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.

A Useful Phrase: The Instrumentalization-Infantilization Dichotomy

In “Summa Genderratica,” I argued that our gender system can ultimately be understood as two overlaid dichotomies; the subject-object dichotomy and the disposable-cherishable dichotomy. Men are understood as disposable subjects, valued only for the results of their actions, whilst women are understood as cherishable objects, inherently useful due to their biology yet fragile and thus both deserving of and in need of protection.

The only problem with this formulation is that it is rather unwieldy, and as such I have been working on a way to express it in a more simple manner.

The Instrumentalization-Infantilization Dichotomy is my ultimate answer.

“Instrumentalization” is a form of objectification (see Nussbaum’s “Objectification” for more, where she refers to this as “Instrumentality”) whereby an individual’s value is determined entirely by their usefulness/service to others. This encompasses both agency (one must be able to act in order to serve) and innate disposability and thus is the perfect encapsulator of the male condition.

“Infantilization” is also a form of objectification, specifically the denial of agency, yet it also implies the second element of the feminine condition; being considered innately special and precious. Our society’s package-dealing of women and children says it all – they are the future (or incubators thereof) and thus inherently special in and of themselves.

Thus, the Disposable-Cherishable dichotomy is combined with the Subject-Object dichotomy, resulting in the Instrumentalization-Infantilization dichotomy, which fully encapsulates all aspects of how both men and women are treated under the traditional gender system.

For more on the Infantilization of women, I recommend Ginkgo’s post on “Neoteny as a Feminine Gender Norm” (link: http://www.genderratic.com/p/2775/female-privilege-neoteny-as-a-feminine-gender-norm/) (in this post he also refers to the “maturity” aspect of the gender system and how it applies to males – a point I have stressed repeatedly as critical to understanding the male condition).

Apologies for my short post. I promise my next article will be much more substantial (and controversial!).

THIS IS WHAT SEXUAL ENTITLEMENT LOOKS LIKE… White men , Asian women and the white women who hate them

In a post from a long time ago, unrelated to the actual topic of the post, a very interesting discussion of sexual ownership developed. (This is why I cherish thread drift, by the way.)The issue was the way white women treat – judging, sneering, accusing – white men who are in romantic relationships with non-white women, especially Asian women.*  Fairly late in the thread Mike explains:

Mike on said:

……..“It’s funny, because when my friend offered to introduce me to a “nice Cambodian lady”, I told him that she should be “at least” 35, so we’d have some kind of continuity in terms of age. I initially met Jen online and she told me she was 35. Over a webcam it’s often hard to tell, but I had no reason to doubt her.”

“As for the looks my wife and I get in public, it’s been an eye-opener. Yes, I always knew that there were people who found time to care about this stuff but being the recipient of their attention wasn’t something I’d had a lot of direct exposure to.

The sneers we get (well, that *I* get) are almost palpable, lol. Eventually after several months I mentioned this to my wife; she was mostly unaware of it, but after I mentioned it she started seeing it too. The “up-and-down” look done at the same time as the lip curls into an expression of mild-to-blatant disapproval.

Some of it is a built-in prejudice based on a combination of age difference and apparent attractiveness. Let me be honest: I’m no damn movie star, and GQ is *not* going to be breaking down my door for a photo shoot anytime soon. I mean, I don’t have to sneak up on a mirror, but I’m no hunk. My wife, on the other hand, is way more beautiful than I deserve. And somehow, this seems unfair to them- because the fact is that there is no white, American woman anywhere near as cute as my wife who would ever date, let alone marry, a guy like me. (I’d be lucky if I could get them to spit on me.) So they look at us and they’re like “WTF??”

This condemnation of white men and Asian women in romantic relationships is nothing new. I remember this attitude from my childhood, the sense that these men were preying on these women, exploiting them in some way. Nowadays this is often expressed in accusations that these men are looking for a “subservient Asian woman” as a form of sexist dominance. That accusation is simultaneously sexist and racist.

It is sexist because it presumes the white men are making all the moves and making all the choices, and then condemning them for it. It trades in hyperagency and hypoagency.

It is racist because iIt is a plain expression of white supremacy, in two ways. First, it casts the whire men as some kind of all-poweful predators, and second, it casts white women as the default object of white men’s attractions, so that if a white man is attracted to an Asian woman there must be something nefarious power or deviant about it.

Mike was following up on an earlier comment:

 Mike on said:

The whole “mail order bride” syndrome you mention, is still open for criticism and comment.

Oh, tell me about it. :(

As if I selected her from a catalog and paid for overnight shipping (so she’d still be fresh when she got here!) It’s astoundingly offensive, and honestly, I think a lot of the “mail order bride” comments stem from jealousy (although some probably come from simple ignorance).”

As far as I am concerned the ignorance comes out of jealousy, because it is obviously self-serving.

 Some other comments in the discussion: 

Paul on said:

“You know, I look at all these women who are yelling about “yellow fever” and I honestly wonder how many of them have (or have had) black boyfriends.

I used to have this friend when I was a young’un (as in middle/high school) who was… well, proud, frankly, about the fact that she refused to date white men. (She herself was blonde’n’blueyed) Her ahem “preference” was for latino men (and she did eventually marry a man who is latino, never met him though) although I seem to recall her saying she’d be willing to date black men as well.

It just goes back to the whole “men have nasty ‘fetishes’ women have ‘preferences’” thing.”

And also:

Paul on said:

“Actually, now that I think of it, this applies to a lot more things than just race.

Society apparently tells women that the “pinnacle” of beauty is a white woman, preferably blonde and blue-eyed, who’s skinny with big breasts and somewhere between say 5’3 and 5’6 give or take an inch.

Women say that this being seen as the end all and be all of beauty is wrong (and you’ll get no argument from me on that point)

And yet… apparently if any man expresses any desires that *do* fall outside these qualities… he’s told he’s “fetishizing” and “objectifying” How exactly do they expect to widen the scope of “attractive” when every time men tell them that we don’t believe in that ideal any more than they do, we’re told to “stop fetishizing”?

 The stink of sexual ownership and sexual entitlement and sexist double standards hovers over this entire issue. Of course their sense of sexual ownership of white men is covered up and presented as white women protecting their non-white sisters. they still expect people to fall for that, even though POC feminists and womanists can tell you all about white women’s solicitude for non-white women.

And the final comment on the matter sums everything with the voice of humanity and clear, sweet reason. and it also happens to employ “flip the genders” and “flip the races” to show how offensive this sense of sexual ownership is:

Jo on said: Edit

as a mixed race woman (black/white) I prefer white men with brown hair. Always have since I was a little girl. I don’t know why I just do. Men are free to prefer whoever they like, its neither racist nor sexist, its a preference. I am open to other experiences and have fallen in love with different types but it just so happened that I married my preference. Black people have said that I was racist. Black men in particular have been offended by me and my preference, they said that I thought I was ‘too good for them’ etc. I don’t object to personal preference. I object to the only value of women being placed on their youth, skinniness and blondness as a cultural NORM/IDEAL. It is not. I hate that men and women are ridiculed for finding other types attractive. And funnily enough the men I am attracted to are the cultural NORM/IDEAL (tall, dark) If I was a man and prefered skinny blonde women I’m sure the venom would be profound. It doesn’t make it wrong, it makes it wrong that there is a cutural NORM that is forced upon us by the media. There should be a better representation of everyone, it would take the heat off us all and allow us to like who we damn please.

I am very familiar with being who I could be attracted and much worse, being told who I could not be attracted to, and I have to litle patience with that bigoted, self-serving idiocy to engage with it even to the point of bothering to answer it. It doesn’t deserve an answer.

Matha Nussbaum identified ownership explicitly as a form of objectification. That’s what this herd-tending and moral judginess is on the par tof these white women. It is objectification.

 

*I have learned to clarify for our non-US readers that in the US “Asian” means “East Asian”. Desi don’t register as ”Asian” for most Americans.

DAMSELING – Pity Pumping

Pity pumping is a tactic that increases victim cred. To use it you first have to have victim cred to increase. If you don’t, if for instance you belong to a group that is designated as non-victims or non-victimizable, it will backfire. You won’t increase your victim cred you don’t have to begin with, you’ll just get labeled pathetic and some way to blame you for your plight will be found or invented. But if you are in a recognized victim group it often works very smoothly. In fact it’s nearly effortless.

Let’s look at some forms of pity pumping.

Portray an extreme example as a modal example – For while about ten years ago it was fashionable to brandish the statistic that murder was a major cause, or even the leading cause, of death in pregnant women. It accounted for more deaths among pregnant women than any medical problem with the pregnancy. Of course no actual numbers of these deaths versus others were ever mentioned because then it would have been obvious how few pregnant women die from any cause, medical or otherwise. Patriarchal medicine has seen to that. And publishing actual numbers of murders of pregnant women would allow the reader to compare these numbers to the statistics on male murder victims, and that would have defeated the whole purpose of the exercise.

But leaving in the realm of percentages and expressions of outrage allowed the moral entrepreneurs waving this red shirt to play on people’s normal instinctual protectiveness toward pregnant women. It fed the domestic violence narrative they were pushing.

Sly inversion – In this form of pity pumping you portray a harm to your victim group as greater than much worse harm to a non-victim group. An example of this is claiming that rape is worse than murder, that the victims suffer more. Another is the standard claim that the fact that war is institutionalized violence against men is really misogyny in disguise because it reflects a sexist consensus that women are not fit go off to die, because being considered unfit to die is like so much worse than actually dying. Another example of this was the way the Women’s Liberation movement portrayed the being a housewife as some form of oppression. Betty Friedan actually compared the lot of the housewife to that of a death camp inmate, saying they were both progressively dehumanized. She was speaking of American housewives in the 1950s living in what to the vast majority of humanity would consider a rather privileged position, certainly compared to that of their Man in The Grey Flannel Suit husbands who have all died off by now, years before these oppressed darlings.

See what Friedan did there? She exaggerated and misrepresented a life of relative privilege and thereby implicitly distorted and erased these women’s men’s lives of relative disprivilege – work that shortened their lives, denied them parenting time, required mindless conformity, based on an ethic of male disposability.

SlogansRebecca West’s formulation “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” is an example of pity pumping. “[Daddy!] look! They don’t even think I’m a person!!!!” Sob, sob, sob…….

Motherhood – The prime target for pity pumping, the dark heart of Mother McCree sentimentality about women, is motherhood and the way men, mostly idolize motherhood. And it can be exploited to very good effect. Yes, it’s ultimately misogynist and a part of patriarchal oppression and feminists have denounced it since the 70s – and still are, thank you, Mary Elizabeth Williams, than you very much for shredding this particular piece of sexist bullshit – but that hasn’t stopped feminists from insisting on the trope and exploiting it since before the 70s and right up to the present day. You see this in discussions of abortion and parental surrender, you see it in discussions of who gets primary child custody – “But, but, she CARRIED that child in her own body!!!” -  although this seems to be waning – good – and you see it in discussions of the “wage gap” and why women work fewer hours than men. They answer is not more but better feminism.

So that’s pity pumping. And I am avidly collecting more examples.

 

FEMALE PRIVILEGE – A the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriarchy

An article appeared over at Thoughtcatalog listing various obvious forms of female privilege with a completely predictable comment section. Althought the denialism was completely predictable, some commenters pushed back.

The comments criticizing the article were a display case of hyopoagency, gynocentric special pleading, erasure and tradtional gender stereotypes. And of course there was the obligatory white-knighty non-responsive attempt at a rebuttal in a later post.

David Bryon, who posts really insightful and solid arguments all over the gendersphere where he is not banned, made some really important points about this denialism and then later a commenter named Sarah Stuart made the key point.

 You should go read the whole thread to get the context of these comments, but I think they stand alone well enough to quote here.

DavidByron • a day ago

Hysterical ad hominem attacks are exactly how you’d expect women and feminists to react if indeed women are the privileged sex. They have the power, therefore entering a debate is irrational. They know they can win by the use of force. Men’s rights advocates know they can win if the battle is of logic and an appeal to morals.

Nobody who advocates for any oppressed minority can be surprised at this sort of reaction from the entitled and privileged.

Privilege doesn’t give up it’s (sic) power just because people ask nicely.

But that is exactly what we are supposed to believe happened with feminism. We are supposed to believe that women were always oppressed and yet the first time women asked for their rights, they were simply given it. That has never happened to any genuinely oppressed group ever. Women were given extra rights because they already enjoyed power. They had the power of being the protected sex, the cared for sex, the innocent sex. Feminists simply reframed their goals in terms of a new way to protect women, and society quickly set about fulfilling those new protections. As soon as the majority of women changed their mind and saw the vote as something that would protect women, instead of seeing it as something that would harm women, male legislators GAVE them the vote. They gained more privilege, based on the privileges they already had.

If feminists had demanded that women be protected LESS (to be equal to men) they would have had a genuinely radical movement, but feminists didn’t demand that because they didn’t want equality. That is how we have feminists today demanding more and more protections for women while women are, and always have had more protections. That is how feminists can unironically claim women suffer more from violence even though men are the majority of victims.

The easiest way to demand more and more power for themselves was to create a bogeyman that would menace women. A bogeyman that they could point to and say, “See? Women need to have more and more rights because of this terrible threat!” And so feminists set about systematically demonizing men as rapists, violently “oppressing” women. They created a conspiracy theory that said all men collaborate to keep all women down.

If “patriarchy” was real then feminism would never have succeeded without a fight.

The irony is the cry of “patriarchy” only works for feminists because our society is the exact opposite of a patriarchy. Our society is dedicated to protecting women so much that even completely irrational claims of danger towards women must be taken seriously.

Feminism is the political equivalent of a woman standing on a chair screaming for her husband to crush a bug for her. It’s a completely irrational claim of danger. And it works because society has always worked to protect women.

Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriarchy: Then an interesting exchange developed that ended up illustrating a major claim of the MRM, that feminism is just patriarchy repackaged:

llpk • a day ago

Most of those problems are effects of patriarchy, not female privilege. Do you want to know why there are fewer resources for men fighting domestic violence? Because it it deemed unmanly to be a victim. Who created the image of masculinity in our society? Men (as a group). It is often the same men who complain about these lacking services that also degrade men for needing the services.

 

Men created the image of masculinity in our society? All on our own? Women had nothing to do with it? No gay shaming, no real man narrative; women had no hand in any of this, according to llpk.. Women don’t raise children and socialize them according to llpk. The hand that rocks the cradle does not rule the world, apparently.

 

DavidByron >llpk • 21 hours ago

The reason there are fewer resources for men in the USA is that feminists fought hard for laws (VAWA) that made it illegal to help male victims of domestic violence.

Feminists also spread the fiction that men are not often victims of domestic violence by burring the results of hundreds of pieces of research of four decades that said DV was an equal opportunity crime.

Feminists also successfully sold all DV as partner violence, thereby hiding violence against children and elders, which is mostly committed by women. They did this to spread their hateful lies that denigrate men as evil violent scum always hurting innocent women.

The VAWA was the single biggest victory of feminism in the 1990s, and it was hate.

So please stop guessing at why things happened if you don’t know the facts. It’s true that the sort of anti-male thinking that you mention probably greased the wheels for feminists to lobby for those laws. Traditional gender roles are used and enhanced by feminists in working to denigrate men.

 And the very predictable reaction – a change of misogyny and anger:

 RocketGrrl >DavidByron • 18 hours ago

You seem to have a lot of anger towards women and feminists. Amusingly. I don’t know any feminists that hate or even dislike men. Including myself. Fighting for equal treatment and respect is extremely important.

 Rocketgrrl either doesn’t know of Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Jesica Valenti or Amanda Marcotte, or Adel Mercier; or else she doesn’t consider them feminists.

In any case, Code Red and Code Black aren’t working like they used to:

DavidByron >RocketGrrl • 13 hours ago

Are (sic) the classic “you must hate women if you disagree with feminism”

I have given many examples of feminists lobbying for anti-male discrimination.

I have challenged you to give even one example of a feminist program or victory or slogan that portrays men in a positive light.

And Commenter edtastic takes it right back to Rocketgrrl:

edtastic >RocketGrrl • 14 hours ago

You must have a lot of anger towards men because you set out to demonize men for caring about men. The anger toward feminists is fully justified by the attack on men’s equal rights and hateful social campaigns against men being waged by feminists.

“I don’t know any feminists that hate or even dislike men. Including myself.”

That’s your own self serving bias talking and we need look no further than things like the ‘white feather campaign’ pretending men aren’t even victims of domestic violence or ‘Don’t be that guy’ presuming all sexual violence perpetrators are males. Men needn’t be warm towards women who adopt an ideology that sets out to bash males and deny their pain.
see more

And David Byron also knows how to turn feminist jargon on them:

DavidByron >llpk • a day ago

Victim blaming.

Now comes the coup de grace. Thank you, Sarah Stuart.

 Sarah Stuart >llpk • 18 hours ago

So, it’s deemed “unmanly” to be a victim. That point of view is apparently part of the patriarchy. Feminists regularly attack men for being concerned about levels of male victims and they need to “man up” and focus on women. So feminists are perpetuating the patriarchy.

It all falls into place. Like the energy companies trying to “help” people reduce costs while boosting up prices, feminism is a monster that hurts and hurts to feed itself.

Edtastic sums up and closes:

edtastic >llpk • 14 hours ago

In that case feminism an effect of the patriarchy and clearly dependent on it to sustain it’s (sic) victim narratives through endless ‘patriarchy’ scapegoating.

” Do you want to know why there are fewer resources for men fighting domestic violence?”

Feminist covering up male victimization rates 30-40 years.

” Who created the image of masculinity in our society?”

BOTH SEXES!

“Men (as a group). It is often the same men who complain about these lacking services that also degrade men for needing the services.”

You are collectively blaming men as a sex because you don’t expect to be held accountable for your sexism against men. Meanwhile you see MRA’s keep their focus on feminists like you who engage in blatant sexism, misandry, and gender bashing to gain power over others. Who needs moral guidance on gender equality from people who can’t stop negatively stereotyping the male gender?

 It is getting more and more common to see this kind of push back and to see it in more and more spaces. It is also getting more and more common to see more and more women doing it.

Even as MRAs are derided or slandered more and more, the message is spreading. It is spreading partly due to the Streisand Effect, but mostly it is spreading because people are seeing the validity in it on its own merits and going on the spread it themselves.

MALE DISPOSABILITY – SPC Ivan Lopez – pay me now or pay me later

Late in the day yesterday I started getting texts from my brother. My nephew was locked down in his barracks at Ft. Hood. By now we all know the rest of the story, of how a soldier named Specialist Ivan Lopez, who had been exhibiting problematic behavior, certainly symptomatic, probably that community especially should have picked up on….went off.

No one in his chain of command picked up on this enough to do anything in time – and by the way, the way the Army works is quite different from civilian employers and this is one example; intervening and dealing with this kind of thing is very much a leader responsibility. It was his leaders’ job all up the line to make sure this problem got identified and resolved, and unfortunately his leaders’ failure to do that is not anomalous.

We can either identify these guys, and take the trouble and shoulder the expense to help these people when it would make a difference, or we can bumble on and then get blindsided when the bill comes due, like we have this time. Pay me now or pay me later. Just remember, if you pay later, you may not like how the interest has piled up.

The inital speculation was that there was some kind of jihadi connection, because there had been warnings and indicators leading up to it. But it is probably going to turn out that this was unconnected, that it was something much more mundane and familiar, soemthing we have seen over and over. In fact this incident follows the “suicide by cop” pattern we are seeing in these shootings.

And here we should mention the professionalism and strength that cop showed in stopping SPC Lopez. He shot himself in the head right in front of her when she confronted him. To quote the post commander:

“It was clearly heroic what she did in that moment in time,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the post’s commander. “She did her job, and she did exactly what we’d expect of a United States Army military police.”

This is the kind of thing that makes me get impatient with most of the discussion around women in the military, so much of it from people whose understanding of war and what is involved in building and maintaining a military effort seems to come only from television or gaming. This soldier did the job assigned to her and her womanhood got in the way not at all. In war and in garrison that is all that matters. Now she can deal with the nightmares and hyper-vigilance she is likely to experience, like everyone else.

SPC Lopez seemed mellow and friendly to everyone, it looked like everything was fine. But it wasn’t. The issue now is why he was able to hide all this so well, and more than that, why he hid it at all. Why did he think he had to? I think we all know the answer to that, and it is the Army’s challenge to undo all the conditioning and enculturation that fed this.

We go along deploying people multiple times, on basically pointless, vague, high-sounding missions, a small, disposable segment of our society; and then when they crack the answer seems to be to reach for some way to blame them or “military culture” instead of the impossible situations the people we elect put them into and then wash their hands of.

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.

Complaining About “Fake Geek Girls” Is Not Misogyny

And now for my first piece of original content exclusively for GendErratic! Again I wish to extend my gratitude to Ms. Tieman for inviting me to contribute to this blog, and I can promise there is plenty of theoretical analysis and discussion of cultural issues to come in the future. Now, for the article.

Proposition: Complaining About “Fake Geek Girls” Is Not Misogyny
Feminism’s engagement with “nerd” culture has, for the most part, come entirely from a critical and contemptuous angle; one of these criticisms is that “nerd” culture is allegedly a “boy’s club” which excludes women. To prove this, feminists point out the fact that females claiming a geek identity will be interrogated to see if they are “real” geeks or fakers.

This is not misogyny. Demanding “geek girls” prove themselves would only be misogyny if the treatment were motivated by an animus towards or prejudice against women as a class. Nerd culture would be equally suspicious of “fake geek guys.”

Wait… fake geek guys?

The fact that there is no such thing as the fake geek guy is in fact an important piece of the puzzle. Some feminists would argue that the lack of fake geek guys is evidence yet again of discrimination against women, but in reality it is because the status of “geek” has never been desirable for men to claim.

No ladies, we are not discriminating against you because you didn’t dance with us at the prom. We have no problem with you being girls. Our problem is due to the fact that fake geek girls (not to be confused with real geek girls, who do in fact exist and have been part of geek culture ever since the beginning) are subcultural poseurs claiming an identity which they in fact lack.

The Essential Characteristic Of “Nerd”
There’s a reason why Spider-Man got ruthlessly beaten up in high school. There’s a reason why Loki grows up as the undervalued intellectual in a society of macho warrior brutes. There’s a reason Steve Rogers was originally skinny and frail and got beaten up regularly. There’s a reason for the “Revenge of the Nerds” films.

Being a “nerd” isn’t about just liking certain things. It is about having culturally atypical interests and experiencing social persecution as a result.

It is a subculture which embraces esoteric and often intellectual interests that go against what is expected of “real men.” This is why there are “sports fans” and “automotive enthusiasts” and “petrolheads” and “aviation buffs” (all acceptably masculine interests) but to be into comics or video games or analog synthesizers makes one a “nerd” or a “geek.”

Nerdiness is about being set outside the mainstream, often with violence. It isn’t merely about a specific set of interests, but about the social consequences of these interests.

Nerdiness is a culture primarily composed of socially emasculated males – a culture of “not real men” – a culture which has paid the price for failing to measure up to our society’s standards of masculinity.

Female nerds are also outside the mainstream – but their experiences rarely include being beaten up for this. Being intelligent and possessing a rational temperment is also gender-deviant because traditional gender roles see women as fundamentally emotional. But even if they don’t necessarily face the same violent retribution for gender-nonconformity that male nerds do, they share the experience of being socially alienated (to at least some degree) from one’s same-sex peers, of being gender-atypical, and of not having “normal” interests.

Nevertheless, we need to recognize that the gender system is far more willing to be suspicious of gender-deviance amongst males; as I have argued before, the gender system treats femininity as an innate characteristic and masculinity as an earned status that needs to be guarded, demonstrated and socially validated – hence why the Tomboy is just “going through a phase” (and is also perhaps worthy of some encouragement for proving she can compete with the boys) whereas the boy who plays with dolls is instantly suspected of being defective/damaged/gay/etc.

As such, it isn’t surprising that the experience of being socially de-gendered due to atypical interests is more common amongst males than it is amongst females (although perhaps potential on-average tempermental differences between the sexes may play some role too, but that’s another discussion). The primary narrative of nerd culture is the narrative of the “Omega Male” (the “not-real-man”) – this is a narrative of being bullied, brutalized and victimized for not being “one of the guys.”

The Case Of Video Gaming
The “fake geek girl” issue is often discussed in relation to video gaming – a pasttime which (in its super-hardcore manifestations), in the pre-PS2 era, was an extremely effective method of social suicide performed by spending exhorbitant amounts of money on 3d-capable bleeding-edge graphics hardware.

Console gaming at the time was primarily seen as a children’s toy – Sony’s Playstation platform was the first to deliver 3d gaming with mature themes alongside the low cost and relative convenience of a console. But the Playstation was relatively easy and inexpensive to develop for, meaning a wide variety of different kinds of game could be created.

The Playstation 2 was not, but it achieved phenomenal market success and essentially turned 3d gaming into a pasttime the general population (many of whom bought it for the DVD playback) could partake in.

But the generation following the Playstation 2 was even more difficult for programmers and developers; the jump to HD gaming as well as the increased difficulty to program both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 (relative to their predecessor consoles as well as the PC) further increased the costs of developing games, particularly multiplatform ones. Publishers, having to fork out larger amounts to make competitive and cutting-edge games, were becoming more cautious with their money. The used game market on consoles as well as piracy on the PC substantially cut into developer/publisher margins. At the same time, however, the market was potentially extremely lucrative and becoming even moreso due to the attraction of mainstream audiences.

This essentially led to the “blockbusterization” of video gaming as a hobby; instead of the niche markets of the past, gaming targeted the mass market. In order to attract mass market, games began to pander to this market; even games from traditionally “hardcore” genres began to emulate (to varying degrees) mass-market games in the hope of winning the money of “the CoD crowd.”

At the same time, Nintendo’s success with the Wii console as well as the success of small online games (via platforms such as Facebook) led to the proliferation of lower-cost and sometimes free-to-play casual gaming. This genre ended up migrating mostly to smartphones and other portable devices.

The ultimate result of this series of technological and economic pressures was that gaming ended up subdividing itself into three “markets” -

First, the original “hobbyist gaming” market segment, the nerdy gaming culture which we all know.

Second, the casual gaming market, which was mostly situated on Wii, Facebook and smartphones.

Third, the AAA “Blockbuster” gaming market, focused on best-selling (and sometimes annualized) sports and action titles like Madden, Call of Duty, FIFA, Halo, Battlefield, Medal of Honor and Gears of War.

The focus which once lay on Hobbyist gaming took a backseat to the newly-ascendent Blockbuster and Casual sectors of the market. Economic pressures forced a formerly niche-market hobby to conform to mass-market tastes.

The Absense Of Fake Geek Guys
In light of the above, we can address the absense of fake geek guys. For men, geekiness has always been a ticket to social emasculation, but with the arrival of Blockbuster gaming, one did not have to be even remotely geeky to game. Blockbuster games were aimed squarely at mass market gender-typical male tastes (and were rewarded with billions of dollars for doing so). A subset of games were essentially de-nerdified.

Thus, the cultural link between gaming and nerdness was cut, at least with respect to certain franchises and genres and subject-matter. The target audience – an audience which genuine nerds describe (and often still describe) disdainfully as “the dudebros” – did not claim a nerd identity. They didn’t want to do so due to gender pressure, and with the mainstreaming of certain video game franchises the identity would not be forced upon them from the outside.

This is why “fake geek guys” don’t exist; of course there are males who play games without belonging to geek culture! This has even been acknowledged by Mark Rubin – executive producer of the latest iteration of Call of Duty (see http://ign.com/articles/2013/10/21/call-of-duty-players-arent-hardcore-gamers-says-infinity-ward), as Rubin was clearly using “hardcore gamers” and “gamers” to refer to “Hobbyist gamers” (i.e. the nerdy subset). But because guys have no incentive to identify as nerds or geeks, they don’t claim to be such unless they genuinely are (and even then, sometimes they’ll dodge it because it is a persecuted subculture).

In the early days of geek culture, women faced some disincentives to identify as geeks or to at least keep their geekiness secret (and these days they still face some – certainly there are many women who probably would face some degree of ridicule or derision if they confessed to reading and/or writing slash fanfiction.. although in some cases that may be due to the quality of the writing rather than the subject matter). These days, however, the disincentive to be a female nerd is significantly lower, and indeed it is arguably the case that women face incentives to identify as nerds.

Princess Poindexter (This Phrase Is A Keeper!)
The idea that women may benefit from entering nerd culture is hardly new; Rebecca Watson, an internet atheist who has made absolutely no contribution to atheist philosophy or theory or rhetoric and has built her entire career off the relative rarity of her sex in the atheist community, said it best:

“In the land of the nerds, the double “x” chromosome is queen. The lack of women getting actively involved in skepticism has led to a peculiar deification of any female brave enough to dive into debates, engage in philosophical arguments, or just withstand the flirtatious banter that permeates online forums. The skepchick is held up as an ideal in an intellectual community – a woman who is smart, interesting, and most of all, approachable.
Despite what I saw as a distinct willingness for men to accept and embrace (sometimes literally) skeptical women, there were just not that many around. Somehow, the word was not getting out.”
(Watson, R (2005), Skepchicks International, eSkeptic, http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-11-03/).

Did she talk about how oppressed she was? Does she sound like she is complaining about being held up as an ideal or being deified or being embraced? Does she claim atheism was a ‘boy’s club’ aiming to keep her out? No, she shounds like a shrewd businesswoman spotting a market niche full of attention which was ripe for the harvesting!

Note that she described the atheist community as “the land of the nerds.” She clearly didn’t have a problem with their attention (assuming, presumably, it didn’t get expressed in a small confined space like an elevator).

This enjoyment of men’s attention is another facet of traditional gender roles; traditional gender norms treat men as subjects and women as objects, men as innately disposable instruments and women as innately precious and fragile. Men are thus encouraged to gain feelings of self-fulfillment through exercising agency, whereas women are encouraged to gain these feelings through enlisting male agency with innate feminine preciousness and specialness; being the center of attention, being considered extremely special and precious and worthy due to one’s innate value as a woman (and thus worthy of men doing things for you) is the essence of the female power fantasy under the traditional gender system.

Combine this with a culture which, historically, has very few women and thus very few competitors.

No matter what one may think about Ms. Watson, it is clear she acted with incredible business acumen. It should also be noted that at the time she wrote this article, the atheist community was gaining significant energy as an opposition to the Third Great Awakening and the growing influence of the Religious Right during the George W. Bush administration. She, in a sterling display of economically rational attention whoring, demonstrated that “the land of the nerds” is in fact a goldmine for women looking to benefit from traditional feminine norms.

Just as Rebecca Watson managed to be part of New Atheism during its time in the sun, the feminist engagement with geek culture seems rather conveniently timed to have occured only after Blockbuster games started making more money than Hollywood.

This mode of behavior – coming into a space and refocusing it on oneself – is extremely gender-traditional. It is also extremely unlike the actions of genuine female nerds; after all, like male nerds, female nerds are gender-atypical. Female nerds, like male nerds, typically possess what Myers-Briggs Temperments would classify as a rational temperment (xNTx) – NT’s are statistically rare in the overall population, rarer amongst women than men but still a small minority within both sexes (after all, male nerds are gender-atypical too). Thus, this mode of behavior or things resembling it come off as a “red flag” – an indication of being into the culture not due to sharing its interests but for other motivations.

In all fairness, it is quite plausible that many women who are genuinely interested in video games have been unfairly suspected of faking it – we couldn’t have all been born early enough (or had enough money) to be part of the golden age of PC gaming. But when a significant uptick in feminine interest in nerd culture (something which was significantly more atypical than male interest in nerd culture) seems to happen in ways which make sense as products of traditional feminine behavior patterns, there are grounds for skepticism… particularly in light of the extreme stigma nerdiness used to carry merely one-and-a-half console generations ago.

It certainly doesn’t help that there is footage on Youtube (courtesy of thunderf00t) of Anita Sarkeesian openly admitting she hates video games because she finds them too gory.

So, in a world where video gaming is far less stigmatized than it used to be, women can enter gaming culture and gain attention, receive adulation as an innately special creature simply for being there, and apparently get a warm welcome. They can, as Watson pointed out, be treated like princesses, and doesn’t every little girl want to be a princess? They can also receive praise for confronting “the boy’s club” and be heroines fighting against oppressive sexism – the cheers of “you go, girl!” rain down upon them.

Compare this to the treatment men have historically received for being affiliated with nerd culture. Hell, compare this to the treatment which actual female nerds receive (indeed, you could argue that the feminist influx has made it worse for them – they get accused of being gender traitors now for being ‘one of the boys’).

Subcultural Poseurs
Marginalized subcultures have always hated poseurs – those who claim the identity without knowing what it truly means. The goth subculture went through a strong period of rooting out perceived “fakes” in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, particularly focusing on anyone who was considered too fond of Marilyn Manson (one of the artists most blamed in the aftermath of the massacre, even though the killers in fact did not like his work).

In the history of geek culture, almost every single geeky pasttime was the subject of a moral panic; The Seduction of the Innocent argued that comic books would turn your sons into juvenile delinquents who fantasized about being Robin while Batman sodomized them, Dungeons and Dragons was accused of promoting Satanism and suicide and occultism by the religious right during the Satanic Panic, and every single school massacre brings out a gaggle of “blame Grand Theft Auto” from several psychologists, religionists and political personalities.

Combine this with how nerds have been social outcasts pretty much since day one. In the light of this, resentment of poseurs is hardly surprising. Again, the goth example is illustrative, and goth is a relatively gender-balanced subculture in terms of its adherents; the resentment was against poseurs rather than any specific sex.

Another factor which has made nerd culture defensive of its distinctiveness is the prominence of Blockbuster gaming and how its success encouraged several gaming franchises to aim for more mainstream appeal (“dumbed down for the dudebros”). To someone who has literally been beaten up for playing video games, seeing a beloved hobby start to cater to people who may be perceived as the same kind of person as those who inflicted the beatings feels almost like a betrayal. Hobbyist gamers have already felt like “their” hobby was being taken away from them and formatted towards a different target audience – the fact that some women (particularly women who haven’t shown any interest in games until recently) seem to want to do something similar naturally comes off as a threat (of course there is nothing wrong with catering to all audience niches, but until relatively recently this seemed impossible due to the dominance of Blockbuster gaming – thankfully this situation seems to be getting remedied but that’s another story).

Indeed, the gender-flip of the fake geek girl, from the perspective of nerd culture, is the bro-who-plays-CoD-with-his-bros-on-saturday-but-isn’t-a-nerd. The salient difference between the fake geek girl and the CoD-bro-who-isn’t-a-nerd is not that one is a girl and one is a guy, but rather that one is claiming to be part of nerd culture and the other is not.

We are not seeing sexism here, we are seeing typical dynamics one would find in any marginalized subculture, even one with a far less skewed gender composition. Marginalized subcultures resent poseurs; the reason that the poseurs in this case are only from one sex is due to the way our society’s gender system creates different incentives for the sexes to affiliate with the subculture in question.

Conclusion
The culture of nerds has always been a culture of those who are gender-atypical due to cerebral temperments and specific hobbies. It is a culture born of the experience of those alienated from their peer group and persecuted for not fitting in. It is a culture of not-real-men and women-who-think-too-much-and-this-may-scare-boys-away-from-dating-her.

It is a culture of gender-nonconformists, built upon the experiences of these men and (admittedly much less frequently and influentially) women. It is a culture defined by its outcast status.

But, certainly these days, a female does not automatically commit social suicide by playing (or claiming to play) video games. Some men might even find her nerdiness cute. The incentives to be a nerd are like the incentives to identify as bisexual – the incentives are much more positive for women than for men, and in the case of nerd culture particularly so for women with relatively gender-traditional desires (which are typically not those of actual female nerds).

As such, suspicions of fake girl geeks, whilst obviously not always correct, are hardly indefensible bigotry. We are not seeing misogyny but rather a disdain for poseurs common to all marginalized subcultures – a disdain which would clearly be gender-neutral if the poseurs in question included members of both sexes.

There are real female geeks. There are also fake girl geeks. Fake girl geeks do not share the values or experiences of real female geeks or male geeks. Marginalized subcultures will expel those perceived as external invaders irrespective of the invaders’ sex – the problem with fake geek girls is not that they are girls but that they are fake.

Perhaps as the world becomes more accepting of genuine geekiness, geek culture as we know it (i.e. built in the context of persecution) will disappear. However, acceptance of genuine nerds grates against our society’s gender system; the system has no affection for not-real-men.

Irrespective of this, to claim that the only reason suspicions of “fake geek girl” are raised is sexism is false; if there is any gender issue that explains the lack of ‘fake geek guy,’ it is the fact that nerd culture is a culture built from the experiences of socially emasculated men (and to a lesser extent gender-atypical women); men lose their real manhood by being nerds, but women usually lose less and (these days) in some cases can make substantial gains from being geeky. In the light of this fact, it makes sense that many women want in (even if they are not nerds), but most men do not (sometimes even if they are).

Reddit Repost: “The Subject-Object Dichotomy, Female Power, And The Loving Of Sluts”

This is a repost of an article I posted at /r/GenderEgalitarian here: http://www.reddit.com/r/GenderEgalitarian/comments/1t8frm/the_subjectobject_dichotomy_feminine_power_and/

I would like to point out that this is my last Reddit Repost! In the future all of my articles will be original content exclusively for GendErratic.

In hindsight I have one regret about this article: I over-focused on one instance of a pattern (specifically the Edmonton SlutWalk telling Men’s Rights Edmonton to go away). I was trying to propose a theory to address a pattern of pervasive “I’m a slut but NOT FOR MEN” behavior… perhaps we could call this “slut-shaming in the name of sluttiness” (any suggestions as to a nice-sounding label for this phenomenon would be awesome!). Basically, a knee-jerk hostility to the idea of men benefitting from sexually liberated women, and things like the advocacy of female sexual liberation but consistently treating male sexuality as inherently problematic.

I focused far too much on the SlutWalk (admittedly because doing so allowed me to use rather witty subtitles), however I think my theory with respect to the pattern holds up. Anyway, here’s the article!

Introduction
When Men’s Rights Edmonton showed up to support the Edmonton SlutWalk, they brought with them a banner which stated “We Love Sluts.” Several SlutWalkers told them to go away; the banner apparently made the SlutWalkers uncomfortable.

This incident raises an interesting question.

SlutWalk is a feminist event. The feminist movement claims to be against “slut-shaming” (i.e. condemning women for having lots of sex). Many feminists embrace the label “sex-positive” and encourage women to explore their sexuality. So why would a pro-slut message… a message which is literally the opposite of slut-shaming… cause discomfort in an event which is meant to be an archetypal example of sex-positive feminism? Why would sex-positive feminist women be made uncomfortable by “We Love Sluts”?

After all, would marchers in a gay pride parade be made uncomfortable if supporters held a banner reading “We Love Gays”?

Some have argued that the problem was not the message, but the messenger; the message “We Love Sluts” was being delivered by male representatives of a men’s rights organization. However, most feminists argue that “slut-shaming” is part of the Patriarchy, so wouldn’t pro-slut men be seen as a positive development?

Indeed, the pattern of allegedly pro-sexual-liberation feminists seeming to reflexively be prudish is hardly new. Why, however, does this paradoxical pattern exist?

In this article, I will propose an explanation. I will argue that traditional gender norms (which treat men as subjects and women as objects) do not completely disempower women (as most feminists typically allege); they in fact imply a specific vision of feminine power (distinct from agency, which is traditionally masculine power). This specific kind of feminine power is the ability to enlist male agency in the service of one’s own ends and thus the exertion of agency by proxy. One of the ways in which women have historically enlisted male agency in their service is through sex appeal, essentially “trading” sex in order to get agency by proxy in return. The ultimate consequence of this is that women have been culturally trained to see power in terms of their “agency profit,” i.e. getting as much agency by proxy as possible for as little sex as possible; this in turn means that women instinctively see men getting lots of sex as a loss of feminine power (which is analagous to bargaining power/market power/producer surplus in economics).

The paradoxical pattern of “proud sluts” being made uncomfortable by pro-slut males is due to the fact that traditional gender norms make being a “slut” a position devoid of traditional feminine power. Traditional feminist analysis of the gender system, which typically denies the existence of feminine power and typically casts slut-shaming as an attempt by men to control the sexuality of women, lacks the conceptual space to accomodate (and thus critically address) this feature of the traditional gender system.

Understanding, criticizing and (eventually) rejecting this feature of the gender system requires the acknowledgement of traditional feminine power, the role that sex-as-incentive plays in maintaining this feminine power, and the role that women themselves play in enforcing this element of the traditional gender system. Women who sincerely embrace sex-positivity owe it to themselves to follow this line of inquiry further.

Part 1: The Subject-Object Dichotomy
The basic gender role which has been consistent throughout all human history is the Subject-Object (or Hyperagent-Hypoagent, or Agent-Patient) Dichotomy, which can be briefly summarized as “men do, women are.” Masculinity is understood as a platonic ideal which demands men act to maintain congruence with it, whilst femininity is simply an innate trait of female-bodied persons. Men act, and women are acted upon.

The reason this gender role came about is because both masculinity and femininity were conceptualized as (essentially) ways in which men and women respectively contributed to society. The feminine contribution – the ability to bear children and thus grow the population – was innate to female biology, whilst the masculine contribution – producing food and protecting the women and children – was not biologically given and thus had to demonstrated through risky action of uncertain outcome.

The gender system ascribes value to the fulfillment of both the masculine and feminine functions. However, because a woman is assumed to be capable of fulfilling her function of incubating the future, women are ascribed an innate value by the gender system. Males are not assumed to be capable of fulfilling their function; they must prove it. Therefore, males are seen as ultimately expendable.

This gender system reserves the power of agency exclusively for men. However, agency is a requirement of human life; in a world where material needs exist and resources don’t just materialize in response to cries of “I want X!,” teleological action is unavoidable. Women have to provide for their needs too, but for a woman to directly go out and provide for them is gender-transgressive to at least some degree. As such, the system mandates that women secure their needs by trading off their innate feminine value and convincing men to do things for them.

Part 2: Feminine Power as Agency By Proxy
It is commonly said that an action video game is a “male power fantasy.” By the same token, one can argue that a romance novel is a “female power fantasy.” The typical romance novel ultimately is about having an extremely strong, powerful, competent, desirable man being so hopelessly devoted to a woman that he will do anything for her.

This pattern even holds in romances like “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades Of Grey” where the woman is often seen as being controlled. Edward’s creepy stalker behavior is intended to underscore his devotion to Bella – how he will do anything at all to be near her, how much he needs her. Christian Grey offers to sub for Anastasia just to keep her with him and he eventually gives up most of his kinks for her.

Even if one takes a look at pornography, one can find that in much femdom porn, the dominant partner (the woman) is typically being the passive partner; the submissive male is exercising agency to cater to her whims.

Let us take a look at the most groan-inducingly gender-traditional childhood fantasies; young males typically dream of being firefighters, soldiers and superheroes, i.e. agents who save and protect people. The equivalent feminine fantasy is the princess, who is an object of adoration whom occupies a place of status merely by birth and doesn’t really do much other than stand around and look pretty and get waited on by servants and protected by bodyguards. Can a princess be truly described as powerless when Prince Charmings will risk life and limb to save her?

As Anita Sarkeesian argued in her Master’s Thesis, the “Strong Woman” archetype in action films and video games practices a male form of power (i.e. agency) under the traditional gender system. Feminine power is found not in the exercise of agency but in the ability to enlist the agency of men.

Part 3: Sex As An Enlistment Perk
So, what traits enable women to enlist the agency of men? The fact that the male gender role pretty much glorifies rescuing vulnerable women and soothing hurt female feelings certainly helps, but what traits held by a woman specifically make it easier for that woman to enlist male aid?

Let’s face it: if a woman is sexually attractive, it helps.

A simple biological fact is that men, due to the average higher levels of testosterone in their systems, want more sex than the average woman (women with higher-than-average sex drives have higher-than-average amounts of testosterone (yes, testosterone is found in both sexes!)). For many men, sexual stimulation can be a need on par with the need to eat.

This difference between the sexes, combined with the fact that men are culturally trained to pursue women to validate their manhood, sets up what might be described as a marketplace for sex with women on the “supply” side and men on the “demand” side; after all, prostitution has been an historically female-supplied industry with male consumers. Ceteris Paribus, a man would rather get a blowjob on his third date than on his fourth date, and a woman would rather a man buy her four dinners than three dinners before she gives him a blowjob (assuming she herself gains less marginal utility from giving a blowjob than from the meal).

And so the basic terms of trade are simple: women exchange sex in return for male agency (or the products thereof, such as money). Of course women in fact desire some sex, but under the traditional gender system this is essentially ignored (women are the objects, not subjects, of desire). As women are in fact rational economic agents, their objective is to get the highest amount of agency for the lowest amount of sex (vice-versa for men), because this represents the most effective ability to enlist male agency (being more sexually attractive raises one’s market price and thus increases one’s effectiveness at enlisting agency).

For those skeptical of the proposition that traditional feminine power is ultimately about getting the most agency out of men for as little sexual satisfaction (for the man) as possible, I again offer the example of Femdom porn and how it often has the domme controlling and denying the man’s orgasms whilst she kicks back and he does the work.

Part 4: The Pussy Cartel, Sexual Market Dynamics, and Slut-Shaming
Traditionally, feminists have argued that slut-shaming is a product of the patriarchy. This argument has two distinct problems; first, we live in a stud-praising culture and are members of a species where men have higher sex drives, which would seem to suggest that men would want more sex from women and thus slut-shaming would be against male interests. Second, women are the primary slut-shamers; the patriarchy theory would seem to suggest that men would be the primary agents of slut-shaming.

In reality, as both economist Andrea Callisto (http://theumlaut.com/2013/07/02/the-economics-of-slut-shaming/) argued and Dr Tracy Vailliancourt’s recent study (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/science/a-cold-war-fought-by-women.html?_r=2&) has shown, women are the primary slut-shamers because as explained above, women want to maintain their market power with respect to sex (i.e. make the market price as high as possible). The same micro-level dynamic, where individual women exert power by trying to enlist male agency through sex as efficiently as possible (i.e. getting the most agency for the least sex, or in economic terms getting the greatest Producer Surplus), applies at the macro-level where women shame and humiliate other women who charge lower prices for sex than they do. This dynamic, which Callisto correctly describes as a cartel, is about increasing female power under traditional gender norms (by making smaller amounts of sex able to enlist larger amounts of male agency – raising the market price of sex, in other words).

The implication? Sluthood is opposed to traditional female power. Sluts increase competition and lower the market price of sex, lower the Producer Surplus which can be extracted, and weaken the female bargaining position.

Part 5: SlutWalk, Slut-Shaming and Slut-Loving
We now return to the fundamental problem this essay wishes to address: why were the (presumptively sex-positive) SlutWalkers made so uncomfortable by Men’s Rights Edmonton’s statement that they love sluts?

The answer: Cafeteria (or perhaps subconscious) Gender Traditionalism.

Typical feminist analysis essentially ignores or misses a logical consequence of the subject-object dichotomy; specifically, feminine power as Agency By Proxy. As such, said analysis doesn’t comprehend the effects that this has on the sexual marketplace. By not confronting this feature of the traditional gender system, this feature of the system has been left unchallenged (fish not being able to see the water they swim in) and as such the mentality has been internalized by many people who claim to reject traditional gender norms.

Hence, presumably sex-positive SlutWalking feminists see the “we love sluts” sign and all of that subconscious gender traditionalism is immediately thrown into overdrive.

The sign points out that men love sluts, and thus genuine sex-positivity does men a favor by increasing the supply and thus lowering the market price of sex, which works against feminine power as defined by the traditional gender system. When people are made to feel less powerful, they generally feel uncomfortable, particularly when they’re participating in an event where they claim to embrace the thing which disempowers them.

Part 6: Conclusions, Implications and Further Questions
In summary, MRE’s statement that “We Love Sluts” caused discomfort because it played into a (perhaps subconsciously held) meme complex about feminine power promoted by the traditional gender system; since female sexual power is about using sex to extract male agency in return, a “slut” is not a sexually powerful woman but rather a woman who is cheapening herself and other women by acquiescing to men’s desires without getting enough in exchange.

The reaction to MRE’s sign demonstrated, rather unfortunately, that the self-proclaimed “feminists” who participated in the Edmonton SlutWalk still accepted several components of the traditional gender system. I speculate that this indicates a significant blind-spot in feminist theory; specifically, how the gender system accomodates a specific type of “feminine power.” Gender theorists of any label who truly wish to fully analyze and oppose the traditional gender system would benefit from further studying this aspect of gender roles.

The event also shows that sex-positive thinkers (particularly sex-positive feminists) should oppose the traditional gender system, for this system encourages women to perceive sex as disempowering and something to be endured as a means to an end, rather than as a pleasurable and joyful experience.

The fact that traditional gender roles encourage women to experience power through extracting the highest possible “price” for sex may be relevant for several other gender questions. First, in the debate over sexualized female protagonists in video games, how much female resentment of these protagonists is really a reaction to a perceived threat (i.e. a woman who does not even need male agency since she possesses that herself, yet seems rather able/willing to satisfy men’s desires)? Second, can sex-negative feminism (with its attempts to control pornography and prostitution) be explained as an epiphenomenon of this aspect of traditional gender roles? Third, can the paradoxical situation of a woman dressing in revealing clothing and complaining about men sneaking a peek (“I don’t dress for men!”) be explained by this feature of the gender system?

Comments and feedback are welcome.

SLY INVERSIONS – The “man-child” trope

We’ve all heard the jibes “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys” and seen the commercials that show husbands as bumbling idiots with their indulgent wives looking on in amusement standing by to make sure they don’t harm themselves somehow. It’s a structural feature of modern culture. It’s relatively new. It started only in the 60s and gained momentum with the accumulating success of the Women’s Movement. It is an expression of female supremacy perhaps; at best a form of women’s empowerment, at bottom just plain old rancid gender bigotry.

This is a running theme in “literature” marketed to women (“Literature” the way action movies are “film”.) One example is the Crossfire series of novels by Sylvia Day. The form this theme takes in these novels is the very familiar “broken man saved by the love of a good woman.” At root this comes from a protective and loving instinct, but the idea that you have the right or the competence to go in and fix someone else and their life because after all you’re the adult, you understand them and their life better than they do, is distorted and objectifying.

Another example of this thinking is the recurring trope that if only women ran the world!!….. life would be a paradise of peace and sweet reason. There would be no war, there would be no evil hierarchies, the Great Recession would never have happened because that was all just testoreone poinsoning. The world would just all be peace, love and understanding.

This is the man-child trope. We see it in a thousand forms – the dopey husband, the clueless father, the overgrown boy who won’t pick up his socks – a steady drumbeat of derogatory and false images of men. Surely there is some advantage to someone that is driving all this.

Where does this come from? There are probably whiffs of it in other cultures, but no one seems to take it as far as Anglophone culture does. What gives?

One explanation is that it is simply a power grab, an expression of supremacy. But there is another possible explanation. Given the much wider latitude women have in our culture for childish behavior* – not just extravagant displays of emotion but appeals to emotion as justification or to manipulate, and celebration of forms of conversation that are really just emotional group masturbation – this man-child trope looks like it serves a real purpose, especially in light of the fact that men are generally held to and generally have to meet higher standards of mature behavior. Have you ever wondered why “woman up” doesn’t carry the same admonition to suck it up and be strong and carry on, like an adult, as “man up”’ does? Because it doesn’t have to, that’s why. Real adulthood is not part of the defintion of “woman” anymore.

 And if anyone calls bullshit on this man-child trope, well, you just smile and smirk and remind him he’s really just a woman-hating little boy with “issues”, not a Real Man, and he is supposed to just tuck tail and slink away. That’s if he knows what’s good for him.

What this man-as-child trope looks like is a defensive mechanism, psychologically necessary for those women who are the real children in the relationship. That’s why you only hear this trope out of some women. It might be interesting to see how many women actually are an audience for this stuff and how many just roll their eyes at it. This way th e women who use this trope get to go on being children, with all the indulgence that entails, and call themselves the adults in the relationship, with all the rights that accrue to that.

How does this get going in actual life, how do people men fall into accepting this and how do women learn to perform this sly inversion?

Most children grow up these days with the mother in charge of the house, even if she works the same numbers of hours outsidie the home as the father. Her word is final and her defers to her. This can take forms ranging from simple mommy-blocking to unsubtle reminders about who will get the kids if she decides to take her ball and go home. Children observe this and generalize it to gender relations, as they do with every observation of their parents’ interactions.

Outside the home the pattern is repeated at school, where the overwhelming majority of authority figures are women. Thoughout childhood boys see that female approval is the foundation of everything. Men propose and women dispose.

By the time they graduate both boys and girls are fully enculturated in this pattern. It is a cultural norm. The way it is expressed is in the man-child trope.

The man-child trope exists to compensate psychologically for the contradictions that arise out of the hyperagency/hypoagency binary, and it arises out of distorted patterns of child rearing. And all three of those things must die.

 

 

* A Checklist: 10 ways your wife is just another child
1. She’ll cry when she’s sad, or scream and carry on when she’s angry, without regard for where she is.
2. She’ll cry and whine to make you do what she wants.
3. When there’s a scary noise in the night, she’ll hide under the covers and expect you to go investigate.
4. She is adamant about foods she will or will not eat, and considers the ones she doesn’t like yucky and wonder, and even ask you, how you can stand to eat them.
5. She expects you to attend every one of her family functions, or even tag along clothes shopping with her, but has no time for your family or their events, and whines if you try to attend by yourself because “How does that make me look?.”
6. She thinks your friends are “immature.”
7. She is affronted that you think her friends are boring and takes it personally and calls you selfish or “immature.”
8. She thinks she can say all kinds of derogatory things about you to her friends but is constantly on guard and accusatory of anything you say that can possibly be interpreted or even just mischaracterized as derogatory of her.
9. She calls you unappreciative when she puts on a big birthday thing for you and invites all her friends, and you really don’t appreciate it, after you told her you just wanted a family dinner with the kids.
10. She insists on leaving the toilet seat down, and she even expects you to.