Archives for category: sexology

Why do some rich guys think polygamy is their preserve?

as answered on Quora

There is a major difference in the sexual “economies” and “strategies” of males and females throughout the animal kingdom. Each species has “figured” out its way to handle the differences. Human beings have come up with a number of distinct patterns. Polygny is one of them. For reasons of basic biology, it is a much more natural a fit than polyandry — which nevertheless has occasionally occurred.

Men produce an overabundance of sperm to fertilize women’s small number of eggs. This is a radically unequal investment in genetic heritage. A man can sire hundreds, even thousands — technically millions — of babies; a woman, at best a handful. If a woman wanted to increase her genetic inheritance, having many “sperm donors” would be of little help. It is more rational — and, over the life of our species, this is how it tends to work out — to invest in a man or two to feed and protect her and her children. A man seeking to increase his progeny can collect more wives — or mate with many women he invests in not at all.

So, those men who want to increase their standing in the world — who want to flex their wills to power by siring many multiples of children — increase their numbers of wives.

Men tend to think in a “polygamous” fashion more than women because of that basic inequality: abundant sperm vs. scarce eggs.

There is nothing very mysterious about this.

The major wrinkle, in our time, is that to a remarkable degree the costs of child-rearing have been socialized. Women need not marry to raise children. “The village” raises the child, through subsidies such as public schools, public school breakfasts and lunches, SNAP, Section Eight housing, Medicaid, and much more. This and widespread use of contraception, abortion, and even infanticide allows women to ape typically male-desired promiscuity patterns — having many sexual partners — without inordinate discomfort, though it is worth noting that many of the professional feminists who push for these measures tend to be married and sport fairly stable marriages, merely using their ideology to export aped male sexual styles onto poor women, often to their ruin.* It is a weird and I think rather sick bit of moral gamesmanship, but most folks disagree.

And it is worth noting that women, as a class, are net tax consumers, and men, as a class, are net taxpayers, and this merely mimics the one-on-one marriage system of old, where men went out into the world to secure resources that women spent on setting up house and raising children. And to that extent polygamy has been socialized, with a mass of make taxpayers supporting a mass of female state aid recipients. Sociologist Herbert Spencer, linked above, had an old-fashioned term for the dominant sexual style of today, “promiscuity,” which he defined as “indefinite polyandry joined with indefinite polygyny.” Marriage is a more “definite” social institution, in his terminology, while today’s tax-based child-rearing system is far less definite, since much of the responsibility for raising children has been shifted from actual parents and guardians onto taxpayers, the courts, bureaucracies, and government functionaries.

It is a cruel joke upon both sexes, if you ask me, but no one asked me — the question was why men with great resources think that polygamy is their prerogative, in effect asking why rich men favor polygyny more than rich women favor polyandry. The answer should be obvious: cheap sperm vs. scarce eggs, coupled with the opportunity costs associated with rearing children, both of which have gone into the (observed) sexual division of labor of our species.

The subject is almost boring in its simplicity and explanatory power. What is interesting is how things change (and do not change) when the costs of raising children get socialized. Which is why I brought it up. Even if no one asked me.


* The puzzle of what I call the WWWWs — “The Woke White Women of the West” — in their bizarre, moralistic anti-white racism runs parallel to their defense of socialized child-rearing even while they themselves tend to adhere to the older, individualistic structure for their children, is fascinating. My guess is that their cult of Woman Power forces them into their strange cognitive dissonances, but my extended, high-octane speculations on this matter must be dealt with elsewhere.

One of the odd things about our time is how virtuous some folks feel doing things they themselves would regard as evil were it done to them.

At base, in this madness, is in-group/out-group antagonism, which one can read about in an early analysis in The Inductions of Ethics by Herbert Spencer (Principles of Ethics, Part Two). But if you are looking for examples, you can almost pick one at random. Here is an answer on Quora that Quora itself directed me to this morning:

Read Siddharth Paratkar‘s answer to What disgusts you? on Quorahttps://www.quora.com/widgets/content

I suppose I may have heard the sad story of Ms. Ames before, but I had forgotten, so this Quora answer was new to me. But it is an all-too-familiar tale. And it is bitterly “ironic,” in that she was hounded out of what was, to her, civil society . . . by people who thought of themselves as defending sexual choice — those of gay and bi- men — for her own sexual choices.

Principles got lost in the tribalism. That often happens.

But tribalism is primary among humans, and inter-tribal antagonisms are built into our way of thinking. This has always been confusing to earnest people who seek consistency, as Spencer notes:

As the ethics of enmity and the ethics of amity, thus arising in each society in response to external and internal conditions respectively, have to be simultaneously entertained, there is formed an assemblage of utterly inconsistent sentiments and ideas. Its components can by no possibility be harmonized, and yet they have to be all accepted and acted upon. Every day exemplifies the resulting contradictions, and also exemplifies men’s contentment under them.
When, after prayers asking for divine guidance, nearly all the bishops approve an unwarranted invasion, like that of Afghanistan, the incident passes without any expression of surprise; while, conversely, when the Bishop of Durham takes the chair at a peace meeting, his act is commented upon as remarkable. When, at a Diocesan Conference, a peer (Lord Cranbook), opposing international arbitration, says he is “not quite sure that a state of peace might not be a more dangerous thing for a nation than war,” the assembled priests of the religion of love make no protest; nor does any general reprobation, clerical or lay, arise when a ruler in the Church, Dr. Moorhouse, advocating a physical and moral discipline fitting the English for war, expresses the wish “to make them so that they would, in fact, like the fox when fastened by the dogs, die biting,” and says that “these were moral qualities to be encouraged and increased among our people, and he believed that nothing could suffice for this but the grace of God operating in their hearts.” How completely in harmony with the popular feeling in a land covered with Christian churches and chapels, is this exhortation of the Bishop of Manchester, we see in such facts as that people eagerly read accounts of football matches in which there is an average of a death per week; that they rush in crowds to buy newspapers which give detailed reports of a brutal prizefight, but which pass over in a few lines the proceedings of a peace congress; and that they are lavish patrons of illustrated papers, half the woodcuts in which have for their subjects the destruction of life or the agencies for its destruction.

Herbert Spencer, Inductions of Ethics, first chapter: “Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

People who think of themselves as just and kind often find themselves behaving unjustly and cruelly. But they do not notice it, are often oblivious to their contradictory thoughts and behavior. This ability to flip a switch and cease acting within the amity paradigm to going all in for enmity? Breathtaking, in its way. But a commonplace.

Against this understanding, though, are the pieties of our moral traditions; for many folks, even admitting that there are two orientations (at least) in ethics offends against heir self-image and their understanding of what they call “their values”:

A silent protest has been made by many readers, and probably by most, while reading that section of the foregoing chapter which describes the ethics of enmity. Governed by feelings and ideas which date from their earliest lessons, and have been constantly impressed on them at home and in church, they have formed an almost indissoluble association between a doctrine of right and wrong in general, and those particular commands and interdicts included in the decalogue, which, contemplating the actions of men to one another in the same society, takes no note of their combined actions against men of alien societies. The conception of ethics has, in this way, come to be limited to that which I have distinguished as the ethics of amity; and to speak of the ethics of enmity seems absurd.
Yet, beyond question, men associate ideas of right and wrong with the carrying on of intertribal and international conflicts; and this or that conduct in battle is applauded or condemned no less strongly than this or that conduct in ordinary social life. Are we then to say that there is one kind of right and wrong recognized by ethics and another kind of right and wrong not recognized by ethics? If so, under what title is this second kind of right and wrong to be dealt with? Evidently men’s ideas about conduct are in so unorganized a state, that while one large class of actions has an overtly recognized sanction, another large class of actions has a sanction, equally strong or stronger, which is not overtly recognized.

Herbert Spencer, Inductions of Ethics, second chapter: “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

Spencer was writing at a time when Christianity was still earnestly and reflexively held to by the majority. And with that majority understanding he had to contend. Nowadays, we live in a post-Christian context where the dominant religion is statism whose priests are journalists and whose divines are academics. So there are some new wrinkles to the cognitive dissonances in ethical thought and practice.

I would be remiss in this discussion of the ethics of enmity vs. the ethics of amity to cite Spencer for the basic concepts but not, at the same time, cite his discussion of sexual conduct in the same volume. His chapter on this in The Inductions of Ethics is called “Chastity.” How quaint:

Conduciveness to welfare, individual or social or both, being the ultimate criterion of evolutionary ethics, the demand for chastity has to be sought in its effects under given conditions.
Among men, as among inferior creatures, the needs of the species determine the rightness or wrongness of these or those sexual relations; for sexual relations unfavorable to the rearing of offspring, in respect either of number or quality must tend towards degradation and extinction. 

Nowadays, responsibility for the maintenance of he young has been increasingly shifted from individual onus and domestic arrangements to a state system that Spencer only had nightmares about. Perhaps not coincidentally there has arisen an anti-progenitive ideology on personal and social levels. So sexuality is now largely conceived almost wholly as a consumption, not a production, activity, leading to bizarre and quite decadent sense of virtue. In the story cited at top, a woman who engaged in sexual activity as an entertainment activity was morally disallowed from having say in her partners, on grounds of safety. Not even that tiniest bit of chastity — the merest quantum of the virtue — was allowed her by the mob.

We are close to Sodom’s rape mobs, here.

But Spencer is remarkably open-minded for a chaste Victorian bachelor. “Bad as were the gods of the Greeks, the gods of the ancient Indians were worse,” he writes, astounded over what he found in ancient Sanskrit literature. “In the Puranas as well as in the Mahabharata there are stories about the ‘adulterous amours’ of Indra, Varuna, and other gods; at the same time that the ‘celestial nymphs are expressly declared to be courtesans,’ and are ‘sent by the gods from time to time to seduce austere sages.’ A society having a theology of such a kind, cannot well have been other than licentious.”

But in our society, the somewhat hysterical drive to defend women as an oppressed class has been abandoned for the defense of non-heterosexual people — and, most bizarrely, those who pretend to be, or seek “to become,” members of their opposite sex. So women are now, increasingly, expected to accept as women who dress up as (or merely declare themselves to be) women, to compete against them in women’s sports, suffer them in women’s restrooms, and the like. The issue is forced inclusion. We are not allowed to exclude others from our company, at least when it comes to sex, for reasons that doing so is said to be oppressive.

This ethic of forced inclusion is one way of transcending the amity/enmity split. The other, the outsider, the excluded, must be let in.

And since monogamy is no longer required for the nurturing of the young — state programs of redistribution have seen to that — polyandry is the norm, utter licentiousness is the norm, and the control is that one may “not discriminate” against people identified as of oppressed groups.

This arose out of the racial divide in the United States over the Jim Crow era’s handling of the descendants of slaves. Many of the laws in the South segregated public accommodations, government and private. This was a bad thing, so the discriminatory laws were not merely repealed, but anti-discrimination laws were put in place, not for private people (you could eject anyone from your home) but for “public accommodations,” businesses that regularly dealt with the public. Forced inclusion. That became the rule. Anyone, regardless of race, was to be included as customers and employees.

In the case of Ms. Ames, her business activity of engaging in sexual intercourse disallowed her from discrimination on the grounds of sexual partners’ previous sexual behavior, even prudentially, for her own safety. By not fucking bi-sexual men, she was the oppressor.

The new gospel of inclusion thus reached its absurdity point: forcing women to accept into their bodies cocks they don’t want.

The Twitter mob was, by my lights, quite vile, even evil. But behind it all loomed the eminence gris of the welfare state, which has robbed couples of their senses of responsibility. It had made them mad.

Spencer’s linking of militancy with promiscuity is not wholly convincing to me — or even to himself, as he admits. But the general tenor of his discussion seems about right: “It remains only to emphasize the truth, discernible amid all complexities and varieties, that without a prevailing chastity we do not find a good social state.” Here is his summary:

There are three ways in which chastity furthers a superior social state. The first is that indicated at the outset–conduciveness to the nurture of offspring. Nearly everywhere, but especially where the stress of competition makes the rearing of children difficult, lack of help from the father must leave the mother overtaxed, and entail inadequate nutrition of progeny. Unchastity, therefore, tends towards production of inferior individuals, and if it prevails widely must cause decay of the society.
The second cause is that, conflicting as it does with the establishment of normal monogamic relations, unchastity is adverse to those higher sentiments which prompt such relations. In societies characterized by inferior forms of marriage, or by irregular connections, there cannot develop to any great extent that powerful combination of feelings–affection, admiration, sympathy–which in so marvelous a manner has grown out of the sexual instinct. And in the absence of this complex passion, which manifestly presupposes a relation between one man and one woman, the supreme interest in life disappears, and leaves behind relatively subordinate interests. Evidently a prevalent unchastity severs the higher from the lower components of the sexual relation: the root may produce a few leaves, but no true flower.
Sundry of the keenest aesthetic pleasures must at the same time be undermined. It needs but to call to mind what a predominant part in fiction, the drama, poetry, and music, is played by the romantic element in love, to see that anything which militates against it tends to diminish, if not to destroy the chief gratifications which should fill the leisure part of life.

Romance, now, plays second fiddle — or distant rebec — to inclusionary mobs seeking to promote the last underdog group they can find. Next stops: pedophiles and necrophiliacs.

twv

A meme/joke passed around on Facebook.

I have a different take on this, as I have tried to explain before: while gender is said to be a social construct, the very idea of gender is an ideological construct, and I reject the groundwork ideology on multiple grounds. We can pretend there are four genders or a thousand, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is sex, and how we handle this biological binary division.

If you admit the official definition of gender, though, you cannot then decisively state that there are only two. The word you are looking for is sex.

But because we were all timorous/obnoxious children once, we tend to wince at that word, or blush, or guffaw. This we have unthinkingly let ‘gender’ gain ground as a euphemism, wreaking havoc on thought and culture.

Still, marginally funny joke. But of most interest as a sign of the times.

twv

For quite some time now, in private conversation, I’ve discussed a problem of our civilization. I do not think I’ve mentioned it in print or in public talk yet. But I have occasion to now.

The problem?

The “Woke White Women of the West” problem.

Following a long line of hortatory, “liberal women” tend to be anti-white racists. This not only includes but is exemplified by white women. They take the anti-racist line that we’ve all imbibed as if on mother’s milk (metaphor: apt or inapt?) to the reductio ad absurdum level: we oughtn’t express any animus or anger against non-whites that can even seem to collectivize them into racial categories, but we must express sympathy or pity or indignation in their cause by constant reference to their racial categories. They are victims. Always. By whites. Always. And we must therefore humble ourselves before them, always apologizing for past crimes as well as current slights.

Worse yet, this double standard leads to the bigger, more ominous double standard: the “woke” white women feel compelled to accept responsibility for crimes and slights, real or alleged or complete fantasies, of all white people, especially those of the past. Thus what white people are not allowed to do against others is obligatory against themselves.

This is not merely ridiculous. It is evil.

And white “liberal” women appear to be the population most susceptible to this mania.

My occasion, today, for bringing this up, is a video by a white nationalist (he is white and a nationalist, so the moniker fits):

This is an especially good video by “Way of the World.” It is uncomfortable to watch, at times. But the moralistic frenzy of the woke white women in the unfortunate debacle of a town meeting included in this video is worth dissecting.

Now, the white guy asking the question of the Mexican immigrant is uncomfortable even for me. But what is far more disturbing is the reaction of the white women Way of the World focuses on, and that black racial scold. (You’ve probably seen the video elsewhere. I’d seen it traded around on Facebook and Twitter.) The moralistic desire to expel the offending man for his horrible breach of manners and moral in merely asking a question is worth sticking through.

So, why do the WWWWs exist in such numbers? Why are white women susceptible?

I have many theories. One is that women must, by the nature of selection pressures, be more accepting of the Other and the Out-Group than men, for throughout the history of our species, when one group conquers another, the defeated men were slaughtered (or, sometimes, enslaved) and the women were kept as concubines or sometimes as wives. So the women who can turn on a dime against their own in-group continue to breed females who are more than capable of doing the same.

But we probably do not need a strict natural selection theory for this. It is noted that women vote more right-wing (and thus protective of In-Group) when they are married. It’s the freemartins (h/t Aldous Huxley) and baby mommas who build up their resentments to the male insider culture of their own societies — and it is freemartins and baby mommas that contraception, abortion, and welfare have bred. This class of people are nurtured to be independent of family and male provision. The State is all. And the State is not our State — actually existing governments — but the Magical State, which takes from the rich and gives to the . . . women. (Women are generally net tax consumers in modern society, and men are generally net tax payers.)

But why are so many married women WWWW?

I suggest that progressivism is a cult. It is a cult that holds to pieties of “social justice” utterly at odds with actual justice, and is inherently collectivist and moralistic. Women tend to be cultic followers more than men do, in my experience, which is why they fall prey to all this. The real driver here is altruism and the perversion of empathy. It is an extreme position, to sacrifice self to others or in-group to out-group. It is, generally, a quite dangerous thing.

WWWW cultists crave acceptability, like all women do, and a smaller percentage of men do. (Men are greater risk takers, and will often risk defying social standards.) And thus are prone to virtue signaling. The virtue, in this case, is racial altruism, and the signal is anti-white racism and a condescending xenocentrism. Ethnocentrism is not allowed, for that is egoistic and in-group positive.

Now, it’s not just women who are socialists, progressives, feminists and other “woke” cultists. No special theory needs to be advanced to explain the existence of the anti-white race hustle among non-whites. That appears as egoism and particularism and a confidence game. (Altruism is what the worst egoists will be most tempted by.) But what about the insufferable white men, often seen hanging around the WWWW population?

Well, first off, it’s one way to behave as a beta male: to get sexual favors from women. If women increasingly despise masculine men who think for themselves, then ape the feminine and still get access to females.

Indeed, this strategy may even account for the development of feminism and anti-masculinism. It is a strategy of what in evolutionary psychology is called the Sneaky Fucker. This is a sexual strategy seen in some fish populations, where the diminutive male appears as docile and effeminate (and perhaps, in human culture, gay) and thus no threat to alpha males. So they infiltrate feminine society and encourage resentment against alphas and standard betas.

I am not really hip to the lingo of Vox Day and others. Are these men just another kind of beta male, or are they Gammas gone wrong, or Sigmas, even?

The taxonomy of sexual strategies in a decadent culture need not concern us. But the kind of male I’m talking about — I think of them as False Eunuchs — is pretty obvious.

Of course, many of them earnestly fall for the errors of the ideology in question, and slip into the sexual strategy as the only one available to them.

It is that ideological transit that I find most interesting. The memes themselves can direct much of the development. Information, it used to be said, “wants to be free”; but memes want to dominate. And they do. And that is why over the course of time either a meme dies off or it pushes its adherents into an extreme version of the meme.

My memeplex doesn’t fit with the WWWW population, of course. The right-wing in-group preference and the left-wing out-group preference are, in themselves, not problematic: it is only in isolation from each other that they are bad. That is because the medium point between them is individualism, wherein justice adjudicates when and how force may be applied, based upon individual behavior, not group membership. But humans, being social animals, tend to fall for standards that are collectivist, hence the right and the left as separate propensities in politics, each with its own extremes and vices.

Getting western white women to see this will be hard. It is frightfully hard to get men to see it, and they have at least some predisposition to the philosophy, by natural selection.

But let us not forget, individualistic justice is itself something of a straitjacket on natural impulses. So we should expect racism and ethnocentrism to go from in-group positive version to out-group negative versions. And, just so, we should expect anti-racism to take in-group negative forms.

Which is what we see in the Woke White Women of the West.

twv

Women have struggled their whole lives just to have rights and to be treated equally. Now they can’t even have their own identity, as men are now walking up and claiming to “identify” as female. Is it wrong to feel this way?

…as answered on Quora….

The first part of this question seems a bit iffy to me on grounds of fact and reasoning, yet I sympathize: it must be weird to invest a lot of your conception of yourself as deriving from womanhood, and then see a few men fard up their faces and mince about in clothing not normally worn by men . . . and call themselves women and even demand others to accept their self-categorizations. 

Well, their demands are ignoble and immoral, but, alas, commonly accepted and defended and even amplified amongst the lunatics that currently sit at the commanding heights of our culture. I am annoyed by all that.

As for their self-categorization? Very rarely are they convincing. And even at their best they are fake women.

But fake women have rights too, and they can certainly be given enough cultural leeway to do what they want without forcing others to “accept” them and “respect” them. In a free society, the right of free association entails the right of disassociation. You need not hang around them. Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech means that none of us should be forced to speak of them in ways they prefer. And it is a tragedy that these principles of liberty are now denied and flouted by the cultural left these days.

More importantly, I have trouble understanding how you are denied your “identity” by their shallow or deep fakes. You are you. They are whatever they are.

But then, you seem to be defining yourself (as your “identity”) not by your personhood and individuality, but by your commonality with members of your own sex. I find this bizarre. I define my identity not primarily by my commonality with other men, but by my differentiation. 

I see the whole focus of the question as buying into the presuppositions of those men who pretend to be women: as hollow, as a distraction from individuation by recourse to group membership and similarity with others.

It is a fine thing to extol one’s similarities with others, but that isn’t your identity. That is commonality. The whole postmodern movement focusing on “identity” strikes me as as fake as men pretending to be women by dress-up and mere assertion. 

For we are not talking about identity, we are talking about its opposite.

Indeed, the struggle of feminism, I would have thought — before I ditched using the term approvingly, anyway — is the struggle of individual women to be treated as individual persons despite their categorization by sex. The perversion of feminism, as I see it, has been the anti-individual promotion of the sex (modish folks’ll say “gender”) rather than the liberation of individuals from the confines of over-sexualized, constricting and collectivist expectations.

So, like the other response to this question that I noticed, I urge: “let it go.” Not because the fake women are not wholly unthreatening, but because they threaten something you should not take personally.

As for these fake women, my attitudes vary, person to person, expressing (as I have) pity, sympathy, laughter, indifference, pro forma respect and, yes, acceptance.* It all depends. On whether they allow me my freedom, or, instead, have some tyrannical agenda. And also whether they are doing themselves and their loved ones harm, even sans force.

We do live in strange, decadent** times.


* When I was young, I had a number of pre-op “tranny” friends — that is what they called themselves — and I liked them a lot, despite our lack of . . . commonality.

** Also when I was young, I extolled “decadence” even as I denied any precision to the term. Now I know what it means, and remain somewhat ambivalent — that is, I do not think decadence should be normed, even while I confess to being something of a decadent myself.


N.B. I am not at all certain that my response on Quora will be allowed to stand. And I could even be removed from the platform. Why? For merely referring to “fake women.” It will be interesting to see how it goes. Since posting I saw a number of other answers. They are uniformly bad.

Should there be straight pride?

as answered by TWV on Quora:

Probably not. But there should be no “straight shame,” either.

And, more importantly, most people should practice a bit of modesty, as part of humility and decorum, rather than “pride.”

The point of “gay pride” was, as near as I could make out, a reasonable and necessary push back against the anti-homosexual shaming that was once the norm. That the “pride” movement went overboard, as can be seen in too many of the gay pride parades I have noticed, is sad. By putting aside the question of being unashamed of one’s orientation and instead publicly glorying in indecency and immodesty, “gay pride” paraders have promoted shamelessness when shame be more apt.

You see, the original idea of not feeling shame for one’s desires is good. But the shameless public promotion of private, even lewd activities strikes me as bad, immoral, inconsiderate — what amounts to grand effrontery.

Why would straight people wish to emulate all that?

But straight people do need to defend their desires against the onslaught of anti-straight social forces.

I believe heteronormativity also needs to be defended.

Why? Because the norming of the activities that lead to procreation, to the maintenance of the species, is pro-life, humanistic, civilized. To oppose heteronormativity is to promote decadence.

Quite literally.

Of course, the reader will gather that I think heteronormativity need not be oppressive to the small population of sexual outliers. A society can norm heterosexuality without pride and overbearing condescension and exclusion. Heteronormativity can be humble, not proud.

It is a worse than a shame when it is, instead, shameless and tyrannical.

I believe it is imperative that straight people resist cultural decadence and re-learn modesty, responsibility and the blessing of human reproduction. Also, it might be helpful to relearn that sexual activity can be pleasurable within a context centered around the production of offspring and the raising of same.

But “straight pride” won’t do that. “Straight virtue” might.

twv, September 19, 2019

I oppose the concept of “gender” and quite a bit of today’s intersectionalist nomenclature. This is especially the case with the trans mania.

But I should clarify. For the record, I am not “trans-exclusionary.” That term of alleged opprobrium doesn’t do my position justice. I am a trans denier. Whether or not I play along with other people’s fantasies and fakes and frauds is a matter of whimsy only, circumscribed by manners and fleeting circumstance. On principle, anyone who threatens me — in the realm of manners or in courts of law — to obtain my compliance with their fantasies and fakes and frauds will gain only my contempt and defiance. The current trans movement is a bullying idiocy.

Now, though I oppose current trends in trans advocacy, I have no great animus against these sexually confused and deliberately confusing people. When I was young I knew a number of trannies. That is what they called themselves. Trannies. They were technically called pre-op transexuals, I think. But whatever they were called, I liked them. I had no trouble with them. I thought their passion for drag shows was stupid, but I think most other people’s pastimes are stupid, and as everyday people I got along with them fine.

But at no point did I think of these men as women. Lacking two X chromosomes and sporting dangling pudenda put the kibosh on any of that. Putative trans women, even after plastic surgery, are still not women. Though if they can pass I give them a pass.

But that was yesterday — today’s trans activists are my enemies.

Why? Well, they have gotten increasingly bold in their effrontery. About once per month I encounter some public argument to the effect that I am somehow bad if I do not want to get naked and engage in penetrative sexual play with a “trans person” just because I do not like their genitalia. Well, I like women. Well, a very few women. And I have a fondness for their genitalia, too. And I have no interest in naked play with any man. I would be most happy if I could go the rest of my life without seeing another penis, at least up close. The idea that trans activists think they can guilt me into accepting their hidden or mangled pudenda appalls me.

And I have a right to my feelings.

My values.

My sexual preferences.

Today’s trannies who seek to take away my right are evil.

twv

It is possible to interpret a single concept, as instantiated in a bit of jargon, in a way completely at variance from how others use it.

When I encounter this — as I often do — I sometimes believe that I am in the right, and others in the wrong, while on other occasions I am not at all sure who is right.

Recently, Meryl Streep, an actress in a popular Amazon Prime show about women behaving badly, shocked the readers of ‘Everyone Thinks We’re Insanos’ Home Journal with a seemingly commonsense statement that, in times past, would not have raised an eyebrow. She is not fond of the term “toxic masculinity”:

We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. . . . And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together . . . because women can be pretty f—ing toxic. It’s toxic people. We have our good angles and we have our bad ones. I think the labels are less helpful than what we’re trying to get to, which is a communication, direct, between human beings. We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work.

“Meryl Streep’s ‘toxic masculinity’ critique a ‘step out of’ Hollywood ‘echo chamber of conformity,’ Concha says,” by Charles Creitz | Fox News

At first blush, this seems preciously close to wisdom, though immediately a note of uncertainty creeps in: does use of the phrase “toxic masculinity” ineluctably hurt “our boys”? Despite my doubt, the statement is not nuts. But it was not a universal hit:

Janet Fiamengo, Paul Elam, and Tom Golden shared some time onscreen talking about this brouhaha. And the general consensus seemed to be that the concept of “toxic feminism” was an inherently indecent concept:

The folks at InStyle warned against their interpretation: “The specific kind of toxicity Streep is talking about involves a kind of hyper-gendered behavior. It’s not saying outright that men are evil or inherently violent.”

Emily Alford went full Jezebel, asserting that “Meryl Streep has no idea what she’s fucking talking about” on the subject, while admitting, “Yes, there are toxic people, some of them women, many of them girls I went to church camp with in 1996, but that has nothing to do with toxic masculinity.” Ms. Alford helps us with her own definition:

“Toxic masculinity is what can come of teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly; that they have to be “tough all the time”; that anything other than that makes them “feminine” or weak. (No, it doesn’t mean that all men are inherently toxic.)

It’s these cultural lessons, according to the A.P.A., that have been linked to “aggression and violence,” leaving boys and men at “disproportionate risk for school discipline, academic challenges and health disparities,” including cardiovascular problems and substance abuse.”

Emily Alford, “Meryl Streep Does Not Know What ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Means,” Jezebel, May 30, 2019.

What Alford offers us is an environmental, “nurture”/“social construct” view of the issue. And while I do not doubt that there is a strong cultural component to the education of male humans about their (contested) roles in society as boys and men — how could I? — males are also and indisputably driven by biology, too, especially the hormone testosterone. It used to be fun to joke about “testosterone poisoning,” and I have no problem with that joke. Toxic masculinity is associated with the male hormone for good evolutionary reasons, and trying to impute masculine toxicity entirely or even mainly to cultural influences is not plausible, no matter what the A.P.A. may or may not assert.

Alford offers a definition and a theory. I reject her theory but accept her definition. Prof. Fiamengo et al. seem to object to the very term, and agree with Streep that talking about it is bad for boys. Alford demurs: “You see, Meryl, there are some damaging facets of culturally-imposed masculinity that are toxic to men (and the rest of us). It is not the men who are toxic simply by accident of being men.”

Alford seems as level-headed as a person can be under the sway of the ludicrous Blank Slate hypothesis, where human behavior is “culturally” driven. Men are not toxic for being men. Sounds plausible. Good. But, that being admitted (at least arguendo), the toxicity of masculinity is indeed a male-related propensity driven in no small part by biology. More importantly, we call the problems heavily associated with masculinity (which includes violent crime, first and foremost) toxic because they destabilize and vex and sometimes even destroy the affected individual as well as those around him.

And, once again, I do not doubt the cultural component. Indeed, one group of people who have traditionally — and even unto this very day — promoted masculinity to the point of toxicity has been . . . women. Not all women, of course: #notall! And not just because of factors associated with Briffault’s Law — that is, not just because women tend to control male access to the Delta of Venus between their legs.

Indeed, I am pretty sure one could show toxic masculinity as developing in a sort of Grand tarantella with toxic femininity — each leading on the other.

And what might toxic femininity be? Well, traditionally it is associated with a number of behaviors, known to us personally and in literature — the Vamp (pictured above) being just one classic example. And it is also connected to the deep life history of our species, broadly speaking, and to the hormone estrogen, narrowly speaking. “Estrogen poisoning” is also relevant to the discussion.

And I will go further: it may also be the case that feminism has cultivated not only some classic forms of toxic femininity, but also applied toxic masculinity in women against women, perverting their lives to the extremities of misery.

Which brings us back to our trio of anti-feminists. For reasons I do not wholly understand, Fiamengo et al. seem to think that Streep is right, and that toxic masculinity sends boys the wrong signal. Dispirits them or something. (I confess, I turned them off before they had finished. Perhaps others with more patience than I can inform me if they started making more sense halfway through.)

The problem I see here? A common problem in our culture, where the old Aristotelian notions of virtue and vice are no longer part of our moral vocabulary. The idea that virtue is found in balance, and vice at the extremes, helps explain how we should recognize two poles in our natures, yin and yang, and recognize that they need balancing — by the cultivation of good habits, according to reason.

And this question of “toxicity”: it is a metaphor. And a good one. Poison is in the dose. Estrogen and testosterone are good things in our make-ups. They provide us with our basic drives. But we must not let them drive us into perversity or oblivion. Balance; moderation in all things.

And, when it comes to toxicity, it is all a question of dosage. Too much of any single hormone is, well, too much: poison. Too little is bad, too, for it is at optimum dose that poison is medicine.

Similarly, each person must find his or her balance. The first requisite of being a good human is to be a good animal, Herbert Spencer said, and speaking in frankly biological as well as cultural terms is important. But add in other medicines (which, again, are also poisonous at high dosage, by the principle of hormesis) as well, like rights and obligations and justice: we have a lot of balancing to do.

Little boys need to understand that some typically boyish behaviors — like rough-and-tumble assertiveness — can be quite bad in some circumstances and at some extremes. Same goes for little girls. They should be aware that certain typically girlish behaviors — coquettish cuteness played up, say — are also dangerous in many contexts and especially when laid on thick.

Nowadays, of course, we are supposed to immediately discuss various ambiguities of sex roles and behavior ranges, using the term “gender,” which I dislike for reasons I have often discussed. So I will skip all that. Of course, of course: #notall, blah blah blah.

I will, instead, merely summarize: Streep and Fiamengo et al. are wrong to suspect that little boys cannot handle the knowledge that some of their typically boyish behaviors can be taken to an excess of vice. But little girls need similar remonstrances, mutatis mutandis, and perhaps were this stressed more, and seriously, boys would be able to handle maturation better than they seem to be doing these days. They will realize that they are not singled out as “problematic,” and that every person, of both sexes, have a tough road ahead of them, perhaps right up to the moment of death.

And the feminists need to let go of their relentless and indefensible social constructivism, for reasons I have given elsewhere. I am quite glad that Ms. Alford does not mean to say that toxic masculinity should be understood as akin to Original Sin. But hey: blaming society for social mores that double down on our basic sexual/biological patterns we see in mammalian and avian species the world over is a nonstarter. Further, not only do I readily admit that culture and social controls and norms matter, I suggest to the Alfords of our society that their feminism has worsened, not alleviated, the basic lot of humanity.

Well, to some extent, at least.

twv


Politically correct manspreading:

Billy Porter at the 2019 Oscars.

I have made my position about “gender” about as clear as I can make it, on this blog: “gender” is inconsistently used even by its main proponents because it is mostly incoherent.

The obsession with gender-as-imposition of sex roles (“socially constructed”) has been countered with a liberatory concept of self-definition (“display as”) without specifying the range of possibilities from social convention to social conspiracy to individual assertion to individual accommodation. Because of this lack of multi-factor analysis, gender theorists turn their pet concept from a supposedly sociological theory (or schema) into a cult dogma.

But where “gender” really errs is by focusing on categorization (“gender” has roots in the concept of “genre”/“genera”) as an identity determinant — that is, as a theory of individual identity formation — instead of individuation as a prime component of personal self-definition. It is all very confused because the normative move from socially constructed (imposed) role identification to individually constructed (self-defined) role identification fixates in both cases on a group identifier. It denies that social identification of roles might be quite copacetic with vague ranges and that individual definition of role might not need a category to make common cause with similar persons.

A person might be satisfied merely to identify himself or herself or whatself without any direct competitors for a possible mate — or none — and cooperate with a found mate without heavy social identification.

Identity could be, in some cases, primarily an individual existentialist concern rather than a class essentialist concern.

Which means: sex remains the most convenient categorization criterion, with its standard biological binary, and “gender” mostly worthless.

Sex serves as a Schelling Point criterion, while gender is too complex to negotiate in any large society.

My anti-gender position is, of course, considered absurd by the recent college-grad crowd. But what is absurd is allowing “trans girls” into women’s sports where natural male physical superiority overwhelms female competitors — sometimes to the point of crushing a female skull.

Screenshot from the YouTube vid.
Rachel Brosnahan plays Midge Maisel.

It took me at least a month to get through the first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Watching Mr. Maisel go through his excruciatingly bad comedy routines, as the viewer had to do repeatedly early in the show, was hard to endure. And a host of other small problems plagued the comedy-drama. The whole emprise, for example, made Woody Allen seem WASP. But it was a Sherman-Palladino production, friends said they loved it, and the lead actress is fun to watch. So I plodded through, a few minutes every other day or so. And got to the end, where it got good.

And then I binged all the way through the two seasons up on Amazon Prime.

The show is fun, but has . . . “issues.” As notes Rachel Lu:

There’s a scene in Season Two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that perfectly encapsulates the show’s central conundrum. Margaret (Midge) Maisel, our 1950’s-Jewish-housewife-turned-comedian, has finally gotten a gig at a semi-respectable New York City club, somewhere on the way to midtown. She shows up in her trademark black cocktail dress, fresh and beautiful and raring to go. Unfortunately, her act gets pushed back repeatedly as confident male comedians breeze in to claim her spot. By the time Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) takes the stage, it’s late and the audience is drunk, while she herself has completely lost her feminine charm. She’s sweaty, angry, and mildly intoxicated, sporting mustard stains on her sexy dress. Storming the stage, she abandons her prepared act and launches into a meta-discourse on comedy, and the suitability of women to participate in it. Comedy, she says, is about pain and rejection. Who understands these things better than women?

“Mrs. Maisel’s Mixed Messages,” by Rachel Lu, Law and Liberty (February 8, 2019)

Everybody understands pain, at least as it pertains to them. Telling other people that you know pain more than they do must be demonstrated. And made funny. The breakout rant described above is not comedy, and funny only because filled with invective. It is also not quite believable, because both too defensive and offensive. It is a manifesto Mrs. Maisel delivers. Or “womanifesto,” if you must. But it is only funny for the insults.

The story of the show is this incredibly peppy, “privileged” woman, married with two children, who almost never takes care of her children. Her parents and her wayward husband and a series of nannies do that. Her parents are wealthy. How they got this way is never quite explained. Her father, played by Tony Shaloub, is a college professor of mathematics. This was not a lucrative career path then or now, not without a government grant (which actually occurs as the story develops). Her mother dresses to the nines in every scene, and comes across as an heiress. But that information, if imparted to the viewer, missed me. Her husband (who leaves her in the first episode) works for his own father in the family clothing factory. Yet the young couple and the old live in vast, multi-room apartments elegantly decorated and filled with books and bric-a-bracs and elegant, 50s-era appliances.

The pain she experiences is not poverty.

The rejection she experiences is from her hapless hubbie alone.

And of course, only barely mentioned in one scene, there is a background pain — giving birth to her children, whom she almost never sees or touches.

This is all some weird sort of fantasy. And some of the fantasy is feminist.

One thing not quite confronted is why male comics were then and are now more common than female ones. We see two “famous” comics in the show: Lenny Bruce, who was a real man and most people say was funny, but whose work has not made me laugh in the past, but which isn’t bad re-created here; and “Midge’s female nemesis, Sophie Lennon . . . a crude hack recycling years-old material.” Neither of them strikes me as especially driven by pain or rejection.

A decade ago, the “gender” issue in comedy became a hot topic. The upshot from the men, whom I believe (and not the feminists, whom I do not), was that men are funnier than women, on average, because men need to amuse women while women do not need to amuse men — men like women even if they are not funny.

Rachel Lu, in the review I link to above, notes the theme of comedy and pain, and Midge Maisel’s insistence that does she know both. Neither seem plausible.

Her lips say “I belong on this stage,” but the show’s creators seem to be signaling something else. Before the lady comic was permitted to claim her microphone, she was forced to morph into a smelly, angry, drunken slob. In other words, she had to be un-womaned before practicing the comic arts. Was it freak happenstance? Or is there some deeper truth here? Can a good woman also be a great comedian?

This re-gendering is perhaps dramatically necessary because men understand the function of comedy, and, well, maybe women do not. Or, more likely, feminists do not. As in the old joke: “‘How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?’ ‘That’s not funny!’” The point is, it is men who understand rejection on the receiving end. The evolutionary setup is fairly clear: women find advantage in making themselves as attractive as possible to as many men as possible, and rejecting all but the very best of those that want them. Men tend not to reject women as routinely. This basic truth undergirds all comedy. The comedy landscape in the show seems a tad misleading. We are being misled. We are being Mrs. Misled (sorry about that).

Of course it is not that women cannot be funny. It is that they have less incentive to be. There are good female comedians. Just like there are good male models. But the evolutionarily stable strategies do not stack the deck in either favor, and aren’t most male models gay?

So, what of the men in Mrs. Maisel’s world?

As in previous Sherman-Palladino creations (The Gilmore Girls and Bunheads), the men on this show share one possibly-unrealistic quality: they reliably take notice of witty and talented women, and find these qualities sexy and alluring. In general, Sherman-Palladino’s men are judged by two criteria. First, can they handle their manly business, as professionals and members of society? Second, can they handle their women? Sherman-Palladino dramas have no mercy on men who are too weak to match the objects of their affections.

This is very much a fantasy, but, alas, with no unicorns.

Or, one — our unicorn, Midge, a funny Jewish woman who claims to that pain and rejection feed her art but whose experience is quite different: a charmed life right up until the first, almost-unwatchable episode. But her magic seems more plausible as we get sucked in, as the fantasy picture show does its magic.

twv