Sunday, October 28, 2007

They don't write about sexual market value like they used to

Some years ago a lot of people used to write about the sexual market value theory. They were, for the most part, rather entertaining about it. A lot of other people used to disapprove.

The basic idea of the sexual market value theory is that some people are more sexually desirable than others (to the members of their preferred sex on average), that some features are more desirable than others, on average, and that the more desirable people tend to be able to find more desirable partners.

The idea is simple, and intuitively understandable to most people. There is a fair amount of fun in discussing the details, if one is so inclined.

A lot of people seem to object to the idea, for fairly obvious emotional reasons. First of all, it's nice to think that one is loved for one's true self, whatever that means, rather than pay attention to the fact that before your current, former or prospective partners really start paying attention to your true self for sexual or romantic purposes they have already preselected you on a number of rather more mundane features: height, weight, age, social class, where you live, whether or not you smoke, etc., etc. Second, even a person who does not mind the idea of sexual market value as such usually prefers to overestimate his or her own sexual market value, and does not particularly enjoy hearing exactly which of his or her own features are not deemed desirable by prospective partners.

It's quite understandable for some people to write about sexual market value theory, and for some other people to answer "you evil, evil shallow person! how can you be so cynical!".

This really should not, however, be the same person in the same blog post. Or even in the same blog, if the whole blog is dedicated to the sexual market value theory. And this is what I keep seeing lately. Don't these people understand how pathetic they sound?

It's often fun to pronounce ugly truths, and fun to read people who do so, but people who do so should at least exhibit a bit of self-ironic detachment when they notice that the same ugly truths apply to themselves (or, failing that, pretend that they did not notice). As opposed to puzzlement and/or moral outrage.

For a couple examples (links not given to protect the guilty):

1. A man in his forties (IIRC) finds out that various sexual market commodities can be exchanged one for another, more particularly that a fortyish man who is a lot richer than average can find 20-year-old women a lot easier than average. He moves to a relatively poor Asian country on a first-world income and proceeds to do so, much to the understandable (but IMO unjustified) disapproval of the young guys in the new country and the middle-aged women in the old one.

So far, so good. But then the man in question, who keeps extolling the various virtues of young women is totally, completely baffled when he sees middle-aged women who prefer younger men. "Why?" - he asks. "What do they find in them?"

2. Another man keeps going on about younger women, too. Again, understandable. But then he writes a whole post full of moral outrage about older women who try to pick up younger men. "What are they trying to prove?" The post contains a picture of woman who is otherwise reasonably good looking according to the author, but whose upper arm definitely shows her age (or lack of workout). In the same post he accuses those women of shallowness.

3. A guy does not like fat women. Fine, no surprise here, most people prefer thinner partners.

Then he finds a statistic saying that newly-married women in their teens and early twenties gain 24 pounds during their first 5 years of marriage, whereas men gain 30. Dismissing the men's weight gain as unimportant (because he thinks women don't or shouldn't really care), he proceeds to exhibit moral outrage with the wives for being inconsiderate to the desires of their husbands and therefore ugly inside as well as outside.

This is funny enough in and of itself, but the same guy has also previously expressed the opinion that women who lose weight to please men are shallow.

Oy vey. "Myötähäpeä" is a really good Finnish word that English unfortunately lacks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People found to be hypocrites, and find the uglier truths about themselves confronting and hard to take. Attempt to find external scapegoat to blame. Film at 11.

More seriously, the amount of genuinely frustrated and bitter males posting on these blogs annoys me, as I cannot detect where their solid arguments end and the misogyny kicks in. It's like reading conspiracy theorists talk about the financial system - you know there is an important grain of hard, concealed truth somewhere in there, but where does that end and the paranoia and misinformation begin?

I want to know the loopholes in the rigged and duplicitous games that society plays, and maybe show my kids the easier ways out.