Dr. Helen

Is Cheap Sex Making Men Give Up on Marriage?

The author of a new book entitled Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy says cheap sex is making men give up on marriage. A New York Post article about the author states (via Newsalert) :

Thanks to cheap sex, marriage may be doomed.

The share of Americans ages 25-34 who are married dropped 13 percentage points from 2000 to 2014. A new book by sociologist Mark Regnerus blames this declining rate on how easy it is for men to get off.

Regnerus calls it “cheap sex,” an economic term meant to describe sex that has very little cost in terms of time or emotional investment, giving it little value.

Regnerus bases his ideas, in part, on the work of British social theorist Anthony Giddens, who argued that the pill isolated sex from marriage and children. Add online pornography and dating sites to the mix and you don’t even need relationships.

I haven’t read the book but I looked at the Amazon “Look Inside” and read some of the introduction. It seems that the author makes some decent points, but he did not seem to think that men were opting out of marriage because it was a “bad deal” for them. Instead, Regnerus seems to imply that it is cheap sex that leads men to have the upper hand in relationships because men can get sex more readily than in the past and don’t need to be successful and together to get a woman. This leads to men avoiding higher education and “success” because they do not have to impress women as often to get laid. That’s my take on what the author is saying, anyway.

Fair enough, but I think enough men have seen what marriage does to the older guys in their family and friend circles to know that antiquated marriage laws (and new ones) put the responsibility of the actual marriage legally more on men. Perhaps the discrepancy between the easier ability to get sex and the actual increased duties and responsibilities of men in marriage now is so much greater than in the past that it makes marriage unappealing to many. Sure, a man can get sex more easily without being married — but I wonder if women restricted sex more and porn was made illegal how many more men would marry. Maybe no more and maybe fewer.

Men are smart and technology is innovating. It is harder to control men now than it was in the past and many control freaks don’t like that sort of thing. Men are doing more than going their own way: they are finding ways to maintain autonomy and freedom in a world of increasing restrictions on their sexuality and livelihoods. Sex may be “cheap,” but marriage is not — and until our society understands that men are not pawns to be used by women and politicians for their own purposes, men will continue to go their own way, whether researchers want to believe it or not.

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