Sunday, October 6, 2013

Response to an Anonymous Roosh Reader

A couple of weeks ago, an anonymous reader left a comment on my post, "On PUA."

He acknowledges "negativity and hate in the manosphere," but claims "There's no workable alternative" for men seeking advice on how to be men in a society that views "masculinity" as "inherently evil."

The existence of the "manosphere" is evidence that there are thousands of young men who feel marginalized, who need "safe spaces" in which to discuss their issues.  There is indeed more to the conversation than simply admonishing young white men to "check their privilege."  I see no evidence that the majority of women believe men are "inherently evil," although the majority of women are, to some degree, afraid of some men's predilection to violence.  May I refer you to the redoubtable Louis CK on this matter?

This is how I see it after fifty years struggling to be "a woman" on the planet:  There isn't nearly as much difference between the sexes as we like to imagine...  In general, men and women have essentially the same needs and desires: for engaging work, a sense of belonging to a community, a certain degree of physical comfort, intimate relationships.  These commonalities bring us together in the family of man. 

However, the "manosphere" denies the commonalities and instead promulgates the crudest stereotypes of gendered behavior.  Hence, the edict that "femininity" connotes subservience, delicacy and/or cunning/manipulation, whereas "masculine" men are dominant, muscular, don't eat quiche, etc.  (In fact, some men are gentle and nurturing; some women are aggressive and competitive; most people are happiest, most complete and most self-fulfilled when allowed to exhibit both "feminine" and "masculine" qualities).

BTW, as a woman, I have, over the years, also sought advice on how to "perform" my gender.  Most of the advice I got was crap, too: confusing, condescending, ultimately doing more harm than good to my psyche.

As a feminist, I reject social strait-jackets based on gender.  Feminism is the promotion of equality among the sexes, not a dystopian "women-on-top" social scenario.  It means that men and women bear equal responsibilities (yes, I include military service here), as well as equal opportunities.   

But getting back to the heart of your angst, which is how boys learn to be men in a society where many of the traditional masculine traits are no longer valued, and where many boys are growing up without a strong male role model?  I'm afraid I have no easy answer to that.  Your generation (I assume you are in your twenties), are going to have to make your own path here.  The good news is that, for the first time in milennia, you get to define your own masculinity.  In doing so, Quit looking backwards.  The false nostalgia promulgated by the manosphere is a path to obsolescence and further alienation. My best advice is to quit worrying about being "a man" (or "a woman") and instead focus on defining yourself as "a human."

Go outside of your head a little bit.  Leave the echo chamber that is the internet behind.  Literally, go outside into the air and sunshine, and look around.  Talk to other people (old, young, male, female) and really listen to them.  Connect to humanity.  Find your professional vocation by experimenting fearlessly and energetically.  Exercise patience, but maintain faith that good things (including a girlfriend) will find you when you are open to the possibilities.  Develop your core values; it helps to be judicious about what you expose your mind to.  Recognize that the best intimate relationships are based on sharing common core values.

By the way, I am shocked (although somehow not surprised) that you believe "social justice efforts are adding to the problem instead of solving it."  Honestly examine what you mean by "the problem" (whose problem?  yours?)   Cuz I guarantee that millions of women, people of color, disabled people, poor people will agree that their lives have certainly improved as the result of the past fifty years of "social justice efforts." 


  1. Maybe if so many woman didn't respond so positively to traditional masculine stereotypes, and so negatively to guys who don't live up to them, men wouldn't feel the pressure to carry them on.

    1. I don't really know which women you're talking about? And what are the traditional stereotypes that they supposedly like? Because "a man's man" is one of my biggest turn offs. There's not a lot (aside from actual players, most of whom have abandoned any pretense at honest human relationships) I hate more.

      I think some people who come to this conclusion get there by trying to be Nice Guys, ie hanging around women and dishonestly pretending to be friends, to get sex. Then the women don't realize that this was their primary goal, and proceed to go on a date with someone who actually asked them out honestly. Then Nice Guy decides that the other guy must have been a Man's Man and women go for that, and not for nice guys.

      What is really happening is Nice Guys are unattractive, because they are misleading and misrepresenting their intentions. So whether the woman realizes it or not, it's in there, and it's a turn off. I've had this happen to me once or twice -- a guy will make friends, we will hang out, there is nothing much there... but I don't feel very comfortable getting close to him. Later I realize why: he is not really interested in being friends.

    2. Well said. Most women I know have had their share of "Nice Guys" who ultimately revealed themselves to be anything-but. A few years ago I was pursued by one of them. After a few dates, I told him it wasn't going to happen. A week later, he showed up at my door bragging he'd found a wonderful girlfriend, but still wanted to be "friends." I was genuinely happy for him (and frankly relieved). Then he went home and proceeded to compose a scarily hateful e-mail to me. Typical passive-aggressive "nice guy" behavior.

    3. I know personal experience doesn't carry much weight as evidence, but I'd also like to chime in that I find traditional masculine stereotypes -- those that PUA's aspire to -- highly unattractive, and my boyfriends have always had an androgynous mixture of traits, hobbies, aspirations, and interests (as do most people that I can tolerate).

    4. I disagree that personal experience doesn't carry much weight. I would posit -- at my advanced age -- that personal experience carries enormous weight! What is more compelling evidence than what we have seen / observed / experienced ourselves?

    5. I believe that sexual orientation, like sexual identity, lies on a continuum... and it's apt to change as we mature. Although most of my sexual / romantic experience has been as a "straight" woman, I've always been most attracted to men who evinced some "feminine" traits: vulnerability, compassion and the ability to "nurture", etc. Let's just say that no one in my sphere was surprised when I wound up falling in love with a transsexual woman...!

  2. Maybe so.

    I can't speak for all women. As for me, I never liked the "manly" men. I always liked the men (and women) who seemed to be in touch with both their "male" and "female" qualities. I always saw such people as more evolved, somehow. Stereotypically gendered behavior has always bored me.

  3. I'm going to engage here, since you seem to be honestly engaged with what you read, in contrast to many on the feminist side of things. So props in that regard.

    I'm an advanced graduate student who is in agreement with a lot of what Roosh writes. As a man, I've gravitated toward a more masculine perspective in my dating life over the years, but this does not mean acting like a crude caveman. Like any other quality, masculinity is more attractive when it is just a part of who you are. For example, for me, this has meant more witty teasing in the context of a date, and fewer attempts to be agreeable for the sake of 'niceness'.

    Many ideas in the 'manosphere' have benefited my already decent dating life in recent years. Doesn't just make sense?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. There is nothing wrong in "witty teasing" as long as both parties are on board. "Wit" is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, and "teasing" needs to be approached with caution unless you know the other person pretty well. "Teasing" usually involves a degree of aggression that can easily get out of hand or be interpreted in ways not favorable to your interest.

      I have read a LOT of Roosh and I am struck by just how ponderous and dull he is. I cannot imagine him engaging in the light, witty banter you seem to suggest you are learning from him.

      There is nothing wrong with making "fewer attempts to be agreeable for the sake of niceness." Authenticity can be refreshing. Make sure you are willing to accord your female partners the same privilege.

      I've already written that I think PUA is mostly hooey, just as silly and simplistic as the dating advice I devoured from Cosmopolitan when I was young. It's all based on the notion that the opposite sex can and should be manipulated into desiring us. Only very young people believe that.

    3. Thank you for your thoughtful response. Regarding wittiness, have you read the earliest posts by Roissy? The blog is now called Heartiste, and it's not really the same. The earliest posts were quite clever about engaging gracefully in the mating game. The honesty of his method is open to question, but it was witty. Most men are probably too blunt, telegraphing their intents clumsily and looking a bit desperate.

      Roosh is good on logistics, and I like his "elderly chat" method of approaching in the day, but he's never been that witty. I'm sure he'd be for it, though.

      As for functionality, there is actually a lot of research out there buttressing certain claims (not all), mainly in the field of evolutionary psychology, which I read more than pickup artists. David Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at UT Austin, is on record endorsing certain strategies. Evolutionary psychology is not without controversy, but it's supported by leading lights like Richard Dawkins (check out his interview of Buss on Youtube) and Steven Pinker.

    4. I have a layman's familiarity with the works of Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and David Buss. Which is to say, I am a little more than functionally literate.

      "Roosh is good on logistics." Which is to say, his method is that picking up women is basically a number's game? It reminds me of my (ill-fated) attempt to sell funeral insurance a few years ago. We were instructed by corporate that being successful selling funeral insurance was a matter of simply knocking on enough doors. And this was true, in its way. I managed to sell a $1500 (x 10% commission) cremation plan by devoting approximately 100 hours to knocking on strangers' doors. Then I quit.

      So re/ Roosh's "logistics", for a 35 year old man who does NOTHING ELSE except hit on girls in bars (and then blog about his success or thereof), I think his "numbers" are dismal.

    5. Again, the main leap for me was reading early Roissy, someone who was extremely well versed in evolutionary psychology. This is really the philosophical basis of 'manosphere' thinking, to the extent that it goes without saying by now. Steven Pinker's Blank Slate is the place to start, and it really demolishes the assumptions of today's humanities, which I know you are a part of. Reading the Blank Slate was a partly deflating experience, given how many 'standard social science model' assumptions I had followed previously (I had read a lot of Marx). You need to read up if you want to do this blog well. There are a whole lot of implicit evo-psych ideas that are always at play here.

      The best thing Roosh ever wrote was 'Day Bang', which is about approaching women during the day. I don't see how you could object to the concept of 'elderly chat.' The idea is to talk to a woman as if you're an old man looking for a silly chat. He gives exact scenarios that you can follow, which are useful for understandably nervous men. I met my current girlfriend partly on that basis, and we've been together for about a year now.

      Finally, I think that convincing people that it's a number game to begin with is useful work, albeit not the whole battle. So many people have bought into the soul mate myth, men and women, that it's a major obstacle in itself.

  4. I discovered this blog today and am in awe of the beauty and clarity of your thoughts. I'm going to share this post with some of my friends who are still spooked by the "feminist" word, when the topic comes up.

    In the mean time, I'll be reading the rest of your blog and nodding along. You give this young feminist a place to turn to when she gets distraught from reading MRA nonsense, so please keep doing what you're doing.

    1. Thank you Brianne. Your words mean a lot to me.


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