Wednesday, March 09, 2011


"Women have learned to demand more and more, while men are still baffled about what they thought women wanted in the first place."

Officer And Gentleman?
Women aren't happy with the men of today, and I can't say as I blame them. Looking at a girl's choice of high school and college boys I wonder exactly how it is that the human race continues to breed. Slovenly, shallow, immature, and focused on entertainment, these young men are expected to suddenly become leaders and serious, mature adults as soon as they leave college - although culture seems to be pushing that line to around 30 lately. Think about all those wasted years to regret when you are old.

Recently John Hawkins read the book Why Men Are The Way They Are, by Warren Farrell. Farrell started out as a left leaning feminist man, but over time started to look at men and changed his viewpoint somewhat. Hawkins quoted a few of the lines from the book, and they were very revealing:
Women are still taught to be sexually cautious until two, three, or all four conditions -- attraction, respect, emotions, and intellect -- are met. Many women add fifth and sixth conditions: singleness and status/success. And many add a seventh, eighth, and ninth: the man must ask her out, he must pay, and he must risk rejection by initiating the first kiss, being the first to hold hands, and so on. (If he doesn't risk kissing her, she is likely not to kiss him.) Men are socialized to want sex as long as only one condition is fulfilled -- physical attraction. -- P.13

Not many a man ever expects an attractive and successful woman to whom he feels intellectually and emotionally connected to ask him out the first time, pay for him, and keep making advances until he responds. Many women expect these conditions, which are beyond the limits of men's fantasy lives. A man often feels subconsciously that a woman's minimum requirements are greater than his wildest fantasy. -- P.13

In real life, Linda Evans exclaims that for the right man she'd "quit acting and stay home all the time." Which was, in fact, what she did. Career by option and wealth by marriage. Which would have made her the fantasy of millions of women who would like to have it all -- including softness -- by marrying a man who has it all but has become hard in the process of earning it. ...The fantasy is marrying in a minute what he earns in a lifetime. -- P.36
I say revealing here because they betray a basic naturalistic understanding of life. Based on the quotes available to me, Farrell is focusing almost exclusively on physical aspects of men and women. For women it is their beauty and their sexual attraction and for men their earning ability, wealth, and power. Both of these are external, like the feathers on a peacock, reducing humanity to a brute animal level where men and women attract a mate by their superior plumage.

The problem with this sort of analysis is that it is either about finding someone to copulate with or like a storybook romance, which ends "and they lived happily ever after." The entire book is about courtship and infatuation, ending with marriage: they attained the book's goal and it ends. Marriages aren't about a single ceremony and an agreement, they are about a life's commitment. I haven't personally been wed, but I can see clearly in the married lives of friends and family that physical attraction and earning power are not what maintains the relationship.

Unfortunately, we as a society have abandoned the things that maintain a relationship and a marriage for the things that help us gain one, or at least the temporary benefits of one. Increasingly younger people cannot understand why anyone would marry at all to begin with, and today they have a pretty good point. Marriage used to be about security, family, sex, and having someone there to care for you. Today, security is in what you own and in what the government provides, family is viewed as deeply flawed and a burden, sex is what you get on the weekends from whoever is available, and someone there for you can be had without a ring, which is no guarantee they'll stay anyway.

In modern dating and "pick up" culture, both men and women are imitating the structures and results of success without bothering with the work that it takes to gain them. You can seem to be rich and successful to a woman without having much money at all, and that's all it takes to get her in bed a few times. A woman can seen to be more beautiful and compelling than she really is with the right lighting, make-up, clothing, and cosmetics, at least long enough to get laid. The long-term benefits of a relationship take too much work for modern people, many of whom view a long term relationship as actually a burden and a source of trouble more than an actual benefit.

In the same way, Farrell's book seems to be focused on what brings people together, not what keeps them together. Its possible that he's deliberately focusing on that -- trying to write a book about how relationships begin -- but that's not the impression I get from Hawkins' article or the information available on Amazon about this book.

Hawkins' quotes give the impression that men are standing around confused and hapless while women demand more and more, so they turn to Lotharios, reducing women to sex objects to protect themselves from the unrealistic and contradictory requirements women express. Whether that's true or not I can't say - the men I know don't act that way - but to whatever extent it is true betrays another problem: irresponsibility.

Men have always had an innate inclination to abandon their responsibilities, take the easy way, and give up when things go hard; that's our "besetting sin" as the Puritans would put it. A recent column by Adam Carolla in the New York Post about men helps illustrate this point:
Ladies, here’s the deal: What do you do with the bear population that’s breaking into campgrounds and crawling through the dumpsters and harassing the campers? Is it the bears’ fault? No.

You left the food out. You left the coolers open. You left the windows down in the RV. You left the dumpster lids unlocked. And all we’re doing is taking the path of least resistance.

Women are getting exactly what they wanted, even if they don’t know it.

You don’t want us to fight. You don’t want us to pay the bills. You don’t want us to open the car door and pull out the chairs. So guess what? We’re going to play Nintendo and watch our YouPorn. We can hop on the computer and stay busy for the next several years.
His point is simple: women, you're demanding men be a way they cannot, so they are just shrugging and doing what they always wanted. In a way, he's right. Women used to be the goal and the driving force behind civilization, they were the ones who said "no" and demanded marriage, the ones that made men sit up straight and wash their hands. Women wanted men to grow up and be responsible in order to get what they wanted, so men would grow up and be responsible.

Older literature and movies are packed with this dynamic, with the rough, uncultured cowboy learning how to eat a the table and dress better, or the wild youth being shaped into a man by his sweetheart. This was the basic structure of civilization and how we built the modern western culture we enjoy today. We got cars and planes and rockets to the moon, the internet, the DVD, the insulated window, and the microwave from this system.

In the 1960s, it started to break down, because women decided they didn't care for this role any longer. They didn't want to be the responsible ones, they didn't want to be the ones who did the right thing any longer. Instead of looking at what good men were like and wanting to match that, they looked at what bad men were like and decided that was a lot easier and more attractive.

So now women aren't the gatekeepers - literally - of sexuality any more, they are going out to find a man to screw and dump. Women aren't the arbiters of culture and civilization any longer, they want to spit, swear, and slump just like the men do. Instead of raising women up, this lowered them into the worst of what men acted like in the name of equality. Where women once raised men up to civilization, now men are in effect dragging women down to barbarism.

So Carolla has a point as far as that goes. He's right that this is the kind of men that women effectively bring about through their culture and attitudes: they are getting exactly the product their actions indicate. It is something Carolla said earlier, however, which points to what I believe he'd really rather see.
The real problem lies in the fact that women aren’t asking men to be men, and men aren’t asking women to be women. My wife doesn’t sew. She barely cooks. She’s a slob. When did women become slobs? I thought the whole joke growing up was that I was going to be walking around with a trail of socks and underpants and my wife would be saying, “It’s called a hamper.” What happened to that?
He recognizes the critical role that women played in society, but he also recognizes that its men's fault this happened. Ultimately, men are leaders and are responsible for what happens in a culture. If men lead by being immature slobs, then so will women. If men lead with dignity and maturity, then women will tend to follow that as well. If men demanded more out of women than "open your legs and look hot," then women would respond by being more.

It wasn't the fault of women that they rebelled in the 60s, it was men's fault for treating women as inferior, slightly silly children unworthy of serious and substantive treatment. Men treated women as unintelligent servants, mistaking the courtly protection of women for mistreatment of women. When the previous generations protected women from ugliness and violence it was out of a deep respect for women and what they should be, not because they thought women were stupid and incapable of handling it. Men would keep the really sordid details of a horrific crime from women so they wouldn't have to deal with it. Ask any big city cop or front line soldier if he'd wish all the awful things he's seen and experienced on anyone he loves. It was about sparing women the horrors that men had to routinely face, not because men believed women incapable of handling it, but because they would rather women did not have to.

Carolla's best point can be summed up in this line: "men aren’t asking women to be women." Here's a little secret that few young men know and most women prefer they not find out: women need men. Women really like sex and want men to get it. They'll often play distant and not needy but they really do and you can tell by how some are behaving lately, tarting it up to find a different man each night.

Men, in other words, are not powerless before the awesome might of a woman's sexuality. They do not control the relationship any more than men do. They only have the power men give them, and vice versa. What is critical here for men is to show leadership, not exert power. This isn't about who's in charge but who will step up to lead and show by example and responsibility what both should do.

If men would be better men and require of women that they be better women before they will extend a relationship to them, then this entire dynamic will change. If men would abandon their selfish focus, sloth, and irresponsibility, and only reward women who'll do the same we'd see a lot more lonely guys and time before marriages, but a much more stable society.

Modern people are so focused on self, pleasure, and the physical world that this extends into every part of their lives. When it comes to relationships, too many are more concerned about what they will get rather than what they will give. Another quote from the book helps point this out:
Dr. Donald Symons found that, cross culturally, men judge women primarily for attractiveness while women find men attractive only if social, economic, and political status criteria as well as looks are met. Women, he found, often perceive a "man shortage" much larger than is warranted statistically -- because far fewer men meet their greater number of demands. -- P.104
It isn't that people should not worry about what they need in a relationship, its that their primary focus should be on what the other person needs. Relationships are built on self-sacrifice and care for the other, which in a mutual way brings about what both need. When you focus only on yourself, you have no one else to blame for what you get: another selfish person.

Men need to step up and be better, be leaders and mature, masucline individuals who will lead and be responsible. Men need to be what they require of women: adults who care about someone else and understand there is more to life than what I can get and what makes me happy. Men need to be the ones who lead by example, through virtue, maturity, and proper ethical behavior so that women are raised up to what they too can and should be. Men's failure to do so is abundantly evident in society.

Yes, its easier to sit back and play World of Warcraft all day, with a few breaks for porn and pizza. Yes, it is more immediately rewarding to find some slut who'll spread her legs for you one night than find some good woman who won't until you're both ready. Its easier and more immediately rewarding, but ultimately more destructive and personally devastating. Being frat boy your whole life is not going to help you when you're 40 and your body is disintegrating to match the life you've built around you. When the entire culture does this, the entire culture disintegrates as well.

You can only live so long on the hard work, sacrifice, and virtue of past generations before it all falls apart. Just ask the Romans.

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