All in the Mind

Sexual Egalitarianism

Why it will always remain a wild fantasy

Sex, as practiced for the last billion years, has been an awfully competitive and selective affair. Erotic desire drives much of human behaviour. It motivates us to keep fit, take care of our appearance, elevate our status by excelling at school and in our careers and show off our physical prowess and dexterity through sport, dance and music. Heterosexual men and women tend to adopt different strategies, for the inescapable biological fact that only women have babies. Both men and women may well enjoy sex. However, while men seek to satisfy their sexual desires with the most physically desirable partners, women tend to target higher status males better able to look after their children. These dynamics are at play even in advanced societies with low birth rates, extended childhood and adolescence stretching into our thirties with plenty of time for women to pursue careers and explore the world of leisure and intrigue. The trouble is we don't all perform equally well at this game. Not all women are blessed with the same innate beauty and perfect physique, though no doubt a healthy diet and active lifestyle help. Not all men are equally strong, charming, agile, good-humoured, wealthy, reliable, conscientious, agreeable or intelligent, though no doubt a good upbringing and a healthy diet help. Sure, in the real world things balance out and most of us find a partner sooner or later, though recent social trends have led to more and more people choosing to stay single for longer and only commit to more part-time relationships. However, the dynamics of sexual selection mean some of us may not only attract a wider range of affable partners, but can also fulfil our erotic ambitions more easily. Status acts as a powerful aphrodisiac. While some shy beta males struggle to attract the right calibre of young women, high-status alpha males may struggle to fend off unwanted female attention. Feminists have naturally always supported a woman's right to choose with whom to share her body and under what conditions. Bodily self-determination seems to me one of the most basic human rights. However, social biologists have long observed that natural selection proceeds largely through female sexual choice as detailed in William G. Eberhard's 1996 work Female Control: Sexual Selection by Cryptic Female Choice. Fertility clinics seek to emulate this strategy by presenting female customers with a choice of sperm donors, although currently successful males are less motivated to donate their sperm. The harsh reality many beta males would prefer to ignore is self-confident, healthy and attractive young women will always target alpha males. Many women do not even consider 80 to 90% of potential age-appropriate mates. However, when a disheartened young man strikes it lucky with a modestly attractive female, his self-esteem will soar. Women can exert tremendous power over the success of their male partners. Female attention can transform introvert young professionals into confident young men. This works vice-versa, but men and women have different interests. Men seek not just gratification, but validation as a worthy sexual partner. Women may enjoy sex, but focus more on the long term security of their offspring. Today such statements are almost heretical, but as recently as 1992 John Gray wrote a bestseller, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, confirming the truisms of male-female relationships that many would now seek to deny.

Social justice activists promote the concept of equality of outcome through positive discrimination to ensure, for example, that different groups of people are fairly represented in the major professions and decision-making institutions. They bemoan the relative dearth of female programmers or mechanical engineers. In North America and much of Western Europe more females than males now graduate from university and dominate primary and secondary school education, social work and marketing as well as many other caring and people-oriented professions. Men, on the other hand, are more thing-oriented. This is not just based on anecdotal observation, but is supported by voluminous research not least Simon Baron-Cohen's concept of systemisers vs empathisers and his theory that behavioural traits considered on the higher functioning autistic spectrum are due to an extreme male brain. This doesn't mean that gadget-obsessed men cannot socialise and women are not interested in technology, but men are more likely to be concerned with how technology works and what it can do, while women may appreciate an object's appearance as well as it functionality.

So let us just try a thought experiment. What if we applied equality of outcome to mating strategies. Is it fair for a minority of men to receive most female attention and indulge in the most exhilarating intercourse with the sexiest partners just because they are blessed with a superior physique, higher intelligence or greater wealth? If we follow the logic of social justice activists, this reality is grotesquely unfair. Naturally attractive young women should share their bodies and erotic passion with a broad cross-section of age-appropriate heterosexual males, irrespective of their body shape, disability, intelligence, employment status, income, sense of humour, personality or personal hygiene. Some anarcho-communists envisaged our sex life would evolve into free love with open relationships and communal parenting, as practiced in a handful of communes such as the one Otto Muhl founded in Friedrichshof, 80km from Vienna, which sadly exposed bitter personal rivalries over sexual etiquette. I suspect most feminists may disagree, but the free love fantasy may soon drive demand for sex robots.

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