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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The globalization of availability

Sixteen Volts makes some cogent points about the likeliness that dating abroad will increase with the Internet and inexpensive international travel. He also raises the interesting idea that this may lead to cross-cultural conflict over time:

I thought a little bit more about the issue of Western men going to find wives from aboard, in the spirit of the post "Sexual Poverty" by Bulletproof Pimp and "Foreign Affairs" at Feministe. Since the numbers of men and women are for all practical purposes equal in West, there can't possibly be two girls for every guy, let alone ten. In addition, pretty much everybody agrees on what is attractive, and especially on what is unattractive, which leads to a harsh zero-sum competition for the desirable partners within both sexes. There simply is no solution to this equation, and blaming either men or women for this situation is useless.

The vast majority of Western men therefore have to live under a severe sexual scarcity in which their choices of both short-term and long-term partners are severely constrained. The men in the bottom third or so have to settle for women who are in many ways deficient and worse than those men would ideally want to marry. This is pretty weird when we remember that these men easily belong to the richest 5% of all humanity. It would truly be strange if the richest 5% of people had to wear tattered rags and live in hovels, instead of being able to use their wealth to buy themselves a wider range of options. In every other aspect of life we take it for granted that the richest 5% get to have the best choices available to them, so why do these rich people tolerate this situation when it comes to sexual choices?

That's an insightful way to consider the situation. Right now, it's only the social equivalent of the "early adopters" who are taking advantage of their attractiveness advantage vis-a-vis the men in Malaysia, the Ukraine and so forth. It's the curious, the adventurers and those who simply have no alternative. But like Ilkka, I can see the pattern evolving, particularly as sites like MySpace and technologies like Skype explode with popularity and it becomes as easy to communicate with someone in the Czech Republic as the next suburb over.

Ilkka also brings up a point that I have made before on an individual basis, but he shows how it is even more meaningful on a wider one as well. I think he is correct to see this as being conceptually related to the global outsourcing phenomenon, and likely to have similar results:

Of course, the Western men who currently marry foreign women also tend to be highly despised by the women back home. The highly emotional arguments and putdowns are humorously analogous to the "arguments" that the progressives sling against Wal-Mart and the people who shop there. But this matters less than it perhaps should, for the simple reason that these men are usually already despised by women even before their proactive little trip (just like most people can't afford to shop at Saks, in this analogy), so it's not like it's a huge loss for these men.

(Here's a free hint to women: once you make it explicitly clear that sex with you is not a realistic future possibily for some man, you also lose your power of affecting his choices and behaviour with a possibility of sex.)

Indeed, it's interesting how so many intelligent and educated women fail to grasp something that provides so many less intellectual women with a living. Once a woman explicitly rejects a man, in most cases she ceases to exist for him as a woman and therefore possesses none of the female influence on him which she is accustomed to exerting over the men around her. (This does not hold true for psychopaths and stalkers who are capable of concocting their own realities, of course, I'm talking about your average guy.) Such rejecting is a self-neutering act, which can certainly be useful or even necessary in some situations, but usually is rather more than the woman bargains for. Aging creates a similar effect, the reason so many older women complain about being invisible is that they have lost an influence that they have long taken for granted. The fact that they are finally being judged solely on the basis of their intelligence, accomplishments and personal character is apparently cold comfort to many of them.

The irony is that in proclaiming their own independence from Western men, Western women have relieved Western men of their own sense of dependence on and responsibility for Western women. Precisely how this will play out, I do not know, but as Ilkka suggests, it could easily become a flashpoint of sorts, both here at home as well as those third-world countries where the women perceive a value in Western men that their more affluent sisters do not.

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