Class In Male Competition

A while back this video made the rounds:

It documents an amateur boxing match between a male Marine and a female soldier (“soldier” in proper parlance referring to uniformed Army) purportedly on base in Iraq.

I’m not noting this for the butt-whooping the soldier received; it’s fairly predictable that even at pare weight classes with similar fitness, a male contestant in a sport involving a lot of pure strength and aggression is going to have a major advantage against the female.

What I do think is notable is the scene at 3:25. The soldier has been counted out and then helped off the mat, and the Marine approaches her to tap gloves. She appears to refuse to tap his glove.

That’s a very un-classy way to end a bout, because acknowledging your competitor is a key mark of male competition.

The concept of “sportsmanship” is a subtle one, but largely encompasses complementary truths:

  • Compete to your ability
  • When it’s over, it’s over

In every organized sport I’ve ever participated, the game ends with the two teams lining up for handshakes and saying “good game” to each other. In a lot of cases it’s perfunctory, most athletes have little interest in praising the opposition after a victory or a loss. What it is, however, is ceremonial and structural – an official demarcation that the competition is over, and we’re all just guys now. It’s the door through which you cross from competing to being friends again. You rarely see professionals having protracted good-game exchanges (baseball teams appear to shake their own hands; playoff hockey series are a well-publicized exception), but at the secondary and even collegiate levels, the practice is common. I’ve even heard arguments that they help to prevent intra- or post-game violence outside the bounds of the sport.


There’s an element of the male psychology that accords respect to another man who chooses to compete with him. I first discovered this empirically. When I was in college, I visited a friend of mine during his summer enrollment. He invited another friend of his who was known to be an unalloyed party animal. I found out quickly that the reputation was true…this guy’s combination of charm and booze consumption made Van Wilder look like Rick Moranis.

After a couple of nights where he nailed the balance of a box of Rolling Rock beer (before it was sold to Anheuser Busch and made into swill) and an incident in which he urinated on somebody’s bedding, I took the liberty of looking him in the eye, saying “fuck you pal, you’re an asshole,” and leaving the room.

Turns out that incident caused him to grant me immense respect, my friend told me – so few people had stood up to him that I was in rarefied company, and I guess like a woman who assumes the guy who doesn’t kiss her ass has some kind of special social aura around him, I was put on the short list of this guy’s trusted pals.

I’ve written about bullies before, but he wasn’t a bully, he was just fucking around – he didn’t need to be smacked to get out of somebody’s way, all he needed was for someone to tell him “hey man, knock that shit off.”

I recalled at the time that this was simply a replay of a schoolmate of mine who had teased and ridiculed me in middle school. As we got older, I became more effective in standing up to him and challenging him at things he was good at. The result was that ours turned into an equal friendship. I was in bands with him, and he convinced me to turn out for football. He wound up being good enough to earn a spot on a bigtime college football team; I went up against him and I lost every time. I wasn’t much competition, but I was competing, and that was the important thing – he knew that we were totally kosher off the field, but that I was a fighter and wasn’t going to back down until coach blew the whistle. Showing him that I was prepared to take him on at things important to his own self-image amplified my status in his eyes.

That mettle-testing opened up our softer sides too. He wrote songs and smoked dope, and so became very spiritual in nature. This was an opening for me to express my emotional side, one that had previously gotten me mocked by him exactly, which in turn added a thoughtful and introspective safe space to our friendship. It has been highly rewarding to both our lives, but it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been strong enough to stand up to him and earn entry into that “locker room.”

Further on football, the boys on our team took pride in drawing assignments to cover or defeat the opponent’s best players; they felt that as leaders it was important they set an example that they weren’t going to back down from a tough matchup. It was easy to look over and see my buddy taking on the 270-pound college-bound offensive tackle and get motivated to do my job.

So competing is important among men. Guys don’t really have to shit-test each other because the male social environment contains an implicit contract of competition – we understand that we’re supposed to respond to challenges by competing, and that those who compete frequently or well have enhanced opportunities in the social order.

However, it’s also critical to acknowledge that the competition is a game, to not take it personally. That’s what is communicated by the post-game handshake. It’s a way for the loser to say “nice job,” and the winner to thank the loser for putting up a good fight. Even if you are hurt or humiliated, it’s an offer you need to accept as a way of showing there’s no hard feelings. So it was instantly noticed by me that a woman who was said to have talked a lot of trash going into a fight lacked the class to even tap her opponent’s glove and acknowledge that she had been beaten fair and square. I can’t be sure but I figure if she’d been boxing in the military she would have been drilled into that practice. I can say that if a dude had done that, particularly a man in uniform in full view of other uniforms of two services, he would have taken a major drop in respect. His own unitmates might have even wondered if he had what it took to fight with them.



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Get Perspective by Changing Your Habits

Danger & Play recently revealed that he’d given up drinking for a year. Aside from the obvious health benefits, he cited some stark realizations, including:

“Most people who drink have a drinking problem.”

No longer with a buzz, my senses remained acute. I would watch otherwise sane, rational people become shit-faced. They would stumble, fall around, and go through various emotional extremes.

I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say “most,” but I would posit that if you are drinking socially, you are hanging around at least one person with a drinking problem. This means two things:

  • You are spending time with someone who, in the long run, will bring your quality life down. Eventually you’ll have to tend to their blackout, make peace with the person they tried to fight, or otherwise cover for their habit.
  • You are enabling someone else to bring the quality of their life down. Maybe you don’t care, but I prefer not to be a negative element in others’ personal lives, even indirectly. And sure, they’ll seek out another enabler, but it doesn’t have to be you.

“Drinking is a form of self-medication.”

If you binge drink to the point of intoxication, you do have a mental illness or condition of some sort.

People who need to get shitfaced on the regular have something going on. I suppose I am fortunate in that I never really got a taste for being really drunk. I became conscious of the safety and legal issues at an early age, and didn’t enjoy being removed from my mental faculties. My basic rule evolved to “never be more than one hour from driving.” For me, that means one drink per hour at most, with a maximum of four drinks.

I’m not a puritan or a scold, but in today’s era of social media exposure and aggressive DUI enforcement, it’s critically important to keep yourself out of a state that could needlessly ruin your life.

“People think we’re in high school with all of this peer pressure bullshit.

Discussion comments cited coming up with good rationalizations for explaining your sobriety, so that people would not feel “judged” or try to shame you or something. I’ve experienced this myself; my friends know I am resolute so they rarely question me if I tell them I’m not drinking tonight, but if I’m with some recovering frat guy who gives me the “come on maaaann, what’s wrong with some shots??” I tell him to shut the fuck up.

“Talking to women while sober is hard/Alcohol makes pick-up easier.”

It’s not hard for the reason it used to be hard. I don’t feel anxious. I just feel really bored.

When you’re not getting lubricated, the allure of the “nightlife” wears off real fast.

Someone commented that developing your daygame skills is more rewarding:

I have found that day game has taught me that I do not need alcohol to approach women.

After a couple months of going out during the day, you’ll feel much more comfortable staying sober at night.


Given my recent post about Guns N’ Roses, D&P’s post reminded of the experience of Guns cofounder Izzy Stradlin. The childhood friend of frontman Axl Rose grew tired of the band’s antics getting in the way of the music, and said that once he went sober he just had no interest in it anymore.

“Once I quit drugs, I couldn’t help looking around and asking myself, ‘Is this all there is?’ I was just tired of it; I needed to get out…I didn’t like the complications that became such a part of daily life in Guns N’ Roses…When you’re fucked up, you’re more likely to put up with things you wouldn’t normally put up with.”


The most important thing here is not the things D&P noticed – it’s realizing that you will notice these sorts of things when you make a major change of habit in your life, particular if you give up something you know to be a destructive habit.

A good friend of mine gave up drinking entirely. He’s stopped hanging around the guys he used to drink with. He says it’s just not fun. That’s a big clue that it wasn’t adding value to his life.

I’ve had plenty of other habit drops bear real fruit. A few years back I ended my cable subscription. It wasn’t that hard of a choice to make – the most difficult thing was actually getting the Comcast rep to cancel the service instead of offering me escalating freebies to stay. I realized almost immediately how I didn’t miss any of the shows on cable, and thus how much money I had wasted.

I regularly cull the blogs I am reading to make sure that the time I spend on the Internet is productive and expanding my mind. Likewise I limit my reading of political editorials because I know it will just get me pissed off.

I stopped hanging out with some friends who were too contentious or negative. It gave me more time to do the things I wanted to do with my life. Getting out of a DOA relationship that I hadn’t had the courage to end was difficult, but ultimately vindicated my gut because my life improved in the long run.

A coworker of mine charted out all of his “committed” time during the workweek, all the meetings and calls and whatnot, and went to his boss and said “I am spending X hours a week on this, and not getting that much time’s worth of value – what can we cut?”

One of the big steps lots of recovering AFCs make is to stop being a beta orbiter to unattainable women. To a man, the benefits are immediate and empowering – and sometimes, they find that those girls chase them back with stars in their eyes.

If you are planning out your life goals like anyone who has his head in the game should be doing, think about things you do or money you spend that don’t add value, especially if those things are done by mindless habit rather than passionate commitment. Try simplifying your life; you might even surprise yourself with what you learn. You’ll never get that time, money or emotional energy back – so make sure they are going towards things you’ll know were worth the time.


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James Taranto Reads The Manosphere

One of my favorite regular readings is the Wall Street Journal Online’s “Best of the Web Today,” a daily links-based sardonic commentary on American politics and policy and the media’s coverage of both.

It’s written by Journal editorical page editor James Taranto. If I recall correctly Taranto once interned at Reason magazine, and as you might expect from his background and employer, his stance is a gentleman’s version of a Wall Street Republican – right-libertarian on business and economic policy issues, non-interventionist on social issues, and a pragmatic observer of the political machinery without getting too invested in the crossover with his own political viewpoints.

One interesting development over the years has been that Taranto has been dropping little pieces of Manosphere-type wisdom into his columns. For over a decade he has been responding to ridiculous trend articles by citing Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism:

This is another example of Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism: The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.

I want to say he has also cited Spengler’s Law:

In every corner of the world and in every epoch of history, the men and women of every culture deserve each other.

Taranto’s column was probably my first exposure to both ideas. He has also started mainstreaming the idea of status anxiety (hypergamy) as a female mating factor, citing it as an explanation in articles where the contradictory nature of the modern educated woman’s desire for equality with a superior man is the elephant in the room. No doubt knee-deep in Manhattan’s surfeit of aging career women on the hunt for The Man Who Will Marry, I’m sure he’s well-versed in the language and rhetoric of urban mating.

Then last week, Best of the Web Today engaged in a full-on mocking of a familiar Manosphere voodoo doll, that of neurotic choice-single-mom and Atlantic writer Lori Gottlieb. It was Gottlieb’s 2009 article about “settling for Mr Good Enough” that appears to have been the opening salvo in the Atlantic’s descent into solipsistic misandry as an editorial value. Her most recent New Yorl Times op-ed piece complains about the higher rates and tighter restrictions of her new post-ObamaCare insurance policy, which provides great delight to Taranto:

This passage also caught our attention:

Like Bridget Jones’s “smug marrieds,” the “smug insureds”–friends who were covered through their own or spouses’ employers or who were grandfathered into their plans–asked why I didn’t “just” switch all of our long-term doctors, suck it up and pay an extra $200 a month for a restrictive network on the exchange, or marry the guy I’m dating. How romantic: “I didn’t marry you just to save money, honey. I married you for your provider network.”

We were taken with the irony of Gottlieb’s liberal friends, surely committed feminists to a man, advising her to seek escape from ObamaCare’s shackles in the bonds of matrimony. We tweeted to that effect–whereupon fellow Twitter denizen David Pinsen made a connection we’d missed.

It seems the same Lori Gottlieb was the author of a long article that appeared in The Atlantic‘s March 2008 issue titled “Marry Him!” and subtitled “The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough.” In 2010 she expanded it into a book, with the same title, sans exclamation point. (Its publication prompted an amusing blog post from someone using the moniker “The Last Psychiatrist.”)

So the woman who encouraged women to settle now won’t even marry Mr. Good Enough With Benefits. Are we to believe another perverse consequence of ObamaCare is that it’s inducing single women to become even pickier?

Taranto’s digestible, data-driven style is in fact an excellent advertisement for our community. The thing is that the Manosphere is not just a bunch of horny dudes spouting off about stuff that pisses them off. A lot of what we’re talking about has strong bases and tie-ins with social science and behavioral psychology. Taranto has obviously been exposed to both (he has openly written about his love for behavioral psych research as an antidone to wishful-thinking academic economics) and is folding them into his work. Game itself, for that matter, is the ultimate empirical study – its tenets are built on one criterion only: what behaviors have been repeatedly shown to work?

If the Manosphere’s ideas ever do go “mainstream,” it will be because folks like Taranto find ways to slip our offbeat and radical ideas into otherwise mainstream-respectable outlets. We’ve already seen that unfiltered Manosphere tenets are not suitable for a large audience, and most Manosphere writers are unpalatable to the public media and easily mocked by the Cathedral. If that doesn’t work out, they will simply bait and misquote us to build their preconceived conclusions into their stories.

Frankly I’m not concerned about mainstreaming either its characters or its ideas; we’re never going to win the battle for “serious” recognition as a thought group, and I draw little ego gratification from the idea of my writing being accepted by the body politic, and since I’m not selling anything broadening my exposure at the expense of writing what I want about what I want has little upside for me.

So if people want to know about the penetration of our ideas into society, a good barometer is that it’s right there in a well-read web column of a major national newspaper.


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The Right Turns Away From Cops?

I happened upon Mangan’s post “Conservatives don’t like cops anymore.”

It used to be that conservatives had little bad to say about cops. Remember those “I support my local police” bumper stickers?

Times have changed. With recent reports of things like forced anal probes in search of drugs, tasering a man who was trying to save a child from a fire, not to mention the outrage over intrusive searches and arrogant behavior by the TSA, conservatives appear to be cooling to the cops. Most of the comments on police horror stories seem to be from conservatives who are wary of a coming police state. Liberals seem strangely silent.

It used to be said that a conservative was a liberal who had been mugged (“by reality”, in the phrase’s original form); in reply, it was said that a liberal was a conservative who had been arrested. But it doesn’t appear that conservatives who are down on the cops are becoming liberals; on the contrary, they’re doubling down on their support for 2nd and 4th Amendment rights. (Right to bear arms and right to be free from search and seizure, respectively, for the foreigners out there.)

Why is that? Conservatives can see where this is all going. The police have become the enforcers of a state run by leftists and the drug-war/industrial complex.

Soon after I noticed this sidebar in a Vox Populi post:

They strut around and talk a brave game, but the moment they realize that the other side views them as fair game and that they neither outnumber nor outgun the opposition, they often show less courage than the average unarmed citizen.  I don’t say this on the basis of my imagination or even the poor performance of police units in military history, but based on the recent observation of their behavior under fire.

I have shifted between conservative and libertarian ideals for most of my intellectually-adult life, and as a result have been close with strong viewpoints on both sides. I have long detected quasi-conservative ambivalence towards the police as the embodiment and working endpoint of government coercion.

The “standard” conservatives viewed the police alongside teachers, military personnel and clergy as the core signposts of social and cultural order, the public servants who made Your Town a safe, happy and prosperous one to live in. Even now the image of the badge as an occupational “friendly authority figure” resonates. I couldn’t hope to find the link now, but I recall a story I read (I want to say it was linked at Dalrock’s place) of a single mother who, unable to deal with her unruly pre-adolescent son, called the police in the hopes they would be the substitute for the man she had evicted from her child’s life and “teach him a lesson.” (As might be expected, her son was quite alienated at having his own mother subject him to rough law and order as surrogate parenting; I think he might have run away from home.)

On the other side, the libertarian sect has long feared organized law enforcement as your streetcorner threat to liberty, as people put in a position of such power as to almost guarantee abuses, and also as ineffectual in times of personal emergency (thus their support for the 2nd Amendment and “when seconds count, the police are minutes away”).

I do quibble with one of Mangan’s assertions. I don’t think conservative souring towards cops is political, at least in terms of what policies the cops are called on to enforce. Rather, what we are really seeing is the convergence of coercional left and right politics into a singular authoritarianism, at least in the eyes of those whose distrust for the police force is building. They are tired of the addiction to law-and-order and the force buildup (which is apolitical and more of an occupational imperative), and also of the brownshirting, the preying on essentially innocent citizens (which does have a political bent to it as it’s usually motivated by some kind of social-value exercise like the war on drugs or domestic violence prevention).

Keoni Galt had a great post on this recently.

This is what the cops were like back in the late 80′s and early 90′s in Hawaii. It was much like small town Sheriffs in the old days. They exercised discretion and treated the citizenry like people. They realized that the law was excessively draconian if it were to be applied with zero tolerance or consideration of each situation…

But THIS time, for the unconscionable crime of using teh cell phone while driving, I had TWO officers approach my vehicle in a hostile and aggressive manner. While one officer came to my driver’s side window and demanded my license and paperwork in a condescending and demeaning tone and manner, his partner stood on the passenger side, with his hand on his gun, ready to draw, as he intently scanned my car with a hostile look on his face, looking for any possible reason to arrest me.

I’ve been fortunate to have few interactions with the police, and genial ones at that. I’m not really taking sides in this argument,  just noting some exposition in Mangan’s point. However, you don’t have to read Radley Balko’s blog to know that if someone on the Thin Blue Line wants to mess with you, you’re going to be climbing uphill to stop it.

Teachers in fact are not a bad comparison when analyzing the political trend. Whereas teachers once held a position of partnership with parents in raising decent citizens, they occupy a position of minimalistic distrust for a large chunk of the right of center. As the typical teacher profile has skewed from blue-collar Democrat to hard Unionista liberal, and bringing a lot of very dangerous academic ideologies with them like the self-esteem movement, the American right has moved towards an educational politik akin to a wholesale public-works renovation project – break the unions and gut the monolithic public-school model with vouchers and charter schools – rather than an incremental tuning of the classic institution of the neighborhood school.

(It is mildly astounding to see the fresh and radical ideas in education all coming from conservatives; the Democratic Party, flush with the support of dues-paying teachers, wants nothing to do with upsetting their loyal-vote apple cart. It’s like the debate during the Iraq war – the “Bush doctrine,” “realist” and “expeditionary” thought groups were all on the right, the left sat the whole thing out with their fingers in their ears. The only serious plan from the left was Nancy Pelosi’s promise of a “redeployment” when the Dems took over Congress in 2006, which was quickly dashed when Bush went with the surge plan and turned the war around.)


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What’s So Civil ‘Bout War Anyway

Continuing my musical revue of the Kennedy assassination half-centennial, I recalled Guns N’ Roses’ “Civil War,” the seven-minute opener to the band’s emotional epic Use Your Illusion II. What brought it to mind was the second verse:

D’you wear a black armband
When they shot the man
Who said “Peace could last forever”
And in my first memories
They shot Kennedy
I went numb when I learned to see
So I never fell for Vietnam
We got the wall in DC to remind us all
That you can’t trust freedom
When it’s not in your hands
When everybody’s fightin’
For their promised land

The song itself shows off GNR’s considerable musical range – opening with picked acoustic guitar and piano underneath calm vocals, giving way to a powerful rock combo with distorted guitars and a screaming Axl Rose, and ending with a sort of “Voodoo Chile” guitar patois (in concert, Slash would bumper the song with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s famous vamp). Mixing light and heavy in a way that didn’t sound like a hair-metal ballad, “Civil War” is like a musical imprint of Rose’s bipolar personality. It’s as representative a song of the Use Your Illusion pair as any track on either album.


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New Order on the Kennedy Assassination

One of my favorite tracks by British shoegazer/synth-dance pioneers New Order is “1963.” This is the Arthur Baker radio remix, labeled “1963-95″ on the US “Best of New Order” compilation:

It turns out that there’s an interpretation of the song relating it to the assassination of John F. Kennedy (fifty years ago today). From Wikipedia:

In New Order Music 1981–89, the band’s lyricist Bernard Sumner writes a tongue-in-cheek account of the song’s lyrics that relate it to the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Sumner theorises that Kennedy arranged for Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot his wife so that “J.F. could do one with M. Monroe“. Monroe commits suicide when Oswald hits the wrong target (in reality, Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, over a year before the assassination took place) and Oswald is later shot by his boss for “doing such a bad job and causing his hit-man business to go bust.”

As an aside, one of the things I find remarkable about New Order is that every album is so different, and therefore to become literate in the band’s catalog you really have no choice but to listen to everything they’ve ever recorded. Even their compilation albums give radically different experiences – the aforementioned “Best of New Order” is fairly pop- and dance-oriented, whereas their ostensibly more authoritative “Substance” provides a richer, darker journey through their work.

I find the same is true for only a small number of groups, including most notably The Smiths (who are doubly notable for releasing a relatively large amount of quality, memorable original material on compilation albums in addition to their conventional studio records).

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Throttle the Number of Words You Use

Scratchpad riffs on a topic I’ve been thinking about recently…

As regular readers know, I can be quite loquacious and in fact I have long been so. In the process of my game journey, I discovered – first theoretically and then firsthand – that high word volume trends inexorably towards beta. In other words, talking too much can really kill your game.

Like the mistaking of kindness for weakness that plagues today’s nice guys, there is some element of the human mind that frames lengthy and incessant counter-argument as a position of weakness and insecurity. He who masters pithy, concise (and indirect and ambiguous, I might add) communication commands a stronger image of rhetorical confidence and state control than the bloviating firebrand whose logical appeals may indeed be without equal.

It is extremely rare the wordsmith who can write (or speak) at length without the perceptible loss of audience attention, credibility and alpha points. While there are publically-known exceptions, the fact that they are known and notable underlies the exception.

Roissy’s two-thirds rule of texting (really an application of his two-thirds rule for everything) is an excellent guideline. You want to be saying less than your counterpart, imputing both confidence and mystery to your persona.

This rule of thumb has actually become an amazingly useful skill both for my game and for life in general: whenever I find myself getting spun up on something or really getting invested in a conversation, whether I am writing or speaking, I make an effort to cut down on the number of words I’m throwing into the mix. Many, many times I have sliced out whole sections of blog posts, emails or work documents, in the end suffering no ill effect from communicating my ideas in a faster, more concise manner. I may not say everything I want to say, but I’ve given myself less opportunity to say the wrong thing.

In speaking, I find that consciously slowing down my cadence forces me to limit the volume of facts or rhetoric I am emitting, which has the same effect as cutting out unnecessary written passages.

I like to consider a quote from Samuel Johnson:

“Read over your compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

In other words: don’t fall in love with the sound of your own voice.


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