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October 11, 2012

Attention Men: Your "Sexual Rights" Are Being Eroded

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.

- Robert Heinlein

In the brave new world the Blog Princess dreams of betimes, it will someday be a truth universally acknowledged that adult men have far too much self regard to write creepy posts about their sexual rights. But perhaps this is too ambitious a vision, even for dewy-eyed admirers of both the estate of matrimony and the other half of humanity? Could it be that the key to happy marriages lies in understanding that a woman who demands expensive trips or jewelry in return for marital services rendered is commoditizing acts that should be loving and voluntary, while a man who demands sex twice a week in return for marital services rendered is doing no such thing? Even if, say, he leads off by calculating the market value of intercourse with a prostitute vs. his wife before asserting a uniquely self serving vision of the marriage contract that replaces, "for better, for worse" and "'til death do us part" with "until you do something that gives me an excuse to cheat"?

...if a woman is unwilling to commit to having sex on some sort of regular basis, then how on Earth can any man be reasonably expected to commit to never having sex with anyone else?

...men's reasonable marital expectations have been debased, but are we really supposed to believe that marriage, with all of its responsibilities, sexual and otherwise, now provides absolutely no sexual rights to the husband?

Inexplicably, my sentimental recollections of my wedding day in 1979 do not include a vow to provide sexual services at regularly specified intervals, much less the right to expensive jewelry or fancy vacations. Such bartering, like the weird expectation that a man is owed sex if he pays for dinner, formed no part of my youthful dreams of finding a man worth spending the rest of my life with. Even more strangely, after more than three decades of wedded bliss (during which, far from having to be bribed into having sex, I looked forward to it) this author would have sworn that people who think a marriage license entitles them to demand anything from their spouse don't really understand what marriage is all about.

I would have thought that both men and women have the right to decide what they will tolerate in a relationship, but that none of us has the right to demand obedience in such a personal matter. We all have needs. As a woman, I absolutely need to know that my husband loves and at least tries to understand me. I need to love and understand him. Without that sense of closeness - of shared intimacy - marriage would be utterly worthless to me.

But my personal desires don't give me the right to demand that my husband open himself up to me whenever I'm feeling needy. I don't have a right to insist that he talk about his feelings or our relationship at specified intervals because he doesn't "owe" me physical or emotional intimacy. Certainly, I can ask for what I need from our marriage. And if I am wise, I will make sure that over time he gets as much from our partnership as I do. I ought to find out what he needs from the relationship (not what I think he should want or need) and give it to him voluntarily, because I love him and trust that my actions will be reciprocated.

But at the end of the day, the decision is his.

And that's as it should be. Why would any mature man or woman think they have the right to demand of another what they are not willing to give freely? Curious as to the nature of these one sided "sexual rights", I made the mistake of clicking on the linked essay and learned that once upon a time, men were entitled to a beautiful, young, non-college educated virgin with no career! They traded their earnings and material goods for the exclusive right to have sex with a young hottie. Now *that's* a value proposition you can punch right into your pocket calculator!

Sadly, today's men are all too often forced (by their penises!) into misguided liasons with women who fall a few items short of their fantasy shopping lists. Now if we were talking about women with fantasy shopping lists, the problem with this formulation would be obvious. Romance novels, you see, create unrealistic expectations that no real man can - or should! - have to satisfy. Are men not human beings who have their own dreams and aspirations - who do not exist merely to satisfy some warped female fantasy?

Of course the converse - that women might be human beings with dreams and aspirations of their own who do not exist merely to fulfill male fantasies - is just crazy talk. The fact that some misguided individuals think otherwise only proves that traditional marriage is debased beyond all recognition or repair.

If only we could get back to the good old days, when young men who delay marriage until they've graduated college and established themselves in a career while sleeping with women they have no intention of marrying are considered to be moral, upright, and desireable husbands. And young women who do precisely the same thing are immoral sluts.

It's these traditional values that we need to get back to - you know, the ones we learned from our parents and grandparents. I'll never forget my parents telling me to hold out for a guy with a big wallet who slept around until he was 30 or so. If the Bible teaches us anything, it's that biological urges trump the confining strictures of morality and civilization every time. So whenever I'm trying to decide upon the right course of action, I like to fall back on a fantasy world where I can act as I please while holding others to a completely different standard.

Yep - the best morality is relative morality, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

We permit all things to ourselves, and that which we call sin in others, is experiment for us. It is an instance of our faith in ourselves, that men never speak of crime as lightly as they think: or, every man thinks a latitude safe for himself, which is nowise to be indulged to another.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted by Cassandra at October 11, 2012 06:01 AM

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Comments

Surprise! Fifty years of state sponsored legal assaults against marriage by advocates of easy dissolution of demanding, as in exacting, vows and covenants engenders reductive sensibilities between the sexes when it comes to modern 'marriage'. This calls for grant money, studies, symposiums, and colloquia.

Posted by: George Pal at October 11, 2012 10:15 AM

I used to think easy divorce was the problem too, George.

But after looking at the data, I don't see any support for that theory. I wrote about this a while back - click my name for the link.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 10:23 AM

I have come to believe that the problem with marriage is the decline of public morality, not easy divorce.

Many forces have undermined the institution of marriage. I think the biggest force is the rise of the idea that individual happiness is the most important thing in life (not duty, not community, not virtue). And from what I've seen, there are equal numbers of men and women making this argument.... each, of course, only wants the opposite sex to restrain themselves :p

One set of rules for the other half of humanity, quite another for themselves. It's hard to think of anything more calculated to destroy marriage and families.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 10:28 AM

I can understand someone deciding to divorce because he can't accept a sexless marriage, though I hope he'd at least take his children's welfare into account first. What I don't get is the idea that he can stay married but stray, because his wife was falling down on the bargain. Does such a man think a wife should cut her husband off sexually if he loses his job? Nice home life.

I'm right there with you on the need for husband and wife to treat each other like real people, not vending machines. It's true of all relationships, of course, but particularly essential in a relationship as intimate as marriage. What's most puzzling to me is people who think the vending-machine model will work, and go through three, four, or five marriages eternally perplexed at how unreasonable women are, or how unfair the marriage or justice system is. You can smell the attitude wafting up off of many, many sites of the sort you linked to.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 11, 2012 10:43 AM

I can understand someone deciding to divorce because he can't accept a sexless marriage, though I hope he'd at least take his children's welfare into account first. What I don't get is the idea that he can stay married but stray, because his wife was falling down on the bargain. Does such a man think a wife should cut her husband off sexually if he loses his job?

Oh no - the escape clause is purely one directional :p

FWIW, I think that's exactly what these folks believe: sex is an enforceable legal right that is essentially transactional in nature. They've "earned" it - it's bought and paid for.

It's such a warped world view that I don't even know where to start.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 10:56 AM

I was wondering it you would see that and comment on it.

As soon as I read it my inner Livid Terrier start barking: One *never* has rights to another person. Period. End.Of.F------.Sentence. When one claims the "right" to another we call that Slavery and it was abolished for good G--D--- reasons. It doesn't matter if you are claiming the "right" to spendy vacations or the "right" to sex. It is wrong regardless. Comparative slavery is still slavery.

The entire concept of "rights" within marriage is abhorrent to me. If you think you need a contractual "right" enforcable against your spouse, why the helk would you ever want to marry that person in the first place?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 11:02 AM

Purely as an aside, I vividly remember my father warning me about men like that.

It only took me a few years of dating to learn that relationships are a feedback loop. Problems are almost never all one person's fault. Sometimes people just bring out the worst in each other, but if dating taught me anything, it's that although I had no control over how other people act, I had total control over who I chose to associate with and over my own responses to other people.

After all these years, it's still amazing to me how simply changing how I respond to someone I'm not getting along with can change the whole dynamic of the relationship. Dating taught me to take responsibility for my half of friendships and romantic relationships. It also taught me that my desires and viewpoint weren't the only ones that mattered.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 11:05 AM

As soon as I read it my inner Livid Terrier start barking: One *never* has rights to another person. Period. End.Of.F------.Sentence. When one claims the "right" to another we call that Slavery and it was abolished for good G--D--- reasons. It doesn't matter if you are claiming the "right" to spendy vacations or the "right" to sex. It is wrong regardless. Comparative slavery is still slavery.

The entire concept of "rights" within marriage is abhorrent to me. If you think you need a contractual "right" enforcable against your spouse, why the helk would you ever want to marry that person in the first place?

Amen, Brother. Amen :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 11:07 AM

Not to defend this particular character, but there is a long tradition behind the assertion that marriage implies a mutual sexual obligation. Aquinas wrote about this at a surprising extent, given his own celibacy, because it was an important social topic even in the 13th century. See especially article 5, which establishes both the existence of the debt and the fact that both husband and wife are bound to each other to pay it. (Also article 6, which establishes that you cannot take a vow contrary to providing your spouse with this service without their consent.)

So there is something to the idea that it is wrong for either spouse to unilaterally decide to restrict sex. That does seem to violate the basic nature of the bargain as it was understood even in the 13th century. If you'd appealed to your priest for backup, he would have taken your spouse aside and suggested that there was a duty to be performed and he'd best get to it. (Public morality!)

On the other hand, Aquinas agrees entirely with you that the bond is mutual and equally binds the husband and the wife. "Marriage is a relation of equiparence," he writes, with the authority of the Church even in a time when equal rights between men and women were not otherwise expected to hold.

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2012 11:11 AM

Now, if it makes you feel better, I don't think it's quite right to frame this as one person having "rights" to another person. Rather, it is a recognition that both parties have assumed a mutual duty. Doing a duty you have voluntarily assumed is not an unreasonable thing to ask of anyone, given any such duty.

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2012 11:15 AM

Doing a duty you have voluntarily assumed is not an unreasonable thing to ask of anyone, given any such duty.

I think this is the right of it. What one *ought* to do, and what one can be *asked* to do, are wholly different things that what one can be *demanded* to do.

Voluntary obligation != Enforcable right.


Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 11:24 AM

I think marriage implies LOTS of mutual obligations: we promise to love, honor, cherish, obey (if one took the old fashioned vows as I did), and forsake all others. I don't remember contractual twice-a-week sex with a prostitute escape clause being one of them, though :p

I think there's a good reason the law now recognizes marital rape, Grim. I'm not equating this post or anything in it with rape because I hate that kind of nonsense, but it's kind of an important point to female types.

If marriage confers "sexual rights" upon a man, then he can't rape his wife, ever. I don't think that's what Aquinas was talking about in his writings.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 11:24 AM

Now, if it makes you feel better, I don't think it's quite right to frame this as one person having "rights" to another person. Rather, it is a recognition that both parties have assumed a mutual duty. Doing a duty you have voluntarily assumed is not an unreasonable thing to ask of anyone, given any such duty.

I am entirely comfortable with this framing :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 11:25 AM

"Rather, it is a recognition that both parties have assumed a mutual duty."

A mutual duty?

Definition of DUTY
1: conduct due to parents and superiors : respect
2 a: obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one's position (as in life or in a group)
b:(1): assigned service or business
(2): active military service
(3): a period of being on duty
3 a: a moral or legal obligation
b: the force of moral obligation

I hope you're just trying to yank a chain (I'm guessin' you're *jonesin'* for a good, 100-comment-long debate 0>;~}), because sex is not and never will be a duty.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 11, 2012 11:39 AM

Historically, the concept of "Sexual Rights" really only made sense within the Monarchical Nobility where arranged marriages, and more importantly, the childen produced by them were about sealing political and military alliances and no one cared much if the spouses even liked each other. A failure to produce children could mean war.

Last time I checked, that wasn't much of a problem any more.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 11:44 AM

"Many forces have undermined the institution of marriage. I think the biggest force is the rise of the idea that individual happiness is the most important thing in life (not duty, not community, not virtue). And from what I've seen, there are equal numbers of men and women making this argument.... each, of course, only wants the opposite sex to restrain themselves :p"

Yup. And if asked, at the end of their years, I wonder how many of the folks who were so fixated on their own happiness would, if honest, claim their life a success?

Vending machine. Ha! Good analogy for a person who is consistently ignored, abused, and/or taken for granted yet is expected to produce on command. Where's Waldo? Why would or should the vending machine care?

As is often the case, I find I have little to add to the excellent commentary that has thoroughly covered the topic...

Posted by: bthun at October 11, 2012 11:52 AM

Cass,

"the problem with marriage is the decline of public morality, not easy divorce"

I don't see this as an either/or proposition. Neither (decline of public morality, and in this case - easy divorce) precludes the other. They each, I think, feed off the other, 'one convenience' generating a demand for another; one individual's happiness obliged (legally) inviting another – and another's – claim to happiness.

"One set of rules for the other half of humanity, quite another for themselves"

These rules are not entirely, nor even mostly, self-generated by either sex. The battle of the sexes was once an engagement no more destructive than military war games, strategy and tactics without casualties. What has changed has been the State (and its institutions) insinuating itself where it has no business, as in the case of marriage/divorce, or supporting one side (sex) against the other, as in aligning itself with feminist and Gnostic (anti-traditionalist) calculations to even the odds, level the playing field, and guarantee the desired outcome. If men and women are pointing fingers at and bad mouthing each other it's not because their sexual natures have gotten the best of them but because they have been pitted once against the other by the schemers.

So I agree with you about the decline of public morality, I would just note the State has implicitly and explicitly not just aided and abetted the decline but has been, increasingly, the master-mind behind it.

Posted by: George Pal at October 11, 2012 12:09 PM

The battle of the sexes was once an engagement no more destructive than military war games, strategy and tactics without casualties.

George, I respect you and love your comments (even when we disagree!) but I don't think this statement is historically accurate.

The state was ALWAYS intervened in relationships between the sexes. It's just that it almost always intervened on the side of men, before. Women and children have had few (if any) legal rights for most of history. Certainly for most of American history.

A child could be taken from its mother's arms and put to death in ancient Greece and Rome - husbands literally had the power of life and death over children and the mother had no say whatsoever.

I can easily see why some men would prefer a scheme that says it's OK to rape your wife or confiscate and control her property (even inherited property), but somehow I don't think you really believe it would be just, fair, or desirable for children and women to be viewed as chattel (property) with no legally protected rights.

Just as not all women are good and trustworthy, so not all men are good. A legal system that provides no legal recourse to one half of humanity is based, not on right and wrong but on one's internal plumbing ... well, it's essentially no different from most of the Muslim world.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 12:27 PM

Well now DL Sly has made me question my last comment :p

I'm uncomfortable with the words "obligation" or "duty" when combined with anything so personal as sex. Just as I'm uncomfortable with the notion that a man has a duty to open himself up (make himself vulnerable) emotionally upon demand. Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses and different vulnerabilities and I don't think a marriage license means you don't have some right to personal boundaries.

And yet... I do see Grim's point because I happen to believe that it is morally wrong and a breach of the marital vows to close yourself off to your spouse. Men do that emotionally all the time. Women do it physically, often as a response to the same feelings that cause men to check out of their relationships. But you promise to keep trying, I think. Even when it's painful or scary. That's what makes marriage special and unique.

I get that a fair number of men believe that sex is just a physical act with no spiritual or emotional repercussions. That's a lot easier viewpoint to hold when you're bigger, stronger, and not the one being physically penetrated. It allows one to think of sex as impersonal - something one "does to" someone else. Or maybe not to understand just how vulnerable a woman might feel about it.

This has never happened, but I do believe that if my husband ever forced me to have sex against my will, the marriage would be irretrievably damaged. I don't see that as any different than hitting me.
It would be the worst sort of betrayal of my trust.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 12:48 PM

What has changed has been the State (and its institutions) insinuating itself where it has no business, as in the case of marriage/divorce, or supporting one side (sex) against the other, as in aligning itself with feminist and Gnostic (anti-traditionalist) calculations to even the odds, level the playing field, and guarantee the desired outcome.

While my inner Livid Terrier tends to agree that the state insinuates itself where it has no business, this certainly isn't a "change". The State has been doing so for hundreds if not thousands of years. It also isn't a change that the state supports one side against the other. It just changed which side.

But looking at the data, it is not at all clear that the State changing which side it supports has had a detrimental effect on divorce rates. Divorce rates were going down prior to No-Fault Divorce and continued going down afterwards. To conclude that No-Fault (which I don't support) has caused an increase in the divorce rate you would have to show that in it's absense the Divorce Rate would have fallen even faster than it has. That's a pretty tall order.

Divorce rates spiked in two periods, immediately after WWII (can you say rushed marriages upon a soldier's departure or return? I knew you could) and the late 60s and 70s (can you say Sexual Revolution? A cultural, not legal change?)

We have seen the enemy in Divorce, and it is us!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 01:13 PM

Yes, and there's something about being treated as an impersonal sexual device that leaves the average woman feeling less and less interested in sex. It's a death spiral for a marriage. You've got a man wondering "Why won't she service me on a reasonable schedule without making a fuss?" and a woman wishing she could figure out how to arrange things so that she never had to look him in the eyes again, let alone touch him. Dead dead dead hearts. These are two people treating each other as objects, not as beloveds.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 11, 2012 01:22 PM

Admittedly, this does come from a Christian not a legal background. And thus deals with the moral and not legal principal (and hence only applies to fellow Christians).

But yes, I do believe that marriage imposes a moral obligation (Duty Def 3a) of sex (physical intimacy). Further more it imposes this moral obligation equally upon both sexes.

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. - 1 Cor 4,5

This is not to imply that it is an "on demand" duty. I've already addresses the immorality of *that* stupidity.

However, the marriage vows to create moral obligations that each spouse should hold themselves to fulfilling.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 01:30 PM

Just as I'm uncomfortable with the notion that a man has a duty to open himself up (make himself vulnerable) emotionally upon demand.

As before. It's the "on-demand" that is problematic. But a man who withholds the emotional intimacy that his wife is looking for over the long-run is failing his moral obligation to his wife.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 01:36 PM

Cass, (and Yu-Ain Gonnano)

I think we have our arguments crossed.

First:
My reference to the battle of the sexes was vis-à-vis the current demands and expectations of men and women in their relationships with each other sans legal or State involvement.

Second:
"The state was ALWAYS intervened in relationships between the sexes. It's just that it almost always intervened on the side of men, before."

Somewhat true. I hope you'll not think I'm drawing too fine a distinction for the sake of my argument but I trust you'll grant that I'm onto something here and not merely being argumentative. And I'll make it as short as I can.

It was indeed the government that intervened in the relationships between the sexes and most always intervened on the side of men. The government was at this time legitimately representing the legal understandings based on the social mores/ethics of the time and population. That this was wildly disadvantageous to women was just so but it was society that was the prime maker of the disadvantage and the government, merely and properly representing society in general, administered the law appropriately.

When I used the term State I was making the case that presently the government is illegitimate in so far as it does not represent the still widely held traditions, understandings, customs, and attitudes, of this time and population. Men's views are more and more excepted by the State and women's more and more accepted. The default position, for example in divorce and family courts, seems now to be the woman's – divorce, alimony, community property, children and child support and send the bills to the Ex. I don't believe the default position is representative of the merits of the cases. The pendulum has swung too far – okay if the purpose is to give the other side a bit of what for and a taste of unfair but unhelpful to a properly functioning society where legally protected rights default to neither sex, but pertain equally, as far as possible, to both.

Posted by: George Pal at October 11, 2012 02:07 PM

"However, [sic] marriage vows [sic] create moral obligations that each spouse should hold themselves to fulfilling."

And to my knowledge those obligations lie within the promises made during the ceremony. Those obligations (wrt my personal marriage vows) were to love, honor and cherish MH and to remain loyal to him until death do us part. Nowhere in there is the obligation to have sex simply because he's my husband.
So, I'm left to wonder, by whose mores are these *obligations* defined? And why, exactly, should I adhere to them?
Furthermore, if, as stated in 1st Cor., we do not have authority over our own bodies, how can we yield it to each other? How can I yield that which is, apparently, not mine to give?

Posted by: DL Sly at October 11, 2012 02:26 PM

I don't think you're being argumentative at all :)
It wouldn't be much of a discussion if we all saw things the same way!

I do tend to think the pendulum swung too far the other way for a short time, but I also think that it is now moving back toward the center (outraged blog posts citing anecdotal evidence to the contrary). The family court system can be plenty unfair to women too - I've seen it happen repeatedly. If you only focus on isolated cases rather than looking at overall trends, it's easy to get a skewed perspective.

For instance, more men who ask for it are getting custody. I've written about this many times too, but I don't buy the whole disparate impact = discrimination argument as applied to child custody. It's a crappy argument when minorities and feminists use it, and it doesn't magically become more valid when the MRA crowd adopt it.

Women and men do not share child rearing work 50/50, so it's not logical to expect that child custody awards would be 50/50 either. Courts seek to preserve stability and continuity for the children. They will always favor the parent who was performing most of the parenting before the divorce, and inconveniently that is more often Mom than Dad. Also, if you don't ask for custody, you're not going to get it. I've yet to see the folks who say the system is biased look at the percentage of fathers who seek custody.

The important statistic here is, of the fathers who actively seek custody AND were present in their children's lives BEFORE the divorce, how many succeed?

It makes no sense to me for a judge to award custody to the father if he has never spent any significant amount of time with his children before, or has no experience in actually raising them. Visitation? Absolutely - and vitally important to the kids. Children need their fathers.

But custody for a parent who wasn't the stay at home (or most involved) parent before the divorce? No way. And my answer would be the same if it were Mom seeking to take custody over the stay at home Dad - why would a judge upend the children's lives in such a fashion? Children aren't prizes and divorce isn't a contest.

It also makes no sense to me that a father's parental duty to support his children should end upon divorce. He divorces their mother, but he cannot divorce his kids.

We are seeing more Dads ask for and get custody, and we are seeing more wives being asked to pay alimony when they're the higher earners and child support if Dad has at least partial custody.

The law doesn't need to result in 50/50 splits that don't even mirror the parenting arrangements of most families. The law should apply a consistent standard (and in all 50 states, the best interest of the child - NOT the parents - is that standard).

Obviously, the best possible solution is for the parents to settle this outside a court of law. And the fact is that the vast majority of such disputes never go to court. That's another bit of context one rarely sees acknowledged.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 02:36 PM

...there's something about being treated as an impersonal sexual device that leaves the average woman feeling less and less interested in sex. It's a death spiral for a marriage. You've got a man wondering "Why won't she service me on a reasonable schedule without making a fuss?" and a woman wishing she could figure out how to arrange things so that she never had to look him in the eyes again, let alone touch him.

Bingo.

I think this is a major source of misunderstandings between men and women. When things aren't going well, men tend to withdraw emotionally (refusing to admit there's a problem, refusing to talk about it) and women tend to withdraw physically (keeping their distance/refusing to have sex). That's not a coincidence and both sides interpret it as rejection.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 02:57 PM

I thought that the article was written because the woman was demanding trips and jewels? The sex part seemed to be in response to that. Maybe I missed something.

Dl Sly, I would think that every adult male on the planet would believe that the marriage covenant included a sex clause.

Posted by: Russ at October 11, 2012 02:57 PM

So, I'm left to wonder, by whose mores are these *obligations* defined?

Those would be *your* mores.

And why, exactly, should I adhere to them?

Well, they are *yours* so why shouldn't you?

Furthermore, if, as stated in 1st Cor., we do not have authority over our own bodies, how can we yield it to each other? How can I yield that which is, apparently, not mine to give?

Again, this only applies if you have adopted Christian mores as your own:

You do not have authority because it is jointly held between spouses.

It would be analogous to spouses who agree to having a joint checking account. When they were single they each had authority over their own account. Afterwards, neither has sole authority to that money. Each yeilds to the other. Neither one can tell the other "No, that's *my* money, you can't spend it like that." You must jointly agree on how to use it. Otherwise, you are not adhering to what you yourself have agreed to.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 03:25 PM

Russ, the linked article (Vox) was written because the excerpted author (Unnamed) said that a demand for spendy vacations was equally as bad as a demand for regular sex.

Vox thinks that that is incorrect.

To me that's like arguing between whether it's worse being murdered by being shot once or being murdered by being shot 20 times.

The second person isn't 20 times more dead.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 03:34 PM

Cass,

My last comment on the matter lest you change your mind about me being argumentative.

Women and men do not share child rearing work 50/50, so it's not logical to expect that child custody awards would be 50/50 either.

"But custody for a parent who wasn't the stay at home (or most involved) parent before the divorce? No way."

Fair enough – but then women often do not provide the bulk of the income yet, there's alimony, community property; many women out source child rearing to daycare or nannies yet get the custody benefit; men who fight for custody post divorce settlement have yet another burden put on them in legal costs associated with custody fights.

I hope you're right that things are changing but I still insist that the State's involvement in marriage has done much more harm to the institution than good and I suspect there's more a malevolent motive behind it rather than just 'unintended consequences'.

Posted by: George Pal at October 11, 2012 03:41 PM

The important statistic here is, of the fathers who actively seek custody AND were present in their children's lives BEFORE the divorce, how many succeed?

Actually, this likely would not be the correct metric. It assumes the likelihood of receiving custody and asking for custody are independent. If the two are correlated you have a selection bias problem that must be accounted for. If only those men highly likely to receive custody ask for it, there could still be a strong bias against them even though their success rate is high.

Accounting for data "Missing Not At Random" is one of the toughest statistical problems out there and requires a lot more art than science.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 03:49 PM

Yu-Ain, that doesn't strike me as quite right. I understand the issue of selection bias, but we're trying to get a look at whether men are unfairly denied custody. How can we include men who didn't even seek it, and expect to learn anything from the answer? Of the men who seek it, how can we understand whether their success depends on their gender unless we know what involvement they had in their children's lives before seeking custody in the divorce context?

I think we have to remember that the universe of men who are "highly likely to ask for custody" is not necessarily dominated by men who were deeply involved in their children's lives before the divorce. It also includes a lot of men who are seeking custody strategically, to put pressure on the woman for concessions in property division, or to remove children from the insidious influence of a woman who seemed OK before, but looks very different in the light of divorce (particularly if a new boyfriend is on the scene), or simply to punish a woman with whom they are now terribly angry.

The starting point should be the assumption that custody will go to whoever had the primary childrearing duty before the divorce. Any variation from that norm can be examined to see whether it routinely favors men or women, in order to determine whether the system is unfair to either.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 11, 2012 04:17 PM

Actually, this likely would not be the correct metric. It assumes the likelihood of receiving custody and asking for custody are independent. If the two are correlated you have a selection bias problem that must be accounted for. If only those men highly likely to receive custody ask for it, there could still be a strong bias against them even though their success rate is high.

Perhaps so, but Tex is right here:

I think we have to remember that the universe of men who are "highly likely to ask for custody" is not necessarily dominated by men who were deeply involved in their children's lives before the divorce. It also includes a lot of men who are seeking custody strategically, to put pressure on the woman for concessions in property division, or to remove children from the insidious influence of a woman who seemed OK before, but looks very different in the light of divorce (particularly if a new boyfriend is on the scene), or simply to punish a woman with whom they are now terribly angry.

I worked in family law for a short time and can testify that this is absolutely the case. I also saw a lot of this in the military.

The starting point should be the assumption that custody will go to whoever had the primary childrearing duty before the divorce. Any variation from that norm can be examined to see whether it routinely favors men or women, in order to determine whether the system is unfair to either.

I really don't care much whether it favors men or women. I don't. I care about the innocent parties here: the kids. Unlike the parents, they had no control over the divorce and don't deserve to be punished because their parents can't get along.

wrt to George's last comment:

men who fight for custody post divorce settlement have yet another burden put on them in legal costs associated with custody fights

As do women whose ex-husbands contest custody. If you want to win, you have to show up.

women often do not provide the bulk of the income yet, there's alimony,

...which is increasingly rare and usually temporary. Child support is not intended to (nor enough to) support the mother. If she has stayed home by mutual agreement of the parents pre-divorce, she is less able to earn a living. The income of divorced women declines regardless of their work status, so it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that they are unfairly benefiting from the system.

community property;

Again, this only kicks in if you can't agree on division of your property and end up in court. How else are courts to sort out who owns what when the divorcing couple can't even agree? (and the vast majority do, by the way, work it out without the help of courts).

many women out source child rearing to daycare or nannies yet get the custody benefit

What custody benefit are we talking about here? Time with the children?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 04:59 PM

How can we include men who didn't even seek it, and expect to learn anything from the answer?

The pertinent question is why did they not seek it. Because they didn't want it, or because they wouldn't get a fair ruling.

One could learn a lot from that bit of info.

You are correct that you should only include men that want custody. But that's not the same as the population of men that ask for it in court.

Ideally, they would be the same. If not, that the latter is a random sample of the former.

If, however, there is a difference in the likelihood of winning between those who want custody and those who ask for it in court, your stats are all incorrect.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 05:11 PM

It also includes a lot of men who are seeking custody strategically, to put pressure on the woman for concessions in property division, or to remove children from the insidious influence of a woman who seemed OK before, but looks very different in the light of divorce (particularly if a new boyfriend is on the scene), or simply to punish a woman with whom they are now terribly angry.

Absolutely, and this difference in the population who seek custody in court is different than the population that actually want custody, you can generalize from the one onto the other.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 05:14 PM

You are correct that you should only include men that want custody. But that's not the same as the population of men that ask for it in court.
Ideally, they would be the same. If not, that the latter is a random sample of the former. If, however, there is a difference in the likelihood of winning between those who want custody and those who ask for it in court, your stats are all incorrect.

I don't agree. What we're looking at here is the difference between purely descriptive (of fathers who contested custody, X% succeeded) and inferential statistics. The descriptive stat is not "incorrect", unless you incorrectly generalize extrapolate from it to draw unwarranted inferences from it, such as:

"Of fathers who *wanted* custody but didn't ask for it, the same percentage (X%) would succeed if they tried."

That's obviously not supported by the data, nor have I claimed this would be a reasonable inference. Alternatively, one might draw another unsupported inference:

"If only X% percent of fathers contested custody, then only X% of fathers must have *wanted* it in the first place".

That inference is also unsupported by the data. Here's the way I framed this in the original post:

Though it is true that women are far more likely to be awarded custody, they are also far more likely to ask for it in the first place. To establish bias, one must show (at the very minimum) that equally qualified fathers who request custody are denied more than half of the time, and here the data prove inconvenient. Courts can't be expected to award what they're not asked to. It turns out that fathers who ask for custody (and don't give up) are very likely to get either sole or joint custody:

As mentioned before, this tells us nothing about fathers who don't ever ask in the first place. But I think I was pretty clear about that.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 05:36 PM

sorry, can't generalize.

basically, whether the men are disproportionately saints disproportionately s*** bags you have to account for that bias before the numbers are meaningful.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 05:41 PM

The statement, "Of the fathers who asked for custody, X% got it" doesn't generalize, though.

It is specific to those fathers who asked for custody and it doesn't generalize beyond that.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 05:44 PM

Odd. Nearly every woman who has read that post has ignored almost all of it and focused on their own ASSUMPTION that all these young men are getting tons and tons of free sex. They also assume that the post implies that I find it "moral and upright" that they do so.

I suggest you reread it. I also suggest that you be mindful of the fact that 20% of the single men are getting 80% of the sex; the other 80% of the men are getting only rejection from women who believe themselves entitled to Hot Alphas. MOST of those 80% would make fine husbands if women weren't blinded by their own lust for romance-novel heroes, but women don't even bother to look at them. Not until they're done with the Hot Alphas and ready to settle down with grateful, sexually frustrated Beta providers.

As I said to a commenter on my site, I'm not making judgments about morality; I'm describing WHAT IS, not what some dipshit Disney Princess thinks SHOULD BE. You can take it or leave it, but you'll be fooling fewer and fewer men as they wake up. Enjoy those cats!

Posted by: Suz at October 11, 2012 06:30 PM

"You are correct that you should only include men that want custody. But that's not the same as the population of men that ask for it in court."

That's a good point, but I don't know how to address it. There's so little to be done to redress injustices against people too demoralized to stand up and at least make their futile wishes known. Heaven knows women wouldn't even have the vote yet if they approached the problem that way.

Could a man be an effective custodial parent who was so willing to give up on his kids?

Posted by: Texan99 at October 11, 2012 06:33 PM

I also suggest that you be mindful of the fact that 20% of the single men are getting 80% of the sex; the other 80% of the men are getting only rejection from women who believe themselves entitled to Hot Alphas. MOST of those 80% would make fine husbands if women weren't blinded by their own lust for romance-novel heroes, but women don't even bother to look at them. Not until they're done with the Hot Alphas and ready to settle down with grateful, sexually frustrated Beta providers.

Why on earth should I care about this?

I'm not interested in redistributing free sex, nor do I worry overly much about women who think they're entitled to "hot alphas" or "beta" (God, I hate that term - how condescending can you get) males who walk right by women who are in their league, looks-wise because they think they're entitled to "hot babes".

Both are doomed to be disappointed and probably used. Sex isn't an entitlement, especially if you're not married yet. So whining that some other guy or gal is getting more than you are strikes me as just plain dumb.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 06:45 PM

That's a good point, but I don't know how to address it. There's so little to be done to redress injustices against people too demoralized to stand up and at least make their futile wishes known. Heaven knows women wouldn't even have the vote yet if they approached the problem that way.
Could a man be an effective custodial parent who was so willing to give up on his kids?

I am naturally somewhat sympathetic to this argument (that men are just too discouraged to try anymore - to take risks, to dare, unless the entire system is rigged in their favor) because people DO get discouraged if they believe they don't stand a chance.

If I had seen more conservatives acknowledge that this same phenomenon might just explain some disparities between men and women, I'd be more inclined to listen to it now. But when feminists whined that women weren't excelling because "It was just soooooooooooo hard!", they were told that the world is a competitive place and if you want to win you need to show up dressed to play and compete.

And I happen to agree with that argument. Always have, always will. It conflicts with my natural sympathy, but as a conservative I don't understand how we fix things for people who give up without tipping the scales unfairly in their favor.

If didn't buy that line when it was used by whining feminists whose explanation for everything (even failure to try, or put in the same hours, or make the same sacrifices and choices) was that the world was too mean and society has some obligation to ensure equal outcomes, I'm certainly not inclined to change my tune now that the shoe is on the other foot.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 11, 2012 06:59 PM

Sly,

I think the concept is that you do own yourself, until you consent to the surrender of yourself to your husband in marriage; and he, in return, is surrendering himself to your authority. This is Biblical (in fact, Y-A-G provides the same reference that Aquinas offers), but note that Aquinas goes on for quite a while about consent. Marriage, he says, absolutely requires the consent of both parties (i.e., the Church would not accept as valid an arranged marriage where either party, man or woman, did not consent). There's a whole section about the importance of it.

Now, as Y-A-G said, this was a moral rather than a legal duty even in the middle ages. That said, note article 2, where the man is instructed that he has a duty to 'pay the marriage debt' to his wife not only when she asks for it, but that he has a duty to be attuned enough to her to know when she wants it and isn't asking for it (out of her presumed modesty, as appropriate to the period).

That implies that a significant emotional attachment is being demanded of the man toward his wife. The Church, in effect, is accepting the claim that he is supposed to read her mind and make sure to give her what she wants when she wants it without having to be told. :)

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2012 07:08 PM

I guess I haven't been clear in my point. It is simply that one can not use the descriptive statistic of the success rate for men who contest custody to infer whether or not the court is acting in a dicriminatory manner. If the men are who ask for custody are disproportionately saints compared to the men who want custody then even a high number can be evidence of discrimination if it ought to have been higher. If the are disproportionately scumbags the even a low number could be evidence of discrimination against women if it ought to have been lower. Without accounting for the difference between those who want custody and those who ask for it (and this goes for women too as I'm sure there is a self selection bias there, too) one can not determine whether the courts are discriminatory or not.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 11, 2012 07:14 PM

In any case, the point I wanted to make by raising the issue is not that you personally must accept that you have a duty to do such-and-such. What I wanted to say was just that there is a very traditional understanding of marriage that is consistent with the idea that husbands and wives have sexual duties towards each other.

The high medieval understanding was that marriage was a sacrament, and sacraments were ways in which God helped us out by providing a relief from our fallen nature. For example, confession as a sacrament is a way in which we can live with our sinful nature and still get right with God: when we fall into sin, we can reconcile. Marriage was the way in which the sexual nature can be expressed without sin, but in a way pleasing to God. The way in which there is a mutual surrender of self to the beloved other prefigures the way in which, they believed, we will surrender ourselves to God.

In that way the sexual act, which is the root of many sins, became sacred and a kind of blessing. And if you approach it in that way, I think the claim that you have a duty to be sensitive to the other's needs and to provide them becomes much more appealing.

Posted by: Grim at October 11, 2012 07:18 PM

Cassandra:
"So whining that some other guy or gal is getting more than you are strikes me as just plain dumb."


*ding*ding*ding* EXACTLY!

Used up sluts, starting in their late 20's, are filling the media with non-stop whining about "Where are all the good men?"

The answer: "They wanted you 10, 15, 20 years ago, and you were too busy chasing Prince Charming. Now that you've realized that Prince Charming might not exist, it sucks to be you, doesn't it?"

As to the question "Where are all the good women?" thanks to Grrrl Power indoctrination, there aren't many, and for years there haven't been.

BTW, "Beta" is not condescending, except to an entitled Princess. Betas built civilization, but that's not good enough for the Grrlz, is it?

Posted by: Suz at October 12, 2012 06:03 AM

Suz:

re: BTW, "Beta" is not condescending, except to an entitled Princess. Betas built civilization, but that's not good enough for the Grrlz, is it?

Your arguments would be much more convincing if you could manage to make them without the name calling. If you have a point to make, argue the point. That type of comment amounts to "Only idiots think...", which doesn't really tell anyone why you're right.

If Betas built civilization then why talk about them as though they were some sort of second class citizen? The whole "Alpha/Beta/Gamma/Omega" thing reduces complicated human beings to the level of chimps. We're humans, not animals.

IMO, what the PUA community sneeringly call "betas" are what I call "good men" who are mature and balanced. So I agree - they're the kind of men we want society to produce, but it ain't just "Grrlz" who sneer at them. Way too many men glorify men like Tucker Max. Oooh - he's an *Alpha*!

No, he's another word that begins with "A" and his behavior is anything but admirable.

As for there not being any good women out there, what is your evidence for this? I get it - it's your opinion, but opinions aren't evidence. There are lots of good women out there. Both my sons found good wives who love and support them. I know lots of people whose daughters are exactly the kind of woman who makes a good wife and mother, and their daughters don't act in the way you describe in your post. In the past year I hired two young women in their early 20s. Both have excellent character and are in committed relationships with good men.

If all you see are sluts, why is that? I'm guessing you're either only seeing what you expect to see, or possibly it's the crowd you associate with. I know almost no young women who match what you write about. I don't deny they exist, but I don't encounter them because I choose my friends carefully.

If every young woman you know is truly the way you describe, maybe you need to find a better class of people to associate with?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2012 07:40 AM

One more thing: in today's climate, we're not supposed to be judgmental. But lack of judgment (and the decline of the standards it's supposed to be based upon) is exactly the problem here.

People need to exercise good judgment. For most of us, that doesn't come naturally or easily. We learn from having made mistakes. One of the most important exercises of judgment is in our choice of friends, associates, lovers, spouses. If people use the wrong criteria, such as criteria that don't match our actual values and priorities, then we're going to be disappointed.

The post I linked to linked to another post that was full of the wrong criteria for choosing a wife. If you pick a wife based on looks or sex appeal and pay no attention to her character, you shouldn't be surprised to find out later that looks are a wasting asset and marrying someone of bad character is a disaster waiting to happen.

Just as you maintain that young women shouldn't pass over good, stable men for flashy alphas, it's equally true that young men shouldn't pass over good, stable young women of good character in hopes of snagging what you pretty much described as "sloppy seconds": an "8" who is settling for a guy she normally wouldn't have been attracted to and (if we're to believe you) is only marrying out of desperation.

That's not a good or stable match and a smart man wouldn't want that. Strong marriages are based on associative mating: people who have chosen mates who are roughly on their level, looks-wise, background-wise, values-wise, intelligence-wise. There needs to be balance.

If young men mistakenly think they're entitled to have sex with women who are way out of their league, looks-wise, they're making the same mistake you chide these young women for. I'm trying to point that if valuing the whole person (as opposed to valuing only sex appeal) is your standard, it should be consistently applied.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2012 07:54 AM

That's a good point, but I don't know how to address it. There's so little to be done to redress injustices against people too demoralized to stand up and at least make their futile wishes known.

Well, if you're referring to the addressing the data limitation of making inferences on the court's action based on only the observed descriptive statistics, I've said how. Now all you need is a couple million dollars and a bunch of statisticians. :-)

If you mean, how to address the (not yet proven) injustice against father's toO demoralized to try. Well, you kinda need to determine whether their is, in fact, any discrimination going on. I'm not convinced, yet, that there is. That many men *feel* that they are discriminated against, doesn't mean that they are.

The courts cannot correct for their false feelings. Nor should they try. Men need to suck it up and get in the game.

That said: Could a man be an effective custodial parent who was so willing to give up on his kids?

Depends, If you walked into a lawyer's office wanting to seek custody and he tells you "It'll cost you half your salary and even if you do win, which you likely won't, you'll be so far in debt you will struggle to provide for your kids anyway." Is concluding that your wife plus your child support is better for the children than yourself minus your massive debt "giving up on his kids"? To me, that's not an issue of demoralization, it's an honest accounting of how best to provide for your children, which is a very positive thing for a custodial parent.

Now if the lawyer told you "Well, the odds are stacked against you, but it'll only cost $100 to try", then getting demoralized over that would pretty much disqualify you in my book.

I honestly have no idea (and pray to God that I never will) which scenario aligns with reality.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 12, 2012 10:53 AM

I can't repeat this enough:

If everyone around you are jerks, the common denominator here is *you*.

Look, there is a distribution of behavior and character. Some people are good, honest, lifemate material and some people are selfish, despicable jerks.

If all you are finding in the dating pool are the selfish, despicable jerks you are doing an excellent job seperating the good people from the bad people. You're just dating in the wrong pool.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 12, 2012 11:08 AM

20% of the guys are getting 80% of the sex? We need a government sex redistribution program.

Ditto for redistributing custody of children to men, including the ones that didn't ask for it. Make it an affirmative action quota -- er, I mean, a critical mass -- er, I mean, a balanced approach that acknowledges the benefits of diversity.

My brother-in-law got custody of all four of his kids when his wife divorced him. I'm not actually sure how he pulled it off, since to my knowledge he didn't have any dirt on her. Neither of them had an extra dime to spend on the legal fight, either.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 12, 2012 12:31 PM

We need a government sex redistribution program.

No problem, they're all interchangable anyway.

Hey, where did all the good women go?

Posted by: Don Juan at October 12, 2012 12:53 PM

I was being snarky and unfair about men who want custody of their kids, and I apologize especially to Yu-Ain. I made it sound as though I wasn't taking his ideas seriously, but I always do. I look forward to his comments always.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 12, 2012 02:36 PM

No worries. I got the joke, that's why I joined in. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 12, 2012 02:54 PM

I wasn't responsible for my actions -- driven mad by the bizarre arguments earlier this week in the Fisher vs. UT case. UT accepts the top 10% of every high school in the state, which guarantees a kind of diversity. But UT is unhappy to find that the top 10% of some disadvantaged schools turn out to be struggling black students when they get to UT, so they want to add another quota for socio-economically privileged blacks, especially because they're at a disadvantage from attending majority-white schools. One of the justices asked the very reasonable question: Doesn't that mean you want the school to be required to accept a quota of underprivileged black students as well as a quota of privileged black students? How is that not all about race? No, no, they insisted. It's not about race at all. It's about diversity. Makes my head hurt.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 12, 2012 03:02 PM

There are good women out there. No, there are great women out there. My age, older, younger, a daughter's age, a granddaughter's age, a great granddaughter's age. Don't tell me they're not out there. I meet them. They're single. If you're looking and not finding, either you're looking in the wrong places or you're fishing with the wrong bait. I'm not even looking for one, having one I'm very happy with. (Maybe that being happy with yourself is part of good bait.)


Moral duty is an obligation on yourself to behave as you've promised. Temptation will come. At some business - social function someone sits beside me and leans over, or there's dancing and someone is in my arms quietly asking if I have an open marriage ... oh my, the instant fantasy ... "Sorry, I'm taken. There are times like now I could wish I did, but no, I don't." Spice might never know, but I would.


I learned to do that in high school. We all make choices, and live with them, or unmake them and make new ones. Sneaky is for war and lust, not love.


If you close up on your partner, the stream will build behind the dam, and eventually overflow or burst.

Posted by: htom at October 13, 2012 12:51 PM

"Moral duty is an obligation on yourself to behave as you've promised. Temptation will come."

Htom, in looking back over the decades, I'm pressed to admit that your two sentences sum up life.

A person's choices define the person. And let me tell ya, do those choices pile up for the good, or otherwise, as the years go by.

P.S. WRT Alpha, Beta, Omega, from ab initio to ad infinitum... In my humble opinion, and with a long life from which to draw the data to form that opinion, those who have to claim Alpha status, usually are anything but...

Yup, IMHO M'lady Cass has the sum of it:

"The whole "Alpha/Beta/Gamma/Omega" thing reduces complicated human beings to the level of chimps. We're humans, not animals."

But hey, I'm just an old knuckle-dragging Neanderthal survivor from an epoch or two back.

Posted by: bthun at October 13, 2012 04:20 PM

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