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Discounting the Cost of Sex

By: Clair Luth

You know the economy is in rough shape when academia is telling us that the cost of sex, from a non-prostitution sense, is going down. According to Kathleen Voss, one of those academics from the University of Minnesota, who has studied and written on the subject of "sexual economics", "The price of sex is about how much one party has to do in order to entice the other into being sexual. It might mean buying her a drink or an engagement ring. These behaviors vary in how costly they are to the man, and that is how we quantify the price of sex.

Researchers have been drawn to the subject because of changing attitudes toward sex. During more conservative times, dating was a more formal affair. But researchers are finding that about thirty percent of young males are dispensing with courtship and diving right into sexual relations with relatively unknown female partners. Sociologist Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas argues that men are "quicker to have sex in our relationships these days, slower to commitment, and just plain pickier." For their part, social psychologists have found that about a quarter of the young women in contemporary society are unreserved and open to sexual relations within the first week of dating. In other words, the trend seems to be toward friends-with-benefits.

The declining economy further encourages a friends-with-benefits mentality. Young men are putting off commitment as they worry about the ability to get employment of any kind, let alone a job that pays enough to support a family, as well as the looming cost of divorce. Further contributing to the changing mores are gender equality, sexually liberal television programming, and the omnipresence of porn which, like liberal television, portrays an unrealistic depiction of sexuality, but with less clothing.

The Brazilian National Advertising Council has been petitioned by the Brazilian Ministry for Women to discontinue a series of ads promoting the Hope Lingerie line by Gisele. The rub is that supermodel Gisele Bundchen is showing off way too much for the likes of the ministry, prompting them to issue the statement that the ads "reinforce an erroneous stereotype of women as sex objects and ignores the progress made in ending sexist practices. It also represents discrimination against women." On these premises, the Ministry for Women is asking the Council on Advertising to discontinue the ad campaign with the native-born Brazilian.

These changing mores are causing a more competitive environment, and in the process, driving down the cost of sex. Continuing his analysis, Regnerus suggests that "Every sex act is part of a 'pricing' of sex for subsequent relationships. If sex has been very easy to get for a particular young man for many years, and over the course of multiple relationships, what would eventually prompt him to pay for it in the future - that is, committing to marry?"

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