Christian Husband gave reasons why he didn’t think the supply-demand model applied to sex and threw out a few examples and analogies based on his understanding of economics. He alluded to it but did not directly address the fundamental aspect of economics; the principle of scarcity.
As XH said, price does not generally drive demand but is the result of the interplay of supply and demand such that an equilibrium is attained to where there are no surpluses and no shortages. Price is merely a measure of where the supply and demand curves cross in a totally free market.
But I think the principal of scarcity does have a bearing on the economics and politics of sex. Economics is merely the treatment of scarcity and politics having to do with the allocation of resources. But one subject at a time…
Satan theorized that her making sex always available had the effect of lessening her partner’s sex drive because the value of it was lower. He was willing to expend a whole lot less effort to get it. I believe there’s some merit to this based on scarcity and opportunity cost.
The Concepts of Scarcity and Opportunity Cost
Everything is scarce. Even something as plentiful as air can become scarce if we talk about clean air or scuba diving or interplanetary travel. Dirt could be scarce. Remember Waterworld? Fact is, nothing is infinitely limitless. The value something has is related to scarcity vs demand. Currently on Earth, there is enough air to go around for all of us. If we were traveling on a spaceship or in a submarine, things might be different.
Opportunity costs relate to how we choose to allocate our limited resources, mainly our time. Time is the ultimate in scarcity. We all have the same 24 hours with many, many options in how to spend it. The game The Sims is built around this whole concept of allocating time towards various activities. You can not allocate the exact same segment of time to two totally separate activities such as sleeping versus eating. We can multitask, but even this is limited. Eventually, we all have to sleep, eat and use the bathroom. So a person has to choose how to spend their time. Most people spend a portion of their time making money, which is simply the currency for acquiring scarce goods and services. Money is symbolic of resources that can be spent but it is still derived from time spent or invested.
So why doesn’t Satan’s partner want sex when he seemed to want it all the time early on? Why does it seem that women’s desire for sex seems (generally) inversely proportional to the commitment achieved?
Arwyn fucked the begeezus out of me the first few months of our relationship for a reason. Why? It wasn’t because she couldn’t get sex elsewhere or that sex was in short supply. But there is a limited supply of men with degrees, jobs, morals in a particular age bracket who might also be gullible enough to fall for this age-old deal. Sex was the currency she used to obtain what she wanted. Instead of sleeping, working, doing laundry, cleaning and taking care of her cats, she chose to fuck me. This was the opportunity cost of getting a husband who might be a good father to her children.
The opportunity cost of getting fucked (which is generally in far shorter supply for men) is providing security. This means investing the necessary time to get an education, working, running the rat race and generally having a fat enough wallet or potential for a fat wallet eventually and an agreeable enough personality to help take care of children.
So there are two separate economies at work, here. Fucking is a lot less scarce for women than men and therefore they control the supply for the most part. Even Biting Beaver agrees with that much. Historically, men have been able to acquire more resources to provide security. This is not necessarily the case today, but it is still an arrangment that works for many.
Generally, in a free market, supply and demand determine a fair market value of a good or service. It measures sufficient opportunity cost to acquire a scarce good or service.
The End of Free Market
So what happens once a commitment is made? We no longer have a free market. Now, due to moral constraints, the cost of divorce and all the entanglements of marriage the supply and demand are no longer equal. Now the LL partner becomes the OPEC or DeBeers of sex. It is in her best interest to keep supply low. With constant demand, the price increases. The opportunity costs for sex are now way higher than a dinner and a movie. By increasing the opportunity costs, we are, in fact, increasing the scarcity.
If this were a free market, the HL partner could go elsewhere thus the LL partner could not control the cost of sex. They would have to continue to be more available. But once the exclusive arrangement is signed and sealed, that particular incentive is GONE. Which is why there needs to be other incentives for sex to continue. And according to that article, about 60% of the women surveyed don’t have any other incentives. The need for sexual currency is over. They have, in essence, gone into sexual retirement.
For the HL women, the dynamics are similar except they probably provide sources of comfort and stability beyond financial. A LL man will similarly have less need to put out once he feels secure in obtaining these other things.
Scarcity is the controlling factor in economics. The golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rule. If gold wasn’t scarce it wouldn’t matter. In clashing libidos, sex becomes the “gold” and the one who wants it less being the one who controls the supply.
As I have said over and over, sex on demand is not necessarily a good thing. Hot and cold running sex would result in the same waste and abuse we see of our water supply. I believe its scarcity does add value. However the scarcity should not become so acute as to result in emotional poverty for the HL partner.
We often see a lot more sex amongst dating and premarital partners than after they get married. One factor is because of the sexual monopoly created by monogamy. We often hear the excuses of real life and jobs and careers and other obligations taking up the time previously allocated for sex. But this is a red herring, because maintaining two seperate households could hardly be easier and less expensive than maintaining one. No, the sole change is that it is no longer a free market. The LL partner has little incentive to keep paying the opportunity cost of competing on an open market. Sex, having little intrinsic value becomes the bargaining chip. The HL partner is not morally (or legally) permitted to seek sex on the “open market.”
Which is where my Top 10 list kicks in, because those factors have to do with sex having intrinsic value beyond the emotional and symbolic and economic aspect. The LL partner will still have control but her own desire for sex may keep it from becoming totally desperate.
Okay, so Satan has to expend a lot more effort to get sex. She wants it, he doesn’t, so she has to pay the opportunity costs and she still might not get it. What options does she have?
-Advertise: This is the Cosmo solution of lingerie and whipped cream. This is the guy trying to create a romantic mood with candles and flowers. Basically, we’re trying create a demand from our partner for what we have and they seldom seem to want. I can’t think of a proper economic analogy for this except maybe if M&Ms were money and we made the candy seem so good that OPEC would provide more oil in order to get more of our M&Ms through increased sales volume.
-Find another supplier: Affairs and prostitution become the “black market” of the sexual economy. Yeah, it’s cheating but it also means that the cost of sex is artificially too high or the supply is kept artificially too low. Either way, black markets develop in the face of artificially trying to control supply and demand. An underground free market evolves to correct the market.
– Lower demand: We quit asking and demanding so much, hoping that the cost might decrease into a more affordable range. We simply get by on less or nothing.
– Substitution: We find alternatives which also lowers demand. Masturbation, porn, kinks, work, drugs, other activities and diversions all can be attempts at substitutions. Unlike the above, where we simply quit asking, here we find alternatives thus perhaps we suffer a bit less.
– Coercion: If we have some other bargaining chip, we can threaten. Better be willing and able to back it up, though. Be prepared to follow through on those embargoes and other economic sanctions.
– Take it by force: Just a step up from coercion, it’s basically rape in the sexual economy.
– Appeal to altruism: Think Sally Struthers and the starving children. But when grain and food is given to these starving countries out of charity, don’t believe for a second that these goods are top quality. Welcome to the mercy fuck. And look at how bad things had to get before the trucks would come rolling in.
– Work harder and pay a higher price: this is what usually happens, as the HL deals with the realities of this new economic reality as the old one no longer applies. They just have a higher opportunity cost that gradually gets higher and higher.
-Economic Collapse or declaring bankruptcy: Divorce is messy and basically is tearing things to pieces before rebuilding. Russia still doesn’t have a proper economy after the fall of communism nearly 20 years ago. But there are opportunities there for some. Fact is, it takes a long time to recover.
Of course, I have simplified things down a lot. Notice “love” is not included anywhere. Loyalty and devotion are forces beyond the scope of basic economics. And there are those who absolutely oppose capitalism in any sense of the word. Marriage is hardly a capitalistic institution and when it comes to sex, it does often seem like a communist system! “Produce all you can, take only what you need.” Or “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” And it works just about as well as communism did, sometimes.