Another in an ongoing series of posts on seminal works in the manosphere canon, as it were. At some point, I’ll make a page for these.
Like Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power, F. Roger Devlin’s 2006 essay Sexual Utopia in Power (downloadable here) is a kind of Manospherian urtext, an original source of many of the terrible ideas that are now accepted as gospel wherever misogynists gather in large numbers online. Though the name of Devlin is hardly as well known as that of Farrell, many of his ideas, most notably his reworked notion of “hypergamy” — which we will get to in a minute — are omnipresent in the manosphere.
Among misogynists with intellectual pretensions, Devlin’s Sexual Utopia is considered a must-read. Originally brought to the attention of fellow manospherians by PUA pseudointellectual Roissy — now Heartiste — in 2007, the essay has received lavish praise on such familiar sites as The Spearhead (where WF Price praised Devlin’s “critiques of feminism” as “some of the best out there”) and A Voice for Men (where one post described the essay as “supremely indispensable.”) It’s listed in the sidebar of The Red Pill subreddit as “required reading.” And Norwegian MRA Eivind Berge gushed that the essay was
possibly the best article I have ever read. My blogging against feminism is almost redundant after F. Roger Devlin has put it so well.
So what exactly are all these guys falling over themselves to praise so highly? To put it bluntly, a strange and sprawling compendium of ideas that range from frankly abhorrent to merely silly, motivated by misogyny and racism. Virtually none of the essay’s many gross generalizations about women (or men) are supported by any sort of evidence.
And did I mention that it originally ran in a white nationalist journal?
Yes, “Sexual Utopia in Power” originally ran in The Occidental Quarterly, an explicitly racist journal that described its mission as protecting “the civilization and free governments that whites have created” from the rise of the evil non-white hordes. Indeed, Devlin is on the editorial advisory board of the journal, which currently features an article on its site praising Disney’s Snow White as “a White Nationalist classic.”
While the bulk of Devlin’s essay deals with gender, not race, it is framed — in the very first sentence — by his concern over what he calls the “catastrophic decline” of “white birthrates worldwide.” In other words, no one who has read his article, even if they don’t know what the Occidental Quarterly is, can possibly miss Devlin’s fundamental racism (which is spelled out even more explicitly at the end of this piece).
There is so much in Devlin’s essay that is so objectionable that it cannot fit in a single post, so today I will focus only on his reworked notion of “hypergamy.”
The term was originally a technical way of saying “marrying up” — that is, “the act or practice of marrying a spouse of higher caste or status than oneself,” as Wikipedia rather unromantically puts it.
In Devlin’s hands, the term comes to mean something entirely different:
It is sometimes said that men are polygamous and women monogamous. …
It would be more accurate to say that the female sexual instinct is hypergamous. Men may have a tendency to seek sexual variety, but women have simple tastes in the manner of Oscar Wilde: They are always satisfied with the best. By definition, only one man can be the best. These different male and female “sexual orientations” are clearly seen among the lower primates, e.g., in a baboon pack. Females compete to mate at the top, males to get to the top.
This may sound vaguely familiar to you. Brian Eno once said of the Velvet Underground’s first album that only 30,000 people may have bought copies of it, but “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” Similarly, everyone who has read Devlin seems to have started a blog or YouTube channel.
Women, in fact, have a distinctive sexual utopia corresponding to their hypergamous instincts. In its purely utopian form, it has two parts: First, she mates with her incubus, the imaginary perfect man; and, second, he “commits,” or ceases mating with all other women. This is the formula of much pulp romance fiction. The fantasy is strictly utopian, partly because no perfect man exists, but partly also because even if he did, it is logically impossible for him to be the exclusive mate of all the women who desire him.
It is possible, however, to enable women to mate hypergamously, i.e., with the most sexually attractive (handsome or socially dominant) men. In the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes the women of Athens stage a coup d’état. They occupy the legislative assembly and barricade their husbands out. Then they proceed to enact a law by which the most attractive males of the city will be compelled to mate with each female in turn, beginning with the least attractive. That is the female sexual utopia in power.
And yes, we are rapidly moving towards the manosphere myth that virtually all women are having sex with the same tiny number of men.
Although there may be only one “alpha male” at the top of the pack at any given time, which one it is changes over time. In human terms, this means the female is fickle, infatuated with no more than one man at any given time, but not naturally loyal to a husband over the course of a lifetime.
From here, it seems, comes the widespread manosphere myth that women are inherently amoral creatures who will instantly dump whatever man they’re with whenever an alpha strolls by.
Devlin is also the apparent source of the related manosphere myth that most men live lives of quiet celibacy.
An important aspect of hypergamy is that it implies the rejection of most males.
Indeed, Devlin is so convinced by this notion that he simply hand-waves away all data to the contrary.
Survey results are occasionally announced apparently indicating male satisfaction with their “sex lives” and female unhappiness with theirs. This creates an impression that there really is “more sex” for men today than before some misguided girls misbehaved themselves forty years ago. …
It is child’s play to show, not merely that this is untrue, but that it cannot be true. … What happens when female sexual desire is liberated is not an increase in the total amount of sex available to men, but a redistribution of the existing supply. Society becomes polygamous. A situation emerges in which most men are desperate for wives, but most women are just as desperately throwing themselves at a very few exceptionally attractive men. …
Sexual liberation really means the Darwinian mating pattern of the baboon pack reappears among humans.
And …. scene!
Devlin is sometimes described as an “independent scholar,” but even aside from its misogyny and racism “Sexual Utopia in Power” is anything but scholarly. There are only a relative handful of footnotes, which don’t come close to backing up Devlin’s numerous factual claims. Most of the footnotes refer to the writings not of scholars but of conservative and far-right journalists. One links to an article on the racist hate site VDare.com; another favorably cites this article by Henry Makow, an early Men’s Rights Activist turned conspiracy theorist who literally believes that feminists are in league with an evil Satanic-Illuminati cult that rules the world.
Devlin offers precisely zero evidence to back up his claims about hypergamy — aside from a couple of surveys, whose conclusions he rejects, and several quotes from literature, including that one from Oscar Wilde. The rest is, to use the formal term for it, assdata.
Nonetheless, the manosphere has adopted Devlin’s new-and-not-improved version of “hypergamy” with enthusiasm. I won’t even bother citing examples; a Google search for “manosphere” and “hypergamy” brings up 17,700 results. Hell, there are several dozen articles about hypergamy on A Voice for Men alone. And of course I’ve written about the manosphere obsession with hypergamy many times before.
But so far essentially the only people who have picked up on this particular definition of hypergamy have been misogynists, pickup artists, MRAs and others vaguely associated with, or around, the manosphere. The only academic I know of who has ever even addressed Devlin’s peculiar thesis is libertarian economist Tyler Cowan, who wrote about it briefly, and I think accurately, on his blog several years back.
This essay is not politically correct and at times it is misogynous and yes I believe the author is evil (seriously). The main behavioral assumption is that women are fickle. So they are monogamous at points of time but not over time; Devlin then solves for the resulting equilibrium, so to speak. The birth rate falls, for one thing. The piece also claims that the modern “abolition” of marriage strengthens the attractive at the expense of the unattractive. Some of you will hate the piece. I disagree with the central conclusion, and also the motivation, but it does seem to count as a new idea.
As an actual idea, new or old, this is probably all the consideration Devlin‘s version of “hypergamy” really deserves. But as a case study in the history and sociology of bad ideas, the strange story of Devlin’s hypergamy is a bit more interesting, and I no doubt will return to it in future posts.
There is also a good deal in Devlin’s essay that’s a good deal worse than his discussion of hypergamy, and I’ll be coming back to that as well.