Thursday, June 18, 2009

Roissy on Φ

I always wondered what was going through her head. Now I know:

I noticed an older man, late 40s and clearly marked with the curse of the herb, standing with his young daughter by his side. He was talking with a curvaceous, big bosomed woman in her early 20s who looked like pre-meltdown Britney Spears. She was quite stimulating to the eyes and crotch. The man and Britney were having an energetic and friendly conversation which, when my ears were tuned to the words coming out of her mouth, was about the man’s daughter’s soccer team. Britney’s wide, C-shaped smile indicated she was enjoying this harmless herb’s company, while the herb’s studiously affected flat facial expression and stiff nodding movements suggested a swell of discomfort with his arousal that was threatening to lumber awkwardly through the polite veneer of their phony interaction.

I observed them for a few minutes, until the train reached my stop. A wave of bilious disgust curled my lips. I thought to myself that I never want to be that man who is so inoffensive — that man who has relinquished the last faint hope of his masculinity — that hot co-eds feel perfectly at ease shoving their bountiful breasts and plump, juicy flesh in my face to prattle on about the daily trifles of their lives or to chatter cloyingly about my kid’s soccer practice, taunting by their estrogenic proximity the ape-shaped contours of my cockcentric desire as the beast rattles the bars of its ganglial imprisonment, begging for release.


I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, as I have written many times before, women have a moral and social baseline obligation of civility, even to bald middle-aged men; even, in fact, to young, skinny engineering geeks with ill-fitting pants. That some non-zero number of such people will clumsily attempt a pickup is part and parcel of a non-cloistered life. Thus, that the young woman in Roissy's story did not recoil at a man and his daughter was entirely appropriate; in return, the man behaved with the required restraint. I myself have been that man on plenty of occasions, and while Roissy isn't far off in his description of the discomfort these interactions can cause, I'll take them over hostility any day. Plus, they give me a chance to practice being interesting.

Yet Roissy's larger point has some merit. I remember, years ago, reading a biography of the black communist-leaning singer Paul Robeson. The review recounted an episode in which Robeson found himself in the back of a limousine with a wealthy white socialite. The socialite initiated amorous advances on Robeson in full view of the black chauffeur in the front seat. Robeson was acutely aware that this behavior posed a grave insult to the chauffeur's masculinity: it communicated that attitude that his sexuality was of no consequence.

For another example of this attitude, consider an episode from the HBO miniseries Rome. The series has been praised by critics for accurately and dispassionately depicting the culture of its time and place, so I assume this scene reflects the attitudes of the Roman upper classes toward their domestic slaves. The scene showed two characters, Marc Antony and Atia, having sex while a slave hovered nearby waving a fan to cool them. The slave was female, so it isn't quite the same thing, but it reflects the same attitude: Antony and Atia felt no more need for sexual privacy from this slave than they would from a household pet. As such, the attitude, even or even especially when affected without malice, is fundamentally dehumanizing.

I believe many women (and men too, for that matter) take this attitude toward betas. They feel free to display their sexuality before us in a way that shows indifference toward our own sexuality. We have assumed, in their mental universe, the status of slaves or household pets. And Roissy, I think, captures the essence of the insult.


Anonymous said...

This tends not to happen to better looking betas. Even if you have no game, you are still valuable to a lot of women, even if only as a kind of back up.

- Thursday

Φ said...

But the question is: how can we tell the difference? Is the young woman chatting easily with you attracted? Or have you merely been put in the box of people of whom it doesn't occur to her to make an evaluation?

Roissy's advice appears to be: always force the issue. That wouldn't be appropriate for me, obviously. (Ignoring for the moment the appropriateness of even wondering about the answer.)

trumwill said...

They feel free to display their sexuality before us in a way that shows indifference toward our own sexuality. We have assumed, in their mental universe, the status of slaves or household pets.

How, precisely, did "Britney" do this? Because she had the gall to be attractive and talk to a man without the implication of sexual accessibility? Because of this, she emasculated him? Really? By virtue of her beauty? By the desire to talk to a man about soccer without hereby having comments made about her sexuality?

What jumps out at me here is that in Roissy's worldview, a woman's sole contribution to men is sex. Because if she is interacting unsexually, she is cloying and obnoxious. She wasn't even self-centered, using the opportunity to talk about herself. She was talking about girl's soccer. But Roissy wants to talk about sex, and by virtue of her big bussom and utter annoyingness, she owes him that much. Right?

In what universe is a sense of emasculation the appropriate response to this? In what universe is her very presence, absent sex, somehow offensive? Does the presence of estrogen in her system and a big bosom on her torso make her owe men sexual gratification?

Your point about Paul Antony and Paul Robeson are somewhat well-taken. And the extension to that to women who dress sexy in order to receive attention from men they want but are outraged at the attention they get from other men is interesting conversation-fodder. But you're excusing something pretty inexcusable here, in my estimation.

Regarding this as "the way men really are" as Roissy suggests is to confirm a lot of feminist charges about objectification and male entitlement. Makes the argument a lot better than any feminist really could.

newt0311 said...


No better can be expected from Roissy. He no longer differentiates between humans and animals (and I am not sure he is capable of doing so any longer). With that kept in mind, his writings make perfect sense.

People must have game because, being basically animals, they lack the quaint human abilities of honor, judgment, thought, affection, sacrifice, or commitment. They cannot cooperate on a long term basis but must maintain a constant state of war. Two people of the opposite sex cannot appreciate each other for their human personalities and any indication that this is the case is simply a matter of one thinking the other is irrelevant.

Do some people act this way? Unfortunately yes, maybe even most, but definitely not all. Roissy's work falls apart when one lets humans be humans.

Φ said...

Trumwill: I didn't pick up on the entitlement, exactly, and I would be surprised if Roissy, whatever he secretly believes, would actually say that women owe him anything. Rather, Roissy perceived that in such an interaction, Herb's sexuality was invisible to Britney, and Roissy would really, really hate that. But yeah, Roissy's recommended response would make Herb odious to the women around him.

People must have game because, being basically animals, they lack the quaint human abilities of honor, judgment, thought, affection, sacrifice, or commitment.

Yup, that's Roissy-style nihilism in a nutshell.

trumwill said...


He is saying that he owes her sexual acknowledgment. That she didn't give it to him in the course of the regular conversation means that he is entitled to take it for himself with lewd comments. That's a sort of sexual gratification.

Roissy seems to me to be going a step beyond just "hating that" but believing that it is an indignity that should be addressed. That's the persona's take, anyway. Whether the man behind the keyboard truly believes that or anything he writes (or does much of what he says he does) is another matter. In the context of a character, he's an interesting guy. That some people take him seriously (as a person and a philosopher of sorts) is what horrifies me. It's like those guys that go to those conventions dressed as Tyler Durden spouting lines from Fight Club as philosophy.

Φ said...

Not to get too exegetical here, but Roissy's exact words -- I thought to myself that I never want to be that man who is so inoffensive -- put the emphasis on himself. He doesn't fault the girl's behavior so much as he faults the man for being the kind of man that a woman doesn't take seriously as a sexual being.

This is consistent with Roissy's overall approach. He insists (somewhat disingenuously in my view, but even so) that his frankly unflattering assessment of the nature of women is free of moral judgment.

Taken at face value, much of what Roissy writes is morally repulsive. The reason I enjoy reading him is that I read him as The Screwtape Letters: providing insight into the contours of our fallen human nature. (Roissy, staying in character, has specifically rejected this interpretation of his work -- but then so would Screwtape.)

trumwill said...

Back on the subject at large, my weekend was spent in a situation not wholly unrelated to it.

I was counselling a friend whose four year relationship just fell apart. His recent infidelity had just been uncovered. The infidelity itself was the result of not only his weakness, but the nigh-chastity of their relationship. They've been together four years and have only had sex three times in the last two and a half years of it.

I realize that this brings in all sorts of issues like premarital sex and cohabitation (the latter of which I will be writing a post about when the dust clears), but what I find interesting is the notion that she could withhold sex from him for as long as she has and yet have been so shocked when he, after two and a half long years, found it elsewhere.

That's not as interesting as another nugget, though, which is that she forbade him from... unilaterally taking care of his own needs. It wasn't just that she had hang-ups about sex and/or was uninterested in sex herself (her story is actually more complimented than that), but that this should hinder his own sexuality utterly irrelevent. That this would be an acceptable state of affairs for him. That he would propose to her with this being the state of affairs (sidenote: had she said "no more sex until we're married," that would have been a different story). That an inability to accept this was self-centeredness on his part.

None of this excuses what he did (and he would be the first to agree with that). Even aside from the infidelity itself, he harbors blame for failing to fully confront her on this issue). Nor is it to suggest that she deserved what she got (nobody deserves having someone you're romantically - if not physically - devoted to betraying your trust). But it does represent a complete misunderstanding of male sexuality and the dangers of underestimating it.

trumwill said...

This is consistent with Roissy's overall approach. He insists (somewhat disingenuously in my view, but even so) that his frankly unflattering assessment of the nature of women is free of moral judgment.

This is analogous, in my mind, to when a few years ago the Democrats said that it was their own fault for losing elections on the basis that they were too nice and not as cutthroat as the Republicans. I've seen similar mutterings from Republicans now.

Or more aptly, the suggestion of some feminists that men are themselves victims of the partriarchy.

But even if women are not to blame for their roles (in the same spirit that you can't blame a canine for being a canine), he still suggests that they should pay the cost. That the proper reaction to being sexually sidelined is to socially violate her and reduce her to her sexuality.

And that she deserves this, of course, because of her beauty, the frustration it thrusts upon men, and the entirety of the sins of womankind. I find his following by rabid anti-feminists to be the height of irony. What is that saying about hating in others what we see in ourselves?

(Not so much including you in that last sentence. Your ideology, howevermuch I may disagree with it, is significatly comprehensive. And you don't deny the repulsive nature of Roissy's worldview.)

Φ said...

I look forward to your post about your friend. From what you've said so far, it sounds . . . weird: neither an extended courtship, nor friends-with-benefits, nor a straightforward shackup. And not marriage either.

I guess women can sometimes be naive about how a guy's mind works. During our courtship, the future Mrs. Φ expressed the opinion that a woman could dress and act as she will, and whatever issues this created for a guy was his problem, and guys should just deal with it. But after extended exposure to full-on male sexuality (or at least Φ's suddenly set loose version of it), she began to realize that this attitude wasn't really in a woman's best interest.

Erik said...

I find myself agreeing with you on this, especially the They feel free to display thier sexuality before us in a way that shows indifference toward our own sexuality part.

I suppose at times it can be intentional, but I think - especially in younger women - it is mostly just naivete.

What is disturbing, though, is running smack into this in - of all places - church. My wife & I like to attend more contemporary services and many times I find myself amazed at how many HS & college aged "hotties" seem to feel totally free to run around in short skirts, tight tops, etc with complete cluelessness to the distractive effects that the shock waves they're generating have on men around them.

I'm pretty sure "betas" and middle-aged and/or married men are invisible to them, but they sure are not invisible to us. Though at times I wish they were.

I'm not a huge fan of strict dress codes, rules, and such as these usually have the opposite effect anyway, but I do wonder if we (churches/parents/society) could do a better job of teaching young women to understand & respect the power that their choices of dress can have...?

Trumwill said...

The post about my friend and my position paper on premarital cohabitation are up.

Tom said...

How very fundamentalist Muslim. The young woman isn't a real person, but only exists in context of how it effects a man's sexuality.

Heaven forbid that a young woman treat a man as anything other than a walking penis.