Monthly Archives: November 2012

Reframing The “Man Up” Directive As A Male-Anxiety Problem – Very Slick, Wall Street Journal

Dalrock recently posted on a series of works by foul-mouthed professional divorcee Susan Gregory Thomas, who burst onto the scene with an article about how divorce was so bad for her and her generation that she did it to her kids too. Her most recent offering is another man-up shaming article examining households in which the woman earns most of the money. Stories like these are nothing new (I wrote about one last month), and usually focus on female frustration in “feeling like the man in the relationship.” However, every one of these articles is met with loads of dismissive comments by men, and some earnest confusion on their part that feminism was supposed to be about women who wanted to be high achievers and backing away from outdated male-headship structures, so what are they upset about? Every time they get less angry and more dismissive, indicative of men simply leaving the building and not caring about women’s protestations at all.

This obviously creates a real problem in the whining world – how to reframe female frustration so it’s more palatable and less susceptible to attack and derision? How are these women going to get societal comfort and validation from being unhaaaappy if their own words keep exposing the logical fallacies of their solipsistic philosophy? Thomas has found the answer: you dispense with the female testimonials and frame each anecdote as a male-anxiety problem, thus employing men as ventriloquist dummies for hard-charging women’s hypergamous anxiety. The key syllogism in the story comes here:

Perhaps because men of this generation were raised in the wake of the women’s movement, a culture that introduced values of equality, many of them don’t seem to have a problem with their wives earning more than they do.

There’s one caveat, though: The men want their own salaries alone to be enough, in theory, to float the family. When they can’t meet this standard, they can feel enraged, shamed, explosive. And their wives often feel resentful and pressured.

All the examples flow from this thesis, that men are insecure about their wives’ achievements (more “you can’t handle a strong woman!”) and being the abusive beasts they are, they project their anxiety onto their wives who then become neurotic in turn. There’s no discussion about the females’ core feelings about carrying the financial load (many articles have revealed that generally speaking, they don’t like it), only their reactions to the “pressures” put on them by men who feel inadequate.

I have to say that is some brilliant rhetoric. If you only quote the men (and a select group of white-knightey men to boot), you don’t have to confront the decidedly negative true feelings of women in fem-dom relationships where men are either on a much lower pay scale, are unemployed or have dropped out of the workforce entirely to be househusbands. Such confrontations expose feminist falsehoods that men and women are the same and undercut the key feminist mythology that men are insecure about their dicks and that’s why they are threatened by an empowered woman.

There’s a couple things going on with men’s concern for “providing.” First is that men are generally aware of hypergamy at least on a subconscious level, and so they can sense that falling back professionally will destabilize their relationships. Second is that men are brought up with a whole lot of white-knight indoctrination about giving stuff to women as a mating strategy, from picking up the check on elaborate dates to saving multiple months’ salary for an engagement ring to buying houses and luxury cars for their wives, so it becomes an ingrained part of a man’s identity. This is what produces perverse extremes like men who think their manhood is measured by their wives staying at home – “no wife of MINE is going to work!” (To which the quippy response is “I got news for you – your ex-wife isn’t going to work, either.”)

It’s important to note that these “I gotta provide for the family” types tend to represent the more conservative/traditional social outlook. This provides a critical rhetorical shiv. If you can slip it past the goalie that female hypergamy creates instability in fem-dom relationships, you can hit personal and political points simultaneously by presenting the argument that it’s not women’s fault that their feminist reams aren’t coming true, and instead fall back on blaming those evil judgmental “conservative, traditional” communities that are pumping out men programmed to “oppress women.”

I’m surprised they are just catching on now, though – it’s long been a feminist rhetorical tack to project female-induced preference as pernicious male pathology. For example, framing the missionary position (widely preferred by women as an intimate and softly-submissive arrangment) as an unholy instrument of a male need for dominance. Or complaining that women are saddled with housework that men refuse to do when in fact women are the ones who want fastidiously tidy houses in the first place. You’ll notice that in light of the articles quoted, the latter appears to be a big fitness test – she asks you to take on more domestic tasks, then resents you for being too domestic.

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“‘The Bachelor’ Is Sexist”

A few years back I was LTR’d with a particularly stimulation-seeking, short-term-oriented woman. This plus her relatively socon upbringing meant that she had a straightline blue-pill perspective of female pedestalization and lack of coherent logic in her thinking. She lived in a rapidly-swirling, “how can I make myself feel good right now” emotional swamp. I used to tease her by reading aloud Roissy’s more incendiary invectives.

One day I made a crack about the girls on The Bachelor*, how pathetically desperate they were to earn the attentions of the show’s synthetically-famous protagonist. I can’t say I was prepared for her reply.

“That show is sexist.”

“What?” I could think of a lot of negative adjectives to describe the program, but sexist wasn’t one of them.

“It’s wrong to force girls to chase a guy around on TV. Women shouldn’t compete for a man.”

I hadn’t seen any evidence anybody was being “forced” to participate in the show. Even knowing her troubles with agency for over a year, the victimhood mentality surprised me. Sure the show is contrived, but the basic outline of women chasing and competing for a very attractive and high-status man plays out everywhere without lights, cameras or professional makeup. But to her, merely the sight of a guy entertaining offers from multiple girls was evidence of social violence and wrong, apparently under the idea that it’s unfair to cause a woman negative feelings by suggesting she can’t have the man she wants – or the old primary-school rule, “if you bring a snack you have to bring one for everybody.”

I then made a grave, yet revelatory, error in trying to appeal to logic and fairness.

“What about “The Bachelorette”? Isn’t that the same thing but sexist against guys?”

Her reply was quick and resolute.

“No – men are supposed to compete for a woman, so that’s OK.”

This one-minute conversation was a verbal lithograph of a Rollo Tomassi-esque plugged-in worldview – a female-presumptive narrative where woman is always higher value, no ifs, ands or butts about it, and man by virtue of his being is called upon to continuously re-prove his worth.

What’s sad (and dangerous for their own well-being) is that men believe this stuff too.

*(It’s interesting to note that trash TV was part of our undoing. I would usually sit on the couch with her and steadfastly read a book or blog while she watched whatever chick-porn struck her fancy. In an argument once, she revealed that she found it profoundly insulting that I wasn’t focused on whatever brain-killing junk culture she was focused on. I guess she felt judged…guilty as charged.)

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Understanding What You’re Communicating

In my last post I discussed a woman who asked me to introduce her friend to some “normal men” on account of the fact she had (by her friend’s own admission) strip-mined conventional dating sources of available men.

(It was floated in the comments that the woman may have been attempting to hit on me directly by flattering me as a source of dating advice; while that’s certainly a possibility, I am skeptical, because she was sitting next to her boyfriend and the hostess of the party was a woman I was dating.)

It’s not that I fault her for it, it seems to be a normal part of the young female mind-script to expect a “she had so much trouble dating the wronggggg men and then she just magically met this GREAT guy who made it allllll better!”kind of story to emerge in her social circle. What she and other women are going to be waking up to is that today’s (beta) men are growing less tolerant of cleaning up after a girl’s youthful indiscretions.

YOU’RE NOT SAYING WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE SAYING

One point I drew attention to was that while she thought she was expressing “I have a single woman your friends might want a crack at,” what she was actually communicating was “my friend is a hot mess and I’m useless as a yenta, will you please help me save her bacon?” She’d effectively disqualified herself and her friend.

In my first job, my boss taught me a ridiculously useful way of evaluating my and others’ workplace actions: “you always need to look at what you’re communicating.” In truth, he was teaching me the concept of frame management, filtered through the corporate survival game. Frame is a critical social dynamics concept, the art of managing how you are presenting yourself and a situation when interacting with others, with a particular bent towards social positioning.

At the time I was boning up on game for the first time, and the relationship between the two was lock and key.

Humans, men especially, tend to overrate the importance of logical integrity and congruence when arguing and persuading others. The truth is that winning friends and influencing people requires so often that we induce or negotiate feelings within people, ahead of presenting them with logically sound arguments. Vox Day has termed this dichotomy “rhetoric” (the former) and “logic” (the latter). (It’s a bit like the Oprah-esque aphorism “people won’t remember what you do, they’ll remember how you make them feel – an important game lesson, incidentally.)

The impetus for my boss’ communication discussion was one coworker or another who had pissed off a client – not by delivering a bad product, but by constructing her response to a client request in a frame that said “I know what you need better than you do.” The client was a high-expectation yet easygoing character, who had plenty of patience for an honest mistake or an earnest counterarugment – but who was deeply put off by a brusque, arrogant response that said in so many words “I know better so why don’t you just shut up and listen to me.”

My boss’ point was that there’s much more to serving a client, customer, friend or partner than what you say and do – there’s a whole subtext of how you’ve framed the discussion, how you present the power balance and how you balance persuasion versus demand in the exchange.

Imagine a hypothetical example where you ask a pal for ten bucks to buy lunch. If you say “dude, I was hoping you could spot me a few bones? It’d be a big help, I’d really appreciate it,” you’re communicating a pre-emptive gratitude and deference to his voluntary charity. But if you say “hey man, how about ten bucks? I know you won’t even feel it,” you’re communicating a sense of entitlement, and an attitude that he’s got so much goddamn money you don’t even care if he sheds a few dollars and he shouldn’t either.

In both cases, you’re asking for exactly the same thing, but you’re creating a very different image of yourself in your friend’s mind.

Another example my boss liked to cite was conspicuous largesse or luxury in tough economic times – executive bonuses and resort conferences were brought up repeatedly. Regardless of the dollar amounts involved, any kind of “perking” when others are asked to go without communicates an air of elitism that is corrosive to a work team’s unity. Shrewd managers know how to put on an air of modesty that keeps the troops believing in cross-team empathy.

FRAME IN THE GAME

Some of the classic tactics of PUA game are based around communcation consciousness:

  • Don’t answer text messages quickly – communicates that you have other higher priorities than chasing girls
  • Don’t call on the phone often – communicates that your schedule is busy and your time well-spent
  • Avoid dinner dates – communicates that you aren’t a bank provider and bankroller of her social life
  • Be cool in the face of sexual rejection – communicates that sex is common for you and not a big deal

THE MIRROR STARES BACK HARD

When it comes to understanding what you’re communicating, a number of cognitive biases conspire to obscure the truth.

Solipsism (a self-referential perspective that paradoxically crowds out self-awareness) often blinds women to this process. There’s been a lot said about solipsism lately so I won’t rehash it, but it does tend to produce an acute lack of understanding about how your actions and words are being interpreted by others.

Conversely, men are often blind to what they are communicating due to male-typical tactic of not mincing words or dressing up talk with flowering indirect statement. What seems like a straightforward logical declaration can come across as a abrasive, disempathic personal attack. It’s not so much that men are unaware as they’ve decided (or been told) that the logical correctness of their words is all that should matter.

“Should” ain’t got nothing to do with it – we need to account for what  we’re communicating, in all interactions, if we want to be persuasive and seductive.

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Ladies, Don’t Ask Us To Clean Up After Your Girlfriends’ Dating Mistakes

At a dinner party recently, I was seated next to a vaguely abrasive young woman who leaned over to me and breathlessly queried,

“Do you have any normal friends for my friend to date?”

Vaguely confused by the hasty presumption that I was a dating sourcer, but detecting an opportunity for a silent manosphere laugh, I replied “you’d have to tell me more.”

“Well, she’s been dating guys from OKCupid and says she just can’t find any normal guys there.”

Now I was irked. It would have been one thing if she said her friend worked long hours with all women and just wasn’t meeting men, or had had trouble getting back on the carouselhorse after a breakup. But she’s swimming in men and is striking out wildly. And I happen to know that a significant portion of the young men in my city are on OKCupid, so I know there’s a few good fish in that pond. The more I thought about the more I saw she was trying to outsource this woman’s man-choosing algorithm before she came up 00 again.

But that wasn’t even the interesting part of it. It was the fact that she came to me, a guy she had just met, and proceeded to recruit me into the problems of a woman I’d NEVER met, that fascinated me. It felt invasive and uncomfortable, as if she had turned to me and said “I’m getting divorced, and let me tell you, it’s nothing like those chick flicks would have you believe!”

And then it felt opportunistic. Let me explain that further.

The fact that she saw me as a possible conduit for her issue of the day smacked of a combination of megalomania and an appeal to the male instinct for problem-solving – “maybe you can help me fix this!” Expecting me to leap into the coat closet and re-emerge in my Captain Save-A-Ho suit, ready to line up cannon fodder for her chica amiga who couldn’t generate her own romantic sales leads. I also bet there’s some female-on-male projection in there, thinking that I get such a kick out of setting up my male friends that I’m going to facilitate a third-hand setup involving a woman I’ve never so much as set eyes on. There’s an element of matchmaking/relationship drama that women crave that is just not really a guy thing. Truth be told, I’ve already set up two marriages*, so she had come to the right guy; unfortunately for her, Yenta Badger knew enough to turn down the case.

The failed communication frame she put across was another interesting part of the exchange. What she THOUGHT she was communicating was:

  • I have a friend who is eager to date, so it shouldn’t be hard for the guy to close the deal
  • Her standards aren’t unrealistic, my friend just wants a “normal guy,” so he has to be single but not spectacular
  • This is an opportunity for you to feel good about yourself playing matchmaker

What she was really communicating to me, through the prism of my male mind, was:

  • It IS going to be hard for the guy, because she can’t find satisfaction with the large pool of eager men available online
  • I’m trying to find someone who will clean up the drama-mess she’s made of her life
  • I need you to screen for “normal” men since neither of us gals know the right guys (the “right guy” probably doesn’t exist)
  • She’s desperate (or I’m desperate to stop her incessant complaining)

Another thing she didn’t consider is that generally speaking men are not very good at evaluating other men’s sexual market value (guys tend to evaluate male SMV post-facto, by inferring it from the quality of women he’s pulling).

I’m unusually game-aware, so I have a pretty good sense of when a setup is going to bomb, but the typical guy’s recommendation of a man to a single woman is usually worthless. That again goes back to the differences in how men and women evaluate their own sex versus the opposite sex – a guy we like and admire for being an honest, dependable, low-maintenance and mutually supportive is sadly a good bet to go straight into a woman’s “boring, no-spark” bucket.

One final factor is that she didn’t even try to sell the woman in question as a good partner with a bunch of boilerplate like “she’s a great girl, really cute/smart/etc, she just hasn’t found the right guy.” It was simply, “my friend needs a man. Can you give me one?”

THE HARSH TRUTH

Since picking up my game and finding that good women, while few, are found everywhere, and that good men truly ARE everywhere you choose to look, I have come even more to the conclusion that a woman who “can’t find a man” is more often than not:

  • Suffering considerable personality flaws that drive men away (abrasive), or drive men away from committing (slutty), or blow her dating logistics (the Rules/sucky girl game)
  • Stuck to a counterproductive comfort zone, refusing to mine new places or give audience to new types of men (he’s “not her type” or she’s “not going to settle!”)
  • Unserious about commitment herself (possibly subconsciously) and thus positively smashing good opportunities

Or some combination thereof. This doesn’t apply to all women everywhere, particularly introverted women who have a much lower tolerance for the pageantry of social preening, but a large enough chunk to be a valid concern about an unhaaaappily perpetually-single woman you might hear about at a party.

*One where I introduced a girl I was pursuing to her future husband.

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