40% of US Moms Unwed

I was stunned to read this from Time Magazine:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that births to unmarried women have reached an astonishing 39.7%.  How much does this matter? More than words can say. There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage. It hurts children, it reduces mothers’ financial security, and it has landed with particular devastation on those who can bear it least: the nation’s underclass.

I checked it out at the CDC; it isn’t a typo:

The trend in unmarried childbearing was fairly stable from the mid-1990s to 2002, but has shown a steep increase between 2002 and 2007. Between 1980 and 2007, the proportion of births to unmarried women in the United States has more than doubled, from 18 percent to 40 percent.

Iceland (66 percent), Sweden (55 percent), Norway (54 percent), France (50 percent), Denmark (46 percent) and the United Kingdom (44 percent) all have higher proportions of births to unmarried mothers than the United States.  Ireland (33 percent), Germany and Canada (30 percent), Spain (28 percent), Italy (21 percent) and Japan (2 percent) have lower percentages than the United States.

Another tidbit:

The highest rates of out of wedlock births are in D.C. (59%) and Mississippi (54%) and the lowest rate is in Utah (20%).

The new equilibrium we are moving toward seems a very different world.  Women free to pick a dad without expecting him to stay as a long term helper probably pick sexier men.  This should create more inequality in male access to women for sex and kids, and give men more free time to compete to be the few super-sexy super-dads.

Women would get to have kids fathered by sexier men, but at the expense of raising those kids with less male help.  More men would be sex-failures with more free time to pursue long-shot plans to reverse their fortunes, and without wives to moderate them.  How many of those plans will be peaceful?

I guess this helps somewhat to explain the explicitly sex-aggressive men I see more of these days.  When I wrote:

If you don’t signal your continued love she may well conclude that your love has in fact changed.

“Master Dogen” responded:

Hanson … seems to be thoroughly trained in thinking that the best way to long-term health in a relationship with a woman is to signal “caring more than everyone else” and “giving gifts,” etc.  This, of course, is the constant position of a supplicant. … I advocate a very different way of dealing with a woman … So let’s assume you are an alpha, and you’ve trained your woman to supplicate you rather than the other way around. … You must continue signaling your dominance: gently pull her hair when you go in for a kiss, raise you voice sternly when she steps out of line, flirt shamelessly with other women in public.

I might not like it, but I can’t argue that the future doesn’t hold a lot more of this.

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  • http://bellisaurius.livejournal.com/ bellisaurius

    I don’t know. Other alternatives exists too, like if most single moms are in their 40′s and divorced, then they could have been married in perfectly normal patterns (the stats may bear this out. In 2005 only 33% of single moms have never been married. http://singleparents.about.com/od/legalissues/p/portrait.htm, )

    • MineCanary

      I checked it out–it’s births to unmarried women, not all unmarried women with children. But yes, there are alternatives, like the below-mentioned unmarried couples.

  • Rob

    Studies like this always seem to talk about “births to unmarried women” as if this is synonymous with “single mothers”. My parents have lived together my whole life and have never been married. I would be interested what percentage of these “births to unmarried women” are entirely normal nuclear families that just chose to not get married.

    • Neil

      Yes. I suspect this is at least as much about the decline of the institution of marriage as it is about single mothers.

      I guess from a signalling point of view, the increased prevalence of divorce devalues the signal of marriage.

    • Shae

      Agreed. Many of my 30-something couple friends have been together for a decade or so without marrying, and some of these couples intend to stay together and are having children. Some have feminist objections to marriage and some just don’t see the point.

      I’d like to know:

      1) Whether we’re sure that the “unmarried” moms in the study are the same as moms raising children alone
      2) Whether we know if couples not getting married makes any difference to the well-being of children as compared to similar-length relationships by couples who “went to the altar”

    • http://arvindn.livejournal.com Arvind Narayanan

      Oh please. The article also says

      the vast majority of unmarried women having babies are undereducated and have low incomes

      I bet that in these low income families, the fraction of mothers who are making an enlightened choice to be in an unmarried-but-committed relationship is rather negligible. Consequently, single mothers and births to unmarried women are essentially interchangeable IMO.

      • Shae

        “the vast majority of unmarried women having babies are undereducated and have low incomes”

        Sure but is the increase in unmarried moms over previous years more undereducated low income women, or hippie couples? We’re discussing the alleged “increase” in this group, not denying that unmarried women have historically been poor.

        “I bet that in these low income families, the fraction of mothers who are making an enlightened choice to be in an unmarried-but-committed relationship is rather negligible.”

        That’s not the same as saying “I bet that in these unmarried-but-committed relationships, the fraction of mothers who are low-income is negligible.”

  • http://www.bthomson.com Brandon Thomson

    Fascinating that Japan has such a low rate in comparison to all the other countries. I wonder whether the reasons are more cultural or more economic? It seems like the court system has made marriage with the possibility of divorce a financial risk particularly for men here in the US.

    While I have no doubt Master Dogen will attract many women with those tactics, I think that as men we can hold ourselves to a higher standard. Neither extreme of behavior is optimal.

    • anon

      While I have no doubt Master Dogen will attract many women with those tactics, I think that as men we can hold ourselves to a higher standard. Neither extreme of behavior is optimal.

      The optimal strategy is probably relationship-specific and may well be a mixed strategy. Relationship coaches seem to be about equally split between ‘signal “love” by being romantic, but do it randomly and infrequently, not as a matter of course’ and ‘signal leadership and dominance, avoid supplicating behavior at all costs’.

    • samantha webb

      as men you should not be able to hold yourselves to a higher standard because if you were able you would be pregnant all the time because sex is all yall think about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.nancybuttons.com Nancy Lebovitz

    The weird thing is that there seems to be a trend indicating sexual desperation on the women’s side– more stringent body standards and higher heels. This isn’t the behavior of people who can just choose any sexual partner they want.

    And sexual pickiness from men– a lot of them are invested in the idea that women are obligated to be very thin. Again, this isn’t the behavior you’d expect from people with few sexual choices.

    This could be a signaling feature which is running on its own, even if it’s making fewer people happy.

    Also, do you have an opinion about to what extent men want fertile sex as distinct from fertility-indeterminate sex (woman is or might be using birth control)?

    • Dagon

      The weird thing is that there seems to be a trend indicating sexual desperation on the women’s side

      This is consistent with Robin’s thesis (which I don’t fully buy, but does have some compelling aspects) that women are now freer to choose a father based on health/genetic signals (sexiness) rather than long-term support availability.

      Less-desirable women can now compete for sexier men, because they only need a brief bit of attention rather than a many-year commitment. And to compete in that arena, they need to step up their own sexiness signaling.

      In other words, if a woman wants a sexy father for her kid rather than a supportive one, she concentrates on being sexy rather than supportive herself. Instead of signaling good cooking, housekeeping and career (or career-supporting) prospects, she signals health and sexuality herself.

      This is not necessarily “develop in yourself what you want in a mate”, but in these cases works out the same. And to take this logic further, women now (like men traditionally) can choose to signal BOTH types of availability, often to different prospects. Signal sexiness for short-term and genetics, signal support capability (and some sexiness) for long-term commitment.

    • Andrew

      The weird thing is that there seems to be a trend indicating sexual desperation on the women’s side– more stringent body standards and higher heels. This isn’t the behavior of people who can just choose any sexual partner they want.

      From my own observation, this is not sexual desperation per se. I know a lot of women exhibiting this kind of desperate behavior and there is no shortage of sex in their lives.

      What has happened is that there is a rapidly shrinking availability of exclusivity from males, in large part because there is rapidly shrinking benefit in it for males. Many of the women I know are explicitly trying to buy relative exclusivity with sex appeal in a pool of males where they have to fish pretty close to the bottom-feeders to find males willing to reliably commit to exclusivity. Most of the women I know still seem to strongly desire exclusivity but it is not as much of a default assumption as it used to be. There is a more competitive attention economy in long-term relationships and I think women are adapting to that reality. For better or worse, that seems to be something of a positive feedback loop.

      My own perception is that the social, legal, and economic downsides of non-exclusivity have greatly diminished for males (and perhaps females) during my adult life such that some no longer even need to create the pretense of exclusivity in many cases.

    • kvn

      I believe this trend of increasing sexualization of women demonstrates that many women are now effectively polygynous. A vast swathe of young men are now relegated to a sexless existence as women compete for the attentions of a relatively small number of dominant men.

      With the financial independence of women, and the welfare state (welfare recipients are overwhelmingly female) stable, unsexy men have no bargaining chips.

      This new arrangement replaces the old monogamous social order which primarily benefited stable males. The new, polygynous order rewards high-status males and is essentially neutral for women.

      • MineCanary

        Do we actually have any evidence that an increasing number of men are sexless? O.o

        I’d think there’d be more sexless men in a prudish, no-divorce society, where you had much lower chances of getting sex if you weren’t married, and if you were married, you had a very high chance of it being a sexless marriage, and you’d have no societally-approved alternatives like divorce or polyamory.

    • MineCanary

      Or the desire to have a thin and pretty girlfriend has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with social status.

      Males are competitive. Males show up with a girlfriend who fits societal beauty standards, and he’s signaling his social status. Other men are impressed. See hip-hop music and the obsession with wealth, expensive cars and other possessions, and hot women, all at once.

      I see this as a case of traits that once helped with reproductive being co-opted into patterns of behavior that hurt more than they help. Undesirable males often choose no woman over an undesirable woman–although they don’t always see it that way. They want to preserve their sense of their own desirability and the illusion that other people see them as desirable because for some reason the brain thinks that MAKES them more desirable and seen as more desirable.

  • Martin

    I was also stunned, but only by this part: “There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage”. I live in Sweden, where children being born out of wedlock is the norm, and I don’t feel it has caused any hardship or human misery.

    • http://www.churchofrationality.blogspot.com LemmusLemmus

      It’s the good old correlation-causation problem, plus international differences, I guess. In US samples being born to an unwed mother is associated with all kinds of undesirable characteristics in children: Low birth weight, later unemployment, drug abuse, etc. It is unclear whether this relationship is causal. As far as I know, unwed mothers in the US are typically poor, poorly educated and in unstable relationships, if any.

      In Sweden, I seem to remember, unwed mothers are often well off and in stable relationships, so one should not expect being born to a single mom to be associated as strongly with problems later in life.

      (The above is based on various articles I’ve read on the topic; I don’t have specific cites. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.)

  • http://t-a-w.blogspot.com/ Tomasz Wegrzanowski

    Sex, parenthood, long term relationships, and marriage are so disconnected that any analysis that equates all four is ridiculous.

    If anything it’s far easier these days to find sex partners than it was historically. All sorts of sex surveys are highly dubious, but I’d have guessed that in a highly traditional country like Iran today, or 19th century Europe, median number of sex partners in lifetime was something like 1 (more like 0 if we include historically high child mortality, but let’s leave that), and these days it’s in low double digits, or at least very high single digits. Is there any strong evidence against it?

  • Chris

    Robin, this may simply be a decline in shotgun marriages. A possibility:

    Ye Olden Days: “You got my daughter pregnant? Lets get you two to a chapel right now. I don’t want no bastard grandkids.” [Shotgun clicks.]

    Today: “Lets get married after things settle down. Planning a wedding in the next 8 months might be difficult.”

    • MineCanary

      /agrees

      I’m living in Utah, the state with the lowest rate of births to unwed mothers. I was watching a movie with my roommates, where two teenagers get caught having sex and get permission to marry each other.

      One of my roommates, a local, goes into a rant about how they should have been forced to marry each other, and if she ever got two teenagers having sex in her house, she would force them to marry each other. I objected to this, and she further expanded her belief that you shouldn’t be having sex unless you’re willing to get married and it’s your own fault if you end up in an unhappy marriage as a consequence–and also that if you have to put every bit of your energy and happiness into an awful marriage, you should do so, because the marital bond is more important than YOU are in any way.

  • PCD

    I’d ask that you define “sexier” (better looking, more money, funnier, etc?) but this is what really got to me:

    ” More men would be sex-failures with more free time to pursue long-shot plans to reverse their fortunes, and without wives to moderate them. How many of those plans will be peaceful?

    I guess this helps somewhat to explain the explicitly sex-aggressive men I see more of these days.”

    I think that’s jumping to conclusions based on the data. As the first commenter noted, other alternatives exist.

  • Wowow

    Either beta saps aren’t giving in and marrying, or more women can’t even stand the beta’s presence despite the free money they get.

  • denton

    Sounds like somebody has been reading some Roissy in DC.

    • Nathan Cook

      Eh, who doesn’t?

  • Mike

    I think we need to develop a metric for “committed relationships” outside of “marriage.” I know people who intend to spend their lives together, but do not intend to marry, because of the traditional associations with “marriage.” I assume the number of such people is small in the US, if for no other reason than marriage carries legal/financial benefits. But in Europe, perhaps the benefits are not as important, because of expanded social services.

    BTW, there might be nothing new to women seeking “sexier” men to father their children. Women engage in extra-marital affairs, and presumably the instinct to do so is to based on selecting for one type of man to provide the genes for offspring, and another type to help raise the offspring.

  • HH

    Robin
    Isn’t your title for this post most likely wrong? The data you cite indicate that “births to unmarried women have reached an astonishing 39.7%.” This doesn’t actually mean that 40% of US moms are unwed – this would be only true under special circumstances, if wed and unwed moms had the same number of children, on average. There is no evidence that this is true, or at least none that is cited here. If unwed moms account for more births per mother, then the percentage of unwed moms is lower then the percentage of births to unwed moms.

    If anyone doesn’t follow: as a thought experiment, if there are two moms, one married and one unmarried, the percentage of unmarried moms is 50%. However, if the married mom has one child and the unmarried mom has two, then unwed moms account for 67% of all births. Conversely, if the married mom has two children and the unwed mom has one, the percentage of births to unwed moms drops to 33%. In neither case has the percentage of unwed moms changed.

    • MineCanary

      Don’t forget that these are just new moms. Total mothers would include all those from earlier years and even decades, when a higher percentage were wed at the time of giving birth, but would also include those who were married then but are now divorced–what would that be, “de-wed”?

  • John Pertz

    Is there any data on the amount of kids produced in unwedded circumstances? The idea that hardship flows from producing unwedded children does not hold up well when you consider the European percentages. However, if the average European female is only producing a child or two out of wedlock and the average American female is producing three or four kids out of wedlock then certainly that could account for the difference in hardship.

  • Dagon

    What happened to the “overcoming” part of “overcoming bias”? Perhaps it’s possible for some members of the species to have individual preferences and make decisions to optimize different happiness factors than just sex and children (which are, for the modern wealthy people who read this blog, almost unrelated concepts).

  • http://metanomics.net Robert Bloomfield

    Robin, what is the mechanism for the change in male in response to this trend? There certainly hasn’t been time for natural selection to take hold (by which the sexier-but-unhelpful guys reproduce these traits at a higher rate). Viva Lamarck? Or do we guys have a built in unmarried-mom-tendency detector, and we know just how to react?

    I’m just sayin’….

  • Clarence

    Nancy:

    The reason that women don’t seem to have the control you think they should have is because these women are by and large competing for the top 10 to 15 percent of men when they are young and nubile, and leaving the remaining 85 percent plus of men mostly sexless until *some of them* decide to “settle” with a lucky? schmoe in their mid to late 30′s.

    This is a great time to be pickup artist. Most women would be shocked to see how much easier it is for them to acquire sex than for the average joe, esp. if they were to “lower their standards” – which , ironically, often means don’t date “bad boys” and “jerks”.

    • anon

      Good point, except that Nancy stated “more stringent body standards” [sic] and “women are obligated to be very thin” [!] as evidence of increased pickiness and competition.

      In other words, he’s looking at the top 10 to 15% of women himself and not even realizing it! A crystal-clear example of halo effect and availability bias.

    • pap26

      The reason that women don’t seem to have the control you think they should have is because these women are by and large competing for the top 10 to 15 percent of men when they are young and nubile, and leaving the remaining 85 percent plus of men mostly sexless

      Interesting and oft-repeated point, but it begs the question: what happens to the unattractive or plain women in your equation? If indeed all or most women choose to compete for the top 10-15 percent of men, do we assume that these lucky guys dutifully have sex with all the plain ones as well as the attractive women, who are in plentiful supply and constantly available?

      If not, does your argument assume that the plain or unattractive ladies remain sexless rather than copulate with the lower 85 percent of males, despite ‘liberation’ presumably giving them more incentives to want and enjoy sex?

  • John Pertz

    Sorry I read the stats the wrong way. So the US does have a far smaller percentage of out of wedlock births than some of the Western European nations.

  • josh

    It’s Moore’s law versus the collapse of civilization? Place your bets.

  • Floccina

    Western men have the option of importing 3rd world women.

    • kevin

      I don’t believe a statistically significant number of men do this.

    • MineCanary

      I have a great-uncle who tried that twice and got dumped as soon as they could leave him. /shrugs

  • Kay Hymowitz

    Actually, that 40% rate is misleading. The vast majority of unmarried mothers are low income women with only a high school education or a couple years of college. The out of wedlock birthrate among college educated women remains well below 10%. Their divorce rates have also been declining for several decades.
    In other words, Robin, your theory about the lure of the super sexy men would only apply to less educated women. Women with a college degree or higher continue to look for long term helpers and, evidently, to find them. Given the apparent benefits for their children – see here: http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/information_show.htm?doc_id=290693 – their strategy seems to be paying off.

    Rob et. al: about 40% of unmarried mothers are cohabiting when they give birth. Those relationships tend to break up at a much higher rate than marriages. See http://www.springerlink.com/content/u347mq424j8378l2 among many other studies. These are American statistics. Cohabiting relationships in Sweden, for instance, appear to be more stable.

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  • bevamirage

    Mississippi has the highest percentage of African-Americans of any state at 38.
    DC is at 55.2%.
    Liberal policy is to increase welfare, diminishing the value of provider males. The Desmond Hatchetts are doing laps in the genetic pool.

  • Patri Friedman

    Wow, I’ve just been learning about exactly these trends, although from less reputable sources than Robin. Robin, if you are interested in learning more, this is a big topic for people who are interested in social conservatism, PUA, and EvBio. See for example “A General Theory of Human Mating”.

    I don’t feel that I understand how this will change things in the coming decades, but it seems inevitable that such a major change in a fundamental social structure will have significant unintended consequences.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      That is a thoughtful, if somewhat sloppy, essay. Worth reading.

    • Eric Johnson

      “In the history of our species [apparently he means the entire history including that prior to agriculture], it seems certain that polygyny – the practice of men having more than one wife – was the predominant model prior to the institution of marriage.”

      This is not what I’ve heard elsewhere. What I’ve heard is that hunter-gatherer polygyny was quite light, with just an extra wife or two, for biggest big shots only. (I gather that this is a deduction from ethnography of 20th C. hunter-gatherers.)

      This author, however, is suggesting that this causes the median-attractiveness female to be rather little-attracted to the median-attractiveness male. Light polygyny should not suffice to select for such a thing.

  • http://alpha-status.blogspot.com/ Master Dogen

    While I can certainly understand if different men (and women) have different ideas about what leads to the most stable relationships, I must take issue with the way you characterize my attitude, Robin.

    I am advocating these measures as a manner of keeping men and women happily together, not driving them apart.

    I don’t have data for it, but philosophically (and at least anecdotally), I feel that a lack of understanding about what makes men and women deeply, emotionally attached to each other is what may be driving up the numbers you quote with such astonishment.

    So while, again, we may disagree on method, we don’t necessarily disagree on the problem at hand. Finally, I have to say that I — naturally — don’t consider those kinds of behavior (gentle hair pulling, raising of ones voice, etc) to be “extreme.”

  • someone

    This post seems to assume that:
    1)The median woman has more sexual partners then the median man
    2) The median (or 25th percentile? 10th percentile? whatever) man by number of sexual encounter or sexual partner has less sex now then he would have in a society with strict standards of monogamy
    3) That woman are actually more picky then men when choosing partner for relationships (rather then casual sex)
    4) That women lower willingness to have casual sex isn’t largely a result of the differences in the social consequences of having lots of sex partners has for men and women in our societ.

    Im not convinced on any of these points…

  • Mjaybee

    We need more punitive divorce laws to punish men. Only then will they realize the life of an enslaved, married drone is far better than the life of a free, real man.

    When will they learn?

  • Psychohistorian

    ‘The new equilibrium we are moving toward seems a very different world. Women free to pick a dad without expecting him to stay as a long term helper probably pick sexier men. ”

    This analysis is probably completely and totally backwards. You assume women now collectively have stopped caring if a man actually sticks around to take care of the kids. There is no good reason to believe this. One does not see women finding an attractive man, having his children, and bidding him farewell; one sees serious female effort put towards perfecting their looks and such to attract such a man to stay with him. Attracting such a man to sleep with one is not particularly difficult. Women are (generally) trying to get men to stick around and failing, not ceasing to care about whether they stick around.

    I believe what has actually happened is that men have stopped sticking around; I doubt women’s preferences have changed much. This reverses pretty much all of your inferences, and it fits in much better with contemporary female behaviour and efforts at staying thin and looking pretty.

    If men have more power, women will probably become more aggressive in order to net a potential mate (especially with birth control). This suggests more sex and less selection on sexual partners. People emphatically do not operate off of a conscious ev-psych motivation to make lots of babies, so competition for sex and competition for kids are largely separable, and women preferring ‘better quality men’ who don’t stick around to raise the kids makes virtually no sense whatsoever.

    “Sex-failures” are quite different from “kid-failures,” and most men don’t mind being the latter anywhere near as much as the former. It seems that if men have more power collectively, they get more sex collectively, so there are unlikely to be dire consequences from this. Indeed, if men are generally unwilling to commit and women want commitment, this is a massive potential gain for less desirable men, as they can now offer something that the hotties can’t (or won’t). If all men are generally willing to settle down, this is no longer a special bargaining chip.

    It is admittedly possible that women will be unsuccessful enough at obtaining mates that they will collectively give up and stop trying, but I don’t see how such collective action will come about anytime soon on a very large scale; women would still be better off if they could “catch” a man, so it seems unlikely for them to all agree that this is no longer a desirable thing.

    “Master Dogen’s” approach will become more viable as a result of this, but it seems unlikely to be dominant or even beneficial compared to the alternative (especially for low-status men), though which approach is better is admittedly sensitive to individual male preferences.

    Also, Europe is very different because, as mentioned elsewhere here, they just don’t care about being married as much as Americans do.

    • Chris

      If women really wanted commitment from guys who’d make good dads, Asian nerds would not have a serious problem in the US mating market. Instead, a disproportionate fraction of the latter are utterly shafted, and I can assure you that it’s not ultimately because they’re too scared of rejection to ask women out much (though I won’t deny that the greater average Neuroticism of Asians does exacerbate the problem).

      Almost all the complaints you hear from women about commitment are specifically about sexy men. The current revealed preference of most women is: sexy is necessary, commitment is only valuable on top of that.

      (Full disclosure: Yes, I’m aware that outliers exist. I’m currently looking for an available one, since I have no interest in learning PUA to pick up a woman who I’d have to put on an act for for the rest of my life to keep. I expect this search will take a long time, and may eventually lead outside this country.)

  • http://www.infoaxe.com Vijay Krishnan

    I dare say the percentage of children born in the last few years to unwed mothers would be even higher. The book “The Bell Curve” cites that percentage to be about 50% even in the mid 90s. It is this percentage that influences the direction in which the percentage of unwed mothers is going, and

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  • mjaybee

    One does not see women finding an attractive man, having his children, and bidding him farewell; one sees serious female effort put towards perfecting their looks and such to attract such a man to stay with him.

    Wrong. Women perfect their looks to get a man. Once they are pregnant or married, that effort fades away, as the government will enforce and obtain his financial support of her and her children.

    Why bother expending the energy when you can be “liberated” and enjoy a tax-free annuity for 18 years??

    • Psychohistorian

      Do you have data to back this up? All I’ve seen of both popular culture and personal experience suggests that, ceteris paribus, a woman who finds a desirable man will try to keep him. It’s certainly true that there are women who will get knocked up and then try to get the guy to stick with them, and, failing that, take child support. Child support is, I’m guessing 90%+ of the time (at least initially), strictly inferior to having a decent husband. It’s possible they put a bit less effort into keeping him than they did to finding him, but that’s not relevant to my claim. I could be wrong, but if most women want to get knocked up by an attractive/desirable man and don’t care if he calls them back, they could probably manage, and I have never heard of a woman taking this approach.

      I would be very surprised to find that there are women who actually find a man for the purpose of getting knocked up and then actively dismiss him from their lives once this has happened, as opposed to trying to keep him around and failing.

      • JustMyTwoCents

        Psychohistorian says: I would be very surprised to find that there are women who actually find a man for the purpose of getting knocked up and then actively dismiss him from their lives once this has happened, as opposed to trying to keep him around and failing.

        I am dating a woman right now who wants to get pregnant and had went to a bluegrass festival to get pregnant and then raise the child herself. She also had a best friend offer her significant other as a source of sperm if she wanted a child. She didn’t, she says, because she felt her financial situation wouldn’t allow it. She doesn’t have a problem with the idea at all.

        She also approached me with a similar proposition, that I would be a minority stake parent with little say or responsibility in the parenting but contribute financially.

        She is a graduate degree holder, teaches at a university, and nearing forty years of age. This is not quite what Psychohistorian said, an “active dismissal” but it is decently close. I offer this anecdote for whatever value it might hold.

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  • perianwyr

    Some *creepy dudes* read economics blogs.

    This, of course, is the constant position of a supplicant.

    YOU HAVE COME TO A WORLD CALLED GOR *whipcrack*

    • Amanda

      …..You said it….

    • http://alpha-status.blogspot.com/ Master Dogen

      Oh, please. I’m using that word in the general sense. Do you honestly think that’s the kind of thing I am talking about? Or are you just seizing on that word to make a cute little unthinking joke?

      There is such a thing as power dynamics in relationships. The fact that bringing this up from a male perspective instantly makes people think of cracking whips and “creepiness” shows how completely unacceptable it has become for men to assert their masculinity in certain circles.

      I find the complete unwillingness to engage with anything approaching intellectual honesty rather disheartening. My response would be “Some *snarky dudes* read economics blogs.”

      My argument is simple and actually rather tangential to Robin’s point (which I make clear in the original post, if you take time to read it). It is this: Some men assume that to keep a relationship going, they must constantly tiptoe around on eggshells lest they disturb the queen bee; and that it doesn’t have to be this way. And that many, many (in my experience most) women and men are far happier in relationships where the power dynamic runs the other way, at least some of the time.

      But getting to this point takes many men out of their comfort zone, and so they daren’t try, or they try in a very half-assed way that indeed comes across as creepy or just bizarre.

      Robin’s careful editing of my words (notice there are four ellipses) is done for dramatic effect, I can only assume. And he never responded to my objection above about how he totally mischaracterized my argument.

      • Ed

        “You must continue signaling your dominance”…”Raise your voice sternly when she steps out of line, flirt shamelessly with other women in public.” I feel sorry for the poor girl you’re in a relationship with (if there even is one).. what you’re describing is not healthy, and that’s not to say that “tip-toeing around on eggshells lest you disturb the queen bee” is healthy either. The fact of the matter is that there should be no set dominant, both parties should be equal in the relationship. Granted there will be times when one party or the other will be slightly more dominant but the balance should soon return. The type of relationship you describe sounds incredibly abusive, not physically, but mentally abusive. Its the “girls like assholes” mentality that is ruining our society. This is where it all starts. Women date men (boys) like you, get hurt, and decide to go on about their lives with the “male mentality” to prevent being hurt again; therefore hurting other men and being promiscuous, and eventually leading to the super high rate of unwed mothers in our country. The fact of the matter in all this is that the OP is half right, women do need to be reminded that men are still interested in them, just as men do. They just need it in different ways.

        You must continue signaling your dominance
        You must continue signaling your dominance
        You must continue signaling your dominance
        You must continue signaling your dominance

  • mark

    Any man who knows anything about family law would not be at all surprised by this.

    The State is the de facto father to these children, hitting up some chump for child support and throwing him in jail if hedoesn’t pay.

    The chump could be totally unrelated to the child (see here) or a male teenager that was molested by an older woman, who can gain custody of a child and collect child support from her victim (see here for a broader background).

    Oh, and if you don’t pay your alimony or if you are believed to be hiding money for alimony, you can be sentenced to years in prison by a family court judge without the benefit of a jury trial, rules of evidence, or the right to confront your accuser (see here).

    Not a surprise that the situation has turned to where it has.

  • mark

    Single Mothers by Choice (here).

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  • http://www.imagingatoms.com/ jjones444

    Everyone knows that there are many unmarried mothers in this country, but 40% is shocking. It’s not a surprise that Utah has the lowest percentage of children born out of wedlock, but why is D.C. the highest?

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