A study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year, surprised many, precisely because it went against the logical assumption that as marriages improve by becoming more equal, the sex in these marriages will improve, too. Instead, it found that when men did certain kinds of chores around the house, couples had less sex. Specifically, if men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming — the kinds of things many women say they want their husbands to do — then couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car. It wasn’t just the frequency that was affected, either — at least for the wives. The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.
Many of my colleagues have observed the same thing: No matter how much sink-scrubbing and grocery-shopping the husband does, no matter how well husband and wife communicate with each other, no matter how sensitive they are to each other’s emotions and work schedules, the wife does not find her husband more sexually exciting, even if she feels both closer to and happier with him.
Brines believes the quandary many couples find themselves in comes down to this: “The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.” In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.
“The passionate marriage used to be a contradiction in terms,” Esther Perel, the couples expert, told me. The quality of sex in marriage — and not just the frequency — is a relatively new conversation that has come about with more egalitarian marriages. In today’s marriages, she said, “we don’t just want sex; it has to be intimate sex. It has to be transcendent and self-actualizing.”
In “Marriage: A History,” Coontz writes that one recent marital development “is that husbands have to respond positively to their wives’ requests for change.” Yet no matter how many requests wives make and how hard their husbands try to accommodate them, the women may still end up disappointed. After all, women are now coming into marriage with sexual histories and experiences on par with men’s, leading to expectations that are difficult to replicate in any marriage, especially now that people live longer and will be having sex, presumably with the same person, for decades more.
I shared my friend’s observation with Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute who studies sexual attraction. She noted that even people who are satisfied with their sex lives often crave more nowadays. She told me about a study she conducted that asked participants who had had affairs why they did so. Fifty-six percent of her male subjects and 34 percent of her female subjects said they were “happy” or “very happy” in their partnerships but cheated anyway.
While past research has shown that men have higher rates of infidelity than women, those rates are becoming increasingly similar, particularly in younger people in developed countries, where recent studies have found no gender differences in extramarital sex among men and women under 40. This may be because younger women are more likely to be in peer marriages — and conditions in peer marriages make female infidelity more probable than in traditional ones. A large national study in the late 1990s found that women who were more educated than their husbands were more likely to engage in sexual infidelity than if they were less educated than their husbands. Studies also find that people who work outside the home and whose partners remain in the home cheat more — and the traditional gender roles in this situation are now frequently reversed. As women increasingly work in professions that are not female-dominated, they have more sexual opportunities with peers than ever.
As Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to “lean in” — by which she means that they should make a determined effort to push forward in their careers — it may seem as if women are truly becoming, as Gloria Steinem put it, “the men we want to marry.” But these professional shifts seem to influence marital stability. A study put out last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that if a wife earns more than her husband, the couple are 15 percent less likely to report that their marriage is very happy; 32 percent more likely to report marital troubles in the past year; and 46 percent more likely to have discussed separating in the past year. Similarly, Lynn Prince Cooke found that though sharing breadwinning and household duties decreases the likelihood of divorce, that’s true only up to a point. If a wife earns more than her husband, the risk of divorce increases. Interestingly, Cooke’s study shows that the predicted risk of divorce is lowest when the husband does 40 percent of the housework and the wife earns 40 percent of the income.
I hear from husbands and wives who say they want progressive marriages, in which women have the option to do anything their husbands do and vice versa, then start to feel uncomfortable when that reality is in place. And that discomfort, more often than not, leads to less sexual desire — on both sides.
Is the trade-off of egalitarian marriage necessarily less sexual heat? It’s possible that the sexual scripts we currently follow will evolve along with our marital arrangements so that sameness becomes sexy. Regardless, more people marrying today are choosing egalitarian setups for the many other benefits they offer. If every sexual era is unhappy in its own way, it may be that we will begin to think of the challenges of egalitarian marriages less as drawbacks and more like, well, life, with its inherent limitations on how exciting any particular aspect can be.I highlight this last sentence in bold because it holds the key to the absurdity of men's situation. What 'other benefits' does egalitarian marriage offer men? Egalitarian marriage has been nothing but a burden on men in every way. Men are expected to do half of the chores when before they did none. They are expected to take care of kids when before they needn't. However, they are still expected to work full time just as hard as before -- if they ever fall short of their partner's earning power they're instantly divorced. The harder their spouse works, by 'leaning in' to their careers, the harder the man must correspondingly work to stay ahead of her at the magical 60% of household income stat which is the only stat that pleases women out of all possible combinations. When before a man could work even a little and earn 100% of the household income, now they must bust their butts to stay at 60% by always being slightly harder working than even the most fanatical of hard working women. If anything, the new system where both men and women work has caused men to have to work harder, not less hard, at their jobs.
Nor does women's career income improve a man's life. The amount of money spent to support the woman working at her career eats up the entire income from her career, in terms of the second car, daycare, wardrobes, fast food instead of home cooked meals, etc. If the woman somehow miraculously does exceed her expenses, she'll spend them all on herself, as a reward for all her hard work. Picture trips to Europe, health spa visits, a home redecoration or new shoes. Not a cent of it will go to a husband's new TV, golf clubs, or skydiving trip. If you think your wife was working in order to help you out you have another thing coming. If you think her job is in order to protect you in case you become unemployed, you're hopelessly deluded. Women consider unemployed husbands losers and will cheat on, then divorce them while calling themselves the put upon victims. There is no security hammock here, just a pit of spikes at the bottom.
Which brings me to my next point. Even if you do everything right and women say their marriages are 'very happy,' they'll still cheat on you. Simply by allowing an egalitarian marriage relationship to exist, the odds of the woman cheating on you skyrockets, despite the fact that they say they love you more for allowing it to happen. In other words, women have no gratitude for the men who have bent their lives around in order to suit women. They will take that flexibility and step all over it on their road to self-actualization without a hint of guilt or remorse. To them, they're just as entitled to a man doing their chores as they are to extra flings on the side. Whatever makes them happy is their right. Men, by the way, have no rights to anything.
Which brings me to my next point. Let's assume you're one of these magically hard working 60% earners, and for some reason your wife hasn't cheated on you yet. However, in the new, egalitarian marriage if you do happen to be having sex (though less frequently than ever before), the women expect the sex to be all about satisfying them. If they aren't satisfied, they aren't interested. And the level of difficulty of satisfying these egalitarian women has reached olympian heights. You must fulfill their wildest fantasies. You must be better than any other guy she's had before. You must be so good that she doesn't even want to cheat on you or break up with you in order to pursue a new passionate novelty elsewhere. In other words, you must concentrate the entire time on her needs, like an employee to a customer, while putting yourself second throughout the long and involved ritual. Even as the number of times you have sex goes down, the quality of sex you're having is also dropping dramatically. In the olden days, women were expected to make sex about satisfying their man. This was a symbol of gratitude for the man supporting the woman through his work during the day. It was a give and take. However, as women can support themselves financially, the only reason they ever want to have sex now is in order to satisfy their own meager, nigh non-existent sexual appetite. If by some bizarre chance they are in the mood for sex, it's for some ridiculously complicated and perverse sex no man would actually want to do, because that's the only thing arousing enough for women who by their nature have little interest in sex to begin with.
An egalitarian marriage offers men nothing. So what exactly are the 'other benefits?' We've been promised less sex, less satisfying sex, more chores, more work, more looking after the kids, more cheating, and higher divorce rates. These are all made up for by 'other benefits.' Which as far as I can tell = less nagging by a whiny wife about all the things you aren't currently doing for her at the moment, or in PC speak a 'more harmonious and happy marriage.' Because you certainly aren't happy, nor do you feel particularly harmonious with her behavior. In other words, the 'other benefits' are not getting whipped as often because you are a less unruly slave than the men who refuse to adhere to egalitarian norms. I don't consider a marriage such as the one listed above lasting longer to be a 'benefit,' because a marriage like that lasting even a second longer would more accurately be labeled yet another entry under the 'con' section. Obviously masters like to keep around their slaves, but it's rare for slaves to desire to stay under the rule of their masters.
If you can't have sex as often as you want with your wife, in a relaxed and casual manner with no hoopla surrounding it, while being assured that no one else is doing so and she and her children are all yours, there is zero benefit to marriage over staying single. You get no more money than before -- in fact your expenses go up while your revenue at best stays the same. You have to do more chores than before because single men can prioritize their own home environment to a level they're comfortable with, whereas a married man must keep the home environment to the level the wife is comfortable with. Unemployment is more stressful than before because now you also lose your wife and kids on top of your job when before, as a single man, at most you would only lose your job. A single man has sole parental custody over his own children if he simply buys an egg off the market and hires a surrogate mother to gestate it, whereas married men lose custody of their children in the event of a divorce, so it can't be for the sake of wanting children to have or raise. And a woman's company is in no way more desirable than another man's or just solitude for that matter, since all they will do is nag you for the rest of your life. When's the last time men have wanted to spend more time with women for the sake of their great conversation skills?
Women used to offer men many benefits. They would have sex with you and only you in their entire lives. They would love you and only you for their entire lives. They would respect you, cherish you, adore you, be grateful to you, listen to you, obey you and support you in your endeavors. They would have your children -- and not just one but as many as you wanted, and there was no threat of divorce taking those children away. They would keep the home pleasant and home cook your meals, making life at home a relaxing vacation between each workday. I can't think of anything more pleasant in life to a man than the wife of the 1700's, 1800's, or early 1900's. But not a single one of these 'other benefits' remains today. Egalitarian marriages destroys every single one of the advantages listed. So what are the 'other benefits'? From a female perspective, sacrificing their sex lives, which they never cared much about in the first place, is a small price to pay for a man who will do their chores and take care of their kids. I understand this much. Women reading this article will of course say, 'well, when you consider the other benefits of a live-in slave who isn't payed in any coin whatsoever, not even sex they might enjoy, not even a word of thanks or even sexual fidelity, I suppose the new marriage system isn't an overall unwelcome change.' But what are men supposed to feel at the end of this article?
Do our feelings even matter anymore?
Recently an article came out, http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/4938.html#comment-37392, saying single women had a human right to 'experience parenthood,' even if that meant taxpayers (ie, men), had to pay for it. So single men must give up 30% of their paycheck so that single women can experience parenthood, which is a human right for women but not for men, who for some reason don't get the human right to experience marriage or children themselves. The only possible explanation for this set of values is that men aren't human so they don't have any right to experience parenthood themselves.
To quote the pertinent line of thinking in this article:
That is to say, should we tell women who have been segregated into the bad marriage market, who on average have lowish incomes and unruly neighbors and live near bad schools, that motherhood is just not for them, probably ever? We could bring back norms of shame surrounding single motherhood, or create other kinds of incentives to reduce the nonadoption birth rate of people statistically likely to raise difficult kids. It is possible. I think it would be monstrous. I believe that, as a society, we should commit ourselves to creating circumstances in which the fundamentally human experience of parenthood is available to all, not barred from those we’ve left behind on our way to good schools and walkable neighborhoods. Women unlikely to marry who wish to have children by all means should. The shame is ours, not theirs.So, referring to how we should address single mothers, the human experience of parenthood should be available to all. He then specifies himself even more clearly "Women unlikely to marry who wish to have children by all means should." Women. Women! Women have the 'human right,' that should be 'available to all,' to experience parenthood. But men are not included in the human category, or the all category. They are apparently non-existent beings except the line 'ours,' pertaining to how shameful we are for. . .I guess. . .existing? If anything is wrong in a woman's life, it is 'our shame,' not theirs. But aside from that men do not exist. They are not included in the word 'human' or 'all.' We are non-human, non-existent agents of shame who must pay up tax dollars for the sake of single mothers who have a human right to 'experience parenthood' at our expense. That is the world modern man finds himself in. If he's married, he is supposed to think of the 'other benefits' that come alongside a lack of sex, sexual satisfaction, or fidelity in his new improved marriage. And if he is not married, he is supposed to assume the shame of single mothers who can't support themselves by allowing them to 'experience parenthood.' Lastly, if you're single but make the mistake of not being celibate, you have to pay child support even for children you never know or meet, because it helps women 'experience parenthood' which is, after all, their human right. There is no escape.
The only way to not be ground to dust by this majority woman ruled democracy, which has now set up life for men to be the lowest circle of Dante's Inferno, is to purposefully not make over $10,000 a year, not have sex with women, and not marry women. Only then can you avoid letting them get a single claw into you from one side or another. Paradoxically, the only way to experience parenthood yourself is to be a millionaire who can afford the bought egg plus surrogate mother route to reproduction. So if you want your human right to 'experience parenthood,' that comes with a hefty price tag, whereas if women want their human right, the government pays for it upfront. Marvelous. And if you earn enough to have children, you have to pay taxes sufficient to pay for all the women who wish to 'experience parenthood' too. You can be poor and free, but childless. Or rich and a slave. Or married and a slave. Men have no good options left to them, period. And to think, we ourselves voted to give women the vote and put ourselves in this position. Remarkable.
Fermi's paradox, saying that given the number of planets in the cosmos, there should be life everywhere, is still waiting for a logical answer. So here's my conjecture. All intelligent life eventually makes the mistake of empowering women, who then refuse to have sex with men under any reasonable terms, after which the birth rate falls below replacement and the species eventually plummets into extinction. Nothing can avoid this nose dive death spiral because empowered women have the vote so the government, with all the force of the military behind it, enforces the insanity all the way to the bitter end, whereupon the last radio message of every stellar civilization is "At least we didn't discriminate!"
Though by the time women are empowered, I'm pretty certain every stellar civilization is wishing for death anyway, so the ending isn't as tragic as it seems. . .