“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, August 11, 2007

feeding a meme

LI is amazed that this freakonomics blog post hasn’t set the blogspore on fire:
“The Science of Insulting Women”

Melissa Lafsky has actually had to the stomach to watch a VH1 show called the Pick Up Artist, which apparently was taken from a book the secrets of picking up women. It is quite the mystery, but there are guys out there willing to unlock it, and aren’t we all blessed by their pointy headed presence. Anyway, one pick up artist on the show advocates something called “negging” – please, strangle this word in its cradle – which is “a move that involves interjecting an insult during an initial conversation with a woman.”

Lafsky relates this to a recent study of men insulting women by psychologists Steve Stewart-Williams and William F. McKibbin, published in the July Journal of Personality and Individual Differences.

“Their first set of data consisted of a survey of 245 men with a mean age of 25.8, all of whom had been in heterosexual relationships for a mean length of 43.1 months. Each man was asked to record how often he insulted his female partner in the course of a month, choosing from a list of 47 insults divided into four categories: “derogating physical attractiveness” (e.g. “You’re ugly”); “derogating value as partner/mental capacity” (e.g. “You make my life miserable” or “You’re stupid”); “derogating value as a person” (e.g. “You’re useless”); and “accusations of sexual infidelity.”

These men were also asked to record how often they performed any of 104 acts labeled “mate retention behaviors” during that same month, including “direct guarding” (e.g., secretly following a partner when she goes out alone) and “public signals of possession.”

A second set of data came from 372 women who were asked to detail the number and type of insults they received from their partners, as well as the males’ mate-retention behavior rates.

The results showed that men who piled on the insults (particularly those in the “derogating value as partner/mental capacity” group) were far more likely to engage in mate retention behaviors, suggesting that “men’s partner-directed insults may be deployed as part of a broader strategy of mate retention.”

Myself, I think this points to the curious psychopathological eruptions that seem to take place so often in the comments sections of those blogs that are written by women. Insult/retention – going on since Adam blamed Eve for making that fucking fruit salad, and then said, "never leave me baby. If you leave me, I’ll kill myself. You fucking bitch."

A verset contained, of course, only in the secret Gnostic version of that story.


Scruggs said...

All the mini-gurus try to cultivate dependency through uncertainty, fear and agitation. You see the same thing in those dippy management psych manuals and full fledged guru pitches. It's the cult recruiting behavior of cheapskates and aggrieved, self-pitying ego jerks. They're competing for a bit of control, through which they will later attempt to aggrandize materially, in social status, just like the trickle down economic dreamers who latch on to Deciders. The ones who do it on women's blogs are the ones who have been picked on in bull goose-dominated social networks. I expect that on wingnut blogs. That's what they do and who they are. It's disturbing and depressing when the (notional) lefties pursue it.

Shorter Scruggs: they never got out of high school.

roger said...
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roger said...

Mr. Scruggs, I think there are some things you don't learn from school -well, actually, I guess I should say, most things - and that certainly don't come with political opinions per se. The non-school things are in that dimension that I'd call sagesse. It is teachable, in a sense, but it isn't the kind of teachable thing you memorize. The relation between men and women, on both sides, is one of those school resisting things. And first you have to understand that you have to learn it. That often takes over fifty years.

Amie said...

LI, ha!, that's a damn apt link you make between this "study" and the eruptions in the comment threads on blogs written by women.
Call me crazy but I've always believed that the response, per the secret Gnostic version you mention, to the manly variations of let-me-put-you-down-to-pull-you-up was something like: go fuck yourself and see you how like them apples!

There's a scene in Shoot the Piano Player which offers a little inversion of the story. You probably know the scene where in the crowded bar where they work, the barmaid insults the ex-wrestler big bad bouncer with the hots for her:

"you'll take it back," the bouncer said. He was breathing very hard. "You'll take back every-"
"Kiss my ass," the waitress said.
Plyne hit her again[...] "I'll ruin you," Plyne screamed at her."I'll make you wish you'd never seen me-"

"I can't see you now," the waitress said. "I can't look down that far."

northanger said...

Roger, blog + haruspicy = blogaruspicy. or maybe, blogotoscopy.

Scruggs said...

Roger, I see schools as the cultural training grounds, where the social shakedowns and shapeups occur and the political notions get early support. I agree that the sagesse (street smarts? basic civility?) comes from elsewhere, if it comes at all. But I also think the social shakedowns of school culture play a large role in determining how the sexes approach each other.

The relation between men and women, on both sides, is one of those school resisting things. And first you have to understand that you have to learn it. That often takes over fifty years.

Oh, well said. Very well said.

I also think that when ideological inclinations collide with whatever drives those eruptions, they get reduced to ammunition status.

love and terrorism said...

Roger, An interesting seductive technique that you don’t mention, and that might be the converse of the one you describe, is the use of feministic discourse as a means of seducing women; however I think that this technique is less amenable to the handbooks of seduction that you mention because that capacity to successfully exploit feminism often requires years of cultural training. This implicates these two forms of training in seduction in an economy of seductive knowledge. If I was an 18 year old pointy headed guy, recently graduated from high school and finally allowed to exploit the spontaneous sites of drunken seduction that spring up in pubs every weekend, I think that I’d prefer to utilize the handbooks rather than the feministic discourse, not least because such a choice takes the form of a decisive intervention rather than an insidiously hypocritical exploitation of the academic industrial complex for the stake of such petty stakes.

roger said...

Mr. LT, at 18, your seduction technique is being 18. You can't go wrong there! I've got a feeling these books are for a less youthful crew, post college, out in the world and adjusting to the office, bar after work, Friday and Saturday on the prowl.

Feminism as a seduction technique has the fatal flaw, or so I would think, of being hard to play straight. There's bad faith, and then there are those routines so permeated with cynicism as to almost achieve innocence again. Then again, I'm always amazed at what works in this world.

love and terrorism said...
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love and terrorism said...
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roger said...

LT - first, I'm sorry you are feeling discouraged about academia and wish you had gone into business. I hope that passes, man. Just to buck you up on your non-business choice, this is a random quote from the NYT article about mortgages today:

“In the last 60 days, we’ve seen a substantial reduction in mortgage availability,” said Robert Barbera, the chief economist of ITG, a brokerage firm. “That in turn suggests that home purchases will fall further. Rising home prices were the oil that greased the wheel of this engine of growth, and falling home prices are the sand in the gears that are causing it to grind to a halt.”

My life may have gone to the dogs what with dreams of writing and a taste for philosophy long ago, but I can still proudly say that I've never said used the metaphor of oil of home sales turning into the sand of high mortgage rates screwing up the gears of the economy. But such things are de rigeur in the business world. That might be an offense against all the muses at once.

Second, of course I'm always amazed at what works on me!

And third, hmmm, I think you are focusing too much on the seduction part of the NYT post and not enough on the 'maintenance' part - the connection between the two being meaty beaty big and bouncy insults to women, of the you are a bitch, a princess, you weigh too much, you are a dried up cunt, I love ya, you are a whore, etc. etc. You know, it is all too easy to forget that we are not that far away from an era in which men hitting women in a relationship or in a marriage was considered normal. I just watched a mediocre French movie from the sixties and the seducer in the movie, at one point, slaps the woman he is pursuing. The moment isn't cued to show this as particularly awful. Just a normal little thing. The dynamic between the insult in the pick up routine, the insults that constitute part of the together routine, and the stalking and sneaking and undermining that constitutes the 'maintenance' routine (and the worry, is she cheatin' on me?!) is visible, I think, even in relationships that involve no contact at all. So, for instance, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has a host of anti-fans, men who will actually get so insanely riled up by her that they comment on other blogs about her. They tremble in their innermost jellies, apparently, that she hasn't been somehow punished enough for her crime of hating men. And, according to what she's written, these old boys have actually written complaining letters to her employer, trying to get her fired. What kind of attraction/rage is that?

love and terrorism said...

Firstly, I didn’t say that I wish that I’d gone into business, but only that maybe my priorities weren’t right from the beginning, and that if they’d been right then one of the consequences, though an indirect one, might have been that I’d gone into business. Also I’ve never wanted to be an academic. Rather I want to write porn, as it says on my weblog, and at the moment I'm happy with this decision. I also want to do the Baudrillardrian fatal theory thing at the same time but I don’t see that as an academic practice.

Secondly, of course the fine line between pleasure and pain has many bizarre manifestations, such as in the relationships between feminist personalities and their male anti-fans; however I think that those perverse relationships are reversible. As much as the anti-fans can become stalkers, their feminist counter-parts can come to feed off their hate, similarly to how shock-jocks feed off liberal intolerance of their intolerance. This dynamic, of loving to hate and to be hated, has its own special place in our culture.

I know that I’ve made this point here before but I think it’s a mistake to fail to see this in structural terms, which is to say as a feature of a capitalist system that requires that people should continually direct their anger at the wrong source. This system requires techniques of management and control which flourishes by channeling anger in such a way that it can have no real impact on how the system continues to function. The way I see it, the anti-fans that you describe are just participating in the system as they’re told to.

For example, personally I know that I rarely get jealous because I don’t believe in monogamy, but I also know that monogamy is a structural feature of our social system which only a very particular set of circumstances have allowed me to evade. This must indicate for me that my own personal experience of sex should have little or no relation to how I measure it socially, or how I interpret the way in which our political, legal and economic system enforces its particular economy of sexual normality.

That’s why I think the way that you use this anonymous French film, as well as these insults, is ideological. The purpose of both seems to be to prescribe the kinds of things that we should say to conform to liberal norms. As far as I can see you represent your offense at them as partly moralistic, and partly as a type of critique of either bad manners or bad taste, though of course definitions of both good taste and good manners almost always coincidentally compliment the prevailing liberal norms of the day.

If I’m speaking with a woman and I think that she’s acting like a ‘princess’, or snobbishly, then I’ll probably say so. At that moment I’m pretty indifferent to what effect this has seductively, but of course as you say some people are attracted to this kind of brutal honesty. Your statement that you’re ‘always surprised by what works in this world’ suggests that to you this form of attraction is a greater mystery than its manipulative exploitation, which you seem to understand well in spite of the difficulty that you say that you have in stomaching it.

roger said...

lt, I did an article about five years ago about writing for porn you might find interesting, here The old erotica book publishers, like Blue Moon, are plugging along, but the hot thing in porn writing is the internet, which is flooded with porn stories of all types. I love this about the web - it has opened up the floodgates, and 'amateur' writers of all kinds are penning fuck stories of all kinds.

As for the liberal ideology thing - well, yeah. I'm a liberal in the political sense, but more than that, I was formed in a liberal culture and I like the liberal culture. I'm for it, not against it. I think my response to Vixens, that Bardot farce, was that something good happened in the last thirty years - the casual slaps and kicks became scandalous. In fact, it is an age thing - one of the most consistent of crime statistics over the past ten to twenty years has been a drop in rape. Interestingly, the drop is concentrated among the younger demographic. The older demo lags behind. That makes sense to me - contradicting my little snappy phrase about having to be middle aged to know certain things, you have to be younger to experience the attitudinal shift among men and women about women. I heartily approve of that shift. But I don't think it means that the younger demo is politically more liberal - instead, the attitudes of everyday life have 'softened' or civilized.