Archive for December, 2008

About this blog

December 31, 2008

“Stage two” refers to the central idea that motivates this blog. It is the idea that we are at the beginning of stage two of the sexual revolution that began in the sixties.

Stage one successfully liberated us from many repressive social norms and established a positive notion of sex. However, stage one fell short of acknowledging fundamental differences in male and female sexuality and, in particular, it failed to accept aspects of female sexuality that are at a tension with the political ideal of gender equality. In stage two, we will (1) understand female sexuality, (2) accept it, and (3) integrate its biological reality into a positive vision of sexual and nonsexual gender relationships and into a progressive political worldview.

Stage one was an attempt to shed the social norms that inhibited free sexual experience. At its core was the political ideal of gender equality. The clear differences in societal sex roles suggested that nurture could explain gender differences in sexual preference, subjective experience, and behavior. The idea of sexual similarity of males and females was intellectually attractive: Given that nurture by itself seemed to explain the differences observed, it was more parsimonious to start by assuming the null hypothesis of no essential sex difference in the biologically determined aspects of sexual psychology. This null hypothesis was also politically attractive: It harmonized with the idea of gender equality.

Forty years later, a generation has been nurtured differently from birth and developed to maturity based on the ideals of stage one of the sexual revolution. This societal experiment is unique in human history: a conscious attempt to remove all social norms that perpetuated the differences between the sexes.

The experiment was successful in many respects. Importantly, it established political equality as an ideal and went a long way towards its realization. However, the experiment also threw into sharp relief the differences that are not due to nurture, but nature. While there is little evidence for differences in general intellectual abilities, differences in sexual psychology are substantial and the null hypothesis of similar sexuality now appears clearly untenable.

Moreover, the nature of female sexuality appears at a tension with the political ideal of gender equality as it involves a female preference for male dominance and power. Such female preferences in the domain of sexuality are neither logically inconsistent nor practically irreconcilable with gender equality in all other domains. Nevertheless accepting these aspects of female sexuality constitutes a substantial personal and political challenge for anyone with progressive political views.

Stage one promised greater sexual freedom for both sexes. For women, it also promised greater access to roles associated with societal power. For men, it promised a reduction of the pressure to perform, provide, and pay associated with the classical male role along with a greater acceptance of male sensitivity, emotionality, and weakness – on par with the acceptance of these qualities in women.

While partially successful, biological reality limited the realization of these promises: Women find themselves with sexual feelings they must not admit in public or even to themselves – because they are at a tension with the new societal norm and with their own political views. Men find that the discovery of their own feminine qualities of sensitivity, emotion, and weakness comes at the unbearable cost of sexual deprivation.

The progressive ideal of gender equality is at the core of our system of values. But the biological reality of male and female sexuality cannot be changed to conform to this ideal. Genetic changes occur at time scales of thousands of years – too slow for our purposes. Moreover, breeding or otherwise genetically engineering males and females to conform to our progressive values would be against that very system of values.

Presently, biological reality asserts itself in female sexual choices. Progressive cultural reality asserts itself in the denial of those choices and of the nature of female sexuality by females and males.

The next few decades will see these two strong forces clash. On the one hand, progressive values are strongly established. On the other, the nature of female sexuality cannot be either changed or denied any longer. The clash is therefore inexorable. It is likely to involve all aspects of western civilization. It will involve personal and political decisions, the arts, the sciences, and the humanities. There is a danger of a reemergence of older, fiercely conservative ideology.

This blog is meant as a contribution toward a synthesis of biological reality and a progressive system of values: I will try to describe my understanding of female sexuality, to reflect on relevant art, pop culture, science, and cultural theory, and to integrate this understanding into a positive vision for sexual and love relationships at the personal level and into a progressive worldview at the political level.

Fiona Apple – Sleep to dream

December 30, 2008

Let me confuse Fiona with her narrator in this song (and myself with the guy) and respond line-by-line to this largely ridiculous rant…

“I tell you how I feel, but you don’t care.”

Well, caring is doubly dangerous for him – while it is only singly dangerous for her.

Why? Because she might lose interest because he cares. His attraction may fade when she loses her beauty. But it will never be diminished by her caring. Of course, caring always carries an intrinsic danger for either sex.

Note also that while she complains that he doesn’t care, there is no evidence in the song of her caring. Synoptically, this song says “Fuck you, I don’t care.” – which probably means she’s in love with him, but now things are fucked up beyond repair.

“I say tell me the truth, but you don’t dare.
You say love is a hell you cannot bear.
And I say gimme mine back and then go there – for all I care.”

Fuck, Fiona, stop flaunting your nimble mind with this pronoun play. It’s too fucking sexy.

“I got my feet on the ground and I don’t go to sleep to dream.

Blah, blah, blah. You never had to have your feet on the ground in your life. You are a dreamer if I ever saw one. You wake to dream. This pose of masculine groundedness is farcical.

“You got your head in the clouds and you’re not at all what you seem.”

Not allowed to have my head in the clouds as a man, then? Of course, why would you see this differently. You’re just like everyone else! But perhaps I’ve got my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds. I might just be that tall.

“This mind, this body, and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways.
So don’t forget what I told you, don’t come around, I got my own hell to raise.”

This, this, this. Me, me, me. I see.

“I have never been so insulted in all my life.
I could swallow the seas to wash down all this pride.
First you run like a fool just to be at my side.
And now you run like a fool, but you just run to hide, and I can’t abide.

She is insulted. Things are looking up! I’ll throw one more insult and we can have sex. Please do the pronoun play again, it’s so fucking sexy.

“I got my feet on the ground and I don’t go to sleep to dream.
You got this head in the clouds and you’re not at all what you seem.
This mind, this body, and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways.
So don’t forget what I told you, don’t come around, I got my own hell to raise.
Don’t make it a big deal, don’t be so sensitive.
We’re not playing a game anymore, you don’t have to be so defensive.”

Not playing a game anymore? This makes me smile. I don’t believe a word. Just because you’re worked up, does not mean you’re not in control of this production.

“Don’t you plead me your case, don’t bother to explain.
Don’t even show me your face, cuz its a crying shame.
Just go back to the rock from under which you came.
Take the sorrow you gave and all the stakes you claim –
And don’t forget the blame.”

That sexy cleverness again! I wish I hadn’t gotten emotional with this one: she’d still be mine. Can I turn cold now? Is it too late?

“I got my feet on the ground and I don’t go to sleep to dream.
You got this head in the clouds and you’re not at all what you seem.
This mind, this body, and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways.
So don’t forget what I told you, don’t come around, I got my own hell to raise.”

Fiona Apple – Criminal

December 30, 2008

Fiona Apple, writing with passion, honesty, and insight, requires no decoding:

“I’ve been a bad, bad girl
I’ve been careless with a delicate man
And it’s a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy just because she can

Don’t you tell me to deny it
I’ve done wrong and I want to suffer for my sins
I’ve come to you ’cause I need guidance to be true
And I just don’t know where I can begin

What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feeling like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of love

Heaven help me for the way I am
Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done
I know tomorrow brings the consequence at hand
But I keep living this day like the next will never come

Oh help me but don’t tell me to deny it
I’ve got to cleanse myself of all these lies
’till I’m good enough for him
I’ve got a lot to lose and I’m bettin’ high so I’m begging you
Before it ends just tell me where to begin

What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feeling like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of love

Let me know the way
Before there’s hell to pay
Give me room to lay the law and let me go
I’ve got to make a play
To make my lover stay
So what would an angel say, the devil wants to know

What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feeling like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of
looooooooooooooooooooooooooove
Yeah yeah yeah uhh uhh uhhhhhh…
Hey hey hey haaayyyyyyyyyyyyy
yeahhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhh hiyee ehhh…”

It’s endearing that her narrator feels “like a criminal” for “breaking” the “delicate man” who is “all [she] ever knew of love”.

Why does she break him?
Because he is delicate. Because he is in love with her, so she has all the power, so she is no longer attracted to him.

Is it a crime that she is not attracted to him any longer?
No.

Was she attracted to him before?
Most likely, yes. Why else would she have played with him to begin with?

What has changed in the meantime to make him unattractive?
He fell in love with her.

Does she have something to feel guilty about?
Perhaps she does. Perhaps she played with him just to experience her own power.

But what if he had turned out more powerful? This may have lead to a happy relationship or to him breaking her heart.

Note the asymmetry: Female sexuality requires male dominance for a happy relationship. He can be attracted to her regardless of the power balance. She, by contrast, loses all attraction, as soon as she feels more powerful.

Power is central to female, but not to male sexuality.

He needs to learn about female sexuality.

Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love

December 30, 2008

Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” is just another sentimental pop song. But it pushes the envelope with its central masochistic metaphor of love: “You cut me open, and I keep bleeding love.” The blood is the love, and the cut makes it flow.

So what are we to learn from this? We need to cut to cause the response we crave – metaphorically speaking. Like emotional surgeons, we need to suspend empathy and cut into the living flesh – to heal the patient.

“Closed off from love
I didn’t need the pain
Once or twice was enough
And it was all in vain
Time starts to pass
Before you know it you’re frozen
Ooooh…

But something happened
For the very first time with you
My heart melted into the ground
Found something true
And everyone’s looking ’round
Thinking I’m going crazy
Oooh, yahhh

But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing

You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open
Oooh, oooh…

Trying hard not to hear
But they talk so loud
Their piercing sounds fill my ears
Try to fill me with doubt
Yet I know that their goal
Is to keep me from falling
Hey, yeah!”

Friends are trying to “keep [her] from falling”. How does this fit with the notion that the female sexual response is very susceptible to other people’s judgment? These judgments just reaffirm that he is dangerous, thus powerful, thus irresistible.

“But nothing’s greater
Than the rush that comes with your embrace
And in this world of loneliness
I see your face
Yet everyone around me
Thinks that I’m going crazy
Maybe, maybe

But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing

You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love

You cut me open
And it’s draining all of me
Oh they find it hard to believe
I’ll be wearing these scars
For everyone to see

I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the pain
That I keep all closed in

You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love

You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love”

Butterfly Boucher – I can’t make me love you

December 30, 2008

Check out Butterfly Boucher’s “I can’t make me love you” on youtube. She’s right in the first line of the refrain (title), wrong in the second. Overall this is an example of a woman’s honest attempt to express her contradictory feelings.

“All the things I want to say but I can’t
All the things I want to do but I won’t
Hold me tight, but not too tight

She needs to feel her desire to be stronger than his in order to be attracted to him. This reminds me of a girl I dated who would embrace me with true passion and longing and then urgently whisper “Go! go! go! go! go!” under her breath, instructing me to push her away (against her longing embrace), so that she could feel the loss and attraction she craved. (Thank you, G., this was helpful.)

“I’m in knots and you tie me in bows
I feel pretty
I know that you care
You’re so sweet
You’re so so sweet”

Too sweet. When a woman tells you, you are “sweet”, you know you are in trouble. The next thing you’re going to hear is that you’re “too sweet”. And this does not mean “very sweet, thank you”. No, “too sweet” means suboptimal, unattractively sweet. Do not drown her attraction in that vanilla sauce.

“It’s not a hurry that we’re in
It’s the pollen
It’s the spring
I can’t make me love you

Truly spoken. She cannot make herself love him anymore than he can make himself love a woman he doesn’t.

And you can’t make me either

Quite clearly she has not met any of us.

“Patience, boy, I need it”

Patience will not help here.

“I can’t make me love yooooooou

Oh oh oh

Paper pen and a piece of your heart
I can read it but where do I start?
What to do
What do I do?
And I am going but I’m gonna come back
And maybe then this maybe that
Hold me tight
Not too tight

It’s not a hurry that were in
There’s no problem
That’s the thing!

But I can’t make me love you
And you can’t make me either
Patience, boy, I need it
I can’t make me love yooooooou

Oooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Everyday there’s something new to hold onto toooooooooo a little more of yoooooooouu”

She’s pushing the theme of patience, attraction developed through extended exposure. I do not believe this will ever generate the kind of wild desire I personally prefer to be the object of. But mere exposure can make things appear more beautiful. More importantly, developing a relationship of some depth will give him emotional power over her. Such power could translate into a modest measure of sexual attraction.

“I can’t make me love you
And you can’t make me either
Patience, boy, I need it
I can’t make me love yooooooou
Patience, boy, on strange days
I can’t make me love yooooooooouu
Oh oh oh”

Bonnie Raitt – I can’t make you love me

Consider Bonnie Raitt’s “I can’t make you love me” for another female perspective. Here the man has the power. I recommend against listening to the song. The sentimentality is hard to bear. Nevertheless the lyrics and perhaps also her vocals do authentically express a common female experience.

“Turn down the lights, turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me, tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize – don’t patronize me”

This means: “Please fuck me, alpha animal. And don’t pretend to have any plans to provide for me.” The voices are her better judgment, which her sexuality has nothing but contempt for.

“Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t”

This is the central quality that lends him the power he has over her: He does not love her. We don’t know if he has other qualities beyond this lack of love for her. But he might not need other qualities. His lack of love implies a judgment: That he is superior to her. Her sex module will automatically copy this judgment. If she read this description of the psychological mechanism behind her emotions, it would not feel right to her; it would feel bloodless and meaningless. This is because the emotions caused by said mechanism are genuine and intense and deep. They include sexual desire and love itself, a much more comprehensive longing: the feeling that he is “the one”. Female physical beauty causes the same genuine, intense, deep emotion in men. It is a common fallacy that the emotion cannot be deep and true if its causes are as mundane as looks or lack of love.

“You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power”

But you won’t, no you won’t”

She will feel his power: his lack of love and his penis inside her. The last line here reaffirms the power asymmetry that is the cause for (1) her love and heartbreak as well as (2) her sexual desire and orgasm.

“cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t”

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t”

Zadie Smith (On Beauty)

December 30, 2008

In her novel On Beauty, Zadie Smith writes

“Victoria herself, flush with the social and sexual successes of her first summer abroad without her family, returned home to find a tolerable young man, weighed down by his virginity and satisfyingly unmanned by his desire for her.”

This is an interesting articulation of that unfortunate phenomenon: Male desire itself diminishes female desire (while the reverse is not true). Male desire, thus, must be either limited to begin with or its expression controlled – if it is to be reciprocated.

Note further that the boy in this story (Jerome) is not merely “unmanned by his desire”, but “satisfyingly” so – suggesting that his desire for her quenched her desire for him: his desire alone satisfied her. Victoria is a generous human being and proceeds to pity-fuck Jerome, who falls first in love (dreaming of marriage) and then into depression when she ends the affair.

Three theories of female sexual attraction

December 29, 2008

We describe three alternative theories that attempt to explain the causes of female sexual attraction to a male. The theories may explain overlapping sets of phenomena. They may simultaneously hold although they are at a tension in several respects. Scientific experimental evidence is scarce at this point as far as I know. If you know of studies that may help evaluate these theories, please let me know.

Asshole-detector theory

The female sex module contains a social judgment mechanism that recognizes a subset of the males it responds to as “assholes” (a term that currently awaits precise definition). The female automatically and involuntarily becomes sexually attracted to any man thus classified by her sex module.

This does not mean that she, as a person, likes the asshole male or approves of his behavior. She may dislike him and decide to avoid him. And she may succeed to avoid him if this personal judgment of hers dominates her sexual attraction to the male.

Causal-source/proactive-agent theory

Causal-source/proactive-agent theory claims that females are sexually attracted to what they perceive as the causal sources or proactive agents in the (social) system. This is closely related to the idea that social power is attractive, but generalizes the element of influence beyond the social domain.

In order to cope with our complex environments, we perceive the world as a causal network of events and perceived influences. People’s actions are events and can be perceived as either reactive or proactive. Proactive actions are actions that appear as first causes or causal sources in the network because they are unpredictable to us. (In fact, of course, the world may be continuous, rather than composed of discrete events; and deterministic, thus void of any true causal sources – the theory refers to our perception of first causes, which results from our inability to completely predict the dynamics we are observing.)

Causal-source/proactive-agent theory suggests that males are attractive when their actions appear as first causes and have considerable consequences – either positive or negative. The theory explains a variety of phenomena frequently discussed in connection with female attraction. In particular, it explains why females appear to be attracted by:

  • fame
  • fortune
  • violence
  • dominance
  • genius
  • humor
  • social power

Note that this list includes phenomena generally considered as socially undesirable (e.g. violence) as well as phenomena generally considered as desirable (fame, fortune, genius, humor), and also phenomena that are ambiguous in this respect (dominance, social power). All these phenomena share a property: they make the male appear to be the causal source or proactive agent of the dynamic he is a part of.

One possible evolutionary explanation for such an attraction mechanism in females is as follows: Male desire for sex with females gives females considerable social power over males. The female must harness this power in order to ensure the security and prosperity of herself and her offspring. Males who have more power, confer more power to her. Moreover, to the extent that a male is dangerous to her, seeking a bond may avert such danger.

Judgment-copying theory

The female sex module does not contain a judgment mechanism (as suggested by the previous two theories). Instead it relies on social judgments from other people to determine the level of sexual attraction. These judgments can be sexual or nonsexual; in either case a positive judgment about him perceived by her increases her sexual attraction. The social judgments copied can come from any person other than herself: Her own negative or positive judgments of the male will not affect her attraction to him. Any other person’s judgment of him, including his own projected self-judgment, will be copied by her sex module.

This theory explains the effect of both social status and confidence on the sexual attractiveness of a male. (For a more detailed articulation of this theory, see the separate post on judgment-copying theory.)

Which theory is true? Are they simultaneously true? Does one subsume the others?

Each of these theories explains a lot of observational evidence. Although aspects of each could simultaneously be true, there are some tensions:

  • Judgment-copying theory (in its strong version) claims that the female sex module is not in the business of judging, but only copies social judgments. Asshole-detector and causal-source/proactive-agent theory claim that the female sex module does judge, but by criteria radically different from those by which the male sex module judges: While males are attracted to females with good looks, females are attracted to males with bad personalities (asshole detector) or males whose actions are unpredictable and of considerable consequence (causal-source/proactive-agent).
  • Assholes are often unfavorably judged by others. Are those judgments exempt from judgment copying?

Judgment-copying theory can explain the confidence-related appeal of the asshole: The callous disregard for other people’s feelings at the core of the asshole personality may project a self-judgment of superiority. Moreover, to have no need to be nice may be taken to indicate high-social status because only the well-accepted can afford to be assholes.

We need to understand exactly what aspects of the asshole personality cause female attraction.

  • Is a male displaying callous disregard for others’ feelings, but also low self-confidence and negative self-evaluations sexually attractive to females?
  • Are non-confidence-related aspects of the asshole personality relevant to female attraction? (Such aspects could include physical and psychological violence, independence of social judgments from others.)

Judgment-copying theory of female attraction

December 14, 2008

The male sex module judges females on the basis of looks – independent of other people’s judgments.

Of course, men make many judgments by all sorts of criteria and those other judgments are neither independent of other people’s opinions nor based primarily on looks. But the male sex-module does judge independently and based on female looks.

The female sex module does not judge males. It is not that it judges by different criteria. No, the female sex module simply is not in the business of judging.

Does a woman lack judgment then? No: most likely she is a sensitive and intelligent person and has all sorts of judgments about the men she meets. Positive and negative, socially agreeable and less agreeable, founded and unfounded.

She has judgment, and judgments. But her sex module does not care about her judgments.

But if her sex module is not in the business of judging and does not care about her judgment, either, then where does her sex module get its judgment from?

The answer is…

The judgment is copied from any other person except her.

If a girl walks by and kisses you, you are more attractive. If a guy walks by and kisses you, you are more attractive. If a guy or girl comes by and playfully strokes your ass, you are more attractive.

And then also: if a girl walks by and respects you for your intelligence, you are more attractive. If a guy walks by and respects you for some achievement, you are more attractive.

Each of these social interactions observed by her implies a positive value judgment of you as a person. The different currencies of value (smart, successful, beautiful) are converted to the general gold-standard of social power, a unidimensional measure. We conjecture that the values are then added up (not averaged) to determine her sexual attraction to you.

Note: if a man (particularly an important man) shows respect for you for non-sex-related reasons, you are more attractive to her *for sex*. The effect on her is similarly direct and immediately sexual as the effect on a man of the the sight of a sexy ass.

Another person’s (sexual or non-sexual) judgment of you, perceived by her, translates into sexual attraction.

This is the judgment-copying mechanism of female attraction.

So, what if there is no one there: just you and her. Well, in that case the only social context that her sex module can copy its judgment from is *you*. If you project high value, she will be attracted.

Say you look like a model and you are very intelligent and you connect with her emotionally, but you are slightly insecure. Will she not see your qualities? Yes, she will see them and appreciate them. And she will also *not* be attracted to you at all. She will think: “This is a hot guy, I like him, we connect, he is smart, I should go out with him.” Her sex module will reply: “I don’t care what you think. Show me a person other than yourself who appreciates him.”

Say you are short and ugly and bald and stupid and you are also quite full of yourself and genuinely convinced that you are irresistible. Well, she will think: “He is short and bald and stupid, and I don’t like the way he looks.” Her sex module will say: “One other person’s judgment successfully copied. This guy is hot for all we know.” And this is how she will *feel* about you.

Consider one hundred men in a room looking at a photo of a nondescript woman projected onto a screen. Each man’s sex module will see and judge independently of the others, but by essentially the same criteria. As a result (perhaps depressingly) all men come to be attracted to the woman to similar degrees.

Consider one hundred women in a room looking at a photo of a nondescript man projected onto a screen. Each woman’s sex module will be in the dark about the attractiveness of the man. On a date, she’d start testing his response to flattery and emotional jostling. (For a man to understand this, it is best to imagine online text chatting with a woman of unknown looks or being on a date with a live woman in a body bag. Imagine having to assess through conversation if she is hot. This is every woman’s situation when she meets a man.) Essentially, her tests serve to elicit his genuine self-judgment, so as to allow that judgment to be copied by her sex module. But now the man is just a photo on a screen. Although his posture and expression might give some clues to his self-judgment, he cannot be tested. So in search of external judgments about the man, the women will look at each other. Starting from essentially no evidence, this sets in motion a recurrent process of mutual judgment copying, which will self-organize and converge on an essentially binary (positive or negative, hot or not) judgment – the judgment of the community as a whole. As a result (perhaps depressingly) all women come to be attracted to the man to similar degrees.

Judgment copying explains why “attraction is not a choice” for females any more than it is for males: While her own judgments are susceptible to her conscious manipulation (she can talk herself into liking something), the other people’s judgments automatically copied by her sex module are not under her control. When she is alone with you, they are – in principle – under *your* control. (But only if you can believe it!) This is why women wondering about you often want to see you with your peers: they want an independent review.

What if her girlfriend loves you (up vote), but you are slightly insecure (down vote). In that case her sex module – while she is with you – will be dominated by your projected negative self-judgment. In other words, it will copy your conviction that you are unworthy and she will not be attracted to you.

“The sage is full of anxiety and indecision in undertaking anything, and so he is always successful.” (Book XXVI, The Texts of Chuang-Tzu). True words – for any endeavor except attracting a woman.

You can have any woman you can manage to feel worthy of – with rocksolid conviction that will not shake under the tough tests that she will not be able to resist presenting you with.

This relates to a more general observation regarding the larger question of love (not just sexual attraction): A man in love is unlovable to the woman he loves – unless she already truly loves him even more. This is because to the extent that he is in love, he will tend to idealize her and make himself feel potentially unworthy. This is a judgment that her sex module will copy. It is not her fault that she will look down on him from the pedestal he placed her on – she cannot help this.

This is why women must lead emotionally.

Conversely, a low opinion of a given woman, ironically, makes a man more attractive to that woman as he is less likely to feel unworthy. A general contempt of women (but not an agitated misogyny revealing weakness) makes a man attractive to all women. (This is not to say that sexual attraction is the only factor that determines women’s selection of men. But it is a substantial factor determining her selection of men to have sex with.)

These are some aspects of the perverse biological constraints we operate under – which, obviously, are nobody’s fault, but the product of evolution.

Judgment copying is constantly on, and it is automatic and involuntary. Any doubts on your part as to your value as a man therefore immediately make her insecure about your value as a man.

As a consequence, we can never expect her to provide validation. A naive man may think: “If I have objective qualities, then she can reassure me of my qualities.” But what defines your value as a man, more than any other quality, is your unreasoning self-conviction. The quintessential unattractive quality is: needy of validation. (By contrast, a needy woman is as attractive or unattractive as her looks.)

When a woman flatters a man and this makes him more confident, her sex module smells the origin of the positive self-judgment he projects (i.e. her) and rejects it. This is because her sex module has nothing but contempt for her judgments.

This is the reason why a man can nurse a woman’s ego. But a woman cannot nurse a man’s ego: if it works, he loses appeal in her eyes, so it will backfire.

This is the origin of the fierce independence required of men and may be part of the reason why men die younger.

We come to an interesting conjecture: It is a prior belief in yourself – beyond reason or any initial evidence – that defines you as an attractive man (see also point XI of this accurate list of maxims). If you need empirical proof or validation, you are needy (of proof or validation) and therefore not attractive.