WEDNESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2014

The economics of sex

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Ever wonder why men seem to make less effort to pursue women, there are more break-ups and premarital partners, and marriages are later and less often? It’s all about the economics of sex – the demand, the supply and the cost. Oh, and the impact of the invention of the contraception pill.

This nifty video, by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture and shared by the NY Post, puts it all rather perfectly - right down to the fact that women hold the cards in consensual relationships but are not always aware of this.

Watch it for yourself, or read below where I’ve broken down the main points. Bet you’ve never considered sex in this light before!

Sex is an exchange

  • At first, seems like an equal exchange between men and women: intimate access to each other’s bodies
  • But it’s not an equal exchange, because of the different uses. Men tend to want sex for pleasure, not necessarily romance. For women, it’s about expressing and receiving love, strengthening commitment, receiving affirmation, and working towards relationship security (i.e. marriage)

How much does sex cost for men?

  • Anywhere from a few drinks and compliments to month or two of dates, to a lifelong commitment. Most women would demand on the less side.
  • So why don’t women “charge” more for sex? Because the “market price” of sex is not necessarily up to women anymore, or not a private matter: men and women take their cues from societal expectations
  • Essentially, men can get sex at a very cheap price these days

Why has the market of sex changed from how it used to be?

  • One of the main reasons – the contraception pill
  • The pill meant that sex could occur without pregnancy – it lowered the “cost” of sex
  • Before, sex was geared towards or came after a serious commitment. Nowadays it’s not a prerequisite, since there’s less likelihood of a long-term result i.e. a child
  • The pill changed the mating market: having sex and thinking about marriage have now become two very different things
  • It split the mating market: left men and women looking for very different things. Women still tend towards wanting after marriage, men tend more towards short-term sexual relationships
  • In the short-term, women have the power, with the power to give sex to the large amount of men who are after it (casually). But long-term, men have the power: their fertility doesn’t run out and they can get sex easily, so they don’t have time constraints on settling down or committing. Not that they’re afraid of commitment, there’s just not too much reason for them to.

How could women elevate the market price of sex again?

  • According to economists, the most logical way is by women working together. This solidarity was more present back in the day: now, women see each other as competition
  • This elevated price of sex would lead to “more impressive wooing efforts, greater male investment, longer relationships, fewer premarital partners, shorter cohabitations and more marrying going on”
  • Men tend to behave as well or as poorly as the women in their lives permit: so the woman’s power would lie in knowing what she wants and signal it clearly in a relationship

Are men or women favoured by the current price of sex?

  • Today the economics of sex clearly favour what men want, even though they are offering less than they used to in exchange.
  • Women, if unified, could change this, but it’s not something that seems to be happening.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | contraception, economics, sexual behaviour

This article is published by Tamara Rajakariar and MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 
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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@ mercatornet.com


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