In defense of all-male spaces

Originally posted as a comment here.

The progressive model of normie gender relations is incomplete. On the one hand, it’s true that, under normie gender relations, men lead and women follow; but on the other hand, it’s also true that men are supposed to, for example, open doors for women. Nobody believes that women can’t open doors; so why are men supposed to do it for them? You could say that it’s because of the patriarchy — men want women to be weak and dependent on men — but then you’re saying that 51% of the population have no agency, in order to bolster a theory that can explain these two things, but can’t explain, say, the Scott Aaronson affair.

Let’s make the bold and controversial assumption that women have agency — that is, that they can, to some extent, shape normie gender relations to fit their interests. What sorts of interests do normie women have? Do they want partnerships of equals with soft, prosocial men in touch with their emotions? Do they want that sort of metaphorical homosexuality? Lol, no. That ‘nice guys’ are clueless dorks with entitlement complexes doesn’t mean chicks don’t dig ‘bad boys’.

Here’s a model with more predictive power: normie gender relations consists of a tacit agreement, where men agree to perform attractiveness to the abstract concept of the normie woman (i.e. strength, stoicism, emotionlessness, measured applications of violent anger, etc. — if you prefer, ‘toxic masculinity’) and women agree to perform attractiveness to the abstract concept of the normie man (i.e. weakness and dependence), and each sex enforces, and women especially are encouraged to enforce, normie gender relations by responding to lack of attractiveness with, and genuinely feeling lack of attraction as, disgust. The woman performs being scared by a spider, and the man performs being tough and killing it. If the woman doesn’t perform being scared, the man performs being disgusted; if the man doesn’t perform being tough, the woman performs being disgusted.

If you’re thinking of this as lifestyle D/s performed by people not self-aware enough to realize that’s what they’re doing or what they want, you’re totally wrong: it’s not limited to relationships. It’s the default mode of relation between the sexes — it’s not really even about attractiveness, just about What Is Done. It’s just etiquette. The dynamic even shapes interactions within the family.

Another way to conceptualize it (a better way, if you’re planning a date) is as an exchange of experiences: men provide experiences for women, and get in return the experience, facilitated by the woman, of Being A Man.

This model explains why men are expected to lead, why women are expected to follow, why men are expected to open doors for women, why Scott Aaronson faced so much backlash (he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, because he performed unattractiveness and unmanliness, admitted to having once felt sad about the thing, etc., so he had to be punished for it, by the unconscious mechanism of women conflating lack of attraction with disgust), why men use disgust to pressure women into not shaving their armpits or whatever, why women respond to that pressure by making a point of performing disgustingness at them, and — why adding women to all-male groups completely changes the dynamic. The implicit threat isn’t an accusation of sexism, although that’s one idiom it can use — it’s that the men suddenly have to hold up the male end of the bargain, both in order to be attractive to the woman (because getting her interested in you confers status) and in order to not face the penalty for breaking it.


9 responses to “In defense of all-male spaces

  1. Contaminated NEET July 4, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Still casting your pearls before swine, I see. It’s probably a good thing: it reminds the Less Wrong crew that they haven’t yet convinced everyone with two braincells to rub together. They’re insufferable and smug enough as it is. Nice work speaking their language with that “perform,” btw.

    • nydwracu July 5, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Is that LW language? That’s standard prog language. Used to be, anyway, before they decided to adopt the cause of enforcing rigid gender norms.

      • Contaminated NEET July 5, 2016 at 11:23 am

        You know, on second thought, I think you’re right. I’m trying to think of a time when I’ve seen the Bayes cultists use “perform” that way and I can’t.

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  3. Candide IIII July 5, 2016 at 6:32 am

    This makes about as much sense as Rousseau’s contrat social: a superficially plausible just-so story that bears little relationship to reality. Try explaining why these two particular sets of behaviors are chosen to be performed, and not the reverse or some other combination. Also, the disgust reaction both sexes get to “non-performance” is not distinguishable from “real” disgust. Roissy agrees. The fact that some people don’t have it doesn’t mean much, because the objects of disgust are partly a matter of habit and custom, e.g. there are people who like tunneled ears or happily eat raw grubs and kiviak, not to speak of some less common sexual perversions. I grant that there are instances where the “performance” explanation is closer to the truth — French always-flirting attitude seems to be just a socially accepted way of celebrating la difference and is usually not intended to lead to sex, something which perplexed one of my exes to no end — but even then it’s usually not performed in a self-aware manner. Being self-aware about such things is called “being cynical and manipulative”, and what’s more it feels being cynical and manipulative.

    • nydwracu July 5, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Those two sets of behaviors are chosen to be performed because the ~semantics of them map to what the participants tend to be interested in. In nerd terms, most men are dominant and most women are submissive.

      Performance doesn’t have to be conscious. It usually isn’t.

      • Candide III July 5, 2016 at 10:50 am

        Yeah, that’s about it. You wrote

        If you’re thinking of this as lifestyle D/s performed by people not self-aware enough to realize that’s what they’re doing or what they want, you’re totally wrong

        though, and you use “choose”, “agree” and other verbs which usually imply active agency, whereas the active principle is more like natural selection.

  4. spottedtoad July 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    This is good. I can’t fully decide if Aaronson was punished because he was disgusting or because what he wrote was potentially appealing to women. Being tortured was considered sexy long, long ago, and Aaronson isn’t actually all that pathetic a Nice Guy figure: he’s a famous MIT professor, his actual comment was about feeling happy about coming through those challenging days successfully and happily married, etcetera. An alternative perspective is that we’re in one equilibrium now where nerdy men showing interest in high-commitment relationships is considered gross and unattractive but that we moved there from an earlier equilibrium, and feminists have to guard the battlements in case women decide they’d rather be in that earlier (shtetl-optimized, in Aaronson’s phrase) equilibrium than wake up next to a stranger after seven shots of Cuervo. In any case, I wrote something somewhat echoing your points above a couple months ago ( ), also using the same prog language of performance.

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