A former frat boy turned Ph D student at USC, Sean Hernandez recalls watching the walk of shame from his balcony during his undergraduate years, a time-honored tradition on the row. Notably, the majority of people in the got laid parade were women. Why? Why is it that so many women are the shackers, and men the shackees? This might interest an anthropologist, a sociologist, a psychologist, or a fratblogger (such as myself). But an economist should surely have no interest in matters of human behavior, one might think. Sean Hernandez would prove one wrong. Sex, he says, as published on Neon Tommy is nothing more than an economic equation. Men demand it and women supply it.
I don’t want to pump you full of any feminazi ideals, so I’ll let you reread that and form an opinion on it yourselves.
Men demand sex. And women supply it.
Hernandez interviewed 477 students about house rank and sex. He believes that the “price” of sex is too low, “costing” minimal resources on the part of the fraternity (alcohol and a place to party).
Hernandez hypothesized their institutional status and funding from national organizations create sexual economies with a lower price of sex than at other social scenes or campuses without a Greek system. In other words, it is easier to have sex if you are in a system where fraternities pay for parties and where sex is expected. The price of sex includes the cost of booze, DJs and security; the women who come to fraternity parties are expected to return on the investment.
His hypothesis works on two assumptions. The first is that sororities aren’t hosting events at their own houses, resulting in an “oligopolistic model of sexual competition,” or in laymen’s terms, ““home turf advantage where men compete all the more vigorously to have sex with women in their fraternity houses.” The second assumption is that men want sex more than women do.
I want to go on the record saying that that second assumption is a bold one. This theory is allegedly backed up by research on the expectations of human relationships, but I don’t buy it. Expectations are not wants. Women are expected not to want sex and often judged when they do. So “not wanting” sex is more based on society’s assumptions than a woman’s actual physiological wants or needs. It used to be believed that women could not enjoy sex at all, and women continued to let people think they didn’t enjoy it, because they were expected not to. I think a woman, undeterred by society, wants sex just as much as a man does and a societal shift would show that. I also hold the belief that there are a good number of young people who don’t feel the “double standard” exists in college, because the hookup culture is perpetuated equally by both men and women, because that’s what both parties want. But what do I know? I’m just a woman. What do you think?
Hernandez postulated, men demand sex, and females supply it (called “female resource theory”). In other words, because women expect a man to provide something besides just sex (like companionship, or some other desirable trait), and men often don’t, men are more likely to want to get laid.
With his theories intact, Hernandez plans to tackle the issues of sexual assault on college campuses, though he did not specifically study sexual assault. One solution he suggests, that some schools are considering adopting is to have sororities host their own events. This could bring about several changes. The most obvious being that bystanders or victims themselves may be more comfortable turning a guy away from their own home. The second is that assault is more likely to occur in male-dominated spaces, and with sororities hosting events, there would be more equal ratios of men to women.
I agree this would be a potential solution, but to the wrong problem. The solution to assaults occurring in male-dominated spaces is not removing women from male-dominated spaces, but instead fixing the problem that exists within male-dominated spaces. Examine why when surrounded by so much testosterone, does this behavior become more acceptable. My theory, of course, is that men just don’t know what it feels like to be feel sexually threatened and vulnerable to someone who is bigger and stronger than they are. A man would not feel intimidated by a cute girl standing at 5’4” catcalling him — but if a man with six inches, fifty pounds, and a booming voice called out to him, he might begin to feel violated. It’s about perspective. They need to be taught perspective.
The findings of Hernandez’s examination were as follows.
1. The sexual economy is “aristocratic.”
In other words, Hernandez expected higher ranked fraternities to have more frequent sexual interactions with higher ranked sororities. He was right.
2. Fraternities, as leading demanders of sex, maximize sex and minimize expenditure.
This included purchasing parties and avoiding relationship commitments, which fraternities perceive to be negative. By contrast, sororities, as the sole suppliers of sex, seek to minimize sex and maximize fraternity expenditure on gifts, parties and relationships, which they perceive to be positive.
3. The sexual economy is unlike any other economy we are used to.
Hernandez theorized women in top houses should be able to have less sex for a higher price, but he was wrong. The study showed that a sorority’s social status is positively correlated with sexual activity: the better a house is peer-rated, the more “hookups” its members experience.
Oh, so you’re saying the best looking girls had more sex, not less, even though, per your theory, the goal should be to have less sex? Perhaps maybe, just maybe, it’s that sex is mutually beneficial and “the best” men and “the best” women have the opportunities to have the exact sexual relationships they want. Sex isn’t something a man does to a woman and it’s not something a woman gives to a man. It’s something two people do together — something they give to each other.
As far as the problem of sexual assault within the Greek system, as it stands, a young woman interviewed with regard to this study said it best:
“In the Greek system I don’t think they get it—they just use us as a scapegoat, and instead of trying to help us with alcohol problems and sexual assault, they put it on us to deal with,” she said. “I’m the President of my sorority, but these girls are my peers. What gives me more authority than anyone else to deal with sexual assault issues? Because I sat through a DPS training for four hours?”
[via Neon Tommy]
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