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Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy

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Sex is cheap. Coupled sexual activity has become more widely available than ever. Cheap sex has been made possible by two technologies that have little to do with each other - the Pill and high-quality pornography - and its distribution made more efficient by a third technological innovation, online dating. Together, they drive down the cost of real sex, and in turn slow t Sex is cheap. Coupled sexual activity has become more widely available than ever. Cheap sex has been made possible by two technologies that have little to do with each other - the Pill and high-quality pornography - and its distribution made more efficient by a third technological innovation, online dating. Together, they drive down the cost of real sex, and in turn slow the development of love, make fidelity more challenging, sexual malleability more common, and have even taken a toll on men's marriageability. Cheap Sex takes readers on an extended tour inside the American mating market, and highlights key patterns that characterize young adults' experience today, including the timing of first sex in relationships, overlapping partners, frustrating returns on their relational investments, and a failure to link future goals like marriage with how they navigate their current relationships. Drawing upon several large nationally-representative surveys, in-person interviews with 100 men and women, and the assertions of scholars ranging from evolutionary psychologists to gender theorists, what emerges is a story about social change, technological breakthroughs, and unintended consequences. Men and women have not fundamentally changed, but their unions have. No longer playing a supporting role in relationships, sex has emerged as a central priority in relationship development and continuation. But unravel the layers, and it is obvious that the emergence of industrial sex is far more a reflection of men's interests than women's.


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Sex is cheap. Coupled sexual activity has become more widely available than ever. Cheap sex has been made possible by two technologies that have little to do with each other - the Pill and high-quality pornography - and its distribution made more efficient by a third technological innovation, online dating. Together, they drive down the cost of real sex, and in turn slow t Sex is cheap. Coupled sexual activity has become more widely available than ever. Cheap sex has been made possible by two technologies that have little to do with each other - the Pill and high-quality pornography - and its distribution made more efficient by a third technological innovation, online dating. Together, they drive down the cost of real sex, and in turn slow the development of love, make fidelity more challenging, sexual malleability more common, and have even taken a toll on men's marriageability. Cheap Sex takes readers on an extended tour inside the American mating market, and highlights key patterns that characterize young adults' experience today, including the timing of first sex in relationships, overlapping partners, frustrating returns on their relational investments, and a failure to link future goals like marriage with how they navigate their current relationships. Drawing upon several large nationally-representative surveys, in-person interviews with 100 men and women, and the assertions of scholars ranging from evolutionary psychologists to gender theorists, what emerges is a story about social change, technological breakthroughs, and unintended consequences. Men and women have not fundamentally changed, but their unions have. No longer playing a supporting role in relationships, sex has emerged as a central priority in relationship development and continuation. But unravel the layers, and it is obvious that the emergence of industrial sex is far more a reflection of men's interests than women's.

30 review for Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Jr.

    A quick check of the Goodreads reviews suggests to me that everyone has strong feelings about this book—which tends to support the author’s thesis, I think. In other words, sex is not what Captain Kathryn Janeway said it was in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, namely a component of good hygiene. One time when her crew visited a resort planet she encouraged her senior commanders to make sure to go have sex with the planet’s prostitutes. None of this was stated so bluntly; it was given instead wi A quick check of the Goodreads reviews suggests to me that everyone has strong feelings about this book—which tends to support the author’s thesis, I think. In other words, sex is not what Captain Kathryn Janeway said it was in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, namely a component of good hygiene. One time when her crew visited a resort planet she encouraged her senior commanders to make sure to go have sex with the planet’s prostitutes. None of this was stated so bluntly; it was given instead with a wink and a nod and the good-natured air of a friendly schoolmarm doling out health advice. There is no Kathryn Janeway, of course. People wrote her lines. Western people. American people. People describing and promoting their worldview through the tool of TV. A worldview Regnerus subjects to withering critique in this book. Stat after stat. Story after story. The tools of sociology set in skillful array. Regnerus shows that the pill and porn have lowered the “price” of sex, made it more accessible than it ever has been, and therefore put women at a disadvantage in the sexual marketplace. I don’t have the capacity to question Regenerus’ research practices, nor the time to examine his data. Am I supposed to? How many readers will do anything other than run his conclusions and arguments through the grid of their own values—just as I have done? And here’s what I came out with when I did this: validation of words that have guided me since long before I could ever possibly understand sociological stats, since long before my parents would ever have let me be exposed to the very frank stories and personal testimonies in the book. When I was a young teen I read what Jesus said, You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.(Matthew 5:27–30 ESV) I read it over and over because, in my adolescent mind, I thought it was cool that this paragraph was part of the longest unbroken stretch of red letters in the New Testament. I now know that it’s called the Sermon on the Mount. At that age there was no way I could process the pros and cons of sexual temptations and opportunities on my own individual level, let alone on a societal one. All I could do was listen to Jesus and trust him. Or not. (And listen to Solomon in Proverbs 5–6 or not. Etc.) I was provided, in God’s providence, the very kinds of help Regnerus describes to help me side with Jesus rather than with the sexual revolution. I had a conservative religious community with its much-maligned “purity culture.” And after reading Cheap Sex, I have never been more grateful. I argued once in a blog post that every group holding no-sex-before-marriage ideals is going to come up with mechanisms of in-group policing. It doesn’t have to sound so bad, and Cheap Sex shows why: encouraging others to be sexually pure is a way of protecting people. Women especially, but not only them. They’re the ones who suffer the most obvious effects of the lowering price of sex. But men also suffer, even if at 24 and the height of their sexual “wealth” they think they’ve got it made in this society. They are betting away future happiness at the price of present pleasure. I look at my present pleasures—a beautiful wife, healthy children, loud children—and I’m grateful for a culture that knew, because Jesus told it and because of experiences encoded in it, to put guardrails around me during a time when those pleasures seemed impossibly far away. Ironically, perhaps, I’ve been listening to lesbian feminist Camille Paglia read some of her essays on the one hand defending pornography—that’s her pagan, Dionysian streak—and on the other hand insisting that gender is not a social construct and that feminists in the academy have become man-bashers unwilling to acknowledge the good men have done for women for centuries—that’s her truth-seeking streak. The protection, the work, the war. Egalitarianism hasn’t raised women up and given them the power of men; it has made them play by men’s rules. To the detriment of them first and the whole society as a result. A must read for pastors and those in Christian education.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    In Cheap Sex, Mark Regnerus cites a lot of research to make a strong case for how the marriage-partnering-dating-sex market in the US (and probably other countries) reached its current state, and how most trends will probably continue. Unsurprisingly, the results are mixed, as throughout history they have always been. As economist Thomas Sowell said, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs,” but the trade-offs of today’s young generation would be pretty alien to our grandparents. Today we have In Cheap Sex, Mark Regnerus cites a lot of research to make a strong case for how the marriage-partnering-dating-sex market in the US (and probably other countries) reached its current state, and how most trends will probably continue. Unsurprisingly, the results are mixed, as throughout history they have always been. As economist Thomas Sowell said, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs,” but the trade-offs of today’s young generation would be pretty alien to our grandparents. Today we have more sexual freedom, with sex that is more accessible and without the risk of unwanted pregnancy, but less marriage, which many people do still want. The search for a marriage partner is longer, and marriages are less stable. Relations are less long-term. These consequences were largely unforeseen, and certainly unintended. Regnerus attributes much of the change to three technological innovations: contraception, online dating, and pornography. In conclusion, he makes eight predictions for where things will be in 2030, which boil down to three: sex will continue to get cheaper, sex will continue to become freer (lower age of consent, more homosexuality, more polyamory), and marriage rates will decline still further. This book is great, but I’m going to give it only 4 stars, not for what it contains, but for what it leaves out. This might not be fair, because Regnerus is an academic and has to support what he says carefully (as well as face the wrath of campus demonstrators), while I am free to speculate. But I think he could have broadened his framework, at least mentioned some other significant factors, and made a couple other obvious predictions. This is particularly important because the factors he discusses are three genies that will not go back in the bottle, while some other factors are amenable to policy changes, difficult though those might be. The title suggests that cheap sex is driving the changes to marriage, but there are many other factors. Marriage traditionally provides a package of services, many that could not be easily obtained elsewhere, and sex is only one of them. In the past few decades these services have become rapidly unbundled, and provided also by both the private and public sectors, making marriage a relatively more expensive way to obtain them. Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/05/3098405... is famous for defining the marriage market, and presumably its services, but I’ll mention just those that I have observed, with their commercial and government substitutes. The increasingly sophisticated free market provides many specialized services historically provided by both the wife and husband. In the past, wives shopped and cooked, but today people in urban areas can easily get food (groceries or prepared meals) delivered. Wives cleaned, but the same modern appliances that save a housewife labor also make life pretty easy for a guy, and he can also hire a housekeeper. Regnerus documents two new sources of sex (online dating and pornography), but omits prostitution, which has also been facilitated by the internet, and is legal in some major European countries (e.g. Germany). Husbands traditionally supplied services based on their greater physical strength: work (whether hunting or money from labor), home maintenance, and security. Physical labor today has been largely replaced by technology, and homes require less upkeep (or, in the case of automobiles, specialist skills). In the modern throwaway society, nobody fixes broken things, and nobody sews. Life continues to be safer (documented in Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature). Men are relatively less valuable. Note: Having just two kids, both of whom will probably survive, obviates or reduces some needs of the traditional family, where half of the ten kids survived childhood, and this is a good thing. Online dating facilitates sex and marriage, but hinders it in a way familiar to behavioral economists: the problem of *satisficers vs. maximizers*. While roughly one third of the population is satisficers (able to make “good enough” decisions more rapidly when offered increased choice), one third consists of maximizers: people who will invest more time to make the best possible choice. Worse, maximizers continue to consider their options even after they have made a decision, experiencing more regret and less overall happiness. Maximizers were designed for a scarcity environment, not the modern one, and certainly not for massive online dating sites. Governments increasingly provide services that traditionally came from wives, husbands, children, extended family, church, and the community. In particular, this includes caring for those who temporarily or permanently cannot care for themselves, e.g. children and the elderly. Besides services, governments provide direct payments. Government support is unconditional, and financed by taxes on those who produce, e.g. those ordinary men who traditionally would have made themselves marriage material by working, and women who are trying to build a career and get ahead with enough time remaining to still have children. Ordinary men are not merely handicapped, but obsolete: women can do without men’s meager net incomes by relying on their own resources and government transfers. For alimony and child support, spouses do not require good relations or voluntary agreements, but can rely on governments to compel payments under inflexible laws; this imposes a huge, uncapped liability, overwhelmingly on men. Besides taxation, transfers, and family law, government policy has disrupted the marriage market in other ways: -Criminality: Regnerus did not mention criminality at all, let alone that the US has the world’s highest incarceration rate. A criminal record will ruin one’s employment prospects for life. A large proportion of US criminals were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. This disproportionately affected blacks, as recounted in Ralph Richard Banks’ “Is Marriage for White People?”, but certainly affects whites as well. -Protracted education: Subsidized education leads people to study more than they otherwise would. Whether or not this is a good investment, it extends adolescence. In Europe, infamously in Germany, students are thus encouraged to study for ridiculous periods, often into their 30s. As is well known, women are now going to college at rates higher than men, and it is women who have shorter durations of fertility and attractiveness. -Health: Some demographics have experienced a catastrophic decline in physical health, most visibly in obesity, cardiovascular fitness, allergy/asthma, and myopia. We also see declines in mental health, along with increased substance abuse. An unhealthy person is a less attractive mate, for good reason. Some of this results from government dietary guidance, perverse incentives that encourage the overuse of antibiotics, and the favoring of some drugs (e.g. alcohol, prescription pain killers) over others (e.g. marijuana). Missing Predictions -Male contraception: Regnerus’ first prediction is that sex will continue to become cheaper, partly thanks to improving contraception, but he only mentions female contraception. The big innovation will be male contraception. Currently the only male contraception is a clumsy physical device, but chemical solutions are under development. This will give men a reliable reproductive veto, ending their need to trust their partners’ contraception. -Children: How in 2030, in a post-marriage society, will we be having children? We can’t let the fertility rate drop further—our pension and Social Security systems require increasing numbers of workers. If sexual relations are fluid, and partnerings shorter term, will contractual reproduction, e.g. co-parenting, become common? This will require new legal structures. Technology and the market will continue to advance. If we don’t like the results—and some of the results are pretty clearly negative—we will need churches and other social organizations to raise their game, and governments to stop interfering and recognize and support the new relations.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Therese

    This book is a very strange animal - author Mark Regnerus is a sociologist who has faced some controversy, as well as formal reprimand from a scholarly journal he published in for his questionable use of data to argue a homophobic-seeming thesis. Without my having chased down every one of his footnotes, I also get the impression that he often uses data tendentiously to fit the dubious if not appalling tenets of an authoritarian-traditionalist Catholic framework squarely in the tradition of Josep This book is a very strange animal - author Mark Regnerus is a sociologist who has faced some controversy, as well as formal reprimand from a scholarly journal he published in for his questionable use of data to argue a homophobic-seeming thesis. Without my having chased down every one of his footnotes, I also get the impression that he often uses data tendentiously to fit the dubious if not appalling tenets of an authoritarian-traditionalist Catholic framework squarely in the tradition of Joseph de Maistre (an early nineteenth-century Savoyard philosopher whom Isaiah Berlin argued was a proto-fascist). The centerpiece of Regnerus's ideological framework that he uses to interpret his chosen data is the idea that straight-people sex is based on an "exchange" model - she gives sex, he gives an expensive dinner, or a diamond ring, or an allowance, etc. This model Regnerus touts as the ideal state of things for human happiness and flourishing - a model in which, as I read it, women who participate in heterosexual sex are basically always some form of sex worker, either short-term or long-term, providing sexual labor in exchange for some sort of material reward, or at the very least a boost in social status. In Regnerus's view, the pinnacle format of the exchange model is marriage, since this provides the most money and material benefits to the woman over a long time-period, as well as social status and the assurance of stability. But to me his talk of the exchange model makes it sound like the ideal marriage for him is essentially long-term and stable sex work, where the man provides ongoing financial support in exchange for live-in sexual and janitorial services. (Regnerus equivocates a lot in talking about the exchange model between whether it's about emotions and connection or whether it's about money and things, which I think derives from the fact that he wants to distinguish it from the pure relationship model, described next.) Regnerus contrasts this wonderful exchange model with wicked, evil, society-wrecking "pure relationships," where spending time together and having sex are supposed to be about fulfillment, pleasure, and happiness for the individuals involved. (Confusingly and rather contradictorily, Regnerus goes on to complain in the book that it's actually these pure relationships that commoditize sexuality and debase women, not his exchange model in which women ought to be charging a lot for sex.) Women who engage in these frivolous relationships, merely for fun and enjoyment, not only miss out stupidly on all the money and nice stuff they could be getting for paid sex work in the exchange model (Regernus's view translated by me into what he really seems to mean). They also ruin things for the women who would like to be highly-paid sex workers under a lifetime contract (marriage), because they are having sex as a fun hobby rather than as paid labor, so the men have free sex available with women who actual seem to like the sex, which puts those who want to sell their sexual services by playing hard to get out of business. Everything ran much better and everyone was happier (in Regnerus's view as I read it) back in the good old days when women policed each others' sexual purity and jacked up the price of sex by withholding it. In fact, Regnerus apparently believes, slutty women who give away sex for free are also responsible for the fact that men have turned into unimpressive slobs who don't have jobs, live with their parents, and spend their days just watching TV and playing video games. If women would just charge more for sex, straight men would be motivated to achieve great things like men of yore, so they could afford the expensive sex that women would otherwise withhold from them! An implicit assumption behind his arguments seems to be that women's reason for existing is engaging in sex work and motivating men. In a particularly scary and authoritarian passage (pp 154-155), Regnerus rails against individuality itself. To him, self-determination and autonomy in general are negatives in comparison with external authorities like tradition, religion, or "ethnic heritage" that "instruct us in how we ought to live" - echoing views of Joseph de Maistre on how individual reason set against the authority of tradition and the Catholic church threatened to be the ruin of Europe. In another passage, he speculates that the reason liberal young women are so statistically inclined to be unhappy with the amount of sex they are having (regardless of how much they are actually having) is because they are trying to seek transcendence in sex rather than in religion. This comes off as a hilarious bit of blame-shifting since it suggests they are looking in the wrong place - and Regnerus fails to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe some liberal women might not look to religion for transcendence, not because they are misguided sluts, but because they do not expect to find transcendence in a belief system they view as based on untruths and functioning as propaganda for patriarchal oppression. In place of a scary, misogynistic, religious authoritarian conservative framework, I would suggest that some of his data (insofar as that data is valid) could perhaps be interpreted insightfully through the lens of attachment theory, as in the book Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - And Keep - Love. So far as I understood it from reading that book, human flourishing takes place when people are able to form secure emotional attachments with one another. In contrast to Regnerus's belief that marriage is the supreme ideal for flourishing, marriage is far from a sufficient condition for secure attachment, and secure attachments do not need to happen in the context of marriage only, but can be between lovers, friends, family members, and so on. (I don't know if the data is clear on the degree to which attachments style may be innate or learned, but from what I understand they are a mix of nature and nurture.) In this theory it's the quality of the relationship as secure or insecure, not its form (marriage vs. cohabitation vs. dating) or even its longevity, that matters for happiness and accompanying achievement. The Attached book provides a really interesting analysis of the dating market in asserting that secure attachers are the least likely to be single since they are the superstars of the relational world and their relationships tend to be more stable. On the other hand, insecure attachers, particularly people with an avoidant attachment style, are more likely to be single since their style is to flee commitment. While the breakdown in types of attachment styles shows some gender differences, with more men in the category of avoidant, any gender can be any attachment style type - which avoids some of the off-putting reductionism and repellent gender essentialism of Regnerus's framework. Men generally need secure attachments in order to flourish just as women do, whether or not they acknowledge it. Under an attachment theory framework, rather than women being to blame for sluttily ruining the sexual economy and undermining male achievement, relationship stability or instability is more a question of whether people with compatible attachment styles manage to find each other. They don't always find each other, even through convenient online tools, since avoidant attachers make up a significant percentage of the population and are overrepresented on the dating market. The differences in attachment style are not something that can be fixed by women embracing regressive sexual mores or policing each other, but are more of just a long-term fact of the mix of people in a society. The more freedom women (and men, and non-binary and trans folk, etc) have to seek and find a relationship that authentically fulfills their attachment needs, the better (as opposed to Regnerus's view of freedom being a bad thing).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Philip Cohen

    This is a terrible book by a researcher with a proven history of unethical research practices. I have written extensive notes on it, which are available here: https://familyinequality.wordpress.co.... This is a terrible book by a researcher with a proven history of unethical research practices. I have written extensive notes on it, which are available here: https://familyinequality.wordpress.co....

  5. 4 out of 5

    Frank Theising

    I found this book absolutely fascinating. Running in the conservative Christian circle I do, I am regularly blown away by the number of intelligent, attractive women in church (or in the workplace) who want to get married but their equally accomplished (single) male counterparts seem not to exist. By exploring sex through an economic lens, this book helps to explain phenomena like this. The author’s thesis is that the remarkable economic, educational, and sexual advances by women have opened up I found this book absolutely fascinating. Running in the conservative Christian circle I do, I am regularly blown away by the number of intelligent, attractive women in church (or in the workplace) who want to get married but their equally accomplished (single) male counterparts seem not to exist. By exploring sex through an economic lens, this book helps to explain phenomena like this. The author’s thesis is that the remarkable economic, educational, and sexual advances by women have opened up opportunities in their professional life, but with unintended consequences in their relationships. Women’s success has removed the principal thing that men offered (commitment and economic security) in exchange for sexual access. Sex has become comparatively “cheaper” or less expensive economically (i.e. fewer expensive commitments like marriage and childrearing). In other words, the supply has increased dramatically while the cost has diminished and this has fundamentally shifted the relative power and economic calculus men and women use in the mating market. Highly recommended. What follows are my notes on the book: In the 2014 Relationships in America survey, sex before the relationship begins was the modal (most common) point at which Americans report having first had sex in their current relationship. In interviews throughout the book, women repeatedly state that sex “just happens” though their ideal (even for non-religious women) is almost completely different: start slower, become friends, then get romantic, followed by engagement and marriage. The relationship patterns revealed in their interviews were increasingly predictable: Sex very early (before expressions of love), underdeveloped interest in sacrificing for others, overlapping sexual partners, much drama, and in the end nothing but mixed memories and expired time (5). This book is not an elegy for a lost era, but an explanation of the present; an account of how young Americans relate today and his best efforts to explain why. He draws on several large, population-based surveys as well as research interviews with 100 individuals in different metropolitan areas. Despite greater personal and relational freedoms and technologies that seem to boost equality and simplify how people meet and evaluate each other, they have not spelled notably greater happiness in relationship contentment. In fact, the harm and dissatisfaction is palpable. Young people appear to be having more sexual experiences, more partners, and more time to “try them on,” but seem less stable in, and less content with, the relationship in front of them. Why? The author’s thesis is that we have failed to recognize how the underlying market forces surrounding coupled sexual behavior have shifted (6). British social theorist Anthony Gidden’s 1992 book The Transformation of Intimacy, offered some prescient predictions on shifting sexual norms. In it he argued the wide uptake in contraception “meant more than an increased capability of limiting pregnancy….it signaled a deep transition in personal life…sexuality became malleable, open to being shaped in diverse ways, and a potential “property” of the individual. Sexuality came into being as part of a progressive differentiation of sex from the exigencies of reproduction…sexuality is at last fully autonomous.” Fully autonomous not only in its separation from baby-making, but even from being embedded in relationships. Indeed, achievement of reciprocal sexual pleasure has become a key element in whether a relationship is sustained or dissolved (7). All these achievements have been sealed in language (i.e. it has penetrated the imagination and altered the very frameworks of how we think about sex and relationships, thereby shifting perception of everyday reality. What has emerged is not simply different norms or values among subgroups but new (restructured) realities around the intimate life of the vast majority of Westerners (9). In a time when childbearing can be avoided, making possible an extensive and diverse sexual life, Giddens claims have materialized 25 years later: • Expectations of paired sexual activity early in relationships • Sexual exclusivity is no longer assumed but rather the subject of negotiation • Shorter-term relationships (with perceptions of commitment “phobia”) • Plastic sexuality (interests are shaped and remodeled) • The flourishing of non-heterosexual identities and expressions • Obsession with (increasingly illusive) romance In tandem with these transformations in intimacy, sexual acts themselves can be said to have become comparatively “cheaper." Coupled sexual activity is widely accessible at lower “cost” (i.e. men have to do less wooing and make fewer expensive commitments (marriage and childrearing)). In other words, the supply has increased dramatically while the cost has diminished. This is the result of three technological developments: 1) synthetic hormonal contraception (“the Pill”), 2) High quality, mass-produced porn, and 3) the evolution of online dating. All three are price suppressors that have altered market dynamics (a slowdown in committed relationships, especially marriage, put fertility of women at risk, and taken a toll on men’s economic productivity) (11). This was a slow sea-change that is impossible (and undesirable for many) to reverse. Drawing upon the interviewees’ own words as well as those of evolutionary psychologist and gender theorists, he asserts the modern mating market favors men’s interest at the expense of women’s. Virtually no one is happy with the state of maleness today, yet male behavior is a rational, if short-sighted, response to their circumstances (15). Men are not afraid to commit, they simply no longer have to. On average, men want sex more than women. Women possess something of considerable value to men, something that conceivably “costs” men to access. Historically, men have had to give up something in exchange (economic and relational commitment). So economically speaking, there is demand (interested men) and supply (women). This may sound utilitarian, unromantic, and objectifying but it need not be. It simply recognizes constraints in the mating market that enable and organize behavior (25). Women have more agency, opportunity, and success than ever before. What women are less in control of, is their relational and emotional destinies. What men typically offer to women in return for sexual access has profoundly diminished (27). Men mostly welcome the fact that women are more sexually available. What neither tend to apprehend are the unintended consequences of cheap sex. The Pill impacted all women, including those who never used it. It split what once was a relatively unified mating pool in two overlapping (but distinctive) markets: one for sex and one for marriage. This large pool of single men and women looking for company of some sort no longer functions in quite the same way it once did (34). Prior to this, a woman counted on evidence of commitment before sex and the mating market was populated by men and women whose bargaining positions were roughly comparable and predictable. Now that market is split with one side looking for sex with no strings attached and the other side interested in commitments (with a large gray area in between) (35). It is a basic economic idea that relative scarcity or abundance affects human behavior on lots of important ways. Sex is no different (though we treat it as such because of our liberal or conservative narratives) (36). The sex-ratio hypothesis holds that an oversupply of unmarried women in a community gives men considerably more power in romantic and sexual relationships, which translates into lower levels of commitment, less favorable treatment of women, and a permissive environment where women receive less in exchange for sex. Power within relationships is not just determined by attractiveness or social status, but also by surrounding market realities, like the availability of sex from other sources (37). The split in the mating market, with prominent sex-ratio disparities in what men and women are looking for, is a game-changing reality. Women are empowered, have greater bargaining ability, and can be more selective on the sex side of the market (a single female post to AshleyMadison.com receives hundreds of contacts instantly). However there are fewer women shopping for sex since most prefer sex in stable, committed relationships. The abundance of women in the marriage corner of the market however, allows men to be more selective, fickle, cautious, and insist on extensive sexual experience before committing. To plenty of women, it appears men have a fear of commitment. But men, on average, are not afraid of commitment, they are just in the driver’s seat in the marriage market and are optimally positioned to navigate it in a way that privileges their (sexual) interests and preferences (39). He offers some qualifications: 1) Many women don’t mind the new mating market and its dynamics. 2) Men eventually do pay a much higher price for sexual access than they need to, confirming that the pricing is hardly a straightforward supply and demand function. Why? Because men are more than just consumers of sex who objectify women. They fall in love have or have family aspirations too. But the data suggests that the transition away from consumptive mentality is more difficult for men than it is for women. Cheap sex is poorly adept at generating love. Premature “entanglements” are apt to lead to ambiguity, frustration, anxiety, and power plays—not exactly fertile soil for commitment to emerge. All of this suggests that men are considered safer marital bets as they age. Men interviewed express interest in marriage and kids…just not yet. At some point, as their own attractiveness declines, their autonomy becomes less valuable to them, or (ironically) ideal spouses grow less numerous men’s calculus changes. The route to marriage, something the vast majority still hold as a goal, is more fraught with years and failed relationships than in the past. Once familiar structures, narratives, and rituals about romance and marriage have largely collapsed, sustained only in subgroups, and that with increasing difficulty (43). With online dating, the modern mating market feels more nakedly economic. What we call the “triumph” of romantic love consisted first and foremost in dis-embedding of individual romantic choices from the moral and social fabric of the group and in the emergence of a self-regulated market of encounters (46). For all the talk of patriarchy, men’s access to sex has turned out to be maximized not by keeping women in an economically disadvantaged and dependent condition, but instead by letting them have abundant access and opportunity (47). Sexual choices have not been entirely deregulated. Rather, the guiding morality of one’s group or community has been replaced by consumer culture, the sources of modern centralized ethics and commodification of sex and sexuality (47). The author’s fellow sociologists repeatedly explain this situation (where women’s freedoms have resulted in contradictory consequences in the realm of sex and relationships) as a paradox. The only paradox is the unrealistic expectation that securing ample resources independently of men should have no consequences (or at least only positive consequences). It is not surprising that women would expect it. The emotional energy bred by success should seem transferable. But what we uncover is that the straightforward economic reality that sex and even marriage are, at bottom, exchanges. If women no longer need men’s resources (which they exchange for sexual access), then relationships become more difficult to navigate because strong commitments and emotional validation are slower to emerge from men (51). Women’s remarkable advances did not simply collide with, but rather helped create the newfound power men hold in the marriage corner of the mating market (52). Colleges and employers are trying to respond with more explicit consent laws. But presuming the sex act is malleable by fiat and subject to bureaucratic oversight is hubris. To imagine a pressure-free, sex-positive, egalitarian utopia is to ignore the real world of men and women with all their brokenness. We want men to act better, but are unwilling to admit that men are more apt to do the right thing when they are socially constrained, not just individually challenged. Since women’s freedom to choose (sexual encounters) will not be questioned, we seek to alter how those encounters transpire which is a fool’s errand. The author writes of the dynamics in homosexual mating market (which I omitted from my notes due to 20K character space constraints). He also argues, based on growing evidence for the plasticity (malleability) of sexuality, that some women may respond to mating market pressures by experimenting with same-sex relationships. Many feminists fear that the gender revolution was only partly successful, having stumbled not in the boardroom but in the bedroom. They suggest that men are resistant to evolving (64). We have removed all the social and community pressures and essentially want men to behave “just because.” The only paradox here are the unrealistic expectations of how economic and educational equality should influence the market dynamics in the mating market. There is no puzzle here. The double standard is no mystery. It is not something to which one “subscribes” or a structure we can reject at will with no repercussions. It is about deep seated distinctions between the sexes that may be malleable but are not simply socially constructed (64). The question to ask is why women demand so little of men in return for what they want. And the answer is economic, they no longer need what men historically offered & that is not going to change (67). Online dating is more a Cheap Sex delivery system than a marriage market. It encourages throwing potential relationships away and starting a new one. Online dating has reversed historical obstacles to a male short-term strategy for sex (sexual variety was hard to get, identifying which women were sexually accessible was difficult, minimizing commitment and investment was a challenge). Online dating advertises as a way of finding a mate but their business model is contingent on you remaining in the market, not getting married and off the market (71). The data suggests that 20 percent of the men account for all sexual partnerships with women, suggesting cheap sex is not a reality for the majority of men (86). However, due to multiple overlapping sexual partners, a few prolific men are not able to monopolize the market. People who report 20 or more sexual partners are: • Twice as likely to have been divorced • 3x as likely to have cheated • Substantially less happy with life • More likely to be on medication for depression or anxiety • 3x more likely to have a STD • More likely to have a tragic sexual history (rape, assault)(89) The author assesses that the premarital virginity rate is at most just 6 percent of the population (though up to 12% may have had a previous sexual partner but waited until marriage in a subsequent relationship) (99). Those who wait until marriage tend to be more religious, conservative, report higher level of happiness, hold more restrictive attitudes about sex, and have married parents (100). Pornography and masturbation are nothing if not the cheapest sex. Porn creates competition and lowers the price of sex among gatekeepers (women). Interviews with college students reveal that women feel pressured to offer what porn does or risk losing a guy (109). Women still overwhelmingly object to porn, but are largely forced to tolerate it because it is now a universal cost of doing business with men (111). Even some liberal feminist (Naomi Wolf) question whether “the relationship between the multi-billion dollar porn industry, compulsiveness, and sexual appetite has become like the relationship between agribusiness, processed foods, supersized portions, and obesity?” Just like with food, the appetite has always been there, but technological breakthroughs have led to increased access and gorging (112). Some men may consider it satisfying enough that relationships with real women are not worth the cost. This further exacerbates the sex-ratio in the market boosting the power of remaining men navigating the market (128). The author estimates that between 9-15% of men are so frequent users they have effectively exited the market. Westerners are increasingly privileging the idea of marrying, if at all, after peak fertility has begun to wane (or just embraced the child-free life). Women will sleep with men, but increasingly find fewer of them unfit for marriage. Women have responded to the call of the labor market, screaming out “you need more education”, and men just are not responding to price signals. This is a huge conundrum in need of an explanation (149). Might cheap sex be responsible for men’s failure to adapt? A large number of men age 25-54 have simply exited the labor market in pursuit of immediate gratification (150). Sigmund Freud once observed that “civilization is built largely on erotic energy that has been blocked, concentrated, accumulated, and redirected.” Sex is obviously not the only motivator of men, but the author argues it is the most underestimated one in explaining men’s exit from their adult responsibilities (153). Women make “bad deals” when marrying due to their lower bargaining power, are forced to build a hedge of protection against the collapse of their relationship before it even begins. American parents (ironically) tacitly encourage this pattern. They prefer a higher age of marriage for their children and diminish marriage as a life goal. They want their daughters to marry eventually but don’t ever want them to “need” marriage. Birth control coupled with women’s economic success has led to a collapse in the “cartel” by which women historically policed (subtly or bluntly) each other’s publicly discernable sexual behavior. Cheaper sex by their peers threatened their own ability to command (and receive) a higher price (commitment) for sex (170). That there are successful marriages out there leads many women to assume their inability to marry is their own fault, not a systemic problem with society (171). Most of the interviewees want to marry someday, but expect to fall into it. They do not think of it as a pathway requiring their time, discipline, sacrifice, and self-control not only by themselves but their peers. They do not discern that “wasted sex” on flings contributes to the socially discernable cost in the marriage market. Women hope for a man who will love them and not cheat, while teaching them that such things are not required in order to be with them (177). It’s a classic free rider problem. They want a good man but without contributing to the normative behavior that makes such men possible. Organized religion is the last institutional supporter of marriage (1 in 3 married adults reports weekly religious attendance). Cohabitation directly leads to reduced religiosity. The author offers 8 predictions: 1) Sex will get even cheaper 2) Age of consent laws will only be enforced in egregious cases 3) Age at first marriage will peak but unmarried Americans will continue trend toward cohabitation 4) After initial burst of demand, same sax marriage will recede (as marriage overall recedes) 5) Men’s, not just women’s, sexuality becomes even more malleable 6) Polygamy will not make a comeback but polyamory may emerge as a minority norm 7) Christianity will not stem the retreat from marriage 8) Efforts to de-gender society and relationships will fall short

  6. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    Much more brutal than I anticipated. It's at times, flawless. The premise is simple: human relationships are seen through an economic lens of 'mating market' and 'exchange model'. Sex has a price. Women are gatekeepers, hold access to it, granting access at a cost. The cost was once much higher. Women used to depend on men for economic and physical security, and men would have to pay (supply) these in the form of high commitment (marriage being the norm) in order to access sex. No more. Two tech Much more brutal than I anticipated. It's at times, flawless. The premise is simple: human relationships are seen through an economic lens of 'mating market' and 'exchange model'. Sex has a price. Women are gatekeepers, hold access to it, granting access at a cost. The cost was once much higher. Women used to depend on men for economic and physical security, and men would have to pay (supply) these in the form of high commitment (marriage being the norm) in order to access sex. No more. Two technologies—the Pill, and an explosion of high-quality pornography—have rent asunder the market. Women have since flourished educationally, professionally, and financially, but have paid at the cost of their relational and emotional destinies, which are consistently frustrated. The mating market is now utterly imbalanced, torn in two with one corner interested in no-strings-attached sex (more men here than women) and the other interested in marrying (more women here than men). In the middle? Practically everyone: "a rather large territory in between comprised of significant relationships of varying commitment and duration." Most women are looking for high commitment relationships, but with sex so cheaply priced (since women, more independent than ever, now ask little from men), they sell sex cheap and quickly, reinforcing market dynamics that play to the interests of men (also to their ultimate detriment) and severely frustrate women's paths to higher (i.e. older) aspirations in the form of marriage. While pornography has lowered the price of sex dramatically, it was really artificial hormonal contraception (introduced in the 1960s) that shocked the social system, blasting the market, fostering the rapid emergence of unprecedented understandings of sex itself, and opening a rift through which new relationship models would surface concurrent with these new understandings. First, a new construction of sex has occurred. Readers of Taylor already know the score. Regnerus calls it "the transformation of intimacy." Sex was once fertile. It was first a procreative act, and couldn't be regarded otherwise. In older days it was the means by which one built clan, and then fostered bond and matrimonial intimacy in already-established committed relationship (marriage/spouse). Today, sex is the means by which one builds not clan, but identity. That is a massive shift. Sex is infertile now. It is for consumption, not (re)production. Sex as art form. Sex as pursuit of mutual pleasure/satisfaction. Sex as understood as being able to exist free from relationship, even as to establish or disqualify relationship. Relationally, sex was once supportive, supplementary in function. Now it has primacy. Our sexuality is malleable, open to being shaped in diverse ways, a potential property of the individual. Thanks to contraception, sexuality is at last, fully autonomous. That is, not only separated from association with marriage and baby-making, but free from being embedded in relationship itself. Concurrent with new sex is a new mode of relationship: "the pure relationship" bound by "confluent love". The pure relationship is a social relation entered for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from another, and which is continued insofar as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfactions for each individual to stay within it. This is distinct not only from the older regime of institutionalized matrimony, but even from the more recent romantic love model, which seeks relationship fulfillment and is the stuff of 'soul mates.' Confluent love has usurped romantic love. The latter is about 'forever', 'one and only', with stops and starts, but nevertheless a quest for settledness, to solidly preserve the object of care and add to the world, to expand by giving itself away to the object of love. Its destiny is nearly always marriage and family. Not so with confluent love. This love is contingent. It drives the 'pure relationship model': contingency is its foundation, equality its organizing principle, taste and emotion its barometers, discovery its key goal, and while the couple is the basic structure of union, it is never to usurp the individual's primacy and will. Do typical individuals see today's sexual and relational reality this way? Of course not. What do they see? Pain, ambivalence, confusion, loneliness. Lots and lots of it. This is where the brutal kicks in. The book draws upon interviews with young adults (20s into mid-30s) that are quite honestly, terrible to read. Regnerus, a sociologist hailing from the University of Texas, who lands on the 'more conservative side' of things, goes out swinging: "Women are learning to have sex like men. But peel back the layers, and it becomes obvious that this transition is not a reflection of their [newly liberated] power but of their subjugation to men's interests. If women were more in charge of how their relationships transpired—more in charge of the 'pricing' negotiations around sex—we would be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts by men, fewer hookups, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on (and perhaps even at a slightly earlier age too). In other words, the 'price' of sex would be higher: it would cost men more to access it. Instead, none of these things are occurring. Not one." Cheap sex produces a variety of awful consequences. It decreases men's marriageability by decreasing their ambition, commitment, and professional aspirations. It poses challenges to fidelity and monogamy and makes polyamory more attractive and common, as well as sexual experimentation and everything non-heteronormative. Rather than speculating means to solve or even mitigate the social problems which his book has unfolded, Regnerus raises some eyebrows by instead making predictions about sex/mating-market/relationships that will transpire by 2030. Most of these prophecies are unsurprisingly discouraging. And yet, Regnerus's confidence is twofold: differences between the sexes are real, embedded beyond the possibility of uprooting, and ultimately will resist social engineering. Marriage also, though it may become a minority practice, is so ancient and universal an institution it wil not die. Regnerus seems to emphasize the consequences of cheap sex upon women, as is right, because it ought to spring us to action. He is particularly aware how his claims attract the glare of many sociologists of gender studies. There are some smirky occasions where Regnerus might well provoke the reader to toss his book into the nearest fireplace: "What about independent women with a high sex drive? Female versions of Christian Grey. They seem at face value to need none of men's available resources and they mimic more masculine values. Don't they alter the exchange model by utterly ignoring it? Not really. The fact that some women actively pursue sex signals little power. It just means they will have predictable success in accomplishing that goal, which is not really an accomplishment once you understand men. But they tend to have greater difficulty in navigating successful long-term relationships of the type many claim to want." His delivery is at times too funny and too stark to laugh at: "This book is not a clarion call to return somehow—by hook, crook, or political will—to an earlier era. That is not going to happen...For those of you who are fans of our new relational realities—don't worry, they are not going anywhere."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hoss

    Ok , I admit it the salacious title caught my attention but what it’s really about is the subtitle and boy does it deliver. Anyone seeking to understand the bewildering world of modern love confronted by our children needs to read this. Dr. Regnerus traces our current societal malaise to some key technologies and their interactions that have created what he calls a world of “cheap sex”. These technologies and how they have been used in western society have mgiven us hook ups, incels and gender p Ok , I admit it the salacious title caught my attention but what it’s really about is the subtitle and boy does it deliver. Anyone seeking to understand the bewildering world of modern love confronted by our children needs to read this. Dr. Regnerus traces our current societal malaise to some key technologies and their interactions that have created what he calls a world of “cheap sex”. These technologies and how they have been used in western society have mgiven us hook ups, incels and gender plasticity among other things. Additionally his economic approach seeks to show how sex went from very expensive to cheap. It’s a fascinating approach and a compelling model to understanding what’s happening. Dr. Regnerus doesn’t prescribe any solutions but every reader will quickly understand the threat to families, relationships and the well being of children embedded in the proliferation of the technologies facilitating cheap sex.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Mentioned here. I heard about Mark Regnerus in connection to The New Atlantis report from 2016. See Ch. 6 here. 2020 interview with Marvin Olasky here. Mentioned here. I heard about Mark Regnerus in connection to The New Atlantis report from 2016. See Ch. 6 here. 2020 interview with Marvin Olasky here.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Brackbill

    I listened to this on audio. Large doses of transcripted interviews and more stats in one book than you probably want to hear, but extremely helpful. Listening to the interviews I found myself having shock at what was being said, compassion for those who were saying it, thanksgiving to the Lord for the righteousness of his judgments in the word and the deliverance that only God's grace can bring in Christ. He shows how the cheapness of sex today has broken down the way the economy of sex can and I listened to this on audio. Large doses of transcripted interviews and more stats in one book than you probably want to hear, but extremely helpful. Listening to the interviews I found myself having shock at what was being said, compassion for those who were saying it, thanksgiving to the Lord for the righteousness of his judgments in the word and the deliverance that only God's grace can bring in Christ. He shows how the cheapness of sex today has broken down the way the economy of sex can and must function properly if men are to respect and care for women. In the past, for a man to have access to sex it would cost him much because typically he had to pursue, win the affections of and commit to a woman in marriage. Now that sex is readily available without much if any "cost," the whole way that men and women function together in a healthy way within society has broken down. As a follower of Christ, of course, what I hear in this argument is that when we go against the way God has designed His creation and how we are to function in it toward one another, we do damage to all involved. As a believer, I would also argue for sex only within marriage not just because of the damage that results from not doing so, but because God Himself has commanded this and to go against it is to rebel against Him. Among other contributing factors, Regnerus traces the cheapening of sex back to birth control and pornography. Rather than the utopia that the increasingly popular "pure relationship" model promises, He concludes with the following predictions for 2030: #1: Sex Will Get Even Cheaper. #2: Enforcement of Age of Consent (Sexual) Laws will Decrease. #3: The Percentage of Unmarried Americans Will Increase, but the Age of First Marriage for Women Will Slow. #4: Same-Sex Marriage Will Decline Among Gay Men. #5: Men’s Sexuality Will Become More Malleable. #6: Organized Christianity Will Not Stem the Retreat from Marriage in the U.S. #7: Polygamy Is Not Coming Back, but Polyamory May Become an Accepted Minority. #8: Efforts to Abolish Gender Will Not Succeed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Quratulain

    Coming from the part of world where westren ideas are celebrated as epitome of egalitarian honestly its quite a pleasent experience to read this. I have always failed to understand how the lack of support westren culture offer is celebrated as woman empowerment but again i am a bystander and not part of the society.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Really intrigued by this review: Read Mark's 5-star review of Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy by Mark Regnerus https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Really intrigued by this review: Read Mark's 5-star review of Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy by Mark Regnerus https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nigel Shenton

    At the start of the book he goes on to say that to much faith in science is epistemologically unsound. filiation reader:no that’s not true. Impossible! Dark Vader: the scientific methods have limits. Insisting otherwise is a dogma called scientism. Filiation reader: Nooooo He goes on through out the book that he never wrote it to make a social movement or technology activism change but really just show where and how technology and social change have lead and since the pill and equal job force partic At the start of the book he goes on to say that to much faith in science is epistemologically unsound. filiation reader:no that’s not true. Impossible! Dark Vader: the scientific methods have limits. Insisting otherwise is a dogma called scientism. Filiation reader: Nooooo He goes on through out the book that he never wrote it to make a social movement or technology activism change but really just show where and how technology and social change have lead and since the pill and equal job force participation to more power in women subjugating men out of marriage and into cheap sex. Women don’t want to raise men but out of the Traditional judicious of marriage is concurrently going for more and more feminist, as it’s showing are railing about broken relationship and focusing on Christian story narratives in there marriages. And that apprehension can and will never replace thinking. Neither does insinuating be apprehension if you don’t account for your actions from dead beat fathers from getting stealth when a group of 15 year old girl friends get pregnant. It turns out it’s harder to order pizza than it is to have a baby. Have you every ordered a pizza by accident. Dear God I was hoping God would stop the pizza from coming. I’m only 15 I can’t eat a whole pizza! Why is the pizza dough always under cooked when I order it. And what do I know about pizza, well I eat a lot of pizza but have no kids as I know of. But you can tell when things are fundamentally wrong. Like when you see a helicopter up in a tree you just say... that guy got fucked up. That’s not right. You can’t just say I have 3 helicopters and you don’t know how it is to fly a helicopter I haven’t slept in days. Seriously you can just tell when things are fundamentally messed up. That parents are not special, I’m tired of your crap. And if your laughing statistically to many of you are, is that so clap clap my kids in Juieve but some one else’s kid. Clap clap My kids on meth but some one else’s kid. Clap clap Seriously parents. I can’t be more apparent than it can be. And anyone suffering from MENTAL ILLNESS, Is one bad ass mother fucker because nothing is more terrifying than battling with you’re own mind every single day. Check out this review that I got from a like from a butt author of Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men by Jane Ward https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex O'Connor

    Extremely interesting perspective on the current dating culture.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Mccain

    This was a fascinating, if depressing, read. The book is data heavy, but the inclusion of interview snippets kept it moving as well as personal. What he describes is something we all can see, but maybe not describe or explain. As a millennial, I could personally identify with the trends he noted as seen among my peers. As a parent (especially a parent of a daughter) and a religious conservative I felt pretty depressed about the mess that's been made of sex, relationships, and marriage. It certai This was a fascinating, if depressing, read. The book is data heavy, but the inclusion of interview snippets kept it moving as well as personal. What he describes is something we all can see, but maybe not describe or explain. As a millennial, I could personally identify with the trends he noted as seen among my peers. As a parent (especially a parent of a daughter) and a religious conservative I felt pretty depressed about the mess that's been made of sex, relationships, and marriage. It certainly has me thinking a lot about how to insulate my kids from this culture of cheap sex.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    The book is an important read. Girls do not get to have enough sexual education regarding differences between men and women, and how men think. The feminist ideology, leads girls to believe that their "boyfriends", want the same thing as them. The reality is very different. By not demanding marriage (commitment), not vetting well enough (to find a good partner), and lowering the expectations from the male partner (because of "equality"), the cheap sex, that she offers (in exchange for "love"), pr The book is an important read. Girls do not get to have enough sexual education regarding differences between men and women, and how men think. The feminist ideology, leads girls to believe that their "boyfriends", want the same thing as them. The reality is very different. By not demanding marriage (commitment), not vetting well enough (to find a good partner), and lowering the expectations from the male partner (because of "equality"), the cheap sex, that she offers (in exchange for "love"), produces a variety of awful consequences. It decreases men's marriageability by decreasing their ambition, commitment, and professional aspirations. It poses challenges to fidelity and monogamy and makes polyamory more attractive and common, as well as sexual experimentation and everything non-hetero normative. My personal research regarding male "locker-room talk", and discussions in the numerous social circles, is in concordance with the author's conclusions. "Women are learning to have sex like men. But peel back the layers, and it becomes obvious that this transition is not a reflection of their [newly liberated] power but of their subjugation to men's interests. If women were more in charge of how their relationships transpired—more in charge of the 'pricing' negotiations around sex—we would be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts by men, fewer hookups, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitation, and more marrying going on (and perhaps even at a slightly earlier age too). In other words, the 'price' of sex would be higher: it would cost men more to access it. Instead, none of these things are occurring. Not one."

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    If you like behavioral economics books, this one's for you. The author argues that the price of sex in the United States has never been cheaper. He explores three factors that led to this outcome: 1) the birth control pill, 2) free, ubiquitous, and anonymous pornography, and 3) online dating services. Regnerus argues that women are the gatekeepers to sex, while men are the gatekeepers to marriage. That said, women find it difficult to raise the price of sex as much as men find it difficult to low If you like behavioral economics books, this one's for you. The author argues that the price of sex in the United States has never been cheaper. He explores three factors that led to this outcome: 1) the birth control pill, 2) free, ubiquitous, and anonymous pornography, and 3) online dating services. Regnerus argues that women are the gatekeepers to sex, while men are the gatekeepers to marriage. That said, women find it difficult to raise the price of sex as much as men find it difficult to lower the price of marriage. On P47, he quotes sex economic researchers Baumeister and Vohs: "Men's access to sex has turned out to be maximized not by keeping women in an economically disadvantaged and dependent condition, but instead by letting them have abundant access and opportunity. In an important sense, the sexual revolution of the 1970s was itself a market correction. Once women had been granted wide opportunities for education and wealth, they no longer had to hold sex hostage." Regnerus discusses the winners and losers in this new economy, and spends the last chapter making near-term, behavioral-economic-based predictions for sex and human relations. Book published by Oxford University Press.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I only gave this 3 stars because it was so excruciatingly painful to read. What a sad state of affairs this country is in due to the prevalence of cheap sex! It makes one want to weep for the young women who don't even comprehend their culpability in the erosion of male-female relationships. (not that young men don't have their own issues.) Everything explored in this book is statistically based with no reference to the right- or wrongness of the behavior, with no religious overtones or moral pr I only gave this 3 stars because it was so excruciatingly painful to read. What a sad state of affairs this country is in due to the prevalence of cheap sex! It makes one want to weep for the young women who don't even comprehend their culpability in the erosion of male-female relationships. (not that young men don't have their own issues.) Everything explored in this book is statistically based with no reference to the right- or wrongness of the behavior, with no religious overtones or moral preaching, relative or otherwise. Just the facts from a socioligist's point of view, that of the economics & "market value" of easily obtained sex. Religion is mentioned only in the last two chapters, and only with regard to the affect of cheap sex on religious practice, and in looking at the different attitudes towards cheap sex of those of different degrees of religiosity. The facts are, however, very difficult to read in a purely detached manner, especially when one sees the toll that cheap sex has on relationships and individuals. Definitely provides much fodder for discussion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tai Tai

    What I will give the author credit for is his many insightful observations regarding the shifting and changing dynamics that are present in modern day relationships, dating, marriage and so on. His conclusions/suggestions however, are more than half baked… They’re fully baked. Beware of books on human behavior/sociology (especially when it comes to sex in biology and human relations) that avoid the topic of evolution. The author not only sidesteps this fundamental scientific principle but he actu What I will give the author credit for is his many insightful observations regarding the shifting and changing dynamics that are present in modern day relationships, dating, marriage and so on. His conclusions/suggestions however, are more than half baked… They’re fully baked. Beware of books on human behavior/sociology (especially when it comes to sex in biology and human relations) that avoid the topic of evolution. The author not only sidesteps this fundamental scientific principle but he actually diminishes its importance particularly when he criticizes the authors of sex at dawn. dear author (and although you were paraphrasing another): evolution is NOT a “higher version of humanity”. This common fallacy piñata is too common to bat around here. 2.5

  19. 4 out of 5

    J. Amill Santiago

    If you're interested in the sociological changes western society at large has had regarding sexual practices and beliefs, this is an interesting book to read. Mark Regnerus, a Sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and his research team conducted a series of interviews, and in this book, Regnerus discusses his findings. The basic thesis of the book is that historically sex was not very accesible, and came at the price of marriage and childbearing. Nowadays sex is easily accessi If you're interested in the sociological changes western society at large has had regarding sexual practices and beliefs, this is an interesting book to read. Mark Regnerus, a Sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and his research team conducted a series of interviews, and in this book, Regnerus discusses his findings. The basic thesis of the book is that historically sex was not very accesible, and came at the price of marriage and childbearing. Nowadays sex is easily accessible, or "cheap" mainly due to the advent of technologies such as the pill, pornography on demand, and online dating platforms. The book then unpacks the social repercussions of such tendencies and at the end, Regnerus makes some predictions about where we are headed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adam Bradley

    The thesis is simple: the sexual revolution has rendered sex "cheap" in an economic sense, and the result is a world in which women's preferred social outcomes are worse-served, and men's preferences are better-served. The hypothesis is bolstered with extensive ethnographic interviews and rigorous statistical surveys. The concept of "cheap sex" -- and more broadly, of sexual economics and the "exchange model" of sex -- is the direct application of elementary macroeconomic concepts (price is a func The thesis is simple: the sexual revolution has rendered sex "cheap" in an economic sense, and the result is a world in which women's preferred social outcomes are worse-served, and men's preferences are better-served. The hypothesis is bolstered with extensive ethnographic interviews and rigorous statistical surveys. The concept of "cheap sex" -- and more broadly, of sexual economics and the "exchange model" of sex -- is the direct application of elementary macroeconomic concepts (price is a function of supply and demand), and has remarkable explanatory power. Those more interested in the actual long-term welfare of actual women and men would do well to pay attention.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    Cheap Sex by Mark Regnerus is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late August. Cheap Sex comes off as an informative, yet informal and non-empirical research study taken from qualitative surveys about romantic/sexual relationships that are made without the costly (both monetary and evolutionary psychological; thereby 'cheapening' the relationship) pressure to commit and procreate during someone's 20s-30s while using technology and present-day prevalence of hook-up culture. Cheap Sex by Mark Regnerus is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late August. Cheap Sex comes off as an informative, yet informal and non-empirical research study taken from qualitative surveys about romantic/sexual relationships that are made without the costly (both monetary and evolutionary psychological; thereby 'cheapening' the relationship) pressure to commit and procreate during someone's 20s-30s while using technology and present-day prevalence of hook-up culture.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mike Horne

    I really enjoyed this. I listened to it so I missed any charts. And this is statistic heavy. He argues that the pill, pornography (internet), and social media (tindr, dating sites, etc.) have made it so easy to have sex (and that can be a solitary act). The "cheapness" of sex has many ramifications. I think everyone should read this. You don't have to accept all that he says. But thought provoking. I really enjoyed this. I listened to it so I missed any charts. And this is statistic heavy. He argues that the pill, pornography (internet), and social media (tindr, dating sites, etc.) have made it so easy to have sex (and that can be a solitary act). The "cheapness" of sex has many ramifications. I think everyone should read this. You don't have to accept all that he says. But thought provoking.

  23. 4 out of 5

    TheTruth

    Overall, not my cup of tea. Heavy on research. It came across to me like a college sociology book. But the author put a lot of time and effort in his book to validate his premises. It was redundant to the point of boredom for me and nothing really novel was added to the discussion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    Reeks of academic overstretch and sanctimonious self-assurance. Rings of truths. Wish I had read this book 10 or 20 years ago. Hope my child reads it, but really don't want my child to read it and have the bubble burst. Desperately needs to be updated. Terrified of what happens when it's updated. Reeks of academic overstretch and sanctimonious self-assurance. Rings of truths. Wish I had read this book 10 or 20 years ago. Hope my child reads it, but really don't want my child to read it and have the bubble burst. Desperately needs to be updated. Terrified of what happens when it's updated.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ryan McCarthy

    A bit dry, but an admirable and dispassionate assessment of the cultural decline of monogamy and its expected consequences. I tried to read this with as open a mind as possible without necessarily reacting emotionally to the information.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jess Besack

    Men are trash, etc etc

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    A must read for everyone living today.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patti Townley-Covert

    This was a challenging book to read, but I'm so glad I persevered. We need to understand the culture we live in and this book is eye-opening. This was a challenging book to read, but I'm so glad I persevered. We need to understand the culture we live in and this book is eye-opening.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Clare Lamperski

    Excellent book especially if you are data driven and understand concepts via economic theory

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Good overview of the subject. Clear thinking, clear use of terms and arguments. Much to be commended for.

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