Alpha-ism

Damnit, America, actual elites are bad enough, you had to go and replace them with this gutter slime? That’s what was wrong with our overlords, they were just too damned nice and affiliative, right? Fuck Political Correctness?

I’m sorry. Twitter rage.

It’s all one.

The stolen presidency, the Russian influence on social media, the apparent ubiquity of men overstepping their bounds with women.

America had hypermasculinity before, but the myth of America, anything that was any good about America – it wasn’t this alpha-ism, this brutality that isn’t different from what it is among our primate cousins. The PR version, the face of America was of a benevolent beta, someone who stood as a bulwark against the knuckle dragging alphas of the world. America carried a big stick, but it spoke softly, and friendship and tolerance were possible, apparently achievable goals.

I said it in a tweet, yesterday or today, so I needed to flesh it out a bit: it wasn’t these hammerhead alphas that made humans what they are, that helped us dominate this world and create anything that may have been decent about people, and for evidence, I point to every other species, mammalian, primate, what have you, any species plagued by these alphas and ask you to show me how that caused them these huge brains and these skyscrapers. You wanna organize anything, you need to reign those random, self-serving idiots in, and somehow humans do that, sometimes. We’re evolved that these are our leaders, these alphas, and really, if one of them can get his paws on you, you’d better do as he says, but humankind has moved beyond that bit of our hardware. We know we need better than pre-tool alphas to lead us anywhere we want to go these days.

Except right here and now, in “the West,” apparently. I do think this alpha-ism is imported. I’m not very religious, but I’m a cultural Christian, and I do believe that if there were a Satan trying to lead us off of an eternal moral cliff, that he would play to men and their masculinity, that form of vanity – which, of course, the totalitarian dictates of bronze age warrior tribes naturally support whole-heartedly. So whole heartedly in fact, that modern ideas about statutory rape doesn’t seem to put a dent in it for a lot of people. So, this was the attempted message of my previous blog, that somehow a hundred people at least began to read:

Alphas are not leaders in today’s world.

Your sports heroes, movie heroes, mythological heroes – they have elements of the alpha, and that’s how our patriarchal leaders talk about it, but these heroes are all in combat situations, they are heroes because they win fights, now that is absolutely an alpha trait – this is what alphas do. You elect one of these, or a troop of idiots who think they’re all alphas – and they will take you straight into a fight. It’s the only place they look any good, and that’s all they care about.

Gonna end this one with a question:

Is that the way to divide our politics? Not so much Keynes VS Hayek or Marx VS Smith, but alphas VS betas?

That’s worth its own blog, I think.

 

Jeff

Nov. 24th, 2017

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Everything is Violence – or the Whinging of Nice Guys

 

We have people with vast and varied skills and talents, but regardless of the particulars, if a person cannot fight, they are not going to win anything and some less skilled person who can is going to be the one who gets the money.

This situation has many possible names.

‘Warrior society,’ by me, but ‘the patriarchy’ is good too. Acceptable answers also include ‘rape culture,’ ‘male culture,’ ‘culture of violence,’ and ‘male bonded, tournament species primate society.’

Everything is violence, all the words, all the metaphors are violence metaphors: strength, resolve, steadfastness . . . I’m having my usual trouble finding a way in , so let’s jump to the middle. Twitter, you’re breaking my heart. Case in point, I’m sorry I hate to speak the phrase – women in comedy – Goddamn it. I’m sorry.

This isn’t about any genetic traits, or suitability, gender differences, it’s this violence thing. If we have comics competing for work, the tougher ones, the meaner ones will rise to the top. Firstly, comedy is mean, but secondly and more importantly, in any competitive environment, the tough ones do not lose to the weak ones. Success stories all tell about how ‘driven’ the person was, how they ‘wanted it more’ than others – of course that’s euphemistic for who was nastier, who was willing to be nastier, meaner, someone who wins fights – this I mean, when the talent for humour is equal. All else being equal, violence and intimidation are winning out, everywhere.

For the most part, successful people are all of the meaner variety, and we’re having some trouble legislating it away, because of course the same is possibly even more true of our leaders and our lawmakers. If they’re not alpha types, they’re not leaders. Where I’m going with this is, ladies, good men, as big as you think this problem is, you’re not really getting it. The traits for “leader” and the traits for “rapist,” those are the same set of traits, the same set of genes.

Quick level change: rapist genes have taken over the world.

Of course they have, and not just this year.

A certain criminal justice professional from Alabama has me thinking about his type, and lesser ones, and worse ones. The lesser variety of this fellow is what my friends call a dawg, a guy who lives for the conquest, just loves banging every woman he can, and we hope to keep these guys away from our wives and daughters. Respectable people over thirty consider these guys immature at best and dangerous at worst – perverts, basically. These guys spread their seed impressively sometimes, probably producing more offspring than a faithful, married man. The worse kind of these guys do all of that with violence, and rape may not be “about sex” but rapists spread their seed successfully too. Plus, again, many good, male qualities are the rapist qualities, even if he behaves and we choose those traits purely unconsciously and symbolically.

The well-behaved “manly” fellow, the well-behaved alpha/leader/protector, the ostensibly “preferred” phenotype, he’s a product of the rapist’s genes, we almost certainly all are – but he’s the one where the rapist traits are on display: a strong will, knowing what he wants, a plan, a goal, a certain audacity. Not all strong men are rapists – but rapists are not generally pacifists, either. Ladies, you see a “winner,” keep the mace handy, is what I’m saying. Maybe if we stop selecting our leaders on the basis that they’re double “Y” chromosome psychos who will fight anything or anybody, they won’t all be rapists too.

If I drop the mike there, though, I’m still lying, over-simplifying. It’s not that simple “if we/then” statement; those are driving me crazy on Twitter, it’s not so simple. It all goes to our security. Unfortunately, on a basic level, if we don’t have our own violent men, then we’re vulnerable to the next group’s violent men, I mean, we at least think so. This is the definition of a problem, that it’s not easy. The only thing I can say that has any hope in it is that we are self-actualized creatures, that we created ourselves in this way, and that suggests we have the power to re-invent ourselves too.

We will have to get over those so-tempting simple “if we/then” things, though. It’s “if we/then,” but it’s not just some single aspect of our lives, it’s pretty much all of it. Re-inventing yourself is more than a makeover.

 

Jeff

Nov. 19th., 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Reality. A Better Metaphor, Part Eight.

I’ve been going on about this idea, the social meme or metaphor, what Benjamin David Steele (https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/ @MarmaladeSteele ) calls a social parasite, although that sounds like a person. It’s a solid point, though, so perhaps it should be ‘parasitic social metaphor’ or something. That’s going to have to be close enough, because it’s these parasites that have their way with labels and not the other way around. I haven’t yet gotten back and read Dawkins’ definition myself, because the concept of the parasitic meme fills an irregularly shaped hole in our knowledge perfectly and so its shape seems to reveal itself; if you get what it does, then you see what it is. I don’t see how it couldn’t be real, or at least how the parasitic metaphor isn’t one of the better metaphors we have.

So, I think I’ve beaten the consequences meme into the ground in this series, ‘A Better Metaphor’ and today I would like to concentrate on the moral kernel of it. I think the world has turned on this “good and bad” thing.

I’ve talked around it a little maybe, but I’ve tried to say that the sort of “good” an organism can have beaten into it will be a response to what a beating is and not to what the organism delivering the beating may hope he’s achieving, meaning stress and pain and a need to either avoid them or at least unload the stress after the fact. Further to that, I’m trying to paint a picture of a near-universal human adaptation, that violence at home helps to support warrior societies against their warrior neighbor societies, keeps them strong and fighting, and so, beating their children is a “good” thing, because what could be more “good” than surviving the bloodthirsty apes next door? It is my position that this was our original foray into sculpting our children, the one that worked, that this has always been our proof of the “nurture” principle. The reason the socialization researchers haven’t found their evidence is because they’re looking for something “good,” maybe prosocialization, something like that. Our theory seems to be that parents did something “good” that worked at some point in the past, so now we can’t help but believe in the positive power of “nurturing,” but that it just can’t be found anymore? No, this is the secret: we’ve switched what is generally “good” in our minds between when we started this behavioural adaptation and now.

Now this conversation can take a hard left turn.

Trouble is, it’s still what we believe, deep down: pain is good, stress is good, and a “good” person is an antisocial one.

That is the fascist manifesto.

I think it’s all our built-in manifesto, or perhaps it’s only built into our cultures, or the parasitic social meme, but that in peacetime we live in a sort of balance, and when war and/or fascism looms, the balance has been lost and a sort of a positive feedback loop results. When that violence-masking consequences meme takes over, when peaceful memes fade, then we become caught responding to all problems with a single answer, the consequences. I can’t say why it may ever not happen with this model, but it seems clear that when the problems you are trying to solve are antisociability, then bringing the consequences only makes it worse. People start to get angry, so they lash out, angering one another further, and we get the picture: it’s a race to the bottom. It’s Jacob’s Ladder, but the stuff’s in the water. But this is fascism, and this makes everything that the current administration does make sense. Antisocializing is the purpose behind all their trolling, both rhetorical and legislatively homicidal.

Pain is good, stress is good, and a “good” person is an antisocial one.

Again, true enough and important in our evolving and aboriginal situation, so we believe it, deep down. This is how the president has gotten a pass so far: the strongman, the disciplinarian, the authoritarian promises to make things “good” with exactly the meme’s meanings and he is delivering, daily. We are confused, we can’t glean his meanings, what is it we’re supposed to do differently so he stops with the threats and punitive bills? It doesn’t matter, they are using the abuse as evolution uses it, to drive us to madness, violence, and war. It is antisocialism as bare as it can be: no-one can make the sense in it. The only operative thing must be the subtext, the abuse, the fear, and the bad feelings. No matter where it comes from, if we receive stress, we must unload it somewhere, whether we want to or not, so this administration’s torments drive even the pacifists inexorably closer to madness and therefore to war.

It was indeed shocking when American evangelical Christians continued to support the now-president after the recordings of him bragging to the reporter about his casual sexual abuse came out, but there’s a lesson in it. Sure, on the face of it, sexism, plain and simple, but sexism serves antisocialization when that is the dominant social meme and not the other way about, this president clearly hates women, but there’s more – he only like white people too. If the white folks like the evangelicals want their strongman, their white warrior king to fight the brown tide, then his accusers, the women who came forward to attest to his predatory behaviour must also be punished, shunned, shamed and so antisocialized. They were abused already (all we know about them, abused by the now-president), but not abused enough, because they were trying to hurt the white warrior king’s chances for election, they were positioned against the hoped-for race war, they were peaceniks, weak links that wartime cannot afford. Abuse solves everything. As Rich Harris described among the Yanomamo (and other warrior societies, I think), boys who do not fight are tormented until they do or they die; it’s antisocial or dead in warrior societies, and either result for Forty-five’s accusers would serve the war effort better than holding their strongman to the law.

It’s not a happy story, but happy stories, like our metaphor about consequences bringing civilization, make for unhappy realities. We can hate and revile, we can call the voters who invited fascism into the light names like evil and such – I mean, it’s hard not to, same as it is for them, social groups are almost all human beings have for morality – but we need to understand what’s at work too. This isn’t just politics, or the adversarial courtroom process, I mean it is, it’s metaphors in competition – but it’s also real life. Maybe if we get a little closer to it, the truth can settle the argument.

 

Jeff

Mar. 18th., 2016

Here’s the whole series:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/04/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-one/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/05/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-two/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/07/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-three/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/human-nature-or-let-me-tell-you-what-we-think-of-us/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/10/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-five/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/11/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-six-abuse/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/16/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-seven-the-abuse-truth/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/18/the-good-the-bad-and-the-reality-a-better-metaphor-part-eight/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

and a bonus nipple-twister:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

A Conflicted Society – Rape, Part #3 – Yes Means Yes

I’m examining a few aspects of rape in this series. I know that rape is to a great extent a violent crime and not so much a sexual one, and I do try to deconstruct the roots of violence generally elsewhere, particularly in a series titled “It All Starts . . .” but I am focussing on the sexual elements of rape in these posts, because it seems to be the sexual aspects that make rape so much less prosecutable than other violent crimes.

Here’s the first posts:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/09/a-conflicted-society-rape-1/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/01/17/a-conflicted-society-part-4-rape-part-2/

I think this, from Part #2 needs some development:

“My advice: let’s make our lives more conscious, let’s drag sex out into the light. Maybe we lose some of the excitement, some of the mystery, but maybe we also lose some of the rape.”

That sounded good to me – I mean I love the sound of my own voice. If no-one else reads me, I will – but it needs a little more detail to be of any use, so here goes. No means no, of course it does, but if it can also mean ‘yes,’ then that could be part of the problem. Yes, I’m going there. This series is getting progressively less PC. I’m sorry, but if you have reason to feel that the politically correct voices on this subject have it all under control and that this problem is close to being solved, you’d better share it with me. Otherwise, I’m just going to push on. (Good Lord that sounded bad! No evil pun intended, really. Those things keep cropping up, and I’m sorry.)

I don’t think I’ve ever pursued a girl in order to bed her, I don’t think I ever tried to talk a girl into bed, sold myself to a girl – that always seemed humiliating to me. I guess I was lucky, I looked good enough as a young man that there were partners often enough without me having to work for it. I think I’ve had sex with maybe ten girls and women, I mean, I had some lonely years too, when I was no fun and the girls seemed to sense it. If my confidence was abysmal then, I suppose it was never high enough to pursue a girl and risk the rejection. The girlfriends and liaisons I had when young always came about through mutual attraction, naturally – well, I guess a few of the girls pursued and bedded me. (Life sucks – and then you die!) Those relationships didn’t last long; I couldn’t hide my indifference, I guess. But I’m a freak and that’s not the game as we all know it, is it?

The game is, or has been, boys chase and girls choose.

Right?

And Good Girls Don’t, right, so a girl isn’t supposed to say ‘yes’ right away . . . Good girls don’t. That idea is still out there, and it’s part of the problem. The boy is supposed to work for it. I hate to tell you, folks, and it’s a good thing I have no reputation to lose, but unfortunately, that situation, – the State of the Union, if you will – means that sometimes ‘no’ means ‘yes.’ If we can’t see how that is a part of this complex problem, then God help us. Why the male players in the game like this arrangement, I can’t say with any certainty, I personally don’t like it, but maybe it is a natural thing, the aggressiveness of testosterone, the thrill of conquest, or maybe it’s a less natural, more modern, psychological power game, and probably also things I have no idea about. As for women, well, same sort of thing I suppose, a natural priority women place on their desirability, or perhaps some less natural function . . . of course, also, any number of things I don’t understand. I’ll swallow my ego and try to face the possibility that such things exist.

Of course, those possible factors, natural and possibly unnatural power dynamics, for both genders exist on a continuum the far right end of which means rape and the rape culture. If being an object of desire has a positive feeling, if it’s an ego boost (which, I know, ladies, it is if the fellow is attractive enough, not so much if he’s not), and if the uptick in our self-esteem produces a feeling of well-being, perhaps this leads to sexual and/or emotional arousal. Or maybe just the presence of another person’s desire creates some arousal, maybe a pheromone thing. Honestly, that’s my theory, really basic:

Sex is sexy, desire is sexy, simple like that. Another person’s desire is a turn on. Referring back to Part #2 again: this is probably why rape is possible without injury. Carried to an extreme, if another person’s desire can create our arousal, then perhaps there are times when another person’s extreme desire, a desire so strong it will not be denied, can produce a strong response, the sort that makes reporting a rape and believing the victim, uh . . . problematic. Come on – if this stuff was simple, we’d have solved it already. Right?

Oh, I’ve lost track. All of the preceding two paragraphs belong in Part #2. Where was I?

Oh, yes. No means No. I’ll just skip to the end.

The thing is, in the culture of Good Girls Don’t, when a girl knows she’s supposed make the boys work for it or risk being labelled, reviled and ostracized as a ‘slut,’ there really isn’t always the ‘yes’ option for a Good Girl, is there? Fine to say ‘no’ means ‘no,’ but that’s a bit of a setup when there can be no ‘yes.’ I mean, when ‘yes’ is not an available option in the real world, we have left ‘no’ to mean both ‘no’ and also ‘yes.’ That is a foundational element of the rape culture. So here’s my idea.

First, as a child of the sixties, I can’t believe I have to say this, I thought we’d had the sexual revolution already, but the more things change, the more they stay the same: sex is not evil. Rape is, because it’s violent, but unforced sex is natural and normal. This is clearly true, and people should remember it when they’re dealing with their own and other peoples’ sex lives, in their real lives. This is what we should teach our children, and slut-shaming should be a thing of the past.

So, ladies, here’s the thing: say ‘yes’ when you want to have sex. Break out of that bind, reject the idea that good girls don’t. Clearly, good girls do, everybody does. Learn to say yes. I’m not saying fuck every guy who asks. I’m just saying say ‘yes’ to the guys you do have sex with. That would clear things up immensely, and could make some progress for us all in the fight against rape and the rape culture. Now a word for the boys.

When you’re trying to bed some girl, maybe it’s a pick-up scenario, maybe it’s a love story, whatever. If the girls says ‘no,’ let it be no. I mean of course, when it’s really ‘no,’ it means ‘no,’ all the anti-rape folks will tell you that, ‘no’ means ‘no,’ damned straight, but the other times. When it’s the game, when she just feels she must make you work for it . . . hold her to it. Just walk away. It could really mean ‘no’ of course, so leave her alone, but, and here’s the thing: if she’s bluffing, call it, call that bluff and walk away. We have an opportunity to help these ladies break out of the Good Girls Don’t bind, to set our ladies free. We can help bring them out of the game that supports the rape culture and into a more honest life.

We can let them know that if they want it, they must say so. Of course, it’s normal and natural to say yes. Our ladies need to know that, and they need to do that.

It’s good for us, too, fellas. I think we’d all want to know when we’re wanted, wouldn’t we? Are we beasts? Are we happy to leave every sexual encounter not knowing if the girl really wanted us? Well, we can usually know their bodies wanted us, I suppose – but wouldn’t it be nice to know that they wanted us consciously? That they knew that they wanted us?

If that seems like a stretch, at least we possibly agree that shining a light on our sex lives in this way could go a long way in making a net increase in the honesty in all our lives, and so, again, create a dwindling habitat for the scourge of rape.