The whispers.

Women are hard wired to wonder if they aren’t missing out on something.  Could they find a better man?  Do they have enough money, the right clothes and shoes?  Are they being treated well enough by their husbands, and at their job?  I think this pretty neatly fits with the concept of hypergamy, and it does serve a biological purpose.  Women need to make sure they choose the best mate possible, and that they have the status and means to care for the child.

But constantly wondering if what you have is enough isn’t always a virtue;  in the wrong context (most of modern life) it is a prescription for unhappiness.  Not just their unhappiness, but that of their family, especially their children.  A sane culture would curb the dangerous part of this tendency.  It would caution women of the danger of never being happy, as the Brothers Grimm tale The Fisherman’s Wife does (post pending).

But then again we don’t live in a sane culture, we live in a feminist culture.   Feminism’s founding motto is “I never get to have any fun!”  Instead of curbing the worst instincts of women, our culture instead amplifies them.

Here’s an experiment you can try on your own.  Find a five year old, and ask them why did all of your friends get ice cream today and you didn’t? or  why are all of their toys better than yours? Find a bunch of toys they don’t have which look like they would be really great to play with.  Then ask them why their parents don’t love them enough to buy them for them.  For best results, taunt them relentlessly every day.  Wake them up in the middle of the night and ask why their classmates get to sleep in a more comfortable bed than they do.  At breakfast ask them if they think their classmates are eating better food right now.  Find new and interesting things they should feel slighted about.  Try this for say, 30 years.

Now test and see if they are happy.

DH Lawrence wrote about the problem in The Rocking Horse Winner.  The story opens with the lines:

There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them.

They had every reason to be happy:

They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood. Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up. The father went into town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialised. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up.

But the mother wasn’t happy.  How could she be?  There was always more to want, more to wonder if it couldn’t be just a little bit better:

And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll’s house, a voice would start whispering: “There must be more money! There must be more money!”

Our culture is like the house in the story, always whispering in women’s ears that they deserve better, and mercilessly amplifying every potential doubt.  We saw this with EPL, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

My wife has witnessed this throughout her life.

From her devout Catholic maid of honor (now still unmarried at 37) when helping my wife put on her wedding dress 1 hour before the wedding (prompting her to throw her out of the room):

What if you meet a better man in two weeks?

From the girls in the 7th grade class she taught, asking the only girl with a boyfriend why he hadn’t spent more than $50 on her for her birthday (he had saved all of his own birthday money to do so).  Why didn’t he spend $100 on her if he really cared? The girl took the bait and was upset until my wife took her aside and talked it through with her.

From a woman we met on a cruise:

Wouldn’t you like a newer car?  Don’t you think your husband would take you on a vacation every year if you asked him?

From her friend:

Don’t you think he would take you out to eat at nicer restaurants if you asked him to?  Don’t you think you should have a monthly clothes budget?

The whispering is endless, by women and to women.  By way of Vox Day’s  Warning:  Hamster at work there is the advice to a young woman with a self described perfect boyfriend from Amy Dickinson, the replacement for Ann Landers.

Dear Amy: I’m 23 years old and have been dating my boyfriend for just over two years. I love him, and I love spending time with him. He’s everything I’ve always wanted in a long-term partner: caring, intelligent, thoughtful and hardworking.

But lately, I can’t seem to shake this “antsy” feeling.

I find that when I go somewhere with my friends and meet other men (as a “wing woman,” I’m not actively searching out a new partner), I wonder what it would be like to date someone else.

I find myself jealous of my friends who are still dating and not in a committed relationship.

Does the new Ann Landers try to talk her off the ledge and explain that this is a female instinct gone haywire?  Of course not.  She reinforces it.

Amy whispers:

You might be mature enough for a committed relationship, but the relationship you’re currently in might not be the right relationship for you right now.

Commitment is like good comedy: It’s all about the timing.

Your guy might be the best guy in the world. He might be perfect for you. But if you can’t tame your restlessness, then you should take a break.

The only way to bring this up is the old-fashioned way: one word at a time.

You start with: “Honey, we need to talk.”

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128 Responses to The whispers.

  1. Dream Puppy says:

    Your site is quickly becoming my favorite.

    [D: Thanks! Glad you like it.]

    Sounds like you caught a good fish. May I ask, what was her upbringing? I only ask because I grew fairly poor (in every sense of the word) and am grateful for it now as it has led me to be a lot more grateful than my counterparts (although it sucked at the time).

    [D: I think so too! Her mother is old school German/Hungarian, and brought her up with those values. The Brothers Grimm tale I mentioned is one of her favorites. Her father is a devout born again Christian with a PHD, and they didn't struggle for money.]

    My friend was recently proposed to by a great guy who is crazy about her (and she is difficult, so we’re all pushing her to get married). However, when she showed us the size of the ring all my friends started making fun of the the guy’s choice and how cheap he was to get her such a tiny diamond. I found it pretty appalling for them to shit on what is such a special moment in two people’s lives. The girl went right along with it too…

    Why can’t people see when they are lucky? I pity people who cannot appreciate what they have- no matter their riches or good fortune, they are never happy.

  2. The Truth says:

    As men, let us choose not to play this game for our own peace and sanity. The only thing most women these days are good for is a old fashioned pump n dump.

  3. The Truth says:

    Also as Lao Tzu said, he who knows he has enough is rich. It behooves everyone to be mindful of this aphorism.

  4. Badger Nation says:

    I concur with your basic point. It’s hard for a lot of people to understand that happiness doesn’t just “happen’ when you’ve collected all the FarmVille-esque status markers your programming has talked you into. Genuinely happy people tend to find a way to be happy in every station of life, not just when they “arrive.”

    That leads into…

    “They had every reason to be happy”

    Happiness is a choice, but happiness is not a “reasonable” thing. You can’t talk yourself into it with logic…although you can take behavioral steps to accept contentment when you have it. As you wisely note, modern culture is expert at brainwashing people into NOT accepting happiness at every stage in the game, instead pumping us full of incessant want. Which is subject to the classic “arrival paradox” wherein once you get what you “want” you just go looking for something else.

    (One key point American women would do well to learn is “wherever you go, there you are” – your own choices and outlook have five times more impact on your happiness than whatever man you are with or not with. A shorter version would be “it’s not his fault your life is a wreck.”)

    I actually agree with Amy’s point, although her advice that the woman is “mature enough for a relationship but not with THIS guy” is farcical. The “ansty” feeling is totally normal and acceptable, but it’s incompatible with relationship “maturity.” Rather than talking herself into staying with her man despite deep misgivings about her life stage, she should eject and test the waters. This may be instinct gone haywire but this guy is going to be a deeper victim than she is.

    She’s also 23 – most people have NO idea what the world is like at 23. I sure didn’t. There’s no crime in her wanting to try other things. She’s been with him for two years, i.e. her entire adult life. They’re not married or vow-bound in any way. As much as we criticize the carousel, the freedom to move in and out of LTRs is a wholly different animal than moving among one-night stands.

    Don’t give him the cliched “we need to talk.” Just tell him you don’t want to be in an LTR with him right now. Is that a rejection? Nuclear. Don’t want to be “the bad guy?” Understandable. Are you doing him wrong? Not really. Young dating is combustible, that’s part of the risk.

    I sort of liken it to a job. You may have a great job, pays well, good benefits, flexible, good people to work with…but people want different things from jobs, and some people like some of the challenge and risk that comes with a different kind of gig. A good employer understands these drives and after the initial shock there’s no hard feelings about moving on. People usually grow out of that as their careers get established – they can parlay their experience into a cozier, more stable position. Sounds like dating.

    One of the great ironies of the settling anxiety and checklisting is that it washes out somebody’s mental sensors, leaving them unable to detect a REAL mismatch or bad situation because they’ve spent years judging everybody by their height, car or brand of watch. It sounds like this woman has a combination of mismatch and friend-envy (notice how she tries to talk herself into her “checklist” at the very beginning of the letter).

    [D: I agree that she should probably end the relationship to save the guy from a disaster. But the point of an advice column is to have others learn from the advice at the same time. Amy reinforced a very damaging instinct out of hand. And she's in the advice business. Plus the advice isn't actually helpful to the woman herself. As for a woman feeling free to choose the best man and not marry if she isn't sure, I made a handy flowchart women can use for this for my post women shouldn't settle back in July.]

  5. Badger Nation says:

    Susan Walsh might have interesting comments on the Amy Dickinson letter, which sounds a LOT like her recent post “I found a great beta guy but he’s ruining his own game.” It involved a woman trying to date her grad school classmate but being unable to deal with his betatude and reaction to ad hoc situations like her dancing at a party and bumping into her friends who unwittingly embarrassed him. She vacillated on his lack of action when she presented the opportunity for sex (I theorized he was holding out for the LTR and didn’t want to become a standing FWB until she found something else…although I have personal experience that colors that perception). She also brought up, much like the letter writer, an enrapturing moment in which another guy booty-called her and she softly lamented that beta boy would have never done that.

    Aside from a couple mean-spirited “go screw your alpha boys!” type of comments, the board was very thoughtful and engaged in polite but spirited debate.

    In the end, much of the board converged upon [my words] “well it sounds like you tried but he’s not what you are looking for…if you don’t want to date him, just say so and move on instead of hemming or hawing or LJBF’ing and all the rest of it.”

  6. Lavazza says:

    My yoga teacher always emphasizes that to lead a happy life your have to be able to discriminate between needs and desires. For a lot people that seems to be a very hard task, especially in our consumer culture where we are bombarded with messages to make us desire more and more and to see our desires as needs.

  7. Badger Nation says:

    [D: I agree that she should probably end the relationship to save the guy from a disaster. But the point of an advice column is to have others learn from the advice at the same time. Amy reinforced a very damaging instinct out of hand. And she's in the advice business. Plus the advice isn't actually helpful to the woman herself. As for a woman feeling free to choose the best man, and not marry if she isn't sure, I made a handy flowchart women can use for this for a post back in July.]

    Dalrock, you are right…one of the problems with advice columns and situational analyses is that all readers project their own situations onto the column and take the advice when it is inappropriate to their situation. For every person going through legitimate life doubts like the letter writer, five (or ten) will be talking herself out of perfectly good situations because of whispers.

    BTW…the front of your post reminded me of a point I’ve been meaning to make.

    “A sane culture would curb the dangerous part of this tendency / Instead of curbing the worst instincts…our culture instead amplifies them.”

    In a civilized society, the purpose of the law should be to mollify or nullify the basest human instincts in the quest of what is best for society. (The first and best way it does this is by taking person disputes out of mano y mano duels and into a codified space of argument, i.e. the courtroom.) The court should function as a cooled-off zone where wrongs can be considered and righted in a reasonable manner, in the case of criminal court by proxy – the state does the punishment instead of the victim.

    HOWEVER, the modern family law system instead seems intent on amplifying bad human instincts instead of shelving them. OF COURSE anybody who has cheated on their spouse, been cheated on or otherwise seen the relationship breached is going to want to skin the other person. The court SHOULD be a place where adults tell these people to knock off their emotional tirades. But we all know the horrors of family court. The worst faults of people, particularly modern scorned women (exaggeration and outright lies, theft from innocent people, the exploitation of blind rage, perjury without punishment) are reinforced by the law, misandrists judges and variously evil and/or incompetent attorneys.

  8. Dream Puppy says:

    I once read an article that after the initial shock, people who had won the lottery and people who were paraplegics after a car accident both exhibited a similar level of happiness before and after the event. It seems that to an extent, we are predisposed to a certain baseline happiness.
    I do not think placing women (and sometimes men) on pedestals when they are young really helps with this though. Everyone thinks they’re such a goddamn prize.

  9. Deansdale says:

    I’ll try to translate the words of Sándor Márai, about happiness:
    “Of course happiness does not exist in the distillable, packable sense most people imagine it. Like you could just enter a pharmacy and buy some drug for a few dollars that makes all the troubles in life go away. Like a perfect woman could exist for a man, or a perfect man for a woman, and when they meet, there are no more misunderstandings, no selfishness, no anger, just eternal serenity, constant satisfaction, gaiety and good health. Like happiness could be anything else than craving for the unreachable!
    Most people spend their lives methodically, industriously and unrelaxingly preparing for happiness. They come up with plans to be happy, they travel and work for this end, gathering the ingredients of happiness with the diligence of ants and the voracious instincts of tigers. And when their life is over, they find out that it’s not enough to gather all the ingredients of happiness. You have to be happy during all that. And they had forgotten this.”

  10. Hope says:

    Modern capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with being content with one’s present condition. No quarterly increases and profit growths can come from people refraining from consumption, and saving instead of spending.

    You can’t have a capitalistic economic system and not instill these whispers into the massive collective consciousness. People would quit spending / wanting to spend, thereby sending the whole system crashing.

    People who still wear old clothes from decades ago, never upgrade their technology and perpetually save up are “bad” for the system, and they are punished for being frugal by the mainstream market as well as ostracized and denigrated in social status.

    I’m not going to kid myself, give up my internet and smart phone, and pull all of my retirement funds out of the stock market. But I can determine my own level of participation. The system will continue with others, the very same dissatisfied people who constantly look for the next big thing, who respond to ads pavlov-style, and who perpetually chase that carrot on a stick.

  11. Doomed Harlot says:

    Wait — so men are not prone to wondering if the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence? News to me!

    But the real problem with this post is the blanket assertion that women are “hard wired” to long for the path not taken. The term “hard wired” is such a lazy phrase and is almost always used to denote supposedly inherent characteristics of the sexes that the writer “just knows” exist.

    [D: Lazy like assuming the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. It is far more industrious to make up ever more complex models to explain why reality never seems to match the model.]

    The fact is that WESTERN people — men and women — are socialized for discontent. This is both a strength and a weakness. Wanting more is a strength because it pushes us to strive to make things better, to strive to improve our lives or society as a whole. It is also a weakness in that it can leave us perpetually unsatisfied in our personal lives.

    [D: Both get the message, but it is aimed far more at women. Men are basically told to suck it up and make life work, especially once married. Open a men's magazine and there won't likely be a new quiz every week to decide if their relationship is good enough. Go to the movies and there won't be a line of men waiting to see a fantasy about some guy who divorces his wife and finds a new love overseas.]

    I think this may not even be a symptom of western culture so much as an inevitable aspect of human nature that asserts itself when human beings are too successful. No longer are we concerned about meeting our basic, survival needs, so we are left to strive for the “perfect” life in terms of career, mate, etc.

  12. Lavazza says:

    Doomed Harlot: I thought the consensus was that men hard wired to want variety. They want both this grass and the other grass, if it’s greener is of less importance. (If the grass image concerns sexual preferences.)

  13. J says:

    D, I think you point up a real problem, but the cause is bigger than feminism or female hard-wiring. It’s American secular materialism. Yes, I agree that woman are hard-wired to find the best mate they can, but there is a point where that becomes maladaptive. (If we weren’t also hard wired to settle down, we’d be unable to form families.) Modern American women go beyond that point because if you need a new wardrobe every season, then you need a man every once in a while too.
    I can make the same analogy about man, cars and new women. It’s a part of the American character to believe that “the grass is greener…” We are, after all, the people who left our native lands because we were discontented, got here and then pushed west until we hit the ocean. If there were no Pacific, we’d still be pushing. Be believe in progress; we believe there’s always something better. And unfortunately, we apply that same logic to relationships.

    Smart people realize that once you’ve found good enough, you stop looking and make it work with Ms. or Mr. Good Enough. That’s not settling. It’s being realistic enough to see that everyone has faults and being in a relationship means having to deal with that. You find someone whose faults you can deal with and then you make it work.

    Someone in the HB rating thread at CR said something brilliant the other day, probably unintentionally. He said that no matter how beautiful a woman is, somewhere there is a man tired of her bullshit. That goes both ways. No matter how terrific a guy looks, somewhere there is some woman who is tired of his bullshit. Sometimes, the key to fidelity is knowing that a new relationship means new bullshit to accomodate one’s self to and carefully weighing the risks and benefits of doing that.

  14. J says:

    In the end, much of the board converged upon [my words] “well it sounds like you tried but he’s not what you are looking for…if you don’t want to date him, just say so and move on instead of hemming or hawing or LJBF’ing and all the rest of it.”

    Yeah, but I think some of that was a concession to the fact that the girl in question really disn’t want the guy. Many people, like me, still thought she was making a bad choice. I think Amy Dickinson is making the same concession. She acknowledges that the guy in question might be “perfect,” but that the “timing” is wrong. That’s a nice way of saying quit jagging the guy around and move on.

    [D: But what she needed was a good scolding. Stop being a dumbass! And if you can't stop being a dumbass, let him find another woman who isn't one. It really is a shame that I don't get to write the newspaper advice column. :) ]

  15. J says:

    Deansdale–Great quote.

  16. J says:

    On the subject of American materialism, wanna hear how I once alienated all the moms in a suburban play group? In response to a bitchfest I said, “Ever think about how grateful we should be for all our suburban problems? Like how instead of thinking about how hard it is to find a good cleaning lady, we should think about how good it is to be able to afford a cleaning lady, or how good it is not to be a cleaning lady yourself?”

    This is why I have no friends, but the most stable kids in the neighborhood. (Actually, I do have friends, but I still don’t play with the cool kids.;-) )

    [D: LOL J. My wife does the same thing, with the same results. Ask your husband about this though; in my experience men are far less invested in hearing each other bitch. They will do it some, but if someone called them on it like you describe most men would side against the bitchers.]

  17. dalrock says:

    @J
    If we weren’t also hard wired to settle down, we’d be unable to form families.

    Yes. I have a post on this in the works. Should be up sometime in the next week.

  18. dream puppy says:

    @D said ” Go to the movies and there won’t be a line of men waiting to see a fantasy about some guy who divorces his wife and finds a new love overseas.”

    This theme does appear to be creeping up with that fat curly haired Jewish guy that makes the funny movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hangover). It seems those movies always have some bitchy harpy who finally gets her comeuppance, usually via being left for a younger, cuter, sweet, “cool” girl. My husband LOVES those movies. I think he was pretty traumatized by North American ladies, including an ex that didn’t “let him” go out with his friends. In college!

    [D: My wife and I finally saw Hangover the other week. The part where he left the harpy was our favorite. Do you think that was similar to EPL or Stella? The guy wasn't married yet, and the woman had cheated on him and was a massive bitch. I haven't seen the other movie so I don't have any thoughts there. But to the extent that this is becoming part of the culture aimed at men (to always question a good relationship & fantasize about divorce), it will be a disaster.]

  19. dream puppy says:

    @D I don’t think it’s too similar. I guess both are playing out fantasies but one is more justified than the other. ESP and Stella are immoral, and in the end harmful to women who would be “inspired” be these movies.

    If you liked the Hangover (and especially that scene) you would REALLY like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Funny People. Actually all those dude movies are really good. Knocked up is one that really shows the dichotomy of the “good girl” and the “harpy”

    Debbie: Oprah said that when two people meet, they are forced to point out each other’s differences and flaws.
    Good girl: I thought you were supposed to just accept people for who they are, love them anyway.
    Debbie: No. You criticize them a lot, and then they get so down on themselves that they’re forced to change. And then they thank you!

  20. dalrock says:

    Funny stuff Dream Puppy!

    I’ve been criticized for lumping Knocked Up in with chick flicks. I can see it both ways.

  21. Badger Nation says:

    The difference between, say EPL and The Hangover is that The Hangover’s relationship “problem” is objectively wrong and must be righted. The irnoic humor is how the man starts out betatized, then comes to grips to the misery of his love life through his one-day marriage to a good-hearted stripper. The plot premise of EPL, a “bad marriage,” is one that is essentially non-argued. The filmmakers no doubt expected the women of the audience to simply give into the “she’s not HAAAPPY!” instinct, nod and empathize with her “predicament” and move on to the rest of the film.

    dp,

    The marriage subplot in Knocked Up was one that really cemented my image of what I wanted my (as yet non-existent) marriage NOT to look like. I had seen smatterings of that misery in my parent’s rather good marriage.

    The scene where the club doorman comes clean was gut-busting.

  22. Badger Nation says:

    dp,

    That sister exchange reminds of a Seinfeld bit about guys getting wedgies in the locker room.

    Elaine: you guys are so mean.
    Jerry: well, what you girls do?
    Elaine: we’d just tease her until she developed an eating disorder.

  23. dream puppy says:

    I love the bouncer scene!

    “You old as hell. Like not for the earth…but for this club.”

    You described the difference well. One showed an actual probelm while EPL just expected you to understand that there was a problem -what was it?- because she was unhappy.

  24. Lovekraft says:

    These ‘little voices’ are insidious and relentless. That was why I kept trying to hammer home the point in my last relationship that life is supposed to be a struggle, boring at times. And it is the ability to master this that takes one out of the usual cycle of boredom-excitement-boredom ad infinitum…

    Alas, it didn’t work. Undisciplined or untrained minds are too easily distracted by the messages bombarding us every day. A long-term relationship requires a couple understanding that there will be drudgery, rubbing up against each other, cold spots etc. Fact of life. It cannot be shopped away, gossiped away or even prayed away. It is just a quiet personal reflection that life is a struggle.

  25. J says:

    D: LOL J. My wife does the same thing, with the same results.

    J: Yeah, it’s fun to make friends and influence people .

    D: Ask your husband about this though; in my experience men are far less invested in hearing each other bitch. They will do it some, but if someone called them on it like you describe most men would side against the bitchers.

    J: I don’t need to ask. IME, what you say is true.

    Worst example of this phenonmenon. I’m chaperoning my kid’s school trip to the art museum, standing in front of a sculpture by Dale Chihuly (www.chihuly.com) when I overhear this: “Cynthia, I don’t know what to do. I’m so booorrreeedd with my Chihuly.” The complaining rich bitch owned a sculpture by a world reknown artist and she was bored with it, poor thing. I had some suggestions as to what she could do with her Chihuly but children were present so I just rolled my eyes.

  26. J says:

    D: But what she needed was a good scolding. Stop being a dumbass! And if you can’t stop being a dumbass, let him find another woman who isn’t one. It really is a shame that I don’t get to write the newspaper advice column.

    J: She was being a dumbass. I think towards the end of the thread I actually posted someting along the lines of, “You’ll be sorry for this stupid choice, but since you gotta do it, just let this guy move on.”

    [D: Just to clarify I meant the one writing to the paper, not Casey from Susan's blog. Casey would never have been happy with that guy IMO. The one writing to the paper says she has everything she wants. She just wants the excitement of restarting the search. Certainly her choice, but she was officially being a dumbass. Searching costs aren't zero, as was brought up in the comments to my post about women meeting men at bars.]

    You are right when you say that people make decisions based on fantasy.

    BTW, I’ll look forward to the family post.

    [D: I'm guessing you will either love it or hate it. :) ]

  27. J says:

    @Lovekraft

    A longterm relationship requires a couple understanding that there will be drudgery, rubbing up against each other, cold spots etc. Fact of life. It cannot be shopped away, gossiped away or even prayed away. It is just a quiet personal reflection that life is a struggle.

    For real!

  28. Hope says:

    I have never seen any of these movies. It seems like most movies about relationships are rather hollow and don’t go into nearly enough. I prefer books and longer series that develop relationships more. For movies I tend toward plots that don’t centrally focus on a couple. Lord of the Rings, The Green Mile and most recently Inception are good movies. I guess I’m not much of one for chick flicks or chick lit. My tastes are more typical of a “nerdy guy.”

  29. Omnipitron says:

    “That was why I kept trying to hammer home the point in my last relationship that life is supposed to be a struggle, boring at times. And it is the ability to master this that takes one out of the usual cycle of boredom-excitement-boredom ad infinitum…”

    Well said, even some articles and books will reference that all relationships will ebb and flow with time. If one is expecting an LTR to be an eternal date with novelty applenty then those expectations are far too high to be realistic.

    I’ve encountered both genders fall prey to this, although more female than male.

    As the years went by, I remembered one quote which really got me thinking; “That all sunshine makes a desert.”

  30. J says:

    @Badger

    The marriage subplot in Knocked Up was one that really cemented my image of what I wanted my (as yet non-existent) marriage NOT to look like.

    Even I found the wife annoying and shrewish. Apatow couldn’t write a good female character to save his life. There wasn’t a single appealing female character in the movie. I’ve seen Apatow and his wife interviewed on TV. He is one of the few men I’d call beta, and she seemed much like the characters she plays. He was going on in a sheepish tone about how hard he is to live with and how lucky he is to have her, and she agreed with him. In the meantime, I’ve never seen her in a non-Apatow production, so I’d call her lucky to haver hooked up with him. I also have no idea what Katherine Heigel was doing with Seth Rogen in that movie. I mean, I find Seth Rogen cute as hell, but I doubt that Heigel’s character would have IRL. That relationship seemed like yet another version of the Apatow-Mann marriage.

  31. J says:

    D: Just to clarify I meant the one writing to the paper, not Casey from Susan’s blog. Casey would never have been happy with that guy IMO.

    J: That’s because Casey too was being a dumbass.

  32. jack says:

    Hope-

    I think you are confusion capitalism with consumerism. People can be just as materialistic in a socialist or communist society, and history has proven that.

    I have a friend who owns a small car repair shop. He owns all of his own tools, does all the work, and charges what the market will bear.

    THAT is capitalism. Now, how exactly is this bad?

    In a socialist system, the government would own the tools and set the prices for him, possibly even telling him where his shop would be located.

    The choice to be selfish and materialistic is independent of the economic system in play. It is a personal moral choice.

  33. Hope says:

    jack, here’s the dictionary definition of capitalism:

    n.
    An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

    Profit. Ever-increasing profit. Growth. That’s what I talked about, not the mode of system vs. private ownership.

    I already said that I have a “stake” in the system. I work for a corporation. I have been attending marketing and sales meetings in which we were informed on the need for growth, for increased profit, etc. If you don’t grow, you’re going to be ousted by someone else who does grow and increase market share, who has generated more profits, and who has more to reinvest.

    How do you generate increased profit? There are other ways, but I work in marketing. We do advertisements, sales, and demand-generation. I know the psychology of advertising quite well. As a marketer, you want people to WANT, to CRAVE, to DESIRE. You arrange, photograph, and photoshop things to make them look delicious, beautiful, alluring, and become a must-have.

    Sure, you still have a personal choice when confronted with a marvelously arranged advertisement. But it’s designed specifically to elicit a certain set of unconscious reactions from most people. I can see through it because I work it, and I try to expose myself to as little advertising as possible (don’t own a TV, don’t look at ads). People who know me remark on how little I buy, and how much I manage to save.

    It’s no accident that along with Oprah’s tremendous success on a TV show, she also owns a wealthy corporation that puts out magazines and products. Whatever she promotes becomes the next sensation. She is a genius marketers who knows how to do exposure and demand-generation, and the fact that she makes it all feel good for women is just more clarion call for them to go out and buy the next thing she’s promoting. Undoubtedly she’s also getting money for doing this exposure, tons of it.

    Like it or not, corporate profits are tied to the culture, and corporations promote certain cultures when they become profitable. The two are intricately linked. If fatty foods didn’t taste good, they wouldn’t get eaten. If the Twilight series were not big money-makers, they would not be widely promoted. If making women feel perpetually dissatisfied with something didn’t sell goods, these whispers would not be whispered. Sure, an individual woman still has a choice, to not eat fatty foods, to not watch Twilight, and to be perfectly content with what she’s got. But rising above these incessant whispers takes a lot of willpower, and doing so is going to make a lot of unhappy marketers at corporations. ;)

  34. You really nailed it. The whispers is what frankly has turned me off to female friendships. I have been made to feel bad if I don’t get the ‘right’ gift or if my husband doesn’t do this that or the other. It is just better to avoid women then to have them put these destructive thoughts in your head that have the potential of harming your marriage. Some women have suggested things I never ever would have thought of, but once I had, then I became very sensitive and worried that I was missing out on something.

    My thoughts are in more detail in this post:

    http://fullofgraceseasonedwithsalt.blogspot.com/2010/03/perfect-example-of-how-friends.html

  35. Dalrock,

    The whispers… What a apt description of the way women talk to themselves and each other. It perfectly describes some of the conversations I’ve had and questions I’ve been asked over the years. Why do women seem perpetually dissatisfied?

    You have a great sense of things when it comes to the topic of male/female relationships and how feminism has effected them.

    Your blog is really great. Keep the insights coming!

  36. Thag Jones says:

    D: But what she needed was a good scolding. Stop being a dumbass! And if you can’t stop being a dumbass, let him find another woman who isn’t one. It really is a shame that I don’t get to write the newspaper advice column.

    I agree – that would have been much better than the unbelievably weak answer Amy gave. There have been times I’ve had to tell myself to stop being a dumbass. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a slow learner. :P

    I’m with Laura Grace Robins here – women are such busy bodies and I just can’t stand that. I’ve also learned the hard way that it’s best not to talk to other women – mom included – about my relationships.

    Excellent post – lots of truth there.

  37. jack says:

    Hope-

    Without profit there is no incentive to innovate. Therefore, to suggest that profit has some sinister attribute is to misunderstand human nature.

    And there is nothing about capitalism that is intrinsically more likely to lead people into materialism. People can become materialistic in any economic system.

    Materialism is a personal moral choice. Attempting to exploit human frailty is also a personal (or corporate) moral choice. Corporations have every right to decide if they are going to market products by appealing to peoples’ darker impulses.

    Some would argue that socialism or communism would constrain the ability to act on those impulses, but that is the naivete of youth. Strict parenting usually leads to rebellious children. Capitalism, while imperfect, is the system that ensures the most personal liberties, and therefore is the best. At least in a capitalistic system, your corporate “oppressors” can occasionally fail, and must compete with other “oppressors” for your services.

    In socialism or communism, your oppressors are permanent organs of government that possess guns and prisons.

    Capitalism is the system with the most freedom. Socialism is the system with the most unattainable promises. It is for the gullible and lazy.

  38. Doomed Harlot says:

    Interesting point about the quizzes in women’s magazines and “Eat, Pray, Love.” I do not believe for a minute that what is marketed to women tells us much about what women are “hard wired” for. I think this kind of marketing reflects the fact that women are still expected to define themselves in terms of their relationships and marriages in ways that men are not. Women are expected to have more angst about the quality of their relationships because that is what we are expected to live for. To the extent women are responding to that, it makes sense.

    I can honestly say I have never once in my life had a female friend suggest to me that my husband (or in the past, my boyfriends) isn’t good enough. But then, my friends and I are all career bitches. We have too many other problems to sit around parsing each other’s relationships.

  39. Susan Walsh says:

    Lots of great comments here, but I’d like to expand on what Laura Grace Robins said. I think that often times, the whispers are a form of intrasexual competition. My guess is that your wife’s maid of honor was extremely envious at your wedding, and indulged in petty rudeness to take some of your wife’s happiness away, even temporarily. In this way, she might reduce the “happiness gulf” between them.

    A woman who has a strong marriage should never consult an unhappily single friend when she hits a bump in the road. Even a happily married friend may have subconscious competitive feelings. In fact, a think a lot of women are not even aware how they insidiously try to take a friend down in small ways. I had one friend that I dubbed the pro at “small diminishments.” Any time spent alone with her left me feeling anxious about myself, my marriage, my kids, my home, etc. On the face of it, she was perfectly pleasant, but she needed to come out on top, and for her that meant diminishing others.

    I think this can even happen with advice columnists, or other “experts.” All of us are colored by our own experiences. The haters at my site often jump to the conclusion that I’m single, jealous of feminists getting all the “menz,” worried about never finding a man, etc. They may be wrong, but their female instinct is sound.

    [D: Great insight Susan. My wife describes the same "small deminishments" experience being around some women. She says it stops if I'm around though. I would say your assessment of the Maid of Honor was right on as well. My wife was by far the prettier of the two, and her "friend" seldom acted like one in my view.]

  40. Badger Nation says:

    “My guess is that your wife’s maid of honor was extremely envious at your wedding, and indulged in petty rudeness to take some of your wife’s happiness away, even temporarily. In this way, she might reduce the “happiness gulf” between them.”

    Modern women don’t seem to be very good at accepting other people’s happiness without petty backhanding or sabotage. It’s like they have to go around pissing in everybody’s else pothole to even the playing field. Hence the birthday card “if mom’s not happy nobody’s happy.” Ergo a recent study suggesting marriages are more stable when the wife is happier than the husband than the other way around. I imagine many wives in the second situation can’t stand their husbands being happier than they are. The resentment must be enormous.

    Harlot,

    “I think this kind of marketing reflects the fact that women are still expected to define themselves in terms of their relationships and marriages in ways that men are not. Women are expected to have more angst about the quality of their relationships because that is what we are expected to live for. To the extent women are responding to that, it makes sense.”

    I think the passive “expected to” is a cop-out. In my experience women DO define themselves in terms of their relationships. Despite fish-bicycle aphorisms, most women (and men) desire a partner, and the partner you can catch is an important part of one’s status. I think you see it as cultural programming because you aren’t that way, but that doesn’t mean you’re not simply an outlier.

    I would love to see a survey of Facebook profile photos, and count the number of men who use a “couple” photo vis a vis the number of women. I would bet WAY more women want to show off their man in their Facebook photo.

    “I can honestly say I have never once in my life had a female friend suggest to me that my husband (or in the past, my boyfriends) isn’t good enough. But then, my friends and I are all career bitches. We have too many other problems to sit around parsing each other’s relationships.”

    Unfortunately I don’t see this among a majority of career women I know. In fact a lot of them appear quite uninterested in their career and try to live a doubly-difficult life as white-collar clock punched and village socialite. Silly me – I thought that women moving into careers and the workplace was going to give them something more to do than gossip, but it appears they’ve simply put one upon the other.

  41. Doomed Harlot says:

    Badger, I don’t doubt that many women DO define themselves in terms of their relationships. (I think of Madonna, one of the world’s biggest celebrities, running around with a shirt saying, “Mrs. Ritchie.” Men don’t do things like that.) But I don’t see any reason to assume this is hard-wired or inevitable. It is just an unquestioned cultural assumption. This stuff is pushed on us heavily from the time we are little girls. Some of us rebel (feminists) and some of us buy into it hook-line-and-sinker and some of us are half-way in-between, but it is hardly some imperative that is written in stone.

    The idea that women are more gossip-y than men is hilarious. Men are not impervious to human relations. You go to the average workplace, and politics is a hugely important part of who rises and who falls. Men are socializing with each other incessantly and constantly talking about other people. They have to in order to succeed professionally. It’s just that when they do it, we call it “networking” and “important workplace discussion” ratherer than “socializing and gossip.”

  42. Hope says:

    “Without profit there is no incentive to innovate. Therefore, to suggest that profit has some sinister attribute is to misunderstand human nature.”

    There are other incentives, but most of them are less immediate. I do not attribute the profit-motive as a sinister aspect of human nature, but it is part of human nature.

    “And there is nothing about capitalism that is intrinsically more likely to lead people into materialism. People can become materialistic in any economic system.”

    Sure. I grew up in “Communist” China, and people were also quite materialistic. This is not at dispute. I posit, however, that capitalism tends to promote materialism on a massive scale, a macro-effect rather than a personal effect.

    “Materialism is a personal moral choice. Attempting to exploit human frailty is also a personal (or corporate) moral choice. Corporations have every right to decide if they are going to market products by appealing to peoples’ darker impulses.”

    And they do. Capitalism does not work unless people are materialistic, and so it is in the best interest of corporations to make people more materialistic. The effects of this are global, not just in purely capitalistic societies.

    “Some would argue that socialism or communism would constrain the ability to act on those impulses, but that is the naivete of youth. Strict parenting usually leads to rebellious children.”

    Neither socialism nor communism has the ability to actually constrain human impulses. They are called human impulses for a reason.

    I’d like to see Dalrock respond to that last point about parenting. Personally, I was raised very strictly, and at least according to some, I turned out better than girls who were raised… loosely.

    “Capitalism, while imperfect, is the system that ensures the most personal liberties, and therefore is the best.”

    That is just as idealistic a statement as saying socialism and communism are the “best.” Is allowing runaway “personal liberties” the best thing for the human race? Not necessarily. As we see with “women’s liberation,” all that freedom hasn’t exactly led to greater good.

    “Capitalism is the system with the most freedom. Socialism is the system with the most unattainable promises. It is for the gullible and lazy.”

    I am in no position to say whether or not “freedom” is the opposite of “gullibility and laziness,” but judging from the various critiques of increased female freedom, I would say that merely tossing the word “freedom” out there doesn’t justify it. Freedom without responsibility is quite lazy.

  43. My husband was channel surfing and ran across a television show that left him speechless. When he called me to take a look, I automatically thought about how the wedding industry and women’s perpetual dissatisfaction has become a billion dollar industry. I couldn’t find a video of the show in question, but here is a great synopsis of what we witnessed.

    http://www.zimbio.com/Terry+Crews/articles/2YKUnjvfcQM/Owen+TV+New+series+looks+athlete+actor+Terry

  44. dream puppy says:

    @Susan said: “I think that often times, the whispers are a form of intrasexual competition. ”

    I don’t follow many rules, but here’s one I do. If a “friend” ever tells you you’re too skinny (barring anorexia) or that you’d look so much better with really short hair, then she is no friend at all. One of my friends told a mutual friend who has amazing long thick shiny hair that she’d look super cute with a pixie cut. I put her on blast and that was that.

  45. @ Hope:

    I’d like to see Dalrock respond to that last point about parenting. Personally, I was raised very strictly, and at least according to some, I turned out better than girls who were raised… loosely.

    I agree with you 100%. I haven’t often thanked God for the short leash my dad kept me on as I saw what became of many of the girls I graduated high school with. Much of it started with the laissez faire approach to parenting that they experienced as teenagers. It doesn’t work out, particularly in a society where young women are encouraged to behave like men, and young men are exhibiting less and less respect for women.

    We are not quite as strict with our teen girls as my upbringing was, but we are more strict than almost all of their friends’ parents. I think we underestimate what has happened to our culture as we have thrown off all restraints.

  46. NYDude says:

    Wow. My brother got hit with the “we need to talk” bombshell recently. Trouble is they are late twenties, highly educated, accomplished, and married — for eighteen months.

    I somehow stumbled across this site. It could be the best thing that ever happened to me. I can only help my brother, whatever I can do. But thank you Dalrock.

  47. Hope says:

    Yes Terry. My husband and I agree to raise our kids with discipline and love. There are ways of being strict that can lead to a lot of rebellion, but kids should be raised with clear rules and guidance.

    My female friends who have children also subscribe to this philosophy, and they mention other parents they know who raise their kids with “minimal parenting,” and the kids are awful. It’s borderline neglect. Children who terrorize and yell at their parents and other adults/children are not equipped to deal with the rest of society. They also are raised to have every want indulged, which leads to a huge entitlement complex.

  48. Badger Nation says:

    J,

    “Even I found the wife annoying and shrewish. Apatow couldn’t write a good female character to save his life. There wasn’t a single appealing female character in the movie.”

    I think you’re missing something…the wife character was a shrew by design. I think Katherine Heigl’s character was supposed to be conflicted, as you might expect from a young woman in that position. I don’t think either character was poorly written.

    Maybe I’m lumping you in with too many columns I’ve read slamming Apatow’s movies as misogynistic because they – gasp! – focus on a man’s problems, and use the rest of the setting (including female and minor male characters) as secondary plot devices and foils. As if the exact same thing doesn’t happen in reverse with chick flicks.

  49. Lavazza says:

    I am more in the “minimal parenting” camp. I hope that leading with example will be enough. Apart from that I just say no to what is stupid or inconvenient.

  50. Badger Nation says:

    NYDude,

    “Wow. My brother got hit with the “we need to talk” bombshell recently. Trouble is they are late twenties, highly educated, accomplished, and married — for eighteen months. ”

    Sorry to hear that. Any more details? Keep us posted. Send him to Athol Kay’s site (Google it if you haven’t seen it) in the meantime.

    [D: Good idea. Athol's site is listed as Married Man Sex Life on my blogroll. His posts on alpha and beta are probably a good place to start. Roissy's post on Dave From Hawaii comes to mind as well.]

    Hope et al,

    “There are ways of being strict that can lead to a lot of rebellion, but kids should be raised with clear rules and guidance. ”

    I’m not a parent but my perception is that kids do well with clear boundaries and consistent punishments. Kids also, generally, want to please, and giving them boundaries shows them how to please you and gives them a structure to fit into. Some kids are the type to intentionally test your limits, and they especially need proper enforcement.

    The rules and boundaries have to make some sense. If “strictness” is really irrational control-freaking, then of course the kid will grow up thinking his or her parents are hard-ons who don’t want them to have any fun, and grow up thinking that all rules are just made-up style-crampers.

  51. Badger Nation says:

    “I am more in the “minimal parenting” camp. I hope that leading with example will be enough. Apart from that I just say no to what is stupid or inconvenient.”

    That can work fine. More than minimal versus strict, I think the way the parents see themselves is key. Do they embrace being authority figures and wield their power with wisdom, or are the “their kids’ best friend”?

  52. I think it all depends on what is meant by “minimal parenting.” For example, our kids go to the football games, basketball games, etc. I, on the other hand did none of those things as a teenager. It felt as if our parents thought itnwas the best way to mitigate against the possibility that we were saying we were going to the game and then went someplace else.

    We don’t micromanage their time with respect to their homework in grades, and when they haven’t been keeping up with their assignments and managing their time well, the grades reflect it, and we help them manage their time until they show that they are capable of taking the reigns back.

    Our girls (we have no boys but the standard would be the same) will not be allowed or encouraged to date until they have offically graduated high school. Some people may find that overkill, but between their activities, the time they spend with family and friends, and schoolwork, they have more than enough to keep them occupied without the enormous distraction of a boyfriend.

    They don’t think they are “over parented” and we don’t think we over parent them. In my opinion, far too many parents interpret minimal parenting as no parenting. There is a reason we are legally responsible for our kids until their 18th birthday. Certainly, as theyget older, we loosen our hold and give them more and more responsibility and decision making power.

    I also think it’s important to be present, involved, attentive, and alert so that they can learn as young women to defend their hearts and minds against “the whispers.”

  53. Lovekraft says:

    D, your experience as a married MRA is valuable, but when women are involved in comment discussions, they tend to veer focus away towards what to me represent trivialities.

    The Men’s Rights Movement isn’t about ‘finding harmony’ but rather the massive upheaval of decades-old heirarchies. If this succeeds, society will hopefully be well advanced from talking about relationships.

    I follow your writings regularly and only want to make the point to women readers that if they walked a mile in the average beta or omega’s shoes, they would come to the debate with more humility.

  54. jack says:

    Hope-

    The empirical evidence is already in – capitalism, while imperfect, leads to higher standards of living.

    And you are wrong that people must be materialistic for capitalism to work, if by saying so you imply that other systems can operate without said motive. Without some level of desire for material goods/services, no economic system can function much beyond hunter-gatherer or primitive agrarian.

    I’m sure that you probably generally agree with the sentiments expressed in John Lennon’s “Imagine”. While most people think that the sentiments described there sound good in theory, part of maturing is realizing that idealism can rarely be applied in the real world, due to the fallen nature of mankind.

    Since man is fallen, any government he creates is fallen. This is why governments and economic systems must allow for the most personal liberty possible. No man or group of men is righteous enough to be entrusted with heavily centralized power. To the extent that capitalism provides more checks and balances on the power of man, it is a superior system.

    God did not create mankind to sit quietly and do as he was told while a small group of men dictated the course of their lives. Mankind was born to be self-determining (to the extent practical).

    One look at China’s control-freak governance is should be enough to convince anyone about the need for personal liberty.

    Communism and socialism are just human arrogance and elitism expressed in a governmental/economic form. Most people are just so sure that they are right.

    Capitalism and representative government are the best (yes, the best) means of limiting any one person or group’s ability to force other people to bend to their will.

  55. J says:

    @Doomed Harlot

    I can honestly say I have never once in my life had a female friend suggest to me that my husband (or in the past, my boyfriends) isn’t good enough.

    Me neither actually.

    But then, my friends and I are all career bitches.

    Me too. I think that makes all the difference. The girly girls tend to be very different than the career woman.

  56. J says:

    One of my friends told a mutual friend who has amazing long thick shiny hair that she’d look super cute with a pixie cut. I put her on blast and that was that.

    OTOH, you can have really beautiful hair that looks crappy on you. Sometimes a lot of hair really overwhelms a small face. All you see is hair.

    Think Posh Spice. She has the perfect pixie face. Big hair ot very long hair would detract from it.

  57. Hope says:

    Once again jack, you mistake me for some kind of Utopian idealist, while I have stated that I am practical and have a stake in the capitalist system. I do not subscribe to any particular economic as the “best,” nor am I dogmatic about this debate you seem intent to take. I am being descriptive (about the effects of marketing and capitalism as pertaining to the discussion) while you are being prescriptive (about capitalism being essential). I am also not absolutely in favor of democracy, as I have a different background — in fact I would not be one of those extremely pissed off women if women were forbidden to vote. But I am not an “activist” in either direction. I admit that I am probably a bit of an elitist and think that most people are a bit dumb, and that they could use a bit more authoritarian style leadership, but I’m not adamant about this idea in any way. Your assertion, that anything capitalistic/democratic is superior to anything not, strikes me as quite idealistic on its own. But of course, you do not see it thus.

  58. JD says:

    @J and Doomed Harlot: A resounding ditto here! My husband and I went thru a very rough patch about 12 years ago – the D word was being tossed around. My female friends (fellow career bitches) all urged me to hang in there, slow down, don’t make any drastic moves, look for the good in my spouse – all wise words. We “fixed” our problems and are pretty happy together these days!

    At the time, there were a couple people in my circle that did let me know my husband wasn’t good enough; not enough formal education, money, or status. “You could do so much better!” I married a blue collar guy – apparently I didn’t get the email on women’s hypergamy – we are all obsessed with money and titles.

    Who were the naysayers? Not career bitches or girly girls; they were men.

  59. J says:

    Hi Badger,

    I don’t feel that he is misogynistic necessarily, just that, in every film he makes, he keeps rehashing the same terrritory with the same sort of shlubby protagonist repeatedly winning the same battle in a way that is completely unrealistic. He’s playing out a personal conflict with his wife and his own self-image.

    The protagonist is always a shlubby guy who has winning characteristics once you get past the shlubbiness. IOW, the hero is a stand-in for Apatow himself. There are always two woman, usually blond, one shrewish and one sort of sweet. I think both represent the real life Leslie Mann who gives me a tremendous pain in the ass. In Knocked Up, we learn that the reason she is such a shrew is that she loves her husband so much that she needs to be up his butt constantly. She just wanrts to beeeee with him–to the extent that he make a move without her. I find this bizarre. I mean, for the vast majority of my married life, my husband was played music semi-professionally and practices with other guys about once a week. Despite the fact that a large chunk of the manosphere probably sees me as a ball-cutter, I have never said anything other than “Have a good time.” about this. Why? Because we are husband and wife, not freaking Siamese twins. I don’t see crawling up someone’s butt as a sign of love. Apatow apparently does, so much so that the husband has to lie about his fantasy sports evening. I don’t get it.

    The shrew character always serves as a foil for the sweeter blond prize girl (Heigel in Knocked Up, for example). Getting that girl shows that the hero is truly a winner. (This is probably what Apatow wishes Leslie Mann was like.) However, IRL a guy like Apatow doesn’t get this girl. He gets the female version of himself who, incidentally is probably the better match. I think a lot of guys pull for Seth Rogen to get Katherine Heigel because they identify with him and want to see him get the hot girl. They want him to win. When I watch that movie I want Seth to win too. I just think that the only thing that he and Heigel have in common is the baby. What other than that is supposed to hold them together? A slavish devotion to her because of her looks?

    I know it’s a comedy and not real life, but if, as many claim, media really influences the choices people make, this is SATC for guys. There are probably as many Seth Rogens married to Katherine Heigels IRL as there are horse-faced Carrie clones married to Bigs. Notably, Seth Rogen’s real girl friend is a slightly chubby Jewish looking girl with a pretty face and intelligent facial expression. I assume she has a sense of humor. They look happy together in photos. Heigel is married to a hot Alpha-ish looking guy whose name I don’t remember. They appear humorless and look like they won’t last. Giving a choice, I’d rather have dinner with the Rogens.

  60. J says:

    @JD

    My female friends (fellow career bitches) all urged me to hang in there, slow down, don’t make any drastic moves, look for the good in my spouse – all wise words.

    That’s becvasue career bitches are desperate for their husbands to make them happy. If you are in a rough patch with the hubs, there are still other sources of validation. That allows you to slow down and use your head.

    At moments when I am considering divorce, I call my favoritest career bitch friend. She’s a divorce lawyer. She is full of real life stories about how divorce screws up people’s lives. I can always count on her to tell me to quit being a dumbass.

    [D: Good point J. While the MRA crowd is right that the divorce legal deck is stacked against men, it isn't really a positive for women either. Something that destructive won't have a winner, no matter who gets the bigger piece of the devastated pie. We need to do a better job at getting the word out for everyone's sake.]

  61. Retrenched says:

    Great post. Reminds me of an old Bill Hicks joke…

    “I’ve learned a lot about women. I think I’ve learned exactly how the fall of man occured in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and Adam said one day, “Wow, Eve, here we are, at one with nature, at one with God, we’ll never age, we’ll never die, and all our dreams come true the instant that we have them.”

    “And Eve said, “Yeah… it’s just not enough is it?”

    [D: Good one! I hadn't heard it before.]

  62. dalrock says:

    @NYDude
    Welcome to the blog. I’m very sorry to hear about your brother’s situation. Badger nation above had some suggestions, and I added another link. I don’t know what advice to offer, but there are a lot of really sharp people both in the comments section and on my blogroll. Of course, just like anywhere on the internet you need to make sure the advice you get makes sense before deciding what to do.

    Best of luck, and I hope you continue to find the blog valuable.

  63. dalrock says:

    I wanted to thank everyone for the positive feedback and the excellent comments. It often amazes me where you guys take things. This kind of extremely high quality discussion is what motivates me to write the blog.

    I’ve been very busy with work and family lately so I have only been popping in to free up comments in moderation, make short comments, and roll out the day’s post which was ready for publication. I also find myself having to choose between writing comments and writing new blog posts in the blogging time I do have, and have been going with the latter. I seem to have more ideas than usual this last week or two.

    A couple of commenters to this post mentioned that commercialism is inherent in our society. This is fair but I think really a separate issue. Commercialism doesn’t apply to the question of is your man good enough? And it certainly doesn’t explain why someone would want to lower their standard of living by destroying the family’s wealth. My wife’s Maid of Honor wasn’t motivated by commercialism. It also doesn’t explain why the messages to men are at a much lower volume level than those to women when it comes to consumption for the sake of status.

    The whispers and commercialism may intersect in some areas, but they are separate and distinct forces even when they push in the same direction.

  64. Hope says:

    Fair enough Dalrock, and I do think feminine instinct is an influence on whispers. But I do think the media and commercialism have huge impacts on young people today. I will point to East Asia as an example where feminism is not culturally important, yet there has been a huge increase in female entitlement and gold-digging behavior (why is your man not rich enough to buy a house/car/etc.?) in recent years, especially in the cities. This is a stark contrast to the tradition of women being frugal, hard-working and not being demanding.

    One small statistic: 80% of men in surveyed China are willing to get married without buying a house first, while 70% of women are UNwilling. This is a huge gulf between expectations. When I was growing up, women would willingly move in with their husband’s in-laws, do the laundry (by hand, no running hot water), cook, clean, mend old clothes and save up. Merely 20 years later, things appear to be very different, and the major change is increased commercialism.

  65. dalrock says:

    Interesting information Hope,

    I rabbit and waterfowl hunted with a Chinese man who walked to Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution as part of his military service (China feared an invasion from the USSR). He was tough as nails. I worked with his wife and she was too.

    I think even in China today you see the intersection of both forces though. There is nothing to keep the worse part of the female instinct in check, at least as you say in the cities. It can’t help that the gender balance is in their favor.

    You mentioned the cities, but I wonder how different the countryside is. We did a day trip from Hong Kong a few years back into Guangzhou/Canton. Even though the region bordered on Hong Kong it was still very closed. As a white person we may as well have been Martians on the sidewalk in Canton. The guides explained that people there most likely had never seen a white person before. And that was the provincial capital. They also said that something like 70% of the population still made a living via agriculture, so it sounded like most of the population still lives in the countryside.

  66. J says:

    D: Open a men’s magazine and there won’t likely be a new quiz every week to decide if their relationship is good enough.

    True, but there also won’t be a story about how to hang on to your aging wife. And at the movies, there won’t be a line of men waiting to see a fantasy about some guy who falls in a love with a fat but sweet girl. Men and women have different bullshit, but we all have bullshit.

    [D: 90% of white women marry. Someone must be falling in love with a lot of fat sweet girls. You want the media to try to help out the remaining fraction of 10% of women who want to marry but can't? Or do you want fat girls to marry better men? But then who would the pretty girls get? Wouldn't they be stuck with the ones who used to marry the fat ones? I don't think you thought this through J.

    And there is a difference between the media not conditioning men to want fat girls and actively trying to destroy families. Only one of them harms millions of kids. Why would you even compare the two?]

    D: Good point J. While the MRA crowd is right that the divorce legal deck is stacked against men, it isn’t really a positive for women either. Something that destructive won’t have a winner, no matter who gets the bigger piece of the devastated pie. We need to do a better job at getting the word out for everyone’s sake.

    J: I live in a community property state, and, believe or not, I would take a bath financially in the event of divorce. And, because I have a work record, I would not get alimony. Nor would child suppost/custody of my kids be guaranteed; a judge could easily decide that two teenage boys would be better off with dad. In fact, my son’s friend lives with his dad because a judge made just that decision. The mom was perfectly fit; the judge just thought a teenage boy needed a dad more than a mom. She pays child support, which affects her new husband’s finances. It’s tougher all around than the MRA guys admit.

    [D: J, if I proved to you scientifically that the sky was blue, you would come up with an anecdote about how it always looks red to you and your friends. I'm not saying you are wrong, but sometimes it seems like you will say anything to win an argument.]

  67. novaseeker says:

    D: Open a men’s magazine and there won’t likely be a new quiz every week to decide if their relationship is good enough.

    True, but there also won’t be a story about how to hang on to your aging wife. And at the movies, there won’t be a line of men waiting to see a fantasy about some guy who falls in a love with a fat but sweet girl. Men and women have different bullshit, but we all have bullshit.

    No, J.

    The big difference is that female mags, literature and flicks are chock-full-of “leave the man” fantasies. Just is so.

    Yes, men fantasize about getting the supermodel, but it’s almost never in the context of glorifying men leaving their wives for a supermodel. It’s more in the context of a fantasy of being a man who never commits yet beds supermodels (think James Bond).

    It’s remarkably different. Female adulterers are “independent, empowered women” who “know what they want from life and aren’t afraid to take risks” to get it, and who “own their own sexuality” and so on. Male adulterers are pigs, pigs, pigs and more pigs. Never any sympathetic view at all. It’s a total double standard and it comes directly from feminism, which demonizes male behavior while celebrating the self-same behavior when the sexes are reversed — be it violence, adultery, etc.

    It really isn’t the same thing.

  68. J says:

    Male adulterers are pigs, pigs, pigs and more pigs. Never any sympathetic view at all.

    Because men never cheer on piggish behavior by other men? Do you and I read the same manosphere blogs? Recall Sidewinder’s dilemma? The woman told him not to break up his marriage because it would hurt his family. The men told him his frame wasn’t alpha enough for him to succeed. Go ahead, cheat. Just alpha up first, or you’ll get caught.

    Jeez, Branden, I like you, but you’re way off on this comment.

  69. J says:

    D: J, if I proved to you scientifically that the sky was blue, you would come up with an anecdote about how it always looks red to you and your friends. I’m not saying you are wrong, but sometimes it seems like you will say anything to win an argument.]

    J: I’m sorry, D. I just don’t see many RL examples of the stuff I hear about from MRAs on the net. Yes, men get hurt by divorce. No one is better off after a divorce, but MRAs do ignore that women can be hurt too.

    And BTW the sky can look red at sunset. (LOL. Couldn’t resist. ;-) )

    [D: Only to former nuns. :) ]

  70. Omnipitron says:

    “Because men never cheer on piggish behavior by other men? Do you and I read the same manosphere blogs?”

    Blogs are indeed one thing…movies, novels, and romantic stories widely distributed and played by A-list actors and promoted by powerful media magnates (Oprah) are a completely different thing. Name one movie where the situation you state is related to men and I can assure you that there will be many more like Stella and Eat Pray Love related to women.

    It isn’t the same.

  71. Dalrock, I’m late to this, but I think you’re on to something. In an older post, I wrote the following:

    “I have a theory that women are conditioned to believe that better men are always around the corner. They believe this because for most of their lives, it’s been true. It starts with girls and boys, when girls hit puberty before boys. They grow and are usually taller than their male classmates for a year or two. I think this codes into their brains that their male peers are inadequate. By 6th grade they’re thinking about junior high boys. In junior high, they’re thinking about high school boys. In high school, they’re thinking about college guys. In college, they’re thinking about guys in graduate school. In grad school, they’re thinking about the men in the exciting cities they’ll be moving to after they graduate.

    Notice a trend?

    At every step of the way in adulthood, the men who will be coming into a woman’s life are more attractive than her existing male peers. Thus, she has an incentive to not “settle” for a guy she already knows. It’s not a ridiculous strategy. Each woman only has to land one attractive man. By the time an attractive woman is in her mid-20s, she’s used to getting male attention.

    If you’re a decent Christian young guy who’s having zero luck with the ladies, I’d encourage you to be aware of their mindset so you know what you’re up against.”

    The rest of the post is here: http://gameformarriage.blogspot.com/2010/07/women-are-conditioned-to-believe-that.html

    [D: Great insight! I hadn't thought of it that way. The problem is, it is only true until it isn't any more. It is a wonder so many women manage to get it right. I have a post coming up that I think might explain why so many do. Maybe Sat or Sunday.]

  72. Hope says:

    “They also said that something like 70% of the population still made a living via agriculture, so it sounded like most of the population still lives in the countryside.”

    Most of the population does, but by a smaller margin now. It’s 55-57% at last estimate.

    “There is nothing to keep the worse part of the female instinct in check, at least as you say in the cities. It can’t help that the gender balance is in their favor.”

    It is more in the rural areas where the gender ratios are more extremely skewed toward males, due to a variety of factors.

    Here’s an article that you may or may not have seen about the subject:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-china-bachelor-20100621,0,755582,print.story

    What struck me was how they could combine traditional attitudes about male and female roles with blatant gold-digging and materialism.

  73. Omnipitron says:

    “Yes, men get hurt by divorce. No one is better off after a divorce, but MRAs do ignore that women can be hurt too.”

    True that, but this I can tell you, there is no industry telling men to get divorced as they will be ‘better off’ as many a married man knows that they will lose their house, kids, and lifestyle as most become indentured slaves due to marriage. While women may not fare as well after divorce, they fare much better than their husbands, this as Anonymous Reader would correctly state would be ‘history’.

  74. J says:

    @Omnipitron

    I accept that many men do lose their house, kids, and lifestyle as a result of divorce. OTOH, loads of women and kids end up on welfare when men don’t pay child support. In fact, that means my family’s taxes support those kids.

    Blogs are indeed one thing…movies, novels, and romantic stories widely distributed and played by A-list actors and promoted by powerful media magnates (Oprah) are a completely different thing.

    Maybe, but what is written on some of those blogs is really hateful and disturbing.

    Name one movie where the situation you state is related to men and I can assure you that there will be many more like Stella and Eat Pray Love related to women.

    It would be interesting to survey and deconstruct popular entertainment to see how true that is. I personally don’t watch a lot of that crap.

  75. J says:

    D: Only to former nuns.

    J: Well, you know the old rhyme:

    Red sky at morning, former nuns take warning.
    Red sky at night, former nuns’ delight.

  76. ExNewYorker says:

    J: “It would be interesting to survey and deconstruct popular entertainment to see how true that is. I personally don’t watch a lot of that crap.”

    So, to follow our host’s theme, you don’t care that the sky is blue most of the day, since you only look at it at sunset and sunrise…

    Yes, some of the MRA crap is vile and hateful…bit they’re a small sliver of wood compared the oak of mass media and entertainment…

  77. Omnipitron says:

    “I accept that many men do lose their house, kids, and lifestyle as a result of divorce. OTOH, loads of women and kids end up on welfare when men don’t pay child support. In fact, that means my family’s taxes support those kids.”

    And who initiates the vast majority of those divorces? That would be Women J. There was even an article posted at the Spearhead in regards to women divorcing perfectly good men, one woman actually saying that she ‘no longer needed’ her husband.

    And you wonder why MRA’s ignore that divorce hurts women too?

    Go ahead and deconstruct pop culture all you want, the results will be disturbing for anyone he even remotely believes that the ‘trade up’ messages between men and women are 50/50.

    Sort of like the message being send to women as Dalrock had mentioned on Marital Spinsterhood. It isn’t interesting, it’s clear as day.

  78. @ J:

    I’m sorry, D. I just don’t see many RL examples of the stuff I hear about from MRAs on the net.

    Sadly, I’ve seen it plenty. I’ve seen men we’re close to agonize over the paternity of their kids. I’ve seen men divorced for no apparent reason as their wives moved on without missing a beat. And when I posted on my blog (mostly read by Christian women, mind you) on the subject, several readers immediately commented that they have seen it, too.

    MRA’s are not just a bunch of angry men barking about nothing.

  79. dream puppy says:

    Seen it too Terry:

    Recently my husband’s friend got divorced. She took half his stuff, is getting 30% child support and 20% alimony. With taxes he takes home about 20% of his income. WTF!?

    I want to also stress that not all foreign women are the solution (especially for marriage)- one must be picky. Another friend recently married a Guatemalan girl, took her back to his country. She ran away to see her mom in Brazil. He later discovered there was no mom in Brazil. She’s back in Guate and I think they will divorce soon. I wonder if she will also take him to the cleaners.

    It’s hard to believe but the divorce laws in Canada are much worse than in most of the USA. My husband tells me, “Wow, I must really trust you if I’m taking you to Canada.” A woman can totally ruin a man there. It’s a shame. What happened to morals? Lots of things I *can* do, but never would.

  80. novaseeker says:

    Recently my husband’s friend got divorced. She took half his stuff, is getting 30% child support and 20% alimony. With taxes he takes home about 20% of his income. WTF!?

    Really? That sounds really bad. C/S is generally calculated on pre-tax income but typically amounts to ~20-25% of after-tax income. If you add in a substantial alimony, I would guess that could get up to 50%-60% f after-tax income, taken together with C/S. Yes, it’s very bad for men, but having 20% left seems extreme. It’s not uncommon for a divorced guy to have less than 50% of his own take-home pay if he is paying alimony, however.

  81. novaseeker says:

    Because men never cheer on piggish behavior by other men? Do you and I read the same manosphere blogs?

    Not apples and oranges. MRA blogs should be compared with the likes of feministing, jezebel and pandagon.

    In the mainstream media, you almost never see male adultery treated with the degree of sympathy as you do female adultery. A male book like “Eat Pray Love” simply would never be published. Sure, Tucker Max gets his book published, but the point of that book is that “Tucker Max is a pig!”. It isn’t a message of “leave your boring wife, and go on walkabout for a year, screwing various foreign women and finding transcendence”. That message simply does not exist in the mainstream media for men, but it very much does exist for women. You may not personally read the books like that, J, but they’re massive bestsellers, endorsed by Oprah, turned into major films and so on. SATC is the same thing. Where is a there a show that glorifies young professional male players living in NYC chasing women and discarding them? I haven’t seen it.

    Comparing what you read in blogs on the internet with what you see in the mainstream media, publishing and film industries is really comparing apples and oranges.

  82. Lavazza says:

    novaseeker: I guess Barney in “How I met your mother” is the closest I can find, but the market would not bear a series with only Barneys, especially not if they would be portrayed in a glorifying way.

  83. dream puppy says:

    @Nova-

    Yeah its horrible. I wonder if there is a correlation with male suicide rates in Canada (also Scandinavia) http://fathersforlife.org/health/cansuic.htm

  84. Lavazza says:

    Suicides are not reported the same way in all countries, so I think that it is only possible to see if they go up or down in a certain country, but that it is hard to make comparisons between countries.

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  101. Rumpy says:

    I think it’s wonderful that these women are being told to ride the cock carousel by other women. Saves me the time and energy. ;)

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  105. freebird says:

    @JD
    “Who were the naysayers? Not career bitches or girly girls; they were men.”
    That’s because they wanted in your pantys.
    Would not matter to them if you stayed with hubby or not,preferred you WOULD so they got away easier,as opposed to the women who would break up your marriage just to watch it blow.
    Apples and oranges my dear.
    Your welcome (for the male view)

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  109. MarcoP says:

    I was hopping through your site because there’s a lot that I haven’t read yet and what you say here really struck me with regard to my past experience. In at least two past LTR’s, I have found that although I had at least a little bit of red pill in me and thus I was able to more or less successfully negotiate the relationships, there was simply no way that I could handle the girl-so-called-“FRIENDS”. They were constant sources of whispers. Most of them never even saw me in person, but I was often updated as to their constant nagging, prodding and cajoling my girlfriend into “moving on”. Moving on to what? To fucking ANYTHING. To find a better man, to try a woman, to find a hobby or even TO STAY SINGLE. Why? BECAUSE SHE WAS IN A RELATIONSHIP, which of itself meant she COULD DO BETTER. Solid woman logic, if you think about it. Now, I won’t go so far as to say that these Girlfriend Whisperers actually wrecked my relationships, but in one case (admittedly the worst), every day there’d be a little dig, a little two-minute update on what “her best friend X” said about her “needing to find this and that on her own”. You can imagine how the general mood was lifted by that. Now, I suppose all of these probably were just shit tests by proxy, but I was reminded by your article how absurd the whole situation can be, because for all the game you can have, there is simply no way that you can beat the Herd. There simply are too many “girlfriends” that you do not even know and cannot influence in any way, and they’re the best possible shit test teleprompt for your girlfriend. And if you counter their stupid crap by pointing out it is, in fact, stupid crap (which it is), then you come across as petty and vindictive. Since the ones I knew were either single, or in unhaaaaaaaaapy marriages, I got the impression my girlfriends’ “girlfriends” just wanted to drag them down to their own level of misery. The Herd is mightier than the sword.

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  123. Luke says:

    novaseeker says:
    November 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

    “Recently my husband’s friend got divorced. She took half his stuff, is getting 30% child support and 20% alimony. With taxes he takes home about 20% of his income. WTF!?

    Really? That sounds really bad. C/S is generally calculated on pre-tax income but typically amounts to ~20-25% of after-tax income. If you add in a substantial alimony, I would guess that could get up to 50%-60% f after-tax income, taken together with C/S. Yes, it’s very bad for men, but having 20% left seems extreme. It’s not uncommon for a divorced guy to have less than 50% of his own take-home pay if he is paying alimony, however.

    Read Stephen Baskerville’s “Taken Into Custody” book. He lists cases of men who find a divorce court assesses them more than their gross income.

  124. Ton says:

    I lose 80% of my legal income because of taxes and alimony. Even had the alimony/ divorce terms amended in her favor unilaterally

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