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Men and the City 30: Breaking the Sex Cycle Part 1

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Men in the city feel trapped in a calamitous feedback loop. For the perceptive and self-aware, the world produces discernible patterns and cycles. Sometimes reverberations are replicas (astronomical orbits), sometimes fractals (Fibonacci sequence), and other times recursive (civilizational cycles). Hedge fund managers, real-estate agents, Vegas odds makers, family farmers, and climatologists are trend spotters. Anticipatory movements ahead of key inflection points: the rise and fall of regimes, mercurial storms ahead of Spring harvest, sentiment shifts from bear to bull markets can make or break careers and livelihoods. As Shakespeare famously said, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” However, that begs the question, can cycles – especially long-established-ones – be broken or are we condemned “to suffer the whips and scorns of time” one way or another?

Such a question is particularly apropos for men and masculinity. As my readers know well, my work is drenched in cyclicality. Much of it is premised on the ascent of a masculine age, an Age of Scarcity, and the descent of an Age of Prosperity, a time ruled by the feminine. Perhaps one of the more jarring trend analysis ever performed comes courtesy of J.D. Unwin’s provocative work Sex and Culture. The book posits a simple theory, the sexual liberation of women is the destroyer of civilization. Was he right?

Is the sexual liberation of women the destroyer of civilization?

If fallout from the Sexual Revolution is inculpatory, Unwin appears to be devastatingly correct. The evidence so far – expertly collated in a recent review of his work (read Arctotherium’s piece here) – is more than convincing. There is a bevy of evidence to cite but I will highlight the macro trends activated more-or-less in the 1960s. Birthrates in the West and globally are slowing to a crawl and in some cases (Japan and Europe) going negative, meaning populations are shrinking. In America, marital rates have plummeted (see below) and the concomitant downstream consequences such as children born out-of-wedlock or single-parent-households have spiked. Finally, the numbers of men and women living alone without a spouse is swelling, causing an epidemic of loneliness, neurosis, and other forms of social maladjustment as a result.

Beyond these worrying stats are even more disturbing trends. As Arctotherium points out, Unwin’s thesis builds on the Freudian principle that “social energy is sublimated sexual energy, produced by restrictions on sexual opportunity {especially for women}.” Absolute Monogamy, as Unwin terms it, applies robust guardrails around female sexuality and pairs them with suitable mates (both for them and society) whereas Absolute Polygamy unshackles female choice completely, a modern development triggered by the Sexual Revolution. Results since the Sixties are consistent with the model; given the choice, women largely either choose badly (Dark-Triads, casual-hook-ups, absentee fathers etc.), or pine for a narrow sliver of Alphas atop the Sexual-Marketplace who pump and dump them. As we can observe today, Absolute Polygamy renders increasing numbers of women (and by extension most men) unwed, unhappy, and childless.

Civilizational vigor is lost within three generations of female sexual liberation.

Enter the surge of sexless men. Without sex, frustrated male energy ceases to be productive (economic growth and innovation stalls) and dissipates into dangerous antisocial behavior (porn addiction, video games, unemployment, drug use, suicide etc.). Perhaps the termination point of this repressed sexual energy is what I have called the Revolt of Sexless Men. Based on historical experience, Unwin’s hypothesis suggests civilizational vigor (what he calls “social energy”) dies within three generations of female sexual liberation. So, it appears the die has been cast, but will this time be different? Is the unfettered emancipation of female sexuality a Pandoran Box – once opened never to be shut – or is another path possible? Can the sex cycle, what you might call Unwin's trap, be broken?

Western Dynamism is the Exception?

If any civilization is primed to do so perhaps it is the West. Caroll Quigley – among others – called attention to Western Civilization’s unique “ability to reform or reorganize itself again and again.” At the tip of the spear was scientific competency. Western agricultural, industrial, medical, and military tech spread far and wide, successfully disrupting other cultures, but non-Westerners could not replicate its creative capacity, the scientific rationalism and innovation uniquely fostered by Western individualism. Such inimitable creative dynamism empowered the West to dominate, outclass, and ultimately destroy other civilizations. Could such a dynamical impulse avert Unwin’s trap and break the sex cycle?

Can the West avert Unwin’s trap and break the sex cycle?

There are problems in assuming the answer is yes. First, the West as it stands today, has lost its way and many believe it to be in inexorable decline. While Quigley defined Western Civilization as Christian, scientific, humanitarian, and centered on individualism and respect for women, most would agree that Christianity is in steep decline, Scientism has triumphed over science, individualism has degenerated into narcissism, and women’s liberation has been weaponized into misandry. Worse, the demographic that birthed these ideas to begin with is culturally emaciated, and rapidly falling in numbers, in part because of Unwin’s trap.

On the other hand, the West’s existential vulnerability makes its immediate future unpredictable and that presents opportunity. If in fact we live in a time of mass movements and revolutionary fire, and an existential crisis arises perhaps the flux could break the cycle, or at least alter its trajectory. Upheaval often brings unforeseen jolts that crash enfeebled institutions and expose broken, unsustainable, or corrupt systems. Such a breakdown could serve as shock therapy that would violently awaken the sickly host from its benumbed state. To accomplish such sweeping reform would require tremendous social energy and a mass movement rallied to a unifying reformist ethos steered by competent leaders. Does such civilizational vitality still exist in the West, and is there sufficient collective consciousness to give it meaningful expression?

A Dangerous Continuum

As is well documented in this series, men are dropping out of everything. Men are fleeing the sexual marketplace, cancelling dating apps, falling out of the labor market, flunking out of college, and fewer and fewer men are marrying or starting families. In short, men are divesting from society full stop. Why? Speculations run the gamut: bureaucratization, feminism, laziness, low testosterone, political correctness, online distractions, helicopter parenting etc. These are mere symptoms in my view, the real cause goes much deeper. Men are uninspired to become the standard bearers of a society so crippled by delusional mania and aggressive self-sabotage.

There is a prevailing sentiment among men today of defeat and despair. Young men and old are keenly aware of the slow-motion train wreck wrought by Unwin's trap because they have experienced it firsthand; they are on the front lines. While most cannot articulate the perils of the sex cycle summarized above, they are increasingly cognizant. The rise of the Manosphere, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), and the Red Pill movement testify to that fact. Further, ripples from the Sex Recession (sexless men) combined with financially devastating divorces and the intensification of Wokism is beginning to register at scale in men's groups.

Red Pill awakening is a traumatic psychical process.

Unfortunately, Red Pill awakening is a traumatic psychical process, progressing much like the stages of grief. Anger precedes acceptance, and well before self-corrective reform. Men in the city are frustrated, angry, and increasingly bitter towards females, distrusting of feminized institutions, skeptical of legacy modalities (marriage, 9:5), and hostile to mainstream society in general. As a result, the Red Pill community and the Manosphere have become toxic online spaces where MGTOWs splurge on shared pain, loneliness, rejection, and vent their rage against a society that ignores them. Such a Molotov cocktail is unlikely to produce a coherent movement for reform without a cathartic release. On the continuum of emotion, from self-destructive to self-help, men today seem to cluster on the self-destructive side.

What Next?

If the pendulum swings back towards masculine empowerment as the Age of Scarcity emerges what will men do? Can the emotional turmoil in men moderate into a stabilizing Neo-Masculine Movement intent on reform, or will repressed masculine rage explode in the chaos of transition? Equally, what does reform look like? Like all human quandaries the answer is complex and highly contingent. Even minor tweaks to social structures can destabilize civilizations beyond recognition (examples: antiseptics, birth control, bifocals, small pox). Finally, do other complexifying forces at play in this drama give us cause for hope or seal our fate?

We will explore these questions in the next installment. For more, sign up for the MEN AND THE CITY email list, subscribe on YouTube, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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