The Pill Causes Bad Mate Selection

BoxerQuote
“Oral contraception affects a woman’s mind, smell, and mate choices”

What role does feminism as a social movement play in society’s ills? Is it a cause of the fundamental problems or merely a symptom? While many people in the manosphere have asserted that feminism plays a key causal role, this notion has been questioned. I’ll be examining this broad question over a series of articles. In the first article in this series, I’ll be considering the validity—and societal impact—of the claim that hormonal oral contraception (“the pill”) negatively changes the way a woman selects a mate.

To answer this question we will consider the recent research done by Gurit E. Birnbaum entitled “The Bitter Pill: Cessation of Oral Contraceptives Enhances the Appeal of Alternative Mates”[1] and the commentary by anthropologist Edward Dutton[2].

Reproductive Strategy

Before discussing the pill, let’s consider the evolutionary imperative: to reproduce. Evolutionary biology leads a fertile woman towards a somewhat unconscious reproductive strategy that maximizes her chances to pass on her genes as many times as possible. This involves the following three primary areas:

(1) Reproductive Fitness

A normal fertile woman will prefer alpha male traits[3] : physically fitness, good looks, and masculinity. These traits are proxies that indicate underlying good genes that give her the highest chance to produce healthy children with the lowest risk of genetic mutation.

(2) Compatible Immune System

A woman uses the body odors of men to help find the best genetic match that indicates immune system compatibility.[5] Ideally, she should find a match that is not too similar, but also not too far away. The goal is to produce healthy children by avoiding both inbreeding and conflicting alleles. Historically, this meant marriage involving the genetic equivalents of distant cousins.

(3) Seeking Men of High Status

A woman will seek a man of high status.[4] Her goal is to have as much wealth and support for her and her children. From an evolutionary standpoint, hypergamy is a proxy for genetic fitness.

This is a fertile woman’s natural state.

The Pill

Having established the natural tendency of women, we now ask whether the pill has any effect on this? The research indicates that it does.

While the natural reproductive strategy is expressed most strongly during a woman’s peak fertilitywhile she is ovulating—her overall preferences do not change throughout her cycle. By contrast, the pill works by taking a woman out of her fertility cycle and causes her to enter a period of semi-permanent infertility. This results in mental and physiological changes that cause her to unconsciously seek a non-reproductive strategyinverting her default, natural strategy. Her focus shifts from reproductive success towards personal success.

(1) Reproduction is unimportant

A woman on the pill will seek beta male traits[3] : nice, fun, woman-like, unattractive. These traits make a woman feel validated and supported. She may become repulsed by the alpha traits that she would find attractive in her fertile state.

(2) Genetic Incompatibility

Rather than finding a good genetic match for having children, a woman’s desires shift:

“…women’s perception of men may serve a different function: pursuing cooperative partners who assist with child care (“good parents”) rather than genetically compatible partners. Women may therefore revert to having opposite mate preferences, becoming fixed on seeking less genetically compatible men whose body odor resembles that of their apparently supportive genetic relatives.”

A man who is genetically like her brother or a close cousin is going to be much more likely to support her than a more distant match, even though any offspring would be less genetically fit.

(3) Seek Men of Any Status

If children don’t matter, then a good genetic match is unimportant. Any man will do. If she wants sex, status doesn’t matter. If she wants wealth, she’ll be able to temporarily extract wealth from almost anyone. If she wants a husband, the average beta will suffice.

The Consequences of the Pill

Of course these effects are not absolute. Individually, woman both on and off the pill can make alternate choices. Nevertheless, the overall negative effects should not be ignored.

The pill alters a fertile woman into an infertile woman, changing her life plan. She’s biologically no longer interested in children (outward focused), but in what makes her most comfortable and supported (inward focused). The hormones in the pill cause real physiological changes that change her perception of men. Even her sex drive can change. While this is listed medically as a side effect, biologically-speaking it seems to be the point.

There are two potential major scenarios where this will cause problems.

First, a woman on the pill before marriage selects a poor genetic fit (beta). Eventually when she stops taking the pill, she will have reduced attraction to her husband and suddenly be strongly attracted to the alpha men she would have naturally been attracted to before marriage.

Second, a woman marries a good genetic fit (alpha), but who goes on the pill after marriage (to avoid children), will develop a lack of sexual attraction to her husband. She may start criticizing her husband for his masculine traits and viewpoints that she was previously attracted to.

The marriage in both scenarios faces a heightened risk of sex-starvation, infidelity, or divorce. But even if these things do not happen, the swings will likely cause personal relationship instability and discontent. One can easily imagine this contributing to mental disorders like depression.

Analysis and Summary

Dating and marrying a woman while she is on the pill should be avoided. Men married to women who go on the pill after getting married should be aware of the risks.

The pill contributes to genetic and relationship mismatches. Divorce risk for most marriages is highest during fertile childbearing years, precisely when she is most likely to change pill usage. Contrast this with a pill-free normative natural marriage entering the infertile years: the relationship is firmly established and her husband has likely developed sufficient beta traits needed for her long-term support. Such a marriage is unlikely to end in divorce.

When women on the pill hook up with or marry poor genetically matched men, it does two things: (1) it leaves their otherwise best matched man unmatched and (2) takes someone else’s best matched man. What does this look like? Well, women on the pill can potentially have sex with as many “bad-boy” men as they can, but they generally won’t marry them. They’ll marry poorly matched men. Single men will be left with fewer prospects, as their best matches are marrying the wrong men. Married men will be left with greater divorce risk as the women who should have been their wives marry the wrong men. It’s an unmitigated sociological disaster for both married and unmarried men.

So what is the role of feminism? Feminism promotes female supremacy through its key tenetscareerism, marriage-avoidance, and children-avoidance through easy contraception, abortion, and divorce. All of these are, of course, counter to the evolutionary imperative.

The pill, while not essential to feminism, is a tool with a synergistic feedback effect. A number of red-pill memes demonstrate this: (1) women reproducing with feminine men produce more genetically feminine men, (2) women reproducing with masculine bad-boys have feminine men raise their (now) sociologically feminine boys (e.g. marrying single mothers), and (3) the pill amplifies feminine marital discontent. The pill helps enable these and more.


[1] Birnbaum, G.E., Zholtack, K., Mizrahi, M. et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science (2019) 5: 276. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-018-00186-6. (download here)

[2] He has been accused of anti-semitism and supporting eugenics, demonetized by YouTube for various red-pill positions, and had his work rejected by academic publishers. He is friends with Bruce G. Charlton, who is not loved by our host. YMMV.

[3] What is meant by alpha and beta in this context? While there are certainly men whofrom an evolutionary standpointshould not breed, each woman’s ideal alpha may be very different. Alpha should be defined as the best evolutionary choice available to a particular fertile woman. The beta is a man who does not maximize her offspring’s genetic odds of survival. He’s a bad genetic fit for her. He may be someone else’s alpha or no one’s at all. The terms are relative and contextual.

The terms alpha and beta are not value judgments. For example, alpha men often have low dependability and beta men have high dependability. A woman will probably be doing well if she finds a man with a good combination of alpha and beta traits to see her through various life stages.

While the terms are frequently assigned motives and morality in the manosphere, the use here is merely descriptive of the ways a normal population of fertile women find the best genetic match for reproduction. Trade-offs can and do occur, resulting in deviations from the mean or expected behavior, but the general concepts hold.

[4] As with alpha and beta, high status is relative. Women seek the highest status that they can attain relative to their own status. This doesn’t mean they don’t marry men who have low-status in the absolute sense, nor does it imply that low-status men and women are unworthy of marriage. They are merely trying to maximize their genetic fit.

[5] Wedekind, C., & Füri, S. (1997). Body odor preferences in men and women: do they aim for specific MHC combinations or simply heterozygosity? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 264(1387), 1471–1479. (download here)

15 thoughts on “The Pill Causes Bad Mate Selection”

  1. It’s hard for me to believe that nobody is squabbling over this article, though I suppose it’s a holiday weekend and all.

    The pill alters a fertile woman into an infertile woman, changing her life plan. She’s biologically no longer interested in children (outward focused), but in what makes her most comfortable and supported (inward focused). The hormones in the pill cause real physiological changes that change her perception of men. Even her sex drive can change.

    This is all so uncontroversial that the only surprise is the lack of real-world research on the effects.

  2. “This is all so uncontroversial that the only surprise is the lack of real-world research on the effects.”

    Fair point, but at the same time not everything is researched and not everything that is well-known is researched.

    For a number of years when I was younger and newly married I suffered from a number of chronic health conditions: migraines and other headaches, light sensitivity, acid reflux, high cholesterol, and poor sleep. My neurologist prescribed medication, but nothing seemed to work. Then I read the analysis on Vitamin D by N=1 researcher Seth Roberts. Rather than aiming for the 400IU of Vitamin D per day, I started dosing at 6,000IU per day. Within a short time all my symptoms were gone and I felt like a new person. I’ve been fine ever since.

    Around this time a minority of doctors were suggesting that Vitamin D could do all sorts of things, like lower cancer risk, and that it should be used for often. There was very little peer reviewed research at the time to support these claims. Yet a decade latter the medical profession has largely caught up, even as some research continues to suggest that supplemental Vitamin D does nothing or worse.

    The pill causes infertility: this is its primary purpose. It quite often causes a decrease in sex drive, caused by the hormones. This is uncontroversial and everyone knows it. Finding anecdotal examples of this is trivial, and those of us who have had girlfriends or wives go on/off the pill have likely experienced this themselves.

    Research aimed at controversial positions (hormonal contraception is bad; transgenderism is bad; vitamin D can be used instead of prescription drugs; global warming is a myth; IQ differences by race) is unlikely to get funded and likely to get censored.

  3. I’d been hoping that somebody more competent would raise the obvious objections… somebody who doesn’t value blissful ignorance of female hormone cycles.

    Fertility isn’t that closely connected to behavior. Naturally infertile women don’t behave differently from normal women so there’s no reason to believe artificially infertile women would, either. Not to mention, the Pill’s infertility is why the woman chooses to take it in the first place. She starts out fertile yet not wanting kids, a situation the article doesn’t acknowledge.

    The argument then goes to hormonal changes causing a change in mate selection, which is certainly plausible. But in my limited observations, that doesn’t happen either. Women all like drama, the bad boy Alpha, etc. If the Pill actually did make boring, productive men sexy then we’d be seeing the opposite of what’s actually taking place in our society. Whatever mood changes the Pill brings, they don’t seem to cause observable behavior changes.

    If you can give any “she’s definitely on the Pill” behavior examples then I’d be interested to see them.

    The idea that women seek good genetics in their men is a lie created out of necessity by evolutionary psychology. Natural selection created them, therefore they must have some ability to naturally select good mates, therefore the sexiest men are the best men, is the “science” evopsych uses. But then we see, on this very blog no less, women eagerly shacking up with absolute trash… perhaps letting Captain Save-A-Ho pay for her mistakes while she fucks the devil.

    Who would ever have guessed that humanity’s most genetically healthy men are sociopaths, drug dealers and starving musicians?

    Again, if you have any examples to give of women being able to describe a man’s genetic health by scent alone then I’d be interested to hear it. The way the article reads, it’s arguing that women have been careful mate selectors throughout history until the Pill came along. That may not have been your intent but seriously, women have misbehaved throughout history in the same ways they do today. Tech might be making it worse but tech obviously isn’t making it happen.

    So no, women aren’t naturally well-adjusted mother material that get innocently derailed by some Mk-Ultra infertility pill. Every single abortion is proof of that.

  4. @Gunner Q

    “Fertility isn’t that closely connected to behavior. [..] Naturally infertile women don’t behave differently from normal women so there’s no reason to believe artificially infertile women would, either.”

    If you have peer-reviewed evidence of this claim, cite it.

    White it is true of physical fertility issues caused by deformities and diseases of the ovary and uterus, there are different ways to compare a woman’s behavior while she is biochemically fertile vs infertile: comparing her behavior (1) pre- and post-menopause, (2) while on and off the pill, and (3) due to environmental changes (stress, body fat levels, etc.). It is uncontroversial that changes in a woman’s behavior are evident in all of these cases.

    “She starts out fertile yet not wanting kids, a situation the article doesn’t acknowledge.”

    In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, this article refers to (mostly) unconscious and collective impulses. This is what the research referenced was aiming at. As stated, of course individuals deviate and override these norms. That’s how research on effects in human populations works. It doesn’t matter what individual women do: effects will very in both magnitude and direction from person to person.

    “If the Pill actually did make boring, productive men sexy then we’d be seeing the opposite of what’s actually taking place in our society.”

    No, it increased the prioritization of their traits and makes them more marriageable (or cohabitable), perhaps for the purpose of having them raise other men’s children. It doesn’t mean they get any sex at all.

    “If you can give any “she’s definitely on the Pill” behavior examples then I’d be interested to see them.”

    I linked to them above. They are called side effects, and they are declared by every birth control manufacturer. You can also, quite trivially, google search for specific anecdotes. I would suggest you follow Earl on Twitter, as he frequently cites examples.

    “Who would ever have guessed that humanity’s most genetically healthy men are sociopaths, drug dealers and starving musicians? [..] if you have any examples to give of women being able to describe a man’s genetic health by scent alone then I’d be interested to hear it. [..] women have misbehaved throughout history in the same ways they do today.”

    Strawmen.

    “Tech might be making it worse but tech obviously isn’t making it happen.”

    Agreed, but it refutes your claims. If it is making it worse, then even you agree that the effects I have described are real.

  5. “somebody who doesn’t value blissful ignorance of female hormone cycles [..] Fertility isn’t that closely connected to behavior.”

    It’s known that a woman’s behavior changes based on where she in her cycle. If you read the paper I cited, you’d know that the researchers considered the effect of her behavior while ovulating (narrow definition of fertility) and while not ovulating (narrow definition of infertility). It turns out that this had no significant impact on her overall mating selection, only the intensity of that selection. One explanation for this is that even though a woman has a natural “fertility cycle”, she is still fertile in the broader sense. The pill demonstrably biochemically alters this behavior by placing her firmly in a broader infertile state.

    It’s fairly hilarious that you think me ignorant. My wife started on the pill a couple months before we got married (recommended for maximum effect) and was on it for far too long after that. My only regret is that she was on the pill at all. If we had a time-traveling do-over, she would not use it. Moreover, of the two of us, I was the one that tracked her fertility throughout her cycle. I learned to tell which two or three days were most fertile. We had no trouble conceiving.

  6. If you can give any “she’s definitely on the Pill” behavior examples then I’d be interested to see them.

    I find a positive correlation between a wimminz who is desperate to fuck me without a condom and her being on some sort of hormones (pill or IUD). That’s an obvious no-brainer.

    More generally, they’re hormones (from the Greek, horme) and hormones change our physiological state as a matter of course. That’s why we take other hormones — like melatonin and insulin. Why would the pill not change someone’s mental outlook along with her fecundity?

  7. “Natural selection created them, therefore they must have some ability to naturally select good mates, therefore the sexiest men are the best men, is the “science” evopsych uses. “

    This will (hopefully) be a topic of future posts in this series, so I’ll tease it by saying that this is very wrong. Unlike the more speculative research on the effects of the pill, genetic fitness and selection effects can be measured and there is an abundance of high quality research in the field of intelligence studies. It is definitely not pseudoscience. We can go back centuries and examine human selection efforts and their effects on intelligence and genetic fitness. What we find is that overall genetic fitness peaked around 1750-1800 and has been in decline since then. We can answer the questions (1) What kind of men were selected for maximum fitness and what kind of men are being selected for now? and (2) What role does feminism play in this?

    With regards to the latter, it is interesting that one of Brother Ballista’s core theses is that feminism goes back to at least the 1800s, roughly coinciding with the start of the decline in global intelligence, partially due to changes in the way women do and don’t select good mates and reproduce.

  8. Here’s a 2015 study backing some of Derek’s arguments:

    Oral contraceptive pills (OCs), which are used to prevent pregnancy by the majority of women in the United States, contain steroid hormones that may affect the brain’s structure and function. In this investigation, we tested the hypothesis that OC use is associated with differences in brain structure using a hypothesis‐driven, surface‐based approach. In 90 women, (44 OC users, 46 naturally‐cycling women), we compared the cortical thickness of brain regions that participate in the salience network and the default mode network, as well as the volume of subcortical regions in these networks. We found that OC use was associated with significantly lower cortical thickness measurements in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. These regions are believed to be important for responding to rewards and evaluating internal states/incoming stimuli, respectively. Further investigations are needed to determine if cortical thinning in these regions are associated with behavioral changes, and also to identify whether OC use is causally or only indirectly related to these changes in brain morphology. Hum Brain Mapp 36:2644–2654, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

    I can’t upload it without revealing my place of employment, but you can search it out on Wiley’s site:
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
    and if you’re at a university, you likely have access to the whole thing.

  9. “Fertility isn’t that closely connected to behavior.”

    “If you have peer-reviewed evidence of this claim, cite it.”

    I have nothing of the sort and refuse to research it, which is why I waited for somebody more knowledgeable to comment. What I do have is my personal observations (and PUA readings) that female behavior alone can’t indicate whether she uses the Pill. Thus, it’s not a significant factor in female behavior.

    “…sociopaths, drug dealers and starving musicians?”

    “Strawmen.”

    Absolutely not. I was dead serious. The most sexually attractive men are very often terrible choices for fathering children. The Pill is not driving such behavior. Women have always gone for the bad boys.

    But then, you are trying to use non-Vox Day/Heartiste definitions of Alpha and Beta. I missed that footnote on the first reading and it makes your arguments disingenuous at best. An Alpha man is the specific man that a specific woman SHOULD want? That’s a hopelessly moving goalpost.

    Women SHOULD want healthy, emotionally stable, productive men. Women DO want sociopaths, drug dealers and starving musicians. The Pill doesn’t change that.

    “Tech might be making it worse but tech obviously isn’t making it happen.”

    “Agreed, but it refutes your claims. If it is making it worse, then even you agree that the effects I have described are real.”

    Which is it? Can women detect good genetics but are blocked by the Pill, or are they already intentionally choosing bad genetics, or are they incapable of detecting good genetics in the first place?

    The latter is most likely from the historical perspective, with arranged/approved marriages being the norm for brides. We wouldn’t see that behavior at all if women could literally sniff out a good man.

    The drivers of bad female behavior are absent/cucked fathers, the welfare state and the death of organized Christianity. Not tech. Tech, like any tool, enables us to do more of what we already want to do.

    @Boxer,
    “Why would the pill not change someone’s mental outlook along with her fecundity?”

    It would change her emotional outlook, certainly. Not so much mental outlook, however. Choosing a long-term mate isn’t (shouldn’t be?) an emotion-driven decision. If we’re saying the Pill encourages one-night stands or similar impulsive behavior then I’ve no objection, but if we’re saying the Pill interferes with woman’s political activism, ability to sense male fitness and lifetime decisions about children then I do.

    Hormones don’t stop people from occasionally stepping back and re-thinking their life.

  10. “…female behavior alone can’t indicate whether she uses the Pill. Thus, it’s not a significant factor in female behavior.”

    There are two major problems here. The first is that the pill is not the only factor in her behavior, so of course you can’t simplistically tell if all women are on the pill from a common set of behavioral observations. That’s why research is performed with controls. The second is a lack of understanding of research mathematics/statistics. Predictive power at the population level does not mean it must be predictive at the individual level.

    ” The most sexually attractive men are very often terrible choices for fathering children. The Pill is not driving such behavior. Women have always gone for the bad boys. [..] you are trying to use non-Vox Day/Heartiste definitions of Alpha and Beta. [..] An Alpha man is the specific man that a specific woman SHOULD want? That’s a hopelessly moving goalpost.”

    The manosphere didn’t invent the terms alpha and beta. The manosphere’s many different definitions could rightly be considered pseudoscience. By contrast, the evolutionary psychological usage of the terms is backed by evidence and research. I think this is going to require more than a comment or a footnote to explain, so I will compose a response.

  11. It would change her emotional outlook, certainly. Not so much mental outlook, however. Choosing a long-term mate isn’t (shouldn’t be?) an emotion-driven decision.

    This has to be a joke, yesss?

  12. @Gunner Q

    Edward Horgan suggested in “Exceeding the Threshold: Why Women Prefer Bad Boys (2011)” that bad boys have “genetics and resources desired by women” and nice boys have “behavioral tendencies desired by women”. These are not mutually exclusive. He notes:

    “Nevertheless, bad boys remain attractive because they have the potential to fulfill the female ideal: a bad boy who acts like a nice guy. [..] we might expect the nice guy’s commitment and parental investment to be crucial (Bogaert & Fisher 1995). However, because by definition the shortcomings of bad boys are behavioral and the shortcomings of nice guys are genetic, bad boys can overcome their deficiencies by modifying their actions. Nice guys, contrarily, have no such option.”

    This echoes my argument:

    “It’s possible to influence and change her mate’s traits over time, but she can’t change her children’s genes after the fact.”

    Research (link) finds that women want confident, assertive, easygoing, and sensitive men. They reject aggressive, demanding, domineering, quiet, shy, or submissive men. However, male dominance is important in male-to-male competition. The alpha—as defined by female preferences—is confident, assertive, dominates other men through prestige, and treats her well. The bad boy archetype (Gopaldas, 2019) has most of the alpha traits (confident, assertive, easygoing, and perhaps even sensitive) and few of the beta traits (quiet, shy, submissive).

    Why wouldn’t a woman want a bad boy who acts like a nice guy? Who should father her children if she cannot have both?

  13. “The second is a lack of understanding of research mathematics/statistics.”

    Lack of trust, more like.

    “This has to be a joke, yesss?”

    I know, I know. It’s an open-ended question, how rational and far-sighted we can expect women to be. But again, the Pill doesn’t change that math.

    Thank you for the abstract. It doesn’t alter the debate much but I’ll accept the Pill causes measurable brain changes.

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