Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alanna & The Pigman

A man posed the following question at the men's rights page at reddit:

What is masculinity? How does a male act? What are your definitions for being manly?

His question was answered in a liberal modernist way. In the following exchange a commenter calling himself "The Pigman" and another commenter "Alanna" run the line that there is no such thing as manliness and that any attempt to define it is a subjective, arbitrary power play. I briefly respond to them (as "melb22"):

ThePigman: No support here. Last thing we need is a flood of trolls from the manhood academy telling the rest of us how to live. As for being manly, it's all remarkably easy - if you are an adult homo sapiens with a body full of y chromosomes you are being manly.

melb22: I'm curious as to why you would say that. Is there really no masculine ideal for men to strive for? What about courage, for instance? Is a man who stands up for himself not more manly than a man who timorously takes orders?

ThePigman: Courage is not manly, there are male cowards and female heroes, though not many of the latter. The wimp is a man, the tough guy is a man, and claims of anything else are just an attempt to manipulate men not doing one's bidding. Why any of this needs to be pointed out is beyond me.

melb22: I disagree with you. There is a masculine essence that men succeed in cultivating to a greater or lesser degree. It is this that makes us spiritually men or not. The wimp might be male but he is not a man.

Yes, an appeal to masculinity can be used to manipulate, but that doesn't mean that masculinity itself is false - just that we have to discriminate between worthy and unworthy appeals to manhood.

Alanna: This seems completely arbitrary to me, and you can see that in the fact that different cultures define "manly" in completely different, often contradictory ways. Your definition is as subjective as others.

ThePigman: Where is your evidence for the existence of this "masculine essence?"

What I find interesting about this exchange is the chasm between my understanding of reality and that of The Pigman and Alanna.

The latter two seem to have this basic attitude that there is just me as an abstracted individual and my own subjective desires and anyone who asserts anything beyond this is just trying to get me to follow his subjective desires rather than my own.

It's a modernist brew that seems to be made up of an extreme nominalism (i.e. that there are only individual instances of things that can't be grouped together meaningfully); extreme scepticism (we cannot know anything about the objective world, all we can be certain of is our own subjective will); extreme liberalism (what matters is that I'm left autonomous to follow my own subjective desires); and extreme scientism (i.e. "I won't take the existence of something seriously unless there is some scientific like proof for it").

The scientism in this case is particularly misplaced, as science has demonstrated beyond doubt that there are hardwired differences between men and women. It is moderns who deny meaningful sex distinctions who have to explain themselves before a court of science - not traditionalists.

What is also striking about The Pigman's take on things is just how empty and alienating it is. There is just arbitrary, subjective desire not connected to anything beyond itself.

I admit that the view of masculinity I put forward in the exchange is a deep form of traditionalism that not everyone might accept. However, I suspect that the more spirited young men would much rather lean toward my traditionalist view than the modernist one espoused by Alanna and The Pigman.

And that's another reason for those of us opposed to modernist trends to stay hopeful. As the modernist view becomes increasingly radical it is bound to become unacceptable to some younger members of the political class.

Our job is to keep working to build up an increasingly visible political alternative, so that we are there to attract those who become alienated by an increasingly radical modernity.

30 comments:

  1. I tried reddit once. I was too conservative for the conservative subreddit apparently.

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  2. Yes, when you comment there you have to expect that a large majority of the people you're debating with are radically to the left - even on sites like men's rights. But some of the commenters are open to non-leftist ideas, so it can still be worth putting forward arguments there.

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  3. They seem confused. They want to defend inequality and unfairness between two types of men 'wimps' and 'masculine' but at the same time bash men.
    Maybe they are not defending at all and just trying to lump all men together so they can vilify them more easily.

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  4. Mark, there's something I think you are missing about the "individualism" here. It's also something you missed in your essay on how Liberalism discourages people from being members of a group.

    Liberals, and confused people like Pigman, aren't against membership in a group - they're against voluntary membership. They are usually all for mandatory membership. Closed-shop Labor Unions, assigned ethnic groups, etc. Lefties are quite insistent that you belong to the groups they think you should belong to. They just don't want you going out and making your own decisions about who to associate with, especially if you're going to set your own standards for who can join.

    Pigman says your a member of the "masculine" group if you have a Y chromosome, and woe to anyone who thinks there are standards of behavior needed. People like him don't want to be individuals left out of any groups - they just don't want to be held to any standards. But they still want to belong to the group. They still want the benefits of membership.

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  5. Actually, Alanna is mistaken that different cultures have different expectations of masculinity. No culture celebrates cowardly men and few tolerate them. Even Western culture mired in moderism expects men to 'stand up' for something at some point.

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  6. It's interesting that Pigman would automatically disparage those who disagree with him as "trolls from the manhood academy." His reasons are simply assertions that are tautological or trivially true, and are more reflective of the choice of words than the underlying concept involved. He would include metrosexuals as manly, and that's absurd.

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  7. Also, where does Alanna get the idea that cultures define masculinity in completely different ways? Some are more extreme than others in terms of aggression, but there's still a point below which they aren't masculine.

    As for Pigman's question about where the evidence is, it's pretty obvious. Testosterone. You can define masculinity by the behaviors associated with one or two standard deviations from the mean testosterone level of adult healthy males (with a fudge factor for age group), and then insert another fudge factor for the restrictions on such behavior that are needed to have a civilized society. (Maybe it's something similar to what's called alpha or well-adjusted beta behavior)

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  8. As a disaffected ex-liberal I've certainly found Oz Conservative very useful for reappraising my ideas. Mark's warm-heartedness/lack of mean-spiritedness in proposing a traditionalist worldview is particularly engaging.

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  9. "The latter two seem to have this basic attitude that there is just me as an abstracted individual and my own subjective desires and anyone who asserts anything beyond this is just trying to get me to follow his subjective desires rather than my own."

    Sounds like a quote straight out of a John Rawls book.

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  10. Actually, you would be surprised how LITTLE scientific evidence there is for "hard-wired" differences between men and women. There are the obvious physical differences between the sexes, but beyond that -- not so much.

    It is pretty much impossible to separate the influence of one's environment and socialization on one's performance in psychological or cognitive tests. Also, the testing tends to show far less in the way of differences between the sexes than the popular media would have you believe. When there is a difference (such as men's average greater ability to mentally rotate 3-dimensional objects in space), the evidence appears to show that the gap narrows when women have the opportunity for practice and training.

    So the existence and extent of innate hard-wired differences is very much open to question. I certainly expect that differing hormones play a role in behaviors, but I don't believe that the differences between the sexes are nearly as stark as conservatives wish they were.

    And even if women are somehow innately more inclined to wimpishness, I'd say, so what? Unlike smaller stature or muscles, wimpishness is a trait that can be overcome. I have no idea what my innate proclivities in this area might be, but I know I am not a wimp because I CHOOSE not to be. It seems to me that people should be encouraged to cultivate positive traits regardless of what sex those traits are associated with (whether rightly or wrongly). We should all be brave in adversity, nurturing towards children, empathic towards others, analytical, just, merciful, etc. And we should all strive to avoid being hot-tempered, cowardly, socially inept, or unable to look at a situation objectively.

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  11. Mark Richardson when it comes to science and liberalism I'd advise to see Bruce Charlton and his blog and bloggers alike to him. He and others do a pretty good job of displaying not only the inherent contradictions between science and liberalism but even the worldview innate in science today (e.g. global warming, evolution and others).

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  12. Georgina, I'll grant you this much. Scientists know conclusively that there are hard-wired differences. But the knowledge of exactly how these differences play out in terms of behaviour is less certain. No doubt more research will become available over time.

    And even if women are somehow innately more inclined to wimpishness

    Another example of the reflexive presumption you have that femininity is a negative thing.

    It seems to me that people should be encouraged to cultivate positive traits regardless of what sex those traits are associated with

    Yes and no. Men and women can influence each other in positive ways. But there are limits to how much we can take on the positive qualities of the opposite sex.

    For instance, you are not going to have the analytical male mindset if you also have female emotional sensitivity. The analytical mindset is based on having a "flatter" reaction to what you face in life. At best you could aim for some kind of median between the two - rather than having one or the other to a high degree.

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  13. Mark, I think THIS article deserves a post:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201003/why-liberals-are-more-intelligent-conservatives

    Since this is a U.S. publication, I think you need to substitute "Progressive" for her "Liberal".

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  14. Georgina,

    I guess one of the tests is what do you find physically attractive? If you feel drawn to strong men that should be a bit of a hint that you are hardwired that way. Many of the social traits can be traced from that, eg male competence, honour (the importance of face or social standing), competitiveness, are all extensions of physical characteristics that require strength in the face of adversity. Manhood is not some abstract construct its an obviously practical construct which stood the test of time, the absence of which leads to less effective men.

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  15. CamelCaseRob,

    Most of the articles I read at Psychology Today are left-liberalish.

    The article you link to seems to be comparing left-liberals to right-liberals.

    It states that *in young adulthood* left-liberals are more intelligent than right-liberals.

    That makes sense not for any sociobiological reasons, but simply for the reason that well-educated young adults will just have completed 15 years of left-liberal indoctrination.

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  16. Georgina "the evidence appears to show that the gap narrows when women have the opportunity for practice and training.
    "

    Women have plenty of oppotunity to explore this what htey lack is desire ordrive. There is no female equivalent of the Wright Brothers or Thomas Edison although women have enjoyed plenty of idle time for several generations now.

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  17. Liesel,

    I think your statement is way overbroad. There's a bell curve. There are plenty of women who are doing high level scientific work, even if Larry Summers was right (up to a point.)

    Mark,
    I agree with Simon about your blog. You do a good job of getting your point across and keeping the tone on an even keel.

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  18. Hi Jesse, I am not sure if what I find attractive matters much. One, I think there is quite a lot of variation among women.

    Two, I am not sure women particularly care about the same ideals of masculinity that men care about. Women are often attracted to men who are sensitive, artistic, not particularly well-muscled, and well-dressed (ok, I admit, that's my type), whereas other men will find such types unbearable effete.

    Three, even to the extent that women select for certain qualities, it doesn't follow that those qualities are carried only on the Y chromosome or caused by testosterone. Perhaps some are, but surely not all or most, and again we really don't know the specifics of how this stuff plays out in the individual psyche.

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  19. Liesel,

    You underestimate the degree of women's achievements, even going back to generations before the second wave feminist movement.

    You also overestimate the success of the feminist movement going back several generations. Although our success has been far greater than I ever would have expected, it is not as though social attitudes just changed overnight. Indeed, boys and girls are still treated very differently and subjected to very different expectations even today.

    Women still do the vast bulk of child rearing and home care. Girls and women are still assumed, a priori, to be less interested or gifted in math and science and analytical thinking.

    I think it is unfortunate that you have such a poor opinion of your own gender. And yes, I do have a negative opinion of so-called femininity when it means lack of drive, passivity, lack of analytical inability.

    MARK, I disagree that analytical ability and emotional sensitivity are at odds with each other. It is commonly supposed that emotionality is the same thing as irrationality, but that is just not true. A person can be very sensitive emotionally and still have the ability to look objectively at the situation and determine when his or her emotional reaction is irrational versus when it may be justified.

    In fact, the insistence on a gender divide (men = analytical; women = emotional) often leads to greater irrationality on the part of many men. Since men don't see themselves as driven by emotion, they are more likely to be blind to the influence of emotion on their analysis and decision-making and to be unable to place it in its proper perspective.

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  20. Ha ha. I meant "lack of analytical ability" not "lack of analytical inability."

    I would also posit that analytical ability is a function of education. Most people tend to think emotionally and intuitively at all times until they are trained otherwise. Historically, women probably were less rational than men because they were less educated.

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  21. Women are often attracted to men who are sensitive, artistic, not particularly well-muscled, and well-dressed

    If those men also have other qualities, such as self-confidence, ambition etc, and if they are willing to play the game of formally assenting to left-wing views whilst still retaining in practice certain traditional behaviours, then yes they can be very appealing to artsy women.

    What do artsy men get in return? They're supposed to get attractive middle-class girls who play the game of formally assenting to left-wing views whilst still dressing cutely and playing the role of girlfriend in a fairly traditional way.

    The problem comes when you get a new wave of feminism and the artsy women take it too seriously and either become too slutty (sexual liberation) or too mannish or drab (gender liberation) or when the artsy men become too softly natured.

    The the sexual complementarity is broken.

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  22. Georgina,

    You say that you're not into strong men as your ideal, however, you also say that other women shouldn't be into that either as it leads to passivity and it creates negative stereotypes of women. Your ideal or personal choice then becomes foisted onto other women and denies them a legitimate choice in the matter.

    In an industrial society yes being "artsy", is acceptable in administrative forms of employment. It doesn't really cut it though in environments where strength and aggression are called for. This has been the history of the human race where men were first required to be strong in various capacities in order to compete, stand up or battle the elements. Only after all that was accomplished and general security and success was assured could men afford to get in touch with their more "sensitive" sides or attributes, as part of the benefits that came with civilisation.

    Rather than seeing masculine traits as the enemy, or as part of some accidental or oppressive development, you should acknowledge that success in these realms created the security and success that we currently enjoy and live in. You should also acknowledge that many women do find this attractive as well as functional, and its been our heritage for thousands of years to be drawn to the strongest or most attractive of mates. Additionally you should acknowledge that the success of the feminist movement isn't beneficial to all if it can't create a stable and self reproducing society into the future.

    Gender "scripts", of the traditional sort, provide stable platforms in our relationships with others, they also provide useful and beneficial ideals, they are also based strongly on our biological heritage. In other words they can't or shouldn't be lightly abandoned if society is to be well served.

    Mark made the point of referring to how arty relationships require a bit of tongue in cheek acceptance of left wing autonomy/egalitarian theories in order to work in practice. Couples still have to defer to each other, be loyal to each other, and retain many traditional attitudes that restrain or reject individually selfish behaviors. In other words you have to be a bit of a hypocrite and not really act on all the theory to stay together. There is of course one other alternative for relationship stability and that is for the man to do whatever the woman wants and for the women to be consistently satisfied with that over the long term. Which I would have thought is merely a power swap and not anything new.

    For all the difficulties of traditional relationships we still have the proven success record of fertility and long term stability. This is against modern relationships which are characterised by their instability and lack of children. When called on this point practitioners often say that having children shouldn't matter or that divorce and relationship breakdown isn't a significant thing. Clearly for the health of society both of these points are wrong. You will not have a future society without children and breakdowns of long term relationships are usually emotionally or financially very difficult for all concerned.

    At the end of the day none of this really matters if each individual lives in a world of their own, where personal security is largely present, stagnation occurs only slowly and never being told what to do in your life is paramount. It does, however, matter if you want to live in a successful and civil society with long term prospects.

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  23. That makes sense not for any sociobiological reasons, but simply for the reason that well-educated young adults will just have completed 15 years of left-liberal indoctrination.

    That's a point that needs to be driven home. The most educated people, in the sense of the longest years of school and the most focus, will be fairly liberal in their philosophy since the education provided is by default liberal.

    This is against modern relationships which are characterised by their instability and lack of children.

    She will probably retort at how you should mind your own business or how these disadvantages are actually good (e.g. lack of children is good because the flawed theories of environmentalism says so or adultery and no-fault divorce are intrinsically good).

    Mark made the point of referring to how arty relationships require a bit of tongue in cheek acceptance of left wing autonomy/egalitarian theories in order to work in practice.

    Good point. I made this point recently here as well -> My comment at Dalrock

    You say that you're not into strong men as your ideal, however, you also say that other women shouldn't be into that either as it leads to passivity and it creates negative stereotypes of women.

    Interesting comment concerning her view. I don't understand this negativity and scorn directed towards masculine men and all of the insults. Ever since my early teenage years I have been attracted to the masculine, handsome, silent type of man. I was once obsessed for 2 years with a cartoon character (yes a cartoon character!) that embodied these aspects.

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  24. Elizabeth,

    I liked your comment at Dalrock. The only thing I'd add to it is that radical feminists (not necessarily the mainstream ones) seem to be really going off the rails right now. I visited one of the larger US sites and found a confused mess, with some women making outrageous demands on men and others lamenting a loss of relationships. A lot of the women openly admitted to suffering mental ill-health. I got the sense that radical feminists were reaching the "crank" stage of marginalisation. Good news for us, though it will still leave the official, mainstream feminism in place.

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  25. Elizabeth,

    I also liked the Dalrock thread. Lots of interesting points and exchanges. (Which commenter are you again?). What I don't understand about Doomed Harlot's point (feminist, married but childless lawyer) is that she claims success in her choices, she's a 40 and is only now attempting children, and talks about taking "care of her" husband financially in the sense that she earns more than him and would also probably be the primary decision maker. However, can she not see the harm to society that she has participated in in terms of fewer or no children being born?

    If men could make babies, as women could, it would make some sense for them to stay home in place of women, or alternatively priortise their careers less, if that is what the couple agreed to. However, where's the social logic of women abandoning their role to take the men's role in the career world if that means the next generation is not being created?

    Doomed Harlot talks of adoption, but considering the increased abortion rates adopted babies are going to have come from outside our traditional societies. Who is going to have babies in a feminists/Doomed Harlot's world? To say that we shouldn't have babies is the same thing as saying that we shouldn't live anymore.

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  26. Lots of interesting points and exchanges. (Which commenter are you again?).

    It's AlcestisEshtemoa. It's the same name as my blog if you click the link on my name.

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  27. Doomed Harlot talks of adoption, but considering the increased abortion rates adopted babies are going to have come from outside our traditional societies.

    While adoption, in the sense that it provides these children with a home and security, is wonderful I'm weary of international interracial adoption. Sometimes adoption has a couple of risks that has to be discussed. For example consider the unmarried couple of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They have 6 children. About 3 of these children are biological (one girl and twins with one being a boy and the other a girl) and the other 3 are adopted (one is African and the other two are Asian). I find this family situation terrifying not only because the couple is unmarried but because the 3 biological children will have naturally a closer relationship to their parents in comparison to the 3 others (nurture is important but nature is as well). Nevertheless one of the biggest risks, besides diseases and other factors, is that the children are of different races compared to the parents. Whether we like it or not there will be some sort of confusion and rift in the family even if it's small at some point in their lives.

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  28. I would also posit that analytical ability is a function of education. Most people tend to think emotionally and intuitively at all times until they are trained otherwise.

    Too bad for that theory that the purpose of modern education is to get people to think emotionally and intuitively, i.e., to accept liberal dogma unquestioningly.

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  29. This is why the future belongs to the Russians & their allies. It is very rare indeed to come across one of these effiminate limp-wristed types in Russia. They simply aren't tolerated there. They will easily subjugate the decadent west. Then the liberal masses' dreams of defying reality will come to an abrupt end when some commissar forces them into a boxcar at gunpoint to go with 500 or 1000 other unfortunates to go mine copper or pick cotton on one of the new collective farms somewhere. ( I think the communists still secretly hold power in the U.S.S.R., they are biding their time). This result is exactly why liberalism was taught in the schools & universities & disseminated through the various media in the first place. Liberalism is a spiritual & mental poison. It destroys the minds & souls of those who adopt its pernicious doctrines & demoralizes the minority who will not. It's perfect for subversive purposes. Combining it with the various additives which are put into the food & water supply, which work to slowly debilitate the populace, causing various degenerative diseases & generally weakening the people in body & mind (msg & aspartame both cause obesity, heart disease & neurological disorders) was a master stroke. Now add in the television, the most effective mind control device ever invented, & the "education" of the state schools, & the evil work they've done is perfect. This is why it is hopeless. This is why it is impossible for those who see things as they truly are to get through to those who do not. They are not only deceived, but love to be deceived. They want to be slaves & quite often will become very angry with those who would dare attempt to break their mental chains. They have already been subjugated in their very souls & have not only accepted it, but love it with passionate intensity. This is the accomplishment of the modern tyrants. They have done what Huxley said they would do in Brave New World. They have made their victims love their own slavery. He also, in the course of a speech given at Berkeley in 1961, spoke of standardizing human beings. This has also now been accomplished. Look round about & see how the young people dress alike, talk alike, have the same mannerisms & to the extent that they engage in an activity they find hateful, think alike. Any variation, any difference is frowned upon. Daring to differ is "anti-social", it's "creepy dude" & so forth. Those who harbour a vague dislike for the socially engineered society that they've been born into are herded into "sub-cultures" controlled by the same personages that control society at large. So they get themselves tatooed, or wear earrings, or maybe get themselves up like a jungle savage with a bone through their nose. All of that is considered well & good. After all it poses no threat to their masters......Anyhow, enough of that. The situation can be summed up thus. We live in a diabolical society wherein the majority are mentally deranged to some degree, if not outright criminally insane. That is the only explanation for a society which slaughters its own children by the tens of millions, glorifies degenerate perverts & revels in iniquity of every kind, but at the same time willingly persecutes those deemed guilty of harming the environment by not using the right kind of light bulb & so forth. The only cure is that the nations convert to the One True Church, the Holy Catholic Church, purged of the abuses caused by the Second Vatican Council. That is humanly speaking impossible. The Wrath of God will soon fall upon the earth, & then men will wish that they had hearkened to Him & humbled themselves, but it will be too late. Our Lady of Fatima pray for us.

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