The language of sexual conquest

Men are stronger than women.  Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness.  The sense of helplessness this might inspire is alleviated by customs whereby men appear to cede high status to women, what we now call “chivalry” (which is, of course, distinct from the medieval warrior code of the same name).  Our many ritual acts of deference to our ladies, holding the door for them and so forth, wouldn’t make sense except as a corrective to the real power everyone knows men hold.  Manosphere writers misunderstand these customs when they imagine them stemming from a view that women are inherently more valuable, while feminists who regard such “benevolent sexism” as a part of the patriarchy are basically correct (but with their moral evaluations reversed, as always with them).

Men want sex more than women.  This means women have a stronger bargaining hand in the bedroom.  No man wants to beg for sex; that would be humiliating and contemptible.  We thus ritually correct the power asymmetry by describing sexual intercourse in terms that flatter the man’s agency:  he “took her”, “had his way with her”, and so forth.  Feminists misunderstand this language by taking it literally, thinking it reflects a “rape culture” and that men experience their sexual appetite as a strength rather than a weakness.  In fact, men often experience lust as perturbability, as weakness, and we are embarrassed by its power over us.  Here it is the writers of the manosphere who seem closer to the mark, pointing out that the woman herself prefers to be “conquered” than to be petitioned.

With the new positive consent laws, the state is stripping men of these customary defenses of their dignity, forcing them to explicitly ask for sex and for every stage leading up to it.  A man is forced into the role of a supplicant, despising himself as he is despised by his woman.

And this role we hate.  Folk wisdom has it that when a boy pulls a girl’s pigtails, it probably means he likes her.  I’m sure this is true.  When a man becomes attracted to a girl, he feels a paradoxical urge to tease and offend her.  Girl’s are cute when they’re shocked and offended–no doubt about that.  If you can amuse and shock a girl all at once–get her to exclaim “I can’t believe you just said that!” in between suppressed giggles, it feels like, like victory.  You’re not some beggar pleading for sex.  No!  It feels like you’re in charge.

When I was first dating the woman who would become my wife, I tried really hard to be friendly and polite, and I felt stifled all the time.  Then I decided to just start treating her like one of my younger sisters, amusing myself by throwing one outrageous lie at her after another.  She didn’t get teased much as a kid, so it took her a while to catch on, but since she did we’ve gotten along splendidly.

I don’t blame women for being annoyed with us.  I wouldn’t like it if they were that way to us!  But the asymmetry here is rational, in that it exists to correct another, unavoidable asymmetry.  Any man would rather be a little obnoxious than feel himself in the position of a little boy begging his mother for a cookie.

14 Responses

  1. This underlines the need for the regulation of sex.

    In a situation (as today) where men need to get the deed done as quickly as possible, lest the woman lose interest, or judge him unmanly in comparison with her previous lovers, or go off and have sex with someone else, the man needs to escalate physically very fast without ever explicitly asking for permission. That this is a recipe for disaster, for real rape or at least for some unpleasant misunderstandings, is not hard to see.

    In a society where such things are much slowed down, and the women does at least once have to explicitly consent, is much more civilized.

  2. There is also the fact that women are reluctant to explicitly consent to non-marital sex, even when they very much want it, lest they be thought of as sluts. “It just happened.”

  3. […] Source: Throne and Altar […]

  4. As you say, the old courtesies were the means whereby a man signaled that he was not a sexual threat. For instance, a man removed his hat to make himself shorter and less physically imposing. He also spoke in tones that were lower and more soothing. In various ways, some of them entirely symbolic, he put his strength and hardihood at the woman’s service. I remember being taught that, when walking with a girl, I must always walk on the outside of the sidewalk, lest a passing car splash her with mud, slush or puddled water.

    But none of these courtesies were emasculating. On the contrary, they affirmed a man’s manhood, which is why the feminist declared war on them (sort of). The old courtesies allowed a male to be gentle and a man. In other words a gentleman.

    The behavior of the “consummate gentleman” was, in other words, a sexual “kill button.” It served to set women at ease by assuring them that they were not in, or about to enter, a sexual situation. The manosphere is largely populated by men who were misinformed about this, and who consequently went through life leaning on the sexual “kill button” under the mistaken belief it was a sexual detonator.

    As with so many things nowadays, sexual signaling is a mess. A man and women who come together in a non-sexual encounter are expected, not to restrain their sexual expression, but to deny that anyone in the room has a sex to begin with. The male is not asked to be a “consummate gentleman,” but a “consummate gentle person.” Actually, he’s asked to emasculate himself and pretend he is a eunuch.

    On those rare occasions when they are not expected to act like eunuchs, it is hardly surprising that some young men act like animals. If a young man has to spend ninety percent of his life acting as if he has been castrated, it should not surprise us if he spends the other ten percent acting like an erection with legs.

  5. There is some truth to this post, but the idea that men want sex more than women is absurd; it is quite the opposite. As an experiment, try denying sex to a woman who wants it with you; I promise that her persistence and outraged reaction to this denial will far outweigh anything one is likely to see from a man denied the same.

    (I believe there was a Greek saying [I cannot recall the source] that a secret of sex was that it was many times more pleasurable for the woman than for the man, and that this had to be kept a secret, since it would upset the balance of power between the sexes were it ever widely known.)

  6. Tom brings up an important point. Women quite badly want to have sex with a few of the most attractive men. But it’s still true that most women want sex with most men a lot less than the reverse.

  7. I’ll bet women get angrier at being denied sex because it doesn’t happen to them as often.

  8. “As an experiment, try denying sex to a woman who wants it with you;”

    But, I don’t deny it to her, at least not often. If my wife wants sex, that usually sounds like a decent idea to me. I’ll take sex over reading far more often than my wife. Maybe women just hate being denied?*anything* more than men.

  9. Manosphere writers misunderstand these customs when they imagine them stemming from a view that women are inherently more valuable…

    They have unfortunately been given no help in correcting their misunderstanding from the Catholic culture of our day, to whom they understandably look to gain an understanding of what chivalry means. Indeed when I observe the singularity with which ‘The Dignity of Women’ is spoken of among ostensibly conservative Catholics, it is no wonder to me that manospherians lump conservative Catholics in with rabid feminist society at large in their propensity to think of men as purely functional appliances, to use a manosphere analogy.

  10. Well, women are a great mystery of course, but here’s my best guess.
    Men want sex much more than women. I literally want to have sex at least two or three times a day and it doesn’t matter how tired I am.
    The fact that women get angry at being rejected isn’t because they want sex more. It’s because they’re incredibly vain creatures and when a woman’s sexual approaches are rejected, it’s absolutely devastating to their self-esteem & pride. It’s weird (to us) but women seem to be turned on by being made to feel attractive.

  11. Have to agree with Bruce. To a large extent, if she is outraged at being denied sex, it’s because that gets her thinking “is there something wrong with me?”

    Women are typically a lot more insecure than men, and of course expect men to want sex with them all the time, especially when we have an unstable sexual economy as we do today, where men are much more at the mercy of women than before.

    It’s startling how much like economics this subject is, in that market forces affect how people act and feel.

  12. The discussion is premised on manospheric theme that man-woman relation is entirely about physical relations. This view entirely fails to capture the total reality of man-woman relations and in particular love for a particular woman is missing.

  13. […] No cult, no culture. Also from Bonald: “the asymmetry here is rational”. […]

  14. […] recently came across this essay by Bonald, who blogs over at Throne and Alter. Somehow I had missed it when he posted it a few […]

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