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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Making Women Feel Cheap

I had no idea that prostitution pays so well:
Natalie Dylan, a 22-year old woman from San Diego, has brazenly offered her virginity for auction and is currently courting offers as high as $3.7 million, according to Fox News. Dylan, who has a degree in Women’s Studies ironically, came to the idea for an auction when her sister, Avia, 23, paid for her own degree by prostituting herself for three weeks.
$3,700,000.00!!!

That's an astonishing amount of money for one night.

I have two questions.

Why on earth would anybody pay that much?

Why doesn't every woman sell her virginity? Work one night and then you're financially set for life! This woman is not ugly, but she's not particularly good looking either, so this opportunity is available to many young women (who are still virgins).

The usual answers: that she'll feel degraded; she'll lose her self-respect, etc.; aren't convincing to me. In every job we have to submit to bosses, clients, investors, and others and some of those interactions, especially over a lifetime of work, are degrading. We all lose some self-respect in those inevitable situations when we pretend to like a client that we actually loathe, exude excitement over a project we hate, or laugh at stupid jokes made by some moron with control over us. We do it, we get over it, we move on. It's part of life.

She only has to do something degrading (assuming she feels that way) for one night. Everyone else does it for a lifetime.

But there's something related to this that I find very disconcerting. Won't women who don't sell their virginity always feel cheated in comparison? For example, if a woman saves her virginity for marriage, and her husband's total lifetime income won't come anywhere close to $3,700,000.00, why won't she feel rather ripped off? Why won't she resent this man who can't provide for her nearly as well as a complete stranger will provide for Ms. Dylan? How can any marriage ever work again? Heck, how will my marriage continue to work if my wife finds out what she could've had (hopefully she won't read this)?

Yes, I know that the answer is this thing called "love". But it seems to me that the huge inherent monetary value of a woman substantially reduces the power and extent of love. Love is great, but if over decades of being with your partner there isn't the general feeling that you did relatively well for yourself, I suspect that for many, there could easily be some regrets.

For example, when I consider my own marriage during times of stress (not that my marriage is very stressful), I get nearly unlimited sustenance by assessing the situation and being able to honestly say to myself, "I simply could not have done better." Love sustains me too, for sure, but there is no doubt that feeling that there was no better path helps as well. Men will still be able to say that. Will most woman be able to say that there was no better path with confidence with the $3,700,000.00 question out there?

I would guess not.

32 comments:

erp said...

Bret, I'm guessing your wife doesn't read this blog.

Susan's Husband said...

Certainly SWIPIAW doesn't read any of my weblogs except the kid one.

Anyway, the answer is that this is a "first mover" phenomenon. Just like that guy with the million dollar webpage. It doesn't make other webpages total failures because it will never be duplicated.

Bret said...

My wife only reads specific posts that I point her too. She hasn't taken the time to set up feed browser (or whatever you call them) like bloglines and our posting is too intermittent to be accessed without one (for most people, anyway).

Susan's Husband, are you sure it'll never be duplicated? Not at $3.7M perhaps, but it could become a market at maybe $100K. That's still a lot more than a night out on the town and a box of chocolates.

Susan's Husband said...

But at $100K it's not easily more than most prospective husband's lifetime earnings. You're hardly set for life on that.

But you failed to remark on the other bit of the story, which is the claim that 3 weeks of prostitution by her older sister paid for that sister's education. What implication does that have for a husband who only provides a much smaller income stream?

Bret said...

The sister's success at prostitution just compounds the problem. How about Eliot Spitzer's prostitutes? $1,000 to $5,000 per hour. If you're stuck as a low-paid clerk where you hate your job anyway, it must be mighty tempting to make hundreds of times as much.

And it's still seems to me that it's an issue that a plain old boyfriend or husband simply can't compete on the money side. The bigger the gap in the money side, the harder it is for love, chivalry, etc. to make up for it.

erp said...

At first I thought you guys were just kidding around, but now I'm thinking you're serious about women and sex.

If it's only for the money/security/foot rubs, it makes sense to get out there and sell yourself while you still look good, make some safe investments, buy your own security, hire a gay gigolo to go shopping with you, take you dancing and to escort you to high brow places like the ballet, opera and museums and a "masseur" for other needs.

Regular men? Don't need them. It's girl friends (non-sexual) who provide the real life-long companionship.

Kids? Overrated, noisy and messy and then just when they get interesting and pick up after themselves, they leave home.

Susan's Husband said...

Well, as you know, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

My intended response to Bret, which is fundamentally similar to yours, is that a boyfriend / husband will in general provide a much safer and emotionally satisfying experience. It's a question of just how mercenary women are.

I think the more interesting question is not why a woman would sacrifice such money for a husband (because, as noted, he can provide a lot of non-monetary compensation), but why so many spend it for basically nothing in bars.

erp said...

It's been resolved then that women are mercenary and now the discussion has moved on to "just how mercenary" they are?

Bret said...

erp,

It's been resolved that at least some women are mercenary.

My surprise is that more aren't and I'm wondering if more will be in the future.

Susan's Husband,

Yeah, the bar thing is baffling to me too. That would leave me to believe that men and women have similar sex outlooks which totally doesn't match prostitutes being able to charge $5,000/hr or virgins getting $3.7M for the night.

Life, and especially women, are such a mystery.

Susan's Husband said...

Everybody is mercenary to some degree or the concept of "job" wouldn't exist.

erp said...

I don't get it? Why are you surprised that more women are mercenary?

Check back with 'enry 'iggans .
Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win,
will always give your back a pat.
Why can't a woman be like that?


Why indeed!

Harry Eagar said...

Only people who think markets always trump all other considerations would ask this question.

Hey Skipper said...

Why doesn't every woman sell her virginity? Work one night and then you're financially set for life!

Put aside for a moment Harry's comment that markets are sometimes neither a necessary or sufficient explanation.

The main reason every woman doesn't sell her virginity is because the number of men who give a tinkers darn about virginity in a society where a woman could sell it without getting stoned to death is far smaller than the number of virgins.

Also, I'll just bet there are some pulchritude issues here. The sister's success at prostitution, just like Spitzer's consort, was based in large part on her appearance.

Which is kind of interesting, when you think about it. That is like spending $250,000 on a Ferrari that drives no better than a $20,000 Mazda Miata.

The important point being that the money these women are getting is based upon a scarcity value that is not available to most women.


Well, as you know, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

I think AOG said this tongue-in-cheek.

However, I think it is worth noting that the woman who said this (Germain Greer?) must have some double-powerful reality antibodies.

There are two things in life women can do that men cannot, and one of them can be replaced by baby formula.

There are cartloads of things men do routinely that women cannot.


Yeah, the bar thing is baffling to me too.

Much less baffling if you ponder why trees are so tall.

Susan's Husband said...

But tree growth is a successful strategy. So I don't see your point.

Also, we should keep in mind that the $3.7M is based on very little. If the check clears, then the discussion is a bit more realistic.

erp said...

Cartloads Skipper? Men can supply their component to complete the only thing that women can do that men can't. Other than that, what? Heavy lifting; watching 18 hours of football and knowing who's wearing what color in each game?

Susan's Husband said...

Don't forget beer bellies! Women just can't compete. Sure, a woman can get fat, but just pumping up the gut? No can do, sister.

Bret said...

Yeah, the beauty of being male is that you can still feel sexy with a beer belly. Let's see a woman do that!

erp said...

NC.

Hey Skipper said...

AOG:

But tree growth is a successful strategy. So I don't see your point.

Yes, tree growth is a successful strategy. But why is it a successful, no, necessary strategy?

Trees are tall in order to obtain a resource: sunlight. There is no reason why trees could not be successful at half, or a quarter, of their height. Further, attaining height imposes significant physical costs.

Trees are tall because of defectors.

Yeah, the beauty of being male is that you can still feel sexy with a beer belly.

Speaking for yourself, I presume.

Susan's Husband said...

Skipper;

You're missing my point — the tree defectors do better, the bar defectors do not. Like a diet, holding out is harder but pays off over time.

Hey Skipper said...

You're missing my point — the tree defectors do better, the bar defectors do not.

No, I'm not.

I'm going to make some simplifying assumptions: all women want children; because of the prolonged dependency of children, ultimate success (children surviving to adulthood) requires protection and support -- resources.

Consequently, for women, sex is a quid pro quo. Taken as a group, the course of action that maximizes their self interest is to never provide sex except in return for protection and support.

In other words, no sex outside marriage.

However, if one woman defects, then she is going to get more opportunities to obtain protection and support: her defection puts other women at a disadvantage, which in turn encourages further defections.

The woman in the bar is doing precisely the same thing as a woman who yields in the face of an expensive dinner and a night at the opera.

Both women are engaged in the same strategy, but the former is, for whatever reasons, doing so in more straitened circumstances.

The question for defectors of any stripe is whether their strategy produces better results then not defecting at all.

Susan's Husband said...

No, you're still missing my point.

"However, if one woman defects, then she is going to get more opportunities to obtain protection and support"

It is precisely that claim I dispute. Female sexual reticence will act as a filter function so that while the opportunities are numerically less, the quality is much higher, yielding a higher effective return.

And at least the woman at the dinner and opera got a direct material benefit, so it's not the same strategy.

Hey Skipper said...

It is precisely that claim I dispute. Female sexual reticence will act as a filter function so that while the opportunities are numerically less, the quality is much higher, yielding a higher effective return.

That is just wrong -- in particular, everything following the word "less".

I married relatively late. In so doing, I witnessed a striking change in women's attitudes towards sex as they passed their late twenties: it became completely goal directed, and the goal was not sexual satisfaction. They were universally setting a honey trap, assuming that if they did not, I (and, by extension, any eligible male) would simply, and quickly, so somewhere else, and marry that someone else. It is also worth noting that there are not nearly as many men who would make suitable mates as women, and that differential rapidly widens with age

I am not disputing that, relatively speaking, women are far more sexually reticent than men.

What I am asserting is that since the competition for men is against other women, the existence of defectors will cause all (or nearly all) women to act against interest for the group as a whole. History proves this: as the cost of defection has gone down -- women can now control their fertility -- the rate of defection has gone up.

Which is the same reason women are, as a group, so inclined towards ornamentation in all its various forms. Their competition is for men, and it is against other women.

Bret said...

I'm finding both Susan's Husband and Hey Skipper's argument plausible. I'm having trouble finding any good statistics, so I'm wondering who's right.

Can anybody else synthesize a relevant set of stats?

Bret said...

I forgot that David's Secret Blog recently linked to this article which claims that "A new study shows that refusing to sleep with a partner on the first date could be one of the keys to making a successful match. Researchers used a mathematical model to show that more reliable men were willing to wait longer before having sex for the first time." That supports Susan's Husband's argument. And heh, it was a mathematical model, and as we all know, those are never wrong!

On the other hand, the fact that the meet market at the bar for sex thing happens, and there's apparently quite a bit of it, seems to be pretty good support for Hey Skipper's argument (you know, the proof is in the pudding sort of thing).

Susan's Husband said...

Skipper;

I believe your description of the behavior, but it does not automatically follow that it's a successful behavior. One need only look at inner city America to see just how unsuccesful that strategy can be.

Hey Skipper said...

AOG:

I am posing a reason for why the behavior exists in the first place. IMHO, the Why Are Trees Tall question explains many behaviors that are, on the surface, seemingly actions against interest.

Also, I don't think the behavior of those women in inner cities is the contradiction you believe it to be.

First, one can only apply strategies that are available: an inner city woman holding out for an expensive dinner and a night at the opera will wait forever.

Second, it pays to keep in mind relative scarcity. Again, IMHO, most (probably at least 80%) women would make fit mates. I suspect the number of men who fill that bill is far lower, particularly in inner cities. In other words, it is a buyer's market everywhere, and in some places conspicuously so. For the inner cities, this is further aggravated by nearly invisible inter-ethnic marriage for African American women, and the limited economic payoff to be had from the men available to those women.

All of which combines to create a strong incentive for individual defections that come at the expense of group interest.

Bret:

I don't think the article is necessarily wrong, only that it, by definition, focusses on specific group of women: those actually getting dates.

Can't win if you don't play. For some women, a number increasing with age, the only opportunity to play will come from defecting.

(As a side note, finally comprehending the strategic nature of female sexuality, as opposed to the almost purely tactical approach men take, was the first time I understood how fatally solipsistic the Golden Rule is. That is, however, a subject for another thread.)

Hey Skipper said...

Oh, I forgot.

The NY Times magazine just published What Women Want.

Interesting both in terms of what people are discovering, as well as how inscrutable the subject is.

erp said...

Skipper, 8 pages !!? A synopsis please.

Hey Skipper said...

This is better than I could do.

Peter Burnet said...

I get nearly unlimited sustenance by assessing the situation and being able to honestly say to myself, "I simply could not have done better."

No offence, Bret, but if that the way your anniversary cards read, I have to wonder whether your wife would say the same.

It used to be a joke in our family that my late father would confront each and every one of life's problems by putting on an stony, reflective face and saying: "Let's rationalize the situation". I think he taught me more about the limits of rationalism than Oakeshott or any other philosopher. You guys are a hoot, but you might be well-advised to stick with deficits and tax cuts.

All together now: "Love...is a many-splendoured thing...."

Bret said...

Peter Burnet wrote: "...you might be well-advised to stick with deficits and tax cuts."

I only wrote about the topic because there is an economic component.