F. Roger Devlin
Sexual Utopia in Power: The Feminist Revolt Against Civilization
San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015
Once when William James was huffing laughing gas, he thought he’d had an important revelation and wrote it down on a scrap of paper. Later he read it and was appalled to find that it was, in his view, just nonsense:
Man is polygamous,
Woman is monogamous.
I did not think this was entirely nonsense. Indeed, lines two and four seemed like important truths — until I read F. Roger Devlin’s brilliant new book, Sexual Utopia in Power.
Devlin makes two shocking assertions: (1) that no more sex is available to men today than before the “Sexual Revolution,” and (2) women are not “naturally monogamous.” But he would probably prefer me to begin with his own logical starting point, his axioms — which he presents in the Introduction: men display, and women choose. Men continually put themselves in situations that test the limits of their genetic potential (mostly situations involving competition: sports, war, business, etc.). Women are built to discern even small differences in genetic fitness among men, and will gravitate toward the fittest man they can find (or that will have them). “Most of what follows derives directly or indirectly from these simple facts,” Devlin writes (p. xii).
Now, note that I said that women will gravitate toward the fittest man they can find. Suppose they’ve committed to one man, but then a fitter man comes along that catches their eye. Well, have no fear gentlemen, we all know that women will stay with the fella they’ve committed to, because they are naturally monogamous. Right? Quite unlike us cads, who might just dump the old ball and chain when a newer model comes tooting along.
Well, if you are afraid of having your cherished ideals about feminine virtue exploded, read no further — and for God’s sake don’t read Devlin’s book. Sexual Utopia in Power is the most disillusioning book about the female sex since Otto Weininger’s Sex and Character. It turns out that in matters of sex, women are almost as unscrupulous as men.
Women are not naturally monogamous. They are hypergamous, as Devlin puts it. A superficial acquaintance with the differences in male and female sexual behavior might lead one to think that men are naturally polygamous, and women monogamous. After all, in surveys men declare they would like to sleep with quite a lot of women. Whereas women often say they only want or need one man. But the catch is that they won’t be satisfied until they’ve found the one right man. By contrast, men are satisfied simply with variety (often even with a variety of homely women). Devlin puts it brilliantly (and I must point out that this is an extremely well-written book): like Oscar Wilde, women have simple tastes. They are always satisfied by the best (p. 3).
Women truly do want one man, but typically that isn’t you or me. It’s an ideal. What stops women from moving from man to man, abandoning one mate after another, climbing the hierarchy until she gets to “the right man”? Well, in the past it was the bonds of matrimony. And one of the great revelations of Devlin’s book — for me at least — is that marriage was obviously created to contain women’s sexual appetites, not men’s. I always thought it was the other way round: that marriage functioned to tame and constrict the cad in us fellows. But that was never its purpose at all.
Traditional marriage has never encouraged male infidelity. Nevertheless, male infidelity has always been regarded as less problematic than female infidelity. The worst that could happen is that a cheating husband might get his mistress pregnant and have to (somehow) support or acknowledge the child. (Only very rarely did men in the old days leave their wives and families for their mistresses.) But for a wife to be allowed the same unspoken liberties was considered — correctly — to be positively disastrous. Given her hypergamous attraction to the fittest, she might be lured into abandoning her husband and children. And what is almost worse, she might become pregnant by her lover, and place her husband in the unacceptable position of having to raise another man’s child.
Well, the traditional marriage is long gone, and we are now seeing the consequences. There is no longer any social stigma attached to divorce, at least in the West (and it’s really entirely the West that we are talking about here). Moreover, divorces are very easy to obtain. There is thus no longer anything to contain female hypergamy — and the result is disastrous for our civilization. A greater disaster, arguably, than unchecked immigration.
Most obviously, it is a disaster for men. Whereas in the past most men could be reasonably certain they would be married in their twenties (or earlier), nowadays countless decent men are positively desperate for wives — and many (as I will discuss in a moment) have given up looking. The reason? Many Western women are now holding out for exceptionally attractive men (attractive in the sense of looks, and income, and power). Such men have always been able to get women. So, thanks to “Women’s liberation” they get more — more than they can handle. Enjoying all the variety, they don’t feel any need to call the women the next day. In fact, they don’t even want to wake up next to them.
The women, of course, find this baffling. Meanwhile, average Joes working overtime to be gallant, stable, dependable, and sensitive are completely overlooked, and forced to lead a near monk-like existence, save for the constant presence of internet porn. They are baffled as well. After all, don’t they embody everything women are always saying they want (gallantry, stability, dependability, and sensitivity)? Yet they watch in amazement and indignation as the rakes just keep raking it in.
As Devlin says, the Revolution punishes the virtuous and rewards the vicious. Meanwhile, the Revolution that was supposed to liberate women to screw as they like has wound up screwing them over. They either can’t find the men they really want, or those men “won’t commit.” And the result is fewer marriages, more divorces, and fewer white babies (because this isn’t just a Western phenomenon, it’s primarily a white one).
The Sexual Revolution is part of the “perfect storm” of cultural catastrophes that is dragging us closer and closer to the abyss. As Devlin points out, the patterns he is describing are seen in lower primates: females compete to mate with the alpha male, whereas males compete to be him. One of the characteristics of decadent societies is that primitive behavior patterns begin to reassert themselves. Marriage and the old-fashioned “double standard” sexual code governing (primarily) females were the only thing standing between us and the baboons.
As the Priest says to Lara in Doctor Zhivago, “The flesh is not weak. It is strong. Only the sacrament of marriage can contain it.” And the female flesh is the strongest — programmed with the biological imperative of reaching the alpha, no matter what. No moral arguments can contain that flesh, for most women simply do not respond to argument. Only the strongest of social pressures, ceremonies, laws, customs, and the threat of ostracism and unbearable shame can do the trick. Scarlet letters. Shame masks. Poverty. When you eliminate the concept of the “fallen woman” many women will fall very far, very fast.
It would be gross oversimplification to blame feminism for all of this. Feminism is just part of a constellation of causes. Devlin makes the astute point that the cinema and popular culture generally have done a great deal to ruin the romantic lives of both men and women. In the old days, the vast majority of women never saw a man as good looking as Brad Pitt (Devlin uses the rather dated example of Cary Grant). They saw the boys in the neighborhood or the village, and that was it. Now practically every woman in the world has seen Brad Pitt and can compare him to the men around her, with the inevitable result that she finds those men lacking.
But it didn’t start with the cinema. Consider Flaubert’s 1856 novel Madame Bovary. The heroine enters into marriage having read a very unhealthy number of Romantic novels about dashing heroes sweeping beautiful creatures (just like herself, of course) off their feet. Needless to say, she is dismayed to find that the man she married is a crashing bore. So she falls in love with a cad, and plans to run off with him, abandoning her husband and children. But the cad is a cad, and runs off before she can join him. Then she moves on to another dispiriting affair. Oh, and then she kills herself.
Madame Bovary is the quintessential anti-Romantic novel. And it demonstrates exactly what happens when women’s heads are stuffed with nonsense, and their husbands hire maids instead of making them do the housework themselves. Of course, the nonsense young Emma Bovary devoured in her window seat, bosom heaving, is still with us today in the form of all those trashy “romance novels” (which have become genuinely pornographic). Anyone wanting a real window into a woman’s soul should start reading those, for they tell it like it is: a woman wants a big, strong, daring, dominant, arrogant, well-hung rogue who is wanted by all other woman — but who in the end is willing to commit to her and her alone.
So, popular culture has helped to make average women dissatisfied with the decent men around them, many of whom would be (objectively) a “good catch.” Feminism has contributed to the problem not just be running down men generally, but by encouraging women to believe that they “deserve the best.” Thus, women — even very, very, very average women — hold out for the best. And most don’t get it. Once they squarely face the fact that their biological clock is ticking, such women begin to make new choices. One of them is to make a virtue of necessity and declare themselves lesbians — for, in truth, lesbianism today is usually just a way of glamorizing unchosen female celibacy. Or they become brittle, desiccated career harpies. (As I put it in my essay on Fight Club.)
Or they just start lowering their standards. In other words, they begin going out with the guys who “weren’t good enough” a few years earlier. Devlin writes:
What were our bachelor’s female contemporaries doing all those years while he was an impoverished, lonely stripling who found them intensely desirable? Fornicating with dashing fellows who mysteriously declined to “commit,” marrying and walking out on their husbands, or holding out for perfection. Now, lo and behold, these women, with their youthful looks gone and rapidly approaching menopause, are willing to go out with him. If they are satisfied with the free meals and entertainment he provides, he may be permitted to fork over a wedding ring. Then they will graciously allow him to support them and the children they had by another man for the rest of his life. . . . Why in heaven’s name would any man sign up for this? As one man put it to me: “if the kitten didn’t want me, I don’t want the cat.” (pp. 31-32)
Indeed, the “backlash” feminists feared (or, perhaps, secretly yearned for, bosoms heaving) has arrived. But it has taken a form no one could have predicted: in large numbers, men are giving up on women. Devlin cites a recent survey in which 22% of men aged 25-34 have resolved never to marry. And 53% say they are not interested in marrying anytime soon. Devlin remarks, correctly, that “This may be a situation unprecedented in the history of the world” (p. 33). And anyone who is familiar at all with the “manosphere” is aware of the recent proliferation of sites created by and for men who have had enough of chasing after rude, entitled, amoral, modern Western women — women who demand to “have it all,” while offering nothing in return.
It is entirely correct that the Sexual Revolution has hurt women dreadfully. As so often happens, the “liberated” turn out to be the chief victims. But arguably what men have suffered at the hands of women is worse — and truly obscene, to any person with a sense of justice. Devlin writes that “young men today are in an impossible situation. If they seek a mate they are predators; if they find one they are date rapists; if they want to avoid the whole ordeal they are immature and irresponsible for not committing. We have gone from a situation where it seemed everything was permitted to one where nothing is permitted” (pp. 21-22). On the subject of “date rape,” Devlin’s discussion is absolutely brilliant, especially his analysis of the twisted logic of the “victims”: “I didn’t like it; ergo I didn’t want it; ergo it was against my will” (p. 12). (In truth, these young women are victims: of feminist misandry, bad faith, and ressentiment.)
But the “impossible situation” of men today gets still more impossible if they actually manage to marry. Because in the event of the (now virtually inevitable) divorce “the system” is stacked in favor of women: women get the house, most of the money, the children, and can even force their ex-husbands to support them while they busy themselves having other men’s babies.
Is there anything good about the Sexual Revolution at all? Let’s just immediately eliminate all answers like “well, it has made it easier to get porn,” for we all know that this “boon” is really something that appeals to our baser nature. Has the Sexual Revolution made us better people, in any way? Has it improved our nature? No. No, it hasn’t. And no really means no.
Devlin writes that the Revolution
has certainly achieved something. It has destroyed monogamy and family stability. It has resulted in a polygamous mating pattern of immodest women aggressively pursuing a small number of men. It has decreased the number of children being born, and insured that many who are born grow up without a father in their lives. And, least often mentioned, it has made it impossible for many decent men to find wives. (p. 29)
So, what is the solution? Well, as is so often the answer to the problems discussed on this site, the solution is a total overhauling of that which is. A revolution, in short: one that revolves us back to human nature (or to what is conducive to human flourishing) instead of away from it.
Devlin dismisses the empty assertions of Conservatives today who say that men must “man up” and “commit.” But this really kind of is the answer: men must commit to saying no to women. I don’t mean that individual men should go on strike and refuse to date or marry. No, I mean that men as a group must re-impose all the old “sexist” standards and double-standards. All the old rules and mores that the Revolution has toppled. And without asking, “Is that all right with you, Dear?”
Not only is this the only way to reign in female hypergamy, save marriage, and make more white babies — it’s also the only way to attract women! With one brilliant, daring stroke we save the race, and our sex lives. Despite everything that they say, women want men to say no to them. Somewhere or other C. S. Lewis argued for the rule of husbands over wives in the simplest and cleverest way: in households where the woman is in charge, she invariably has contempt for the man. What does her contempt say? It says “why aren’t you doing this? Why do I have to take charge?” In other words, in spite of everything that they claim, women really want men to be in charge.
And with respect to their relation to the opposite sex, men are “in charge” by placing female desire within the bonds of custom, law, and — above all — shame. The purpose of this is not to have a jolly time lording it over women (as those deep-thinking feminists have “theorized”). Rather, as Devlin puts the matter, it is noblesse oblige. The rule of the man is the only way to provide woman with an ordered life (remember your Aristotle, dear reader: “Matter yearns for form as the female yearns for the male.”) Left to their own devices, most women cannot give a law to themselves; they cannot be autonomous. And the rule of the man is the only way to safeguard the family — i.e., the children. And, of course, the rule of the man — the man playing his natural role — is the only way for the man to achieve satisfaction.
The title of Devlin’s book, incidentally, is inspired by Geller and Nekrich’s 1986 history of the “Soviet experiment,” Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present. Both the Russian and French revolutions, according to Devlin, followed a three-stage pattern:
1. There is an initial phase of happy anarchy: the Revolutionaries are giddy and full of beans; ecstatic at the limitless possibilities for expanding possibilities now that “freedom” has been achieved, and nature, the past, and reality have been eliminated in a joyous triple guillotining. The trouble with anarchy, however, is that it is anarchic. And so there follows . . .
2. A Reign of Terror, in which one faction seizes control and imposes order. Since utopia did not emerge spontaneously from happy anarchy (and since little things like famines and riots erupted), the ruling faction attempts to impose its ideology by force, and squash all opposition. But because the ideology is against nature, this can’t be kept up indefinitely. And so there follows . . .
3. “A ‘reaction’ in which human nature gradually reasserts itself” (Devlin, p. 1).
Devlin suggests this is a useful model for understanding the “Sexual Revolution,” and comrades he is right! In the first stage of the Sexual Revolution, having better orgasms promised a cure for greed, racism, and Lawrence Welk. Women gazed lovingly at their genitals in hand mirrors, and men cried in the arms of big-bosomed earth mothers, finally freed of the burden of having to be men. Love was “free.” But the old, evolved traditions kept threatening to reassert themselves. Counter Revolution! Enter feminism (stage left) — which rather quickly morphed into the Women’s Junior Anti-Sex League, whose “two-minutes hate” has swelled into 40+ years.
“Free love” wasn’t free. We are now paying all the hidden costs of the Sexual Revolution. And folks, we are broke. In the end, those hippie sexual revolutionaries were right about one simple thing: we really do need to get back to nature. Of course . . .
Do yourself a favor and get this revolutionary book. If you think I’ve just summarized the whole thing for you, think again: actually I’ve only discussed the content of the first of the book’s seven essays. Read on!
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