Behold! The Sexual Market Value Graph That Launch’d A Thousand Ships:
The graph was originally created by your pal Rollo over at The Rational Male, and recently defended by Vox Day from a shot across the bow by PZ Myers, who rejects the claim that a sexual marketplace exists, and that age is a factor in it. Myers writes:
“SMV? What’s that, you’re wondering.
It stands for “Sexual Market Value”. It purports to show the worth of men and women over a range of ages. Hold off on your rage for just a moment, and let’s look at it objectively.
First, the SMV axis. What are the units? There aren’t any. Why? Because he doesn’t actually measure anything. Get that? All of the values in this chart are arbitrary inventions that he totally made up. The entire thing is a fiction.”
I can only assume that Myers, with whom I am otherwise unfamiliar, is some sort of evolution-denying Young Earth Creationist, or perhaps a Scientologist. The concept of human sexual choice has been well-established by David Buss and more recently, Geoffrey Miller. To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised, in this day and age, that we still have people such as Myers, who deny the evolutionary origins of human behaviour.
It would be crass to mock Mr. Myers’ religious beliefs, even while they prohibit him from acknowledging the role that evolution and biomechanics play in human behaviour. I will just say, Mr. Myers, that there are many Christians groups which have done a far better job than the YECs, or whatever sky-fairy-worshiping sect you belong to, of reconciling The Bible and the observable empirical fact of human evolution. I encourage you to broaden your horizons good sir, and I recommend the excellent community over at r/atheism as a good place to start.
But first, a simple refutation of Myers’ creationist take on sexual marketplace value (hereafter, SMV). Intrepid rationalist readers, set fedora’s to “rakish tilt” and full steam ahead.
Consider for a moment the basic Supply and Demand graph, familiar to hungover state school economics freshman from coast to coast:
Now consider the following lightly-edited version of PZ’s refutation of Rollo’s SMV graph:
“[Demand?] What’s that, you’re wondering.
It purports to show the worth of goods over a range of prices. Hold off on your rage for just a moment, and let’s look at it objectively.
First, the Price axis. What are the units? There aren’t any. Why? Because Demand doesn’t actually measure anything. Get that? All of the values in this chart are arbitrary inventions that economists totally made up. The entire thing is a fiction.
Second, the whole concept of “Demand”.
What does that even mean? It’s dimensionless. Economists don’t have a way to look at any good and say, “Your market value is X”. It doesn’t even make sense to put this into a chart; my demand for My Little Pony Action Figures is huge, but negligible to everyone else.”
One can easily dismiss the arguments of PZ Myers, Demand Curve Denialist, because the graph at which he ignorantly scoffs is not meant to represent a perfectly defined quantitative relationship between price and demand. Rather, it is an analytical and pedagogical tool which we use to convey a basic truth: People buy more of a good when the price goes down. If the Manosphere were to start building complex mathematical labyrinths purporting to explain every intricacy of the sexual marketplace, and hold faith in those models despite a long history of predictive failure… well then, we would be frauds and fools and worse. Fortunately we are all Austrian sexual marketplace economists, here at Thumotic.
The SMV graph is a visualization of the fundamental truth that a woman’s desirability tends to peak in her teens and early twenties, while a man’s peaks in his thirties. This will be true, on average, whichever scale we use, whatever quibbles we might have about the precise shape of the curve, and whatever exceptions might exist to the broad trends.
It is not a tool for individual self-assessment. Justin Bieber at 18 has higher SMV than Bob From Purchasing at 36. The captain of the high school football team who lets himself go in his mid-twenties will experience a curve quite similar to the average woman. An awkward ugly duckling of a girl who grows into beauty and social acumen in her mid-twenties will peak later than 23.
Sexual Market Value is also context dependent, especially for men. If Bob From Purchasing went to high school with Jay Z, and Jay Z invites him to an after party and pours him a Cristal from Jay’s own bottle, Bob is a King Among Men until the party ends and he turns back into a pumpkin.
We can also argue over the ideal scale to use. Rollo has arbitrarily labeled the Y axis with the numbers 1-10. Some men prefer the binary Terrible/Not Terrible scale, which maps to Samseau’s Boner Test. Chateau Heartiste prefers the metric turgidity scale. A friend of mine has developed a patent-pending trinomial ‘Should I Bang’ function, which measures sexual marketplace value SMV(x,y,z) = f(x)g(y)h(z) taking into account hotness, drinks consumed, and number of friends around to witness.
Now, is all of this a bit silly? Of course it is. Men like to crack jokes about women and sex. Story at eleven. But beneath the humour is the basic reality of Sexual Market Value.
The true test of a model is whether or not it generates useful predictions about the real world. So let’s extend our economic analysis of the SMV, and apply that test.
Spot Vs. Forward Contracts
Suppose you want to buy some oil, gold, potash, pork bellies… whatever.
If you simply want some pork bellies right here and right now, you’re going to make a spot transaction. You’ve got dollars, I’ve got bellies, we meet in a parking garage and trade suitcases (mine may be a little ripe) and that’s that.
But now suppose you’re going to need a suitcase full of pork bellies every day for the next decade, and I’m looking to sell pork bellies on the same schedule. In this case, we might sign what’s called a forward contract to exchange a fixed quantity of bellies for a fixed price, every day for the following ten years. We set up a regular three AM meeting in the Northeast corner of floor P5, and meet every day to exchange cash and bellies.
Astute readers have already figured out how this applies to the Sexual Marketplace.
When a man goes to the bar for a night of fist-pumping, Jager-bombing, and bro-fiving; and he comes across a young lady with her hair did up, skirt hiked, wearing her best speaker-dancing shoes; and their eyes meet, and they share a beverage, and they get in a cab, make sweet sweet love, and then part ways forever – they have conducted a spot exchange. Imagine a tiny slice of the areas under the curves of their respective SMVs, only 1/365th as wide as a year on the X axis in Rollo’s graph. The man has exchanged one evening of his sexual market value, for one evening of hers.
Now, imagine some ancient relic from pre-sexual revolution America: Jack and Diane; two American kids doing the best that they can.
Suppose Jack and Diane exchange promise rings in high school and marry after graduation, committing to a lifetime covenant of monogamy, until death do they part. Suppose also that both Jack and Diane believe in the penalty fee of eternal damnation for early termination of this contract. Now, Jack and Diane have effectively signed a forward contract in perpetuity. For the rest of their lives, they will wake up every morning and exchange one day of each other’s sexual marketplace value. This contract is binding, even if Jack becomes a football star and Diane Debutante gains two hundred pounds, or Diane grows D cups while Jack goes bald and loses his job at the factory.
In 2013, most relationships exist somewhere in between the extremes of one-night stands and lifelong commitment. The soft polygamy of serial monogamy and informal harems rules the day.
In the sexual marketplace model, serial monogamists sign forward contracts which exist ad libitum, until either party decides to terminate. Penalties for termination may include the disapproval of friends and family, emotional distress, and the hassle of putting all the furniture up on Craigslist. But these penalties are relatively light, and they are imposed on both parties regardless of who ends the relationship. Harem membership constitutes an exchange of a fraction of a man’s SMV, for all of a woman’s.
Buyers in the Spot and Forward Markets
Most men (God-fearing traditionalist relics and heartless sociopathic players aside) are looking to buy in both markets, spot and forward. We are playing The Two Games simultaneously.
In one sense, the goods are the same in both markets. Whether a man seeks casual sex or lifelong commitment, he is looking for a woman. And despite whatever pretty lies he tells himself, the gods of biomechanics have decreed, by the invisible hand of millennia of natural selection, that his primary criteria for judging women will be fertility. Anti-Darwinist deniers, like our friend PZ, are invited to consider the revealed preferences of men with unlimited options – rock stars, professional athletes, celebrities unconstrained by shame – and the young, fertile women they choose as their bedmates.
But a man views a woman’s fertility differently, depending on which sort of contract – spot or forward – he is looking to sign. A man looking to make a spot transaction, i.e. a one-night pump-and-dump, is only concerned with her spot fertility. If a woman has a high chance of conceiving from a pump-and-dump, men will pursue sex with her. Susan Walsh observes this and writes:
1. Female fertility does not begin to decline until age 27.
Since, male attraction cues are directly tied to female fertility and define female beauty, a female’s sexual value should not decline at all before her fertility does. (Scientific American)
2. Fertility declines very gradually between the ages of 27 and 35.
In a study of 782 couples:
They found that women between the ages of 19 and 26 with partners of similar age had approximately a 50 percent chance of becoming pregnant during any one menstrual cycle if they had intercourse two days prior to ovulation. For women aged 27 to 34, the chance was 40 percent.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your sexual value plummets at 20, or even hits a wall at 30.
The Wall isn’t real, and any man who won’t man up and marry a thirty-five year old is just intimidated by her strong, empowered feminine energy!
Walsh is partially correct: A thirty-year old woman with a juicer and a yoga addiction may still have plenty of sexual marketplace value as a pump and dump, or even a three-month mini-relationship. But she is only correct so far as her analysis is limited to the one-night stand market. To a man looking to settle down and raise a family, her value as a buy-and-hold asset is much lower than a younger woman’s.
One way to visualize the difference is to imagine a second graph, which displays the sum of the area under the curve, starting at the woman’s current age. Susan Walsh is correct that women are not that much less fertile at 30 than they are at 18. But, their expected future fertility is an order of magnitude lower. By age 30, a woman’s body has used up 90% of its finite store of eggs. And wouldn’t ya know it? My rough estimate of the female SMV curve indicates about 80-90% of the area under the curve is concentrated before the age of thirty.
The Implications For Women
An unmarried woman in her thirties is in a tough position. Her spot market value has begun to decline, and the thirty-something men around her are just now coming into their peak. Suddenly, she must drop her standards while trawling for one-night stands at her local meat market.
But while her value as a pump-and-dump has taken a hit, her value as a buy-and-hold marriage partner has plummeted.
She has traded the vast majority of her lifetime SMV for flings and friend-with-benefits, and perhaps a few long-term relationships with men who just ‘weren’t ready’ for a family. After a lifetime spent drawing down her principal for spot market transactions, she is trying to secure a perpetual forward contract with a much-diminished bank roll.
Also, the men she attracted for short-term and uncommitted sex in her youth were of a much higher quality than the men she might attract as marriage partners in her middle age. The less that a woman demands from a man she is dating, the higher quality of a man she can date.
These two factors combined take their toll on the thirty-something woman’s value. As a woman transitions simultaneously into early middle age and husband-hunting mode, she will find that the men whose attention she still commands come from a very shallow pool.
Worse still, the effects of these two hits are not merely additive. Recall the wisdom of Susan Walsh: A woman at 30 is only a bit less fertile than she was at 20. As such, her value as a pump and dump is still fairly high, even if her desirability as a marriage partner is cratering. This creates a dangerous set of incentives: As long as she sticks to the friends-with-benefits, one-night-stand, three-date-bang, we’ll-see-where-this-goes modus operandi, she might not even notice the dip. But, if she ever reverts to a more traditional sort of dating, and makes clear to men that they must buy the cow if they want its last few drops of sour milk, she will recoil at how fast her suitors lose interest.
So, the farther she goes along the road to spinsterhood, the more painful will be the journey back. In the best case scenario (from her perspective), such a woman could recover, take stock of her actual value, and find a tolerable husband. Alternatively, she could cast herself over the abyss, Thelma and Louise-style, becoming an increasingly pathetic caricature of never-married cougardom, willfully blind to the folly of her path until the day her building superintendent discovers her decomposing body, half-eaten by an apartment full of cats.
The Implications For Men
95% of modern American women will angrily reject the wisdom in this post. Even a majority of men will feel that it is somehow wrong to acknowledge the reality of rapidly declining female sexual value with age. And yet, nothing I’ve written would be controversial in any traditional society that has ever existed, or currently exists. Take this article to the Middle East, Russia, China, Japan, or any European or American city before 1960, and you will find few who disagree with this analysis. Either they are all deluded, dear twenty-first century American liberals, or you are.
Obviously, I believe that 21st-century America is the aberration, rather than the first historical appearance of enlightenment in the field of human sexual relations. I also believe that the present state of mass delusion is unstable, and will not last. We are living in the end times of the sexual revolution, and a reaction is on the horizon. Men are starting to find communities such as Thumotic, Return Of Kings, Rational Male, Heartiste, and r/TheRedill. Men are learning that It’s OK to reject feminism:
It’s OK to say, I don’t like fat girls.
It’s OK to say, I don’t want to marry a slut.
It’s OK to say, I don’t want to marry an old woman.
These are not (necessarily) value judgements. There is certainly nothing wrong with being old, and millions of Male Feminists around the world believe there is nothing wrong with being a fat slut. So I say, in regards to these purely subjective and arbitrary judgements, to each their own. Let the male feminists settle down with the old, fat, slutty women. Personally, I prefer my girls young, chaste, feminine, and hot. I suspect most of my readers are inclined to share these preferences. But don’t worry male feminists, beauty is like, a social construct or something.
One of the main supporting pillars of feminist ideology is the stigmatization of male standards. Fat-shaming, body-shaming, slut-shaming – these are all phrases that constitute standards-shaming. Men, I invite you to join the Standards Pride movement, which advocates for Standards Acceptance. Presently, our society acknowledges no greater crime than an attempt to impose male standards on female appearance and behaviour.
But as I said, this situation is not stable. The present and future cohorts of young women, in America and abroad, will make for better life partners than the present generation. If you are relatively young, heed this advice: Bide your time, and know your value.
The Implications For Society
The sexual marketplace is especially difficult to navigate for women, because they are given power at an age when they have not yet developed responsibility. Men and women grow into wisdom, but men also grow into their SMV, while women grow out of it.
Wiser generations solved this mismatch between a woman’s sexual power and maturity by constraining the sexual behaviour of young women through early marriage and a traditional culture that discouraged free-wheeling promiscuity. But this cultural paradigm is out, and it has been replaced by role models such as Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj:
Enjoy the Decline, gentle reader. But hey, at least it’s considerably easier to Bang Girls on a First Date and Get Laid on Plenty of Fish! Freedom, baby, yeah! It’s all very groovy.
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Want to learn more about the evolutionary origins of human sexual behaviour? Check out Sperm Wars, The Evolution of Desire, and The Red Queen.
Would you rather just learn the practical tools that will get you laid? Read Mystery Method, Day Bang, and the (free) YaReally Archive.
Looking for an introduction to Paleolithic Nutrition and lifestyle? I just picked up John Durant’s Paleo Manifesto, and I recommend you do the same. Not only does it look like an excellent book with multiple recommendations from guys I respect a lot (Sisson, Pinker, Taubes, Wolff, Roberts), Mssr. Durant independently came up with a similar static vs. future SMV critique of Susan Walsh’s post in the comments at her blog, so you know he’s on the ball.
Addendum: Heartiste notes that ♥♥♥science♥♥♥ confirms the importance of residual SMV