My first heterosexual bar.

I’ve been thinking this week about three pieces of writing.  Each is about a different subject, but they all touch on men’s sexual desire:  Amanda Marcotte’s Buyers and sellers, Julia Serano’s essay Why Nice Guys Finish Last (no link), and Andrew Sullivan’s My First Gay Bar.

I’ll begin with Amanda’s essay.  Her post over at Pandagon critiques the dysfunctional “market mentality” of sex, summarized as:  1)  women are providing sex for men at a “price”, and 2)  a man gets sex by meeting a woman’s asking price (“displaying high value”), or convincing her that the asking price is too high.

This, says Amanda, creates a transactional environment in which women have the sexual “goods” and men have the right to “haggle” – pester an unwilling seller to give it up for a lower “price.”  What’s more, says Amanda, thoughts of sex as a marketplace go hand in hand with the idea that men are entitled to partnered sex so long as they can “display high value” and thus earn the right to a woman’s sexual favors.

Is this dynamic toxic?  Yes.  But the problem with Amanda’s analysis is she sees this driven almost entirely by men’s sexual privilege: entitlement as both a product of the buyer/sellermentality, and also a cause of the same.  Granted, she also says that women are often seen as having little desire or agency of their own, and that this feeds the idea of women doing men a favor sexually, rather than enjoying the sexual connection for the pleasure of it.  That’s an important point.  Yet the weight of her argument seems directed toward men’s sexual entitlement, and she misses entirely the perverse social incentives that encourage men to act like “buyers” rather than emotionally aware human beings.

These perverse social incentives and their effects on men are explored very thoughtfully by Julia Serano in her essay Why Nice Guys Finish Last, in the anthology Yes Means Yes by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti.  Julia’s piece focuses on the predator/prey mindset, but her analysis is relevant to Amanda’s post because “predator/prey” and “buyer/seller” are both metaphors describing very similar mindsets.  In both cases the idea is that women are sexual objects from whom men try to “get” sex.  But Julia’s analysis of the origins of predator/prey differs from Amanda’s take on buyer/seller.  Notably, Amanda buys into the concept of unilateral sexism; Julia does not.  Consider, for example, Amanda’s explanation for how men become pushy, entitled “buyers” in the sexual marketplace:

… Pick-up artist books and websites aren’t interested in teaching men how to improve the product so more women want to buy.  Seriously, PUA guides read like guides on buying a car – show up looking like money, demonstrate to the salesman that you fill out the checklist of requirements to get a car, talk down the price (which PUA guides suggest you do by insulting women, hoping the loss of esteem in their product will cause them to sell at a lower price), and you’re done.  Actual improvement of one’s self is as strange an idea as suggesting that you have to have good character and a tight waistline to get a car.  You just need to have the cash, the credit rating, and a solid ability to bargain.

The problem with Amanda’s analysis here is that it doesn’t very well explain why these “pick up artist books and websites” exist in the first place.  Her implied explanation, that it’s all because men feel “entitled”, is unconvincing.  After all, gay men want sex as much as straight men; if feeling entitled to partnered sex is a sin, then gay men are probably just as guilty.  Yet “pick up artistry” is an overwhelmingly heterosexual phenomenon.  Why is this?  Well, I think Julia’s essay points to an answer.  In contrast to Amanda, Julia explores the motivations underlying the darker side of the pick-up-artist – motivations that cannot be ascribed simply to “entitlement”.  In her most salient passage, she describes the change in personality of a young man she knew in college, whom she refers to as “Eric”:

[Point of clarification:  Julia Serano is a transgendered woman and the experiences she relates in the following passage happened prior to her transition, at a time when other people identified her as male.]

… In high school and college, I had several male friends who, apparently concerned with the lack of action I was getting, literally told me that women like it when guys act like “assholes.”  For them, it was just something one did to attract women.  And as much as I hate to admit it, it generally seemed to be true.  During my college years, I watched a number of “nice guys” transform into “assholes.”  And when they did, women suddenly became interested in them.  The most stunning transformation I witnessed was in this guy who lived in my dorm, whom I’ll call Eric.  Freshman and sophomore years, he was a super-sweet and respectful guy.  Despite the fact that he was fairly good-looking, women were not generally interested in him.  Somewhere around his junior year, he suddenly began acting like an “asshole” (around women, at least).  Instead of engaging women in conversations (as he used to), he would instead relentlessly tease them.  The things he would say sounded really dismissive to me, but often the intended recipient would just giggle in response.  Suddenly he was picking up women at parties, and I’d occasionally overhear women who never knew Eric back when he was a “nice guy” discussing how cute they thought he was. 

     The last time I saw Eric was about two years after college.  We had both moved to New York City, and a mutual friend came up to visit and suggested we all go out together.  The bar that we went to was really crowded, and at one point, Eric started talking about how in situations like this, he would sometimes fold his arms across his chest and subtly grope women as they walked by.  Between the fact that the bar was so crowded and the way he held his arms to obscure his hands, women weren’t able to figure out that it was Eric.  Upon hearing this, I walked out of the bar, appalled. 

     The reason I tell this story is that it complicates many of the existing presumptions regarding the origins of rape culture.  Some have suggested that men are biologically programmed to be sexual predators.  The existence of Eric (and others like him) challenges that argument because, after all, he was a “nice guy” for most of his life until about the age of twenty – well after his sex drive kicked in.  Eric challenges the overly simplistic men-are-socialized-to-be-that-way arguments for the same reason:  He made it to early adulthood – well beyond his formative childhood and teenage years – before becoming an “asshole.”  It would be really hard to make the case that Eric became a sexual predator because he was influenced by media imagery or pornography, or because his male peers egged him on.  Like I said, I lived in the same dorm as he did, and I never once saw any guys teasing him for being a “nice guy” or coercing him into being an “asshole.”  I would argue that the primary reason Eric became sexually aggressive was that he was interested in attracting women.  And, as with many men, once Eric began disrespecting women on a regular basis, the lines between flirting and harassment, between sex and violation, between consensual and nonconsensual, became blurred or unimportant to him.

Yes Means Yes:  Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape
by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, p. 234-5, Seal Press 2008

What’s important here is that Eric didn’t just feel pressure to be “confident”.  Rather, he felt he had to amputate the best parts of himself in order to attract women.  And given his experiences – being unable to attract the attention of the opposite sex for the first two years of college – I am particularly interested in a comment Amanda added (#156) to her buyers and sellers post, saying that “men should be treated like women” when it comes to romance and dating.  As it happens, I agree.  Men should be treated more like women when it comes to dating.  But this implies more than Amanda thinks.  Most importantly, if men really were treated like women, young men like Eric wouldn’t be alone for the first two years of college and wouldn’t have to do the “asshole” routine in order to get laid.  After all, how many “super sweet”, “respectful”, and “fairly good looking” nineteen year old women do you know who can’t get a date?  Not too many.

So what would the sexual arena look like if men were really “treated more like women”?  It’s an impossible question to answer conclusively, of course, but one place to look for clues is the sexual culture of gay men, a snapshot of which was recently offered by Andrew Sullivan, who described his first experience visiting a gay bar:

If it were a movie, it would shift from black-and-white into 3D color as I entered the bar. I was staggered and more than a little thrilled at how normal everyone looked, how attractive, diverse and mellow. I edged up to the bar and managed to blurt out, “A gin and tonic please.” The bartender picked up my vibe. “Get that stick out of your ass, honey. This is a gay bar.” And so my first impression of gayness was actually removing something from my butthole rather than violating its tightly-puckered virginity.

23 years of repression unwound in that bar. I am grateful for the kind condescension that must have greeted my spirited spinning to “You Turn Me Round (Like A Record, Baby)” or the latest Whitney. It was there that a man pulled his shirt off in front of me on the dance floor for the first time and I nearly fainted with desire. It was there that I returned Friday night after Friday night to discover who I really was.

One more thing. It reminded me of church. The colored lights; the smoke; the synthesizers; and the legions of men. And I distinctly recall as I watched the scene a premonition that one of my tasks in life would be, in whatever way I could, to convey this benign hidden world to the wider universe beyond it. I believe it was God speaking to me. He appears where Jesus would have. And it is a scene of revelry and hope.

What’s notably absent from Andrew’s account is any expressed need to “display high value” or offer “social proof” or act “cocky funny” to attract a partner.  Surrounded by men who already found him attractive, he didn’t need to pretend to be someone he wasn’t and was able to discover who he really was.  Too bad Eric couldn’t have done the same.  In fact, what’s tragic about Eric’s story is that he couldn’t be true to himself and still be perceived by women – at least not the women he knew at the time – as a fully sexual man.

Okay, since this post is called “My First Heterosexual Bar” I’ll share my own story, which didn’t actually happen in a bar, as I was eighteen at the time.  It was a college party with booze – in a dormitory basement, or some such place – and I remember standing by myself feeling a bit out of place when a stocky guy came up to me.  He stood directly in front of me, then gave me a shove and told me to “lighten up”.

The first time he shoved me, I thought he might have been joking around, horseplay, and that the shove had been harder than intended.  So I tried to respond nonchalantly to his “lighten up” by saying (absurdly in retrospect), “I’m light”.  But then he shoved me again, harder.  I’d held my hands up but he knocked them aside and shoved again with what seemed a single well rehearsed motion, telling me again to “lighten up”.  And at that point I knew I had a problem on my hands.

Now that I’m all the way grown up, I’m a lot less tolerant of people getting in my face like that.  But at eighteen I was, as they say, a deer in headlights.  Fortunately, there was another guy nearby who saw what was happening and, after the third or fourth shove, he sauntered up behind the guy, put him in a wrestling lock, and pulled him away from me.

I tell this story because I suspect a lot of young men have had similar experiences dealing with this kind of low-level aggression.  It’s also a counterpoint to Andrew’s much more welcoming experience in his first gay bar.  And, if it’s true that there’s less aggression and fewer fights in gay bars – as the always delightful Peter Tatchell has argued – then here’s my thought as to why:  The highly toxic buyer/seller and predator/prey dynamics are much less prevalent.  And they are less prevalent because the social incentives are much less perverse.  Here’s Julia Serano:

I have heard many feminists critique men who prefer women that fulfill the sexual object stereotype.  Many of these critiques (rightly, I think) suggest that the man in question must be somewhat shallow or insecure if he’s willing to settle for someone whom he does not view as his intellectual or emotional equal.  What I have seen far less of are critiques of women who are attracted to sexually aggressive men.  Perhaps this stems in part from the belief that such comments might be misinterpreted as blaming women for enabling the sexual abuse they receive at the hands of men.  While I can understand this reluctance, I nevertheless feel that it is a mistake to ignore this issue, given the fact that many men become sexual aggressors primarily, if not solely, to attract the attention of women.  In fact, if heterosexual women suddenly decided en masse that “nice guys” are far sexier than “assholes,” it would create a huge shift in the predator/prey dynamic.  While I wouldn’t suggest that such a change would completely eliminate rape or sexual abuse (because there are clearly other societal forces at work here), I do believe that it would greatly reduce the number of men who harass and disrespect women on a daily basis.

Yes Means Yes, p. 237-8

To this I would add that a shift in the predator/prey dynamic would also reduce the number of men who are aggressive toward other men.  Once a man adopts an aggressive, contemptuous mindset, his ethical lines vis-à-vis women aren’t the only ones that become blurred or unimportant to him; his dealings with other men become coarser as well.  And this should bother us no less than harassment of women.  Because young men need spaces within the sexual culture where they can let their guard down – where they can discover who they really are.

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82 Responses to My first heterosexual bar.

  1. Danny says:

    What I have seen far less of are critiques of women who are attracted to sexually aggressive men. Perhaps this stems in part from the belief that such comments might be misinterpreted as blaming women for enabling the sexual abuse they receive at the hands of men.
    Considering that said people have no problem with their words that are critical of men being misrepresented as blaming men for enabling the treatment they receive I find it odd they would think about it with women (odd but not surprising mind you).

  2. What Julia was trying to point out, I think, was that the subject of “women being attracted to aggressive men” often raises the hackles of feminists, because some feminists are afraid that women’s sexual choices will be used to shift the blame from men who abuse and harass women (where it belongs) to women who are on the receiving end of abuse or harassment. That was actually quite a pertinent observation on Julia’s part, because I don’t think feminists are going to seriously consider critiques of women who are attracted to aggressive men so long as they feel that such critiques are being made for the purpose of victim-blaming or excusing horrible behavior on the part of men.

  3. ballgame says:

    Great post, Miguel!

  4. AnonymousDog says:

    I think Marcotte’s analogy in her piece “Buyers and Sellers” is backwards. She imagines women to be retail sellers who more or less passively wait for buyers to walk in to their shops and start haggling.

    I would suggest that it is the men who are the sellers, schlepping their samples around town and making the cold calls in an effort to try to find out who the likely buyers are. Women, in this model, are the buyers who more or less passively wait to be approached by the seller who can offer the best deal. And, in real life, salesmen often wine and dine wholesale buyers to get a sale.

  5. GemmaM says:

    It’s very difficult, as a woman, however, to change a view that we don’t perceive ourselves as having. We don’t see what Julia Serrano saw. It’s not like the stigma against fat women, where you can point to places where men explicitly say “No fatties”. Excluding the internet-feminist “no ‘nice’ guys”, where the ‘nice’ is very definitely in scare quotes, it’s much rarer to see a woman say that she doesn’t want a man who is genuinely nice. So Julia is asking us to change a preference that we supposedly have without knowing it.

    I consider it highly likely that there’s actually a different dynamic at work, a dynamic where there is no ‘nice’ way to ask. Only an ‘asshole’ would indicate blatant sexual interest in a woman who might not return it, so ‘assholes’ indicate interest more often, and as a result they’re much more likely to find a sexual partner.

    This strikes me as a much more likely way to explain Eric’s situation. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t getting more girls by grabbing their boobs in such a way that they couldn’t tell it was him. But he might have been getting more girls by feeling entitled to show interest.

    Yeah, I said ‘entitled’. Not entitled to a sexual partner, necessarily, but maybe entitled to try to find one? Which raises the question of how feminists can best leave room for people to show sexual interest while still respecting each others’ boundaries. Personally, I’d argue that a guy who comes on a bit strong, realises it, and steps back as a result is unlikely to do harm and may even do some good. As a woman, your first few of those can be a wonderful lesson in how unwanted sexual attention isn’t always a threat — and in the difference between a guy who made a mistake, and a guy who just doesn’t care.

    So maybe the answer isn’t for women to realise that we prefer assholes after all, and try to change that. Maybe we don’t prefer assholes. Maybe the real answer is that there needs to be room to be a nice guy who takes the occasional risk of overstepping, but respects a boundary when he sees one.

  6. Danny says:

    Sure be suspicious of said critiques but again even with some of their critiques of men actually being attempts at blaming men for the treatment they receive I still find it interesting that they still act the way they do.

  7. FW says:

    I put my thoughts on Marcotte’s hateful, yes hateful and status quo upholding piece into a vid on youtube:

  8. AllSaintsDay says:

    Gemma, while I don’t often see it phrased quite as blatantly, it still comes up. I tend to see a lot of women talking about how they used to go for assholes, often speaking as though it’s a universal or near-universal “phase” that women go through. (Which, IMO, any individual person should tolerate as much as they’d tolerate the notion that we should lay off “no fatties” guys because they’ll grow up and get smarter.) And often they’ll talk about how it was something about “wanting a confident guy” or “not wanting a pushover” or some other expressed preference that’s taken overboard.

    And if I could see your suggestion given broadly, it would be great. The problem for me and many other guys I’ve talked to is that there’s a common notion that if a man oversteps a woman’s boundaries, even when he has no reason to believe they exist, he’s done something wrong. Usually, though not always, this tends to manifest as it being the woman’s right to define what is or isn’t creepy.

  9. The Real Peterman says:

    This, says Amanda, creates a transactional environment in which women have the sexual “goods” and men have the right to “haggle” – pester an unwilling seller to give it up for a lower “price.” What’s more, says Amanda, thoughts of sex as a marketplace go hand in hand with the idea that men are entitled to partnered sex so long as they can “display high value” and thus earn the right to a woman’s sexual favors.”

    Like most of what she writes, this is a formulation that tortures logic. Men are entitled to something…because they have to work hard to get it? That sounds like the opposite of “entitlement” to me.

    And the proof in the pudding is that, later on in that article, she blames the existence of prostitution on men who feel entitled rather than on pimps who want a quick buck without doing work themselves.

    What’s important here is that Eric didn’t just feel pressure to be “confident”.

    This is a great point, and one that has to be made more.

  10. The Real Peterman says:

    “Maybe we don’t prefer assholes.”

    But you do.

  11. The Real Peterman says:

    “Receptacles”? “Toilets”? Yikes. Twisty Faster apparently believes there is no such thing as consent in our society, which is one thing, but why use such degrading terms? That’s just messed up.

    And if someone doesn’t think sex should be exchanged for money, they should say what it should be exchanged for. But then the question becomes, what about people who don’t possess that exchangeable quality? And since when is it not a person’s own business what they’ll exchange it for in the first place?

    And how does paying for sex make someone a worse person? That’s a lot better than getting sex through underhanded means like getting someone drunk or lying about yourself. And if a study shows that most people who pay for sex didn’t enjoy it, isn’t it possible that that’s because of all the negative stigma society puts on that?

  12. Men are entitled to something…because they have to work hard to get it? That sounds like the opposite of “entitlement” to me.

    Actually, I think Amanda is making a good point there. The idea is that in the marketplace, one “works hard” in order to get money, which you are then entitled to spend on, say, a Mercedes Benz. (I’m setting aside, for the moment, some rather large questions about the justice of a capitalist system, since that’s way beyond the scope of my post.) So okay, you “have the right” to a Mercedes Benz so long as you “work hard to get it.” What Amanda is saying is that that attitude doesn’t translate very well when it comes to men “working hard” to attract women, as it tends to disappear women as autonomous, independent agents within the dating realm and reduces them to objects that can be had for the right “price.” And in that sense I agree with Amanda. The buyer/seller mentality is toxic. What Amanda misses to a large degree, however, are the social pressures on men that tend to perpetuate the buyer/seller and predator/prey mindsets.

  13. Lathe of Heaven says:

    it’s much rarer to see a woman say that she doesn’t want a man who is genuinely nice.

    Of course, virtually no one ever says “I’m a below-average driver” even though half the people must be. Essentially everyone sees themselves in a positive light, and so would never “say” consciously they want a non-nice partner. What a woman says she wants is irrelevant; it’s what she demonstrates she wants that matters, and this has to come from objective evidence. And, sadly, the objective evidence does seem to be that women, on the whole, do prefer assholes. Do you have objective — that is, not subjective — evidence to the contrary?

    So Julia is asking us to change a preference that we supposedly have without knowing it.

    What kind of evidence does it take to “know” what you’ve actually done, as opposed to what you prefer to believe you’ve done? Shouldn’t a woman who’s complaining for the twentieth or thirtieth time that her boyfriends have all been assholes listen to the sound of her own voice, and deduce the obvious from the evidence? Self-awareness is not all that hard.

    Maybe the real answer is that there needs to be room to be a nice guy who takes the occasional risk of overstepping, but respects a boundary when he sees one.

    You do realize that this is logical nonsense, right? The nice guy who doesn’t take the risk of overstepping is already respecting the boundary that he sees. You’re transparently groping for some way to blame men for what is essentially a failing in women; and it’s not taking, even a little bit.

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  15. Jim says:

    As long as it is accepted that that boundary is where he sees it. Him, not someone else who sits in judgemet over him. Otherwise it’s just a passive-aggressive guessing game.

    The alternative is for women to start assuming the same responsibility to initiate, and start dealing with all the rejection and judgment that comes with that.

  16. Jim says:

    It’s just that it’s pretty dishonest to characterize that as “entitlement”, that’s all.

  17. I would mention that transition worked pretty well for me in attracting women who found my traits to be positive, but that won’t work for every male-assigned non-alpha-male.

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  20. machina says:

    Good post.

    I’ve thought the same thing as GemmaM before, that being aggressive or an asshole are just a shy, passive man’s impressions of being forward. Perhaps being forward and a bit of an asshole is better than being passive and sweet.

    However, I’ve read women saying that men, even men who claim to appreciate women who are challenging, go after women that don’t challenge them. They don’t want their fragile male ego challenged. I think Amanda Marcotte was one of those women. That’s seems to be a fair observation, the assumption and expectation of men being dominant over women still holds in men’s minds today. Women who don’t challenge men, and who put them up on a pedestal of being a great man, or whatever, are at an advantage,

    Yet this isn’t the whole picture, it’s not all about women protecting the fragile male ego. A woman has her own ego and pedestal, and attracting a Good Man is part of that. (Maybe they could start a project…) And they should be able to do that passively, if a woman has to chase a man she’s showing that she’s desperate and easy and so on. She should be able to attract a man passively, with not much more than hair tosses and half-asleep gazes. So women should like the domineering man, the guy in the bar who, when last drinks are called, throws his arm around her and directs her out to the waiting cab. He’s protecting her fragile ego.

    I disagree though that it then necessarily follows that men should grope women in bars. I think this is a misapprehension.

  21. Aaron Denney says:

    I consider it highly likely that there’s actually a different dynamic at work, a dynamic where there is no ‘nice’ way to ask. Only an ‘asshole’ would indicate blatant sexual interest in a woman who might not return it, so ‘assholes’ indicate interest more often, and as a result they’re much more likely to find a sexual partner.

    For some subset of nice guys this is it *exactly*. There is a constant refrain that hitting on girls at all isn’t nice; that women get annoyed at having to constantly fend off those hitting on them. The sweet guys take this seriously and internalize it. They really don’t want to bother those that they don’t know are interested in them, and so they don’t, with the expected results.

  22. Interesting stuff,

    a few links you may find relevant:

    http://www.cognizancemagazine.com/?p=578

    The Dark Triad

    http://www.cognizancemagazine.com/?p=537

    Costly Signaling Theory: Male Generosity

    http://www.cognizancemagazine.com/?p=619#comment-202

  23. Adi says:

    One of the features of transactional environments is that, from the seller’s perspective, the buyers have all the power and from the buyer’s perspective, the seller’s have all the power.

    The problem is that both are right. What it eventually comes down to, is not if you’re a buyer or a seller, but how powerful of a buyer/seller you are within your preassigned group. If you have all the money in the world, you will have a great time being a buyer and likewise, if you have the most sought after products in the world, you’ll likewise have a great time being a seller.

    Unfortunately, with the infamous 80/20 rule, most people are not powerful within their group and to them it will seem like the other side is screwing them over, being hypocritical, dishonest and shallow.

    There is no solution to this I’m afraid to say. Because not matter what we do, the 80/20 rule will persist. (Ironically, the only thing that countered the 80/20 rule with some success was the rigid gender roles from the past but no, I don’t want them back ever). However we can work to do our best within the framework of what’s possible. And the best way to start is to accept how things are.

  24. Lathe of Heaven says:

    Aaron — You may be interested in the exchange that started from this comment

    http://badgerhut.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/the-1-game-question-for-guys/#comment-3031

    as well as the original post. Whom is the “constant refrain” from, in your experience?

  25. Danny says:

    Question. Would this “entitlement” also apply to women who “work hard” (via plastic surgery, constantly monitoring weight, buying certain clothes, and etc…) to get a man?

    And I ask this because you said this, “What Amanda misses to a large degree, however, are the social pressures on men that tend to perpetuate the buyer/seller and predator/prey mindsets.”

    My money says Amanda (and most people who concern themselves with women’s issues) has no problem seeing the social pressures on women that tend to perpetuate those mindsets.

  26. elementary_watson says:

    The typical answer from the wrong kind of feminists: As men built society/ are the powerful ones in society, it is absurd to talk about social pressures on men, as men could simply lift those pressures if they really wanted to. This is not the case for women.

    You know the drill, Danny …

  27. Adi says:

    This answer stems from the problem I described in my comment below – namely that people on one side of the fence tend to see themselves as individuals and thus relatively powerless while they tend to see people from the other side of the fence as monolith acting in the interests of their entire gender. True or false, from both sides of the fence, this is people’s perception of gender issues.

    Objectively, just looking at how much collective lobbying there is for each gender by each gender, there is clearly an imbalance that favors the female gender in current times.

  28. Meadester says:

    I wonder who is worse. On the one hand there are Twisty Faster type radfems who are straightforward about their hatred of men and heterosexual intercourse. On the other hand are the Amanda Marcottes who claim to like men and heterosexual sex, but who viciously attack all men who don’t live up to their ridiculously narrow standards, and conflate every heterosexual act that they find less than ideal with rape. I guess any man with his eyes open could tell where he stands with the latter type, but a lot who are desperate for feminine approval might fall for the bait-and-switch.

  29. Aaron Denney says:

    From whom? Some of the denying-agency-to-women-in-the-guise-of-protection faces of the patriarchy. Sex ed circa twenty years ago. Several female friends complaining about being hit on when they don’t want to be. Among the second-wave feminists, the usual sex-negative brigade. Less so, but some, after that (e.g. this critique http://kateharding.net/2009/10/05/would-it-kill-you-to-be-civil/ of an XKCD strip. Although it’s a fine line, I don’t count the follow-up “Schroedinger’s rapist” among these, because it actually has some nuance, discussing context likely to make a given approach unwelcome and signs of (dis)interest, rather than an unworkable blanket “don’t apporach, ever, without an explicit invitation”).

  30. Meadester says:

    I am a big fan of capitalism (meaning the free-market of course, not corporate welfare or other forms of crony capitalism). I believe people do have the right to buy expensive luxury cars and other shiny toys with the money they earn but I’ve never looked at this as “an entitlement.” Yes, Jim, that framing is dishonest.

    Danny, I know that your question was rhetorical – Marcotte never sees women as having an entitlement mentality, even in cases when it is obvious to anyone able to think outside the victim-feminist box. But of course, she should see the women you describe as entitled by her own logic, if she had any concern for consistency.

    I have often looked at dating as a job search, with a man the job-seeker and woman as the potential employer. (Of course AnonymousDog’s comparison of the traveling big-ticket salesman is apt here, too). The advice is usually pretty similar – be confident, appear flawless, come across as someone who never makes a mistake. And, of course, expect rejection most of the time. I wonder if people who pay employment agencies to help them find jobs are looked at by Marcotte as having a similarly disdainful entitlement to work.

    It occurs to me that an even better analogy is applying to an exclusive dues-paying club, since the man is still likely to spend more money than the woman on a relationship he earns by being “charming.” I guess people who pay to play golf, for example, on courses that are open to the public, should be shamed for their entitlement to golf, since they did not earn their way into the country club like decent people do.

  31. The Real Peterman says:

    “it tends to disappear women as autonomous, independent agents”

    I disagree with that as well. A seller has all kinds of power in a transaction. They can raise or lower their price, entertain multiple offers, decide not to sell for any reason or no reason (“we refuse the right to refuse service to anyone”) etc. If anything, the seller of a popular good has more power than any one buyer, since that one buyer needs them more than the seller needs him. The “buyer and seller” description of dating fails because dating is not nearly as straightforward as that, not because men feel entitled.

    The next time Ms. Marcotte talks about how a “buyer vs. seller” concept is so inimical to the seller, I think I’ll say to her “so women must love buying cars, since they can really take the dealer for all he’s worth!”

    “the social pressures on men that tend to perpetuate the buyer/seller and predator/prey mindsets”

    And let’s face it: one of the biggest such pressure is the way most woment sit back and demand men approach them, never making any approaches themselves. I know, I know: “If a woman like me went up to a man, society would shame me!”

  32. The Real Peterman says:

    After reading Mr. Sullivan’s article, I almost wish I could transit to gay.

  33. elementary_watson says:

    This Kate Harding piece is … weird. How does she get from “boy afraid of overstepping girl’s boundaries, girl too shy to show open interest” to “blame feminism for men’s social ineptitude around women”?

    Does she really think, in an article called *Would It Kill You To Be Civil* of all places, that the appropriate response to “Hey, cute notebook” is the aggressive talk-down the girl gives the guy?

    How the hell do women like Kate Harding become acquainted with men in real life, if men talking to women they do not know is verboten? (I would find it very strange if women who actually share Harding’s viewpoint initiate conversations with or send signals of interests to Schrödinger’s Rapists …)

  34. AnonymousDog says:

    Whence the constant refrain?

    I don’t know what it’s like now, but years ago, I attended a Big Ten school where the men (then) outnumbered the women on campus 5 to 3. It was not uncommon to hear women complaining about being constantly hit upon. I can also remember on a number of occasions overhearing women complaining to each other about how there were no “decent” men on campus.

  35. We are anonymous says:

    A very cynical guess. If it is the right man, then it is not harassment. Then it is charm.

  36. elementary_watson says:

    Funnily enough, cracked.com has an article about the way Hollywood sees women, which might explain *why* there is such a disconnect between the “of course men are afraid of getting an extremely hostile reaction to saying hi” camp and the “women are socialized not to be rude when approached or even harassed by strangers”: Women *do* give very hostile reactions to men approaching them, and *are* being applauded for that – in movies.

    The link is http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-obnoxious-assumptions-hollywood-makes-about-women/ , the relevant section is number 5 on that list.

  37. AnonymousDog says:

    Adi,

    Was it “rigid gender roles” that countered the 80/20 rule? Or was it the social expectation that most people should get married (monogamously) early in their adult life and stay married the rest of their lives?

  38. Adi says:

    You’re right. Social pressure to get married is more accurately the reason – though we could also call that a part of gender roles. And now that you mention it, there can be other sources of pressure to marry such as materialistic or gaining citizenship or even professional. Some of these persists today.
    Either way, that was just a side note of my comment so it doesn’t matter much either way.

  39. AlekNovy says:

    I am particularly interested in a comment Amanda added (#156) to her buyers and sellers post, saying that “men should be treated like women” when it comes to romance and dating. As it happens, I agree. Men should be treated more like women when it comes to dating.

    Exactly, I too agree with Amanda that men should try on the ATTRACTOR role for a while, instead of being so desperate in trying to make the pursuer role work.

    The huge BlindSpot Amanda has is that it is by far women (the female population) who are resisting this dynamic, not men.

    There are far more men who are willing to take on the female role, than there are women who are ready to play the pursuer role. The shortage is on the FEMALE side, not the male side. Amanda is addressing the wrong group.

    Fortunately, finally, there’s even a study that confirms this:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-how-and-why-sex-differences/201104/why-dont-women-ask-men-out-first-dates

    As you will see, somebody FINALLY did a study on who makes the moves and initiatives… It only took 50 years of bashing men for how much “they suck when they initiate” for someone to finally do a study that confirm what Warren Farell has been saying for so long… And it’s still a very shallow study.

    It confirms that the shortage is on the female side. There ALREADY are more men doing what Amanda suggests, then there are women willing to date such men.

    Amanda, instead of adressing to women, who still in 2011 refuse to play the pursuer role in any significant capacity, she’s adressing the men, who are much more willing.

    Men did become metrosexuals, they invented the movement and they did focus on becoming as attractive as possible, but what did they find? They found out that it didn’t matter how much more attractive you become (whether metrosexually or personality-wise), you’re still expected to MAKE THE MOVES by 94% of women.

    Does Amanda not understand the basic concept of “reward and punishment”? Does she not understand the basics of cost/benefits analysis?

    MEN DID TRY HER ADVICE and found out it didn’t improve the odds in a substantial manner. You can focus and become 5x more attractive, but the less attractive guy will get the girl if he asks her out and does all the pursuing.

    Men found out that NO MATTER HOW MUCH extra improvements they made in attractiveness, the improvements in results were marginal. They were still expected to pursue pretty much the same amount. Men found out they had this choice:

    -A> Become more attractive and make all the moves and persist
    -B> Make all the moves and persist
    They also found that C doesn’t exist
    -C> Become more attractive and make some of the moves, letting women make some of the moves

    If C doesn’t exist and both A and B give roughly the same results, why would any sane human person choose A? Amanda’s bashing men for not choosing C or A, but one of those choices is irrational, and the other doesn’t exist.

  40. AlekNovy says:

    Damn it, I screwed up the Bolding tag. Can you fix this miguel?

    Only this should be bold:

    “Does Amanda not understand the basic concept of “reward and punishment”? Does she not understand the basics of cost/benefits analysis?”

  41. In Marcotteland, women are never to blame. Unless it’s a right-wing woman criticizing a feminist, of course.

  42. AlekNovy says:

    It’s almost at the level of absurdity honestly.

    If you actually translate what Marcotte is saying, it comes out like this…

    -A> Some men have spiky hair
    .
    -B> A ton of women date spiky-haired men
    .
    -C> It is evil for spiky-haired men to get together with women
    .
    -D> Suggesting that women not date spiky haired men is a form of HATE SPEECH, because it is the fault of ALL MEN that spiky-haired-men EXIST and woment end up dating them
    .
    -E> It is therefore the responsibility of ALL men on planet earth to defeat the existence of spiky hair ANYWHERE, whether or not they themselves have spiky hair or have ever had it.

    -F> All men are collectively at fault for the existence of spiky hair and must work to eradicate spiky hair from the world, and they should work hard to convince ALL GUYS to have no spiky hair (despite getting laid, loved and appreciated with said hair).

    It’s downright absurd.

    -> She’s essentially implying that women are incapable of not dating AND NOT REWARDING pursuers.

    -> She’s essentially implying that women are incapable of rewarding and dating ATTRACTORS as long as pursuers exist

    -> She’s asking that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE MALE POPULATION give up pursuing FIRST (so that women have no choice), and that only THEN will women start dating attractors (non-pursuers)…

  43. Adi says:

    I don’t understand why you’re all giving Marcotte so much attention and supporting her by linking to her writing. Anyone who honestly suggests that men stop trying to be pursuers has got to be so full of crap that you can safely tuck them away with all the internet trash to be forgotten forever.

    Imagine asking women to try and pursue partners by not making themselves beautiful ….on purpose. That is the equivalent of what this fool is asking men.

  44. Hi Alex. I fixed your bolding tag. (I have my doubts as to whether a sentence that begins with “Do you not understand the basic concept of…” is the best way to begin a constructive dialogue with feminists, but whatever.)
    You ask why any “sane” man would go to the effort to “become more attractive” (as Amanda suggests), when such behavior would not give better “results” than a strategy of being sexually assertive (i.e. “making all the moves”). I think the answer is that if men focused more on “becoming more attractive” — as opposed to trying to be “on the hunt” — that would make interactions between men and women less stressful and more pleasurable, for both genders. Now, as you and I (and Julia Serano, I think) have noticed, merely trying to “be an attractive person” often doesn’t work out very well for men. It obviously didn’t work out very well for Julia’s friend Eric. However, I think it’s possible for the sexual culture to evolve to the point where men will be able to ease off the “make all the moves” routine and where both men and women will be able to be “selling a little bit”, as Amanda envisions. In broad outline , here is how I think that could happen:
    First, less negativity toward female sexuality. I think feminists have a point when they talk about “slut shaming”. In fact, Professor Mill’s Psychology Today article to which you linked talked about that under the rubric of “female reputational defense theory”. I think it’s true that women would “play the pursuer role” more often if they felt free to do so.
    Second, more sex positive-ness. Sex negative attitudes tend to lead to a devaluing of less sexually aggressive men. The reason for this, I believe, is that if sex is viewed as “bad”, then women are less likely to view sex as something done with a “nice” man.
    Third, respectful criticism of women’s attraction to sexually aggressive men. I strongly disagree with feminists such as Hugo Schwyzer who argue that all critiques of women’s sexual behavior are tantamount to “blaming women”. On the contrary, I think there is a place for constructive criticism. Julia Serano’s essay was an example of this kind of criticism. However, I’ve read a few MRA critiques of women’s sexual behavior that strike an aggressive and disrespectful tone. It’s almost as though some MRAs are writing blog posts and the chosen subject is, “I’m justified in being an asshole toward women because…” And this kind of approach, to put it mildly, is not helpful.

  45. AlekNovy says:

    (I have my doubts as to whether a sentence that begins with “Do you not understand the basic concept of…” is the best way to begin a constructive dialogue with feminists, but whatever.)

    I have doubt that constructive dialogue can be made with feminists, because the accommodating optimists have been doing it for a decade with no results.

    I’ve watched as optimists like you have struggled for 10 years by adjusting their language, being accommodating, doing everything possible to make dialogue with feminists comfortable.

    Results? None… Not one single ounce of results. You show me that Marcotte can show one ounce of understanding for the male perspective (she called you a megadouchebag remember)… And I will start accomodating dialogue with feminists. I’ve yet to see one single ounce of results no matter how much dialogue-accomodaters have tried, I’ve yet to see not one single olive branch given from the other side…

    You ask why any “sane” man would go to the effort to “become more attractive” (as Amanda suggests), when such behavior would not give better “results” than a strategy of being sexually assertive (i.e. “making all the moves”). I think the answer is that if men focused more on “becoming more attractive” — as opposed to trying to be “on the hunt” — that would make interactions between men and women less stressful and more pleasurable, for both genders.

    Ok, let me qualify my rant. “Why would any sane average person in the general population do x”

    I personally do it myself in my own life, in fact I TEACH GUYS in my personal life TO NOT PURSUE and become more attractive and stop hunting and pursuing women. I teach guys to stop asking out and pursuing women. I actually do it myself.

    However, I AM PRIVILEGED. I know how to make it work due to 10 years of spiritual work and self-help and studying gender relations. Asking an AVERAGE GUY on the street to not pursue is the equivalent of asking him to be celibate for life. In ORDER for that to work, WOMEN have to participate in the experiment TOO. It’s an insane request as long as women are refusing to go there too.

    However, I think it’s possible for the sexual culture to evolve to the point where men will be able to ease off the “make all the moves” routine and where both men and women will be able to be “selling a little bit”, as Amanda envisions. In broad outline , here is how I think that could happen:
    First, less negativity toward female sexuality. I think feminists have a point when they talk about “slut shaming”. In fact, Professor Mill’s Psychology Today article to which you linked talked about that under the rubric of “female reputational defense theory”. I think it’s true that women would “play the pursuer role” more often if they felt free to do so.
    Second, more sex positive-ness. Sex negative attitudes tend to lead to a devaluing of less sexually aggressive men. The reason for this, I believe, is that if sex is viewed as “bad”, then women are less likely to view sex as something done with a “nice” man.
    Third, respectful criticism of women’s attraction to sexually aggressive men. I strongly disagree with feminists such as Hugo Schwyzer who argue that all critiques of women’s sexual behavior are tantamount to “blaming women”. On the contrary, I think there is a place for constructive criticism. Julia Serano’s essay was an example of this kind of criticism. However, I’ve read a few MRA critiques of women’s sexual behavior that strike an aggressive and disrespectful tone. It’s almost as though some MRAs are writing blog posts and the chosen subject is, “I’m justified in being an asshole toward women because…” And this kind of approach, to put it mildly, is not helpful.

    Where’s the part where women start doing or thinking differently? It’s all what men need to do…

  46. AlekNovy says:

    First, less negativity toward female sexuality. I think feminists have a point when they talk about “slut shaming”. In fact, Professor Mill’s Psychology Today article to which you linked talked about that under the rubric of “female reputational defense theory”.

    Bad excuse.

    Man keep reputations too. In fact, the reason men don’t approach, is because they’re afraid for their reputation too, being deemed a creep, a pervert etc.

    How is “creep” any less damaging than “slut”? The only reason more men do eventually approach is because they’re also shamed for NOT approaching.

    Pretending only women get bad reputations for making a move is dishonest. Pretending only men keep reputations is a bad excuse to justify passivity among women.

    I think it’s true that women would “play the pursuer role” more often if they felt free to do so.

    In essence, everything has to be perfect before we ask women to take even a little responsibility?

    Third, respectful criticism of women’s attraction to sexually aggressive men. I strongly disagree with feminists such as Hugo Schwyzer who argue that all critiques of women’s sexual behavior are tantamount to “blaming women”. On the contrary, I think there is a place for constructive criticism. Julia Serano’s essay was an example of this kind of criticism. However, I’ve read a few MRA critiques of women’s sexual behavior that strike an aggressive and disrespectful tone. It’s almost as though some MRAs are writing blog posts and the chosen subject is, “I’m justified in being an asshole toward women because…” And this kind of approach, to put it mildly, is not helpful.

    MRAs represent 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the total world population. And the anecdotal examples you give are an even further subset of MRA.

    What do what they do have to do with a global solution to a global problem?

    In essence, you’re saying the same thing Amanda is saying. The world has to be PERFECT for women, before they make a single change.

    Not one single woman on planet earth can be shamed, not one single negative thing can happen to women FIRST, and only then women will start doing their fair share? The world has to accomodate women perfectly, before they do even a little work? Sorry, I’m not buying it. If we were discussing why women “only do 40%, and not 50%” I would buy what you’re saying. But we’re discussing why they do nothing at all.

    Not a single asshole on the planet can exist or a single asshole apologist and only then women will start making moves?

    That’s how it reads to me. Especially since sexual shaming and demonizing of male sexuality is just as prevalent.

  47. AlekNovy says:

    Anyone who honestly suggests that men stop trying to be pursuers has got to be so full of crap that you can safely tuck them away with all the internet trash to be forgotten forever.

    Well, I also suggest that men stop trying to be pursuer, and I’m not full of crap, because I actually know how to do it. I am succesful at getting women with non-pursuing. It took me 10 years to learn it though… And it requires a super high level of personal work.

    The reason Marcotte is full of crap, is because she just assumes that by not pursuing, you automatically get women… Where in truth, it’s a skill the equivalent of getting a PhD.

    Asking the average guy on the street to not pursue, is like asking someone with a 4th-grade-education to quit their dayjob and work on a PhD.

    Imagine asking women to try and pursue partners by not making themselves beautiful ….on purpose. That is the equivalent of what this fool is asking men.

    Dayum, that’s the most perfect analogy, lol.

    Another analogy is like telling someone… Jump from the 50th floor, and we’ll weave the safety net after you jump 😀

    “Oh, and btw, asking us to place the safety net first means you’re an entitled asshole… Just jump already you asshole…”

  48. Adi says:

    Sure, INDIVIDUAL men can get dates without pursuing and, in fact, I’ve been asked out more than I’ve asked if my count is correct. My experience has been and I remember reading up on behavioral studies on this, that women don’t ask men out not because it’s not comfortable or against norms or reputations or anything else like that but because they’re under less pressure to do so and can rely on men doing that for them.
    The results basically said that both sexes behave the same when under the same circumstances. When women are at a disadvantage in the dating market, or just think they are, then they behave just as aggressively as men.

    It all comes down to fundamental economics – supply and demand. This also explains why some men can afford to break away from their gender roles in dating – if they have some other way to show they’re sought after.

    The most important thing to note is that this is a ‘perceived’ imbalance of desires. Society and mainstream media portraits men as eternally sex hungry and women as innocent gatekeepers. It so isn’t true but as long as most of us THINK it’s true, women will not become aggressive pursuers – they just don’t need to.

  49. AlekNovy says:

    I fully agree.

    It’s just like in war, there’s the reason a country goes to war, and then there’s the REAL reason.

    -> “Reputation” and “social norms” is just the excuse women give for being lazy.

    -> The real reason is they don’t have to. It’s human nature to always fall back on the easier choice.

    I don’t have a problem with women not pursuing. What I have a problem with is the triple bind they put men under…

    -> If men don’t have girlfriends, we demonize and insult them and declare them possible serial killers
    .
    -> If men do pursue we call them insensitive assholes
    ,
    -> We still refuse to pursue ourselves

    It’s the most screwed up triple-bind I can think of. There’s only two ways it can be broken:

    A) Women stop being lazy and do more work

    B) All men on planet earth stop pursuing women, so that women are FORCED to stop being lazy

  50. AlekNovy says:

    Btw, a great piece of evidence that confirms the “don’t need to pursue” laziness theory.

    Ever notice the fattest and ugliest chicks tend to pursue the most agressively? Is that a pure coincidence?

    How come the chicks who get hit on the least are the most likely to start pursuing and asking guys out?

    Do they not have reputations? That right there is proof the whole reputation theory is just an elaborate excuse for laziness.

    Why don’t women pursue? Coz they don’t have to…

  51. AlekNovy says:

    Miguel, I just thought of a further distinction…

    You ask why any “sane” man would go to the effort to “become more attractive” (as Amanda suggests), when such behavior would not give better “results” than a strategy of being sexually assertive (i.e. “making all the moves”). I think the answer is that if men focused more on “becoming more attractive” — as opposed to trying to be “on the hunt” — that would make interactions between men and women less stressful and more pleasurable, for both genders.

    Asking the average man to give up pursuing, means that you’re asking him to have faith that ALL OTHER men will also give up pursuing too at the same time.

    You’re asking him to SACRIFICE himself, for the benefit of future generations, while he is not given any gurantees than other men, or women will follow.

    It’s a vicious loop. Men ceasing to pursue can ONLY work if all men stop pursuing AT THE SAME TIME. That means that if only 1/3 of men stop pursuing, all that happens is they go celibate, while the other 2/3 get all the good life…

    It’s like a prisoner’s dillema. It’s like being asked to jump out of an airplane, without a parachute, with a promise that while you’re falling, people on the ground are weaving a safety net to catch you.

    What if you ask the women though?

    Any woman who starts pursuing gets results IMMEDIATELY. It doesn’t matter if other women start pursuing or not. In fact, she even gets an advantage OVER other women who refuse to pursue.

    She doesn’t have to wait, she’s not risking anything. She knows EXACTLY what she gets if she starts pursuing.

    So why are we not asking women to start pursuing first

    It’s by far the more logical choice. If women start pursuing, the more pursuing women will get better results, and more and more women will pursue. The more women will pursue, the more men will adopt non-pursuing as a choice. Men will be given PROOF that you can actually “not pursue” and still have a life.

    Asking that men quit first is downright asinine and idiotic

    Again, it’s like asking men to jump out of a building, with the promise that the safety net will be woven after they jump.

    It assumes that all men on planet earth all do the same thing all at once (otherwise it doesn’t work).

  52. Adi says:

    Feminist thought process:
    Safety is better than danger. F1 racing would also be safer if all participants went slower. Therefore we should punish racers if they go too fast. Everyone will be safe and happy and the world will be perfect. All we have to do is ignore the detail that the whole point of racing is to go fast and not even that, but to find out who is the fastest. And there won’t be any progress if there’s no competition or incentive to win. But those are just biological determinist pseudo-scientific straw man arguments designed to make people kill themselves in race crashes.

    Their biggest failure is feminists’ total ignorance and disregard for the most basic laws of competition. They think up an idealistic world that can never exist in reality and so they never tire of complaining to and blaming men that the world isn’t the way they imagine it should be.

    Sure, the tone of blaming and shaming has mellowed a little in recent years. What used to be “those men cause all the mess” is now more often phrased as “men are necessary to fix this mess” but the undertone is still the same: YOU male losers get off your asses and make OUR lives better. Don’t any of you kid yourselves that feminists basically still hold men responsible for causing and also rectifying sexism in the world. Pointing out to them that women are averagely far more sexist than men will just confirm that to them you’re a sexist misogynist.

  53. I read what Amanda Marcotte writes because she is a widely-read figure who also very well exemplifies most of modern feminist thought. Her articles are a good way to see what feminists are saying and thinking these days. But if someone doesn’t want to read her work, I sure understand.

  54. Adi says:

    Ok, that’s fair enough. But quite depressing if she really is representative of modern feminists.
    But at least we shouldn’t give her any dofollow links.

  55. Miguel, I agree with your prescriptions–but with a few caveats.

    First, you write “I think feminists have a point when they talk about slut shaming.” I may be crazy, but isn’t most slut-shaming done by women? My man friends are a pretty good cross-section of normal American men, and I truly can’t remember the last time one of them ragged on a woman for sluttiness. I’ve heard them say something like “did you hear Jane Doe is pregnant! poor girl, doesn’t she know how hard it is to be a single mother?” but not “Jane is pregnant but not married, that floozy! I’ll never speak to her again!” Women, on the other hand, seem to delight in ripping into other women for any perceived infraction, especially promiscuity. It seems to me that the reputation women are worried about is their reputation among other women. So what can men do about this?

    Secondly, “It’s almost as though some MRAs are writing blog posts and the chosen subject is, ‘I’m justified in being an asshole toward women because…’” I agree, and they are wrong to believe that, but I’ve found that perspective to be a relatively rare thing. Far more men take the pose that it’s too bad that women have those preferences, and rightly so. Also more common is the feminist rebuttal of “You’re a monster because you think many women are attracted to jerks, which couldn’t possibly be true since I don’t like it and it goes against an Andrea Dworkin article I read once.” So I don’t think this is a big roadblock to being sex-positive.

    Thirdly, “respectful criticism of women’s attraction to sexually aggressive men.” It’s hard to be respectful of a foolish and potentially life-shattering choice, but (despite what I just wrote) this, too, seems like a distinct minority position, compared to the “you’re a horrible person for wanting to talk about this subject!” hysteria that comes from the feminist side. I would, though, like to see suggestions about how we, as a society, can rectify the poor choices women make. It isn’t enough to be respectful, I think; there has to be a plan, too.

    Anyway, though I’m nit-picking some of what you say in this page, I really like your blog and your writing. It’s a true salve to the gloomy feeling that comes after a bout of curiosity leads me to a pick-up artist site or a feminist blog. Thanks for doing this, and keep it up!

  56. say Alek, I’ve been looking at your blog and you’ve got a lot of interesting stuff there. Now and then I look at PUA sites for a laugh or out of curiosity–it’s Miguel’s fault for linking to Roissy a few pages back 😉 –and they often bother me for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Your posts on this subject really articulate a lot of my reaction to them. I hope you, and Miguel, will keep up the good work.

  57. morgan says:

    “I guess people who pay to play golf, for example, on courses that are open to the public, should be shamed for their entitlement to golf, since they did not earn their way into the country club like decent people do.”

    I laughed out loud at this analogy. Glib? Maybe. Accurate? Definitely.

  58. Guess what, Miguel? If you’ve ever been to a bar hoping to meet a woman, you are an “asshole” and a “douchebag”. Case closed.

    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/music_fridays_the_dangers_of_marketing_the_douchebags_edition

  59. Politicalguineapig says:

    I would only ever ask a man out if I was skinny and well-endowed. I’m not, so I don’t. And I don’t go to bars unless a group I like (or have been meaning to check out) is playing there. I do have some nice conversations, but I never kid myself that it’s going to go beyond that. Men only treat me like I’m a guy because I’m not, and never will be, a woman they’d be interested in. If they were interested in me, they wouldn’t have any motivation to treat me as though I were an intelligent human being.

  60. AlekNovy says:

    In other words you do admit that as a woman you have amazing privilege that allows you to make rationalizations for being supremely lazy?

    Imagine if a guy said “I would only ever ask women out if I was 6’2 and had a fitness model body with a denzel washington face”.

    What does that guy’s statement sound like to you? How would you describe that guy? Well, those same things apply to you.

  61. Politicalguineapig says:

    It’s not privilege, and it’s not being lazy. It’s simple recognition of incompatible values. Men don’t like being pursued by unattractive (non-skinny, non busty) women, so there’s no point in any woman bothering if she’s not skinny. It’s like asking a question you already know the answer to. As for the Denzel Washington comparison, it’s invalid: men have a much wider spectrum of attractiveness then women do. A man can be attractive at nearly any age and height. (As for weight, it depends on how it’s carried. ) Face it, if you were asked out by a mousy, non-toothpick, over 25, flat chested woman, you’d laugh in her face. You would be looking at the barely-over-21 women, willing them to come over and ask you.
    (As for the idea that men want someone to talk to. Hah! That’s what they have their male friends for.)

  62. elementary_watson says:

    Dear guineapig,
    to put it bluntly, you are wrong about what “men” want, because there are all kinds of different preferences men have about their partners. Believe me when I say that many men get turned on by women whose BMI is somewhat above the “ideal”, that there is a reason people know what a MILF is, and I guess lots of men have no idea how their new partner’s breasts will look like until they see them naked (in other words: I hope I’m not the only man who doesn’t pay that much attention to a woman’s breast until she’s in her bra, and once you get to that point, size doesn’t matter that much any more). And even to 31 year old me, 21 year old women, especially conventionally attractive ones, look far too young to be considered sexual partners.

    Also, I believe that there are many many men out there longing for *any* female attention, and not all men have a bunch of male friends they prefer to hang out with (and, there are lots of things one can do between “talking” and “sexual activities”).

    From what I read of you, it really doesn’t sound like you behave like a bitter, defensive hag when in male company; it sounded like you get along quite well with a lot of men. That’s great! I’m pretty sure that if you stopped questioning your own attractiveness and abandoned the idea that men only treat women they find sexually repulsive as human beings (easier said by me than done by you, I know), there could be lots of flirting, fun and even romance along your way.

    Best wishes,
    e.w. (who’s currently in a far-distance relationship with an overweight, flat-chested, quite mousy 24 year old – 3 out of 4 is not that bad, is it? 😉

  63. “Men don’t like being pursued by unattractive women”

    Oh, but women loooove being pursued by unattractive men.

    “men have a much wider spectrum of attractiveness then women do”

    Nonsense.

  64. Politicalguineapig says:

    EW: My philosophy on going out is pretty simple; because I’m on a really tight budget, if I invest the time and money in an event I am going to make sure I have a good time there. And most of the people at a concert are there to see the band (s), even if they have nothing else in common.
    The only time I get a little nervous is if I’m going to a new club or walking to the bus or train by myself. Otherwise I just take basic precautions and I’m fine. Though one of those basic precautions is trying not to flirt too much; guys get mixed up pretty easily, so I try not to send mixed signals.

    Peterman: Dude, take a look at Hollywood or the men in men’s magazines. There’s a much wider range in age and looks among male actors or magazine models then the young supermodels or the unrealistic superwomen men go ga-ga for. Seriously, most guys aren’t interested in anything but double-ds, under 25 and blonde. Women on the other hand, will go for anything from Denzil Washington, Alan Rickman, Sean Connery, Daniel Radcliffe, George Clooney or Cuba Gooding Jr. There’s a *huge* range. (Ian Mckellen too. Nummy.) There are a number of local muscians I’m attracted to too; one guy’s built like a football player and has more piercings than me, there’s a dude who has a beard you could hide goats in and is about 40, and a guy who’s got really scraggly sideburns, and a really skinny guy who doesn’t have much muscle tone. And, yep, they’re each cute in their own way, and they’re all probably working shitty part-time day jobs while they’re playing around town. (Before the ‘but money’ crowd comes into play.)

    I don’t like being *pursued* in general. That’s a guaranteed turn-off, no matter who does it, and I suspect a lot of women would agree.

  65. wigeon says:

    Odd that you allege transparent groping to blame men, when you’ve jumped at the opportunity to find a failing in women.

    Correlation does not equal causation. It can seem like women prefer assholes, and still not be the case. Assholes make more attempts, so naturally they have more chances for success. A nice guy with low self-esteem might incorrectly assess where the boundaries are, and then shoot himself in the foot by never searching any further. I think GemmaM was pretty spot-on about the success of guys who test for boundaries, but respect them when they run against one. They listen to the cues the women give them. I realize this might be a difficult topic to grasp if your argument rests on assuming that ” what a woman says she wants is irrelevant.”

  66. wigeon says:

    I read a lot of Amanda Marcotte, and I know she doesn’t attack men. She is an unapologetic crictic of of some behavior. There is a huge jump between the two ideas. Why are you making it?

  67. wigeon says:

    This does not further a dialogue. 😦

  68. wigeon says:

    Remember slavery? Gives a slave owner a pretty competitive edge, doesn’t it? But it’s abhorrent, that level of competitive behavior. It’s anti-social. Feminism is calling out excessive competition. It’s possible to take things too far. There is more to this world than competition… even speaking biologically. Social animals thrive on coorperation. If we evolved just for competition, we wouldn’t be social animals.

  69. Wow, that’s a wide variety of actors you listed. Lots of bald guys, lots of overweight guys. There’s some big noses and prodtruding ears and crooked jawlines.

    “I don’t like being *pursued* in general. That’s a guaranteed turn-off, no matter who does it, and I suspect a lot of women would agree.”

    And yet only 4% of women will take on the pursuer role.

  70. Politicalguineapig says:

    Oscarleroy: Four words : Alan Alda and Devin Townsend. And one of the musicians I listen to is kind of chubby- so yeah, men have a wider range of attractiveness than women do. As for the pursuing, I suppose I’d like it better if it didn’t seem to always be paired with assholishness. There’s no way a woman can make a move, because too many men equate ‘acknowledges my existence’ with consent. I try not to even make eye contact with men, since even eye contact can be misinterpreted.

  71. Danny says:

    There’s a much wider range in age and looks among male actors or magazine models then the young supermodels or the unrealistic superwomen men go ga-ga for. Seriously, most guys aren’t interested in anything but double-ds, under 25 and blonde.
    Actually I think this might by why most guys really don’t bother with magazines that have such women with DDs, blonde, and under 25. Most of the ones I’ve come across will perhaps acknowledge they think such women are attractive but don’t go nuts for them. Mainly because they are “unrealistic”.

  72. Danny says:

    Face it, if you were asked out by a mousy, non-toothpick, over 25, flat chested woman, you’d laugh in her face. You would be looking at the barely-over-21 women, willing them to come over and ask you.
    (As for the idea that men want someone to talk to. Hah! That’s what they have their male friends for.)

    Many thanks for denying the existence of all the guys out there like me. The only way I’d laugh in that situation is a bout of nervous laughter to try to break the tension of being shocked such a woman would make a move on me.

    And yes there are men out there that want to meet a woman to have someone to talk to. Bear in mind that even the stereotypical ones want this for the sake of having someone to talk to about things they can’t share with their male friends.

  73. Politicalguineapig says:

    Danny: Don’t men prefer ‘unrealistic’?

  74. Danny says:

    Oh there are men that do go for the very unrealistic things you talk about for sure.

  75. Danny says:

    Ah hit submit too soon.

    Oh there are men that do go for the very unrealistic things you talk about for sure however I find it all to common that when people try to talk about men’s tastes in women all of a sudden those with unrealistic tastes become the representation of all of us…

  76. Politicalguineapig says:

    How do you explain the fact that unrealistic women are on every single men’s magazine and in every variety of porn, and that men buy these things? If men didn’t like unrealistic looking women, they wouldn’t buy the magazines or the videos.. and yet, Playboy isn’t going bankrupt any time soon.

  77. elementary_watson says:

    Playboy and porn sites don’t depend on most men buying their stuff to prosper; and as we’re talking about porn, you might google BBW (Big Beautiful Women) – there is a lot of porn with overweight women, and it seems to be in demand (by men), too.

  78. Danny says:

    Simple.

    While there are a lot of men who subscribe to that mentality there are many who do not. Playboy may not go broke anytime soon but I do think they have good odds on roping in every single straight guy in America either. And as for men’s magazines I honestly can’t think of a single man in my life that buys those things these days.

    And actually unrealistic women don’t appear in every variety of porn. Yes there is a lot of that in porn but at this point there are lots of active genres of porn that go against the desire of the unrealistic woman.

  79. AlekNovy says:

    Lol, out of the top 20 women I’ve had the most crush on, 18 were close to flat-chested. And I’m considered an “attractive guy” and women often call me “hot” out loud.

    I won’t lie, I do prefer skinny, but that actually makes me an exception. Most of my male friends prefer curvy and call me insane for liking skinny girls.

    Male tastes vary widely.

  80. I’m Alek’s correlary on this one – put me in the “curvy” boat any day.

    I actually don’t care if a woman would be considered “overweight” – because not all women wear weight in the same way. Some women turn into Stay-Pufft when they gain weight, others keep a Jessica Rabbit figure even with an extra 100 lbs.

    (Alek, did you turn off comments on your site? I’ve been trying to reach you to work on a project together (game-related) but I can’t reach you. E-mail me easilyenthused at gmail dot com.)

  81. AlekNovy says:

    How do you explain the fact that unrealistic women are on every single men’s magazine and in every variety of porn, and that men buy these things? If men didn’t like unrealistic looking women, they wouldn’t buy the magazines or the videos.. and yet, Playboy isn’t going bankrupt any time soon.

    As opposed to the hyper-realistic men in romance novels and “chick-flicks”?

  82. G says:

    @AlekNovy said:

    “I personally do it myself in my own life, in fact I TEACH GUYS in my personal life TO NOT PURSUE and become more attractive and stop hunting and pursuing women. I teach guys to stop asking out and pursuing women. I actually do it myself.

    However, I AM PRIVILEGED. I know how to make it work due to 10 years of spiritual work and self-help and studying gender relations. Asking an AVERAGE GUY on the street to not pursue is the equivalent of asking him to be celibate for life. In ORDER for that to work, WOMEN have to participate in the experiment TOO. It’s an insane request as long as women are refusing to go there too.”

    Alek – do share the details! I believe I’m in a place where I too can make it work for me. Please share your strategies. If you like we can move this discussion over to seductionmyth.com

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