Words Of Power

I recently came across this essay by Bonald, who blogs over at Throne and Alter. Somehow I had missed it when he posted it a few weeks back. I wish I hadn’t as there were some interesting points raised both in the main post as well as in the comments. This [post will explore a few of them. Naturally enough I hope my readers will provide their thoughts.

To start with, I found this paragraph concerning customs of how men should interact with women interesting:

Men are stronger than women.  Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness.  The sense of helplessness this might inspire is alleviated by customs whereby men appear to cede high status to women, what we now call “chivalry” (which is, of course, distinct from the medieval warrior code of the same name).  Our many ritual acts of deference to our ladies, holding the door for them and so forth, wouldn’t make sense except as a corrective to the real power everyone knows men hold.  Manosphere writers misunderstand these customs when they imagine them stemming from a view that women are inherently more valuable, while feminists who regard such “benevolent sexism” as a part of the patriarchy are basically correct (but with their moral evaluations reversed, as always with them).

I’ve always found the argument that deferential behavior was driven by some biological recognition that women were more “valuable” than men to be a stretch. At least, a stretch to imagine that was the only force at work. Fortunately a commenter by the name of JMsmith offered this:

As you say, the old courtesies were the means whereby a man signaled that he was not a sexual threat. For instance, a man removed his hat to make himself shorter and less physically imposing. He also spoke in tones that were lower and more soothing. In various ways, some of them entirely symbolic, he put his strength and hardihood at the woman’s service. I remember being taught that, when walking with a girl, I must always walk on the outside of the sidewalk, lest a passing car splash her with mud, slush or puddled water.

But none of these courtesies were emasculating. On the contrary, they affirmed a man’s manhood, which is why the feminist declared war on them (sort of). The old courtesies allowed a male to be gentle and a man. In other words a gentleman.

The behavior of the “consummate gentleman” was, in other words, a sexual “kill button.” It served to set women at ease by assuring them that they were not in, or about to enter, a sexual situation. The manosphere is largely populated by men who were misinformed about this, and who consequently went through life leaning on the sexual “kill button” under the mistaken belief it was a sexual detonator.

Now this has some real merit to it, I think. Especially that last paragraph. When you think about it, deferential customs (when they are kept to sane levels) help to make social interactions between men orderly. In fact, you can extend it to women as well. De-sexualizing social interactions helps to reduce competitive behaviors between men and women. Modesty is a female counterpart to male deference- modestly dressed women are less overtly sexual and thus less likely to incite or generate more sexualized responses from men. This will naturally lead to competition between men, which strains the social order.

Bonald’s mention of “language of conquest” was also worth noting:

Men want sex more than women.  This means women have a stronger bargaining hand in the bedroom.  No man wants to beg for sex; that would be humiliating and contemptible.  We thus ritually correct the power asymmetry by describing sexual intercourse in terms that flatter the man’s agency:  he “took her”, “had his way with her”, and so forth.  Feminists misunderstand this language by taking it literally, thinking it reflects a “rape culture” and that men experience their sexual appetite as a strength rather than a weakness.  In fact, men often experience lust as perturbability, as weakness, and we are embarrassed by its power over us.  Here it is the writers of the manosphere who seem closer to the mark, pointing out that the woman herself prefers to be “conquered” than to be petitioned.

I’m not sure that I agree with the first two sentences, at least in how they translate into “ritual language.” Men, being stronger than women, really can “take it” if they want to. Of course, there might be serious consequences for it, but that potential still exists. However, civilized living requires men to set aside that power or at least severely restrain it. In that sense men are willfully restricting their power in a manner similar to, although not the same as, deferential custom. I would wager that men use that language because it allows them to remove, at least in their minds, the restraints that society places on their sexuality. That it comes from stronger female bargaining power seems a bit weak to me.

On the other hand, I very much agreed with this paragraph:

And this role we hate.  Folk wisdom has it that when a boy pulls a girl’s pigtails, it probably means he likes her.  I’m sure this is true.  When a man becomes attracted to a girl, he feels a paradoxical urge to tease and offend her.  Girl’s are cute when they’re shocked and offended–no doubt about that.  If you can amuse and shock a girl all at once–get her to exclaim “I can’t believe you just said that!” in between suppressed giggles, it feels like, like victory.  You’re not some beggar pleading for sex.  No!  It feels like you’re in charge.

Lastly, in the comments the subject of women wanting sex and how they react when it was denied came up. I think that the strong reaction women have isn’t simply that they aren’t used to being denied it. Rather, I think that women cannot handle rejection in this area as well as men normally done. Possibly it is because women experience it less. But I think that there is an innate female aspect to this as well.

Of course, I might be completely wrong, and my readers have a chance here in the comments to demonstrate my folly.

[As an aside, I am working on a follow-up to my post on sympathy, as it is obvious that some things need to be cleared up, in addition to my desire to explore the nature of the responses to that post.]

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11 Comments

Filed under Attraction, Beta, Blue Pill, Civilization, Masculinity, Men, Moral Agency, Red Pill, Sexual Market Place, Temptation, Women

11 responses to “Words Of Power

  1. …in the comments the subject of women wanting sex and how they react when it was denied came up. I think that the strong reaction women have isn’t simply that they aren’t used to being denied it. Rather, I think that women cannot handle rejection in this area as well as men normally done. Possibly it is because women experience it less. But I think that there is an innate female aspect to this as well.

    Partly due to experiencing it less. Men get so used to getting shot down that they either shrug their shoulders and get over it, or they’re so hung up on that one girl that they don’t let rejection deter them. Generally, women just don’t have that happen as much.

    But in my experience*, women seem to take rejection as a personal challenge – “What, am I not good enough?!?”

    A humorous but only slightly exaggerated example…

    [Hope I did that HTML right.]

    * As always, it’s noted that my experiences tend to fall outside the mainstream.

  2. Apparently WordPress does not like certain HTML, even when it’s the same code one would use in a WordPress post. Feel free to fold this into the original comment and thumbnail it by whatever code magic you have available. Or not.

  3. On a related note, last week Vox commented on a study that says four out of five women lie about something every day. It’s not that all women are pathological liars who lie out of malicious intent. Rather, women fear men on an instinctual level, and if they’re afraid that something they’ll say will anger a man, they will lie to keep out of trouble. “Defensive communication” he called it.

  4. I caught that post. Wasn’t sure how to use that study in a post, but this does seem like an appropriate spot. I will update the post to mention it when I get a chance.

  5. mdavid

    DG, I’ve always found the argument that deferential behavior was driven by some biological recognition that women were more “valuable” than men to be a stretch. At least, a stretch to imagine that was the only force at work.

    Take a 6′ pool; men under 6′ living there will eventually drown. Is it the water? Or the pool itself? Or the men’s height? Or the pool’s height? Who knows or cares? But we know that future male genetics in said pool will select for over 6′. And that’s the only “force at work” that is even understandable.

    Females build and nurse children. This is a massive resource investment. Tribes that direct more resources to women will decisively out-breed those who don’t. Hence all human cultures evolve to strip resources from men for women. Secondary issues just distract from this overarching biological reality.

    Bonald, Men are stronger than women. Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness.

    This got me LOL. An alien watching a human female strut into a bar would laugh at the idea that females “enter the public sphere from a position of weakness”. Women are the prize, they are not the competitor. And so men display, women choose (unless men fight and women taken). Thus “strength” for women is meaningless as such, just like how “strong” the guy pulling the trigger on a gun is.

  6. “Men are stronger than women. Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness…”

    It’s very true, Donal. Conversely, when men signal that they are not a threat, that is not a position of weakness or submission, but rather a declaration of their strength and power.

  7. Novaseeker

    Men are stronger than women. Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness.

    This is not the case in 2015, because physical power, in itself, has largely been neutered. It’s true that men have more raw physical power than women do, but the importance of physical power has greatly diminished in every sphere of life and the legitimate/permitted exercise of that power has been severely circumscribed. The advantage exists, in other words, but it is of no value in 2015, for the most part, other than to generate raw sexual attraction by means of lifting weights and developing a sexually attractive musculature. The actual *use* of that strength for other purposes is very limited and does not actually give men much power in any relevant way.

    Our social and economic order now arranges itself based on other kinds of power — sexual, intellectual, economic, social — and these for the most part do not rest on physical power per se for men (again, apart from musculature as a sexual attractant). In these areas, women have a natural power center — they are more tuned-in socially, on average, than men are, they have more sexual power during the time when both sexes are most interested in sex, and, while they are outnumbered at the right tail of ambition and intellect, the average woman holds her own in these areas vis-a-vis the average man, pretty much, when physical power is taken out of the equation. This is why, in 2015, women rule. They do not rule in the way that men used to rule, because the means of rule are now different (again, not much physical power being relevant, much more sexual/intellectual/social/economic), but they do rule, both directly and by proxy.

    Of course, it takes most people a long time to adapt to new realities, and this current new reality is no exception to that. Women can, and often do, self-perceive as being both powerful and weak at the same time (i.e., they feel their sexual power, but also know they are weaker physically and fear that even though they also know that virtually all exercise of male physical power has been outlawed) — and it’s that continued feeling of being weak that creates an ongoing sense of insecurity, and which therefore fuels continued support for feminism, despite the fact that women are the more powerful sex in the society already. I do not think there is a solution to this, because men are not going to be getting smaller anytime soon (and I think marginally more men will be lifting weights for sex appeal purposes if nothing else, in the years ahead), so women will continue to have this insecurity which feeds feminism even as they leave most average men in the dust in every other way (which means every way that is relevant in the contemporary society). The continued physical disparity, as increasingly irrelevant as it is in terms of actual power, will continue to fuel a sense of insecurity and the feminist ideas that flow from that, despite the reality that women are actually ruling the day in the power centers that matter in this society.

    —–

    By the way, yes I acknowledge that there are many other good things that come from regularly lifting weights, including increased testosterone levels. I think, though, that most of the guys who spend a lot of time lifting are doing it to be attractive to women, which is why I described it as such above.

  8. mdavid

    Nova, the importance of physical power has greatly diminished in every sphere of life

    True. But even if it is goes completely away women have at least five weaknesses that put them (on average) at a severe disadvantage:

    1) They lack testosterone levels to drive them to compete like men.
    2) They are raised protected, and never need to fight for their bread.
    3) Men must perform for women and so become more skilled/experienced.
    4) They bear/raise children (hormone bath) hurting their ability to compete.
    5) Their bell curve is narrower due to being the more valuable sex (one man can take care of 100 women) so the upper 2/3 of nearly everything is mostly men.

    For these reasons, sex (and rule of law or custom) remain the primary way women “compete” with men. So, as the joke goes: they are more powerful than men since they have half the money (false) and all of the p***y (true).

  9. Excellent comment Nova. Very much gets to some of my objection.

    @Insanity

    Conversely, when men signal that they are not a threat, that is not a position of weakness or submission, but rather a declaration of their strength and power.

    Only if men willingly choose to signal they are not a threat. In the past that was the case. Nowadays, however, men are coerced or compelled to be non-threatening. This changes the dynamic dramatically, and undermines any positive effect that might have existed before.

    @ mdavid

    For these reasons, sex (and rule of law or custom) remain the primary way women “compete” with men.

    As it has ever been. I don’t think MGTOW will ever reach the effect some of its adherents hope for. The lure of the feminine is damned powerful; not all men will be able to resist the siren’s call the whole of their lives.

  10. It usually goes unmentioned in such discussions that women aren’t normally seen as potential threats to be countered by physical force, and it doesn’t even occur to average men to initiate violence against any woman for any reason.

    Plus women generally have an innate ability to turn men against each other through manipulation for their own benefit (“let’s you and him fight”). This is something men never had.

    So yes, men are generally physically stronger. That doesn’t mean they face smaller threats, or that they are in a social position of power.

  11. mdavid

    DG, I don’t think MGTOW will ever reach the effect some of its adherents hope for. The lure of the feminine is damned powerful

    I think the “effect” of MGTOW grows yearly. Women’s happiness has been in painful decline since the 1970’s, while men’s happiness continues to increase. Men are not playing husband much anymore and finding it, well, refreshing.

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