Many a conservative tear has already been shed for the poor women deflowered and devalued by so-called hookup culture, but The Weekly Standard's Charlotte Allen explains how all this affects the ones who really matter: dudes.
In an incredibly long essay that manages to be both wide-ranging and narrow-minded, Allen blames feminism for all the usual things, including my personal favorite, making happily-married women have fewer children ("College-educated women have significantly higher rates of marriage and lower rates of divorce than women without college degrees. The bad news is that such women, who tend to marry late, have far fewer children." ZOMG NO!!). But where she breaks from the pack of ladyvirtue concern-trolls is here:
Some argue, though, that it is actually beta men who are the greatest victims of the current mating chaos: the ones who work hard, act nice, and find themselves searching in vain for potential wives and girlfriends among the hordes of young women besotted by alphas.
Basically, now that women are allowed to roam freely, a notional group of objectively unattractive men who would presumably have been issued mates under the old system are now cruelly deprived their due. Allen quotes F. Roger Devlin, a columnist on "relations between the sexes for the Occidental Quarterly, a paleoconservative publication whose other contributors tend to focus obsessively on the question of which ethnic groups belong to which race." After briefly apologizing for "the dubious nature of the venue," she writes,
Beta men become superfluous until the newly liberated women start double-clutching after years in the serial harems of alphas who won't "commit," lower their standards, and "settle." During this process, monogamy as a stable and civilization-maintaining social institution is shattered. "Monogamy is a form of sexual optimization," Devlin told me. "It allows as many people who want to get married to do so. Under monogamy, 90 percent of men find a mate at least once in their life." This isn't necessarily so anymore in today's chaotic combination of polygamy for lucky alphas, hypergamy in varying degrees for females depending on their sex appeal, and, at least in theory, large numbers of betas left without mates at all-just as it is in baboon packs.
The idea that great numbers of "the short-statured, the homely, the paunchy, the balding, and the sweater-clad" are being left forever unwed is complicated by the fact that, like so many who warn women about the dangers of dating and hooking up, Allen assumes that women become automatically undesirable to men at a certain age (she quotes one "expert" who puts it at about 28). Presumably, when they're dried-up late-twenties hags who can no longer snag alphas, betas should be able to attract them (and in fact, the idea that less assertive, less conventionally attractive men are quickly snapped up by marriage-minded women is a cornerstone of Lori Gottlieb's philosophy). But not only does Allen feel that men, beta or alpha, deserve "access to women," she seems to feel that society owes them young, virginal women as well. Because really, no one wants anything else — "no woman, alpha or beta, seems able to escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for ladylike and virginal wives."
The New Republic's Isaac Chotiner notes that Allen's answer to pretty much every social ill to be "blame the women's movement," and he's right that the really fascinating thing about her piece is the way in which it brings together two strands of anti-feminism. Allen reiterates the now-familiar notion that women should have fewer choices because they make bad ones (an unsurprising position for someone who once wrote that women were "kind of dim"). But she also advances the not new but somewhat less common argument that we should have fewer choices because, unless forced, we might not yoke ourselves to schlubs at extremely young ages. It's tempting to say that conservative critiques of women's dating and sexual habits are, at bottom, all about men, but the men who can be so easily divided into alpha and beta, who all want the same kind of wife, and who would prefer that she have no other option rather than choosing him freely, bear little resemblance to the actual male half of the species. Rather, I think what Allen illustrates is a socially conservative commitment to a certain system in which women are the stuff men get, no one complains, and society operates like a glorified baby factory. She writes that modern dating culture "discourages the sexual restraint once imposed on both sexes that constituted a firm foundation for both family life and civilization" — but whether this restraint or this firm foundation ever really existed is somewhat beside the point. The real question is why one would want to birth a child into Allen's rigidly circumscribed, choice-free America.
The New Dating Game [Weekly Standard]
Oversexed [The New Republic]