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Anthropologists state that men are naturally promiscuous seeking pleasure with fertile (sexy) women. And, women want to nest with (wealthy) men of upper social standing. This is nature's way of propagating our specie. Guttentag and Secord present another theory that explains more. A popular article in The Atlantic (All the Single Ladies, November 2011) has revived interest in their 30 year old theory.
The two social scientists developed a powerful explanatory model. At its foundation are two driving powers. The first one is whatever sex is in short supply has more "dyadic" power as they have more choices of mates. The second power, structural power, is related to the sex that is dominant within the social infrastructure (Government, Justice, business, etc...). Throughout history, men have controlled structural power.
The coauthors' brilliant insight is in figuring out how the interaction of dyadic and structural powers influences a society's culture. Men's structural power is a given. And, when women have the dyadic power (sex ratio > 100, shortage of women) you will have a traditional society with familiar roles. Even though women have more mating choices, men will counter women's dyadic power with their own structural power to restrict women's potential sexual freedom. In such a traditional society, women's virginity before marriage will be praised and so will marriage, motherhood, and loyalty. Morality will be severe and restrictive. At such time, the arts often promote romantic love and devotion to an idealized woman. However, when men have the dyadic power (sex ratio < 100, surplus of women) you will have a libertine society. Men and women will be more promiscuous. Marriage will be often derided. And, the arts will reflect this libertine culture.Read more ›
WHAT "TOO MANY WOMEN" IS ABOUT: In 1975, Marcia Guttentag wondered what if there were some populations with more of one gender than another. "What," she wrote, "would the social consequences be?"
The sex ratio (or gender ratio) as computed in "Too Many Women?" considers first the marrying, child-bearing population usually 20 to 40 years old. The number of men in this population is divided by the number of women, then multiplied by 100. Thus, if there are 110 men to every 100 women in a population, the sex ratio is 110. The choice of which is numerator and which is denominator is the researcher's, though for convenience, it is usually men as numerator, women as denominator.
As a starting point, the book on page 15, Figure 1.1 shows the sex ratios for the United States from 1790 to 1975, using U.S. Census data. Until 1950, men outnumbered women in the marrying-age population, after which the ratio dropped steeply to 1960. Since then the sex ratio has climbed to the current ratio of about 100: approximately equal numbers of marrying age men & women.
Similar data were extracted and extrapolated by Guttentag and Secord for classical Athens & Sparta, medieval Europe, Orthodox Jews, and Frontier, Southern, and Victorian women in the U.S. Their research method then used qualitative reports including an analysis of Talmudic statements regarding the roles of men & women and quantitative data such as age of marital partners and women's employment to answer the question, "What would the social consequences be?"
THEIR ANSWERS: Their analyses are given in four information-rich chapters in the section titled "Clues from the Past" and four chapters titled "Observations from Recent Times.Read more ›