Cities As Harems

Many animal species are organized into harems, wherein a single male dominates a group of females and their children. When males become adult, they must leave home and wander singly or in small male groups hoping to tempt harem females into liaisons or to start new harems.

I’ve heard that polygamous sects are often run this way today, with older men kicking out young men when they come of age. But re-reading Montaillou on rural 1300 France makes me realize that humanity has long has related harem-like gender patterns.

Back in 1300 France, centrality gave status. The biggest cities were at the top, above towns and then villages. At the bottom were woodcutters and shepards, all male, who spent most of their time wandering far from villages or towns. Along with soldiers and sailors, these men lived dangerous low-status high-mobility lives in sparse areas. They sometimes tempted women into liaisons, or made it rich enough to start a family in a village. Such mating strategies may explain why such men moved so often even they were poor and moving is expensive.

Back in the high status centers, there remained a few high status men and women, many low status women, but fewer low status men. The lower status women were often servants to high status males, and often had affairs with them.

In the US today, the states with the most men relative to women are Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nevada, Utah, and Montana — mostly harsher low density areas. In contrast, the states with the most women relative to men are District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, near some of our biggest high status cities. Most big US cities have more women than men. The exceptions are San Jose, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Austin, Seattle, San Diego, places with new booming, mostly tech, industries. Men are more willing to move to try new often-harsher industries and places.

We hear college-educated women complain today that there aren’t enough college-educated men to go around, either during college itself or afterward. Of course there are plenty of other men around, but these women mostly consider such men beneath them. Seems to me this isn’t that different from 1300 France; women are more eager to locate near high status people. They focus on high status men, and lament there aren’t enough to go around.

Sometimes people fear today that low status men unhappy from being unable to find women will cause havoc. But in the past men avoided such feelings successfully by just avoiding women. By rarely seeing women they less often felt the envy that might cause havoc. If there’s a bigger problem today it might be because low status men more often come into contact with attractive but unavailable women. From this perspective, maybe low status men avoiding women via male-oriented video games isn’t such a bad thing?

Added 5July: Birds are like this too.

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  • dat_bro06

    It is an interesting theory – no doubt some truth to it — but I wonder about a selective reading of the data in at least one case (w/o exploring the others). E.g. the m/f ratio in a city like NYC, is it low because of harem dynamics you ascertain, or is it driven by something along the lines of, females overindex in professional fields such as marketing, non-for-profit, and media/fashion, which have a strong presence (I’m not arguing for this, just hypothesizing). In the case of this example, you may have a cultural smoking gun in the form of a very bad television drama by the name of Sex & The City which is about attractive females who move to NYC to complain about the lack of high status males. This show has been off the air for a decade+ but still serves as a subconscious mating call to females re: NYC.

    M/f ratios in Silicon Valley are absurd and there are numerous ostensibly high status males; one would think enterprising females would be in the process of arbitraging some of this away, but income level/ wealth is not a key metric tracked by the better sex, apparently, and as you have posted before (http://www.overcomingbias.com/2015/09/max-millers-mate.html). Maybe there is an economic opportunity in creating the “General Assembly” for training to follow the wisdom imparted by Tucker Max et al, though I suspect many of these barriers are in fact racial.

    Re: video games (and ubiquitous, free, pornography), as it relates to female avoidance, what a time to be alive, when it is upon these technologies that society’s equilibrium and stability are dependent.

    • Trimegistus

      Women are trying to get into Silicon Valley. There’s a huge push for “diversity” and an end to the bad old male-dominated meritocracy of technical skill in programming.

      When this happens, sell all your tech stocks because the software industry will go the way of automaking.

      Odd that women don’t seem to give a shit about there being too many men in dangerous, unpleasant, poorly-paid jobs like oilfield work, fishing, or mining. I guess diversity isn’t important if there aren’t cushy office jobs involved.

      • dat_bro06

        You rightly point out some glaring hypocrisies here but that doesn’t mean the push for women in tech/ STEM fields will lead to some kind of a suboptimal outcome — I know great female software engineers — but I believe that many women do get turned off from technical fields at a young age for other (silly) reasons, eg “i was raised to marry rich” to “i don’t want to intimidate prospective mates with my intelligence”

      • esoxlucius

        Try finding a woman selling cars. The push for diversity only happens when the industry is trendy and status-worthy.

    • jk2018

      Regarding Silicon Valley, the problem is that these males, as a subset, are wholly unattractive partners when normalizing for wealth. It’s no doubt known that the tech industry attracts many quirky (at best) males with less than stellar mating attributes, and the reality is that most women loathe to mate with these types of males no matter their monetary status.

      A place like NYC will have a much much different version of Alpha Male than the Silicon Valley “alpha”, and women fully understand this.

      • dat_bro06

        I agree with you and I agree with the ‘harem hypothesis’ but I was also proposing that the reason the “dislocation” b/t the ability of an NYC-alpha and a SV-alpha/beta to “pull tail”, given both traditional mating attributes (sans race ;-)) and real income levels, seems greater than I would have expected (mostly based on unreliable anecdote), and that a reason for this may be racial (ie attractive women of all races prefer white men. Studies and data like that provided by OKCupid confirm this). So I am getting at a race factor/ multiplier which further widens the inequality.

      • jk2018

        I don’t think I can buy-in to the racial angle here. I have nothing to back me up, but I would guess that the SV alpha (real world beta) is still disproportionately white, debunking your hypothesis on its face. As well, NYC attracts large numbers of ‘other races’ too (mostly East Asian and Indian, same as SV), with the difference being they are in less “tech” oriented fields.

        Finally, while I agree with the idea that white men are most sought after, a plethora of real world experience tells me that this bias is easily overcome. I know plenty of non-white men who have done very well with white women (the presumable target demographic), and the common denominator is that none of them are spergy tech robots.

        Women want MEN, not “ummm, well, I think I might maybe summon up the courage to go talk to her and ask her out, and who knows, maybe she is into coding and video games like me” men, the latter of which fills up places like SV. That will always and forever be the ultimate deciding factor.

      • dat_bro06

        Here is a data set (http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/your-race-affects-whether-people-write-you-back/).

        Right again — “Women want MEN”. However, in my experience, many men I know who would look like East Coast “alpha’s” on paper (banking, sales & trading, etc) are actually quite docile, nerdy, and nervous around females just as are the SV comp sci stereotypes to which you allude. Again, limited sample sizing, but not a misperception that has not been called out before (despite what Wolf of Wall St. would lead audiences to believe).

        So if you have nerds writing code on one side and nerds analyzing stocks or pitching business in the capital markets on the other, what’s the difference b/t the groups? Well in my experience the latter group skews white. Another is finance still has sex appeal, and tech doesn’t (we’re getting circular, I realize).

      • wsmy1981

        As the saying goes (among women): the odds are good, but the goods are odd.

      • eyes_in_the_sky

        We’re supposed to believe that Silicon Valley is full of weird effeminate geeks, and we’re also supposed to believe that it’s full of hypermasculine “brogrammers”. But either way they are supposed to be unattractive. As usual, reality has little in common with the media narrative, men in Silicon Valley are more normal than you would expect, and SV is a bonanza for single women.

      • jk2018

        I’ll give you half a point, as “hypermasculine brogrammers” is a contradiction in itself, so you’re correct there. I’ve lived in the Bay Area, I’ve known plenty of guys in tech, and by and large they actually are weird effeminate geeks who have no idea how to find and keep a mate. Many are delusional egotists who simply can’t understand why their money and programming skillzzz are wholly unattractive when compared to other sets of traits, but if one tries to tell them how to improve their lot in dating they will immediately dismiss all advice.

        Hell, the irony in your second paragraph is dripping off the page, and you can’t even see it. Any man who constantly toes the line of anything and is scared to contradict a woman when it comes to dating is exactly the type of man that women DO NOT WANT. Let me say that again…women DO NOT WANT indecisive, soft, meek men who lack conviction when it comes to dating and mating. When it comes to women a man can say and do practically anything if it’s done authentically and with conviction, but insecurity is is the soup du jour in SV.

        In short, BE BOLD and BUST A MOVE.

      • eyes_in_the_sky

        Well I know lots of well-adjusted men in SV who are lonely too. So it’s still a good place for single women.

      • JW Ogden

        Since men have the stronger sex drive, shouldn’t they take the drive from SV to NYC if the women are in NYC?

  • Daniel Carrier

    > From this perspective, maybe low status men avoiding women via male-oriented video games isn’t such a bad thing?

    But videogames commonly have women in them. Do they count?

    • Don Reba

      Those women typically don’t reject you, though.

  • Maximum Liberty

    This does not seem persuasive unless you can explain how it overlaps with the “Western European marriage pattern” that began before the Black Plague. That pattern emphasizes that men had to gather a certain amount of material wealth before they could start a family. If they were not going to be the one who inherited dad’s land strips in the manor fields, then hey had to look for alternatives, which often meant wandering around looking for work. But just because, at any point in time, there were many men doing so does not mean that they stayed that way. We don’t know what percent were successful, since we don’t have a denominator by which to divide marriage records.

    Also, part of the Western European marriage pattern was monasteries and nunneries — which together take both men and women off the market. That implies that this is not a case of two sex- and status-based strategies competing, but broader institutions that primarily related to the inability of some families to provide sufficiently productive lives for their children to allow grandchildren.

    • http://overcomingbias.com RobinHanson

      The book I cite makes it clear that in 1300 shepards managed to have far fewer marriages over their whole life cycle. Most never married. Yes nunneries also isolated women from men, but that was a much smaller %.

  • Frosty2013

    Men don’t need to avoid women so much as have low cost replacements for the needs women fill. WIth access to essentially unlimited porn on the internet, an explosion in male sex toys, VR sex and now fairly realistic female sex dolls and sex robots, many of the traditional female roles are filled. Keeping a home tidy and doing the housework is easy for a small house with modern electronics and men tend to find socializing with other men around shared interests to be more fulfilling than spending time with women. With no family/wife/kids to take care of living costs have plummeted and so men have extremely large amounts of spare cash for recreational drugs, alcohol, smoking, video games, sports, and indulge in just about any hobby they wish.

    It’s a good thing that males have outlets like gaming, porn, sports and beer because it helps us function in a broken society that demonizes men. The big issue is that feminists and the left are coming for the porn and coming for video games and demanding we opt back into society and be alpha males to suit their needs. Except that’s objectively a bad deal for us with divorce, alimony, child support, women have become a legal and financial liability. And as male competition drops from both women pricing themselves out of the market, and the rest of the men going their own way (MGTOW) it means the few alphas left will have so much choice they wont ever need to commit, they can just endlessly play the field and never settle.

    Interestingly enough this arrangement while caused by women and feminists through the proxy violence of the state, actually suits men better when we opt out, generally we’re pretty happy soaked in beer and playing video games and jerking off to porn, where as women tend to prefer meaningful relationships and building a family etc, and that’s reflected in all the studies on happiness showing womens has been in steady decline since the 1970’s whereas mens is about the same.

    • http://stevefoerster.com/ Steve Foerster

      “WIth access to essentially unlimited porn on the internet, an explosion in male sex toys, VR sex and now fairly realistic female sex dolls and sex robots, many of the traditional female roles are filled.”

      Um, speak for yourself.

      • Frosty2013

        That’s a little naive, these industries are among some of the biggest on earth and growing rapidly, and the stigma around male sex toys is going away. It’s just part of our new reality and will continue to be in greater amounts.

      • http://www.fighting4fair.com/ Crusty Theprawn
      • Gene Callahan

        Telling you to speak for yourself is “naive”?! But here is something naive: arguing that because something is “part of our new reality,” we should approve it. “Hey, comrade, the gulag is just part of our new reality!”

      • Frosty2013

        With the obvious difference that the Gulag is clearly immoral where as porn and sex toys when used between consenting adults is clearly not immoral. Feel free to disapprove all you want, no one is forcing you to partake in any part of the sex/porn industry, but the vast majority of adults do as is evidence by these industries being some of the biggest on the planet, and denying as much is naive.

      • Gene Callahan

        I think you meant to say that “porn and sex toys are also clearly IMmoral.” And the explanation of why this is so has been available for a couple of thousand years.

      • Gene Callahan

        And in any case, you response does nothing to address my remark: simply because something is “part of our new reality” says nothing about whether we should approve of it.

      • Gene Callahan

        And by what criteria do you judge the Gulag “clearly immoral”? Most progressives at the time praised Stalin, and thought the Gulag “clearly moral”!

      • Frosty2013

        I judge it with secular ethics, forced labour camps violate the NAP (Non aggression principle). There’s no sense in which mutually consenting adults who aren’t initiating violence against anyone is immoral. By what standards do you find sex toys immoral? If something is moral and permissible and people want to use them, and do use them then it becomes part of our reality and there’s not much you can do to stop that. You can disapprove all you like, but other peoples rights don’t end where your feelings begin.

    • anon

      > With no family/wife/kids to take care of living costs have plummeted and
      so men have extremely large amounts of spare cash for recreational
      drugs, alcohol, smoking, video games, sports, and indulge in just about
      any hobby they wish.

      Well said. Beta uprising is something that happens quite a bit in backward, underdeveloped societies where people really have no outlet – but who needs that when you have your sports TVs, videogames and *chans?

      • Frosty2013

        Well exactly. Rational self interest, do what makes you happy and doesn’t put your livelihood at risk, why would anyone do anything else?

        Y’know, outside of some crazy ideology or religion.

      • Fraga123

        Or Moschino Barbie:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TULVRlpsNWo

        So fierce!

    • HammerOfThor

      I think this sentence is unsubstantiated:

      > Of course there are plenty of other men around, but these women mostly consider such men beneath them.

      An equally likely possibility is that women are lamenting not being approached by a large number of men. Another possibility is simply that they are covering up for their insecurities.

      And maybe when males say ‘women consider most men to be beneath them’, that’s also a way of covering up for insecurities.

      • Frosty2013

        I think you replied to the wrong person. Either way I’ll address this. If you look at certain sources of stats such the OKCupid’s (dating site) breakdown of female behaviour, you’ll find things like on average women vote 80% of men as “below average” attractiveness, which statistically doesn’t make any sense, this demonstrates that womens expectations simply aren’t in line with reality. There is actually good real world indicators that women today are still hypergamous despite earning their own wage and providing for themselves, they still look for males who earn more than them, what this is doing is pricing themselves out of the market by demanding a level of quality in men that doesn’t exist in great enough numbers for them all to settle with. A large part of taking the red pill as a man is learning the hypergamous nature of women and how they have a strong preference for dating up where as men typically date across, or even down.

      • HammerOfThor

        > you’ll find things like on average women vote 80% of men as “below
        average” attractiveness, which statistically doesn’t make any sense

        Really. It’s entirely possible that okcupid’s male user-base (being self-selected) is indeed 80% below average attractiveness. From my experience it’s certainly the case that the female user-base is 80% (actually, probably 90%) below average attractiveness, where I define average attractiveness as ‘the women I see on a daily basis, including the not-so-attractive ones.’

        > what this is doing is
        pricing themselves out of the market by demanding a level of quality in
        men that doesn’t exist in great enough numbers for them all to settle
        with.

        Source? Link? Anything?

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

        What makes you think that “below average attractiveness” applies primarily to income? I don’t know the data, but I’m inclined to think that, in the first instance, “attractiveness” means (and has always meant) good looks.

  • http://facelessbureaucrat.blogspot.com/ Bill Harshaw

    The American pattern for a number of years (1790- ?) was for the males to move west while women stayed in the east.

    Your post seems to be undecided whether it’s the men who ” are
    more willing to move to try new often-harsher industries and places” or the women who “are more eager to locate near high status people”. Maybe it’s the case that the occupations offering most opportunity vary by sex and by location?

    are more eager to locate near high status people
    are more eager to locate near high status people
    are more eager to locate near high status people
    are more eager to locate near high status people
    are more eager to locate near high status people
    are more eager to locate near high status people

  • esoxlucius

    There’s no reason anymore to get married. No reason to have kids. There’s too much fun to be had while being single. I’m 44 and I still have friends from college who are happily unmarried and even happier to not have kids.

    • eyes_in_the_sky

      I knew in the abstract that getting married was a bad idea if you’re a man, but then I found this site: http://www.realworlddivorce.com/ It was created by an MIT entrepreneur (presumably after a bad divorce) and it’s full of data about what actually happens when marriages go south, broken down by US state. Reading the site really hammered in just how bad it is for men in the US. Sample quotes:

      >”When young people ask me about the law as a career,” said one litigator, “I tell them that in this country whom they choose to have sex with and where they have sex will have a bigger effect on their income than whether they attend college and what they choose as a career.”

      >In the early days of no-fault [1970s] guys who’d been ordered to hand over 80 percent of their income and could only see the children a few hours per month would say ‘this isn’t worth it’ and head to the opposite coast to start a new life. Enough guys had done this that starting in the 1980s and 1990s the federal government built a nationwide system to force fathers to continue participating in the involuntary position of noncustodial parent and payor of all the bills. It would be simpler to bring back slavery.

      >Michigan, which ultimately jails one out of seven divorced fathers, collects more child support per case than any other state in the country.

      Suffice to say that I’m not having sex anymore until I move to a different state and I would definitely sit a buddy down for a conversation & try to talk him out of getting married. Sex in Massachussetts, and marriage (incl. common law marriage) are now on my “high risk activities done by impulsive stupid people” list along with drunk driving, living paycheck to paycheck, and trying heroin.

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  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

    Of course there are plenty of other men around, but these women mostly consider such men beneath them.

    I think this represents wishful thinking by college-educated males.

  • Sweetbeak greatest fan

    More like Sharems.

  • efalken

    I think porn is somewhat responsible for the decline in rape, which is a good thing, yet onanism is clearly subject to the golden mean.

    Without forming a pair bonds between mates and progeny, one’s relationships are generally much weaker, and strong personal relationships are key to a good life.

    The old Western focus on the nuclear family was very helpful, because it generated just enough close ties, but not so many that tribal allegiance dominated social and professional life. As fatherless families rise the state takes its place, but its a pale second.

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  • http://manwithoutfather.com/ Tom Arrow

    ‘Gender patterns’

    I think that gender refers to the literary device. You likely mean sex patterns.