We hate how easy it can be. We hate that if it isn’t us, it will be with some other guy. We hate that so many women will likely never make decent wives or mothers. And we hate when a woman who spent her most attractive years hooking-up with strange men tries to play the good girlfriend with us. It’s a bittersweet relationship at best.
Women love that they can have their cake and eat it too. They love that they can employ an alpha fux beta bux strategy. But they also are far less stable in marriage than their less promiscuous counterparts. Though they might not admit it, it’s a bittersweet relationship for them as well.
What is it about Western society that allows for this degree of female sexual freedom? Science has several factors that help explain it.
Reliable Care For Unplanned Pregnancies
Several studies provide great insights in to this matter. The first is “Norms of Premarital Sexual Behavior: A Cross-Cultural Study” by Gwen J. Broude. The second is “Cultural Customs That Influence Sexual Freedom in Adolescence” by Herbert Barry III and Alice Schlegel. The former can be found on Google Scholar, but you’ll need access to a database to read the second.
Both studies use data and results from numerous other studies, so they are a good launching point if you choose to go down this rabbit hole.
One of the more significant findings in these studies is the importance of care for children born out of wedlock. In societies that are matrilineal (trace descent through the mother’s family) and/or matrilocal (reside with mother’s family), there is an association with female premarital sexual permissiveness (the common measurement of women’s sexual freedom).
What made the correlation significant is when care for children was factored in to the equation. When a baby is born out of wedlock, if there are more people in the house willing to care for the child, there is a significant correlation with female premarital sex.
We are always reminded that correlation does not equal causation, but in this case, kinship theory and paternity certainty can help explain a cause for this. There are societies (usually matrilineal) in which the father does not care for a child, the mother’s brothers do. While the father shares more of his genes with a child than a maternal uncle does, he can never truly be certain (until modern paternity tests are used) that a child is his. Maternal uncles, however, have 100% certainty that their nephews are theirs.
The latter study mentions:
Matrilineal descent encourages sexual freedom by minimizing the need to establish paternity of the children. In our society, fear of pregnancy is likewise relieved by the development and widespread use of effective contraceptive devices. The mobility of individuals and families in our industrial society corresponds to an attribute of many horticultural societies, where descent is associated with sexual freedom.
This is why, in my article on saving American families, I argue for measures that force parents to care for their own children.
Female Coming Of Age Rituals
In highly stratified, complex societies like ours, coming of age rituals for females are correlated with sexual freedom. There isn’t much explanation for this in the literature. But we can imagine scenarios in our own society that could offer insight.
If we take a scenario like a sweet sixteen birthday party in which girls who are already maturing sexually are welcomed into womanhood, we can see why a girl at that age would engage in premarital sex. They can’t marry and are told they shouldn’t anyway for several more years. Yet they are welcomed into womanhood. Adult women have sex. Being allowed to have sex but not allowed or not encouraged to get married is a recipe for sexual freedom.
Another ritual like leaving the house to live in a university dorm could have essentially the same effect.
High Degree Of Personal Freedom
Unlike other stratified societies, where individuals are tied to their families by strict cultural norms and expectations and by family honor codes, ours emphasizes personal freedom. That is something typically found in less stratified, hunter-gatherer type cultures.
Because our society doesn’t define an honor code or integrity very well, we have personal honor codes and personal integrity. Nobody holds you accountable to them but yourself. If your personal honor code doesn’t restrict premarital sex, it is allowed. That’s as true for women now as it is for men.
Women At Work
One of the findings of these studies was a positive correlation between women’s contribution to providing for the household and sexual freedom. Western society is consistent with this.
The more women work—especially outside the home—to contribute to the home, the more female premarital sex is permitted. It’s not hard to imagine a graph in which women’s sexual freedom rises as the percent of their financial contribution to household income increases, though such a graph does not yet exist. Think of women in the 1950s, how much they worked, and how much sexual freedom they had versus women in 2018.
One last piece, which was mentioned but not discussed in depth but probably should be, was the sexual freedom of males. Obviously, if males have more freedom, they need women with whom to have sex. Logic tells us that the ratio would be 1:1, give or take. To imply otherwise would be to permit a small number of women to sleep with many men.
This leads to the question, “Can we curb liberal female attitudes to sex while allowing males sexual freedom by permitting prostitutes to operate freely?” More importantly, should we?