I've been attempting to develop the idea that a culture of relationships is formed from three inputs: marriage, romantic love and sex.
It strikes me that you can understand the rise of game a little better using this framework.
For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries romantic love was the predominant input into the culture of relationships. When men are most influenced by romantic love they tend to idealise women: they fall in love with an image of women as being beautiful and good.
But then second and third wave feminists fought for a sexual liberation, in which women were to pursue relationships without regard to either marriage or romantic love. Marriage was condemned as a patriarchal institution, a "cage," and romantic love was condemned for placing women on a pedestal. Feminist women in their speech, dress and behaviour sought to destroy the romantic ideal of women.
The men who came to maturity in this situation faced a difficult situation. There was still the influence of an older culture of relationships in which women were idealised and even treated as morally superior to men. But what many men observed didn't fit this view of women. They observed women acting against the romantic ideal, by drinking heavily, getting tattooed, dressing mannishly, speaking coarsely and pursuing sex with men who didn't treat them so well.
What's more, it was expected that men would simply fit into whatever modern women wanted. Men existed to prop up the chosen life course of women.
So what happened? Some men (gamists) adapted to the new situation. They accepted that relationships were to be pursued primarily for sex, rather than for marriage or romantic love. They attempted to develop techniques by which they could more successfully pursue sex with the most sexually desirable women.
And who have gamists set themselves against? They do not like those men they refer to as pedestalizers - those who place women on a pedestal. I get this, as it's difficult for those of us who are familiar with the behaviour of "sexually liberated" women to see them as morally superior to men.
But I'd also make two points here. The idea of women being superior to men took off in the Victorian period - at the same time that romantic love was becoming the predominant input into relationships. This isn't a coincidence. The more that men romantically idealise women, the more likely it is that women will be seen as purer and morally finer than men.
When marriage had more of an influence in relationships (i.e. at most times prior to the later Victorian period), moral leadership was not handed over to women. If anything, the opposite was true - it was husbands and fathers who were expected to exercise moral guardianship within families and within society as a whole.
Second, it may not be the best thing to totally erase the influence of romantic love and the idealisation of women. Prior to the 1970s, when the romantic ideal was predominant, women did make an effort to live up to an image of feminine goodness and beauty. There were even finishing schools for women to encourage an ideal of feminine behaviour.
In the early 1980s in Melbourne, there were still women in my middle-class Catholic social milieu who were genuinely lovely in the way they dressed and acted. At the time, I simply thought that this was normal, and I would probably even have accepted the idea that women were better behaved than men (boy was I in for a shock).
One small anecdote to illustrate this. On a group date when I was still in high school we boys, acting up a bit, brought along a case of beer. The girls seemed remarkably unfussed by it and took it away to put it in the fridge. But they hid it and brought out instead some non-alcoholic wine (if you're male and outraged by this, you have to remember that the beer would have been drunk to considerable excess - there would have been no pleasant dinner party that the girls had planned). So the girls here were acting to constrain the larrikin behaviour of the boys.
We need to get the inputs right. If romantic love is too predominant, then men are likely to falsely attribute moral superiority to women and to foolishly hand over the moral guardianship of society to women alone - a mistake made by the later Victorians. But if romantic love is too weak an input, then women will not adapt to men selecting for a feminine ideal of beauty and goodness.
What else do gamists frequently talk about at their sites? Gender realism. They see themselves as pioneering a more realistic understanding of female behaviour. Again, I do get this. When romantic love was more of an influence, not only were men more likely to naively assume goodness in women, they could more often get away with doing so.
When people think mostly about marriage and family, they are likely to carefully select their partners. After all, they are selecting someone to spend a lifetime with and to raise children with. There might also be concern for the reputation and the status of the family. So young people are likely to get advice from family members and from the culture about how to choose wisely.
But when it's mostly about romantic love, then what matters is spontaneous impulse and feeling. There's nothing here to be taught, so there's little point in making a conscious effort to guide people. This is one reason for people being naive in a culture based on romantic love. Another reason is that there is no brake to the romantic idealisation of women by men.
There was also back in the 1970s and 80s the remnants of a chivalrous attitude to women, which made it more difficult to criticise women - the emphasis was on male respect for women, something that second wave feminists took advantage of even when they themselves no longer aimed to behave like ladies.
So, yes, I think it's true to say that there was a lack of gender realism. I'll confess that I went into relationships entirely naively as a young man. I hadn't received a skerrick of advice from any quarter.
So it's interesting for me, too, to read open discussions about the nature of women at gamist websites. And quite a bit of it accords well with my own experience. The one qualification here is that gamists sometimes take the current situation, in which sex is the predominant input, to represent the unchanging reality of what young, desirable women prefer to select for in men.
When sex really is the predominant input, then women will often respond to the crudest of sexual markers; they might ignore matters of intelligence and emotional stability and instead respond to muscle, to height, to aggression, to risk-taking - to raw displays of testosterone in men.
But I remember when romantic love was more predominant. Young people then were more oriented to relationships than to hook ups. Which then meant that people dated within lifestyle groups. If you were an arty, intellectual type of guy you could do very well with arty women - who, before the onset of radical feminism in the arts faculties, were often amongst the most attractive of girls.
Similarly, when upper middle-class women are marriage oriented, they are just as likely to look for status markers as for crude displays of testosterone. They might pay attention to the private school you attended, or where your family takes its summer holidays, or the profession you work in or the suburb you live in.
In a more settled society, in which marriage is predominant, the chaos of hook ups will be replaced with a more formalised culture of courtship. Parents will play more of a role in guiding this process, and given that they will want the best outcome for the family and for their daughter, they are likely to favour young men of good character and background. In these conditions, it might even pay to be a "good man" - as late as the early 1900s, it was still being said that "beauty in a woman is a reward for goodness in a man" - something which seems entirely misleading today, but which once was taken seriously.
There's one final point to be made. Gamists often write about emulating alpha male behaviour. The idea is to show signs of being socially dominant in a masculine way to be sexually successful with women.
The good thing here is that men are being encouraged to be masculine in their dealings with women. And there are other aspects of game which are admirably masculine. The gamist websites are intellectually curious, open and broadminded. The gamists refuse the secondary role assigned to men by feminists - of propping up whatever women happen to choose for themselves. Gamists also refuse to take what women, and feminist critics, say at face value. Finally, gamists have not fallen in unthinkingly with the liberal orthodoxy - they are not meekly politically correct, but do recognise what is destructive within liberal societies.
I like all of this. But I think too that there are aspects of game that are yet to be resolved. For instance, gamists are focused on adapting to the current situation of sexual liberation - which is why the emphasis is on the pursuit of women for casual sex.
Why passively adapt to sexual liberation? Wouldn't it be more alpha to seek to shape the environment you live in?
Many gamists are Darwinians. I sometimes wonder if they are following a model in which the successful organism is the one which best adapts to its environment. That would explain why the focus is on successful adaptation, rather than on political change.
The problem is, though, that the adaptation means giving up on marriage and reproduction. So adaptation to sexual liberation doesn't mean success in Darwinian terms via the passing on of genes. It means Darwinian failure.
And many gamists do seem to recognise that the adaptation they argue for is a downward one. I've read gamists who see the situation as lost, with Western man having no future, and with game being a way of going out on your own terms. The adaptation that game offers does not involve us bequeathing anything of ourselves to the future.
And even on the personal level, there are some unresolved questions. What happens as you get older? Is a man aged 40 or 50 still going to hang around nightclubs trying to pick up the sexiest 20-year-old women for casual sex? There has been a discussion of this at game sites lately, with some men hopefully answering yes to the idea of older men hanging out with much younger women. It seems to me though that the older a man gets the more strained this kind of lifestyle is likely to be.
Anyway, I'll continue to read the game websites with interest. The rapid growth of these sites shows how possible it is for new kinds of thinking to emerge - something which should encourage those who wish to challenge liberal orthodoxy.