America’s marriage rate has been on the decline for the past 50 years, leading esteemed sociologists, politicians, and economists to start evaluating the marketplace of marriage to determine the root cause behind our society’s sudden lapse into matrimonial apathy. Even the brains behind my favorite podcast, Freakonomics, have devoted their past two episodes to a discussion on why anybody should marry.
For some of us, the root causes are quite easy to pinpoint and understand. Anybody with a basic understanding of supply and demand also understand its ubiquitous nature — people respond to incentives, incentives are a natural causation of supply and demand curves, and every problem ever encountered in human existence can be simplified to supply and demand. Marriage is no exception. Both marriage and sex are resources desired and expended by individuals. Ultimately, women have the supply of sex that men demand, while men harbor the supply of marriage material that women demand.
In the past, sex was typically bundled with marriage because it almost always led to the production of offspring. The invention of the pill, however, turned the marriage/sex marketplace on its head, revolutionizing it through what economists call a “technological shock”. Suddenly women could have more sex without the added danger of giving birth to a hungry infant, nor did they have to worry about their sex partner’s willingness to commit if such a need arose. But their biomechanical need and desire for commitment and marriage never subsided, giving men a newfound power to be picky mates. Men are now the gatekeepers to marriage (or commitment in general), a hot commodity most women still want, and can be more selective in their long-term mates than ever before. When women started taking the pill they thought it would give them more power in the marriage/sexual marketplace, but instead it balanced the marketplace. Whereas women have more options in the short term than ever before, men now have more options in the long term than ever before.
All of this is succinctly summed up in a video titled “The Economics of Sex“, albeit in a politically correct manner (the narrator implicitly suggests that men’s desire for sex is wrong at 1:24 but never holds women to similar standards). While the video refrains from making normative statements on how people should behave, it does make it quite clear that the pill — and other contraceptive methods — is the ultimate cause for the decline of marriage in America. If men don’t have to get married to get sex, they’re not going to. Simple as that. Some suggest that men are on strike, but I don’t think that’s the case. Men are merely responding to incentives. For many, they see marriage as a destructive construct built to eventually extract resources via alimony, or they witness the emasculation of men by women in power suits, or they simply prefer the carefree lifestyle of easy sex and minimal responsibilities to the supposedly nobler goal of raising a family. And who can blame them? Women initiate more than two-thirds of divorces, and while the divorce rate in the U.S. is lowering (in correlation to declining marriage rates), it’s still pretty high. If you’re a single guy and looking for marriage, chances are you’re going to end up on the wrong end of a judge’s gavel at some point.
Feminists pushed women to use the pill to empower themselves and now find themselves unhappy and unwilling to revert to a “traditional” model because it’s viewed as belittling or demeaning. Ardent feminists still expect men to bring home a paycheck while also assigning them the “demeaning” duties of housework and family support. At its very core, feminism is an attack on “traditional” women and a basic misunderstanding of human response to incentives. Men are merely collateral damage in the feminist war on women and their emasculation is an indirect result of their new power in the marriage marketplace.
It’s quite infuriating to watch the political supplication over feminism and its denial of the supply vs. demand reality of the dating marketplace. If you’re in any way religious, the destruction of marriage at the hands of those who bungle economics on a daily basis (i.e. Barack Obama) can easily be attributed to a denial of God’s will. And if you’re an evolutionary atheist, it should strike you as odd that current societal norms attempt to subvert millions of years of basic human biochemical evolution and sociological constructs.
In no way am I suggesting that the pill or other contraceptives should be abolished. But it’s clear that we as a society aren’t exactly handling it the way God or nature or evolution — whatever you choose as your biomechanical standard — intended. Certainly the consequences of feminism are in direct contrast to their intended goals, and we should continue to question its place in a modern, civilized country.