Elliot Rodger, Sympathy For The Devil and The Omipresent ‘Why?’

Primary Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/225960813/Elliot-Rodger-Santa-Barbara-mass-shooting-suspect-My-Twisted-World-manifesto

Introduction
When human-caused tragic events occur, we always ask ourselves the question of ‘why?’ Did God will this to happen? Did the television cause it? Did video games cause it?

For some reason, we always try to externalize this blame. The idea that human beings can commit acts of monstrous evil is innately distressing to us (because “if they can do this, then doesn’t that mean I could conceivably do so as well?”), and as such we seem to consistently find “causes” for these individuals’ actions. Abusive childhood. Systemic misogyny. Religious indoctrination. Internalized racism. Satan. The entertainment industry. Take your pick.

Individuals are clearly influenced by the world around them, yet at the same time this world around them is composed of other individuals and the cultural artifacts produced by them. We have free will, yet this does not imply our cultural context has no effect or influence or meaning. That said, the human being is not merely a stimulus-response meat-machine; our behaviors may not have “causes” in the strict sense of the term, but they do have reasons.

The same applies to horrible actions. Human vice and human virtue are not just arbitrary choices nor are they conditioned reflexes nor are they epiphenomena of great social forces – they are actions undertaken for reasons.

The hideous crimes of Elliot Rodger were inexcuseable acts, but they were undertaken because of reasons. This does not make them rational or right or acceptable (they absolutely are none of these things), but it does make them somewhat comprehensible. “Why do some people do evil things?” is one of the oldest questions known to humanity, and one of the most fascinating to investigate.

Of course, we need to look at this in context; GendErratic is an egalitarian gender issues blog affiliated with the Men’s Human Rights Movement. Some news outlets have attempted to blame the MHRM (which they cannot seem to consistently identify, since they package-deal the MHRM with the Seduction/Pickup Artist/Red-Pill communities) for Rodger’s crimes, and as such most reactions by the MHRM will be confined to swift condemnation and distancing. This makes absolute sense, because Rodger was not a member of the MHRM (he was not even a member of the Seduction/Pickup Artist community, although it is arguably true that his beliefs about the nature of female sexual desire count as “Red Pill”) and his actions were fundamentally inexcuseable.

But as I said before, merely because an action is inexcuseable does not imply that it is incomprehensible. And when the actor leaves behind a written rationale for the action performed, then that manifesto makes a reasonable starting point.

I will again reiterate that none of this justifies Elliot Rodger’s actions, which were despicably evil and utterly irredeemable. Elliot Rodger was a Spree Killer and clearly an extraordinarily contemptible individual. But this doesn’t imply that reading his own words is a worthless exercise.

In the following, I will at times use “victim-sounding” terminology to discuss aspects of Rodger’s condition, however. This is not to be construed as implying that Rodger was the victim of his crimes; he was the perpetrator.

Queen Bees And Wannabes, Genderswapped
Rosalind Weisman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes sparked a huge conversation about the bullying that takes place between girls; in contrast to “sugar, spice and everything nice” girls are indeed ruthlessly competitive backstabbers who will sabotage the competition at any opportunity. In this, Weisman performed a service by knocking girls off their pedestal and showing mainstream culture that women are just as prone to bullying each other as men are.

Of course, there is rarely any serious attempt to address bullying in schools amongst men. “Boys will be boys” they say, and leave it at that. Indeed, Weisman’s book about male bullying is both hilariously simplistic (seriously, she blames Batman for male gender norms and the resultant social politics) and essentially has vanished from the radar, whereas Queen Bees sparked the movie Mean Girls.

High School social politics, for both sexes, is (in our society) an hierarchical affair where superiors bully and belittle inferiors, and everyone desperately tries to become as popular and “cool” as possible. The losers, the outcasts, the rejects, well they are the ultimate victims of the system.

The loser, the outcast, the reject, they can develop in one of three ways:

1) They remain within the hierarchy, desperately struggling to one day fit in, hoping they will some day be accepted; they cannot conceive of a life outside of the hierarchy.

2) They shallowly ‘rebel’ against the hierarchy by creating their own hierarchy which, conveniently, happens to define “cool” as “like themselves” rather than via the mainstream definition.

3) They reject the hierarchy as a load of bullshit and live their lives by their own wills and refuse to let the judgment of others control them.

Both men and women are subject to this hierarchy, however the difference is that for men, gender-compliance is much more strongly linked to one’s position in the heirarchy than it is for women; one is not necessarily socially considered “less feminine” for being a mousy arty chick with few friends instead of a blond bimbo cheerleader, but one is socially considered “less masculine” for being a nerd rather than a jock. The ultimate reason for this, as I explained in Summa Genderratica, is that our society tends to see femininity as biologically innate (as an Aristotelian Essence), but masculinity as performed through actions and thus as a Platonic Form.

Elliot Rodger was an example of the first kind of development taken to murderous extremes (although perhaps with elements of the second kind). He was the exact opposite of what Paul Elam would describe as a “Zeta Male” (a man who rejects the male dominance hierarchy and all other substitutes). He was not under any circumstances acting in accordance with MHRM theory or practice but rather was the snivelling, servile result of desperately trying to fit in and failing miserably, being too intellectually weak to live by his own rules. Even after the pack abused him he kept crawling back, desperate to belong, and was rejected yet again, and the cycle kept repeating in some bizarre case of pseudo-Stockholm Syndrome.

Finally, he cracked.

The Central Narrative
After reading Rodger’s entire manifesto, I can outline what I believe to be the primary patterns within his thoughts and values (as relayed in the text) which are critical to understanding his actions. Fundamentally speaking the greatest theme in Rodger’s life is a failure to achieve “real manhood” (in the eyes of others) and thus worthiness, which he ultimately believed to be confirmed/bestowed by the sexual attention of women. This is complicated by the fact that he accepted the social norms of aristocratic British culture and treated them as the “correct” determinants of social status, worthiness and “what women should want,” thus feeling cheated when it turned out that (at least in the United States) women preferred men of more rowdy, jockish inclinations rather than refined gentlemen.

Let’s call these dual, interrelated complexes Social Emasculation Anxiety and the Lord Chatterley Dilemma.

The “official” narrative (i.e. the one spun by the mainstream media) will be that Elliot Rodger was merely the latest in a long line of Privileged Angry White Men acting out of a fear of losing their privilege, and that he is emblematic of deep cultural problems with mainstream America. In fact, Elliot Rodger was half-European, half-Asian and raised in an environment which was mostly based on the norms of British (from his family) and American (from his peer group) societies. The strong presence of aristocratic British (and perhaps, to a small degree, Chinese) norms in his upbringing and his manifesto mean that any attempts to pour cultural shame on “America” for Elliot Rodger’s actions are frankly stupid. To claim Rodger’s actions were primarily about misogyny is also flawed (he was misogynist, true, but he was also contemptuous of the vast majority of the human race and particularly of “more alpha” men and his value system placed women’s love and respect at the very apex of worth). It is my hope that this piece will provide a compelling counter-narrative against the propagandist bilge that many will try to twist this tragedy into.

COMPLEX 1: SOCIAL EMASCULATION ANXIETY
1a) A Second-Hand Spirit
“He was great; great as the number of people who told him so. He was right; right as the number of people who believed him. He looked at the faces, at the eyes; he saw himself born in them, he saw himself being granted the gift of life.”

The Fountainhead, p196

Regardless of what one thinks about The Fountainhead or its author (note: any comments which go on about the book or its author will be removed for being off-topic), the book details the concept of the “Second Hander” – an individual who’s entire personal senses of meaning, purpose and worth are dependent upon other people. To the Second Hander, a life without the validation and/or acknowledgement of other people is an unspeakable horror, and (as the saying goes) the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. The Second Hander’s entire sense of self-worth is critically dependent on others in some fashion; everything ultimately revolves around what other people think of them.

For all of Elliot Rodger’s existence, he was consistently a Second Hander; he fundamentally lived for the esteem and acknowledgement of others. After all, “people having a high opinion of me is what I’ve always wanted in life,” he says on p116. The final sentence of his work reads “finally, at long last, I can show the world my true worth” (p137).

In the very first paragraph he states that “all I ever wanted was to fit in” (Rodger (2014) p1). Later in his manifesto this is reiterated in how he wanted “to show the whole WORLD, that I had worth” (p108). “I’ve been trying to join and be accepted among the beautiful, popular people all my life,” he laments again on p112; This theme is omnipresent throughout his writing.

By the end of the fourth grade, he realized precisely what demographic he wished to fit into; quite unsurprisingly, that demographic was the “cool kids.”

“As my fourth grade year approached its end, my little nine-year-old self had another revelation about how the world works. I realized that there were hierarchies, that some people were better than others…. At school, there were always the “cool kids” who seemed to be more admirable than everyone else. The way they looked, dressed and acted made them… cooler… They were cool, they were popular…” (p17).

He needed that popularity – that social status. “I envied the cool kids, and I wanted to be one of them” he reiterates (p17). However, at the end of his fourth year of schooling he realized that he wasn’t likely to attain it.

“When I became aware of this common social structure at my school, I also started to examine myself and compare myself to these “cool kids.” I realized, with some horror, that I wasn’t “cool” at all. I had a dorky hairstyle, I wore plain and uncool clothing, and I was shy and unpopular” (p17).

His first step in making himself more popular was to bleach his hair blond, which ended up (accidentally) making people consider him cool for a few days.

“I got a hint of the attention and admiration I so craved” (p18).

Pokemon was a childhood hobby of his (see the next section), but he quit Pokemon eventually, because it was considered excessively “geeky” and status-conscious Rogers didn’t want to deal with that stigma (p18). He changed over to skateboarding, because he “started to notice that all of the cool kids were interested in skateboarding. I had never even ridden on a skateboard before, but if I wanted to be cool, I had to become a skateboarder” (p18).

After Fourth grade ended, Elliot “took a vow to mold myself into the coolest kid I could possibly be by the time Fifth grade began. I anticipated the approval the other cool kids would have of me once I reveal (sic) myself as being similar to them, and I looked forward to it.” (p18).

He dressed himself in skateboarding clothes (p19), and whilst fifth grade didn’t give him the amount of social status he wanted he had more than he did in the fourth grade, which helped him and as such he kept hanging out with the cool kids (p20). When the cool kids exhibited an interest in hacky sacking, he immediately pursued it (p22).

During a school camp, he managed to be transferred into a camping group which was composed of cool skateboarder kids. ‘I felt a sense of pride to be part of his group,” he says (p25).

His relationship with the “cool kids” always followed this pattern of needy validation and craving for acceptance, and he saw their approval as meaning the world to him.

“They were ‘cool’ skateboarders, and that made it even more intimidating. Of course, I wanted to be friends with them and join in their fun, but I was too scared that they would think I’m weird” (p23).

“Once again, I used skateboarding as a way to increase my standing, telling the skateboarder kids that I knew how to skateboard and that I could do some tricks. This got them to treat me more cordially. I even talked to Robert Morgan a few times, who I hated and yet subconsciously revered for being so popular. Whenever a so-called popular kid would say a word to me or give me a high five, I felt immense satisfaction” (p28).

His disappointment at how his attendance of the Star Wars Episode 3 premiere didn’t enhance his social status (due to its “nerdiness”) is shown on p42: “I was left frustrated and disappointed by their reaction.”

Second Handing isn’t merely about positive acclaim, but any form of attention at all (“infamy is better than total obscurity” (p42)); Rodger confesses to deliberately acting “weird and annoying to people just to gain attention” (p40).

He often tried to impress people he envied; when on a camping trip with Leo Bubenheim (see below), “I tried to act tough in front of them by slashing my knife at any plant that got in our way.” (p51)

Rodger cared a lot about how wealth showed off social status, conspicuous consumption is a classic trait of Second Handers. On p29 and p30 Rodger describes his frustration over his mother moving to a low-class neighbourhood and how a bully’s discovery of this caused him monumental humilation. He mentions more reputation-based angst over his mother’s move to an apartment (which he perceived as inherently low-class) on p40 (embarassment so intense that it damaged his social life). This repeats itself again on p52 (dealing with his mother’s move to Canoga Park, a lower-class area.)

Even when Rodger was trying to protect himself from bullies (see below), his ultimate concern still lay with how he was perceived. Describing an incident where he was attacked by Halloween hooligans and fought back with his knife, he wrote “They must have seen me as a weakling who they could bully for their amusement. I didn’t want the world to view me as weak” (p63). Note the concern with how “the world” viewed him rather than simply being capable of self-defense.

As I have stated before, for men the social hierarchy and the gender hierarchy are strongly linked; after all, the “alpha male” is the leader, the manliest male, the strongest etc. Rodger had realized this feature of male gender norms. “I always had the subconscious preconception that the coolest kids were mean and aggressive by nature…” (p23). And the nature of how this influenced sexual attractiveness in later life is dwelt upon by Rodger; “the boys who girls find attractive will live pleasure-filled lives while they dominate the boys who girls deem unworthy.”

But, as Rodger lamented on p74, “The world views me as a weakling. Perhaps I needed to prove the world wrong.”

As we shall see next, he had significant difficulty in doing this.

1b) Failure To Achieve “Real Manhood” By Mainstream Standards
Even physically, the deck was stacked against Rodger; he was not a tall man, and traditional gender norms (particularly those of Chinese culture, which may have partially informed his upbringing) greatly value tallness in males. His ethnic heritage contributed both biologically as well as culturally – Asian men are on average less tall than Caucasian men. Even in his early ages he was conscious about his lack of height relative to his peers;

“I was very small and short statured for my age… I saw other boys my age admitted onto the ride, but I was denied because I was too short!” (p6).

When he was nine years old, he began to realize just how much height would matter in terms of social status.

“As Fourth Grade started, it fully dawned on me that I was the shortest kid in my class – even the girls were taller than me. In the past, I rarely gave a thought to it, but at this stage I became extremely annoyed at how everyone was taller than me, and how the tallest boys were automatically respected more. It instilled the first feelings of inferiority in me…” (p15).

“I desperately wanted to get taller, and I read that playing basketball increases height. This sparked my brief interest in basketball… I would spend hours playing basketball at father’s basketball court, shooting hoop after hoop long into the evening, and I also remember lying on the ground in the basketball court trying to stretch my body…” (p15 – 16).

Even in middle school, “most of the girls were taller than me” (p28). When starting high school (p45), he “was intimidated by all the huge high school boys.”

A quick glance at his photos reveals that Rodger, whilst clearly not ugly, had a very youthful and in some respects androgynous face – plump and pouty lips as well as a somewhat narrow and delicate jawline. He had a boyish appearance… an appearance which in his manifesto he described as “beautiful” rather than handsome (p90 and p121, and on p99 he describes looking in the mirror and saying to himself “I am the image of beauty”). Again, this physique of his reflects his half-Asian heritage, whilst his body was judged on purely Caucasian standards of masculine development.

This physical deficiency of his continued to his activities; Rodger openly concedes his lack of physical strength and sporting prowess, only further emasculating him socially. During his early childhood in Britain, he failed to show proficiency in soccer (“football” in British English). “I never understood the game and I could never keep up with the other boys in the field..” (p2).

During his brief period of interest in basketball, this deficiency reasserted itself. “When I played basketball at school, some boys would join me, and when they did I saw that they were much better at the sport than me. I envied their ability to throw the ball at double the distance than I could. This made me realize that along with being short, I was physically weak compared to other boys my age. Even boys younger than me were stronger. This vexed me to no end” (p16).

Skateboarding, an interest he held for a few years, eventually proved fruitless for him. “When I saw there were boys a lot younger than me who could do more tricks, I realized that I sucked. I was never good at sports or any physical activity…” (p26).

He reiterates this again on p44; “I was always short and physically weak… that’s how it’s been all my life.” When he discovered that a step-cousin (?) of his had become “taller and stronger than me, despite being two years younger” he was clearly displeased.

It is no surprise that Rodger’s primary envy was towards well-built, blond, athletic “surfer boys” and “jocks” – Leo Bubenheim (p50) was one of the first; “He was tall, good looking, blonde-haired, and a skateboarder; the type of person I’ve always envied and wanted to be.” He mentions another “obnoxious jock with a buzz-cut” (p69) at Moorpark College, and yet another (p100) “tall, muscular surfer-jock with a buzz cut” at UCSB. When describing actor Alexander Ludwig he says “I hated everything about him; his golden blonde hair; his tall, muscular frame; his cocky, masculine face” (p103).

As Rodger simply couldn’t compete with others on the sporting field, he sought solace in other competitive activities – ones in which his physique was irrelevant, and thus ones he perceived as fair. As a child he extensively played Pokemon (first mentioned on p12) and described the competition as masculinizing, meritocratic and ultimately friendly (arguably this is because competitive Pokemon games favored his skill set and thus he wasn’t a loser).

“Life was fair and life was satisfying. As kids, proving our self-worth and gaining validation amongst our peers was achieved in a fair manner, by how good we were at the games we played, or how big or collection of Pokemon cards were (sic). No one had unfair advantages. This was perfect, and this is how life should be.” (p13).

Rodger reiterates this point on p25; “as children we all play together as equals in a fair environment.”

Video games, particularly World of Warcraft, became a substitute for this later in life and he openly admitted they were an escape from the powerlessness of his normal existence. As he says on p40, in WoW he had “a place where I felt comfortable and secure” and on p43 says that he found reaching the character level cap to be “a huge and important accomplishment.”

In essence, Rodger pursued a substitute hierarchy so he could enjoy the sensation of overcoming others and thus be considered a high-ranking male (this has interesting implications for the “male power fantasy” argument about video games – people tend to fantasize not about what they have but rather what they lack). Indeed, as WoW became more mainstream in appeal, Rodger lost his safe space from the hierarchical pressures of high school life. To quote Rodger: “but that was only a small part of the reason why I quit. The main reason was the disturbing new player base… I noticed more and more “normal” people who had active and pleasureable social lives were starting to play the game… WoW no longer became a sanctuary where I could hide from the evils of the world, because the evils of the world had now followed me there” (p74).

He needed to fit in, to be ‘cool,’ to be a ‘real man’ and to be acknowledged for this, but he never could. “The world still viewed me as a weak and undesirable loser” he lamented on p64. As he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome (or, for those who contest the legitimacy of Asperger’s as a “disease,” clearly had a temperment which was oriented towards processing abstract, explicit information rather than the subtle, sensory and tacit information which pervades much social interaction and is rarely explained to people in a systematic fashion), this would’ve always been a challenge for him.

As a consequence of his failure to be accepted amongst his peers as a “real man,” Elliot Rodger endured significant bullying in high school, each incident grinding his face in his lack of social acceptance and unworthiness by popular standards. One of the first incidents detailed in depth is when he was bullied by Monette Moio, whom “was the first girl I ever had a crush on… To be teased and ridiculed by the girl I had a crush on wounded me deeply.” (p42). But it was on the first week of high school that he had his “first experience of true bullying… Some horrible Twelfth Graders saw me as a target because I looked like a ten year old and I was physically weak. They threw food at me during lunchtime and after school. It enraged me, but I was too scared to do anthing about it. What kind of horrible, depraved people would poke fun at a boy younger than them who has just entered high school?

He refers to more bullying incidents on p46, where “they teased me because I was scared of girls, calling me names like ‘faggot.’ People also liked to steal my belongings and run away in an attempt to chase after them. And I did chase after them in a furious rage, but I was so little and weak that they thought it was comical…. It got to a point where I had to wait in a quiet corner for the hallways to clear before I  could walk to class. I also took long routes around the school to avoid bullies.”

This bullying extended even into his college years, when his housemates Ryan and Angel (p90) mocked him for being a virgin.

An interesting and critical incident occurred when Elliot was 15 years old (p48), when he first moved into Tenth Grade at Taft High School. “Some random boys pushed me against the lockers as they walked past me in the hall. One boy who was tall and had blonde (sic) hair called me a ‘loser,’ right in front of his girlfriends. Yes, he had girls with him. Pretty girls. And they didn’t seem to mind the fact that he was such an evil bastard. In fact, I bet they liked him for it. This is how girls are, and I was starting to realize it. This is what truly opened my eyes to how brutal the world is. The meanest and most depraved of men come out on top, and women flock to these men. Their evil acts are rewarded by women; while the good, decent men are laughed at. It is sick, twisted, and wrong in every way. I hated the girls even more than the bullies because of this.”

Elliot had always connected status and worthiness (as a man) with success with women. This first was seen in his youth, when he was first introduced to his soon-to-be stepmother:

“Because of my father’s acquisition of a new girlfriend, my little mind got the impression that my father was a man that women found attractive… I subconsciously held him in higher regard because of this. It is very interesting how this phenomenon works… that males who can easily find female mates garner more respect from their fellow men, even children.” (p11).

As puberty and middle school began to be part of Elliot’s life, the link between social status and sexual success with women began to become more apparent. “I noticed that there were two groups of cool, popular kids. There were the skateboarder kids… and then there were the boys who were popular with girls..” (p28).

Soon this expanded into what was really the very basis of his understanding of social status. It seems that Elliot wanted success with girls in order to prove himself to guys (“I wanted to prove to them all that girls liked me, to see the look on their faces when they see a girl by my side” (p91), see also “no one respects a man who is unable to get a woman” (p110). yet more evidence of his Second Hander mentality as discussed above), and invested in girls the ultimate power to bestoy the status of “real manhood” (“I needed a girl’s love. I needed to feel worthy as a male” (p94). He again refers to seeing a girl’s attraction to him as proof of worthiness on p102). Elliot saw women as incredibly powerful in this respect; during a summer camp during early middle school…

“An incident happened that would scar me for life. The first time that I was treated badly by a girl occurred at this camp… I accidentally bumped into a pretty girl the same age as me, and she got very angry. She cursed at me and pushed me, embarrassing me in front of my friend. I didn’t know who this girl was.. But she was very pretty, and she was taller than me… Cruel treatment from women is ten times worse than from men. It made me feel like an insignificant, unworthy little mouse. I felt so small and vulnerable… I thought that it was because she viewed me as a loser” (p32).

The significance of a woman’s affections (both sexual and romantic) to Elliot cannot be underestimated. “The power that beautiful women have is unbelievable” he says on p76. On p110 to p111, Rodger states that “a man having a beautiful girl by his side shows the world that he is worth something, because obviously that beautiful girl sees some sort of worth within him. If a man is all alone, people get the impression that girls are repulsed by him, and therefore he is a worthless loser.” He describes as “so offensive it will haunt me forever” being told that “no girl in this whole world will ever want to fuck you” (p67) (interestingly, there’s an emphasis on him being desired by the woman. Not merely getting access to sex but on her wanting him. This seems to complicate the argument that Elliot felt a sense of “entitlement to female bodies” due to being male). On p97, Rodger goes so far as to say that he eventually thought that “the world was full of wonders to explore, but if I had to do it alone while other men were able to do it with their girlfriends, then what was the point?”

Clearly, Elliot Rodger was the absolute opposite of a Man Going His Own Way – he was (to use crude-terms) a pussy-beggar who’s entire sense of worthiness as a man was invested in receiving the sexual and romantic affections of women. He openly confesses to hours of hysterically crying over lacking romantic success or witnessing other people experiencing it (p47, also p59 and other moments). He described having to watch couples kiss as “the worst torture ever” (p57) and dropped college classes over seeing couples in the classroom (p70).

To summarize the first narrative of Elliot Rodger’s life, Rodger was very much a “non-Alpha” male physically and tempermentally, which resulted in consistently being socially emasculated and bullied. As he was incapable of contemplating a source of self-worth that wasn’t ultimately dependent on the approval, affection and attention of others, he was doomed to a monumental case of self-loathing.

However, this does not fully explain why Rodger acted how he did and it does not fully explain why he came to the views he accepted; Rodger, after all, believed himself to be the “true Alpha Male” who was denied the female affection and attention he believed he deserved. Whilst he was pushed to the bottom of the macho dominance heirarchy, he did not accept his socially-ordained place (as he says on p99, “I was incapable of being an outgoing, boisterous jock, and I didn’t want to be one”). Why?

COMPLEX 2: THE LORD CHATTERLEY DILEMMA
2a) The “Lord” Component
Whenever a mass shooting occurs in the United States, the British press has a predictable reaction; to blame American culture and its fixation on ‘guns and cowboys’ and feast upon disdain for their ex-colony, perhaps as a way of soothing their resentment about losing their former imperial glory.

The Daily Mail does precisely this, trotting out Dr Adam Lankford to argue that Elliot was mimicking the film “American Psycho” and the comments section is full of the usual “blame the Second Ammendment” types (see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2638427/He-disturbed-boy-British-grandmother-Santa-Barbara-mass-killer-boy-grew-Hollywood-royalty-posted-chilling-blogs-vowing-revenge-against-women-rejected-him.html).

This time the shooting hits much closer to home; Elliot Rodger had a British father, was born in Britain and spent his early childhood there. He even called England “my home country” (p96). Obviously the British press want to emphasize Elliot’s American-ness, because of course No True Briton would commit mass murder!

But you cannot understand Elliot Rodgers without looking at his British ancestry and upbringing. Throughout his manifesto, he demonstrates attitudes which are absolutely and incontestibly derived not from American popular culture, but rather from the cultural norms of the British aristocracy (and, arguably to some extent, the Chinese culture of his mother, but to a much smaller degree, particularly because his mother moved to England at a young age and thus probably ended up adopting more English than Chinese norms).

An interesting feature of gender norms in the non-Britain Anglosphere is that they are in many ways reflective of class divides; the feminine norms are often aristocratic (ornamental dress, concern with aesthetics, “Lady” norms etc) whilst the masculine norms tend to be working-class (functional dress, cultural unrefinement etc). My fellow blogger Ginkgo has elaborated on this theme before. Another way in which the gender norms’ class associations can be demonstrated is to look at what the stereotypical “what I want to be when I grow up” answers are; women dream about becoming princesses, whilst men overwhelmingly choose blue collar and/or ‘hero’ jobs.

Elliot Rodger identified with a prince, specifically Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. “He was a banished prince who was trying to regain his rightful place in the world. I always related to him” (p46). This identification with aristocracy is unsurprising; on the first page Elliot names his father and describes his family heritage.

“Peter is of British descent, hailing from the prestigious Rodger family; a family that was once part of the wealthy upper classes before they lost all of their fortune during the Great Depression” (p1).

He also makes clear his mother’s connections in the film industry, including dating George Lucas for a time.

When he was an infant, the family moved to a large house with its own name (and thus, perhaps, some historical value) surrounded “with vast grass fields” (p2). Clearly there was some prestige in such a place. He was even enrolled in an upscale all-boys private school for preschool. This is obviously a background in which the norms of the British upper classes were in effect.

We can see more evidence for this in Rodger’s relatively eloquent and sophisticated vocabulary. He often uses terms which are more commonly used by upper-class British people (including “fabulous” which, due to its gay connotations, is rarely used by American male heterosexuals). The occasional errors of spelling and punctuation in the text don’t overshadow the fact that Rodger’s vocabulary choices clearly bear the imprint of upper-class English culture.

This is mostly obviously seen in the disdainful epithets he deploys against people he loathes. We hear phrases like “obnoxious brute,” “degenerate,” “depraved,” “obnoxious punk,” “wretched thugs” and so on. On p91 he describes two of his college roommates as “barbaric.” The significance of these terms as epithets is quite telling of the traits which Rodger respected and those he disdained.

Another attitude he seems to have inherited from his aristocratic-style upbringing is a concern with “breeding” and lineage, often indicated through racism towards persons of African and Hispanic ancestry.

“How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves” (p83).

“I regarded it as a great insult to my dignity. How could an inferior Mexican guy be able to date a white blond, while I was still suffering as a lonely virgin?” (p87).

“To my dismay they were of Hispanic race” (p89).

Whilst Rodger clearly held racist sentiments, however, classist ones are far more prominent. When meeting his Hispanic roommates Ryan and Angel, he noted that “they also seemed like rowdy, low class types” (p89) and described them as “low-class scum” on p90. Indeed, the insults that Rodger tended to use against other people all seem reflective of British-style class norms, with himself as the civilized aristocrat looking down on the barbaric masses.

He repeatedly describes pressurring his mother into marrying a rich man (p90/91, p97, p102, p120), claiming that he deserved to marry into a high-status, wealthy family.

“I tried to pretend as if I was part of a wealthy family. I should be. That was the life I was meant to live. I WOULD BE! If only my damnable mother had married into wealth instead of being selfish” (p102).

His sense of class status was strongly exhibited again on p102, when he was walking down the red carpet to the premiere of The Hunger Games; when a security guard “had the audacity to question ‘who the hell are these people?’” Rodger contemplated answering the question with “we are people who are more important than you.” Note how he took it as audacious for the question to be even asked.

More instances of outright snobbery can be seen when Rodger was trying to get a job. “I am an intellectual who is destined for greatness. I would never perform a low-class service job,” he states on p67. One of his jobs, however, caused him “horror and humiliation” due to being a “menial custodial job, and I had to clean offices and even the bathrooms” (p70). Indeed, this humiliation was so great that eventually Rodger “concluded that going to college and enduring the sight of couples walking around was better than having to resort to working a low-class job” (p71). Given how much anxiety Rodger documents feeling when witnessing happy couples, this is an extremely strong indication of how deeply conscious he was of class.

It is no surprise that such a class-preoccupied person would be such a prevalent conspicuous consumer, as discussed previously, however from page 94 onwards, Rodger begins to list specific designer brands in a manner slightly reminiscent of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. He also makes sure to point out how he was a BMW owner (see p128). Clearly, Rodger was not understanding matters when he stated on p113 that “I have always had a penchant for luxury, opulence and prestige” (at least to me, ‘penchant’ is another aristocratic-British-sounding term); a statement he made in the context of gorging himself of champagne and smoked salmon in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class airport lounge.

Especially on the level of character traits, we can see the aristocratic pattern emerge not merely in what he disdained but also what he admired. Rodger’s idea of what proper masculinity and politeness should be were even more strongly reflective of the norms of the British upper class. This is already implied, simply through a basic logical reversal, from the traits Rodger hated; Ryan and Angel were “rowdy” and “barbaric” – implying a preference for quiet sophistication. On p121 he describes a house party as “crude,” again displaying a preference for refinement. We also see his praising, or at least being more tolerating of, people who seemed to embody his own norms (for instance, Max Bonon, mentioned on p55, had Rodger’s begrudging respect). He had a long friendship with Addison, who is described as being suave and gentlemanly on p61. There is also the example of Stan from the Netherlands (p93), with whom Rodger had lots of intellectual and high-culture discussions.

When describing an attempt to make himself more attractive to women, he wrote that “I tried to adopt a sophisticated and suave persona, and made my accent sound more eloquent… It was the only persona that truly fit me. I was incapable of being an outgoing, boisterous jock, and I didn’t want to be one. I was disgusted by such people, and I was disgusted at how girls were attracted to such filth” (p98-99). This preference for aristocratic/cultured mannerisms was even reflected in an amusing superficial aspect; later in the essay, on p126, when describing his recovery from a broken foot and how he had to use a cane, he confessed that he didn’t mind using a cane because “it had a peculiar elegance about it.”

Who does Rodger credit with instilling such high-class, polite, sophisticated norms into him? His British father, who raised him “to be a polite, kind gentleman” (p28). Obviously, the stampede to blame “American culture” for Rodger’s shooting is difficult to support with the evidence in the text; Rodger cannot be understood without reference to the social norms of upper-class Britain and these norms are reflected time and time again in his writing.

2b) Lady Chatterley, Stella Kowalski and Hypergamy
D. H. Lawrence’s once-scandalous Lady Chatterley’s Lover tells a story which transgressed British sensibilities in a way which is rather fitting to this case. In the book, Lady Chatterley is living in a passionless marriage with her paraplegic aristocrat husband, and is driven by sexual frustration into the arms of the working-class groundskeeper, with whom she proceeds to have a torrid affair in which romance, respect and tenderness all flourish alongside burning-hot sex.

A similar phenomenon can be observed in the famous Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire, where Stella du Bois (born to a wealthy land-owning Southern family) decided to marry Stanley Kowalski – a rugged working-class war veteran – partly because she found his muscularity and rough, raw machoness a massive sexual turn-on. Kowalski is proud of how Stella chose him over a privileged life.

These may both be works of fiction, but art can certainly tell the truth about human sexuality (or at least our understanding of it or beliefs about it at the time). In the case of both of the above works, sexual attraction trumps the class system and higher-class women mate with lower-class men.

Those who are interested in the concept of feminine hypergamy (women choosing to “mate upwards” and thus favor men with higher levels of education, wealth, and physical traits like height) may take note of these stories. Surely, from the perspective of “mating upwards by social status,” Stella and Lady Chatterley both seem to defy the pattern! They decided upon men who were less alpha, in terms of wealth and political influence and social esteem.

But from a purely physical and evolutionary perspective, which choice was truly hypergamous?

As I explained in Summa Genderratica, humans both biologically and socially evolved in environments where we lived at or near subsistence levels, with very little in the way of rudimentary tools; the primary method by which people acquired resources was hard physical labor. The strongest men were thus the men with the highest social status and greatest access to economic resources (either through producing themselves or using the threat of violence to force others to do so). This changed as civilization began to take root, but biologically speaking the vast majority of our evolutionary development took place in a world where Might Meant Right and Might Meant Wealth. In such a world, the choice made by Stella du Bois and Lady Chatterley was indeed the correct choice from an hypergamic perspective – Stanley Kowalski would clearly have been far more likely to survive out in the wild than Lord Chatterley and Kowalski’s genetic material would contain more survival-promoting (for that environment) traits, plus Kowalski would be more competent at defending his offspring and hunting down buffalo for them to eat.

It isn’t particularly surprising that women in general find the physical markers of evolutionarily fit traits sexually attractive – this is true amongst men in general as well. However, there is clearly a conflict (not necessarily an absolute opposition, more of a gulf which can be wide or narrow, although I would argue the longer-term trend is widening) between what pure throbbing biological urges would describe as the “correct” choice and the kind of man who would be the most rational choice on an economic-and-social-status level.

In this story, Elliot Rodger played the part of Lord Chatterley, and watching women flock to jocks was (to him) like being forced to watch the groundskeeper get all the action.

This shocked and horrified Rodger, who’s father taught him to be a gentleman.

“They were obnoxious jerks, and yet somehow it was these boys who all of the girls flocked to. This showed me that the world was a brutal place, and human beings were nothing more than savage animals. Everything my father taught me was proven wrong. He raised me to be a polite, kind gentleman. In a decent world, that would be ideal. But the polite, kind gentleman doesn’t win in the real world. The girls don’t flock to the gentlemen. They flock to the alpha male” (p28, Emphasis Added).

But Rodger had internalized these values of the British aristocracy (which, according to the above quote, he got from his father) – to him, women wanted to be treated like proper ladies by a man of refinement, sophistication, wealth and taste! “They should be going for intelligent gentlemen such as myself” (p84). His experiences as an involuntarily celibate man consistently disproved his assumptions (which where taught to him by his upbringing), and as such he was left pondering the question of the “nice guy” – “Why Don’t Girls Find Me Attractive?”

2c) The Conflict And The Answer
To use Pickup Artist terminology (as reluctant as I am to do so), Rodger was taught that an “alpha male” consists of traits A, B, and C. These traits, however reflective they were of wealth and social status and social class, were not in accordance with the traits which evolutionary biology influences (in general/on average) most women to fetishize, which are traits X, Y and Z.

There was a conflict between what he was taught to believe an “alpha male” was and what an actual “alpha male” (i.e. man that women are sexually attracted to on a purely primal-hunger level) is.

But Rodger would not accept that he was not, in fact, the alpha male. He could not – this would involve questioning the British aristocratic norms he had internalized when young, which he simply did not or could not do. This set of norms had to be right, meaning he was indeed (in his own mind) like Prince Zuko: rightfully a man of worth and greatness, yet had it unjustly stolen from him. Even worse, it was stolen from him by his lower-class inferiors! This was an unforgiveable insult to his natural dignity as an aristocrat! It had to be avenged! (feudalist honor mentality in full force).

He accepted that evolutionary biology contradicted his norms, but he decided to reject nature and enforce his norms (a rather Paglia-esque solution, in the sense that it represents shaking one’s fist at nature). Biology was the problem to be overcame, and it was the biological sexual attractions of females who, as the “main instigators of sex” (p136), were to blame.

“All of the hot, beautiful girls walked around with obnoxious, tough jock-type men… Women are sexually attracted to the wrong type of man. This is a major flaw in the very foundation of humanity” (p84).

“Why do they have a perverted sexual attraction for the most brutish of men instead of gentlemen of intelligence?

“I concluded that women are flawed. There is something mentally wrong with the way their brains are wired, as if they haven’t evolved from animal-like thinking…. They are like animals, completely controlled by their primal, depraved emotions and impulses. That is why they are attracted to barbaric, wild, beast-like men” (p117).

The second critical complex in Elliot Rodger’s life was the acceptance of a set of norms where he saw himself as British-style nobility, as a prince, as a man of refinement and wealth and sophistication, as the precise kind of man whom a “true lady” would love. He cultivated this image, believing that women should rationally be attracted to him. Reality showed him that sexual attraction, even the kind women have, is focused on physical appearance and fetishizes traits he did not have even though he had a nice car, designer clothes, a relatively opulent lifestyle and access to prestige events. This was an insult against his regal dignity, and it could not be tolerated. It made him see women’s sexual desires as foul mistakes of nature to be overcome and controlled.

“Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilized men of intelligence. If women had the freedom to choose which men to mate with, like they do today, they would breed with stupid, degenerate men, which would only produce stupid, degenerate offspring” (p117). Again, an aristocratic-British concern with “correct breeding” rears its head.

3. THE RESOLUTION
The overall result of these two complexes was Rodger’s infamous proclaimation of himself as the “True Alpha Male” – he saw the aristocratic mentality he internalized as unquestionably true and that he belonged at the top of the male dominance hierarchy (or perhaps in the top category of men alongside all those who were “like him”), that he deserved love and admiration and sex from women (to him, the ultimate symbol of alpha-hood). Yet that position was stolen from him by a brutish, boorish, low-class culture where biological urges drove women into the arms of worthless men and the alpha male was the inverse of himself. This was, to him, the final and ultimate insult which sat at the centerpiece of a life composed of enduring having his masculinity and worthiness denigrated by others who “should” have accepted him.

Rodger, as an archetypal Second Hander, had no way to live outside of the hierarchy, and the only position he would accept was at the top; he would either rule or destroy himself in the process.

Rodger, at the end of his manifesto, discusses his ideal world (p136), in which he unsurprisingly enshrines a military dictator “such as myself” as the supreme leader in charge of an omnipotent State.

Interestingly, his ideal world is one in which there are no women except for a few kept alive secretly for reproduction (via artificial insemination). According to Rodger, without women to compete for and without women’s unfairly biased biological drives, the world would be fair and sexless. Brutishness would be bred out of the species and a world of sophisticated, aristocratic, cultured intellectuals would thrive and take humanity to new heights. This ideal world, in many ways, seems to be a reversion back to the idyllic (and sexless!) childhood Rodger describes himself as having, where people competed via activities in which he was himself competitive like Pokemon and video gaming. It would be a world where no one would even know about women and as a consequence (according to Rodger) there would be no sexual desire at all (he seems to be taking a hardline social constructivist view here, and ignoring the existence of non-heterosexual desires).

It would be just like when he was young. Fair play. No dominance hierarchy based on sexual prowess. No sex. No brutishness. Sophisticated, eloquent gentlemen will be the valued norm. It would be a return to that perfect British childhood of his.

CONCLUSION: Yet Again, Why?
Coming up with foolproof explanations for the “cause” of certain behaviors is a controversial practice, yet reading the manifesto of Elliot Rodger helps us look for possible reasons.

Asperger’s Syndrome was undeniably a complicating factor in this case, and I’m sure Freudians would make a field day out of Rodger describing how resentful he was towards his controlling, domineering (and arguably abusive) stepmother, how he doesn’t respect his father for standing up to his stepmother, and how his birth mother was generally quite willing to give Rodger what he wanted.

Myth-makers for every cause are of course attempting to capitalize on this tragedy; Jessica Valenti blamed misogyny, Anne Theriault of the Huffington Post blamed the MHRM, the British press blamed American culture and the glamour of Hollywood and gun rights, a ‘reality television psychologist’ appeared on Fox News to blame repressed homosexuality, Brendan O’Neill of Spiked blamed narcissism caused by “therapy culture,” someone will probably blame World of Warcraft or Halo or Grand Theft Auto, ad nauseum. I think that before one decides to play the Blame Game, one should at least read the killer’s statement of intent and beliefs.

After doing precisely this, I have concluded that (assuming the manifesto is honest) Rodger was a man ultimately in agreement with a specific vision about what “real manhood” was (as part of a complex of attitudes derived from aristocratic norms), but subjected to social environments with very different beliefs. This clash made him feel degraded, humiliated and dishonored. This reached its zenith when the biologically-influenced desires of women seemed to condemn his norms in favor of norms he considered lowly and crude and improper. He could not accept this, nor could he transcend the issue through rejecting the “real manhood” meme complex – he would either reclaim his perceived-as-rightful status or he would die (and kill) trying.

Some in the gendersphere speak of this incident as the product of a “male entitlement complex” in American culture. As the above shows, I believe that Rodger’s entitlement complex stemmed not from his beliefs about gender relations but rather from attitudes derived from the British class system (his gender beliefs seem to be a consequence rather than cause of this).

The above is a mere theory, based on taking the literature at face value. I am not a trained psychologist, and as we all know this incident will be used by everyone to fuel their own agendas. All I can do is offer this piece up for discussion and hope that, somehow, all future attempts to answer the omnipresent “why?” will be made in good faith.

SUMMA GENDERRATICA: The Anatomy of the Gender System

Author’s Note: This is a summary of my entire theory of how our society’s gender system operates and how it originated. It is intended to be a ‘road map’ of society’s norms about masculinity and femininity. I believe that it can explain all gender norms in our society. The MHRM requires an integrated, consistent theory about gender in order to successfully compete with Radical Second Wave and Third Wave Feminism – this theory is an attempt at providing one.

The following does not mention every single aspect of our society’s gender system, but I believe that any unmentioned aspects of the gender norms can be successfully explained by this theory (feel free to propose “Explain This Norm As A Product Of The Gender System” challenges in the comments).

Note that whilst I called this post “Summa Genderratica” I do not wish to imply that the theory below is accepted (in its entirety) by anyone other than myself. I am only illustrating my theory here, and it isn’t meant to be taken as the “official philosophy” of GendErratic as a whole. The reason for the title is because I am a pretentious douche and as such I enjoy the self-important connotation/reference towards the works of Aquinas.

Onto the theory!

PART 1
The First Premise: The Purpose of Social Norms
Why do social norms arise?

This theory will take it as axiomatic that social norms arise for survivability and practicality reasons. Social norms arise as responses to the challenges of physical existence.

The Challenge
The gender system arose in the early days of our species. During these days, food and resources were scarce, accumulating them was a difficult and failure-prone task, and it was manual labor which performed these tasks; physical labor was the primary source of improvements to survivability and the standard of living (unlike today, where technological capital and knowledge work provide this (it is telling that the first challenges to the gender system only arose with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution… periods during which the economy became less labor-dependent and more capital-dependent owing to technological advances. It is also telling that challenges to the gender system arose first amongst materially well-off groups in society)).

Because physical labor was the primary means of production, importance was placed on the means of producing physical labor, i.e. reproducing and growing the population. However, only a minority of children survived to reach adulthood, and as such much higher birth rates were required to grow the overall population size.

But only one half of the population could bear children.

The Response
Biology combined with the necessity of aggressive breeding essentially forced women to “specialize” and devote large amounts of their time to being knocked up and producing children (and when pregnant they are less mobile and thus more vulnerable).

Since males could not perform this important task, they provided protection and resource-provision (in essence, all the ‘rest’).

Social norms arose to push people towards their sex-mandated tasks. The “good female” and the “good male” were the female and male who contributed to their society by fulfilling their assigned role; the “good female” was the fertile mother, the “good male” was the strong warrior and productive hunter. These social norms were reflected in all of society’s institutions, including religion (see the warrior gods and the mother goddesses for more).

Summary 1
1. Social Norms arise as responses to the challenges of living and thriving
2. Low technology societies are dependent on physical labor to survive
3. Very high birth rates were required to increase the supply of labor
4. Only one half of the human population could give birth
5. Gender Roles emerged to encourage specialization on the basis of sex

PART 2
Maturity and Gender
As stated before, the “good female” and the “good male” were understood in terms of those who contributed to society by fulfilling their sex-assigned tasks. However, children of either sex are physically unable to do this.

A woman needs to be post-pubertal in order to bear a child. Young males are on average significantly less physically developed and thus generally lack the necessary strength to even have a chance at successfully performing their sex-assigned task.

As such, there is an association between maturity and gender-compliance. A female needs to undergo a process of biological maturation in order to perform the feminine contribution to society, however this process is essentially automatic and is basically assumed to occur over time, with mensturation serving as a clear biological indicator of fitness to perform the task.

With males, things are more tenuous. Proficiency or even ability to perform the male function, let alone perform it well, is not biologically guaranteed. Additionally, there is no single clear “he’s ready” indicator delivered by male biology.

Whilst females “grow into” being women, males do not automatically grow into being “real men.”

Aristotelian Femininity, Platonic Masculinity, and the Subject-Object Dichotomy
A young female just becomes a woman automatically, due to the innate properties of her biology. Her mensturation evidences her maturation. Her womanhood simply is. She is assumed to be gender-compliant and thus socially contributive by default.

A young male has to demonstrate, through action, the ability to perform masculine tasks successfully. A young male must prove he has “grown up” and become a “real man.” Males are not assumed to be gender-compliant (and thus socially contributive) by default; by himself he is just another mouth to be fed by the work of “real men.” A man must validate his manhood by action, otherwise he is not a real man but rather a “boy” (i.e. immature, not-an-adult male).

As such, one can correctly understand traditional gender roles as premised on epistemological essentialism, however different kinds of epistemological essentialism underpin each role. Femininity is mostly understood as innate to female biology, as an immanent essence, whilst masculinity is mostly understood as an ideal to aspire to, a “form” which one “participates in” in order to gain an identity.

It is a particular quirk of human psychology that we tend to perceive moral agency (the capacity to do things) and moral patiency (the capacity to have stuff done to you) dichotomously, even though human beings are in fact both. As such, the association of agency with manhood combined with the innatist understanding of womanhood (as well as, perhaps, the fact that pregnancy does render a woman less mobile and more resource-dependent) led to the association of womanhood with moral patiency. Men are seen as actors, and women are seen as acted upon. This is the traditional subject-object dichotomy.

The Disposable-Cherishable Dichotomy
A gender-compliant person of either sex is seen as valuable to society (since they are acting in ways which conform to survivability-oriented norms). However, females are assumed to either be (or will be) gender-compliant; naturally infertile women are the exception rather than the rule and thus the assumption is that any given female is (or will be) capable of bearing children due to their biology.

As such, females are ascribed an innate value simply for being female. Females are seen as inherently cherishable because they are the incubators of the future.

Males lack this. Their gender-compliance is not seen as an inevitable feature of their biological maturation but rather an ideal to live up to. Males neither are nor will become “real men” by default. As such, they have no innate value. The value of a man is exclusively contingent on the consequences of his agency and by himself, he is ultimately disposable.

Because men are valued not for properties of their biology but the outcomes of their actions, the death of one man is ceteris paribus a smaller tragedy to society than the death of one woman. After all, when tragedies happen, the death counts typically specify the toll taken by women and children (i.e. the future).

Our society may lionize its male heroes who go and die so that others may live, but as stated before, social norms arise to push individuals to perform socially beneficial tasks; the worship of heroic male self-sacrifice is a way to encourage men to see their deaths for noble causes as a worthy contribution to society, and thus to make men more willing to die for others.

The Gender Norms In A Nutshell
As a consequence of all of the above, males are innately disposable subjects, females are innately cherishable objects.

All gender norms ultimately are reducible to this.

Summary 2
1. Maturity, for each sex, is conceptualized as gender-compliance
2. Female maturity is seen as a natural result of biological development
3. Male maturity is not seen as guaranteed, but rather something proven/earned
4. Men do, women are, because manhood is about doing and womanhood just “is”
5. Because gender-compliance is seen as valuable and women are seen as innately gender-compliant, women are seen as innately valuable
6. Because men are NOT seen as innately gender-compliant, men are seen as innately expendable
7. Ergo, the subject-object dichotomy is overlaid by the disposable-cherishable dichotomy, casting males as innately disposable subjects and females as innately cherishable objects

PART 3 – Some Advanced Implications
Agency and Feminine Power
Everyone derives a sense of power – used here to mean efficacy or competence – when they successfully perform a task which has the end result of providing for their needs. This makes evolutionary sense – if survival-enhancing things did not give pleasure and survival-diminishing things did not cause pain, an organism would be significantly less likely to survive.

But the performance of tasks was typically assigned to males; femininity was not associated with agency and due to the innate reproductive utility of women, women were kept safe and away from potential danger where possible (which in turn generated a self-reinforcing (and perhaps somewhat self-fulfilling) presumption of diminished female competence – a presumption which was somewhat true during pregnancy (and may be somewhat true on average with tasks that require very high upper body strength) but clearly got exaggerated and overgeneralized).

However, every human being has material needs for survival, and these material needs must be satisfied through action (food must be acquired, shelter must be found). So how would a woman, someone culturally perceived as and encouraged towards remaining deficient in agency, acquire these needs?

The answer is that women are encouraged to rely upon men, and not merely in the passive sense, but to actively enlist the agency of males to provide for their survival. Masculine power is thus equated with anything which enhances successful/competent agency (e.g. big muscles), and feminine power is equated with anything that enhances enlisting successful/competent agents. Masculine power is that which augments agency, feminine power is that which augments the acquisition and preservation of agency by proxy.

The gender system, therefore, always contained a form of feminine power – i.e. ways in which women could act to service their material needs. Whilst it reserved direct acquisition through agency to men, the system also reserved agency by proxy for women.

Male Hierarchy
Society’s understanding of manhood as a Platonic ideal to aspire towards explains the fact how there can be “better men” and “worse men” (as men), as well as how biological males can be “not real men” – the use of “real” to mean “ideal” is telling.

Because manhood is demonstrated by performing certain tasks, men are ranked in accordance with how well they perform these tasks. Men are ranked by other men and by women – their gender identity is heavily subject to social validation and revocation. This means “real manhood” is an earned social status which is collective-dependent, hierarchical and competitive, and men can be socially emasculated at any time. Male identity is made contingent on competing with each other to prove oneself a “better man.”

As stated above, maturity is linked with “real manhood” but male maturity is again socially validated due to the fact that masculine task-performance isn’t biologically guaranteed – this means male elders (particularly fathers) are placed in a position of evaluator where they judge prospective males to separate the “boys” from the “men.”

The male hierarchy can be effectively divided into three basic categories (from lowest social status to highest social status)

1) Males who are “not real men.” The socially emasculated. “Boys.” Omega males.
2) Males who are “real men” but who aren’t able to revoke another male’s “real man” status. Beta males.
3) Males who are “real men” with the ability to revoke another male’s “real man” status. Alpha males.

The division between statuses 2 and 3 is contextual and often dependent on other institutional arrangements as well as the surrounding males – someone can in fact be Alpha in one hierarchy and Omega relative to another.

This setup ironically enough compels that a Beta be submissive to his Alpha so as to avoid being rendered an Omega. In other words the male gender role isn’t entirely about dominance but rather demands submission to “better” men.

Social Genders
Typically, “gender” is taken as a binary – as a reference to masculinity or femininity. However, this is hard to reconcile with the above situation – males who aren’t “real men” aren’t regarded as possessing manhood (i.e. they do not contribute masculine value). They are “boys” rather than men, according to the gender system.

They do not receive many aspects of ‘male privilege’ because much ‘male privilege’ is in fact ‘real-man’ privilege. And whilst they are socially emasculated they receive no female privilege either, because due to their biology they cannot perform the essential feminine task of bearing children.

In short, socially emasculated men are not seen as masculine or feminine but rather they are perceived, treated and categorized as a third gender. They are neither a man nor a woman (socially speaking rather than biologically speaking).

PART 4: Challenges
There are several classic problems in gender studies which any prospective examination of the gender system needs to explain. Below, I take several of these phenomena and reconcile them with the theory proposed above.

The Promiscuity Double Standard
The Promiscuity Double Standard (henceforth PDS) of our culture is well-known; a man is seen as a worthy and virile stud for sleeping around, but a woman is seen as a degraded and self-cheapening slut for doing the same thing.

Typically, the PDS is treated as a unitary construct – as if the PDS’s gendered imperatives arose from the same source. This is counter-intuitive because the imperatives of the PDS are in conflict – men are encouraged to sleep around and women are discouraged from doing so, thus meaning men cannot comply with the system without women failing to comply with it (and vice-versa). The PDS certainly isn’t in the interests of men, since it encourages women to prevent men from being studs (through the withholding of sexual access).

Typical feminist analysis sees the PDS as a male construct invented to control female sexuality. The fact that men’s interests are not served by encouraging female chastity complicates this explanation, but it is further complicated by the empirical fact that most slut-shaming is perpetrated by women against each other. If men created and enforced the PDS, one would expect men to be the primary shamers of sluts.

As such, it may be more accurate to see the Promiscuity Double Standard not as a single construct, but two different constructs, proposed and enforced by different parties for different purposes.

An interesting thing about the concept of “slut” is that women who are sluts are seen as “cheapening themselves” or “debasing themselves” – they are seen as giving sexual access far too easily (i.e. giving away a good without getting enough in return). Let’s look at the transactional framing here: a market exists, women are the suppliers of sexual access and men are the demand side of the equation. Women are encouraged to not give away sex “too easily,” i.e. they are encouraged to receive something in return for sex. It is mostly women who shame other women for giving sex away.

From an economic perspective, we are seeing cartel behavior; sellers colluding amongst themselves to raise the price of sex by restricting the quantity of sexual access that is immediately avaliable.

So what is the ‘price’ of sex? As explained above, women are encouraged to enlist male agency in their service, since the gender system discourages them from developing their own. Thus, the ‘price’ of sex is male agency, typically framed as a committed relationship. When women are sluts and thus ‘put out too easy,’ competitive pressure lowers the price of sex and thus damages (traditionally-understood) female interests.

The implications here are quite depressing; because women are encouraged to experience power through enlisting male agency, “sluthood” is opposed to traditional feminine power by eroding women’s bargaining position. Women are encouraged by the traditional gender system to experience their sexuality as being defeated and being conquered, rather than getting something they desire (i.e. sexual satisfaction). Women are also encouraged to see men as adversaries, and to see male advocacy of female sexual liberation as threats to their material security (i.e. “they just want cheaper sex, the cads!”).

In conclusion, the PDS wasn’t invented “by men” – at least half of the PDS is a mostly female-maintained standard intended to sustain traditional feminine power through preserving the value of sex and thus maximizing the agency women can enlist in return for granting sexual access. The imperatives of the PDS conflict with each other, and the PDS’s implicit sexual transactionalism sets up an adversarial situation that sabotages sexual fulfillment for both sexes.

The Childhood Gender Conformity Double Standard
A common double standard in our society is one relating to gender conformity amongst children. Look at the ease with which our society accepts female children going through a “tomboy phase.” Compare this against the worry and concern that accompanies any male child that may want to play with dolls. It is “normal, she’ll grow out of it in a few years” for a young girl to want to play with the boys, but if a boy confesses liking pink he’s immediately suspected of being homosexual or a gender failure.

This is an obvious consequence of the fact that female biological maturation (and thus gender compliance) is seen as an automatic process which “simply happens.” Because womanhood is seen as biologically innate, a woman’s actions are not seen as the primary source of the value she can contribute to society.

Male biological maturation, on the other hand, is not a guarantee of being able to perform the socially-mandated male tasks. Being a “real man” (i.e. able to contribute masculine value to society) is not biologically guaranteed. Since a male’s gender compliance is evaluated not on what he is but rather what he does, a male’s actions place his entire social value at risk.

Many gender theorists argue that society worries more about males because our society allegedly values masculine traits above feminine traits; this conflicts with the fact that feminine traits are praised when they are exhibited by women (it also conflicts with the fact that historically, societies have sacrificed men to protect women; societies don’t sacrifice higher-valued members for lower-valued members). Biology means that a man who acts feminine cannot perform the socially-mandated “core” feminine task (bearing children), and thus for him to be feminine represents wasted potential (but when a woman acts feminine it isn’t a threat). Thus, a man who acts feminine isn’t perceived as a social woman, but rather a social neuter (an Omega Male).

However, since both men and women are (in fact) agents and masculine value is dependent not on what someone is but rather what someone does, females can in fact contribute masculine value to at least some degree (and the feminist movement has influenced people to accept the reality of female agency, and even to celebrate when women transgress gender roles). As such, women can “value-add” through gender nonconformity, whilst men cannot; females can be socially androgynous whilst men (due to their inability to perform the core feminine task under the gender system) can only be social neuters.

Thus, it is the Subject-Object Dichotomy (and not any alleged valuation of masculinity as superior to femininity) which forms the basis for the Childhood Gender Conformity Double Standard.

The Madonna-Whore Complex and Gendered Evaluations of Moral Character
Our gender system has influenced the ethical standards which are placed on both sexes. In the case of this problem, whilst men are subject to normal ethical standards, women are not; questions about a woman’s character are entirely centered around whether or not she is chaste.

This is an obvious product of the subject-object dichotomy, which casts women as moral patients. As women are not seen as moral agents, they are not treated as subject to moral standards or as possessing capacity for great moral virtue (or vice).

Slut-shaming under the gender system is explained above, however it is obvious that religious norms have influenced the Madonna-Whore Complex (look at the name!). Religion is a separate system to the gender system (although the two clearly interact), and Abrahamic monotheistic religions condemn promiscuity in both sexes (not just women). Women, however, are slut-shamed under both traditional gender norms and religious norms, whereas men are shamed for sleeping around under one set of norms but praised for doing so under the other.

This confluence of gender norms and religious norms, coupled with the objectification of women under the gender system, explains why chastity/sluthood is so heavily emphasized in discussions of women’s character: women are typically left off the hook with standards relating to other issues (minimizing both their virtue and vice), so the Madonna-Whore standard fills the vaccum.

PART 5: Conclusion
The above is a summary of my entire theory of gender as expressed in all my previous articles. I believe it to be a superior explanation of the gender system, for both sexes, than the status quo theories accepted in most gender studies departments. Feedback, commentary, suggestions and critiques are encouraged.

Reddit Repost: “The Literal Patriarchy, Men And Masculinity”

This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for /r/Masculism and posted here: http://www.reddit.com/r/masculism/comments/1csoi7/the_literal_patriarchy_men_and_masculinity/

“Patriarchy” is typically used in gender studies to refer to one of two things; either a gender system which is masculosexist and femmephobic (Third Wave definition), or a gender system which is systematically constructed as a tool of class oppression by men to oppress women (Radical Second Wave definition).

But the literal meaning of “Patriarchy” isn’t synonymous with “Androcracy.” The literal meaning of “Patriarchy” is the rule of the father.

In this essay, I will be looking at a feature of the gender system which disproportionately oppresses males, particularly young ones – the Literal Patriarchy.

Part 2: A Quick Recap of the Gender System
The social norms around gender evolved in an environment where many, even most, children did not reach adulthood, and humans lived at subsistence level or close to it (this is why the first substantial challenges to the gender system did not emerge until the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution – for the vast majority of human history, the gender norms were a survival necessity). Because of the low level of technological development, human survival was predicated on a consistently expanding supply of labor, i.e. consistent population growth. We needed more protector/providers and we needed more producers of protector/providers. Sexual dimorphism provided the template for the basic division of labor between the sexes.

As such, the social norms were established to reward men that were good protector/providers, and reward women that were good (i.e. fertile) mothers.

Society demanded that women serve the function of bearing children (a risky, high-maintenance process which renders a woman less mobile and more resource-consuming during pregnancy), whilst men serve the function of protecting the women and children and sustaining them. Individuals of both sexes were judged on the basis of how well they served these socially mandated functions (or gender roles)… “proper” femininity was the mother, “proper” masculinity was the warrior/hunter.

But females would, almost inevitably, end up capable of bearing children due to natural biological maturation. “Girls” would just become “women” due to the onset of puberty (with a small number of exceptions due to natural infertility). A woman’s “proper” femininity (i.e. value to society in serving the female function) was thus socially conceptualized as an innate property of women.

Males, on the other hand, did not have the biological assuredness of becoming a satisfactory protector/provider. These tasks required proving oneself in dangerous, strenuous physical activity. Not only that but they required the demonstration of a reliable track record (consistency) in results. Not all male individuals managed to do this, and those that did still varied in the level of skill they displayed. Whilst “girls” managed to just “become” “proper” women, “boys” were not guaranteed “real manhood.” They needed to prove themselves to their peers and elders. “Real manhood” (i.e. value to society in serving the male function) was thus socially conceptualized as an ideal to aspire to for males.

As a result, there are two kinds of Epistemological Essentialism which underpin our gender system. Femininity is understood through the lens of Aristotelian (or Immanent) Essentialism. Masculinity is understood through the lens of Platonic (or Transcendent) Essentialism.

This is ultimately the underpinning of the basic gender role in our society; the subject-object dichotomy. Men are seen as subjects, i.e. actors and agents, beings with the capacity to choose a goal and strive to achieve it. Women are seen as objects, since action is not a necessary component of femininity. Men do, women are. Men have to act, women do not. Men are actors, women are acted upon.

But there is a twist here – as stated before, the gender system ascribes value to the fulfillment of both the male function and the female function. Since females are (assumed to be) automatically capable of fulfilling this female function, they possess an innate value. Males do not have this assumption on their side – they must prove their capability to serve the male function, and thus they possess no innate value. Women are innately valuable objects and men are innately valueless subjects (with the capacity to acquire some value).

This system arose to incentivize population growth during a time when most children did not survive to reach puberty, let alone to reproduce. Thankfully, the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution made the prosperity of the modern world possible, but as such our gender system has been rendered obsolete. The system needs to be examined, critiqued, and rejected or modified where necessary.

Part 3: Maturity and Manhood
As alluded to above, the gender system’s mandated roles are connected to biological maturation. Women cannot serve their mandated function until their body is sufficiently developed (i.e. they start mensturating). In the case of female maturation, the onset of mensturation provides a clear biological sign of a woman’s ability to bear children.

A man, however, is biologically incapable of serving this function – he can only serve the mandated male functions of protector/provider (protecting women, particularly pregnant women, and providing for them and his children). But there is no single biological “he’s ready” indicator. Not only that, but merely reaching puberty doesn’t guarantee capability or competence at physical tasks. As such, various social institutions (such as initiation rites into manhood) evolved to fill this function – these rites typically consist of testing the man’s ability and, should he succeed, granting him the social status of “real man.”

But in both cases, the gender system’s mandated roles are based on notions of maturity. After all, a male that is not a “real man” is considered a “boy” and socially emasculated. “Boy” just means “young male” but the way the term is used contemptuously as a form of verbal emasculation is quite telling (“girl” isn’t used the same way (or at least not nearly as commonly), because a female’s ability to serve the mandated female function is treated as innate). So to be a “real man” is to not be a “boy” is to “grow up” and be “mature.”

As stated before, however, male biological maturation is only part of the picture. Since there is no simple biological indicator of “he’s ready to go out and be a hunter/gatherer,” various social institutions took that role, and these social institutions were typically administered by elder men (those men that had earned “real manhood” in society’s eyes). The elder males became one of the judges of manhood (particularly the judges of the manhood of younger males), and also one of the conferrers of manhood. This status is not exclusive to the elders – the gender system creates many other judges and conferrers of manhood (peer groups and women particularly), but the point is that there is an intersectionality effect between ageism and masculosexism.

So who is the first elder male that most male children know? Who is the first elder male in a position to judge the child’s maturity, capability and competence?

Part 4: The Literal Patriarchy
Whatever one’s stance on feminist Patriarchy Theory (in either its Radical Second Wave or Third Wave variants) is, it is hard to deny that a huge number of males are psychologically “ruled” (so to speak) by their fathers. This “rule” is based on the fact that our gender system sees fathers as possessing the ability to legitimately confer or revoke their sons’ status as a “real man.” Your father automatically possesses Alpha Male status over you (in my article Separating The ‘Boys’ From The ‘Men’: Male Heirarchy And The Oppression Of Men I define an “Alpha Male” as a male with the ability to revoke another man’s “real man” status, and thus to reduce them to a “boy”).

As I have emphasized, this is an extremely effective form of psychological control – it makes a fact of one’s nature (one’s gender identity) socially contingent on validation granted by others (in this case, one’s father). If by “power” one means the ability to live one’s own life on one’s own terms, then this Literal Patriarchy is very destructive to the power of male individuals.

The cultural prevalence of so-called “Daddy Issues” in countless amounts of male-targeted art and fiction – even the classical “Hero’s Journey” monomyth has an “atonement with the father” component as well as the Wise Old Man that blesses/endorses the hero – goes without saying. Now, whilst there are a few exceptions, “Daddy Issues” in fiction typically is of the “I wish I pleased you, Dad” variety. Why would this fictional trope be so prevalent if it weren’t a trope which vast numbers of males relate to?

As stated before, there are other avenues besides paternal endorsement by which one can gain “real man” status – peer endorsement and female endorsement being two common alternatives. A male denied paternal endorsement may choose to pursue one of the other two avenues in order to achieve their validation, or they may decide to employ paternal substitution in order to do it (or some combination of the aforementioned avenues).

Paternal substitution is possible because of the ageism-masculosexism intersection effect; because our gender system implicitly casts the “real man” in terms of maturity, a male that believes the gender system is true will see elder males in general as embodying “real manhood” more than he does. If a young male does not receive paternal endorsement from his biological father (or perhaps suffers a sufficient trauma from his father so as to nullify the father’s credibility) yet still believes in the gender system, he will revoke the power his father has over him but then grant it to some other elder man.

This younger man will voluntarily take a subordinate role, as a “lesser man,” to that elder. This younger man has made the elder into his Alpha, possessing the power to confer or revoke his “real manhood.” The younger man then attempts to earn the elder man’s approval so as to finally have his real manhood conferred upon him. A young man can in fact disperse this power amongst multiple different “father figures,” and perhaps even invest that power within certain heirarchical institutions (the military, or a street gang, serve good examples). In each case, the dynamic is fundamentally the same.

Part 5: Empowering Men, Depowering The Father Figure
Masculism, or Men’s Rights, seeks to do for men what first-wave and early-second-wave feminism sought (at least nominally) to do for women: guarantee legal equality of the sexes and to attack popular stereotypes, prejudices, obligations and expectations assigned on the basis of sex. In short, the objective is to empower men to live their own life on their own terms (assuming they respect the right of others to do the same), irrespective of the demands of traditional gender norms.

Doing this requires that we destroy the power that the Father Figure has over us.

Just to clarify, I am protesting not fathers, but rather traditional masculinity. I am simply pointing out that traditional gender roles are entangled with notions of maturity in such a way as to place elder men into a position which can grant them (within the gender system) the ability to pass judgment on a younger male’s masculinity/maturity. I also argue that plenty of male-targeted culture reinforces this (and the foundational attitudes for it). This does not mean fathers are bad – it simply means that the gender system burdens males with having to “earn” social recognition of their gender identity, and one of the ways this is done is through proving oneself to one’s Father Figure/s (who can be one’s biological or adoptive father, or not).

This is a change which must begin in men themselves. We must reject the gender system, in particular the Platonic Essentialist idea of “real manhood.” We must reject attempts by anyone (especially our elders) to gender-police us. We must ruthlessly question the “wisdom of the fathers” and acknowledge the fallibility of our Father Figures. We must attack the idea that a “real man” is a servant of others. We must refuse to let our sex impose a list of arbitrary duties upon us. And most critically of all, we must not live to make our Father Figures proud of us. We can desire that he/they be proud of us, but if we are willing to alter ourselves in order to win his/their approval, then we have lost and the gender system has won.

Part 6: Conclusion
The gender system of our society evolved to incentivize consistent reproduction; sexual dimorphism meant that the most “efficient” (from the perspective of population growth) course of action was for women to be mothers and men to be protector/providers. This formed the basis for our society’s concepts of masculinity and femininity. However, females were more-or-less biologically assured of being capable of serving their socially-mandated function and males had to prove their capability at performing tasks with far less certain outcomes. This led to femininity being seen as an innate property of women, but “real manhood” being cast as something a male must “earn” (which in turn underlies the men-as-actors, women-as-acted-upon distinction in our culture).

Both femininity and masculinity were connected with maturity, yet a male’s ability to serve his socially-mandated function was not biologically evidenced in the same way that a female’s ability was. As such, various social institutions developed to separate the “men” (those capable of serving the male social function) from the “boys” (those incapable of doing such). This resulted in a situation where elder males held the ability to extend or revoke “real manhood” to younger men. Thus, becoming a “real man” was, at least in part, about proving oneself to elder men. The father-son relationship, at least as traditionally cast, seems to be the archetypal and obvious example of this pattern.

Since males, to earn their “real manhood,” are incentivized to please their father (or substitute), the gender system can be described as perpetuating a Literal Patriarchy (so to speak) amongst males. Since this damages the psychological self-sovereignty of males, it is a bad thing and we should oppose it.

Discussion and feedback is appreciated.

Reddit Repost: “Beyond The Binary Gender Structure: Biological Maleness vs. Social Masculinity”

This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for /r/Masculism and posted here: http://www.reddit.com/r/masculism/comments/16t9fa/beyond_the_binary_gender_structure_biological/

Upon a second reading, I notice one error or piece of sloppy reasoning: with respect to the “prison bitch” issue, I did not take into account that in some cases, the “prison bitch” is in fact treated “like a woman” to some extent. This makes sense as the relationship being pseudo-heterosexualized due to the fact that some of these relationships are the product of situational sexuality practiced by heterosexual men who obviously wish to maintain the ‘illusion’ that they are having sex with a female. In spite of this fact, there is also a strong number of “prison bitch” relationships which follow the template I describe in this article. This subtext seems validated by reports on the phenomenon of prison rape, for instance “No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons.” I could cite other examples of phenomena which are consistent with my analysis, however.

In addition, this post uses a significant amount of technological terminology relating to Philosophical Methodology. I do not wish to sound patronizing, but I’ll provide a definition for these terms in advance (my thanks to Chris Sciabarra at NYU for these concepts).
Monism: Everything is understood as being “the same thing” or epiphenomena (products) of that one thing.
Dualism: Everything is understood as fitting into one of two mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories.
Dialectical: A relationship between things in which these things are defined/understood in terms of their relationship to each other. Understanding X in terms of comparing-and-contrasting it with Y.
Dialectical Pseudo-Monism: A monism which ‘masquerades’ as a dualism by outwardly establishing two categories (X and Y), yet it understands/comprehends Y exclusively in terms of its relationship with X. Y is not treated as an entity of its own, but ultimately as an epiphenomena of or response to X.

PART 1
In my article Separating The ‘Boys’ From The ‘Men’, I argued that traditional gender roles, whilst both premised on Gender Essentialism, were based on different types of Epistemological Essentialism. Traditional femininity was (and probably still is) seen as innate to female biology (probably due to the fact that a female can serve her socially-mandated function, i.e. reproduction, simply by virtue of her biological maturity (barring infertility)), in the tradition of Aristotelian Essentialism (a.k.a. Immanent Essentialism or Moderate Essentialism).

Traditional masculinity, on the other hand, has always been based on Platonic Essentialism. Men, by virtue of their innate biology or biological maturation alone, do not serve their socially-mandated functions (hunting, protecting, the extremely dangerous tasks). Rather, they must act to prove they not only can perform these functions but to show how they can perform these functions better than other males. Thus, biological males have to “earn” their “manhood” by proving they can serve society in specific ways, and the better they are at doing this the “more man” they are.

As a consequence of this Platonic concept of masculinity, not all males end up achieving the social status of manhood. There are the “real men” and there are the “not-real-men,” or as we might put it, there are “the men” and “the boys.”

I believe that this fact has been sorely missed in the vast majority of traditional gender analysis. I believe that this fact also has particularly radical implications which need to be drawn out.

PART 2
In traditional (and, with very few exceptions, feminist-conducted) gender analysis, there is a methdological dualism between masculinity and femininity – all gender classifications are seen as falling into masculine or feminine. Even feminists that aren’t of the radical-second/third-wave type have usually subscribed to this model. Even relentlessly politically incorrect feminists such as Camille Paglia have. This model is fundamentally gynocentric (or perhaps femmecentric would be a better term). It sees the masculine as based on the disownership of and revolt against the feminine (technically speaking this makes the model pseudo-monistic with masculinity defined dialectically (i.e. the not feminine, masculinity is defined in relation to the feminine) but that’s a whole different issue and for simplicity’s sake we’ll describe this as a methodological dualism). It sees the feminine as the “default” from which the masculine acts in order to differentiate itself (to be fair, this argument has some biological basis – fetuses are female until they are exposed to androgens in the womb, which masculinizes the fetus over the course of development. This leads to the situation of some feminists trying to use a biological argument to defend gynocentric analysis; a situation that strikes many as hypocritical).

As an analytical consequence of this model, anything which “falls short” of “real manhood” is classified as feminine. Thus, the bullying of men for being insufficiently macho is classified as an epiphenomenon of misogyny (see my article Primal Misogyny and Ozy’s Law over on /r/GenderEgalitarian for more). Prison rape of smaller, weaker men by larger, stronger men is seen as an epiphenomenon of male-on-female rape. The oppression of socially emasculated males is seen as no more than a consequence of the oppression of females. This attitude, which I call “Primal Misogyny,” is one of the greatest reasons why so many men involved in the gender conversation have come to the conclusion that feminism does not care about men’s issues; most of the time feminism has argued men’s issues are just repackagings of women’s issues (which, ironically enough, compounds the social emasculation of “not-real-men” by turning them into “honorary women” for the purposes of analysis).

So what are the alternative models? If we are to stick with a bigendered model, there are two alternatives; an androcentric (or masculocentric) model (the flaws of which have been admirably critiqued by plenty of feminists, and thus would be fallacious to adopt), or a true methodological dualism which doesn’t center on either side.

PART 3
But this leaves us with a problem; where would the ‘socially-emasculated’ men, the ‘not-real-men’, or the ‘boys’ fit in such a model? They’re clearly male-bodied individuals, yet socially they aren’t considered “real men.” “Real men” do not identify with them; rather, they usually hold them in contempt and often outright bully them. Nor do the “boys” receive any of the chivalry/benevolent sexism/female privilege that women can have some expectation of receiving; “don’t hit a girl” certainly doesn’t apply to “not real men” (indeed, the opposite is true).

Many feminists would argue in favor of the methodological dualism which reduces the insufficiently-masculine to the feminine by pointing at the insults thrown around various school playgrounds at less “jockish” males. They’d suggest “pussy” and “sissy” and “girl” back up their methodological presumptions, and in that they have a point. However, plenty of other insults and teases applied to the same victims are not gendered; “wimp,” “shrimp,” “loser” (especially indicative since athletic competitions are typically held between members of the same sex), “weakling,” “nerd” (which typically has male connotations) etcetera. And then, we come to a more telling set of insults; “grow a pair!” “Man up!” “You have no balls!”

This last set of insults focuses not on being traditionally feminine but rather on lacking traditional masculinity. According to the typical model, to lack masculinity is to be feminine, however if one uses these specific insults to argue for the traditional methodological dualism, one is making a circular argument. But is it possible to lack traditional masculinity without gaining traditional femininity?

The gender psychologist and androgyny scholar Sandra Bem has argued so. Bem developed a personality measure (the Bem Sex Role Inventory) which was based on the presumption that masculinity and femininity are in fact independent variables. One can be high on both, low on both, or high on one and low on the other. The result is four categories – traditionally masculine, traditionally feminine, androgynous (exhibiting both strongly masculine and strongly feminine traits) and undifferentiated (exhibiting neither strongly masculine nor strongly feminine traits). Insults which revoke masculinity without arguing for an increase in femininity (i.e. “you have no balls” isn’t necessarily saying “you have a pussy”) suddenly make a lot more sense. Insults which degender (emasculate or defeminize) aren’t to be seen as ascribing the traits of the opposite gender but rather as subtracting the traits of the current gender.

The other concept I find illuminating in this regard, apart from Bem’s androgyny model, is the concept of “Apexuality” developed by Typhon Blue. Blue begins by noting that, due to the hierarchical nature of traditional masculinity, men often lack a common social identity with each other – “real men” holding “not-real-men” in contempt, for example. The notion of “men as a class” comes apart at the seams, because many males do not perceive many other males as fundamentally like themselves.

PART 4
The above two notions lead me to make a radical suggestion. It is not enough to “try harder” at avoiding slipping into gynocentrism or androcentrism; the basic methodological reduction down to two genders is the problem.

Think about it; is a “prison bitch” (clear case of a man who, in his context, is at the (pun intended) bottom of the social hierarchy, socially emasculated and seen as something other than a “man”) treated as a woman? In the western world, most of the time women aren’t shamed if they get raped and an outcry is rightly raised if anyone suggests a rape victim deserved it; the “prison bitch” unfortunately faces a culture which lacks such sensitivities, and indeed rationalizes his rape as something he secretly wanted/deserved on account of his alleged lack of masculinity. Does the prison bitch receive any chivalry or white knighting? Can the prison bitch invoke damselling? Of course not; that would be used as more evidence that his natural place is getting raped. The prison bitch faces all the demands of traditional masculinity (as defined in prison) – his failure to meet these demands is what demotes him to an inferior status. The prison bitch incurs several of the demands of traditional feminity (having to sexually satisfy his protector/provider if he’s “claimed” by a larger/stronger inmate, for instance). Yet the prison bitch cannot access the benefits of either masculinity or femininity. Can we really claim that the prison bitch is socially considered to be of the same “gender” as either females, or the rapists of the prison bitch?

The socially-emasculated men, the ‘boys,’ the ‘failed males,’ the omega males, call them what you will but to lump them into the same analytical category as the socially-approved “real men” when they are (in real life) categorized and treated differently is a fallacy. To lump them into the same analytical category as “women” when they are (in real life) categorized and treated differently is a fallacy.

It seems to me that gender discussion needs to abandon a bigendered model. Members of the male sex do not necessarily become “real men” (socially speaking). It is time that gender analysis adopts models of gender relations which truly separate the “real men” from the “boys” – whilst they are both of the same biological sex, they aren’t socially treated as having the same gender.

To clarify, I am not suggesting there are only three legitimate analytic categories (i.e. “man,” “woman” and “failed man/boy”). What I am suggesting is that there are at least three legitimate analytic categories, and the reduction of “failed men/boys/omega males/whatever” down to “honorary women” (or to “real men” for that matter) is a mistake. Nor am I alleging anything about gender-atypical females; as a male I have more experience with the male side of the equation and I am simply limiting my comments to the field I have more experience with. Certainly the hypothesis proposed in this piece is extremely radical and controversial and thus this piece should be read as a tentative exploration of a future potential angle for the exploration of men’s issues. Nevertheless, it is submitted for your consideration.

CONCLUSION
Traditional gender analysis often sets up a gynocentric (or femmecentric) situation where the masculine is seen as the rejection and inversion of the feminine default. A consequence of this is the attitude of Primal Misogyny – seeing all disdain for insufficient-machoness as an epiphenomenon of a disdain for the feminine. This attitude marginalizes men’s issues. However, as Sandra Bem’s androgyny model as well as Typhon Blue’s concept of “Apexuality” indicate, it may prove fruitful to move beyond a bi-gendered model of gender relations by embracing a model which differentiates between those males who are socially considered “real men” and those males who are socially emasculated. This could greatly improve the discourse surrounding the experiences of men who experience persecution and prejudice due to being socially considered “not real men.”

Reddit Repost: “Separating the ‘Boys’ from the ‘Men’ – Male Hierarchy and the Oppression of Men”

This is an article originally published here on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/masculism/comments/11w04k/separating_the_boys_from_the_men_male_heirarchy/

As this piece was published at /r/Masculism it tends to take a less vehement tone than the ‘typical’ pro-men’s-rights piece. Upon re-reading I couldn’t find any substantially objectionable material within it and as such I wish to preserve it here.

Part 1: Introduction
In my article on /r/GenderEgalitarian/ A Few Thoughts On Some Feminist Concepts, I pointed out an interesting quirk of language use:

“It is interesting to note how the phrase “real men” is used in a way that contradicts what people typically mean by “real.” You are probably reading this article on a computer or similar electronic device; this device exists and is therefore real. Yet the minute we shift to “real men” we start talking not about men that exist, but men who embody a specific ideal of correct manliness (also called the Hegemonic Masculinity). The word “real” is used to mean “ideal.”"

This sudden shift in the definition of “real,” from “something that exists” to “exemplar of an ideal,” is a process I call a Platonic Inversion (because it is an instance of underlying residual Platonism in people’s thought processes – Plato after all believed that the “ideal” was “more real” than physical stuff).

In the mainstream of our culture, this Platonic Inversion with respect to “men” is nearly unquestioned. When we talk about a real DVD player, using the term to mean a “far better DVD player,” we all know that the term “real” is being used metaphorically.

But, on the other hand, being a “real man” is not a matter of metaphor. It is a matter of personal pride. It is a big deal (socially speaking), not a simple case of a metaphorical invocation of Platonism.

Why?

The reason for this is that, according to the cultural mainstream, being a “real man” is an earned social status rather than something innate in physically real men. “Real manhood” must be repeatedly demonstrated, proven, confirmed and defended. Psychological studies have backed this point up.

How did this situation come to pass?

A common theory, one which I think has significant explanatory power, is that women’s signs of biological maturity were relatively obvious; they had their menstural cycle, grew breasts, and (most importantly in societies which were fed through the manual labor of a growing population) bear children. “Girls” simply became “Women” (with the exceptions of infertile females), at which point they could fulfil their expected social role of bearing children.

Men, on the other hand, had less physically obvious signs of biological maturation. This was coupled with the fact that early human societies had reproductive pressures that incentivized protection of the females, as well as the fact that pregnant females were less able to perform hard labor/hunt/fish/farm/etc. The social role of women was something that the vast majority of women would grow into being capable of performing just by the nature of female biology.

The social role performed by men was not as biologically assured. Men had to be protectors and providers; tasks which were physically strenuous, dangerous, and could be performed with different levels of success and/or failure (i.e. men could be “good men” or “bad men” in the sense of being more or less competent at fulfilling their assigned roles; women of course had something similar (infertile women being seen as “bad women” or “barren”) but as a matter of degree the pressure wasn’t as strong since any given man was more likely to be a bad warrior/hunter than any given women was likely to be infertile, and then we have to introduce the matter of levels of skill at performing warrior/hunter tasks relative to breeding tasks (women do have different levels of fertility, but how wide is that scope vs. the scope of competence at warrior/hunter tasks?)).

As such, “proper” femaleness was seen as innate, but “proper” maleness required actions which produced specific outcomes. Barring infertility, a female would always become a “real woman,” but a man would have to continually fulfill his social functions in order to be seen as a “real man.”

It should come as no surprise that this formed our society’s most basic gender role; a role that I’d generally say Feminists and Masculists and Gender Egalitarians of all stripes basically accept as the foundation of our society’s gender system. This is the Subject-Object distinction, often phrased as “men do, women are.” Men are actors, women are acted upon.

Feminists, Gender Egalitarians, and MRA’s have consistently traced out the misogynistic and misandric implications and outcomes of this role system.

So, the above is a brief sketch of how our society came to its basic gender system. During early human history, this system probably had significant utility – human survival was predicated on manual labor, and a steadily-growing supply of manual labor was premised on consistent reproduction (ergo women having to have children and men having to protect/feed the family).

When the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution ushered in modern civilization as we know it, things changed. Manual labor stopped being the engine of human survival and prosperity; a progressively automated, capital-and-enterprise-dependent economy took its place. It is no coincidence that modern gender discourse, kicked off by Classical Liberal Feminism, was a product of the Enlightenment era. Fundamentally, gender discourse is a product of the fact that our technology has developed far more quickly than our received cultural wisdom; now, the “received wisdom” about masculinity and femininity is clearly obsolete.

From this point onward, I wish to focus on masculinity, or more correctly our society’s understanding of “correct” masculinity, and how it has constructed a system which oppresses men

Part 2: The Machismo Economy
So how does our society’s “masculinity system” (whatever you want to call it) operate?

As stated above, the casual acceptance of “real men” to be used to refer to men who meet some ideal standard gives us an important clue; under this system, not all physically real men are “real men.” Manhood (in the “real man” sense) is a socially-earned status. It is conferred. Because it can be conferred, it can also be revoked.

This means that the system has a binary component, where a man either is a “real man” or is not a “real man.” They either “pass” or “fail.” They are “real men” or they are socially emasculated.

This binary component is one of “separating the men from the boys.” Degrees do not exist within this component of the system. Note the use of “boys” here; the implication being that insufficiently masculine (by social standards) men are not fully mature (i.e. they are child males rather than adult males). This further validates the hypothesis expressed in Part 1; “real manhood” is a socially-earned status because a man’s full maturity isn’t as biologically obvious as a woman’s, and that the male social role wasn’t as connected to innate biological capabilities as the female’s.

It is often noted that various institutions mediate the conferral of social manhood; sports teams, the military, fraternities, etc. Again, the need for institutional validation of social manhood seems to back up the hypothesis that the relative understatedness of male biological maturation is an important reason for the nature of the current gender system (also note how real-world tribal societies frequently have rituals which initiate “boys” into “manhood”).

Thus, within the “manhood” system developed by our society, you will typically find an underclass of “not real men.” Call them “boys,” “beta males” or “omega males,” “the socially emasculated” or whatever; if being a “real man” is like being in a nightclub, these men are outside of the club.

But then we move into the second component of the “manhood” system; inter-male heirarchialism. Once someone has been admitted into the category of “real man” there is competition amongst the men inside to establish an order of rank. As explained earlier, there are differences in degree of how well men can fulfill the social role of “real man,” and whilst there is the aforementioned binary distinction between “those that can’t” (“boys”) and “those that can” (“real men”), some “real men” can do it better than others.

This is the familiar battle for “Alpha Maleness.” With it comes power over one’s underlings and, crucially, the ability to socially emasculate them (kick them out of the “real man” club and reduce them to a “boy”). The battle for Alpha status is not pleasant, it is endless and must be repeatedly fought, yet the alternative to being “one of the real men” is social emasculation.

In brief, you could say the social system of “real manhood” operates with three basic “tiers.” At the top, the Alpha who can bestow or revoke “real man” status. In the middle, those “real men” who are attempting to continually acquire more “real man” status and outcompete their opponents. At the very bottom, the “boys” or “not real men,” the socially emasculated, the outcasts.

We might describe these tiers with the labels “Alpha,” “Beta” and “Omega” but those would just be shorthand, plus I wouldn’t want to get the above confused with PUA terminology (PUA terminology refers to frequency of sexual success, which is related to but certainly not the same thing as status amongst fellow males).

Part 3: Some Effects Of This System
1) GENDER POLICING: A simple truth of economics is that people respond to incentives – if conduct X confers a benefit, and conduct Y bears a cost, then ceteris paribus people will be more likely to engage in X and less likely to engage in Y.

The “real manhood” system operates in such a way as to incentivize gender policing; by outperforming another man at a specific masculine-coded task, one gains more “real man” credit whilst at the same time diminishing the social masculinity of the outperformed men. The incentive isn’t to be good or competent at these specific tasks, but rather to be better than others at these specific tasks. Thus, men are motivated not to view other men’s strengths as good, but as threats. Men are motivated to view other men’s weaknesses as opportunities to be exploited.

Let’s put aside the strange moral inversion (resenting the admired, wishing to see more of the disdained) that this system implies for now; the obvious effect is gender policing. Make one slip and your “fellow men” will be right there to tear you apart and degrade you for it; it is the only way for them to increase their own status.

Obviously, this makes authentic self-expression and pursuit of one’s own happiness into a minefield for men, particularly those with some preferences that fall outside of traditional gender boundaries (in fact it is fair to say that almost all men have at least one interest which transgresses gender boundaries). Even those that, to their knowledge, have purely gender-typical interests, are socially penalized by this gender policing to some degree; they are discouraged from exploring things which may end up potentially enhancing their lives.

2) HERD CONFORMITY/GROUP IDENTITY: Significant neurological evidence exists to indicate that one’s gender identity (innate feeling of being male or female) is a result of neuroanatomy (for instance, transgender persons have been shown to have neuroanatomy of the opposite sex to the anatomy of the rest of their bodies; transgender conditions are arguably the neurological version of intersex conditions). When one’s gender identity is attacked or questioned, it can be distressing.

But, as stated before, being a “real man” is a social status rather than something innate, and the mechanism for acquiring and reinforcing this status is interpersonal. Basically, it is conferred by group insociation.

As a result, males have a portion of their innate identity subject to social approval and validation.

Now, most readers of this piece would accept the proposition that there is a mind-independent reality, and that facts aren’t the same thing as group consensus. And yet, this is precisely what “real manhood” requires – subjective acceptance of someone as a “real man.” So not only does “real manhood” refer to a Platonic ideal rather than physical reality, it also refers to a socially subjective status, as if the World Of Forms and the Consensus Reality were one and the same.

Leaving aside the utterly crackbrained metaphysics and epistemology that seem to be entailed here, the psychological effects of such an attitude are pretty obvious; if a critical part of one’s identity is dependent on the group, then one is far less likely to be fully individuated. One is far less likely to go against the grain, to think for oneself, to live with authenticity and integrity, when critical components of one’s identity are heavily invested in a group membership that is granted by mass consensus.

This goes far beyond gender policing. The damage that can be caused is fundamentally cognitive; if someone’s primary reference point for facts of reality is social rather than empirical, then that someone has basically abandoned any pretense at rationality.

This group-granted, group-dependent “real man” identity does nothing less than encourage complete cognitive dependence in males, crush unorthodox thinking, and incentivize “fitting in” and being “one of the guys” over being one’s authentic self.

3) PARALLEL HIERARCHIES: As stated above, having one’s innate gender identity questioned or attacked is a distressing experience (as many transgender people will attest). And, as stated before, plenty of males are not granted the status of “real men,” rather they are seen as failed men, as “boys” or some other emasculated label. Thus, many real men (physically real men, not “real men”) unfortunately live in a state where they commonly are inflicted with the distress of having their innate gender identity socially denied.

Denial of an individual’s innate gender identity – in effect a claim that this individual doesn’t really know their own mind and that the denier knows that individual better than that individual knows themselves – is offensive. It is offensive when it happens to trans people, and it is offensive when it happens to cisgender people, including cisgender men.

Given how social sanction and reinforcement has always been a crucial component of “real manhood” (a component which, it can be plausibly argued, is more important to “real manhood” than “real womanhood”), social emasculation can cause a remarkable amount of distress to men.

So, how do those men that have had their “real man” status revoked react? Sure, there are some that simply reject the whole enterprise of proving themselves to others, but this reaction isn’t as common as we’d all like. Indeed, the more common reaction is to form a parallel institution – in this case to simply create a different kind of heirarchical masculinity with its own cultural standards of “real manhood.”

The pattern of traditional masculinity is taken; there’s an heirarchically-structured “in group” led by the person that most exemplifies the group’s standards, with subordinate members competing with each other in an attempt to outdo each other at compliance with the group’s standards; unsurprisingly there is also an “out-group” composed of those that are not considered the “in-group” and who’s masculinity is held as fundamentally deficient/failed.

Why would some of the socially emasculated react by reproducing a variant of the same system that humiliated them? The answer is simple – those that are socially emasculated and respond by forming a parallel masculinity do so out of a desire to be accepted by the “real man” group that rejected them, and create their own as a substitute. They don’t reject the underlying premises of the system, they simply alter the standards to ones more favorable to their own traits.

Those familiar with the theory of Hegemonic Masculinity should see the parallels here; there is a socially normative model of “real manhood,” but not all can practice it successfully. Those who are heavily dependent on such group validation for their gender identity, yet find themselves socially emasculated, will desire to have their “real manhood” reinstated through insociation. In order to cater to this need, they will seek out or set up a parallel institution more likely to accept them.

4) DESTRUCTION OF PEER BONDS AND TRUE BROTHERHOOD: And we finally come to the most ironic and arguably most pernicious effect that the traditional system of “real manhood” has inflicted upon actual men: the poisoning of male relationships.

The “real manhood” system is hierarchically structured and incentivizes competition with and subjugation of one’s fellow man. After all, if one begins a gender system by positing a Platonic ideal then the moral imperative is to refashion oneself into that ideal as much as possible; if one defines the process of moving closer to this ideal as defeating others, then defeating others becomes a duty.

A peer relationship, i.e. a relationship of equals, cannot exist in this framework. Benefit can only come from a violation of the peership. If one posits hierarchical behavior as a proper component of “real manhood,” then peer relationships become emasculated (hence accusations of “those two men are getting too friendly/buddyish, obviously they must be gay” etcetera).

And yet, is not true brotherhood inherently about an ultimate sense of peership? Is it not about admiring and respecting the competencies and virtues of another, rather than conspiring to defeat or lessen those competencies and virtues? Aristotle famously described a true friend as another self – does one attempt to diminish, demean, defeat, humiliate and subjugate oneself?

Human beings relate to those that are like themselves – birds of a feather flock together is more than just a saying. This is why women like their “girl’s nights out” and men like their “boy’s nights out.” Same-gender social bonding is normal and healthy; it is almost certainly a human need (arguably this is another reason for the phenomenon of Parallel Heirarchies discussed above). To make this bonding into an adversarial exercise and a threat to one’s gender identity is a cruel joke at the very least.

Part 4: Conclusion
Traditional concepts of gender were Gender Essentialist, but the type of Essentialism differed between men and women (due to the different roles men and women had to play in pre-modern societies and the differences in the obviousness of their physical maturation). Femininity was typically treated as innate, i.e. as an immanent essence (Aristotelian/Moderate Essentialism) which women possessed by virtue of birth.

Men, on the other hand, were saddled with a Platonic Essentialist concept of masculinity. As such, identity as a “real man” was always a less sure thing than identity as a “real woman.” Women were beings and men were doings. This basic Subject-Object separation ultimately underpins our society’s traditional gender roles, and provides both men and women with various different advantages and disadvantages relative to each other.

One specific disadvantage the traditional conception of the “proper” way to be a “real man” has is that, by virtue of its Platonic nature, it emasculates many men. It compels men to be unsure of their identity, to rely on social verification, to conform and be “one of the guys” at any cost. It encourages men to police other men’s gender expression, to capitalize on each other’s “weakness” and resent each other’s capabilities and skills. Ultimately, it generates a toxic hierarchical environment where even the basic human need of same-gender camaraderie becomes a veritable battleground.

If gender policing, sabotage of individuation and individuality, and the corruption of the process of fulfilling a natural human need, are correctly called “oppressive,” then the current sex/gender system is oppressive of men.

In my earlier article, A Few Thoughts On Some Feminist Concepts, I argued that “Platocracy” is a better term than “Patriarchy” to describe the traditional gender system. It is in traditional ideas of “real manhood” that we find the clearest evidence for the Platonic basis of this gender system.

MISANDRY – Male Resistance to the MRM

A Redditor named doch_doch has a new blog she has just started and it is definitely worth a look. (This is one of the cleverer screen names I have seen. It means “though, though” or “Oh but yes it is!” in German.)

She starts with:

“Imagine you’re a man in the US in the time prior to women’s right activism.”

And winds up with this, which I have never seen anywhere else:

“So where we the men’s rights activist in all this upheaval? Well, with a few exceptions, there just weren’t any. While things were changing for women, things were not changing as quickly for men. In fact, men deviating from the norm of being the sole financial provider were dismissed, mocked, and ostracized.”

As they still are. See Hanna Rosin and the End of Men, for starters.

She summarizes:

“In the world I live in right now, I know that the gender binary is still screwing everyone. But for women’s issues there is a dialogue, there is movement and change. There is support from churches, government agencies, and individuals for “women’s” issues. Not only doesn’t this exist for men, it isn’t allowed to exist. Men’s rights is a dirty word for most feminists, with people throwing around accusations of misogyny, sexism, racism.
I’m not going to allow feminists to define this movement for me. There are some very, very angry men involved, it’s true. Anger can be destructive, but it can also breed change. Many men have just had enough of being told they don’t matter unless they’re rich and white.
I get it. “

Indeed she does. You need to read the whole post to see how thoroughly she gets it. She called herself an MRA for a while until she got tired of the venom of so many in the movement – she understands where it comes from; she just doesn’t feel like subjecting herself to it.

Something that just occurred to me when the question came up of where the MRAs were in the 1800s, is that it would be interesting to compare the resistance from women that the women’s rights movement got, starting with the suffrage movement but not restricted to that, to the resistance the MRM is getting from men. People resist change because it threatens vested positions of power or security.

So let’s compare the two.

Male resistance to the MRM seems to fall into a few main categories:

MACHO THUMBHEADS: There are the macho thumbheads who dismiss any discussion of men’s issues as un-masculine whining. These are the idiots who shout down male victims of rape(1), and who dismiss women raping boys by saying the boys got lucky.

You do find women in feminist spaces talking like this too about male victims, but less and less, I think. I think the community is taking corrective action. Good for them. It’s patriarchal shit (to the extent Patriarchy is even a thing.)

WHITE KNIGHTS: Then there are the white knights They downplay men’s issues because women and only women are the deserving targets of concern. These people believe in empathy apartheid. Basically it’s more macho posturing. A subset of these white knights are the guys who fancy themselves the protectors of sacred womanhood against all those other men, brutes all of them, with nothing between these fragile women and the horrors……

Demonization: one very common form white knighting takes is demonization of other men. (When feminists do this, they are just feeding into the patriarchal damsel/white knight dynamic – the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriarchy). Commenter John Markley outlines this mechanism or dynamic in a discussion about Hugo Schwyzer, his misandry and his ex-communication from all the cool kid feminist spaces:

“elementary_watson,
I’ve long thought that Schwyzer’s misandry was in part his way of absolving himself of responsibility for his behavior- If ALL men are inherently rotten, his behavior 1. isn’t his fault, and 2.doesn’t make men who DON’T act that way any better than him. He’s like a more sexist version of Saint Augustine. (I believe Patrick Brown has made the same comparison, actually.)

 

About the Sarkozy molestation story:

Schwyzer didn’t just say the crime was less serious because of “male privilege”- he called the 11-year old predatory and painted his abuser as his helpless, pitiable victim. It was a step beyond victim blaming or rape apologism into… Hell, I don’t even know.”

Demonization serves as a mechanism to alienate the evil you see in yourself, to other it into an external entity that you can reject it.

COMPLACENCY: Then there are the complacent ones, who think things are fine the way they are. These are the guys who have yet to be sundered from their children by an ex-wife who the criminal and family court system privilege with every possible advantage. These are the guys who insist there can’t be anything wrong with circumcision because they were circumcised and they don’t know any better.
APEXUALITY: And then there are the guys who just benefit by keeping other men down. The word for that is kyriarchy.

Now let’s look at female resistance to the suffrage and larger women’s rights movements:
LADYLIKE THUMBHEADS: There were those who thought that all this agitation was unladylike. Real ladies didn’t want anything to do with politics, not even voting.
COMPLACENCY: Then there were the complacent ones, the ones who knew a good deal when they saw it. The country had gone through a devastating Civil War in which the war dead and maimed were overwhelmingly men and not women – women had almost completely been spared that. Further down the social scale men labored and died in mines and factories in unspeakable conditions – if you haven’t read the Jungle, this is the time to remedy that gap in your education – and their women knew that however hard their lot at home was, it was a damned sight safer and more comfortable than what their men went out to face. And that included politics. The politics of 19th century America make dogfighting look refined and genteel.
APEXUALITY: And then there were those women at the top, hiding behind their front men running the world, keeping the women down. This is where Sojourner Truth’s question “Ain’t I a woman?” fits in. Recall that she and her question got shot down.
And lookee here – there’s no female equivalent of WHITE KNIGHTS in the sense women doing down other women to aid men. The female equivalent of a white knight is a damsel, and no one damsels to help out men. I can’t think of even one instance of a woman opposing women’s suffrage or later on any feminist proposal on the grounds that it might harm men.

So there’s the comparison, and it yields some interesting parallels. Women’s opposition to women’s right movements were retrograde and reactionary, just as men’s opposition to men’s rights movements are.

1. It is worth your while to go read that whole sordid comment thread. A clear pattern emerges – most of the women support the male rape victim. Telling. And remember this was four years ago. Compare that with the state of the discussion on comment threads these days.

APEXUALITY – Women can do it too

Here’s an autobiographical article from a women who has succeeded in the advertising industry. What she is describing – women not helping women, not acting in solidarity with women, no longer feeling as if they are in the culture of women, is plain old apexuality. (HT:r/Mensrights) 

She starts off:

As a white, educated woman, I was more like the men than I was like anything else. I wanted to be part of something big, so I worked to fit in and get ahead. It was romantic and dramatic and exciting — in my 20s and 30s. Acceptance was the gold I dug. I didn’t sleep my way to the top. I smoked, drank, workaholic’d and off-color joked my way there. Talent and a good book weren’t enough. You had to have talent and be one of the boys.

No surprise there, and I hope it wasn’t to her. You have to adopt the group’s norms if you join and hope to benefit from belonging. And the group norms at that level of reward are piranha level competition and backbiting. She reports:

There are, of course, crudely sexist moments. Here are two special quotes from my career that never fail to materialize when I close my eyes to fall asleep in whatever far-flung hotel I’m sleeping in tonight. “I like that necklace, I could choke you with it while I fuck you from behind,” I was told. After a none-too-pleased response came the capper from this guy: “You’re not offended are you?! We only say those things because we forget you’re not one of us. It’s a compliment!” Really.

Eeeww.

But yes. They look for any vulnerability, and differentness they can exploit as a vulnerability – race, gender, minority religion, having gone to a less-connected school, whatever it might be.

She asks:

An issue that’s rarely addressed is how many women in advertising don’t help each other out. What is it that drives a select group of women to actively not support other women?

But then goes on to draw some questionable conclusions. She says:

But maybe it’s not the women who are at fault here. Maybe the fact that there are so few of us in the boardrooms leads us to assume there’s only room for a certain number. Or maybe the older ones among us resent what we gave up at home to get where we are at work, and, so, we’re bitter, drunken, hardened bitches. Or, as was the case in my last run in with a fucked-up, back-stabbing woman at work; nobody likes to fight for their daddy’s attention.

And she earns my respect with her refusal to whine and her insistence on owning it all:

Don’t get me wrong. There are no regrets. It’s a complicated story that’s more about complicity than it is about victimization. There’s no real hero. I’d do it all again. And I wouldn’t say these issues overtook the love I felt, and still feel, for my career.

 

 

Apexuality shows up most often in Anglosphere societies as male behavior, but it is really a function of the struggle for power. We see a woman apexual in the character of Rebecca Sharp, Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, in Vanity Fair. Note how she was shunned by other women, to the point that Thackeray discusses the dynamic at some length.

Apexuality is about the struggle for power, and gender only counts when one gender is shielded from the cutt-throat competition the struggle for power requires, and is allowed to stay aloof from it. When it comes right down to it, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the tactics of Qin Shi Huang1 or the Yongle emperor2 and that of Wu Zetian3 or Ci Xi4.

 

 

1. Qin Shi Huang is the cultural equivalent of Hitler in China. As the ruler of the state of Qin, he unified China into an empire and ended the Warring States period.

2. The Yongle emperor was the second son of the founder of the Ming dynasty. His nephew was preferred over him for the succession and the follwers of that nephew persecuted him to the point where he deposed his nephew. When he tasekd a courtier to write his inaugural adress, the courtier refused, which under the circumstances was an intolerable slur on his legitamcy. he exterminate nine generations of the courtiers male realtives and also the courtiers students and proteges, 864 people in all.

3. Wu Zetian beat out her main rival as imperial consort, which put her in position to become regent later, (allegedly) by having her daughter murdered and framing her rival for the crime.

4. Ci Xi was the enormously popular Dowager Empress at the end of the Qing dynasty. She contended with her daughter-in-law, who advocated for political reform and progress, for influence over the emperor, her son. Eventually she had her killed by being thrown down a well.