When does the cost of heterosexual sex become too high for women?

Dear Joel,

One of the loudest complaints of conservatives about feminism is that it undermines families.  The right to vote, women in the workforce, contraception–it all adds up to women rejecting their God-mandated roles as “weaker vessels” and their dependency on men.  Pat Robertson’s version of feminism goes this way:

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

Sure, Robertson is a kook, but his thinking appears in less extremist versions, like Mark Regnerus’ Cheap Sex (which I’ve criticized before). The controversial sociologist argues that we’ve made sex too easy. Without consequences, men have little reason to marry, and that’s undermining families. (Yes, Regnerus blames WOMEN’S increased willingness* to have sex outside of marriage for MEN’S failure to become decent husbands.)


The thesis of Mark Regnerus’ Cheap Sex: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” 

For forty years, it’s been conservative “pro-family” consensus that women are ruining marriage and that feminism is turning us into queer witches.

If you think that “cheap sex” is destroying marriages/family/America, then it only makes sense that you’d reverse the beloved ACA contraception mandate, ban most abortions after 20 weeks, and allow federally-funded health care for poor children to expire. You make sex costlier so that women become more selective about their partners. (Men don’t have to worry about being selective, because they can escape the consequences of sex much more easily, not being the ones who get pregnant, after all.) They withhold sex until marriage, driving men into legally-binding relationships that will force them to grow up. Unwanted pregnancies, deadbeat dads, men who refuse to enter the workforce, gangs, crime–we address them all through the panacea that is marriage! Women go back to using their strongest asset–their vaginas–to inspire men to grow up. Instead of just having casual sex with adultescent losers, we can marry them! Why the hell did we even need the 19th Amendment when we could just cross our legs to make men do what we want!

But have Republicans considered how hard it’s going to be sell high-risk sex to women? If we have to choose between sex that puts us at increased risk of pregnancy, with less access to abortion and no support for pregnancy, babies, or children….

Maybe we’ll choose sex with women instead.



I’m mostly joking when I suggest that Republicans like Paul Ryan can turn women into lesbians, but they can sure make sex with men an unattractive option. 

It might not be for all of us, but I encourage my women friends who would otherwise be having sex Republican men to at least consider it.


*Regnerus’ claim that we have more noncommittal sex is not supported by evidence. Compared to previous generations, young people today are delaying the onset of sex and will likely have fewer partners, on average, than previous generations.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s