Tag Archives: Fertility

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (21 Mb) (Link in case that doesn’t work)

Topics:

  • the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
  • cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
  • balancing marriage, family and career
  • single motherhood by choice and IVF
  • donor-conceived children
  • modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
  • the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
  • the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
  • the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
  • fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
  • how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children

52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family.

Woman explains what she was told about having children when she was young

Man teaching woman proper marksmanship
Man teaching woman proper marksmanship

This article is by Ellie Bufkin, writing for the The Federalist. I always had a suspicion that women were being told not to marry too early, and not to have kids too early, but to instead enjoy their freedom. (With all that that entails) In some cases, it was their own mothers telling them this. Here is the story of one woman who was told to follow her dreams – as long as they didn’t involve marriage and children.

Excerpt:

Since I was young, I’ve heard a non-stop stream of encouragement for me, as a “modern woman,” to take charge of my own life, live independently, and chase my dreams. This seems like the obvious advice we should give children, except that many people spent so much time chasing their dreams and creating their bespoke lives that they forgot to have children.

While growing up in the suburbs, my post-scholastic dream did not consist of finding a partner and having babies. I wanted to see the world, experience many cultures, and live without having to worry about caring for anyone else. I ended up in a fast-paced career with a propensity for hard partying, late hours, and a taste for travel and luxury.

As years ticked by, I assumed my perfect life would simply fall into place when I was ready, my career would steadily improve, and I would be swept off my feet by a perfect man. I had many friends with the exact same expectations for their lives, and today, we are pretty much all still single and childless.

We set our expectations so high that we never achieved them. We dated people with the same hope for impossibly perfect lives and moved from city to city, hoping we could achieve a greatness that was not to be.

[…]Liberal feminists widely consider it to be morally wrong to have children in your twenties, or to have more than two children, or to continue any unplanned pregnancy. As a species, shouldn’t we want to reproduce? If we continue to reinforce the idea that having kids is a taboo choice, how long will it be before there are no children?

Many of the women I went to primary and high school with never left our little hometown, and now have their own children in the exact suburb I couldn’t wait to get away from. In my twenties, I pitied them. How could they be so uncurious as to never leave home? Weren’t we all raised to believe that women had choices now?

The next thing I want to do is to give you some facts about infertility, and whether women have accurate beliefs about infertility.

Dina sent me this UK Daily Mail article a while back, but I held onto it until I could find something to pair it with.

It says:

One of Britain’s top NHS fertility specialists last night issued a stark warning to women: Start trying for a baby before you’re 30 – or risk never having children.

In a strongly worded letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, consultant gynaecologist Professor Geeta Nargund has also demanded that teenagers are taught about the dangers of delaying parenthood, because of the spiralling cost to the taxpayer of IVF for women in their late 30s and 40s.

[…]Prof Nargund said last night: ‘Ideally, if a woman is ready for a child, she should start trying by the time she is 30. She should consider having a child early because as a woman gets older, her fertility declines sharply.’

If a woman started trying early enough, doctors would still have time to diagnose problems and take action before it was too late, she said.

Her comments were endorsed by Professor Allan Pacey, outgoing chair of the British Fertility Society.

‘You need to be trying by 30 because if there is a problem and you need surgery, hormones or IVF, then you’ve got five years to sort it out,’ he said. ‘If a woman starts trying at 35, doctors have got to sort it out when she is already on a slippery fertility slope’.

My friend Drew found a study reported on by ABC News, that explained why the age of 30 is so important.

Excerpt:

By the time a woman hits 30, nearly all of her ovarian eggs are gone for good, according a new study that says women who put off childbearing for too long could have difficulty ever conceiving.

The study published by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University in Scotland found that women have lost 90 percent of their eggs by the time they are 30 years old, and only have about 3 percent remaining by the time they are 40.

Now, do most women know what the experts say about infertility?

Consider this article from Aeon magazine.

It says:

Many studies show that women are not only woefully ignorant when it comes to fertility, conception and the efficacy of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) – but they overestimate their knowledge about the subject. For instance, a 2011 study in Fertility and Sterility surveyed 3,345 childless women in Canada between the ages of 20 and 50; despite the fact that the women initially assessed their own fertility knowledge as high, the researchers found only half of them answered six of the 16 questions correctly. 72.9 per cent of women thought that: ‘For women over 30, overall health and fitness level is a better indicator of fertility than age.’ (False.) And 90.9 per cent felt that: ‘Prior to menopause, assisted reproductive technologies (such as IVF) can help most women to have a baby using their own eggs.’ (Also false.) Many falsely believed that by not smoking and not being obese they could improve their fertility, rather than the fact that those factors simply negatively affect fertility.

[…]According to a 2011 study in Human Reproduction, which surveyed 410 undergraduate students, most overestimated a women’s chances of spontaneous pregnancy in all age groups, but particularly after receiving IVF beyond age 40. Only 11 per cent of the students knew that genetic motherhood is unlikely to be achieved from the mid-40s onward, unless using oocytes or egg cells frozen in advance. ‘This can be explained by technological “hype” and favourable media coverage of very late pregnancies,’ the authors concluded.

So, I guess now I’ll issue my advice to women in their 20s on how to avoid being single and childless at 35.

Money gives men confidence to pull the trigger on marriage, so you should focus your efforts on men with a solid balance sheet and a gap-less resume. Beware of men who paint a rosy picture of their finances in the future that makes you feel good, but who have not demonstrated their ability to earn or save. It’s much better to focus your time on a man who can marry you right now. The best way to tell if a man is capable of marriage is not by listening to confident words, it’s by looking to see how he has prepared to perform his roles, one of which is provider.

Be debt free. Study STEM in school, update your resume, and get a job that pays well. Jobs are not meant to be fun or fulfilling. You need to be preparing financially for marriage, and that means a normal 8-4:30 job in an office with 3% annual raises and 401K matching. The more you save to help your man with the down payment on your house, the better. Pursuing fun and spending money on frivolous things like travel makes you addicted to fun, which is unsuitable for the hard work and responsibilities in marriage. Working a hard job is a good way to break down your selfishness, and prepare you to take your obligations to others seriously. Don’t live in the moment,  do sacrifice for the future. Believe me: a woman’s debt is a serious damper on a man’s willingness to marry her.

If you went to college, chances are that you absorbed a lot of feminism. Feminism emphasizes being free of constraints, feeling happy, having fun, career over family, and independence from the needs of men and children. You need to renew your mind in order to undo the cultural denigration of marriage and children. Get yourself a marriage mentor, ask for book recommendations that will educate you about the challenges and rewards of marriage. A good marriage mentor will explain to you why marriage is a better plan than the feminist plan, and will emphasize self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-control and serving others. It’s only by getting specific about marriage and parenting that your heart will change to want to work on marriage rather than work on the things that the feminist culture prefers. I recommend Dr. Laura’s book on husbands, and lectures by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

This talk of infertility made me think of a woman I know who just turned 30. She spent most of her 20s in relationships with huge, tall burly men. Race car drivers, etc. She liked to travel, especially to the beach. She liked ride around with in boats with buff guys. Now, at 30, she is very jaded about men and struggling to even get a date. In my experience, men are most open to marrying a woman who is young, athletic, and doesn’t have baggage from fun-seeking with hot bad boys. Sexual baggage usually builds impatience, mistrust and controlling behavior in a woman. Men prefer to marry virgins who are calm, stable and not addicted to alcohol or drugs. The less experience the better. The time to focus on serious marriage-minded providers and leaders is when you have what they want to marry.

Can recreational sex turn a selfish, irresponsible man into a marriage-minded provider?

Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship
Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship

An article from the American Thinker answers the question that vexes many men. As you read this excerpt below, ask yourself if it is a man or a woman writing this.

First of all, liberal women seem to be having an awful lot of sex these days. They are losing their virginity early, and working their way through as many “alpha males” as possible, but all the while they insist that a stream of recreational-sex relationships is somehow a path to lifelong married love. Can you turn a man who wants nothing more than recreational sex into the perfect husband, simply by invoking the magical power of vagina?

Liberal women think that you can:

On the one hand, liberal women believe wholeheartedly in the idiotic social construct they call, “sexual liberation.”  They pride themselves on losing their virginity, as though that “accomplishment” had ever been above the challenge-scale of an alley cat in heat.

These liberal women I’ve known, having given away their female V-card over and over and over again, all the while scour their host of intimate “trial runs” searching for that mythical, Hollywood-construct, Mr. Right.  This Mr. Right guy, for whom they are searching, is known to them up front as even more sexually-liberated than they, but this little factoid seems not to register in their liberated little heads as they frantically search for the equally mythical family home with the white picket fence, which somehow never gets hit by any of life’s roving tornadoes.  One can almost hear them say in unison, “And they all lived happily ever after.”

I think it’s one of the deepest mysteries of the world why women think that a man who has lots and lots of recreational sex is somehow marriage material. When I think of men who are qualified for marriage, I think of men who have studied hard subjects, gotten marketable skills, worked and worked, saved and saved, and shown that they can be faithful in marriage by exhibiting self-control in the courtship. But liberal women think that all of this reasoning is junk, and you must just jump right into sex to see if the relationship will “work out” or to find out what you “like”. Recreational sex, they insist, is a superior way of finding a husband. Discussing who will do what in an actual marriage and what the actual marriage is for is apparently ineffective.

More:

Evidently, the liberal woman is capable of the most severe form of psychological denial known to humankind.  Certain that one of the men with whom she has copulated without strings will suddenly morph into a faithfully monogamous creature the minute she can convince one of them to say “I do” in front of a few witnesses, the liberal woman marches blindly down the aisle towards near-certain, adulterous doom.  Yet, no amount of honest reason can dissuade liberal women from this self-destructive, moral myopia.

What other term but “morally schizoid” could possibly describe this blatantly contradictory tendency among liberal women?

Having spent their youth casually throwing their own sexual morality to the winds of fairytale “liberation,” these liberal women still steadfastly cling to the faithfully monogamous ideal for that sometime-later moment when they actually do desire all the traditional things — the husband, the kids, the white picket fence — those pesky female-nature embedded longings, which coincidentally ensure the continuation of the human race.

But these liberal women somehow — in perfect schizoid manner — convince themselves that once married, they will be the gratuitous beneficiaries of the monogamous respect they still desire, but have never once demanded or deserved.  Intuitively, women know that strict monogamy provides the only real security for themselves and their own offspring.  Yet, they continue themselves to spurn the demands of monogamy until the very last minute, believing that fidelity springs forth naturally in miraculous profusion among all “married” humans.  Such pure poppycock can only be explained as a mental disorder.

I think women need to ask themselves questions honestly and rationally:

  • can recreational sex make an unemployed man get a job?
  • can recreational sex make a violent man be courteous and respectful?
  • can recreational sex make an atheist turn into a Christian?
  • can recreational sex make a male slut stay faithful?
  • can recreational sex make wastefulness turn into frugality?
  • can recreational sex make laziness turn into diligence?
  • can recreational sex make irresponsibility turn into commitment?

Marriages last because both partners have prepared themselves for self-sacrifice, rational discussions, problem solving and cooperation.

Previously, I provided the male perspective on liberal women’s poor decision-making about men and marriage. Read the article from the American Thinker (written by a woman), then read mine.

Who suffers the most from the trend of extended adolescence?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

My friend Tracy sent me this interesting post. As I read it, I thought I was going to disagree with him about who is to blame for the mess he describes, but as we’ll see in a bit, I don’t.

Here’s his intro, which pretty much everyone agrees on:

The Five Traditional Milestones of Adulthood

Something magically happens between adolescence and young adulthood.  There are five traditional milestones of that mark entrance into adulthood that sociologists, psychologists, and the general population have used as a proxy to determine when someone has reached that tipping point of maturity.  It is at this time adolescence is shed and emotional maturity comes to full fruition.

These are:

  • Leaving Home
  • Becoming Financially Independent
  • Completing School
  • Marrying
  • Starting a Family

He has some examples to illustrate who is and isn’t mature:

Examples of Adults:

  • A 25-year old teacher with a college degree, who works full time, is married, has a child, owns her own home, and pays for her own living expenses
  • A 65-year old janitor with a high school diploma, who works full time, is married or widowed, has children, owns his own home, and pays for his own living expenses

Examples of Extended Adolescence: 

  • A 30-year old who has part of their rent and bills covered by parents, endlessly enrolls in colleges or universities seeking additional degrees or credentials, single, without children.
  • A 45-year old high-school dropout living on social welfare programs who spends his days getting drunk in bars

OK, then he talks about who suffers the most from “extended adolescence”:

What is particularly interesting is the interaction between biology and the paradigm shift that has occurred with so much of the younger generation suffering from extended adolescence. Women have a specific, limited window of time in which they can genetically reproduce and to which they are attractive to potential mates.  This so-called “biological clock”, written into the code at the very deepest core of our DNA, puts a limit on childbearing for females.

  • Fertility: Female fertility peaks at 20 to 30 years old.  After 30 years old, fertility drops by 20%.  After 35, it drops 50%.  After 40, it drops 95%.  As for in vitro fertilization, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that women in their early 40’s have, on average, only a 3% to 5% chance of having a baby through this method.
  • Down Syndrome: At 25, a woman has about 1 chance in 1,250 of having a baby with Down Syndrome; at age 30, a 1-in-1,000 chance; at age 35, a 1-in-400 chance; at age 40, a 1-in-100 chance; and at 45, a 1-in-30- chance.
  • Miscarriage: Only 9 percent of recognized pregnancies for women aged 20 to 24 end in miscarriage; 15 percent of women aged 25-30 miscarry; 40 percent of women over 40 do and more than 50 percent miscarry at 42 years of age.

These limitations do not apply to men (an 80 year old man can still reproduce).  Men have virtually no opportunity cost to waiting to find a mate.  If they want to spend their twenties working their way up their field, putting money in the bank, playing video games, and hanging out with friends, they can always wake up one morning and decide they are ready to settle down, get married, and have kids.  As such, the biological cost of extended adolescence is significantly and substantially higher for women than it is for men.  Females suffer from a Mother Nature-induced “use it or lose it” policy.

So, should men be expected to ride to the rescue of women who are the end of the their fertility period? Should men make things “work out” for women who refused to marry when they were in their 20s, when they were fertile and attractive?

Nope:

This fear was encapsulated by Kay Hymowitz in a book called Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.

[…]As one reviewer somewhat critically noted of the book, “Hymowitz wants the child-men [those suffering from extended adolescence] to man up so that women don’t have to become spinsters or “choice mothers” at the expense of their careers. Might women alter their own behavior? “[T]he economic and cultural changes are too embedded, and, for women especially, too beneficial to reverse.” So the answer is no. Although it is women who are becoming disenchanted with the way things are, and although it is women who have created this situation, it is [in her opinion] men who ought to change.  And they are to change precisely when women are ready.”

The reviewer is correct because men are acting rationally within the confines the new paradigm.  In today’s world, men are presented no social, financial, emotional, or reproductive advantage by adjusting their own life to the ticking of a potential mate’s biological clock.  It is for the woman, to borrow a phrase, “too damn bad”.  It may not be fair, but in a finite world, there is an opportunity cost to every decision we make.  That has always been one of the central themes of this blog.  Incentive systems drive nearly everything in civilization from the type of people we attract into certain industries to the kind of behavior we reward.  The incentive system for men has changed and society now reflects this reality.

I actually blame the pastors and parents for allowing women to delay marriage, and then blaming men for not marrying women who pass their fertility date. Pastors and parents don’t challenge young women’s feelings with the truth about what she ought to be doing in order to grow up early and attract a man during the time when she is younger and fertile. They want to let women decide what to do at every point in their lives, based on their feelings “in the moment”. The refusal to make judgments leads to women having delusions like “I can have children when I’m 35” and “I can change a bad man into a good man after I marry him” and “a degree in English is as worthwhile as a degree in computer science”.

Feminism has a lot to do with it. Women used to be taught by pastors and parents that they should choose chaste men with good jobs, work histories and savings. But feminism says that men don’t have any special provider role, and now the main things that women look for in a man is that he is attractive, fun, and lets her do whatever she feels like doing – no matter how crazy and irrational it is.

One woman recently told me that a female friend of ours, who is dating a penniless 28-year-old student, who has never worked a day in his life need not worry about him. She said “if they marry, he’ll drop out of school and start to work and provide for her”. She is 33, and she thinks that marrying a full-time student is a good idea, because he enthusiastically supports her crazy plans to pursue fun, thrills and travel into her mid-30s. She tells him that God is telling her (through her feelings) to pursue fun and thrills through travel – a position she held when she still an atheist in college, mind you. And she intends to keep up the traveling for as long as she can, even if she isn’t out of debt until she turns 40. And he, in response, is both unwilling to, and incapable of, questioning her plan from a practical point of view. She likes that he lets her fly the plane, even it it means she’ll crash it and kill them both. There is something mentally wrong with a man who stays in school until he is 30, and thinks that he is fine to be in a relationship with a woman. Only men who show aptitude for the provider role should be taken seriously by women.

Pastors and parents don’t dare hurt the self-esteem of sensitive little girls by telling them to study hard things, get full-time jobs, move out of the house and focus on marrying a man who can provide during their 20s. And what happens when the “fun-thrills-travel until you’re 35” plan explodes and no one wants to marry her? Well, then, all pastors and parents who applauded when she delayed marriage blame men for not wanting to marry her. But men don’t marry 35-year-old women. At age 35, the value proposition of marriage to men has been greatly diminished by age and infertility. (Or worse: by promiscuity, cohabitation, divorce, and children from other men) There is a window of opportunity for a woman to invest in a man with her youth, beauty, support and encouragement. Once that window is closed, a man who has a good education, a good resume and good amount of savings has no obligation to marry. All the battles have already been fought as well as they are going to be, and without a woman there to help him. He doesn’t have any emotional connection to a woman that would cause him to either get married or stay married, because of the help he received when it really mattered. Believe me when I tell you that single women today are very intentional about passing up good men so that they can be “free” to travel and have fun. They know exactly what they are doing, but hope to somehow escape the responsibility for their choices later.

Are young, unmarried women sincere about wanting to be married “some day”?

College students puking in toilet
College students puking in toilet

Here’s a useful video for learning about what men think of marriage now that radical feminism has redefined it:

This comment about the video by Gaza on the Elusive Wapiti blog deserves a post of it’s own, so here it is:

One thing that Helen seems to miss is how women value and prioritize marriage and what role this plays vis a vis the male corollary. 

The “story” isn’t just about men being “on strike” or even (to Helen’s credit) rationally choosing to delay and/or avoid; it must also include how women treat marriage WRT their own valuation and prioritization and life decisions (NOT merely stated desires). 

There are not swarms of 25 y/o female college-grads looking for a husband with no willing men within sight. There are, however, swarms of 25 y/o/ female college-grads looking to have fun, travel, chase dreams, build careers, and explore their options. 

I’ve “dated” a few of these women; most (and their social circles included) are so focused on the self-indulgence (“experience”) and the status associated with sexual conquest/power that any mention of marriage is usually as a joke (enter the “boyfriends/husbands are boring/stupid/lazy” meme); marriage is merely some distant thing to be acquired at some seemingly distant age. 

Sure, over time (cue: the wall), the distant thing becomes a stated desire, but the transition from stated-desire to behavioral change and actual prioritization often takes years. I meet women well into their 30’s who still can’t alter their behaviors to demonstrate congruence with their stated desires. 

But that is when we start to hear how important marriage is, how men are avoiding commitment, why men should value marriage. All bacon-wrapped in various shaming mechanisms. The women singing the “Man-up and marry me” tune are not the 25 y/o versions; they are too busy singing the “you go girl” showtunes, exactly as prescribed by the Sandberg, lean-in, [binge drinking, continuous alpha male hookups, alpha male cohabitation], [and later, jump off the carousel into a marriage to a beta provider that makes her perpetually feel that she married down compared to the alphas that she used to hookup with while drunk].

So we can plainly see how something is valued based on the prioritization of one’s choices. Most young women value marriage as an idea, as a capstone to her personal journey; an indicator of status and achievement but not as a goal in-of-itself and not as a life decision that supersedes the accumulation of personal experience, the flexing her sexual and relationship power, or the kindling her optionality. 

These women desire to “hang-out” with the most attractive men they can, under any number of relationship approximations while pursuing their personal journeys and then suddenly desire to elevate commitment and marriage as something paramount, right around the same time their ability to define and opt-in/out of those indulgent relationship approximations wanes. Hmm.

After 10+ years of treating men and relationships as consumable commodities, marriage is now so valuable? So sacred that it will magically be more robust in the face of challenges, requiring more giving and less taking than those previous marital approximations, and yet because it is now a “Marriage”, it won’t be treated as merely a vehicle for the pursuit of her apparently perpetually fleeting “happiness”? Convince me.

There is a false premise at work that assumes that it is men who are devaluing marriage. Sure, there is some truth to this, but woman are messaging their own valuation of marriage as well; in real-time, often in very overt means and often at the expense of men who are still clinging to some idealistic view of marriage. 

And likely those are the very men who are willing and able to be husbands at 25. The very same men who will grow to become self-sufficient 35 y/o men feeling their own blossoming optionality, harvesting their own “experiences” with the 25 y/o versions of the suddenly-marriage-minded women, while a decade of observational and experiential evidence of what women truly value buries what remains of their marital idealism.

Tl:dr
I’d consider marriage to a woman who has demonstrated through her choices, prioritization, sacrifice and delayed gratification that marriage is valuable to her and who can articulate how it would be valuable to me. [not holding breath]

What do you think? Is that something that you are seeing more of in the current generation of young, unmarried women? I have to confess, I see a lot of emphasis among Christian women on short-term missions trips and on careers, but not much planning on how to be prepared for marriage. In my experience, there is not much preparation work going on, and marriage is put off later and later. This is despite the fact that a woman’s fertility declines starting at age 27 and is pretty much dead at 35. IVF is very expensive, but has a higher risk of birth defects and and can often lead to too many embryos, some of which will then need to be aborted. Men respond to incentives, and they have certain things they are looking for out of a wife and marriage.

It would be nice if there were some wisdom being transferred from older, married women to young, unmarried women, but I don’t see it happening. What I see happening is young women, including ones raised in Christian homes, going off to college to binge drink and hookup and cohabitate, and always expressing the desire for marriage “some day”. But marriage is something you prepare for early with every decision. Some decisions are not good preparation for marriage. I get the impression that young, unmarried women think that marriage is “boring” and not the way to “make a difference”, and so in practice, they are trying other things.

Remember, the offer that a woman such as Gaza describes to a man is not the same as the offer of marriage that was made by 20-year-old women in the 1950s.

Marriage used to mean:

  • Being the legally and socially recognized head of the household.
  • An expectation of regular sex.
  • Legal rights to children.
  • Lifetime commitment.
  • That you are guaranteed a chaste bride on your wedding night.

Men liked the original version of marriage without the modern debasements. Should they feel obligated to settle for the new version of marriage which is influenced by radical feminism? I would have to be convinced. Women are kidding themselves if they think that they can do anything they want and wait as long as they want and still be as attractive to men.