Why Buy the Cow when the Milk is Free?
Ahh, the age-old idiom from Mommy Lessons in what Good Girls Do. It is the hope of most respectable parents that their daughters do not become highly sexual with a number of partners, both for their protection and reputation. Women are taught that men will not marry us (buy the cow) if we allow them access to our sex without commitment (when the milk is free). And so begins the valuation of a woman’s love by her ability to be married.
Except I’ve never known milk to be free. I mean, have you ever passed a dairy farm offering free milk daily? When’s the last time milk was less than $1 a gallon at the grocery store? In a less literal sense, have you ever known a woman to love a person without expectation of, at minimum, equal or greater love in return? We give love with the expectation of security. We give love with the expectation that we matter, that we ‘count’ in someone’s life.
Sex is a Not A Weapon
Lessons like this are seeds. These seeds blossom as competition for male love, attention, and affirmation. We base our value on our number of sexual partners and withholding sex in relationships. We value sexual purity over sexual pleasure. All in the name of being good girls who don’t give away ourselves to anyone but the man who will marry us.
Abstinence/Celibacy are not inherently problematic. It is our associations with the value of sex. Hypermasculinity has reduced men to caring only about having as much sex as possible, with as many as possible. Hyperfemininity makes women believe that penultimate success is in creating and maintaining relationships with men1.
Sex as a weapon isn’t limited to just courtships.
Women reduce sex to a commodity beyond the dating stage. Mad? You gets none. Can’t get her way? Prepare to rub one out. You won’t propose to her yet? Just you and your hand. Husband didn’t take out the trash? You better have some cocoa butter. You get my point. Women treat sex as a system of reward and punishment. Sex is not a reward or gift for good behavior. Withholding sex doesn’t force men to place a higher value on the milk. And the only person getting punished is you by missing out on an orgasm, tbh.
Women cannot base the permanence of their partnerships on sex. Women have to do away with the notion of sex as the deciding factor. We treat sex as a commodity yet we’re upset when we’re compared to sex workers. Sex is a commodity for sex workers. Cows & free milk has taught women to believe that manipulation of sex will make a man stay committed. This is patently false. I don’t know how many ways to keep reminding you that it’s false.
Even worse, preoccupation with sex has caused many to forget the value of love.
The Assumptions of Cows & Milk
Part of the problem is around the idea of the nature of love for men and women. Being loved by a woman is simply because her nature urges her. Conversely, to be loved by a man is because he’s chosen to cast away his brute inability to love. A woman’s love is given by payment of fidelity, validation, affection, intimacy, and communication. A woman’s love is many things, but it is not given freely. The thought that men do not love naturally situates the self-worth of women in her ability to be chosen for love.
These presumptions about men are also problematic to/for men, but that’s a discussion for another post.
Despite socialized belief, marriage is not the penultimate marker of the ability to be loved. We have put immense pressure on ourselves and one another to be validated and affirmed by the changing of our last names. Is our mother’s successful rearing of our womanhood also validated by us being chosen as a bride? Do we really mean to tell women that no matter what she does, she’ll never be whole until she’s attached?
Milk is Only Part of a Balanced Diet
Sex is only part of a healthy, happy relationship. If someone is only looking for casual sex, they’re not in the market to buy cows or milk. However, if a man wishes to commit to a woman, it is because of who she is as a person. Take two of my friends for example:
- Friend 1 is in her mid-thirties, celibate, and incredibly vocal about waiting on God to send her husband. She has not had a long term relationship in a number of years. Her courtships are brief and end in disappointment. Yet, with each ending, she reaffirms her decision to wait because, according to her, the man who is worth it will respect and honor her.
- Friend 2 is in her late-twenties and is allergic to even the mention of celibacy. She’s had several long term relationships. Her most recent foray into love? Well, she had sex with him the first night. They’re engaged to marry in 2017 after a very brief courtship.
The point is, relationships are not built or sustained by sex. Love is bought with character that demonstrates an inexplicable “it-factor.” Sex, like children, will never trap someone into a happy, healthy marriage. How many partners have you dismissed despite their sexual skill? Good sex is meaningless in the absence of fidelity, validation, and the ability to build something meaningful.
Besides, do you really want to be betrothed with someone who sees you only as a endless milk supply? Your body is not the proverbial carrot to dangle in hopes of wedded bliss. YOU ARE ENOUGH. And it’s about time someone reminded you.