July 1, 2011

How does the girls-gone-wild culture reflect the prudification of society?

From Time Magazine:

Says a Minneapolis priest: "The young American male is increasingly bewildered and confused by the aggressive, coarse, dominant attitudes and behavior of his women. I believe it is one of the most serious social traits of our time-and one that is certain to have most serious social consequences."

The shrieking blonde ripped the big tackle's shirt from his shoulder and Charlestoned off through the crowded room, fan-dancing with a ragged sleeve. In her wake, shirts fell in shreds on the floor, until half the male guests roared around bare to the waist. Shouts and laughs rose above the full-volume records from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The party, celebrating the departure of a University of Texas coed who had flunked out, had begun in midafternoon some three hours earlier. In one corner, four tipsily serious coeds tried to revive a passed-out couple with more salty dog (a mixture of gin, grapefruit juice and salt). About 10 p.m., a brunette bounded on to the coffee table, in a limited striptease. At 2 a.m., when the party broke up, one carload of youngsters decided to take off on a two-day drive into Mexico (they got there all right, and sent back picture postcards to the folks).

That's from the original 1951 article on the Silent Generation, although it sounds remarkably familiar. Unlike the femme fatale of film noir, or the "Whatever Lola Wants" type, young girls from the '60s through the '80s were definitely not "aggressive, coarse, dominant" -- that was the era of the high school sweetheart type, from Marcia Brady to Mallory Keaton to Kelly Kapowski.

Also familiar is the semi-public striptease and the general atmosphere of girls gone wild. Sex is a private affair, so when young people are truly more sexual, they play Seven Minutes in Heaven, where the maker-outers enjoy the privacy of a dark closet, or they pair off into unoccupied rooms in the house, the back seat of someone's car, or other place where they can slip out of public view. Spin the Bottle involves public sexuality, but hardly -- just a kiss.

Aside from the streaking fad -- and I think a good deal of them were males anyway -- there was not a whole lot of attention whoring based on sex appeal during more sexual times. Here we have to distinguish sluts, teases, and attention whores. Sluts make themselves up to signal an easy sexuality, and they follow through on that promise. Teases also sexualize their appearance, and although they won't just give everything away up front like a slut will, they will still give something back to the guys who approach them, even if only a little. They are also flirty and social, and they have a boy-crazy sort of mind.

Attention whores, though, use their appearance and behavior to draw in the looks of a large male audience, but they don't give anything back to the clueless dorks who follow them around like it's the first girl they've ever seen. They don't get a rush from the playful back-and-forth like teases do, as they are not very interested in interacting with boys in the first place. They're only out to get lots of easy attention and validation without having to put out for the boys, flirt with them, or even be physically near them -- just within eyesight. The majority of girls dancing around on YouTube or in night clubs (these days anyway) are attention whores, for example.

This also explains the whole girl-on-girl fad at parties during the housing bubble euphoria. Most of us, me included, looked at that and thought, "How slutty is our society becoming?" But now that we know that young people have become steadily less sexual since a peak sometime in the late '80s or early '90s, it makes better sense -- what easier way to get maximal male attention while not having to interact with them at all? Just kiss your bff, or maybe have her grind her ass in your lap, in front of a large crowd.

Back when kids were still sexual, a girl at a party wanted to talk to, make out with, or sleep with a boy -- and what would making out with another girl in public do to achieve that goal? So instead, they sought out boys to flirt with or sent them a signal to come over and make the first move.

The tendency for boys and girls to move apart from each other during times of falling crime therefore shifts the distribution of female sexuality away from the slut-and-tease direction and toward the attention whore. The tease is the ideal for society -- young girls are going to crave attention no matter what, so it's best that they be somewhat choosy and cautious while still being flirtatious and social. When the distribution has more teases, its extreme will include more sluts, but a handful of sluts is far more preferable to a mass of attention whores. Sluts more or less keep their business to themselves, whereas attention whores give off public pollution by the ton. And those handful of sluts aren't going to destroy society, whereas the off-putting behavior of attention whores just grates away further at the falling trust levels during safer times.

And while a girl who sleeps around is somewhat of a sexual deviant, she still seems mostly recognizable as a human being, just one with poor impulse control or something. The complete anti-sociality of the attention whore, though, not to mention the public displays of omg look at those two chicks in thongs making out!!!! that they use to get their attention, make them even more bizarre specimens and harder to sympathize with.

When falling violence levels push the sexes apart, probably because females feel less of a need for males then, the civilizing effect that we have on each other degrades. Look at men who have withdrawn from interacting with girls -- their whole lives just break down, as they hide away in their man-cave all day. The counterpart to the extreme male tendency of "just leave me alone with my stuff" is the extreme female tendency to pose and prance around just to soak up attention without giving anything back, like some parasite.

If you're not already, it's time to get comfortable with a higher level of violence than we currently have, unless you prefer a world peopled with coarse and pushy attention whores.

13 comments:

  1. How is attention whore pollution worse than sluts? Sluts produce bastard children carrying impulsive genes, in addition to spreading disease. The problem with attention whores is...you don't like them? To me, low crime in exchange for that shift isn't even a tradeoff!

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  2. Sluts actually don't have higher birth rates. They either practice safer sex or are more likely to get abortions.

    In the GSS, plot CHILDS by PARTNERS, with the selection filter SEX(2), AGE(18-39), MARITAL(5).

    Among unmarried women 18-39, the ones who didn't have any partners have the highest rate of no children. After that, the more partners, the higher the rate of being childless.

    The point about disease is taken, but again the magnitude isn't so bad. Nowhere close to AIDS, for example, not by orders of magnitude.

    The problem with attention whores is that they're socially retarded and in-everyone's-face about it, either in real life, in the mass media, or in your online social networks (like the inescapable duckface and other kabuki faces on MySpace and then Facebook).

    That's social pollution, and it reinforces the falling trust levels by broadcasting that a huge swath of people care so little about their community that they only see them fit for parasitizing some attention from them.

    I'm not just talking about the really bad ones making out with their bff on YouTube. The majority of Millennial girls are at least low-level attention whores.

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  3. Also with sluts, there's a built-in negative feedback loop where others, especially rival females, will shame the hell out of sluts.

    Sometimes guys join in, but their negative feedback is usually of the form of making a really forward remark in hopes of getting laid, and her realizing that she's been acting too loosely.

    You don't see that kind of spontaneous shaming of attention whores. It's probably because such a low level of violence is an evolutionary novelty and introduced problems that human nature was not designed to deal with.

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  4. Lest this devolve into just a comparison of sluts and attention whores, remember that it was only a "handful" of sluts vs. "masses" of attention whores. So whatever we decide on as the social cost of either group, we have to weight it by how common it is.

    In 1991, only 13.8% of high school girls had had 4+ sex partners -- far higher than today, but still not widespread. (Youth Risk Behavior Survey)

    Attention whores must be at least 4 times as common.

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  5. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Good post, one of your best.

    But do you really think that 50% plus of girls today can be considered attention whores? I guess I'm a bit hazy on the concept; at least with sluts you can deal with stats (number of partners / hours from introduction to sex / etc.).

    Cennbeorc

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  6. Someone could do some easy fieldwork with this, although they'd need to have a large team to lighten the heavy load:

    Go through Facebook pictures of people within a certain age range, and see whether they have pictures that are duckface / kabuki faces. I would probably do this as a 0/1 variable, that if you even have one duckface picture, that's just the tip of the iceberg, even recognizing that those whose every picture is kabuki are worse. Then see what fraction of people were scored as a 1.

    MySpace would have been easier to do for this study, as profiles were mostly public.

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  7. Anonymous5:29 PM

    The problem with your analysis is that it assumes girls are less slutty today because of surveys.

    lol. Do you actually believe these surveys? My common sense looking around tells me that girls are pretty damn willing and able to sleep around with whoever they feel like.

    I think another problem with these social survey's is that they take into account the voices of ugly/fat girls and pretty girls. Prettier girls have way more attention from attractive males and are much more likely to have sex. Ugly girls only get the beta's that no women swoon for. The tons of nasty/fat girls in American society, who probably aren't getting many sexual options (and therefore partners), thus skew the results of the GSS on socio-sexual habits.

    With the kind of girls I go after, the ones with a BMI of under 24, they have no shortage of sexual options and are quite experienced in the sack (even younger girls, 22 and below).

    If girls today are less slutty, why are divorce rates so high and marriage rates so low?

    For pretty girls, today is nothing more than a giant casual sex orgy and women are perfectly fine being single all throughout their twenties in order to "enjoy" themselves.

    Regardless I hope I've shown you that there are far more many possibilities that you aren't considering.

    = Samseau

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  8. No, the survey results are right. First, they're more believable than your own impressions -- maybe you just live around a bunch of sluts.

    Second, they're backed up by plummeting rates of STDs and pregnancy among teenagers. An article from the late 2000s said that herpes is basically gone among teenagers. The teen pregnancy rate peaked circa 1990.

    When was the last time you saw two young people doing it in the back seat of a car, i.e. in public?

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  9. I live in Chicago and about a week ago after drinking with coworkers went toward Millenium Park and got turned away by security because it was light. As we we're away we see a young couple under a tree going at it.

    To me the negative effect of attention whores accounts for roughly zero no matter how many you aggregate. And sluts don't merely increase the prevalence of disease, but virulence. As Paul Ewald notes, the harder it is for an infection to spread the more it has to domesticate itself to the human body (with the extreme version of this kind of process being symbiosis).

    AIDS is bad news, but on the other hand from what I've heard it isn't all that infectious (if you've got it, you were probably taking extreme risks) and nicely relegated to small subpopulations without much risk of crossover. And citing Ewald again, these other STDs may be responsible for most chronic diseases at later ages.

    I'm not sure which report specifically agnostic is referring to, but googling turned up this.

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  10. "As we we're away we see a young couple under a tree going at it."

    As in actually doing it? Hey you would've seen that at any large public gathering of young people 20 years ago, not once in a lifetime.

    "To me the negative effect of attention whores accounts for roughly zero no matter how many you aggregate."

    From what I can tell, Millennial guys accept attention whoredom as the new normal, having grown up entirely in its shadow and so not having a good gut feeling for what real girls are supposed to be like. And the girls accept it as a given for the same reason.

    To everyone else it really is off-putting, almost disgusting, and makes you despair for the future.

    "And sluts don't merely increase the prevalence of disease, but virulence."

    Yeah but that's theory and not reality in the case of STDs among straights. No AIDS, gonorrhea peaked in the mid-'70s, and the only fairly common one -- herpes -- was the mildest, almost non-existent for a good chunk of unaware carriers.

    Ewald is right, of course, but to get to worrying level, the promiscuity has to reach what you find among prostitutes, gays, needle-sharing junkies, etc. Even during the heyday of the sexual revolution, it never got anywhere close to that for straights.

    "I'm not sure which report specifically agnostic is referring to, but googling turned up this."

    Here is the article on the disappearance of herpes among young people:

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/296/8/964.full

    It's down overall from the late '80s / early '90s to the early 2000s, but especially among teenagers and 20-somethings. For non-Hispanic white 14-19 year-olds, it's down from 4% to 1%. Among 20-somethings, from 14.7% to 6.4%.

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  11. Anonymous10:18 AM

    If you're not already, it's time to get comfortable with a higher level of violence than we currently have, unless you prefer a world peopled with coarse and pushy attention whores.

    I thought your analysis was more about specifically rising vs falling, not actual levels. You seem to have more of a rosy view of rising violence 60s-80s than earlier falling violence periods with higher absolute levels of violent crime?

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  12. Correct, I mean not being so afraid of rising levels that we turn ourselves into hermits.

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  13. Anonymous4:52 AM

    Agnostic, how sexual behavior of millenials compare to boomers?

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