Sexual Autonomy

Our Greek Ancestors Took Sexual Inequality Seriously

Why can't we liberated moderns?


Sex And the City

It sez something that our ancient ancestors could talk about certain sexual matters without getting their knickers in a knot but we sexually liberated moderns can't.

George Mason University's oddball but brilliant economist, Robin Hanson, who wants to freeze his brain and Xerox his body, got into a world of trouble with feminists and liberals for asking, in the wake of the Toronto attack by an incel—a sexually frustrated involuntary celibate man—why those who worry about income inequality don't also worry about sexual inequality. He also mused if there was any way to redistribute sex.

The liberal world went ballistic. The kindest slam was by Slate's Jordan Weissman who called Hanson "America's Creepiest Economist."

Hanson, who is a libertarian, isn't serious about any state-sponsored redistribution schemes, obviously. He was merely puzzling over why "cultural elites" worry about one kind of inequality but not the other. This might sound nuts to us, but the fact of the matter is that Aristophanes, the Greek comic playwright, linked the two questions back in 319 B.C. in his play called Assemblywomen.

In it, women take over the governance of democratic Athens using subterfuge because, after decades of warfare, the men have lost all their drive—so to speak—and are making a hash of things (some things never change :). The women abolish private property and redistribute wealth, using the food horded by the aristocrats to hold lavish public feasts. But they also mandate sexual equality and require every Greek man to sleep with several old and unattractive women for every young and beautiful one.

Aristophanes' play was a comic exploration of the sexual frustrations of women under a flaccid patriarchy—just as Hanson's blog was an (humorless) explication of male frustrations under a protective feminism.

But, I note in my column at The Week, we shouldn't dismiss Hanson. The sexual revolution has created new winners and losers and the plight of the losers deserves to be taken seriously.

Go here to read the piece.

NEXT: Seattle's Proposed Employment Tax is Just the City's Latest Self-Inflicted Wound

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  1. Since when do libertarians take the plight of losers seriously?

    1. Don’t get upset because a libertarian dumped you.

      1. *sigh* That’s easy to say but when one of the many square-jawed, muscle-bound hunks that populate Libertopia find you wanting, it’s not something you just move on from.

        1. The following website is not safe for work and has a plethora of muscle-bound hunks that dedicate themselves to capitalism and libertine sexual mores:

      2. Here, let me portray for you, my idealistic utopia where we all have “freedom from sexual want”, or, the right to demand your fair share of free sex from the pretty passers-by. An ideal redistributionist society, if you will? As I put on my tin-foil hat, I foresee a future USA where you will have the right to have intercourse (social and/or sexual) with any passer-by that you demand it from, except, of course, the “public servants” who are too busy enforcing your rights, to have intercourse with you. AKA, they are too busy fucking you over, to let you fuck them! And we will have to sneak, under cover of darkness or fog or smog, from house to house, to have any kind of voluntary social or sexual intercourse, for fear of having “freedom” foisted upon us, if we walk about openly? Or maybe we put on a REALLY ugly, slime-dripping disguise, and take our chances? ? This LOVERLY idea brought to you for FREE by the Church of Scienfoology. To learn more about Scienfoology, please see ?

        1. If there must be redistribution, how about free deodorants, shaving kits and copies of How Real Women are Different Than Your Waifu?

          1. How many deodorant choices are you (wo)mandating / allowing?

            1. Any No-Stink-Juice will do. And, yes, FDS will be on offer as well. There’s “feminine musk” and then there’s “dumpster behind the Red Lobster” so that will be accounted for.

              1. No one needs to have 2,500 kinds of perfume to chose from…

                Because I Have Spoken! Make it so!

              2. Have you tried a bedikah cloth?

                1. If my religious sensitivities (especially as an addicted, adoring football-worshiping fan) require me to find a bedikah cloth made out of kosher pigskin…

                  Then WHERE do I go???!?! I NEED one, NOW!!!

          2. Once I get my Tulpa going then I won’t even need to pretend to need real women anymore. Your book is just a list of why they’re worse than my waifu anyway.

            1. Shion Karanomori is pretty hard to improve upon.

          3. Will you accept banning Axe body spray? I will concede to a ban on patchouli oil as well.

            1. If you ban Lavender then expect to see a revolution from me.

              1. Lavender is great for maintaining those man boobs.

            2. Only if there’s an unexpected uptick in ironic t-shirt sales.

          4. Wow. A smart, funny WOMAN posting on Reason? If you’re not just Tony in drag, please come back often.This sausage fest gets pretty tiresome sometimes.

          1. “Who are you to question the punishment those terrorists’ receive?”

    2. There’s definitely overlap between incels and libertarians. Clearly the irony is lost on them; they can’t hack it in the free market of dating just as people often fail in the actual market.

      Similarly, there’s overlap between the socialists and sexual liberators. In sex, both parties should get total say in whether they proceed, but in the actual market a third party should get to dictate the terms of engagement? Doesn’t that mean the third party could be corrupted to force one party into compliance? It’s like when men could buy wives by bribing a girl’s father with dowries.

      Hanson’s thought experiment and this analogy are on point.

      “Free minds and free (sexual) markets where everyone’s a consenting adult doing whatever they want as long as it doesn’t infringe on the persons of property of non-consenting others,” doesn’t make for a great slogan, I suppose.

      1. Libertarian is a hijacked term that means a million things. I wouldn’t be surprised if many incels believe libertarian is simply a strong should dominate the weak philosophy. Not necessarily individualistic, just that those who are better should rule. Which is entirely UNlibertarian, and yet it somehow seems to breed among many people who call themselves that.

        I think that’s the real libertarian to alt-right pipeline. Just people who don’t know what libertarianism is.

        1. Not necessarily individualistic, just that those who are better should rule. Which is entirely UNlibertarian, and yet it somehow seems to breed among many people who call themselves that

          I blame Ayn Rand.

          1. A lot of it probably comes from her, and Nietzsche, who was in no way libertarian.

            1. Nietzsche in a general sense, sure – especially for people who have only a superficial understanding of Nietzsche – but I would argue that it’s Rand whose “oligarchy of Producers” is often explicitly mistaken for libertarianism across the political spectrum and even, as you say, among her own followers.

        2. “I think that’s the real libertarian to alt-right pipeline. Just people who don’t know what libertarianism is.”

          Absolutely. I should’ve been more clear about the level of overlap; I’m still thinking in a pre-2016 mindset before the rise of the alt-right.

          One person I knew described libertarians as folks who, “just want to rape people and smoke weed.” I don’t really know how this person developed such an absurd stereotype, but I’m afraid to even use the label of libertarianism because of how it’s been associated with the violent misogynistic types. I’m somewhat grateful that the alt-right absorbed most of them. I guess that’s pretentious, and now they are totally immersed in a meme-filled echo chamber instead of potentially being exposed to healthier ideas and principles.

  2. Wait. What? Our ancestors were Greek?
    Then how do we get berated for our tired old European white guy heritage?
    More coffee anyone?

    1. The culture passed from Greeks, to Romans, to Byzantines, to Christians, to Catholic England, to Protestant England, to Secular American.

  3. The “Sexual inequality” question should go in the troll hall of fame

  4. Shikha is trolling here. She is trolling so hard you just got to respect it

    1. Props. Time to pay the troll toll, i suppose.

      1. I do certainly want that boy’s soul.

        1. We should do a survey because a whole bunch of you fuckers also like Always Sunny.

          1. You mean you don’t enjoy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

            Libertarian Credentials Revoked!


    2. I told yoy guys you just don’t know how enjoy Shikha. You gots to develop your palate, refine your tastes. Swoosh before you swallow.

      1. Swoosh before you swallow.

        Enough about your last date.

        1. Look, your mom told me to eat a lot of cellery for a reason.

    3. She is trolling so hard you just got to respect it

      Really, this one felt notably around the bend. Like she’s trying her hardest to be a real live troll and this is the best she could come up with. It would be funny if it weren’t so desperate. And dumb.

  5. “All too many social conservatives want to shut down pornography, tighten controls on prostitution, and restore puritanical norms from a time when men and women could only try to meet their sexual needs within the confines of life-long matrimony. This obviously should not (and will not) happen, if for no other reason than it traps too many couples in emotionally and sexually dead marriages.

    “The trouble with the sexual revolution isn’t that it happened, but that it was incomplete. (etc., but without any practical suggestions)”

    I don’t like porn and prostitution, but I distrust a governmental War on Vice.

    But let’s consider why God/nature/evolution left us with sex impulses. It’s so we have an incentive to beget and raise children.

    Begetting and raising children is a choice which requires the cooperation of someone else who wants to make a similar choice, and not everyone chooses, or can manage, that lifestyle.

    But that’s why the sex impulse was implanted/evolved/etc, and we see all around us what happens when people try and separate it from the old, boring system of finding a mate with whom to raise children to adulthood.

    There are plenty of counterarguments to all of this, but these counterarguments require a bit more than a dismissive paragraph.

    1. It’s all this one begat that one. That one begat this one. Lo and behold, someone says some shit to someone else….

      1. Apparently that’s a quote from a movie called Sling Blade.

    2. From an evolutionary perspective I actually view the single mother as more normal. The men are often away fighting for whatever reason men like to fight, and when they die the onus falls on the sensible, safety-minded mother to rear the young. So many isolated villages around the world develop with similar tribal characteristics that I’m inclined to assign some amount of this behavior to our genes.

      Of course, the men’s role in supplying game and protecting the village from plunder was important, but women could do it, and just a handful of men could (and absolutely would, given the chance) supply a whole village of women with genetic material.

      Men have always been, and will be until we have complete artificial gestation, the less important sex. We developed to be reckless and violent because it improved our chances for survival. I noticed in Planet Earth that the big cats like leopards exhibit similar traits. A solitary female will mate with a passing male. That male will kill her current child, and she will then raise the new one alone.

      It’s in our complex society that a nuclear family is so crucial.

      1. “Of course, the men’s role in supplying game and protecting the village from plunder was important, but women could do it,”

        That’s nonsense. How would the ladies protect the village from the raids and the whatever-fighting foreign men? How would they simultaneously depend on male hunters and be fine without them? Also, have you ever noticed that male mate-guarding is a thing?

        Reality is pretty complicated. Yes male parenting is much more facultative. And alloparenting matters. But the emerging picture is removed from your extreme. Check out Sears/Mace, Who Keeps Children Alive? (open access at researchgate), and, for more far-reaching and complete review, Low, Why Sex Matters, Princeton UP, revised ed.

      2. The usual response of human cultures to a sex imbalance due to a high death rate among young men is not single motherhood, but a limited amount of polygamy. The most successful men take up the extra women.

  6. This article is poorly written.

    “Why can we liberated moderns?”

    “It sez”


    1. Improper use of “etc.”.

    2. Read the content, microsoft ward. It’s good. Though The Week should have included Aristophanes

  7. The liberal world went ballistic. The kindest slam was by Slate’s Jordan Weissman who called Hanson “America’s Creepiest Economist.”

    It’s easier than taking his point and commencing introspection.

  8. The sexual revolution has created new winners and losers and the plight of the losers deserves to be taken seriously.

    Serious advice for the “losers” – of the following three options, you may have no more than two:
    1. physical unattractiveness
    2. bad personality
    3. high standards in a partner

    1. Of course, anyone with 1 and 2 always exhibits 3.

      1. You have obviously never been to a Walmart.

      1. It’s okay BUCS, I don’t think your personality is unpleasant.


        1. Let’s not even joke that I’m not ugly. Some things are true. A = A.

          1. I said nothing about you being not ugly…

            re: A = A

            I had an awkward, short, French physics professor who loved to tell awful jokes. My (also very eclectic) calc professor told me that whenever he would meet the physics professor in a break room, he’d joke, “1 = 2 for sufficiently large values of 1,” and giggle quietly while walking away. For years.

            In class he would precede his jokes with, “next time there is awkward silence at party [sic], you can say […].” It was excellent advice. Drunk college kids love jokes about Gauss’s law; I have so many friends now!

            So even if you are nominally ugly, if you approach a sufficiently large level of being not ugly, you truly are not ugly.

            1. 1.4 + 1.4 = 2.8

              Round each term to the nearest whole number if you are a statistician.

          2. I mean, on good days, i’m a strong 6. But my personality is delightful, so i’ve punched above my weight surprisingly often.

            1. And I cry if I accidentally make eye contact with any humans, or largish mammals. So things aren’t going well here.

    2. There is also the popular combination of: physical unattractiveness, bad personality, low standards, bitter generalizing about entire opposite gender after bad experience resulting from low standards

      1. The bitter generalizing is largely a product of the bad personality, though.

        1. Because all people with bad personalities are the same to you!? Ugh…we bleed when we are cut too, you know

  9. “a self-described incel (an involuntary celibate)”

    WTF is this nonsense?

    This is the default state of ALL males of the species from puberty on… until they go out and get some.

    1. Well, there are voluntary celibates. But Incel in general now tends to have a specific political bent with it, associated with the Men Going Their Own Way movement.

      1. They just used to call this type of person a woman hater, which isn’t the type of thing to just go gently into that good night.

        I just think of them as male feminists, and it sort of clicks into place for me.

        1. I think some guys would rather slap themselves than get slapped by a chick. Other guys look for a wife who will slap them the way their mama used to slap. That reminds me, I’ve got to return a text to my friend in Brooklyn.

  10. And let us be fair, how many guys who aren’t getting any respond by killing random people – or *any* people?

    Talk about stigmatization – “let’s talk about these poor guys, with the discussion prompted by one person who’s a murderer?”

    1. And let’s be fair – Charles Manson was “getting some” whenever he wanted, from his young female acolytes. It didn’t stop him from being a murderer.

  11. The obvious answer is for .gov to provide comfort workers to the sexually needy.

    1. You laugh, but I think some European country tried this with disabled men.

    2. They already do that under the guise of government funded sexting studies. The sexually needy being the government researchers

  12. In between all the outrage, has anyone talked about India, China and other places where sex-selective abortion has caused a huge shortage of women? How are they coping with a *real* “incel” problem?

    1. Let’s see…what’s a traditional government solution to a surplus of young men? Something which will thin out the herd…

      In India’s case, they’re so fortunate to have a crazy neighbor so they don’t have to look far for excuses for war.

      In China’s case, there are so many unresolved affronts to national dignity, from Taiwan to the Spratly Islands…

  13. Legal prostitution would help with this problem

    1. That’s crazy talk.

  14. Greeks also fucked little boys to school them.

    We might want to cherry pick ancient ways a little more carefully.

    1. Greeks also fucked little boys to school them.

      The aristocracy would forcibly neuter them before puberty and keep them as slaves for all manner of purposes. In societies with harems (including Ancient Greece), the younger eunuchs specifically served the harem. Lots of people hear about Plato or Aristotle or take a history class or two and develop some pretty romantic notions about life in ancient civilizations.

    2. A) men going their own way
      B) brothers doing it for themselves
      C) phrasing, you insensitive clod ? were you hoping someone would respon “cherry pick my ass”?

  15. No, sweetie, the plight of the losers like the Toronto terrorist DOES NOT need to be taken seriously.

    Guys, if you want sex, do the following: 1. Take a shower. Now. 2. Learn to talk about other people’s interests. 3. Quit mooning over supermodels and talk to the actual women available to you. All ‘incels’ do is complain that the hot girls ignore them. Instead of doing that, become friends with actual women. 4. Quit complaining about ‘the friend zone.’ Friends are awesome! Also, remember that she has other women friends, some of whom might shag you.

    1. My Tulpa will demand none of these things.

      Sorry ladies. The great revolution is coming.

    2. You needed to expand on men showering properly.

      Tony will tell you that most men don’t wash their junk good enough to pass a sniff test.

    3. Is there something inherent in the definition of ‘incel’ that is explicit to the male gender? I know plenty of women who’s social punchcard hits all the required criteria and a frank discussion with the women around them show them to be less directly violent than their male counterparts but every bit as sociopathic.

      1. In the traditional sense, no. I believe Incel was originally a term from sociology that described people who wished to be sexually active, but had not been for some period greater than a year or so. This was to distinguish from people who were actively not dating or seeking to be sexually active.

        It’s come out now as a political identity associated with the MRA types.

        Damn shame what became of the MRA as well. It used to be a good cause for fathers who wanted more legal connection to their children after divorce. It has since become just a term for women hating.

      2. Traditionally, men can attract women by impressing them with violent behavior, and women can attract men by impressing them with their cooking.

    4. Nicely done Karen. You criticized Shikha and then went on to make clear (to anyone but you) that you want the typical girl things, which clash with what men want. (Excluding shower, shag, and awe, which you just used to distract.)

    5. The plight of broke people does not need to be taken seriously. If you want to not die penniless and shamed, do the following 1)Only go to college if you’re upper 30% of academic ability and well suited to a knowledge worker career. 2) Major in math, engineering, comp sci, or business. Business is kinda debatable at undergrad level. 3) only go if you can get super cheap state school tuition at a really good school, or 50% or greater scholarship. 4) In the 10 years after you graduate, keep living like you had to in school (super cheap). Save at least 50% of your income. 5) Invest wisely. BAM DONE!

      The plight of fat people also does not need to be taken seriously. If you want to not be a disgusting fatass, do the following: 1) Lift hard. Train to grow stronger. 2) Eat 0.6-0.7 grams of protein per lb of body weight per day every day. 3) drink 1-2 gallons of water per day minimum 4) eat clean. Lots of vegetables and low glycemic index carbs, moderate fruits, no processed sugar ever. 5) add cardio as needed. 6) absolutely no blaming genetics. The fitness of your body, or lack thereof, is entirely your fault and 100% within your control.

      Things that are very simple in conception are not always easy for people to do.

    6. Quit complaining about ‘the friend zone.’ Friends are awesome! Also, remember that she has other women friends, some of whom might shag you.

      This is less about the friend zone and more about lowering standards and/or moving between peer groups. Women get relegated to the friend zone too. It’s not impossible that someone in the object of your desire’s peer group would find you sexually attractive, but it’s exceedingly likely that the group is going to have similar social values and/or that members of the group that do find you sexually attractive are going to be of significantly different social situation than the object of your desires. Certainly not worth bailing on the whole peer group at the first inkling that you’re in the friend zone, but if you’ve hopped through several peer groups and continue to find yourself in the friend zone, it’s pretty clear that your standards are too high.

      A significant contributor to this issue, especially towards the lower part of the standards spectrum, is that certain low standards are, by definition, socially unacceptable even if they don’t cause anyone any harm.

      1. “From a survey of 88 pairs of college students in cross-sex friendships (averaging two years’ duration), the researchers found that: men felt more attraction to their female friend than vice versa; that men overestimated how much their friend was attracted to them; and that men’s desire to date their female friend was unaffected by whether they (the men) were in a romantic relationship with someone else, whereas females tended to report less desire to date their male friend, if they (the women) were already in a romantic relationship. Male attraction for a female friend was undimmed by the fact their friend had a partner. By contrast women tended to report less attraction for male friends who had partners.”

        Look up work by April Bleske-Rechek.

        1. Look up work by April Bleske-Rechek.

          I’ll pass for a couple of reasons:

          1. None of that refutes what I said (and doesn’t even really shed any new light that common sense didn’t already ingrain in most of us). Men are more often relegated as friends and left in the asexual friend zone, but if you’ve never met a woman who was friends with someone they desired but who was unattainable, you have a vanishingly small number of female acquaintances.

          2. As with pretty much all social science research, the work frequently has the biases of the researchers built in (my non-scientific anecdote not exactly excluded) and there’s no way to distinguish actual truth from desired preferences. It’s been a long-standing trend in human sexual research that in purely and explicitly heterosexual data both that men will over-report and women will under-report. So, you end up with the impossible situation where men say they average 6 female sexual partners and women saying they average 4 male partners (and varying levels of social liberty don’t obliterate the disparity). Men will count sexual encounters that didn’t actually include sex and women will discount encounters that didn’t lead to a more meaningful relationship (and prostitution is largely disregarded altogether). So, a guy and a girl can have the exact same encounter, together, and “factually” report opposite answers to the question “Friend or sex partner?” and both be right/wrong.

  16. Contrary to the feminist narrative, western culture is the least patriarchal. Rather than being forced to veil, we girls can parade ourselves as scantily as we choose, fuck who we want, and achieve success in business or academia on our own damn hard work.

    1. You are fucking up the narrative.

      1. The narrative should say screw diversocrats & their ideas of progress. But, yeah wash the junk before approaching.

        1. “screw diversocrats”

          That particular solution to the incel problem is an example of the cure being worse than the disease.

          1. Some pills are bitter. But as the saying goes even a blind squirrel can find a nut.

  17. The Assemblywomen was written as a comedy – people laughed at all the idiotic things that would happen if women took over. Aristophanes understood the female mind and how destructive their rule would be (some things never change) if anyone was crazy enough to put them in charge.

    He predicted SWJs 2400 years ago.

    1. He certainly did. Aristophanes was a capital G genius. Hilarious and timeless stuff.

      Matt Stone and Trey Parker have similar talents.

      Absurd, vulgar truth

  18. It sez something that our ancient ancestors

    Cool daddy-o. Nice to see the hepcats writing for Reason.

  19. Great article, Dalmia.

  20. This whole “incel” / “proper distribution of sex” stuff was pretty well solved for millennia in Christendom, up until the “sexual revolution”. 1 man, 1 woman, 1 family.

  21. Also, I want to know just how many Greek Ancestors Dalmia has.

    1. Alexander the Great?

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