Friday, June 15, 2007

On Crime and Punishment

In a recent post, Dizzy accuses men, and not for the first time, of trying to punish the women who turn them down. I never went to law school, so I can't second guess her observations about her own social milieu, but I pause now to consider whether or not I have ever done this.

There is a joke I used to tell back when I was single, which I will repeat here so you can make up your own mind about what a pig I am:

Adam says to God, "God, I'm lonely down here in this garden by myself. Can I have some company?"

God replies, "I'll give you a woman. She'll be everything you've ever wanted, but she'll cost you an arm and a leg."

Adam thinks for a moment, and says finally, "Um, what can I get for a rib?"

I don't recall telling this joke to punish anyone. I told it primarily to because most people (men, anyway) thought it was funny, and because it (gently, I thought) teased women about the friction present in male/female relationships.

But once I told the joke in mixed company and a young woman got rabidly pissed at the anti-feminist undertone of the joke (or something). She proceeded to tell all present what she thought of the "low quality" (her words) of, not only me, but all the other men in our social group.

Here is the backstory: her diatribe only made explicit what was already clear from the attitude she demonstrated. She had already made abundantly clear that she would not respond favorably to romantic overtures from me, and not in a nice way. Now I will allow that this might be justified had I been, you know, pestering her. If a guy can't take a hint, the hints have to get stronger. Fair enough. But no, I had been warned away well before I had got myself up to actually ask her out. My mere presence was an affront to her.

So here is the punchline to the story: I couldn't then, and can't now, be bothered to care that she thought my joke was offensive. I only really care about other people's feelings (and then only just) in the context of a relationship. Romance. Marriage. Friendship. The common civility due a stray dog. Something. But if we don't have a relationship, then it is not clear why I am supposed to care about your opinion.

It seems to surprise women and offend their sense of justice when their power over a man's behavior is diminished when they treat him this way. I say that this is not an injustice, nor should it be surprising. And if such women choose to interpret this diminishing of their power as "punishment," I can't really care about that, either.

But again, I've never been to law school . . . .

Update: Dizzy writes:

Where did you get "Dizzy accuses MEN..." from that? I said that a guy who can't handle rejection, who thinks it gives him the right to "punish" the rejecter, is showing some serious personality flaws. I think it's pretty obvious I wasn't making a general statement about all men. I am making a specific statement about a specific problem behavior.

My apologies for the mistake.

Link Love

Trumwill and Bobvis reflect on negative socialization and the homeschooling alternative.

The great Razib considers triumphalism, both religious and secular, and Reihan comments.

12 comments:

whiskey_199 said...

Feminists HATE HATE HATE the Beta Male. They really do.

If you were seen as the highest status man around the young woman would have laughed and laughed and laughed.

Feminists of course hate the Beta male because they fear his mere presence may block the access of the Alpha Male. This is why feminists try through various means to make the Beta male into some gay or neutered figure.

But then Feminism is merely the unrestricted pursuit of the Alpha male, seen most clearly in their attitudes towards Clinton and Monica (approving).

trumwill said...

Phi,
I don't think that's what she's referring to. I think she's referring to those guys that actively attempt to ostracize those that reject their advances. I've never seen it personally, but she and Spungen have shared various experiences that they've had in that regard. It's also a reference I think the "sour grapes" or perhaps an appeal to cosmic justice. Like my mom used to say about people that get away with crimes: That's okay, God'll get'em. A lot of guys use the diminishing romantic prospects of a woman in her thirties in the same manner and attempt to lourd it over on them: That's okay, she'll be old and barren in a decade. The implication is that she deserves it for rejecting them. Dizzy and Spungen's response is there is nothing wrong with rejecting the guy in the first place, so the desire for revenge/punishment is unfounded.

Whiskey,
The behavior you describe makes me think more of upper-middle class country club Republican types, not feminists. It depends on how you define alpha and beta. In my experience feminists are actually less susceptible when it comes to setting the market on social standing. On the other hand, they do tend to demand accomplishment of some sort or another (though that can include non-alpha things like art). If you're an achiever in a career with relatively low social standing, you'll do better by feminists than a legacy millionaire that doesn't actually do much. The latter will probably do you better when it comes to non-feminists, though.

whiskey_199 said...

Trum -- no I think my model still holds.

An indie rocker musician, with the right politics and look, will have much higher appeal to a feminist than a bond trader. Even though the latter may earn considerably more than the former. Why?

Because of the social power the indie rocker can exhibit NOW (his profession gives him status) and the possibility that if he does hit it big the feminist can be Trudy Styler to his Sting.

Art is also Alpha, it's boho-bobo type of Alpha, in that an artist with the right politics and style and connections can end up a "big deal" and get his name in the NYT, etc. Which a bond trader absent being paraded in a perp-walk will not.

Meanwhile the Country Club Republican seems hardly to exist anymore. If I watch something like say, House Hunters on Home and Garden, I see big differences in the types of couples featured in say, Salt Lake City and New York City. In the former the couples seem of relatively low status, large families (more than one kid), with the wife of not any particular attractiveness and the man in some relatively low-status job as a salesman, etc. Whereas the NYC couple is often not married, the woman is in great shape, they have no kids, and the man is some producer at a media company and part-time musician or something.

And what stood out was the relative stability of the non-status oriented SLC couples, compared with the NYC type couples. The women in the latter were in shape so they could dump or be dumped and land immediately in a new relationship. Their men were all a type, the kind of guys you'd see hanging around the background in "Entourage."

Dizzy said...

Where did you get "Dizzy accuses MEN..." from that? I said that a guy who can't handle rejection, who thinks it gives him the right to "punish" the rejecter, is showing some serious personality flaws. I think it's pretty obvious I wasn't making a general statement about all men. I am making a specific statement about a specific problem behavior.

Dizzy said...

And thanks Will, this is exactly right, " If you're an achiever in a career with relatively low social standing, you'll do better by feminists than a legacy millionaire that doesn't actually do much. The latter will probably do you better when it comes to non-feminists, though."

Dizzy said...

And Phi, I do think your "gentle teasing?" joke, about how a woman is all Adam could afford, makes a general statement about women. (I"m REALLY not sure how a joke that says that God cut a lot of corners making a woman says anything about "male female relations," either.) I thought you were complaining that I should not do that? Why do you get to do that to women? But I don't even get to complain about a specific, very negative incident?

Φ said...

Dizzy: Thank you for posting. I apologize for mischaracterizing your story in an update. In my defense, however, I believe the beta-male personality flaw of punishing women for rejection is one you find fairly common. Perhaps I should have been more specific.

Regarding the joke: it's a joke! Obviously, or perhaps not so obviously, I do not believe that God cut corners making Eve, or anything else. Our subsequent struggles are entirely of our own making.

Dizzy said...

I find the flaw of punishing women for rejecting them common among men who are bitter and entitled. I doubt they're a majority. (I hope not anyway.)

And your joke is only "funny" if one shares your ideas on women AND your sense of humor. Why would you have told it, especially repeatedly? And especially after people told you they were offended? It forces your views on other people in a social setting. Not everyone is going to like that. Telling that kind of joke - where a general category of people are the punchline based on traits that are imputed to the group as a whole - assumes that the teller's views are the norm. But they rarely are (outside of an outlier group, of course.)

I think this story is very revealing about the problems you had dating. You saw the fact that she did not share your sense of humor or your values as a character flaw. But you were still angry that she didn' want to date you. It doesn't seem to have occurred to you that your values and humor was probably WHY she didn't want to date you. I'm sure they were apparent well before the joke incident. She just did not like you, because of who you are. You wouldn't date an atheist, right? You wouldn't date a woman who told jokes about Christians being dumb, right? You would be offended by those people.

You have the right to believe anything you want. I'm not saying you don't. I'm just saying that your views will definitely limit your dating opportunities to people who share those views. And that's normal.

Φ said...

Why would you have told it, especially repeatedly? And especially after people told you they were offended?

Did you actually read the post? "People" was just this one person. A person whose opinion had forfeited my attention. Which was the point of the post.

Telling that kind of joke - where a general category of people are the punchline based on traits that are imputed to the group as a whole - assumes that the teller's views are the norm. But they rarely are.

Mmmm . . . this must be why blond jokes are so unpopular . . . oops, wait . . . .

I usually told this joke after I had run out of engineer jokes, which nobody minded, especially my fellow engineers.

You saw the fact that she did not share your sense of humor or your values as a character flaw.

No, or not necessarily. In any case, I'm not sure how different our values actually were, relatively speaking.

But you were still angry that she didn't want to date you.

As fun as it sounds, I don't have enough anger to spread it around all the girls that didn't want to go out with me. I have to reserve it for the ones that were mean to me whether I want to go out with them or not.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to you that your values and humor was probably WHY she didn't want to date you. I'm sure they were apparent well before the joke incident. She just did not like you, because of who you are.

That's fair, I suppose. She never told me WHY she hated me, other than she thought I was "low quality" (but then, she thought that about most people, or so she said). I had the vague impression that she didn't like my politics, which can very well be a reason not to pursue a romantic relationship. (Come to think of it, I would not have pursued a relationship with her for exactly this reason.) But is it reason to be mean and snotty to someone? After all, we WERE attending the same church.

Dizzy said...

Humor depends for its, funniness, on the joke being directed at someone with equal or greater power. People may laugh at jokes about blacks, but I won't. And a lot of people like me would judge you for it.

It is not at all the same thing to tell an engineer joke, and I know blonds that won't go out with you if you tell blond jokes. You have to know that, right? If you don't, then, I mean this in a nice way, I think we've figured out why some women didn't wan tto date you. That trait can be really off-putting to someone who does not share your views.

Dizzy said...

And please don't parse my first sentence about blacks and power, k? Blacks have been subjected to discrimination and slavery. Jokes about blacks are not funny. It's the same for women. You may think that's illogical. But um, then you're free to date only the women who believe in your logic. And stop blaming the ones who want nothing to do with such a black and white view of the world.

Dizzy said...

Oh, and "Is that a reason to be mean and snotty to someone..." YOU were being "mean and snotty" when you told that joke. You don't want to see it. But it was rude. She was offended. And when she said she was offended, you judged her for it, instead of listening to her. So yes. She was entitled to tell you that you were not someone she would ever date. And anyway, you do know that the most important part of that story isn't how SHE handled it when you offended her, right? Why would it be? You can't go around offending people and THEN get mad at how they react. You started it. By telling a joke that a good chunk of people find offensive. She reacted. Your opinion of her reaction is so not the point.