Does The Pill Influence Women To Dump Nice Guys And Providers?
April 20, 2007
Tim Alexander is the filmmaker for Diary of a Tired Black Man. “Now It’s black men’s turn to exhale.”
The film has a basic story.
It follows the relationship of a successful brother as he tries to find a happy place to rest his heart. He is constantly challenged by the anger he finds in the black women he gets involved with. From his wife, whom he divorces to other women he tries to date.
First-time filmmaker Tim Alexander, who enjoys being provocative, says there’s a disease out there that he calls the “angry black woman syndrome”. He says it must be identified, diagnosed and treated. Alexander believes African-American women who grew up in fatherless homes, hearing their aunts and grandmothers saying black men are no good – and hearing that opinion reinforced in the media – are now angry adult women.
“They grow up, deal with the wrong men, finally meet the right guy and don’t know how to turn it off,” Alexander says. “They are so used to fighting; it’s the only way they know to have a relationship. So when they find a good man, they think he’s a punk.”
Tim made an amazing movie, that whether or not you are Black or White, Yellow or Green, this is one thought provoking movie that may have the answers revealed on what is happening to the values, mores, and the beliefs of ALL women in America.
Tim’s movie got us thinking. We stumbled across another site in our quest for more knowledge on what is happening to our American Women. Why are they so angry? Why are they so mean to nice guys? Why are they so difficult to stay married too and insane in their wants in divorce court? We read this great post from hookupculture.com a week ago and we still can’t stop thinking about it. We look forward to your comments.
The Pill and the Decline of Dating and Marriage
The invention of birth control made possible a series of unprecedented changes in the relations between men and women. Few people realize that the chain of incentives that provided the foundation for monogamous marriage no longer exists. Prior to birth control, men and women were motivated by biological and economic forces to get married and begin families by their early 20s. Today’s singles lack those incentives and thus inhabit a relationship world that is completely unfamiliar to their parents and grandparents.
Why Marry At All?
Throughout civilized history, men and women have entered into monogamous relationships at an early age and begun raising families. This happens much less frequently today. Marriage is becoming more rare and singles who do get married, marry later. Families are also becoming smaller and less common as men and women now have fewer children later in life. The age of marriage has risen by about five years since 1950, the marriage rate has dropped about forty percent, and the fertility rate has also dropped about forty percent according to the National Marriage Project. In order to understand the root causes of these changes, one must understand what the dating environment was like prior to the widespread use of birth control in the 1960′s.
Before the pill, marriage was necessary for practical reasons. Men and women were much more dependent on each other and there was a defined division of labor. This division of labor was necessary because of a basic biological difference between the sexes. Women can bear children, men cannot. Before contraception, a woman could not readily control when pregnancy might take her out of the workforce. Women unable to control reproduction also had more children and spent more of their lives pregnant or with young children. These factors made it difficult for women pursue careers in the long-term. The difficulty in pursuing work made it necessary for women to find a husband who would provide financial resources for her and her children.
Restrictions on premarital s*x also encouraged marriage. Before the advent of birth control, premarital s*x was risky and had potentially drastic consequences. A woman who had premarital s*x could become pregnant with an illegitimate child, which would severely restrict her marriage options. This was a serious handicap in a system where marriage was essential in society. A woman who had an unintended pregnancy might also be forced into an inescapable shotgun marriage with a man she didn’t really want, and who was a poor choice as a lifelong partner and provider. In either case, premarital s*x could doom a woman to a lifetime of difficulty, and women had to exercise restraint.
Before the invention of the pill, the s****l behavior of men was also necessarily less promiscuous. Under the monogamous system, s*x without commitment was rarely available, so a man had to court a woman for an extended time and then get married before a woman would consent to s*x. Because women were not economically independent, society strongly sanctioned men who impregnated women and then left them without the means to support themselves. When an unmarried woman did become pregnant, marriage was often forced upon the man. Premarital s*x could result in a lifetime commitment for men as well, so men too had to be more discerning in their choice of s*x partners.
Why Marry Young?
For the reasons listed above, women in the pre-pill era did not generally pursue careers. In order to take the burden of support from their parents, women needed to attract a husband while young, and were also incented by the need to attract a mate while at the peak of their fertility and physical attractiveness. (A woman’s fertile lifetime is shorter than a man’s because of differences in their reproductive systems. A woman’s reproductive system must support a developing baby for nine months. This requires a vastly more complex system that is more biologically difficult to maintain and more susceptible to aging. The male reproductive system produces only sperm, which is much simpler.) The biological and social pressures that encouraged early marriage were reinforced by social customs and pressures that promoted marriage, such as older sisters having to marry before younger sisters were allowed to.
Men were incented to get married early by a combination of s****l desire and the fact that single women became scarcer with age. Because most women were married and raising children by their early 20s, a man who remained unmarried much past that age faced a dramatically shrinking number of eligible women within his social group. This resulted in the vast majority of men seeking marriage in their youth as well. In today’s society, many singles postpone marriage to pursue careers or delay in the hope of finding more attractive mates. In the past, the lack of premarital s*x and eligible partners made it much more difficult to wait.
Why Stay Together?
While the features of the pre-pill dating environment encouraged marriage at a young age, it also provided incentives for couples to stay together once married. When physical attraction inevitably waned, there were many practical reasons to stay married.
The fact that there were relatively few singles available in the dating market discouraged infidelity and divorce. Men and women married early and spent their 20′s raising children. The social scene for singles was much smaller than it is today. Women’s time was filled with child-rearing duties in the home and they had few interactions with single men. With few single women in their social circles, married men also had fewer temptations for infidelity and fewer options for remarriage if they were to get divorced.
Larger families were another reason couples stayed together. Women could not easily avoid pregnancy and had more children. Managing a large family required a great deal of time and effort, particularly without modern conveniences. A single parent would be unable to both manage a family and earn a living. Thus, women without a means to support themselves couldn’t leave their husbands. Husbands who left would be abandoning their children to lives of poverty. Harsh community sanction from one’s friends and social group resulted in either case. Religious rules and social norms further enforced the practical reasons to avoid adultery, avoid divorce and stay married.
In the past, the social practices defining dating and marriage were based on underlying biological and economic rules. Those rules made marriage a practical necessity. The advent of birth control decoupled s*x from reproduction and the changes have rippled through the system. Premarital s*x no longer carries the threat of pregnancy. Families have gotten smaller and more manageable. Women can work and are capable of supporting themselves and their children. Instead of being practical necessities, today’s singles often believe that the point of marriage and s*x are to provide emotional and romantic bliss for the individuals involved.
While birth control’s conquest over biology may seem to have provided many benefits, it has also had many unintended consequences. There are fewer reasons to get married, so men and women are staying single longer. Now that premarital s*x is possible, dating has transformed from a search for marriage into a pursuit of s*x. s*x is now prerequisite for beginning a relationship. Rather than being forced to marry early, singles find it increasingly difficult to find partners willing to marry at all. Men and women seeking s****l relationships value members of the opposite s*x based on instinctual emotion and physical attraction rather than valuing the virtues and personality traits that make a good long-term partner. The interdependence between men and women has been severely weakened, resulting in rising illegitimacy, single parenthood and divorce. Birth control was the catalyst that swung the pendulum from monogamy to pervasive promiscuity. The consequences for singles and for society have been considerable and widespread.
The Rise of Players and the Decline of Providers
Why is it that “bad boys” are generally much more sexually successful than “nice guys” are? Intelligent, hard-working men who contribute to society in formerly respectable careers like engineering, accounting or science are now looked down upon by women. Athletes, rockers, rappers and actors don’t work to improve society, yet many women desire s*x with them. There is no longer a connection between a man’s contribution to society, his options with women and his social status. Further, a man’s ability and willingness to provide for a wife and children has little impact on his ability to attract women. This was not always the case.
How Women Choose Men
Women’s attraction has shifted from dependable, nice provider men to exciting, unpredictable “bad boys.” In order to understand this phenomenon, one must understand how women choose men and how the process of mate selection evolved.
Millions of years ago, when our primate ancestors lived in small bands, the males who were the strongest, most aggressive fighters dominated the group. Because of the differential in male and female parental investment, competition among males was a winner-take-all affair. The winners, the alpha males, were able to monopolize s****l access to the females and have many offspring. The beta males were rarely able to have s*x and rarely able to pass on their genes. Females thus developed an instinctual attraction to the physically strong “alpha” males because alpha male offspring were consistently more successful in the reproductive game. These instincts evolved over millions of years and still exist in today’s women even though the attributes that made a winning fighter in primitive Africa are counterproductive to success in modern society. (For more information on s*x and evolutionary psychology, see Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen, Jared Diamond’s Why is s*x Fun? and Robert Wright’s The Moral Animal.)
Fighting is no longer a part of daily life, yet today’s women still have an instinctual attraction to strong, muscular men. Aggressive, unpredictable men are exciting and attractive to today’s women, even though in the information age, the ability to cooperate and work with others in an quiet office environment is more useful to one’s career success. Women are also attracted to indicators of high testosterone, like square jaws and broad shoulders. Evolution instilled these instinctual desires over millions of years, while civilization has existed for only a tiny fraction of evolutionary time. At an unconscious level, today’s women are still deeply attracted to alpha male characteristics.
For men, s****l attraction has also been irrationally shaped by evolution. In primitive times, one of the most common threats to a man’s offspring was infant mortality during childbirth. Because of this, men developed an instinctual attraction to women with wide, child-bearing hips. In modern society, infant mortality is rare, but men still have a vestigial attraction to women with the ideal waist-hip ratio. Men also have an attraction to women with large breasts since infant malnourishment was a problem in distant evolutionary times. In the developed countries of today, few infants starve, and many women don’t breastfeed at all. The male obession with physical attributes is an evolutionary relic. However, because attractive prehistoric females did not have the same destructive behavior as our male ancestors, men do not have the same irrational attraction to physicality and aggression that women do.
The Development of the Provider
So, if women are attracted to physically dominant alpha male types, then how could geeky-looking, physically weak men ever evolve? The development of the “provider” type came about because of the development of intelligence within our human ancestry. As the predecessors of homo sapiens evolved greater intelligence, human babies were born less mature, and the time required to raise a human child required increasingly more time and resources. In most animal species, babies are born nearly self-sufficient. Within a few months, most other animal species can live independently of their parents. In contrast, a human baby is completely dependent for food and defense for at least five years after birth, and requires education and resources for many years after that.
As human babies took longer to raise, females found that they alone could not provide the resources necessary to support their children into adulthood. They needed help, and they found ways to get help. Beta males who were not physically strong enough to dominate the other males found that by providing food and other resources to females in the group, they could bargain for s*x from those females.
Interestingly, the same high testosterone that provided alpha males with greater physical strength and natural aggressiveness worked against them as providers. Studies have shown that men with high testosterone have lower intelligence and less ability to concentrate on mental tasks. High-testosterone men are less likely to hold white-collar jobs, more likely to hold jobs that require manual labor, and are more likely to commit crime. (See Heroes, Rogues and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior.) Thus a spectrum of men emerged. Strong, aggressive, dominating men existed on one side of the spectrum and intelligent, nice, cooperative men existed on the other.
Eventually as civilization developed and intelligence and financial success became more important than physical strength, females who chose males with “provider” characteristics produced more successful offspring than those who chose alpha males. Over time, there was a reduction in the proportion of high-testosterone males. Social and religious customs like the monogamous marriage system further increased the proportion of providers. Women looking for lifelong commitment and wanting to avoid a lifetime of unhappy marriage put a higher priority on companions with agreeable personalities and financial resources and a lower priority on looks and alpha maleness. In the last forty years, however, that trend has been reversed. (Note: Men making a lifelong commitment under the monogamous system were also more likely to value a woman’s companionship and personality than men who are pursuing short-term s*x, where physical appearance is of primary importance.)
The Pill, the Provider and the Alpha Male
In recent years, the nice provider personality has become decidedly unpopular, while the aggressive alpha male personality types are celebrated and envied. Professional athletes, rock bands, and hip hop musicians have eclipsed doctors, lawyers and engineers in social status. “Players” who take advantage of the weaknesses in women’s s****l instincts are celebrated while faithful providers are not.
Over the last forty years, birth control has removed the practical reasons for a woman to choose a provider male. Women unafraid of pregnancy can have s*x with the sexiest men and fulfill their instinctual desires without apparent consequence. They can “follow their hearts,” even when the emotions they perceive as love or passion are irrational vestiges from the evolutionary past. Providers are also devalued because financially self-sufficient women no longer need a man to provide resources for them.
Because women no longer put a high value on providers, the social position of those men has fallen while the player/alpha male personality type has begun to dominate society and culture. As women encourage more “bad boy” behavior by their s****l choices, men and society are becoming less considerate, less cooperative and less civilized.
Mary Challender in 2003 reported on how oral contraceptives can influence women’s choice of long-term partners. In her article titled: Choose your man before taking the pill she writes:
The birth control pill can do more, it seems, than prevent babies.
According to a recent study by researchers at two Scottish universities, the oral contraceptive also appears to change women’s taste in men.
Psychologists at St. Andrews and Stirling universities presented women with images of different types of men, and asked them to pick out potential long-term partners.
They found women who were taking the pill tended to favor macho types with strong jaw lines and prominent cheekbones.
Women not on the contraceptive, on the other hand, tended to choose men with softer, more feminine, facial features.
The study, to be published later this year, follows previous research indicating women subconsciously choose more sensitive-looking men for long-term partners because they believe they will be more trustworthy and faithful.
This means using the pill may actually influence women interested in marriage to have relationships with inappropriate men, researchers concluded.
The psychologists theorize that it has something to do with the fact that taking the pill disrupts the natural process of ovulation.
Since the body is incapable of becoming pregnant, the brain subconsciously stops looking for long-term mate material.
“Where a woman chooses her partner while she is on the pill, and then comes off it to have a child, she may find she is married to the wrong man,” lead researcher Anthony Little said.
Not only did women on the pill make poor choices for marriage, they also seemed a bit mixed up when it came to finding a guy to hook up with short-term.
This is when they should have been going for the Russell Crowe-types, researchers said.
Instead they tended to select men who looked like Edward Norton.