Sexual Economics

Roy Baumeister has been formulating a theory called “sexual economics.” A recent piece in the journal Society is interesting on modern sexual trends.

Until the 60s, female sexuality was culturally suppressed. Here’s how sexual economics explains it:

the evidence overwhelmingly indicated that the cultural suppression of female sexuality is propagated and sustained by women (Baumeister and Twenge 2002). Only sexual economics theory predicted that result. Similar to how OPEC seeks to maintain a high price for oil on the world market by restricting the supply, women have often sought to maintain a high price for sex by restricting each other’s willingness to supply men with what men want.

Big sexual changes began in the 60s. This is the sexual economics explanation:

The changes in gender politics since 1960 can be seen as involving a giant trade, in which both genders yielded something of lesser importance to them in order to get something they wanted more (Baumeister and Vohs 2004).

In brief, they argue, men yielded to women access, and often preferential treatment, in higher education and careers. Women gave men more readily available sex without the need for engagement or marriage.

An interesting theory, distinct from both evolutionary-psychology and social-constructionism.

Roy F. Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs, Sexual Economics, Culture, Men, and Modern Sexual Trends Society 10.1007/s12115-012-9596-y here

Baumeister, R. F. 2010. Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press.

Baumeister, R. F., & Twenge, J. M. 2002. Cultural Suppression of Female Sexuality. Review of General Psychology, 6, 166–203.

Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. 2004. Sexual economics: Sex As Female Resource for Social Exchange in Heterosexual Interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 339–363


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