have to map out the hazards so people can make better choices. In my view a clear head is the most likely way to keep kids off the carousel. I’ve suggested some solutions as well, but I try to be careful not to cross over into preaching.

  14. dalrock says:

    I wonder how this would look with a third axis for environmental conditions e.g. laws or sex ratio.

    I didn’t catch that the first time around. I’m not sure how to graph that without it becoming overwhelming. But I agree that you have to look at each point or range of points with exactly this in mind. Also, the stability for a given point will probably vary based on the individual and their local environment. A hot 22 year old who wants to have serial monogamous LTRs with Greater Betas would probably find that spot quite easy to maintain. A 35 year old with kids might find it more of a challenge.

    Also, you could label different zones by the kinds of men most likely to be there. Alphas would be on the far left for Polygamy, with Betas taking the space between that and non monogamous LTRs, at which point Alphas would take back over until somewhere towards the bottom where you probably would see lesser Betas and then Omegas as you continue moving to the right.

  15. Gorbachev says:

    I’d like this to be true.

    But as a man with some experience, I’ve got to say: Being a good Provider Male goes a very short distance. I’ve become very disappointed in what I’ve seen women attracted to. What’s more shocking is the self-denial I see a lot of women engage in (not necessarily you).

    And on college campuses, from what I hear, words from women like Jacklyn Friedman are celebrated, not taken as fables of warning and disaster.

    I also lament the Sex and the City attitude so prevalent.

    It suits some guys, but even the players often want to settle down; and the girls we slept around with are almost never the girls even we want to settle down with.

  16. Gorbachev says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can read Jacklyn Friedman’s tales and see anything heroic in them. And her lack of responsibility (and refusal to even acknowledge this) is stunning. She’s put herself in danger – and through her work regarding rape (which her work trivializes), you’d think she’d show more sense.

    And she’s so profoundly unattractive. It further reinforces my image of feminism (especially radical feminism) as a refuge for unattractive, delusional middle-aged women.

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  20. MsLacrymosa says:

    Great post, Dalrock, lots of food for thought.

    Just started following your blog after reading the posts by Grep and Susan discussed here. As I’m in the UK, I was somewhat puzzled by some of the terminology you’re using, never having heard of Craigs list and not too sure exactly what ‘hooking up’ implies here as set out on that graph as a less desirable stable position than traditional relationships.

    The graph is interesting, especially the middle positions. Although I’ve remained married for 21 years, I’m not entirely sure that the status of being married is any more valued by our society now than being in a monogomous LTR. In my country, only 42% of children are even born with married parents these days. Social and economic policy has actually favoured those in less traditional relationships here under left of centre governments. Religion is less important to the population here than previously, with rock bottom church attendance where previously Sunday was a day of religious observance with all shops closed and no transport or ferries running in some staunch communities. I consider that the legal and religious commitment that marriage represents is outdated, far from representing the best option for stability in society now. Bringing up children within a LTR can also provide stability, and succeed without the notion of passing a woman from her father’s to her husband’s care in a ceremony. ( I’ll add that I brought up my 3 daughters within a 21 year marriage and married in white in a Catholic church- wouldn’t make that choice again though or recommend it to my daughters!)

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