Fifty shades of bleak: Looking for love everywhere it isn’t.

His name? Ineradicable Regret.

Photo by: David Shankbone

Here are two complementary facts about the ontology of adult genetic Homo sapiens:

Men are seed-sprayers.

Women are egg-layers.

Men and women are functionally equivalent, in the sense that, away from our sex differences, we can all do pretty much the same stuff. We are intellectually equivalent, even if the vestigial effects of poverty, religion and tradition have cost humanity the full benefits of female mental prowess over the centuries. We are politically equivalent, obviously. There are biological differences that result from our sex differences — men tend to have better upper-body strength, women have better blood circulation at the core but poorer circulation in the extremities — but apart from those sex differences, we are an awful lot alike.

That much is not surprising. We are the same species after all, and the XY model is just the one-off variation on the XX prototype. Even men’s sex hardware, of which they can be very proud, is just women’s junk turned inside out. This is true of male mammals in general — except for the pride part.

But because males — male mammals, not just male Homo sapiens — are seed-sprayers, their reproduction strategy will be different from that of the egg-laying females.

Human beings are thoughtful creatures. We have had the gift of mind cultivated within us, the graduation from an animal’s style of cognition and communication to the fully-human state, thinking and communicating in notation systems — in Fathertongue. For now I am am talking about thoughtless biological reproduction strategies, but in no way am I excusing human beings for behaving like thoughtless animals. Too much the contrary!

But the thoughtless reproductive objective of a seed-sprayer is to spray those seeds everywhere. This is what a Maple tree is doing with those cascades of whirling “helicopters,” and it it what an Agave plant is doing with its seed pod, one of the most inspiring phallic symbols to be found in nature. For seed-sprayers, reproduction is a numbers game. His supply of seeds is effectively infinite, and, plausibly, his best chance of reproducing himself is to spray seeds everywhere.

Egg-layers have the opposite problem. Eggs — and the conditions necessary for their proper gestation — are extremely scarce. Female sea turtles can lay their eggs and swim away, but female mammals have to stick around to nurse their young. That’s what those mammary glands that give our class of organisms its name are for, after all, their ornamental beauty in human females notwithstanding. Egg-layers nest, and, practically speaking, the most important manifestation of her reproductive strategy will be not reproducing — except with the right male.

Every species of mammal is different, but the only species of organisms that matters to us is us, Homo sapiens. Even then, we’re only really interested in human beings, genetic Homo sapiens who are fluent in Fathertongue. It is possible to argue that male human beings should pursue every possible mating opportunity, much as a male lizard should spray every egg it comes across. It is possible to argue that female human beings should deflect every male suitor who presents himself, since it’s unlikely that any of those slobbering jackasses is going to live up to the arduous role that is fatherhood for human beings. But I can think of at least two insuperable objections to those propositions:

First, both infinite-impregnation and zero-impregnation are very poor strategies for successfully reproducing human beings.

And second, for the most part human beings pursue sexual contact for reasons other than reproduction.

What do male human beings want from sex? Romantic intimacy leading to orgasm.

What do female human beings want? Orgasm — both of theirs or just his — leading to romantic intimacy.

That’s a currency-exchange issue, and I’ve talked about currency-exchange in the larger context of marriage: He promises her loving devotion in exchange for a lifetime of hot sex while she promises him hot sex in exchange for a lifetime of loving devotion. If they talk through this currency-exchange in open, explicit Fathertongue, they will have a great marriage — lots of love, lots of great sex, boundless devotion to each other and to the family they make together. If they do not talk things out, each partner will cheat the other with counterfeit currency from the outset of their marriage, and each will never tire of bitching about the other partner’s duplicity.

But the failed currency-exchange starts long before the wedding bells ring down at the chapel. If what he wants is an orgasm, it’s to his interest — he may tell himself — to pay out as little in romantic intimacy as he can get away with. Likewise, if she can get romantic intimacy without giving him many — or even any — orgasms, she may think she’s getting a great deal.

The latter scenario — all traction, no action — is the Victorian sexual ideal: Suitors court in courtly fashion and the blushing bride putatively comes to the marriage bed as a blushing virgin. But the first strategy — maximum action with minimal traction — is where we are now: Men do everything they can think of to get laid as often as possible, with as many different women as possible, while offering as little true romantic intimacy as possible in exchange.

Who is at fault here? The men are just doing what they say they intend to do, pursuing orgasms. The women are getting cheated out of most or all of the romantic intimacy they might hope to reap from their sexual encounters — but they are volunteers to their own repeated despoiling. They’re doing what they think they have to do to get men to pay attention to them at all, but the sad truth is that they have been scammed by a very clever con game.

Somewhere there is an evil genius of sex who came up with this idea: What if it were possible to get egg-layers to behave like seed-sprayers? Human beings can have sex for fun, not just for reproduction, so what if we could come up with words and ideas that would induce women to relinquish their very high sexual power — the power to withhold sex until the desired price in romantic intimacy has been met — and instead estimate their sexual value at or below the very low evaluation men hold for their own sexual power?

In other words, what if we could convince women that their best strategy for attracting lifelong love and devotion is not to behave like high-value ladies but instead to act like low-value skanks?

The Sexual Revolution did not start in the back seat of Daddy’s car. It was not caused by the birth-control pill or rock ’n’ roll music. The Sexual Revolution was caused by a sheaf of very clever Fathertongue ideas devised to convince women that their own desired sexual currency — romantic intimacy — was worth less than that sought by men — orgasms — to the extent that they not only could not negotiate for romantic intimacy to be delivered “up front,” they might not be in a position to demand it at all.

So the girls put out, and the boys put the word out. Loving devotion? Romantic intimacy? Respect in the morning? The truth, never said out loud but obvious to everyone, is to be found in this expression: “Baby, I don’t even respect you now!”

So the girls dress like sluts, dance like sluts, drink like sluts, screw like sluts — and are nevertheless endlessly dismayed that the boys treat them like sluts, like self-maintaining pass-around sex-dolls.

So the girls twist themselves this way and that, striving desperately to find the interest or hobby or pose or costume that will somehow hold his attention — or even just his eye-contact — in the seconds after he is done coming. Some of them literally eat their hearts out, starving themselves, stuffing themselves, guiltily puking up anything they manage to eat.

And now comes the bleak world of Fifty Shades of Grey, in which women seek to fascinate men by volunteering to become objects of humiliation and degradation. The logic could not possibly be more wrong — “Of course he will love me after he has seen himself treating me like garbage!” — but the logic behind every one of these stupid dating strategies is inverted. That’s the point, to convince women that the only way they can win the game of love is to surrender every value they bring to the table.

This is a mistake.

It’s a horrible reproduction strategy, obviously. Men cultivate precisely those attributes of character that will make them the worst possible fathers. Women squander precisely those assets — loyalty, fidelity, probity, sobriety, chastity — that will make them most attractive to the best available fathers for their children. But it’s a mistake just as a dating strategy, as well.

Why? Because, in reality, women start with the better hand in the dating negotiation. The currency she holds — the power to grant or deny him orgasms with her — is far more valuable to him than the currency she is seeking — romantic intimacy — is to him. There are interesting Fathertongue reasons for this, but there is a purely biological factor in play as well: She feels no terrible bodily urgency either to fertilize or to dispose of her eggs, but he feels physical pain if he does not dispose of surplus seed on a regular basis. She may want to have an orgasm, but there is a a degree to which he needs to come.

That’s why he takes the risks of making the initial overtures, despite his tongue-tied fear of rejection. That’s why he takes on the awful burdens of making smalltalk, making time, making out. That’s why he buys the drinks, buys the dinners, buys the movie tickets, buys jewelry and clothing and cars and houses. That’s why he writes love poems and love songs and love stories — and deep, yearning lamentations over frustrated or unrequited love.

Boys discover girls at twelve years old or sixteen or twenty. Girls discover boys when they are still children, and, hence, they are adept at handling boys long before the boys even know they’re being handled. This is why men’s overt dating strategies seem so transparent to women. But it is also why this covert strategy — getting women to hold their own immense sexual value in contempt — has been so devastatingly successful. She thinks she is trading for stuff — for drinks, dinners, jewelry, cars and houses — and she does not see until it is too late that she has traded an infinitely valuable prize for useless trinkets.

Here is the blinding epiphany that occurs to teenage boys when they finally grow into their own sexual power: “Women want love and sex, too!”

Here is the countervailing epiphany, which men have successfully concealed from women for all of human history: “Men want love and sex more!”

Do you want proof of that claim? If what men want is orgasms, why don’t they just jack-off? They do. A lot. But it’s still not enough. They may say they disdain romantic intimacy, but they want it even so. Men make time with women they have no sexual interest in, just for the human contact. Men pay prostitutes for sex and then swear they are renting a girlfriend. He wants to achieve orgasm, and his body wants to throw away surplus seed, but he wants loving devotion, too.

She wants orgasms, too — and her orgasms can and should be much better than his — but not nearly as much as she wants romantic intimacy, ultimately leading to the loving devotion of marriage.

And that’s her bargaining power, her ransom from a sexual dystopia that is fifty shades of bleak. All women have to do to regain the upper hand in their currency-exchange with men is STOP PUTTING OUT!

When women raise the bar on sex, their men will rise to it. His body will insist most insistently that he do so, but his mind will rise to the challenge, too. He’ll be a better man for it, and he will love her that much more for making him become a better man.

Meanwhile, while masturbation for him is a second-best orgasm, a woman who has learned to masturbate proficiently has no need whatever to wake up next to a slobbering jackass just to get her rocks off. If she buys a Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator along with the Gee Whizzard attachment, her nights degrading herself with slobbering jackasses will be over for good. If all she’s going to get from him is an orgasm — maybe — she can cut out the middleman and at least get a good orgasm.

We are organisms, animals, mammals, and our urge to have sex is biological in origin. But we are reasoning animals, and hence we can discover and explore the pure, ecstatic, orgiastic joy of loving coupling. But we are rationalizing animals, too, so we can look for love and sex in all the wrong places, for all the wrong reasons. We can end up looking for love everywhere it isn’t, and never in the only place it truly is — in the mutual and enduring commitment of two people who like, lust for, honor and respect each other.

That’s the love that has a chance, at least, to turn into a marriage, to turn into a family. He wants her body — he wants those orgasms. But what he needs is more than just a mad, frenzied dance of masturbation-by-proxy. What he needs most, and what his children need most, are her virtues — her loyalty, her fidelity, her probity, her sobriety, her chastity — the virtues he dismissed when he was busy entreating women to shed their virtues with their clothes.

She needs his virtues, too, and not just his comfort or his affection or his doting devotion. Marriage is the means by which self-adoring adults cultivate the best attainable virtues within each other. The attraction and admiration and respect she felt for him when first they met should grow ever stronger, ever sturdier over the years. As they grow into each other — and grow with each other — their sex lives will be ever more loving, and their love lives ever sexier. Nothing worth having is easy, but this is what their marriage can be — and should be — if they work at it.

This is the love that provides the best chance for human children to grow up to be happy, healthy, responsible, productive adults. But this is also the love that most enriches, most ennobles and most enthralls each one of us. This is the love we were born to make, and this is the love that makes us most worthy to be loved in return.

Accept no substitutes…

I wrote this in August of 2012 at, adding more to my thoughts here as well. I’m reprising the essay now in conjunction with new video I’ve made for my 21Convention video blog, “The scalding cauldron of hyper-dominant sex.” —GSS

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