This “quick random observation” of Severian’s …
Anyway, back in grad school I observed that it’s the girls who are almost kinda sorta halfway cute, or who would be almost kinda sorta halfway cute if they exerted some effort, who were the craziest.
…got me thinking a bit about his conclusion:
I’m tempted to argue that you can sum up all of pop-feminism with “we think we’re cuter than we actually are, and we’re going to get the government to force you to agree.”
Is it that they think they’re cuter than they are, or is it that they realize they’re not cute enough to get by on cute alone, so they are determined AT ANY COST to make “looks” a dirty word – or even a punishable offense? We’re talking about lasses who could work their way into the 5-6 range, right? Well, that means that, in college, their absolute best efforts would leave them behind at the quarter pole of life, though with diligence they could be in that second wave of ladies who settle down (emphasis on “settle” in their minds) in their late 20s or early 30s with guys whom they would have considered beneath them in school, but who are also the only ones left once all the good catches are made.
(Full disclosure – I married just short of age 35. Pretty sure it’s the single eyebrow.)
Like Sev said, there are absolute hellbeasts who truly don’t care, but then there’s this large set of ladies whom, it seems, care quite a lot – the old cisheteronormative drive to “compete for a mate and a home” is normative for a reason – and so their smartest strategy is to play up “looks aren’t everything” to gain some sort of a counter-edge against the ladies with more obvious advantages. If they do it right, then they can beat the curve, so to speak … find someone better, earlier, and share a happy life.
This is a time-honored pursuit, of course. There’s a cottage industry of popular music with lyrics like this, and that, in its own way, is a reflection of the truth. It’s kind of bizarre to a younger guy: who praises his beloved by saying “Nature didn’t give you such a beautiful face”? But baby, you got what it takes… and the older fellow that I’ve become understands it. Looks alone aren’t really “what it takes.” I’m reminded of when I was a younger guy, going out for a post-game meal with the guys, watching the 30-ish ladies “who still got it!” trawling the bar. Someone asked an older teammate why he wasn’t over there chatting one of them up, she was actually pretty hot… and he shook his head and said, “Somewhere out there is a string of guys my age who are all sick of her shit.”
Point taken. Sooner or later you’ve seen all there is to look at.
So what to make of those who ain’t a beauty, but hey, they’re all right? They should have a big advantage over ladies with looks who also turn out to be bananapants loony. For a long time, in fact, they did. But what they didn’t have was an edge on ladies with looks who also realized that after the looking was over, they had to have something to talk about. They worked on making themselves a complete package, and routed the field.
When feminists of my mother’s generation faced this problem they were fond of deriding such ladies with putdowns like “She only went to school for her MRS degree.” And that is the first hint I can see of the problem – the all-too-human impulse to refuse to admit one’s real place in the scheme of things. If you can turn that around and make it so that the scheme itself is the problem, then you A) can succeed in ways that were never possible before, and B) never have to change. That’s a terrible siren song to try to resist, and they weren’t up to it. They went ahead and amplified it instead, and convinced generations of their daughters that they were in it for themselves, just like the guys, and if the boys didn’t like it, that was their own fault.
They thought that they were doing this to get back at the boys, but it really looks more like they were doing it to get back at the other girls. Feminism isn’t really about “girl power” at all, it’s about “me power.” Wonder no more why feminists will straight-out savage women who are happy wives and mothers, and who praise their lives. If they were themselves happy with their choices they would have no need for this… they only betray their resentment that they don’t have those lives for themselves.
That brings us, in roundabout way, back to the Filipovics, Valentis, and Marcottes.
Over the years, they have both submitted to and in turn exerted a good deal of pressure on other women to not do what has come naturally to humanity for millennia, to “not play their game.” This has been the cause of a lot of misery over the years. They are unwilling (or perhaps incapable) of following the sensible advice of mothers since time immemorial, that you have to have something more substantial to keep the fella interested and happy – how bourgeois! Neither can they stand to see others of their own peer group follow that advice and succeed. So they flatter themselves that they’re above all that. They make themselves dumber, shriller, self-absorbed, and unpleasant. A guy like, say, 32-year-old me, won’t say “You know, she’s really fun to be with, has a great sense of humor, and can really hold a conversation… I’m interested.” I’m gone, if I have half a brain – and not because I’m being shallow, but because they are. They aren’t giving anyone a reason to take a second look. They are repulsive rather than interesting, for reasons that go far beyond appearance.
And though it’s impossible to quantify, I think there’s something to the thought that such behavior eventually does have an effect on the looks as well – sane, smart, happy people look better than crazy, priggish, humorless people. The happy people go from 6 to 7, and keep that 7 longer… the loons drop to 5 or 4 and decline rapidly.
The resulting accusation would be that “Guys think it’s all about them all the time,” and “How shallow! I’m living for myself, not for some man, maaaaan!” Those sound suspiciously like self-serving deceptions to rationalize being an awful person. Nor should they be taken in by the praise of fellow-travelers in this carny sideshow of crazy: that, too, is self-serving, because loons needs other loons around them to make themselves appear sane – that’s the only remaining strategy for landing some poor unfortunate chap who’s essentially got no other choice if he wants some constant company.
Because, you see, men aren’t the builders of this game, contrary to insane assumptions – we’re just fellow players. Just as there are plenty of women who can never land a Mr. Darcy, there are plenty of guys with no prayer of securing a Ms. Bennett. We all face this realization about our own status in life. I mean, do you think all men are equally handsome, equally ambitious, equally smart, equally accomplished? Plenty of us had to take stock while the top catches had their pick of our peer group, and quickly figure out what else could capture and hold someone’s interest. (Or, not so quickly. I was pretty much 35 years old when I got married – I’m not exactly Dr. Genius McQuarterback over here.)
Call them betas or gammas or whatever term is current… since we’re talking tradition here, I’m going with the traditional term: losers. And as a group, losers have few prospects, and have to work harder to cultivate them. It’s easier to take the lazy way and just scoff at the whole traditional idea – to be as equally-scornful of guys who get the girl, who are “only interested in one thing,” who are actually “awful, dumb, superficial jerks” and “why do women love morons?” That is just as anti-human as the reverse, and thus just as unappealing – not only to the fairer sex, but also to other guys. These losers are creeps whom nobody trusts and nobody likes.
The result is that their only shot at marrying (or at least bedding) someone, anyone, is among the distaff side of their cohort. It all becomes a cruel self-fulfilling irony – they “refuse to play the game” and lose by default, getting stuck with exactly the sorts of people they accuse everyone else of being: they play white-knight to the damsels, who hate them for that and demand to be thought of as strong, confident, and capable; in turn they crumble at the least hint of disapproval; smarmy “backrub boys” (the delightful epithet of Sheila O’Malley) and wearying harridans.
You can be a loser all your life or you can at least try to win a little. It is, believe it or not, possible to rise from this rank – the first and perhaps hardest step is to admit that you are, in fact, rank. Cleaning up and getting respectable starts with looking for the soap and water, to have at least that much respect for yourself and those around you. The effort may reveal hidden qualities you never bothered to look for, and just the effort involved is bound to develop whatever qualities you do have to their best.