I've been with my boyfriend for six months, we're both 34 and I am fairly sure he's The One. The other night we ended up having a conversation about how many lovers we'd had. He told me he had slept with eight women and suddenly I felt nervous about confessing the truth - I had a lot of flings at university and in my first job at an ad agency, so my tally is closer to 40. But I found myself saying ten and even then he looked horrified. I hate being untruthful with him, but don't want to be judged either. What should I do?
Rowan Pelling's response? She wants to make this woman's situation normative:
I have to say that if this man is so censorious and delicate that he crumples when faced with a 34-year-old unmarried career woman who confesses to ten lovers, then he'd better take the Tardis back to 1900 ...
To be honest, if your man really loves you he should be able to take the full tally with equanimity. But then that would presume that he's secure in his own skin and, as we all know, a great many people aren't. What you perceive as censure may well be old-fashioned male insecurity.
... Meanwhile, a close female friend is given to describing herself to any new beau as a virgin (she's 36). When the poor man looks at her in utter disbelief, she says: 'I have no recollection of a love life before you. Time starts now.'
This is an attempt to manipulate. Think of what's really going on here. The woman had no time for a family type guy in her 20s. She wasted her youth and fertility on casual sex with players. Now she's in her mid-30s and is finally ready to settle. She's ready (in her mind) to give up on sex and romance and be supported by a family guy.
Should this be considered the new normal? Hardly. The family guy is going to have to make all the sacrifices expected of men in past generations. But he's not getting a woman who can offer him youthful beauty or fertility. He's not getting a woman who will look toward him as the romantic man in her life. He will probably not get the sex he thinks he's going to get once the deal is done.
All the rewards are going to the player. The sacrifices are being made by the family guy. It's a shocking deal. It means too that the men who would make the best fathers aren't likely to have much success in reproducing.
And yet Rowan Pelling, and a fair number of the women in the comments, are trying to browbeat men into thinking they aren't real men or that they are old-fashioned if they object.
The most appropriate response from men is righteous anger and a determination to resist. We have to insist that if women want the support of family men that they have to be ready to settle much younger and reward the men who are to be their husbands - and not a long line of strangers.
It is not insecure for men to ask for these terms, it is a basic defence of healthy family formation.
Rowan Pelling wants to liberate women to waste themselves at the expense of family men and the long-term future of their society. This is her side of the sex war. Let's make sure she gets some intelligent and persevering opposition.