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Radicalizing the Romanceless

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[Content note: Gender, relationships, feminism, manosphere. Quotes, without endorsing and with quite a bit of mocking, mean arguments by terrible people. Some analogical discussion of fatphobia, poorphobia, Islamophobia. This topic is personally enraging to me and I don’t promise I can treat it fairly.]

I.

I recently had a patient, a black guy from the worst part of Detroit, let’s call him Dan, who was telling me of his woes. He came from a really crappy family with a lot of problems, but he was trying really hard to make good. He was working two full-time minimum wage jobs, living off cheap noodles so he could save some money in the bank, trying to scrape a little bit of cash together. Unfortunately, he’d had a breakdown (see: him being in a psychiatric hospital), he was probably going to lose his jobs, and everything was coming tumbling down around him.

And he was getting a little philosophical about it, and he asked – I’m paraphrasing here – why haven’t things worked out for me? I’m hard-working, I’ve never missed a day of work until now, I’ve always given a hundred and ten percent. And meanwhile, I see all these rich white guys (“no offense, doctor,” he added, clearly overestimating the salary of a medical resident) who kind of coast through school, coast into college, end up with 9 – 4 desk jobs working for a friend of their father’s with excellent salaries and benefits, and if they need to miss a couple of days of work, whether it’s for a hospitalization or just to go on a cruise, nobody questions it one way or the other. I’m a harder worker than they are, he said – and I believed him – so how is that fair?

And of course, like most of the people I deal with at my job, there’s no good answer except maybe restructuring society from the ground up, so I gave him some platitudes about how it’s not his fault, told him about all the social services available to him, and gave him a pill to treat a biochemical condition almost completely orthogonal to his real problem.

And I’m still not sure what a good response to his question would have been. But later that night I was browsing the Internet and I was reminded of what the worse response humanly possible. It would go something like:

You keep whining about how “unfair” it is that you can’t get a good job. “But I’m such a hard worker.” No, actual hard workers don’t feel like they’re entitled to other people’s money just because they ask nicely.

“Why do rich white kids who got legacy admissions to Yale receive cushy sinecures, but I have to work two grueling minimum wage jobs just to keep a roof over my head?” By even asking that question, you prove that you think of bosses as giant bags of money, rather than as individual human beings who are allowed to make their own choices. No one “owes” you money just because you say you “work hard”, and by complaining about this you’re proving you’re not really a hard worker at all. I’ve seen a lot of Hard Workers (TM) like you, and scratch their entitled surface and you find someone who thinks just because they punched a time card once everyone needs to bow down and worship them.

If you complain about “rich white kids who get legacy admissions to Yale,” you’re raising a huge red flag that you’re the kind of person who steals from their employer, and companies are exactly right to give you a wide berth.

Such a response would be so antisocial and unjust that it could only possibly come from the social justice movement.

II.

I’ve been thinking about “nice guys” lately for a couple of reasons.

First, I read Alas, A Blog‘s recent post on the subject, MRAs And Anti-Feminists Have Ruined Complaining About Being Single.

Second, I had yet another patient who –

(I feel obligated to say at this point that the specific details of these patient stories are made up, and several of them are composites of multiple different people, in order to protect confidentiality. I’m preserving the general gist, nothing more)

– I had a patient, let’s call him ‘Henry’ for reasons that are to become clear, who came to hospital after being picked up for police for beating up his fifth wife.

So I asked the obvious question: “What happened to your first four wives?”

“Oh,” said the patient, “Domestic violence issues. Two of them left me. One of them I got put in jail, and she’d moved on once I got out. One I just grew tired of.”

“You’ve beaten up all five of your wives?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah,” he said, without sounding very apologetic.

“And why, exactly, were you beating your wife this time?” I asked.

“She was yelling at me, because I was cheating on her with one of my exes.”

“With your ex-wife? One of the ones you beat up?”

“Yeah.”

“So you beat up your wife, she left you, you married someone else, and then she came back and had an affair on the side with you?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” said Henry.

I wish, I wish I wish, that Henry was an isolated case. But he’s interesting more for his anomalously high number of victims than for the particular pattern.

Last time I talked about these experiences, one of my commenters linked me to what was later described as the only Theodore Dalrymple piece anyone ever links to. Most of the commenters saw a conservative guy trying to push an ideological point, and I guess that’s part of it. But for me it looked more like the story of a psychiatrist from an upper-middle-class background suddenly realizing how dysfunctional and screwed-up a lot of his patients are and having his mind recoil in horror from the fact – which is something I can sympathize with. Henry was the worst of a bad bunch, but nowhere near unique.

When I was younger – and I mean from teeanger hood all the way until about three years ago – I was a ‘nice guy’. And I said the same thing as every other nice guy, which is “I am a nice guy, how come girls don’t like me?”

There seems to be some confusion about this, so let me explain what it means, to everyone, for all time.

It does not mean “I am nice in some important cosmic sense, therefore I am entitled to sex with whomever I want.”

It means: “I am a nicer guy than Henry.”

Or to spell it out very carefully, Henry clearly has no trouble attracting partners. He’s been married five times and had multiple extra-marital affairs and pre-marital partners, many of whom were well aware of his past domestic violence convictions and knew exactly what they were getting into. Meanwhile, here I was, twenty-five years old, never been on a date in my life, every time I ask someone out I get laughed at, I’m constantly teased and mocked for being a virgin and a nerd whom no one could ever love, starting to develop a serious neurosis about it.

And here I was, tried my best never to be mean to anyone, pursued a productive career, worked hard to help all of my friends. I didn’t think I deserved to have the prettiest girl in school prostrate herself at my feet. But I did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.

No, I didn’t know Henry at the time. But everyone knows a Henry. Most people know several. Even three years ago, I knew there were Henry-like people – your abusers, your rapists, your bullies – and it wasn’t hard to notice that none of them seemed to be having the crushing loneliness problem I was suffering from.

And, like my patient Dan, I just wanted to know – how is this fair?

And I made the horrible mistake of asking this question out loud, and that was how I learned about social justice.

III.

We will now perform an ancient and traditional Slate Star Codex ritual, where I point out something I don’t like about feminism, then everyone tells me in the comments that no feminist would ever do that and it’s a dirty rotten straw man. And then I link to two thousand five hundred examples of feminists doing exactly that, and then everyone in the comments No-True-Scotsmans me by saying that that doesn’t count and those people aren’t representative of feminists. And then I find two thousand five hundred more examples of the most prominent and well-respected feminists around saying exactly the same thing, and then my commenters tell me that they don’t count either and the only true feminist lives in the Platonic Realm and expresses herself through patterns of dewdrops on the leaves in autumn and everything she says is unspeakably kind and beautiful and any time I try to make a point about feminism using examples from anyone other than her I am a dirty rotten motivated-arguer trying to weak-man the movement for my personal gain.

Ahem.

From Jezebel, “Why We Should Mock The Nice Guys Of OKCupid”:

Pathetic and infuriating in turns, the profiles selected for inclusion [on a site that searches OKCupid profiles for ones that express sadness at past lack of romantic relationships, then posts them publicly for mockery] elicit gasps and giggles – and they raise questions as well. Is it right to mock these aggrieved and clueless young men, particularly the ones who seem less enraged than sad and bewildered at their utter lack of sexual success?

What’s on offer isn’t just an opportunity to snort derisively at the socially awkward; it’s a chance to talk about the very real problem of male sexual entitlement. The great unifying theme of the curated profiles is indignation. These are young men who were told that if they were nice, then, as Laurie Penny puts it, they feel that women “must be obliged to have sex with them.” The subtext of virtually all of their profiles, the mournful and the bilious alike, is that these young men feel cheated. Raised to believe in a perverse social/sexual contract that promised access to women’s bodies in exchange for rote expressions of kindness, these boys have at least begun to learn that there is no Magic Sex Fairy. And while they’re still hopeful enough to put up a dating profile in the first place, the Nice Guys sabotage their chances of ever getting laid with their inability to conceal their own aggrieved self-righteousness.

So how should we respond, when, as Penny writes, “sexist dickwaddery puts photos on the internet and asks to be loved?” The short answer is that a lonely dickwad is still a dickwad; the fact that these guys are in genuine pain makes them more rather than less likely to mistreat the women they encounter.

From XOJane, Get Me Away From Good Guys:

Let’s tackle those good guys. You know, the aw shucks kind who say it’s just so hard getting a date or staying in a relationship, and they can’t imagine why they are single when they are, after all, such catches. They’re sensitive, you know. They totally care about the people around them, would absolutely rescue a drowning puppy if they saw one.

Why is it that so many “good guys” act like adult babies, and not in a fetish sense? They expect everyone else to pick up their slack, they’re inveterately lazy, and they seem genuinely shocked and surprised when people are unimpressed with their shenanigans. Their very heteronormativity betrays a shockingly narrow view of the world; ultimately, everything boils down to them and their needs, by which I mean their penises.

The nice guy, to me, is like the “good guy” leveled up. These are the kinds of people who say that other people just don’t understand them, and the lack of love in their lives is due to other people being shitty. Then they proceed to parade hateful statements, many of which are deeply misogynist, to explain how everyone else is to blame for their failures in life. A woman who has had 14 sexual partners is a slut. These are also the same guys who do things like going into a gym, or a school, or another space heavily populated by women, and opening fire. Because from that simmering sense of innate entitlement comes a feeling of being wronged when he doesn’t get what he wants, and he lives in a society where men are “supposed” to get what they want, and that simmer can boil over.

I’ve noted, too, that this kind of self-labeling comes up a lot in men engaging in grooming behavior. As part of their work to cultivate potential victims, they remind their victims on the regular that they’re “good guys” and the only ones who “truly” understand them.

From Feminspire, Nice Guy Syndrome And The Friend Zone:

I’m pretty sure everyone knows at least one Nice Guy. You know, those guys who think women only want to date assholes and just want be friends with the nice guys. These guys are plagued with what those of us who don’t suck call Nice Guy Syndrome.

It’s honestly one of the biggest loads of crap I’ve ever heard. Nice Guys are arrogant, egotistical, selfish douche bags who run around telling the world about how they’re the perfect boyfriend and they’re just so nice. But you know what? If these guys were genuinely nice, they wouldn’t be saying things like “the bitch stuck me in the friend zone because she only likes assholes.” Guess what? If she actually only liked assholes, then she would likely be super attracted to you because you are one.

Honestly. Is it really that unbearable to be friends with a person? Women don’t only exist to date or have sex with you. We are living, thinking creatures who maybe—just maybe—want to date and sex people we’re attracted to. And that doesn’t make any of us bitches. It makes us human.

From feministe, “Nice Guys”:

If a self-styled “Nice Guy” complains that the reason he can’t get laid is that women only like “jerks” who treat them badly, chances are he’s got a sense of entitlement on him the size of the Unisphere.

Guys who consider themselves “Nice Guys” tend to see women as an undifferentiated mass rather than as individuals. They also tend to see possession of a woman as a prize or a right…

A Nice Guy™ will insist that he’s doing everything perfectly right, and that women won’t subordinate themselves to him properly because he’s “Too Nice™,” meaning that he believes women deserve cruel treatment and he would like to be the one executing the cruelty.

But Feministe is also the first to show a glimmer of awareness (second, if you count Jezebel’s “I realize this might be construed as mean BUT I LOVE BEING MEAN” as “awareness”):

For the two hundredth time, when we’re talking about “nice guys,” we’re not talking about guys who are actually nice but suffer from shyness. That’s why the scare quotes. Try Nice Guys instead, if you prefer.

A shy, but decent and caring man is quite likely to complain that he doesn’t get as much attention from women as he’d like. A Nice Guy™ will complain that women don’t pay him the attention he deserves. The essence of the distinction is that the Nice Guy™ feels women are obligated to him, and the Nice Guy™ doesn’t actually respect or even like women. The clearest indication of which of the two you’re dealing with is whether the person is interested in the possibility that he’s doing something wrong.

Okay. Let’s extend our analogy with Dan from above.

It was wrong of me to say I hate poor minorities. I meant I hate Poor Minorities! Poor Minorities is a category I made up that includes only poor minorities who complain about poverty or racism.

No, wait! I can be even more charitable! A poor minority is only a Poor Minority if their compaints about poverty and racism come from a sense of entitlement. Which I get to decide after listening to them for two seconds. And If they don’t realize that they’re doing something wrong, then they’re automatically a Poor Minority.

I dedicate my blog to explaining how Poor Minorities, when they’re complaining about their difficulties with poverty or asking why some people like Paris Hilton seem to have it so easy, really just want to steal your company’s money and probably sexually molest their co-workers. And I’m not being unfair at all! Right? Because of my new definition! I know everyone I’m talking to can hear those Capital Letters. And there’s no chance whatsoever anyone will accidentally misclassify any particular poor minority as a Poor Minority. That’s crazy talk! I’m sure the “make fun of Poor Minorities” community will be diligently self-policing against that sort of thing. Because if anyone is known for their rigorous application of epistemic charity, it is the make-fun-of-Poor-Minorities community!

I’m not even sure I can dignify this with the term “motte-and-bailey fallacy”. It is a tiny Playmobil motte on a bailey the size of Russia.

I don’t think I ever claimed to be, or felt, entitled to anything. Just wanted to know why it was that people like Henry could get five wives and I couldn’t get a single date. That was more than enough to get the “shut up you entitled rapist shitlord” cannon turned against me, with the person who was supposed to show up to give me the battery of tests to distinguish whether I was a poor minority or a Poor Minority nowhere to be seen. As a result I spent large portions of my teenage life traumatized and terrified and self-loathing and alone.

Some recent adorable Tumblr posts (1, 2) pointed out that not everyone who talks about social justice is a social justice warrior. There are also “social justice clerics, social justice rogues, social justice rangers, and social justice wizards”. Fair enough.

But there are also social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancers.

And the people who talk about “Nice Guys” – and the people who enable them, praise them, and link to them – are blurring the already rather thin line between “feminism” and “literally Voldemort” EDIT: ARE TOTALLY GREAT, NO NEED TO TAKE THIS ONE SENTENCE OUT OF CONTEXT AND TRY TO SPREAD IT ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

IV.

And so we come to Barry’s recent blog post:

In pop culture, everyone – or at least, everyone who isn’t a terrible human being – eventually meets someone wonderful and falls in love.

But in real life, that’s not how things always work. Some people don’t want romantic love at all. Others want romantic love but will never find it. That’s life. I’m beginning to accept, at age 45, that probably “true love” will never happen for me. I have a bunch of factors working against me – I’m physically conventionally unattractive, I badly lack confidence, I’m sort of a weirdo, as I get older I meet new people less often, etc..

To tell you the truth, I resent the situation. It’s not an all-consuming bitterness or anything – on the whole, I’m a happy guy – but I irrationally feel cheated of a fundamental human experience…

I bring this up because I feel my ability to enjoy complaining about my single state has been ruined by MRAs and anti-feminists.

Because in human culture, we do something called “signaling” a lot. And, on the internet, men complaining that they don’t have the romantic success they want, that they feel they should be more attractive to woman then they actually are in practice, etc., have all become signals used to indicate alliance with the manosphere.

Gore Vidal once groused that the once-useful word “turgid” now belongs to the porn writers, because it has become impossible to use the word without sounding like a porn writer. The manosphere has done something similar to unattractive men’s romantic problems. They’ve flooded the discourse with misogyny and anti-feminism, and it’s nearly impossible to rescue discussion of being male and unwanted from their bitter waters.

Let me start by saying I sympathize with Barry, as someone who has been in exactly his position. And that if anyone uses this post as an excuse to attack Barry personally, they are going to Hell and getting banned from SSC. They’re also proving the point of whichever side they are not on.

What I don’t sympathize with is Barry’s belief that this is somehow the fault of “the manosphere” “flooding the discourse”.

It would actually be pretty fun to go full internet-archaeologist on the manosphere, but a quick look confirms my impression that, although it is built from older pieces, it’s really quite young. There was a “men’s rights” movement around forever, but its early focus tended to be on divorce cases and fathers’ rights. Heartiste started publishing in 2007. The word “manosphere” was first used in late 2009. Google Trends confirms a lot of this.

So I think it’s fair to attribute low to minimal influence for Manosphere-type stuff before about 2005 at the earliest.

But feminists were complaining about “nice guys” for much longer. According to Wikipedia, the concept dates at least from a 2002 article called Why “Nice Guys” are often such LOSERS, which was billed as a “Bitchtorial” on feminist blog “Heartless Bitches International”

(Once again, I swear I don’t make up the names of these feminist blogs as some sort of strawmanning strategy. They just happen like that!)

Looking into “Heartless Bitches Internation”, its header image is the words “Nice Guys = Bleah!” and its blog tagline is “What’s wrong with Nice Guys? HBI Tells It Like It Is”. This was seven years before the term “manosphere” even existed.

I can’t Google Trends “Nice Guys”, because it picks up too much interference from normal discussion of people who are nice. But there is one more Google Trends graph that I think relates to this issue:

This is the same graph as before. You can’t tell, because I’ve added the word “feminism”, which has caused every other line on the graph to shrink into invisibility. The purple line is – what, twenty times as high as any of the others?

People were coming up with reasons to mock and despise men who were sad about not being in relationships years before the manosphere even existed. These reasons were being posted on top feminist blogs for years without any reference whatsoever to the manosphere, probably because the people who wrote them were unaware of its existence or couldn’t imagine what it could possibly have to do with this subject? Feminism – the movement that was doing all this with no help from the manosphere – has twenty times the eyeballs and twenty times the discourse-setting power as the manosphere. And Barry thinks this is the manosphere’s fault? On the SSC “Things Feminists Should Not Be Able To Get Away With Blaming On The Manosphere” Scale, this is right up there with the postulated link between the men’s rights movement and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The worst corners of the manosphere contain more than enough opining on how ugly women, weird women, masculine women, et cetera deserve to be unhappy. You are welcome to read, for example, Matt Forney’s Why Fat Women Don’t Deserve To Be Loved (part of me feels like the link is self-trigger-warning, but I guess I will just warn you that this is not a clever attention-grabbing title, the link means exactly what it says and argues it at some length)

No one says the only reason manospherites like to insult unattractive lonely women is because “it’s hard for women to complain about how they’re single without being mistaken for a feminist”, or that “the manosphere doesn’t mean all lonely women, it’s just talking about how offended they are that lonely women feel entitled to sex and objectify men”. In the case of men, everyone pretty much agrees that no, if you’re a certain kind of person, making fun of people for being unattractive and unhappy is its own reward.

And I don’t think there is some sort of deep genetic personality difference between the sexes that makes them do things for totally different reasons. For women just as well as men, for feminists just as well as manospherites, if you’re a certain kind of person, making fun of people for being unattractive and unhappy is its own reward. Hence everything that has ever been said about “nice guys (TM)”

The only difference between the feminists and the manosphere here is that people call out the manosphere when they do it. But the feminists have their little Playmobil motte, so that’s totally different!

V.

So am I claiming that the feminist war on “nice guys” is totally uncorrelated with the existence of the manosphere?

No. I’m saying the causal arrow goes the opposite direction from the one Barry’s suggesting. As usual with gender issues, this can be best explained through a story from ancient Chinese military history.

Chen Sheng was an officer serving the Qin Dynasty, famous for their draconian punishments. He was supposed to lead his army to a rendezvous point, but he got delayed by heavy rains and it became clear he was going to arrive late. The way I always hear the story told is this:

Chen turns to his friend Wu Guang and asks “What’s the penalty for being late?”

“Death,” says Wu.

“And what’s the penalty for rebellion?”

“Death,” says Wu.

“Well then…” says Chen Sheng.

And thus began the famous Dazexiang Uprising, which caused thousands of deaths and helped usher in a period of instability and chaos that resulted in the fall of the Qin Dynasty three years later.

The moral of the story is that if you are maximally mean to innocent people, then eventually bad things will happen to you. First, because you have no room to punish people any more for actually hurting you. Second, because people will figure if they’re doomed anyway, they can at least get the consolation of feeling like they’re doing you some damage on their way down.

This seems to me to be the position that lonely men are in online. People will tell them they’re evil misogynist rapists – as the articles above did – no matter what. In what is apparently shocking news to a lot of people, this makes them hurt and angry. As someone currently working on learning psychotherapy, I can confidently say that receiving a constant stream of hatred and put-downs throughout your most formative years can really screw you up. And so these people try to lash out at the people who are doing it to them, secure in the knowledge that there’s no room left for people to hate them even more.

I know this is true because it happened to me. I never became a manospherian per se, because two wrongs don’t make a right, but – as readers of this essay may be surprised to learn – I did become just a little bit bitter about feminism. If I hadn’t been so sure about that “two wrongs” issue I probably would have ended up a lot more radicalized.

Actually, that word – “radicalized” – conceals what is basically my exact thesis. We talk a lot about the “radicalization” of Muslims – for example, in Palestine. And indeed, nobody likes Hamas and we all agree they are terrible people and commit some terrible atrocities. Humans can certainly be very cruel, but there seems to be an unusual amount of cruelty in this particular region. And many people who like black-and-white thinking try to blame that on some defect in the Palestinian race, or claim the Quran urges Muslims should be hateful and violent. But if you’re willing to tolerate a little bit more complexity, it may occur to you to ask “Hey, I wonder if any of this anger among Palestinians has to do with the actions of Israel?” And then you might notice, for example, the past century of Middle Eastern history.

Yet somehow, when the manosphere is being terrible people and commiting terrible atrocities, the only explanation offered is that “you must hate all women” must appear in some sura of the Male Quran.

My patient – not Henry, the one I started this whole thing off with, the one who works two minimum wage jobs and wants to know why he’s still falling behind when everyone else does so well – he wasn’t listed as a danger to himself or others, so he had the right to leave the hospital voluntarily if he wanted to. And he did, less than two days after he came in, before we’d even managed to finalize a treatment plan for him. He was worried that his boss was going to fire him if he stayed in longer.

I didn’t get a chance to give him any medication – not that it would have helped that much. All I got a chance to do was to tell him I respected his situation, that he was in a really sucky position, that it wasn’t his fault, and that I hoped he did better. I’m sure my saying that had minimal effect on him. But maybe a history of getting to hear that message from all different people – friends, family, doctors, social workers, TV, church, whatever – all through his life – gave him enough mental fortitude to go back to his horrible jobs and keep working away in the hopes that things would get better. Instead of killing himself or turning to a life of crime or joining the latest kill-the-rich demagogue movement or whatever.

In the end what he wanted wasn’t entitlement to other people’s money, or a pity job from someone who secretly didn’t like him. All he needed to keep going was to have people acknowledge there was a problem and treat him like a frickin’ human being.

VI.

So let’s get back to Barry.

(remember, anyone who uses this article to insult Barry will go to Hell and get banned from Slate Star Codex)

Barry is using my second-favorite rhetorical device, apophasis, the practice of bringing up something by denying that it will be brought up. For example, “I think the American people deserve a clean debate, and that’s why I’m going to stick to the issues, rather than talking about the incident last April when my opponent was caught having sex with a goat. Anyway, let’s start with the tax rate…”

He is complaining about being single by saying that you can’t complain about being single – and, as a bonus, placating feminists by blaming the whole thing on the manosphere as a signal that he’s part of their tribe and so should not be hurt.

It almost worked. He only got one comment saying he was privileged and entitled (which he dismisses as hopefully a troll). But he did get some other comments that remind me of two of my other least favorite responses to “nice guys”.

First: “Nice guys don’t want love! They just want sex!”

One line disproof: if they wanted sex, they’d give a prostitute a couple bucks instead of spiralling into a giant depression.

Second: “You can’t compare this to, like, poor people who complain about being poor. Food and stuff are basic biological human needs! Sex isn’t essential for life! It’s an extra, like having a yacht, or a pet tiger!”

I know that feminists are not always the biggest fans of evolutionary psychology. But I feel like it takes a special level of unfamiliarity with the discipline to ask “Sure, evolution gave us an innate desire for material goods, but why would it give us an deep innate desire for pair-bonding and reproduction??!”

But maybe a less sarcastic response would be to point out Harry Harlow’s monkey studies. These studies – many of them so spectacularly unethical that they helped kickstart the modern lab-animals’-rights movement – included one in which monkeys were separated from their real mother and given a choice between two artifical “mothers” – a monkey-shaped piece of wire that provided milk but was cold and hard to the touch, and a soft cuddly cloth mother that provided no milk. The monkeys ended up “attaching” to the cloth mother and not the milk mother.

In other words – words that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has spent much time in a human body – companionship and warmth can be in some situations just as important as food and getting your more basic needs met. Friendship can meet some of that need, but for a lot of people it’s just not enough.

When your position commits you to saying “Love isn’t important to humans and we should demand people stop caring about whether or not they have it,” you need to take a really careful look in the mirror – assuming you even show up in one.

VII.

You’re seven sections in, and maybe you thought you were going to get through an entire SSC post without a bunch of statistics. Ha ha ha ha ha.

I will have to use virginity statistics as a proxy for the harder-to-measure romancelessness statistics, but these are bad enough. In high school each extra IQ point above average increases chances of male virginity by about 3%. 35% of MIT grad students have never had sex, compared to only 20% of average nineteen year old men. Compared with virgins, men with more sexual experience are likely to drink more alcohol, attend church less, and have a criminal history. A Dr. Beaver (nominative determinism again!) was able to predict number of sexual partners pretty well using a scale with such delightful items as “have you been in a gang”, “have you used a weapon in a fight”, et cetera. An analysis of the psychometric Big Five consistently find that high levels of disagreeableness predict high sexual success in both men and women.

If you’re smart, don’t drink much, stay out of fights, display a friendly personality, and have no criminal history – then you are the population most at risk of being miserable and alone. “At risk” doesn’t mean “for sure”, any more than every single smoker gets lung cancer and every single nonsmoker lives to a ripe old age – but your odds get worse. In other words, everything that “nice guys” complain of is pretty darned accurate. But that shouldn’t be too hard to guess…

Sorry. We were talking about Barry.

I have said no insulting Barry, but I never banned complimenting him. Barry is a neat guy. He draws amazing comics and he runs one of the most popular, most intellectual, and longest-standing feminist blogs on the Internet. I have debated him several times, and although he can be enragingly persistent he has always been reasonable and never once called me a neckbeard or a dudebro or a piece of scum or anything. He cares deeply about a lot of things, works hard for those things, and has supported my friends when they have most needed support.

If there is any man in the world whose feminist credentials are impeccable, it is he. And I say this not to flatter him, but to condemn everyone who gives the nice pat explanation “The real reason Nice Guys™®© can’t get dates is that women can just tell they’re misogynist, and if they were to realize women were people then they would be in relationships just as much as anyone else.” This advice I see all the time, most recently on a feminist “dating advice for single guys” list passed around on Facebook:

Step I. Consume More Art By Women – I think it’s a good idea to make a deliberate year-long project of it at this time in your life, when you are trying to figure out how to relate to women better…Use woman-created media to to remind yourself that the world isn’t only about you + men + women who have/have not rejected you as a romantic partner.

I want to reject that line of thinking for all time. I want to actually go into basic, object-level Nice Guy territory and say there is something very wrong here.

Barry is possibly the most feminist man who has ever existed, palpably exudes respect for women, and this is well-known in every circle feminists frequent. He is reduced to apophatic complaints about how sad he is that he doesn’t think he’ll ever have a real romantic relationship.

Henry has four domestic violence charges against him by his four ex-wives and is cheating on his current wife with one of those ex-wives. And as soon as he gets out of the psychiatric hospital where he was committed for violent behavior against women and maybe serves the jail sentence he has pending for said behavior, he is going to find another girlfriend approximately instantaneously.

And this seems unfair. I don’t know how to put the basic insight behind niceguyhood any clearer than that. There are a lot of statistics backing up the point, but the statistics only corroborate the obvious intuitive insight that this seems unfair.

And suppose, in the depths of your Forever Alone misery, you make the mistake of asking why things are so unfair.

Well, then Jezebel says you are “a lonely dickwad who believes in a perverse social/sexual contract that promises access to women’s bodies”. XOJane says you are “an adult baby” who will “go into a school or a gym or another space heavily populated by women and open fire”. Feminspire just says you are “an arrogant, egotistical, selfish douche bag”.

And the manosphere says: “Excellent question, we’ve actually been wondering that ourselves, why don’t you come over here and sit down with us and hear some of our convincing-sounding answers, which, incidentally, will also help solve your personal problems?”

And feminists still insist the only reason anyone ever joins the manosphere is “distress of the privileged”!

I do not think men should be entitled to sex, I do not think women should be “blamed” for men not having sex, I do not think anyone owes sex to anyone else, I do not think women are idiots who don’t know what’s good for them, I do not think anybody has the right to take it into their own hands to “correct” this unsettling trend singlehandedly.

But when you deny everything and abuse anyone who brings it up, you cede this issue to people who sometimes do think all of these things. And then you have no right to be surprised when all the most frequently offered answers are super toxic.

There is a very simple reply to the question which is better than anything feminists are now doing. It is the answer I gave to my patient Dan: “Yeah, things are unfair. I can’t do anything about it, but I’m sorry for your pain. Here is a list of resources that might be able to help you.”

There is also a more complicated reply, which I am not qualified to compose, but I think the gist of it would be something like:

Personal virtue is not very well correlated with ease of finding a soulmate. It may be only slightly correlated, uncorrelated, or even anti-correlated in different situations. Even smart people who want various virtues in a soulmate usually use them as a rule-out criterion, rather than a rule-in criterion – that is, given someone whom they are already attracted to, they will eliminate him if he does not have those virtues. The rule-in criterion that makes you attractive to people is mysterious and mostly orthogonal to virtue. This is true both in men and women, but in different ways. Male attractiveness seems to depend on things like a kind of social skills which is not necessarily the same kind of social skills people who want to teach you social skills will teach, testosterone level, social status, and whatever you call the ability to just ask someone out, consequences be damned. These can be obtained in very many different ways that are partly within your control, but they are complicated and subtle and if you naively aim for cliched versions of the terms you will fail. There is a lot of good discussion about how to get these things. Here is a list of resources that might be able to help you.

Of course, then you’ve got to have your resource list. And – and this is the part of this post I think will be controversial (!), I think a lot of the appropriate material is concentrated in the manosphere, ie the people who do not hate your guts merely for acknowledging the existence of the issue. Yes, it is interspersed with poisonous beliefs about women being terrible, but if you have more than a quarter or so of a soul, it is pretty easy to filter those out and concentrate on the good ones. Many feminists will say there are no good ones and that they are all exactly the same, but you should not believe them for approximately the same reason you should not believe anyone else who claims the outgroup is completely homogenous and uniformly evil. Ozy has tried to pick out some of the better ones for you at the bottom of their their anti-Heartiste FAQ, and Drew on Tumblr has added to the discussion.

So I think the better parts of feminism and the better parts of the manosphere could unite around something like this, against the evil fringes of both movements. Not for my sake, because after many years I mysteriously and unexpectedly found a wonderful girlfriend whom I love very much. And not only for the sake of the nice guys out there. But also for the sake of women who want better alternatives to marrying someone like Henry.

And although Barry explicitly doesn’t want dating advice, I feel like this is meta-level enough that it doesn’t count. Stop blaming the men’s movement for the problem and notice the more fundamental problem that some parts of the men’s movement – as well as some parts of feminism are honestly trying to work on.

Come to the Not-Actually-Dark-But-Spends-Slightly-Less-Time-Loudly-Protesting-Its-Lightness Side, Barry. We have cookies! And basic human decency! But also cookies!

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1,272 Responses to Radicalizing the Romanceless

  1. The Lack of a Name says:

    While I generally agree with your point, I would like to point out a few parts of your quote from feministe: “A shy, but decent and caring man is quite likely to complain that he doesn’t get as much attention from women as he’d like. A Nice Guy™ will complain that women don’t pay him the attention he deserves.” “The clearest indication of which of the two you’re dealing with is whether the person is interested in the possibility that he’s doing something wrong.” So those quotes, at least, do provide some distinction between the two. I’m sure that there are others who don’t make that distinction, but if I were you I would pick another piece of evidence for that point.

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    • Fadeway says:

      It doesn’t provide a distinction, it provides an escape path:

      -Your complaints make you a suspected Nice Guy™! Are you “interested in the possibility that [you are] doing something wrong”? If you repent and accept that you don’t deserve to get as much attention as you’d like to, you can be just a nice guy instead of a horrible rapey misogynist!

      (Of course, if you choose to admit you don’t deserve attention, you can’t keep complaining about not getting any. You can’t both say you’re not boyfriend material and complain about girls not being attracted to you!)

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Also, when people spell out “what you’re doing wrong” and you say “no, I’m pretty darn sure I’m not doing any of that”, now you’re a DENYING horrible rapey misogynist.

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      • Fu's Truly says:

        I agree that this provides a sketchy escape path and that there’s a good chance that’s all the authors want here.

        But often when talking with women about their former partners, I feel a solid distinction between the two, and this is very very hard to get across without the other party already having experience with each behavior. In a lot of cases (especially outside of SJ), when the separation looks so shaky, it’s because of this.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          So I’m guessing you are already familiar with what I am about to say, but let me say it anyway for everyone else. (Of course some of this was already said by Scott in the original post.)

          1. If there is an important but subtle distinction you need to draw… don’t use names for it that make conflating the two easier. I mean, really. (Scott already said this.)

          2. Feminists go on and on about how, since we don’t have their lived experience, we with our male privilege cannot possibly natively understand their experience. In which case… wouldn’t it be helpful to explain? If you’re drawing a subtle distinction, and there’s a group you suspect will misunderstood… isn’t the right thing to do to clarify? (Especially if you are a group with moral authority like feminists and you can be certain that people will act on their misunderstandings of you!)

          3. Perhaps things are different IRL, but online it seems that feminists routinely deny that people trying to be good but paralyzed by overbroad feminist rules or double-binds exist. If you are paralyzed by feminist rules, so the thinking goes, it must be because you want to do something bad, and the rules are successfully stopping you; the rules are never overbroad or contradictory. So even if they do recognize this distinction, it seems they only do so in a trivial fashion, where one of the two categories lacks any actual examples.

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        • Exekiel says:

          Interestingly, I think that these women are confused about one crucial point:

          The men who have treated them like Henry pretended to be nice guys to get in their pants, so their experience is to look at genuine nice guys and think the same thing without reason. Adding the toxic masses of extreme feminism turns that into a boiling pit of acid.

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    • RCF says:

      This verges on Kafka Trap territory. A Kafka Trap is where once an accusation has been made, any denial is simply more proof of the claim. For instance, any criticism of accusations of “mansplaining” are themselves examples of mansplaining.

      The problem with the “interested in possibility that he’s doing something wrong” test is it’s being administered by the same person making the accusation, and how many people can be objective as to whether the target of their accusation is giving it sufficient consideration? What about the feminists making the accusation? Are they interested in the possibility that they’re doing something wrong? Furthermore, it may seem like they are dismissing the current incarnations out of hand, when in fact they have already heard the accusations, carefully considered them, and rejected them.

      And how would this sound in SA’s Poor Minorities analogy? “The difference between a poor minority and a Poor Minority ™ is that the poor minority will respectfully listen as you explain that it’s really their fault.”

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    • Johannes D says:

      This is, of course, what the seduction community is all about. A significant fraction of the shy guys who realize they are doing something wrong are going to run into pickup artistry and the general manosphere – after all, they are pretty much the only faction who claim to have actual concrete answers to the problem of “What am I doing wrong?” It’s all very ironic.

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    • Deiseach says:

      Gentlemen, let me ask you this: what do you mean by “nice guy” (as opposed to Nice Guy)?

      Behaving like an averagely decent human being?

      And you expect you should get a gold star and a cookie and a pat on the head for this? That’s what us evil, wicked horrible feminist-types are complaining about: “I don’t act shitty, why don’t I get a pat on the back for it?”

      Because the minimum expectation of a human being is that you don’t act shitty? “I don’t beat my girlfriends and cheat on them, why can’t I get a date?”

      No, see, the minimum expectation there is that you don’t beat your girlfriends and cheat on them. That’s the basic requirement (that a car will have wheels), not the optional extra (do you want the flashy expensive rims?).

      What have you got on top of that? If you expect a potential girlfriend to be somewhat attractive (however you measure attractiveness) and intelligent (ditto), then what do you look for on top of that? Then apply it to yourself (“Well, I really go for redheads – hmm, maybe that’s why Sally turned me down; not because she’s a heartless bitch, but because she likes redheads and I’m blond!”) and see what comes up.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        And you expect you should get a gold star and a cookie and a pat on the head for this? That’s what us evil, wicked horrible feminist-types are complaining about: “I don’t act shitty, why don’t I get a pat on the back for it?”

        No. I expect to get better than someone who isn’t even doing that much gets.

        Is that so hard to understand? Cuz it’s been spelled out explicitly like, four or five times in this post and the subsequent comments.

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        • Castaigne says:

          No. I expect to get better than someone who isn’t even doing that much gets.

          And that right there is your problem. There is no logical reason for you to expect that. The universe does not care.

          As one guy to another, let me tell you that expecting ANYTHING in life simply because of who you are is bullshit. Your assumption that you should expect to get better than someone who “isn’t even doing that much” is incorrect; it assumes there’s a baseline for success. There is NO baseline for success. None. When you realize that, when you realize that it is up to Chance And Your Own Efforts, it makes perfect sense.

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          • drethelin says:

            Why is that argument allowed for Men who can’t get laid but not for women who can’t get paid as much as men?

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          • Watercressed says:

            Scott’s statement is about morality, yours seems to be about reality, and the two are not equivalent.

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          • Nebe says:

            Isn’t that also a particularly trite argument against labour and minority rights often made by the conservative right?

            Sorry, but I don’t understand how feminists can make demands of society, based on nothing except what they feel entitled to, while denying others the same, based on the same logic that they supposedly rail against. You are inconsistent, you make arguments to validate your behaviour and pillory the behaviour of others rather than actually being honest, and forgive me if I refuse to prostrate myself to people like that.

            The universe doesn’t care whether women get rights either. Society does. Society is supposed to care for the well-being of its constituents and if you don’t believe that then how can you call yourself a humanist, let alone a feminist? Hypocritical randroids are all I see when I look over tumblr way.

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          • Ryan says:

            Nihilism is a nice fallback position against any positive moral assertion. Man this motte and bailey analogy is putting in work.

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      • James says:

        Scott’s entire freaking point is that many people who are shitty enjoy more romantic and sexual success than people who aren’t, and that though nobody’s entitled to anything from anyone, token sympathy is a much more effective response than immediately implying that it’s caused by a petty, childish, entitled mindset (lest these people turn away from your social movement and and find some other group that doesn’t imply they’re petty, childish, and entitled for feeling sad about how unfair life is to them).

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Because the minimum expectation of a human being is that you don’t act shitty? “I don’t beat my girlfriends and cheat on them, why can’t I get a date?”

        I’m going to drill down into a specific Nice Guy conversation that I’ve had many times, that I’ve been eviscerated for discussing in front of feminists.

        If I get eviscerated for discussing this, and the eviscerator is not banned, I’ll be leaving Slate Star Codex.

        Whew. Here we go.

        Violet is complaining about the last shitty boyfriend that beat her, while I’m bandaging her up and trying to convince her to go to the doctor. She does not want to go to the doctor because she does not want to get shitty boyfriend in trouble.

        Violet is incredibly smart. She’s funny, she’s caring, she’s an amazing artist, but she happens to like abusive assholes.

        She doesn’t want to like abusive assholes. She says she “wishes she could find someone like me”.

        I tell her, for the fifth time this month, “hey, I’m right here.”

        She looks at me and sighs.

        Then she looks away and goes back to talking about the guy that just beat her up.

        I tell her, “Vi honey, if nothing ever changes, then nothing is going to change. Why don’t you take a chance with someone who isn’t a jerk for once?”

        She looks at me and says “I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen.”

        Two weeks later she’s ecstatic. She’s finally found “the one”. He’s nice, he’s rich, he treats her like a princess, he only got mad and scared her once on the whole first date.

        Yup.

        “You know once is still too much, this is only going to get worse.”

        “Brent, you’re just jealous”, she says.

        Within three weeks every one of my suspicions is confirmed: He’s rich because he’s a drug dealer. He’s nice because he knows how to sell himself. He treats her like a princess because that’s his opening strategy.

        She’s got a black eye, and she’s not going to turn him in.

        This girl could have been a professional ballerina, or a professional artist, or a professional singer, or ANYTHING she put her mind to. Instead she puts it to this. And she’s been doing it since she was 12. And I can’t stop her.

        Ellie is amazing. I taught her to program in C# in a few weeks, we share all the same stupid theater memes, we have so much fun together…

        But the conversation always turns to her emotionally abusive boyfriend, who also Does Not Like Her Hanging Out With Me. She doesn’t want to leave him because “she needs the stability of someone in her life.”

        “You know, I’m in your life too.”

        “You know if he heard you say that there’d be hell to pay.”

        “Not if he’s not there to hear it anymore. Ditch him. He’s not worth it.”

        “And date you?”

        “Why not?”

        “Oh, Brent…” and then she laughs it off like a joke.

        And look, I don’t want to be the Guy Who Doesn’t Respect Her Decisions, but if I have to spend an hour a week playing therapist for her while she describes how much she hates her decision, I think I AM respecting her decisions by telling her exactly what I’m hearing from her – that she “wishes she could be with someone like me” and that she “hates how he makes her feel”.

        Well, 2+2 is 4, Ellie. And I’m right here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You’ve suggested elsewhere that you’ve been in this situation several times, so what happens if you try to get her to stop dating these guys without putting yourself forward as an alternative candidate?

          I assume it’s not great either, but I’m curious.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            You’ve suggested elsewhere that you’ve been in this situation several times, so what happens if you try to get her to stop dating these guys without putting yourself forward as an alternative candidate?

            Scenario 1 (Brandy): She finds another alternative candidate (my best friend), marries him, they have a great relationship, they have a kid, it turns out he’s unable to keep her Wild Child self-destructiveness at bay, she leaves him and the kid after 5+ years, he raises the kid into an awesome person.

            Scenario 2 (Ellie, eventually): I explicitly provide another alternative candidate (guy I don’t particularly like but respect a lot and acknowledge is objectively a Good Person), she marries him, they have a great relationship, I stay in the periphery keeping her Wild Child self-destructiveness at bay and guiding her back to him whenever things get dicey, she eventually becomes a bit calmer of a person, they move away and I never see them again.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Wait, wait, I’m not sure I’m following along right. These girls marry the guys who abused them and then lived ~happily ever after~ (for a certain value of ever after)?

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            You are not following along right, due to me omitting an important phrase (“she finds/I find her another alternative candidate”). I will edit for clarity.

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          • blacktrance says:

            You describe these people as having “Wild Child self-destructiveness”, and yet you seem to feel like you missed out on something by not dating them. (If this is incorrect, please correct me.) I’m confused – someone described that way sounds extremely undesirable to date. If anything, it sounds more like you dodged a bullet by not dating them.

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          • Matthew says:

            I think maybe it’s the male inverse of the manic pixie dream girl — a guy who provides stability to a girl whose life lacks it.

            Also that thing Ozy said in another thread about the personality type drawn to saving birds with broken wings and such.

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        • Zorgon says:

          Gah, Ialda. Just… argh.

          I’m getting frustrated on your behalf here. Taking a step away for a bit.

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        • Mary says:

          At which point, I would recommend that every time she started to complain about her boyfriends to you, you answer, “Why are you telling me this?”

          More vigorous refusals to be her wailing wall to follow if she doesn’t change the topic.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            This is a technique I’ve tried. The answer is “I thought we were frieeeends” followed a few days later by a pointed and hostile conversation with some of her other friends, whom she told I was mean to her.

            (Responding to them with, “wait, I was mean to her?” is a TERRIBLE IDEA.)

            This is called role-entrapment; these kinds of double-binds are intimately known to the disadvantaged.

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          • Anonymous says:

            By the way, Ialdabaoth, your comments on this post have been sublime. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

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          • Mary says:

            At which point I would write off both her and her enforcers. Then I’m hard-hearted that way. People who trigger my OCD get written off.

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        • Michael R says:

          Ialdabaoth,

          I’m going to try to put this without you thinking you are being eviscerated. Not sure if I can though…

          Violet is not your problem. You shouldn’t be involved with her, and you can’t help her. And by the way, she would be a disaster as your girlfriend. There are more than enough people (and causes, and things) in life that need your attention and help, who would actually benefit from it, without providing support for someone who is essentially the cause of her own problems.

          You shouldn’t be involved with the Ellies of this world either. She is just using you to help deal with her emotional needs.

          Try setting your sights on women who are…you know, single.

          This stuff is not about being a Nice Guy. It’s just general life skills.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Violet and Ellie were both single when I first met them.

            Brandy was a mistake, but I was 19.

            A big problem is that the girls that have the qualities I want rarely stay single for more than five, ten minutes at a time. I am almost not exaggerating here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          After hearing what happened with Brandyand your best friend, I think you dodged a bullet there.

          f you stopped being her emotional teddy bear, and if she said “I thought we were frieeends”, and says you’re mean and tells her friends that you’re mean… then, by golly that’s perfectly alright. After all, her “emotionally abusive” boyfriend is “meaaan” to her, and he seems to be doing just fine. He certainly doesn’t care what her friends think. If your mutual friends have any sense, they will be able to see what’s really going on and won’t actually think you’re mean. If they don’t, that’s their problem.

          Really, when she knows you’re attracted to her, it’s not right of her to keep using you as a therapist. You’re more than justified in not wanting to be her therapist. If she’s not already attracted to you then she’s probably not ever going to be attracted to you, she honestly sounds like bad news anyway, and you mustn’t let people walk all over you like that.

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        • Exekiel says:

          Look man, these kinds of women are bad people with bad personalities. You are enabling them by being there to support them, they need professional help and they would realize quite rapidly that they are up shit creek if they didn’t have guys just waiting to be their alternate option. When you meet a girl like that, who treats you like that, you let her know that she is a piece of shit, that her life is going nowhere, and you step off and never look back. If every guy did that, those girls would hit rock bottom and fix their problems. Like the article the OP article links from a psychologist, they need to know what the source of their unhappiness is, they need to hit rock bottom, and you are cushioning that bottom. Those kinds of women *use* men, they are assholes, they treat people like their own personal toys with no regard for their abilities.

          Yes, they are bad, but two wrongs don’t make a right. Let them fall off a cliff and find somebody else. You find love quicker that way, and they learn the error of their ways quicker that way.

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          • Michael R says:

            You put it more harshly than I did, but you’re not really wrong.

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          • Mary says:

            Or they’d pull themselves together and go onto the next bad boy. To bring back Dalrymple, his battered patients have often found a new man within a day of dumping the old. And if he happens to be non-violent?

            “So convinced is she that violence is an intrinsic and indispensable part of relations between the sexes, however, that if by some chance she alights next time upon a nonviolent man, she suffers acute discomfort and disorientation; she may, indeed, even leave him because of his insufficient concern for her. Many of my violently abused women patients have told me that they find nonviolent men intolerably indifferent and emotionally distant, rage being the only emotion they’ve ever seen a man express. They leave them quicker than they leave men who have beaten and otherwise abused them.”

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          • AlbertusMagus says:

            I’d just like to hop in for a sec. I’ve so far had the exact same kind of experience in college as the above. Had one frantically texting me while I was with my therapist because her ex was too busy with his new GF to hang out with her. 😛

            And worse. Had to play trauma therapist for a year (took her to the ER at 3 am even) and turns out shes spreading shit about how I’m a serial rapist on tumblr.

            I met the above as a consequence of trying to be a good feminist ally (and womens studies). These days I keep my head in my books and I don’t acknowledge the presence of women – engagement with them seems to inevitably lead to exploitation.

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        • Eli says:

          Two weeks later she’s ecstatic. She’s finally found “the one”. He’s nice, he’s rich, he treats her like a princess, he only got mad and scared her once on the whole first date.

          So you’re saying Violet’s problem is that she actually believes so thoroughly in patriarchy that she puts herself in abusive relationships over and over again in order to satisfy the patriarchal cultural archetype she was indoctrinated to attach to the word “relationship”?

          And no matter what you answer, by the way, just as a personal pet peeve, can we please scrub the word “princess”, and in fact all usage of feudal terminology to confer affection or respect, from all polite conversation ever? I’ve gotten really tired of hearing that so-and-so’s daughter is a “spoiled brat daughter of a brutal warlord” (ie: princess), or that some popular singer is a “brutal warlord with pretensions to godhood” (ie: king).

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          • Anonymous says:

            What is it with feminists and dictating what words we’re allowed to use?

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          • Carinthium says:

            Those are simplifications at best. A feminist of all people should realise that a woman back in those days didn’t have the option of being free or independent so many princesses couldn’t really be blamed for being spoiled.

            As for Kings, it is heavily culturally dependent whether they had pretenstions to Godhood or not. I agree the overwhelming majority were brutal warlords, but not all.

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          • Mary says:

            So you’re saying that Violet should be institutionalized along with every other women who acts like that? If she’s “indoctrinated” and can’t act freely, obviously.

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          • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

            So you’re saying Violet’s problem is that she actually believes so thoroughly in patriarchy that she puts herself in abusive relationships over and over again in order to satisfy the patriarchal cultural archetype she was indoctrinated to attach to the word “relationship”?

            YES. That’s actually almost EXACTLY what I’m saying, which is why I have so much sympathy for Violet. (And I said so to Violet repeatedly.)

            And no matter what you answer, by the way, just as a personal pet peeve, can we please scrub the word “princess”, and in fact all usage of feudal terminology to confer affection or respect, from all polite conversation ever?

            No. The connotations are there, everyone uses them, and I’m not going to amputate my vocabulary to serve your political agenda. You want to fix that, go after Disney.

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          • I’m a little surprised at seeing most of the problem described as being from the patriarchy– I assume a high proportion of Violet’s poor judgement is the result of having been raised abusively.

            It does make sense that a bad culture and a bad upbringing would amplify each other.

            If the culture is that bad, it is extremely unlikely that it can institutionalize people in a way that will help them.

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          • Zorgon says:

            Really? You’ve not encountered people using the concept of Patriarchy in it’s Fully General form before? I envy you.

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          • Mary says:

            ” it is extremely unlikely that it can institutionalize people in a way that will help them.”

            One institutionalizes people precisely because it IS the help — it keeps them from hurting themselves or others by putting good solid walls between them and the other people whom they would hurt, or vice versa.

            If you could help them otherwise, you wouldn’t need to institutionalize them. For instance, anyone who gives up the behavior for fear of the institution would not need it.

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        • Ryan says:

          Gotta find the will to not care about people who don’t care about you. Stop any contact with those two or any like them, get some male friends to hang out with. You’ll have much more fun.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            I disagree strongly with not caring about people who don’t care about you; I think, instead, one must learn to optimize one’s interactions with them differently.

            (And in both of those cases, it’s moot anyway; these are stories from my previous misspent youths)

            As for finding male friends to hang out with, I have had many, but I often find the level of competitive viciousness emotionally exhausting – there comes a point where I grow tired of constantly defending my skills and my masculinity and my agency against relentless and petty assaults.

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Ialdaboath
            “As for finding male friends to hang out with, I have had many, but I often find the level of competitive viciousness emotionally exhausting”

            Sorry if this seems offensive, but either you are seriously misinterpreting friendly banter, or you have the wrong kind of friends.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            It’s entirely likely that I am misinterpreting friendly banter; I was not properly socialized as a child, so I often see acts in a more hostile light.

            It’s also entirely likely that the difference between “friendly banter” and “constant onslaught of microaggressions” is fine enough to be used as a smokescreen for plausible deniability, to the detriment of any pack’s omega.

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          • Matthew says:

            It’s also entirely likely that the difference between “friendly banter” and “constant onslaught of microaggressions” is fine enough to be used as a smokescreen for plausible deniability, to the detriment of any pack’s omega.

            If the group is actually behaving as a pack with an alpha and/or an omega, it’s definitely time to find a different group. Society writ large may be structured like this whether we like it or not, but not every group of friends is.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Generally, I find small male friendship groups to be essentially egalitarian and that they only start to develop hierarchies if there are more than 8-10+ men together at one time, or if a woman enters the group. If I were just hanging out with a couple of friends then I definitely don’t notice any alpha/omega dynamics (although it is certainly possible that you are much more attuned to subtle status dynamics than me so YYMV).

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      • Ozy Frantz says:

        As Scott’s girlfriend I must point out he has many, many selling points beyond “not beating or cheating on his girlfriend.” I suspect that he had those selling points when he couldn’t get a date either.

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      • Liskantope says:

        I’m home sick and it’s a holiday anyway, so I guess I have some excuse for sitting at my desk and continuing to write long posts about issues I have strong opinions on.

        Here is my attempt to explain what Scott is getting at from a slightly different angle (I don’t completely agree with the way he stated everything, but I can get 100% behind the general gist of it).

        1) We all want some sort of happiness in life, although we may differ in exactly what circumstances give us happiness. Many of us want a career that is either lucrative and/or interesting — or at least, pays the bills and/or doesn’t make us hate going to work each day. Similarly, many of us want at least a few good friends or loved ones. And finally, many people want serious romantic relationships and/or get to have sex at least once in a while. Now far from everybody wants the above things in their lives — some people don’t put much priority on a happy work life or even prefer to be homeless; some people are social hermits by nature, or only want casual sex, or have no desire for romance or sex — and that is equally acceptable and natural. But those who do want said things are not wrong for wanting them and shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

        Moreover, the desire for romance and/or sex is often very profound; I’ve known people who have become deeply depressed due to being perpetually single and/or remaining a virgin. And that attitude, in and of itself, is natural and not something anyone should have to apologize for (although in the more severe cases it may be helpful to be able to assuage one’s feelings of worthlessness due to these circumstances).

        2) Nobody is entitled to any of the above things. To be entitled to a particular job, particular friend, or particular lover would mean that a particular employer or particular person is obligated to compromise their own autonomy just because of certain natural desires on your part, which is unreasonable.

        We are all entitled to our own personal autonomy and basic safety and well-being; therefore, we have basic moral obligations to not rape, murder, etc. And I would generalize this principle by saying that we all certainly should avoid being jerks towards our fellow humans. To succeed at this whenever possible is just basic decency. So I fully agree that nobody is entitled to a cookie or a pat on the head just for being a decent human being.

        3) Although we are not entitled to aforementioned jobs and relationships, a very large number of us are constantly getting them. Therefore, as a whole we commonly obtain all these basic things we desire but are not entitled to, and getting them is not in and of itself a crime.

        4) Since on average, people are getting at least some percentage of the aforementioned things — say, a job they halfway don’t hate, a couple of relationships that keep them happy for a while — it is natural to feel frustrated when you get much less than the average portion of those things, particularly when some of those around you who do have at least an average portion of them are utterly failing at being decent human beings, or, at least don’t seem to be putting in nearly the same amount honest effort to get them that you are! This frustration doesn’t in and of itself imply a lack of self-reflection (“What am I doing wrong?”) or the casting of blame upon those who do not give you the aforementioned things, or even the casting of blame upon those who get them for less effort.

        The “on average” aspect is important; i.e.

        If you expect a potential girlfriend to be somewhat attractive (however you measure attractiveness) and intelligent (ditto), then what do you look for on top of that? Then apply it to yourself (“Well, I really go for redheads – hmm, maybe that’s why Sally turned me down; not because she’s a heartless bitch, but because she likes redheads and I’m blond!”) and see what comes up.

        Of course, unless one falls into the top tier of physical attractiveness, one’s physical attributes will not comply with the preferences of most individuals. But when averaged over the large set of people you interact with, one should expect to be physically attractive to at least a good handful of them. (The same goes for personality and intelligence.)

        Of course, there are some people who are conventionally very unattractive (let’s say, physically). They are probably aware of it and usually aren’t blaming those they are attracted to at all for not reciprocating their feelings. But I would argue that, as long as they are putting in a reasonable effort to overcome this unattractiveness, they still have a right to feel frustrated and discouraged about their lack of romantic success due to unfair circumstances they have no reasonable way of altering.

        In short, venting one’s frustration at lack of romantic/sexual success is not at all the same things as expressing a sense of entitlement to it.

        I hope the above makes sense to you. If not, which of (1), (2), (3), or (4) do you disagree with?

        Qualification (5): I have definitely encountered some men who choose their words poorly when complaining about being a “nice guy” who gets put into the “friendzone” so that they come across as immature and feeling entitled (and probably some of them actually are, while others are just bad at expressing themselves).

        Qualification (6): I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that there are significantly more men than women out there who complain about being “friendzoned”, etc. There are probably a lot of reasons behind this, some of which I think do originate from patriarchal courtship norms. However, that absolutely does not justify painting all guys who vent such a frustration with the same broad brush.

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      • asdf says:

        And you expect you should get a gold star and a cookie and a pat on the head for this? That’s what us evil, wicked horrible feminist-types are complaining about: “I don’t act shitty, why don’t I get a pat on the back for it?”

        Because the minimum expectation of a human being is that you don’t act shitty? “I don’t beat my girlfriends and cheat on them, why can’t I get a date?”

        No, see, the minimum expectation there is that you don’t beat your girlfriends and cheat on them. That’s the basic requirement (that a car will have wheels), not the optional extra (do you want the flashy expensive rims?).

        This is where many, if not most of our society’s dysfunctions spring from. The only way that society knows how to act is by setting certain minimal standards, and then punishing deviations from those standards. This is, in general, not a very effects active to go about shaping behavior. Behavior that is rewarded will tend to be repeated; behavior that is not rewarded will eventually be abandoned. If you want good behavior out of people, you need to arrange it so that good behavior gets rewarded.

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      • Ano says:

        Except that not beating your wife or cheating is not a basic requirement to find a relationship. We might hope that it is, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that abusers don’t have that much trouble finding people to abuse. Henry, in Scott’s example, not only managed to find five women willing to marry him but one of them even came back to him after the divorce.

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      • IvHu says:

        Because the minimum expectation of a human being is that you don’t act shitty?

        Have the majority of people you’ve met in life lived up to this “minimum expectation”? Because that has certainly not been the case for me. I see this thrown out a lot when discussing Nice Guys: “Being nice is the default, you need to have *more* than that!” This has not been my experience. In fact, quite the opposite. The majority of people I have interacted with have been cold and even downright hostile & nasty to me. Now cue the standard go-to of, “Well, maybe that’s because of the way *you* behave!” Maybe. But when I’ve tried everything my therapists, former friends, and family have told me for 20+ years and still get shit, I find that line hard to swallow. Especially when I get dirty/judgemental looks from random people I haven’t even interacted with.

        If people have been nice to you the majority of your time on earth, you have lived a charmed life.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          ^ this guy gets it.

          (apparently more than I do, for which you have my sympathy.)

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        • I strongly agree that decent behavior shouldn’t be such a strong default that it gets ignored.

          How people get treated may not be entirely random– I’ve found that my mood/openness has a large effect on whether people talk to me (I’m talking about minor pleasant interactions) on the street.

          It isn’t surprising if people (or at least neurotypical people) might be extremely sensitive to approachability.

          If you’re okay with writing about it, what advice have you been given?

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        • Andrew Hunter says:

          Are you ugly?

          This comment is not an insult or an accusation, please don’t report it: I’m really just curious, because it would be more evidence for a theory I’ve noticed. I know attractive people who I think are really mean to me and others but have a reputation for being so incredibly nice, whereas I see much less attractive people, like me, do the same things and get attacked as being rude or mean.

          It’s just the halo effect: people decide how much they like you (based largely on your attractiveness and social status) then retro-justify it by claiming you were appropriately mean or nice. So if you’re ugly, you can feel a bit better about your behavior: it’s not that you’re being rude, it’s just that anything you do will get the worst possible interpretation.

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  2. cpopell says:

    As always, fantastic. As always, you will regret writing this.

    I am continuously tempted to write a short ebook condensing my experience on how to deal with women of both feminist and non-feminist variety, and learn to overcome fear/broadcast intent without being terrified or opened up to being made fun of.

    But more important things to write, unfortunately. Someone needs to write PUA without PUA.

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    • Jadagul says:

      I’d like to suggest Married Man Sex Life by Athol Kay (it’s a blog and a book and a forum). He spent a lot of time in PUA and MRA fora, but his blog (edited by his wife) is aimed at people trying to have a healthy monogamous marriage and raise children. It has a lot less of the misogyny than most of the PUA stuff I’ve read.

      (I actually learned a lot from reading Roissy, which I believe is Heartiste’s old blog. He’s very perceptive, and his essays on how to handle someone crying when you can’t do anything about the problem/when there is no underlying problem, and about how to be a good conversationalist, were excellent. But it did feel like treasure-hunting in a sewer: the presence of gold doesn’t eliminate the abundance of shit).

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      • Links to gold? (or if a linkback is asking for trouble, just a useful search string) Don’t want to slog through shit if I can help it. Much appreciated.

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        • Jadagul says:

          I can link a couple. But:

          Warning: the following links feature incredibly misogynistic language. And misogynistic thought. They’re fairly unpleasant. If you can filter out the misogyny, they also feature real insight.

          How to deal with someone who’s crying and you can’t fix the problem/there isn’t a real problem: http://heartiste.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/what-to-do-when-a-girl-starts-crying-for-no-reason/

          I can’t find the other article I was thinking of–it may not be on the internet any more, or my google-fu may just be too weak, sorry. The bit that stands out in my mind is pointing out a common conversational strategy flaw. Most people treat conversations essentially as hunting for openings to say things–you wait until your partner says something that reminds you of something you want to talk about, and then you talk about whatever it is, regardless of how actually relevant it is. I think the example was something like:

          “Her [describing a trip to Hawai’i]: And then we went scuba diving. It was wonderful, so peaceful just floating there under the water.

          Him [excitedly]: yeah, I love scuba diving! I went with my friends and we spent an hour chasing each other around and trying to grab fish!”

          “Him” has committed a major conversational foul and completely failed to pay attention to what “Her” is trying to communicate–rather than responding to what she thought was important and her feelings, he grabbed onto some topic that reminds him of something he cares about and started ranting about that instead.

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      • +1 to MMSL by Athol Kay. All the crunchy Game goodness with 95% less misogyny!

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Sometimes I feel that people who share your attitude defend the 100% to then get the 5%. Because the 5% is nice isn’t it? Waving a stick around as an external boundary is more pleasant than establishing intristic boundaries and eliminating the stink of neediness within yourself, right? You never wanted the 100%, you’re not an awful person, you don’t really care what you believe about women in general as long as you get the nice, convenient, useful alief at a discount. It’s so arduous being everything that’s good (and I’m saying this in a fully general sense, incl. normatively – actually good) about the cool attractive bad boy jerk, but doing some of the things he does gets you where you want. Who cares if you end up viewing your connection as a series of power contests and transactions instead of a process of relation, right?

          Fuck this motherfucking shit. I have never talked to anyone about my parents’ marriage and I’m not going to start now… but I know all too personally what’s wrong here.

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          • Emile says:

            Multiheaded: you should know that I find your arguments hard to follow and not usually worth the trouble, probably because of the excess sarcasm (and maybe anger). You might be overestimating how much other people understand what you mean (whether or not they agree with it), and might want to tone down the sarcasm (that is, if you care about people understanding what you say).

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          • Randy M says:

            But if he’s incomprehensible his consuming rage may–for all we know–very well be justified, if we were just savvy enough to pierce the veil.

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          • cpopell says:

            I have no idea what you’re saying about boundaries. Could you get to the point and make a declarative statement, please?

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          • Faul_Sname says:

            I think I can translate (correct me if my translation is wrong).

            All of these resources tell you what external behaviors you need to exhibit (act like that attractive bad boy jerk) to get the results you want (get a date). The beliefs you (profess to) have don’t matter as long as you act the right way — except that if you are playing the role of attractive bad boy, you start thinking “what does attractive bad boy do here.” When that happens, you start treating human interaction as a competitive game or contest, and lose many of the benefits of that interaction.

            Multiheaded is saying that his parents exhibited that behavior, and he does not want to go down that path. Having gone some of the way down that path myself, I agree somewhat with his judgement there (with the caveat that you must realize that your decision not to treat human interaction as a contest does not affect other peoples’ decisions, and many of the people you interact with will be treating it as a competition).

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Faul Sname:
            Just out of interest, what benefits of the interaction do you think you lose when you start treating it as a competitive game? I ask this because when I started treating life as a game and transferred my competitiveness from winning at videogames to winning at life, many areas of my life improved rather dramatically and I haven’t felt like I’m missing out on much.

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          • Matthew says:

            It matters whether the game you think you are playing is Super Mario Brothers or Mortal Kombat. Treating life as a series of challenges to overcome is different from treating it as a series of zero-sum duels in which you must stomp the other participants underfoot as you climb.

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          • Jadagul says:

            Game, like any social skill, is about deciding what sort of person you want to become.

            The best parts of game–becoming emotionally stable and successful, learning how to pay attention to other people’s feelings, learning how to make other people feel good to be around you–can also just be described as “being a better person.” It’s amazing how much of game is prefigured in “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” for instance.

            But you have to decide which person you actually want to be; there are game techniques that are probably effective but would make me into a person I wouldn’t like. So I don’t use them.

            I like the Mario Brothers vs Mortal Kombat analogy; I’d even extend it to racing games. You can play a racing game as a competition against your friends. Or as a competition against the computer. Or you can just try to get the best time you can get, and you’re really competing against yourself. I want to be the best person I can be. And some game sites have been really helpful at that for me.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            Is this gibberish/Marxism? It made no sense.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Out of curiosity, Scott, when people turned the “shut up you entiteld rapist shitlord” cannon against you, did this happen outside the internet, or on an internet forum?

    (I ask because typically emotionally traumatizing events happen “IRL”, from which I infer this happened IRL, which leads me to wonder if my experience of almost no one I meet in real life being at all familiar with any of these memes is somehow atypical)

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    • Anonymous says:

      Also, generalizing from all the smart, upper-class, high IQ, kind men I know, I suspect that the statistical links between being smart, upper-class, nice, etc and virginity have a lot to do with those types of men being more picky in mate choice and generally more sociosexually restricted.

      And while niceness and sociosexually restricted personalities might be biological thing to some extent, what else do you expect in a society where kids are told to wait before having sex? “Good” boys who listen to mom and dad and come from nice families tend to imbibe the values of self restraint and caution. “Bad” boys who don’t care what authority figures say, or who come from broken homes, will tend to follow their instincts, have sex with all willing parties, and be more bold in pursuit of sex. They’ll also know girls who grew up in similar circumstances and behave similarly, unlike their upper class counterparts.

      (Keep in mind, if you’re male and have or would ever turn down casual sex for any reason, you’re already more sociosexually restricted than “Henry”.)

      I’m not proposing an alternative to the whole dominance heirarchy theory here, btw…it’s totally true that dominance, power, and status is attractive to women. I’m only saying that core personality differences are just a very tiny part of the explanations behind the differing sexual histories of Barry and Henry. It’s got a lot more to do with their respective demographics.

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      • Liskantope says:

        Yes, I completely agree with the above. There are probably a lot of factors behind the correlation between being a nice, academically motivated, “follow the rules” kind of guy and losing one’s virginity at a later age. It may be that the main cause of both conditions is a particular socioeconomic background. Also, I’m sure that the amount of time the average MIT graduate student spends studying is very directly related to their relative lack of a social life. But I will leave it to someone who is better with statistics and knows where to find the most useful relevant studies to unpack all the possible mechanics governing this correlation.

        I will say that from my own experience that I do think that most straight women are attracted to guys who are kind and considerate, rather than those who tend towards the opposite. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that for whatever reason, kindness and consideration oftentimes go hand in hand with awkwardness and lack of confidence, and the latter traits are generally not attractive to women. It is a problem not only for the kind but awkward men looking to date women, but also for women who are seeking long-term (male) partners.

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        • orangecat says:

          There are probably a lot of factors behind the correlation between being a nice, academically motivated, “follow the rules” kind of guy and losing one’s virginity at a later age.

          Definitely. The best advice I could give my 18-year-old self would be “go to parties, hit on girls, and learn to enjoy drinking”. I think that would produce more of an increase in my lifetime subjective well-being than even “buy AAPL at 20”. (Assuming I’d listen to myself, which I probably wouldn’t).

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            I can’t imagine how one would learn to enjoy drinking.

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          • Icicle says:

            Is that because alcohol tastes terrible, or because alcohol makes you feel terrible?

            (If the first, really fruity drinks are the way to go)

            (If the second, just act silly around drunk people. They won’t know)

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            C) People acting drunk terrify me.

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          • Harald K says:

            Well, it may be a little better than getting in fights and using a weapon, but I still think it shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t – or more importantly, my kids shouldn’t – have to become heavy drinkers to avoid loneliness.

            Anyway, I think it’s just a sliding scale from this to PUA stuff – stuff that works, that’s not the problem, but are you sure you want to turn yourself into that?

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          • Randall Randall says:

            In my personal experience, after getting progressively more inebriated five to ten times, you start to enjoy the lower stages of inebriation more. It’s like learning to enjoy spicy food, or anything else, really. After a couple of bad experiences, I didn’t drink again until my late 30s, and had a fear of losing control that sounds similar (to me).

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          • orangecat says:

            I shouldn’t – or more importantly, my kids shouldn’t – have to become heavy drinkers to avoid loneliness.

            Right, and that’s sort of my point. My strong preference is to not drink at all, and to avoid social situations where it’s a prominent activity. If I moved half a standard deviation toward the mean in that regard, I’d still be drinking less than average, but I’d be more comfortable participating in a wider range of activities and potentially meeting more people.

            “Study less, party more, and get drunk” is terrible advice for the average teenager. For shy geeks, it may be exactly correct.

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          • peterdjones says:

            There’s different kinds of drink, drinking and drunkenness. For some people, drunken behaviour is falling asleep, ,or crying , or explaining their theory of the universe. In anywhere reasonably large, the belligerent beer swillers fraction off from the lachrymose whisky drinkers, the pretentious wine bibbers and so on.

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        • Army1987 says:

          Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that for whatever reason, kindness and consideration oftentimes go hand in hand with awkwardness and lack of confidence,

          I think something like Berkson’s paradox (see “Searching For One-Sided Tradeoffs” on this blog) might be happening: even if among the general population kindness and consideration weren’t actually correlated with awkwardness and lack of confidence, they still would be among single guys, as the ones who are kind and considerate but non-awkward and confident tend to be already taken.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            This. Once I built confidence, became less awkward and shifted social group, I was suddenly in relationships, pretty consistently, where I had been single pretty consistently to that point. Those people I know/knew who were neither awkward nor confident had periods of singledom, but always gravitated into relationships eventually.

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          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not sure if this applies in this specific case, but thank you so much for linking that!

            I now understand why everyone in my college who I’d suspect of being a genius (n=3) has either been an unmotivated slacker or had learning disabilities. They all have ceiling standardized test scores, tons of accomplishments outside of school … and terrible grades.

            …I think I’m just going to go ahead and read everything Scott has written, ever.

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          • Anon says:

            That’s a great insight and I thank you for it.

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          • Paul Torek says:

            @ Anonymous: Yep, reading everything Scott ever wrote is a great idea.

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      • TepidlyAlice says:

        I disagree with this idea. I think there are few things that a college aged virgin wants more than sex, and upholding the vague ideas of purity his parents taught on him isn’t one of them.

        I would agree that yes, Smart Nice Guy (lets call him Sam) is pickier than Henry when it comes to women he’d date. However I think this mainly manifests in who Sam socializes with. He is pickier in his friend choices not in who he dates among his friends.

        Really to say that this is causal reason Sam is not getting dates, you would have to show that Henry knowsway more people that he would like to have a relationship with than Sam, which I don’t think is true. This statement can not be true even while the statement “Henry would date any girl Sam would date, but Sam wouldn’t date most of the girls Henry would date” is.

        And the idea that Smart people are significantly less sociosexual on average seems tentative at best. Again, there are few things that a college aged virgin desires more than sex. Is virgin Sam likely to turn down reasonably attractive acquaintance Jessica if she explicitly asks if he wants to be in an intimate relationship with her? Probably not.

        Telling virgin Sam the reason no girls are attracted to him is because he is too picky and not sociosexual enough is one of the worst things you can say to Sam, and totally missing the underlying cause of his plight.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I disagree with this idea. I think there are few things that a college aged virgin wants more than sex, and upholding the vague ideas of purity his parents taught on him isn’t one of them.

          Hello Typical Mind! My name is Brent. We haven’t met.

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        • Icicle says:

          I don’t think it’s that smart people have a lower sex drive, I think it’s that smart people don’t know what the social scripts around sex are. It’s the difference between someone walking towards a pond and a fish flopping in every direction to get to the pond. The second one expends more effort to get to the same place, and often doesn’t even go in the right direction.

          I feel like I know many of the social scripts around friendship, and some of the unspoken rules of being in a relationship, but How the hell do you ask someone for sex? I mean, if you have been in a relationship for a while, I guess the topic comes up eventually, but the concept of not knowing someone and saying things that lead to having sex (aka hookup culture) produces the exact sort of bewildered incomprehension as an AI box experiment win. I can’t think of any combination of words that could possibly do that and it resembles some sort of witchcraft. How is it possible to ask someone for sex and not have it be horribly awkward and get instantaneously shot down in the absence of a multi-month relationship with that person?

          (Of course, it’s certainly doable, because people do it all the time, but people who listened to the “be nice to them” paradigm and actually took it seriously are the people who never developed this ability.)

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          • teldari says:

            Chiming in as a stereotypically smart guy to offer another data point and second basically all of the above. In my case, I’d also add equal incomprehension regarding how you even ask someone on a date.
            (Or rather, the Internet has kindly furnished me with some quantities of scripts [read prototypical ways of indicating interest within a social context], but it has also made it quite clear that there is no universal script and that each only works with/will be understood and accepted by certain types of people (assuming first that they reciprocate your interest, of course) and that working out which is which is yet another fun game of incomprehension so at this point I’ve mostly given up.
            It also probably doesn’t help that I have no idea how you work out when you want to ask someone out in the first place, so whee)
            This is, I think, one of those (social) situations where having too much metacognition can actually fuck you over. ie, the world belongs to those who have enough metacognition to notice interesting things and come up with novel ideas but not enough metacognition to second-guess those ideas to oblivion (this is, I think, me rediscovering analysis paralysis due to sleeplessness)

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          • Icicle says:

            It might just be me, but I’ve folded “hanging out with friends” and “date” into the same mental bin. Both of them involve doing some interesting activity with someone you enjoy the presence of and plan to get to know better. So in a conversation, just ask “Hey, I will be doing X at time Y. Would you be interested in coming along?” Much lower-stress than asking someone on a date, wields preexisting friend scripts, and if they decline, you can always ask a different friend to come instead. It isn’t called a date, but it is a de facto date, and if they ask whether it is a date, say yes.

            However, looking back on my life, calling something a date and making the romantic interest more explicit might be necessary for a relationship. Actually, I bet this “date” script explains why I have such a distorted girl friend:girlfriend ratio.

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          • KJbGcX says:

            I’ll share what I have been able to figure out of these social scripts. These aren’t necessarily the only ways to accomplish these tasks.

            To ask someone out for a date, say “We should hang out some time. Want to give me your phone number?” Then as they are putting their number in to your phone, ask them if they’re more of a texting kind of person or a voice kind of person (assuming you’re equally comfortable with either. Personally I prefer voice because texting sucks up my attention when I’m trying to do other stuff. If you going to actually call her, maybe say when you’ll call, e.g. “I’ll call you around 6 PM on X day” so her phone won’t be off at that time (assuming she actually wants to take your call).)

            To have sex with someone, put yourself in a context where you are both consuming alcohol. (Go to a bar, a party, or just buy beer from the liquor store on your way to the park.) As you’re hanging out with them, “accidentally” touch them a fair amount by brushing the side of your body against theirs, e.g. when you are walking together or sitting together. Pay attention to the way they respond to these touches. If they seem to shy away, slow down. If they don’t shy away, you’re good. Try to have a good time talking to the person and breathe long slow exhales to calm yourself down. As you feel comfortable doing it, gradually escalate touching by putting your arm around your date, resting your hand on her leg, etc. Eventually find an excuse to go somewhere more private where you can make out. (Examples: “want to go check out that grove of trees over there?” (incidentally one of the darkest groves of trees), “want to go take a walk outside?” (then we walked around behind the bar we were in and made out), etc.) Having interesting things you can show people in your room is useful, for instance.

            Having sex is kinda the same way: once you’re in your room alone, continue to make out, take off your shirt, and gradually touch her more and more until you’re having sex (backing off if she seems uncomfortable).

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          • someone says:

            Well, if you’re curious, here’s my one-night-stand script for use at parties or other events where alcohol is consumed. I am a straight female.

            1) Pick a guy who is reasonably attractive

            2) Go start a conversation, same way you’d start a conversation with anyone you just met

            3) Simply talk for a few minutes. If he seems creepy, abort mission. Otherwise, continue to step 4.

            4) Keep talking, but now do it while touching his hand/arm, and keeping your face a bit closer to his than is generally considered approppiate. This nonverbally communicates wanting to kiss while maintaining plausible deniablity in case he simply wanted to talk.

            5) Make out. This part is pretty fun in itself, so it goes on for a while.

            6) At some point, one of you can ask a question in the vein of “Your place or my place?”, “Wanna go someplace more secluded?”, etc.

            7) You go to that place and have sex.

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          • Jadagul says:

            Credentials: I was a very smart guy, first kiss in my sophomore year of college, hit 22 and grad school with no sex; in the six years since then I’ve had double digits of sexual partners and have turned down several more, in an accelerating fashion (that is, I had three or four partners between 22 and 25, and I’ve had eight or so new ones since then). First some analysis, then some quasi-scripts.

            My first observation is that I had way more opportunities for sex than I realized in high school and college. Like, situations that in retrospect were one step away from the girl saying “I’m really horny and attracted to you; please have sex with me now.” One of the major skills in getting-laid, and especially in getting one night stands, is being aware of what other people are thinking.

            Another skill is the just-going-for-it skill. There were a few cases where I probably could have had sex and even knew that, but I either wanted to be cautious with my own emotional health or with that of my partner. Slightly graphic example: a girl I’d known and crushed on for a year, we were both tipsy, we wound up making out, then naked in bed, and she was rubbing her genitals on mine while saying “I really don’t want to have sex tonight” over and over. We didn’t have sex. Partly because I wasn’t ready yet (see previous paragraph) and partly because while I probably could have talked her into it, I would have felt like a terrible person. Henry probably doesn’t have this problem, which is part of why he gets laid more.

            For the social scripts: it’s a dance of signalling interest and reading the other person’s signals. Importantly, there’s a general acceptance that if you signal interest in romance/sex in clear but deniable ways, then as long as you don’t suffer from already being labeled as creepy, people generally won’t call you out on it. (So “would you like to have sex?” can get you in trouble; “would you like to see my room” will get you in less trouble; “would you like to have dinner at my place” still less trouble). The fact that from a Bayesian perspective you’re sending a lot of information is irrelevant; what’s important is that you don’t say it explicitly out loud.

            The rest of the signalling game mostly revolves around personal space. Most people keep a fairly large personal bubble. By the time you’re having sex with someone, you tend to have basically no bubble between you and them. The seduction/hookup interaction is driven by a gradual erosion of the bubble. You signal interest by standing a bit too close, paying a bit too much attention, and touching people.

            Start all this gradually. One way to be “creepy” is to collapse the other person’s bubble too fast. So start by standing a couple inches too close, or by touching the person on the forearm. Forearm touches are safe. The important thing is to read the other person’s body language. People who are comfortable with you will
            (1) not move away
            (2) orient their torsos towards you
            (3) make eye contact, sometimes break it by looking down
            (4) not fold their arms or cross their legs.

            People who are uncomfortable will move away, turn their torsos away, avoid eye contact by looking up or to the side, and hunch their limbs in like they’re trying to protect their head and abdomen from an attack. Obviously these are ends of a spectrum, and there’s some fine judgment in the middle which is hard to explain, but these are the signs to look for.

            Probably the most reliable basic one is (2); it’s really, really hard to keep your torso oriented towards someone you don’t like. Next time you’re talking to someone moderately annoying, try to face them full on. See how psychologically difficult it is. The same is true in reverse. If you ever wind up talking to someone who’s turned away and talking to you over their shoulder, they’re really trying to leave and you should let them.

            So: give a light touch, then see how they respond. If they respond with comfort signals, you can escalate a bit more. If they respond with discomfort signals, slow down or abort. And you can just keep gradually escalating (this list is off the top of my head, no guarantee it’s precisely accurate, and adjust to taste, but it’s in roughly the right order I think):

            (1) brief forearm touch
            (2) brief shoulder or outer thigh touch
            (3) more sustained contact on arm or leg
            (4) holding hand
            (5) cuddling, arm around shoulders (I find it helpful to give a quick side hug in response to something they say, see if they try to move back out or if they want to stay in my arm)
            (6) full-body cuddling, touching abdomen
            (7) touching back of the head, touching face, kissing
            (8) touching breasts if they have them. Around this point you should probably try to find a private location.

            Quick edit: this doesn’t touch on how to be attractive. Just tools for figuring out whether someone right now is attracted to you right now, and what they’re interested in doing about it. The most important part is the “watching for whether they send interest signals or avoidance signals”.

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          • Army1987 says:

            @Jadagul: You might want to find a private location before touching breasts. OTOH touching buttocks in public can be OK.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            “How the hell do you ask someone for sex?”

            Get to know someone a little bit – to the point where, running into them on a street corner/at a party, you’d say “Hi”, but not necessarily any more.
            Next time you know them, ask them to go and do a thing. Coffee/lunch is a good one if you have budget and daytime. Pub/cocktails is a good one if you drink. Museum/exhibition is good if you’re in a city. Exhibitions are particularly good, because there *will* be one that just opened you can suggest as new to both of you. If you’re on a campus or similar, hanging out watching [TV thing you both like] is a good cheap bet.
            When this is done, suggest that it was fun, you should do it again. Unless somebody else crashed it, this was your first date with that person.
            You then, as soon as the next opportunity arises (I would suggest ASAP), arrange to do another thing, of a different kind. If this one is going well, make a location shift (e.g. meet at a cafe, have a drink, go to a museum to look at stuff, then suggest going to get a drink/have dinner/go back to yours and let you cook/whatever). Then at some point when the two of you are physically close, either:
            A) kiss this person. Recommendation from personal experience is a firm, mouth-closed kiss for a few seconds, then withdrawal. If you have judged the moment right, your date will probably kiss you back.
            B) ask if you can kiss this person. Sounds a bit awkward, but in all honesty, if someone wants to kiss you they’ll probably excuse the momentary awkwardness and go for it.

            The main reason why I developed this pattern is that kissing unequivocably puts some kind of physical intimacy on the table, but very few people (none in my experience) react so badly to one closed-mouth kiss that there’s a high risk to it. All you’re really risking is the acquaintanceship, and if you really like the person you’ve just crashed and burned trying to kiss, you’ll be able to salvage things.
            And once you’re kissing, progressing to sex is just a matter of more kissing, “um, do you wanna?” *vague gesture elsewhere*, more kissing, offer to take back to “see [Example of Cool Thing At Your Place]” (Red Dwarf the sci fi comedy series has worked for me here), etc. After you have a willing attractive partner who is kissing you at your place, if you can’t manage to have sex…well, keep trying, either with that person or another person, because even if you can’t figure it out sooner or later one of them will crack and initiate it.

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          • Liskantope says:

            In response to Icicle’s last comment (not able to reply directly to it):

            In the past few years, I have generally been following the same approach of initiating a vaguely date-like one-on-one event while keeping the exact nature of said event ambiguous. I find it to be a less stressful way to get to know someone, not only when I’m unsure of their level of romantic interest, but when I’m not even sure how romantically interested I am in them. Several notes from my own experience trying this: (1) I’ve never been asked whether or not this is a date; (2) this method has resulted in exactly zero relationships; (3) this method has also resulted in exactly zero drama and pretty minimally awkward situations with said women. Make of that what you will.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            So: give a light touch, then see how they respond. If they respond with comfort signals, you can escalate a bit more. If they respond with discomfort signals, slow down or abort. And you can just keep gradually escalating (this list is off the top of my head, no guarantee it’s precisely accurate, and adjust to taste, but it’s in roughly the right order I think):

            “Give a light touch”? Are you fucking kidding? This is how creepy Nice Guys get maced.

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          • Error says:

            2) Go start a conversation, same way you’d start a conversation with anyone you just met

            This is the part that feels most like black magic to me. I have no idea how to start a conversation with a stranger.

            The fact that from a Bayesian perspective you’re sending a lot of information is irrelevant; what’s important is that you don’t say it explicitly out loud.

            This seems to be a common theme in socialization, and it drives me absolutely batshit insane. There is something offensive to the intellect in the idea that there are things that are OK to communicate but not OK to just say. 🙁

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          • Jadagul says:

            Army: true. I blame the time I was posting.

            Ialdabaoth: no, I’m not kidding. Note that a light touch isn’t the start of the interaction. If you’re chatting with someone and he/she seems comfortable, then you move closer a bit, and/or briefly touch their forearm. If they look uncomfortable before you touch them, then don’t do it. Like I said, the most important part of any of this is being sensitive to and aware of other people’s feelings.

            Also like I said–I didn’t discuss any of the things that make you more attractive. None of this solves the “people think I’m creepy and/or unattractive and are completely uninterested in me” problem. It solves the “people are potentially interested in me, but I have no idea how to get from there to sex” problem.

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          • stille says:

            Ialdabaoth: The vast majority of women don’t respond to light touches on forearm, shoulder etc, even from extremely creepy guys, with physical assault. If you’re referring to something that actually happened, I’d think it was either an extremely unlikely encounter with someone way off charts, or more to the situation than you mentioned

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          • > The vast majority of women don’t respond to light touches on forearm,
            > shoulder etc, even from extremely creepy guys, with physical assault.

            If I were snarkier, here I’d insert “check your privilege”: you are correct that women don’t do this to high status men, and you are entirely blind to how they treat low status men; I think you simply wouldn’t notice this if it happened near you.

            (I’ll note that screaming “Ew, you creep, get off me!” and relying on some combination of social shaming & outsourcing violence to nearby men is much more common, but it does happen.)

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        • Anonymous says:

          >Telling virgin Sam the reason no girls are attracted to him is because he is too picky and not sociosexual enough is one of the worst things you can say to Sam, and totally missing the underlying cause of his plight.

          You misunderstand me. I’m not talking about sam-who-complains-about-being-a-virgin. His problem is probably that he doesn’t know enough women or is not attractive to women, not that he’s too picky.

          I’m talking about the *other* hundreds of Sams who create the results that we’re citing which show that certain positive qualities correlate with virginity.

          I exist, and while I am admittedly a little unusual as per the general population, I’m downright neurotypical compared to most SSC readers. I had a wide social circle in college, I like drinking and dancing, and I really like sex. I am tall, confident, kind, and consider myself attractive – the only thing that might make women not like me is that I’m part of an ethnic minority and that I do not dress stylishly or otherwise care to maintain my appearance.

          Through high school and college, I’ve turned down 1 offer of casual sex because the girl had a boyfriend, 2 offers of casual sex because I knew the girls who were offering were insecure and using me for validation, and 2 opportunities for drunken sex because I’m generally scared of mixing alcohol strangers and consent.

          I’ve also refused 3 women who wanted a relationship with me because they weren’t the personality type I was looking for. I’ve only actually had sex and a relationship with one person.

          People like me exist. I can’t possibly be the only man who was a virgin for much longer than I strictly needed to me. And why did I stay a virgin longer? Probably because I was raised to be careful and cautious, hyper-aware of moral gray areas, and consistently got the message that sex is supposed to be about love while growing up (even though I don’t necessarily believe that now).

          I know other people like me exist, and are probably driving at least some of the statistics that say that smart, nice, educated people stay virgins longer. I bet the link is even stronger among areas where people have strong religious upbringings, and so get the cultural messages in praise of restricted sociosexuality even more strongly.

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        • Nornagest says:

          I think there are few things that a college aged virgin wants more than sex, and upholding the vague ideas of purity his parents taught on him isn’t one of them.

          Well, it probably doesn’t have as much to do with parents per se as with a confusing melange of cultural influences many of which come from peers. And I don’t think it has much to do with purity in the conventional sense. But I get the impression that upholding the sociosexual norms they’ve internalized — I don’t think “standards” is the right word — is in most cases not something that retiring college-aged male virgins want to do.

          Harboring those norms doesn’t feel like checking off a list of criteria, like being picky in terms of partners, or like policing oneself to avoid sin. (Though religiously motivated abstinence may be different. I speak from observation of a secular type.) It doesn’t take effort. It functions at a much deeper level than that, and I think the basic mechanisms at work are inexperience and learned helplessness.

          Our type specimen for college-aged hetero male virginity — let’s call him Poindexter — is likely, by college, to have friends who are more sexually successful than he. He’ll probably know plenty of women, many of whom he will find attractive, and he might even be physically attractive himself. He may or may not have hangups about partying; if he does, it doesn’t improve his chances, but I don’t see that as central.

          What Poindexter definitely won’t have by college is a picture of himself as part of normal sexual interaction. He’ll have no idea how to flirt. He won’t be good at picking up indicators of female interest, or at making his own interests known in an elegant way. He probably will be picky in mate choice, but his preferences will be fuzzy and fantasy-driven: if he’s a geek (not all Poindexters are), for example, he may be be looking for geek girls of a very restricted type and won’t bother to explore interests, even internally, in any others. He probably thinks of himself as boyfriend material in an abstract sense, but he won’t think of himself concretely as a potential boyfriend. Depending on temperament he may never express romantic interest, or he may make clumsy, doomed passes at any woman that catches his eye.

          None of this is coincidence. This is precisely the role that Poindexters are taught to occupy in our society, and growing out of it is mostly a matter of taking off the blinders — or of getting very lucky.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Why does our society train Poindexters to occupy a sexless role? What does it benefit society to have such a group of men existing?

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          • Nornagest says:

            Cynical answer: Society isn’t an agent, it’s a collection of agents. It may very well benefit the people doing the teaching for there to be a class of sexless men floating around, e.g. by leaving more unattached women for them to choose from. Most socialization gets done by peers, and cool people, having more friends, probably do more socializing. It’s unlikely that they do this consciously, of course, but it’s sufficient for there to be no incentive against bad advice.

            Less cynical answer: Society’s not an agent, it’s a dumb optimization process that occasionally gets stuck in local optima. We might be looking at a confluence of trends that’s locally destructive but will get selected away in the long run. I’ve read things from the Fifties and earlier suggesting that this pattern basically didn’t exist back then.

            Wildly speculative Vasserian answer: Sublimation’s really important in sexual dynamics. People in general might end up benefiting in some way from a class of men who’re more or less forced into celibacy and sublimate their urges into other things: compare monastic culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Resistance to a particular form of this would be expected to evolve over time, of course, but it’d stay good until then.

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          • The_Duck says:

            @Anonymous: I don’t think society is training anyone to be sexless, rather it’s failing to teach some people how to be sexual.

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      • MugaSofer says:

        >Keep in mind, if you’re male and have or would ever turn down casual sex for any reason, you’re already more sociosexually restricted than “Henry”.

        This seems plausible, but is it true?

        Men do seem to have a high prior probability of being open to casual sex, so we technically have have a high prior on Henry being open to it – based on his gender. But does anyone have any evidence for or against the proposition that “nice guys” are exceptionally unlikely to be open to casual sex?

        Because that’s what this theory implies, IIUC. The fact that the entire PUA movement is based around casual sex seems like weak evidence against this hypothesis, but it should be testable.

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      • Deiseach says:

        I agree with that: what type of women is Henry marrying/screwing? Are they the type of women you would be interested in yourself? Would you marry any of Henry’s exes or potential new Mrs Henrys?

        Yes? Then try hooking up with the ex-Mrs Henry (you know she’ll be available soon).

        No? If no, then you’re not complaining about like for like; what you really mean is “Why aren’t the women I would be interested in as lacking in choosiness as the kind of women Henry gets?” and the answer may be “Because they’re not as desperate”.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I’ve tried hooking up with ex-Mrs Henry; she immediately latches onto me as a source of comfort and support and safety while she moves onto the next Henry (who then proceeds to bully me, or more often just steal/destroy my property and then actually threaten my life with a loaded weapon).

          I’ve tried this several times with a few different ex-Mrs Henrys, and I can attest that there’s a Pattern there.

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          • Joe says:

            Ex-Mrs Henry’s are to be avoided at all costs. I have dated them and believe me it is a nightmare no matter how attractive they are. They maybe less violent then Henry but they love the drama and are just as idiotic. They will only embarrass you in front of friends and family.

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          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            To be clear, not all abuse victims are Mrs. Henry (I can testify to the existence of at least one).

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        • Jake says:

          Can we please call Mrs. Henry by her own name, Anne?

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      • Lesser Bull says:

        Personally I think the big problem is that straight arrow guys don’t have any manly things to do. They’d do great at it. There’s a famous Civil War letter talking about how all the diffident shopkeepers were the ones at the front of the charge spearing bayonets over the enemy parapet, while the toughs and bully boys were found skulking back in the woods after with their pants wet from piss. But modern life doesn’t give them any opportunities for it. I’m pretty sure that’s at least half of the explanation for the modern Mormon marriage mojo: they send the kids on missions which are tough and nasty.

        Anyone who thinks about it for more than two seconds should see that straight women want *men*, and vice versa. Which means that in addition to their other good qualities, men need something manly going, and women something feminine. “Nice guys” tend to be score high as generic mate choices but they haven’t made the jump to scoring high as *male* mate choices.

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        • Anonymous says:

          In general on this topic, anyone who has thought about it for two seconds hasn’t thought about it enough.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            As far as I can tell, though, most people haven’t thought about it for two seconds.

            Put differently: you have to think a long time to arrive at two-second observations because of the cloud of nonsense you have to clear away first. You spend most of your time getting back to zero.

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        • Hanfeizi says:

          “I’m pretty sure that’s at least half of the explanation for the modern Mormon marriage mojo: they send the kids on missions which are tough and nasty.”

          Good point. One of the truly nicest guys I know is a Mormon (in fact, he won an award at my business school for being the nicest guy on campus), and he’s also very happily married to an extremely pretty (and equally Mormon) woman. He got one of the comparatively easy mission assignments- Japan- but I’m sure that being sent to an extremely unfamiliar environment of any sort, on your own, at the age of 19 definitely has a toughening effect.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            Japan is a pretty tough mission in Mormon terms. What you get in sanitation and modern conveniences you lose in language and culture shocks and difficulty in proselyting Christianity.

            But most of the difficulty of missions is inherent. They have quasi-monastic/eremetical rules.

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      • Hanfeizi says:

        I would also mention that a pretty good proportion of those high-IQ MIT grad students come from societies where virginity until marriage, or something close to it, is still practiced by the upper middle classes- like China and India.

        (My own wife, a very attractive Chinese woman from a good family, with an advanced degree from a European university, was a virgin until the age of 28. She didn’t even start dating until 27. This is not terribly uncommon in China or other Asian countries.)

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  4. coffeespoons says:

    I am single and female and I really wish I could find guys like Barry more attractive. Unfortunately I can’t force myself to be attracted to decent but low status/awkward men* :(. If I could it would be pretty easy for me to find a long-term partner. The next best thing would be for these men to make themselves more attractive. I think some of the less evil PUA techniques might even work on me.

    I think it may well be correct that helpful information for Barry type guys only exists in the manosphere. However, I’m unconvinced that it’s easy to avoid the poisonous views. I think decent men can certainly avoid turning in to Heartiste, but I reckon it’s probably difficult to avoid picking up some unpleasant views.

    I am (I think, I hope) a relatively decent person and until fairly recently I held fairly unpleasant feminist views about nice guys etc. I never became a #killallmen type feminist, but I still ended up being nasty.

    *I really really can’t and it makes me unhappy.

    Edit: I’m not sure I’ve expressed myself terribly well here, and I’m happy to explain further if asked.

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    • orangecat says:

      “Unfortunately I can’t force myself to be attracted to decent but low status/awkward men”

      Exactly, and that’s what the non-misogynist parts of PUA theory teach. It’s not a woman’s fault for not being attracted to socially unskilled men, any more than it’s a man’s fault for not being attracted to overweight women.

      “I think some of the less evil PUA techniques might even work on me.”

      PUA is fundamentally about projecting higher status, so this is almost certainly true.

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      • coffeespoons says:

        Actually, attitudes regarding overweight women are one of the things that I worry about even decent men might picking from the manosphere. I agree that it’s true that being slimmer (within reason – catwalk model thin is probably too thin for most men) increases dating opportunities for women. However, I think there are a large number of men who are attracted to women in the overweight/mildly obese catagory (probably the number gets smaller the more overweight the women are). I can’t find any actual data on this, but er, this reddit thread backs up what I’m saying.

        Of course I don’t think that men should sleep with women they aren’t attracted to, but I think PUA types often shame men for dating overweight women, which seems really unpleasant. If men who are attracted to overweight women end up dating overweight women that is surely a good thing.

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        • orangecat says:

          If men who are attracted to overweight women end up dating overweight women that is surely a good thing.

          Absolutely, and I didn’t mean to imply that either of the tendencies I mentioned are or should be universal. (Fortunately for me, my last girlfriend didn’t mind that I don’t exactly exude social dominance).

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          • coffeespoons says:

            I should also add that I’m not only attracted to high status men. There are plenty of sort of medium status men I’m attracted to – beta males in PUA language I guess. I’m just not attracted to low status men. I know lots of low status men though, and if I were attracted to them it would be very easy for me to find a partner.

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          • coffeespoons says:

            Hmmm, let me change this, when I say “I’m not attracted to low status men”, what I really mean is “I don’t tend to be attracted to underconfident men who seem overeager around me.”

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        • Zorgon says:

          There are always outliers in attraction, though. I’ve met numerous women who had a strong attraction to nerdy, awkward “low status” men in preference to more stereotypically “high status” men. I think they’re pretty much directly analogous to men who are attracted to larger women.

          (As a note, in my experience, the former group have universally not been larger women. I figure that’s probably a fluke and is certainly irrelevant anyway.)

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          • coffeespoons says:

            I have a female friend with those preferences. I don’t really know a great deal about what women prefer, because as a single (and mostly heterosexual) woman finding out about male preferences is for obvious reasons more important to me.

            I don’t think being attracted to overweight* women all that unusual. I would be very surprised if less than 25% of the male population find overweight women attractive enough to want to sleep with. I expect the numbers are probably higher than that, and there are probably some men who are indifferent between overweight and slim women in terms of looks but want to date slim women for status reasons.

            IME people often have major typical mind fallacy about what they find attractive. Men who like to date larger women say that lots of other men feel the same way, and men who only like to date thin women often assume that other men can’t be attracted to fat women (see Heartiste). It’s possible that this is because they want their preferences to be high status.

            *Remember overweight is the average size of a woman in the UK and America, and often doesn’t look very big.

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          • Zorgon says:

            Given I have a slight preference for larger women myself, it’d be more likely to be overcompensation rather than typical mind. But I get your point.

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        • Matthew says:

          Having been defending the right to a preference for very-thin women in a previous thread, I would like to take the opportunity to distance myself from this PUA phenomenon I was not previously aware of.

          I believe that I should date thin women because that is what I’m attracted to, but I would never shame other men for having different preferences.

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          • coffeespoons says:

            I definitely agree that you should date the women you are attracted to!

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          • Alexander Stanislaw says:

            I’m baffled by shaming men who like overweight women. Its fantastic that we are all attracted to different kinds of people, if not then we would be all be in direct competition, and only a few people would be satisfied with their partner.

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          • Anonymous says:

            How is it baffling? You date – and, in fact, sleep with – people in part to give yourself nice things and in part to give yourself status. Men get little status from dating overweight women. Good solution is for people to stop worrying about status so much. And good luck implementing it. If you did, much about dating would be solved and at least a few of these lonely Barrys would be happier.

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          • Protagoras says:

            If a man had the goal of having more sex, it seems he should think well of sluts (likely to be helpful to him), and should be happy that people’s interests are diverse. If his goal is to impress people with his sexual successes, it is important that everyone should consider the women he succeeds with the desirable ones, and that the success not come too easily to all. Though not all men engage in slut-shaming and mockery of men with diverse tastes (and often such sentiments come from women), it seems common enough for me to conclude that there’s a significant number of men more interested in the status game than in the actual sex (as others have suggested in this lengthy discussion). But probably for most men it’s a little of both (people are complicated). For my part, I’m not immune to occasional thoughts about status, but I’m mostly interested in actual sex, and wouldn’t, for example, ever think of promiscuity as a flaw to be criticized. Since status is a zero-sum game, but it would be possible for the world to just have more sex for pleasure, I’m also inclined to consider sex for pleasure the morally preferable goal, but perhaps that is me rationalizing my preferences.

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          • Matthew says:

            @anonymous

            Holy crap, how many times am I going to have to post this rant?!

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          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t know, Matthew, but you might want to wait until the conversation is about you, since that’s the only time it’ll be relevant. Many straight men will date a high-status woman to increase their status for all sorts of other reasons. Perhaps they want to move on to even higher-status women. Perhaps there is some particular woman who is not so high status but is peculiarly interesting to them and they want to increase their status in that woman’s eyes. Perhaps they want the approval of parents, employers, or society as a whole.

            As for the shaming, use your imagination: I’m sure you can think of all sorts of reasons, sociological, economic, evo-psych, whatever, that a group of men would shame a member of the group for courting a low-status woman.

            None of them are good moral reasons. But to explain an action is not to defend it.

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          • Matthew says:

            To quote you: You date – and, in fact, sleep with – people in part to give yourself nice things and in part to give yourself status.

            It was a generic claim about men. I assert, as a male, that it is false. It’s rather cheeky to object that the conversation wasn’t about me.

            ETA: And while it appears to be replying to Alexander Stanislaw, it’s technically threaded directly under something I said. So doubly cheeky.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Then I phrased it poorly. I am also male and also like to think of myself as not particularly concerned with status.

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          • Matthew says:

            I am also male and also like to think of myself as not particularly concerned with status.

            This is not my claim. I assert that higher status is my instrumental goal and better mate(s) is my terminal goal, rather than the other way around.

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          • Anonymous says:

            You’re not interpreting my posts very charitably. I meant “concern” broadly, just as I meant “you” earlier to be “the typical person who is concerned in a deeper way with status”. You seem more interested in mocking up semantic issues and talking about yourself than investigating whether you and I actually disagree about anything (I’m still not sure if we do). So I will bow out of this subthread and try to use my words more carefully if I encounter you again.

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          • Alexander Stanislaw says:

            @Anonymous

            If you’re claiming that men are more likely to want to date women that other men consider attractive, then this is falsified by data. The opposite is true. Men are more likely to date women that they expect other men to find _unattractive_.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Exactly, and that’s what the non-misogynist parts of PUA theory teach. It’s not a woman’s fault for not being attracted to socially unskilled men, any more than it’s a man’s fault for not being attracted to overweight women.

        Well, given that if I don’t personally find overweight women attractive I am a fat-shaming shitlord, I’m not sure that that’s a valid metaphor. I’ve definitely been told that it isn’t a woman’s fault for being attracted to socially unskilled men, but I’ve also definitely been told that it’s my fault if I’m not attracted to overweight women.

        (I have even been told, when I was dating thinner girls, that it was my fault for not encouraging them to gain weight.)

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        • Slow Learner says:

          (I have even been told, when I was dating thinner girls, that it was my fault for not encouraging them to gain weight.)

          :O

          Now I really have heard everything.

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        • Army1987 says:

          (I have even been told, when I was dating thinner girls, that it was my fault for not encouraging them to gain weight.)

          How much thinner?

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        • MugaSofer says:

          I’ve seen it claimed that men are at fault for not being attracted to (some) women. I’ve also seen it claimed that women are at fault for being less attracted to some men, that women are not at fault, and that men are not at fault.

          I think it just depends on who you’re asking – some people are just more tolerant along either or both axes.

          (Incidentally, is it me or is this whole conversation oddly heteronormative? I’m surprised SJW can discuss it without opening themselves to attack.)

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          • Luke Somers says:

            I think it’s less of an issue for homosexual partner-searches because you are in the same general category as those you’re looking for. Variations exist, of course, so it won’t vanish entirely, but you don’t have the vast chasm of ‘different sex’ to model across.

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        • Were you actually told to encourage them to gain weight, or were you told to encourage them to stop dieting?

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            They very obviously weren’t dieting.

            In fact, occasionally they were told to stop dieting in the midst of consuming a large dessert, after a full meal.

            When I was pulled aside I was told to “make sure she gains some weight, she looks unhealthy”. (She obviously had a reasonable amount of body fat and well-defined muscles, and could easily lift and carry me.)

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          • coffeespoons says:

            @Ialdabaoth sometimes average looking women are threatened by women who are more attractive/successful with men than them; similarly geeky men are often threatened by jock type men. I suspect this is often behind “thin shaming.”

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          • Anonymous says:

            And what does mainstream feminism say about the threatened women? It says “Everyone is beautiful inside.” You get your marvelous Dove campaigns which you then criticize for not going far enough and then you get your men who write about preferring curvier women and then there’s a whole counter-shaming phenomenon and everyone has their little community.

            The “nice guys” who don’t understand why the “Henry”-style jocks are still desirable despite being everything women profess to hate? Pilloried on all sides, by men and women alike, and accused of “male privilege” – them, not the jocks! That’s what this thread is about.

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          • BenSix says:

            Ialdabaoth – You deserve better friends.

            Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Eh, I’m conflated about such statements; they really were great people, all in all. They were the smartest, most compassionate, and most *interesting* pool available in Phoenix in the 2000’s.

            Maybe if I ever move to San Francisco I’ll change my mind, but my current theory is “everyone is like this to some extent, and certain targets bring it out in people more than others; I just happen to be worse at that than most people.”

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ialdbaoth, out of curiosity, how many male friends do you tend to have, and what’s your normal ratio of male to female friends?

            Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            That depends on a lot of factors. Let me approach this as a timeline, and only use non-internet friends:

            1974 – 1982 – 2F:1M (3 total friends)
            1983 – 1993 – 0F:1M (2-4 friends)
            1994 – 2001 – 1F:6M (12-20 friends)
            2002 – 2008 – 3F:2M (30-50 friends)
            2009 – 2010 – 1F:2M (3 friends)
            2011 – 2013 – 1F:1M (9 friends)
            2014 – 2015 – 0F:0M (FOREVER ALONE)

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          • Anonymous says:

            OK, nevermind. Didn’t see the pattern I expected.

            You seem like a pretty righteous dude to me, as I said above.

            Report comment

          • Matthew says:


            2014 – 2015 – 0F:0M (FOREVER ALONE)

            I missed the fortune-telling aspect of this on the first read. Don’t do this. It’s self-fulfilling.

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          • Ialdabaoth, Unwitting Servant of Moloch, Dread Agent of He-Who-Swims-Ever-Leftward says:

            It was snark?

            If I could have just put in the ‘FOREVER ALONE’ face, I could have.

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      • Jadagul says:

        I agree here. One thing I think about a lot on this subject: there’s lots of writing about “what kind of man women want to date.” But the sort of person you’d like to date isn’t necessarily the sort of person you’re attracted to–in fact, if you don’t count attractiveness in the list of things that make you want to date someone, they tend to be pretty orthogonal.

        Guys asking the question are generally asking how to be attractive, and are getting answers that are basically, “well, in addition to being attractive, you should…” This isn’t helpful. But people keep doing it, I suspect because they don’t even consciously realize that they are.

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        • Zorgon says:

          There is a surprisingly strong social taboo against acknowledging that conventional attractiveness is actually a factor in mate selection.

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          • Jadagul says:

            True. But it’s even worse because physical appearance isn’t the only thing that is a factor in “attractiveness,” and people aren’t always even aware of the other major factors.

            Almost every girl I’ve ever dated has had an extremely…let’s say “deferential”…personality. I plan all the dates, I handle most of the social interactions, I order for them at restaurants, that sort of thing.

            I’m pretty sure that this is a signal both that I’m more attracted to that sort of woman, and that that sort of woman is more attracted to me. But if you’d asked me-five-years-ago, that never would have been a thing on my list. Never would have occurred to me. And had never occurred to most of my partners, either.

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      • Ghatanathoah says:

        @orangecat

        >It’s not a woman’s fault for not being attracted to socially unskilled men, any more than it’s a man’s fault for not being attracted to overweight women.

        I don’t agree with this 100%. I agree that at any given moment you have no volitional control over your attraction. But I think your attraction can be changed over time by conditioning.

        My personal experience is that when I get to know someone I start finding them attractive, much more attractive than I would find a stranger of similar body type. I find people I know vastly more attractive than porn stars. And I also find well-developed fictional characters with realistic bodies more attractive than poorly-developed ones with idealized bodies.

        Does this mean I think (as some feminist groups seem to) that men have a moral responsibility to condition themselves to find unconventionally attractive women sexy? Or that women have a moral duty to condition themselves to like nice guys? Of course not. It’s something you should consider if you think it will help you out in life, but I don’t see it as a moral duty.

        Of course, I do think you have a moral duty to be polite to people you find unattractive if you don’t make the effort to condition yourself, which is something both men and women have trouble with.

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        • orangecat says:

          I’d mostly agree. There are definitely women I’ve been close to that I find more attractive than any model or celebrity. But for me there has to be a baseline level to build on, i.e. someone can get to “gorgeous” starting from “kind of cute”, but not from “eh, not for me”.

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        • Anonymous says:

          It sounds like you have some mild form of demisexuality here.

          However, you definitely can condition yourself to feel attraction. That’s how I cured myself of my asexuality.

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    • KJbGcX says:

      Christine Peterson claims that if you’re a woman looking for a life partner, feeling attracted to the person should not be considered a prerequisite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fn1PzTrb38 I’m not sure if this is good advice or not.

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    • Army1987 says:

      The next best thing would be for these men to make themselves more attractive.

      BTW, our host’s (then future?) girlfriend once wrote an article about how in the present-day western world men tend to put very little effort in being attractive, compared to women. (Zie specifically talked about fashion but one could make a similar point about other components of attractiveness too.)

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      • Lesser Bull says:

        It can be taken too far, but I went from complete schlub status to some success in dating merely by developing a personal clothing style. Not even a great clothing style. But just the fact that it existed made me more pleasant to look at and probably inadvertently projected confidence.

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    • Sarah says:

      +1 for being conscious about it!

      I have a little bit of the same response. I think a lot of straight women do. The problem is that most people aren’t aware why they feel what they feel.

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      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        How much of attraction is physical for you? I hate to admit that in my case, it’s mostly physical. If I could change this I would, immediately.

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        • Matthew says:

          My problem is that I suffer horribly from the halo effect. Physically attractive women seem more intelligent and more empathetic than they actually are (until it blows up in my face), so disentangling “hot” from “good personality” is something of a challenge.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            My admittedly subconscious and problematic solution was to fetishize things that take a LOT of skill to pull off – ballet, rhythmic gymnastics, high fashion – which happen to correlate well with intelligence (if not necessarily empathy), and to then fetishize other things that tend to require either empathy or a reasonable facsimile – submissiveness, tenderness, artistic creativity.

            It wasn’t my intent, but it does happen to weed out a lot of people who might otherwise be “hot but awful”. Most of my ‘hot messes’ tend to be broken birds instead of raging psychos, as others have mentioned upthread.

            (And I do mean fetishize in the literal sense – if you can’t go en pointe and at least do a reasonable job keeping up with my weird fashion design / bondage / choreography kinks, you are unlikely to have a very fulfilled sexual relationship with me.)

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          • Protagoras says:

            I find the halo effect also affects me in the opposite direction; intelligent/empathetic women seem more physically attractive to me. Of course, it takes more time and effort to discover if someone is intelligent/empathetic, but perhaps it’s worth considering getting to know more women who are not initially all that physically attractive to you. Or maybe it won’t work for you; as this thread shows with many examples, everybody’s different.

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        • Sarah says:

          I’ve been attracted to multiple people I wouldn’t consider especially good-looking. Charisma, shared values, and a knack with language go a long way for me.

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  5. anon says:

    I don’t think the no true scotsman cries are right, either, but I think they are close to right. But by being close to right they uncover a mess of other things. Ehh…

    The “problem”—I do use this word loosely because I can’t think of a better one—is that anyone can be a feminist. There’s not a feminist guild. When you’re a republican, you are a registered republican, or you are actually in the party as a politician and therefore it’s a guild of sorts itself. But again there’s no feminist guild. Any idiot at Jezebel can claim they’re a feminist, and who is going to say otherwise? (This is NOT exclusive to feminism, FWIW.)

    What are opponents going to do, cite some gender studies book to “prove” someone else is lying? Why should I accept that author’s definition? I know what it means to be a good plumber inasmuch as I know what happens when the plumbing isn’t working. What’s it mean to be a good feminist? Someone claims to be a mathematician, within reason I know how to resolve my doubts. It’s difficult to no-true-scotsman a mathematician, at least since Berkeley’s doubts were posthumously assuaged. Not all scientists publish novel papers because they don’t all pursue graduate degrees, but at least they can say, “I work in a lab for so-and-so.” Like, proving you’re a member of a group usually takes even just a little more than saying-so.

    Anyone can be a feminist, and anyone can say anyone else isn’t a feminist. For all the crap published everywhere on the web and in books and letters and protest signs—for all if it, the term is still self-selective. And it’s scary to me that a self-selective ideological movement has become something in academia. It scares me when someone says, “If you’re not a feminist, you’re a misogynist.” Literally WHAT?

    Is a second-wave feminist still a feminist today? What about a first-wave feminist? Does the very existence of these terms answer the question? I support women’s right to vote. “Yes, and? We’re past that now, shitlord.” OK thanks.

    I could pick up a book, but would I get no-true-feministed out of discussions if I stuck to its prescriptions? (Philosophy in general has this problem, actually. Of course I assume feminism is philosophy and not religion in saying so.)

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    • Dave Rolsky says:

      I said this last time Scott covered feminism (or one time) and I’ll say it again. There’s more to social justice than the shit you read on the Internet.

      Planned Parenthood is a feminist organization that works to provide reproductive health and other services to all women, regardless of their ability to afford it. Here’s another organization, Daughters of Eve, that works to protect women and girls from female genital mutilation. There are dozens more I could find who are all about real change in the world rather than blogging, tweeting, and spreading memes on Facebook.

      (Note I don’t know if either of these organizations is particularly effective in the effective altruism sense, but that’s not my point).

      That’s just two of many feminist activist organizations working on real change in the world to benefit women (though I’d argue that much of feminist activism is also good for men).

      This isn’t to no-true-scotsman anyone. As you point out, anyone can claim to be a feminist and there’s no litmus test to say they’re right or wrong. I’m just pointing out that modern feminism is more than just these terrible blogs on the Internet.

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      • anon says:

        This isn’t to no-true-scotsman anyone. As you point out, anyone can claim to be a feminist and there’s no litmus test to say they’re right or wrong. I’m just pointing out that modern feminism is more than just these terrible blogs on the Internet.

        Agreed. I have had the pleasure of dealing specifically with PP in my life. That, among other things, helps ensure that I try to give feminism a generous benefit of the doubt. But how many of the internet generation have such experiences to draw on so they can look down a bully wearing a feminist mask and just shake their head instead of rage?

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        • Dave Rolsky says:

          It’s a shame that the Internet has ruined feminism for some people. But feminism in the real world can be an awesome thing. Please don’t forget that. We are all, whatever our gender, much better off for the amazing work done by hundreds of years of feminists. None of that can be undone by the bullying ravings of people who get off on Internet fame.

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          • Army1987 says:

            +1. I only ever encountered the kind of preposterous feminists Scott is talking about on the Internet, never in meatspace. (But then again I’m in Italy, and maybe if I was in New England or the Bay Area it’d be different.)

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          • Matthew says:

            I actually went to high school, back in the 1990s, with a girl who was genuinely of the “women are superior to men in every way, and the world would be better off without men in it” persuasion of feminism.

            (I learned that she came out as a lesbian shortly after leaving for college, so generalizing to straight feminists is probably unwise, but yes,) the crazy versions of feminism actually exist in meatspace too.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Heck, this kind of feminist was my high school English teacher in the 10th grade.

            I am not making this up: I got a ‘D’ on one paper because it was better-written than the papers of the best-performing girls in the class.

            (My parents were of the “why can’t you just get along and stay out of trouble” sort, not the “THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!” sort, so there was no kerfluffle, just a bad grade and a further disengagement with formal education)

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      • Icicle says:

        Sadly, terrible blog internet feminism is more salient to most people than the groups that actually try to go out and help people. It was for me in the past (I am an ex-avid-follower of things like Pharyngula), and I credit Scott for gradually snapping me out of it by being the first highly thoughtful and sane dissenter that I came across, which didn’t mesh well with the whole “Everyone who disagrees is evil” concept.

        My point is that the “real world positive change” feminism is less prevalent in the arena of memes than the “terrible blog feminism”, and that it should be permissible to generalize over a group without having to saturate the generalization with NAXALT.

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      • anon1 says:

        Interesting! Now that I read about it, I see the term “social justice” has been in use for over a century by all manner of groups that have nothing to do with mean people on Tumblr. But somehow aside from reading about it’s history I’ve never encountered it in any other context, and (unlike feminism) most of the people working on real-world positive change aren’t using the phrase very much.

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      • Sarah says:

        I usually see the word “social justice” I’m reference to a particular internet culture.

        That said, I have a lot of respect for Planned Parenthood and donate to them regularly. My frustration with contemporary Imternet feminism does not extend to all things that have ever been called feminist.

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      • anon says:

        We should try to tempt/goad Scott into reading arguments by interesting feminists. Like Judith Butler’s books on the war on terror, or bell hooks’ books on anything.

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        • Froolow says:

          What do the italics denote on the word ‘interesting’? Because I’m not even sure Butler is coherent enough to rebut, let alone rebut in an amusing or interesting way but I get a serious Emperor’s New Clothes vibe from Butler (seems like everyone but me thinks she’s the saviour of academic feminism) so it’s within the realms of possibility that you actually unironically mean ‘interesting’ in which case please could you sketch out what you think she’s saying that’s worth wading through all the horrible dense text?

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        • Mary says:

          I’ve read plenty feminist stuff. Lots of it provides excellent reaosns for me to not be a feminist!

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      • Jiro says:

        One way to find out who’s in a group is by finding some people who everyone agrees are in it. Then find out who those people consider members of the group and add them. Then find out who the newly expanded group considers a member of the group and add them. At some point, there is nobody who most of the existing group thinks is also a member of the group and you stop.

        Obviously, you can’t constantly take surveys, so there’s some guesswork involved, but it at least gives you a basis other than your personal opinion. For instance, if you wanted to know who is a Christian, it would tell you that Catholics definitely are, Mormons probably are, yet doomsday cults whose leader claims to be Jesus Christ are not.

        It’s’s clear that if you use this method to decide who is a feminist, angry feminist bloggers will get classified as feminists.

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    • Liskantope says:

      It’s hard to have a conversation about feminism without getting bogged down in the question of how to define feminism. This has bothered me ever since probably early college age when I realized that the brand of feminism many of my friends were advocating was in fact very different from what I saw as the self-evident, fundamental-civil-rights feminist beliefs my parents raised me with.

      I’ve noticed that (unless I am seriously misreading him) Scott’s general attitude towards feminism is based on his impressions of the statements and behavior of self-described feminists rather than on the defining principles of any particular variety of feminism. I guess I can see some justification for this (arguments such as “in order to self-identify as a feminist, one should feel in accordance with most others who self-identify as feminists, rather than with a set of abstract principles which define a term nobody can agree on a definition for anyway”. It might be interesting to compare this to the issue of self-identifying as a Democrat or Republican, but I digress.)

      However, I would counter this philosophy of defining feminism by those who call themselves feminists with the following points.

      One: I don’t believe that the radical, social-justice-y feminists that Scott (and I, and probably many other people here) see via the internet on a regular basis are a good representation of the general feminist-identifying demographic. Think about it: which feminists are most likely to write articles that gain attention and are re-posted all over the internet? The more radical, combative ones who advocate the more sensational positions. In fact, those are the types who are more likely to go out of their way to be vocal in the first place.

      Two: I believe there is a very small list of fundamental stances that almost all self-identifying feminists would agree with, even while differing widely on what concrete goals we should strive for in order to realize these ideals, as well as how to reach said goals. Maybe if we use the term “feminist” for anyone who aligns themselves with this basic platform, then we will be better equipped to engage with those on both sides of the fence and reach a better understanding. In other words, suppose you do advocate said basic platform but are frustrated with the more vocal, radical feminists on the internet. Now you may say “Look, I’m a feminist too, I agree with a lot of your fundamental objectives but feel that the kind of rhetoric you’re using is not only alienating to me but really damaging to our shared cause” rather than “I find your rhetoric alienating and therefore am not a feminist” (which is likely to get read as “am not part of your cause and therefore an enemy”).

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      • RCF says:

        ““Look, I’m a feminist too, I agree with a lot of your fundamental objectives but feel that the kind of rhetoric you’re using is not only alienating to me but really damaging to our shared cause” ”

        Gets you labelled “concern troll”.

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      • houseboatonstyx says:

        That describes my position also.

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      • nydwracu says:

        Right, our language doesn’t have a good way to distinguish between:

        1) feminism as a set of beliefs that all/only/all and only feminists hold
        2) feminism as the set of people who call themselves ‘feminists’
        3) feminism as a set of political factions / institutional intelligences that one can join, be opposed to, be attacked by, etc.
        4) feminism as a set of meeting points for feminists, and the effects and artifacts they produce
        5) feminism as a set of observable effects / political victories in the world at large caused by a specific set of political factions / institutional intelligences and their meeting points
        6) feminism as an abstraction over feminism₃ or feminism₂ that approaches feminism₁

        To explain: feminism₁ should be clear; feminism₂ includes people like Susan B. Anthony and Valerie Solanas; feminism₃ includes things like ‘radical feminism’ and ‘fourth-wave feminism’; feminism₄ includes things like Jezebel and Planned Parenthood; and feminism₅ includes things like the push to shift the burden of proof in rape cases and the spread of the belief that skepticism about certain types of claim is morally wrong. Feminism₆ sounds like what you’re looking for: a basic platform constructed from “a very small list of fundamental stances that almost all self-identifying feminists would agree with”.

        (There’s probably a better way to construct a typology like this; the above is just off the top of my head. Also, it seems that the type of thing that feminism₁ is rarely exists in practice. It doesn’t seem to in the case of feminism.)

        This can be exploited: if you can get people to identify as 2), they’re more likely to end up in 3), influenced by 4), and working toward 5). There’s also temporal ambiguity, which also can be exploited: if you support past feminism₅, you should become a feminist₂ — and (this part is implied) support current feminism₅.

        (This set of exploits creates political inertia: if X₃ won hard enough in the past to get people in the present to support its past X₅ victories, it becomes that much easier to get people to become X₂, join present X₃, and support present X₅. Opposing factions can try to work around this by claiming past X₃s — see: the Republican Party — but those usually turn out as cringeworthy rationalizations-of-current-membership that won’t convince anyone who’s not already there.)

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        • Multiheaded says:

          This is a PSA to everyone who would use Solanas as a metonym in any criticism of feminism or feminists! Search and replace with Mary Daly; she was far creepier, had way more public acknowledgement and arguably more real-life impact. Solanas really was a poor troubled person and a talented writer whose work has, ultimately, had very little effect on any day-to-day policy issues.

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I endorse this message!

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          • Zorgon says:

            Strongly agreed (for once). There are many, many better examples of extremely creepy but very influential feminists, including numerous academics.

            I really do not understand why people always leap to Solanas. The SCUM Manifesto has so much less influence on modern feminism than, say, the Redstockings Manifesto, and the latter is just as insane.

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          • Mary Daly is why I didn’t and don’t identify as a feminist. Her transphobia is an implication of her misandry, but hardly anyone seems to notice this.

            Not all feminists are like her, but when she died, the discussion I saw was either in her favor, or only disagreeing with the transphobia.

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          • gattsuru says:

            Solanas is nationally recognized, where Daly is mostly known in legal, trans, or academic circles (and most critics of feminism only find one of those three worth engaging).

            The Redstockings… I know academics that wouldn’t recognize them, and even some Marxists. I’m not sure many that would recognize them would also recognize much criticism of the group.

            MacKinnon and Dworkin are better known examples of the excesses of the Second Wave, but they’re not as bad as Daly and the political left has a lot of memetic defenses for handling them.

            On the other hand, this might be a good reason to improve awareness of Daly and the Redstockings. On the gripping hand, it might just result in seeing similar defenses constructed to handle their names.

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          • Zorgon says:

            I agree that Redstockings is a fairly obscure source, but I’d also suggest that it doesn’t take much to see where much of modern feminism is influenced by their thinking.

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I’m pretty sure that the only reason anyone has heard of Solanas is that people keep using her as an example of a Bad Feminist.

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          • gattsuru says:

            I’m pretty sure that the only reason anyone has heard of Solanas is that people keep using her as an example of a Bad Feminist.

            There are a surprising number of people outside of the ivory tower, who recommend the SCUM Manifesto, sometimes even as an introductory work. It’s apparently sold quite well.

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          • Zorgon says:

            Um, no. She’s really rather well known in general. Hell, there was a film made about her in the 90s: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116594/

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          • Mary Daly is the reason I don’t identify as a feminist, even though I think I sort of pass for one in some environments.

            Back in the 70’s or so, when I was reading her all by myself, I noticed that she wrote as though women were humans, and men were some sort of evil unconscious robots.

            I didn’t notice the transphobia, but I assume her transphobia is a consequence of her misandry.

            When she died, there were eulogies that were simply enthusiastic about her, and there were complaints about the transphobia, but no mention of the misandry. (Sorry, the books aren’t handy, so I don’t have quotes to back up what I’m saying.)

            Sorry for the double post– I thought I hadn’t posted the first one, so I redid it– this one has a little more detail, so I’m not eliminating it.

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      • Ozy Frantz says:

        Radical feminist is a term with an actual meaning. Jezebel is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a radical feminist blog. You can identify a radical feminist by seeing if they are absurdly upset by BDSM, sex work, heterosexuality, or trans people.

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        • Liskantope says:

          I guess I was intending “radical” to be interpreted with its generally-held meaning as a stand-alone adjective, rather than as part of the term “radical feminist”. I will try to be more careful about this in the future, though.

          (On that note, I should probably also be more careful with how I use words like “social-justice-y”, given that the views of SJers in general are probably also not fairly represented by those who are most vocal on the internet.)

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        • Anonymous says:

          “Radical feminist is a term with an actual meaning.”

          Well, clearly it isn’t.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Uh, Firestone appears to have only really been up in arms about heterosexuality, and in a very cool and creative way, and her solution wasn’t political lesbianism either. I’m calling No True Radfem.

          (I understand where those Crazy Obviously Evil Beliefs are coming from, FWIW, and what they would look like when steeled somewhat.)

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Yeah, Firestone rocks. But I was providing a rough heuristic for someone who reads feminist blogs and is most likely to encounter the dreadful modern crop of radical feminists (lo, these corrupt and decayed times! o tempora o mores!).

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Sure, I admit, that’s a bit like standing up for SJWs by pointing out what a nice person Rawls was.

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    • MugaSofer says:

      It scares me when someone says, “If you’re not a feminist, you’re a misogynist.” Literally WHAT?

      Probably someone defining “feminist” as “not a misogynist”. It’s a motte-and-bailey thing.

      Then again, it might not be.

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  6. Ilverin says:

    (just emphasizing not disagreeing): Just because a very large portion of feminists think of men poorly does not mean that the Men’s Rights Movement has any merit.

    The proposed actions that the Men’s Rights Movement is pushing are insignificant in comparison to what is still needed to make women equal to men. Women are in hardly any politican positions or executive positions and this is an extreme problem. The problems men face from corporations and the government are inconsequential compared to those suffered by women.

    Properly thinking people who notice that men do suffer problems would still first push for the resolution of the worst of women’s problems before the worst of men’s problems.

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    • orangecat says:

      “Properly thinking people who notice that men do suffer problems would still first push for the resolution of women’s problems before men’s problems.”

      If the problems of men in Western society rate a 5 and the problems of women in Western society rate a 20, the problems of women in the Middle East are approximately 67.3 million. Are we obligated to fix that before trying to do anything else?

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      • Michael R says:

        My first thought is … yes. But then, from a utilitarian point of view, even greater global problems would be starvation, genocide, disease.

        And I believe this. So, when I hear about feminists getting upset at something like … Elevatorgate, I always think ‘Rationally, this moral outrage is deeply misplaced’.

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    • Matthew says:

      But you can, perhaps, see how a man who has been denied custody of his children because of a biased court might not agree with you about the relative urgency of gender-neutral custody proceedings v. gender-proportional representation* in government and corporate boards?

      *I think this is a terrible problem to prioritize in general. There are many countries in the world with much higher proportions of women in parliament than the United States, but some of them are much worse places to be a woman.

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      • Richard says:

        Really?

        Which ones? I come from the country that’s currently #2 on the list of those countries and I know American women who choose to live here rather than the US because they don’t want their daughters to grow up across the pond. A sample size of one, I admit, but I would really like to see which countries you are thinking about.

        Edit: allright, never mind, there’s a new list out and places like Rwanda and Mozambique are new and exciting outliers. On the other hand, I am still able to find a strong correlation between women in parliament and how good/bad it is to be a woman adjusted for how good/bad it is to be a person in the same country.

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        • JB says:

          Yes, I’m also curious about this. I can hardly think of any. Malawi and Liberia come to mind, but those are (arguably) worse places to be a woman than the US only because they are not wealthy industrialized countries. And interpreting that as “clearly, wealth and industrialization should be a higher priority than gender balance in parliament” is only valid to the extent that one believes that a gender balanced parliament and wealth are anticorrelated.

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    • “The problems men face from corporations and the government are inconsequential compared to those suffered by women.”

      Who, according to you, should decide the criteria by which a problem is deemed “consequential”? And to whom are the problems you’re talking about consequential or inconsequential? If you’re asserting that they’re inconsequential to me, could you please provide your reasons why?

      (I ask the above questions partially sincerely, and partially to point out that in order to accept what you’re saying, I’d have to assume that you have the authority to decide what is of consequence and what isn’t. I don’t have any reason to believe you have any such authority, and I think that authority isn’t a substitute for having good reasons for something (LessWrong link), merely a (very useful) heuristic. I don’t see an argument (for what is consequential) in your post. So now, I’m left with neither an indication of your authority nor an argument. Could you please provide either?)

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      • Ilverin says:

        Certainly the literal definition of the word “inconsequential” is inappropriate in the context in which I used it. I meant “inconsequential” in the sense of “an order of magnitude less serious”.

        Evidence for the idea that “The problems men face from corporations and the government are an order of magnitude less serious compared to those suffered by women.”:

        Gender wealth and wage gap:
        http://www.mariko-chang.com/wealthdata.html

        Gender representation gap in government:
        https://www.american.edu/spa/wpi/upload/2012-Men-Rule-Report-web.pdf

        Gender representation gap in corporations:
        http://www.weforum.org/issues/corporate-gender-gap

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        • Crimson Wool says:

          Evidence that “the problems women face from the government are an order of magnitude less serious compared to those suffered by men”:

          Gender representation gap in the prison population:
          http://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_gender.jsp

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        • Princess_Stargirl says:

          edit: no point arguing here.

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        • Jaskologist says:

          A lot of manospherans claim that feminism is essentially a conspiracy by the elite to take more for themselves, at the expense of those in the middle. They generally are referring to elite men getting themselves more women, but the general idea would just as easily predict your post (especially once you remove the widely-discredited wage gap piece).

          You’re concerned about politicians and CEOs, positions that can only ever be held by a small minority of the population. People in striking distance of that are already people of at the top; it doesn’t tell us much about the problems of men or women in general. Which sex is more likely to be incarcerated, murdered, divorced by their spouse, have their children taken away, and die earlier? Are those really inconsequential problems next to having difficulty getting on the corporate board?

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    • drethelin says:

      First of all, there’s an ENORMOUS difference between “women have it harder than men” and “We should ignore the problems of men”. And the rhetoric usually says the latter. “I don’t care about your poor feefees” “male tears” etc.

      Second: Men and Women are not separate species. Solving men’s romantic troubles, on the whole IS GOOD FOR WOMEN. Most of the population is heterosexual. Women don’t exactly want to be lonely either. For every man who gets into a long-term, pleasant relationship, guess what there’s probably a happy woman too!

      Third: Bargaining and game theory. My computer is about to restart for a windows update but in summary it’s this: if you can’t admit that your bargaining partner has legitimate desires you will go to some effort to fulfill, they have no incentive to meet YOU halfway.

      More later maybe.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        The PUA answer to that is “our culture is geared so that one man can far more easily and appropriately satisfy several women, than one woman can appropriately satisfy several men”. Therefore, a few men get all the women, the women get what they want, and the rest of the men can go fuck themselves.

        Most redpill-style PUA is about becoming those men and throwing the rest to the wolves, which if you think about it is a terrible idea. If we’re all competing with each other, then all PUA skills are positional, and spreading game hurts your game.

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        • suntzuanime says:

          There’s enough women in the world that you gain more by having more confidence/money from being a popular PUA writer than you lose by improving the chances of the people who read/buy your stuff. If you make even $1 per schmuck you turn into a stud, and each stud takes home five more women every night than a schmuck, you’re a multi-millionaire before you’ve removed an appreciable fraction of the women from the dating market.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            yes, but that doesn’t incentivize the schmucks sharing the info, does it? because sure the peddlers will always rise to the top, but the rank-and-file are in an exponentiating tragedy of the commons scenario just waiting to happen.

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          • suntzuanime says:

            The social benefits of having a few guys who think you’re really cool and smart and know what’s what vis-a-vis women probably outweigh the impact on the dating scene of those guys becoming studs.

            Yes it’s a tragedy of the commons, but there’s a huge commons, and so long as the PUA scene stays relatively small, it’s the semi-schmucks that will suffer from the overgrazing, not the studs. And wider social approbation will probably keep the PUA scene relatively small; I don’t forsee feminist tyranny being overthrown any time soon.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            mmm – that might be my problem; I’m approaching this from the perspective of a semi-schmuck.

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          • Sarah says:

            It’s not only the *women* market in play, it’s the *money* market. PUA coaches do it because it’s a way to make a living.

            Importantly, PUA Coach is one of the “professions” where one can in principle make a *lot* of money (10M net worth for the most successful) while not being able to interface with the Establishment at all, because you look like a scam artist. This is a subset of the world of Direct Marketing, which is a fascinating alternate economy that most readers of this blog have never heard of and really should.

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        • Harald K says:

          Agree, Redpill/PUA is basically sacrificing yourself as a virgin to Moloch, if we should use slate star terminology.

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          • Steve Johnson says:

            Therefore, a few men get all the women, the women get what they want, and the rest of the men can go fuck themselves.

            It wouldn’t be Moloch if it was that simple.

            For the few men there’s only so many times you can hear “we’re not having sex tonight” (which is confirmation that you two are going to fuck) or “I don’t normally do this” or find out she’s got a boyfriend or a guy she lives with or a husband before you’re simply accept that women are almost always lying to everyone about everything sexual – most importantly to themselves.

            For the women, they get deceived into thinking that they’re far more desirable than they actually are and so either settles for a guy she thinks is beneath her when her clock is winding down around 30 or never settles and winds up alone and miserable.

            An unrestrained sexual marketplace is simply not a good idea.

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        • Army1987 says:

          ISTM that at least in earlier times, the intended audience of PUAs tended to be previously-unattractive men, so the intended effect would be to increase the size of the first group of men which is not a zero-sum game.

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        • B says:

          While it may be true that one man can satisfy lots of women, it is also true that one women can satisfy lots of men. It’s not *necessarily* true that lots of men need to be thrown to the wolves.

          “If we’re all competing with each other, then all PUA skills are positional, and spreading game hurts your game.”

          Well, if more men are out there who can give them a good time, then more women might go go out cruising for a good time. As long as the number of women who keep coming back to the watering hole keeps rising in time with the newly anointed pickup artists, there’s no problem. Considering that a big part of ‘game’ involves drawing out women who otherwise wouldn’t be drawn out in the first place, I’m not sure it’s a self-cannibalizing behavior.

          It could even be self-perpetuating, if it is able to change restrictive social norms and allow more of the kind of behavior that is apparently needed for successful mating a lot of the time. Or, at least, give license to the sort of people who were previously too timid to take action on the dating front.

          Right now, though, I think society is moving in the opposite direction as pickup culture would move it. And I am not sure what can turn it around.

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  7. Quite Likely says:

    I think this analysis can be taken one step farther. The manosphere is a reaction to feminism, and feminism is a reaction to society as a whole.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    You say that ‘I don’t think I ever claimed to be, or felt, entitled to anything’, but I do wonder how this squares with saying that you ‘did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.’ I’m not sure how clearly you can separate deserving something from being entitled to it.

    This also gets at the problem I had with your early analogy with the complaints about poverty. I’m fairly left-wing, and as such pretty OK with the idea of some notional authority distributing money and material goods according to principles of justice. I am, in what I suspect is a pretty common reaction, horrified by the idea of such an authority attempting to distribute romantic or sexual goods.

    Relationships of this kind don’t seem to be subject to the kind of moral rules about distributive justice, or fairness, or what have you, but rather to be expected to be decided according to individual values as personal decisions. As such there is at least some logic to the sense that any question of fairness is misplaced if applied to these questions, although the answer is not so much ‘this is fair’ as ‘this is a thing that doesn’t have to be fair’.

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    • Watercressed says:

      An authority distributing goods is one possible solution to a problem, but it is not the only one, nor does its feasibility indicate whether a problem exists.

      Report comment

    • Matthew says:

      Your comment reads to me as an extended just world fallacy: “Fixing the harm in the status quo would harm others; therefore it must not really be harm.”

      Nope. The universe is perfectly capable of being morally unjust in ways that are difficult to fix. The “market” for love is only the most obvious example of this.

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      • Koken says:

        If you like. The point is just that the harm to others here is so inherently connected to the harm to be fixed, rather than being simply some other consequence of a scheme to solve it, because the personal relationship is in itself the good in question.

        I would tend to think that if someone deserves something, there would be some duty on other people in a position to do so to see that they get it, which I don’t see as being the case here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          But it is the case here, if you’re a consistent utilitarian and there are no mitigating circumstances.

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          • Koken says:

            I’m not a consistent utilitarian, so I guess there’s that. (To my mind, that’s not the line of thinking to which the concept of ‘desert’ belongs. Perhaps in the thinnest possible sense – everyone deserves to have their utility maximised with equal priority to everyone else.)

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          • Anonymous says:

            And everyone has a duty to maximize everyone’s utility insofar as they can. Yes? This isn’t hard. Our interests create duties in others. It’s crazy but characteristic that feminists find this “oppressive” or something.

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          • Paul Torek says:

            Signing on with Koken, here. Utilitarians should avoid the word “desert” as much as possible to avoid confusing the audience. The thinnest-possible-sense of desert isn’t the sense that most people use most of the time, what with them not being utilitarians and all.

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    • RCF says:

      “Relationships of this kind don’t seem to be subject to the kind of moral rules about distributive justice, or fairness, or what have you, but rather to be expected to be decided according to individual values as personal decisions.”

      Why not? Why does everyone “deserve” a college education, and the fact that there are some people who can’t afford it a national disgrace, but if someone can’t get a girlfriend, well, sucks to be you? I’m not saying they should be treated exactly the same, but surely if you find “some people get more education than others” to fall into the “that’s a shame, in a perfect world things would be different, and it’s worth spending resources on a solution, if a solution exists” category, then so should “some people have more satisfying sex lives than others”.

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      • anon1 says:

        There’s plenty of precedent for publicly funded universal education, so extending it through college is just a matter of degree. And building and funding more colleges is a lot less morally repulsive than compelling some individual woman to have sex/a relationship with you. Finally, most men want to be wanted – they don’t actually desire a relationship with someone who’s being compelled.

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    • Whateverfor says:

      I’m curious: what exactly do you think socially-enforced monogamy is? If it was as socially unacceptable to have more than a “fair share” of wealth as it is to have more than one partner, we wouldn’t need an authority to distribute material goods!

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    • Lemminkainen says:

      You should be more fair to Scott– he outright stated that he didn’t favor micromanaging people’s romantic lives or forcing anybody to have sex or be in a relationship with anybody else. So, I suspect that he understands this important difference between this case and material poverty, and would favor a solution based on education rather than forced redistribution.

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      • Koken says:

        I understand that he doesn’t actually think people ought to be forced, but my question was how well the concept of deserving something fits in relation to denying the allegation of feeling entitled to it.

        On some abstract level, as I think Scott has written, if you ought to do something then being forced to do it isn’t a moral issue – you never had the right not to do it anyway. Working backwards, if we agree that people ought not to be forced it would seem that they probably didn’t have a moral obligation to give the sex or relationship to whomever. My understanding of desert – don’t know if this is the problematic part for some people – here is that it would entail some duty on those who can to give a person what they deserve. As such, if no-one ought to be giving something to someone, it seems they cannot be said to deserve it.

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        • Ghatanathoah says:

          I think the argument isn’t that it’s intrinsically wrong to force people, rather that doing so would cause more suffering than it would alleviate. There are two different “deserts” we are dealing with here:

          1. Everyone deserves a positive romantic relationship.
          2. Everyone deserves a to not suffer horribly by being forced to do things that are against their personal volition. It does not matter if the entity doing the forcing is the government or their own conscience.

          Forcible redistribution of romance would satisfy 1, but violate 2. I suspect that the violation of 2 would vastly outweigh the satisfaction of 1.

          To put this in clearer perspective, let’s try to imagine a scenario where the 2 violation does not outweigh the 1 satisfaction:

          Imagine Alice is considering entering into a relationship with either Bob or Clyde. She would find a relationship with either of them very fulfilling. But she probably has a very small preference for Bob.

          Now imagine I am the Royal Psychotherapist and Tax Adjustor for the kingdom that Alice, Bob, and Clyde live in. I analyze Bob and Clyde and conclude that Clyde needs a relationship more than Bob. He would benefit more from it, and would have a harder time finding another partner than Bob would. So I suggest to Alice that if she picks Clyde over Bob I might be willing to lower her taxes a bit. Alice agrees to this, as her slight preference for Bob is outweighed by her preference for more money.

          This is a case of the government forcibly redistributing romance. I have essentially taken Alice’s money by threat of force and won’t give it back unless she dates who I say. But I don’t find this particularly repugnant because in this case the satisfaction of 1 outweighs the violation of 2.

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          • \m/ social justice chaotic evil lich cancer mage \m/ says:

            I suspect that the majority of what people find unbearable about lack of romance is that it indicates that they are unlovable, in which case any official recognition of this (even one that led to romance itself) would only compound the problem.

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    • Army1987 says:

      This also gets at the problem I had with your early analogy with the complaints about poverty. I’m fairly left-wing, and as such pretty OK with the idea of some notional authority distributing money and material goods according to principles of justice. I am, in what I suspect is a pretty common reaction, horrified by the idea of such an authority attempting to distribute romantic or sexual goods.

      Right-wingers are the other way around. (The authority attempting to distribute romantic or sexual goods is known as the traditional norm of sex being restricted to lifelong monogamous marriages.)

      (As for me, I disagree with the idea of distributing romantic goods, and I think that the right way to distribute sexual goods is to institute a basic income (financed via land-value taxes) and fully legalize prostitution.)

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    • Harald K says:

      It’s kind of funny that you draw up horrible pictures of sexual redistributionism, analogous to the pictures wealthy people draw of economic redistribution. Those two aren’t equivalent, of course (there might be a horribly totalitarian way to redistribute sex, but not love). But either way, it doesn’t matter. Since I am not a utilitarian like everyone seems to be around here, I can say with Thoreau:

      It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.

      No one demands that you fix all the woes of all the lonely people. No one is demanding any active change from you at all. But you should wash your hands of actively hurting them, e.g. by demonizing “nice guys” in clickbaiting online feminist rags like Jezebel.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Did you even understand the point of the analogy? You were precisely the intended audience. If you have even a modicum of intellectual integrity and reflectiveness you will be taken aback at the mismatch in your reactions to the two situations, which in fact ARE analogous, and not just come up with a question-begging explanation of how they are actually different.

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    • MugaSofer says:

      Sorry to join the dogpile – guys, you have to actually answer, not just say “yeah, but they kind of ARE analogous” – but:

      I am, in what I suspect is a pretty common reaction, horrified by the idea of such an authority attempting to distribute romantic or sexual goods.

      No, you aren’t.

      Imagine if a machine were invented that drained one person’s attractiveness and transferred it to another person.

      Suppose the government used this to redistribute attractiveness such that nice people are more attractive, and abusive people are unattractive. The result would be more “just”, safer for both men and women, and would result in more happiness on average.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Imagine if a machine were invented that drained one person’s attractiveness and transferred it to another person.

        Suppose the government used this to redistribute attractiveness such that nice people are more attractive, and abusive people are unattractive. The result would be more “just”, safer for both men and women, and would result in more happiness on average.

        Actually, that sounds rather horrific. Weirdly enough, it doesn’t sound horrific to do it the other way – a machine that drains all the abusiveness from attractive people and transfers it to ugly people, so now they ‘deserve’ to be mistreated (even though they never chose to be abusive).

        The latter should sound more horrific, but when I think about it at object-level (i.e., imagine specific ugly-but-nice people made hot vs. imagining specific pretty-but-horrible people made nice) it’s somehow more satisfying. Man, human preferences are fucked up.

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        • gattsuru says:

          Weirdly enough, it doesn’t sound horrific to do it the other way – a machine that drains all the abusiveness from attractive people and transfers it to ugly people, so now they ‘deserve’ to be mistreated (even though they never chose to be abusive).

          Maybe it’s just me not being a visual person, and highly privileging internal brainstates, but that’s a /whole hell/ of a lot more horrifying to me.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Yeah everything abstractly SAYS it should be more horrifying, but when I think about the actual object-level interpretation it doesn’t ping the “Eww eww no” in the same way.

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          • Emile says:

            I can’t picture Ialdabaoth’s scenario as non-horrifying either (or less horrifying than the original, reversed one). I guess our brains just work differently.

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          • Ghatanathoah says:

            I’m going to join the pile and say that I find MugaSofer’s scenario amusing and Ialdaboth’s horrifying. I think this is because I consider “attractiveness” to not be an intrinsic part of a person, but consider “abusiveness” to be. So to me the first scenario is redistributing a good, whereas the second is double-homicide!

            Ialdaboth, I’d like to know whether the horror you feel is an aesthetic preference or a moral one? If you actually had a choice between transferring abusiveness to a nice ugly person or transferring attractiveness to a nice person from an abuser, would you follow your gut instinct or your abstract moral reasoning?

            I mean, contemplating starving children does not set off my “Eww eww no” reaction nearly as much as contemplating prison rape does. But I’ve donated money to charities to help starving children but not to preventing prison rape because I know abstractly that starving children are a more cost-effective way to spend my money.

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      • Koken says:

        The machine doesn’t sound too bad tbh, though I would prefer to just equalise attractiveness. (Well, maybe. Is it only physical attractiveness it’s shifting? If it’s more than that all kinds of weird mind control must be going on. Probably not OK with that.) It probably isn’t analogous to redistributing people’s choices about intimate matters. Maybe I phrased it too vaguely – I mean redistributing people’s actual romantic choices. (Obviously insofar as money can be of some use in obtaining sex, one way or another, any argument for economic redistribution is going to have some effect on who is attracted to whom, but that’s a very different thing. Accepting for the sake of argument that money -> attractiveness, this seems more like what makes your machine not necessarily horrifying)

        I also note that no-one is coming out and saying ‘people totally do have a duty to assign their affections fairly’, so I’m not really sure on what basis the objections to this claim are coming. Certainly Scott seems to agree on this part when he writes that he’s very clear that nice guys (or Nice Guys or whomever) are not entitled to this. My point is that I’m not really clear how he separates this from the idea of what one deserves.

        When I say that the poor deserve a bigger share of the pie I do mean that they ought to be given more, and that indeed rich people who don’t cooperate with this ought to be made to do so. If desert here doesn’t imply a duty of this kind, then I’m not sure what it does mean.

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        • MugaSofer says:

          The thing is, I think “nice guys” like Scott are in favor of redistributing attractiveness, and this is being unfairly interpreted as them arguing it should be OK for them to rape women because they’re such nice people.

          It’s rather like a poor person asking for food, and being accused of advocating cannibalism.

          [… now that you mention it, I think people are much more likely to disapprove of you sleeping with evil people than to argue you should force yourself to sleep with nice people. Not sure what that means, but if you want people to argue you should take morality into account, that’s probably the framing to use.]

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          • Princess_Stargirl says:

            I would potentially be in favor of this if there was a way to actually do it (genie magic?). And the distribution of “attractiveness” was shown to be sufficiently fat tailed to justify the downsides of the redistribution mechanism.

            Imo redistributing wealth is an incredibly good idea, and society should do more of it. This is despite the fact that wealth redistribution requires weakening property rights (many bad effects) and requires empowering a government that will invariably abuse those powers (you cannot have full privacy and a working IRS etc). However wealth is so incredibly fat tailed that the benefits easily outweigh the extremely large costs.

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        • Ghatanathoah says:

          @Koken

          >”I also note that no-one is coming out and saying ‘people totally do have a duty to assign their affections fairly’, so I’m not really sure on what basis the objections to this claim are coming. ”

          I was going to agree with you on this point, but then I remembered that when I was a teen I felt like I did have a duty to do this. I did my very best to ignore any and all physical attributes of women when I considered who I should date and distribute my affections fairly based on inner personality characteristics.*

          And you know what. It worked. I dated a woman who wasn’t conventionally beautiful, got along fabulously with her, and we’ve been together ever since. We’re celebrating ten years together in October.

          Nowadays I’m leery of any ideology that says we have a duty to have different preferences than we do. But on the other hand, it worked fine for me.

          TYPICAL MIND WARNING: I should say though, that I felt like enforcing a preference for “inner beauty” didn’t feel to me like I was changing my preferences. It felt like I was privileging a nobler, more idealistic preference over a baser one. To someone whose preferences for physical beauty are more deeply and personally ingrained what worked for me might not work for them.

          *I should note that I believed I had this duty only to real people I met in my day-to-day life, not to fictional characters. I still watched porn with thin busty women.

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          • magnetick says:

            I felt this way, too, as a kid, especially as a girl trying to develop any kind of positive body image. I intellectually thought I could be anything and be lovable, but I emotionally felt like I was horrible and unforgivably fat.

            It’s probably a good idea for kids to be conscious of how they’re developing their regard for others and themselves, and try to keep it in line with their values. I’m reminded of how I rationalized my not drinking or hanging out with cool kids. That was more of an uncontrollable circumstance than a chosen lifestyle. I just wasn’t cool and no one wanted to drink with me.

            I was a little horrified to find myself with a strong preference for circumcised penises* in my twenties when the physical attraction thing truly kicked in.

            *To politically-correct myself, I think circumcision is stupid and probably abusive. But my lust-brain thinks it makes for sexier penises.

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      • Army1987 says:

        Imagine if a machine were invented that drained one person’s attractiveness and transferred it to another person.

        I wouldn’t want such a machine to be used unless both people consented to it. (Of course the previously more attractive person can decide to consent on condition that they’re given some kind of compensation.)

        Suppose the government used this to redistribute attractiveness such that nice people are more attractive, and abusive people are unattractive. The result would be more “just”, safer for both men and women, and would result in more happiness on average.

        Well… You could say that if you know you’re somewhere with such a government, by being abusive you’re implicitly consenting to being made uglier, the way one could say that by going over the speed limit you’re implicitly consenting to paying a speed ticket.

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        • MugaSofer says:

          I don’t think you’re in favor of redistributing wealth either, though? That’s the analogy.

          [In practice, we can’t confiscate hotness and give it to ugly people; so we’re limited to what Scott actually proposes, which is giving nice guys advice on how to increase their social skills and become more attractive that way. Which is closer to advocating charity, rather than redistribution, as the solution to poverty in our analogy.]

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          • Army1987 says:

            Money unlike attractiveness is fungible, which may be the reason I’m more comfortable redistributing the former than the latter.

            I’ll have to think about this more to be sure.

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  9. Douglas Knight says:

    A couple of typos, relevant for people following links or looking things up: (1) The “more about what they pay attention to” link is missing its http; (2) The first time you correctly say Sheng, but the second time you say Shang.

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  10. Ialdabaoth says:

    You keep whining about how “unfair” it is that you can’t get a good job. “But I’m such a hard worker.” No, actual hard workers don’t feel like they’re entitled to other people’s money just because they ask nicely.

    “Why do rich white kids who got legacy admissions to Yale receive cushy sinecures, but I have to work two grueling minimum wage jobs just to keep a roof over my head?” By even asking that question, you prove that you think of bosses as giant bags of money, rather than as individual human beings who are allowed to make their own choices. No one “owes” you money just because you say you “work hard”, and by complaining about this you’re proving you’re not really a hard worker at all. I’ve seen a lot of Hard Workers (TM) like you, and scratch their entitled surface and you find someone who thinks just because they punched a time card once everyone needs to bow down and worship them.

    If you complain about “rich white kids who get legacy admissions to Yale,” you’re raising a huge red flag that you’re the kind of person who steals from their employer, and companies are exactly right to give you a wide berth.

    Such a response would be so antisocial and unjust that it could only possibly come from the social justice movement.

    ?? No, that response – almost verbatim – comes from the libertarian / conservative right ALL THE DAMN TIME. I literally can’t make a “hey guys sometimes its hard to be poor” post in certain places without getting that shit. And not even conservative places, just like… political discussions on fetlife, for example, or on certain gaming / geek boards.

    So this behavior is absolutely NOT unique to the Social Justice movement; most people think this way about powerless people that they don’t respect.

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    • suntzuanime says:

      I mostly agree with this, but there’s venom from the feminists that doesn’t come from the Bootstraps types. The rightist thinks you’re a bum; the leftist thinks you’re a rapist. It’s clear which one is worse.

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    • Sarah says:

      I am a libertarian and can attest that this is a very standard right-libertarian essay that I have seen all over the internet.

      I don’t go around telling poor people that their problems are their own fault, because a.) I tentatively believe it’s not true, and b.) empathy.

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    • Zorgon says:

      I assumed that this was the point – you were supposed to see that argument, associate it with the conservative right, then be surprised when he said “the social justice movement”. You didn’t get that?

      Report comment

      • Scott F says:

        I thought the joke/point was that this is an antisocial thing to say, and an unjust thing to say, and it has so much antisocialness and injustness that you’d expect it to come from some kind of antisocial injustice movement.

        Report comment

    • blacktrance says:

      Disclaimer: I am not justifying or endorsing this behavior, merely explaining it.

      Relatedly, I see many libertarians and conservatives say something similar about feminism – “Women don’t have these problems that feminists talk about, in fact, they now have unfair advantages”, etc. Both this and the “poor people are just lazy/dumb” rhetoric exists because it’s often easier to defend the position “X isn’t a problem” than it is to defend “X is a problem, but the obvious and popular solution shouldn’t be enacted because of [insert reasons here], which can be esoteric and difficult for the average person to understand”. The latter is often the correct position, but it’s more complicated, more difficult to explain, and less intuitive. “Poverty is the fault of the individual poor person” is an easier sell than “Poverty is sometimes not the fault of the individual, and it can happen to good people, but there still shouldn’t be a welfare state”.

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      • blacktrance says:

        Addendum: Whether you’re entitled to something and whether it’s your fault that you don’t have it are separate issues, and any combination of them is possible. Some examples:

        Your employer pays you with a check, but you don’t cash or deposit it. You’re entitled to the money, but it’s your fault you don’t have it.
        You work for an employer, and he breaches the employment contract and doesn’t pay you. You’re entitled to the money, and it’s not your fault that you don’t have it.
        You’ve been poor all your life, and are unskilled, uneducated, and have no good connections. You’re not entitled to any money, but it’s not your fault that you don’t have it.
        You’re poor, and you spend your money on drugs and alcohol. You’re not entitled to any money, and it’s at least partially your fault that you don’t have it.

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  11. Sniffnoy says:

    <applauds>

    (Well, mostly, but I can nitpick disagreements later.)

    (Also your “what they pay attention to” link is broken, missing http://)

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  12. Sniffnoy says:

    Although, before I start going on about what here I disagree with, let me post a joke from Nazi Germany that I learned of from this Reddit thread. I don’t think I need to explain the analogy.

    A poster for the Winter Relief Fund reads: “No one should be allowed to go hungry or suffer from the cold.” A worker says to a colleague: “So now we’re not even allowed to do that.”

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  13. Qetchlijn says:

    Laugh out loud brilliant. As entertaining as an episode of the first season of the Wire.

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  14. Charlie says:

    While this post is amazing and slightly heartbreaking, I would like to point out something that went totally unmentioned.

    Look at that seasonal trend on searches for feminism! Wow!

    Every year, like clockwork, searches peaked in April and November, and then there was a little dip in winter and a big dip in summer. The dip in summer might be attributed to the school year – but what’s so special about April and November? And no, I checked, Women’s History Month is March, and its effect is imperceptible.

    And then it turns out that the seasonal trend is decreasing. This might be blamed on increasing media saturation of feminism, as well as increased globalization counting more internet searches not linked to whatever seasonal cycle was active in 2004. But still! Wow!

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    • Douglas Knight says:

      Britain has less of a winter dip: feminism, feminist. French.

      Report comment

    • RCF says:

      The graph is just the letter “M” repeated over and over. Yet another women’s issue co-opted by the patriarchy.

      Report comment

    • orangecat says:

      “capitalism” and “socialism” show similar trends. Maybe midterms and finals?

      Report comment

    • Nornagest says:

      Wow, that’s like clockwork.

      My first guess was that this is related to the silly season in politics: feminist news shows up more when feminist issues are being debated, so it’ll die down during the political off-season. I still find this somewhat convincing, but the graph is less noisy than I’d expect from that: I’d still expect to see the graph jump when some big feminism-related kerfuffle comes up (e.g. Elevatorgate, June 2011), and I can’t see anything like that in the data. Perhaps what looks like a big kerfuffle to my bubble-dwelling self just doesn’t make it to the headlines of the big news sites? The decrease in the seasonal trend after mid-2013, under this interpretation, would then be due to feminism becoming decoupled from the political mainstream.

      (Obstacle: I’d naively expect spikes in election years under this interpretation, and we don’t. But maybe the data’s too global to see that.)

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  15. Ozy Frantz says:

    I think quite a bit of the awful people getting laid a lot is explainable by my “sluts are evil” theory. People with high sociosexuality tend to be very unpleasant people on a whole bunch of different dimensions (I am Niceness Georg); sociosexuality measures are primarily about desire for multiple and casual sexual partners, not how many partners you actually manage to get, although I would be interested in seeing how the correlations go if you leave out the questions that do involve number of sexual partners. And of course high levels of sexual success are basically only achieved by prioritizing getting laid a lot.

    None of this, of course, comforts the MIT-attending virgin.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What about those of us with high sexuality but low socio? I have very, very large amounts of success with a very, very tiny segment of the population (limited even further by my pickiness).

      Report comment

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        Sociosexuality is the term for desiring lots of uncommitted sex with novel partners. I have a very high sociosexuality but I also hate leaving the house; those are not contradictory.

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      • Army1987 says:

        And unfortunately, IIRC some of the studies that find a negative correlation between sexual success and agreeableness use the number of distinct partners as the proxy for sexual success, which means that two one-night stands will count more than being in a relationship with someone in which you’ve had sex 3000 times.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    had a similar experience growing up, tried to be a nice person, but had no luck dating girls

    was creepy guy, thought i would be a virgin forever, no self-confidence

    felt really unmasculine, like i was a pathetic loser who couldn’t fit that role at all

    women keep their distance from me

    wanted to kill myself

    somehow this turned into the idea that maybe i was actually a woman or something

    talked about this online, and was finally able to open up my feelings and be good friends with some people

    got to the point where it felt like it was either get a sex change or kill myself

    started thinking of myself as a woman, started taking estrogen, felt at peace

    made friends more easily, felt like a friendlier person, finally found someone to date

    feel my brain changing to be more ‘woman-like’, start being attracted to status/dominance

    get lots of attention from men and women both, and just in general

    women open up to me, we talk and laugh and cry together, and i have close female friends for the first time in my life

    magically became super-attractive as a woman, like seriously 8 or 9 by my own high standards

    feel bad because just not attracted to nice low-status guys, am attracted more to ‘bad boys’

    feel bad because i remember how it feels 🙁

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    • So, basically you’re saying that (chemical) castration of Nice Guys is a thing that solves their problems.

      Hmm, probably true. That actually is the standard solution widely in use when it comes to horses; only a few alpha males are allowed to be stallions, while most male horses are gelded and thereby end up with a less painfully stressful and more content life.

      But I’m not sure humans are ready to hear that we should apply the same tried-and-true solution to them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        not what i’m saying at all, just sharing my own story is all

        probably most dudes would be suicidal on estrogen, like Alan Turing

        mostly i just wanted to express the inherent frustration in the issue since i have felt both sides of it

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          Turing was off of estrogen for a year before his death.

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        • Sarah says:

          If this is true generally it is SUPER IMPORTANT.

          Here is a crank theory I want to test: “stereotypically masculine behavior is due to high testosterone, stereotypically feminine behavior is due to high estrogen, and people who display neither behavior are lower than average in sex hormone levels.”

          This would explain a lot of what I see in the world, but I don’t know if it’s true.

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          • Scott F says:

            I have to say, I find it amusing that you called it a crank theory.

            Here is my understanding of the data for or against this theory. Unfortunately it is mostly about the male side, partly because that’s what I was interested in, partly because the effects are larger and more easily observed, and partly because it seems researchers unanimously agreed to only study testosterone. So:

            Testosterone is very strongly linked to seeking dominance and it appear the causal arrows go in both directions: high testosterone causes men (and with less certainty, women) to seek success in dominance games (often social, sometimes physical i.e. violence), and success in dominance games causes a rise in testosterone levels in men. “Career” women who are successful (have won many dominance games to be promoted so highly) have higher testosterone levels than average, but there is also evidence that estrogen levels prompt dominance-seeking in women, and rise in response to dominance game victories.

            Since estrogen is produced by aromatising testosterone, for women any increase in estrogen will see a corresponding smaller increase in testosterone (some excess that didn’t get aromatised), and for men any increase in testosterone will see a corresponding increase in estrogen (more testosterone to be aromatised into estrogen). This aromatisation link means it’s possible that the above evidence of estrogen increasing dominance-seeking in women could in fact be testosterone increasing both dominance seeking and estrogen levels.

            So we can say with confidence that some stereotypically masculine behaviours, like competition and dominance-seeking, have a positive feedback loop with testosterone in both sexes.

            It’s hard for me to pin down what I think are stereotypically feminine behaviours, if you have some suggestions? Anecdotally, it’s well-known in the steroid-user community that if you are struggling with strong emotions and mood swings, it’s caused by your estrogen levels being too high (the very high levels of testosterone they are sustaining means a lot of aromatisation into estrogen) and is effectively treated by taking anti-estrogenic measures. Open to interpretation whether that counts as stereotypically feminine, but it is literally causing bodybuilders to break down crying over past relationships and curl up with a pint of ice-cream.

            There are also tantalising suggestions from the literature on obese men (since it has been found that male sex hormones decrease and female sex hormones increase in proportion to their obesity), but the obesity itself is a major confounding factor (some might say a huge confounding factor, but I would castigate those hypothetical punsters for making light of a very weighty issue).

            Very low levels of the primary sex hormone cause depression in that sex, which is kind of the ultimate in “displaying neither behaviour”. There isn’t a whole lot of research on the effects of low or low-normal hormone levels on behaviour.

            My personal opinion is that there absolutely are certain stereotypically masculine behaviours that are basically solely expressions of testosterone levels (and that they have feedback into testosterone levels, potentially allowing either one to bootstrap the other; see ‘fake it til you make it’), and there are plenty of stereotypically masculine behaviours that have nothing to do with testosterone except that they have been developed as attempts to signal high testosterone as a mating strategy.

            I suspect with much less certainty that the same is true of estrogen in women, based on waist-to-hip ratio being both a strong component of attractiveness and an indicator of high estrogen levels.

            I give your crank theory a lot of credit, and would dearly love to test it too.

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          • Anonymous says:

            my experience fits with Scott F’s comment

            it seems that estrogen increases subjective conscious experience in particular, which causes strong emotions and mood swings if you aren’t in a good place – personally it mostly makes it feel like life has color instead of this stupid numb gray feeling everywhere, but i do cry more easily

            also estrogen has made me more ambitious, in line with the feedback cycle described – the main difference is that if there is a *man* who is *more* successful and intelligent and good than me, then i go really crazy for him and will be super submissive and stuff – i would guess the estrogen is necessary for this part of the feeling

            also estrogen multiplied my desire to have kids by ~20

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          • Sarah says:

            My experience with increased levels of estrogen (from birth control) was uncontrollable sobbing for hours. “Moodiness” seems to be a common effect of estrogen. (also an effect of lack of testosterone? as in, men with testicular cancer whose testicles were amputated also tend to be moody. I don’t know whether estrogen/testosterone is like a single slider or like two separate knobs.)

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I wonder if moody low-testosterone men are experiencing gender dysphoria.

            Report comment

          • Anonymous says:

            sorry i shouldn’t have generalized my experiences so much

            i think it’s probably like 1.5 knobs

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Aaaaand another small update in favour of “I should eventually try HRT.” The problem is, there is no way for me to talk to a therapist I could trust. This is Russia.

            Uh, which reminds me. I really kinda want to socially transition in my online life, damnit, but I don’t want to annoy people and/or embarrass those who aren’t up to date. And half the time I flip on this the moment something in me seems insufficiently feminine.

            How about this: my pronouns are they/their/them, I don’t mind she/her/hers, and you can refer to me as being of either binary gender?

            This is so confusing, I have this awful awful voice dysphoria too. God damn. I need to Figure Gender Out, but I’m afraid to lose out on my masculinity and I certainly don’t want anything like surgery or whatever. And it’s so damn embarrassing to talk about it; thanks for absolutely nothing, TumblrInAction people!

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            You know there are a bunch of guides online to developing a girl-voice? It is, I understand, a fair time commitment, but otoh it’s very nonpermanent– once you’ve learned girlvoice you can switch back into dudevoice whenever. That might be something you want to check out in your transition.

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          • Anonymous says:

            wasn’t true for me, now when i try to use ‘boy-voice’ i sound like i’m trying really hard to fake a male voice

            but yes practice does make a big difference, and probably if you use both regularly it will be switchable

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    • anon says:

      Is this greentext?

      Report comment

    • Army1987 says:

      forgot about the existence of personal pronouns, capital letters, full stops, and paragraphs with several sentences in them

      (SCNR.)

      Report comment

    • John says:

      Did this feel like becoming a woman or discovering you were one all along? Did this feel like a personal choice, an inherent trait, something society pushed you to do? What did this relieve and what problems did it bring or worsen, other than getting laid?

      Report comment

      • Anonymous says:

        it felt like discovering an inherent part of me

        this made everything better, love life, emotional health, attitude, temperament, productivity, rationality, way people treat me, friendship, whatever else. literally the only thing that is worse is my relationship with my parents.

        Report comment

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure whether I should conclude that you just felt more comfortable being a woman, or that you weren’t gender conforming as a man and so people treated you better as a woman, or that you’d be fine in either body but the “floor” for how lonely and low status one can be in life is just way lower for men.

      In general, MtF is a lot more common than FtM…

      Report comment

      • Anonymous says:

        well, the first one is definitely true

        i also skipped a lot of details bc i was making a certain point, i do feel a significant amount of dysphoria

        well males have higher variance so it’s not terrible surprising that a relatively large number would end up close to woman-space

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      • Hannah Lewis says:

        Be careful with that claim about relative prevalence. The studies usually cited to support it are about the number of mtf and ftm people seeking bottom surgery, so their numbers measure not just the population size but the relative desirability of the different surgical options available to each group.

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  17. anonymous says:

    bookmarked, especially for the agreeableness vs. sexual success references

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  18. caryatis says:

    Hey, I’ve never gotten any cookies from this blog.

    So if we abstract gender out of it, it’s a question of expecting fairness from life. E.g., I’m well-intentioned, I shower, and I don’t beat women, therefore I *deserve* a girlfriend. It’s unfair for women to demand men they are sexually attracted to. Or (to take an example from my life): I went to a good school, I got good grades, I *deserve* a job. It’s not fair that interviewers demand social skills.

    And the feminist response, depressing as it is, is likely accurate: when your desired outcome depends on others’ actions, there is no reason to assume “fairness” will prevail.

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    • Ialdabaoth says:

      I have never said that I deserve a girlfriend. Or a job.

      All I have said is that I will likely starve if I can’t pay for food, and that I will likely wither away if I am not shown affection.

      And that the longer I go without eating, the harder it will be to perform well at a job interview, and that the longer I go without affection, the harder it will be to perform well when a girl smiles at me.

      But I never said that I DESERVE to eat, or that I DESERVE affection. Just that I need it.

      You used the word “deserve”. Not me.

      Report comment

      • Deiseach says:

        But the trouble with the “Henry gets all the pussy he wants, why can’t I?” argument (and can we be clear whether we’re talking about sex or romance or a combination of both? Some people don’t want a relationship, they just want to be able to pull any bird/bloke they fancy; some people want the whole love and marriage package) – anyway, the trouble with that is the same as –

        – imagine your father says “You know, I could have got drunk every night, taken my belt to you, and beaten you black and blue! But I didn’t! Aren’t I a great father? Don’t you think I deserve to be praised for this? Because you know, there are a lot of fathers out there who are abusive, but I wasn’t! I never so much as smacked you across the legs once in your entire life!”

        Now would you, even as a dutiful child, react to this with “Hey, yeah, I should be constantly praising you for not beating me bloody each night of my childhood!” or would you think “Well, er, that’s kind of the least you’d expect a parent to act as – that they’re not abusive? It doesn’t matter if other parents are bad parents, you are supposed to be a reasonable parent at a basic minimum level.”

        That’s why women get angry about the “But why do women like bad boys more than me, when I’m nice?” refrain.

        BEAUSE NOT BEING A JERK IS THE MINMUM EXPECTATION OF NORMAL PEOPLE, IS WHY. IT’S NOT SOME SUPER BONUS ADDED TOP-UP TO YOUR ATTRACTIVENESS OR LACK THEREOF.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          imagine your father says “You know, I could have got drunk every night, taken my belt to you, and beaten you black and blue! But I didn’t! Aren’t I a great father? Don’t you think I deserve to be praised for this? Because you know, there are a lot of fathers out there who are abusive, but I wasn’t! I never so much as smacked you across the legs once in your entire life!”

          I do not have to try very hard at all to imagine this scenario.

          Now would you, even as a dutiful child, react to this with “Hey, yeah, I should be constantly praising you for not beating me bloody each night of my childhood!” or would you think “Well, er, that’s kind of the least you’d expect a parent to act as – that they’re not abusive? It doesn’t matter if other parents are bad parents, you are supposed to be a reasonable parent at a basic minimum level.”

          From experience: I would think, “Well, er, that’s kind of the least you’d expect a parent to act as – that they’re not abusive? It doesn’t matter if other parents are bad parents, you are supposed to be a reasonable parent at a basic minimum level.”, and then be punished for it. After which I would learn to think “Hey, yeah, I should be constantly praising you for not beating me bloody each night of my childhood!” so that I would not be beat bloody that night. Because hey, that’s how reality works.

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        • Fronken says:

          The difference is that the abusive fathers aren’t getting praised for being good parents … I think. I’m not sure I understand your point.

          Yes, people should be good regardless of whether it gets them laid. That doesn’t explain why jerks get laid, or make it a good thing that jerks get laid, or offer comfort to the lonely and sad, or answer the Nice Guy’s refrain in any other meaningful way.

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        • Matthew says:

          Except, unlike the not-totally-abusive father in your example, the decent men (I’m going to start using this term as standard to avoid the nice guy ambiguity) aren’t asking for praise, just acknowledgment of their pain.

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        • Scott F says:

          I hear this “not being a jerk is the minimum expectation of normal people” and “congratulations you just barely passed the bar for inclusion into the human race, good job” refrain quite a lot, and I always wonder…

          … Henry clearly fails at meeting the minimum expectations of a normal person and sails well under the bar for inclusion into the human race. How come that isn’t a penalty to his attractiveness?

          Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Henry clearly fails at meeting the minimum expectations of a normal person and sails well under the bar for inclusion into the human race. How come that isn’t a penalty to his attractiveness?

            Also, how come this KEEPS GETTING ASKED and not answered? Like, how many times do we have to ask this before it’s engaged with by the people who are giving the “not being a jerk is the minimum” Chris Rock routine?

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          • Anonymous says:

            How come that isn’t a penalty to his attractiveness?

            I would hope/assume that Henry has some other “positive” qualities (physical attractiveness, money/status, social competence, confidence, whatever), and that these initially attract women. A subset of these women do not use “beats me” to remove people from their “potential partners” list and so Henry gets to have a lot of sex and romantic partners.

            On the other hand, basically nobody uses “doesn’t beat me” to add people to their “potential partners” list.

            Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            …do not use “beats me” to remove people from their “potential partners” list

            …basically nobody uses “doesn’t beat me” to add people to their “potential partners” list.

            Report comment

          • Emily H. says:

            “Attracting women who won’t leave even if you beat them” is a skill on its own.

            Henry knows how to target women who have low self-esteem and are insecure or needy or damaged because of previous emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; Henry knows how to come across as a really attractive guy (maybe he’s good-looking, maybe he just has a really charismatic personality); maybe Mrs. Henry has had her expectations of a good relationship bent out of whack by previous abuse, maybe she lives in a culture or subculture where the rule is “stand by your man” and “everybody hits their partner once in a while, it’s not that big a deal”; probably Henry doesn’t start in on any physical abuse until he has so thoroughly and gradually undermined Mrs. Henry’s self-esteem that she comes to believe that she deserves the abuse or will never find anyone better if she leaves.

            The vast majority of women really want to avoid being in a relationship with guys that hit them, just like the vast majority of people really want to avoid buying cars that have some hidden defect requiring thousands of dollars in repair work. The fact that people do buy cars with defects requiring thousands of dollars in repair work doesn’t mean people want them; it just means some people did a good enough job hiding the defects.

            (There are women who are really prone to overlooking red flags, latching on to guys who are overly affectionate at first, and rationalizing the abuse when it starts. I think most decent guys correctly perceive these women as ‘not good dating prospects.’)

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          • Steve Johnson says:

            How come that isn’t a penalty to his attractiveness?

            Because Roosh and Heartiste are right about women’s sexual preferences. Anti-social behavior – even though it will destroy civilization if it becomes widespread – is viscerally sexually attractive to women.

            In the long run men will behave in whatever way gets them sex.

            You figure out the conclusion.

            Report comment

          • Zorgon says:

            I would suggest a more general case answer to Ialda’s question:

            This question is never answered because engaging with it is a strong social taboo. Genuine specifics about what women find attractive have been taboo for most of human history, and feminist culture has inherited that taboo from mainstream culture.

            I also think that this is an argument against Heartiste/Roosh et al. “Women like bastards” has been part of mainstream culture for centuries; I do not think that a culture which strongly taboos female sexuality is going to reveal a genuine preference so obviously in that way.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Zorgon, that is some Dan Brown thinking. There’s no reason to think female sexual preferences are systematically covered up. They’re just systematically subjectively opaque, for a whole number of reasons (like the fact that they trend toward favoring jerks over decent dudes).

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          • The Do-Operator says:

            Perhaps it makes sense to think about the taboo against discussing female preference in light of Goodhart’s Law. If it became common knowledge that men are ranked according to social dominance and confidence, and men explicitly maximize for it, the scale loses its value as a marker for genetic fitness. The taboo can be seen as the enforcement of a conspiracy to protect the usefulness of the metric

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          • caryatis says:

            As Emily H. says, there is a minority of women who for whatever reason (desire for excitement for one) repeatedly enter abusive relationships. I don’t see why commentators are so eager to extend that to all women and assume away all the women in stable, healthy relationships.

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          • Zorgon says:

            Please understand that I’m not limiting this hypothesized social taboo to the specific element of Henry’s seemingly-inexplicable success. I posit that here is a strong social taboo against ALL genuine discussion of what women find attractive, except in the most vague sense.

            Our culture contains vast quantities of discussion of exactly what men find attractive, and a very small amount about what women find attractive, and even that which exists is obfuscatory and/or revelatory in nature, both of which point to the existence of a taboo.

            As to what produces the taboo, I’m just gonna go right ahead, press the ejector seat button and say “gender roles”.

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          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            +1 to Emily H. I’m not sure if that’s the whole story, but it’s an important part of it.

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          • caryatis says:

            “Obfuscatory and/or revelatory”?

            Report comment

          • Anonymous says:

            Sure, caryatis. Either something is revealed or something isn’t revealed. Therefore, there must be such an intense taboo that even when there is a fairly widely-held and empirically-supported position that is denied by those we assume would benefit from a taboo remaining intact, that position must be false, because nothing can beat the taboo.

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          • Zorgon says:

            @caryatis – Obfuscatory information includes things like “be relatively fit and wash regularly,” which is identical to baseline social acceptability norms and thus not really applicable to the specific question of what is sexually appealing to women. It also includes things like movie tropes where the primary means of attaining relationships is by completing plotlines.

            Revelatory information usually takes the form of “secret tricks”, the complete corpus of which makes up PUA. The thing about revelatory sexual information is that in the context of a taboo subject it doesn’t need to be right; in the absence of other information it holds inherent power simply by breaking taboo.

            This is why PUA ends up containing basic social acceptability criteria such as washing more, relatively useful info such as learning how to be confident, and garbage info like “negging”. In the absence of any significant mainstream information about female attraction criteria, these all seem equally reasonable, even though the last is just tripe.

            If I’m right, breaking the social taboos about communicating female sexuality to men would disempower PUAs very efficiently.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You’ve gotten taken to task here a lot already. But just to be clear: it isn’t a minimum expectation. In fact, being a jerk is correlated with greater success at a wide variety of metrics, here most relevantly female sexual selection.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Bad analogy. Better analogy would be if fathers who beat their children paradoxically got more respect and praise from those children.

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        • IvHu says:

          BEAUSE NOT BEING A JERK IS THE MINMUM EXPECTATION OF NORMAL PEOPLE, IS WHY. IT’S NOT SOME SUPER BONUS ADDED TOP-UP TO YOUR ATTRACTIVENESS OR LACK THEREOF.
          Really? I guess I rarely encounter “normal” people, then. The majority vote of my experience has been that people are hostile & cruel. If yours has been different, I envy your privileged life.

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        • Really? I guess I rarely encounter “normal” people, then. The majority vote of my experience has been that people are hostile & cruel. If yours has been different, I envy your privileged life.

          I’m sorry you haven’t been as lucky as me. I generally find people to be nice enough, although often they’re indifferent. I haven’t encountered many hostile and cruel people since school days (apart from on the internet).

          I’m not sure which of our experiences is the norm and which the exception.

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          • Army1987 says:

            I’m not sure which of our experiences is the norm and which the exception.

            FWIW, most people around me are nice, but this is probably more because I tend to avoid nasty people like a cat avoids water than because they aren’t there.

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    • Ialdabaoth says:

      On the other hand, if I say “I am so hungry and I’m tired of being homeless, I need a job”, and you say “well here’s how you build a good resume, and here’s the skills companies like me are looking for!”… and then I show that I have those skills, and I build exactly the resume you asked for, and multiple companies choose to pass me over in exchange for people who do NOT have the skills you listed and who didn’t even submit a resume, I STILL won’t say that I “deserve” a job more than those people, but I’ll certainly make intimations that by the criteria you gave me, something is up.

      And if when I say something is up, you say “STOP ACTING LIKE YOU DESERVE A JOB, YOU AREN’T OWED SHIT”, then I KNOW something is definitely up, because I may be many things, but stupid is not one of them.

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      • caryatis says:

        “I show that I have those skills, and I build exactly the resume you asked for, and multiple companies choose to pass me over in exchange for people who do NOT have the skills you listed and who didn’t even submit a resume…”

        Ialdabaoth, wouldn’t that just mean that the criteria you were given for how to get a job are incomplete?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Sure. But if they’re incomplete, then when I come back and say “I didn’t get the job anywhere, and I applied to a bunch of places, what gives?”, the answer should be “oh, we forgot these other things – did you wear a suit and did you shave and shower?”, not “QUIT WHINING YOU PATHETIC WORM, YOU AREN’T OWED A JOB!”

          Also, when you get to the “wear a suit and tie, shower and shave”, I should be allowed to say “Umm, I’m homeless and have no money for clothes or for cleaning clothes, how am I supposed to do that consistently enough?” without you yelling at me for deserving to be jobless because I’m homeless. I’m not saying you should give me a job, just… you know, acknowledge that I’m in a shitty no-win situation and you’re sorry and you wish you could help but I’m just too stinky.

          I can snap every single piece of this metaphor if you’d like, but I’m afraid I don’t have Scott’s rhetorical skills.

          I’m also having a really bad day…week…, so it would be really awesome if Scott would step in and snap all these metaphors for me, and I would owe him one.

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    • Do you (or anyone) know a cite for purer form of the feminist response? I sort of want to argue it’s a terrible thing to say, but I’d like to at least start from an original version of the argument rather than just a reference to it.

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    • Ozy Frantz says:

      Well, yes, it is totally unfair that one cannot get a job without having social skills. It is particularly unfair to disabled people who may be incapable of learning said social skills. I am not sure what your point is.

      I feel like… if someone is in a shit situation, then it is nice to be able to help them, but even if you can’t help them, you should at least let them acknowledge that the situation is shit.

      Also, as Scott’s girlfriend, he has many more selling points than showering and not beating women. He is an excellent boyfriend and I highly recommend dating him to everyone.

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      • Randy M says:

        At least we can point out why social skills are a bonus to almost every job (those with coworkers or customers). What is the equivalent that men must have to gain a lady’s favor (to use an anachronism)? And is it as integral to relationships as social skills are to maintaining a job?

        It’s actually more like asking someone what they are looking for in a candidate, and they tell you the job skills required, you show up for work and say, great I’ve got what you want when can I start? And they tell you, “Look, I think you are prefect for this position, but we can’t hire you, but please follow us on twitter.”
        And this is repeated for years before someone mentions that companies typically require resumes or at least an application.

        To paraphrase the aforementioned Athol Kay, men are given advice for developing relationship traits, but not attraction traits to land the relationship; and women don’t want to admit that (like men, but with different criteria) you don’t get to the relationship stage (by and large) without passing the attraction stage.

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    • James says:

      Scott seemed to go to a lot of effort to point out that this isn’t what he was saying, at several points in the post. Representative quotes:

      I do not think men should be entitled to sex, I do not think women should be “blamed” for men not having sex, I do not think anyone owes sex to anyone else, I do not think women are idiots who don’t know what’s good for them, I do not think anybody has the right to take it into their own hands to “correct” this unsettling trend singlehandedly.

      But when you deny everything and abuse anyone who brings it up, you cede this issue to people who sometimes do think all of these things. And then you have no right to be surprised when all the most frequently offered answers are super toxic.

      There is a very simple reply to the question which is better than anything feminists are now doing. It is the answer I gave to my patient Dan: “Yeah, things are unfair. I can’t do anything about it, but I’m sorry for your pain. Here is a list of resources that might be able to help you.”

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  19. Icicle says:

    “Social justice chaotic evil undead lich necromancers” is quite possibly my favorite sentence of all time on this blog. It’s just so fun to say! ^o^

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  20. I think I’d run into the “Nice Guy” (caps included) meme before running into Heartiste, etc because there were a lot of movies/novels/whatnot that seemed to argue that if guys were persistent enough, held enough stereos over their heads, won the big sportsball game, they would be awarded the girl that they wanted at the beginning of the movie.

    That didn’t make them bad guys for wanting, but I remember having this kind of story called out as part of our background culture that could cause guys to get pissed at me for not playing by the normal rules, if I didn’t care about the stereo they were holding or the sportsball win or them just being generally around and nice. My impression was that I was being given the Nice Guy meme defensively, so I wouldn’t feel guilty/betrayalish for not wanting to date guys I didn’t want to date.

    [quick disclaimer: the Jezebel stuff is gross and hateful, and doesn’t help correct the error I’m describing above]

    That’s my point on the good idea that “Nice Guys” can point to. Now here are my less cogent ideas on what frustrated nice guys can do. I’m in a quasi-similar position, in that I’ve had two boyfriends, don’t place a high probability on ever winding up with another, but really would like to wind up married and have children. I’ve been trying to figure out how to adjust my expectations without nurturing anger or resentment.

    I have been having mixed success! The main thing I focus on is other ways to be close to/of service with people (sublimation, in the good sense). Eve Tushnet (a celibate Catholic lesbian) has written a lot of stuff I find helpful in her upcoming book.

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    • drethelin says:

      Catholicism is creepy

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      • Icicle says:

        Even if I agreed, this is a spectacularly unhelpful response.

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        • Can you be more specific? I *do* find Eve’s perspective helpful in my particular circumstances (and sexual orientation isn’t the reason why I don’t anticipate I’ll wind up married). She’s speaking from the experience of one particular class of the broader problem of not anticipating romantic relationships (not necessarily through any fault of your own).

          ETA: I may have misunderstood which comment you found unhelpful, but if it was mine, I would appreciate the clarification.

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        • drethelin says:

          I agree I just didn’t want it to leave unsaid and then for me to forget about it and go somewhere else but here’s a bit of an elaboration.

          Normally I can accept that most people’s epistemology including my own is probably terrible. I can view the fact that billions of people think billions of others are going to burn in hell with equanimity.

          Other times I get freaked the fuck out by people who believe in a “Loving” god that made them lesbians and then forbade them to have sex with women or whatever the fuck. It’s especially disturbing because Catholicism is the thing I seem to notice atheists convert to more than other things, and I just plain don’t grok that. So to me it’s really disturbing when people advocate self-abnegation and loneliness in the name of (something emotionally equivalent to believing Elvis is still alive).

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          • suntzuanime says:

            The reason you notice atheists converting to Catholicism is that it’s different enough from atheism to be worth bothering converting (unlike watered-down Protestantism or American Buddhism) but not totally beyond the pale in elite American society (unlike fundamentalist Protestantism or Islam).

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          • I appreciate the expansion of your comment. Esp this bit:

            So to me it’s really disturbing when people advocate self-abnegation and loneliness

            Because I don’t take it as a given that winding up not having romantic/sexual partnerships has to be abnegation and loneliness. If it were I think there would be a much higher societal obligation to “Nice Guys” since they would, like Catholic queer folks, be cut off from the most important part of human life.

            I expect some, non-trivial group of people will not acquire romantic attachments, even though they would like them (without getting into what the causes are, though I bet we can agree that some people will fall into this category by chance). My goal (esp as I’m likely to wind up here) is to figure out what to be doing instead to be of service and to be fed, emotionally. And that’s what Eve’s book is about, which is why I’ve been recommending it to single friends, regardless of whether they’re gay or Catholic.

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          • Chris says:

            Because I don’t take it as a given that winding up not having romantic/sexual partnerships has to be abnegation and loneliness.

            But that’s the whole point. When the gay celibate Catholic community talks about their cross, etc., they mean it as suffering, and that suffering is loneliness. They don’t mince words about it either. Suffering is the whole point. And it’s (a good part of) why I believe Catholicism is evil (and like drethelin, “creepy” too, but that’s besides the point.)

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          • MugaSofer says:

            “I get freaked the fuck out by people who believe in a “Loving” god that made them lesbians and then forbade them to have sex with women or whatever the fuck.”

            You misunderstand Catholicism.

            God didn’t arbitrarily forbid something good even though He loves us; having sex with women is immoral, and so God (who loves us) has warned us about it; because we might otherwise not realize or forget or be subject to motivated cognition.

            Source: not a Catholic, but I know that much.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Sure, but remember that most people’s sense of God’s interaction with morality is through Divine Command Theory, where God literally arbitrarily decides what’s moral and what isn’t through what may as well be whim. So when God decides to make someone to be a lesbian, and also decides to make lesbianism sinful, that seems pretty horrific.

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          • Mary says:

            ” most people’s sense of God’s interaction with morality is through Divine Command Theory, where God literally arbitrarily decides what’s moral and what isn’t through what may as well be whim.”

            Well, yes, if you intentionally assume He’s doing it through whim, it would look horrific.

            Then, there’s no one on God’s occasional green earth whose actions would not look horrific if you started from the assumption they were acting out of whims.

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          • Doug S. says:

            Say what you like about Catholicism, it’s religion that takes its premises seriously. You know those comic book fans and Star Wars fans who go over everything for continuity errors and come up with crazy fan theories to patch them up? Well, Catholics have been doing that kind of analysis, over-analysis, and re-analysis for over a thousand years. Even the most devoted and nit-picky fandoms have nothing on Catholicism. If you want to know why Catholic doctrine is the way it is, they’ve got pages and pages of justifying argument tucked away somewhere to intimidate you with, just like lawyers and judges do. It’s an intellectually coherent system, even if it’s not actually correct.

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    • KJbGcX says:

      I’d be curious to hear why you think you aren’t likely to find another boyfriend if you’re interested in sharing. (For the sake of improving my models of single women and stuff.)

      Report comment

      • Aspie enough to be quite out of the range of what most gentlemen are interested in in a gf. Being good at behaving NT is not the same at getting better at having higher empathy, etc, and I feel bad about just performing in an intimate relationship.

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        • Slow Learner says:

          Ah, I think I know what you mean about performing emotions. I don’t think I’m Aspie per se, but I have quite a flat affect for a lot of things that “should” affect me.
          I will say that for myself, I gain a lot more from a romantic partner being supportive than being empathetic; concrete actions and responses to situations, which can be learned just as “this is what x needs when this kind of thing happens” are more important than how their feelings react to mine. There should be people who agree with me on that out there somewhere (this is not intended to say your aim of being awesome and of service to others is in any way wrong or you should emphasise it less, not least because I have no idea how uncommon I am in this respect).

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        • KJbGcX says:

          Well, I have similar worries as a straight guy with some aspie tendencies… so you might try looking for your male counterpart.

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        • Sarah says:

          Out of curiosity, do you read any autistic bloggers?

          I get the impression you think about the autism/romance interaction differently than most of the people I read.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I feel pretty bad about the relationship I had years ago with a girl with Asperger’s. She was the prettiest girl I’ve ever been with and one of the kindest I’ve ever known but one of the things I absolutely need from a relationship is to feel understood, and I just didn’t. Still wonder sometimes whether there were things I could’ve tried or ways I could’ve changed my own expectations, but when logistics got in the way I just pulled the plug.

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        • Anonymous says:

          This surprises me.

          I’m probably doing the exact same thing as women do when they say “just be nice and sensitive and be yourself”, here, but I honestly do know men who will *only* date highly intellectual NT types, since that type of person is similar to themselves. And men frequently complain about female emotionality.

          I guess that like women, men’s stated preferences differ from their actual ones.

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    • Deiseach says:

      Yes! That’s the cultural attitude we wicked hateful castrating* feminist types are arguing about; the image of women as prizes for the guy who just perseveres long enough and is Nice Enough so that he wears down her resistance in the end.

      Rightly or wrongly, it can inculcate the expectation that “I did the Big Romantic Setpiece, she is obliged to go out with me now!” Nobody is obliged to like anyone, go out with anyone, or do anything more than be polite and not hurtful when rejecting unwanted advances.

      *I have actually been accused of being part of a cabal of feminists who want to castrate all men. Ah, the dear departed days of the crazy intactivist guy who hijacked a post on a LiveJournal blog to argue about if we didn’t stamp out circumcision right now, we were all castrating feminists who wanted to enslave and emasculate men. He was not merely trolling, he was serious about it.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        I notice that we seem to be talking past each other due to heightened defensiveness / sense of danger. Is there anything I can do to de-escalate this?

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      • Anonymous says:

        > I did the Big Romantic Setpiece, she is obliged to go out with me now!

        I think that’s not exactly it. Men tend to be romantically foolish in this odd way where they think doing some big grand costly gesture will impress the woman. When that doesn’t happen, they think it was because the gesture wasn’t grand enough, and may try even harder next time.

        Too many men spend a lot of effort in these gestures, and suffer expenses in both their money and time, all the while obliviously failing the woman’s standards in other ways. There will never be a relationship if you aren’t attractive enough already, and those grand gestures wouldn’t be necessary if you were attractive to begin with.

        Culture probably reinforces this belief. Each story of a “marginal guy gets the girl after heroic effort” probably exacerbates the problem.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I think that’s not exactly it. Men tend to be romantically foolish in this odd way where they think doing some big grand costly gesture will impress the woman. When that doesn’t happen, they think it was because the gesture wasn’t grand enough, and may try even harder next time.

          That’s because the Big Grand Romantic Gesture does get the woman, if she’s already attracted to you.

          It’s a closing technique, not an opening technique.

          The opening technique is simple:

          1. Be attractive
          2. Don’t be unattractive

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  21. DrBeat says:

    I think you are too easily buying into feminist stereotypes about how MRAs MUST be evil because they oppose feminism so of COURSE the “manosphere” (a group whose only commonality is that they believe men have needs, placing them in their own distinct fringe) must be evil and corrupted too! PUAs and MRAs have nothing to do with each other and lumping them together in this way is buying into a lie feminists push in order to keep their stranglehold on the conversation. Feminism is corrupted by the fact that its core tenets are completely wrong and based in misandry. The MHRM is “corrupted” by the presence of people that aren’t actually a part of it.

    Like, do you know what the ideology or worldview of MRAs is? You seem to just be taking the feminist assumption of “they must be for bad things” even as you reject the other feminist assumptions.

    Also: It’s absurd and illogical to think that “the better parts” of feminism and “the manosphere” should team up. Because first off, the “the manosphere” is not united around any ideology or worldview, the only thing they have in common is the belief men have needs. Second, if you are just referring to MRAs… Look, I’m an MRA. Obviously. I reject feminism. I have looked at feminism, I have looked at what feminism claims to believe and claims to teach, what feminism actually believes and teaches, and the results of feminism’s actions, and I have concluded “Fuck that noise.” Feminism is wrong one hundred percent of the time. That is WHY feminism needs to be destroyed, not just ignored, because every person who subscribes to feminist ideology is one more person who will never, ever correctly analyze any single situation, and who will vehemently, violently oppose any effort at reform that might actually solve a problem.

    What you’re saying to me is “You should find common ground with the people who are wrong one hundred percent of the time! You should team up with the people who are wrong one hundred percent of the time, listen to their completely wrong ideas, and cooperate and follow some of their completely misguided plans of action, in order to police your movement of people that aren’t actually in your movement!”

    Feminists and MRAs cooperating isn’t like getting Democrats and Republicans to cooperate on a bill, it’s getting libertarians and Communists to agree how to solve a problem. Everything one side thinks will solve the problem, the other side will think makes it worse. It doesn’t matter how nice or reasonable they are, and it doesn’t matter if both of them are motivated by wanting good things. The fundamental ways of conceptualizing the world and analyzing problems to find a solution just don’t mesh.

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    • suntzuanime says:

      You could get libertarians and Communists to team up against Nazis. They don’t have *literally* opposite views, and neither do MRAs and feminists. MRAs want to improve the status of men relative to women, feminists want to improve the status of women relative to men, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t cooperate on something that improved the absolute status of both so long as it left the relative statuses the same.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        There is no such thing as “absolute status”. ALL status is relative.

        What you GET are cooperations on “improving the status of feminist men and women and improving the status of MRA men and women relative to the status of everyone else”. Which is why, when a woman gets abused by an alpha male, her friends all take it out on a hapless Nice Guy – and when a trying-to-be-alpha gets shot down by a queen bee, he takes it out on a hapless fat chick.

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        • suntzuanime says:

          When I said “status” I did not mean “social status” but rather the general term meaning “position”, sort of like “how well is your life going”. I apologize for using confusing terminology.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Did you mean “how well is your life going” in the sense of “position” or in the sense of “QALY”? because I think these are different things, and I don’t think the feminists or MRAs give a fuck about QALY at all, except as talking points to jockey for position.

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          • suntzuanime says:

            I mean QALY, and I am somehow not *quite* so cynical about the motives of the feminist movement as you are. People sometimes do work together to make the world a better place. That they are often too busy squabbling over relative power to do so doesn’t mean it can never happen.

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    • Matthew says:

      I actually thought you had the better of the argument with Veronica in the last thread, so I mention for your own calibration purposes that you’ve veered into “sounds unhinged” in this one. Claiming that feminism is a priori wrong about everything is an extraordinary claim.

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      • DrBeat says:

        I don’t think it’s an indefensible one.

        I forget if it was here or at LW that I read the article about how, stupidity is not the opposite of intelligence, you can’t find the correct path by just taking the opposite of what a stupid person says, and stupid people can be right sometimes by chance. And you are probably thinking something along those lines, right?

        But I thought it was kind of missing half of the issue: first off, there’s seldom just one wrong answer and one right answer, there’s several “right answers” and theoretically infinite wrong ones. And second, if you don’t know how to reason or deduce or observe, you might sometimes get the right answer by chance, but if you know how to do it WRONG, it is entirely possible that you will never arrive at the right answer.

        If you take a math test, and you don’t know how to find the area of a circle and just write random numbers down, you might get the right one by chance. If you take that test and you think the equation to find the area of a circle is er^2, then you will not get a single answer right. Your answers will be consistent, you can show how you got them, they’ll all match each other, and they will all be wrong.

        Feminism’s worldview and interpretive framework are a faulty equation. By looking only at how women are victimized and how men are strong, by starting from the fundamental assumption that “sexism is hatred of and the desire to harm women”, applying the feminist interpretation to events will always, always lead you to a conclusion that is wrong.

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        • gattsuru says:

          I’d expect at least a few circumstances where “hatred of and desire to harm women” is actually a moderately good description of events. At the very least, there’s not exactly a shortage of serial killers that specifically targeted women.

          I’ve got issues with several common axioms in modern feminism — ignoring movement-agnostic issues like the atrocious math and questionable science, I think they looked at the dust-speck versus torture problem and picked the worst possible answer — but I find the claim that some group is /always/ wrong to be extraordinary enough to require additional group.

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          • DrBeat says:

            There are serial killers who target women.

            This stick out in our minds because it is unusual for women to be victims of violence instead of men, and it is more emotionally affecting than the targeting of men because we place much, much, much higher innate value on women’s lives.

            If feminism were to claim “that guy hated women and wanted to hurt them,” and then ended that sentence and paragraph there, then it would be right. But feminism and feminists cannot stop there. They will invariably add on that this is an expression of our society’s accepted hatred for women, and normalization of harm to women, even though this is the complete opposite of the truth. They will then add that this means we need to “have a conversation” about how women don’t feel safe, and what men should do to make them feel safer, even though women are by every objective measurement possible much, much safer than men. The “conversation” will consist, as it always has, of shaming and blaming toward men for being Bad and not doing enough to place the well-being of women above their own, and the comprehensive removal of agency from all women.

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          • I have a notion that part of why men get attacked by other men more is that, just as women are taught to be excessively cautious, men are taught (as part of being masculine) to take excessive risks.

            I believe that men are valued too little rather than that women are valued too much.

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        • Ok. So was feminism wrong when the early feminists demanded the right to vote? Was feminism wrong when it said that women should have the same rights as men to work in the workplace? Are feminists wrong when some of them argue that male -on-male and female-on-male rape are both severely under-reported (see e.g. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/male-rape-noreen-abdullahkhan/?K=9780230520769)? Are feminists wrong when they are concerned about female genital mutilation?

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          • pwyll says:

            So was feminism wrong when the early feminists demanded the right to vote?

            Yes. http://radishmag.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/fair-sex/#against-suffrage
            … though in fairness, men were also wrong when *they* demanded the right to vote. 😉

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          • DrBeat says:

            Ok. So was feminism wrong when the early feminists demanded the right to vote?

            They were factually wrong when they attempted to determine why they did not have the right to vote, and morally wrong when they explicitly demanded that women’s rights be expanded without the obligations that accompanied them for men, while also demanding men’s obligations be expanded without any additional rights (see: the white feather girls). The suffragettes weren’t lobbying the evil men to give them rights; suffragettes were trying to convince other women to ask for the vote, and when enough of them asked men just gave it to them. Other women did not want the vote because it was understood that there was a reciprocal obligation of citizenship, namely military service, and voting wasn’t worth being mustard-gassed in the Ardennes Forest.

            Was feminism wrong when it said that women should have the same rights as men to work in the workplace?

            It was wrong when it attempted to determine why men and women did not have similar workplace outcomes; while part of their efforts have had some positive outcomes, they have also caused extensive damage by not knowing why men and women do what they do, making demands and proclamations based on lies (see: the “wage gap”, which has no statistical controls for anything) and placing blame on men for any area in which women are not as interested in enrolling. They also hurt women by creating overbroad and overzealous harassment laws that criminalize ever making a woman uncomfortable or hurting her feelings, greatly increasing the risk to any potential employer of hiring a woman.

            Are feminists wrong when some of them argue that male -on-male and female-on-male rape are both severely under-reported (see e.g. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/male-rape-noreen-abdullahkhan/?K=9780230520769)? Feminists are wrong because the people saying these things are absolutely drowned out by the overwhelming chorus of male victimizing and female victimhood coming from feminists every second of every hour of every day, as well as active, concerted efforts by feminists to cover up, erase, and excuse the rape of men by women (see: Mary Koss, defining men raped by women as “ambivalent about their sexual desires”, to no feminist outcry. She was advising the CDC and the UN about their rape surveying and response, and successfully pushed to have the rape of men by women omitted from being counted or being addressed.) If one voice in the dark of someone who hasn’t done anything and has no power to oppose destructive actions is enough to absolve feminism of all the destruction it’s committed, then feminism can take no responsibility for anything, good or ill, and “feminism” is a gibberish sequence of noises.

            Are feminists wrong when they are concerned about female genital mutilation? They are wrong when they actively, explicitly state that female genital mutilation is evidence of how much our culture hates and wants to harm women, and male circumcision (which is hundreds of times more prevalent and exists for the same reasons to the same goals) is perfectly fine, should not be opposed, should not have any attention drawn to it, and anyone trying to draw a comparison is an evil person who hates and wants to hurt women.

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          • DrBeat says:

            God damn it, I wish there was an edit function.

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          • Randy M says:

            Isn’t there?

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          • Douglas Knight says:

            reciprocal obligation of citizenship, namely military service

            Your timing is all off. The suffragettes started their demands long before WWI. Universal male suffrage followed WWI. Yes, it was a concession in return for the military service, but only after the fact. In fact, the granting of women’s suffrage was closely linked to the granting of universal male suffrage; since countries were changing one detail, why not change the other? This probably explains why France and Switzerland did not grant women’s suffrage after WWI; they already had universal male suffrage.

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          • DrBeat says:

            If there’s an edit function then how the heck do I get at it?

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          • anon1 says:

            For me, the edit option appears below my post for the hour after I post it. Perhaps there’s a problem with your cookies or some such.

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          • Fadeway says:

            For the first hour after posting, you can edit freely. Here’s how it looks for me:

            http://i.imgur.com/v0b3YR4.png

            Try a different browser, I guess?

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    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      The MRM does not seem that bad right now. But I think its getting worse. I started to get worried once I saw “NAWALT” used seriously. This makes it harder for MRAs to stop the movement from unfairly attacking women. On top of this accusations of “Concern trolling” are used to shut down internal criticism.

      On top of this A Voice for men is now more or less the undisputed center of the movement. Paul Elam is no Warrne Farrell (thankfully still active). AVFM runs the same over the top emotional crap that feminist sites strive on. For now I agree the MRM is better than feminism on average but I see the writing on the wall. My guess is the MRM will turn out no better than the feminist movement on average. Though maybe having two fighting movements is better than one uncontested one?

      Also we both surely agree the Redpill stuff really is super terrible? r/redpill is a center of the movement and very representative. And yet they have a an article in the sidebar call “Woman: The Most Responsible Teenager In The House.” Lots of the CENTRAL redpill stuff is very sexist imo. Though I want to 100% agree redpill =/= MRM.

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      • DrBeat says:

        Redpill is super terrible, but you just agreed that redpill != MRM, so why are we bringing it up?

        Report comment

      • DrBeat says:

        Wait, I misread you, when you said that /r/TheRedPill was central to the movement, I thought you were still talking about MRAs, so I didn’t know why you were bringing it up. But you meant that the Red Pill reddit is central to the Red Pill ideological movement. Which is true. Sorry for misunderstanding.

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    • Ozy Frantz says:

      MRAs want men to get custody of their children more often. Feminists want men to do more of the childcare. Why couldn’t they cooperate on a “make men more likely to be primary caregivers” goal? It seems like it would give both groups something they want.

      Report comment

      • Matthew says:

        It’s not quite that simple. I have sole custody of my children (even a potentially biased court system isn’t going to miss some extremes of crazy), and I think I’m a fairly good father (at great cost to my own dating prospects). I have 100% of the caregiver responsibility now — but my children are school-aged.

        On the other hand, for a bit after my first child was born, I was under-employed and actually doing the stay-at-home dad thing, and it was incredibly depressing.

        Being fit (in some cases more fit) to have custody is a distinct issue from being well-suited to parenting in lieu of work outside the home.

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      • Randy M says:

        Because what is desired is not more and less child work respectively, but more influence and authority over, and affection from, the children.
        Also, because women do not want men (as a group) to do more childcare; women want their husbands to do more household chores.

        I haven’t done this myself, but I wonder if you asked working women which sex they would prefer their day-care workers to be, if that would reflect a desire for more men to do childcare. I doubt it, but can’t say I’ve done a survey.

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      • DrBeat says:

        If feminists are okay with men getting more childcare duties and rights, why does the largest feminist organization in America (NOW) so consistently oppose any legal effort to increase the chances of men getting custody of their children, such as by making joint-custody the default in absence of compelling reasons to stick with one parent or the other? NOW fights against this every single time it comes up in any American legislature, making completely baseless claims about how it is just a ploy for evil abusive men to extend their abuse (as if women aren’t just as abusive).

        It’s kind of hard to have custody of a child and not do more childcare work. If feminists agreed with that goal, you would think that the assumption of join custody would be right in line with that goal. But the largest feminist organization in the country tries its hardest to shoot it down every single time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think you are too easily buying into feminist stereotypes about how MRAs MUST be evil because they oppose feminism so of COURSE the “manosphere” (a group whose only commonality is that they believe men have needs, placing them in their own distinct fringe) must be evil and corrupted too! PUAs and MRAs have nothing to do with each other and lumping them together in this way is buying into a lie feminists push in order to keep their stranglehold on the conversation.

      Data point: I arrived at this “stereotype” on my own, as a result of hanging around on the relevant websites. I was legitimately surprised and disappointed.

      Report comment

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        further datapoint: redpillers HATE MRAs and see them as “pussified men”.

        Report comment

        • Scott F says:

          Whenever I hear or say that SSC has an unusually high quality of commenters, you instantly spring to mind as the example. Your funny, passionate, intelligent, measured, and wise comments are part of the reason I love this place, so much so that when I reach the end of a new Slate Star Codex post I cmd-F “iald”.

          I just … felt like you should know that.

          (I couldn’t find a good place to put this comment and then I was about to not make it, so I panicked and chose the worst possible place.)

          Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            I… *humbled*

            Thank you. You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today.

            Thank you.

            Report comment

          • memeticengineer says:

            Ialdabaoth is one of my favorite commenters here too. His comments are also part of what encouraged me to stop lurking and try posting a little. I search for his comments right after Scott’s.

            Report comment

          • I’ve been getting good results on lowering depression/self-hatred/paralysis by working with Dorothy Fitzer’s You and Your Chakras meditations, and with her 21 day self-care set, though the latter doesn’t seem to be for sale yet.

            The general idea as I understand it is that it’s important to lower one’s background panic level– it’s the panic that locks in bad emotional habits. Fitzer has methods of calmly paying attention to current sensations and one’s imagination so that the sense of self is more complete– I’m developing some flexibility so I’m not as stuck in panic and trying to feel better while panicking.

            This isn’t drastic forcible self-revision, it’s a gentle approach.

            It does take at least tolerating new age elements, and I’m not sure whether that’s within your range.

            Report comment

        • Hainish says:

          I’m going to second (third?) this, and also possibly be creepy and cross the boundaries of good taste to suggest that you consider sperm donation, but only because outright human cloning isn’t feasible yet.

          Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            I’m again humbled.

            In regards to cloning or breeding me, I have a few things to say.

            First, if you do so, please for the love of Elua put them in an environment that won’t trigger my latent PTSD/depression, because I am obviously hideously succeptible to it.

            And give them lots and lots of resources and support, because holy fuck are they going to need it.

            Raising my spawn would be seriously hard, risky work.

            Report comment

          • Hainish says:

            But the pay-off…!

            Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Comes at the cost of spawning people who run a serious risk of being as miserable as I am most of the time, and who are literally as close to my optimal mirror-empathy targets as you can possibly get.

            I might have a bit of motivation to force you to consider the costs, here.

            Heck, I’ll make you a deal:

            You find a consistent, sustainable, and reproduceable way to reduce my “life is not worth living” moments to less than 25% of my waking consciousness, and demonstrate a commitment to applying it to any progeny, and I will gladly participate in whatever processes are necessary to get you all the Brent-clones/spawn you want.

            (also, am I the only one that feels like this went to a really weird but somehow not-so-weird-for-me place?)

            Report comment

          • Hainish says:

            But then there’s this: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/on-the-trail-of-the-orchid-child/

            (Also, welcome to weird place, I call it my home.)

            Report comment

  22. Raz says:

    I would just like to add that Harry Harlow’s experiments laid the groundwork for Modern Neonatal Intensive Care Units, so there are probably something on the order of hundreds of thousands of people alive today who wouldn’t be if he hadn’t basically tortured cute baby rhesus monkeys to death… And before you ask yes the survival rate for premature babies pre- and post- were really that bad. It turns out they need to be touched often and gently in order to survive, go figure.

    Science can be a bitch, but somebodies gotta do it.

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    • anon says:

      I agree with the utilitarianism. However, Harlow himself basically just didn’t care about baby animals, from what I’ve heard. So he’s not a hero, even if his actions could be defended as heroic in themselves.

      Report comment

      • suntzuanime says:

        Someone who saved hundreds of thousands of human lives doesn’t count as a hero because he didn’t feel bad enough about the dozens of animals he harmed in the process? Get serious please.

        Report comment

        • lmm says:

          You may disagree but please be substantive about it. For better or worse, virtue ethics is a legitimate philosophical position with plenty of real adherents.

          Report comment

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            …but one generally held to be incorrect in most of the LW/SSC/EA circles (cf. shut up and multiply, etc.) I think suntzuamine is just taking it as read that we know to measure net outcomes (Which may not be fair to you, but is no more surprising than a Republican assuming RedState commentors like gun rights or Dave Arnold assuming a caller hates well-done steak.)

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          • suntzuanime says:

            It’s not entirely clear to me that it’s unvirtuous to engage in Science, even if some animals are harmed in the process.

            (This is sort of the reason why it’s a little iffy to call virtue ethics a “legitimate philosophical position”; it’s never entirely clear just exactly what *is* virtuous. It’s begging the question on a grand scale.)

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        • Anonymous says:

          “Someone who saved hundreds of thousands of human lives doesn’t count as a hero…?”

          This isn’t obvious to you?

          Would you consider a school shooter to be a hero if it later turned out one of the teachers was planning to blow up a skyscraper?

          Report comment

          • RCF says:

            If the shooter killed the teacher with the intent of preventing the skyscraper being blown up. And the teacher was a monkey. Then yes, the shooter would be a hero.

            Report comment

  23. Michael R says:

    Another honest, clearly-written and insightful post.

    I have a couple of random semi-objections.

    I’m 44 years old. I was in this terrible, unbearable situation of being the Nice Guy in the frickin 80s. 1992 was the worst year of my life. There WAS no internet, so I don’t really feel that it has any direct connection to the Manosphere or Feminosphere. It may be some kind of species-level problem.

    You make the very valid point that the situation is Unfair. But…so what? Romantic success is not supposed to be Fair, and the world is full of Unfair things. That doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how to deal with it.

    Romantic success can at least to some extent be taught, like a set of skills, starting with smiling and flirting and so on. I even wonder whether these skills should be formally taught to young adults, with both genders participating in classes.

    I also think you missed one or two chances at humor. Barry may be unsuccessful in the dating scene, but I’m guessing he may not be extremely happy to find himself romantically involved with the kind of woman Henry is sleeping with. You could probably base an entire sitcom around such a relationship.

    Finally, if I were a single and romanceless woman I wouldn’t find much in your post to help. I wonder what they think?

    Report comment

    • suntzuanime says:

      Feminism’s been around for a long time. It used to be called Women’s Lib and before that the Suffrage movement. But then women got votes and it became increasingly ridiculous to pretend they were enslaved, so the movement took on the modern name “feminism”, which is nice because it doesn’t name any specific goals that you could reach that would mean you could stop fighting on behalf of women.

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      • Jaskologist says:

        Here’s a bleg for info from the readers of old books: Do we see the phenomenon of men decrying their “nice guy” status prior to, say, the Sexual Revolution?

        If not, this would provide strong confirmation of manosphere theories.

        Report comment

        • Protagoras says:

          The title character of The Sorrows of Young Werther seems quite nice-guyish, a couple of centuries before the Sexual Revolution.

          Report comment

          • Uh, what? Catullus clearly was sleeping with Lesbia (not to mention some others, though who knows exactly how physical his relationships was with some of the men mentioned.) It may not have worked out in the end, but he clearly wasn’t friendzoned.

            My favorite piece of Catullus is from someone clearly not getting some _now_, but equally clearly he _was_ (70.)

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I mean, he does spend quite a lot of time being like “I am SO NICE and SO DEVOTED, why doesn’t Lesbia LOVE ME”

            (in the interests of fairness, he also spends quite a bit of time being like “LESBIA YOU STUPID SLUT BITCH WHORE”)

            Report comment

          • Again, can you cite this? You’re probably more familiar with him than I, but none of the Lesbia poetry I can remember (or find in brief searches) talks about how nice he is. There’s a lot about how much he _loves_ her, but not that she hasn’t noticed or that he’s nice and polite. (And there’s plenty in the non-Lesbia canon that definitely does not scream “I’m too nice and girls ignore me for it.”)

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        • Michael R says:

          This is a good question. I’m thinking that before say, 1950 or 1960, there was much less premarital sex in general. The dating scene was much smaller, and sex more directly connected to marriage. When your grandparents tell you they were virgins before marriage they probably aren’t lying.

          But the Nice Guy phenomenon has nothing to do with the Manosphere. There were two generations, hundreds of millions of people who dealt with it before the internet came along. I myself had never heard of the term ‘Manosphere’ before I started reading this damn blog.

          Report comment

          • Jaskologist says:

            As Scott has said, the Nice Guy phenomenon is the cause of the manosphere, not a consequence of it. If manosphereans are correct, Nice Guyism should be traceable back to the Sexual Revolution. Prior to that there were social institutions to both teach men more attractive behavior, and simultaneously direct women more towards the “beta bucks” sexual strategy.

            Myself, I first encountered the manosphere through, of all things, a Heartiste post on General Petraeus. It was the crudest, most blasphemous thing I had ever read. But he also explained the whole of my dating experiences, both bad and good. Where before I just had a vague sense of feeling insulted when a girl called me a “nice guy,” now I understood precisely why that was. I haven’t even been unlucky in love; imagine what that experience is like for somebody who has.

            (As a bonus, when I plumbed deeper, it also explained why the institution of marriage manages to evolve in every civilization, and even details like why Paul would instruct wives to submit to their husbands. Match that level of explanatory power and I’ll gladly leave them all behind.)

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Jaskologist:

            I’m a little out of energy, but have you ever read any feminist work about 1) the history of patriarchy, and 2) the history of masculine gender roles specifically? Because, like, dude…

            EDIT: okay, here’s your thing. This is Mark Manson, a dating advice guy/ex-PUA who only ever gets rave reviews, and feminists seem to love him. Here is his attempt at a no-nonsense pop-feminist tl;dr on the history of gender roles and mating. It does not go into weird Marxist shit like I would, but, well, it seems to talk about the real world.

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          • Zorgon says:

            *A* cause, surely? The manosphere must have thousands of identifiable causes.

            Report comment

          • Jaskologist says:

            Multi:

            No. Point me to a good one.

            Report comment

          • Multiheaded says:

            Jaskologist:

            For the “MRA/PUA without the awfulness” see the above link, which is the first google hit for ‘history of gender roles and dating’. For a brief Marxist feminist history which sets the record straight on “directing women towards [X]” and shows how “attractive behavior” is socially constructed, read The Dialectic of Sex.

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    • Romantic success can at least to some extent be taught, like a set of skills, starting with smiling and flirting and so on.

      Smiling and flirting so aren’t necessary, and I wouldn’t recommend starting with them. (Plenty of unhappy Nice Guys actually do smile and flirt. It’s just that it’s called being a creep when it’s not a high-status guy doing it. So I’d instead recommend starting by getting high status. After that, it doesn’t even matter much whether one smiles — plenty of Bad Boys indeed don’t.)

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Plenty of unhappy Nice Guys actually do smile and flirt. It’s just that it’s called being a creep when it’s not a high-status guy doing it. So I’d instead recommend starting by getting high status. After that, it doesn’t even matter much whether one smiles — plenty of Bad Boys indeed don’t.

        ding ding motherfucking ding.

        I have the weird advantage of having been low status, then high status, then low status again, and this is all appallingly accurate.

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      • Michael R says:

        For something that’s not necessary, smiling and flirting seem to have gotten me quite a bit of sex. And I’m not sure if ‘high status’ is some kind of technical term, but in my experience it has little to do with being romantically successful.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          That’s not the point. Smiling and flirting will get you a lot of sex if you are the sort of person that just about anything would have got you a lot of sex.

          In your case, I’m betting confidence is what gets you sex; you could display confidence through the right kind of smiling and flirting just as easily as you could display confidence through the right kind of aloofness and disregard. But being unconfident (and unattractive in other ways, such as signaling low-income or desperation) will cause any flirting you do to be the wrong kind of flirting, and cause any ignoring you do to be the wrong kind of ignoring.

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          • anon says:

            Why are you so certain that flirting and smiling aren’t important? I agree confidence is also important, but I don’t see why confidence should be the only important thing.

            Also, it’s interesting to hear that you were low status then high status then low status. I’ve gone through that same sequence of events.

            Prediction: status is more important for having sex with people you already know. For casual sex, it is less important.

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          • gattsuru says:

            And I’m not sure if ‘high status’ is some kind of technical term…

            Presenting as being valuable. In most parts of American culture, this involves displays of income, height, musculature, not overweight, as well as certain levels of human contacts. Posture. It’s not what we mean when people say appearance, since much of it is in actions and not just looks, but it’s all very obvious in a short time of being near someone.

            Essentially, what people actually mean when they say “confidence”.

            Why are you so certain that flirting and smiling aren’t important?

            I think the question isn’t whether it’s important. It’s that it’s never sufficient.

            Smiling and flirting might well be important, if you’ve already got the other necessary traits. But if you don’t, they’re not only unhelpful, they’re much more likely to get you labeled as a creep.

            There’s an OKCupid study that compared scores for ‘looks’ (taken when someone was shown only profile pictures) were compared against ‘personality’ (taken when someone was shown both profile pictures and text) — even if there /was no/ personality.

            Interestingly, this isn’t limited to women or even het relationships. It’s a little more complicated for gay guys because the status for gay men is a lot more varied (bears are high status for some gay men, but low status for others, possibly related to age?), but it’s very present : if you present a high status Grindr profile during Pride, you’ll find yourself inundated with dicks, but low-status folk won’t get nearly the same level of attention.

            ((Caveat: I’m not really good at understanding human sexuality, and lack much interest beyond the academic, so this may be incorrect or incomplete.))

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          • Michael R says:

            Ialdaboath, my 22-year-old self would have laughed til he cried to hear your description of me.

            I can assure you, my first relationship was one awkward fumbling moment from first word to break up.

            Meeting women is not magical, half of it is trial and error.

            Also, Gattsuru, your usage of ‘status’ just seems to be ‘whatever might make you attractive to women’, anything from height to muscles to wealth. Kind of obvious and not particularly useful, like saying women find attractive whatever women find attractive. And there’s no secret what those things usually are.

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          • gattsuru says:

            Also, Gattsuru, your usage of ‘status’ just seems to be ‘whatever might make you attractive to women’, anything from height to muscles to wealth.

            Oh, it’s worse than that. It’s a list of things /people/ find /desirable/. You’ll need to find someone that’s straight and has typical sexual desire to narrow it down more than that. The only limitations I can give are that these matters are very immediately obvious*.

            The point is that the matter is incredibly obvious and simultaneously has zero overlap with conventional acceptable dating advice, feminist or traditional. “Smiling and flirting” won’t get you there. “Treating them like a person” is actively unhelpful to guys whose normal interaction doesn’t fit this incredibly narrow tract — ie, anyone that isn’t a massive jerk. “Confidence” describes a character type well-known for being creepy as sin just as well as it describes a healthy relationship.

            There was literally a giant screwup in the atheist community arising from someone stating the rule that you should not smile and flirt with a woman while in an elevator at night. I’m not going to defend the explosion and I’m certainly not going to defend Richard Dawkins, but the simple fact is that the rules are a lot more complicated than anyone says, and we’re completely unwilling to recognize that.

            * Hell, some of them aren’t even considered attractive once you’re /in/ a relationship: presenting wealth = poor financial control, and high number of social contacts = not being devoted.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Ialdaboath, my 22-year-old self would have laughed til he cried to hear your description of me.

            The phrasing of this is superior-talking-to-inferior, and is exactly what I’m trying to point to.

            When the nobility fumble awkwardly, they do so in a high-status way.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Micheal R, just so you know, you come across as both precisely like Ialdeboth described and either unaware or attempting to downplay it.

            I’m not saying you are, but I thought you might like to know.

            Report comment

          • Army1987 says:

            @gattsuru

            There was literally a giant screwup in the atheist community arising from someone stating the rule that you should not smile and flirt with a woman while in an elevator at night.

            “invite a stranger to your room” != “smile and flirt”

            Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Except when it is.

            Some girls explicitly say (variations of) “you just lost because you were coy, don’t just flirt, invite me to your room right immediately. Since you didn’t, you lose. And no you can’t get a do-over.”

            Other girls explicitly say, “stop being so forward you aggressive creep.”

            Neither of them take any particular effort to distinguish themselves until you’ve made your first move, and in fact many of them explicitly go out of their way to look like they’re signaling the opposite preference.

            It’s fucking terrifying.

            Report comment

          • Michael R says:

            “Micheal R, just so you know, you come across as both precisely like Ialdeboth described and either unaware or attempting to downplay it.

            I’m not saying you are, but I thought you might like to know.”

            I AM completely missing stuff here. So, you are probably right, in that I am unaware.

            Ialdabaoth, to the extent that I understand your point about me (and I’m not sure that I do), I just find it hard to believe I had more ‘status’ as a young man than you do now. But I apologize if it seemed I was speaking down to you.

            Report comment

      • Randy M says:

        Smiling and flirting will certainly make women more attractive, though.

        Report comment

    • Ravna Bergsndot says:

      I am a single and romanceless woman. My main question is, ‘where the heck are all the others’?

      Like, this post focuses on guys. And maybe that’s totally appropriate because guys are eighty percent or ninety-five percent or whatever of the romanceless people. But I still wonder. I mean, there are three billion women on Earth, some of them must be romanceless. Is there a strange cosmic force keeping me from meeting them?

      Just to make sure I don’t have my selection bias goggles on, I went through my women Facebook friends, and counted them one by one, up to about eighty. Some are rich, some are poor. Some are huge computer geeks, others keep getting infected with viruses because they install the Bonzi Buddy toolbar. Some are American, some European, some Asian. And, yes, some are overweight, or are just assholes. But every single one has had lots of attractive, successful, high-status partners.

      I don’t get it, I really don’t.

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      • Lemminkainen says:

        The fact that every one of the female friends you encountered had had “lots of attractive, successful, high-status partners” suggests that your friends probably aren’t a very representative sample group, since there just aren’t all that many attractive, successful high-status guys, and the ones who exist tend to be with women who also have those qualities.

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      • Liskantope says:

        As a perpetually single and romanceless male, I do feel bad that these discussions tend to be focused around romanceless males and the females who berate them for being “Nice Guys”, while completely ignoring perpetually single and romanceless females.

        It does seem less common for a woman to receive little or no romantic attention, but I find it surprising that the vast majority of your female Facebook friends have had “lots of attractive, successful, high-status partners”. Of course, I don’t know much about your particular situation. I wonder how much of it may be demographics. I know that, for instance, my mother in her youth was very attractive and garnered a lot of romantic attention from men, yet she went years at a time in her adult life without dating anybody, because she was reasonably picky and just happened to be immersed in the wrong crowd.

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        • Matthew says:

          The relevant distinction here isn’t that there are no lonely women. It is my perception that there are just as many lonely women as lonely men.

          The distinction is that when a woman says, “I am lonely,” she gets sympathy (and “damn those men with their unreasonable beauty standards”), but when a man says, “I am lonely,” he gets “YOU’RE NOT ENTITLED TO A RELATIONSHIP AND/OR SEX, YOU CREEP.”

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          • Earnest_Peer says:

            Do single women get sympathy from men? Like, in the grand scheme of things?
            Because my impression from this discussion is that romanceless men seek comfort in all the wrong places (i.e. feminist forums), but then again I don’t live in the states and it might be much easier to have random people spring “YOU NICE GUY*” on you there.

            * This terminology is so bad i cant even

            Report comment

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        This is not true for casual sex, but (minus the relatively small effects of female bisexuality, cheating, and polyamory) for every man who is not having a relationship, there is a woman who is not having a relationship. Because math.

        IME there seem to be quite a lot of complaints about the subject from fat women and black women.

        Report comment

        • Kzickas says:

          That’s true only at one exact moment. Over a period of time it’s very much possible that a larger number of women have relationships with a smaller number of men that each have more relationships than the women.

          Report comment

        • Deuce says:

          The complaints from fat women and black women are about not being desired by the kind of man they want, usually precluded by said women listing off failed relationships. But they at least have the experience of being desirable to someone at some point in time.

          The “Nice Guys” are complaining about never being desired at all. The two are not analogous.

          Report comment

      • Fadeway says:

        While romanceless guys are part of the topic, the post isn’t that general. It’s about the treatment/help romanceless guys get from feminism. As a romanceless woman, you know what to do: let your hair grow out, slim down and do whatever other things men very publicly state they like. As a romanceless man? You either go to the good guys and get told platitudes about how you’re a nice guy and Fate will eventually solve that problem for you. If you’re lucky, you also get nebulous tips about being more “confident” (how?) and somehow learning to read subtle social cues. If you’re unlucky, you get blamed for thinking you deserve love.

        Or you go to PUA and get the detailed, field-tested, step-by-step formula, complete with a healthy helping of rape culture, misogyny, and whatever else feminists would hate to let men consume. Which they counter by trying to shame the guys who left feminism for PUA instead of improving their advise for men and trying to win them back.

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        • Ozy Frantz says:

          Sweetheart, “just listen to what men say!” is as terrible dating advice for women as “just listen to what women say!” is for men.

          Also: IME, short hair/long hair, makeup/no makeup, or for that matter binding or not binding your tits make no difference. What makes a difference is being able to do that face where you think someone is SO INTERESTING and everything they say is WONDERFUL.

          Report comment

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            protip from guy: it’s 90% in the eyes.

            Report comment

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Sweetheart, “just listen to what men say!” is as terrible dating advice for women as “just listen to what women say!” is for men.

            You’re ignoring why this is terrible advice for men. Women conceal their sexual preferences – even from themselves – because being the passive, approached sex they don’t need to know what their preferences are they simply need to react when something trips them.

            Men do know what their preferences are because they initiate and approach. Men state their preferences openly because they don’t have the sexual strategy of hiding a dual mating strategy.

            Also: IME, short hair/long hair, makeup/no makeup, or for that matter binding or not binding your tits make no difference. What makes a difference is…

            Right, after you’ve already been approached “what makes a difference” is whether or not you seem receptive.

            The invisible part you’re not seeing is the men who don’t approach short haired women with bound tits who prefer the pronoun “ze” because being a young woman you’ll still get approached by some men.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Steve is quite right about the concealed/revealed preferences. (I’m agreeing with redpillers and Moldbug fanatics today. That’s a change.) Moreover, it’s not irrational. Think of a restaurant where you go a lot and get similar meals every time. One day it’s especially good. You say, “Chef, this was especially good today.” He says, “Yeah, I put in more salt.” Now you think: salt makes food good. You are in a similar situation when you decide you like niceness or intelligence because tall, wealthy, muscular, extroverted men who recognize Top 40 hits are even better when they’re kind and smart.

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I have been approached… oh, perhaps a dozen times in my life. (I dislike leaving my house.) Every time ended with me having a panic attack, which I assure you is not conductive to future intimacy. Every lay I’ve gotten I’ve gotten because I hit on someone. (With a few exceptions, such as the guy I hit on, he wasn’t into me, and then he got into me later.)

            I am a camgirl. I literally make money because people give me money to take my clothes off. I’d probably earn a bit more if I had longer hair. Makeup does nothing. However, personality is a necessity! I had to explain this to my girlfriend: doesn’t matter how hot you are, no one is going to give you cash if you’re just sitting there like a lump and look sad and depressed. Cheerfulness is more important than tits.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Going to go ahead and say you’re a bit of an outlier there. Also fairly interesting as far as camgirls go (I’m guessing). But relevant to our discussion: are there camguys as well as camgirls? If not, ever wonder why not?

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Oh, yes, I am an outlier adn should not be counted. I am not sure what this has to do with the general principle that “just listen to what men say!” is terrible advice.

            Camboys cater to men, because women are less horny than men in general, tend to have a sexuality that is less visual and more narrative-oriented (c.f. fanfic, Ellora’s Cave), and are less willing to pay for sex. I do not understand what this has to do with whether men are good sources of information about men’s preferences.

            I am also very glad for the previous anonymous providing me excellent support in my argument about why you shouldn’t listen to men about what men want!

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          • Steve Johnson says:

            I am a camgirl. I literally make money because people give me money to take my clothes off. I’d probably earn a bit more if I had longer hair. Makeup does nothing. However, personality is a necessity! I had to explain this to my girlfriend: doesn’t matter how hot you are, no one is going to give you cash if you’re just sitting there like a lump and look sad and depressed. Cheerfulness is more important than tits.

            Tits of any size, shape and bounciness level are available for viewing for free so clearly they’re not paying to see your tits.

            Men pay for women to show interest because that feels good to men.

            They’re paying women who are more approachable and show greater interest rather than exclusively mind-blowingly hot Russian women because they can convince themselves for a few moments that the interest and enthusiasm for them is genuine.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Same anon actually. Hopefully I’m not coming across as aggressive in any way; the tone of your post suggested to me this might be the case. I understand what you’re saying about narrative versus visual stimulation. This is why, for example, many alternative PUA tactics involve creating a “bubble” around you and a girl and, for example, coming up with stories about other bargoers. (But you’d better be tall. That’s very creepy otherwise.)

            I also think what women do to get money to take their clothes off might not be the same as what gets approaches at bars, and also is not the same as what gets success when the woman does the approaching. I’m not a redpill type and think PUA tactics are probably similarly effective for women on men. Moreover, I’ve been “pulled” by women with them. (I’m basically your mirror image: shy male, tend to get laid only when approached or when an approach is somehow “mutual”, both of which happen more than I morally “deserve”, certainly, in the language of this post.)

            I also think you might be underestimating the specificity of your audience. Who watches camgirls instead of pornography? I know nothing about the genre (but given that you’re its first artist whom I’ve met, I have a good impression of it), but my guess is people who watch you are looking for some sort of emotional connection that happens to involve tits (or whatever) more than the tits themselves. Which may limit the applicability of your advice.

            But maybe everyone, even the patriarchal jocks and celebrities who got their photos leaked, is looking for that emotional connection. No way to know how it is. Just how it feels. Anyway, you’ve broadened my perspective in several ways, so thanks.

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          • Ozy Frantz says:

            Anonymous: I’d agree about the conditionality of advice. That’s why I specified “IME”– I know I’m an outlier on a dozen axes and I have no idea which ones are relevant. 🙂

            I genuinely have no idea what a lot of my clients get out of it. They are black boxes from which I extract money. 😛 Some clients have very specific fetishes it would be hard to find porn for– or, conversely, are clearly just interested in hanging out with a cute person. But I genuinely do not understand why people pay money to see my tits when they can get tits for free.

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          • Franz Panzer says:

            Regarding your question why men pay camgirls:
            As someone who has done that I can tell you it is (as someone said before) because of the attention you get from the girl. The last time a woman has taken her clothes of for me IRL was 3-4 years ago. Women are not sexually interested in me. Camgirls provide a way for men to feel desired, or simply to think that someone enjoys interacting with them sexually (no matter how much you know that’s not true). That’s also why looks is not the most important thing. The sad, depressed bombshell will not make a man think she’s enjoying their sexual encounter the way the less attractive but upbeat girl can.

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      • Randy M says:

        Casual reading: You are looking for long-term, they are looking (or willing to settle) for short term. That is what I infer from your use of the word partner, but maybe you used it to mean what we used to call boyfriend or even ex-husband.

        But if my reading is right, keep in mind that me are willing to date less attractive women than they are willing to commit to. (Heck, probably women too).

        And, as more women are willing to satisfy men who prefer short-term, less women are required to fulfill the desires of desireable men (and vice-versa).

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          But if my reading is right, keep in mind that me are willing to date less attractive women than they are willing to commit to. (Heck, probably women too).

          Actually it’s backwards. Men are willing to have casual sex with women they wouldn’t consider for relationships because the woman is below his standards (because, ya know, sex) and women are willing to have casual sex with men they wouldn’t consider for relationships because the man is out of her league.

          Why? Because women’s minds are shaped by the idea that it’s more more costly for a woman to be abandoned by a man than it is to be secretly fucked by a man. She can easily pass off a baby from a guy she was secretly fucked by as being from another guy.

          Women and men are massively psychologically different.

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        • Matthew says:

          But if my reading is right, keep in mind that me are willing to date less attractive women than they are willing to commit to. (Heck, probably women too).

          I was going to accuse you of overgeneralizing (I’m picky regardless), but I think you have managed the deft maneuver of refutation by typo.

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          • Randy M says:

            Well, I actually have little experience with dating, it was a typo, but please, if you want to argue that men have identical standards for dating and marriage, I would like to see the logic or evidence brought to support such a counter-intuitive claim.

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          • Matthew says:

            If you mean identical standards of character/personality, then no, that’s obviously a ridiculous claim.

            But physical standards? For me, a woman is either attractive enough to have sex with, or she isn’t. Duration of relationship has no bearing on this.

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          • Randy M says:

            It’s more that there are standards in addition to the physical, I suppose.
            But I guess this is getting less relevant to the complaint in the parent.

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    • Deiseach says:

      The thing is, attraction is so idiosyncratic. Now, if you want to cynically boil it down to “girls don’t like boys, girls like cars and money” and you advise guys how to get fancy cars and high-paying jobs, then yes, you’ll have a degree of success.

      Again, that depends on whether Joe is looking for “I can have any chick I like for a one-night stand” or “I want to find a Nice Girl to marry”. Girls who fall into bed with guys who are ugly but have flashy cars and big wads of dough may or may not want to marry them; if they do marry them, I don’t think Joe can realistically complain that it’s on a cash-for-sex transaction basis and having an expectation that “But she is supposed to love me for me!” isn’t going to help.

      I mean, there are people who are considered attractive that I go “I can’t see it myself”; others I go “Yes, I see that objectively they are attractive but I am not attracted myself” and others I go “Holy mother of God, I’d ruin that!” even if they’re not considered as attractive as other people e.g. I recently found myself admiring a certain person’s knuckles. Now, I have to assure you all: I do not have a knuckle fetish. But because I found the person in general attractive, suddenly even their knuckles were attractive to me.

      Books or online sites touting “Ten Top Tricks To Drive Chicks Crazy About Your Knuckles” wouldn’t have worked to make me find a person I was not attracted to previously suddenly attractive.

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  24. Liberty toujours says:

    It doesn’t matter whether a person is a “hard worker”. Other people don’t owe them money without consent.

    Money is the unit of caring. The whole point of money is that it can’t be redistributed without consent. Otherwise it stops being the unit of caring and becomes a worthless token.

    Also, I seriously don’t understand how people can be allowed to have children they can’t afford to support. Children have a human right not to be forced to suffer from poverty, and other people have no obligation whatsoever to finance children they didn’t even bring into the world.

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    • Watercressed says:

      So children have a human right to receive financial support from their parents without the parent’s consent?

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      • Liberty toujours says:

        Yes, because the parents caused the costs, harm and suffering of the children, which they could simply have omitted.

        If someone inflicts a cost or suffering on you, they owe you compensation.

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    • suntzuanime says:

      Those are certainly opinions!

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    • Ialdabaoth says:

      Scott: SEE?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, come on. He didn’t deny that it was hard to be poor, let alone accuse the Hard Worker of being a murderous thug. Not to deny that it happens, but it’s pretty obnoxious for you to use all caps while moving the goalposts.

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    • Harald K says:

      If money is the unit of caring, then I suppose it’s OK to let poor people starve (including kids). Their lack of money is proof that they don’t care about surviving.

      Right? Otherwise money is meaningless. (You didn’t quite lay out the argument for why it was an either-or, why money must be the universal unit of giving a damn or else be meaningless, but I’m sure you have one.)

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      • Liberty toujours says:

        >Their lack of money is proof that they don’t care about surviving.

        Their lack of money is proof that other people don’t care about them surviving. Pretending otherwise, while the poverty is actually ongoing, is merely hypocritical.

        If you cared about other people’s poverty, you would give them your own money, instead of formulating it as an abstract political demand that just so happens to be paid by others.

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        • Matthew says:

          Unless you’re a utilitarian rather than a virtue ethicist, and recognize that collective problems tend to require collective solutions.

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          • Liberty toujours says:

            First, poverty is not a collective problem. If I don’t have any money, this is my individual problem. If you care about me not starving, you can give me your money or you can coerce strangers to give me theirs, but either way, you are solving my problem, not a collective problem.

            Second, even if you are a utilitarian, you must recognize that money is only money to the degree to which it cannot be redistributed without consent. You can start the printing press or send people with guns to take people’s money, or hack bank accounts, whatever. But as soon as people realize that money is no longer a unit of caring, they will stop caring about productivity, efficiency, and investment – all of utilitarian consequence.

            Finally, no one is a utilitarian. In practice, the word is a short-hand for “the ends justify the means”, which is a rhetorical token for “We are allowed to violate whomever or whatever we want, as long as we can present a vaguely okay-sounding rationale in the political arena”. People do it for ulterior motives, never for the greater good.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Poverty is a collective problem because individuals can’t make much of a dent in it, and need to coordinate to do so. Which they can’t.

            (I’m also confused as to why you think that rich people not caring enough negates the fact that the poor person probably cares.)

            Oh; and currencies empirically work just fine with a certain amount of theft, taxation, and fines going on.

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          • Liberty toujours says:

            >Poverty is a collective problem because individuals can’t make much of a dent in it, and need to coordinate to do so. Which they can’t.

            Both points are false. Individual choice matters greatly to income, investment, charitable contributions and more. Just like reproduction is an individual choice.

            It is also absurd that individuals can’t coordinate. What do you think a market is?

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          • Slow Learner says:

            I think you’re confusing poverty-as-individual-situation, and poverty-as-social-condition.
            An individual poor person may, by dint of hard work, luck, education or whatever manage to leave the state of poverty; the poor en masse cannot, because if all poor people become better educated and hard working (they can’t all be lucky), the bottom x% will still be working dead-end minimum wage part time jobs where they’re treated like shit.

            Thus dealing with poverty is very much a collective problem, and one of the ways we as a society deal with collective problems is by government action.

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          • Liberty toujours says:

            Slow Learner, you can individually give to charity. You can individually deal with poor people selectively, you can individually lower your market power relative to theirs when dealing with them, etc.

            If people aren’t individually willing to spend their own money on the poor (unit of caring), they are not going to be politically willing to enact successful policies to end poverty, either.

            This is why your global welfare state is a pipe dream beyond all political realism.

            It’s probably true that some level of redistribution may be sustainable and make some of the poor better off, while making some affluent people only slightly worse off and maintain enough of the economic incentives. But I don’t think we’re at such a sweet spot and I don’t think government is equipped to be a trustworthy and efficient enactor of this approach.

            Your collectivism is thus naive and socially harmful.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            “If people aren’t individually willing to spend their own money on the poor (unit of caring), they are not going to be politically willing to enact successful policies to end poverty, either.”

            This is empirically false. We have not ended poverty, either locally or globally, but we have substantially reduced it in both extent and effect from what it used to be, both locally and globally. The mechanism has not been private charity, it has been a combination of rising economic prosperity and careful redistribution of some of the proceeds of that prosperity.

            “maintain enough of the economic incentives” – this suggests that you believe poverty is necessary to make people work, which suggests that you have very little experience of poverty or poor people. I don’t blame you, society is quite heavily wealth-segregated, but you might want to look into changing that.

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          • Liberty toujours says:

            Incentives to work are not the only type: Incentives to allocate resources efficiently, to create outcomes that add actual value to other people’s lives (by getting them to deal with you), incentives to invest into the future rather than purchase instant gratification. And so on.

            Collectivism by government mandate, justified by moral rhetoric, tends to undermine all of those. Then what replaces them is physical violence and threats thereof.

            Anyway, I’m not going to defend tax-freedom for the ultrarich to the death. I just don’t respect the people who write the laws, their methods or their motivations much.

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          • Mary says:

            “it has been a combination of rising economic prosperity and careful redistribution of some of the proceeds of that prosperity.”

            Violates Ockham’s Razor. Redistribution alone doesn’t produce it, but rising prosperity alone does. Therefore there is no need to introduce redistribution at all

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          • Slow Learner says:

            Nonsense. The UK and US economies have expanded immensely since the late 70s, and yet the average worker has not only stood still they have moved backwards in real terms. And that’s worker, not person, so even allowing for the pruning of the welfare state doesn’t solve your problem there.
            Rising prosperity only benefits the poor if it is redistributed to them, by either charity (on a scale unachieved in human history), or government action.

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          • Cauê says:

            @Slow Learner

            Globalization is changing how rising prosperity works. During that time workers in the rest of the world have been doing a lot better than before.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/upshot/income-inequality-is-not-rising-globally-its-falling-.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

            http://blogs.ft.com/off-message/2013/10/25/the-one-chart-that-explains-the-world/

            Also, hello SSC.

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          • Doug S. says:

            If people aren’t individually willing to spend their own money on the poor (unit of caring), they are not going to be politically willing to enact successful policies to end poverty, either.

            Says who?

            Charitable giving is very close to a classic tragedy of the commons situation.

            If we can model preferences as:

            Other people donate money and I don’t > Everyone, including me donates money > Nobody donates money > I donate money and nobody else does

            then imposing taxes and using the money to reduce poverty – the “everyone donates money” option – works better than letting everyone decide independently that since they’re better off if they don’t donate, they won’t.

            Which is why sometimes it’s actually easier to do things through politics than by spending (your own) money.

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        • Harald K says:

          You’re juggling whose caring money is a unit of account here. Trying to dodge the issue by taking a step out to the next level. Well, why stop there?

          > Their lack of money is proof that other people don’t care about them surviving.

          At best it’s proof that people with money don’t care. To be precise, your money is “Person’s care about you, times that person’s money”, summed over all persons.

          But wait, your assertion must hold for those people too. _Their_ money is a reflection of people “caring” about them in step t-1. Which is in turn not really how much they cared, but how much people with money cared in the step before. And so we can add steps, ad infinitum.

          Even if you assert that at t=0, everyone had equally much money, the practical result of this recurrence relation is the tyranny of the indifferent: the people who care least about others, end up being the only ones whose cares matter.

          Under your system, everyone who cares about a person except as tools to further their own wealth, will starve or be enslaved at the absolute subsistence minimum.

          I’ll take my chances with “meaningless money”, thanks.

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          • blacktrance says:

            If you think that the people who are best off are the ones who don’t spend their money, you’re assuming no growth, no gains from trade, or both. If you try to accumulate as much money as you can, and never spend it, you’ll be poor.

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          • Harald K says:

            No blacktrance, money is the important variable here, not wealth. It’s from LT’s (absurd) assumption that money is the unit of care, remember.

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      • FeepingCreature says:

        Their lack of money is proof that they don’t care about surviving.

        You misunderstand the argument; their lack of money is proof that we as a society don’t care about them surviving. Poor people do indeed spend large parts of their money on basic necessities.

        [edit] Sorry, didn’t see the existing reply.

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    • Michael R says:

      You want to stop couples having children unless they meet your standards of being able to support them? I can see that going well, good luck. Next, eugenics?

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      • Liberty toujours says:

        We do stop people from having sex with children, engaging in trade with children, employing children, etc. unless those interactions meet our standards (e.g. age of consent).

        I see nothing obviously different about financial standards to bring children into the world. They don’t necessarily have to be high, but “not starving under age 5” seems like a pretty good start.

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        • Slow Learner says:

          Or, in a civilised country, we can just make sure all parents of children are given enough money to feed their kids, all the time. We don’t even have to stop at age 5.
          The cost isn’t even very high – child benefit is around £12 billion in the UK. That’s paid until the child leaves fulltime education/turns 18, and is £20 a week for one child. Compare with around £80 billion a year for pensions, or £40 billion a year on defence excluding nuclear weapons and research.

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          • Liberty toujours says:

            givingwhatwecan.org would probably tell you that, in a civilized world, we can “just” make sure all parents on the globe are given enough money. Etc.

            And yes, it is noble to give to charity. I didn’t say otherwise. I just don’t see why national boundaries should matter in this, or why the state should do it for you by using force to make others pay. Also, allocating the responsibility for reproduction where it belongs (to the individuals who make reproductive choices) works in any situation, including the plausible near-malthusian equilibria of the future given certain technological innovations (such as faster reproduction).

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          • Slow Learner says:

            Relying on private charity leads to a situation where a lot of people fall through the cracks (sometimes even a vast majority). A few people work themselves near to death trying to change things, a lot of people wring their hands, and millions of people continue suffering horribly, dying young, and bringing more children into the same conditions.
            That isn’t hyperbole…just a description of what happened across England between the breakdown of the parochial welfare system and the rise of the welfare state.
            The parochial system was flawed, but mostly worked for a couple of centuries and only broke down where resources were entirely inadequate. It was based on state power and coercion at its root, just like the welfare state which has replaced it.
            As a society, we have collectively decided that yes, state coercion may legitimately be used to demand sufficient resources to provide nourishment and education to all our collective children. I am completely okay with that, because the alternative might involve less coercion by the state, but is far worse on every other axis of importance, and “but forcing other people to pay” is not an invincible argument that overrides all other concerns.

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          • Hainish says:

            And/Or: We can work toward making 100% effective contraception accessible to all.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            Well yes. Short of locking down peoples’ genitalia a la the Vorkosiverse’s Beta Colony, it’s more of an And than an Or.

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          • Liberty toujours says:

            >our collective children

            is a construct that depends on questionable assumptions about national collectivism and international non-responsibility. Why is some stranger’s child within the nation part of “our collective children”, and some other stranger’s child born into a different geographical region isn’t? They are both strangers.

            Note that you are artificially limiting the option set by framing all possible alternatives as worse on every axis of importance. Why not develop a cultural expectation standard that individuals are responsible for their own reproduction rather than having an entitlement to free-ride unshamed and unpunished?

            Hint: Humanity has invented affordable contraception now.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            I’m fully in favour of expanding the web of social care to include people of every nation, so that “our collective children” (and old age pensioners, and disabled, and unable to work, and full time parents, and… but let’s stay focussed on children for now) can be supported.
            Unfortunately that is currently considered a very radical position, and hardly anyone is prepared to stand up for it. The best I can hope for my efforts to affect is for immigration policies to be somewhat liberalised and the welfare state in my home country maintained and (dare to dream!) strengthened.

            Why not develop a cultural expectation standard that individuals are responsible for their own reproduction rather than having an entitlement to free-ride unshamed and unpunished?

            Because a lot of people are irresponsible, and it is unkind and unnecessary to inflict the consequences of their irresponsibility on their children. Encouraging use of contraceptives is a good policy response. So is making sure there is a basic level of provision for the welfare and education of all children.

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          • blacktrance says:

            Then you’re encouraging people who can’t afford children to have them. If people internalize “If I have kids when I can’t afford them, IT’S A DISASTER”, contraception, abortion, and abstinence would be more popular. As they should be.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            I completely favour the free and advertised availability of the most effective available contraceptives.
            Doesn’t solve the problem, because short of forcibly implanting IUDs in every woman and only removing it when she gets a Parenting Licence there will still be unintended pregnancies, and there will still be people who intend to have children and because of economic misfortune, a relationship breakdown or other problems find their budget coming up short.

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          • Army1987 says:

            @Blacktrance:

            Do you think that safety belts should be banned so that people will drive more carefully?

            Report comment

          • blacktrance says:

            Do you think that safety belts should be banned so that people will drive more carefully?

            That’s not analogous for a couple of reasons. First, if you have children and need support, you’re imposing a burden on the taxpayers, and regardless of whether there’s support, you’re putting children in a bad situation. If you’re wearing a seat belt, you’re not imposing anything on anyone else. Second, seat belts are at your own expense – no one else has to give something up for you to have a seat belt.

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          • Army1987 says:

            First, if you have children and need support, you’re imposing a burden on the taxpayers, and regardless of whether there’s support, you’re putting children in a bad situation. If you’re wearing a seat belt, you’re not imposing anything on anyone else.

            And if you wear a seat belt, drive less carefully, and crash into another car, you damage the other car too.

            Second, seat belts are at your own expense – no one else has to give something up for you to have a seat belt.

            Good point.

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          • blacktrance says:

            And if you wear a seat belt, drive less carefully, and crash into another car, you damage the other car too.

            If there’s an accident, you can compensate the other driver for for the trouble you’ve caused them. Nothing analogous is done for parents who have children when they shouldn’t.

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          • Mary says:

            You can give them more than enough money to feed the children a luxurious diet and yet watch the kids starve as they hog the money for their latest thrill.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            I am entirely certain that some people do that, because no matter how evil it seems on the face, somebody has done it.
            The idea that they do so in sufficient numbers to affect the broad calculation of benefit policy is nonsense, and vile hateful nonsense at that. I don’t know whether to hope you don’t actually believe that and are using it for some rhetorical end, or to hope that you are that deluded, because I’m genuinely not sure which is more evil.

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          • Mary says:

            What is more evil is your deluded insistence that large numbers of the underclass — exactly those whose children most need the help — will exactly regard the payments as something to exploit for their own pleasure. There are large neighbors where the drug dealers regard the day that the welfare checks arrive as “Mother’s Day” because that’s when the women have the money to buy.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            And so the whole programme must be dismantled because a tiny percentage of recipients abuse it.
            Of course, it all makes sense now. We should also destroy all technology and dismantle all of civilisation, because a few stupid people use their proceeds to bad ends.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            1. Not all of them will do that
            2. Even if some of them do that, what happens to their kids if we don’t give them anything?

            Because here’s the actual alternatives:

            1. We give them all NOTHING. -X utilons for everyone!

            2. We give them all $MONEY. N% of them are terrible and spend it on thrills. +Y utilons for the ones that don’t, -(X minus epsilon) utilons for the ones that do [hey, the thrill counts for SOMETHING]).

            So -X * population in case 1, and (Y * [1-N] – X * N + epsilon * N) * population in case 2.

            Since Y is positive, and epsilon is positive, and 0 < N < 1…

            -X < Y*[1-N] – X*N + epsilon*N

            So… where’s the problem again?
            Shut up and multiply.

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          • Army1987 says:

            @Ialdabaoth:

            Surely the $MONEY has to come from somewhere, so what matters isn’t whether -X < Y*[1-N] – X*N + epsilon*N, it's wheter -X < Y*[1-N] – X*N + epsilon*N – $MONEY.

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          • Slow Learner says:

            Truth, but a progressive tax policy can take most of the $MONEY from places where it’s marginal value is very slim, so $MONEY can be achieved for an equivalent cost of say 20% $MONEY.

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          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Surely the $MONEY has to come from somewhere

            Sure, we can start by taking money out of the chunk we use to make X as terrible as possible.

            This has the side benefit of making X smaller, which makes -X less negative, which is even a BIGGER win than the status quo!

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          • Anonymous says:

            The trouble is, we can’t all agree on which chunk this is.

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    • peterdjones says:

      And how do you prevent people from having children they can’t afford?

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      • Fadeway says:

        I hold the minority position that a forced abortion or taking away the child after the fact is better than leaving a child in the hands of incompetent, if biological, parents.

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      • Liberty toujours says:

        >And how do you prevent people from having children they can’t afford?

        Step 1: You define the conditions and make them public after political debate (e.g. deposits into a dedicated bank account that pays out monthy child support above some small poverty level).

        Step 2: You pass laws that make these conditions legally binding.

        Step 3: You police people who break the law and have kids without meeting the condition. This is not as draconian as it seems; after all, we do punish other types of child abusers.

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        • Mary says:

          We tried that. The involuntary eugenic sterilizations. The results were not spectacular.

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          • Really? What were the negative consequences?

            (If you say “The Holocaust”, note that the Nazis did a number of other things besides sterilizing undesirables. America spent quite some time sterilizing undesirables without ever massacring millions of them, and I’d love for you to point out what negative consequences that had for us past that (since Nazis ruin everything for the rest of us) it’s now seen as icky.)

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          • Mary says:

            Nice try. You want to say it was just fine, you have to produce some positive results. The evil of the government chopping up the innards of citizens for no benefit is self-evident.

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          • Err, what? To simplify, upthread we had the claim “Society suffers when ~undesirables have children they can’t support that won’t be productive. Therefore we should sterilize them (or just ban them from having children.)” (Actually GP never mentioned sterilization , you did, but I’m willing to defend it, so it’s all the same.) You responded with “We can’t sterilize them because ‘results were not spectacular'”. I asked how, and now you’re putting the burden of proof on me? You claimed already that you had strong evidence that it causes bad things to happen. Can you actually provide that evidence or not?

            Or put more simply, I (well, others) already did propose a mechanism by which we benefit from sterilization: fewer unproductive and unsupported children. So now it’s your turn to tell us why that has a bad effect too.

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          • Anonymous says:

            I’m guessing ‘not spectacular’ means did not significantly improve the gene pool. Since it had no significant positive effects and it has an obvious harm to those sterilized it is not an advisable policy. If you have evidence that sterilization of undesirables led to significant improvements that would defeat the argument.

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          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Since it had no significant positive effects and it has an obvious harm to those sterilized it is not an advisable policy. If you have evidence that sterilization of undesirables led to significant improvements that would defeat the argument.

            How do we know that vaccination has significant positive effects? We look at the incidence of the target disease in the vaccinated community vs a comparable less-vaccinated community.

            How do we know that lower incidence of the disease is a positive effect? In a similar way that some people think that fewer unwanted pregnancies is a positive effect both on the community and for the individual.

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          • Anonymous says:

            What does unwanted pregnancies have to do with involuntary sterilization?

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          • Mary says:

            “You responded with “We can’t sterilize them because ‘results were not spectacular’”. I asked how, and now you’re putting the burden of proof on me? You claimed already that you had strong evidence that it causes bad things to happen. ”

            What a liar you are. You lie even though you yourself quote your refutation: you leap from “not spectacular” to claiming that I claimed they were obviously bad.

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  25. Protagoras says:

    I’m generally a lot more pro-feminism and pro-social justice than you, and I usually even find myself reasonably well accepted by others of such orientation. But I generally agree that feminists give terrible dating advice. I do think that there seem to be guys who fit the feminist stereotype of horrible Nice Guys, but I also think that internet feminist criticisms of the phenomenon often overreach and become misguided in the ways you describe. So not all feminists disagree with you (unless I’m kicked out of the club for this comment, which seems unlikely as if occasionally expressing criticism of the movement sufficed to get me ostracized, it would have happened a long time ago).

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  26. JME says:

    Just a quick note: I think it would be better to attribute the post you attribute to a guy called John to drewlsummitt. The post at aguycalledjohn is a reblog of drewlsummitt’s post. (NB: I am aware that reblogging someone else’s post in its entirety (with attribution) is perfectly acceptable and normalized on Tumblr, and I’m not saying aguycalledjohn did anything wrong.)

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  27. anon says:

    I wish you would tackle tougher targets. You should go live in a cave for a while and meditate on nature. Then you’ll be more likely to find fully novel insights. When you get involved in debates like this, your arguments are good, but they’re never important, in the sense they don’t change any of the paradigms I have. And it’s your ability to reshape my thoughts that keeps me reading your blog, and I humbly request you focus on that rather than drama. But that said, I totally understand the entertainment value of a good and personal argument.

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    • Ialdabaoth says:

      I disagree, and unironically believe that the beatings should continue until the morale improves.

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    • Icicle says:

      This “drama” is actually really important because there is a deficit of intelligent opposition to feminism, and on the margins, these sorts of posts are more useful than “live in cave for a while” insights. Also, insights are typically generated by interacting with the ideas of others and putting them together in a new way, and living in a cave inhibits that.

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  28. Mary says:

    Oddly enough, in that very comment section I linked more of his articles.

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  29. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    “How dare you compare x to y”

    Woohoo! Scott quoted someone who quoted me (on something I said on LessWrong).

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  30. Roe says:

    Excellent post, Scott. Another similarity between the manosphere and feminism is what – in 2nd wave feminism – is called the “click” moment – when you suddenly realize how *you are relentlessly treated like a second class citizen* which maps very well on the whole “red pill” metaphor.

    Thing is – I think they’re both a little right. Betty Friedan spends a huge chunk of The Feminine Mystique on the messages of women’s magazines – both 2nd wave feminists and the denizens of the ‘sphere were taught that doing certain things were the path to happiness, and that turned out to be untrue.

    So, following the ‘sphere really did make sense of my past failures with women (and successes) and helped me meaningfully with a bunch of areas in my life – my marriage, my inability to set personal boundaries, my conflictedness about masculinity. It felt seriously like a “click” moment, actually.

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  31. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    Scott, I don’t necessarily disagree with much of this, but I have to say: part of the art of politics is selectively pointing out the bad tactics of your opponents. When done correctly this allows you to appear unbiased since you are technically only saying correct things, but you’re deceiving people into believing that your opponents are unusually bad. At this you are a master. I went into more detail here

    You claim that this argument is representative of what people concerned with social justice think on the basis that lots of prominent feminists have made it. But who the fuck cares what prominent feminists think? I don’t care what Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins think about religion*. Anecdotal data, the feminists that I am acquainted with are well aware of the fact that for socially awkward men, approaching someone can be very difficult. However they would simply prefer it if said men understand their right to say no, without trying to make them feel bad.

    *A master of rhetoric could easily use the very same tactic you are using to argue that atheists think that religion is evil and want to destroy it by cleverly quoting “prominent atheists”.

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    • drethelin says:

      He’s not just quoting prominent feminists but things that are repeated over and over again in comments and throughout the internet by many many people.

      I also think lots of atheists DO want to to destroy religion. That’s something religious people should legitimately be concerned about.

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      • Slow Learner says:

        Nah. Well, not in my mostly-secular country, anyway. We’re approaching 50% non-religious in the UK, if indeed we haven’t passed it already, and most atheists here will go “Grr Magdalene Laundries” or “Grr Islamists” or whatever, but otherwise completely ignore religion.
        The mosque down the street, the parish church over the road, are at no risk from us, because they aren’t a threat. We haven’t even got organised enough to kick the bishops out of the House of Lords, FFS, and we are half the population and nearly half the voters.
        I think USian atheists are more likely to want to destroy religion, but USian atheists are much, much more threatened than UK atheists, be it with social disapproval, loss of employment, or indeed violence.

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      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        All bark and no bite. (in both the atheist and the feminist cases).

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      • Bugmaster says:

        Well, I am an atheist, and I do want to destroy religion.

        That is, I want to deprecate the social and philosophical status of religion to something like live-action role-playing. Some people find it fun, some people are good at it, it can take a lot of dedication and effort; these are all good things. However, if someone started basing his life decisions on the fact that he’s a Rank 3 werewolf, or expected to enact the Masquerade into law because his vampiric Prince is really strict about things like that — then that person would either be laughed out of town, or advised to seek medical help, or both.

        I’d like religion to occupy the same social niche as LARP. Because, by and large, that’s what it is. That makes me an anti-theist, not a mere atheist; and I guess some people find that offensive…

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    • Matthew says:

      It isn’t necessary for a majority of supporters of social justice to employ these arguments for them to be exceptionally damaging. I don’t think Scott chooses these arguments to eviscerate at random. He writes about them because he sees people getting hurt by them.

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      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        Isn’t my war analogy quite apt then? Supporters of side A are genuinely upset that side A is getting hurt by the weapons of side B. So they selectively talk about that while conveniently ignoring the weapons that side A is using against side B.

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    • Anonymous says:

      As an atheist who /kind of/ does think that religion is evil and /kind of/ wants to destroy it and thinks most /vocal/ atheists (I’m not very vocal myself) are the same, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from your comment. That only vocal feminists are unusually bad?

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    • anon says:

      Endorsed. Scott is correct that feminists like to deflect criticism in complicated and sneaky ways. But at this point I think Scott has a BINGO card of his own.

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    • The Do-Operator says:

      This reads like an accusation that Scott is using arguments as soldiers against his “opponents” in the social justice movement. I think your model of Scott is spectacularly wrong. Quite obviously, Scott shares the values of the social justice movement, at least in the “motte” sense.

      I understand his project as an attempt to build a new version of social justice that is based on the same core values, but improved such that it is internally consistent, defensible from first principles, not subject to language confusion, and consistent with game theory and empirical facts about human psychology

      Intellectually honest members of the social justice mvement are not his opponents, they are his allies. His arguments are not attacking the social justice movement, he is attacking certain parasites on the movement that happen to be evil. It is a sad fact about human psychology that many people will interpret this as an attack on the movement.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    People are getting hit left and right by the social justice community. Every other day I hear a new story like this . Unless you are particularly left-wing AND masochistic I don’t see how people can endure in this atmosphere.

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    • More about what social justice does to people who try to contribute to it

      Scott got off relatively easy because he was just trying to comply rather than to help social justice people. They treat each other even worse than they treat outsiders.

      Contra the link, I don’t think the problem has to do with patriarchal standards– I think it’s that a medium-small minority of people are strongly motivated to be cruel. A largish proportion of people aren’t that cruel themselves, but think there’s some value in having cruel people on their side and certainly don’t have the emotional resources needed to control cruel people.

      What social justice did was take the brakes off emotional abuse, and turn it into something that can be claimed to be a virtue. I assume this isn’t going to last forever because nothing does, but damned if I have any ideas about what’s going to stop it.

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      • Multiheaded says:

        It’s us or no-one.

        (My part? I just got banned from an SJ “discussion” space for linking this Problematic Challenging Piece by a Controversial Blogger. To be fair, during the last week I’ve been on an anti-SJ-abuse roll there and it finally got under some people’s skin. But at the very least I vocally expressed support for one recent very-high-profile abuse victim and he was saw it and was thankful!

        Yes, this is really my other side… comes out when I’m with people who want me in a gulag and not vice versa.)

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      • Anonymous says:

        Social justice has already been like this for at least 100 years. I read about it in “Revolt of the Masses” where the author criticised it in terms of allowing people to use it as a mask to reject the obligations to be civil and courteous.

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  33. KJbGcX says:

    I suspect the way to think about feminists vs Henry is not the way Heartiste thinks about them. Rather, I think internet feminists tend to be very introverted women (that’s why they spend so much time on the internet) who suffer from social phobia. And since they’re scared of people in general, they’re scared of men in particular. The internet makes people less empathetic in general, so they go around yelling really loudly about how creepy guys who try to start conversations with them are, etc.

    But in fact not all women are like that at all. You’ve got other women who are extremely extraverted who are not nearly as afraid of men. And if you look at women from the lower classes (where all this wife-beating tends to happen), women are more likely to be extraverted and more likely to be concerned about how powerful a man is than his feminism cred.

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    • Jadagul says:

      This resonates with me (a guy, for the record) because I’m introverted enough that when I’m tired or stressed, I’m genuinely offended and angered by the idea that people would want to start talking to me if I don’t explicitly opt in. I don’t get randomly hit on a lot on the street, certainly not aggressively (see: I’m a guy), but the idea that people will talk to me can be very stressful.

      I do notice that my female friends tend to roughly agree on the facts of what behaviors they expect out of men, but vary greatly on the “and therefore men are all scary and I can’t trust them” to “and so I’m going to go out and fuck lots of guys” spectrum. Has a lot more to do with their comfort with risk and openness to experience than it does with object-level beliefs about the risks of interacting with men.

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    • Sarah says:

      Interesting fact:

      A lot of major feminist writers, throughout history (off the top of my head, Mary Wollstonecraft, Shulamith Firestone, and Andrea Dworkin come to mind) were brutally physically abused by men. A lot of the more prominent and thoughtful feminist bloggers are rape and abuse survivors.

      It’s a plausible hypothesis that experience with male violence motivates women to become feminists. And these women are more likely to see a randomly chosen dude as a potential abuser than a potential fun sex partner.

      I have *weirdly* good luck as a woman, in that basically *nobody* does sexist things to me. I’ve concluded recently that other women aren’t just exaggerating their misfortunes, they really do experience these bad things, I’m just bizarrely lucky for some reason. And I try to compensate for my “lucky-girl bias” by being more sympathetic to claims of sexism than my natural inclination would suggest.

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      • Matthew says:

        Sort of similarly, I’ve been warned that case workers for DSS/CPS/whatever it’s called in one’s jurisdiction are often survivors of domestic abusive themselves and not unbiased observers when investigating other families.

        (Warned because my insane ex is fond of trying to get law enforcement, DSS, etc. to hassle me.)

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      • Zorgon says:

        @Sarah, are you sure you’re not suffering from the availabilty heuristic? Discussion of abuse of women has been mainstreamed, so you’re likely to encounter stories of abused women (and concomitantly unlikely to encounter the non-stories of non-abused women).

        As a connected aside, it hasn’t escaped my notice that a great many MRA and similar figures identify as victims of one or another form of abuse by women (or perceived or actual abuse by the system on behalf of women, as with divorce and family courts).

        We should probably just go ahead and call radicalization a spade.

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  34. Sniffnoy says:

    Two further notes:

    1. I’ve noticed that a lot of SJers, or just liberals in general, don’t seem to grasp the notion of the contrarian hierarchy; the react to those above them on it the same as to those below them, when really entirely different responses are called for. This problem is probably not restricted to liberals at all, that’s just mostly who I’ve noticed it from because that’s who I talk to.

    (That said, grouping the “manosphere” (as opposed to the Men’s Right’s Movement or PUA) in with the old-school sexists seems to be, uh, basically correct, from what little I’ve dipped my toe in there. Fundamentalists/reactionaries are not traditionalists/conservatives, etc., but while the difference is important in some contexts, it’s often ignorable. MRM meanwhile is definitely above feminism on the contrarian hierarchy; PUA’s position is unclear, possibly off in some other direction entirely. (Note that going up the contrarian hierarchy does not necessarily increase correctness at all!))

    2. It’s interesting to see the different narratives (chronologies?) of how you get hostilities between feminist-types and MRM-types. (For simplicity, I’m going to use “MRM-types” to mean, like, “favors equality but is not a feminist” types, even though that includes people who are not MRAs (e.g. Scott, me). Because back in the “Words, Words, Words” thread, Barry was saying it goes the other way. (My experience agrees with Scott’s, unsurprisingly.)

    Basically, Barry’s story: MRA-types are initially hostile to feminism, so feminism is hostile back.

    As opposed to Scott’s story: MRA-types start out as unorthodox feminists, but after seeing how feminists treat heretics, they go into open rebellion. (Feminism “shot first”.)

    Would be interesting to get more information on this. (Are non-terrible feminists hostile to MRA-types because MRA-types are hostile to feminists, because MRA-types associate “feminism” with the horrible sort and non-terrible feminists associate “feminism” with themselves? Really this last thing is a huge problem in itself — feminists just discounting the damage done by the worst ones, thinking, oh, those are clearly ridiculous, nobody would listen to them, and anyway a few extremists don’t define a movement… ignoring that they totally do, if there the ones who have the largest effects! But this is turning into a different comment which I mean to write elsewhere, so I’ll stop here.)

    Honestly, it always seems kind of ridiculous when people attribute awful results to the MRM or the manosphere — these groups have no influence! (At least, not within the “garden”. 😛 )

    Edit: Also it’s worth pointing out that most of the reason I really don’t like the MRM is that it basically copies all the awfulness of feminism but with the genders reversed. If you’re a feminist complaining about the awfulness of MRM — look to your own movement! They learned it from you! (Or at least, that’s my story. I suppose Barry might disagree. 🙂 )

    Edit: Also, this is important:

    All he needed to keep going was to have people acknowledge there was a problem and treat him like a frickin’ human being.

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    • Lemminkainen says:

      Sincere question: how would you address people at different points on the contrarian hierarchy differently– particularly when people espouse views that are not actually all that different from groups lower on the hierarchy, as you pointed out?

      Non-manosphere example: Mencius Moldbug is higher on the contrarian hierarchy than people who believe in liberal democrats, who are higher on the hierarchy than unreconstructed absolute monarchists (yes, this last group is relatively rare in developed countries, but your link accepts that this is the case in a lot of hierarchies). However, Moldbug supports the same sort of political system that Louis XIV would have. I imagine that the arguments I would use to convince people that Moldbug’s proposed system is bad would be roughly the same as the ones I would use to critique Louis XIV.

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      • Sniffnoy says:

        The difference is that if B sits directly above A on the hierarchy, that means B’s standard arguments are meant to rebut A’s standard arguments. Or, B is taking into account things that A is not.

        This means that if you’re B, you can repeat standard arguments, because there’s a good chance A hasn’t seriously considered them before. If they have, they’ve really thought about things seriously, then you may actually be in for an interesting debate! But it’s possible they haven’t. And then you won’t need to really seriously engage with them.

        If you’re A, and you repeat standard arguments, B will already have counters prepared; you’ll look like an idiot for making such elementary mistakes! I mean, really, have you not familiarized yourself with the subject at all? If you want to talk to B, you have to do it seriously, not dismissively. If you treat them dismissively, you’re just showing that you don’t really understand their position (even if you can’t see this).

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