the following was promised here, and is an outgrowth of some discussion on the sibling of daedalus blog.

the notion that purity, or chastity, is among the best cards a woman can hold when she’s on the make is as old as the corresponding notion of monogamy itself. put bluntly, the operative principle is that women should hold themselves out as virginal madonnas** — an idea that has been shaped and cultivated by religious tradition, but that stems from the realities of paternity and is thus probably as old as human biology itself.

however, like all other simple models, this one is an oversimplification.
it attempts to model all pegs, however round or square, as round — i.e., it describes apparent purity as the best possible image for any woman searching for a long-term relationship.

more to the point of the current discussion, though, the model also attempts to model all holes as round — i.e., it assumes that all men would prefer sexual purity over “sluttiness” in a long-term partner, an assumption that is simply not true. so, in the interest of clarification, as well as to stimulate discussion, i propose the following visual model:
imagine an x-y coordinate system.
the x-axis is the man’s desire for control over a woman; the y-axis is the man’s ideal on the madonna/whore axis.
let’s arbitrarily designate
negative x = men who, either by design or by inability to do otherwise, allow the woman and her desires to control the relationship (approximately, roissy’s betas)
positive x = men with both the desire and the ability to control women (approximately, roissy’s alphas)
negative y = men whose ideal woman is a perfect madonna (very sexually inhibited)
positive y = men whose ideal woman is a perfect slut (very sexually uninhibited)

the definitions on the y-axis (the madonna/whore axis) are somewhat simplistic, in that they conflate a woman’s public and private behavior. in particular, many men will object to this axis altogether, claiming that their ideal woman is a perfect madonna in the street and a perfect slut — magically, only for them, never for any other man — in the bedroom.
while i agree that a single axis is a bit on the simple side, i don’t buy this objection, for at least two reasons.
first, it’s quixotic to deny the strong correlation between public and private behavior. most highly sexual women — whether available or happily committed (or, in certain arrangements, both) — constantly radiate their sensuality to every observant eye and ear, to such an extent that their every movement, utterance, and gesture is irresistibly, drivingly provocative. conversely, women known for their public modesty, retiring personalities, and aversion to the spotlight are unlikely to be tigresses whose stripes are, curiously, visible only within the confines of their (long-term partner’s) bedroom. put another way, it’s easy to identify a slut — and you don’t even need long checklists. you just need your eyes, your ears, and your ability to read between the lines. the above holds true even for previously cold fish who have become “sluttier” within the context of a single long-term relationship; the differences are palpable, and redound to every dusty corner of their actions, attitudes, and body language in the presence of the opposite sex.
second, the objection is simply a cop-out, a knee-jerk response designed to avoid difficult, realistic, and unpleasantly honest consideration of certain tradeoffs. most men would like to relax with a boyish insouciance in their imaginary world, in which they’ll one day find the aforementioned public madonna/private slut/unicorn, but that attitude is as naïve and starry-eyed as that of the woman who hopes to land a suave, sexually dominant alpha with beta eyes that focus exclusively on her. the reality is that You Can’t Have It Both Ways; the y-axis is a nice, uncomplicated way of modeling this sobering fact.

most PUA types will do everything in their power to convince themselves and the world that they are in the fourth quadrant.
according to some chapters of the roissysphere canon, a woman’s value — even the remaining fraction of her very soul — decreases in direct relation to her sexual experience. also, the stated preference (note the significance of the word “stated”) for “good girls” is deeply entrenched in upper- and upper-middle-class culture, another obstacle in the path of honesty for men in the first and second quadrants.

almost no second-quadrant men will report their preference honestly; likewise, many men who belong in the first quadrant — especially those from the upper social classes, unless they are uncommonly introspective, self-aware, and unshackled by class shibboleths — will mistakenly place themselves in the fourth.
the problem here — a problem that is very underappreciated indeed, given men’s oft-undeserved reputation for frankness in this area — is that most men simply aren’t terribly aware of their preferences along the y-axis.
specifically:
with a few exceptions for those truly to the left on the bell curve of self-awareness, both men and women are generally aware of their physical preferences in the opposite sex, although both also routinely underappreciate the role played by social conditioning in the same. however — and this is a big “however” — when it comes to the alpha/beta and madonna/whore dichotomies, the score is quite different: most men are absolutely clueless in regard to their true preferences along the madonna/whore continuum.
this difference, which is obvious and universal, tends to be explained — incorrectly — as a special case of “women’s intuition”. occam’s razor begs to differ, though: it’s simply a matter of experience. to wit, almost all decently desirable women are approached (though perhaps not boldly, in the case of less obviously sexual women) by various and sundry men, with a frequency unattainable by any man short of mtv’s latest darling. from the overall data produced by these approaches (and from whatever intercourse results), the women — even the ones with lower-than-average self-awareness — will eventually construct some sort of first-order approximation of their alpha/beta preferences. the vast majority of men, though, have a sample size so small that they simply can’t build up enough direct experience to suss out their own madonna/whore preferences, a situation rife with tragicomedy when these men choose long-term exclusive partners. worse yet, what works in fantasy often fails spectacularly in reality, so men who have constructed their preferences hypothetically rather than empirically are often in for some rude surprises when their perfect madonna leads them to perfect ennui, or when their perfect slut leads them to uncontrollable jealousy.
imagine a porn-drenched virgin asked about his favorite sexual positions. he would almost certainly just list the positions in his favorite adult distractions, in decreasing order of the frequency with which they appear in the films; he couldn’t be expected to know what will actually feel good firsthand (heh, hand). it’s just as ridiculous to expect most men to have any sort of honest understanding of their preferences along the madonna/whore continuum. as if that weren’t bad enough, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that almost all men who are “natural alphas” are also extremely low in self-awareness, as there is an inveterate correlation among reckless confidence, social dominance, and lack of introspection. so, in an irony worthy of kierkegaard, the few men blessed with large sample sizes tend to be the very same men who are least equipped to analyze those samples.

so, men, which quadrant are you in?
if you’ve had enough women, you’re probably in the first quadrant by now, or at least closer to it than you’d like to think.

**with a lowercase “m”, since a certain performance artist has sullied the capitalized version.

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