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August 07, 2014

Thursday Inflammatory Debate Topic (or... not)

Over the past week or so, the Editorial Staff have been seeing references to this video here and there, generally accompanied by uber-outragey objections and cries of "MISOGYNY!!!11!" and the equally annoying riposte of people who can't understand (generally while complaining bitterly that The Other makes no attempt to understand their point of view) why everyone isn't just like them? Yes, we're talking about "Lighten up" and its near cousin, "Secure/attractive/normal people think this is hysterical, so obviously you're insecure/unattractive/abnormal". Or [GASP!]... a MAN-HATING, WESTERN CIVILIZATION DESTROYING, ALL POWERFUL FEMINIST!!11!

Humor being a notoriously subjective affair, we had firmly resolved to ignore the video and skip the ritual taking of offense and retaliatory bestowing of insults. But then Tex linked to it over at Grim's place. We like Tex, so we overcame our aversion and clicked the hateful little "view" arrow:

There was a time when the Editorial Staff would automatically have assumed a video entitled, "A Man's Guide to Women/Hot-Crazy Matrix" was virtually certain to contain some elaborate feat of intentional, self-defecating humor. Sadly, years of exposure to the blissfully un-selfconscious rantings of the pickup artist/game crowd have strained our credibility to the point where we no longer feel safe assuming anything.

So here's a time lapse summary of our evolving response to the video.


First few moments: "OK, this is pretty much what the title led us to expect. It's a joke."

"Ummm.... why is there an equal-parts-hot/crazy line?"

"All women are at least a 4 on the crazy scale? Does he believe this, or is he making fun of the male propensity to belittle anything they don't understand"?"

"In what universe does dating anyone who rates 7-10 on your personal crazy scale seem like a good move?"

"Oh..... now I get it. This explains all those guys who claim not to have noticed that the person they married was completely insane until after the wedding."

On the female version:

"No dating zone?"

"If a guy has enough money, women don't care about their looks?" This is arrant nonsense.

Later that evening, it occurred to us that he had the female version all wrong. It should have had "hot" on the X axis and "acts like a jerk" on the Y axis with pretty much everything else the same as the male version.

So why did people get so upset over the video? We can't speak for them, but it's not all that hard to imagine why. Men and women have a hard time understanding how the world seems to the other half of humanity, and both sexes have a disturbing tendency to think their own world view is normal, sane, and sensible while the opposite sex's is utterly incomprehensible and needs fixing. Why can't a woman be more like a man (i.e., 'not crazy')? Why can't men be more empathetic/loving/understanding?

In the comments to Tex's post, Grim links to what he calls the female version of this stupid advice, which had (amusingly) been linked to disapprovingly by Glenn Reynolds (Hey! Only insecure/unattractive people fail to see the dark humor in what I find hysteri...... oh, nevermind...):

Young single straight women, take cover! Susan Patton is out there flacking for her book, “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE.” She stopped by the “Today” show this morning to tell college-age women to find a husband immediately — and also to learn how to bake bread, get plastic surgery in high school and, you know, not get themselves raped, as women are so often wont to do.

It’s such patently absurd advice and yet this is exactly the sort of cultural messaging that used to freak me out as a 20-something single straight lady. In acts of self-punishment, I would read these self-appointed gurus, or watch them on the “Today” show spouting their B.S., and genuinely worry that they were right — that I would end up sad and alone.

Well, guess what.

I did everything the Susan Pattons of the world said not to do and I ended up marrying a freaking wonderful man — not despite disobeying these retro rules, but because of it. That’s why, amidst all the “Princeton mom” noise, I bring you instructions on how to actually marry smart, according to me. True story, I recently went to the optometrist and she told me, “Your eyes aren’t young anymore,” so I feel like that makes me at least as qualified as Patton to give life advice.

In his comment, Grim describes Patton's advice as traditional and the Salon author's criticism of that advice as vicious. But it's not terribly hard to see why so many women (including this author, who planned for her family first and school/career only afterwards) were annoyed by Ms. Patton's attempts to scare young women into heading for the nearest altar:

SP: One, you have to plan for your personal happiness. Two, men and women simply are not the same and it’s unreasonable for women to think that they can pursue their personal happiness in the same way that men do. The third thing I would say is, there will never again be this concentration of extraordinary men to choose from as you have while you’re an undergraduate on a campus like Princeton or any school that you go to. And probably the last thing I would add is about how women are responsible for their own safety; not only for their own happiness, but they’re responsible for their own safety.

DP: You write in the book that men do not need dating advice, but it seems as though you portray men as having bad dating habits, since they have come to “expect free sex” and end up dating “dumb, mean or nasty” women. What advice have you given your sons in regard to finding love?

SP: Well, I’ve given my sons no advice whatsoever. They need no advice from me, nor do most men need any advice from me. Men can take as long as they want; there’s no time clock on them, there’s no limitation on their ability to become fathers, and as a result they don’t need any advice from me. They can date for as long as they want to date. When they’re ready to settle down, they’ll settle down. There’s nothing that’s at risk for them.

Ah: the golden standard against which all human actions should be measured: "What's at risk for ME?"

By the time your formerly rosy-cheeked Editorial Staff was 17 or so, she had begun thinking about college and probable trajectories for the rest of her life. Being a practical sort of lass, she immediately flashed on the fact that life is full of tradeoffs and opportunity costs. Just before her 18th natal day, she fell in love with the Spousal Unit (and he with her). Both of us had several years of dating experience under our belts, and so it wasn't long before we both acknowledged that the heady rush of infatuation was looking like something more permanent in nature. In due course, marriage, delayed college and career plans, and two offspring ensued.

What can we say? It worked for us. But that doesn't make it a recipe for Everywoman. We have friends who did things the other way 'round and are likewise happy with the way their lives turned out. Which we took to be pretty much the point of the advice offered by the Salon author: some people make careful plans, some learn by trial and error and painful correction.

And who in the heck is Susan Patton to tell other women how to live their lives? Certainly she's free to offer her advice. And people are free to take it or not, as they see fit. They're free to think (or say, or write) that it's dumb advice. Patton's a big girl, she went about offering her advice in a way that wasn't particularly respectful of other people's sensibilities. Having done this, she isn't in a strong position to complain when they find her tiresome and offensive.

Understandably Grim found the article disheartening, though we'll pass on the time honored practice of insulting anyone who doesn't react the way we did. As with the hot/crazy matrix, it expressed a fair number of uncomfortable truths that upset people. Oddly enough, the Editorial Staff (being unrepentantly female) saw that article completely differently than Grim did. But it would never have occurred to us to dismiss his reaction or infer from it that he was insecure or offer him whatever insults are customary in such situations. And that sadly common mutual disrespect shown by both women and men for each other's feelings, thoughts, and reactions is probably a big part of what produced the kerfuffle over what seems to us in both cases to be somewhat serious points presented in an unserious manner.

The one that offends you may well depend on your life experiences or whether you're male or female. So who's "crazy", or insecure, or humor-impaired now? How about no one?

Posted by Cassandra at August 7, 2014 07:29 AM

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Comments

I think I've correctly characterized the advice by the one lady as traditional, given that the author of the riposte portrays it as "exactly the kind of advice" she used to worry about when she was younger. So, at least, there's a tradition!

At the very beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle points out that ethics only admits of probabilities. You can't give a rule that has the certainty of strict logic, he says, because human affairs don't work that way. Sometimes being courageous -- usually the road to success, and often the only road that will work -- is the very thing that leads to failure and destruction.

You can still do ethics in an objective way, though, if you talk about what is most likely to work. You can say that courage is objectively a virtue, even though sometimes it doesn't work out, because most of the time in most situations it will be the best path. And the proof of that is empirical: we can look at examples through history, and we see that the bold and the courageous are the ones who are most likely to be effective at creating whatever goods they aimed at creating.

We seem to have lost sight of this in America, because ethical rules are often objected to by exception. It's still sensible to give ethical advice based on what is most likely to work for most people of that kind.

You can do crack cocaine and still be a huge success. Look at Oprah! But that doesn't mean that I'd be wrong to suggest that doing crack cocaine is a bad idea -- objectively, I'm right about that even though Oprah exists and is fantastically successful.

By the same token 'Date that drug dealer who keeps money in the freezer, and that guy with the tattoo that literally says "I'm a mistake,"' these are bad pieces of advice because most likely this will not work out for young women who listen to it. It is unethical advice to give.

So the question we were disagreeing about is, was she giving advice or making a joke? It sounds to me like a serious piece aimed at convincing young women to ignore the 'traditional' advice, and have confidence that they can get a great husband and live a successful life by doing the opposite. Indeed, she seems to celebrate as a sort of growth the trauma and distress they will inflict upon themselves. And for what? To marry a perfectly decent man they probably already know, but haven't taken seriously because he wasn't exciting like the drug dealer. Go have lots of sex with him, she advises, until you're mature enough to see the value in the decent guy you've been ignoring all along.

And try some of his crack, too. Oprah did, and she's the very model of a modern major TV star.

Posted by: Grim at August 7, 2014 02:08 PM

One of the reasons I enjoy VC are the "three Rs"--reason, rationale, and riposte. Thoughtful information--substantiation--and a quick wit. On the subject of sexual differences, Cass can be counted upon to provide context and "interpretation" for us mere males.

I had thought about submitting this, but got busy--I'm glad it was thrown out for discussion and comment.

I don't think anyone need be offended--it was obviously intended to be humorous. Like all humor, there is an element of truth to it--the "Don't go there" zone represents a large portion of the population--the "fun zone"--"dating zone" and the even smaller "wife zone" are accurate--they represent a small portion of the general population. I don't think anyone would argue that the "wife zone"--the person you want to spend the rest of your life with--is (and ought to be) a VERY small portion of the general population.

The matrix correctly shows what is important--someone that is "fun" or "datable" isn't necessarily the person you want to marry.

I haven't seen a photo of Cass--but we all know she is NOT crazy. If the drawing of her on the masthead is at all representative, she IS "hot." Based on the matrix--there is only one conclusion--Cass is the elusive UNICORN!

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 7, 2014 02:25 PM

The man's version, I'm sure will be very useful to women. My wife claims she has already validated it years ago, but it is missing a factor. The matrix should be printed on a pad of paper, with each page a little different. Each page represents a year which corresponds to the woman's age. On each birthday she tears off the old page to find a different matrix.

For us men, we only need the original.

Posted by: frank Karl at August 7, 2014 02:36 PM

Only got time for small parts, but why is this "Two, men and women simply are not the same and it’s unreasonable for women to think that they can pursue their personal happiness in the same way that men do." so annoying.

No two people are the same, and it seems perfectly reasonable to say that these two people cannot pursue their personal happiness the same way as the other person.

Men and women in the aggregate are different. They generally want different things (or at least different ways of getting it). They generally perceive the same facts different ways (else we wouldn't be having this discussion). They generally have different strengths and weaknesses which are useful at different times. It makes perfect sense to me that each of their pursuits of happiness will take different tactics as they pursue different things.

On a personal level, one of the attractions to the LG was that her extroversion countered my introversion. Thank God she wasn't also looking for an extrovert.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 03:26 PM

Point 1:
the male propensity to belittle anything they don't understand"?"

This is not singularly a male response but a human response; women frequent this zone with great fun and gusto. See: boys with toys; big boys with big toys, for example.

Point 2:
Why can't a woman be more like a man (i.e., 'not crazy')?

I’d note this as a rhetorical retort to an exasperating moment. It’s hardly proof of the point but it’s it’s both informative and instructive that Professor Higgin’s lament was merely rhetorical for he had just such a creature living with him - Colonel Pickering. Yet he’d settled on the crazy girl who’d shied his slippers at him. There’s no crazy in the fun zones – just fun.


Point 3:
the fun zone

Disappointingly arid and academic. Went to the city once and saw the elephant... ‘nuff said.

Point 4:
So who's "crazy", or insecure, or humor-impaired now? How about no one?

How is it so many who rhapsodize about 'the rich tapestry' become utterly unhinged when the tapestry is fully exhibited?

Posted by: George Pal at August 7, 2014 03:31 PM

I think I've correctly characterized the advice by the one lady as traditional, given that the author of the riposte portrays it as "exactly the kind of advice" she used to worry about when she was younger.

I think it's pretty traditional advice, and I think that - despite a strong kernel of good sense - it falls short for all the reasons I would have rejected it at her age: it sets up completely different standards for men and women and justifies those completely different standards by waving hands in the air and declaring, "Men and women are completely different and that's that!"

So *there* :p

So the question we were disagreeing about is, was she giving advice or making a joke? It sounds to me like a serious piece aimed at convincing young women to ignore the 'traditional' advice, and have confidence that they can get a great husband and live a successful life by doing the opposite. Indeed, she seems to celebrate as a sort of growth the trauma and distress they will inflict upon themselves. And for what? To marry a perfectly decent man they probably already know, but haven't taken seriously because he wasn't exciting like the drug dealer. Go have lots of sex with him, she advises, until you're mature enough to see the value in the decent guy you've been ignoring all along.

And yet what you don't seem to see is that's precisely what the "traditional" guidance has been for young men: sleep around, screw people you're not serious about (never mind breaking anyone's heart or impregnating someone - if they sleep with you then they're not the sort of woman who deserves greater care/consideration) and settle down once you've sowed all the oats you've got to sow :p

This was crappy advice (the usual "because... testosterone!" nonsense notwithstanding) then, and IMO it doesn't improve by being applied to the distaff half.

You think she's saying, "Do this because I did it". That's Patton's tack.

I think she's saying, "Don't let busybody Princeton moms scare you into early marriage b4 you're ready for it. Not everyone takes the same path and you can mistakes and still end up happy."

You think it's a recommendation. I think it's reassurance.

Posted by: Your "fave" Benedict Arnold Blogger at August 7, 2014 03:44 PM

I didn't post the video because I thought it contained sound advice. I posted it because I thought it was funny, in part at my expense and in part at the expense of the guy's worldview portrayed in it.

But humor dies in the explaining.

Posted by: The admiring (and ravenous) public at August 7, 2014 04:21 PM

But humor dies in the explaining.

VC, where humor goes to die a hideous death :)

Seriously, I would be surprised if anyone thought you were recommending it as serious advice. I assumed you thought it was funny, and pretty much assumed you didn't agree with the advice (whether serious are facetious).

I thought my own initial irritation was kind of funny :) It definitely wasn't what I'd call rational! But I also thought it was thought provoking and I was glad you linked to it because I was pretty sure you weren't going to be in the uber-outraged or "can't you take a joke" category.

It was one of those funny situations where the more you think about it, the more interesting it actually became :p

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: Your "fave" Benedict Arnold Blogger at August 7, 2014 04:33 PM

So is it humor, or reassurance?

It's not offensive, just bad advice. But perhaps the reason I don't see it as 'just the advice young men get' is that I never got advice like that from anyone. Could be because I came of age after AIDS, but advice like 'Be sure to date girls who are involved with drugs" didn't get passed around.

If it had? Would have been unethical advice. It could work out, of course. But it's still bad advice.

As for men and women needing different advice, well, advice that doesn't take account of their differences will be bad. So unified advice will either be bad or vague in many cases.

Posted by: Grim at August 7, 2014 04:33 PM

So is it humor, or reassurance?

Why does it have to be one or the other?

But perhaps the reason I don't see it as 'just the advice young men get' is that I never got advice like that from anyone. Could be because I came of age after AIDS, but advice like 'Be sure to date girls who are involved with drugs" didn't get passed around.


As for men and women needing different advice, well, advice that doesn't take account of their differences will be bad. So unified advice will either be bad or vague in many cases.

So is one size fits all advice that ignores the fact that "all women" and "all men" aren't monolithic groups defined by their hormones or plumbing. Men are not all alike. Nor are women.

Or, to paraphrase one of my favorite characters, "Any man who judges by the group is a peawit" :p

My sons are both men. And they both wanted wives and children from pretty early on. They weren't terribly interested in sleeping with everything on 2 or 4 legs. So according to the "traditional" thinking, they're not real men because all men want those things.

Which, of course, is complete nonsense. And frankly, insulting to boot.

Posted by: Your "fave" Benedict Arnold Blogger at August 7, 2014 04:49 PM

it sets up completely different standards for men and women

I don't know that it sets different standards. IIRC this was the woman complaining about how college aged women weren't interested in dating, with an eye towards marriage, college aged men who also desired to date with an eye towards marriage (in particular her son: whom having his mom whine publicly about his singleness probably explains a lot for why that is).

So for both men and women the standard seems to be for college to be the best place to find a spouse.

That being said, she does acknowledge that (in as much as children are desired) the time component is one factor (of many) that does effect stategies.

If your only car breaks down, it's a better strategy to go look in a place that has a lot of cars that suit your needs (Hint: if you're a parent of 3 kids, the used car section of the Ferrari dealership is likely not the best place). If however, you're replacing your 3rd car, you've got the luxury of seeing if some poor schmuck going through a mid-life crisis just traded a minivan for a sports car. It's not likely, but since you've got time maybe you'll get lucky.

These aren't different moral standards. Just the realities of different circumstances.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 04:50 PM

I don't know that it sets different standards. IIRC this was the woman complaining about how college aged women weren't interested in dating, with an eye towards marriage, college aged men who also desired to date with an eye towards marriage (in particular her son: whom having his mom whine publicly about his singleness probably explains a lot for why that is).

I suspect her sons aren't dating the right women :p Or maybe he wants women who don't want him back (7 on the crazy scale but 10 on the hotness scale... :p). Not sure.

YAG, my problem with her advice was precisely that it's NOT moral advice. That's the same problem I've always had with the "It's beautiful/natural for men to sleep around but wrong/stupid for women to do so" - it's actively amoral.

On the practical side, the stats tell us that educated women *are* the ones getting/staying married and having kids. More so than less educated women.

The time component *is* important but as we're finding out, there are risks associated with being the guy who waits until he's in his forties to have kids too. It's just that the kids are the ones affected by those risks.

Posted by: Your "fave" Benedict Arnold Blogger at August 7, 2014 05:05 PM

So is one size fits all advice that ignores the fact that "all women" and "all men"

I see this a lot, and I've never understood it. Why is it that so many people seem to see "for men" to imply "for all men"? or "for women" to imply "for all women".

It would seem to me that if the author/speaker meant "all" the author would have included it.

Advice and recomendations are built upon generalities and what we believe is likely to happen most of the time. We encourage bravery, but sometimes it's better to run away. That doesn't make bravery bad advice. At least not until you have information that the person you are encouraging to be brave is about to run into a room full of 20 terrorists armed with machine guns, armed with nothing but a spork.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 05:07 PM

Why is it that so many people seem to see "for men" to imply "for all men"? or "for women" to imply "for all women".

Maybe because these arguments are usually accompanied by an appeal to hormones/plumbing that are shared by all members of the group being referred to.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 05:12 PM

But perhaps the reason I don't see it as 'just the advice young men get' is that I never got advice like that from anyone. Could be because I came of age after AIDS, but advice like 'Be sure to date girls who are involved with drugs" didn't get passed around.

Again, you think the author is seriously advising women to sleep with guys like that. People who got angry/offended with the video Tex posted generally though he was offering serious advice, too.

That's why they objected. If you thought he was making fun of men who try to explain human nature with charts, you weren't likely to get angry.

If you thought the Salon author was making fun of her own mistakes and lack of maturity (I thought that), then you're less likely to conclude she seriously meant to advise young women to sleep with sketchy men :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 05:16 PM

George:

This is not singularly a male response but a human response; women frequent this zone with great fun and gusto. See: boys with toys; big boys with big toys, for example.

I don't think I argued that it was a singularly male response, though. FWIW, I dislike people who do this in general and can be counted upon to object when I see it. So I think we're in violent concord :p

There’s no crazy in the fun zones – just fun.

I dunno George - from what I can see, the crazy goes up to an 8 in the fun zone. On a 1-10 scale, that's a lot of crazy!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 05:24 PM

I suspect her sons aren't dating the right women :p

Perhaps, I guess there are women out there who are attracted to men who can't even do their own whining and have to outsource it to their mothers. I'm guessing none of them are at Princeton.

But the time aspect didn't strike me as advice so much as an acceptance of reality. Right, wrong, or indifferent, you have to adopt a strategy to the way the world is, not as you wish it to be.

That guys have a longer period of fertility reduces that risk of not finding someone with whom to have children. but as you pointed out, that does come with *other* risks and you ignore them not just at your peril. All those risks must be accounted for.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 05:33 PM

If you thought the Salon author was making fun of her own mistakes and lack of maturity...

I didn't see it as serious advice, but I didn't see it as self deprecating either. It just sounded like a big eff-you to what I thought was generally sound advice (If you are surrounded by a large number of people who share your interests, morals, and outlook but are still different enough to make them interesting, you'd be an idiot to not take advantage of it) out of a reflexive political hatred of advising women to get "an Mrs. Degree".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 05:49 PM

That guys have a longer period of fertility reduces that risk of not finding someone with whom to have children. but as you pointed out, that does come with *other* risks and you ignore them not just at your peril. All those risks must be accounted for.

Yep :) Another risk is that you'll fall for a woman your own age when you finally DO settle down, and *her* biological clock will be winding down. This happens a lot - I've seen it.

In the script I hear a lot (and which annoys me no end) men never pay any penalty for putting off marriage and children b/c they marry a hot young Czech supermodel at the ripe old age of 45. This is pretty much Patton's argument. But again, the stats prove inconvenient here: most folks end up marrying partners with very similar age/education/looks to their own.

There's a sort of lottery-winner thing going on:

"I can think of this one guy who did that!"

"OK but the statistics show that's not what most folks do, so maybe that's not a great plan"

"Yeah, but it *could* happen!"

A criticism, by the way, that fully applies to the Salon author's facetious steps for marrying a great guy. I don't disagree with Grim that if seriously followed, her "plan" reduces the likelihood of finding your dream guy.

The difference between my take and Grim's is that he thinks she's recommending the path she took and I don't think that at all. I don't agree with her any more than I agree with the Hot/Crazy guy's "advice". I understand why people objected to both of these examples, because some part of you thinks, "Good Lord, are people this dumb? Is this person serious?"

The answer seems to be: yes, and no :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 05:50 PM

There’s no crazy in the fun zones – just fun.

If you need crazy to have fun, you're doing it wrong.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 05:51 PM

It just sounded like a big eff-you to what I thought was generally sound advice (If you are surrounded by a large number of people who share your interests, morals, and outlook but are still different enough to make them interesting, you'd be an idiot to not take advantage of it) out of a reflexive political hatred of advising women to get "an Mrs. Degree".

There was definitely that tone to her essay, just like there was definitely a tone to the hot/crazy guy's video that set my teeth on edge. I'm not endorsing her article (I would hope my writing over the years doesn't support that conclusion) - just pointing out that I come from the opposite end of the political spectrum and yet I did see why she reacted the way she did to Patton.

So I don't think the reaction can be attributed to politics or liberalism in general. Frankly, I see male conservative bloggers erupt in a white hot lather of indignation at the mere suggestion they're being told how to live their lives all the time. Even when the advice neatly aligns with what their churches and faith teach them about right and wrong.

As George says, it's not a male/female thing but more a human reaction, differing more in style than substance.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 05:58 PM

...men never pay any penalty for putting off marriage and children b/c they marry a hot young Czech supermodel at the ripe old age of 45. This is pretty much Patton's argument.

I didn't see Patton making that argument. I see her stating the fact that men's longer fertility changes their decision making, and it does. I don't see her saying there's no price for excersizing that option. She very specifically chooses not to address the guy's risk/rewards one way or the other.

Though now that I think about it, it could be that I read "...nor do most men need any advice from me" as "...nor do most men need any advice from me" and not "...nor do most men need any advice from me".

I think she's wrong about that, because I think her advice to women applies pretty well to guys too.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 7, 2014 06:05 PM

Looking at the cluster of data points, I'd say Spice was a dangerous fun wife, past the 9 side of hot, with occasional excursions into unicorn.

Posted by: htom at August 7, 2014 06:10 PM

YAG, I wasn't arguing Patton said that - just that I hear it a lot:

...In the script I hear a lot (and which annoys me no end)...

Here's what Patton said, verbatim. I don't think it's actually true for all the reasons already stated:

Men can take as long as they want; there’s no time clock on them, there’s no limitation on their ability to become fathers, and as a result they don’t need any advice from me. They can date for as long as they want to date. When they’re ready to settle down, they’ll settle down. There’s nothing that’s at risk for them.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 06:48 PM

I think she's wrong about that, because I think her advice to women applies pretty well to guys too.

So do I :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 06:57 PM

I learned right here years ago the simple explanation that answered all my questions about the differences between genders, "Testosterone makes you stupid, estrogen makes you crazy." I don't recall if it was you or DL Sly that said it, but suddenly the world made more sense to me... :-)

Posted by: Pogue at August 7, 2014 07:07 PM

"If you thought [the video guy] was making fun of men who try to explain human nature with charts, you weren't likely to get angry.

"If you thought the Salon author was making fun of her own mistakes and lack of maturity (I thought that), then you're less likely to conclude she seriously meant to advise young women to sleep with sketchy men."

Bingo. As I was telling Cassandra offline, the video reminded me of the Farside cartoon about dog scientists pondering the mystery of the doorknob. I found that poignant and funny, too, without caring very much whether dogs had useful ideas about doorknob mechanisms.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 7, 2014 07:17 PM

I learned right here years ago the simple explanation that answered all my questions about the differences between genders, "Testosterone makes you stupid, estrogen makes you crazy." I don't recall if it was you or DL Sly that said it, but suddenly the world made more sense to me... :-)

That sounds like Sly to me.

I grew up believing that pretty much most of what we call Western Civilization was firmly rooted in teaching people to control their hormones and instincts?

Now, in the name of scoring points on "the other side", an awful lot of folks on both sides of the aisle seem determined to argue that (free will notwithstanding) we are defined by our hormones and instincts.

This doth not seem like progress to me :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 07:34 PM

I suppose, to be fair, we could believe that it is our highest human duty to impose some order and discipline on our hormones and instincts, while still acknowledging that this is a very difficult task, often failed at, and that some of the tremendous impact of hormones and instincts takes a very different form in men and women. (Even though I suspect that we tend to over-emphasize the differences and lose sight of the similarities.)

Posted by: Texan99 at August 7, 2014 08:03 PM

PS, and there's a stubborn provincialism in people that leads women to conclude that their own hormones and instincts are just part of the ordinary human experience, and men to conclude the same about theirs, while both insist that the hormones and instincts of the other are peculiarly irrational and culpable.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 7, 2014 08:05 PM

...there's a stubborn provincialism in people that leads women to conclude that their own hormones and instincts are just part of the ordinary human experience, and men to conclude the same about theirs, while both insist that the hormones and instincts of the other are peculiarly irrational and culpable.

The same pertains to culture. By which I mean, "the way boys and girls and men and women are socialized to behave". It's so strange to me that conservatives and libertarians all tout the power of incentives.... until it comes to social cues and incentives, and all of a sudden we're doubters?

Men are routinely punished or harshly ridiculed for saying or doing things perceived as feminine. And women are (to a lesser degree, I happen to believe) harshly criticized for being too forceful or direct - traits we prize and reward in men.

Yet when you look at other cultures, there are many in which men are openly emotional, sentimental, or affectionate - and are encouraged to be that way. Many ancient texts and religions view women as lascivious and mercenary. Started to write about that the other day but didn't have time to think things through.

So are our differences attributable to biology? Culture? Circumstance? Incentives? Or some combination of these forces?

Recent studies show that the hormone levels of both men and women adjust to meet our environment. Men still have more testosterone than women and women still have more estrogen than men. But these differences produce measurable differences in behavior. And hormones don't determine everything we do - they're one of many influences, including culture, values, intelligence, etc.

I have always found men to be incredibly sensitive and empathetic. Do they *always* act that way? Nope. Not most of the time. But when they care, when it is appropriate to do so, men display these traits in abundance - all without turning themselves into women. All you have to do is watch the differences in the way most men interact with women and children to see this.

It's a trait I greatly admire in any human being, and as long as it is kept in balance with other valuable traits, I don't see the problem with it.

It's survival, writ large.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2014 08:41 PM

The guy's funny. Nice break from the usual "Here's how you most effectively kill the bad guy" which this site usually features.

Obviously a joke throughout; though with enough truth at the kernel that I found myself laughing out loud more than once.

Besides, he's left handed.

Lighten up people.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at August 8, 2014 09:31 AM

Though I wasn't offended by it, I didn't laugh once during the whole video either and I'm left handed!

It's pretty easy to make me laugh out loud (when I've been in the audience or in a classroom, I've noticed I laugh sooner and more often than most of the people around me). But that only goes to show you that humor is highly subjective :p

I observed years ago that the captions I found funny were often not the same ones a lot of the commenters liked and that's still the case. So I'm probably just weird. I can't really see why anyone got angry at him, but then I couldn't really see what was so funny about it either. He's basically making fun of familiar stereotypes (women are gold diggers, men will overlook pretty much anything if she's pretty enough).

Posted by: Cassandra at August 8, 2014 01:05 PM

With the chart guy, I got bored pretty quickly, partly because I kept hearing my own voice in my head, something I've had to tell a couple of shipmates: if all the women you date are crazy, women are not the problem.

Posted by: Foxfier at August 8, 2014 02:05 PM

YAG, I wasn't arguing Patton said that...

But you did use the possesive. She didn't say it, but it was basically *her* argument.

Men can take as long as they want; there’s no time clock on them, there’s no limitation on their ability to become fathers, ... When they’re ready to settle down, they’ll settle down. There’s nothing that’s at risk for them.

Biologically speaking, she's correct. The risks (and they are considerable) in this strategy are emotional, not biological. I read an anecdote recently: an older man was dating a hot young thang but broke it off saying that they didn't have enough shared experiences. When asked for an example, the man replied, "The 80s".

So I don't think the reaction can be attributed to politics or liberalism in general. Frankly, I see male conservative bloggers erupt in a white hot lather of indignation at the mere suggestion they're being told how to live their lives all the time.

Yes, most typically, by feminists (both male and female). And so they reject the good message reflexively because it came from the wrong messenger. That sounds like knee-jerk politics, to me.

Yet when you look at other cultures, there are many in which men are openly emotional, sentimental, or affectionate

The trope of wives withholding sex from husbands as punishment originated with the ancient Greeks as a joke. They thought the idea was comedically absurd. In their culture it was the women who couldn't control their sex drives and men who weren't that interested in it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 8, 2014 02:48 PM

"if all the women you date are crazy, women are not the problem"--That's why I thought it was funny. Especially when combined with the idea that men can hedge against this problem by making appearance the only other consideration.

I don't know. My husband and I found it about equally funny. I guess that's why we're together. He thinks I'm certifiable; I think he's certifiable; both of us usually have enough sense to realize that's like saying "anyone who's not exactly like me is crazy." As of course they obviously are. Who would know better than I?

Or, in other words, men.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 8, 2014 03:54 PM

Heh... Great minds :)

Posted by: Cass at August 8, 2014 04:42 PM

Cass--" He's basically making fun of familiar stereotypes (women are gold diggers, men will overlook pretty much anything if she's pretty enough)."

Isn't that the basis of nearly every Mel Brooks movie--making fun not of the individuals, but the STEREOTYPES?

Look at Blazing Saddles--libbies abhor it--they miss the point that Brooks was making fun of the STEREOTYPES--not the individuals.

Or consider "When Harry met Sally"--that movie shot through a number of stereotypes--there were the "crazies", the "fun group", the "date group"--the entire movie hung on the premise that "men and women can never be friends" but for ONE tiny sliver (the "wife" group)--it works.

The presenter made fun of the PROCESS of looking for a partner--not the individuals. It sends the message--"It's OK to have fun or date some of these women--but you will probably marry someone else." In the end, the process (whether that depicted or in real life) winnows down 165,000,000 women in the U.S. to only a few. And that's as it should be.

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 8, 2014 05:22 PM

"he trope of wives withholding sex from husbands as punishment originated with the ancient Greeks as a joke. They thought the idea was comedically absurd. In their culture it was the women who couldn't control their sex drives and men who weren't that interested in it."

Well, yes, because the Ancient Greeks basically had the theory that "Women are for breeding, boys are for fun". The modern Afghans and Taliban are basically of the same persuasion.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at August 8, 2014 07:35 PM

Texan99-
Besides the different senses of humor, there's also that I've watched friends destroy their lives because they can't figure it out and are now about 35 and confused, if not actively driven 'round the bend about relations with women at all. (Which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't tend to be all evangelical about it. Luckily, I'm "not a chick.")

Posted by: Foxfier at August 9, 2014 11:11 AM

The presenter made fun of the PROCESS of looking for a partner--not the individuals. It sends the message--"It's OK to have fun or date some of these women--but you will probably marry someone else." In the end, the process (whether that depicted or in real life) winnows down 165,000,000 women in the U.S. to only a few. And that's as it should be.

It was always completely obvious to me that Mel Brooks was joking (and I had no trouble figuring out what he was making fun of). I find most of Brooks' stuff very, very funny - laugh out loud funny.

I'm not saying anyone else shouldn't find the matrix video funny - just that *I* didn't find it funny. And I don't have to - if you have to work at laughing at comedy, you're trying way too hard.

I could tell the matrix video guy was joking, but it wasn't obvious to me who he was making fun of (even after thinking about it, I wasn't sure). Bottom line: for whatever reason the video didn't make me laugh.

It didn't make me angry, either. It just left me thinking exactly what Foxfier was thinking: "If all the women in your life are crazy, they may not be the problem.".

Which, when you think of it, pretty much applies no matter who he was making fun of! :p

Posted by: Cass at August 9, 2014 05:04 PM

Just a general comment here.

I wasn't perfect when I was young and single. Far from it.

But I am of the opinion - which I have carefully considered for many years and still hold today - that casual sex is not a great idea. Does that mean I condemn/hate people who do it? No.

Does that mean I want them to burn in Hell? No.

Does it mean I think I'm better than them? No, because I have no reason to claim that (either by nature or past behavior).

And I don't care whether you're male or female - my opinion still holds. Yes, people do it. Heck, I've done it. But we don't determine morality by whether harm occurred - we determine it more in the aggregate, "What if everyone did this?" sense. And in that sense, I'm still very comfortable with what I told my sons: sex is a serious business with some potentially serious consequences. Don't take it lightly, don't be careless with other people's lives and futures (or your own, for that matter).

When young, I was a risk taker by nature. So I get it. I'm not sure what kind of "fun" one has with someone of the opposite sex that isn't dating and isn't marriage, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about casual sex with women who aren't pretty enough to date or marry (they can be the same level of crazy - it's just you won't date/marry them until they cross the looks threshold).

I have never cared for the oft-discussed male stereotype where guys separate women into shtump-worthy, date worthy, and marriage material. I don't think anyone should be shtumping until you're at least into the dating category and probably well into the "relationship" category.

That may be why I didn't find the video funny. It's an attitude I've never cared for at all. I know a lot of men see absolutely nothing wrong with having sex with any woman who will "let" them, but there's just as much heartache down that road (only for the woman) as there is down the road where a guy thinks good looks trump character.

And now, I'm not going to be serious anymore :)

Posted by: Cass at August 9, 2014 05:21 PM

But we don't determine morality by whether harm occurred - we determine it more in the aggregate, "What if everyone did this?" sense.

That's debatable. You're asserting the deontologist position, but the other major position in moral philosophy is utilitarian -- that is, that we should specifically judge a given action by its consequences, especially whether or not it caused harm. This gave rise to the Harm Principle, which is of considerable interest to contemporary Constitutional scholars because they often take it to be the most consistent way of thinking about limiting government intrusions on human liberty in the British/American tradition.

I don't disagree with you -- here as elsewhere we seem to agree on what is right and most likely to be successful, but are fighting anyway over the way the arguments are framed or constructed. Still, you have to argue for this position: it's under real contest.

Posted by: Grim at August 9, 2014 06:55 PM

I agree with you, Cass. The unpleasant aspect of the video certainly was the tiresome old business about the good/notgood-enough-to-marry divide. I have a nephew who annoyed me no end by going so far as to question whether he liked the mother of several of his children well enough to marry her--without being able to imagine, apparently, what this said about his continuing to procreate with her. In his culture, there really was nothing exceptional about this. (He has since improved himself.) And frankly I don't think there's much difference between his attitude and the attitude that permits casual sex with undervalued strangers, as if anyone could be at all sure it wouldn't result in children. You're exactly right that an honorable adult considers the possible effects of his actions, especially if they were practiced by everyone, rather than by judging himself by whether he was "caught." Is it OK to drive drunk, for instance, as long as you haven't yet managed to kill anyone behind the wheel?

I don't say any of this because I think I'm above it. I've committed both of these errors. There's a difference between individuals screwing up and society reaching a consensus that there's nothing wrong with it.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 9, 2014 07:34 PM

Cass--"I could tell the matrix video guy was joking, but it wasn't obvious to me who he was making fun of (even after thinking about it, I wasn't sure)."

You're reading too much into it. Look at my first line that you quoted--"The presenter made fun of the PROCESS of looking for a partner--not the individuals."

There is nothing to condemn about the presenter of the matrix--or even about anyone that might use it. Since time immemorial, people have made fun of the dating process and the selection of a mate--this is no different. The only difference is that with much humor, it over-emphasizes the obvious for effect. Think Lucy, Seinfeld, or Brooks--they find humor in some of the most prosaic activities (like Seinfeld's "A show about nothing" by over-emphasizing one little issue.

The place that the presenter DOES go over the top (intentionally) is in two main areas--"All women are at least a 4 crazy" (but how is that different from "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus"?) and "You want at least a 5 on the 'hot' scale". It's done not as advice to the lovelorn, but for comedic effect.

I'm always amazed that couples manage to find each other--out of all of the people in the country (and the world). If anything, the matrix shows just how few people meet the criteria (no matter how it is defined--remember, he said the boxes on the right are "not to scale".

I'd be curious how anybody would diagram the process SERIOUSLY--starting with the population as a whole and ending up with "THE ONE."

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 10, 2014 01:52 PM

Look at my first line that you quoted--"The presenter made fun of the PROCESS of looking for a partner--not the individuals."

He must be following a very different process than I did, because I didn't recognize most of what he was talking about :p I've seen other people follow his process, but I think they're idiots and it doesn't strike me as funny that they're that clueless. It's more sad than funny.

There is nothing to condemn about the presenter of the matrix--or even about anyone that might use it.

Here, I would have to disagree with you.

I would condemn any woman whose most important criterion for marriage was that the guy have lots of money. There's nothing in the marriage vows about marrying for money. Typically, hot women who marry rich guys they aren't physically attracted to refuse to have sex with them after the wedding. That's despicable in my mind.

I would also condemn a man who put women into categories like "good looking enough to screw but not to date or marry". People like that are almost never honest about their intentions.

Both examples above involve people using other people, and that's wrong.

The place that the presenter DOES go over the top (intentionally) is in two main areas--"All women are at least a 4 crazy" (but how is that different from "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus"?)

You must have read a different book than I did (I own the book and remember it quite well) :p I'm pretty sure there was nothing in it about women being crazy. In fact, the main idea of the book was that men and women are different for very good reasons. Women aren't crazy for being the way they are, neither are men, and both should respect and be understanding of each other.

So really, it couldn't *be* more different.

Once again, I'm not arguing that you (or Tex, who seems to have found it funny for different reasons than you did) can't or shouldn't think it's amusing.

I explained why *I* didn't find it amusing, and it's OK that I didn't. Jokes don't get funnier with lots and lots of explanation. They either strike your funny bone right away, or they don't.

You seem to be suggesting that I would find it funny if I just didn't pay attention to anything he actually said :p And maybe I would, but in that case every joke should be equally funny - all we have to do is ignore the content!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 11, 2014 08:03 AM

Cass--(regarding my comment about "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus") "I'm pretty sure there was nothing in it about women being crazy. In fact, the main idea of the book was that men and women are different for very good reasons. "

My whole point is that I said "the presenter went over the top" (a main factor in almost all humor) about the differences. They Coalesce the vapors of human experience... --in other words, they distill, concentrate, or "go over the top"--magnifying minor differences for their commentary.

Do you think the presenter had evil intent? Do you think he was a bad person? Do you think he had a misogynistic intent? I don't. Was it funny? That is up to the viewer to decide.

But discussions like this is why I love VC! :>)

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 11, 2014 12:29 PM

Do you think the presenter had evil intent? Do you think he was a bad person? Do you think he had a misogynistic intent? I don't.

Neither do I - that's why it didn't make me angry :)

I agree with Tex that his exaggeration was a bit lopsided, but then few people apply the same standards to themselves that they do to others.

Either way, that doesn't translate to misogyny (seriously, few things meet that bar in my view).

Posted by: Cassandra at August 11, 2014 04:18 PM

Hilarious video!

I learned right here years ago the simple explanation that answered all my questions about the differences between genders, "Testosterone makes you stupid, estrogen makes you crazy."
> Brilliant!

"I've had to tell a couple of shipmates: if all the women you date are crazy, women are not the problem."
> this is the one bit if advice that is equally good advice for both genders
>> perhaps advice to women could be paraphrased to 'avoid jerks'
>>> corollary: 'be careful who you have sex with.'


Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 12, 2014 11:40 AM

his is the one bit if advice that is equally good advice for both genders
>> perhaps advice to women could be paraphrased to 'avoid jerks'
>>> corollary: 'be careful who you have sex with.'

Absolutely :)

Nothing makes me crazier (heh...) than people who blame everyone but themselves for their own bad judgment!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2014 12:23 PM

Cass--I was flying a trip yesterday, so had most of the day trying to think of why you are offended by the video. We've addressed the "crazy" axis--that's just being "over the top" for humor's sake. That leaves "Hot"--and perhaps I can explain.

Observation #1. "Hot" has different meanings. There is the classic "Sophia Loren" sultry and sexy hot, and there is the "porn star" hot--but I don't think that does it for most men. Remember--he is in the small area of the chart occupied by the "wife zone" and the "never seen" UNICORN zone ("these things don't exist"). Women do not need to be movie starts to be "hot."

Observation #2. We were flying a trip to Milan, Italy--one of the fashion capitals of the world. The conversation turned to "What IS it about Italian women that makes them look so good?" Some thought it was the fashions--but that wasn't it--even ordinary-dressed women looked good. After much wine, ("In vino veritas") a consensus was reached. "Italian women take pride in their looks--and their mannerisms. While American women may be unappreciative of attention from an unknown male, Italian women make a non-verbal statement--"Look at ME--pay attention to ME!" After understanding that difference, it made all of the sense in the world. Italian women jump up on the "hot" scale several points--just by the way they carry themselves.

Observation #3. Women move up the "hot" scale by quiet competence. Example: Despite decades of encouragement, women make up only 6% of all pilots in the U.S.--and as of 2010, only 4.3% of those flying as pro pilots. Some of the "hottest" women I know (including former employees) are female pilots--even if their looks are average. The airplane and the flight examiners don't care what the gender is--aviation recognizes ABILITY--either you can do the job or you can't. These women have chosen to make it in a profession dominated by men--almost every one would be insulted if special considerations were given--they really ARE equals (some would say, "betters"!) The same holds true in other professions--most men rate female members of the Armed services "sexy" as well (despite the use of uniforms to make everyone the same). Men LIKE women that display confidence. The "helpless little woman" is NOT sexy any more.

Where does that leave us? I go back to my first post--"Cass is definitely NOT crazy, and though we have no photo of her, the drawing she portrays on the masthead of the site leaves only one possible conclusion--Cass is a UNICORN!"

I've learned my lesson--despite all attempts to explain, I guess I'm STILL WRONG!" (laugh)

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 13, 2014 02:49 PM

I've learned my lesson--despite all attempts to explain, I guess I'm STILL WRONG!" (laugh)

Nah... you're not wrong at all! We just don't see things the same way, at least in part b/c you're a man and I'm a woman. Our life experiences and the things we pay attention to/notice/care about are different. People treat us differently simply because we're male or female.

Also, Tex thought it was funny, and she's never wrong :)

The only part of the Hot scale that bothered me was the explicit suggestion that women between a 5-8 on their personal hotness scale (which I took to be a proxy for attraction, since he qualified it by saying "personal scale") are good enough for "fun" - which I still take to mean casual sex - but not good enough to date or marry.

I have zero doubt that too many men think this way because I hear them say this all the time. Luckily, guys like this are very easy to avoid because they can't seem to stop talking about their sex drives (and lives).

FWIW, I find it every bit as offensive for a woman to marry a guy she's not attracted to and doesn't love because he has lots of money. I have no doubt there are women who do this, but the "user" mind set bothers me a lot whether it comes from a man or a woman.

The crazy axis, starting at 4 with no similar suggestion that men act crazy (at least from a female perspective) all the time, bugged me more than the unremarkable notion that attraction is a *big* component in deciding who we date or marry.

That's true for women too, by the way. Our criteria for attraction may be slightly different (by the way, I completely agree with you that men don't only take looks into consideration!), but I don't see many women dating/marrying men they aren't attracted to. We womyn are so shallow!

It's hard for me to explain this because I have gotten the impression when I've tried that it is interpreted in a way I didn't intend.

I've never really understood this, so I just steered clear of men who talk this way. FWIW, I have run into women who talk that way too (far fewer of them) and it doesn't bug me one bit less than when guys do it. It's not so much a male/female thing as it is my objection to the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, 'we all do it' school of morality.

As I said earlier, it's not that I think I'm perfect - I have ample evidence that I'm not. It's more what Tex said here:

There's a difference between individuals screwing up and society reaching a consensus that there's nothing wrong with it.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 13, 2014 04:05 PM

Cass--"I completely agree with you that men don't only take looks into consideration!), but I don't see many women dating/marrying men they aren't attracted to. We womyn are so shallow!"

"Attracted to"--I've always wondered why so many women are attracted to losers--greasers--scraggly--tattooed types--druggies--wife beaters--you know, Bad Boys. MAYBE, these are the women that live north of the "crazy line" on the matrix--there is no other rational explanation for it! Once again--for humor to be effective, there has to be an element of truth in it--something that can be expanded through incongruity.

Cass--"We just don't see things the same way, at least in part b/c you're a man and I'm a woman." Perhaps that goes back to the issue psychiatrists have been studying for decades (without definitive results)--'Why do the majority of men like the 3 Stooges, and most women hate them?" (laugh)

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 14, 2014 10:27 AM

I've always wondered why so many women are attracted to losers--greasers--scraggly--tattooed types--druggies--wife beaters--you know, Bad Boys.

I imagine that happens for the same reason so many men are attracted to gold diggers and shallow, manipulative women who use their looks to get ahead in life. Users do what they do because it works often enough to make being a jerk pay off.

Doesn't that imply that men are crazy, too? How else does one define allowing one's nether regions to completely overwhelm the old brain housing group?

I've lost count of the men I've known who ignore obvious, blatant signs that a woman is using them and has nothing but contempt for them because they are besotted by the outward package. They marry these women, then complain bitterly (just as the female lovers of bad boys do!) when the clue bus finally pulls into the terminal ... years after everyone else figured that their latest inamorata was up to no good.

Bad boys don't generally start off by treating women badly. They typically flatter and pay lots of attention to their marks ... until the hook is set, that is. Then their natural tendencies come to light and they begin to behave like the jerks they are. Gold diggers are the same way, and both types of "users" often target people less physically attractive than they are.

People - both male and female - sometimes think they can "save" an obviously flawed mate. And sometimes that actually works. More often though, the rush of infatuation wears off and the creeping contempt that comes with familiarity takes its place.

I don't think men are any more rational than women when it comes to choosing mates. If anything, I tend to think men are more easily fooled by a pretty exterior and don't bother to consider a woman's character so long as she's 'hot'. That doesn't strike me as particularly rational, especially in an age where marital property becomes fair game during divorce.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2014 10:57 AM

Yes--men to tend to be taken in by pretty packaging--but at least the packaging is attractive. I see lots of women hanging out with the loser types--the bad boys. No attractive "packaging" THERE--what you see is what you GET--but they hang out with these guys anyway.

There might have been a biological need back in the past for women to be attracted to the most virile-looking and strongest men in order to sire strong children and to provide for the family, but with more women graduating from college today (and out-earning men in the early years) that explanation no longer holds up. What IS the real reason?

And on to the IMPORTANT issue of the day, why DO women hate the 3 Stooges--while most men like them?

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 14, 2014 11:51 AM

"Today's Inflammatory Debate" INDEED! With all of these words failing to reach consensus, perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words!

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 14, 2014 12:00 PM

Yes--men to tend to be taken in by pretty packaging--but at least the packaging is attractive.

Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, though. I don't find Pamela Anderson at all attractive physically, but men obviously do. I see why men ogle Kate Upton (two reasons, basically), but I don't think she's terribly attractive either. I think Sophia Vergara is a knockout, ditto Grace Kelly and Jennifer Lopez. I've just never thought flashy blondes were attractive and actresses like Kim Basinger don't do it for me either, but men like them.

I have been attracted to less-handsome men, generally when they project masculinity (even in a negative sort of way). I suspect that's the allure of the bad boy types. Heck, Tommy Lee Jones has a face like a SharPei, but I think he's very attractive. You could get lost in the wrinkles and creases on his face, but he still has "it".

No accounting for tastes!

I see lots of women hanging out with the loser types--the bad boys. No attractive "packaging" THERE--what you see is what you GET--but they hang out with these guys anyway.

Sometimes it's just that these guys pay attention to them. And sometimes it's the thrill of danger and the unknown. Women have a very competitive aspect to their sexuality even though it's different from male sexuality. We like to think we can "conquer" a difficult to capture mate. Men are the same way - that's why playing hard to get works on them.

We prize more highly people who appear unavailable and discount niceness and proximity. Which only strengthens my belief that both sexes are more than a bit crazy - not just women.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2014 12:22 PM

Hmmmm--a list of women I find attractive--based only on looks--not personality or accomplishments. Julie Andrews. Meg Ryan. Sandra Bullock (and the fact that she plays competent characters). Piper Perabo ("covert affairs"). Jane Seymour. Katherine Bell (JAG). Megyn Kelley and Shannon Bream from Fox News.

Perhaps the best--the un-named actress from Create TV.com Big mystery as to who she is--the ad agency didn't even record her name.

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 14, 2014 12:50 PM

I would consider all those women to be very attractive.

Love Piper Perabo. She manages to look feminine and classy without going over the top.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2014 01:33 PM

ff,
Silly man! You're doing it wrong. The beer is supposed to be bait.

0>:~]

Posted by: DL Sly at August 14, 2014 01:57 PM

There IS something attractive about a woman that you can sit down and drink beer with!

Kind of like this site--but without the beer! (laugh)

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 14, 2014 02:03 PM

The crazy axis, starting at 4 with no similar suggestion that men act crazy (at least from a female perspective) all the time, bugged me more than the unremarkable notion that attraction is a *big* component in deciding who we date or marry.

*If* there is an underlying stereotype to the crazy axis, I would suggest that it's not actually "mentally unstable" but "deviates from male norms". That's why a woman that is "2-3 crazy" is put in the "tranny" category. The joke is that if a woman is that close to the male norm, it's because she secretly is male.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 14, 2014 02:52 PM

*If* there is an underlying stereotype to the crazy axis, I would suggest that it's not actually "mentally unstable" but "deviates from male norms".

I actually took the "crazy" axis thing exactly that way: whatever isn't "male" is "crazy".

What amused me no end was that men are forever complaining that feminists won't be happy until men all act like women. But they persist in seeing themselves as "normal" and femininity as "crazy".

Seems like the same mistake feminists are making.

Surely there's a fairly objective standard for craziness that doesn't involve setting yourself up as the example of everything that's good and normal and right, and the opposite sex as messed up and in need of fixing?

It's especially rich that so many of the folks making these arguments are convinced that men and women are totally different. They, of course, are the sane ones. What's natural for them is completely defensible and understandable.

But when women act like women (something they supposedly want and wish we'd return to) they are labeled "Crazy". Reminds me of the pickup artistes who were fulminating about how slutty women forced them to behave like jackasses. If only women would be chaste and pure, they would behave themselves.

Then they encounter the kind of woman they say they long for, and all they can say is something incredibly crude like "There's nothing like the look on a virgin's face the first time you stick it in. Feliz Navidad!".

*sigh*

I swear, there are times when you gentlemen are all that stands between me and losing faith in humanity.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2014 06:13 PM

But they persist in seeing themselves as "normal" and femininity as "crazy".

Yes and no. Yes for the reasons you mentioned and no because notice that a woman acting too much like a man is considered a *bad* thing.

So on the one side we have a group of men thinking that feminists want everyone to act the same while they themselves do appreciate some amount of difference (even though the characterization is outrightly derogatory: I never said they weren't jackwagons).

And in some sense this is a good thing. We, both men and women, do want our spouses to be different. Not only is it entertaining, it's good for the soul. But if you get too different there may not be enough compatibility to keep the relationship together long term. Sure, they might be fun to explore Mayan ruins with, but folding laundry not so much.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 15, 2014 10:05 AM

even though the characterization is outrightly derogatory: I never said they weren't jackwagons

That's really the only point I was trying to make. There's really no sense in which being called crazy is a good thing :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 15, 2014 11:42 AM

"There's really no sense in which being called crazy is a good thing :p"

SMALL disagreement--"never say never."

The odd things that spouses/significant others do may not always make sense, but they ARE things that are endearing.

My wife not only talks to the cats--she carries on entire conversations with them (she also asks the opinions of houseplants). She unplugs electrical appliances, "in case they go bad and burn the house down" (apparently, electrical lamps can be trusted, as they are not as malevolent). She recently retired from a well-paying job--but will run all over town to save a few cents (though she gives thousands of dollars to charity). She will take the time to circle the parking lot to find the very closest parking spot (it really doesn't make much difference, as we live in a rural community), but then go to exercise class.

There is enough "crazy" there for multiple Seinfeld episodes, but after 41 years, I don't consider it a BAD thing. Crazy? Maybe--but these are examples of it being a GOOD (endearing) thing!

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 15, 2014 12:38 PM

"There's really no sense in which being called crazy is a good thing :p"

Aa-hem!!!
Ohh, Luuuuuucy! 'Chu got some serious 'splainin' to do. And I pro'ly still have all of the emails......somewhere.
heh
0>:~]

Posted by: DL Sly at August 15, 2014 02:08 PM

We've always had dogs, but a few years ago, adopted two cats (I fly volunteer flights for Pilots N Paws, and they "followed me home). I tell my wife "You can't be a crazy old Cat Lady unless you actually HAVE some cats--if you talk to NON-EXISTENT cats, THAT'S crazy!

Makes no difference where the matrix starts on the crazy line--but she's probably up to a 4. On the "hot" line--I'm sure that there would be those that have given her a declining score--but NOT ME!

She's still in the "wife box", but when she tells people "we will have been married 42 years next month"--I tell her "Don't be presumptuous --you could be out in the street tomorrow!" (laugh)

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 15, 2014 03:45 PM

I was looking for a video of Tim Allen's "Men are Pigs" to show Cass that making fun of gender differences knows no bounds--we can laugh at ourselves. Couldn't find a short clip of "Tim the Toolman", but did find THIS--even better!

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 15, 2014 06:30 PM

I see why men ogle Kate Upton (two reasons, basically), but I don't think she's terribly attractive either.

When I first read this I thought you meant Kate Middleton, and I thought, "What a mean thing to say about such a lovely and gracious young woman!"

But I never know the names of any of these celebrities, and they are very similar. :)

Posted by: Grim at August 15, 2014 11:13 PM

Well now I think Kate Middleton is absolutely lovely, both in what I've seen of her behavior and in her outward appearance. And I certainly don't think Kate Upton is ugly or anything. She's far more attractive, for instance than I am (or, I think, than I was even when I was her age), but then so are the vast majority of supermodel types :) So there's no meanness intended - it's just that when you think of Kate Upton, her figure is what she is famous for.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2014 09:00 AM

I've never fallen for the grifter/loser/wifebeater type myself, but I do think that men's confusion about why women fall for certain kinds of men points up a major difference between the sexes. Men take it for granted that a normal person is highly interested in the external appearance. In my experience, women consider that to some extent, but it's rarely paramount. If you ask a woman to describe a man she's just getting interested in, she's not going to give the male equivalent of "va-va-va-voom!" right up front. Sometimes we're actually a bit put off by a guy who's too gorgeous, particularly if he knows it.

And as for the other stereotypical attractive quality, a woman's probably not going to say, "I've met this great new guy, he's rich as Croesus." If she experiences a serious, instant infatuation, it's far more likely to be inspired by some kind of emotional context: danger, excitement, soulmate, rescuing hero, wounded soul, the puzzle that no one else can crack, that kind of thing.

If a woman is messed up emotionally, the emotional context that attracts her may be fraught with all kinds of warning signs that others can see, so they'll wonder what's up. But, as Cassandra said, it's very likely that the besotted woman is ignoring all that for the time being and focusing on the fact that the man is the only person in her life who seems to be paying attention to what she feels. Sorry, guys, but women do like that. Ignore it you like, and make fun of her for it, but it's no crazier than the stereotypically male's obsession with beauty and glamour in his newest infatuation.

Sadly, for most of us (male or female), what draws us like catnip is not necessarily what we think is sane, or what will help us build a life together. Part of what was funny about the video, for me, was the futile attempt to reconcile "hotness" with "sanity," while avoiding the scary/funny mistake of finding that any sane attractive person will turn out to be a man in disguise. You can't quite turn that around, comedically, and imagine a woman's appalled discovery that her sensitive new cat-loving, gossipy date is a woman in disguise. The way that particular joke usually works is that she finds out he's great company because he's gay.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 16, 2014 12:26 PM

So there's no meanness intended...

I just thought it was a mean thing to say in the context of thinking you meant the Duchess. :)

Posted by: Grim at August 16, 2014 12:45 PM

Ah. OK, I understand now :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2014 04:11 PM

Tex, I agree with pretty much everything in your comment.

But I've noticed with men that they are often attracted to a woman for non-external reasons, too. Which is very similar to women falling for a bad boy/loser type who isn't all that great looking. People - male and female - like to feel uniquely needed or wanted. And both often fall for someone who is weak and needy in some way.

I've seen guys fall head over heels for a woman because of the way she makes them *feel* (even though she's not great looking). I do think men have a tendency to let beauty switch their brains right off, but don't think it's a universal tendency.

Men are far more complex than they say they are. Raising two sons really brought that home to me - my boys are both male, but they're bookends. Not much alike in most ways.

And neither of them is exactly like their father. Whenever I hear people start to tell me "how men are", I try to square that with the men I know in real life and think, "I'll buy that men have similarities, but they vary widely on most things."

Knowing someone's male or female doesn't mean you can predict how they'll react, what they think, how they make decisions. It's just not the determinative characteristic in who they are. It's a part - and an important one.

But it's doesn't tell you all you need to know to understand them.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2014 04:18 PM

Not all men, no, thank Heavens.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 16, 2014 07:17 PM

"If you ask a woman to describe a man she's just getting interested in, she's not going to give the male equivalent of "va-va-va-voom!" right up front."

Unless you're my sister visiting here in MT and you just happen to see a MT cop who could easily be a Chippendale's guy in full cowboy clothing filling his MT police truck at the gas station. Then, of course, you'll hear, "OMG, he's fucking haaaawwwwwTT!"
Which he was.
And I told him my sister said so when I got out of the car.
heh

"If she experiences a serious, instant infatuation, it's far more likely to be inspired by some kind of emotional context: danger, excitement, soulmate, rescuing hero, wounded soul, the puzzle that no one else can crack, that kind of thing."

I have a friend who is going on 9 yrs together with her fiance'. Her first inkling of real sexual and emotional attraction was when she first got to see him interact with his daughter on her weekend visitation.
Not that he's not good looking. He is. And downright funny as hell with an uncanny ability to effect different dialects and accents with absolute accuracy. That got her looking.
But the weekend spent with his daughter and him got her hooked.
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at August 17, 2014 01:51 PM

Sure, we'll hoot and whistle to each other when we see a gorgeous stranger, but I'm talking about infatuation: the kind of new guy you sit down at lunch and start to tell your friends about breathlessly. The conversation almost certainly isn't going to start out with "He's HAWWWWT!" There will be 3-4 other things about him--he has a vocabulary and a steady job! he likes dogs and is nice to his mother!--followed by a dramatic pause and the incredible news that, as an almost extraneous matter of incredible good luck, he's HAWWWWT, too.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 17, 2014 03:43 PM

Followed immediately by the in-stereo question from every other girl at the table, "Does he have a brother?!"
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at August 17, 2014 05:31 PM

...kind of new guy you sit down at lunch and start to tell your friends about breathlessly.

Here's how that conversation goes among men:

A: "I met a girl."

B: "Yeah?"

A: "Yeah. Maybe I'll bring her by your thing?"

B: "Oh."

A: "She's cool, you'll see."

B: "All right."

Posted by: Grim at August 17, 2014 06:05 PM

Another infamous thread.

Feel obligated to share again:
- the high school version of the 10 point scale of female beauty was really only 1 to 9, as only Aphrodite was a ten, and in real life only Sophia Loren was (and is) a genuine 9. Funny how life changes things.
- Kate Upton is a very attractive woman, particularly for those guys that are focused on a full figure. And she has a pretty smile. She does not have the charm or grace of Lauren Becall or either Hepburn.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 18, 2014 04:49 AM

Can anyone else here confirm Grim's account of the typical description of a new female love interest?

Posted by: Texan99 at August 18, 2014 09:36 AM

I don't know if anyone else here can (or will) confirm it, but I've had variations on this conversation dozens of times. It's the "Oh" at which we realize that this one is someone he's taking seriously, and that when we meet her we should think of her as someone he might want advice about later.

Sometimes, later, you end up having another conversation in which you warn them off of her -- probably because, whatever her good qualities, she isn't loyal.

Posted by: Grim at August 18, 2014 10:54 AM

"Can anyone else here confirm Grim's account of the typical description of a new female love interest?"

The key here is to BE underplayed--not go ga-ga.

When I brought the woman I have been married to for 41 years home to meet my parents--I was called to the airport to get an emergency flight out, and left her sitting on the couch. Nobody knew her name--so she introduced herself. She later told me "I would have left if I could--the only thing keeping me here is the dog." (the family Pomeranian).

From that point on, I knew she was a "keeper"--she was self-reliant enough to cope with the unexpected. While not "typical"--it does validate "underplaying" the event--something that most men do. Contrast that with women, who announce to one and all that "this may be the ONE!" (laugh)

Posted by: frequent flyer at August 18, 2014 04:08 PM

Gosh, I must be really weird.

I can't recall ever announcing anything to anyone except my best friend(s) about a guy I was dating (and I dated a lot of guys!). I just introduced them if it came up. Usually they already knew anyway without my saying anything.

I didn't even usually say anything like "my boyfriend". Not sure why - just didn't seem pertinent. People usually figure that sort of thing out.

I remember my youngest boy telling me he had started dating the woman he's now married to. It was pretty low key - he told me he had met a nice girl at school and that he liked her a lot. That was pretty much it - I didn't ask a lot of questions and he didn't volunteer a lot of information either :p

As time went on, he would mention her from time to time but that was pretty much it.

When I finally met her parents the next year, they told me how they'd heard so much about my son and I didn't really have anything much to offer in return. I didn't take this as evidence that he wasn't smitten - I could tell that he was, because he mentioned it in the first place!

I see guys go on and on about looks (or women's various physical attributes) online, but have never encountered the same thing in real life. But that may just reflect the kind of person I gravitate to.

It was quite a shock to see grown men carrying on that way online - one I haven't ever quite gotten used to. It still strikes me as weird every time I see it.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 18, 2014 04:41 PM

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