When You Go On a Date, Are You Actually Making a Deal?

woman in front of plateSophomore year of college, my best friend came back from summer break obviously distraught. She had just told her mother that she was having sex with her college boyfriend, and her mother replied, "Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?" While I thought her mother was way uncool for such a lack of acceptance, she was also on to something, and it's being called Sexual Economics

According to the presentation, "Sexual Economics: A Research-Based Theory of Sexual Interactions, or Why the Man Buys Dinner," in countries where women need to use sex to get what they want, they're having less casual sex. And that's because less casual sex gets them higher valued products, like marriage proposals. As a pleasure-based sex educator, it makes me sad to commodify casual sex, but I'd be silly not to admit that sex is, for a lot of women, one tool in their shed. 

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Whether or not I understand using sex as a means to an end, when you're not doing it as a paid professional, it feels way more like using men and not loving them. I'm not a fan of users. Roy Baumeister, the man behind the presentation, says,

If women don't have many opportunities to make money on their own, they need the value of sex to be as high as possible. When women don't have other opportunities, sex is the main thing she has to offer.

I'm all for the commodification of sex on a professional level. Prostitution is one of the oldest professions, and it's a good outlet for the types of people that want or need to pay to get laid. But that doesn't mean I think that in our everyday lives we should be thinking about how to use sex to get what we want from a guy (the study was very heterosexual). We should be thinking about how to use our smarts, whether street or intelligence, to woo our man. 

The study focuses on when couples first date, when a dinner and movie combo might get him a blow job and sex. It makes me think that glossy women's magazines should start rewriting their covers to include techniques on how to have hot sex with our man so we can get the most out of him.

I don't like thinking of dating as tit for tat. I don't like thinking of it as a deal. But just because I don't like it doesn't mean I don't understand it. Even when we're married, and even if we don't have sex out of obligation, are we still secretly hoping to get something more out of the sex? Maybe we want to be closer to our partner, maybe we want to end a fight, or maybe we want a new car. Maybe a yes to a dinner date also means yes to sex after dinner.

Just like chivalry isn't dead when it's done right, women's sexuality isn't a commodity when it's done out of a place of love and not need. 

When have you used sex as a commodity?


Image via GKS/Flickr

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