Young people must run the gauntlet of the SMP just to get into the MMP!
In a previous post, The Lopsided Liberalized Mating Market (2021 February 17), I reviewed how economic and technological changes, as well as shifting social norms and undying human nature have all created a lopsided mating market which generally favors women over men, apart from the very top level male participants in the market.
To recap briefly, the rise of the most influential “objective” factors of cheap, reliable, and legal contraception (and, later, legal and safe abortion) and economic independence for women, in turn led to the emergent imbalance of power and female dominance within the nascent “sexual market place” (SMP), and the interrelated “marriage market place” (MMP), which we see today.
While the adage that “a rising tide raises all boats” is probably true of the current SMP in general in that most people overall probably have more pre-marital sexual encounters than they did in 1950, the distribution of even these sexual encounters is wildly uneven, due the hypergamous skew of the liberalized market.
Due to the inherent link between the SMP and the MMP, the process of finding a suitable marriage partner has become significantly to substantially harder for both sexes under the liberalized system of the SMP/MMP/”dating market” than it was under the “old rules” and their related pressures, prior to the sexual revolution.
This post will describe the dynamics of how the old system was replaced by a liberalized market, and how the sexual market has stabilized as the new marriage market.
The Old Market vs. the New Market
A market is liberalized when the rules which govern the market are relaxed or, in some cases, removed, thereby permitting more “freedom of action” to market participants. Any market that is liberalized tends to get dominated by the strongest hands in the market, because freeing market participants from the “rules” permits them to use their natural strengths and advantages more freely for their own benefit in the market. In the “old” mating market, the system featured a number of restraining rules, such as:
- “You break it, you own it” (pregnancy results in marriage, not all, but most of the time).
- Open caddishness and open sluttery was far less socially tolerated (far less anonymity, far more people being “in your business”, far more scrutiny of young couples).
- The clock is ticking, for both sexes (obvious for women, but also for the men — “better not think of being a cad long term, son, or that promotion … is going to the guy with the wife, and not you!“).
- Parental pressure to marry was strong, at a slightly younger age on daughters than on sons, but it was exerted on sons as well — long-term singlehood was generally not tolerated, celebrated or serviced culturally, socially or by families, except in the cases of persons who were obviously unacceptably unattractive (using a low bar), obviously unacceptably eccentric, or presumed to be exclusively homosexually inclined — in which cases bachelorhood/spinsterhood, perhaps a religious vocation in some cases, was the socially accepted role.
All of these rules created pressures that worked to tamp down the advantages enjoyed by the “strong hands” in the market, because they were under the same pressures to marry as everyone else was — as hard as it is for us to picture this from the perspective of how the world works today, prior to the liberalization of the mating market, these people weren’t exempted from the rules simply because they were very attractive. They had more attractive options than others, of course, but they were pressured to take those options early in life, and thereby take both their choice in a mate and themselves out of the market. This behavior had a domino effect on the entire market that heavily favored assortative mating up and down the curve by removing people from the market who were most attractive early in the process.
In the current market, by contrast, these pressures do not exist, because the “rules” which created the pressures have been removed. In fact, they have not only been removed, but they have, in some cases, been replaced with different pressures that operate in the opposite direction, creating substantial pressure to delay marriage, to engage in extra-marital sex and, for women, to date hypergamously until a better-than-assortative mate expresses an interest in committing.
In effect, what was, under the “old rules” a unitary “mating market”, was recast by the sexual revolution into two new, and separate-yet-linked, markets:
- A “sexual marketplace” (SMP) that applies from puberty until (and, actually, even during) marriage and after divorce, which features mostly “dating”, but also has other forms of coupled encounters; and
- A “marriage marketplace” (MMP) for market participants who have specifically decided to search for a spouse.
And further, as explained below, these two markets are separate-yet-linked because the MMP is actually a subset of the SMP!
Churchianity has Failed to Respond
Beyond the “objective” factors of contraception/abortion and economic independence noted above and in my last post, the general attrition of Christianity in the broader culture, which has been accompanied by a slow decay in the practice of Christian values and norms, both in the broader culture and among Christians themselves, has also played a substantial role in the rise of the emergent SMP/MMP, and its quick and almost ubiquitous adoption by American Christians of all kinds.
Therefore, from a Christian perspective, a substantial underlying cause of these developments is a rather broad and obvious spiritual malaise, above all in our churches and families, which permitted the sexual revolution to take place to begin with. A society that was as interiorly Christian as it outwardly claimed to be, prior to circa 1965, would not have changed so dramatically in such a short period of time in ways that were fundamentally antithetical to well-settled Christian moral doctrine (although it does need to be pointed out that much of Christianity — but not all of it — seems to have grossly misunderstood the broader impact of widespread availability of contraception downrange temporally as an early warning of what was to come in the subsequent decades).
Ed Hurst wrote about this dynamic in his post, A Full-Blown Apocalypse (2021 February 13), which was a response to Scott’s post, We can’t plant seed in the middle of winter. (2021 February 13). Ed writes,
“The reason it’s a real apocalypse is because we are not allowed to teach our children, and we are not allowed to build a community in which people of faith can actually expect to find other people of faith. Do you understand that it’s normal when churches are filled with people who very much need to learn how to walk by faith, because they still struggle with the flesh? That’s okay, because church is where they are supposed to learn faith, but having those same people lead the church is a serious problem. And that’s what we have now. Churches are so institutional and so professional that genuine faith is actually a hindrance to the system.”
“What makes this tribulation and persecution is that it is technically illegal for me to build something more amenable to my faith. Think about this: How many judges are willing to shut down an SJW complaint? How many judges would protect a genuine statement of biblical faith about gender and family structure? We shouldn’t care what people do to themselves, but we pine for the freedom to make different choices for ourselves. And it’s really not just judges, but the people who hold the actual power in making things possible in the current situation. How many state governments, ruling over education, would tolerate a home school curriculum based on heart-led faith that disparages materialism?
“Pro-family cultural norms are increasingly illegal, and impossible to promote even in private — there is no privacy. We are not allowed to have a closed community, as would be entirely necessary, in order to create the atmosphere for passing on biblical values to our children. [Jack’s and Scott’s] emphasis is that men and women of genuine faith can’t find each other and marry to raise children that way, because the system is so corrupt. By the time we have come to this understanding of faith, we would be too old for a clean first marriage that produces children. The faith community can’t get started because the members have to pass through a hellish landscape of immoral relationships first.
And that’s what they pass through when they start out in churches!”
The “hellish landscape of immoral relationships” is the emergence of the SMP/MMP arrangement, which applies with equal force to Christians who are looking for mates (and, eventually, spouses) in the current environment.
Running the Gauntlet
The original meaning of the expression (to run) the gauntlet has often been applied to various less severe punishments or tests, often consisting of consecutive blows or tasks endured sequentially and delivered collectively, especially by colleagues such as roommates, teammates (in sports), or fraternity brothers. As these do not usually cause serious injuries, only bearable pain, the rituals are sometimes eagerly anticipated by the initiate as a sign of acceptance into a more prestigious group. The phrase running the gauntlet has also been used, informally, to express the idea of a public but painless, ritual humiliation such as the Walk of Shame or Perp Walk. In this post, the phrase describes the experience of passing through a series of successive relationships, which in the SMP/MMP’s culture of “dating”, invariably involve sexual liaisons. These liaisons are inevitably followed by periods of disappointment and heartbreak and, over time, lead participants to incur increasing amounts of lasting spiritual damage. Even for those who resist having intercourse, they are still exposed to suffer extreme temptation and pressure to do so.
This is the case because in the current mating market, almost all couples — whether they are seeking a mate in the SMP or the MMP — meet each other through participation in the process commonly known as “dating”. “Dating”, in the current SMP, is a polite euphemism for coupled interactions which, in virtually all cases where the dating process proceeds for more than a couple of meetings, involve sexual encounters which can only be described as casual by any normal meaning of the term.
In fact, dating is, in itself, the core vehicle of the SMP for virtually all participants. Likewise, dating is also the core vehicle for almost all participants in the MMP. Thus, the MMP is embedded in the SMP due to the MMP also following the process of “dating”, which is an SMP process. In other words, the entrance door to the MMP is, for most people, located in the SMP, such that one must successfully navigate the SMP in order to enter the door of the MMP.
Furthermore, since the MMP selection process runs through “dating”, which, as stated, is itself a process that is inherently sexual in nature, it is therefore subject to the sex skew of the SMP, as discussed in my last post. It’s important to note that the sex skew exerts a strong impact on both the SMP and the MMP as well. This is because one’s sexual market value, or SMV, plays the primary role in one’s “competitiveness” in being selected in the competition of bid/ask interactions in the market for dates — again, this applies no matter whether one is participating in the SMP or in the MMP.
The MMP is not ensconced in the SMP for *all* participants (some persons practice arranged marriage or semi-arranged marriages via matchmakers and the like), but it is for almost all of them, because for almost all market participants, the MMP is embedded in the SMP and its conventions. This remains the case even for participants who are actively seeking a spouse rather than a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Conclusion — The Christian Conundrum
To summarize, entering into the MMP requires one to successfully run the gauntlet of the SMP. This reality spells out a difficult conundrum for Christians, to wit:
- Under morally orthodox Christian teaching, Christians should not have sex outside of marriage.
- Under contemporary social practice, as described above (namely the linking of the SMP and the MMP), including for most Christians, men and women will face substantial difficulties securing an attractive mate for marriage without having sex prior to marrying.
What I have written thus far on this poignant dilemma only scratches the surface of this issue. Neither this post, nor the preceding one, have addressed the implications of this situation, but have only explained a portion of the contours of the current marketplace and what leads to the issue facing Christians in this area today.
We’ll be examining this conundrum and the related questions in a series of occasional posts over the next month or two.
- Σ Frame: Is the Christian Red Pill a Black Pill? (2020 November 29)