Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Masculinity As Pathology . . . AGAIN.

Caught a nice post over at In Mala Fide today riffing on the latest CNN article by Psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo.  You may remember him as the professor emeritus at Stanford University who is world-renowned for his 1971 research, the Stanford Prison Experiment.  You remember, right?   The one where the students were divided up into prisoners and prison guards and then observed?  

Now he's talking about boys.  And Guys.  And Men, and why we're all so horribly addicted to internet porn and video games that we don't realize the wonderful life that the Feminist Utopia promises for us, just outside our electronic kill-zones.  It doesn't occur to the researchers that perhaps there is a simpler explanation than "videogame and porn addiction" for today's disaffected masculinity.

Mostly, we're just kinda pissed off.

The calls for guys to “Man Up” have been coming on louder, more frequently, and from a lot more diverse quarters in the last decade.  And they've been met throughout the Manosphere with scorn and derision.  From Christian fundamentalists urging their men to take a more traditionally-biblically-oriented approach to manhood (one not involving, it is assumed, multiple wives and herds of sheep), to feminists lambasting the perceived shortcomings of the modern man, to quasi-government programs encouraging more active fathering.  The cry for dudes to grow up, get better jobs, and aspire to be more than a Workoholics fan site is getting louder and louder.

But . . . really, why the hell should they?

The culprit for their “pathology” is the Demon Internet, in which porn and beautifully-rendered violent video games allegedly produce a siren’s song of captivation that the poor, unfortunate male just doesn’t have the mental capacity to slip away from. 

Of course, no one asks them why they spend all of their free time in idle amusements.  They are willing to study the subject, and make up all sorts of cool-sounding terms for the “pathology”.  Looking at how boys are "messed up" by violent videogames, compared to girls, for instance, or how boys prefer a quick twenty-minute porn-and-whacking session to a hundred-dollar date with an entitlement princess who is already looking for how she can "improve" on you might seem like an unusual poll question, but I imagine they would have been more insightful.  But it's really a no-brainer, when you think for more than a second.  It’s one of those classic“Why on earth do women use twice as much toilet paper as men?” stupid questions.  

The Internet isn’t compelling them from pursuing “real life”.  At most it impels. The Internet is merely providing a haven that allows the disaffected males of the West a place to hang out and have fun.    The fact is, "real life" for boys and men these days is so far removed from traditional fonts of masculinity, not to mention traditional masculine incentives, that there just isn't really much interest in putting so much energy into something that is ultimately going to feel like such a sucking chest wound to the male in question.  Easier to load up on pizza and hack and slash for another 12 hours.

But that’s not what the experts want to hear.  They want to believe that there is something Wrong With Men, because that’s been the politically favored way to approach the problem for the last forty years.  If men aren’t doing what they are a supposed to (whatever it is they are supposed to do) then the problem naturally begins and maintains itself through them, not because of the forces of greater society or (gasp!) the actions of women in aggregate. 

The irony of this should not be lost on anyone.  After persuading our civil society that violence and aggression were universally toxic things to be universally despised since the end of WWII, after convincing us that all masculine endeavors were automatically Oppressive Colonial Racist Sexist Imperialistic attempts to gain Control over Everyone Else, and how we should Ashamed of our Power and Masculinity . . . well, there just isn’t much left for us, is there?  The forces of academia and public policy have systematically undermined any real incentive a guy has to “evolve” out of guydom, get some ambition and “Man Up”.  So they just aren't.  The Puerarchy isn’t stupid – crude, obnoxious, subversive, and self-serving, but it isn’t stupid.  “Manning Up”, to a dude in his 20s, is as close to a ticket to hell as he could ask for, the way things stand.

The issue isn’t the internet, or how our brains get wired in early childhood development.  Those are subtle and ephemeral explanations for a far deeper, far more meaningful evolution in masculine culture.  Like, for example, gender relations.

Zimbardo’s recent attempt at CNN to diagnose this “pathology” include this gem in their analysis:

Guys are also totally out of sync in romantic relationships, which tend to build gradually and subtly, and require interaction, sharing, developing trust and suppression of lust at least until “the time is right.”

Actually . . . that’s hardly fair.  That's applying feminine standards and perspectives of romance and relationships to men . . . and that's as inept as applying masculine standards and perspectives of porn and sexuality on women and expecting the same results.  Sexuality is a big, complicated, many-hued thing, and male sexuality is its own freaking animal, separate and distinct from what women desire and are aroused by.  Relationships only build gradually and subtly when there's the potential for commitment or more than a mostly physical encounter, and in most cases there just isn't. Interaction, sharing, developing trust?  That's a female approach to the Sexual Marketplace.  The male approach is more direct and practical.  It doesn't require all of that stuff . . . so we're labelled by pathology for the crime of not acting more like women (or how women want us to act).

It’s not that guys are “totally out of sync” in romantic relationships, they just don’t care for all the crap and expectations of a romantic relationship that is, in all likelihood, lead to a bad end and a broken heart.  Viewing the current SMP in this way is completely approaching romance from the female perspective without regards to romance from the male perspective.  It ignores the more sex-based “romance” dudes prefer (hint: it’s more like a porn movie than a romance movie) and denigrates male sexuality by insisting on a “suppression of lust” as a precondition.

That is some bullshit.

The fact is, dudes are perfectly happy with the sex-heavy, romance-light mode, for the most part.  It keeps things from getting complicated, expensive, and messy, even if it means you have to learn some Game to pursue it.  But any Omega can troll Craigslist these days and potentially score.  No, it isn’t “romance” -- but that is their issue.  Mostly, dudes just want sex.  It's our primary motivator.  Not romance.  Sex.

('Cause we're, like, dudes and stuff)

In essence the authors of the article are saying “Boys aren’t playing well with girls anymore”, and scratching their heads and pointing at porn and videogames, at the boys, at the scourge of addiction, at the pathology of masculinity, when they should be pointing at the girls and the intellectual world they've insisted upon.  

It’s not an electronically-inspired “arousal addiction”.  We’re just bored and pissed off and don’t want to play anymore.  And why should we?  Society has taken away the things we really enjoyed about achievement and ambition.  You expect us to go through the motions just because we’re “good sports”?

The true gall of the CNN piece is to assume that boys who don’t want to go to work and school and become daddies anymore are somehow messed up when for two generations we’ve had plenty of girls who did want to go to work and go to school and not become mommies . . . and they are celebrated, not diagnosed as having some sort of “condition”, for their departure from their traditional norm.

Masculinity, as I’ve said before, is seen by the feminist-informed public policy machines of the world as a medically treatable condition, not an ideal for half of the human race to aspire to.  In their quest to equalize the playing fields of the world they have convinced themselves that an impotent male is the only civilized male, and “Manhood” as a class is something to be despised.  Boys are “problems” in school, guys who don’t try to compete in the work environment are considered “lazy” or “unmotivated”, and men who don’t conform to the Female Social Network’s standards of behavior are “losers”, “creeps”, or “assholes”.

With all that floating around in the background, why on earth would a young man aspire for the illusion of success that only makes him a greater target, more vulnerable, and ultimately crushes him under the weight of expectation?  When his “romantic life” gives him a 50% shot at divorce, and even “happily married” men get pushed into sex-starved marriages where their individual masculinity gets slowly crushed out of them?  Why the hell would he do that to himself . . . for anything less than a truly extraordinary woman?

The answer is not going back – we can’t go back.  As much as the tools and institutions of the Patriarchy provide an allure to those seeking their own masculinity, the fact is that the agricultural base upon which the Patriarchy resided is eroded.  The industrial base it lingered upon is rapidly disintegrating.  For the post-industrial information age world we find ourselves facing today, the Patriarchy can only provide some rough guidelines, some traditions, and some continuity.  The way forward into this new century is going to be much, much different for men and Masculinity.

So what is the way forward?  Well, if feminism followed the issues and interests of Women, then the counter-feminist Manosphere should do likewise with the issues and interests of Men.  When feminism overthrew the power of the Patriarchy in the 1960s and 1970s, it didn’t have a model of what post-Patriarchal feminism looked like (not a realistic one, in any case).  Neither do we have a model of what 21st century masculinity will look like – but we can look at the interests and issues affecting Men, as a class, as discover some areas that will likely be central:

  1. Fatherhood
  2. Sex
  3. Violence and Aggression
  4. Sports
  5. Fitness and Health
  6. Money, Finance, and Career
  7. Technology
  8. Marriage
  9. Religion & Politics
  10. Education
These are just the low-hanging fruit.  All are aspects or issues that men share with each other, and all are part of the revalorization process.  

(And note that Sex and Marriage?  Two different categories.)

It's not an exhaustive list, but it's a place to start -- and porn and videogames are very much in play.  Social climbing, achievement-for-achievement's sake, and "finding the perfect girl"? Not so much.  

The Manosphere is an approach to masculinity that serves MEN, even if it leaves society at large in the lurch.  That’s fine, as the feminists have been telling us, society will get along fine without the active participation of Straight White Men (or men in general – sorry black and gay dudes, the sad fact is that after they put the signs away ultimately you’re lumped in with us) for decades now – let them.  Pursuing personal glory over public service, personal fulfillment over the fulfillment of a relationship, and personal satisfaction over the ambition traditionally associated with the corporate “young go-getter” is pretty much all you have left now. 

Let's face it: our masculinity is whatever we define it as.  It used to mean jumping out of planes and defending the empire, to the acclaim and respect of a grateful nation.  It used to mean charging up the corporate ladder to achieve success sufficient to have a wife and family, with the tacit approval of the entire community.  It used to be taking the hard shots, making the hard calls, and building a civilization from scratch. It used to be.  That was when being masculine, being a man, and being a successful member of society was worthy of respect, not revilement.  

Now? Now it means Sportscenter, WoW, YouPorn, your favorite online porn store, the perfect craft microbrew, the upcoming season, sarging for chicks on the weekends, bootycalls at 4 am, the playoffs, the preseason, Snap On tools and WD40, .306 and 9mm, whatever you want it to.

Because fellas?  You don't owe them shit after what they've given you to work with.  You owe yourself, because no one else is ever going to give it to you.  So if you want to conquer the world and develop your mature masculinity, I highly encourage it.  Or if you want to withdraw and play games and whack off, I encourage that as well.  If you want to prowl the night for easy pickups and one-night-stands, cruelly gaming the pants off of any fair maiden who catches your fancy -- have at it, with my blessing.  Hell, give her an inch for me.  As long as they're willing, stack up those notches and have yourself a wonderful time and I won't think any less of you.

What I don't encourage is proceeding from the idea that you HAVE to live up to anyone's expectations but your own, or viewing your masculinity as a pathology.  That's self-loathing, penis-hating bullshit, and your ancestors recoil from such crap as a repudiation of every hard decision, every civilization-raising plan they bled for to push your sorry bit of DNA up the evolutionary chain.  

You're a dude.  You like to kill zombies.  You like to whack off.  And you prefer to do it without the judgement and condemnation of every screechtard on the planet.  That doesn't make you sick, or addicted, or of less social value than someone who doesn't . . . it just makes you a dude.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

You Bet On The Horse, Not The Race

Was hanging out at Athol's post, Could Have, Should Have, Would Have, Didn't, and as usual I shot my mouth off in a copius manner.  Since I'm recovering from a severe intestinal issue (don't worry, all the juicy details in a future post!  You wouldn't want to miss an update of my bowels, now, would you?) and don't feel like putting together my usual insightful, original, and arguably brilliant posts, I figured I'd recycle the comment.  It stands pretty well as a post, I think.  So go read the original piece at Athol's, if you wish, and come back.  I'll wait.

I’m going to skip over all of the golddigger BS and come to a more important and perhaps pertinent point in Athol’s sagacious post. As part of your due diligence before proposing, regardless of whether you’re male or female it’s important to remember that you are betting on the horse, not the race. That is, you are committing to share your life and your fortune with another person, not investing yourself in their performance in one particular role.

An important question to ask yourself about your spouse, if morbid, is whether or not you think that they could support themselves deprived of their primary means of doing so. If you married a famous pianist, for instance, is he the type of dude who could segue into something else if his hands were maimed in a freak manicure accident? If your prospective wife is a first-rate accountant, are you confident in her ability to make a living doing something else if suddenly she were deprived of the ability to do math?

The importance of this point is outlined in Athol's post: Athol and Jennifer hit a major career bump, in which they had to regroup, re-plot their course, and re-commit to it. Had either one of them been married to the job-title or the earning potential, then that short shock may well have put an end to the marriage (as it has to many folks). Since they were committed to the family first and foremost, not the career, when a career avenue dried up it was painful but possible to marshal their resources and — together — plan a way out. It’s one of the hardest things to do in a marriage, when everything you do is so critical to the health, safety, and welfare of others, but granting your spouse the room to fail (or at least dealing with their failure if it occurs without summarily judging and rejecting them) is part of the high art of marriage.

My first big marketing gig on my own concerned a large piece of heavy construction equipment and a very, very narrow market. I didn’t know the first thing about marketing heavy construction equipment. But I waded into it and I gave it my all for six months . . . until the client fired me and I lost a very lucrative contract. I was devastated. My first foray into Big Time Marketing . . . failed. Mrs. Ironwood (still in college) never blinked — she hadn’t married a marketing mogul, she’d married Ian Ironwood, and she had every faith in my ability to learn from my mistakes and persevere. And plenty of reproductively active years ahead of her to ditch my sorry ass and find a replacement if I didn’t get my act together.

The combination of unlimited support with reasonable accountability and high expectation on both of our parts has gotten us through economically harsh conditions, grueling employment, and sudden and unexpected changes in job situations. If either one of us had to quit and change careers tomorrow, I have no doubt that we’d be successful again in short order in our new jobs — because we bet on the horse, not the race. The horse isn’t going to win every race. But if it’s a good horse, it will win enough races — and the right races. But you don’t beat the horse for losing a single race, and you don’t sell the horse as long as it’s still trying to win races. In fact, you might have to work with it a bit to get it back into shape. But if it’s a good enough horse, then in the long run it will pay off.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alpha Move: Hit The Road, Jack!

There comes a point in every man’s relationship with his woman where the comfortable familiarity you feel waking up next to the same face every day slowly but inevitably becomes a kind of ennui that can lead to all sorts of snappish behavior.  That seems counterintuitive: you’d think that the more time you spend with your lovely lady, the more time you would want to spend with her.  But somewhere along the way things just get . . . routine.  And if you don’t take care, you can find this familiarity breeding contempt or worse, a plethora of Shit Tests.

I’ve been over this particular bump in the relationship road more than once, but it took years for me to realize its origin and nature before I could formulate an effective treatment.  My first few years with Mrs. Ironwood were the usual hazy cloud of love, infatuation, and novelty sex, so I was appropriately distracted from the issue of relationship complacency.  But about Year Three, after most of a long hot summer cohabitating, going to summer classes, and working food service jobs, we started getting into a long, petty, nasty little rut where we’d seek to out-submit each other for the Blue Pill prize of boredom. 

Things got hairy enough to consider relationship counseling – but we were young and broke and uninsured, so we settled for argument and introspection instead.  Cheaper.  Finally, the proto-Mrs. Ironwood cornered me after a particularly viscious and pointless spat, ostensibly to continue it, when she abruptly changed tactics and actually asked me what was wrong.  I thought for the barest of seconds.

“I need to miss you more, I guess,” was all I could sheepishly say.

That took Mrs. I by surprise, but she took it at face value, too.  Within a few days I had found myself signed on to a road trip with a bunch of dudes to another state for the purpose of manly indulgence in masculine things like hitting people with sticks, drinking homebrewed mead and swearing forsoothly.  It wasn’t more than a long weekend, but when I returned I attacked the future Mrs. Ironwood with renewed vigor and lustfulness.  Indeed, I just needed to miss her more.  And vice versa.

There’s an old bluegrass tune I enjoy called “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?” and I like it because it is instructive.  As much as we love the dear object of affection, the woman who birthed your children and pledged her undying love to you before the gods and her kin, the woman who would happily take a bullet or cut a bitch on your behalf, that woman whose very name makes your heart beat faster is also the one who can drive you fucking batshit insane if you don’t get out of her sphere of influence and remember where your testicles are every now and then.

As we've lost our grasp on traditional masculinity, thanks to the overthrow of the Patriarchy, we've also lost some of the noble traditions that kept our revered paternal ancestors from murdering or otherwise ending their relationships with our revered maternal ancestors.  It is a lost truth that every adult man needs to renew the well of his masculinity in the company of other men, preferably in the completion of some quest, contest, or great feat of arms or skill.  In other words, Grandad knew that sometimes the best way to deal with Grandma was to get the hell out of Dodge for a few days, kick back with the guys, and bask in the utter lack of feminine presence. 

That didn’t mean (necessarily) that Grandad was getting some homoerotic action on the DL on his hunting trips, it just meant that a straight testosterone injection in the form of male fellowship in the completion of a common goal is oft the best treatment for your wife’s face becoming too familiar to you.

In ancient times, it was chthonic monsters or evil witches or tyrannical kings that needed slaying.  In the Middle Ages, dragons, grails, crusades and general errantry were preferred.  In our grandsires’ day it was Theodore Roosevelt-style hunting and fishing trips in the rugged wilderness that haunted the masculine imagination.  But in our present day and age, this important masculine ritual is typically fulfilled via the expedient of the great American masculine tradition:

The Road Trip.

That’s right.  Pile in the car with two or more male buddies (strangers can work . . . if you dare . . .), fill up the tank, load up on beef jerky and diet soda, and drive to some destination of note for a trip of no less than four days’ duration.  Yes, four days – any less time and you won’t be gone long enough for her to miss you.  And that’s part of the point, for her to live a couple of days without you up her butt and to the left. 

 You see, it’s very easy, especially in a cohabitation or marriage situation, for you and your woman to take each other for granted when it comes to a lot of the daily chores and minutia of living.  Often it’s a matter of the female becoming dependent on the male for certain chores, and a few days of her being forced to be self-reliant and miss you is a good way to remind her just how valuable you are in her life.  And a few nights with no one snoring next to her is sure to inspire some anxious thoughts.  Inevitably, those late night what-would-I-do-without-him? internal monologues are great ways to make her think dreadfully without you actually having to employ Dread.

Think about it: women have a deep-seated need to communicate, and they thrive on being able to give regular updates about their FSM to you on a daily basis.  Being deprived of that is kind of like suddenly being deprived of the freedom to masturbate, for a dude.  You start to get backed up.  When you keep her from being able to give you updated reports, it makes her reflect more powerfully on your role in her life.

(Or your absence provides a perfect opportunity for her to cheat on you . . . as well as a perfect opportunity for your recently-hired private investigator to follow her around and catch her cheating on you, if you’re at that stage of the relationship.)

But the real point of the Road Trip isn’t about your relationship with her, although that is the beneficiary.  No, the point is about your relationship with yourself, and your own sense of masculinity.

As has been said here and elsewhere often before, Girls Become Women Naturally, Boys Must Be Made Into Men By Other Men, reflecting the importance of male mentorship in the maturing process that turns an adolescent male into a functioning adult Man.  Women enjoy a biological edge to their maturity, and apart from the occasional hint about how to get blood stains out of an all-white sofa, a woman’s body largely takes care of providing her with what she needs to become a full-fledged, reproducible adult.

For dudes, however, that process is far from automatic, and usually a culture has developed an entire suite of rituals and customs to usher the boys of the tribe into manhood.  But what is rarely discussed is the importance of being able to regularly renew that sense of primal masculinity, either through challenge and introspection or through competition and camaraderie with your fellow men.  Men, as a rule, borrow each others’ masculine power the way women borrow each others’ purses.  If  we don’t have a chance to wallow in testosterone with our buds every now and again, we get wimpy and start watching Dancing With The Stars even when our wives aren't around.

There are many essential elements to a ball-busting cross country hellride: a working vehicle (recommended) at least two fellow men around your own age, a pocket full of gas money, and a destination.  Discussion of all pertinent Manosphere topics are fair game, with no lasting blame or recrimination being levied for voicing unusual ideas (unless it’s just too good to pass up, like the way Dennis has a thing for girls with little boobs), and with the tacit understanding that No One Talks About Fight Club.  What happens in the car, in other words, stays in the car.

The discretion involved in an all-male roadtrip is one of the foundations of the Bro Code.  If Steve talks about how he felt up his cousin once, then it stays there – you don’t want your buddies’ deepest, darkest secrets to become fodder for the FSM -- that's the clinical definition of "the wrong hands".  No one likes a gossipy dude, and betraying male trust at that level is hard to forgive and forget.

This includes any lengthy discussion about sex, women, sex with women, women with whom we’d like to have sex, and sex with that one chick that one time.  It also covers any women you see, meet, or flirt with.  All such discussions are protected. 

Alcohol is often involved in these endeavors, as are drugs of various sorts.  See: The Hangover.  Your Masculine Cone of Silence extends to this area.  NOTE: You should without fail do your best to AVOID INCARCERATION when it comes to a Road Trip, as this just eats into Fun Time, and has a tendency to turn Beer Money into Bail Money, and that’s just not very much fun(Bright side: you might get the opportunity to live out that homoerotic“gang raped in prison” fantasy on your bucket list).  

But even the talking and drinking aren’t the important parts of this Alpha Move.  The important parts revolve around how you, yourself, reclaim your masculinity.  That starts with distancing yourself from your relationship.  This is hard, particularly if your friends all refer to you and your wife by a collective name.  But if you cannot establish and protect your own individual identity from your wife if you don’t go out and be your own man for a change.  And if you don’t remind yourself how to be your own man . . . you won’t be.

The temptation to invite your honey along on your adventure is great, but you should resist.  Sure, having theoretical access to your favorite ladyparts is a great idea, but the whole point of this endeavor is to give yourself some perspective and an unmitigated  dip in the testosterone tank.  Hell, don't even call her more than once a day, and don't text, either, if you can possibly help it.  It’s not just whether or not you can manage to feed, bathe, and clothe yourself properly without her assistance, it’s about how you carry yourself around strangers, how you behave when you meet new women, how you act when no one around you knows jack shit about you but what you tell them. 

It’s an opportunity for soul-stretching adventure, for testing yourself and your limitations, for redefining who you are and what that means.  It’s about how you have to sometimes rely on unreliable people to finish what you started, and how to go about doing that.  It’s putting yourself in a controlled crisis situation and watching yourself react and perform.  It's a reminder of those tests-of-manhood you endured in your youth . . . and why they were so important then.  Surprise surprise, they're still pretty important.

I’m not saying you have to go running with the bulls, diving the rift, or run some crazy cross-country rally race – but a road trip with a bunch of dudes is a unique and vital way of feeding the masculine soul, and one that is incredibly fulfilling, even when the trip just sucks.

And of course, when you do return, don’t screw around with any “So how was your trip, honey?” bullshit. 

You walk in the door, you start taking off your clothes and bellowing for your woman.  If she isn’t utterly happy to see you, and eagerly looking forward to the trip to Pound Town you’re about to give her . . . well, maybe she needs a couple more days to miss you more.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Of Gynocentrism and Genocide

Some people wonder why I do this – and formulate all sorts of wrong-headed, misinformed opinions about the subject.  My motivations are actually fairly simple: I’m a father in the 21st century, trying to protect and prosper for his family.  Because I’m a word nerd, I try to influence the culture around me in a way I find beneficial to that end.  That’s it.  That’s my whole secret plan: to make the world a better place for my children.  According to what I see as “better”.

Now some might see this as temerity, the arrogance of yet-another Straight White Male ™ railing against his declining social and financial importance and trying to turn back the inevitable march of Progress.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In many ways, I remain a Progressive, politically: that is, I think like a Progressive when it comes to doing the most good for the most people, when it comes to the environment and global climate change, when it comes to basic human rights for all – including the right to marry and control one’s own reproductive freedom.  I'm pro-Civil Rights.  I'm pro-Gay Rights.  I’m pro-Choice. 

But I’m also pro-Second Amendment.  And pro-First Amendment.  Pretty big fan of most of the others, to the point where I once was an active Libertarian, until I got sick of the whiny anti-tax stance of many of the other Libertarians.  Those things alone get me branded as “conservative” by some of my Progressive friends.  My “liberal” social attitudes get me dismissed by my conservative friends.  I’ve listened extensively to both Rush Limbaugh and NPR.  I’m comfortable with neither the liberal or the conservative label, and usually take shelter as an “independent” and vote on the basis of the candidate.  My politics follow my own consistent internal logic, and I rarely see fit to explain them to others.

But when it comes to this blog, and some of my other efforts, I can pinpoint precisely where my strong counter-feminism stance comes from. 

You see, I have two young, vibrant, highly intelligent boys, and a similarly brilliant and robust daughter.  I’m not worried about my daughter.  She’ll do fine in the coming century, the way that things have shaken out for girls of her generation.  But my boys . . . I’m preparing them for the struggle ahead to the best of my ability, like any good father, but it’s hard to prepare them for something like this:

“…What I do have is an ongoing intolerable experience that this life I and other women live is blighted by male oppression, and that this blight diseases the trunk of our species’ existence, not just the branches, not just the leaves. Every moment of our existence, this blight injures us. It kills our spirits, ruins our bodies, destroys our happiness, twists our children.”

Of course, half of those children are MALE, but she doesn’t dwell on that unpleasant truth.  Later on, she continues:

“As Sheila Jeffreys has put it, and I think we all agree, it has to start with this: there is something wrong with men. It is a pathology with both physical and psychological features. I personally think it is as old as our evolution as hominids. I think it’s a biological adaptation which is now rotten, dangerous, and vestigial. I think we have to force the scientific establishment to take a clear look at this colossal sick old mammoth taking up all the space in the living room, and make it stop distracting itself with sexy cosmologies and particle accelerators. I don’t quite have a name for this pathology. Let’s give it a real name together.”

The “pathology” that the author Vilet Tiptree speaks of is pretty much anything with an XY chromosome: Men, in other words.  Not Straight White Men ™, not the Patriarchy, but the “System” run by . . . men.  ALL men.  

This one little radfem paragraph is calling for no less than the soft genocide of half of the human race.  That includes my boys.

That’s a problem for me.

Take a look at the same paragraph, slightly altered, and see how it strikes you:

As Sheila Jeffreys has put it, and I think we all agree, it has to start with this: there is something wrong with Jews. It is a pathology with both physical and psychological features. I personally think it is as old as our evolution as hominids. I think it’s a biological adaptation which is now rotten, dangerous, and vestigial. I think we have to force the scientific establishment to take a clear look at this colossal sick old mammoth taking up all the space in the living room, and make it stop distracting itself with sexy cosmologies and particle accelerators. I don’t quite have a name for this pathology. Let’s give it a real name together.

Let me be clear, the author didn’t say “Jews”, she said “Men” . . . so it’s okay.  In fact, substitute any other group in place of “Men” and what you are looking at is something more apt for a sinister eugenics program than the “ideology of equality” known as feminism – but there it is. 

Now, “mainstream” feminists argue that the radfems are extremists, theoreticians providing valuable perspective from the margins of the movement.  That they are moved by great political passion, and their outrageous positions are born of necessity, the inevitable result of centuries of institutional male oppression and female suffering.  Radfems of the 1970s and 1980s like Dworkin and McKinnon, who famously condemned all heterosexual sex as “rape”, were among the first to use their influence within the Feminist Female Social Matrix to heat up the war on masculinity. 

The attacks against male sexuality were transformed, over the years, into attacks on men in general, and eventually evolved into genocidal screeds like the above.  When you start calling into question the necessity of the existance of half of the human race and start agitating for its eventual extinction, regardless of whether you are leading your movement or are on the fringes you have tainted any other possible argument you could make.  And any movement that does not do its best to separate itself from such vileness and reproach the authors has to be called into question as well.

Sure, the radfems are a bunch of crackpots – who takes them seriously?  Well, a lot of feminists do.  This is misandry at the most fundamental level, a hatred for men that stretches the term “pathological” as inadequate.  Yet this radfem and her spiritual sisters are a respected voice within the greater feminist community, and are eagerly looking forward to participating in the upcoming gathering of feminists that has sprungas an outgrowth of the Occupy movement.  The “fringe” of feminism is going to do its best to push for an even harsher war against masculinity and men – I can’t see them softening their tone – and as we have learned, in the Female Social Matrix, controlling the conversation is tantamount to controlling the Matrix.

The only good thing about this level of pure hatred is that it keeps shooting itself in the foot over and over again, tripped up by the rules of the very Matrix it tacitly tries to control.  Radical feminism’s own ideology is also it’s biggest hobble towards effective action.  Why?  Because feminism (especially after it’s adoption of key Marxist principals – you remember Marxism, don’t you?  Founded on the latest bleeding edge scientific principals . . . of the 19th century?)  is committed to non-heirarchical organizational structures.  Consider this strong push in the movement, the adoption of the “progressive stack” method of organization:

"We urge that the Assembly recognize the concept of stepping back: that dominant voices and identities recognize privilege and power in the room and in themselves, and 'step back' from monopolizing a conversation in the interest of hearing a diversity of voices and experiences on the topic. We are not here to reproduce the same monopolization of voice and power as the '1%', we are here to diversify spaces for radical inclusion, and to name centuries of privilege and exploitation of particular demographics of the population, including but not limited to: women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ populations, non-status individuals, differently-abled persons, the very young and the very old...all these voices are regularly marginalised in our societies. In devising alternate modes of being and redistribution of power in the world, it is our duty and responsibility to listen and learn from prioritising these voices that are traditionally and systemically silenced in our dominant culture. Let us be accountable to our own declarations of values – let us put these principles into practice in order to devise alternate ways of being in the world."

In other words, all of those who show any shred of leadership are forced to abandon it –officially – in favor of a chorus of diverse voices.  This is the oft-observed press for “consensus” that is so valuable to the FSM -- and don't forget that consensus is the absence of leadership Those who have naturally taken leadership positions in their movement and have gotten it to where it is are pulled down from power in favor of the participation of those on the margins.  This is the system which is being pushed on to the coming feminist confab.  Of course, the “unofficial” leaders who emerge in place of the original leaders will have the benefit of an even murkier and less-defined consensus behind them to lend to their credibility . . . within the Feminist Female Social Matrix.  Everywhere else?  Not so much.

Which is why I’m not terribly concerned about the vitriol from the Radfems doing more than moderately influencing the opinions of other feminists, an increasingly divided group, about as much as Andrew "Dice" Clay influenced the development of masculinity.  You see, in abandoning “hierarchical power structures” the radfems are essentially abandoning “power”.  By including everyone’s voice, the possibility for a truly effective consensus on a particular topic is lost in favor of a bland list of petty issues that will stand as a testament to their commitment to their ideals . . . but probably not much else.

Because ten thousand years have proven to my satisfaction that “non-hierarchical power structures” don’t accomplish anything more complicated than a quilting bee.  Oh, there have been plenty of examples of de-centralized hierarchies accomplishing things such as literacy programs, health education, and missionary conversions . . . but “non-hierarchical power structures” are almost an oxymoron.  And they damn sure don’t get anything done.  They just make more people feel better.  They’re an organized bitchfest, a cathartic therapy session that raises self-esteem and encourages empowerment . . . and erodes any real potential for powerful action.  What the feminists and the radfems don’t understand is that the “power” comes from the hierarchy – when individuals cede a portion of their personal power in the form of submission and obedience (“submitting to authority” implies imbuing that authority with the power of your willingness to obey it) they enrich that authority’s ability to Get Shit Done.  Whether the shit they’re doing is worthy or not is immaterial: the way to establish an effective organization is through hierarchy, not chaos.

Hierarchies work.  And over the centuries, they've been refined to be more and more efficient.  From construction crews to military unitys, hierarchical power structures accomplish things.  Non-hierarchical structures write a lot of poetry.

In fact, when you look at the great feminist-inspired movements of the past, from Abolition to Temperance to Suffrage to Woman’s Rights, it was only when large groups of women organized into male-style hierarchical structures that they accomplished any meaningful change.  That is, they could not effectively fight against the power of the hierarchy without building a corresponding hierarchy.  This modern tendancy towards inclusion and consensus and away from hierarchy and actual power to accomplish anything is doing far, far more to keep the radfems harmless genocidal, gynocentric nuts on the fringe instead of leaders of castrating legions of angry women.

So when I see bullshit like this, and the recent inclusion of certain Manosphere sites as “hate groups” by theincreasingly-irrelevent Southern Poverty Law Center, I feel like I can relax – a little – about my boys’ future.  After all, self-imposed dissarray among the self-declared enemies of your gender is a good thing.  But the fact that they have any influence at all within the greater feminist movement more than justifies my vigilence on behalf of my boys.  It also more than justifies my unwillingness to see feminism, in general, as anything less than a gynocentric, misandrous attempt to grab power (but with little conception of what power is – and what to do with it), a culture-wide Shit-Test for our collective masculinity. 

Radical Feminists freely admit that their views are not shared by the majority of feminists, much to their dismay.  But they do enjoy influence within the movement far out of proportion to their numbers, thanks to the FSM’s willingness to reward outrageous, attention-getting behavior from its members with higher Matrix position and influence.  But their presence within the movement is all the justification any male needs (or any female who has a male in their life they don't want to see sent to the castration-and-re-education camps) to quit calling himself a feminist, no matter how White Knighty he is.   Radical Feminism is proud to be an existential threat to all Men and all masculinity. 

Mainstream feminism proports to be about fairness and equality – those are the first words out of a feminist’s mouth when they explain the ideology – but if it includes bile like the above, then counter-feminism and the Manosphere have all the justification it needs to exist in defense of our gender’s right to exist.  When they start threatening my boys, I’m going to defend my family just as ardantly as I would if someone threatened my daughter.  It might be all "patriarchy-y" of me, but I can live with that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Our Masculine Power Part Three: The Power To Know, Discover, and Do

Our third masculine power is the Power to Know, Discover,  and Do.  The Sage Power.

This Masculine Power is the cornerstone of every civilization.  Men have a talent for learning things, knowing things, organizing, recording, and using that knowledge productively in a way that is uniquely masculine.  From the earliest beginnings of tool-using culture, the man who knew how to make fire, tie knots, and recognize a good game trail when he saw it was highly valued.  But it didn't stop there.  To our paleolithic forebears the Power to Know was the basis of all magic and technology.  Before writing, when our ancestors were reliant on oral history for every scrap of their knowledge base, the Power to Know was, quite literally, the basis for our entire culture.

Without a way of permanently recording the information, for 100,000 years the only way for one generation to communicate to the next generation was to preserve it within the minds and memories of the elders of the tribe (men and women).  If invaders came through, killed off the elderly after they disposed of the warriors, then the women and children who remained would be utterly bereft from their history and knowledge base.

Old men and women, in tribal cultures, are highly valued because of their experience and their skills, but most of all they are valued because they are living storehouses of culture -- myths, legends, folk wisdom, practical advice.  And it was a survival skill: the more a man could cram into his skull, the more likelihood his descendants would keep him around after his teeth fell out and his accumulated wounds and age kept him from being a productive hunter.  The Man Who Knows is one who has a special talent for acquiring, gathering, and organizing knowledge in a way that is both practical and elegant.

From that need to know and do came the basis of writing, the greatest piece of magic to arise since human speech and the use of fire.  Writing, originally designed to track supplies or trade, or to communicate with the gods, or to other learned men, was the first way that discrete information was able to be transmitted between the generations -- and stored independent of a human brain.

More, it allowed men to talk to each other over long distances, their exact words unfiltered by a messenger.  Indeed, a messenger could well be wholly ignorant of the message he carried.  Such magic was profoundly impressive to the mind of our tribal ancestors, so profound that its origin is usually ascribed to the gods.  The utility and usefulness of literacy was so important that in every culture in which writing arose, knowledge of the written word became the hallmark of the Sage.  And from literacy, all history and culture flow.

At the root of this Power is a man's innate curiosity about the Universe coupled with the knowledge that he can affect that same Universe in some useful ways.  To Know and to Do, in other words.  Whether the issue was hunting, building shelter, reading the stars, butchering an animal, managing a wife and family household, understanding the ways of wildlife and plants, or knowing the minds of the gods, Man has a talent for collecting and using information that is inherently admirable.  Further, the more a man knows and the more he knows how to apply what he knows, the more high value he is, in any society.

The masculine icon I've chosen for this particular Power is that of Sherlock Holmes.  The fictional detective invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle epitomizes all of the grand aspects of this Power.

Holmes was brilliant, of course, but he was also unarguably masculine.  From his height (complimented by the iconic Deerstalker hat) and his predilection for smoking a pipe alone Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous consulting detective was the master of Knowledge in a particularly powerful Victorian way.  Not only was he well-educated in the classical sense, he was also steeped in the emerging Scientific Revolution (and the nascent science of Criminology), as well as being the possessor of a huge amount of seemingly inconsequential minutia that, when coupled with deductive logic and keen observation, seem to give Holmes the appearance of super powers.

That is how it should be, and how it usually is.  The Sage is the Wizard, the Magician, the Scientist, the Philosopher, the Sophist.  He is the man who can put his passions aside and focus on the pure acquisition of knowledge and its application, often to the exclusion of all-else.  In the extremes this can lead to the "absent-minded professor" or the "befuddled scholar", a man so filled with facts and education that his ability to apply those things constructively is affected.  At the other end are the "Mad Scientist" and "Evil Sorcerer" stereotypes, where knowledge and power combine into a twisted version of the Man Who Knows.  Ideally, the Man Who Knows uses his great knowledge to help his fellow man and society at large, but for every Holmes there's a Moriarty -- something the Sage knows all too well.

There's a sense of cool aloofness in the Man Who Knows.  He has a pure confidence that even the reactionary Warrior or the order-obsessed Captain does not, and an assuredness that borders on cockiness.  The combination, even when the subject actively disdains female companionship, attracts women like tuna draws cats.  Placing his mind (and therefore his soul) out of reach of mere mortal woman and into the realm of pure Knowledge makes the Sage as utterly unobtainable as he is irresistible.  His dedication to a higher purpose and his attention to something other than the "base and lustful" nature of sexuality gives him an allure to females that even awkward appearance and mannerisms don't deter.  Indeed, sometimes the odd appearance or nature of the Sage actually adds to his allure to these women.

Sherlock Holmes has attracted feminine attention since the stories were first published, so attracted to Holmes' intelligence and calm, confident demeanor where the women who read them (despite the description of his scarecrow-like appearance).  His modern spiritual descendants, Mr. Spock and Mr. Data, have likewise attracted large female followings, and likewise have highly unusual appearances.  Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, epitomizes the modern Man Who Knows, to the extent that his knowledge interferes with his ability to function socially in his world.  That is a hallmark of the Sage. Yet it does not detract from him attracting a certain kind of female, often one with similarly powerful intellect (although usually lacking in the dedication that male Sages display, much to the dismay of their penises.)

The masculine allure of the man who Knows -- and Knows How To -- is powerful.  Yet it is his willingness to place his vocation and study above the comforts of female company that adds to this allure the most.  To women, the Man Who Knows is attractive in part because of his unwillingness to grant his attention to women and sex over his work.  Their frustration of not being able to capture his attention is often a key to why the geeky, brainy types often have very dedicated female admirers from afar.

If the power to Order belongs to the Captain and the power to Destroy and Defend belongs to the Warrior (the "jock"), then the power to Know belongs to the Sage (that is . . . the Nerd).  In ways that most women cannot imagine, Men have a capacity to immerse themselves in the study of just about anything, or master the intricacies of just about any tool, that effectively shuts out the rest of the world.  Men obsess about knowing stuff -- car stuff, sports stats, natural history, politics, religion, history, literature, cultural affairs, music, and large blocks of specialized minutia that confound the power of femininity to appreciate.

Women don't need to know what to successfully compete in their Matrix, they need to know who.  But the power of knowledge to men is far more dramatic than the power of knowing who is doing what to whom among the FSM.  Nor is it all a matter of education and upbringing.  I've known dudes I swear weren't bright enough to tie their own shoes lecture me at length about the technical details of stock car racing or the statistics involved in baseball or the technical efficiency of a precision-made firearm.  When a man has an interest, a curiosity in a subject, he will frequently transcend his own boundaries in fulfilling his need to Know.

In fact, to a lot of women, a man's desire to "master" any obscure subject appears to be unproductive and unuseful . . . until it is productive and useful.  If you're a motorhead who knows more about the internal combustion engine than is truly healthy, to her you're a hobby-obsessed man who likes to pay far too much attention to oil viscosities and torque and other useless shit and not nearly enough attention to her.

Until her car breaks down on the side of the road and he manages to fix it without calling a tow truck.  Then she thinks he's a fucking genius.

The Sage's knowledge may be specific and obscure or general and useful.  But it is nearly always a product of his passion and his desire to understand.  That, too, is one of the things females find alluring about the Man Who Knows: he is deeply passionate . . . just not usually about pussy.

In a lot of ways, however, Game in general is the invention of the Men Who Know.  Game is applied psychology and social management with a strong emphasis on gender and hormones and subconscious responses.  Game is what happens when a bunch of really smart nerds started applying the Power to Know and Do to the problem of modern mating.  It is the accumulated wisdom and knowledge based on the experience and observations of hundreds of Men Who Know.  And its continual refinement within the greater Manosphere can be seen as a dramatic application of focused attention on this subject by thousands of interested sages.  When the power of knowledge is applied to anything, you can respect results . . . even if the thing is something as murky and mysterious as female sexuality.

The Sages invented Reason, and Science, and Literacy, Literature, Architecture, Mathematics, and all the intellectual underpinnings of our civilization.  The passion of these ancient men to understand their mysterious universe provided the foundation upon which each successive generation has built.  Their desire to improve the lives of their people through the judicious use of the secrets of Nature was noteworthy, even when they fell short of the mark.

The Sage power is the power to solve problems, sometimes far outside of one's sphere of expertise.  So many impressive advances in science and technology have been made by collaborations between disciplines, each eager to add their knowledge to reach greater understanding - or just to solve the problem at hand.  If you have the time and inclination, go watch the old James Burke PBS series Connections to see just how damn clever menfolk can be, when there's a problem that needs a solution.

But you don't have to be Einstein or Pascal to use the power of the Sage.  Indeed, we are called upon to use this power every day, whether we understand it as such or not.  From knowing how often to check your oil to the name of the star closest to the Sun to which route gets you home the fastest after work are all products of this incredible power.  Within its sphere are also the abilities to use tools, change the environment around you, and plan for the future. Simple things, from where we stand in our civilization now, but for a hundred thousand years the masculine power to acquire knowledge and wisdom -- combined with the Captain's power to record and order that knowledge in a useful form -- was the hallmark of the widely-respected Sage.

Because the Power to Know isn't just about how much data you can cram into your brainpan, it's about how you apply it to your best effect.  Indeed, despite the stereotype of the professor's brain stuffed with useless minutia, the point of the power is its utility and usefulness to your everyday life.  The Power to Know isn't just about knowledge, it's about wisdom.  Doing the right thing at the right time.

You know this dude: he probably doesn't look like much, but if there's a mechanical issue, he magically produces a screwdriver and can use it to devastating effect -- I know men who would forget their wallet before their screwdriver.  Or the dude who always has a pocketknife.  Or a flashlight.  Toolbox in the trunk.   Simple, useful things that those cursed with a low Sage ability don't think about until the situation is at hand.  The wisdom of the Sage power instructs in the art of planning and contingency.  And that includes preparedness, based on the knowledge that sometimes Shit Happens.  If the practical side of the Sage has a motto, it's the Boy Scouts': "Be Prepared"!

Implicit within this power is your ability to prepare and execute wonders to delight and gratify your friends and family -- particularly your wife and kids, if you got 'em.  All too often a husband or LT boyfriend forgets the need to launch pleasant surprises or how powerful they can be in his relationship.  But that's one of the functions of the Sage.  If the power of the Sage isn't being used to make anyone's life better, then it is a wasted power.  And one way you can help leverage this power into regular, productive DHVs is to promote the illusion that you have an almost-mystical power to have or know or do the right thing at the right place at the right time.  From solving problems to providing comfort to protecting your family, the Sage power is at its most effective when no one realizes you are using it until you're ready.

Here's an example: I get up and take the kids to school every morning, and since the three of them go to two different schools at two different times, with two different sets of breakfast, lunch, and snack requirements, it doesn't take much to throw off the routine -- even a few moments delay can cause a tardy, or inspire one of my kids to forget something vitally important.  So I've cobbled together a little Daddy Morning Survival Kit. The exact nature and composition of the kit has changed over the years, but its utility has not.

I keep a box of granola bars, a couple of boxes of raisins, at least a few juice pouches, a first-aid kit, a brush, hair rubber bands, cash for lunch money, a couple of blank checks for last-minute school expenses, a calculator, pencils,  pens for signing things, post-it notes for messages to teachers or reminders, crayons, a bottle of water, pair of sox, umbrella, etc.  Countless times in the last several years this kit has saved my ass when my youngest, for example, reveals that this is the last day to pay for a fieldtrip he swore he told me about three weeks ago.  Or my daughter "forgets" to brush her hair and put it in a ponytail.  Or my oldest son "forgets" that he has gym today and needs socks.  I reach my hand into the Kit, and problem is solved.

Those are every-day things, but instructive.  Suddenly producing a coveted prize unexpectedly -- like my Dad appearing with an air-conditioner out of nowhere one summer in the south in the 70s, or me producing a bag of dark chocolate for Mrs. Ironwood in a moment of need, because I had the foresight to do so -- are one good way to use the power to surprise and delight.  Suddenly demonstrating a facility long-practiced in secret, like playing the guitar or singing Karaoke or building a garden wall are all good examples of wonder-making.  The more elaborate the plan and the more smoothly it runs, the more you look like a fucking genius.

Every power has a dark side, and the Sage power is no different.  Basically, the flip side of the Sage is the know-it-all asshole, that dude no one can stand to be around when the conversation turns to a particular topic: sports, sex, politics, religion, the usual.  The temptation to show off what you know is great, when you have a good dose of Sage.  After all, how else can you validate your knowledge if everyone else doesn't know you know it?  But by resisting the urge you can often find yourself in a more dominant position.

When you flirt with the Dark Side of the Sage, you often don't hesitate to whip your intellectual dick out and smack it on the table -- and there are some venues where this is, indeed, quite appropriate.  But it also has the possibility to get you into trouble, or in a competition for dominance that you have little hope of winning -- unless your Sage is just that bad-ass.  Remember, the guy who is still alive at the end of the Kung-Fu movie is rarely the braggart -- it's usually the quiet, cocky guy who spent all of his free time training instead of bragging about what a bad-ass he is.  The temptation to show off your brainy goodness should be checked except in the rarest of circumstances.  In fact, the men I know who have the Sage power in the greatest abundance are also those who demonstrate it so sparingly and subtly that they seem to get shit done without actually doing anything.

Another example: my dad, Papa Ironwood, is a former Scoutmaster still involved with his troop.  On a recent camping trip in which he'd come out for the day, one of the younger Assistant Scoutmasters was fretting about the camp, giving orders, and generally disturbing more than leading.  A particular issue for him was a large puddle in the path to and from the camp, which he proposed to my dad to fix with a large work party later in the afternoon.

Papa Ironwood thought that was an inefficient use of resources, not to mention a beautiful spring day.  There was a steady flow of boys back and forth through the spot, so Papa counseled the younger leader to watch.  As a boy would come by, Papa would casually ask him to grab a bit of deadfall from the surrounding woods -- just a piece -- and drop it into the puddle.  In about ten minutes six boys had walked by, and each had added another piece of wood to the puddle, until (about the time he finished his cigarette) you could walk across the wood without getting your feet wet.

"See?" Papa Ironwood told him, afterwards, "I filled that hole up all by myself.  And I didn't even get my hands dirty.  And it beat trying to get everyone organized for a work project for something so small.  Let's go fishing instead."

My dad used the Power of the Sage to break down the job, invite a little, reasonable help from each boy, and therefore split up the work into such small pieces no one minded doing their part -- and the puddle got filled.  That kind of Sage power actually has an ancient name: wu wei, the Chinese word that translates roughly into "action through inaction".  It's a major principal of Taoist philosophy and practice, and I've seen it in action (or, more appropriately, inaction) repeatedly.  It reflects a particular aspect of the male paradigm of the Sage, the power to accomplish the most with the least effort.  Papa Ironwood calls this "productive laziness", but it's essentially Taoist wu wei.

Not sold on the concept?  Consider the machine you're reading this on -- it's the product of tens of thousands of Sages, whose collective knowledge brought to life one of the most remarkable inventions of the 20th century, the computer.  The computer was invented over 60 years ago, remember -- UNIVAC and ENIAC, the building-sized banks of vacuum tubes were crunching numbers by the dozens-per-second back in the 1950s.  When you consider how those massive dinosaurs begat the svelte little device you're probably using to read this, you can kind of see the Western version of wu wei in action, a process called ephemeralization.

That term was coined by the greatest Sage of the 20th century, R. Buckminster Fuller, to describe a phenomenon implicit in human civilization, the great need to do more work with less effort, to use less resources more efficiently.  Bucky Fuller was a naval architect genius in the mid 20th century who made it his life's mission to make every man's life better through the power of his big bulging brain.

Kind of the anti-Evil Scientist, Bucky pulled one brilliant invention after another out of his head.  Some remain obscure prototypes, like the Dymaxion Car and the Dymaxion House.  Some were so ridiculously useful that they were repressed, like the complete bathroom Bucky designed that could be stamped out of one large piece of stainless steel at a tiny fraction of the cost of a traditional bathroom.  Some of these are ubiquitous today, like the octet truss (which you have probably never heard about) and the geodesic dome (which you have -- and which is mathematically the best way to structurally enclose the maximum amount of area with the least amount of materials).  Both were ways to get the most bang for the buck.  In fact, the geodesic structure was so elegant that when a similarly-structured molecule of carbon (C60) was discovered, it was named Buckminsterfullerene in tribute.
Octet Truss Patent

Ephemeralization was a great boon for the industrial economy.  After WWII, when standardized parts and assembly lines allowed economies of scale to produce far more goods at a far cheaper per-unit cost, any way to tighten up the efficiency of the process meant dollars in someone's pocket.  The nascent aircraft industry, focused on creating bigger planes with the lightest materials possible, helped drive the movement towards ephemeralization, and the Space Program put the cherry on top.  By 1975, only 25 years or so after the first computational monstrosities awoke in the Northeast, the first integrated chips capable of producing an equivalent number of calculations-per-second were in use.  In a mere quarter decade, thanks to the requirements of the aviation and space industries, the resources and energy required to do the same amount of work had shrunk dramatically, to the size of a postage stamp.
Bucky's Bathroom - designed to be pressed
from a single sheet of stainless steel and
 costing a fraction of a ceramic bathroom.

Ephemeralization is how you do more with less, and then do even more with even less, and so on.  It is the impetus behind computerization, compact cars, and jumbo jets.  It is the hallmark of the Sage power.  Through its robust application modern civilization has managed to support -- in reasonable comfort and security -- a far larger population than our ancestors ever thought we would.  It is using wu wei on an industrial scale, providing more abundant resources with less effort and energy.

Geodesic Dome
It's easy to overlook the Sage as a masculine power archetype, particularly in the Game community, because it just doesn't get you laid the way the Warrior or the Captain or the Lover does.  Yet it is the ability to observe, to plan, to theorize, and to test (the Scientific Principal, in other words) that allows us to combine the cool order of the Captain with the passion of the Warrior and the empathy of the Lover to formulate Game strategies, Single or Married.  Without the Sage, we are simpletons, lusting brutes who don't think much beyond our next meal and our next screw, and who have very little idea how to achieve either.  With the Sage -- particularly today -- this potent aspect of masculinity can catapult the Sage-heavy dude into wealth and prosperity through education, technical knowledge, and willingness to pursue an intellectual theory to its conclusion.

Dymaxion House
Most Efficient Living Structure For
The Lowest Price Known To Man

Cultivating the Sage is difficult -- to some, more difficult than working out regularly.  But once you understand that the essence of the power isn't just 'knowing', but also 'doing', the figure of the Sage becomes far more approachable for some men.  The allure of the Sage to women cannot be denied, but neither can it stand on its own.  It must be supported, cultivated, and attended to with the care of a gardener for his garden.  The Sage can lead to wealth and power -- always attractive to women -- but it can also find a place where wealth and power are meaningless compared to true happiness.  And for the Sage, that happiness lies in the acquisition and ordering of knowledge.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lowest Default about "respect" for Redshirts

John Scalzi, science fiction author, president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, film critic and frequent blogger, hefted a post out there this morning and inadvertently splashed the Manosphere.  

The post is a way to explain to the -- apparently -- thick-headed, ignorant, and entitled Straight White Males who rule the world just where their place is.  The post is entitled Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting That There Is, and begins like this:

I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.
So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?
 Being a white guy who likes women, here’s how I would do it:

Then Scalzi goes on to make an actually quite compelling metaphor in which being Straight, White, and Male is the lowest difficulty setting on the game The Real World . . . because, apparently, that's the only metaphorical system we stupid dudes are left with any more.  Fair enough.  Now that we're not going to college or getting married or getting jobs like we used to (back when Straight White Males were being castigated for there being  too many of us in college, in "bad" marriages where we oppress our wives, and in positions of authority in the workplace), perhaps video games are about all we have left.
He did manage to pull back on the throttle of disdain towards the end of the piece where he conceded that, yes, Straight White Males didn't have any more control over the game settings than anyone else.  But then he stopped there, and ended (a little patronizingly):

So that’s “Straight White Male” for you in The Real World (and also, in the real world): The lowest difficulty setting there is. All things being equal, and even when they are not, if the computer — or life — assigns you the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, then brother, you’ve caught a break.

Well, maybe so.  If you look at it from one perspective.  I mean, despite his somewhat snide tone, Scalzi's point is well-taken -- but it looks at the nature of straight white male privilege without looking at its attendant deficits, and automatically posits that the "advantages" of straight white privilege always outweigh those disadvantages.  Sometimes "catching a break" is the fastest way to the bottom.  But far beyond that, it misses the reason why we dislike the term "privilege" when it is applied to us.  Here, slightly expanded, is what I replied:
It’s not that we (straight, white, male) nerds can’t understand the concept of privilege (Latin, essentially, for “private law”) and how we’re benefiting from it, I believe. It’s the fact that yes, we didn’t have any more say in the "character" we were issued by the computer than anyone else, and we get tired of other players grousing like we did. No matter how good or how bad we do, our character class/race is used as a justification for why we are, somehow, inherently at fault for our stats, and therefore should shoulder the blame of most of the rest of what is wrong in the world. I’ll cop to straight white male privilege and how I’ve exploited it as much as anyone else would in my position, but I didn’t cheat to get that stat, and having people constantly act like I did and use it as an excuse for their own deficiencies is tiresome and intellectually dishonest.  Being Straight, White, and Male doesn’t make me an inherently evil, unjust, selfish or immoral person any more than any other sociographic racial stereotype would.
Thanks to our ancestors building Western Civilization and all, we get to deal with all of the great guilt associated with being Straight White Males -- the Conquest, the Crusades, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all of these are laid at our feet as the price of our "lowest difficulty setting", yet few of the perks associated with Straight White Male privilege make it down to the rank and file in ways that make up for the negatives in a big way.  Oh, it's nice not being stopped by the cops or shot by the cops for my race, don't get me wrong -- but when you get your pink slip at work and everyone expects you to go home and load your guns instead of filing for unemployment because you're another angry, privileged Straight White Male, well, it's a bit of a bummer.
Psychologically, that leaves you with two options: acceptance of your status, and developing some method of dealing with the guilt that being socially privileged forces upon you, like philanthropy or serial monogamy,  OR check out of the cultural matrix that imposes both the privilege and the guilt upon you. A movement known as Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), is advocating Straight White Males abandoning those roles of ever-increasing social and financial expectation/privilege/guilt here in the West and pursue more fulfilling interests off the grid or in exotic foreign lands where you are merely one of many minority populations.  And as game strategies go, it ain't a bad one.
I mean, when you’re stuck with the lowest default setting and you have no way to correct it, why not abandon the Big Quest and indulge in little side-quests off in the hinterlands? You have just as much fun . . . and no one can call you a loser if you aren’t playing the Big Game.  The women are pretty, feminine, and don't leap to divorce except in extreme cases.  A reasonably well-educated Straight White Male can make a decent living doing all sorts of things in a third world country -- and have a lot of fun while he's there.  Why go tromping off to Mordor when you can hang out in a distant village with exotic barmaids, intriguing ales, and the potential for adventures beyond the Divorce Court and Weekend Dad modules?  You're still racking up experience points, you're just on a different server.  One where being a Straight White Male is seen as a good thing, not grounds for Reasonable Suspicion of Oppression.
Hey, it beats enduring the ‘privilege’ of socio-racial guilt — what else are we supposed to do?
And hell . . . why should we put up with that?  If we're just players, too, then we play for our own amusement and benefit, pursuing our own interests.  Here I thought we were the heirs and caretakers of a five thousand year old civilization our ancestors created . . . 

So here's a new strategy for the "players" in the "party" of the Straight White Male, when confronted with these assumptions of privilege and ignorance of the weaknesses of the class in our fellow players: walk away.  Log off.  Do not engage.  If other players aren't willing to extend your character the same basic respect they'd give a passing half-troll because of your difficulty setting, then they aren't worth playing with . . . or supporting.  Walk away, go away, go your own way, and log on to a more productive server.  The players you leave behind will likely be unhappy, but . . . well, it's your freakin' account.  

And if you aren't having fun while you play, why play?


Someone pointed out to me that Scalzi's new book is called Redshirts, which I find kind of ironic.  His condescension towards Straight White Males, who seem to be the majority of those who buy his books and the related videogame products, seems a little counterintuitive under the circumstances.  He basically seems to be saying:

 "HEY!  STRAIGHT WHITE NERDS!  You've got it easy and you need to quitchyerbitchin and being assholes because even though I wouldn't have an internet to hawk my books over if it wasn't for two generations of you doing what you do, you should feel properly ashamed of who you are and what you get out of life because compared to everyone else you have had it all handed to you on a silver platter!  Adopt the proper servile role AT ONCE or risk the displeasure of the collective!"

It's not that I take issue with his analogy -- it's a fine one.  Or even his assertion, that being straight, white, and male gives some of us some inherent advantages in some situations -- I get that.  I also get that just being born in the US gives you ENORMOUS advantage towards being born in most of the rest of the world -- yet it was only toward the Straight White Males that Scalzi leveled his verbal blunderbuss.  He didn't ask for all Americans to admit that they had it easier Difficulty Level than everyone else in the world.  He focused on the easiest portion of the population to bash and get away with it: Straight White Males.  His base, in other words.  

So that begs the question: just how does John Scalzi see the bulk of his audience?  He seems insistent that SWMs aren't doing enough to admit that they have some advantages, and persistent in his assertion that they are, as a class, too limited in scope to even realize the dreadful damage that they are doing by not actively working to undermine their own self-interest -- essentially his entire post is a admonition for Straight White Males to do their utmost to selflessly reduce what little advantages that might linger from their ancestors' long, evil plot to build Western Civilization.  

But the problem with Scalzi's piece isn't his metaphor or his condescension: it's their implication.  SWMs must be properly silent and guilty for who they are, or they're assholes.  Expendable.  If you're straight, male, and white, then if you don't make a big show about how you being straight male and white gives you goodies that no one else gets but you feel just terrible about it . . . you're an asshole.  Expendable.  That's the gist.  Work for the greater good against your self-interest.  Sacrifice what you have and all your ancestors gave you in the interests of a fairness that never gets achieved and a population who only increases how much they despise you with every concession that's made.  Over 50 years of systematic attacks on "Straight White Male Privilege", and you'd think the number of calls for us to give up for the greater good would have produced more respect and less noise about how evil teh Mens were.  In the perfect Blue Pill world, Straight White Men are the lowest of the lower in the social sense.  Utterly replaceable, utterly indefensible, utterly expendable on the alter of social justice.  

Redshirts, in other words.  John Scalzi seems to be saying that if you don't take a fist full of Blue Pills every morning and begin your day by obsequiously kissing the world's collective ass, then you're just a redshirt.  The dude who beams down (usually a Straight White Male named Johnson or Conway, or Peters or something very White -- Ensign Zuniga usually makes it to the end of the episode) who ends up getting eaten by the monster or killed by Klingons or blown up by the reactor explosion or is otherwise . . . expendable.  

And Redshirts don't get any respect.  They barely get a name.  They're there to look strong and tough and then die gallantly so the rest of the multiethnic pangendered landing party can escape.  

There's a message there.