Sunday, May 13, 2012

Girls, Game and Sex

(Apologies to Jared Diamond ;-)

If you haven't seen the new HBO show Girls, you're really missing out. Creator/writer/star Lena Dunham is a brilliant and very funny observer of 20-something hipster life (at least it seems that way to me; I'm too old to really know). If you watch the trailer above you might think that Girls is just another show about the life and romantic struggles of young women living in NYC, but the most interesting aspect is Dunham's take on male-female relations. It seems to me she understands Game:
... Evolutionary psychologists postulate that the same physical and psychological drives prevail among modern humans: Men, eager for replication, are naturally polygamous, while women are naturally monogamous—but only until a man they perceive as of higher status than their current mate comes along. Hypergamy—marrying up, or, in the absence of any constrained linkage between sex and marriage, mating up—is a more accurate description of women’s natural inclinations. 
... Some argue, though, that it is actually beta men who are the greatest victims of the current mating chaos: the ones who work hard, act nice, and find themselves searching in vain for potential wives and girlfriends among the hordes of young women besotted by alphas. 
... “The sexual revolution in America was an attempt by women to realize their own [hypergamous] utopia, not that of men,” Devlin wrote. Beta men become superfluous until the newly liberated women start double-clutching after years in the serial harems of alphas who won’t “commit,” lower their standards, and “settle.” During this process, monogamy as a stable and civilization-maintaining social institution is shattered. “Monogamy is a form of sexual optimization,” Devlin told me. “It allows as many people who want to get married to do so. Under monogamy, 90 percent of men find a mate at least once in their life.” This isn’t necessarily so anymore in today’s chaotic combination of polygamy for lucky alphas, hypergamy in varying degrees for females depending on their sex appeal, and, at least in theory, large numbers of betas left without mates at all—just as it is in baboon packs. ...

For watchers of the show: Hannah (Dunham's character) is getting worked over by a beta (Adam) using Game (from the trailer it appears Adam may revert to beta form later in the season, but for the moment their relationship is brutal), Marnie is dating a beta (who she secretly has come to despise) but craves an alpha like the jerk artist character Booth Jonathan, who tells her “I want you to know, the first time I f#ck you, I might scare you a little, because I’m a man, and I know how to do things.”

For potential viewers who have HBO: you can access the show online at Each episode is only 30 minutes, so you can consume it easily in your downtime :-) [Someone has informed me that you can watch the first episode there for free.]


Kyrilluk said...

Personnaly I don't really buy into the evolutionary psychology thingy. To me it's more simple: women date men that are pretty and have a lot of purchasing power to cater for her needs. Given the biological fact that women tend to lose their physical beauty quite quickly it make sense for them to try to settle before their market value goes down too much. Inversely men with money and status tend to keep and even increase their market value therefore it make sense to them to have as many sexual encouter they can afford. I believe more in the force of the market than in some evolutionary just-so story. 

Rodrigo Guzman said...

one interesting thing about this whole 'game' thing is that it itself evolves -- not the principles, but the actual "algorithms".  i've over heard (and participated!) in the following exchange way too many times in the last year or so:

Did you just neg me?!


in my anecdotal experience, the game was really a small sub-culture for a long time, but now it is so mainstream that it has stopped working.  sort of.  it is a perfect opportunity for a revenge of the nerds.  the principles behind the game remain the same; but, the wanna-be alpha needs to think about new algorithms to get his edge. just following mystery's recipes doesn't cut it. ;-)

Yan Shen said...

At least we do it better than elephant seals. Apparently these guys literally fight each other to the death over the right to mate with female elephant seals.

"The Northern elephant seal returns to its terrestrial breeding ground
in December and January, with the bulls arriving first. The bulls haul
out on isolated or otherwise protected beaches typically on islands or
very remote mainland locations. It is important that these beach areas
offer protection from the winter storms and high surf wave action.[13] The bulls engage in fights of supremacy to determine which few bulls will achieve a harem.[14][15]"After the males have arrived the beach, the females arrive to give
birth. Females fast for 5 weeks and nurse their single pup for 4 weeks;
in last few days of lactation, females come into estrus and mate.[16] In this polygynous society, a high-ranking bull can have a harem
of 30–100 cows depending on his size and strength. Males that can't
etablish harems are on the periphery but will try and mount females that
come by.[14] Dominant bulls will will disrupt copulations of lower ranking bulls.[14] They themselves can mount females without inference, but commonly break off to chase off rivals.[14]
While fights are not usually to the death, they are brutal and often
with significant bloodshed and injury; however, in many cases of
mismatched opponents, the younger, less capable males are simply chased
away, often to upland dunes. In a lifetime a successful bull could
easily sire over 500 pups. Most copulations in a breeding colony are
done by only a small number of males and the rest may never be able to
mate with a female.[15] Pups are sometimes crushed during battles between bulls.[13][15]

Now I've always thought that the most rational and efficient way for society to do things would be to allot the lions share of women to men who excelled at a quantitatively demanding field like physics...


Iamexpert said...

I think there is too much emphasis on mating and not enough discussion of the more interesting ways humans replicate their genes. For example when Yan Shen combats anti-East Asian bigotry, or when Half Sigma deletes anti-semetic comments from his blog but allows bigotry against other races; both men are arguably Darwinian winners helping their respective gene pools thrive, regardless of their personal fertility. Indeed I wonder if evolution has predisposed people with lower fertility to become more tribal to compensate.

As a hybrid I feel no loyalty to any race and this allows me to be one of those rare individuals who can be almost completely objective on matters of race. The only bias I have is whatever theories make the world more interesting.

RandomMedStudent said...


Yan Shen said...

Meanwhile in Japan, there are an entirely different set of problems. Racial differences always amuse me...

The question everybody asks is why is there a lack of children?

The answer seems to lie in several reasons. One reason is the cost. Japan is an extremely expensive country and
getting a child through college can wipe out a family's finances. But research shows it goes much deeper than that as the Japanese state does throw a lot of money at people with children. Another argument is that there are more effeminate men now called
"Herbivores" there who are either not interested in sex or women don't
find masculine enough. Then some suggest many young Japanese people prefer "virtual" friends
with a robot or on the internet, while others suggest their fascination
with comics rather than relationships is the cause for a lack of
babies. A study was released earlier this year in which it showed Japan's
young people are shunning the idea of marriage and having children. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research
study also showed one in four unmarried men and women in their 30s had
never had sex, and most young women preferred being single. It also showed over 60 percent of unmarried young men didn't have a
girlfriend, and nearly 50 percent of women of the same age weren't
dating. If that wasn't bad enough, young Japanese people are also, it seems, increasingly not interested in sex. A survey by the Japan Family Planning Association found that 36 percent of males between 16 and 19 had "no interest" in sex.

Kevin Rose said...

So let me get this straight. Adam is going through the absurd effort of using "game" to get with an extremely plain, fat girl, while he could just show up in any bar in NYC and get better looking girls just by existing, while the "beta" who does no game at all is dating Marnie, easily the best looking girl in the show. And while yes, she does secretly despise him, the second best looking girl, the British one, is interested in him and asks if he has a girl friend, despite the fact that she witnessed his extremely "beta" behavior towards Marnie, which is supposedly the source of her disgust for him.

Oh God Steve, don't tell me you are falling for this retarded game thing too :) (BTW, evolutionary psychology pretty much completely demolishes game. Short-term attraction for women (lust) is purely physical and utterly independent of personality, a finding replicated in dozens of studies, and in long-term mating girls will trade attraction for other goods, like financial security)

As an aside, I really miss New York.

botti said...

Read some evolutionary psch books like "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright or Robert Winston's "Human Instinct". I liked this little titbit from Winston's tv series on the subject:

"Because women give birth they can be sure any child they have carries their genes. Men cannot be 100% certain, so they have evolved a means of protecting against the possibility of cheating partners.
It’s all down to testicle size - a man’s are bigger than a gorilla’s, but smaller than a chimp’s. A gorilla has a harem of females dedicated to him and him only.

So he doesn’t need a whole lot of sperm at the ready. But female chimps aren’t faithful at all, so the males ejaculate as much as possible, in to as many females as possible, to give their sperm the best chance of creating a baby.

That's why chimps' testicles are huge relative to those of a gorilla. Human females aren’t very promiscuous, but neither are they entirely faithful. This explains why the size of a human male's testicles are somewhere in between a gorilla’s and chimp’s.

botti said...

***A survey by the Japan Family Planning Association found that 36 percent of males between 16 and 19 had "no interest" in s*x.***

Low testosterone? In a way, I think they're fortunate - s*x is a major distraction.

botti said...

Will look forward to seeing this. As an aside I see that David Mamet's daughter stars in the show.

RandomMedStudent said...

I think Girls is also interesting how sociologically accurate the depiction of hipsters is.  They are all white and live in Brooklyn with the help of Bank of Mom and Dad.  It exposes them for what they are, and I hope it will do some social good.

Lazy Glossophiliac said...

Adam expends far less effort to maintain a sexual relationship with Hannah than Charlie does with Marnie. Adam doesn't call her, doesn't do anything with her but have sex. And he's not even being monogamous with her. You don't know the quality of the other women he's sleeping with. It seems that Charlie works harder than Adam to get fewer women than Adam.

Kevin Rose said...

If, as Steve suggests, Adam is doing all those silly little behavioral tics intended to display "dominance" and "indifference" towards Hanna, and it is not his true personality, then he is making an absurd effort It is all the more demeaning to be acting that way to get with a girl like Hanna. The show did not indicate if Adam is sleeping with any other women at all, but the mere fact that he is willing to put on such an act to get sex from so ugly and fat a girl as Hanna strongly - strongly - suggests that he has few if any other options. Charlie is naturally affectionate and gets the two hottest girls on the show so far - he just needs to realize that Marnie is no longer into him, strop trying to change that, and find some other equally attractive girl, as he seems to be quite popular with the ladies. Thus concludes my Daily Dose of Gossip.

David said...

Adam does seem like a beta reading Roissy.  We need to keep a few things in mind about Adam.

1) He isn't attractive.

His face is ugly.  He's only "built" because he has no job and works out all day.  Even then, he has a small frame so while he's done what he can with it he's not exactely hot in the body either.  His looks are mediocore.

2) He's obviously socially awkward.

His interactions aren't actually smooth.  The biggest reason it seems Adam is a beta reading Roissy is it doesn't seem natural.  And he's not a natural.  He seems like he's akward in most social situations, not just with women.

3) Girls like Hannah are exactely the kind of girls a beta running alpha emulation would get.

She has low self confidence.
She has an effeminate father who is submissive.

As far as how good Hannah looks it's reasonably accurate, but I think people are looking at it the wrong way.  Girls want a guy that fulfills their psychological needs.  So ugly girls want to fuck a hot guy to feel like they are hot.  So a girl being ugly might increase how much she demands of a guys looks, rather then the opposite.  Meanwhile, hot girls don't need to fuck to know they are hot, so they may look for other things in men.  Yes, people tend to end up with people "in their league", but it's more complicated then that.

When thinking about PUA the most important thing to understand is narcicism and father figures.  Girls today (and young people generally) are infested with narcicism.  However, their actual accomplishments aren't living up to their childhood dreams (the false selfs created by their egos).  This causes all sorts of self confidence and psychological issues, and girls often deal with them by slutting it up or being drama queens.  PUA methods prey on these psychological issues.

Keep in mind that even "successful" women can often fall into this trap.  Even if you've got a good career, a good education, you look hot, if your psychological base isn't there it doesn't matter.  Often, the big career is just an attempt to fill a psychological need in a false way.  "Daddy will only love me if I become a XYZ," so she becomes an XYZ and Daddy still doesn't love her (or was never there at all).  You want a good dramatization of this watch Mad Men (a show that targets high earning women as its primary demo).  It's all about successful but unfulfilled people who get what they want and find out its not what they want and then sleep around in some attempt to fill the void.

That's why game isn't just for skanks in clubs.  It works on successful careerist chicks just as easily.  People who don't work on their core psychology are doomed to repeat it, no matter how many zeroes are on their paystub.

Modern life has also created a cruel loop in that many girls grow up without fathers, or with present fathers who have been emasculated.  This really messes them up, and makes it easy to use PUA methods on them.  Do you know how many girls I've been with that just want to be disciplined.  To be told what to do.  To be punished when they misbehave.  They didn't get this stuff growing up, and they need it.  There is a reason chicks call out Daddy in the sack.
Has done a great job writing about the psychological issues surrounding modern pickup.  I highly recommend it, but be prepared to read a novel.  It will help with a lot more then getting girls. 

Just be careful not to mention HBD, the author is black and has a fatwa on anything HBD.

Kevin Rose said...

Girls like Hannah are exactely the kind of girls a beta running alpha emulation would get.

Thank you for pointing out how useless game is and why no man should bother with it.

I actually agree with you that a guy running the retarded thing called game would get girls like Hannah. However, a guy with Adam's average looks and average social skills who chose not to run game and just showed up in a bar and acted normal, would get far hotter women.

Matthew Carnegie said...

Decreasing birthrates and the move to below replacement fertility are kind of a thing everywhere...

Decreasing sexuality among youth seems to be, at least in the US, as well - - amongst all demographics - and (particularly intensely for black kids).

I'd guess the US (along with UK and the Anglosphere in general) is at a relatively high level of youth sexuality as well, for a Western country, given their teen pregnancy rates relative to Western Europe (

So I don't know if it's even the trajectories are different. It might look different and feel a bit different for a population which starts from a baseline of higher introversion (and thus lower sexual activity) though (Japanese), I guess (extraverts tend to have a slightly higher number of lifetime sex partners, I think, although that's within population and may not generalise to between populations).

Yan Shen said...

I wonder whether or not the white nationalist/neo-Nazi crowd could be accurately characterized as being mostly beta males. I've often thought about what it would be like to meet your "typical" Stormfront or iSteve reader. Are most of these individuals college educated? What do they do for a living? Is being a white nationalist/neo-Nazi and whining incessantly about out-groups a part time gig, or more of a full time role? Commenter Sineruse seems to have devoted years of his life to extensively researching members of another ethnic group. He seems like a decently smart guy, but is his creepy obsession what makes him beta? What if a girl discovered his dark history of racial obsession? What would she think? And similarly how would mainstream society view men like Tractal, Kevin Rose, etc? I find it hard to believe that the mainstream view of society at large would characterize these individuals as anything other than beta. Real men don't spend an inordinate amount of time whining hysterically about other ethnic groups. Real men do things and are successful whether academically or professionally.

It seems to me that Eastern and Western societies have a different conception of what it means to be a man. A real man in traditional Confucian society is someone whose talent or ability speaks for itself. In Western society I think there is more of an emphasis on physicality and braggadocio. When we think of an alpha male in American society, we think of someone like the fictional Don Draper from madmen. In China, someone like Bill Gates is probably held up as the standard for what a man should aspire to.


Odax Le Beast said...

Props to a guy learning to be an alpha male.

botti said...

***Real men don't spend an inordinate amount of time whining hysterically about other ethnic groups. Real men do things and are successful whether academically or professionally.***
Depends on the era. Look at some pre-WWII western academics, businessmen and professionals.

John Derbyshire does make an interesting observation in relation to the personality of race realist types.

"If you hang out with race-realist types a lot — and yes, I do, and count myself one — a thing you notice is that a high proportion of them, of us, are antisocial loners. Trust me, it’s not just because of their opinions that race realists don’t win any popularity prizes. (And as a corollary, not many of them, of us, are successful in a worldly way. Poor social skills. Jim Watson, though world-famous for what he did, fits the pattern. Talk to anyone who knows him and expressions like “difficult,” “prickly,” and “loose cannon” soon turn up.)

Like every other feature of human nature, the groupish emotions are unevenly distributed. Some individuals are richly endowed with them. They are plunged into despair when their baseball team loses; they bristle to hear their religion criticized; they are furious at insults to their nation; if of eccentric sexual preference, they may swear brotherhood with those similarly disposed; and yes, they are mad as hell to hear their race described as failed, even though they understand at some level that it’s an abstract statistical description that does not reflect on them personally, any more than their baseball team’s losing the World Series does.
Your antisocial loner isn’t like that. He probably has no strong opinion about the relative merits of Yankees and Mets. If he goes to church, it’s for personal and metaphysical reasons, not social ones. He’s a poor employee and a feeble team-sports participant. He may like his country, and be willing to fight for it, but exuberant expressions of patriotism embarrass him. He’s more likely than the average to marry someone of a different race. (Am I describing anyone in particular here? No! Absolutely not!) Tell him he belongs to a failed race and he’ll probably say: “Yes, I guess so. It’s sad. But hey, I’m doing okay…”Your antisocial loner isn’t like that. He probably has no strong opinion about the relative merits of Yankees and Mets. If he goes to church, it’s for personal and metaphysical reasons, not social ones. He’s a poor employee and a feeble team-sports participant. He may like his country, and be willing to fight for it, but exuberant expressions of patriotism embarrass him. He’s more likely than the average to marry someone of a different race. (Am I describing anyone in particular here? No! Absolutely not!) Tell him he belongs to a failed race and he’ll probably say: “Yes, I guess so. It’s sad. But hey, I’m doing okay…” 

Kevin Rose said...


Some people cannot break free of the tribal mindset. Their group is best, and they have absolutely nothing to learn from other groups. But I think we should be forgiving of the follies and idiocies of such people. As Derb says, they are the majority, and cannot help themselves - a demon has them in its grip that we who do not suffer from this particular insanity cannot understand.

tractal said...

Exactly. In any society some topics are just off limits. You don't tip sacred cows. For us, a sort of descriptive egalitarianism, and especially egalitarianism about race, are by far the most sacred cows out there. It pretty naturally follows that anyone discussing things like IQ is going to be strongly non-conformist. If you take a fair view of IQ literature, you are going to end up concluding that IQ is real, strongly predictive, and significantly genetic. All of which threatens the liberal  constellation of belief. 

So anyone having these kinds of conversations is pre-selected for intellectual independence. Such individuals are also probably more prone to abstract thinking. Not only are IQ and its arguments intellectual matters, they are intellectual matters with very strong, pervasively prevalent, incorrect priors. To to arrive at a "realist" position about IQ etc, the individual has to have enough of a logical mind not to be persuaded by bad arguments for good positions. Most people start out with the social belief system, and for most of them that belief system can survive contact with evidence that refutes it. Naturally, then, the people who end up sitting on the other side of the line will tend to be of a more logically rigorous type. As a point of comparison, people like Stephen J. Gould end up on the other side of the line. Steve Hsu thinks this is "high V, low M" syndrome, but it really doesn't take that high of an M to see the logical flaws. Probably more important to Gould's failure was his religiously deep "prior" commitment to socially current world views. He was a reasonably smart guy, but he wasn't about to let a good argument get in the way of belief. 
Because of these selection factors, it probably isn't too far off to characterize people interested in IQ or HBD as nerds. They will tend to be non-conformist, intellectually independent, and analytical as opposed to emotional. And then of course you get some Yan Shen's manning the race supremacy tambourine. But then again almost everyone has some stupid strong priors, and although "My alleles=best alleles!" is obnoxious and boring, it isn't the stupidest dogma out there. 

David said...

If that was true, game wouldn't have such an appeal.  The SMP really is rough on AFCs like Adam.  He can't just go to a bar, act normal, and get women.  Likely he's up for lots of rejection and semi celibacy.

David said...

In the flashback episode today we found out that Charlie ended up with Marnie completely by accident when she was alone, scared, and possibly high at a college party.  Though we don't see the in between its implied they stayed together mainly out of inertia.

AFCs luck into these sorts of things every decade or so in spite of themselves.  As a reward he had a four year relationship in which he did all the work and got little in return.

David said...


The thing to remember is that tribal mindset usually can't see anything in between.  Whatever ideology the tribe adopts must be total.  Sometimes it's something noble if flawed like blank slate racial equality.  Sometimes it's the exact opposite (but same tribal drive) that gives you something like the Nazis.

HBD people are in between.  They believe in neither beautiful lies nor ugly ones.  Well, maybe I just speak for myself there.

As a religious person, I have a much different take on HBD then others.  I want to acknowledge it not because I care much for race, but because I want to have a conversation about differing ability and the human soul.  The reason people are afraid of HBD is because they are afraid of acknowledging inferiority.  If a person has less ability then another, well then they "deserve" whatever shitty life they get.  Thus someone with IQ 80 lives in poverty and someone with IQ 120 in a nice home with all sorts of toys, even if relative to their ability they put in the same amount of "effort".

I'm not necessarily talking about government redistribution or whatever here.  I'm talking about a way of viewing the world.  I'm talking about our culture and the way we view and relate to other people in our society.  Acknowledging differing ability requires making a lot of really deep changes, often very personal changes and sacrifices in an existential sense.  That's true for those of both high and low ability.

As a religous person I believe that all people have souls, and that all souls are equally valuable.  The earthly bodies, minds, and abilities given don't change the value of ones soul.  This view of the world is radically different from the one we live by.  The secular view has to be that all people are genetically equal, because it has no mechanism by which to justify treating those of lesser genetic stock with dignity.  HBD makes perfect sense in my worldview, but in theirs it's a poison whose only logical conclusion is ghastly.

Kevin Rose said...

If that was true, game wouldn't have such an appeal.

Right, because if Christianity was not true, it would not have had such appeal for centuries. You sound like you really buy into this nerdy game retardation, down to using retarded lingo like "AFCs" and "beta" to describe normal guys who relate to women normally and don't try to "dominate" them with their super-macho selves. Dude, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort if you just abandon this nonsense and go out into the real world and talk to girls - trust me, they don't bite. Women are not these scary monsters that you need to "dominate". It always seems to me that guys who find the idea of "dominating" women appealing are the ones who feel most powerless in their presence, thus reaching for the opposite extreme in their panic at feeling completely out of control with women. Just relax, don' let yourself be mistreated or taken advantage of, but don't try the silly macho posturing of the insecure (otherwise known as "game"), and most crucially, learn to spot interest from women, and you will get all the women that it is possible for you to get.

If you read any evo-psych, you will find that women are physically attracted to markers of genetic fitness - in our ancestral environment, this would have been confined to physical attributes like athleticism and fluctuating symmetry. Researchers have been studying female preferences in short term mating for the past few decades and have been consistently finding that only physical attributes matter, thus utterly negating the concept of game. For long-term mating women will often trade - note that word, please - physical attraction for other goods like financial security and personality attributes that make for compatibility, etc.

Seriously, dude, wise up. Save yourself a lot of wasted time and don't get caught up in this nonsense.

Kevin Rose said...

Wow, so a hot girl with tons of opportunity and probably hundreds of suitors and hundreds of guys showing interest on a daily basis (even ugly fatr girls get tons of male attention) in a crowded city like New York hooks up with a guy she does not find attractive - no doubt because she has no other options - and stays with him out of inertia - ignoring the no doubt hundreds of guys hitting on her each week.

Yep, makes sense in game-world. I forget that a completely different kind of "logic" prevails in the game-verse.

David said...

She's an attractive but not "hot" girl who just moved to the city and has fairly quickly traded up from her college boyfriend after being a little afraid to get out of her comfort zone for awhile.  Even the original hookup in college shows her as a shy awkward girl (who didn't even look as good because of bad dress and makeup).  This seems completely logical.

David said...

I'm not going to get into a discussion because you've already made up your mind.  I've probably read a lot more evolutionary biology and psychology then you, and I know the studies your talking about, and I also know the logical flaws you can't/don't want to see.  Let's just leave it at that.

jaim klein said...

I dont see anyone replicating on the TV series. Its all noise and no babies. Evolutionary analysis does not apply.

Kevin Rose said...

Fair enough. I understand that people have to learn at their own pace and in their own way, and as long as I have planted a seed of sanity, I am satisfied. Good luck, though.

tractal said...

But the brains which make that noise were selected for reproductive fitness.

Matthew Carnegie said...

You have a lot to say about that White ethnic group.... in every tangentially related blog post comments...

Not sure about the idea that Bill Gates is a good aspirational figure really! Maybe he's not that bad in the grand scheme though. A focus on admiring businesspeople and industrialists is not that common in East Asia historically (or anywhere really).

My knowledge is limited, but historically Chinese seem to have admired Chairman Mao types. Or Deng? Also not so sure about Koreans, but Kim Jong Il / Kim Il-sung? Using authoritarian leaders with cults of personality might be a bad proxy, but it's as tough to think of memorable Democratic/Politburo type figures who might serve as examples as it would be for most anonymous Western European nations.

Chinese Singaporeans have Lee Kuan Yew... I remember reading about Li Yang of the Crazy English movement becoming popular in China a few years ago ("learning" English by mass shouting and Pentecostal type emotional frenzies). Recently I believe Bo Xilai was purged by the Communist Party for his "rock star" tendencies that made him a charismatic leader and threat. There were news articles fairly recently where the Chinese seemed admiring, but shocked, about Gary Locke's (US Ambassador of Chinese American background) levels of humility (I think they were surprised that he was willing to go to a Starbucks and order drinks for himself and his daughter), compared to their own politicians.

Not sure where most of these men would be classified on the braggadocio scale. 

East Asian/Confucian cultures seem quite low on extraversion and titled away from verbal skills, so I'd guess maybe they'd admire, or just have more, relatively socially distant and (coldly?) commanding figures who don't want to talk to you about their decisions and cultivate an "unfathomable" image. Probably with some boilerplate excuse about how they have grave Confucian dignity or somesuch, that excuses their low sociability and social openness.

Rather than more expressive and outwardly assertive (arrogant?) leaders, more the Benjamin Netanyahu type, who attempt to be persuasive.

Whether Confucian nations really have more of a commitment to honesty is difficult to say, so I wouldn't really think that would be a major axis around. I think most people everywhere dislike dishonesty and aggression in men and leaders.

I don't think a soap opera character is very representative of what Western people admire, really.

It seems tough to say that any culture has a single ideal type of man, really. More than that they have different ideals for different roles. Politicians and leaders like the above might not really have much to do with who people really admire.

Christopher Chang said...

"The secular view has to be that all people are genetically equal,
because it has no mechanism by which to justify treating those of lesser
genetic stock with dignity."

I strongly disagree with this.

Suppose, to simplify the discussion, we're talking about a continuous trait.  If you're choosing to not treat people below a certain ability/attractiveness/[some other scale] cutoff with dignity, well, suppose lots and lots of other people behave the same way and rank people in roughly the same order you do.  This creates an underclass with every incentive for revolution; they can only be stopped by force or their own inability.  Set the cutoff too high, and you'll lose due to sheer numbers--one could interpret WW2 in this context (hi Godwin), as it didn't matter that a German soldier was worth ~1.2 American or British soldiers when the Allies outnumbered then 10 to 1.  Set the cutoff lower, and you can have a stable system for a while, but... is your group making sure you outbreed the underclass?  If not, the long run doesn't look very good.  If yes, okay, society as a whole may improve on your scale over the next n generations, but after this happens, the cutoff would move higher.

Eventually, people like you would be phased out.  When you're on the other side of the line, how would you want to be treated?

Okay, you may argue, a clone of me 300 years down the line would be in bad shape, but that doesn't affect my life.

This is the point at which somebody clues you in on a phenomenon called "aging".  Chances are, you will eventually score lower on the scale than many of the people around you, and you have a real interest in preserving social norms that don't screw you over when you reach that point, even if you aren't religious.

A society capable of treating old people with dignity is also capable of treating those of "lesser genetic stock" with dignity.

I do believe that, thanks to bounded cognition (both in the sense of atheists coming up with worse solutions to various social problems than the better religions arrived at through centuries of trial and error, as well as the more obvious sense), religion still has a place in today's society.  But the range of possible secular views is larger than you currently imagine.

Iamexpert said...

we think of an alpha male in American society, we think of someone like
the fictional Don Draper from Mad Men. In China, someone like Bill
Gates is probably held up as the standard for what a man should aspire

According to the 2011 Gallup poll, the two most admired men in America today are Obama and George W. Bush.  The two most admired women are Mrs Bill Clinton and Oprah:

MtMoru said...

More drooling.

What women want differs from one society to another, sometimes by A LOT.

But there must be a justification for how things are in this particular society at this particular time, that is the status quo is always BEST. What better justification than made up cave man sex rituals, etc.


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