Archive for the ‘social interaction’ Category

“That’s the name of a song, right?”

May 16, 2011

Last summer, I tried to seduce a girl who resisted my charms. We went on 3 or 4 dates within as many weeks. There was a charming dynamic overall, albeit overpeppered (for my taste) with constant heavy shittesting. We danced, we shared stories, I sexualised our conversations, but all that happened physically was one passionate kiss. After that she playfully evaded me, always responding to txts, but not agreeing to meet, until I dropped her. After 9 months of no contact, here’s a facebook chat I had with her the other day.

ME: [her name], how have you been?

[let’s see if she responds…]

SHE: hi, glad to hear from u, to be honest? bad

[genuine response]

ME: why?

SHE: [her current problem at work]

ME: just got back from [job at vacation spot]. great fun.

[truthful dhv]

SHE: jealous about u, what is about ur work, so when will [my cultural achievement] come out?

[bites and remembers previously ignored more substantial dhv from last year.]

ME: oh, [my cultural achievement]. yes, it will come out this year. presentation in [location].

SHE: send me a copy with autograph

[she appears to be in groupie mode here, which would be excellent. but she might just be shittesting: if i were too happy about this fawning response (revealing neediness), she’d lose interest. so i’ll ignore her request.]

ME: what are you up to these days (other than having erotic fantasies about me)?

[unabashed sexualization and prizing. note: if she just answers the question, ignoring the parenthetic remark, then she’s implicitly accepted that i can say stuff like that and that she has these fantasies, making it social reality between us. if she responds (positively or negatively) to the notion that she has erotic fantasies about me, then she is following my sexual escalation. tricky situation for her.]

SHE: ………………….. just having erotic fantasies about u, that is all cuz of [her current problem]

[she bites: accepting the frame, but playfully undermining it with irony.]

ME: i was worried that it might be so.
addicted to those fantasies?  distracted from your work?
baby, we need to have a talk.

[playfully rubbing it in to solidify the frame]

SHE: about the context of the fantasies?

[she plays along, good.]

ME: exactly. i think you need catharsis.

[escalate sexualization]

SHE: keep u arms on pc while writing me pls

[reframing attempt: i am fantasizing about her, not her about me. in reality, it’s mutual.]

ME: this is about YOU. i am concerned about your mental well being.

[playful rejection of reframing attempt.]

SHE: since what time u have been concerned ?

ME: since hearing that you do nothing but fantasize about me. here’s what the doctor prescribes…

SHE: [my name], we havent spoken for a long time, what is going on that u r writing me? cant forgive urself that i may be affected by u 😀

[she had rebuffed my sexual advances. i like the implicit admission here that i might have more deeply impressed her.]

ME: i saw you on chat. something you may not know about me: i harbor protective feelings about friends.

[playfully cheesy – but true. also: comforting her with the friend frame.]

SHE: o really, i fucked up my life, [list of her current problems], so what would the smartest and sexiest [my name] suggest?

[i like her words. she is poking fun at the image i claim for myself: smart and sexy. but really she believes it.]

ME: (1) discipline: no more than 1 hour of sexual fantasizing about me per day from now on.
(2) catharsis

[expand on the plan by which i lead her to a better life]

SHE: just real sex with guys, ok

[shittest: she wants to see if i get jealous or insecure about the idea of her fucking others. i entirely ignore this and continue the program…]

ME: mental catharsis: you write down your fantasy in detail each day and send it to the doctor.
physical catharsis: you may masturbate to your fanatasy one time (but no more) each day.
(3) control: the rest of the day, you get your life in order.

SHE: from 1-2 boyfriend will deal with, 3… there r troubles

[she tries to expand on her shittesting theme of other boyfriends]

ME: boys, boys… [her name]. they are not the solution.

[playful nullification of her “other boys” shittest. note that “boys, boys…” also implies that i am not among them: i am the man.]

SHE: suggest girls?

[i like her playful suggestion of bisexuality: this softens her shittest into a charming tease.]

ME: girls are good, but… not the solution, either.

SHE: r u in conflict with ur girlfriend that now trying to compensate smthng?

[she’s trying to analyse me, but then she’s also happy to try another shittest, namely to put me on the spot. in addition, she might want to find out about my current situation.]

ME: which girlfriend?
it’s complicated.

[you get what you deserve for your shittests, baby.]

SHE: its always complicated so (1) dicipline …. other i think u known

ME: ?

SHE: try your recipe on yourslef

[strong rejection of my attempt to playfully lead her]

ME: i don’t have your problem.

[factual response emphasizing the polarity between us. i realize this is heavy artillery, but she asked for it.]

SHE: my problem??? what is my problem

[i hit her close to home. she is a little upset now.]

ME: as you said: intrusive sexual fantasies about one particular man, who is too far away for direct sexual release.

[i lead it back to the playful sexual frame from before, sidestepping her negative thoughts, and introducing the notion of the two of us fucking.]

SHE: ok, cool, then what do u want ?

[she’s in “whatever” mode, but still hooked.]

ME: a description of your fantasy. i want to see your imagination.

[sexualization, attempt to get her to qualify (does she have imagination?) and invest (work at writing it).]

SHE: i understand that for sexual arousal u need some text from female written with idea about u but sorry i cant write cheap porn stuff – not for me.

[is she mad at me? is it a shittest? or does she feel unable to write well enough? a bit of all of the above, i guess.]

SHE: have to go and dont project on me ur own stuff pls, it makes really bad image of u

[slightly clumsy manipulation attempt: if she says what i’m doing makes me look bad, then i will have to stop. yeah, right.]

ME: not cheap porn stuff.
your unique erotic fantasy.
that’s a big difference, baby.

[combine the sexual frame with the idea that she is unique and important to me. top up with an affectionately presumptive “baby”.]

SHE: dont call me baby

[mad-at-me shittest.]

ME: that’s the name of a song, right?

[i’m proud of this spontaneous response, and i will use it in the future, no doubt.]

SHE: have a good evening, hope u will get better, see longtime flights have an influence

[shittest: she’s suggesting i’m momentarily deranged.]

ME: i am good. and like to see you smile.

[i don’t bite. instead get more serious and positive.]

SHE: see me what?

ME: when you are down, i like to give you some of my good time. so you can smile and be happy for a moment.

[i’m reminding her that i’m spending half an hour entertaining her and giving her my attention. and i do like her.]

SHE: should i understand it directly or read between lines?

[thinks i’m bullshitting – she’s halfright.]

ME: directly.


ME: and between the lines.
both, baby.

[escalate again, by disrepecting her previous request not to be called “baby”.]

SHE: my iq doesnt let me, u know

[playful withdrawal shittest: she’s claiming she lacks the intelligence to converse with me. but then also: she might really be a little insecure in this regard.]

ME: your social and emotional iq is very high. and i like that a lot.

[genuine appreciation of something special about her. true.]

SHE: (scared) sounds like compliment

[how sweet and genuine is that?!]

ME: sometimes a compliment is a compliment.

SHE: that is why i am wondering

ME: why?  

SHE: to easy for u too
have to go  

ME: alright. talk to you later.

[not clinging]

SHE: then have a good evening, have a real girl pls (its more healthy!)

ME: i have enough real girls. i want to be in touch with you.

[true strong frame.]

SHE: u know my fantasies about u r only for me. u wont get them

[explicit admission without irony.]

and i think that [flattering description of me] shouldnt have any relationship with [unflattering description of herself], u know

[this is evasion but might also reveal that she really does feel somewhat unworthy of me. i didn’t fully appreciate this point during the chat.]

ME: societal boundaries only heighten our feelings.

SHE: stop stop stop. we started with instincts lets finish with them also.
feeling theory will try on another one.


[sweet how she negotiates the arc of the interaction: sexual start to sexual finish. she is threatened by the idea of the possibility of feelings between us. this reveals my potential emotional power over her. she is asking now to keep it just sexual. i should have said ” societal boundaries only heighten our attraction” instead of “…feelings”.]

ME: send me your fantasy then. talk to you soon.

SHE: no way! it’s for me can’t share. c u

[she, again, refuses to share. but note that it is now social reality between us that she has sexual fantasies about me. i don’t respond anymore, but leave it for another day.],t=1,mt=video

Stop trading state and status

April 24, 2011

Someone told me, a good game of billiards consists in a series of easy moves.
This is an important insight, I think.

It means that in choosing each move, you should consider not only the immediate gains, but also the resulting state of the game. A good move is good at all time-scales: it may bring an immediate gain, but it also ensures that the resulting situation allows for further gains. We must resist the temptation of immediate gains that are smaller than the associated long-term costs.

The longer time-scale is harder to predict directly, but there are certain rules of style, or principles of action, that tend to prevent compromising the state of the game.

This insight is relevant beyond the game of billiards. For example, good interpersonal style ensures that we don’t compromise trust and long-term cooperation for short-term gain. Similarly, good programming style ensures that we will never run into confusion about our own code.

These are perhaps widely appreciated truths. But how does all of this relate to “state” and “status”?

By “state” I mean our psychological state, which has a cognitive and an emotional component. In choosing each move within our minds and in the world, we must ensure that we do not steer ourselves into confusion (cognitive cost) or into a negative, demotivated state (emotional cost).

One style of operation is to ignore the cognitive and emotional consequences of our thoughts and actions. If our priority is to understand the world or to get some task done, considering emotion can seem a hindrance. If we are to avoid the negative, we might ask, how can we see the world clearly or get the task done? Won’t we bias our perception of the world? Won’t we paint a rosy picture that will ultimately deceive us?

Yes, if we compulsively avoid negative thoughts and perceptions, we limit our ability to appreciate the world for what it is. This is known as “avoidance behavior” and its internal equivalent is “repression”. Avoidance and repression are central to the models of psychological disorder of behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis, respectively.

If we compulsively avoid something whose consideration promises insight or growth, we might have a problem. However, there is no objective rule that tells us just how much attention a negative thought deserves. What is the right balance between positive and negative?

If we choose to spend a sunny day in the garden, are we avoiding our dark, dusty basement? Are we repressing what’s in the basement? Of course not. As long as we know what’s down there, why dwell on it unproductively. We can prove that we are not avoiding the negative, by spending the sunny day breathing the dust in the basement. But this is not healthy behavior.

Avoidance and repression refer to unhealthy tendencies of turning away from the negative. However, we also harbor potentially unhealthy tendencies to turn toward the negative. This is known as “negativity bias” in the psychological literature.

Negativity bias refers to the fact that we tend to prioritize consideration of risks and losses over consideration of opportunities and wins. If an option is associated with both 50% risk of losing $10 and a 50% chance of winning $10, human subjects tend to decline the option. Similarly, perceived or imagined dangers command our attention more strongly than opportunities. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Dangers require attention. If all is well, we can relax instead.

In the present-day western world, however, physical threats are much reduced. The cost of trading the quality of our state in order to consider a potential threat or get a task done might often not be justified. The cost of constant fretting might be higher than the cost of missing a threat. Or, conversely, the benefit of fretting might be smaller than the benefit of seeing opportunity everywhere, inspiring others with our ideas, and infecting them with our positive and expansive emotional state.

Slipping into a negative state is the psychological equivalent of bad posture. Bad posture can result from overreaching: We might want to reach further than is healthy without first adjusting our posture. As a result, we act clumsily.

How do these considerations relate to status? By “status”, for now, I mean our momentary social status in any given interaction. Status can be considered at different time-scales and in different societal contexts. Here I am interested in the micro-scale of moment-to-moment social interaction, where each participant’s status is constantly in flux.

Every interaction can be seen from the perspective of what it says about status. In his excellent book “Impro” on improvisational theater, Keith Johnstone argues that scenes appear natural and interesting to audiences to the extent that they express status relationships and status struggles.

We may not like the status perspective. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we could just agree to be equals? Certainly. This widely held view is sweet and seductive. And we can strive for equality in our interactions. However, ignoring status doesn’t make it less of a reality.

Status is an aspect of any interaction and to the extent that we ignore or blind ourselves to it, we are socially impaired. No matter how much we try to ignore status, we feel it distinctly when our status rises or falls and this affects our unconscious responses. We might offend people by disrespecting the status they claim. Conversely, we might slip into an unconscious habit of lowering our own status, as this elevates the other party and makes us instantly unthreatening, and perhaps likable – for the cheap validation we provide. This is trading of status for a short-term gain.

When we trade status, we withdraw a little from the scene of improvisation, from the social scene. Perhaps we consider status worthless and thus fool ourselves that there is no cost to giving it up. Perhaps we are uncomfortable with the competitive aspect of social exchange, and feel that we need to soften the interaction.

Realizing the ideal of equality requires constant adjustment of relative status from both sides. Lowering our own status might be appropriate when the other party currently lacks status, and we wish to create a sense of equality. Lowering our own status can also be a playful way to highlight a larger social reality of our solid high status. This is the charm of self-deprecating humor from a powerful person. It can be the small weakness that highlights the overall picture of strength. It can make a star approachable and further heighten his glamour.

In any other situation, lowering our own status is inappropriate. When we make ourselves unthreatening, we might expect the other party to reciprocate to maintain equality. However, the other might not play that particular game and prefer to accept the superior position we have assigned them.

Thanking someone slightly lowers your status. Apologizing lowers it more substantially. We should thank when appropriate and apologize when it is really necessary. Thanking is appropriate when the other party has given us something good that we cannot just take without excessively lowering their status. Apologizing is appropriate when we seriously intend to keep the implicit promise to not repeat the behavior in question.

The key thing is to realize that these behaviors lower our status and that this has real consequences. If our status is fragile, these behaviors make it easier for the other party to dominate us.

Trading state and status are the psychological and social equivalents, respectively, of assuming a bad posture. And bad posture can be the physiological expression of these behaviors.

You like a slut?

August 22, 2010

Slut is a term used to shame women who have a lot of sex.

Why would having a lot of sex be a bad thing? And why should it be particularly bad for a woman?
Poetry of Flesh has an interesting first-person perspective.

Progressives embrace the idea that men and women alike should be sexually free. It’s everyone’s right, right?

We’re tempted, thus, to redefine slut as “sexually passionate and promiscuous woman”, and to counteract the stigma by using the term with positive connotations: “She’s wonderful — such a slut.”

While the political plan of destigmatizing the term has some appeal, there is little indication that the stigma will be overcome  anytime soon in mainstream culture. The stigma is deep-seated and strangely powerful. More so, than that of, say, ‘gay’, today.

Beyond the intellectual considerations of a political discussion, we may ask ourselves how we feel about sluts. How do we feel about having a slut as a girlfriend, wife, or daughter?

Personally, I’d say my ideal is a woman who is very sexually passionate, but also highly selective. A woman who has experience, but no compulsion to jump random strangers. Hammer has some interesting thoughts along related lines on sluts versus hedonists and sexual-liberator game.

Baumeister and Twenge (2002) argue that slut shaming occurs mainly among females to keep the price of sex high. Their argument makes sense. Dumping willing vaginas on the market should be bad for women (except those very vaginas) and good for men: (1) Men get more sex. (2) Men get more power (as the sexual deprivation that enslaves many men is alleviated).

Nevertheless, slut shaming is widespread among men as well. And surprisingly, given that sluts give sex, especially in the sphere of game.

Personally, I won’t game a girl, lay her, and then disrespect her for being easy. I feel that that’s fucked up and prefer less conflicted relationships with women. I’ve had long-term girlfriends that slept with me on the first date. They are no less trustworthy (and not even necessarily sluttier) in my experience than girls who play chaste.

Male slut shaming may have a lot to do with sexual insecurity (“Can I compete with the others?”) and vagina envy (“Why is she getting laid more than I?”). But can we dismiss it so easily?

Here‘s a recent example from Roissy’s blog. The slut shaming on Roissy’s blog and elsewhere is part of an agenda to curb female power.

The general evolutionary-psychology argument about the discontents of today’s sexual market is compelling:

Females are attracted to powerful males. Merely equal males are never sexually attractive. This already creates a real problem for the progressive ideal of equal societal power: Equality of societal power means that most men are not attractive to females. They can get to have sex only to the degree that culture enforces monogamy, such that males and females are matched in pairs, and few are left out.

This is where  sexual liberation comes in to compound the problem. Sexual liberation means a free sexual market, unconfined by monogamy. And in a free sexual market, female sexual preference dominates. The reason for this is greater female selectivity reflecting the biological scarcity of eggs and abundance of sperm: Only a small proportion of the males is needed to keep all women constantly pregnant.

Ironically, the result of a sexual market dominated by female sexual preference is soft polygamy: few alpha males monopolize access to sex with most females. A female may suffer from her chosen alpha’s promiscuity, but not enough to settle for a male she could have to herself.

The chosen alphas reflect female sexual preference, for power, along with dark-triad traits (narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy). Like the males’ promiscuity, these particular preferred traits may cause suffering for the women liberated enough to follow their sexual preference. Beyond these preferred traits, the alphas are special for their position at the center of a crowd of women. Nothing attracts a crowd of women like a crowd of women.

Indeed most men, today, are sexually frustrated to varying degrees. It’s not surprising that they are angry and aggressive. Something has to change to integrate them better. I’m just not sure that shaming sluts and reinstating 50’s-type morality will do the trick at this point.

In the interest of both genders, we cannot let sex be controlled entirely by the female brain’s sex module.

Game is one response. But will it suffice?

Does anyone have a serious answer to this?

Equality and power dynamics

August 19, 2010

“I want our relationship to be equal.”

Sounds good. But what does it mean?

What if one of the two is afraid to lose the other and starts accepting patterns that hurt him or her?

Let’s say it’s a closed relationship and no one is cheating. However, she adores him too much and ends up working to please him all the time, while he is cruelly ignoring her. (That could be a happy relationship, if she is masochistic — as many women are. Or it could be an unhappy situation for her, if she has less of a taste for his cruelty.)

Or vice versa: perhaps he is constantly giving her love and attention and this makes her lose interest in him sexually. (That could not be a happy relationship for most men.)

Unfair situations arise because one has more power than the other.

Can the more powerful person mend this?

We would like to say: Yes, the more powerful person can shape the relationship. The more powerpul person should not abuse his or her power.

But the answer is: No, the more powerful person cannot fundamentally change the balance of power.

One can strive to be honest and not to abuse one’s power. But in sexual relationships if you have power, you have it. And whatever you do won’t change that. You can’t hand over the gun.

You cannot give the other the freedom to do what they want if what they want is to please you. Freedom cannot be given, it can only be taken.

And you also can’t make yourself feel like doing things you don’t feel like doing. You can pretend within narrow limits of minor favors. But the other doesn’t want favors, they want you to want to — and controlling that is simply beyond your powers.

Can the less powerful person mend the imbalance? Only to a limited degree: One can strive to hold one’s own, correcting the balance. But if you don’t have power, it’s hard to hold your own indefinitely.

Either one could end the relationship. The one to whom it is unfair should end it, right? But perhaps he or she doesn’t have better options. So ending it would be sacrificing a measure of happiness for the abstract ideal of equality.

Or the one who is more powerful could end it. But perhaps he or she is enjoying it, despite (or because of) the unfair form that it takes.

In reality, the unfair relationship just reflects a larger unfairness of life: that the two don’t have equal options. Should the one with better options be required to give them up and be less happy than they could be?

I say no. After all, it would mean that the more powerful one is asked to accept a relationship that he or she would be better off without.

Is any perceived unfairness always just a reflection of the relative options of the two?

I don’t think so. There are situations where people fuck others over by making them underestimate their power, by making them helpless and dependent, so that they feel they don’t have other options, when actually they do. For example, if the other died unexpectedly, they might find themselves better off after a short while. Some men do this to women; some women do it to men. It’s dishonest.

While it sounds good to say both should strive for equality, it’s unclear what that really means.

Does equality mean both are allowed to do the same things, like sleep with other people?

Ideally yes, but then perhaps one has more options to do such things, and so, despite the symmetric rule, it’s not actually symmetric.

Or perhaps both have equal options, but one has no interest in sleeping around. And so, again, it’s not actually symmetric. Or perhaps, both have equal options and equal interest, but one is hurt every time the other does it and the other doesn’t care comparably. And so, again, it’s not actually symmetric.

Or should equality be taken to mean both get equal love?

That seems closer to a meaningful definition of equality. But then this likely means somewhat different things to each.

For example for an average man, getting love might essentially mean sex. And for an average woman getting love might essentially mean attention.

If there’s a script in which attention precedes sex, women can take men’s attention and not give any sex.
And if there’s a script in which sex precedes attention, men can fuck women and not give any attention.

When each gives something they’d rather keep to take something they want, that’s prostitution. It comes in two varieties, an honest and a dishonest one: the bordello and marriage (or monogamous relationship), respectively.

I want none of that at all, no prostitution of any type.

I want sex with people who want sex with me and friendship with people who want friendship with me. And ideally these should be the same people, but that complicates things. And ideally both the fucking and the friendship should be deep and thorough, and this further complicates things.

Doing both at maximal intensity with a single person is perhaps the deepest and most satisfying experience. But it is also most complicated and least likely to occur, let alone last.

The symmetry this non-prostitution sex-love or fuck-friend ideal suggests is only present at an abstract level. For the sex to be hot, there must be a strong sexual polarity.

Women are generally turned off by men who don’t have power — while men can love women who don’t have power. Conversely men are generally turned off by women who don’t have beauty — while women can love men who don’t have beauty. ‘Opposites attract’ — and opposites are by definition maximally unequal. But then also ‘birds of a feather, flock together’: similar interests on top of sexual polarity make the perfect mix of contrast (for sex) and concord (for friendship).

Because of the major gender differences, a relationship that is both happy and fair in terms of love given and received is often not a symmetric one. For example, the man may need more power (unequal) and the woman may need more beauty (unequal) for an exchange of equal love.

And then with age, beauty fades and power rises — to a point, before it drops. So the woman may have more options in her twenties; the man may have more options in his forties. This is why relationships, where the man is older (unequal) may be better matched in terms of sexual options (more equal).

If both are equal in genetic attractiveness and age and in their twenties, the woman may run away (singing ‘I’m like a bird’), because she has many exciting options. Perhaps around thirty there’s a period of equality (of sexual power for age-matched partners equally ranked among their peers). But this equality of sexual power is short-lived: In their forties, the man may run away, because now he may have more exciting options.

Let’s say I had five girlfriends who love me and I them — five open relationships, because I am honest. We tell our friends that it’s
symmetric and open. But perhaps one of them only wants to sleep with me — it’s not unheard of. So actually it’s only symmetric in theory. Is it unfair?

Maybe. She might suffer because I’m sleeping around. But then maybe she doesn’t mind that as much as leaving me for a different guy. And maybe if I became monogamous, she would be less enticed by me.

So, in summary, we can have symmetric rules (that meet our friends’ approval), but still an unfair relationship — even one where one misleads and fucks the other over. Or we can have major inequalities (appalling to all our friends), but still overall a fair and honest relationship, in which both are as happy as they can be.

It is very superficial things (looks, power) that make us fall. But the consequences are not superficial. The love is real, and the sex is good.

I love the way you lie

August 11, 2010

Eminem and Rihanna are two artists with histories of violent relationships. They are perfectly cast in the roles of “tornado” and “volcano” in the duet “I love the way you lie”.

Ok, perhaps Chris Brown, Rihanna’s real-life abusive, and much beloved, boyfriend would have been even better, but he doesn’t write or rap like Eminem.

The two artists’ roles in the song are defined by gender at every level: Rihanna sings (feminine), Eminem raps (masculine). Rihanna feels and emotes, Eminem acts and then judges. Rihanna is the victim. Eminem is the perpetrator and takes responsibility for his actions.

Rihanna’s chorus:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s all right because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s all right because I love the way you lie

I love the way you lie

Rihanna’s explicit masochism is reminiscent of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”.  The word “burn” suggests emotional pain in the beginning of the song. But Eminem’s final verse takes the story to the bitter end of a bride burning fantasy.

If she ever tries to fucking leave me again, I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.

In the video the couple is played by Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan. Note than Megan’s character brings beauty to the table. Dominic is distinctly less good-looking. His character’s appeal to her clearly lies in the lies, the tattoos, the short fuse, and the violence that ensues. All of this rhymes perfectly with the female sexual program.

We see Megan Fox’s character literally playing with fire in the beginning: a small controlled flame in her hands. At the end, Megan is shown in flames, and serene as she burns – now literally.

“I love the way you lie” is an interesting line and title. Manipulation and lies are usually thought of as per se unattractive acts that serve the manipulator’s purpose (e.g. to seduce a woman) only through their consequences (e.g. she believes his lies). However, manipulation asserts control. To women, therefore, the act of manipulation itself is deeply sexy. She does not have to believe his lies to love them. On the contrary, if she deeply believed that he will never hurt her again, she would immediately be much less attracted to him. The manipulator’s sex appeal is lost on a woman who doesn’t sense the evil at all.

The song’s run-of-the-mill R&B production is uninspiring, but the lyrics and vocal performances are great. They push the envelope of mainstream sensibilities just enough and not too much. They attract attention, even controversy, to help sell the song, while not disqualifying it as a mainstream cultural product.

The song stokes controversy by going one step across the line. The personal experience and genuine expression of both artists is expertly channeled by the producers for this purpose. They clearly succeeded: Rihanna has been predictably criticized for glorifying domestic violence with the song.

After her own public romance of delicious domestic violence and sweet reunion with Chris Brown (which has been discussed broadly and deeply on Roissy’s blog, here’s one post), she received counseling and has publicly stated that women should leave abusive relationships. Will her female fans do as she says, or as she does?

Well, the real flame attracting them is their own sexual program. But Rihanna’s story (like Whitney’s and Madonna’s) and sweet siren pop songs like this one, are perhaps little garden torches that help set a romantic mood and mark the path through the darkness that leads to the flame.

We have to appreciate what is honest about the song: the description of the dynamics of passion. Eminem’s lyrics are excellent. But note that while Rihanna’s role is to enjoy the pain of victimhood, Eminem’s role is to assemble the facts, analyze them, judge them, admit to his lies and violence, and take full responsibility.

What makes this song interesting is that it tempts the truth. What makes it acceptable to the cultural mainstream is that it doesn’t go all the way to the truth. Going all the way would mean an honest look at her role and responsibility in the dynamics. To take that look is much scarier than seeing her burn and would disqualify the song as a mainstream cultural product. Sex and violence sells, but female sexuality is still a serious taboo. (I have discussed this before, here.)

No matter how much Rihanna admits that she loves the way it hurts and the way he lies, the lyrics place the responsibility squarely with him. Good boy, Eminem. We have an excellent product.

PS: Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” isn’t bad, either…

I love the way you lie

[Chorus – Rihanna]

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s all right because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s all right because I love the way you lie

I love the way you lie

[Eminem – Verse 1]

I can’t tell you what it really is, I can only tell you what it feels like

And right now it’s a steel knife in my windpipe

I can’t breathe but I still fight, while I can fight

As long as the wrong feels right it’s like I’m in flight

High off her love, drunk from my hate, it’s like I’m huffin’ paint

And I love it the more I suffer, I suffocate

And right before I’m about to drown, she resuscitates me, she fuckin’ hates me

And I love it, “wait, where you goin’?”

“I’m leavin’ you,” “no, you ain’t, come back”

We’re runnin’ right back, here we go again

So insane, cause when it’s goin’ good it’s goin’ great

I’m superman with the wind in his back, she’s Lois Lane

But when it’s bad, it’s awful, I feel so ashamed I snap

Who’s that dude? I don’t even know his name

I laid hands on her

I never stoop so low again

I guess I don’t know my own strength


[Eminem – Verse 2]

You ever love somebody so much, you can barely breathe

When you with em you meet and neither one of you even know what hit em

Got that warm fuzzy feeling

Yeah them chills used to get em

Now you’re getting fuckin’ sick of lookin’ at em

You swore you’d never hit em, never do nothin’ to hurt em

Now you’re in each other’s face spewin’ venom in your words when you spit em

You push pull each other’s hair

Scratch, claw, hit em, throw em down, pin em

So lost in the moments when you’re in em

It’s the face that’s the culprit, controls you both

So they say it’s best to go your separate ways

Guess that they don’t know ya

Cause today that was yesterday

Yesterday is over, it’s a different day

Sound like broken records playin’ over

But you promised her next time you’ll show restraint

You don’t get another chance

Life is no nintendo game, but you lied again

Now you get to watch her leave out the window

Guess that’s why they call it window pane


[Eminem – Verse 3]

Now I know we said things, did things, that we didn’t mean

And we fall back into the same patterns, same routine

But your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re the same as me

When it comes to love you’re just as blinded

Baby please come back, it wasn’t you, baby it was me

Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems

Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano

All I know is I love you too much to walk away though

Come inside, pick up the bags off the sidewalk

Don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?

Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball

Next time I’m pissed I’ll aim my fist at the drywall

Next time there won’t be no next time

I apologize even though I know it’s lies

I’m tired of the games I just want her back

I know I’m a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again

I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire


Game is a gift to women

August 9, 2010

Is game fake and manipulation? Yes. We’re cheating God, who wants assholes and abusers to rule women’s sexual fantasies. We’re tricking women into desiring us, even as we are caring and loving at heart (in secret, as she wouldn’t respond well to such knowledge). We do this because we enjoy sex and sexual power. As a side effect, it saves women from their own immutable biological program of sexual preference. A man with game will give a woman the exact amount of domination, degradation, and abuse she sexually needs. But unlike the true asshole and the true psychopath, he can control the dosage.

Priceless advice: refrigerator game

July 13, 2010

Equally valued?

July 1, 2010

Good question. What are the latest data on the gender pay gap? Equal work certainly should be valued the same.
But we may be missing a bigger question…

This is not easily answered. It should be studied empirically in the social sciences using a variety of indices of value. I suspect the answer would be…

I’ve posted a related argument here.

The two elephants in the room of feminism

May 3, 2010

Feminism derives its wide acceptance in intellectual circles from the idea that women are disadvantaged. This justifies a unilateral push for power that would not be considered acceptable for men.

The grievances of women are legitimate. It is true that women have been and are disadvantaged by the classical sex roles in many ways. Discrimination against women exists and needs to be overcome. However, men as well are disadvantaged by these roles – in different ways. It is widely held that sex discrimination is predominantly discrimination against women and that women have less power overall. However, these assumptions are questionable.

While subtle and complex biases against women exist, discrimination does not fully explain the dominance of men in many fields. The major reason is something so old and familiar that it is hard for us to see: in the absence of extraordinary achievement, a man is valued less than a woman (reverse sexism). Men are therefore under greater pressure to reach extraordinary levels of cultural achievement.

The ultimate cause of this (glossing over a network of proximate causes) is that women bear children. Men are forever compensating for their tiny contribution to the reproduction of the species. Consider that you could kill 90% of all men at a negligible cost with respect to the species’ ability to reproduce, while killing women will decimate the following generation proportionally.

This is why every boy, despite being taught that men and women are of equal value, still today grows up understanding that, if worst comes to worst, he will be expected to volunteer to sacrifice himself to save a woman – a deep hypocrisy.

This, in no uncertain terms, delivers the inevitable message that women are needed more. On average, women are more valued, more protected, and more desired. And men kill themselves to compensate, often by direct physical risk taking, and even more often by pushing themselves to succeed unhealthily (leading to lower life expectancy). Men also “gain” years that women spend on pregnancy and child care – only to compulsively pursue their compensatory cultural ambitions.

For men, cultural achievement is a necessity, the key to being valued, desired, and loved, and thus to personal happiness. For women it is a choice. The alternative choice for women is to be valued, desired, and loved in a more traditional female role. Men do not de facto have this choice to the same degree (rare exceptions notwithstanding).

Get rich or die trying‘ is one expression of this male predicament. But the phenomenon is present in different variants across subcultures and very tangible in each of our own lives. Those men who fail in the game of achievement, go on to ‘dominate’ all the dirtiest and most hazardous occupations, where women are also underrepresented.

Moreover, the supposedly enviable leadership positions tend to be stressful and burdened with responsibility. Given a choice of being valued and loved by a different route, many men as well as women would choose that – only there’s no equality of those alternative choices.

The major pressure factor on men is female sexual preference. And there may not be any remedy. There’s little we can do about either the female preference for dominant males or the male preference for beautiful females. Note the irony: Men dominate because women prefer men who dominate. So who’s dominating whom, really?

Men are forced to take disproportionate physical risks. They are required to do the dying as well as the killing. Life expectancy is a good indicator of overall societal power (consider black versus white, poor versus rich). By this indicator, females are clearly favored.

Sex differences in life expectancy may have biological causes, but may also reflect the greater pressures men are subjected to over their lives. To the extent that there is a biological component, men should be seen as the biologically weaker sex and compensative action should be taken. In fact less money is spent on medical research benefitting men than women. Here as in other domains women continue to be the protected sex. For a good discussion of some of these facts, see Warren Farrell’s important book “The Myth of Male Power”.

The final stroke of genius of the societal exploitation of males is the notion that complaining about one’s plight is not masculine. The slaves are to sing, so as not to burden their master’s conscience. Really, this is just another application of the ever effective threat of sexual deprivation that binds the majority of males, to whom sex is available only in exchange for money or lifelong commitment.

Feminism has glorified what is great about the male role (individual freedom and cultural achievement) and denied the considerable advantages of the female role (being more protected, desired, and loved; greater emotional freedom; less pressure to perform). It is also in deep denial, by and large, about the nature of female sexuality.

The two elephants in the room of feminism are (1) the female sexual preference for dominant males (where dominance is defined in relation to the female and a merely equal male is never desirable) and (2) the disadvantages men suffer (which concern bare survival, life expectancy and being valued, desired, and loved at lower levels of societal success).

If feminism is going to survive and continue to be a positive force, it needs to face these challenges, resist the descent from radical theory to unilateral lobbying for power, and embrace a more expansive vision of gender roles based on an acceptance of biological facts. First, the female sexual preference for dominant males, which is widely denied, should be acknowledged. Second, the male sexual preference for beautiful females, which is widely acknowledged as true, should not be considered a fault of men that needs to be corrected. Let’s accept our sexual preferences as biological fact and fault neither men nor women for them.

What would real equality (of value, of life quality, of sexual desirability for the average person) be like? If feminist theory could develop a vision for this, then it might remain an important force for societal change.

Mocking and laughing

April 8, 2010

The only way to live and transcend our limitations is by continually mocking our own bullshit — lovingly.

Mocking is a powerful inhibitor. That’s why it is so cruel when done to another person for some act of self-expression. It is the demolition of a particular building in that person’s ego.

But mockery is also the underdog’s subversion of power. Satire and mockery can permanently damage powerful politicians.

So what about self-mockery? It is dangerous, because it is powerful. But it is appropriate when applied to thoughts and feelings one really knows to be bullshit, counterproductive, a waste of time.

No matter how strong or established you get, among strangers, it may happen that you feel disconnected, isolated, the outsider. Though it may be true that you know no one here, people are easy to talk to and the dynamic can change within a few minutes. The feeling is an anachronism of your development. It was bullshit then, and it is unbelievable bullshit now. This is one example of a feeling that deserves internal mockery.

Self-mockery makes me smile, chuckle, laugh. I notice other people wondering what could be so funny or what I’m so happy about. It inhibits the associative pattern from the past, while relaxing me and putting me in a positive state of mind.

Chuckling and laughing are interesting. Some time ago I worked all night. I hadn’t eaten properly. I biked home in the cold air. It was freezing. My hands were freezing. I just started to laugh on my bike, in the cold, at 6 am in the morning. But the laugh was not quite my own. It was a cynical, dirty, masculine laugh. More of a parody than a genuine expression — but who knows. It made me understand the function of that way of laughing: To cope with a challenging situation.

Laughing is wormholing from one point in state space to another point, which would not otherwise be accessible. When a joke’s punchline suddenly transforms our interpretation of the situation described in the exposition, we wormhole and laugh as a consequence. Conversely, we can laugh in order to wormhole out of an unproductive state or interpretation of the present situation and into a better state or more enlightened view of the scene.