Friday, August 10, 2012

There Is Only One Boat, There Can Be Only One Captain

A couple of recent posts and a private letter from a reader have led me to bring up something fundamental for those on the Red Pill.  It involves the masculine use of Power and Authority, the power to Order.  And it involves the Captain/First Officer metaphor, extended.

You see, regardless of whether you’re a young man just thinking about a LTR, or someone older who is considering marrying a woman with a pre-existing family, or you’re just contemplating your own socio-familial role in your household, the same fundamental Red Pill truths apply:

  1. There can be only one Boat.
  2. There can be only one Captain of that Boat.

Athol talks about the difficulties of being a step-parent,especially for men who are joining ready-made families, in this post.  And he makes a lot of compelling arguments.  Similarly, a reader of mine (whose anonymity I’ll protect) recently asked my advice in a situation where he was considering marriage to a woman who had a career that made more than he, when he wanted a wife who would take care of the kids (and not the mortgage). 

In both cases, the man in question needs to remember the two truths:

  1. There can be only one Boat.
  2. There can be only one Captain of that Boat.

We live in a complex, sophisticated, and not-terribly-efficient social landscape at the moment, where everything from economics to ecology is changing and amending the established social rules.  Culturally speaking, we’re in a middle of a storm.  That’s not going to change any time soon – the pace of technological change alone is going to continue to screw with us for at least another half-century.  Every new nuance in technology – say, the cell phone, and then the smart phone – is going to have big, wide-ranging effects on how we live our lives, how we make our money, how we educate our children, and how we entertain ourselves. 

I’m not here to save society and quell the tempest, I’m here to help you get through the storm.  And one of the most important things as a Man that you can do is Be The Captain Of Your Own Boat.  

That means that you accept responsibility for authority over (if you’re single) your own life and (if you’re married or have kids or both) the responsibility for authority over your family.  Not because God said so (although if that helps you justify it, Amen!), or because you’re an atavistic chauvinist who hates women and wants to dominate them, but because being the Captain of your own Boat is your best way to navigate through this storm.

That applies to Wife Selection especially, regardless of whether it’s your first marriage or your third.  If you’re considering matrimony, then the Red Pill approach is to offer the First Officer position to the woman.  Not Co-Captain, but FO.  You’re Captain.  If she cannot accept that, then she's not a viable FO candidate.  And be certain to explain to her that there is only one Boat.  If she has her own Boat, then she doesn’t need you and your Boat.  And you aren’t signing on to be the Captain of someone else’s Boat.

A lot is being made of the female capacity to make money in the current economy – Liza Mundy just can’t shut up about it in her new book, The Richer Sex.  But while Mundy is correct that women are doing quite well for themselves financially, she’s downplaying the social and personal costs of this, or even billing it as a feature.  Nor is she really exploring the costs to men, or the long-term effects of this phenomenon.  She sees “women as breadwinner” as a positive, feminist development and seems smug that men will just have to sit back and deal with women wielding that kind of economic power.

Indeed, as it says on her website:

Mundy dispels the popular notion that men enjoy sex more than women do and contends that both men and women will have better sex in the coming years. According to her research, “Women’s sexual energy and self-confidence have been unleashed along with women’s earning power.” Self-supporting women, she notes, “are using their resources to have more sex and better sex” before settling down with (or settling for) a long-term partner.  Mundy also argues that the laws of attraction will shift as women begin to embrace their career accomplishments as sexual assets and as men discover the sexual attractiveness of high-achieving women.

That's utter bullshit, of course -- her whole book was written by her Rationalization Hamster.  The laws of attractions are damn well NOT going to shift -- men don't get boners over high-achieving women.  Women get boners over high-achieving men.  Men get boners over a perky pair of tits and a warm and loving attitude.  What Mundy isn't mentioning is that the vaunted "sexual energy and self-confidence" is leading to more sex for women because their "earning power" has (for the most part) kept most self-respecting men away from a LTR with them.  

That is, you can view the sexuality of the mid-level corporate woman as a success, because she's having more sex with more dudes . . . or you can view it as a failure, because their lifestyles and financial success have self-eliminated all the high-quality mates from consideration.  The whole business about "settling down with (or settling for) a long-term partner" is pure sour grapes.  Ask most women in Mundy's demographic if they are happy with their single status, and after you cut through the jungle of rationalizations you see that they'd likely trade half their annual income for a happy, fulfilling relationship with a loving, trustworthy man in a heartbeat.  Hell, a significant portion of them would go back and do the Mommy Track, if they had it to do over again.

One of the Red Pill truths that Mundy is unwilling to face is that  the only Blue Pill relationships that can flourish with a female Captain are those with men who are comfortable in their low-sex Betatude – or, if they aren't satisfied being the family butler, men whose self-respect and unhappiness will eventually drive them to be ex-husbands.  

The feminist ideal has always equated money with power, and thus equated a greater earning potential and personal income with power issues within a relationship.  Of course, back in the Patriarchy, they railed against the unfair use of that power in marriages – just because Dad made most of the money, why did he decide how it was spent?  Now that the tables have turned, so has the ideology: I made this money, and therefore I get to decide how it is spent.  Oh, and probably most of your money, too.

But here’s the thing about money and power.  Money can be power in a relationship.  Sex can be power in a relationship.  But while money and sex can exert a lot of influence – power – in the marriage, in the end Power comes from the willingness to stand up, take responsibility for authority, and exercise that authority with accountability.  And that begins with you, not your wife.  Running the MAP, taking control of your own career, taking control of the household demonstrate your fitness for command.  Passively allowing your wife to make the decisions under the illusion that it was a consensus decision is not only intellectually dishonest, it gives dangerous precedent to her eventually saying "We decided that we were growing apart and that we weren't happy together,"when, in fact, she decided the more Alpha dude with the bigger dick was a better mate -- a better Captain -- than you.

In other words, if you aren't Captain of your own Boat, then you’re just a deckhand on someone else’s.

It doesn’t matter if she makes more money than you – it just matters that you make enough money to keep your Boat floating on your own.  The employment criteria is far more important to women than to men – but if your potential wife makes more money than you, or your current wife makes more money than you, then being intimidated by that in any way is a threat to your Captaincy.  Security is a turn-on for women – I get that.  But so is confident leadership, accountability, and a well-ordered Boat.

Mrs. Ironwood makes more than me (in years past, she’s made over double what I make, thanks to our various career paths) but I don’t let that get in the way of my Captaincy.  As Captain, I don’t think of money as power, I think of it as resourcesand all resources are devoted to keeping the Boat trim.  I know my attractiveness to my wife is not based on the Income portion of my Sex Rank . . . but when money has been an issue, and I’ve taken on the responsibility of making up the deficit somehow, my willingness and ability to do so has been far more attractive to her than just having fistfuls of cash.

If your wife makes more than you, you aren’t going to be able to impress her with your money.  You must impress her with your Captaincy, and you’d better be damn impressive.  If your wife makes more than you, then she has to agree that she’s still FO and she’s still on your Boat, even if she’s bringing in the majority of the resources.  It’s perfectly appropriate to praise and support her first-class contribution to the welfare of the crew, but that doesn’t give you the right to abrogate your responsibilities as Captain – nor will she love you more for doing so. 

Similarly, if you are considering stepping into the role of father-and-husband of a step-family, then establishing your Captaincy 
is vital – otherwise, Deckhand.  And in this situation, those 
rules need to be firmly established up front and graven in stone, with both wife and her (and/or your) children, or you’re better off paddling away in a dinghy you command than accept the alternative.  

In some cases, residual problems from the previous relationship will manifest in your new step-family, as your wife will want you to step up the discipline of children who do not see you as an authority figure.  If they are old enough to understand, then they need to know you're Captain of the household, regardless of what their bioDad has to say, and if they aren't willing to respect that then there is a Problem.  And that Problem better be sorted out before you walk down the aisle, or things get orders of magnitude more complicated, quickly.

Establishing your Captaincy isn’t easy, either.  Especially if you don’t fully command your Boat on your own yet.  Convincing another adult to accept your authority and respect your commands voluntarily is going to depend heavily on your ability to impress them with your competency, and if you’re living in a van and working part-time as a dishwasher, that’s going to be difficult.  In a lot of ways, the MAP is Command Training.  And you have to be able to command yourself before you can legitimately expect others to follow you.

It’s especially difficult to establish this with a woman who has invested a lot of time, money, and energy into a career.  She’s used to struggling with power and authority, and she’s going to be hard-pressed to voluntarily lay the attitudes that have made her successful in the corporate world aside.  But she must.  If your wife can’t drop her corporate authority and responsibility at the door, then there are going to be Problems.  And there will be.

And this is where it gets particularly difficult: feminism has told women for 40 years that they can dominate at the workplace and at home . . . and left a trail of broken homes and twisted, bitter people behind them.  I’m very proud of my wife’s career accomplishments, and support her utterly.  But her position and authority at work – nor her paycheck – do not give her authority at home beyond what we’ve laid out.  Work and homelife are two different spheres, and while I’m happy to be proud of her accomplishments in her career, if they are made at the expense of her family, then that’s a Problem for the Boat.

Similarly, if there’s step-children and possible ex-husbands/boyfriends involved, no sane man should consider a LTR unless his authority is firmly established as part of the deal – and for kids who are unused to your authority (or even your mannerisms) that’s going to be especially hard.  But not impossible.  A colleague of mine left his horrible marriage a few years ago and then met a lovely lady with two wonderful girls in the middle of a nasty divorce to an abusive asshole. Things worked out – but only because he established his authority as Captain with the girls and his wife from the beginning.  They got on his Boat, he didn't get on theirs. 

And for a young man, considering a LTR with any young woman, consider that you need to make sure you can Captain your own Boat before you invite her aboard. 

Now, just what does that mean?  It isn’t just saying “What I say goes!” and throwing your weight around – being the Captain isn’t a power-trip.  Being the Captain is being responsible for the health, safety, welfare, and future of everyone on your Boat.  That means Ordering your Boat so that the bills get paid on time, that there is adequate transportation and health care, that there are adequate resources allotted to those who need them, that any holes in the Boat get patched quickly and efficiently. And Problems get handled.

In some of these you may have to delegate to your FO, but it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY that the job get done, regardless of how good or poor your FO is.  It’s not about blame, it’s not about who was supposed to do what and didn’t, it’s about the fact that regardless of the excuses, it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY as Captain that it get done.  And if you aren’t willing to accept that responsibility, then you cannot expect anyone else to accept your authority.

That’s a big deal – and not an easy task for two generations of men trained to avoid responsibility and authority or risk being branded a chauvinist.  Two generations with distant or absent fathers, who themselves were a mite confused on the subject of paternal/husbandly authority. 

And it’s even harder to try to establish your Captaincy in mid-cruise, in a marriage where it hasn’t been established since the beginning.  If you’re running the MAP and your wife is giving you some resistance, that’s only natural, and to be expected.  She’s not used to your Captaincy, and until she sees some tangible signs of your positive leadership, no matter what flies out of her mouth she’s going to subconsciously reserve judgment until she’s convinced.  She’s going to resist, she’s going to drag her heels, she’s going to challenge your fitness for duty every step, possibly . . . until you do convince her. 

Once she’s convinced you’re the Captain, however, and she gets behind you in the Boat, then there’s nowhere you can’t go. 


  1. I enjoyed this a great deal. Well said!

  2. I enjoy your writings, but I'm not convinced that two competent people can't be co-captains of their family "boat." I've observed marriages where that seems to be the case (the husband does not in any way appear to be a "deckhand"), and I also see it in professional spheres, where two people are equally responsible for making sure that the work gets done properly. I've also observed successful small businesses that are run by two equal co-owners. So why not a marriage, if both spouses are smart and competent?

    1. I have no doubt that you have observed marriages where it has appeared that there is no captain. Some couples are very good at hiding who, precisely, is in charge of the relationship and the family for fear of public perception (this is usually prompted by the woman, who loses points in the Matrix if there is any type of scandalous behavior . . . such as, in some circles, openly deferring to her husband. I've known marriages like that which seemed almost perfect on the surface . . . but collapsed because of behind-the-scenes issues. For example, one friend of mind and his perfect marriage imploded after two kids and seven "happy" years. No one saw it coming, because it seemed like such a perfect, equitable match. But in the aftermath it was clear that the power struggle about sex and money and kids and such -- issues that suffer without a good Captain/FO -- were too much for their public persona to take.

      Some Captain/FO relationships run so smoothly and politely that it is extremely difficult to establish just which is which -- but close observation of the couple will eventually reveal which one is the dominant personality in the relationship.

      And then some couples -- perhaps most -- are involved in an internal power-struggle that can get quiet passive-aggressive, depending on the couple. Passive-aggressiveness can often be mistaken for polite consideration, if the two people are clever enough. In this case, both people consider themselves "Captain" and are frustrated enough with the other to try to out-defer the other one . . . but it isn't a sharing of power as much as a quiet grasping for power in the absence of the other.

      Any one of those three reasons could explain your perception of a lack of captaincy, or the idea that there are "co-captains". Unfortunately, since most couples have a much different public/private persona, it's difficult to determine unless you have intimate knowledge of what happens behind closed doors.

      Now, I'm not saying it can't happen -- but it's not just the exception, it's the rare exception. But when someone has to decide whether or not the family is going to buy the new car, or needs to move to a bigger house, or make a dramatic career change, or otherwise impose an important but controversial decision on the family "boat", that person is the Captain whether they have been anointed that way or not. SOMEONE has to make the final decision and take ultimate responsibility for that decision. Soliciting options from your FO is one thing -- waiting for consensus to develop is another. Depriving them of the acknowledged authority to do so when they are making the decisions anyway erodes the stability of the marriage and completely screws with the sexual dynamic.

      And I will also say that there is a big difference between running a marriage/family and running a business -- the two cannot be considered the same animal, when it comes to the power relationship. In a business the stakes are much lower, and the issues much less important and intimate than in a marriage. Unless the business partners are sleeping with each other, the sex alone adds an element that makes them incongruous comparisons. Add in the issues with children, and soon a business model is only crudely similar to the issues and pressures of running a marriage/family.

    2. Thanks for expanding on this. I have been trying to sort out my thoughts/feelings on the C/FO model of marriage for about a year.

  3. Every single red pill article preys on men's fears and insecurities. If you are not the captain of your boat, she is fucking someone else. Yeah, great argument.