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January 03, 2010

The Blog Princess Ponders the Ineffable Wisdom of Dr. Joy Bliss, Individual Responsibility, Scope Creep, and the Venusian Arts

Stacy McCain has a tagline at the top of his site that has gnawed at the edges of my mind ever since the first time I saw it:

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

— Arthur Koestler

I think it works for him. One of the many qualities people enjoy in Stacy's writing is his willingness to air his unvarnished opinions. In an era where too many people weigh each syllable for possible offense I see some value in this advice. I have been urged by friends - all men - to "write ruthlessly" too, though they did not use those precise words.

I looked up the word "ruthless" to see what it means, exactly. It means having no pity : merciless, cruel. I think you can see my problem here. I believe one of the great strengths of men is their ability to neatly sever compassion, empathy, fellow feeling from the decision making process. In certain circumstances that can be an extremely useful skill.

There's just one problem: I'm not a man and I have no desire to become one. Though my privately held opinions can be pretty merciless, I tend to keep them to myself. I'm far too aware of the barren, affectless nature of the written word. Without facial expressions, inflection and tone of voice, a lifted eyebrow or even a small, quickly stifled half smile, words can be as dry and brittle as unleavened bread. They can wound unintentionally; can darken a day as easily as they can brighten it.

And so I've been thinking a lot lately and not writing much.

I had a quiet New Year's Eve. Didn't feel like going out, didn't want to talk to anyone. Spent the evening in bed surrounded by fluffy pillows, a pot of green tea, a tube of ginger lemon crisps and a book of essays by Reinhold Niebuhr. Yes, my life is a never ending thrill ride. Of course when the movie comes out I'll be played by Angelina Jolie and there will be confusing sex toys and an impertinent cabana boy lurking under the duvet.

At any rate, the essay I was reading while chrysanthemums blossomed in the night sky over the lake was about how all religion is essentially an attempt to refute the inevitable sense of pessimism that overtakes us when we try to make sense out of the world. There's a joke in there somewhere, but I wasn't in any sort of mood for jokes that evening. I was alone in bed with my husband thousands of miles away in a different time zone and every cell in my body ached for him.

I don't think it would have been any better if I'd gone out. A few years back I had an odd experience. He was, of course, deployed and I was traveling a lot to keep myself busy. I was invited to another city by a work associate - someone I'd met at a conference. She had tickets to a fancy dress ball and I thought, "Why the Hell not?" So I drove up there for the weekend. Four hours through the mountains. It was a lot of fun - it felt like being back in college. I felt young again (she's about 10 years younger than I am, and single). We got all gussied up and danced and drank and parried the attentions of prowling guys. And I was having a ball right up until shortly after midnight when, for no reason I can name, I suddenly felt all the wind go out of my sails.

I didn't want strange men flattering me and chatting me up. I wanted my husband: the man I love. The father of my children. The guy who has known me since shortly before my 18th birthday. The one who knows everything about me, from what makes my knees weak to how to jolly me out of a bad mood to what I'm secretly afraid of. There was no reason for me to think of him at that moment - to want him. I was being flirted with and complimented and paid attention to in a way I hadn't been in years (at least by men I'm not married to), and I won't tell you I wasn't enjoying it, because I was. But it all seemed as worthless and false to me as a 3 dollar bill.

I'll bet you were wondering when I'd get to the Ineffable Wisdom of Dr. Joy Bliss, weren't you? Well, wonder no more:

While I am quite pleased and content with my own (first) marriage, when I talk with unhappy people, which I do all day, I am often reminded that the nuclear family is a very recent invention, that the notion of romantic love is also recent, that arranged marriages and marriages of convenience or necessity were the norms of the past, and that humans are not "naturally" monogamous - whatever I might mean by "naturally".

When you put the nuclear family together with dreams of enduring romantic love, it's a set-up for disappointment. The nuclear family, unlike the extended family (or the tribe), is isolating and does not provide a broad base of support in life. Intense romantic love, unlike plain old-fashioned strong attraction and desire, is a regressed state of mind - some shrinks half-jokingly call it a form of insanity. Not that it isn't great fun, but it gives way to reality in time, although the best marriages can rekindle the old feeling from time to time.

Naturally monogamous. I always cringe when I read those words. They annoy me. Of course we're not naturally monogamous. And though women don't seem to feel the need to remind men that we're not "naturally monogamous" 24/7 I can guaran-damn-tee you that women are no more immune to temptation than men are. Probably the single transcendent truth I've learned in 30 years of marriage is how very little it would take for me to cheat on the man I love. It's not a comforting thought, nor one conducive to inflated self esteem. But it's why the vows mean something. If remaining faithful were easy to do, the promise wouldn't really be worth much would it? People write their own vows a lot these days. I suppose I could have promised, as a symbol of my undying passion, not to stick my tongue in a light socket back in 1979. Then again, since we all know I'm not naturally inclined to French kiss strange electrical outlets, I doubt my sacrifice would have sent the spousal unit into rapturous ecstasy.

All snark aside though, I liked Dr. Bliss' essay. I liked it a lot. I think she hit on something very important - a theme I've seen circulating around a lot in varying forms, none of which seem quite right to me. It's as though we're slowly, painstakingly narrowing in on the truth. We do put way too much faith in marriage. But more generally, we put too much faith in institutions.

I think we do this because we get used to them, and because depending on someone or something else is much easier than holding ourselves accountable all the time. It's much easier than taking responsibility for our own happiness; than facing the strong likelihood that we're (as my friend spd so trenchantly put it once) responsible for at least half of every disappointment we encounter in life.

Yeah. Us. When things don't go as we expect, we never do want to admit that maybe we are part of the problem. Maybe what's "wrong" wasn't really all that much of a surprise after all. We knew it was coming - we just chose to ignore the fact that every choice has a price tag. We don't really care for the idea that life is an inherently risky business for which there is no surefire insurance program:

Many people seem to be in the middle of a religious crisis of faith. All the gods they believe in — technology, technocracy, centralized government control — have failed them in this instance.

In a mature nation, President Obama could go on TV and say, “Listen, we’re doing the best we can, but some terrorists are bound to get through.” But this is apparently a country that must be spoken to in childish ways. The original line out of the White House was that the system worked. Don’t worry, little Johnny.

When that didn’t work the official line went to the other extreme. “I consider that totally unacceptable,” Obama said. I’m really mad, Johnny. But don’t worry, I’ll make it all better.

It seems odd to me that people seem to seriously expect a 100% success rate in preventing terrorist acts. Is this reasonable? Has having police around ever resulted in a 100% prevention rate for murder, rape, theft? Of course not, because to guarantee such a success rate we'd have to allow the police to infiltrate and control every aspect of our lives and no sane society wants that.

What we want is guaranteed security without that nasty price tag. And we don't want to have to think about tradeoffs too much because it's hard.

Yes, Napolitano's "the system worked" was poorly worded. But it wasn't as bad as it's being made out to be. Mostly it was politically incorrect, which no doubt explains why so many Dems are screaming for her head on a bed of lettuce. She had the temerity to remind us of something we already know: 90% of the apparatus of law enforcement and national defense is designed to respond to attacks and crime, not prevent them. No government agency can keep us completely safe because even if we had a perfect system with perfect procedures and rules up the ying-yang, it would still be administered by flawed human beings who make mistakes. People like us. No "system" or agency can change this. It's not an excuse for breaking the rules, but it's a cold hard fact we need to face. My husband said it after 9/11. He was *in* anti-terrorism, and the first thing he said was, "We can never protect everyone from terrorists because terrorists don't attack buildings. They attack people, and people are everywhere."

He was right. There is a role for institutions: they can reduce, but not eliminate natural risk. And it's OK to try and hold them accountable for managing risk in a way that involves acceptable tradeoffs, whatever "acceptable" means this week.

But managing risk is not the same as eliminating it. At some point we need to grow up enough to face these tradeoffs honestly and more importantly, assume more responsibility for our own safety. Our own survival, like our own happiness, is a responsibility we can never delegate away entirely, though God knows we continue to try and to whine when the predictable occurs:

Maybe the most worrying trend the past 10 years can be found in this phrase: "They forgot the mission." So many great American institutions—institutions that every day help hold us together—acted as if they had forgotten their mission, forgotten what they were about, what their role and purpose was, what they existed to do. You, as you read, can probably think of an institution that has forgotten its reason for being. Maybe it's the one you're part of.

Noonan makes a lot of great points in her paean to (sort of) individual responsibility but she misses a big one: scope creep. Like so many of us - like partners who expect marriage to make them happy or fill all their needs or voters who want to know why George Bush didn't tell them to sell their AIG stock before it tanked - she misses what Brooks says so well:

... over the past 50 years we have concentrated authority in centralized agencies and reduced the role of decentralized citizen action. We’ve done this in many spheres of life. Maybe that’s wise, maybe it’s not. But we shouldn’t imagine that these centralized institutions are going to work perfectly or even well most of the time. It would be nice if we reacted to their inevitable failures not with rabid denunciation and cynicism, but with a little resiliency, an awareness that human systems fail and bad things will happen and we don’t have to lose our heads every time they do.

Creating a highly interconnected, highly interdependent society has made us all safer. It has made us more affluent and increased our leisure time to levels our parents and grandparents only dreamed of. But there's a down side too: as we delegate more and more of the tasks our parents and grandparents shouldered to institutions, we become more and more dependent upon them. It's not just that increased interdependence allows inevitable screw ups to affect us more than they used to. It's also a matter of there being more failures. We continue to offload tasks onto already overburdened institutions. We expect more than any institution composed of flawed human beings can possibly deliver.

And our reliance on institutions makes us less and less able to shift for ourselves. When things go wrong, the last place on earth we want to look is that bathroom mirror because the last thought we want to entertain is the idea that maybe - just maybe - we have delegated away responsibility for our own lives.

It's always easier to blame someone else. Which brings me to the "Venusian Arts". Every now and then I read something on the Internet that is so incandescently, luminously stupid that it temporarily stuns me into silence. Oh go ahead - Google it.

You know you want to.

I have been married for over 30 years. To a man. In fact, a United States Marine. I don't waste a lot of time trying to figure out whether I married an "alpha" or a "beta". He knows who he is and he likes the person he sees in the mirror. Works for me. Last time I checked, he doesn't spend his time apologizing to me for breathing or begging for sex. He doesn't have to.

He also does not have to trick me into acting the way he wants by withholding affection (controlling women withholding sex, anyone?) or being insulting, selfish, overbearing or rude. When he wants something he says so and stands his ground: calmly, with dignity and strength. And I meet him halfway. Not 2/3 of the way. Halfway. You see, it's in my interest to make sure that he is happy. It is in my interest to ensure that he looks forward to coming home from work at night, because when he does he treats me well and I get what I want, too.

I really have to wonder about people who are impressed with pickup sites. A lot of conservatives are. I don't get it. I think there are a lot of very insecure folks out there looking for a magic formula to fix the boo-boos in their lives. But after 30 years of marriage I can tell you: there's no formula. It's all trial and error. There's a reason that I thought of my husband after midnight at that party and it had nothing to do with him constantly reminding me that he can cheat on me anytime he feels like it. I already know that, you see. The thought occurs a few times over 30+ years. It works both ways.

I thought of him because in all the world, he is the one person I trust. Implicitly. I would trust him with my life and there's not another human being on this planet I can say that of.

He didn't have to trick me into trusting him; to play childish games to pad his fragile ego into thinking he can or should control what I think or how I feel. He didn't withhold love the way insecure, controlling women sometimes withhold sex, robbing themselves in the bargain. He won my trust by being exactly who and what he is. Sometimes I don't like who he is... temporarily. Sometimes he doesn't like who I am. Hell, sometimes I don't like who I am. But overall we're adults. We understand that any relationship worth having needs to be based on honesty. Not "I'm taking up residence in your belly button" honesty, but the kind of honesty that recognizes you were two separate people before you got married and will be two separate people on the day the first one of you dies.

Two separate people each with hopes, dreams, quirks, virtues, flaws. Two separate people who, if they have the courage to reach for something bigger than either one of them, just might hit the jackpot. Or... not. Either way, it all starts with having faith in yourself. Of everyone, Elise got what I tried to say last week: we are the world in small.

If we as a nation are able to regain our energy, our surefootedness, our faith in our ability - and our desire - to “continue improving our lot”, to “leave the world a better place than we found it” we will do so based not on what we do in the political realm but on what we do as individuals, how we each live our lives.

Us. We can't blame feminism, institutions, government agencies or even the state of Holy Matrimony for what ails us because the buck really stops with us. It's a lonely place, but a glorious one too.

Posted by Cassandra at January 3, 2010 07:59 PM

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Comments

Individual Responsibility, Scope Creep...

I have *always* considered it a personal responsibility to eliminate scope creep -- a secure scope makes those shots over 1,500 meters sooooo much easier...

Posted by: BillT at January 4, 2010 12:40 AM

Rather an eclectic compendium, this post.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by: camojack at January 4, 2010 01:08 AM

We put too much faith in institutions. I think we do this because we get used to them, and because depending on someone or something else is much easier than holding ourselves accountable all the time. It's much easier than taking responsibility for our own happiness; than facing the strong likelihood that we're (as my friend spd so trenchantly put it once) responsible for at least half of every disappointment we encounter in life.

Bingo.

I had a personal epiphany not too long ago that has changed many things about how I view myself (and by extension, the rest of the world). It's been a very good thing, but it also has made me look back at certain moments with a bit of sadness. Today's vision means I can see the missed opportunities and the self-imposed wounds (as well as forgive myself for some of the mistakes--as I think back to those moments and recognize that AT THAT TIME I probably wasn't capable of understanding or seeing my options any differently). So frustrating! So amazing to see how much of those moments--even when I was a victim of circumstances--were shaped by my response to them. In some cases, I doubt any response could've "fixed things," but at times my responses (no matter how considered) made them worse.

I've always understood the idea of "If I knew then what I know now." I've just never felt it so acutely...

I wonder if part of our reluctance to accept personal responsibility is that there's a great deal of disappointment in realizing that we aren't as smart or clear-headed as we like to think we are...

Posted by: FbL at January 4, 2010 01:13 AM

I think so, Fbl. I think most of us are predisposed to a romantic view of ourselves. We're always the heroes of our own lives.

I read recently a study that said both men and women grossly overvalue their own contributions to a relationship and denigrate or entirely ignore those of their partner. I think this is really very true. One of the big "wakeup call" moments in my own life was realizing that for the first time in my life, I was having real trouble pulling my own weight in our marriage and that, without fanfare or fuss, my husband had quietly stepped in and picked up my slack.

We're always stuck in the moment, but hopefully we are able to make small course corrections before we get too off kilter.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 01:22 AM

Rather an eclectic compendium, this post.

Heh :) Well, to me it's all connected Camo. That's the way my mind works.

Some time, ask Carrie about the phrase, "Oooh!!! BABY COWS!!!!"

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 01:24 AM

Thank you kindly, Cassandra.
I alerted RSM to this post; we'll see if the SMS or the email penetrates the fog. :)
Otherwise, I'll carve out the time for the substantial response it merits.
Cheers,
Chris

Posted by: smitty at January 4, 2010 07:27 AM

"Oooh!!! BABY COWS!!!!"

*Please* tell me the two of you weren't the ones who almost ran me down while you were gaping at the fawns in the Maryland House rest area parking lot in '04...

Posted by: BillT at January 4, 2010 08:20 AM

Oh shoot :) No one has to respond, Chris! I have just been thinking about that tagline for a long time. It seemed to explain some thoughts I've had about some of the differences between male/female communication styles (men are far more comfortable telling it like it is and letting the chips fall where they may, women tend to be more concerned about feeeeeeeeeelings - or at least the feelings we are aware of) :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 09:09 AM

You didn't like the Venusian arts piece? I'm shocked. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 4, 2010 10:46 AM

No cow tipping? This means that the joy of pessimistic outlooks has fled.

I would smoke a Galouise, but I am afraid of cancer.

OTOH: Nothing wrong with a little bit of happiness, but you were not ruthless enough to follow through. You stayed true, and that, dear Cass, makes all the difference.

Just like your writing; you point out foibles and follies, but you do so in a way calculated to make people think. I wonder if that is why women were not allowed to preach or minister until recently. God is supposed to be hard and ruthless. In short, male. I never thought of the
Almighty like that. To me, He was stern but loving, and justice was always tempered with mercy.

Just my two cents.

We have lines for a Reason, you know.

Posted by: Cricket at January 4, 2010 10:51 AM

You didn't like the Venusian arts piece?

I have to say that I find it extremely amusing to watch men who are disgruntled and discomfited by the ravages and abuses of radical feminism and unprincipled female behavior propose to address these ills by acting more like the worst sort of woman than any woman possibly could.

Manly, that :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 11:46 AM

This post is definitely Cassandrian.

Posted by: Mark at January 4, 2010 12:19 PM


"a secure scope makes those shots over 1,500 meters sooooo much easier..."

BillT, that's the better part of a mile. Is that an ICBM in your pocket?>: Nightforce works for me.

Posted by: Mark at January 4, 2010 12:23 PM

This post is definitely Cassandrian.

Well, I was going to write it as Stacy McCain but he does a better Stacy impression than I do :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 12:54 PM

Manly, that :p

Well, in as much as it seems to work (on a great deal of women), that *is* somewhat manly. Identify the problem, adapt and overcome.

The problem is that the kind of women those techniques work *on* probably aren't exactly the type that are fitting for manly men in the first place.

So great, you've found a system by which you can easily obtain a worthless prize. Hooray for you. /sarc


Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 4, 2010 12:58 PM

Exactly :p

Although we must remind ourselves that to a true alpha male, the emotions and happiness of the woman are utterly irrelevant.

And if you don't agree it's because you are a weak, spineless beta. You've got to love the appeal to insecurity/fear. It works on a large number of people too.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 01:04 PM

You've got to love the appeal to insecurity/fear. It works on a large number of people too.

Yep, it does. And like the female example, it also indicates that you're not exactly the type of man that is fitting for womanly women.

As I said on another thread, I'm all for them pairing off with each other and leaving the qualilty of the dating pool better off. :-)

I really have to wonder about people who are impressed with pickup sites.

I'm impressed with them the same way I'm impressed by the audition rounds of American Idol.

I can't think of a more impressive display of the gulf between self-esteem and, you know, *actual* merit.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 4, 2010 01:18 PM

There's a hella conservative self help book in there somewhere: "Everything I Know in Life, I Learned from PUA Sites."

Chicken Soup for the soulless.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 02:08 PM

Naturally monogamous. I always cringe when I read those words. They annoy me. Of course we're not naturally monogamous. And though women don't seem to feel the need to remind men that we're not "naturally monogamous" 24/7 I can guaran-damn-tee you that women are no more immune to temptation than men are.

That is the power of The Promise(tm). When you promise to love. Oh, you promise to cherish, forsake others, and some even promise to "obey", but that all falls under the promise to love.

You don't promise to be "in love", or to feel particularly loving, but you promise to love your spouse for as long as you both shall live.

I find small tempration to cheat, really. I understand that anyone I'd cheat with has equipment a lot like my wife, but without the necessary spiritual connection that makes orgasm a somewhat disappointing end to the whole experience.

It's like eating out of a dumpster when you have a 6 course gourmet dinner at home.

Posted by: Tony at January 4, 2010 03:33 PM

The "Venusian Arts" piece was, for me, the moment at which I finally understood what you meant by saying that feminism got things half right: but they weren't willing to consider the other half.

On the one hand, the guy who wrote that has a solid handle on a number of problems that are disrupting the way young Americans try to form families and have happy lives today. He's right about the demographic problems, and he's right about a number of ways in which the old system was far better.

However, he's coming at it from a perspective that is actively hostile to women. He really doesn't like women. You can't construct an answer to this question starting from a perspective that is hostile to either sex.

I was convinced by the piece that we need to resume polygamy. Why should the bulk of women have to settle for "beta males" who despise them? As he pointed out, the women preferred the situation because they were better off sharing a successful husband than being forced to settle for (much) less; and it's good for men like me, who can compete successfully. It sucks for him, but he's a weasel and doesn't really like women anyway, so why do I care?

Posted by: Grim at January 4, 2010 04:35 PM

Sheesh, I could not get past the first page on the "Venusian Arts" page proclaiming:
The Jaw Dropping Secrets To Total Life Transformation,
Upgrading You To Rock-Star Status
And Attracting Any Woman You Desire.

It reminded me of a more sleazy and scabby version of the X-ray glasses and Learn Calculus to Become a Chick Magnet flim-flam/adverts of yesteryear, only sufficiently raunched out in order to bring the pitch into line with 21st century norms.

Had I stepped in something approaching what the initial page promised, I would have found a stick and scraped my shoe. As it is, I've yet to figure out how to scrape things from my mind once the mind steps in it, so I exercise a degree of caution with respect to where I allow my mind to step.

All in all, I think I'll take Grim's summation and save my mind the scraping.

Posted by: bt_closed-minded-curmudgeon_hun at January 4, 2010 04:58 PM

Well, really, if anyone comes off worse in the piece than women, it's men who like women. I quote:

Hence, many men are still stuck in the obsolete and inobservant notion that chivalry and excess servility are the pathways to sex today, despite the modern reality that a woman's sexual decisions are no longer controlled by her parents, and are often casual rather than locked in matrimony. Whether such men are religious and called 'social conservatives', or effete leftists and called 'girlie men', they are effectively the same, and the term 'White Knights' can apply to the entire group. Their form of chivalry when exposed to 'feminist' histrionics results in these men harming other men at the behest of women who will never be attracted to them. This is why we see peculiar agreement between supposedly opposed 'social conservatives' and 'feminists' whenever the craving to punish men arises. A distressingly high number of men actually support the imprisonment of innocent men for false rape accusations or job loss causing 'child support' arrears merely because they don't want to risk female disapproval. These men are the biggest suckers of all, as their pig-headed denial of the Venusian Arts will prevent them from deducing that excess agreeability and willingness to do favors for the objects of their lust are exactly the opposite of what makes women sexually attracted to men.

Now, while it's obvious that I rush to avoid any appearance of disagreement with Our Lady Host, and would never think of arguing assertively against any lady, this kind of gives away the game.

My relationships with women are not intended to be 'pathways to sex' in the first place. Neither am I interested in being 'sexually attractive' to the women I meet. I do enjoy the company of women, their charm and grace and easy manners, but I'm quite content with having my sexuality contained within the private space of my home.

I sometimes meet beautiful and desirable women, and I'm always glad of the opportunity to enjoy their company in a friendly way. If I wanted to take them, I'd take them. I don't, because that isn't what I want: what I want is love, which is harder to come by and harder to nurture and to defend.

That, I think, was what dear Cassandra was saying above about her husband: it's just not the same thing at all. If you've focused your mind on sex, you've missed the real thing entirely.

Posted by: Grim at January 4, 2010 05:30 PM

As he pointed out, the women preferred the situation because they were better off sharing a successful husband than being forced to settle for (much) less; and it's good for men like me, who can compete successfully.

I love when men try to tell women that we secretly crave a return to polygamy. Because as we all know, there is no greater authority on what women want than men. Just ask them.

It's a very well written article that strings together a lot of very upsetting and one-sided factoids and then invites us to forget that correlation isn't the same as causation (especially when you haven't accounted for all the variables).

The following is from an email discussion I was having with someone yesterday on this very topic:

"The Western World has quietly become a civilization that undervalues men and overvalues women..."

Ooh. If only we could somehow force society to value men more.

I can hardly wait to hear his plan. Oh, wait. He doesn't have one. In fact, he's not prepared to do anything about this terrible problem as the moral and intellectual underpinnings of Western Civilization are slowly, inexorably destroyed on his watch.

On the bright side, when this happens he'll be able to say, "I told you so."

...[women are] single handedly taking over the universe armed with nothing more than a slightly congealed bottle of Sally Hansen's Hard as Nailz and the awesome power of our vajayjays.

And if we don't stop picking on the poor dears, they'll lock themselves in their cubicles and masturbate all day to VR porn.

Damn. That'll show us.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 05:32 PM

You know, I did think of you when I read that part about the super-porn. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 4, 2010 05:36 PM

That, I think, was what dear Cassandra was saying above about her husband: it's just not the same thing at all. If you've focused your mind on sex, you've missed the real thing entirely.

Yes, that's what I was saying I think :)

I adore men. I love talking with them and am often attracted to them. But it doesn't go any further than that because, although I'm pretty sure that even at my advanced age I could lure some kind, nearsighted gent into the sack, that's not what I want. It's what a small part of me wants, sometimes. But it's nowhere near the whole enchilada.

I joke a lot when I get angry. Bad habit, but since it's not really socially acceptable for women to display anger, it allows me to vent.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 05:37 PM

You know, I did think of you when I read that part about the super-porn. :)

That was really one of the funnier parts of the post. Because I'm fairly certain all the commenters going nuts over the blinding self evidentness of his analysis don't agree with a single word of that section. And yet no one mentioned it :p

Not. A. Word.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 05:45 PM

"Not. A. Word."
*The Cone of Silence is currently lowered into position over the Oink's Only corral...*

Posted by: bt_closed-minded-curmudgeon_hun at January 4, 2010 06:05 PM

Mostly I was laughing, picturing your reaction when you came across it. :) But yeah, the whole piece is, 'Women don't like the kind of man I am, I hate that they don't value me/us,' and so it's natural enough that we'd get to, 'But soon we won't need them.'

Actually, this is the kind of man who views women as purely for sexual pleasure and isn't that concerned about their feelings. The real alphas out here are the ones who love women. Women know when they meet a man who likes and enjoys women, and they react accordingly.

Of course, once in a while even the best woman acts a little bratty; but the alpha knows what to do about that too. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 4, 2010 06:06 PM

Of course, once in a while even the best woman acts a little bratty; but the alpha knows what to do about that too. :)

As someone who has spent a lifetime loving men, allow me to observe that one can easily flip that around and it is no less true.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 06:09 PM

Mostly I was laughing, picturing your reaction when you came across it.

Oddly enough Grim, I read right past it the first two times I read the article. It wasn't until I went back to the article to address a point my husband made about it that I noticed the VR thing at all.

And I still have to say that I find the non-reaction to that part very curious, but also highly amusing.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 06:11 PM

Oh, that's probably true. I've met a lady or two who could put anyone in his place with an arched brow and a clever word. That's one reason I have Miss Manners on my "admired voices" section of the sidebar; she's one of the best. I've learned a lot from reading her over the years.

Posted by: Grim at January 4, 2010 06:15 PM

As he pointed out, the women preferred the situation because they were better off sharing a successful husband than being forced to settle for (much) less; and it's good for men like me, who can compete successfully.

Any women who would rather share me than settle for less is more than welcome to email me.

That's me, all about the giving.

Posted by: Oink at January 4, 2010 06:40 PM

There was a movie made after WWII, called "The Best Years of Our Lives", a poignant tale of three returning vets, their lives all different, but the same.
There is a piece of music which was written by Aaron Copland called "Quiet City", in the '40's, which sort of sounds like part of the score to that movie.

(Where is this idiot going with this, anyways?)

I was born in 1955, and I recall my early childhood looked like that movie; the houses, the people, the yards, their manner of speaking and acting. I think of that lost world as "The Quiet City". It's gone, of course; gone with the wind.
I think it was a better culture than now, because people had more individual dignity, they treated each other better (not perfect, not ideal), and there is a subtle but powerful reason for it, I think.
The progress of civilization, especially American civilization in the last 50-60 years has been toward specialization, because that has allowed certain professional classes to become hugely wealthy (which reminds me that the pediatrician we had as kids made house calls, up until about 1960). So specialization has been a real boon to some, but it has crushed a lot of the character and dignity of people in the working and middle class, who just weren't quite good enough to be the high priced professional specialist.
And the rise of television has been the magic mirror to hold up to people and show them how trivial their own lives have become.

The result is a loss of personal self worth and self esteem. Most of us pretty badly measure up to the professional ideals shown to us on television. It's made all the women restless and all the non-super acheiver men into 'beta' males (not really, but the affect has been negative).

More and more we pursue money and wealth, and less and less we like ourselves and the lives that we have. There are all kind of intellectual sidetracks to that, regarding politics, sports, etc. Don't be a LOSER! Don't be a dummy liberal/conservative/blue state/red state whatever flavor of the week is out of favor today. Because our own identities are weak, we need to glom onto some political party or ideal, fashion or sport team or other false identity rather than be pleased with ourselves and our own lives.
"Feminism" is just another faulty excuse for not finding satisfaction within your own life. The Man is standing in our way! There's a glass ceiling we can see through but never penetrate! Men are holding us down!!

Get a clue. Most of us will NEVER be at the top of the pyramid. That's why it's a pyramid. It's not all it's cracked up to be, anyways. When I see the imbecilic arrogance of some of the top people in the corporation I work for, it's enough to make me want to quit and become a housepainter.

So the primal answer is to tune out the stupid modern cultural messages that poison your life, and find some peace of mind in your own life. Prowling around looking for "hook-ups" and other vicarious empty satisfactions will not bring any lasting happiness or joy, because you cannot find any deeper meaning within your own life with which to measure your own profound desires and happiness. You are only validating some illusion being broadcast into your mind by TV.

I'd rather walk a dusty mile to spend a few minutes chatting it up with Cassandra than spend any time at all with that empty headed ditz Angelina Jolie.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 4, 2010 07:23 PM

Don, I have never figured out why this happens, but your comments never get emailed to me. So often I miss them unless I just happen to see your name in the sidebar.

I know I may have mentioned this once or twice in the many years we've been friends, but I do so enjoy hearing your take on things. Often I pour my heart out on some stupid post and then wonder why I put so much into it? I know they're all way too long and too rambling and random :) I should work harder on them instead of just spilling it all out like a bag of jellybeans.

Anyway, your comments nearly always leave me feeling that all's right with the world. Thanks for being there all these years.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 09:29 PM

Stacy offered a hurried response in an Update.

I've something more philosophical in mind, involving Tillich.

Posted by: smitty at January 4, 2010 10:29 PM

Well Smitty, I look forward to reading your thoughts. But please, for God's sake, don't try to tell me that I wish you were a woman or any other such nonsense :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 10:59 PM

And the Tillich looks interesting. I was not familiar with his work :)

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 11:05 PM

Actually, this is the kind of man who views women as purely for sexual pleasure and isn't that concerned about their feelings. The real alphas out here are the ones who love women. Women know when they meet a man who likes and enjoys women, and they react accordingly.

Wow, I don't think I've ever heard it put that way, but it is SOOOO true. There are about a handful of men I know (all well-married, of course) who are exactly that type. I find that just being in their presence improves my self-confidence and makes me feel treasured. As a single woman, such men feel like a refreshing drink of water amid a barren desert--they are sustaining. They are a joy to talk to, argue with, smile at, or to simply sit next to quietly in a bar. They are all men of honor and I am a woman of honor, so there is no possibility of more than the subtlest flirtation, but were they single and wanted to pursue me I wouldn't have a hope of turning them down. Why would I want to?

Posted by: FbL at January 4, 2010 11:11 PM

It is funny. Grim said he could tell that the men on those sites disliked women.

I got a different, but related sense. I sensed that they were afraid of women, or maybe just afraid of being hurt by them. Everything they write reeks of defensiveness and fear of losing the upper hand. A confident man doesn't need to put on a big show of being something he is not because he values himself and expects others to value him.

And generally, they do :p But if for some reason they don't, he generally doesn't let it rock his world b/c he doesn't place other people's value judgments over his own.

On the other hand when you broadcast insecurity, people take you at your own valuation. At that point the best you can hope to do is drag others down to your level so they'll be so focused on their own fears that they don't notice yours.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 11:40 PM

"Oink", I read somewhere today that spanking isn't harmful after all :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 11:45 PM

Heh :) Well, to me it's all connected Camo. That's the way my mind works.
Some time, ask Carrie about the phrase, "Oooh!!! BABY COWS!!!!"
Posted by: Cassandra at January 4, 2010 01:24 AM

Well, let's see; Venusian Arts, "fluffy pillows, a pot of green tea, a tube of ginger lemon crisps and a book of essays by Reinhold Niebuhr"...shall I go on? Of course they're all connected by the fact that you put all of 'em in the same post, if nothing else. I know I've told you before that I love you for your mind... ;-)

Posted by: camojack at January 5, 2010 12:25 AM

I love when men try to tell women that we secretly crave a return to polygamy.

The younger pilots I've met over here are firmly monogamous, regardless of their religion, but I know several Muslim senior officers and locals with three wives. When I express mock horror at their being outnumbered in their own homes, they're always quick to exclaim, "What -- you think that I'm crazy? I have a different house for each of them!"

Pretty ironic that the younger ones believe being monogamous is an indication of Westernization and sophistication...

Posted by: BillT at January 5, 2010 12:43 AM

BillT, that's the better part of a mile. Is that an ICBM in your pocket?>:

Now, there's a prime example of the failure inherent in our educational system -- kids these days don't know the effective ranges of large-caliber weaponry...

I read somewhere today that spanking isn't harmful after all

Neither is being doinked with a trivet if your neuron-container is as thick-walled as mine, evidently...

Posted by: BillT at January 5, 2010 01:06 AM

BillT: Actually, they're supposed to do exactly that. The whole rationalisation behind polygamy is that "I can bloody well afford the upkeep on four wives and their households" (or so they say, remember this is supposed to be so that men can marry military widows after wars or somesuch), hence each wife must be treated as a separate marriage. It's still 'one man, one woman' except the man can execute four such contracts in parallel, whereas for the woman, it's an exclusive deal.

Also, neurons are to be found everywhere you have nerves, including the incredibly fragile spinal cord, so maybe a better euphem would have been 'cerebral matter protective wrapping' or something like that.

Cassandra, I dunno, I'm all for being myself to be sure, but I'm a loudmouth, crass, sarcastic, vulgar little blowhard, so my exercising tact and self-discipline over what I say and do is necessary camo, or so I believe.

Posted by: Gregory at January 5, 2010 03:16 AM

neurons are to be found everywhere you have nerves

And I have a *lot* of nerve.

Thick skin, too...

Posted by: BillT at January 5, 2010 03:31 AM

My father was Niebuhr's protege at Union. I grew up in the virtual presence of Reinny, though on the opposite coast from his. When I followed my father at Union, it was after a college honors project for which I read and reported upon practically the entire Niebuhr oeuvre. The father pressed me to visit Reinny ASAP upon arrival Union. I had no desire for it.

His work convinced me that Reinny was incompetent as a theologian and my father's career convinced me that Reinny was backward-looking rather than forward-looking in re ecclesial forms, methods and needs in the post scientific humanism context.

Reinny never earned a doctorate. He earned his notoriety as a pastoral union supporter, including on some bloody picket lines, of strongly Communist inclinations. Not socialist, Communist. He had enough doctorates to wear a different one every Sunday of the year, but all were honoraries, or so the probably hyperbolic story went.

An anthology of essays by prominent theologians on Niebuhr's work was published. Among the authors was Paul Tillich, whom Reinny brought to Union from Germany as a refugee, thankfully. In his comments at the end of the anthology, Reinny mentioned, truly, that Paulus felt that he had not learned his theological lessons well and agreed that he had not but he asserted that he had done well enough and had never tried to be a theologian. Indeed, of the two men, Reinny was the more celebrated then as now. He was a publicity hog, Paulus was not. No theologian is.

Reinny never was a theologian and his grasp of the nature and destiny of man was superficial and uninformed. He came from a modest German Reformed background in the Midwest and never had a classical education, much less a rigorous, broad-scope one. His work is lionized because he was intensely political for leftist causes and, though abjuring Communism as a middle-aged man, always was a left-winger incorrigibly full of himself.

He came into prominence in a context that was not native to him and it went to his head. The President of Union at the time was Henry Sloan Coffin, a man of vision and wisdom, who was also Skull and Bones, as was his prominent, contentious nephew William Sloan Coffin, deposed Chaplain of Yale and later Senior Minister of The Riverside Church.

Eventually I asked to visit Reinny and his wife, Ursula, at the their apartment on Riverside Drive. It was a cold winter's morning, snow on the ground, early in 1966. He was retired and teaching now only graduate seminars. He wanted to stroll together. Ursula remonstrated with him regarding the cold and his health and doctor's warnings. He brushed all aside. Walk he would, suitably bundled and holding my arm the while for steadiness in the snow.

Ursula, a Professor of Early Church History at Barnard College, across the street from Union, was English and puckishly referred to herself as "the other Dr. Niebuhr." She was noted also for saying somewhat haughtily, "I am not a theologian but I do know something about the First Century." She was a charmer and I liked her. She had common sense and was not a political partisan, as was her husband.

Reinny wanted to talk about the civil rights movement, which then was on. I said it would not take long, that integration would be accomplished speedily. He answered brusquely, "No, you are wrong, it will take hundreds of years."

It was not a happy time for me. I did not feel he was out of touch with modern developments. I felt, rather, that he was wedded to an ideology rather than theo-ology, that his ultimate concern was politics rather that transcendence. And I had long felt that his intellectual grasp of human nature and destiny was deficient on the one hand and doctrinaire on the other, rather than plenary and subtle.

I would not commend the reading of Niebuhr's work to anyone except as a large sign post along the way to how matters got as empty and demonic as they are now. Reinny helped them along in that effect and direction.

Posted by: David R. Graham at January 5, 2010 03:56 AM

I read somewhere today that spanking isn't harmful after all :p

I knew we'd get back to that "brat" thing again. :)

"What -- you think that I'm crazy? I have a different house for each of them!"

I knew a guy from al Kut who had two wives. He claimed he was thinking of asking us for asylum.

Everything they write reeks of defensiveness and fear...

I thought "fatpocalypse" was pretty aggressive, actually. :)

But I don't mean to delve into why they don't like women. I just mean, they don't like them.

The question of why women often now approach marriage seriously in their mid-thirties, and the negative consequences that brings, is one that has been written about most touchingly by a number of women, too. It's a trend that creates awful consequences for the women, for the men, and for society.

A great post could have been written that took the perspective of these young "beta" men, the perspective of the hurt and frightened young women, and integrated it into a framework of the harm being done to society at large by the young putting off marriage and children. This wasn't that post, and the reason it wasn't is its outright hostility towards womankind.

The problems are real enough -- and serious enough. But they're everybody's problems, not just 'beta' males' problems.

Posted by: Grim at January 5, 2010 05:57 AM

David:

If it's any comfort to you, Herr Niebuhr was one of three books selected at random from amongst the book shelves in my bedroom that night. We have a large number of books; some of them ones I bought, many ones my sons bought or brought home from college, many others came here via my husband or parents.

I recently decided to start sampling from our bookshelves randomly in an effort to broaden out my reading habits.

Hence, the essays. I don't know that my interest (such as it was) in his writing has anything to do with his academic chops as a theologian. I'm really more interested in ideas, regardless of their provenance. I suppose to some, this makes me something of a Philistine but there it is :)

Posted by: Cassandra at January 5, 2010 09:37 PM

I don't mean to delve into why they don't like women. I just mean, they don't like them.

Which rather begs the question: why do conservative women approvingly quote these guys? It seems to me that they gloss over things they don't like/don't understand, much like the men did with the VR porn section. They uncritically cherry pick the arguments, choosing to see only the parts they find useful in confirming whatever belief they held before reading the piece.

I find that funny, but disturbing. I take a lot of crap around here for daring to suggest that not all men are wonderful paragons of virtue, and yet every good man I've ever known has held the opinion that many of his own kind are worthless human beings :p

Damn feminists.

It's no secret that I don't get people who veer off onto a simplistic "women suck" or "men suck" view of life. It has also been a source of endless amusement to me that there is a huge difference between men and women in their reactions to any perceived criticism I make of male or female foibles.

The men are very quick to argue, even if such arguments totally contradict their previously stated opinions on other posts.

But the women almost never argue with me when I criticize female foibles. One could reasonably draw a number of interested but diametrically opposed conclusions from this :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 5, 2010 09:45 PM

The good men you've known don't consider them 'their own kind.' In a just world, we'd be freer to deal with them.

Posted by: Grim at January 5, 2010 09:51 PM

"The good men you've known don't consider them 'their own kind.' In a just world, we'd be freer to deal with them."
To scrape them from the sole, or maybe soul of civil society, as it were.

Posted by: bthun at January 5, 2010 10:42 PM

It seems to me that they gloss over things they don't like/don't understand, much like the men did with the VR porn section.

Victoria Regina did porn? Gee -- I never *knew*...

Posted by: BillT at January 6, 2010 12:32 AM

The good men you've known don't consider them 'their own kind.'

They may not wish to associate with them or approve their actions, Grim, but they are still "men" in the same way that women who do things I don't approve of are still "women". Both men and women have (broadly speaking) natural tendencies inherent to our sex that are... how shall I say it? Not helpful?

The quality of a man or a woman is shown in their ability to temper animal instinct with reason and moral integrity. It's not a question of completely squelching our instincts, but of channeling them into more productive paths. It has been characteristic of the good men I've known that they are proud of being men and proud of their masculine attributes. But I think they're proud of being men b/c they have found productive venues in which they can express their masculinity.

I don't know of any good man who considers a completely unbridled sex drive to be a moral good. I don't know of any good man who thinks violence is a moral good in and of itself. And yet a strong sex drive and the capacity for violence are considered to be masculine traits.

IMO, fully developed men appreciate their own masculine qualities b/c they are in control of them and rightly have no use for men who can't command their own passions.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 8, 2010 04:18 AM

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