Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Rules Of Engagement For Fighting In A Marriage

All couples fight.  You can't avoid it.  But you can choose how you fight.

I was at the esteemed Athol Kay's blog, Married Man Sex Life, this morning reading about yelling in a marriage (spoiler alert: don't do it) and I ended up trotting out my marriage's Rules Of Engagement in the discussion.  I thought they might be of benefit to some folks here,. as they have served me well for nearly 20 years. Indeed, as I recently said over at Alpha Game, I feel that us Old Married Guys (OMG) have a duty to pass on successful marital strategies to the younger folk, before they invest in a lot of rented tuxes and divorce lawyers.

Mrs. Ironwood and I  came up with these before we ever got married (we lived together for 6 years first.  I was pretty sure I wanted to marry her 4 years into the relationship, but when you're planning on only marrying one girl . . . better to wait two more years and be sure.) .  We had the help of a highly skilled marriage counselor, one of the very, very few I've known worth the money.   These Rules were mutually understood and agreed-upon before we got married.

They are:

1) No yelling. Reasonable tones only.

2) No name calling. That's disrespectful.

3) Stick to one topic at a time. Don't fight about that thing you did last week.

4) No ultimatums. That's contrary to the spirit of the discussion.

5) No chase-and-follow. We handle our business face to face in our own home without involving other people.

6) No involving other people. This is between us.

7) No ad hominem attacks. That's rude and intellectually dishonest.

8) No kidney punches, i.e. hitting the other person's acknowledged weak spots. After nearly 20 years, we know where those are. If your husband/wife had an alcoholic parent, for example, comparing them to that parent would be considered a kidney punch.

9) No involving the children. This is a debate between adults.

10) No profane language. If you can help it.

That's the general guideline. Our friends think we never fight, but we do -- we just agreed to the rules ahead of time. And NO YELLING is the very first one. Yelling is a clear attempt to establish dominance without having won an argument. That's disrespectful not just to your partner, but to the marriage as a whole. Worse, when a man yells in an argument it demonstrates he has lost his cool.  (Yelling at your children to get their attention, or increasing your tone to denote emotional emphasis of a particular point, is different than Yelling in a fight with your wife).

We've managed to stick to this set of rules for almost two decades, and it has helped us get through some dark times, even when the Rules worked against us, personally.  And that's not to say that both of us haven't occasionally violated one of the less-important of the above rules at various points, including Yelling. When that happens, it's time to call a "time out" and walk away for some silent contemplation, marshal your resources, etc.. It stretches out the fight, but it's better than a trip to the emergency room.

Oh, and the unofficial #11?

Make-up sex. Righteous.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Alpha Move: Be the President.

There's in intriguing discussion over at Alpha Game concerning whether or not President Obama is Alpha or Beta.  Since the Manosphere is awash in right-leaning folk, naturally the consensus of opinion was that he's Beta, or some derivation thereof.

I respectfully disagree.

I commented to that effect, by my analysis was too long, which suggested that it deserved a post in and of itself.  So here it is, in lengthier form.

I can see the influence of politics on this discussion is going to skew any serious consideration of President Obama's Alpha-hood.  But I've studied the man as he's made his rise, and -- politics aside -- he's an incredibly savvy bull Alpha, who uses the common perception of him as Beta to his great advantage.

Remember that his public and private lives are very much different.  His public appearances are well-crafted and thought out to appeal to various demographics.  A potent one is women voters, who supported Obama in droves in the last election.  Consider that in almost all of the presidential elections the candidate with the higher Sex Rank won out.  So he has subtly crafted a public persona that will appeal to several different layers at once.

He's an ostensibly happily married family man.  After the sex scandals of the last two decades, his utter lack of scandal or appearance of infidelity gives him sterling appeal in the minds of mainstream American women, who fear a Clinton-esque drama that reflects their own poor choices more than cellulose.

Michelle is a strong Alpha woman who has a commanding presence in any venue.  That appeals to the single career women who elevate her social rank when she's shown such deference by Oprah and other popular and powerful women.  Her faithful support of her husband provides him with a powerful Preselection buff, which raises his Sex Rank further in the eyes of American women.  Add to that the bonuses he gets for his profession and education, his election victories, (let's face it) his race, and the innate power that comes from being POTUS, and he's got the entire XX chromosome community creaming their jeans.  Even the hard core GOP women are secretly fantasizing about him and would never admit it.

(Want proof?  Every porn parody featuring an Obama look-alike has done extremely well.  Without telling tales out of school, let's just say that they sold really, really well in the Red States.  'Nuff said.)

And that's just women, who are a slim majority of the electorate and therefore invaluable.  For men, he provides a balance of Alpha-Beta presentations, always tinting his rhetoric with skillful use of language that balances nuances of tone with semantic content to devastating effect.  The male perception of him as father figure is likewise powerful.  His very public fathering of his daughters sends a potent message of "Handling His Business" to men who crave examples of good fathering without emasculation.  His daughters reflect well on him.  Compared to the antics of the Bush girls, the Obama girls' respectable behavior and sincere respect for their father lends incredible subtextual power to his perception among men. 

You may see his verbal banter as Beta, but then you're missing the point.  By not publicly airing his marital grievances with his wife, he sends the message that he is a gentleman in his personal affairs, and that adds points to both genders' perceptions.  The very clear body language that they display around each other may be coached, but it is effective.  There have been very few occasions in which they appeared in public where there was any subtextual sign of tension between them.  She has an open and sincere affection and admiration for him, which translates to even further esteem amongst men.  The way he dresses (also carefully scripted) sends a confident, casual vibe regardless of the situation.  The man looks good in well-made clothes, and he uses this to his benefit.

And he watches his negatives, too, just like any good Alpha.  He's careful about who he pisses off, and more importantly he's careful about how he pisses them off.  Even the vitriol can be traced to specific memes floated around the right wing blogosphere that his people have coaxed and nurtured through sockpuppets.  Since you are judged as much by your enemies as your friends, Obama has taken care to use his very vocal foes as a successful foil for policy initiatives.  While the Right sees the Tea Party as righteous fury from the public directed towards an unpopular president, the rest of the country views their increasingly wild and silly reactions to policy and rhetoric as petty and extreme.  Obama has used that fact effectively. 

This is a skillful Alpha move on two levels, because a) extreme minorities don't win popular elections without stealing them and b) the GOP primary model gives these extremists a larger-than-proportional influence over the final selection of the Republican candidate.  When you can help pick the man you're going to run against, you've got half the election in the bag.  That's an Alpha move.

And if you've got a higher perceived Sex Rank than most of the GOP field combined, you've got most of the rest of it.  Based on Sex Rank alone, the only two candidates who have a prayer against Obama are Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, and neither one of them are doing well enough amongst their own people to take the nomination.

Romney is pretty, but reminds women of their pompous ex-husbands -- he comes off as a tool, demographically.  Gingrich?  Old, unfaithful, old, wrinkled and old.  He appeals to the WWII generation that's nearly died off at this point, and a few Gen Xers who remember the Contract With America as a key moment in their political lives.  But his Sex Rank is low, low, low.  he even alienates his allies.  By contrast, Obama took on his biggest in-house opponent and got her to work for him -- Alpha move.

Bachman?  She's "office hot", but she doesn't hold a candle to Palin's sex appeal, and when she opens her mouth she sounds like your batshit crazy sister-in-law.  Ron Paul could actually give Obama a challenge, leveraging his grandfatherly, folksy image to improve his Sex Rank with the Silverback buff, but in the general election his extreme policies and the lackluster support of his party would torpedo him in the general election. 

Just consider the anger you can feel in some of the comments. Feel it. Some people hate Obama with a burning passion.  But you don't waste that kind of energy on an ineffectual Beta.  Anyone who can arouse that level of emotion is Alpha, pure and simple.  If you're seeing more Beta, or any other states, then that's because the POTUS wants you to see it.  And he is fooling you by effectively manipulating your perceptions.  You might hate him, but you're giving him attention, and that gives him a bonus to his Sex Rank whether you like him or not.

My call in the general election?  Obama over the unnamed GOP candidate (probably Gingrich or Romney) by at least 6 points.  And that's just looking at adjusted Sex Rank.  You throw in the big campaign warchest and intact election machine left over from the last election, and Obama 2.0 is going to mangle whoever runs against him.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Ian, that Marriage Post was too damn long."

I got no less than five emails from regular readers (and that means most of you) complaining about how long my three posts on the Evolution of Marriage were, and a request for a summary.

So here's the basic table.  If you can see anything I missed, let me know.  It's a work in progress.

Ironwood’s Economic Evolution of Marriage

Version 1.0 Tribal Marriage (Subsistence economies)

1.0 Tribal Marriage \ Hunter-gatherer economy
1.1 Tribal Marriage \ Herder-Rancher-Fisher economy

Version 2.0 Grain Agriculturalist economy
2.0 Agricultural Marriage
2.1 Religiously Sanctioned Agricultural Marriage
2.2 Upper-Class Marriage

Version 3.0 Industrial/Post-Industrial economy

3.0 Serial/Single Marriage
3.1 Culturally/Religiously Based Traditional Nuclear Family
3.11 Hybrid Culturally/Religiously Based Traditional Nuclear Family
3.2 Domestic Partnership Model Traditional Marriage
3.3 Domestic Partnership Reconstructive Marriage
3.4 Companionate Marriage (“DINK Marriage”)
3.5 Perpetual Spinsterhood/Bachelorhood

There.  Got that?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alpha Move: First, Buy A Black Fedora

I was skulking over at Alpha Game today, after getting my invaluable post on marriage 3.0 up, when I read this:

"If someone is looking to apply Game to his life, what would you identify as the most important change/action to take to get started?"

As usual, there were a lot of great Manosphere responses, mostly reiterating the absolute importance of fitness. I'm not going to contradict that, as there is too much truth to it, but I ended up posting the following response, and I think it's a darn good one. There are a lot of Betas out there, hovering on the edge of the Manosphere, eager to take their first step into a bigger, more challenging and more masculine world. But they don't know how to commit to it meaningfully -- not to their wives, but to themselves. It's all too easy to give up, whack off, and play WoW for the rest of the night. Let's face it: personal transformation is hard.

But there are ways to assist it along. One dramatic and often under-utilized way is by altering your visual appearance appreciably. If you're truly committed to the Red Pill path, and you're trying to activate a visual component, then the next best thing to growing/shaving a beard for a dude is this:

Buy a hat.

Not just any hat. Buy a black fedora, in your size, as good as you can afford. Why, you ask?

I'm so glad you asked.

When it comes to Game, merely working out and learning the intricacies of feminine psychology isn't enough. To truly master Game, you have to come to terms with your own masculinity in a culture that has, for two generations, punished everything about masculinity. 9 times out of 10 a dude who's investigating the Red Pill Road for the first time has been so battered and bruised by this environment that even working out and learning when his woman menstruates isn't enough to do the trick.

When it comes to personal transformation, sometimes an exterior symbol can be extremely potent in the process. Women understand this implicitly, and can successfully use the acquisition of a pair of shoes as a game-changer in their psychologies. The same holds true for men, but we rarely remember it. But it's just as true for us. Consider a military uniform, and how it transforms the behavior and psychology of those who wear it.

Same principal with a black fedora. First of all, they look good on anyone: it's a classic look from one of the last historical periods where unbridled masculinity wasn't merely tolerated, it was admired. Bogey wore a fedora. Indy wore a fedora. Until Kennedy took the Oath of Office bareheaded, it was considered a masculine tradition to wear a hat outdoors, and in its day there was nothing more macho than a fedora.

A fedora makes you look taller, and makes your shoulders look wider. It can hide your expression in a difficult situation. It makes you seem automatically more dangerous and threatening which will affect how others react to you when you wear it. A fedora can be worn in almost any formal occasion and most business occasions. The well-made straw model can be worn in summer or in warmer climes without cooking your head.

But most importantly, a fedora gives you a tangible symbol of your journey you can literally put on and take off. When you're wearing the hat you are reminding yourself that you took the Red Pill, and any special treatment to women in your life is due entirely to either duty or your personal grace, not blanket obligation. It reminds you that you have the potential to be a Bad Ass, and to others you might actually seem frightening.

But most importantly it's a radical departure from the norm, and that's the kind of thing you can use to hang your metaphorical Red Pill hat on. A symbol you can wear that reminds you of your own personal aspirations is a magical helmet of macho. It's helpful in peacocking, if you're on the prowl, and it keeps the rain and the sun off you. Black is a power color, one that people notice and stay aware of. A fedora evokes a specific era and manner of behavior, the 1920s-1950s era, wherein men were made of iron and had guts of steel, whether they were facing G-Men, Gangsters, Nazis, or dockside thugs trying to take over the union. It was the non-military headgear of choice until Sean Connery made the dorky-looking Hornburg popular in Dr. No. But consider buying a black fedora, because it makes you more imposing and more noticeable in a crowd.

If you're in a relationship or marriage already and you're trying to have an affect on your wife or LT girlfriend, suddenly starting to wear a hat -- especially a powerful classic like a black fedora -- is bound to evoke some interest. It will at least attract some notice, it will certainly cause a comment, and it might even provoke a fight. She might say she doesn't like hats. That she doesn't like you in a hat. That you look stupid or silly in the hat. She'll use it nine different ways to try to shame you or shit-test you into submission.

But don't relent. Wear your damn hat. Because you're a man, you're dangerous, and everyone respects a man in a fedora. If your wife doesn't right away . . . I guarantee it will attract the attention of other women. Likewise men will treat you differently, too. Sure, she doesn't like it -- but it's not her damn head, it's yours. You don't tell HER what to wear, do you?

But wear the damn hat. Even in your darkest hour, you have that symbol of masculine power to cling to.

Marriage 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and beyond: Yes, We're All Screwed Now.

We last saw how Marriage 2.0 and 2.1 evolved from Marriage 1.0, thanks to the Agricultural Revolution. Now we will look at how Marriage 3.0 and its correlates evolved thanks to the next big change in techno-cultural evolution, the Industrial Revolution.

If Marriage 1.0 was about sex and security, and Marriage 2.0 was about control of real-estate, then Marriage 3.0 is about the control of money. You see, around 1850 or so people started making machines that did things far more efficiently and to a larger scale than every before. All of those juicy surpluses the Agricultural Revolution brought to you – particularly surplus Wool in the North Seas – led to the development of real industrial equipment. Which eventually led to Colonial Imperialism and a whole bunch of other nasty things, but at the root of it is the desire for women to wear warm, stylish and expensive apparel.

Wool from the North Seas countries (Scotland and the Scandinavian countries, specifically) was a highly prized commodity, a luxury good. It was warm, soft, and when it got wet it didn’t make you cold. So wool became a luxury item, like silk and spices and coffee. And since those countries all have proud maritime traditions, they shipped their wool southwards, towards the rich kingdoms of Europe and beyond. Funny thing about real luxury goods: the further you ship them, the more you can charge for them. So the beginnings of Colonial Imperialism and the Industrial Revolution can be traced back to a desire for Northern European women to wear expensive silks and cottons and Southern European women to wear expensive wools.

Now, shipping wool is profitable, especially once you evict all the peasants from their rented lands and turn them into sheep farms (and your peasants go to Ireland to fight the Irish). But it’s even more profitable to turn wool into thread and then cloth before you ship it – the value added by the manufacturing process makes it well worth the price. So the first industrial looms were built and eventually automated, which lead to a cascade of technological sophistication that spawned the Industrial Revolution. You should have learned that much in Western Civ.

But the other thing that the Industrial Revolution did was employ, for wages, industrial laborers. And while burly men were great for foundries and mills and locomotive factories, when it came to the delicate work with thread and fabric the smaller, more nimble fingers of women and children were preferred. So for the first time in history, in Britain and France, women were hired for cash wages as employees.

It took a century or so for the effect of this to be found. Before this women of the “lower classes” (anyone without an inheritance) worked, of course: in shops and stands, in inns and taverns, and as servants, and those positions only grew with the rise of the bourgeoisie in the 1700-1800s. But those positions were considered “temporary”, a way for a woman to support herself and her family until she got married or after she was widowed. Oh, there was prostitution aplenty, as well, but let’s not discuss that yet. We’re talking about “respectable” commoners, here.

But when women started being hired as factory employees and earning a regular wage, with the first cottage industries in Britain turning wool into thread and cloth, the first erosion to Marriage 2.0 and 2.1 began.

It didn’t really come to fruition until WWII, when in America and Europe large numbers of women were employed in assembly lines by the necessity of war. “Rosie the Riveter” became the slang term for a woman working an industrial job, and the four years America struggled in that war not only proved how resourceful the Americans were at mechanized warfare, it also proved that there was no inherent reason why women could not be employed in most of the same jobs as men were. It was a temporary social effect, as most women left the assembly lines and married their returning soldiers and went on to become 1950s housewives.

But some didn’t. Like my grandmother.

My grandmother worked at AC Spark Plugs in Flint, Michigan during the war, where she made spark plugs for tanks and airplanes for the war. My grandfather was off becoming decorated in both theaters in the Army. They eloped just before he went to Europe, and grandma piled up a decent savings while she worked. After the war they pooled their savings and bought a big house in the (brand new) suburbs and raised a couple of kids.

But my grandmother didn’t quit her job. She stayed at AC Spark Plugs until she retired. Between her income and my grandfather’s they had a very comfortable living and were able to raise their children in 1950s utopic fashion, Howdy Doody and all. My grandmother never let my grandfather forget that she was an active contributor to the household finances, and my grandfather spent a lot of time mowing the lawn. She still did all of the housework, he did all of the yardwork, and for the most part they had a Marriage 2.0, traditional model.

But things had changed. With her income, my grandmother had a lot more power in her marriage than my great-grandmother had enjoyed. The sex-for-security swap was badly damaged (although my grandfather never complained about the lack of sex, and even if he did I wouldn’t listen because, well, ew.). My mother grew up with a sense of entitlement, and while she was far from a feminist she had ideas about equality and how a marriage should work and the role of women that my great-grandmother never would have considered. My mother went to college, for instance, and there was never any question of whether or not she would get a job. It was assumed.

Secondly, the war had the effect of spawning true popular culture and “mass media”, exposing millions to the idea of standardized consumer goods. Items developed for use during the war became post-war luxuries that the people of America had grown used to: Schick safety razors, SPAM, Tootsie Rolls, automobiles, all of the humble tools used to defeat the Nazis had a huge market available after the war. And a country tired of rationing and eager to start making babies was anxious to not only get a good paying job, but also buy Brillo Pads, Maidenform Bras, and Pepsodent. Even with the glut of returning servicemen, there was still plenty of development and jobs to go around.

Thirdly, WWII also marked a dramatic change in the demographics of America. Before the war we were over 80% rural, mostly living on small farms across the fruited plain. After the war we were predominantly urban, living in small towns and cities. You go where the jobs are, and the jobs during and after WWII were in cities. Once removed from the rural environment, however, it’s difficult to maintain the same agriculturally-based culture your parents enjoyed.

With the economic impetus for Marriage 2.0 removed, the sex-for-security trade of Marriage 1.0 becoming weaker, and cash taking the place of land as a holder of value, it was Industrialization that forced the development of Marriage 3.0, not feminism. Indeed, feminism is a by-product of the Industrial Revolution, just as Marxism is, an inevitable social response to an economic change. Women invading the workforce in large numbers greatly upset the socio-legal environment, and regulatory reform reflecting this fact was as inevitable as the rise of feminists.

Add to that the revolutionary development of the Pill, allowing a woman to control her reproductive destiny reliably for the first time in history, and between the two a tectonic shift in Male-Female gender relations was also inevitable. Liberalized divorce laws, open access to contraception and abortion services followed as a matter of course. That was as inevitable and predictable as the rise of the Civil Rights movement two generations after the end of slavery.

Marriage 3.0 is an entirely different animal than the previous two versions and their variants. Let’s break down the variants that have evolved out of the chaos and confusion, shall we?

For one thing, instead of being focused on the matter of producing children (1.) or conserving your wealth in real-estate (2.0), Marriage 3.0 is most often focused on the emotional fulfillment and security of the two adult participants.

In other words, “Cash”.

Once again these variants can partially be broken down by socio-economic class. Let’s start with the lower end and move up. Marriage 3.0 can be considered the single-parent family, the result of soft serial monogamy, therefore Serial/Single Marriage. After about 1975 or so, this became the dominant form of social organization among the working class, even as the working class also continued to struggle to keep the ideals of Marriage 2.0 alive. The prevalence of “out-of-wedlock” births early in life, combined with looser social mores and quick-and-easy divorce laws allowed even hastily-contrived “shotgun weddings” in the case of pregnancy disintegrate in a matter of years or months. By the 1970s divorce – once the exclusive province of the rich – had become as affordable as a new car.

With the ability of even a working class single parent (usually a mother or grandmother) to support a child without a second income and a substantially stronger social safety net than our ancestors enjoyed, Marriage 3.0 quickly developed into One Mom (or Dad or Grandmother), One (or more) Kid(s). The children from these families are rarely planned, frequently lack a strong dual-parent role model, often suffer from fewer resources thanks to a low-income, and in general struggle harder than other children. The focus in Serial/Single Marriage is not usually child-rearing, and children are often considered more a burden than a blessing in some of these families.

This is the fractured state of affairs lamented by social conservatives as being detrimental to the fabric of our society. While I have to admit that our society has been radically changed by the presence of these single-parent kids, I’d also have to admit that I know plenty of honest, self-reliant and self-supporting adults who were raised this way. Some have overcome huge economic and social hurdles to do so. Some were aided by grandparents or a succession of step-parents to along the way. But I cannot in good conscience argue that they turned out any better or worse than children from the more-traditional two-parent families.

Marriage 3.1, on the other hand, is the attempt to adapt Marriage 2.0 ideals to a Marriage 3.0 world. Prevalent mostly in socially conservative communities – rural, religious, and ethnic communities where the idealized allure of Marriage 2.0 still holds a powerful draw in particular – Marriage 3.1 tries to make the traditional nuclear family function in this brave new social minefield. That’s difficult, since the forces at work on society tend to encourage people to split up even more than they encourage them to get together. But for a goodly percentage of folks in the West, they are trying to make it work by getting creative and adapting old ways to new times.

Marriage 3.1 is the Culturally/Religiously Based Traditional Nuclear Family, traditional Catholics, evangelicals who don’t believe in divorce, religious communities like the Amish and Mennonites, un-acculturated Islamic, Hispanic and Asian immigrants. People who have a strong religious or cultural aversion to Western-style divorce and a strong adherence to agricultural-style life-long marriage, in other words.

The up-side is these communities have strong filial ties that can extend generations and provide a superb safety-net for the growth and development of the children. The down-side is the prevalence of domestic abuse associated with these demographics and the personal frustrations of their children, who spend their lives trying to reconcile the ideals they were raised on with the realities of the post-industrial world. In some 3.1 communities the social differences of the filial culture are so great from the rest of the mainstream culture that the children are essentially kept socially ignorant, and cling to the traditional way of life for the simple reason that they cannot fit themselves in anyplace else.

For the sake of argument I will also include families comprised of typically Mainstream Americans who have chosen to marry outside of Mainstream America. Included in this group (call them 3.11, if you wish) are American men who marry brides from the Third World or Russia and American women who marry men from Africa, the Middle-East, Latin America or the Caribbean. These people are willingly aligning themselves with a foreign culture that usually has very Agricultural views of marriage (2.0, or even 1.0). Thanks to globalization and the reach of the internet, you can find love anyplace in the world now, and many folks in other countries will jump at the chance of a life in America that an expatriate marriage can provide.

I’ve watched several of these marriages with great interest. Intriguingly, American men who marry foreign brides seem to fare better than American women who take foreign husbands. The clash of cultural expectations between Modern Mainstream American Femininity and Traditional Values Masculinity rarely survives . . . while foreign women for the most part are willing to put up with just about anything Modern Mainstream American Men are able to throw at them because it’s rarely a worse life than they had back home. Being from America adds about +3 to your sex rank when you visit most third-world nations (+2 if you’re female), and there are some men who pounce on an advantage they otherwise would never get.

While the children born into Marriage 3.1 families can have very secure environments and a strong family support networks, they also tend to be from larger families where there were fewer resources per capita for education and development of children. In some cultural contexts women are discouraged or prohibited from having a life beyond the home, much less an income. By happenstance or design, kids from 3.1 families face a social (and often economic) handicap when interfacing with the modern world that can produce a life-long sense of insecurity in some individuals. But then, hey, we all have baggage.

Conversely, Marriage 3.2 is the attempt to reconcile the traditional nuclear family model without recourse to religion or culture. Call it the Domestic Partnership Model Traditional Marriage.  The gender roles for this marriage, despite their outward similarity to Marriage 2.1, are radically altered from them.  It implies a dual household income from both parents and shared domestic and child rearing duties, as well as implied sexual fidelity and the possibility of divorce.

Those middle-class folks who get married and try to make it work The Way It’s Supposed To, in other words, and successfully avoid the traps and pitfalls than befall so many couples early on. Marriage 3.2 usually involves two parents employed full-time, although it’s becoming more common for one of the parents to take time off from work for a couple of years for child-rearing now.  And with the post-industrial ability to make a good living from home arising in the 1990s, the distinction between "Stay At Home" and "Working" gets very blurry.  And coupled w

Thanks to the ability of women to earn as much or more than men, fathers are actually getting the opportunity to spend this time with their kids. Having been one who did just that, a few years back, I can attest that the experience was far from emasculating and led – ultimately – to a far better understanding of my children. If nothing else, Marriage 3.2 has led to a closer childhood bond with children and their fathers – which only further dramatizes the missing father figures most Marriage 3.0 kids struggle with.

Marriage 3.2, untainted by divorce, is a rare bird these days. But there are couples out there who get it to work. It’s further complicated by the new income imbalances that result from women actually having the potential to make more money than their husbands in a reversal of the sex-for-security swap that characterizes Marriage 1.0 and 2.0. While still a relatively new phenomenon, it has led to a unique power imbalance that we are just now figuring out how to deal with.

Marriage 3.2 is characterized by a sharing of domestic responsibilities as well as a sharing of income security responsibilities. Ideally, a disparity on one side is addressed on the other side, but due to the variety of employment situations and availability of domestic help-for-hire and other modern post-industrial conveniences sometimes power balances shift quickly and lead to stress on the system.

Marriage 3.3 is just like Marriage 3.2, but it is the result of divorce (or widowhood). Call it Domestic Partnership Reconstructive Marriage.  It’s the ubiquitous Step-Family that makes life in the 21st century around holiday time so interesting. Consider it Serial Monogamy Gone Wrong, or the victory of optimism over experience, Marriage 3.2 happens when two people have figured out their mistakes from their earlier failed relationships and have been able to keep a second (or third) relationship/marriage going for an extended period of time.  It’s important to distinguish Marriage 3.3 families from Marriage 3.2 families because the dynamics and “family values” are different. In essence, a child raised in a 3.2 family has a less likelihood of divorce than a 3.3 kid. That can be a make-or-break moment in that child’s own adult relationships.

Both Marriage 3.2 and 3.3 have some strong advantages over Marriage 3.0 when it comes to security and child-rearing. In our post-industrial world, where Cash is king, two incomes can provide a far greater financial security and potential to build wealth than the 3.0 model. Especially in America, where issues such as health insurance are matters of employment, a single spouse’s employer usually covers an entire family. In cases where one spouse loses employment, the first income can keep a family afloat in hard times – unlike the 3.1 families who are dependent upon a single income. These marriages can weather economic hard times better, then, than many 3.1 families.

Marriage 3.2 and 3.3 kids have an economic and social advantage over 3.1 and especially 3.0 kids. They’re more likely to attend college, they’re more likely to get the educational enrichment they need early in life to develop specific talents, and they have a greater chance of finding a lasting relationship themselves. They also have smaller families than 3.1 marriages, allowing for more resources to be spent per capita on child development.

Marriage 3.2 and 3.3 variants are usually based on the loose equality of the husband and wife. Touched by a kind of soft feminism, the goal is to strive for a more-or-less equal partnership devoted to establishing a home and raising children, ideally to the professional class. Since our economy now favors professionals in a way that allows women economic parity with men, this is far more approachable in reality now than in the past.

My own parents were 3.2-ers, whether they want to admit it or not. My mom and dad both made decent middle-class wages in semi-professional fields, and while my father almost always made more, my mother’s salary was far from extraneous. Without both incomes raising three boys to maturity and giving them each a shot at higher education would have been a dubious proposition. The loss of either income would have sent us depressingly far down the economic latter. And that additional income security of two parents made the rare times when one of them lost a job far easier to bear than my 3.0 friends in a similar situation.

A further variant is Marriage 3.4, Companionate Marriage, aka “DINK Marriage”. (DINK: “Dual Incomes, No Kids). Most often occurring in urban or suburban areas where the two principals either don’t want or cannot have children, in our society two adult incomes can allow a couple to live a reasonably secure and prosperous existence. When children and childrearing are removed from the equation, then surpluses for the household can be diverted into investments or amusements for the childless couple, allowing them to indulge in wallowing in their own internal baggage instead of creating some for the next generation.

Lastly, there’s Marriage 3.5: Perpetual Spinsterhood/Bachelorhood. Or Anti-Marriage. This is an increasingly common occurrence, either after a series of doomed relationships or just because the individual in question gave up the possibility of finding a lasting partner. Included in this group are the Post-Divorce Spinsters, the Hopelessly Nerdy Permanent Fanboys, Widows who can’t let their deceased husbands go, and – increasingly – people so married to their careers than including another person into their lives would be viewed as an unnecessary distraction. We’ll be seeing a rise in this kind of un-Marriage in the next few years as 40-something women age-out of the dating pool and instead invest in cats and romance novels, and 40-something men give up on dating for a life of videogames, fantasy sports, internet porn and paid escorts.

I’m was going to add a Marriage 3.6 variant, “Gay Marriage”, but in retrospect Gay Marriage is not functionally different from Straight Marriage, for the sake of this over-arching argument. I know lots of gay people, men and women. Some are parents. Some are outstanding parents in stable long-term relationships, who would be considered married in my state if our legislature wasn’t filled with 3.1 atavists. Some are lousy parents with same problems and issues as straight parents, and the same inability to get their act together. With the serial monogamy and sexual openness practiced in our society, many of these folks have kids from “straighter” or more confused points in their life; some have adopted; and some have essentially outsourced the missing womb or penis and created happily little families.

I cannot in good conscience say that these families have any better or any worse chances than straight families of producing strong, well-educated productive members of society in their children. From my experience there isn’t a functionally different aspect of gay parenting from straight parenting. Both give you plenty of childhood baggage. I would say that the outcome of the child depends more on whether they were raised 3.0 or 3.2/3.3 (there are damn few gay Marriage 3.1s out there, thanks to religious and cultural prohibitions against homosexuality) and what security and resources were provided for the children.

So that’s the mix we have today: one entire class raised basically Marriage 3.0 with just enough working 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 marriages around to give single people hope. The children from 3.0 families over-all have far fewer advantages than the others, and a combined income childrearing strategy has become the favored ideal.

So now most of us are shooting for the 3.1/3.2 ideal (Traditional Marriage, with or without a side of religion) and ending up getting side-tracked into a 3.0 situation. If we get lucky, we find someone who’s insanity we can stand and move to 3.3 – or, if we hold out and are picky enough, we earn a 3.4 and spend our lives getting righteously laid in a succession of self-indulgent sports cars, or a 3.5 situation and a lot of free time to pursue hobbies.

It’s a far, far more complicated situation than 1.0 and 2.0, but then again we live in a far more sophisticated world than our ancestors. We don’t have to worry about famine, disease, childbirth and warfare killing us before we reproduce nearly as much, and we can survive to maturity and beyond without spending every waking moment coaxing another bushel of wheat from the fields and praying for rain.

And other factors have changed, too: money, for one. When actual cash instead of real-estate is used to calculate and conserve wealth, then owning huge tracts of land isn’t the only way to get ahead in life. Monetization and specialization have contributed to a far more personally secure world in which to grow up, allowing us to focus on crap like Why My Marriage Isn’t Working instead of Why My Family Is Starving. Monetization has allowed us to out-source the security issues that were once the responsibility of every householder, and provided an undreamt-of amount of security for women and children. Cash has let us harness the creative and vocational power of women, effectively doubling our economic workforce and the wealth it produces. The legal reforms ensure that women and men are treated equally under the law with respect to representation, rights, and obligations (the draft and anti-male alimony and child-support laws to the contrary).

Another big change is the establishment of paternity. A major factor in the obsession with fidelity and virginity in Marriage 2.0 was the attempt by the father to ensure that he was caring for his own biological offspring. Until recently that has largely been a matter of “by guess and by God” – unless the child was from a noticeably different ethnic stock than the father, this gave the advantage to women who got pregnant by one man and convinced another man to raise the kid as his own.

But now we have DNA testing to establish paternity beyond a shadow of a doubt. If a man questions the legitimacy of the child he is paying for, a DNA test is simple and inexpensive. If women have had the advantage due to liberal divorce laws, men have recouped some of that advantage by being able to establish definite paternity. When issues of child support are raised, technology has essentially afforded us a means to ensure that our resources only go towards our own offspring, except in some backwards jurisdictions. That kind of biological

But the fact is, despite this evolution into new types of marriages and family structures, in a generation you will start to see a real divide between 3.2,3.3,3.4 kids and 3.0 kids, and one that could become hereditary. But that’s the world as it has evolved, and that’s the one we have to deal with. Perhaps if we can successfully identify the realities of the situation and call them by their proper names we can make some head-way towards ensuring a better marital experience for everyone.

So what does Marriage 4.0 hold in store for us? More in a future post, once my crystal ball is out of the shop.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marriage 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2: The Muffin Years

Things started to change with the muffins.

It’s called the Agricultural Revolution, and most people think of it as an item on a Western Civ test, not one of the most important shifts in human culture in our history. When we went beyond horticulture (growing things like olives and apples and the occasional vegetable and herb) and started cultivating cereal grains, everything changed. It was a big move towards food security, which after physical security was the biggest issue facing tribal life. Hunting and gathering is great during the summer months, when everything is in bloom. But during the winter, when the plants go away and most of the animals are hibernating or migrating, things get grim. With a few exceptions hunter-gatherer cultures have a hard time accumulating and preserving sufficient food stocks to get everyone through the winter. It was easier in a herding culture, but then the issue of providing silage for your beasts arises, and you’re back to square one.

So we learned how to grow grain, and some genius invented muffins, and the Agricultural Revolution was on.

We learned how to cultivate high-carbohydrate grain crops like oats, wheat, rye and rice. Pros: life expectancies go up, infant mortality goes down, deaths from starvation (once an annual occurrence) are now much less rare. Muffins (or bread, or rice) can feed you during the lean times when protein is hard to find, it’s easy to store and has a long shelf-life, and it will sustain you in a protein-poor environment without you starving to death. Plus, a reasonable amount of effort (and luck) yields a massive potential return, which provides HUGE surpluses of grain, far more than your family could eat. This is where things start to get interesting.

If Marriage 1.0 was about male fitness and prowess and Marriage 1.1 was about herd management and wealth-in-cows, Marriage 2.0 was about Wealth-in-real-estate-and-muffins. Before, when everyone was semi-nomadic following the herds or the harvest of the nuts and berries, where you lived was a pretty transitory thing. If things got to hairy or the herds left, the tribe picked up and went to greener pastures. You can’t do that when you have a crop in the field. You’re invested.

So suddenly where you lived mattered quite a bit. High on a mountain? Good game (protein source) possibilities, maybe, but bad place to grow wheat. Where as the folks in the flat, easy-to-plant river valleys had only a reasonable protein supply, but they could grow carbs all day once they figured out the trick of cultivation. If you live on a mountain and practice Marriage 1.1, then your distant cousins who went and discovered agriculture and now practice Marriage 2.0 are going to be very strange to you.

Grain was such an important development that the level-headed Greeks devoted an entire 1/12th of their godhood to it. The center of religious thought for three thousand years in the West was the Eleusinian Mysteries, which concerned the interplay of Grain, Sex, Death, Birth and Rebirth and featured the goddess Ceres. It’s also helpful to note that the Greeks also deified both Sex and Pleasure (Aphrodite) and Marriage (Hera). These things were important to the early agricultural civilizations. Heck, so was “civilization” (“the art of living in cities”) which was impossible before grain cultivation. You need a large enough food surplus to allow for the craft specialization necessary to sustain a settlement of more than 1000 people. But once you have grain, and granaries, and collective security, then urbanization is the next step. The semi-nomadic Tribal Compound becomes The Village, and later The Town. The economics changed radically, and so human culture had to change as well.

That’s where the real Marriage 2.0 came into play, the Agricultural Marriage.

Marriage 2.0 is about ownership and control. A man can till a field and harvest a huge surplus from a wheat field -- but he has to store it securely, too, and protect it from anyone who wants to wander by and take it. You can't just run away and start planting crops in the next valley over without losing all of your accumulated wealth.

Imagine you’re an early agriculturalist for a minute, having figured out the secret of grain and muffins. You’ve got a nice, fertile piece of land near to a good irrigation source, and you’re ass-deep in grain and muffins at the end of the harvest. And other people are starting to eye your good grain field with envy. People are starting to keep track of that sort of thing. In fact, people are starting to keep track of a lot of things by necessity, like who owns what and how much wheat a given field produced in a year. This is all a lot of fun, and you’ve got muffins to burn, and aren’t you glad you aren’t out hunting all winter?

The problem is the guys in the next valley over got together and decided that they were going to support each other's claim to the lands they had. And they were going to put all of their grain in one place and protect it from the atavistic hill tribes who really enjoyed muffins but didn’t much see the need to pay for them, because they don’t understand how private property works. Or even “property”, for that matter. So you have to share the responsibilities of protecting your investment, or designate a few tough guys to do it and pay them out of the surplus. Because while a protein-fed hill-barbarian hunter/gatherer might be able to take any of the bread-eating valley people individually, when there's a dozen of them and they work together that makes just taking their grain and cows more expensive and dangerous.

Between food surpluses and collective security, life started getting pretty nice for the muffin eaters. But their values are different than the hunter-gatherers, and the basic food-and-security-for-sex-and-childrearing contract of Marriage 1.0 and 1.1 have been altered. Suddenly prowess as a hunter doesn't win you nearly as many points when it comes to arranging for a wife (although you get plenty of interested looks from their womenfolk). Neither does skill as a thief – a big bonus for tribal peoples – earn you points, since most tribal bandits raid agricultural settlements and that's frowned upon once you actually live in an agricultural settlement.

No, these grain-growing farmers are only interested in what wealth -- measured in land and grain -- you control. Providing raw protein and basic security for your mate is no longer enough in the Agricultural world. Your standing in the larger community becomes far more important than your individual bad-assedness with a spear. You are now measured by your ability to manage to cultivate a fertile plot of land and produce a surplus, as well as contribute to the collective security. It’s hard, brutal work – but it’s not particularly dangerous. Compared to fighting saber-toothed tigers and digging for grubs in the summer and starving in the winter, it’s a pretty nice gig. Much easier to raise kids that way, too, when you don’t have to worry about how to stretch one deer carcass among six rug-rats. There’s muffins aplenty for everyone. All you need is a wife who’s a “good breeder”.

Since ultimately the role of childrearing is to produce grandchildren, the people who are arranging for your marriage (your parents or equivalent) are also scheming to ensure that you live long enough to produce them. And since more kids means more free farm labor, and not just more unskilled mouths to dump protein into before they die, then having a whole lot of kids is suddenly a great idea. More kids, more workers, more cultivated land, more grain, bigger surpluses, more muffins.

This is where social and cultural mores usually segue away from carefully restricting and regulating reproduction so as not to upset the tribe, and more towards a wholesale blessing to screw all you want and have as many kids as you want. Agricultural civilizations are where you see the first rise of the real "fertility religions". Aphrodite, goddess of sex and lust and pleasure, sits on the same pantheon as Juno, the taciturn goddess of marriage. The legitimate and “illicit” elements of sex are both deified by the Greeks (along with grain and wine) because they are vital concepts within their culture. Without sex you can’t have a bunch of kids to tend the fields. Without marriage, you have no way of keeping track of whose kids are whose, and which kid inherits which field when you die. This is when marital fidelity starts really mattering. This is when you see the rise of Marriage as Political And Economic Tool.

But in this economy wives are more than just breeding machines, believe it or not: they also represent tracts of arable land to be inherited. Consider the Trojan War. Helen of Sparta, the illegitimate daughter of Zeus, represented more than just the most beautiful woman in the world (Aphrodite’s bailiwick); she also represented a filial tie between two powerful states in Greece, Sparta and Mycenae, at a critical time. The marriage was a result of a complex negotiation that demanded that Helen and her father sort through the offers from the wealthy and powerful. The marriage didn’t just mean more grandkids, it meant the union of two political entities. Only a ploy by clever Odysseus kept the suitors of Helen from killing each other. Of course, it also led to the decade-long Trojan War, and another decade of hopeless wandering for Odysseus, so that’s what a clever ploy will get you in a marriage negotiation.

Whomever married Helen would have their sons inherit in part the status and position and wealth of Helen’s father. Having the most beautiful woman in the world in your bed every night was just gravy. It’s also telling that Paris, when faced with a choice between Wisdom, Marriage, and Sex went with Sex. He may have regretted it later, but I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Inheritance becomes a huge issue in Marriage 2.0 -- indeed, it's a defining characteristic. A man who farms (or owns some farmers) wants to ensure that his children are really his, and that his accumulated wealth will be distributed fairly to avoid feuds and bloodshed among his descendents. Since accumulated wealth is measured in bushels and acres, real estate is suddenly the most important thing in the world. Marriage isn’t just about having kids, it starts being about transferring wealth and power. You’re not just marrying a woman and her family, you’re marrying into a going business concern with real tradable assets. Some ancient tribes recognized this (particularly the Celts and the Indians) by using a local earth goddess (and her comely young maiden stand-in) as a living representation of the land, and as part of the ascension of a new king this sovereign goddess was ritually screwed in the famous heiros gamos, or “sacred marriage”.

Back in Marriage 1.0, you only had a few kids to divide up your personal effects; your stock-in-trade, skill as a hunter/fisher, is non-transferable, unless you count magic. Add in cows and it gets somewhat complicated, but not much more. But when it comes to real estate and the relative arability of a piece of land, then accumulated wealth becomes a very, very big deal.

But the interesting thing here is that the ownership of land -- and using wives and daughters as living placeholders for property rights – actually establishes a monetary value for women for the first time. And a value on virginity. A certified virgin, after all, is far more likely to actually produce your genetic heir, and you don't want to leave your parent's legacy of real estate to a bastard, do you? So depending on the comeliness (read: fertility) of the wife, you're willing to invest quite a lot of land and grain in the fact that she's "untainted" by other penises. Do you have more land from your folks than you need? Then heck! Just get a second wife to help out! Double the kids, double the dowry, and your surpluses just start increasing. Or a third wife, so that the other two will have someone to pick on. Each one represents not just a new sexual partner and domestic worker, they represent a tie to a powerful family or a piece of land, a political or economic alliance.

And from here is what we know as the “Traditional Marriage” is evolved. The marriage contract is altered from 1.0, where the responsibilities of a husband or wife are fairly well-delineated by tribal custom and gender role, and where sex/childrearing in exchange for security/food is clearly established, to Marriage 2.0. In Marriage 2.0 the sex-for-security swap is enshrined with a host of new issues: marital fidelity, punishment for adultery, and all sorts of other rights and responsibilities between the two parties and their families.

Some things don’t change. The male is still considered the provider and protector. When there’s a security threat, it’s the males and not the females who are drafted into service. Males are usually legally liable for the actions of their wives. Males are usually acknowledged as the head-of-household, because now lineage is measured through the male, even if he’s not out hunting every day. Females are still in charge of most childrearing and domestic responsibilities, including a good deal of the farming in the lower orders and a good deal of the textile production in the upper orders.

But other things are different. In most Marriage 1.0 situations if things aren’t working out there are provisions for ending the union. Tribal peoples tend to have a cultural understanding that when the masculine and feminine spirits can’t be reconciled, the spirits have mandated rituals to accommodate the situation. For example, if a woman gets pissed off with her husband she might move into her mother’s hut across the compound and go get her brothers to kick his ass. Or if you catch your wife with another man, you kick his ass and then make her do a cleansing ritual, or he owes you a goat, or something. There’s a means of re-balancing domestic harmony, and that’s essential in human societies of less than 200 people. Need to see other people? Can’t stand the sight of her? Does she think you’re a tool? Then there is usually some agency for the couple to split.

But you just can’t do that in an Agricultural marriage – there’s too much paperwork. You’re dealing not just with what happens to the kids, but what happens to all of that land and grain. If you leave your wife, you leave her huge tracts of land, too. If you catch her cheating, even then it’s hard to separate without catastrophic financial loss. So you either tolerate it or you lock her in a tower or you push her off a cliff, but you don’t divorce. Agricultural marriages are “until death do we part” by necessity. They’re real legal commitments and cash transactions, even if the value is implied and not explicit. They’re designed to produce as many children as possible as quickly as possible and max out the reproductive capacities of the partners in question. That ensures that at least some of the progeny will survive, mature, and reproduce – and hopefully take care of your toothless ass when you’re old.

Of course marriage 2.0 undergoes some evolution along the way. For one thing, now that wealth is an issue so is class. Among those in power marriage is a way to build empires and dynasties first and foremost. Among the lower classes, it’s an economic necessity for food and social security. Collective security and armed conflict give you a way to peel off too many males, soft polygamy gives you a way to double up the females, and the whole thing is pretty stable, socially speaking, as long as the crops don’t fail and the grain doesn’t get moldy. Things stay relatively stable for a couple of thousand years, actually.

The rise of the Great Religions demonstrates the first calcification of Marriage 2.0 into Marriage 2.1. In the West that means Christianity and Islam, both of which have a heavily codified institution of marriage where the husbandly and wifely responsibilities are laid out pretty explicitly. After about 1000 CE this translates to hard monogamy in name, and soft monogamy in practice (except amongst the higher orders, who used their wealth and power to plow anything in a skirt like the Alphas of old). But for everyone else . . .

Prostitution was reviled and condemned; institutional and mythological reasons were developed for a harsh monogamy with no escape this side of death. Virginity and celibacy are elevated as a means of social control. Adultery and “fornication”, that is, unrestricted and unlicensed sex, was absolutely forbidden. It was better to die than to commit adultery. Virginity was elevated to near-divine levels, Motherhood was celebrated in abstract, and sexuality was brutally condemned outside of heavily-controlled ritualistic breeding.

Ideally, in Marriage 2.1 (Traditional Model) you were a virgin until your parents got together with the village matchmaker and paired you up with a good girl from a nice family who is also a virgin, and after a big ceremony and lavish gifts from both sides of the new family, you’re supposed to keep her knocked up and producing until menopause or death in childbirth. More kids = more farmers/soldiers = higher food and social security. Then there are just enough social escape-valves (monastic life, clandestine affairs and prostitution) to keep things from going crazy under pressure (as happened during the Black Death of the 14th century), but that’s how Marriage 2.1 is supposed to work.

The variant is Marriage 2.2, the Upper Class. Marriage is different for those of the aristocracy. Marriages are de facto unions of power blocs and economic empires. They aren’t expected to be romantic in the slightest, and are often barely sexual – as long as they produce a few legitimate heirs, they’re successful no matter how much they fight and scheme. Note the emphasis on fewer children – which means an institutional consolidation of power, as opposed to a dilution of power with every generation. Rich families have a few kids that they lavish attention on, instead of a lot of kids that they can support, but who will someday fight over the economic empire you’ve created.

Even after Monotheism takes root and the traditional marriage is established, the aristocracy continues to only pay lip-service to it. Men of power are no more concerned with their own marital fidelity – after all, what’s the point of being a lord when you can’t roger a servant girl? Women in such families have subtle indiscretions with the help or acquaintances with the caveat that they must always preserve the illusion of sticking to the bounds of Marriage 2.1. As a result, there are plenty of dotted lines and questionable genetics in the family trees of the European aristocracy.

And all of this was the result of muffins. It was hard work for both men and women, but it took us from watching half of our kids die of starvation every winter to having a festive Yule celebration of the harvest, secure in the knowledge that you’d likely get to spring with about the same number of kids you started the fall with. Men worked in the fields, women worked in the homes, kids worked as soon as they were old enough to hoe or feed chickens. And that’s how things settled out between 3000 BCE and 1800 CE, until the next big thing: the Industrial Revolution.

Someone went and invented the assembly line and messed up all the muffins.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Marriage 1.0 and 1.1: The Real Story

A lot of fellas around the Manosphere speak of Marriage 1.0 and 2.0 when referring to the tectonic shift in culture and lifestyle the Sexual Revolution caused. They're referring basically to the sex-for-security swap implicit to the old-style of marriage. And as a term-of-art it is sufficient.

But it's not entirely accurate. You see, marriage has gone through several phases and sub-phases, depending upon the economy of the culture and the class of the individuals. You can actually trace Marriage, as a cultural institution, to three distinct presentations:

Marriage 1.0 was the Tribal marriage.

Now for years anthropologists have delighted at the study of "primitive" (tribal) customs of birth, mating, warfare and death amongst the far-flung tribal peoples of the earth before they were all culturally assimilated and exposed to the modern world. From that wide pool of data we can draw a few conclusions: tribal peoples use a breathtaking array of clans, societies, family ties and ancestral divinities to regulate formal family ties. We can also distill the majority of these customs and fetishes down to a relatively straightforward model that in all likelihood was the "paleo" standard for 90,000 years or so.

Now to some, that makes it automatically The Way Things Should Work, like the Paleo Diet, the Paleo Lifestyle, and the Paleo Workout. Only, maybe not so much.

It turns out that most Paleomarriages were the result of 1) short life expectancy/high infant mortality 2) hunter/gatherer/fisher economy and 3) availability of protein in the diet. Since this was the Time Before Writing and the Time Before Muffins, how much protein you could get really did determine whether or not you lived or died. As a population stabilizes in a given eco-economy, then a fourth consideration, avoiding genetic mishaps through interbreeding, becomes important, too. That's the role that various animal-descended clans play in tribal cultures, ensuring that you don't accidentally marry your first cousin. Of course, when you're likely to meet only 300 people in your entire life, marrying your cousin might just be a viable option.

Where protein is plentiful, then competition between men for mates tends to be less aggressive and the sexual mores tend to be loosely controlled. Where protein is scarce, then mating patterns tend to be more aggressive and the sexual culture more conservative. There are plenty of exceptions to all of these throughout human history, since human culture wiggles around so darn much, but that's the way most tribal cultures work. It tends to be a soft monogamy/polygamy, with only high-status males having more than one wife. Since status is determined by the ability to secure protein, the more adept at hunting/fishing, the higher likelihood a given male will have more than one wife. Paternity is a dicey subject, even so, and in many tribal cultures descent is measured through the woman and her brothers, not the father. And that's the basic saber-toothed-tiger model, or Marriage 1.0.

In a Tribal Marriage (1.0) the partners are usually tightly controlled by the parents and the "tribal elders", and usually begins shortly after sexual maturity. Most marriages are arranged, sometimes by parents or grandparents years in advance to cement a tribal alliance, fulfill a sacred obligation, or simply because that's your best shot at getting a spouse. While children are a blessing, they also involve a substantial investment on behalf of the tribe to raise to maturity.

Most cultural elements concerning sex, therefore, actively limit reproduction with a wide-array of taboos to keep populations within a manageable size -- that is, small enough so that everyone can still make it through the winter on what they can hunt. For example some island-bound tribes restrict the wife's ability to have sex with her husband for SEVEN YEARS after the birth of her child, so as to space out the little tykes enough to ensure that there's enough protein for all of them. Because sometimes there isn't.

With life expectancy and infant mortality so horrific, you might work your way through a couple of mates along the way, plus whatever booty you could sneak on the side, and no one is going to ask too closely about the paternity of your kids because, let's face it, as long as the little bugger can hunt/gather/fish, he's an asset to the tribe. More wives equals more mouths to feed which at this point puts a big strain even on a good hunter. So low-protein cultures tend towards a kind of primitive monogamy, with rare occurrences of high-status polygamy, usually later in life.

Then we went and started domesticating things, and we got Marriage 1.1. Once we figured out that our protein supply would dramatically increase if we actually followed the herds instead of hunting them sporadically, or using nets instead of spears to catch fish, or settle in a lush region replete with protein sources, then things begin to get measured in terms of "wealth", not prowess. Or not entirely prowess. Once a man can lay claim to a domesticated herd of goats/cows/horses/water buffalo/camels/carribou/whatever, then his ability to provide protein goes far beyond his ability to hunt it the hard way. By carefully managing his herd or his nets he can start using the surplus to trade, to bank against hard times, or to improve his status within the tribe. "Wealth" as we know it is born. Marriage 1.1 is where you really start seeing the rise of polygamy as a social institution, because now one man can provide enough protein for several wives and their offspring, and can hire enough guards to keep his home and herds secure.

Conversely, he could raid a rival tribe and steal their cattle to both enrich himself and improve his status. That's the cultural imperative at the heart of the famous Cattle Raid of Cullee, an ancient Irish epic that relies heavily on cattle rustling to move the plot forward. In nomadic herding cultures "private property" was pretty much what you could carry and protect, so stealing your neighbor's cows becomes a test of your abilities, not an automatic felony. Of course, if you got caught you usually got killed or were fined heavily or were sold into slavery, so the risks were as great as the rewards.

You can think of the shift from hunter/gatherers to herders/ranchers/horticulturists as the shift from primitive monogamy to primitive polygamy. The economy starts to revolve around how many critters you can call your own, and starts to take on strong territorial overtones. This is roughly the culture of the Old Testament, the one Abraham found himself in. This is the first glimmer that the issue of paternity and inheritance becomes important. Instead of being worried about the spirits of animals and nature, which is the more pantheistic focus of Religion 1.0, you start to focus on the human ancestors: the more polytheistic and anthropomorphic Religion 1.1. Where horticulture is widely practiced, the number of fruit trees you have is factored into the cow/goat/horse balance sheet. Your status grows with every foaling and harvest season -- or dies with the cattle and trees. Life is still hard, children are still a blessing, but they are still a pretty big investment. Making sure that the ones you're feeding are the ones you sired becomes more and more important.

In Tribal Marriage 1.1, the same rules apply as to 1.0 arranged marriages, but now the issue of bride price and/or dowry start to rear their ugly head. A man who courts your daughter has to prove he is wealthy enough -- has enough cows -- to provide for his wife and your grandkids. Or you and your new in-laws contribute a few critters each to get the new couple started. But at this point, cows are changing hands in one direction or another, and a man stops being measured by his military/hunting prowess and starts being measured by his "wealth" . . . in cows. If a man is wealthy enough, then bringing on a second-tier wife for the first wife to boss around is usually encouraged. And when you die, your widow and kids get to divide up your herds with a minimum of blood feuds. Got one cow too many to divide? Then slaughter it, share it, and have a barbecue in your honor. From about 15,000 BCE to 10,000 BCE, this was pretty much how everyone did things

Then some idiot went and invented muffins and screwed everything up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alpha Move: It’s Not Always About How Much Money You Have . . .

. . . sometimes it’s how you spend it. Like on emergency chocolate.

It’s well-understood that a significant portion of a man’s Sex Rank depends on his perceived ability as a provider. Since we can’t all be CEOs, or otherwise thunder our way to riches on the backs of our talents and drive, how much we can actually improve our Sex Rank with increasing our income is limited. Let’s face it: for most of us, if we could make more money at our jobs, we would.

But a middle-class income doesn’t have to keep you from using money to improve your Sex Rank to your wife or girlfriend. Sometimes it’s the display of your ability that counts for more. Sure, a $100,000 sports car is going to impress her . . . for about five seconds, until she starts asking questions about the house payment money. But whipping out your credit card for a surprise trip to the lingerie store, for instance, can be a DHV no matter what your income level. Likewise springing for a surprise run to the sushi bar, concert tickets, etc.

You see, it’s not just about how much you can provide – that’s a strong Alpha bonus, sure. But if you can’t afford diamonds and emeralds (and let’s face it, who wants to?) then providing small luxuries or securing an extra hundred bucks for an unnecessary luxury at a strategic time can seem like jewelry.

The secret is the “surprise”. Any old happily married dude will tell you that you need a pile of money your wife/girlfriend doesn’t know about. No matter how forthright you are about your mutual household finances, and how tight your budget is, in order to be perceived as a generous (!), gracious (!!) and thoughtful (!!!) provider you need access to monies your wife/girlfriend can’t spend before you do.

This is liable to cause some resentment, of course, once it becomes known that you have a separate checking account, or a secret cigar box full of twenties she doesn’t have access to. Let it. But stand your ground. The ability to suddenly manifest something necessary or desired at an opportune moment increases your perceived Alpha in her eyes, and it grants you a feeling of satisfaction that you can easily build on.

Ah, you ask, but how do I get this mysterious pile of money? Especially when I’m considering selling my kid’s kidneys to make the mortgage?

First, don’t go into debt for it. Debt sucks. Avoid unnecessary debt like the plague – it’s the responsible thing to do. In fact, secretly paying down your debt is a huge bonus to your Alpha provider stat, once it becomes known.

The secret is what the Good Ol’ Boys in my neck of the woods call the “Working 50” or the “Working 500”, depending upon how ambitious you are. That’s the amount of money that lore says should “always be working for you.”
Remember that there’s more than one way to make money. Working for it is the usual way, of course, but it’s always better when your money works for you, not the other way around. Your Working 50 is the $50 (or $500, depending on your capabilities and your ambitions) that you have out there making you more money. You do that by buying and selling stuff. It takes five minutes to set up Ebay, UPS and Paypal accounts, and once you do have those, the rest is easy.

Look around your house for crap you don’t want, won’t use, and would probably donate before you’d go to all of the time and effort to put together a yard sale. Take a couple of pictures of the ones you think are most valuable. If it doesn’t look valuable by itself, group it together in one lot. Then post it on ebay. Crawl through your attic, your garage, that box of crap your ex-girlfriend left at your house, the shed, you name it. Miscellaneous items of dubious value are everywhere. All you need to do is find out who wants them, how much they’re willing to pay, and then complete the transaction.

Got a junk car in the backyard (in the South, it’s traditional for Agro-Americans to display their wealth thus)? It’s probably worth a fair amount just in scrap. If you have the inclination to strip it and sell off the parts first, even a crappy old heap can be worth a couple of hundred dollars.

Ever stop into a thrift shop or yard sale and seen a bargain? Buy it. Sell it. Make a profit. Do you have old books laying around that you will never, ever read again? Amazon. Have an interest in, say, millitaria, collectibles, or comic books? There are booming on-line marketplaces for just those sorts of things. No telling what your old toys are worth. Have a bunch of antiques that you inherited but are just not your style? Liquidate them. Know how to fix lawnmowers and chainsaws? Do that in your spare time. Know far, far too much about sports memorabilia? Weed out your coveted collection and take the cash.

There are websites where they give away stuff – valuable stuff – for free. Freecycle, for instance. And Craig’s List has tons of stuff “Free To A Good Home – You Pick Up”. Yard sales, thrift stores, bankruptcy auctions, surplus auctions and self-storage auctions are all great places to find odd and valuable crap that other people are willing to pay money for. The key is knowing the value of something, and that might take a little homework.

It might seem like a lot of work, but once you get the system down, and start understanding how to do it, the returns can be high and it can be fun, too. For example, at a trip to Virginia Beach a couple of years ago, we were digging around in the sand and came across an old WWII era bayonet that someone had left in the sand (nearly impaling my 5-year-old – not happy about that). Instead of chucking it into my toolbox or throwing it out (like my wife wanted) I sold it on Ebay for $120, because of the year and model. Of course not ever transaction is going to yield that kind of result, but if you work on the part-time-entrepreneur thing consistently and evenly the law of averages says you’ll make a profit unless you’re a complete idiot.

But the key is to have this Working 50(0) out there in the background, off the books, out of her reach, and under your control. If you have a crafty hobby like woodwork, consider trying to sell a few pieces. Or art. Most of us have some sort of talent that (with a little development) can be turned into a money-making avocation.

It’s undeniable that some dudes just have a natural knack for trading and dealing; it’s possible that yours has just not had the right opportunity to flourish, or that you haven’t found the right financial hobby yet. Other dudes can’t get their heads away from the idea that the only way to make money is to work for someone and have them give it to you. But the fact is that incredibly stupid people make their entire livings off of Ebay . . . so if you’re smart enough to take the Red Pill, you’re smart enough to figure out “Buy Low, Sell High”.

It’s equally important to keep your efforts concealed from her. If you spend all of your time talking about all the money you’re going to make in order to get premature credit for your ability to provide, then you look like a wuss when you can’t produce, for whatever reason. Your failures count against you doubly that way. But a secret success that yields a profit that you can turn around and, say, spend on your wife’s birthday or on a hotel sex weekend or to get the power turned back on in an emergency, those things shower you with glory and Alpha goodness – as well as aiding your Beta ability to provide comfort as well as resources for your mate. It displays your Grace and Generosity, two qualities many women find instantly appealing. And the unknown origin of the sudden generosity lends an air of mystery and excitement to your relationship.

It's also important that you reserve this fund mostly for expenditures that will add to the comfort and prosperity of your household, not, say, just on electronic gadgets that will make you happy while she sits around in K-Mart underwear wondering what happened to the best years of her life. Some women can fixate on the smallest things as a tangible sign of success. Sometimes if you can discover and hit that note, you give yourself a DHV far in excess of the intrinsic value of the expenditure. Knowing your wife/girlfriend's tastes and perspectives can add a lot to this.

Yes, she’s going to be resentful that you were “holding out” on her. Claim it as your husbandly male prerogative. Yes, she’s going to want access and control over it. Don’t let her touch it, or know how big your Nookie Fund is. Yes, she’s going to be pissed that you resist her womanly attempts to control you – and it – when you’re supposed to be in an equitable relationship. Let her. Your steadfast resistance is actually going to be a long-term gain for you, as she understands that you have some modicum of control and willingness to say “no” to unreasonable demands.

The Working 50 has been the safehaven for menfolk for decades, but too many young men and new husbands don’t understand it. Just remember, after you start making a little extra money, that you should always keep $50 (or $500) on hand as seed for your next microinvestment.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Moment Of Appreciation For The Good Wives

Too often in the Manosphere we speak of feminine excesses that irk us and the generally poor state of male-female relations in Western Culture, and we don't stop to remember that femininity, like masculinity, is not monolithic. Even though individual women might drive us crazy and womanhood in general might inspire strong feelings in us, the fact is that for every strident, intransigent feminist out there there is also a woman who is struggling with the same issues we are, and doing it from their side without resorting to wild idealism and harsh criticism.

I find it fascinating -- and encouraging -- that so many prominent voices in the Manosphere are happily married men. Athol Kay, Leonidas, myself and other dudes hashing out the Tao Of The Red Pill are in successful and presumably healthy marriages to strong, capable women. One thing you can say about the men of the Manosphere, they don't go for the vapid trophy wife. We like our women capable. Good moms. Good wives.

This might seem a cognitive disconnect for those who do not understand what we're trying to do here. After all, the feminist apologists say, isn't your collective purpose to subjugate and oppress your wimminfolk? Why no, no it is not. Our purpose is to find a new definition of masculinity that works in the realities of a 21st century, post-industrial society with the end towards a more fulfilling and meaningful life on our own terms.

It also might seem strange from those who view the Manosphere as a natural extension of the alt-right philosophical movement that sees the brightest future in stuffing the genie back in the bottle and living according to 1950s industrial gender roles, with women out of the workforce and back in the home. After all, isn't our purpose restoring menfolk to their rightful place as masters of home and hearth and all they survey, untainted by feminine considerations? Why no, no it is not. Our purpose is to find a new definition of masculinity that works in the realities of a 21st century, post-industrial society with the end towards a more fulfilling and meaningful life on our own terms.

Women aren't going to leave the workforce, nor should they. Women aren't going to go back to the old culture of demure sexuality and highly-protected virginity, nor should they. Feminism was not an evil plot to overthrow Western Civilization, it was a natural and predictable outgrowth of a change in economic and social factors. At its best it provided a structure to enact some much-needed reforms to our society. At its worst . . . well, I don't have to tell you.

But it's telling that my wife, a leader in her field and a brilliant woman all around, eschews the label of "feminist" and holds feminism at arm's length, even as she crashing up the corporate ladder like a bulldozer in a rainforest. She's suspicious of capital-F Feminism, thanks to some unpleasant college experiences, and none of her wildly feminist friends are in happy places. That doesn't mean she isn't strong, proud, and highly capable, or that she defers to me unconditionally.

We have both a strategic partnership and a passionate love, and the thought of trading that pleasant and pragmatic bond for an overly-nostalgic version of an ideal 1950s Golden Age that never truly existed makes me shudder. I like my smart, funny, capable wife. I love the fact that she wouldn't be in her present position in her career without my support. And I love the fact that when I do lead, she does follow in the best Captain/First Officer tradition. I don't see my actions as unmanly when she takes the lead in an area outside of my expertise -- for example, she's the Chief Medical Officers, since she has medical training and clinical experience beyond my First Aid. When there's a medical issue, she takes command and I love being able to cede that responsibility to her and act as her willing assistant.

You have to admit, it can't be easy to be married to any of us Red Pill guys. We tend to attract intelligent, strong women, and the fact is that any guy with an ego strong enough to blog about masculinity and such is going to end up being a dick sometimes just by his nature. They put up with it, but it isn't easy.

It is usually, however, worth their while. My wife regularly and without solicitation or prompting tells everyone she knows just how great I am, and I return the favor. She loves the Alpha/Beta balance I've struck and sees value in my quest for a new masculinity. In a sea of relationship dysfunction we are happily married, raising kids, and enjoying life far more than our peers, and the only way that happens is when we both understand our roles and execute them accordingly.We're kind of a nerdy power couple, and we make it work. Mostly. And when we have issues . . . we deal with them, without drama.

I don't know if we're a model for others or a mere aberration, but we're happy and part of that stems from my reassessment of masculinity, and part of that involves appreciating femininity for what it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think that understanding and recognizing the realities of the social situation is key to pragmatically moving forward towards a new masculine paradigm instead of dwelling on what we think we've lost and whining that we're not in charge all the time anymore. In a recent comment on another blog I took some of the commenters to task for their bitterly negative view of femininity, because I see femininity as a good thing. Heck, I even see feminism as a good thing, once upon a time.

But if we're going to redefine and revalorize masculinity, we won't be able to do it without understanding and appreciating femininity, first. And that means knowing and loving the powerful women who share our lives.

So thanks to all the good wives out there. Keep it up, ladies, we love you for it. And tell your friends. No, really.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Welcome To The Manosphere. Have a cigar.

As popular as my Sex Nerd blog is (and I will continue to post there frequently) I felt that the Manosphere deserved yet another blog, albeit one from a slightly different perspective than those magnificent monuments to manliness out there already.