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How sexual empowerment screws women The only winners from sex-positive porniness are men

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in the WAP video. Credit: YouTube

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in the WAP video. Credit: YouTube


August 19, 2020   6 mins

For a stretch of my misspent youth in the 00s, I was a regular visitor at a fetish club near London Bridge. The club’s owners always let me — and women like me — in free, because nightclubs are an economy of sex, money and nubile flesh, in which the currency is women.

I got to play-act at being ‘empowered’ and ‘in control’, while the male visitors to the club enjoyed being theatrically humiliated. But in all other respects, the establishment followed the age-old pattern: men with money to spend, keen to surround themselves with young female bodies.

I was reminded of that ignoble episode watching the brouhaha over Cardi B’s song WAP, whose explicit lyrics and trippy, porny video have upset conservatives and spawned a flurry of culture-war argument.

https://twitter.com/BradleyCongress/status/1291735105774522368

The DJ remix of Ben Shapiro reading the lyrics is, in my view, far better than the original, which tells you how middle-aged and jaded I am these days. But while it’s easy to mock Shapiro, it was the pop-feminist defences of the song that rang hollow to me — not least in the light of my own London Bridge memories of the ambiguous relationship between sex, empowerment and perky boobs.

Clickbait doesn’t get more pop-feminist than Teen Vogue, where “Senior identities editor”, Brittney McNamara, argued that Shapiro et al are frightened of female sexuality. This view has its roots in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when women began to push back against ideas of ‘modesty’ and passivity in favour of a more active and casual idea of female desire. This aspiration is encapsulated by Erica Jong’s phrase ‘zipless fuck’, coined in her 1973 novel Fear of Flying:

“The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not ‘taking’ and the woman is not ‘giving’. No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn.”

Jong’s novel struck a chord with those countless women stuck in sexually unfulfilling marriages. Many sought to kick over the traces of monogamy in favour of affairs, sexual agency and the bodily autonomy which became a cornerstone of second-wave women’s liberation.

The zipless fuck has come a long way since Jong. Largely sidelining the body of thought devoted to specifically female sexuality by feminists since the Sixties, the mainstream view that’s emerged today sees men and women as broadly similar, sexually speaking, with the only difference being patriarchal oppression.

Men have historically oppressed women, we’re told, forcing us to wear baggy garments and get married so men can be sure whose baby we’re gestating. But once freed of economic dependence, the risk of pregnancy, and Ben Shapiro, women will all want nothing more than to empower themselves by donning pleather skimpies and gyrating for the cameras.

Off-camera, and aided by hookup apps such as Tinder, today casual no-strings sex is a social norm for young people of both sexes. But is it really the case that the zipless fuck (or ultra-tight wipe-clean undies) is really what women want? In 1972, a year before Erica Jong popularised the term, the biologist Robert Trivers was investigating the cross-cultural asymmetry in male and female interest in in zipless fucks.

That is, the evidence shows that across cultures, men are considerably keener on no-strings hook-ups than women. Trivers’ ‘Parental investment theory’ argued that this is not a patriarchal imposition. Rather, it has an evolutionary basis: across many species, the parent which spends the most time rearing young will be most picky about when to reproduce and with whom to do so. And indeed, study after study shows that women are fussier shaggers than men (not just among humans but animals too) – and that this difference persists even in highly egalitarian societies.

It makes sense. Contraception is a recent invention, while human preferences have been evolving for millennia. If sex leads to pregnancy — but only for women — and pregnancy leads to at least a decade of child-care commitments, then damn right you’ll prefer to do the nasty with someone who has resources and shows a willingness to stick around. Even if we can now, in theory, have consequence-free sex, evolved preferences aren’t going to disappear overnight.

Sex egalitarians, though, have ignored this possibility. Rather, we’re encouraged to dismiss quaint notions such as wanting marriage or long-term commitment from a man who wants to get into your pants as a hangover of patriarchy.

After all, now that women can control our fertility, there’s no longer any need to constrain our sexuality, right? So even if it is evolution rather than patriarchal conditioning that leads women to want a relationship as well as a shag, we aren’t mindless animals. We have agency. So modern women can sack pesky evolution off along with patriarchy, in favour of Tinder hook-ups and twerking in paddling pools.

But just because we want something in theory, doesn’t mean we end up enjoying it in practice. Studies show that intimacy is the best predictor of sexual satisfaction — and women in particular tend to prefer sex that’s connected, intimate and relational.

By accepting a supposedly egalitarian approach to sex, women are suppressing a common, evolved desire for a more emotionally connected sexuality. It’s making many of them miserable. Worse still, in downplaying the possibility that female sexuality differs profoundly from the male sort, we do women a still deeper disservice than encouraging them to have empty and disappointing sex. Because in pretending male and female desire is symmetrical, when it manifestly is not, we’re obscuring another asymmetry — the one that got me free entry to fetish clubs in my early twenties.

We can pretend men and women objectify each other’s bodies in similar ways. But it’s well established that male arousal works differently from the female sort, and men are far more visually stimulated than women. Men are also consistently interested (again for evolutionary reasons) in women at peak fertility. Put simply, that means men are much more motivated to gain visual and sexual access to hot young women than vice versa. No one (at least not in heterosexual settings) is granting free nightclub entry to buff 22-year-old males.

As my 22-year-old self can attest, this grants young women a measure of power. For a while, at least, men seem mesmerised by you, and today’s ‘empowered’ version of female sexuality sees this as a legitimate source of female leverage. As Cardi B puts it: ‘Ask for a car while you ride that dick’.

The reductio ad absurdam of this dynamic is the growing trend among teenage girls for posting alluring shots on Instagram until they’re 18, then shifting their followers to OnlyFans (think Patreon for user-generated porn) the moment they’re ‘legal’, where their simps send them money for nudes.

Here we see what the official narrative of sex egalitarianism wants to brush under the carpet. The young women self-objectifying via OnlyFans don’t seem to stop and wonder why, if we’re all the same, there isn’t an equally voracious market for buff young men stripping to please rich middle-aged women.

The truth, though, is that sex can’t be egalitarian — at least not in the sense of men and women having the same desires and priorities. We’re evolved animals; nothing is more central to that evolution than sex and reproduction; and the different reproductive roles of male and female humans leave us with different priorities. That doesn’t mean we have no agency, but ignoring our animal nature in favour of an abstract vision of egalitarianism has ended up disproportionately harming women.

Teen Vogue nearly gets there when McNamara briefly considers the possibility that lyrics glorifying aggressive, brutal and abusive sex might just possibly be calibrated more for a male audience. But rather than following that thought through, she retreats hurriedly to the safe haven of Emma Watsonesque ‘choice’ feminism, in which (as The Onion put it) women are now empowered by literally everything a woman does. “Whether or not “WAP” is a product of the male gaze,” McNamara simpers, “what’s important is that it made Cardi and Megan feel empowered.”

A cynic might wonder if it’s also important that teenage girls could watch that video and think this is how they are expected to behave in order to retain a boyfriend’s affection. Fully 40% of UK teenage girls today experience sexual coercion in relationships, a fact that correlates strongly with rising youth consumption of sexually explicit content. Even painful and risky anal sex is now normalised, along with the expectation that girls will not enjoy it.

A sexual revolution that set out to free women from unfair expectations of modesty hasn’t levelled the playing field between the sexes at all. Instead, it’s rolled out an aggressive, visual, low-intimacy, emotionally disconnected male-standard sexuality for everyone, including women — to our considerable detriment. In doing so, it’s stripped women of any vocabulary with which to pursue their own erotic interests, in the form of long-term sexual and also emotional commitment.

The pitiful trade-off women are offered for sacrificing female-centred sexuality is the opportunity to exploit their youthful beauty in pursuit of money or power. But what (predominantly young) ‘sex positive’ feminists seem to ignore is how short-lived this form of power is.

In a relationship based on mutual affection and respect, other bonds sustain a couple beyond youth, and love and desire can both persist. But where a couple has rejected intimacy in favour of a transactional relationship based on mutual exploitation for sex and power, once a trading partner loses leverage the deal is off. There are no prizes for guessing who it is who generally loses leverage first in this ‘economy’. For a middle-aged woman left with the kids, as her beauty fades and her formerly adoring partner moves on to showering someone younger and perkier with gifts, what then does empowerment look like?

The twerkers, girl-powerers and Teen Vogue sex-pozzies have nothing. Framing this bait-and-switch as feminist is a profound betrayal of women’s interests.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

I think this was a great analysis of the problems with this reductive view of feminism.

But on a personal note, I also wanted to praise the strand that started with this:

For a stretch of my misspent youth in the 00s, I was a regular visitor at a fetish club near London Bridge.

A willingness to change one’s mind and a willingness to admit and learn from one’s mistakes are both admirable and rare. Humans have always been fallible, and young humans have always been foolish. But given the prevailing culture over the last few decades, there must be more than ever of us who were encouraged to do things we now regret. Not enough of us have the courage to acknowledge that. Bravo, Ms Harrington.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I didn’t get the sense that Mary regretted that phase of her life. And why should she?

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

How sexual empowerment screws women

Being screwed is not a positive.

The only winners from sex-positive porniness are men

Mary is a woman, and is stating that she was not a winner.

a stretch of my misspent youth

She considers this time to have been misspent.

that ignoble episode

She feels that phase of her life was ignoble.

the pop-feminist defences of the song that rang hollow to me ” not least in the light of my own London Bridge memories

The defences of WAP, which would also apply to her London Bridge phase, she says ring hollow as a result. This is not a positive.

just because we want something in theory, doesn’t mean we end up enjoying it in practice.

The thing she might have wanted in theory but didn’t in practice is her London Bridge experience.

A sexual revolution that set out to free women from unfair expectations of modesty hasn’t levelled the playing field between the sexes at all. Instead, it’s rolled out an aggressive, visual, low-intimacy, emotionally disconnected male-standard sexuality for everyone, including women ” to our considerable detriment.

This describes the culture of places such as her London Bridge club, and she says it was to her “considerable detriment”.

The pitiful trade-off women are offered for sacrificing female-centred sexuality is the opportunity to exploit their youthful beauty in pursuit of money or power.

What she did at London Bridge was “a pitiful trade-off”, a “sacrifice”, and “exploitation”.

Look, if Mary descends into the comments and says that actually I’ve misinterpreted her and her London Bridge phase was wonderful and she thinks every young girl should do it, I will hold my hands up and say I was wrong. But based on everything she’s written above, I think I’m right on this one.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Being screwed is hugely positive in Gaylandia. In fact demand heavily outstrips supply.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago

Regret might be the wrong word for it.

I was also that woman. That girl. I lost my virginity at thirteen to a former gang member who was twenty-three. Men ten or more years older chased me hard, and that went on until I stopped seeing it as power or anything other than the abusive power imbalance that is was.

I had been abused by many/most of them.

And yes, I was let into clubs and bars from thirteen onward. I’d not be today, at fifty, because I’m old. Still cute, but old. And no dude is chasing me now, which I’m grateful for because I’d never take as a complement or a form of power what I did up until probably age forty.

When women embrace and rock that sex goddess role, they get massive approval, which seems like power, but isn’t. Power allows choices. This doesn’t.

I see it all very clearly now, but I’m certain you can’t really steer young women or girls clear of it because they are high on the drug, the illusion. They will find out the hard way.

I don’t regret anything I’ve done, other than not having the self esteem or insight to trust my gut instinct, which was always an internal voice saying “this feels wrong, unpleasant, painful. Why are we doing this again?”

Having life experience and insight makes you aware but doesn’t necessarily equate with regret. You just wish you lived in a world where men truly cared about women and girls, and our experiences, and that they wanted us to enjoy our sexual relations with them because it would mean a better experience for everyone.

But that is not likely to happen. There will be no Women’s Lives Matter” movement. We are just commodities, and when we stop being desireable or available for sexual commodification, we are simply old hags. Our husbands and partners usually leave us, or sometimes they murder us (statistically alarming numbers, actually).

It’s depressing. I love men. I don’t hate them. But the prevailing, porn driven misogyny is killing women and girls.

James N
James N
3 years ago

“You just wish you lived in a world where men truly cared about women and girls”

<3 That’s so heartbreaking! I promise you I will raise my son to be a better man. I hope there will still be women around who haven’t drunk the toxic koolaid.

p_v_hassell
p_v_hassell
3 years ago

She might still have enjoyed it; “my misspent youth” is meant to be funny; AND she doesn’t necessarily have to be regretting it. She seems to be truly emacipated. Hurrah!

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  p_v_hassell

I think you must have read a totally different article.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago

I think what she doesn’t need is Chris’s approval “Well done for admitting your mistake young lady”

bill blax
bill blax
1 year ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

.

Last edited 1 year ago by bill blax
A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

Excellent piece Mary!

Best commentary I have seen on this topic, exploring a large range of the aspects with facts and nuance.

Luca Dittmer
Luca Dittmer
3 years ago

Great article! What a difference it makes if you view human behaviour through an evolutionary lens; makes everything a lot clearer and less confusing, but also shows some undeniable harsh truths

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
3 years ago
Reply to  Luca Dittmer

Precisely why any academic interested in keeping their career has steered well clear from evolutionary psychology: uncomfortable truths.

Luca Dittmer
Luca Dittmer
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Hartley

But so much missed opportunities to apply this knowledge to the real world in areas like education, business or economics. That is truly sad though

M Blanc
M Blanc
3 years ago
Reply to  Luca Dittmer

They’re not interested in applying knowledge. They’re interested in gaining power over the rest of us.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago

One of the best recent articles on this topic: I really wish more young men and women – especially the latter – would read it. The statement: “A sexual revolution that set out to free women from unfair expectations of modesty hasn’t levelled the playing field between the sexes at all. Instead, it’s rolled out an aggressive, visual, low-intimacy, emotionally disconnected male-standard sexuality for everyone, including women ” to our considerable detriment.” is a perfect description of what has happened, and how a certain type of feminism has betrayed women while pretending to empower them. The sexual revolution has been at the heart of the creation of a coarse and crass culture in the West (and beyond), but, far worse, has created misery for millions in the form of broken homes, mental illness and domestic violence and conflict. Differences between the sexes, and accompanying sexual jealousies, live on, in spite of the best efforts of 20th and 21st century pundits to deny their existence. More power to your elbow, Mary!

Dave H
Dave H
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

I think it’s a bit rich to lay the blame for domestic violence at the door of the sexual revolution and feminism. Modern attitudes to domestic violence are that it’s unacceptable and that leaving the violent abuser is the right course of action, where previously there would have been massive pressure just to shut up and take it because the man was in charge and marriage was sacrosanct. Likewise “broken” homes are going to be healthier for children than unbroken ones in which there is no love and the adults of the household would rather be anywhere else.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave H

The famous castrating female, is at least equally prevalent and with the advantage of incurring no sanction.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave H

I’m afraid that the sexual revolution HAS played a major part in the miseries I mentioned. Yes, domestic violence was probably more tolerated in many cases in the past, but it seems to be on the increase in England and Wales in our supposedly ‘enlightened’ times. The Stowe Family Law blog tells us: ‘”In July to September 2019, 67,431 new cases started in family courts, up 1% on the equivalent quarter in 2018. This was due to a 23% rise in domestic violence cases started, along with increases in Private law [children] (5%) and Public law [children] (1%) case starts.’ It is clear from what we hear from the Family Courts and in the news that the rise of casual cohabiting and the revolving door of ‘stepfather-boyfriends’ which the sexual revolution has made acceptable is a major factor in the abuse of women and children. And the stat.s are not positive with regard to the outcomes for children of cohabiting and separated parents (now much more acceptable) compared with married ones. (eg Cohabiting parents four times more likely to separate before child’s 5th birthday; 70% of young offenders come from families in which the parents have separated; children aged 5 to 10 twice as likely to suffer a mental health disorder if their parents cohabit rather than marry. Times 17/08/20.)

peers.lilian
peers.lilian
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

Prior to the sexual revolution there was much violence and not only women suffered, children too. The victims just put up with it as it was no use going to the police as they would not interfere.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago
Reply to  peers.lilian

There has always been domestic violence, but the family instability which the sexual revolution has unleashed has made matters worse for women and children, as the statistics show.

Dave H
Dave H
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

Your figures are cherry-picked, and not necessarily meaningful.

There’s nothing that tells us the underlying rate of domestic violence is increasing there, just that more cases are getting to court. This can be seen as a positive.

There’s equally nothing in there to say that the specific children who are from “broken” homes would not have been just as badly off, if not worse off, if their parents stayed together, i.e. the married status of the parents may well be incidental, if they don’t love each other then their children are not being brought up in an ideal environment regardless of whether the parents are married or not.

You’re merely fitting your own biases to the data.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave H

You say my figures are ‘cherry-picked, and not necessarily meaningful. Can you produce statistics which support the idea that children from separated parents do just as well as those from intact families, and/or that the children of unmarried parents do just as well as those of married ones? I realise that there a lot of confounding variables in this discussion, but the statistics I mentioned are surely a cause for concern. By making divorce, separation and cohabitation so easy, we have certainly made it harder for couples to make lasting commitments, and easier to put their own immediate self-interest ahead of the lasting happiness of their children.

Dave H
Dave H
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

It’s not harder to make a lasting commitment, that’s nonsense. If you wish to make a lasting commitment, that’s on you. It’s just not enforced in law as strictly as once it was – which is a great thing, women and children are no longer as stuck with abusive husbands and fathers as once they were.

Statistics that children of unmarried parents do just as well or don’t are as meaningless as the ones you’ve already compiled.

Parents who love each other and nurture their children are likely to produce better outcomes for their children. No statistics I’ve seen so far go any way to telling us that parents who don’t love each other and don’t nurture their kids would produce a better outcome for their children if they were forced by law to stay together.

You interpret the fact that kids from “unbroken” homes do better as evidence that, were people just forced to stay together more, more kids could do better. But you can’t fix a family by forcing them to stay under the same roof, in fact you’ll probably just make it worse.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave H

Sorry: it is not nonsense to say that making unmarried cohabitation, separation and divorce easier will lead to the likelihood of less commitment on the part of couples. in the past, abandoning your family and divorce were seen as shameful, so couples were willing to make the sacrifice of staying together for the sake of their children and in many cases would work to repair their relationship. You seem to assume – wrongly – that most of those who separate do so because of some intractable problem, such as domestic abuse, rather than because, say, one of the partners has found a more attractive person to link up with, and puts his/her immediate pleasure above the happiness of the children and left-behind partner, often the female. You don’t seem to have imagined what it is like for children to have to leave the security of a single home to move between two homes, having to get used to a step-parent and possibly to share a room with a stranger. It is inconceivable that this is not a profoundly disorientating experience for most children, and not ‘a better outcome’.

Dave H
Dave H
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

It’s nonsense to say it’s harder to make a commitment because it’s not enforced. The strength of your commitment is your choice.

Yes, parents splitting up can cause upheaval to children, but there is zero evidence that making parents stay together would be better for them. You *still* ignore that forcing people to stay together is likely a worse outcome. You have a blind faith that people staying together will magically make for a functional household. You refuse to imagine the damage that can be done to children living in loveless households, in favour of a narrow, facile interpetation of numbers.

It’s like looking at a collection of red ferraris and concluding that if you paint your fiesta red, it too will go that fast.

Lorelei Hunt
Lorelei Hunt
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

It is not valid to add separated and cohabiting families together. Around half of all births are now to cohabiting parents. Although it is true that cohabiting parents are more likely to have separated before a child’s 5th birthday, 80% are still living together. Cohabiting parents show different characteristics to married families which may contribute to different outcomes for children. As always, correlation doesn’t equal causation…..

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago
Reply to  Lorelei Hunt

It’s perfectly OK to discuss cohabiting and separated parents if one is looking – as I did – at different negative outcomes for each group as shown in the statistics. I realise, of course, that correlation doesn’t equal causation, but the correlations are a cause for concern. And I think that Mary Harrington’s main thesis, that so-called ‘sexual empowerment’ has been negative for women, and, by implication, for the children so often deprived of the father who has ‘moved on’, is still valid.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

Agreed, and I’ve looked at figures in the US where there is a strong correlation between single parent families and crime.
But is the sexual revolution to blame? Or is it male culture that needs a rethink?
Society comes down HARD on mothers who abandon or neglect their children. Fathers? Not so much.
The stats. say that, on the whole, children do better with two parents…. that’s not the same as cohabiting. It’s about parenting ‘resource’. IMHO.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Never heard the term ‘Deadbeat Dads’ used to describe Father’s who are forced away from their kids and lose their jobs, identity and lives?

Chelcie Morris
Chelcie Morris
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Yes, the sexual revolution is to blame because it’s created a society where sex is more important than love, where women are commodified and where relationships and committment are considered a bad thing; heaven forbid you expect a relationship from someone, that’s so “clingy”. Feminists are to blame because, in their short sighted quest to make men and women the same, they have forced women to cater to men’s desires in order to seem “cool” and “fun”, under the guise that it’s “empowering”, instead of understanding that women are vastly different from men.
Women are being coerced into having sex before they are ready because the culture, the culture created by feminism, has convinced them that sex is the be all and end all and to have boundaries, or expectations, is prudish. These are the real consequences that feminism and women have created for themselves and now girls are being harmed because of it. Feminism needs to take responsiblity for the beast they created.

Last edited 2 years ago by Chelcie Morris
Anonymous Watcher37
Anonymous Watcher37
2 months ago
Reply to  Chelcie Morris

Who’s coercing women into having sex with scores of men they barely know? How did Feminism and the ” Free Love” Movement, to women ” having to cater to men”? Are you not aware of the fact that a large subsection of average to low status men have absolutely zero acess to women as a result of sexual liberation?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

After reading it, I immediately sent it to may two 20-something daughters, albeit I am sure and really know that they have figured this out.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

But to me the question remains: who or what is to blame for all this transactional sexual empowerment that happens to be no empowerment at all? Surely not the 2 girls in the videoclip. They seem to have a good time and no transaction is made whatsoever. It’s worse than transactional. They message seems like a famous rapper once said: I can’t touch this.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

I = you

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

Pardon my English anyway 🙂

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

Frederik, if you click ‘Edit’ under your comments you can edit the text to remove any typoes, rather than trying to correct them in follow-up comments.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

typos

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Haha, I wondered if someone would quibble over that. Personally I think ‘typoes’ looks better, and so I tend to use it. It is recognised as a variant in some dictionaries, but that’s not my justification: my justification is that I think it looks better, and that’s that.

I have a few such idiosyncracies that I prefer for aesthetic reasons. I always use the old-fashioned ‘premiss’/’premisses’ for logical premisses (as opposed to building premises). And I refuse to pronounce ‘longitude’ with a ‘j’ sound: I always use the British hard ‘g’. variant pronunciation. There are others too.

I know: I’m an eccentric”but in my defence, at least I can admit it!

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Actually I can see your point. You say potatoes I say potatos?

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

In practice, the sort-of convention is to use -oes for full words, but -os for shortend forms of words. So it’s ‘potatoes’ and ‘tomatoes’, but ‘photos’ and ‘autos’. So I accept that if ‘typo’ is short for ‘typographical error’ or ‘typing mistake’ or whatever, one could justify writing ‘typos’, and I’d never actively criticise someone for doing so (except maybe a friend, as a joke!).

I suppose I think of ‘typo’ as a word in its own right, rather than just a shortening. That we can all agree that ‘photo’ is short for ‘photograph’ and ‘auto’ for ‘automobile’, but we’re not entirely clear on what exactly ‘typo’ is “short” for, supports that instinct, perhaps?

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Only psychos would disagree!

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Hahaha love it. Btw you may have heard of this notorious word: ‘kudos’. Because of the habit of simply adding an ‘s’ to short words, some who have only ever read the word (a failing I can sympathise deeply with) assume it is a plural, and pronounce it “koo-doaz”. I once saw a young woman wish someone “many kudos” (rather than “much kudos”) for an achievement. An easy mistake to make for an autodidact; I don’t condemn it at all, but it is funny and supports a little consistency in using -oes for plurals.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Perhaps we are separated by the Atlantic? I’ve only heard kudos pronounced that way by Americans

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago

Women won their freedom. Then wasted it . They rightly gained control of their fertility their lives and their independence . Then what did they do ?
Went onto Tinder and gave it all away .

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
3 years ago

Man is a fallen creature. Although deep down he yearns for beauty, truth and virtue, he must be shown the way.

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago

That comment confirms that women haven’t won any real freedoms. We are still judged by the people that watch porn, pay for sex and demand behaviours from us that many aren’t really comfortable with. You’ve really missed the point of the article.

judycorstjens
judycorstjens
3 years ago

Bit of a generalisation?

Andrew Shaughnessy
Andrew Shaughnessy
3 years ago

I find it rather depressing that men and women seem to be engaged in a race to the bottom these days. The “ladette” culture was bad enough, but this is worse.

meltcow
meltcow
3 years ago

Very good article! I have two daughters, 5 and 7, and a baby girl only a few days old. The thought of how to shield them from this sort of detrimental influence has me shuttering… This is not what I want my girls to think is “cool,” I want them to be ACTUALLY empowered”by their minds and capabilities, not their physical characteristics or sexual capabilities. This all is so upsetting it makes me tear up. We live in such an ugly world. Women are worth more than their ability to please a man sexually. Ugh!!! Why does anyone even have to say that?!?

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
3 years ago

I suggest you read more of her back catalogue. There are very few people writing on the issues she does, and no one does it as well.

Sean V
Sean V
3 years ago

Mom #1: I watched the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary with my daughter today, and then we had a really great discussion about powerful women who changed the world.

Mom #2: I watched the WAP video with my daughter today, and then we had a really great discussion about ways she can use her wet p___ to get a big d___, jewelry, cars, and cash.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean V

Great post. Anybody planning to use the WAP video in primary and secondary schools to help empower young girls. Who needs STEM when you’ve got WAP.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 years ago

We’ve been watching the 10-part mini-series, ‘Mrs. America’ with the fabulous Cate Blanchett playing the role of Phyllis Shafly, the Conservative anti-feminist antagonist. Surprisingly, it’s more nuanced and interesting than I expected. Particularly interesting is the contrast in sexual mores of the 1960’s, Schafly’s traditional marriage was dutiful but she was depicted as deeply empathetic both to her family and those around her. Equally, Gloria Steinem, although quite the sexual libertine, was also portrayed as good and caring to the people in her sphere. Its was made clear that both women were voraciously ambitious but neither experienced a perfect sexual world and the trade-offs are made apparent. Well worth a watch.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

“Since losing the empire, Britain has notoriously struggled to find a role on the world stage.” Often stated, but … is it true? When was the last time you heard anyone in Britain say “Oh dear, I feel so wretched not knowing what our role on the world stage is meant be!” Personally, I have never heard such an expression, or indeed anything approximating to it.

perrywidhalm
perrywidhalm
3 years ago

After reading essays like this one, it confirms my inner bias that the more civilized a person becomes the crazier and more disconnected from reality they get. Of course, the mobs of urban insane don’t realize they are nuts, no, they imagine whatever their ideas are and behavior is amounts to “human progress” …. one of the most powerful illusions that bind civilization together. Perhaps it is a natural consequence of total-dependency while living amongst hordes of strangers in a filthy, noisy habitat?

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

Subtitle is : The only winners from sex-positive porniness are men.
In what respect do men, in general, win? I wonder because I consider myself a man and don’t feel like winning but rather loosing after watching the videoclip. Like I said : You can’t touch this.

jamescronan
jamescronan
3 years ago

The subtitle also appears to presuppose that we should view society’s treatment of sex as a battle in which either women or men are winning (you might say the article refines this to imply that certain groups of women/men by age/attractiveness win). But surely the truth is that the more harmonious relationships there are between the sexes, the more we all win, through less conflict and happier, more supportive relationships.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
3 years ago

Plus, women are now told that men who self-identify as women are no different to them.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Nicely argued. A little more caring and respect and less strident posturing by feminists would help all. Marriage is a good institution for all the family and society.

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter KE

Seriously? Most woman and child abuse happens in families, married or cohabiting.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  jynorthumbria

Well, yes, that’s because families are where men and women are most in close contact. Statistics show most accidents happen in the home. Would you argue this means we should all live on the streets?

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
3 years ago
Reply to  jynorthumbria

I know, right? You’d think most woman and child abuse would happen on, like, a glacier or something: where women and children are generally located and spend most of their time.

cap0119
cap0119
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter KE

They aren’t necessarily “feminists”. Read some real, historical, old school feminists to see many of them saying much the same thing.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago

While society at large seems very well aware of how men can objectify women and turn them into sex-objects, they have not paid as much attention to how women can objectify men and turn them into income-objects. This reeks of ‘two wrongs trying to make a right’ to me.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago

A well-made argument, nicely written, that persuasively dispels long-running arguments about female empowerment, by engaging with realities proved via research and historical practices. It seems to me that one area of Mary Harrington’s argument could do with some amplification or clarification ” the way she speaks of sex in this pornographic context as transactional. That is true to the extent that money changes hands. However, transaction also implies interaction; and that is something that WAP‘s dismal view of male”“female relationships ignores entirely other than in the crudest physical terms, of money and sexual gratification.

Transactions and contracts have lain at the heart of marriage ” the dominant form of formalising sexual partnership ” for far longer than the use of love as the primary criterion. The differences between men and women that Mary Harrington outlines are so universal, and so cross-cultural, that it seems impossible to conclude anything other than that they, and hence the nature of the contracts, are hard-wired into us. Many of those contracts and the choices made are to do with money ” “Ten thousand a year!”, as Jane Austen put it in several books.

You might conclude that this is a largely mechanistic, though highly subtle, product of evolution, as Mary Harrington seems to; you might conclude, as many Christians would (me included), that additional powerful forces are at work. But what endures through all those perspectives is the integrity of differing roles, and the mutuality of support the one has for the other.

Erich Fromm writes about this rather beautifully in his 1956 book The Art of Loving, where he argues that the emphasis on love as a prerequisite for marriage is a modern phenomenon. Until comparatively recently marriage was primarily understood as transactional, in the sense of it being a contract. In the many biblical stories of loving couples (some of which Fromm uses as exemplars), transaction and love are inseparable; and it is common that the couples grow together. Sexual intercourse is an essential part of that growing together, as are children and family. In those same stories, sex as power (exactly what WAP is doing), leads only to trouble.

Mary Harrington seems to acknowledge the realities I have just described; and her dismantling, in the last four paragraphs, of the false promises of the revolution epitomised by WAP, is spot-on. But even so, I would argue that the desire for “emotional commitment” (as the author puts it) is met partly in a strong transactional aspect. Vows used to be the standard way of expressing that transaction; but the rise of individualism has not only led to phenomena such as the odious WAP, it has led to the demotion of the vow.

In this respect I remember lessons learned from a programme I heard on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour some 20 or more years ago. It was about a marriage agency set up by two female friends in their late 20s or early 30s. One was of English birth and heritage, and the other came from an Indian heritage, but was born and raised in this country. The Indian woman was happily married, in a marriage that had been arranged by her parents. The friends saw, especially among their female contemporaries, a terrible tension between the desire for stability and the use of their own feelings as a primary criterion for choosing a marriage partner. So they set up as marriage brokers, arranging marriages between men and women who applied to them. Of course, everything was based on consent. But the most striking aspect of the two women’s conversation was just how strong was their emphasis on transaction.

Transactions, in the form of vows or other contractual statements, can be abused. But the current emphasis on individualism, epitomised in WAP, causes far more problems than it solves, and is one of this country’s major causes of social instability and individual unhappiness

Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine
3 years ago

Very good piece. While there were some positives to moving away from the more repressed attitudes towards sexuality prior to the 60s there were also many negatives.

Some of the positives of conservative attitudes towards sex are that sex shouldn’t be solely about the fulfilment of desire, not that there’s anything wrong with desire, but that sex has both emotional and physical consequences that impact the functioning of society that need to be taken in to account. We have lost sight of this. Now that anything goes as long as you subscribe to the ethic of ‘feeling empowered,’ is it any wonder that young women are using social media apps to gain adoration and cash from middle age men to ogle over them? Are the men in these instances also allowing themselves to be exploited in that attractive young women at the end of a camera exercise their sexual prowess over men and can do so without the risks they would take in a face to face encounter in the traditional seedy and dangerous sex industry. Call me a prude if you want but I think that too much sexual freedom has lessened respect between the sexes.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago

Keep up the good work Aris. You’ve got more smarts than the aggregated IQs of the Brexiter fantasists railing against your well thought out observations.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

The delusion of Remainers is pathological and scary.

You want a union far, far more problematic than the one being proposed by the majority of proponents for the idea of some kind of enhanced union between said countries.

Most of the extreme ideas here are hyperthetical or strawmen, and the article even states how certain policies could work and the ones that don’t or are too problematic aren’t necessary.

And yet, he takes those extremist voices and dismisses any idea of a union based on his own personal loathing of people who are simply proud of Britiain’s extraordinary heritage and its historic relationship with some of the finest and most advanced countries in the world.

Remainers need therapy to get to the bottom of their neurosis and obsession with people they love to denigrate as ‘gammon’ and who’s crime is to be proud to be British. And to get to the root of why they constantly need to have a group to look down on, dismiss, mock and feel they are intellectual and morally superior towards.

The MSM remainer propaganda machine tapped into that evergreen well so as to position remainers as superior in every way to a certain group of carefully selected (by media journalists stalking poor towns looking for toothless, unkempt people) deplorables and gave them free reign to express that inherent ill-will and not seem anti-social and unhinged while doing so, and they’ve taken every opportunity with gusto to unleash every class bias, every political gripe, every steroptype, every bit of hostility and resentment in their soul upon Leavers.

It’s just fortunate for Brexiteers that they only thought about laying out the dividing line along the area of thick and poor vs educated and well to do only after the ‘vote’. They thought they could get a second vote and after having denigrated the Leaver position with every slur and vile put down imaginable that they’d have influenced public opinion so much that they’d walk a second vote, and they probably would have brainwashed the youngsters even further to that end.

anddean
anddean
3 years ago

“Trojan horse to smuggle in failed and wildly unpopular economic belief-systems under the banner of imperial nostalgia”
Trojan horses, banners? This hysterical and badly written stuff is unworthy of “Unherd”. Seems to be more poorly disguised Remoaner witterings.

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago

Mary, startlingly insightful analysis of where things are in the West regarding the mating game between humans – or should I say, the lack of a mating game. Feminism has cost women dearly as they give away their most precious belonging, risking 40 or 50 years of happiness/fulfilment/contentment/satisfaction for 10 or 15 years on the carousel. Even these 10/15 years are, as you say, coarsely abraded against the grain – and mostly caused by feminist teachers & professors persuading girls and young women that they are ‘equal’ to men.
The idiots are destroying lives & I’m glad to see that people are starting to come around to see the damage that feminism is doing, not just to boys & men, but to girls & women.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
3 years ago

Good article,again, with a bit of human warmth, along with the excellent analysis. But isn’t ascribing the way men and women behave with each other to evolution a little reductionistic ? Don’t we just end up being resigned to the way it is? Hope Harrington please.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Cooper

Perhaps the hope is in understanding and accepting the necessary differences in our biologies, and the realisation that, amazingly, many couples do ultimately find the balance between individual independence and commitment?

Luca Dittmer
Luca Dittmer
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Cooper

The key is not to mix up “is” with “ought”. Just because evolution has shaped us to behave in a certain way does not mean we should always blindly follow its lead

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Excellent article that begins the long-overdue process of deconstructing feminist dogma through an evolutionary lens.

I’d take this one step further by pointing out that marriage, rather than being ” a patriarchal institution for the oppression of women” is in fact a social institution for the protection of women from the consequences of their own sexuality, forcing legal responsibility on men for the consequences of sex. But feminism stripped that institution of its legitimacy, imagining that once free of its shackles, women would be truly liberated from the “patriarchy “.

Instead, the opposite is true. Freed from the protection marriage offered, women are now the victims of their own sexual desires, because ironically, feminism freed men more than women from marriage, which always forced them to pay a steep price for sexual access to women. Now that sex is cheap, why bother getting married?

Freed from its constraints, men are now able to move from one relationship to the next, leaving a trail of women in the rear-view mirror, all under the cover of female “liberation”.

Turns out the “patriarchy” is just another word for “marriage”. But since women will always want sex and emotional connection to men, they have the most to lose when stable relationships become obsolete. No wonder both anxiety and depression among young women have been climbing steadily for forty years.

The only question is, how long before women figure out that feminism led them off a cliff?

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago

I find it interesting that I am the only woman commenting on the above article.

Mary Harrington’s excellent piece really resonated with me personally and professionally. I was a young woman in the 70s and 80s and certainly did things at that time, which in hindsight were not very helpful, but were what I thought I was supposed to do to be a modern empowered woman. Many of my contemporaries also say the same thing as did young women I met through work. At least the men we met didn’t have online access to hardcore porn or demand a**l sex with a bit of light strangulation thrown in.

Michael North
Michael North
3 years ago

I couldn’t be bothered to read the above.
The degradation of women resulting from the “Sexual Revolution” is plain to anyone with a brain free of “feminist” ideology, but female imbecility is a bottomless pit.

M Blanc
M Blanc
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael North

I wouldn’t call it imbecility, but it appears that there is a deep-seated, and probably ineradicable, resentment of men by women. I’ve come to think that, in societies in which there is not serious subjugation of women by men, there will eventually be sexual segregation.

William Costello
William Costello
3 years ago

Cynically I read this as: Some women’s free choice is to enjoy sexual empowerment and literally profit from it. This is bad because it doesn’t last forever, other women want other things they’re still free to pursue, like emotional intimacy & commitment. Oh and it’s also bad because men like it.

More sympathetically I read it as a somewhat fair appraisal of the differences between the sexes, trying to find the sweet spot between restrictive sociosexual norms and an unfulfilling and hollow climate of sexual wantonness in which women can sometimes be taken advantage of.

trailrunner925
trailrunner925
3 years ago

All I can contribute to this conversation about “sexual empowerment” is that it has always existed…. Mae West? I don’t think woman have ever been deprived of their “sexual empowerment”. Rather, they have employed it extensively through out history. So I don’t see this song as representing feminism, or empowerment at all. It’s simply exploitation of sexuality for profit. And as age old as that is, it just has not been elevated to a public platform. Period. And I see it also as soft porn. If puts a laser focus on a woman’s sexuality and body as the repository of value, worth, expression. As part of the generation that fought for women’s rights and emancipation, I never felt sexually restricted, so much as opportunity and economically restricted. Personally, singing about your sexual exploits is about as interesting as speaking about your bowel movements….. I’m satisfied with my own unpublicized experiences in this regard. Don’t need to hear about anyone else’s 🙂

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
3 years ago

Why are nearly all the comments by men? Is it because women have nothing to say about false empowerment? Is it because men know only too well about false empowerment? Is it demographics of Unherd readership?

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

Perhaps women have better things to do?

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Yep, women being busy with sexual empowerment while we sit at home writing comments on them, sounds rather useless…

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
3 years ago

Okay, here’s a comment.
I find it hard to comment on articles like this because I think it attempts to talk about a very problematic situation but does it in language that promotes the problem. The comments on here either agree with the gist of what is being said using similar language (which is most of them, from what I can tell) or disagree, again using the same language.
I feel if I commented no-one would understand a word of what I was trying to say (or would tell me that I hadn’t got a clue). So I’ve kept quiet, except to answer you.
Of course, that’s my problem, not anyone else’s.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Go Away Please

You could try!

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Go Away Please

I’m not sure if you’re suggesting that this would be because your language would be too simple or too jargon laden? Are you saying that you have something so original to say that we would struggle to understand, or that you are going to unleash a dense pile of pomo ridden verbiage.

Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but if you can make a good point in reasonably plain English it will usually be appreciated, and may be agreed with.

Go for it!

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

My language would be rather traditional and yes, you are being a tad rude.
I was replying to the query made by Otto as to why women weren’t commenting not seeking to put my own point of view across other than to say Mary Harrington highlights an issue but doesn’t suggest anything that remotely strikes me as dealing with a major problem. In fact, having told us quite graphically what the problem is she then seems to suggest that women need to pursue their own “erotic interests” and realise that although youthful beauty is “power” it’s short lived. I don’t think that gets us anywhere.
The language is all about sex, sexuality, power, empowerment. The former two are just a small part of what makes us human. The final word is almost meaningless these days, just a slogan used mainly by people who want something they probably don’t deserve and expect others to hand over to them.
If I had to pen a longer response I would use words like:
men, women, families, motherhood, virtue, morals, religion, dignity, obligations, responsibility, sacrifice. good, bad, right, wrong …..

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

I posted a comment here 8 hours ago, but it remains missing. This happens on a regular basis. Why?

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

I’m trying to work this out too, John. Almost all my comments go through with no problem, but every now and again one disappears. I’ve just posted one comment for the 4th time in a week on another article, but it never appears, although my other comments on the same article are there. The problem is that I simply can’t understand why anybody would censor my comments when I’ve seen others that really are quite offensive (and to Unherd’s credit, are NOT censored). So one is left gaslit: is it just a faulty algorithm? Or editorial censorship? Perhaps one biased and corrupt editor? Or worse still, do the authors have some say in the vetting of comments and some authors don’t like to play ball? Would like to hear any other people’s experiences on this site regarding this too. Am only concerned because I adore the writing on this site – and the comments are usually great as well.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Actually, perhaps we should all submit a request to Unherd that they give us a transparent account on their vetting/censoring method (ie. not their generic regulations, which I have read, and which could be on any site). An article perhaps?

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago

In Australia, state boundary closure because of covid is revealing surprising tribal antipathies, Queenslanders calling people from New South Wales ‘cockroaches’ etc. Federation is breaking down. The United Kingdom isn’t looking very united, either. I can’t see much hope for any kind of union of the Anglosphere when even countries within it can’t hold together effectively.

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
3 years ago

Yay men finally have a win. Go men!!!!

Mike Ferro
Mike Ferro
3 years ago

This is a sour and biased piece by an obvious supporter of Britain remaining in, or rejoining, the EU
The primary reason for our currently low levels of trade with the CANZUC nations has precisely been European tariff walls shutting them out. Prior to EU membership our trade with Australia was ten times what it is now, and there’s no reason why, trading freely once again, it should not soon be so again
Likewise, the bonds of kinship, shared culture and values so clearly demonstrated during the wars of the 20th century, are still there to be reactivated as would be obvious to anyone except those who deliberately choose not to see it

Christine O
Christine O
3 years ago

Good article, well written. This brings some forgotten ideas bang up to date. I read something similar 20 years ago, basically saying the same thing about the 60’s sexual revolution. It’s important to keep saying this stuff because it gets pushed aside. Thank you.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago

Such a fantastic piece of writing. You bring me back to UnHerd.
The truth of it I’ve know for a long time, but your commentary is brilliant.
Thank you.

Alexander Allan
Alexander Allan
3 years ago

Feminism is one big lie. It has never empowered any woman as it presupposes that male traits are better than feminine traits. So we have had a hundred years of women trying to ape men and disturbingly so many girls now doing themselves untold physical harm by believing the lie that sex is a social construct and they can change it through hormone intervention. Apart from the usual evolution gibberish a good article highlighting the absurdity of progressives

Jad Adams
Jad Adams
3 years ago

I remember Malcolm Muggeridge spouting this kind of stuff and thinking what a pompus old bore he was. When I chanced upon his earlier writing and read a bit about him I understood: he too, like this writer, had a ‘misspent youth’ of enjoying what life had to offer. He was such fun in his young days. When he became older he felt it was incumbent upon him to be respectable, judgemental, attempting to deny others the agency he had indulged so freely. In his case it was a religious structure of human life that he now held up as the examplar – gender roles and a demure position for women was ‘natural,’ God-given. Mary Harrington is so much more advanced: she woudln’t hold with any of that, it’s evolutionary biology that proves her point. Plus ca change.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Jad Adams

Indeed, she went the long way round to say the same thing,…almost. Her paradigm for male-female sex is strictly limited to the adolescent phase. She sees only a power relationship – each party pursuing selfish gratification- where sex is concerned and where the critical issue is “a level playing field”. This is not evolution, but devolution, …a culture gone back to the barnyard.

mark taha
mark taha
3 years ago

I would point out that if men and women didn’t treat each other as sex objects,the human race would be extinct. I would add that the fact that it hasn’t is why I see no need for sex education.

mark taha
mark taha
3 years ago

They’re our kinfolk,We betrayed them when we joined the EEC.We should get back together with them.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

She’s one of the few anti-imperialists with principles, and a eurosceptic to boot.

Dave H
Dave H
3 years ago

There’s nowt wrong with female sexuality, or its celebration. There’s a lot wrong with the “ask for a car” part though, and its implications of sex as a lever to get money out of men.

But in the end this is just a commercial product, one which seems to be doing very well at attracting publicity to itself and was probably explicitly designed to garner negative attention like this. As such these articles about it and Ben Shapiro’s own actions will have just served to enrich the creators. And that’s likely all they care about in the end.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 years ago

The problem with feminism ((and the LEFT) today is that they think they can overcome human nature and alter evolution just by putting on a pink p***y hats and marching ‘sexual habits’ away. Ain’t gonna happen. Women did gain more liberty but with freedom comes responsibility – to themselves mostly. Unfortunately, without society’s sanctions, young women are finding out the hard way how to attain dignity and sexual satisfaction. As to be expected, males love ‘female liberation’, because it removed strictures and panties with minimal effort.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

A very sensible piece, whch for some bizarre reason is controversial among some feminists and others primarily but not exclusively on the left. We are so dishonest in general about sexuality in our society, despite sex being widely portrayed and even idealised.

A simple empirical test of the difference between male and female sexuality is the following (sorry for people with sensitive dispositions): There were, before lockdown, a plethora of saunas, clubs and other opportunities for gay men to have casual anonymous sex in most western cities of any size. The slight weakening of this market in recent years is explained by the explosion in hookup apps rather than an outburst of sexual monogamy. There has never been a similar market for lesbians. It is quite amazing how angry this simple observation makes some people; it has been argued with me that the contrast is explained by women having less money! (Just to be clear, of course these are average trends, which doesn’t mean every indvidual conforms to their gender average behaviour).

The main reason straight men don’t have (even?) more casual sex is probably mainly because of the disapproval of women, including up to the threat of the nuclear option of leaving the relationship and taking the children. This is an actually an example of increased women’s influence in society, though few make the point. Hardly a commentator in our society says, “‘Cheating?’ Big deal!”

D Herman
D Herman
3 years ago

An excellent article Mary. I found plenty in there, as a 75 years old male, to agree with and little or nothing to disagree with.

I realised around 12 years of age that I liked girls a lot, and have always thought the female of the species is the best thing on the planet, never to be abused.

Sexuality is different between man and woman for simply (if complex) reasons of biology and evolution. Men being driven to procreate and woman to be choosy. For men of my generation it was always the lady who did the choosing – seduction might be one thing but coercion was never acceptable and would be a deep shame. Of course it became even wrong to have these “paternalistic” attitudes, in much the same way as having the same views today as Martin Luther King is thought racist. I am white by the way as if that mattered.

If men were as choosy (over millennia) as woman, the human race might have died out by now.

I have never strayed in more than half-a-century of marriage and love my wife as much today as I did when we married, but that doesn’t mean to say I have never looked at an attractive young woman and thought how nice it would be to give her a good seeing to, as we used to say. Simply biology, even as old as I am now.

It disappoints me that the better sex has wanted to move more towards the attitudes of many men. It has, as you say Mary, not brought them universal happiness.

I feel that a better balance of rights and responsibilities might improve matters – but perhaps we are back to Ben Shapiro again ??!! I am by the way not religious, but humanist.

Thank you Mary for a thoughtful contribution to a difficult subject, that is basic to future human happiness.

Ruth King
Ruth King
3 years ago

I personally find it sad and depressing that women would want to make this kind of video. Sex as a transaction seems to me meaningless and empty. In contrast, equal, loving, cherishing, emotionally intimate sex = meaningful and life-enhancing for both.

I suspect that before the sexual revolution sex for many women was not of this ideal and women’s pleasure was an afterthought. Attitudes were that women had a duty to please and procreate (I’m generalizing here). So in some senses some women have always taken part in a transaction, albeit now such women (believe they) are doing this out of choice.

The ’emotional intimacy’ that sadly lacked for many women in the past is still lacking for many women now (e.g hook up culture). So, the changes that have happened (many good, some not so good) have missed the key IMHO – emotional intimacy and connection give both men and women value and equality.

Whilst I agree that biology makes us wired differently, I also want to shout out for the men who value meaningful, emotionally intimate sex (I’m married to one!).

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago

Fascinating item. The whole thing sits on eons of inherited instinctive behaviour resulting in success in passing itself on. The result seems to be that men look for fertility in women which is a visual exercise and women look for power in men which requires wider assesment. Fertility control makes for a lot of fun but contradicts and confuses the instinctive caution of the far more invested female which is the root of our current cultural confusion and hopefully not collapse?

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago

CANZUK is such a strong name which helps it to gain traction compared to the extruded sounding EU and has the massive advantage of a common language. This item does seem like it has roots in a Miss Haversham rejected and still at the abandoned feast to celebrate a Remain victory?

Michael Upton
Michael Upton
3 years ago

Obviously everything which Mary Harrington says is correct. The only surprising aspect of this article is that anyone should think it necessary to state such obvious truths. The fact that the question of whether it follows that women were in any respect better off before the 1960s is not the subject of the lively debate which it merits falls on the unsurprising side of the line: to too many modern ears,
such a question is unacceptable. So let us not look back, but look forward, and ask ourselves this – in an age which is in love with the concept of ‘sustainability’, are current sexual mores sustainable? Over how many generations? Assuming of course that we find the answer in good time, before we are buried by those who do not share them – or by their many children.

pseudonamedhero
pseudonamedhero
3 years ago

I do especially worry for Gen Z.. they are watching porn at a young age and girls think that they must perform like that in order to keep a man interested, and wondering why they don’t enjoy a lot of the things portrayed in porn. It’s true that what gets women off and what gets men off are unfortunately not always the same thing. But girls are treated like prudes if they admit they don’t actually enjoy a lot of what happens in porn.
I know plenty of women who are, technically, perfectly capable of enjoying a “zipless f*ck”.. they don’t all need to always have deeply emotional sex.. but part of the reason women aren’t as interested in casual hook ups is because a lot of men don’t care about female pleasure with a one night stand.. and therefore don’t give any. In a relationship at least there is the expectation that both will put some effort into each other. It’s true that female sexuality is different and most women won’t get off from a minute of thrusting.. the fact that there might be plenty of that on offer doesn’t really mean much if it does nothing for you, pleasure-wise.

cara williams
cara williams
1 year ago

thank you. i feel the same way. i worry for my daughters and sons. my 23 year old son said he wished he was born back when we were before porn wrote the script or scripts for what sex is.

cara williams
cara williams
1 year ago

thank you. i feel the same way. i worry for my daughters and sons. my 23 year old son said he wished he was born back when we were before porn wrote the script or scripts for what sex is.

pseudonamedhero
pseudonamedhero
3 years ago

I do especially worry for Gen Z.. they are watching porn at a young age and girls think that they must perform like that in order to keep a man interested, and wondering why they don’t enjoy a lot of the things portrayed in porn. It’s true that what gets women off and what gets men off are unfortunately not always the same thing. But girls are treated like prudes if they admit they don’t actually enjoy a lot of what happens in porn.
I know plenty of women who are, technically, perfectly capable of enjoying a “zipless f*ck”.. they don’t all need to always have deeply emotional sex.. but part of the reason women aren’t as interested in casual hook ups is because a lot of men don’t care about female pleasure with a one night stand.. and therefore don’t give any. In a relationship at least there is the expectation that both will put some effort into each other. It’s true that female sexuality is different and most women won’t get off from a minute of thrusting.. the fact that there might be plenty of that on offer doesn’t really mean much if it does nothing for you, pleasure-wise.

nikki.capuano
nikki.capuano
3 years ago

It’s actually Megan Thee Stallion that tells you to ask for a car while you ride that d**k. If you are going to tell women how to feel about a song, have the respect to quote the right woman from your high horse.

Dave H
Dave H
3 years ago

If it was just a celebration of sex then I’d write it off as “not for me”, and be done with it.
But the “ask for a car” stuff puts it on a different level.

Either way the controversy over this shiny, packaged, commercial product is only serving the ends of the money behind it – get them in the public eye, cause a bit of a storm, rake in the cash.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

Thought-provoking, and mostly factually accurate. And, IMHO, the conclusions are largely right too.

But the article is wrong in one respect: the idea that evolutionary change must be very slow is outdated. That is often the case, but not necessarily. In fact, we now know that evolutionary change can work through a population fairly fast, if it is widespread enough. The fact that female fertility has been effectively controllable for several generations now has implications which have been overlooked.The truth is that we have multiplied and filled the earth, not just because of a large brain, or an opposable thumb – handy as these things are – but because we are permanently capable of reproduction. Most animals have a breeding season, and don’t seek sex at other times. Humans are always at it. In the past, this meant that those most keen on sex would, on average, have more children. This is no longer the case, or not to the same extent.

Consequences are likely to include a diminished interest in sex, because a high sex drive no longer confers an evolutionary advantage. There is already research suggesting that young people are having less sex than their predecessors (they may have more partners, but that’s a diferent measure). This must inevitably happen, because evolution quickly drops things that cost effort for no evolutionary gain. We know that sex drive plays a part in other behaviour (eg, sex offending) so a reduction could have benefits as well.

There could be many other consequences, but it would take an article longer than Ms Harrington’s to explore them!

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Evolution cannot “drop things” as quickly as you seem to believe. Genes can be switched on/off through environmental pressure, but changing the composition of the allels that carry the genes requires selection pressure to eliminate them, or time to allow favourable mutations to spread. Neither of these processes can happen quickly, unless a huge percentage of the species is destroyed, leaving only the genetic variants to reproduce.

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago

Because she’s intelligent, astute and has an understanding of the way young women are manipulated by the media, porn culture and some men.

And she writes well.

Maria Obreja
Maria Obreja
3 years ago

For better understanding this essay I dare to suggest reading “Why Sex matters” by Bobby S. Low and “Sperm Wars” by Robin Baker.

Miriam UĂ­
Miriam UĂ­
3 years ago

Good analysis Mary. What saddens me is the impact all this has on teenagers, especially girls, who buy into the faux egalitarian view of sex and relationships.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago

It’s a let down to see this kind of childish drivel here. It belongs in the Comment Is Free section of the Guardian.

What is it with that set of people who exist in a permanent state of adoloscent cringe when it comes to anything to do with British history and a desire to form allegiences with nations whose customs and culture most closely resemble our own and who we have a shared history with based on a certain mutual bond of friendship, respect and kinshi?

Did they all have an embarrassing uncle in the family that has given them an petulent hatred of people they love to self-adoringly refer to as ‘gammon’ (thinking it makes them cool), and a need to rebel against anyone who isn’t on the ‘world with no borders, we are the world, imagine all the people…’ bandwagon?

Even this article can’t help but admit there would be a call for at least a loose union of common interests that would be beneficial for all countries, and highlights the more extreme and unworkable ideas are unecessary and needn’t be included, but takes a few extremist views, mostly hyperthetical it seems, some straight-up strawmen, and acts like they are being proposed on a serious and widespread level, therefore the whole idea of any sort of alliance is just a ‘fantasy of a sub-set of nostaligic, empire-loving Brexiteers who want an British Empire 2.0’..

The author is being disingenous in the article and pretending the ideology he is taking aim at is neo-liberalism as the main protagonist.

The tiresomely predictable enemy being sniped at here is any Briton who is proud of Britain and its history, and the fact they we managed to create unique historical ties with some of the world’s greatest countries, and wish to prioritise with those countries over others.

That is not ‘inclusive’ enough for them.

It’s the usual Remainer hatred. They’d rather be shackled up with the other nations of the EU in a far more problematic union than anything proposed in this article.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago

Was it the author of this peice who spitefully marked my previous post as ‘spam’? Whoever it was, I must have hit the nail on the head and spoke a bit too much truth for them in order to get that childish response.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago

Seems the author is one of those people who would rather be in a far more problematic union with the countries of the EU.

mandismallhornekraft
mandismallhornekraft
3 years ago

If as little attention was paid to WAP as has been paid to male singers saying similar things (50 Cent? Bloodhound Gang? Nine Inch Nails?), this whole thing would have been over by now. But no, it’s women so we all have to act like the end of civilisation is at hand.

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
3 years ago

Similar things, but in probably the most fundamental way, much different. I can’t think of a commercially successful male artist who wrote a song where the hook was a him describing his rock hard, semen-primed phallus.

“I want to fyck you like an animal” is crude, sure, but is abstract, and arguably more palatable than if he started describing what his sexual organs look like.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

I just saw the video. I enjoyed it, the lyrics though are to fast for this dutchie but I don’t doubt them being very explicit and all, even being pornographic (visually I would not call this porn, not even close).
Ok, let’s talk about the content or the message this video is supposed to spread among a certain group of young defenseless women (and men?). First of all I consider the majority of women and the majority of men quite capable of making the distinctions needed to put this stuff into the niche where it belongs: sexual fantasy.
I understand the article presumes that these 2 women are promoting the wrong kind of transactional sex or even transactional relationships (although when it comes to relationships I just don’t see anything in this clip that could refer to an experience that lasts longer than a few hours at most).
When I think about transactional sexuality I immediately have to think about religion, christianity, islam and the next thing that comes to mind is free will. I’m convinced any good historian could write a whole book about the transactional character of sexuality and relationships promoted by christianity and the Islam to this very day. To summarize my opinion: compared tot the religious transactional horror being executed on sexuality worldwide this video is…well…peanuts, at most?….Having said this I do agree that transactional sex and relationships (not to be mixed up with free love and free relationships) in every form are emotionally inferior to love. And ofcourse it’s of fundamental importance to teach youth about the different aspects of sex and love. Basically it comes down to the distinction that sex and love are not the same. Both can be enjoyed , mixed or apart from each other. Sounds simple when you write it down…I know

Lincoln Larsen
Lincoln Larsen
3 years ago

This is a well-written piece which I agree with. However, the evolutionary basis for this argument falls short. Evolution is only ever able to describe what is, rather than prescribe what ought to be. This is the classic naturalistic fallacy. Why shouldn’t we evolve beyond what we currently seem to be?

A firmer foundation for this kind of article would be the Christian worldview, which describes the world as designed, and male/female differences as inherent in God’s created order.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln Larsen

Thank you. Well put!

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln Larsen

The author explicitly made that point: that of course we are human and have agency, but we need to be aware of what we are up against, in terms of nature and evolution, and not choose to ignore the realities.

Some might think that pressuring everyone to have loveless, aggressive sex whether they like it or not is a funny sort of ‘evolving beyond’.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln Larsen

We CAN evolve – and if evolutionary history is anything to go by we certainly will. What the writer is saying is that it’s very very difficult – if not impossible – to completely deny such fundamental biology as sex, and changing such fundamentals is not going to happen in a couple of little Woke decades.
(btw – perhaps a little pedantically: the whole point of evolution is change, and what biology thinks “ought to be” in the future, so I think your point about evolution describing only what is, is not quite right)

Lincoln Larsen
Lincoln Larsen
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

So you’re telling me that we can and do evolve, albeit slowly and over a long period of time. OK, so what’s to keep our morals from evolving as well? Most would acknowledge that they do and should change. Well, why shouldn’t we try to speed up the process? Maybe these few “woke decades” are just the beginning of a whole new way of life? Isn’t that the goal of progressives – progress? Of course as a Christian, I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but these are the questions you’ve got to contend with.
In the end, evolution doesn’t provide the kind of firm foundation needed to build a society upon, much less a moral one. All it leaves us with is an incoherent moral vision (e.g. “the strong eat the weak, therefore we should treat all people with dignity and respect.”) And to your pedantic point, “the whole point of evolution is change” – evolution has no direction or purpose – it just happens.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln Larsen

I agree – and Christianity is one great example of a fine effort (with some egregious diversions) to evolve our morals, often against our evolutionary drives. I was just saying that fighting biology is going to take quite a bit more than doing a gender studies degree, and that in fact some people find our natural biologies amazingly beautiful (and quite a bit more practical than chopping bits off ourselves in the interests of self expression – although if that’s your thing, go for it I say). Ie. there’s quite a bit going on here.
Evolution has no “direction or purpose” – hmmm……..I would say quite quite a bit of religion is there to try and explain the apparently miraculous “direction and purpose” of evolution. Makes you want to believe in Intelligent Design…….ain’t so pedantic to me!

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln Larsen

The claim of evolutionary theory is not just that we evolve, but that we evolve via natural and sexual selection. If you want us to evolve from a dimorphic species into one in which Male and female sexuality are the same you’ll need to apply some sort of selective pressure. Eugenics in other words.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Well said. And from that point of view I find the Wokes’ dystopic effort to give the finger to biology and throw it all out in a couple of decades charmingly quixotic.

A PH
A PH
3 years ago
Reply to  Lincoln Larsen

The author doesn’t commit the naturalistic fallacy, because she’s not arguing that evolution shapes how we ought to be. She’s just describing how evolution has brought about certain desires in us (not that they are good or bad on this basis). These desires are often contradictory, such as the desire for complete sexual freedom, but also for intimacy and commitment. Which one we choose to focus on is up to us: the author is not saying we should make this choice with reference to evolution, but with reference to what will create a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

Whether or not the Christian worldview would be a firmer foundation for this kind of article, the problem with it is that there’s no evidence that it’s true. The claims that it’s based on, such as that there’s a supreme being who answers prayers and so on – do not seem to be true. You’ve actually committed the naturalistic fallacy yourself there: you’re saying that because you think believing in God would be better for our lives, God must be real. Fortunately, we can think morally and think about what creates a meaningful life without this.

Lincoln Larsen
Lincoln Larsen
3 years ago
Reply to  A PH

Hi there, thanks for the engagement.
“she’s not arguing that evolution shapes how we ought to be.”
Come on now, but she is. She’s telling us that because women are evolutionarily/biologically predisposed and hardwired to value real intimacy and friendship, that the modern trends won’t produce lasting satisfaction. Thus, women need to open their eyes to see how shallow and fruitless the “sex is power” approach is in the long-term, and give it up. The logic is: “because this is the way things are, this is the way we (women) ought to behave.” That’s the naturalistic fallacy.
Say I ask the question this way: if there is no God-given moral order to the universe, why shouldn’t women try to outgrow their evolutionary predispositions? Who’s to say that the desire for intimacy and deep friendship isn’t simply a vestige of a bygone era, which we should feel free to slough off like a snake does its dead skin? If evolution is true and our nature is malleable, why shouldn’t women (or men) feel free to periodically reinvent themselves and reshape their moral values?

Lincoln Larsen
Lincoln Larsen
3 years ago
Reply to  A PH

Hi there, thanks for the engagement.

“she’s not arguing that evolution shapes how we ought to be.”

Come on now, but she is. She’s telling us that because women are evolutionarily/biologically predisposed and hardwired to value real intimacy and friendship, that the modern trends won’t produce lasting satisfaction. Thus, women need to open their eyes to see how shallow and fruitless the “sex is power” approach is in the long-term, and give it up. The logic is: “because this is the way things are, this is the way we (women) ought to behave.” That’s the naturalistic fallacy.

Say I ask the question this way: if there is no God-given moral order to the universe, why shouldn’t women try to outgrow their evolutionary predispositions? Who’s to say that the desire for intimacy and deep friendship isn’t simply a vestige of a bygone era, which we should feel free to slough off like a snake does its dead skin? If evolution is true and our nature is malleable, why shouldn’t women (or men) feel free to periodically reinvent themselves and reshape their moral values?

Simon Sharp
Simon Sharp
3 years ago

I think this is all on the mark. But really the desperate attempt to portray this video as ‘female sexual empowerment’ is so superficial and stupid it doesn’t deserve all this level of analysis.

Let’s just take the opening of the song: a repeating mantra literally calling the gyrating women on screen whores…over and over.

It takes a truly impressive feat of mental gymnastics to interpret that as having something to so with female empowerment.

I’m no great fan of him but I saw a video by popular youtube pundit sargon of akkad which had a point: He mentioned that if he had produced this video it would be hailed as the most appalingly mysoginistic video ever made. Instead him having a problem with women portrayed as dripping pieces of meat is evidence of his misogyny and of ‘pearl clutching reactionary’ behaviour.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago

What an article! Why is Mary’s account of women’s primordial sexuality so much more sexy and powerful than Cardi B’s desperate attempts to be sexy, obviously fuelled by the fears of a rather plain, moderately talented woman who’s main asset, her youth, is almost spent?
Although I’m still trying to understand the physics of the “zip f**k” and its accompanying “ultra-tight wipe-clean undies”. Can anyone assist me?

judycorstjens
judycorstjens
3 years ago

Actual statistics show that people in general are having less sex. There are many possible reasons, but one could be that more women, more often, do now feel able to say ‘No’.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  judycorstjens

Actually, men are becoming reluctant to have anything to do with women. Check out the growing MGTOW ( men going their own way) movement.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago
Reply to  judycorstjens

That and also possibly men’s awareness of the rising power women have to accuse and be ‘believed’. To destroy a man at the slightest pretext.

judycorstjens
judycorstjens
3 years ago

Just watched the video, and Googled WAP. It is interesting what is not in the video – no men, no pubic hair, no nipples. I think I’m more worried about the cosmetic surgery implied.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  judycorstjens

Exactly, that’s why I suggested (implicitly) the subtitle of the article doesn’t make any sense.

omoniyifab
omoniyifab
3 years ago

This is well laid out piece, exploring different perspectives!

Sam Mac Gill-Eain
Sam Mac Gill-Eain
3 years ago
Reply to  omoniyifab

Yes, it is!

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
3 years ago

“…success of the Anglosphere appears to rest on the existence of a constellation of like-minded politicians in English-speaking countries”.

Replace Anglosphere with EU and English-speaking with multilingual. I think we all know which one has more chance of success!

Jimmy Edwards
Jimmy Edwards
3 years ago

And the crazy thing? Ben Shapiro’s wife, Mor, is actually a medical doctor of Moroccan descent. Can you imagine? That misogynist pig is holding back his wife from doing anything great and noble with her life other than being a mother and wife. I mean the guy is obviously living in the 18th century. What could he possibly know about dignity, education, class, morals, character… etc when it comes to women. My god, what is wrong with people? How did we get here.;

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy Edwards

Very dangerous guy this Ben Shapiro. He’s in fact a very rigid orthodox jew that has somehow learned to speak like a liberal philosopher. He does ask open questions, or so it seems, but the answers are guiding humanity towards an orthodox nightmare in which women will in the end be submitted to men totally, just like in the old days, again. I like my women free and committed by their own choice (with just a little bit of Cardi B for the finishing touch :))

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy Edwards

I can’t tell if you’re taking the piss or not.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago

A really good article – well written, honest and perceptive – plenty to think very seriously about here and what the consequences of “de- feminising ” and ultimately disrespecting women actually are .
In the end purely transactional, instant gratification sex must surely have either declining appeal or be constantly pushing for ever more sensation- like the abuse of drugs and alcohol – whatever happened to “romantic love”?

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Great opinion piece by Mary, as usual. She writes: “Even painful and risky a**l sex is now normalised, along with the expectation that girls will not enjoy it.” The discussion of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases is often framed in terms of homosexual versus heterosexual sex. As Robert Root-Bernstein notes in his book “Rethinking AIDS”, a**l sex is by far the most risky sort for contracting AIDS. Moreover the risk in a**l sex is hugely greater for the passive partner, who will always be the woman if it is a heterosexual encounter. I suspect that the stats on this aren’t often seen because if they were published there is a fear they could lead to a push to bring back laws against sodomy. Whatever the reason, those statistics should be available. Here is an example from my own country: “New HIV infections are concentrated mainly in people who engage or have engaged in heterosexual sex in Alberta (44.8% of people with HIV) and Manitoba (61.7%).” No indication at all of what type of sex it was. It’s unacceptable.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

It’s not just women and girls that are getting played by what are in essence politically driven narratives about the nature of sexuality – men and boys are equally (willing enough) victims, although with effects more subtle and dispersed. The truth to face, which very few have any interest in doing, is that notwithstanding the abstractness, virtuality, and sheer complexity of our civilization now, most decisions made by most humans most of the time, are instinctive. Evolutionary biology driven. Just like all other lifeforms.

And a couple of posers, one in operation throughout humanity’s history, and one that will impinge on humanity’s consciousness soon enough, forcing confrontations with truths about our nature, like it or not. What has always operated in societies, is that this ‘chimera’, of control and choice, persists, even in people who are well aware that their actions (as opposed to a very small number of their thoughts) are being pulled around like a puppet on a string by this hoary old doppelganger with nothing on it’s mind beyond the biological imperitives “eat, sleep, reproduce, repeat”, seemingly oblivious of the fact that pretty much all of those are nowadays firing blanks. A parallel of the fact that many, many people are in fact aware (at a subliminal level at least), that attachment to the notion of, for example, ‘Nation’ is as ludicrous as attachment to any religion, notwithstanding that many of us, not least me, cannot (or don’t want to) shake off that irrational hook. But the zinger is what comes next, likely within as little as a decade, as humanity starts hacking into it’s own genetic programming (eg CRISPR and Prime), and likely enough alters or even zaps those very impulses that are the subject of this article. There is no reason to suppose that human evolutionary-biological drivers will be retained beyond more than a few decades once the option to remove them (self edit or others edit you) is available.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
3 years ago

Keen observations. A lesson common to them and many others is that parents simply cannot (if that was an option, desired or otherwise) outsource parenting, and I suppose a mother animal of many genera would tell you something analogous. Do these “artists” comprehend the message they send, or do they just not care?

I am reminded of how banal is was for Eminem to proclaim he was not a role model, as if that was a choice for him to make. Fortunately, his audience was much less often born out-of-wedlock and could grow up to realize what a p***y he was/is.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

“Support for free movement, free trade and an undefined “security coordination” among the CANZUK nations is now a policy platform of Canada’s opposition Conservative party, but this is far from the federal superpower of Roberts’ imagining.” I don’t know. It sounds reasonably close to Roberts’ proposal to me, and as the Conservatives got more votes than any other party in the last election, they may be in office within a few years time. In a sense the CANZUK nations already have security co-ordination along with the US as members of the Five Eyes (FVEY), which, quite strangely, Aris never mentions once. I do agree that geography tends to trump a common language and so forth. For example, the Canadian government would never join a CANZUK alliance if it meant forsaking or renegotiating the USMCA. Just the same, I think it is worth looking at. Our four peoples are far closer to each other in their political cultures than we are to the Americans, or to the French for that matter. Geography is important, but it isn’t everything.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

I thought the woman in the pink ‘outfit’ was Meghan Markle, at first glance. Reading the lyric you quote about asking for a car while engaged in sexual activity didn’t dispel my suspicion that this was intentional.

Liz Davison
Liz Davison
3 years ago

Of course there are exceptions. My 30-year old daughter has a male friend who falls in love very easily and hopes for a romantic relationship every time he fancies a girl. One would perhaps suppose that women might find this appealing. Not so it seems. My daughter is very fond of him but his need for commitment is a turn off. He’s not bad looking either. But she wants a man to react like a man should. I must say I was exactly the same. Nobody wants to be a lover’s doormat but there’s a happy medium. Confident partners can achieve this. That goes for both sexes. I think something could also be said about older women, past childbearing age, who fancy younger men. This is becoming more common especially when the woman is quite wealthy. So it can cut both ways.

cap0119
cap0119
3 years ago

Did you have to misuse the word “empowerment” in the title? You’re not criticizing empowerment, you’re criticizing a different kind of disempowerment. This kind of sloppy writing makes words meaningless.

Unless you want birth control, access to safe abortion, and meaningful rape laws and prosecutions to be taken away, you are not against sexual empowerment. The discussion about what’s best for women has nothing to do with taking away actual legal and physical empowerment.

M Blanc
M Blanc
3 years ago

Modern Western civilization has been darned good to women. However, a majority of them, especially the most prosperous and best-educated, wish to destroy it in the name of “liberation” and “empowerment”. I do hope that they are pleased with the result when they succeed.

John Sherbioni
John Sherbioni
3 years ago

Super article! Have you read Unhooked by Laura Sessions
Women have changed so much since the introduction of the pill. Choices are numerous and the decisions affect long term mental health

James N
James N
3 years ago

How ironic it seems that my Christian sisters are the ones demonstrating strength and empowerment, when all of the doublethink-neofeminists are busy trying to convince themselves and other girls (misery loves company) that they’re happy to have turned something powerful and meaningful into something cheap. But hey, at least they achieved “equality” with the lowest rungs of masculinity. But it’s important to remember that mainstream media abhors normalcy. Their relevance is in being an attention-grabbing smoke and distorted-mirror freakshow.

Frederick Foster
Frederick Foster
3 years ago

Great essay.

All of our seemingly intractable social problems including environmental destruction are the dramatization of the hell-deep male fear of the Feminine Principle or Shakti the universal Life Energy.

All of creation or the natural world is a manifestation of the Shakti

Each and every woman is an embodiment of Shakti or the Goddess.

The most fearsome traditional image of the Goddess or Shakti is of course the blood-thirsty “b***h” Kali. Us males are of course hell-deep afraid of Kali – because she signals our death, or at least the vulnerability and the death of our bodies.
Men treat or relate to all women and the natural world exactly as they relate to our treat their own bodies.

More poetically

Men are angular.Women are Spherical. If you paint women, you paint the whole universe. Every woman is a particularization of one one thing – the “She”, the universal power.
A Woman’s body rotating expresses the unity of existence. It is all “She”.
A room without furnishings, and women rotating within it – this is the principal subject of painting

Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine
3 years ago

What a load of indecipherable new age gibberish meets radical feminist nonsense.

Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine
3 years ago

Spot on. Utter nonsense.

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago

Rubbish. Man writes a defence based on Hindu deities therefore he’s a woman. That’s as daft as saying that ancient female warriors must have been transgender.

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago
Reply to  jynorthumbria

Thank you for pointing out that the last word of my comment had mysteriously vanished.

I was pointing out how when a man writes something that is a tad off the wall and nonsensical you assume he’s a woman. This is the same thinking which made a Nordic author decide that women who fought as shield maidens must have been transgender despite there having been DNA evidence from female warrior rulers’ graves and a long history worldwide of female warriors and leaders. It’s the assumptions that fanciful and new agey equals female and leadership, bravery, athleticism and skill with weapons are male attributes. Frankly irritating.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Substance abuse?

Thomas Laird
Thomas Laird
3 years ago

“For a stretch of my misspent youth in the 00s, I was a regular visitor at a fetish club near London Bridge. “

I say. Ding dong!

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

I usually support articles examining biological differences between the sexes based on evolutionary theory, and in general, Mary has done a good job here.

She gets one thing wrong, however, when she claims that men and women respond differently to sexual stimuli. A meta study reported in the Guardian a year ago, analyzing evidence from MRI studies and 65 others, found that the brains of men and women respond in an identical fashion to erotic images. In fact, when we take into account both visual and written forms of pornography, women actually consume porn at a rate equal to or surpassing men’s consumption.

Steve Moxon
Steve Moxon
3 years ago

Come again?
The “winners” are women. Pornography [sic] — erotica — & prostitution and their diluted forms are all about exploiting (whether for money or less indirectly for access to high-mate-value males, or whatever) the universal male desire for partners in number (for the deep evolved reason that males can prodigiously reproduce simply by having partners in number, whereas women can’t).
With the female being the ‘limiting factor’ in reproduction then the female is always the winner. In pair-bonding, the female gains in acquiring a male of high genetic quality through securing him at or about her time of peak fertility, which thereby in effect is projected forward in time as she has the same high-quality male genes for every successive child — unless she has extra-pair sex with a male of still higher genetic quality than her pair-bonded partner … which again is a case of a woman using her sexuality to advantage. Enter the night club scenario the author of this article tries to make out is not in the female interest.
Whether the woman seeks a pair-bond partner or an extra-pair sex partner, either way fertility — female sexual power — is at play.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Essentially
Woman makes a song because she’s empowered
It’s the wrong message for a feminist,
So it’s men’s fault?

Gonzalez Girl
Gonzalez Girl
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I don’t think the author is saying that at all. If anything its capitalism that’s at fault. The article points out “The pitiful trade-off women are offered for sacrificing female-centred sexuality is the opportunity to exploit their youthful beauty in pursuit of money or power” whether it be “car for d**k” or “money for nudes” this is the mechanism by which women have been exploited. Men have been conned too – but that’s another article.

jynorthumbria
jynorthumbria
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Half naked women writhe about embodying a male view of sexuality. That’s the issue, that young women are so influenced by porn culture that they think that being what they think men want is feminist and empowering. It isn’t.