This week’s New Yorker has an article by James Wood about Michel Houellebecq, a French writer of some fame who often writes about, among other things, sex. I won’t recapitulate, or even respond to, the article here, except to say it’s an intriguing read.
But it got me thinking.
Wood quotes the narrator of Houellebecq’s novel Whatever saying:
… sex truly represents a second system of differentiation, completely independent of money; and as a system of differentiation, it functions just as mercilessly…. Just like unrestrained economic liberalism, and for similar reasons, sexual liberalism produces phenomena of absolute pauperization. Some men make love every day; others five or six times in their life, or never…. It’s what’s known as “the law of the market.”
This is a typically abstruse, French way of making a fundamentally valid point (although eliding the interesting question/s of the differences in the operations in this “market” between the sexes, and sexualities).
I’m often struck by this market: it’s sort of the whole point of natural selection, but applied to the modern sexual marketplace, it’s kind of, well, odd.
And there’s another dimension to it that is particularly irksome to me, as a good-looking, intelligent, financially successful guy: we men, even if we are evolutionary winners, don’t exactly have free rein (or free reign, for that matter). Even us hot guys have to really work to get laid.
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