This is the first of a three part series of posts where I will deconstruct the three most prominent tenets of the so-called “Manosphere”. Those three tenets being sexual market value theory, female hypergamy, and the concept of “the wall”.
For the uninitiated among my readers, the Manosphere is defined as “a loose network of blogs, forums, and websites like 4chan and Reddit dedicated to men’s issues, ranging from topics such as life philosophies, self-improvement tips, strategies for success in life, relationships, and sex. They’re typically opposed to feminism, full of misogyny, and overlap with parts of the alt-right”.
The Manosphere is exerting a significant influence on culture in the western world, predominantly amongst young, impressionable men as well as older men who feel their perceived hegemony in male/female interpersonal dynamics is in danger of being supplanted by a matriarchy that gives women undue and unearned power over men.
The reality is that many of these men are damaged souls commiserating with other damaged men online and at conventions, like the 21 Convention (https://the21convention.org) and reading books like Rollo Tomassi’s Rational Male series in a misguided attempt to cover up their personal inadequacies and the aforementioned perceived loss of male hegemony within modern society.
Central to Manosphere (or red pill) philosophy is sexual market value theory.
I read about the theory of sexual market value (or SMV theory for the rest of this piece) in author and Manosphere/red pill guru Rollo Tomassi’s book/blog The Rational Male (no correlation with The Rational Ram).
SMV theory states that women and men peak at very different points in life (by age) in regards to their value on the sexual market. Women under this theory are primarily valued based on their beauty and fertility and their rise and decline is markedly rapid, peaking at age 23 and dropping precipitously thereafter.
Conversely, the rise of male SMV is much slower compared to female SMV and declines much more slowly with time as compared to female SMV, as illustrated by the graph that opens this post.
Male SMV starts out at a much lower level on the graph, but at approximately 30 years of age, male SMV intersects with female SMV. Beyond age 30, male SMV increases past female SMV and continues to rise slowly until peaking at age 35 (Tomassi, 2013).
You can read more about Tomassi’s SMV theory and more at the link below or order his 2013 book on Amazon, but the gist of SMV theory is…
Men maintain a high SMV well into their 40s after a slow rise and women experience a very quick rise in SMV with a peak that is fleeting and then quickly and permanently declines below the SMV of men at around age 30.
As interesting as I find this theory, since there is a great deal of anecdotal as well as scientific fact behind it, my problem with the theory is that it, in my opinion, attempts to support a warped agenda (speciously favorable towards men) disguised as infallible statistics which fails to account for nuance in individual preferences in interpersonal relationships between men and women.
Before I deconstruct SMV theory, I acknowledge that the theory gets a couple of things right…
Firstly, statistics show that older men and younger women often seek one another for sexual or marital relationships. This is consistent across international and cultural boundaries. SMV theory appears to be modeled upon this statistical reality, ergo, it is powerfully plausible and very difficult to dispute.
One can cite far more anecdotal examples of older men/younger women relationships than the reverse, though older women do indeed date and marry younger men as well. In fact, older women/younger men relationships are on the rise across the western world.
Secondly, the reason older men and younger women often seek each other out for sexual and marital relationships is because the younger women are seeking the security and provisioning that older and often wealthier men tend to provide and older men find the physical beauty and the fertility of younger women more attractive and relevant to them than what women their own age are willing or able to present to them.
Again, SMV theory appears validated by empirical evidence.
However, SMV theory is not as infallible as it appears at first glance and my rebuttal to it is fourfold…
1. SMV theory places too great a value on female youth and fertility.
SMV theory bases the market value of women exclusively on youth, beauty, and (most importantly) fertility.
While the ability of a woman to bear healthy children is valuable and is (tacitly or not) an attraction point for male suitors, the way it is couched in SMV theory suggests that women have little relationship value or attractiveness if they are unable (or unwilling) to have children.
This valuation attempts to place a limited shelf life on the utility of female sexuality as if a woman who is 25 years old or older is somehow automatically less attractive (and less valuable) than a 18-24 year old woman. According to the Manosphere, a woman out of her teens and early twenties has hit the metaphorical “wall”.
(More on “the wall” in the third installment…)
That said, sexuality (and by extension what one finds attractive) does not have an expiration date. In other words, female beauty is and always will be in the eye of the beholder at any age.
Perfect segue into point number two…
2. SMV theory places too much value on men’s ability to accumulate wealth and resources.
I agree that men bear the burden of performance and that burden includes the ability to build wealth and provide resources for himself and his family. I further agree that women (in general) inherently expect men to bear this burden of performance with competence and efficiency.
Women tend to respect men who demonstrate competence and production.
However, this is not the only trait that women find attractive in potential male partners. What makes a man attractive to women is far more complex and logical than the so-called Manosphere realizes.
There are far too many loving relationships and happy marriages where women are making more than their men for this part of SMV theory to be consistent enough to state as a hard and fast rule.
Though I stipulate that a woman must respect her man as much or more than she loves him in order for her to remain happy in the relationship over the long term (and that respect often comes as a result of a man’s accomplishments and ability to provide more so than what we typically call “love”), SMV theory totally fails to account for other things that women tend to find attractive in men, such as a man’s physical attractiveness, personality, and other intangibles.
Point being, a woman is not necessarily happy or unhappy based upon whether her man is poor, rich, or middle income, as long as she respects and admires him and he is able to meet his burden of performance as she sees it and otherwise finds him attractive.
I might add (again) that there are plenty of women these days that earn more money than many men.
3. Because of the first two points, SMV theory attempts to justify a male superiority narrative.
By theorizing that women have a limited shelf life in terms of their beauty and fertility (the latter is grounded in fact, the former is highly subjective) and that men need only be good providers and be reasonably appealing to women, attempts to validate that men have a deserved societal advantage over women.
This notion is also behind the old, but flawed saying that men age like fine wine and women age like milk.
The truth is that anyone can be sexy and attractive at any age and there are plenty of women who are more productive than many men.
Which brings us to…
4. SMV theory must prioritize male resource and wealth accumulation over female beauty and fertility to soothe insecure and immature Manosphere “men”.
We all know a few damaged men who age more like curdled milk than fine wine and are ill-suited to be the productive mates that most women desire.
These men are the denizens of the Manosphere.
Additionally, some men of means are not necessarily paragons of masculinity. Just like women who only bring physical attractiveness and sex to the table in relationships, these men of means who only have resources on their side and nothing else want to be able to hold the power of their resources over the heads of their paramours in a deluded attempt to exert positive control over them.
The losers who subscribe to Manosphere philosophies desperately need SMV theory to be hard fact because it assuages their insecurities.
Because of these four things, SMV theory only serves as a flawed foundation for the flawed philosophy known as red pill philosophy.
The red pill is a placebo for insecure men and SMV theory is the cachet used to mask the bitter taste.
Next up: female hypergamy
-The Rational Ram
10 thoughts on “Deconstructing The Manosphere: Sexual Market Value Theory”
Weak and flawed assessment
I respect your opinion. Thank you for commenting.
I must ask, what specifically about the post lead you to conclude my assessment is weak and flawed?
I’m not Mark, but here’s what I was thinking:
1. “Beauty & fertility too emphasized” – You don’t actually have an argument here. You make no attempt to debunk the concept that ‘women have no relationship value outside sex & fertility’. You would do better to provide an alternative with a better fit to observed reality. You DO make an attempt against the stats, but to say that variance exists is only acknowledging that SOMEONE must be on the tails of a distribution curve. This is cherry-picking; the rare exceptions do not invalidate the rule.
2. “Too much value on men’s [provisioning]” – Again, this is cherry-picking; the rare exceptions do not invalidate the rule. You can’t live your life hoping to be the exceptionally buff man who gets picked up by a rich widow. In general, if your argument is ‘It depends’ or ‘not necessarily’, it’s a cherry-picking argument that ignores mass trends in favor of narrative. Also, I recommend you read Buss 1989 and Buss 2008; he goes into detail about short term vs. long term relationships (e.g. hookups vs marriages) and what women want in those. The attractive traits you cite are reserved mostly for hookups.
3. “Emphasizes a male narrative” – Yeah, so? Why is that a problem, exactly? First, the contents of this section have nothing to do with the header. Second, you have no argument; you’re simply presenting the opposing argument, pointing, and mocking it for being shameful. That’s not valid. You also repeat the “can be attractive at any age” trope, but this is a hard row to hoe: I challenge you to find any sample size of 50-year-old women who are MORE attractive than they were at 25. You acknowledge that there’s plenty of research backing this up, and then proceed to ignore it because Narrative.
4. “Story told to soothe immature men” – How convenient that the men who ‘age like curdled milk’ and ‘denizens of the manosphere’ constitute a perfectly-overlapping Venn diagram. You are guilty of ‘nutpicking’: a.k.a. the ‘weak-man fallacy’, you are picking out the nuts in a sub-community as a way to discredit the entire sub-community.
In summary: You have only two arguments: “You should feel shame if you believe these things” and “Exceptions exist”. You must break yourself out of using S.I.G.N. language (Shaming, Insults, Guilt, and the Need to be right) if you hope to deserve the claim of being rational. Additionally, learn to consider areas under the bell curve, and try to speak more toward the MAJORITY and PLURALITY of populations, not the tiny exceptions close to the ends of the distribution curves.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the post.
I might add that the majority or plurality is not always right or rational, but I respect your opinion
1. SMV theory attempts to quantify female youth and fertility, as measured by men empirically.
2. SMV theory attempts to quantify men’s ability to accumulate wealth and resources, as measured by women.
3. Because of the first two points, SMV theory attempts to quantity relative male vs. female value at the beginning of a relationship before personality, height, income, creed, and etc become considerations to either person.
4. SMV theory threatens feminist theory, resource and wealth accumulation. The author attempts to soothe and enable insecure and immature and irrational feminists by shaming rational men with S.I.G.N. language.
You can dislike facts. You can ignore facts But facts don’t care about your feelings.
I speculate that very few woman under 30 have any reason to search or pursue this author’s body of work. They’re too busy being chased by older men of means to read this feminist propaganda.
After 25? Some sources say women hit the wall after 30. There are sources like this one https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/869803 said that most men want women around their mid twenties. Also I wonder if it is different for women of color because people say people of color age differently.
As I said in the post, beauty is in the eye the beholder. I might add that tastes change as we age and/or gain life experience. At the end of day, the common ingredients in relationships that last are mutual respect and mutual interest.
IMHO, I don’t think you have a good grasp of SMV theory. “there are plenty of women these days that earn more money than many men”, “female beauty is and always will be in the eye of the beholder at any age”, “There are far too many loving relationships and happy marriages where women are making more than their men” Yes, these statements are correct, but that doesn’t falsify SMV theory because that’s NOT what SMV theory is about!
I think you’re conflating two separate concepts: relationship and SMV. SMV indirectly affects a person’s chances of “starting” a relationship; it by no means guarantees a successful one, let alone “loving relationship” and “happy marriages”. People with higher SMV have more options when searching for mates. That’s it.
Also, “beauty is in the eye the beholder” cliche falls flat when you’re confronted with the fact that younger women are almost always more desirable to almost all men. Sure, Natalie Portman at age 41 is still amazingly attractive and will crush most average, ordinary girls in their 20s, but that’s not the right comparison. Pit Natalie Portman age 41 against Natalie Portman age 23, and see how many men will choose the older version because she’s richer, more experienced, and more mature…
This “milk-like” precipitous fall in sexual market value usually doesn’t happen to men. Yes, there are plenty of 40-something losers and 20-something hotshots, yes, many often go bald or get fat as they age into 30s and 40s, so yeah, they don’t exactly “age like wine”. But “in general”, if you kept your shit together, and if you lived a normal life, a man’s sexual market value continues to rise well into his 30s, which is completely different from what women go through. When you compare different people of different ages, yes you’ll find tons of “exceptions” to the “rule”, but I hope by now you’ll understand that that is NOT what the theory is saying.