site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of March 27, 2023

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

11
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

The guys who can't get women

Is it the girls or the guys who have the power on dating apps?

There's bad news about single men everywhere these days. It's portrayed as a societal problem that so many young men don't have the moves, and don't get sex, cuddles or offspring.

And women's "impossible demands" are blamed for their lack of success on dating apps.

The young men feel generous with the number of likes they get on the apps, but don't get the same amount of likes in return. They take it for granted that this little effort should earn them the chance to get laid, so you can imagine the frustration when that wish doesn't come true. Hordes of men whine that the ladies have the upper hand in the marketplace.

So poor young men.

But I'll share a little secret: The demands women have on men are ridiculously low. Here are some examples of what I've heard women my age being charmed by in men:

He was reading a book on the subway. He knew the definition of the term feminism. He moved (even with a smile) when he stood in the way of someone at the bread shelf at Kiwi. He apologized for interrupting someone.

It doesn't take much to get a star in the book.

Yet men who have given up dating often claim that they were ostracized from society by liberated women. For many, liberated women are synonymous with demanding women, who only consider men at the "top of the hierarchy" as good enough.

This hierarchy of alpha, sigma and beta males is the imagined reality of many men. The alpha male is usually at least 6 feet tall, has a perfect BMI and a status job. Preferably money too.

He gets all the women. Often in turn. The rest of the men get none, or have to settle for what they see as the basic scrap of women they don't consider attractive enough.

Below the alpha male you find all the other men. Totally average guys with slightly worse moves on the ladies. Their outfits may consist of yesterday's shirt and gym shorts, and their conversations often revolve around cryptocurrency, gaming or football.

Yet they scratch their heads as to why women are looking in a different direction.

It's the modern version of the romantic comedies of the 80s, where the woman only goes for handsome heartthrobs, while the poor good guy sits at home alone.

The most frustrated young men seek companionship in online echo chambers filled with depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder. None of them have learned to talk about their problems. It feels easier to take what they call "the black pill", the belief that you are genetically predisposed to be ignored by women.

Women become scapegoats for men's existential loneliness. You don't have to visit many comment sections before you come across bitter men posting about insufferable women withholding sex.

Do these sound like nice guys to you? Someone you want to date and save from loneliness and celibacy?

The 21st century dating culture is not for sissies. Dating only through a screen is a poor basis for connecting with others. Of course you'll have delusions about what's expected of you. Of course you feel inadequate.

The difference is that many men's solution to this is to become bitter because women don't lower their standards for them. At the same time, women overexert themselves to meet the demands we think men have on us.

Because listen:

There are plenty of single women who feel just as insecure as single men, but they blame themselves, not the men who reject them. Instead, we empty our bank accounts to buy makeup and skin products. We get up before sunrise to remove every hair on our bodies. We starve ourselves.

Yet I'm supposed to believe that women have all the power in the dating world?

More women succeed on dating apps because they do more to get validation. Looking at women's profiles, you usually get a gallery of smiles and pretty outfits, shiny hair, friends' dinners, hiking and picnics in the park.

Men's profiles are mostly a couple of grainy selfies with a dirty room in the background. Maybe a shirtless photo in neon lights at a fitness center. What women are actually interested in, they don't seem to have given a second thought.

The criticism my friends and other female peers have of men's profiles on the apps usually has little to do with the men's appearance. It's more about the profile and photos being totally lacking in charm.

Women look more often for personality, because they are looking for a connection with someone, while many men only look at looks, because they are mainly interested in body and sex.

The alpha male is an ideal for men, not the dream man for women. On the contrary, I've heard many nightmare stories from bad dates with these types. They sit there and flaunt themselves, and are so full of themselves that they are completely uninterested in the person they are on a date with. It's like the old joke:

No, I've talked a lot about myself. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me?

Dating the alpha male are the stories we laugh about most on girls' nights out.

Men on dating apps don't try to meet women's desires

  • -33

By the same token, dating in NYC shouldn't be taken as representative of dating more broadly. Most places are somewhere between SF and NYC in dating dynamics, in large part determined by gender ratios and who you're looking to date (i.e. if you're looking for college educated professionals, you should choose to live in a place with lots of college educated professionals).

That said, "go to NYC, young man" has been by far the most successful bit of advice I've given to struggling men; it's actionable, and when they follow through with it, 100% end up coupled within a few months at most. Any pay cut isn't going to be too significant, and you get better food, arts, and more fashionable people surrounding you to boot.

edit

Baity as it is, this post has something I agree with: men are not accustomed to the rat race that women have been running for decades. Women used to need men for their money (cf. Pride and Prejudice discussion downthread), but if you don't need a breadwinner to support you and your 2.2 children (and why want children, anyway?), why settle for a man that is just average? I've heard that Satisfyer is much better than any man if you only want an orgasm.

If you're a blue tribal around 20 you will probably have to learn all the stuff women have been doing:

  • is my body hot? What can I change to make it hotter? What can I wear to accentuate the hottest parts are hide the not-so-hot ones?

  • is my face attractive? How should I style my hair to make it more attractive? How will makeup help?

  • is my personality attractive? Can I be a good listener that at least pretends to be interested in the topic? Do I know how to talk about things that interest the other party?

  • are my hobbies attractive to women? What do they say about me? Do I have a hobby that lets me meet women easily?

  • are my male friends appropriate? Do I have a cool friend that gets me into places? A wingman I can trust? Do they all look good on camera without outshining me?

  • is my lifestyle attractive? Do I look like a strong independent man that doesn't need a woman in his life to feed and clothe himself and keep his apartment clean and tastefully decorated?

There is no way, based on objective empirical observation, that most women have ever considered their value this deeply and on this many axes for any period of time, much less decades. Almost all of them have always focused on the first two, mostly as a matter of intrafemale competition, and expected men to just like the rest or move on.

The difference between men and women is that for women, seducing a man is is standing in the vicinity of said man. Smiling and being pleasant, and then waiting for the man to actually initiate. Being there is 90% of the battle won.

It's different for men. If you think that the only reason I'm not dating Gina Carano is that I haven't ran into her, then I don't know what to say.

These are extreme examples. But men never seem to do even light versions of this. Some men will stalk specific women, sure, often women they’d have no chance with even under ideal circumstances. But the strategic pursuit of a certain type of woman appears very rare.

I feel like a certain amount of this is just down to how male & female sexual attraction differs. If a male's exposed to a reasonably attractive, friendly woman with similar interests for long enough he'll likely eventually swing her way. If a girl's exposed, far more likely for a permanent 'ick' to form or the window to close of perception.

If a girl's exposed, far more likely for a permanent 'ick' to form or the window to close of perception.

Not necessarily. For me, anyway, trust comes before lust so online dating is frustrating and I'm a 75% of lovers were friends first kind of person.

That said, I do consider most of my male friends unfuckable.

(Note: I read through this entire thread and discovered, along with everyone else, that the OP comment is at least low effort and maybe-probably ChatGPT or Norwegian copypasta. Cool. Still, @2rafa

s thoughtful response motivated my response)

Ulterior motive hobby-ing and socializing in order to date is a very bad idea. As @RenOS states in reply, if you're the guy doing the thing (hobby / career / social event) just to hit on women, you get a reputation as the dude who's just there to hit on women. Because you are and you have sort of concealed that fact. I would argue that if you do this in any way that's even slightly related to your profession, say by joining a "Young Professionals in Old Timey Dirigible Engineering," you're courting disaster. The lines between personal and professional spheres for conduct are very, very blurred (I'd argue this is probably a bad thing, but that's for a different thread and a higher effort post).

The solution to this is to be good at flirting. In fact, that's always been the solution. Flirting is a specific means of communication that lets both parties covertly communicate interest while allowing for exit points constantly without anyone getting too hurt. These days, really, really subtle flirting with slow escalation and a lot of indirection at the outset appears, to me, to be the default. I think this is a symptom of overall social regression due to the rise of emotional hypersensitivity, and, frankly, just a little bit of broad level social skill retardation due to social media. It amazes me how many "conversations" these days are just round-the-table sequences of references to memes and YouTube videos.

Therefore, I see a lot of things in my social group's dating rituals nowadays (late 20s early 30s) that reminds me of what early High School was like. People do track likes on social media as indications of romantic intent. People do have multiple group-of-friends outings where two interested parties are specifically there to be near each other before those two parties go on a one-on-one date. In fact, there are even literal practice dates where one party will ask the other if they want to do coffee / movie but in such a fashion that there's no possibility of it escalating whatsoever. I remember a ritual in High School where you would ask your True Love if they wanted to sit outside in the courtyard to eat lunch together and that this was absolutely necessary before an outside-of-school-in-real-life date.

The elevated risk with current flirting, however, is that incompetence is punished nearly as harshly as the clandestine operation of hobby-ing to date. If you're socially less than replacement level (that's a baseball term, look it up), and go off half-cocked (yes, I'm having a little bit of fun now) and ask someone on a date too early in this process, or announce romantic intent with even a pretty basic - but direct - compliment, you could risk getting the creeper label. The modulators here are 1) how attractive you are 2) existing social standing 3) communication awkwardness. This is where you see a lot of angry TRP'ers and blackpillers raging "WhY caNt womenz take ComPLiments?" Well, if you're so incapable of recognizing social context, cues, and current rituals, your "compliment" is seen as a random mad raving by a whirling free radical that's too dangerous to be engaged with. When the man in three layers of sweatshirts in two layers of urine cologne on the subway salutes me and says "Morning, General!" on my commute, I don't feel flattered.

Well, how does a fellow with underdeveloped social skills go about improving? The answer is to talk to everyone about boring shit all of the time. Master small-talk. "But small talk is bullshit! I want to get into deep conversations! And isn't that also what a mate wants?" Sure, eventually. But being able to make small-talk that isn't cliche ("crazy weather we're having"), or boring, or just you free-associating demonstrates a similar kind of subtle communication very much like flirting.

If you can get a stranger, in 60 seconds, to tell them something about themselves (basic, nothing deep), laugh at an observation, and then ask you a question, you've just made a stranger begin to trust you (in the telling of the something), enjoy being around you (laugh), and take a reciprocate interest in you (the question). And, remembering that being sneaky is bad, you're doing this in a context where you don't already want to have sex with the stranger (or, you preemptively discard that outcome. Sometimes the Barista is cute, but you're not really trying to make it happen).

But, Uncle Toll Booth does kind of think all of this is bullshit. I think traditions had it right. A big part of relationship formation in the West before World War 2 was a clear demarcation between socializing and courting. Sticking with the High School image, the entire point of specific dances throughout the year was do create an unambiguous way for one party to announce interest to another (interestingly, these went "both ways" very earlier ... my Grandfather told me fond stories about his Sadie Hawkins dances where "the girls could do the pickin'" -- you take that however you like, dear reader). These dances were also the monkey-see-monkey do practices for adult courting. An invitation to dinner and/or entertainment was unambiguous as a symbol of interest. A polite decline from the offeree was respected.

[I'm going to skip the part on why / how this changed because I'm already way off topic and want to bring this ramblin wreck home]

I think a massive cause of mutual frustration in heterosexual western dating today is hyperabundant ambiguity. Friends-to-lovers, officemates-to-lovers, hobbying-to-lovers, means that a lot of young women, upon meeting a guy who is perfectly nice to them, think "wait ... is he trying to fuck me?" Not does he want to (which even Grandma had to deal with) but "is he already trying to, but won't be clear about it." Or, if he is clear about it, it's so crass, direct, and awkward that it's not just a turnoff, but, potentially, a cause for mild alarm.

[Self-critique: This post got away from me a little. I hope the Mottizens can salvage some value from the wreck]

That ambiguity is on purpose.

Social mores had to adapt to the forced mixing of foreign cultures, at gun point.

Gone are the days of the real #MeToo movement, when a woman could get any impudent Emmet Till lynched for allegedly showing misplaced interest.

Now the time is at 'what timmy gon do' and the answer is jail time

There would be a lot more clarity in a society that appropriately (violently) dealt with incivility, and where there would be no get out of jail card for every rapist, molester, drug addict, deadbeat dad etc.

I agree that actually meeting the other gender is a critical part of dating success. But I disagree that most men aren't trying this.

The extreme examples obviously wouldn't work for the men the same way as for women, because women are much more sensible to possible stalking, for good reason - male stalkers are much more common and far more dangerous. Any men attempting the kind of things you're listing here would risk being branded as an ultra-creep. Even typing out "strategically pursuing a certain type of women" I feel like I'm writing something about a male serial killer.

But the "light" variant of this is done all the time. "Has lots of women" is a top positive criteria for choosing what to study, together with "pays well". I know several men who have told me explicitly that they chose their field because it has lots of women. Same for hobbies. Hell, I would count that as negative attribute of men; They constantly try to find novel ways to pretend to be into something that women like to get laid under false pretences. "I totally care about the environment babe, please tell me more about it while we make love"

My wife studied psychology and both she herself as her female fellow students complained a lot about suspecting that the men in the course only studied it for dating (based on the few male humanities students I know, I concur with her entirely). One in particular had tried to hit on a few too many girls and now struggled to be accepted at all. As you see, even the light version you risk being branded a creep as a man. So unless you already have a decently above-average baseline of social capability, it is a wiser choice to not attempt it as a man and stick to "safe" options like clubs or dating apps where, if you screw up, you don't risk ruining your entire social circle and several years of your life (one of the prime reasons why men flock there despite the abysmal stats). And what you definitely do not do is admit it to any women (and if you want to be really safe, ideally not even to yourself).

I would even go as far as saying that the light version is done much less by women. No women ever studied a field because it has lots of men - no, that is usually one of the top negative criteria, a reason not to go into a field. I have never heard about a women going into a hobby because it has lots of men, either. And women also do lots of gatekeeping of their fields and hobbies, while men often actively try to recruit women into their hobbies. Back when I took advanced dancing lessons as a teen (in my region, basic dancing lessons are a social requirement), the girls would often complain about how many of the boys dropped out after the basics and just a moment later about how many of the boys who didn't are only doing it for dating and how creepy that is. I dropped out since I already was insecure about myself and that didn't help. None of the girls even cared to my knowledge, so it was probably a correct choice.

Looking back, the broad social dynamic is obvious; The already successful (in the broad sense) men do the minimum social requirement and get out, a minority stay in since they like it or as a courtesy for their girlfriends, some of the unsuccessful but socially above-average stay in to increase their chances to get lucky, and finally the great bulk of average and below men get out before they are branded creeps. The women wanted more of the successful men to stay in, and less of the unsuccessful. Being a bit but not terribly socially awkward I stayed in a bit longer than what was considered appropriate for me, but I got the hint after a short while and also got out before it was too late.

On the other hand when doing traditionally nerdy hobbies like LAN parties or pen & paper, even just a single women being part of such a group was treated as a coveted grand prize. Even as I got out of the nerdy circles into more normie ones, the basic dynamic has never changed in my experience. In college our lab (which itself is ~ 50-50 gender split) played football and people were always complaining about the lack of women, and nobody ever complained about the wrong women joining for the wrong reasons. Most of my time at university there have been more women than men at almost everything, and the few times anybody mentioned that at all it is either seen as a positive accomplishment or followed by crickets chirping.

You have an interesting circle of friends.

The question of where to find single, available women IRL is something I see repeated alot on men-focused forums, reddit included. The conversation tends to devolve down in the same way;

  1. 'Where do I find women to interact with and touch grass?'

  2. insert list of women-focused activities and hobbies

  3. 'I'm not interested in any of those; should I pretend to be invested in them just to find a girlfriend?'

  4. Cue a mixed response of 'Just give it a shot, you might like it!' and the inevitable chorus from online women of 'Ew, you shouldn't join a hobby just to meet women, that's disgusting and women can always tell!'

  5. Cue frustrated response from several men about how they've been told they shouldn't talk to women in a variety of social spaces, so what exactly are they supposed to do?

  6. No response.

itsallsotiresome.jpg

So, yeah. This is something that's I feel has been happening alot as of late, and has been exacerbated by covid. Whether this is all antecedent data or indications of a larger social trendline with ominous implications for the future has yet to be determined.

Well, my go-to advice has always been speed-dating, which doesn't require any specific interest, and only involves women who explicitly want to meet men. It's a lot easier if you live in a large (non-tech-focused) city, but that's true of pretty much everything.

I do think the hobby stuff can be more pleasant if there are hobbies that work for you, and that "try things you don't expect to like, at least once" really is good life advice. (Of course don't keep going if you hate it.)

The "Ew" people do not have your best interests at heart, and - outside of school or work - can usually just be ignored. Some women really do go to social activities to meet men; some other women like to get in the way, for reasons I wouldn't dream of imputing.

Ah, yes. I've seen that advice, as well.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone remarking on it actually working, though. Most of the time people comment how nothing ever comes of it, and I've never actually seen it occur in real life.

If I had to venture a guess, this idea stems as an artifact of european style dating, where I've heard a more slow, organic, 'start as friends and become more' is seen as a standard thing, whereas in American it's often considered openly verboten.

That's mostly a wild supposition on my part, though.

I would say it is considered the ideal here in Europe, yes. But it mostly works for the guys who don't struggle with women anyway. If you're an average guy with average social skills you will be able to meet women at bars and clubs and might get lucky. But if you try to weasel your way into a friend group with plenty of women, they will be nice and considerate but simply not invite you to most events except the biggest, which will functionally be the same as the bars and clubs you've already been frequenting. If you try to invite them to something, they will not show up. If you get pushy, they will start actively avoiding you.

I think many women really struggle to process the male perspective. As a woman, as long as you are nice and social and put in just a minimal effort to get along with any guy, he will generally don't mind your presence or even want to actively invite you to every social event he knows. More women is ALWAYS better. As a woman, your main problem is the opposite; You're bombarded by male attention and need to make sure to avoid the lazy fuckers, the losers, the stalkers, the cheaters and so on. Otherwise you'll end up being one of those wifes who does all the house work while also working full time and also caring for the kids, or you will end up having to bankroll your husbands stupid ideas that go nowhere or you will be replaced by a younger model once you're older etc.

As a guy however even woman you're friendly with will by default see no reason to invite you to any social event. All else being equal, a social event gets worse with more average men present. Men will want to come less since they want to meet women, women will want to come less since they want to meet the good men.

As a woman in America I only ever considered the "become friends and fall in love" method.

As a very plain woman I secured a husband by working at a IT Service Desk where I was the only woman and joined a fantasy football team without knowing anything about football (I picked players based on the vibes I got from their name.) I fell for the best man out of the bunch, someone of healthy weight, high intelligence, and emotional self-awareness. He fell for me. It probably helped that by that time half the single guys (and one of the married men) were interested in me, driving up my perceived value.

It took two years of spending time in male dominated spaces, but I think I married the best man I could.

It makes sense, and it's doable, but it's backwards. The bag young men are supposed to secure is resources and social status. They may as well start looting and raping if it takes this much social intrigue to find a decent partner.

In any of your examples, did the women do all this effort to secure a poor, regular height man, with a great personality?

I went to an event like this recently in finance and it was like 60% women, all young, and because it was all PMC disproportionately skinny and attractive.

Huh, that's interesting. I always assumed those things would be as male-dominated as the industry as a whole; if they're majority female, that's a huge selection effect.

Ah, that makes sense. The FCA gave a ratio of 17% female in 2019, but only for people senior enough to need approval.

You're assuming male and female attraction is symmetrical/comparable. It isn't.

I'm not assuming that it is symmetrical. But at the "foot-in-the-door" level it's pretty comparable.

Dating apps have a severely skewed gender ratio, so the competition is indeed stiff no matter how much work men put on their profiles. Throughout university and even after graduating, I've always found my dates through shared hobbies and mutual friends. Never installed a dating app on my phone and don't plan to.

The most frustrated young men seek companionship in online echo chambers filled with depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder. None of them have learned to talk about their problems. It feels easier to take what they call "the black pill", the belief that you are genetically predisposed to be ignored by women.

Well I partially agree, though I'm not sure it's easier to take the black pill that you're inescapably fucked genetically instead of just deferring your happiness to the future. "I'll get there but I'm finding myself right now" is an easier coping mechanism than "It doesn't matter how much I lift, how much I read and how much I spend on clothes, I didn't win the lottery at birth and all that awaits me is a lifetime of desolation and solitude". Guys who take the black pill genuinely do believe what they say, they aren't merely making excuses to avoid overhauling their lifestyle and routines. And the only medium of human interaction they're exposed to confirms every negative bias they have about themselves, be it through what randoms say online about them or through "experiences" of men like them. You see this kind of behaviour the most among Asian-centric spaces, particularly South, East and South East Asians. So they give up, because they do believe it is futile to try.

Guys who take the black pill genuinely do believe what they say, they aren't merely making excuses to avoid overhauling their lifestyle and routines.

It wouldn't be a good coping mechanism if people didn't sincerely cling to it. I'm not sold that it's just an empirical judgment and not a result of the fact that trying to dig oneself out requiring high investment and being more than a little demoralizing.

To put it another way: if you see fat activists who've "taken the blackpill" that weight is just genetic and there's nothing they could have done would you trust this as a mere reasonable response to the data?

Forgive me if I'm misreading you, but I take it you mean black pill beliefs don't necessarily stem from reality? If so, I don't really disagree. My point is that the response itself need not be reasonable and there could be more to the data than the OKCupid stats for example might reflect. But if some asocial Asian fellow in an Ivy League school sincerely believes that even if he shoots for a Lanny Joon physique, he'll never match the SMV of an average white athlete in his class, and ends up deciding that it's all too much effort for too little gain that isn't even guaranteed (in his mind), is it really just a coping mechanism or has he prematurely given up on life altogether? There's still a section of woke who'd sympathise with fat activists, but a maladjusted young male who effectively exists as a ghost in society, who can literally disappear today and no one will notice and let alone miss him, is fair game for shaming regardless of his ethnicity.

but I take it you mean black pill beliefs don't necessarily stem from reality?

I think they're catastrophizing - there's a basis for the negativity but it's taken to its maximal extent.

Any individual may be driven from the dating market in despair. The entire intellectual edifice that justifies this as inevitable serves as the cope.

he'll never match the SMV of an average white athlete in his class

Plenty of people can't and don't give up.

is it really just a coping mechanism or has he prematurely given up on life altogether?

The coping mechanism helps him give up on life by emphasizing downside and de-emphasizing upside - kind of like a depressive mindset. The depressive also believes that there's no point in working out cause he's so tired and it'll make it worse. The empirical evidence is against him though.

I feel like there's a lot of truth to this but it's also phrased in a way that's needlessly antagonistic.

I do think the current situation is largely fueled by women misusing their natural leverage, but oh well that's life.

I suspect this post is bait, as some have said, and it also has some characteristics of being run through ChatGPT. Nonetheless I clicked the "approve" button because, well, it is interesting and at least argues something from a non-standard POV.

That said, if this is is your only engagement, @kungen, don't expect that we'll keep letting posts like this out of the new user filter. When something smells like trolling but is just passable enough to give it the benefit of the doubt, that benefit of the doubt is highly contingent on demonstrations of good faith, which dropping a manifesto and then disappearing is not.

I wrote it in a different language and published it on a different site, but translated it and posted it here as I wanted to get some more critical feedback from heterodox folx

Its a verbatim translation of this op-ed from Norway: https://www.nrk.no/ytring/gutta-som-ikke-far-damer-1.16355535

..how did you find it?

And the mystery is solved.

New mystery: why was this posted here?

This is heavy on assertions and light on reasoning and statistics. I suspect you're failing the ideological(gender?) turing test. But most of all it's repetitive. You can condense this down into 3 short paragraphs easily and it would be a far better, if not totally unoriginal, post.

He was reading a book on the subway. He knew the definition of the term feminism. He moved (even with a smile) when he stood in the way of someone at the bread shelf at Kiwi. He apologized for interrupting someone.

This is a list of things that women have told you were the things that charmed them.

I hope you can agree that a person may worry she'd be thought of as superficial were she to admit (to herself or others) that her thought process was "He was jacked and dressed like he's rich".

As described by Robin Hanson in Elephant In The Brain, what we think are our motives are rarely our actual motives. Add on to this the social opprobrium that may come from admitting certain motives to others, and self-reported testimony on this topic becomes highly suspect.

This is true. However, at least some non-trivial fraction of attractive women must be into stuff besides exceptional height/BMI/status/money, since I pretty regularly see men who are average in those things with attractive women. Some women, for example, are into mature daddy figure type men even if they are not physically attractive or exceptional in terms of social status or money.

I don't believe that to be the case for a non-trivial amount of people. Sure, you can justify what you have as being what you want. Or you can make the best out of the situation you felt you found yourself in and settle for someone. But if you give people the anonymous choice between a 9 vs a 6, accounting for an 'objective' height/bmi/status/money, and all else being equal, and neither 9 or 6 will know if they are not chosen so you are not hurting any feelings, people will go for the 9.

I think there are cases where people will intentionally lower their standards due to their own circumstance and insecurities. But if you told them that they could have a 9 that loved all the things they hate about themselves, or a 6 that does the same, I'd say, yeah, we are talking trivial amounts of people who go for 6.

I am not sure about that. Just off the top of my head, I can think of three very conventionally attractive women (pretty face, shapely body with nice breasts and/or backside, skinny) who, for an extended period of time, went out with physically average guys who did not have exceptional levels of money or status. None of them were foreigners looking for citizenship, either. I find it hard to believe that these women could not have easily found men with higher looks/money/status to date for an extended period of time.

Some men do not realize this, but what men want from sexual relations with women is not just sex. Men want at least these three things from sexual relationships:

  1. Sex

  2. Validation (ego boost)

  3. Intimacy (cuddling, deep conversation, etc.)

Different guys want these three things in different degrees. Some guys care 99% about just the sex part for example, but this is probably actually pretty rare. Some guys consciously think that they just want the sex part but actually without realizing it want validation and/or intimacy more than they want sex.

Guys who are mainly driven by wanting the sex have no reason to avoid doing relatively minor things to make themselves more attractive, like grooming and exercise. However, guys who are mainly driven by wanting validation and/or intimacy can sometimes encounter the problem that they want validation for being themselves as they are now, they want intimacy for being as they are now. The whole idea of first having to change themselves to get validation and/or intimacy is somewhat logically contradictory.

I think that the solution for such guys is probably to become more aware of what is actually driving them to seek out sexual relations with women. Seeking mainly validation from sexual relations is usually a bad idea in general if for no other reason than that it makes one's ego dependent on what other people think of you sexually. Seeking mainly intimacy from sexual relations is a recipe to go into the friend zone. So the solution, it seems to me, is to try to be mainly driven by wanting sex as opposed to validation and intimacy.

Edit: If a man is 100% driven by sex as opposed to validation or intimacy, the logical solution is to see prostitutes assuming that the man has no ethical qualms with that. But almost no man is 100% driven by sex as opposed to validation or intimacy.

However, guys who are mainly driven by wanting validation and/or intimacy can sometimes encounter the problem that they want validation for being themselves as they are now, they want intimacy for being as they are now.

I want to take a screwdriver

Mutilate my face

Find a beautiful woman

Make her love me for what I am

Then say I don't need it and walk away

  • Hank Rollins

You forgot number 4: housekeeper, chef and personal shopper.

You have an interesting perspective but I wouldn't break things down into distinct categories as you have. In my experience, the needs you listed aren't unrelated at all but rather all play into each other. The sex and intimacy validate the ego. If you have sex with no ego validation (for example by having sex with a prostitute) it is extremely unsatisfying because you don't feel that your partner likes you in any way, so there is little to no ego validation. This is the same if you have a sex partner you don't feel equal to and feel they only like you for your money/status/power/something other than your intrinsic qualities or physical characteristics.

Intimacy is also a motivation only insofar as it validates the ego. It reinforces your feelings of power and worthiness to be held and admired and to offer admiration and intimacy in turn.

The whole idea of first having to change themselves to get validation and/or intimacy is somewhat logically contradictory.

In my experience it's very gratifying to be able to change yourself and have power over your own body and physicality and then be validated through sex. When I felt very badly about myself I was incapable of having good sex because I hated myself so much that anyone who liked me as I was repulsed me. After improving myself I am much easier to love. If you are so insecure that self improvement points to your weaknesses rather than as a place to improve yourself, you are working against your ability to be loved and have your ego gratified. Men are competitive and will always have insecurities so if you aren't working on yourself you're doomed to be stuck in a mode of self doubt which leads to misery.

I think men who don't appear to be driven by intimacy are insecure about their ability to show love to other people and avoid this part of relationships. It's not that they don't want to feel loved, but they have experience from not being loved in the past or are afraid of their partner rejecting the showing of love so they avoid it.

Seeking mainly validation from sexual relations is usually a bad idea in general if for no other reason than that it makes one's ego dependent on what other people think of you sexually.

Yes, men must find a source of validation from within themselves or else any amount of external validation they get is just not going to work on them. If you've known insecure people and tried to give them a genuine compliment they often reply with bitterness or as though you're attacking them when you're just trying to be nice, it's the same thing.

So the solution, it seems to me, is to try to be mainly driven by wanting sex as opposed to validation and intimacy.

Sex without ego validation is completely pointless. As a gay man I can get so much sex but if I'm not feeling loved by my partner it just feels like masturbation with the extra needless steps of looking for a partner for no reason if they don't validate my ego or provide some intimacy toward me.

I think all men want sex and intimacy as a way to boost the ego. They are not separable. I am a gay man so I don't know how straight men think but I suspect motivations are largely the same.

Sex without ego validation is completely pointless. As a gay man I can get so much sex but if I'm not feeling loved by my partner it just feels like masturbation with the extra needless steps of looking for a partner for no reason if they don't validate my ego or provide some intimacy toward me.

The vast, vast, vast majority of straight guys will never experience casual sexual availability on par with a gay man, though. Like I agree with your statement, but I also feel like there's likely an inflection point of novelty at, let's say for the sake of this, 15 casual partners, where it loses a lot of the luster.

I’ve had around 100 casual sexual partners. I’m engaged now but a strong desire for novelty is still there.

edit

Yes. Because everyone uses dating apps now

I'd like to see some numbers to back up that claim, I know nobody that has used dating apps for anything more than hook ups and even then, that's not exactly common. It's my experience that people find relationships through work/school or mutual friends.

My experience in general with how people talk about relationships and dating online has been one of bafflement. It's always this sturm und drang about how dating is impossible for the average man, women are ruthless harpies and the dating world has become this mad max style post apocalyptic wasteland ruled over by the new supermen. Then I look out the window and everything seems fine, people pursue relationships that aren't much changed from the kind that their parents would have pursued.

I've increasingly come round to the idea that talking about relationships online attracts a certain kind of individual, with a certain kind of world view and experiences and that this lends a certain tint to the discourse.

edit

And yet, the stats are what they are.

Maybe you're the "certain kind of individual"? My own social circles are chock full of men so lonely they've given up on even talking about it because there's nothing to say and nobody cares to do anything to help anyway. And they come from a variety of social classes too.

I mean, the stats are that 39% of relationships start on apps. So, yeah, lots of people meet their partners that way; more don't. I completely agree that the app experience and the in-person experience are night-and-day; conversations about dating will seem like two separate universes depending on whether the speaker meets more women online, or in real life.

Last time I checked, the average app had a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 gender ratio, so galaxy-brain analysis aside, it's really just not that weird that apps suck for men.

This post has a lot of red flags. It's coming from a new account with 0 other posts, so there's a nontrivial chance it's a ban-evading troll trying to e.g. harvest responses for sneerclub, which this community has had issues with in the past. The syntax of the post is a bit stilted as well, indicating it's not OC but rather came from something like a news article or opinion piece, although I've put in a few sentences to search engines and can't find anything. Perhaps it's translated? Finally, it's coming from a culture war angle that people on this forum usually argue against. Stuff like "He knew the definition of the term feminism" is a big red flag. Is this asking about a boring dictionary definition of "feminism"? If so, I doubt most people would have difficulty coming up with something vaguely correct. As such, it figures that this is arguing for the sloganeering, meme definition where "feminism" means "the belief that women are people", which is a motte-and-bailey where the bailey is "if you don't agree with all third-wave feminist dogma, then you're equivalent to someone who believes women are akin to dogs or chattel-slaves".

I'll bite anyways since I think it makes for interesting discussion.

This post sounds like the Hollywood Romcom-esque advice that women often give to impressionable men that "if you want to succeed in dating, the most important factor is being Nice Guy". This is flatly nonsense. Women automatically filter out any men that don't meet a certain attractiveness threshold. The most important dating advice for men, bar none is "be attractive, and don't be unattractive". For men, this mostly involves being physically fit, having at least an OK fashion sense, being tall, and other stuff that gets stereotyped as "Alpha male". Once this basic threshold of attractiveness is reached, then other factors like personality can matter at the margins although it tends to manifest in ways that go counter to Hollywood and feminist claims, e.g. being confident and arrogant is almost certainly better than being kind but unconfident.

On section of your post illustrates this quite well:

Women look more often for personality, because they are looking for a connection with someone, while many men only look at looks, because they are mainly interested in body and sex.

The alpha male is an ideal for men, not the dream man for women. On the contrary, I've heard many nightmare stories from bad dates with these types. They sit there and flaunt themselves, and are so full of themselves that they are completely uninterested in the person they are on a date with. It's like the old joke:

No, I've talked a lot about myself. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me?

Dating the alpha male are the stories we laugh about most on girls' nights out.

Yes, women joke about arrogant assholes. But notice that the woman went out on a date with such a man in the first place. An unconfident, unattractive nerd doesn't even get a chance.

Even if it is a troll, it is good to have some content like this here to prevent TheMotte from turning into a right-wing circlejerk.

If the quality were higher I might agree.

But if the opposing side is always represented in easily refuted, poorly argued form it's only going to make the right look more reasonable in comparison.

The young men feel generous with the number of likes they get on the apps, but don't get the same amount of likes in return.

I think my local LLaMA-13B does better.

Stopped reading after that sentence.

Yea, that sentence was a head-scratcher.

So you think the comment is AI-generated? That certainly seems plausible.

Yes. And even if it is organically farmed, we should have standards and not engage with something less coherent than a punch-drunk copywriter's shower thoughts.

My first thought after reading that typo was either a foreigner or a content farm journalist, but AI probably works as an explanation too.

a content farm journalist

Yes. From above: https://www-nrk-no.translate.goog/ytring/gutta-som-ikke-far-damer-1.16355535?_x_tr_sl=no&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

It seems obvious that women tend to have more success on dating apps because it’s inherently a looks oriented medium and women have an inherently easier time leveraging looks, especially through a screen, compared to men.

What does success mean? It is getting what you want. Women have high standards in a number of different, often vague and socially informed attributes like status. Dating Apps are absolutely terrible at helping you to find this out. Even worse, they are by their nature most conducive to casual hookups, which most women aren't particularly interested in. I think it is not surprising that they broadly speaking steer clear of them as a result. Yes they can leverage this mismatch then to make the men on apps jump through ridiculous hoops if they so wish, but it doesn't really mean that women have more "success" in a meaningful sense or that the experience really is more pleasant for them unless they have a specific kind of personality.

Your definition just rationalizes away success, where if someone gets objectively better outcomes, but their expectations are higher, they somehow aren't doing better because the gap between expectations and outcomes is similar.

Inappropriately high standards from women is a thing I like complaining about myself, but that was not my point here. The point is that the look-based nature of online dating cuts both ways: Women can advertise themselves better, yes, but they can't themselves effectively select for the things they care more about, while it is trivial and obvious for men. So in practice women are naturally disadvantaged in online dating - being able to better advertise yourself while not getting what you want is a net negative - and this disadvantage translates into them not going on the platform in the first place.

Instead, we empty our bank accounts to buy makeup and skin products. We get up before sunrise to remove every hair on our bodies. We starve ourselves.

Who told you that that's what men want?

It seems that men prefer thin women but you shouldn't have to starve yourself to be thin. Just have a healthy diet.

Many men don't like make-up, even if for some it translates into liking women that wear 'natural make-up'. Not drinking and having a good diet and good sleep (being healthy) goes a long way for good skin!

One could also see 'we empty our bank account for...' as a red flag. If you need a full face of make-up to just look good enough to go out, that could be an issue.

Maybe it's a self-esteem issue too?

Psychologically healthy women are very attractive too.

1st comment on the account, immediately going for the top level? Straight for the grade A1 industrial-grade rage-bait topic of gender inequality in dating? Plus the obnoxious one sentence paragraphing?

I confidently predict that this is disingenuous trolling designed to get a bunch of people angry and ten + comments. It's good disingenuous trolling, I was tempted. But still, don't fall for the bait!

Obviously your post is full of simplifications (generics) but the spirit is right. I think that the fundamental source of almost all relationship problems - whether romantic or otherwise - is motivational. Even literal morons and maurauding spergs can be very socially adept when they are motivated correctly; I have seen this a lot of times now. On the other hand, I have seen extremely charismatic and gifted men/women screw things up, usually because:

(a) They were using another person(s) to gain some sort of internal self-esteem, rather than seeking deep and enjoyable connections for their own sake. This seems to lead to trying too hard or not enough, depending on the nature of the self-esteem pursued: proving that you are "lovable" as you are (a good way to be lazy and whiny), proving that you're a winner because you got a HVM/lots of chicks/a wife material woman/whatever.

Solution: stop pursuing self-esteem. Self-rating is a really stupid idea, as pretty much all the great religions and philosophies imply. Leave that to God, if anyone.

(b) They have perfectionist aims. It's fine to want to meet the perfect person, in the perfect way, and have the perfect romance, but that's not going to happen, and all love involves sacrifice. And unconditional love is clearly an insane aspiration, when one thinks it through.

Solution: admire the perfect but accept the imperfect. Perfection is for heaven, if anywhere.

As you suggest, it's really a lot easier than most men think. As a basically average-looking guy, it took me about 2 years to go from hundreds of unanswered messages to women to being messaged by hundreds of women, and it was largely just a matter of being motivated in the right sorts of ways. The actual changes themselves (losing weight, better photos, a more playfully written profile) were comparatively easy.

FINNISH ELECTIONS TODAY

I haven't had time to write updates here (though I write a weekly Finnish politics etc update on my blog) but a short update:

Finland has a parliamentary election today. The Finnish parliament has 200 MPs, one from autonomous region of Åland (which has its own political system I won't go through here) and the rest from mainland, which is divided to several electoral districts. The Finnish electoral system is "open-list proportional", the parties receive seats according to their votes but what people actually vote for are individual candidates from these lists and the amount of votes for a list in a certain districts is the total vote of all the candidates. As such, Finnish politics is fairly personalized, and elections usually see hundreds of thousands of candidates all running their individual campaigns and party campaigns on top of them.

For the past 4 years, Finland has been led by a center-left government run by Social Democrats, currently under the now-world-famous PM Sanna Marin. During these past 4 years Finland has faced the same COVID and Ukraine crises as all the other countries, as well as the strain caused by aging and sluggish European economy on the welfare state on top of it. The government has simultaneously tied to juggle with the global crises, reform/refund the welfare state and strive for a tight environmental goal of carbon neutrality by 2035, which has caused a lot of strain inside the government.

Finland's parliamentary political parties are (you can also check this to get a "neutral" look at most of these these parties through ChatGPT/Midjourney created candidates):

GOVERNMENT:

Social Democrats (currently 40 seats): A fairly typical European social-democratic party. Center-left, used to be a labor-union party, still kind of is but has also expanded to a more "modern" green-left feminist direction, particularly under Marin. Currently also very dependent on Marin's popularity and visibility.

Centre (currently 31 seats): A center-right rural party, the "odd man out" of the government. Has particularly had a strained relationship to other parties due to the carbon-neutrality goal, which they technically share but which has led to policies that greatly bother their rural/small-town voter base, like cuts to timber production, steeper fuel prices etc. Took a big hit in the last election (when they were in a center-right government). Projected to lose seats.

Greens (currently 20 seats): After a long period of concentrating on intersectionalism and general lefty policies etc., they've tried to refocus back on environmentalism in this government, which hasn't gone particularly well, since the post-Ukraine inflation has put environment on the back burner among Finnish middle-class concerns. Projected to lose seats.

Left Alliance (currently 16 seats): A far-left party that has, for once, tried to be the nice guy of this government and didn't even rock the boat too much when Ukraine war caused Finland to apply for NATO, a thing this party has long opposed fiercely.

Swedish People's Party (currently 10 seats, Åland's MP always caucuses with this party): An interest party for Swedish-speaking Finns. Technically centrist liberal, in practice just mainly concentrates on acting as a quasi-ethnic party that always plays nice in the government to get their few interest-group issues through.

OPPOSITION:

The Finns Party (currently 39 seats): A right-wing populist and nationalist party. Main issue is opposing immigration, is also against new environmental legislation. Possible election winner (ie. might be voted as the largest party), their leader Riikka Purra might replace Marin.

National Coalition (currently 37 seats): A center-right neoliberal party. Stereotypically the "party of the rich", focused on tighter fiscal policies and playing back the debt taken during this government. Long the only party to support NATO, only to now have their signature issue taken way. Also a possible election winner, their leader Petteri Orpo might become the PM.

Christian Democrats (currently 5 seats): A small religious party. The only Finnish party to be anti-abortion, though currently main causes are trying to get Finland's birthrate up and opposing the recently-signed trans reform law.

Movement Now (currently 1 seat): A one-person splinter from National Coalition, led by millionaire who got angry the NC didn't make him a minister the last time they were in government. Imagine a poorer Trump who had none of Trump's humor or charms and hadn't lucked into his immigration top issue. Unsurprisingly this hasn't worked too well. The millionaire might keep his seat.

Power belongs to the People: (currently 1 seat): A one-person splinter from The Finns Party. Led by a bodybuilder who got kicked out for being too racist, then pivoted to anti-Covid-measures/anti-vaxx stuff, then pivoting to QAnon-tier conspiracy theories, then pivoting to pro-Russianism and charismatic Christianity. Will almost certainly lose the guy's seat, upstaged even in the anti-vaxx conspiracy communities by a somewhat less insane splinter Freedom Alliance.

In addition to these there are a bunch of extraparliamentary microparties, in addition to PbtP and FA there are at least three other antivaxx conspiracy parties and these have spent much of this election fighting each other. The most notable microparties are Liberal Party, a libertarian-ish party that has campaigned solely on having an explicit list of 9 billion euros of budget cuts (something like 11 % of Finnish state budget) without cutting health care, education of defense spending and might get a seat, and Blue-and-Black Movement, who probably won't get a seat but have got a fair bit of attention for explicitly being a racist and fascist party (as in, making statements like "Blue-and-Black is a racist party" after The Finns Party said they were not a racist party after some minor affair).

ISSUES:

The main issues have been:

DEBT: Due to Covid, post-Ukraine defense boosts, but also welfare state reforms like the increase of mandatory age of education or overhauling the social and health care system, Finland has taken a fair amount of debt, with Finnish debt-to-GDP ratio increasing from 59 % in 2019 to 72,4 % in 2022. Finnish politics are very debt-averse, so much of this election season has been spent on parties discussing how they're going to bring the debt ratio back down and what sort of cuts they would make. On the other hand, there's also:

HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION: Despite (or, some would say, because) of the reforms, the Finnish health care and education systems are still showing signs of strain, with there being new health care scandals all over the country almost weekly, at least, and Finnish PISA education scores dropping. Various parties have various measures for fixing this.

STREET GANGS: Street crime, generally by immigrants, has been a theme in Finnish discussions for some time now. The police used to be dismissive about the possibility of gangs even existing in Finland but have taken a stricter tone recently. Unsurprisingly a big issue for The Finns Party, who have seen a major poll rise as the elections approach.

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY: While this looms extremely large in Finnish consciousness and media because of, you know, it's not a divisive issue among the parties, since they all (apart from small conspiracy theory parties) either support NATO now or at least grudgingly accept its existence, and also support Ukraine against Russia (again, apart from small conspiracy parties). Still, there are individual themes like "Should Finland offer to accept nukes in Finland if NATO wants to base them here?)

POLLS:

Current 30 day polling average:

National Coalition: 20,3%

Social Democrats: 19,3%

The Finns Party: 19,3%

Centre: 10,6%

Greens: 8,6%

Left Alliance: 8,6%

Swedish People's Party: 4,4%

Christian Democrats: 4,0%

Movement Now: 1,8%

Others: 3,2%

GOVERNMENT FORMATION:

As one can see, any one of the largest three parties might be the biggest in the election. If the Social Democrats are the biggest, since the Centre does not want to continue the current government, they would probably form a "blue-red" government with National Coalition and some mix of the other parties, even though the parties have expressed very diverging ideas about economic issues and the debt.

If The Finns Party was the largest, they would probably form a right-wing government with the National Coalition, and maybe Centre and others, as they agree on the economy, though don't agree on all the environmental and immigration questions, and this sort of a government might cause problems with the EU, since TFP is still formally an anti-EU party. If the National Coalition was the biggest they could go either way.

Well, looks like Sanna Marin has lost, at least.

Her party sort of won, since they actually increased their support, but yes, right-wing parties won.

It is very possible that if there's a government between National Coalition and Social Democrats, she'll just continue as a minister, possibly quite a major one (like Financial or Foreign).

How likely do you think such a coalition is? I've only followed the election very lightly but from my perspective it's seems that much of the NC campaign was against the economic policies of the SD, so a coalition after that seems difficult. Or have I perhaps misunderstood things?

Hard to say! This sort of a coalition isn't unusual, and it certainly is one that a large fraction of Finnish elite is gunning for. There are probably many in NC who would prefer SDP simply due to the fact that it's an "established", non-populist party, and better to work with in actual parliamentary/governmental work than the populists in TFP. However, I cannot say yet what are the chances of this government and what are the chances of a right-wing one with NC and TFP - there are too many moving objects in the play.

OnlyFinns?

Is there any hope of a true populist government? Said another way, say the Finns party and coalition win, will they be able to meaningfully implement their will?

I’m guessing the answer is no. And I’m increasingly thinking that the answer is no even if there were a significant majority government that took power.

The Americans and EU will not allow it and will colour revenution any threat. They tried it in Turkey and seemed to have failed. And they’re trying it in Israel right now.

Democracy is broken.

Well, that depends what you define as their will? The Finns Party, even though it did well, cannot govern alone, and their potential governmental partners aren't particularly "populist", whatever it means here.

Are you suggesting that the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey was instigated by American and European intelligence services? This isn't even a fringe theory. As far as I can tell, it's just something you made up. Not even Erdogan has ever suggested anything like this.

I also object to your characterization of the National Coalition (presumably this is what you meant by "coalition") as "populist". According to the description above:

A center-right neoliberal party. Stereotypically the "party of the rich", focused on tighter fiscal policies and playing back the debt taken during this government. Long the only party to support NATO, only to now have their signature issue taken way.

And this bit from their Wikipedia article:

The party self-statedly bases its politics on "freedom, responsibility and democracy, equal opportunities, education, supportiveness, tolerance and caring"[14] and supports multiculturalism and LGBT rights. Their foreign stances are pro-NATO and pro-European orientated, and they are a member of the European People's Party (EPP).[2]

They are about as far from "populist", Trump- and Orban-style politics as one can get.

The Americans and the EU haven't colour revolutioned Poland or Hungary. There was definitely organised foreign support for the opposition in Hungary, but the plan (which failed) was to beat Orban at the ballot box (or possibly to force him into sufficiently blatant ballot-rigging that he could be colour revolutioned). In Poland, not even that.

The EU also threatened reducing financial support, if I recall correctly. In any case I'd say it's hard to call anything 'democratic' when there is so much pressure and influence from outside sources that are directly trying to push without shoving to get the 'people' to vote how they 'should'.

A true populist government in these circumstances would be sign of Finnish democracy being broken, given the limited popular support of Finnish populists.

"Root causes" are excuses to do nothing

I've written before about the problems facing the TTC, Toronto's public transit system (examples from here: 1 and less directly 2). I'm a big transit advocate, think cities built around the automobile are awful, and car dependency is a big cause in western social malaise. Yada yada yada, you can fill in the rest. The problem I have is that my supposed brothers-in-arms on the transit crusade seem to think it's optional that transit actually be safe, clean, and enjoyable; this has been hashed and rehashed before so to put it simply my views are that if you want transit to work, you cannot tolerate anti-social behaviour on it.

Last week a 16 year-old boy was stabbed to death in a random, unprovoked attack. The assailant was a homeless man who was out on probation for multiple charges, including most recently a sexual assault two weeks prior, and had previously been issued weapons bans and ordered to take mental health counselling. You can imagine the response: various flavours of outraged, upset, sad, conciliatory, exhausted, in all their various permutations as they slithered through the filter of ideology.

The next day a mass shooting happened in the US, which has been picked over for its culture war nuggets already. But in the periods both before and after the killer's atypical identity was revealed, it reminded me very much of the reaction to the stabbing the day before. There is a certain type of person, who when confronted with an incident that they (consciously or not) are intelligent enough to realize might clash with their worldview, employs a kind of motte-and-bailey to defend it. They cannot outwardly exclaim that "This changes nothing!" in the aftermath of a tragedy, because it would appear cruel, heartless, or at the very least tonedeaf. Instead they insist that the real root of the problem is some vast, society-wide, rooted-in-the-depths issue that has to be tackled first. An obvious example is that (almost) every time there is a mass shooting in the US, 2nd amendment types all of a sudden become very concerned about the mental health of the nation, and proclaim it to be the fundamental cause of the problem that must be addressed before anything else changes. Now in general I'm actually very receptive to this line of argument; I think it is mostly a social/mental health problem. Again this has all been re-litigated a thousand times, but these kind of mass shootings are mainly a product of the last 25 years, and countries other than the US seem to have little issue mixing widespread gun ownership with low rates of gun crime.

But obviously this argument is an excuse to do nothing. These people care not one whit about mental health all the other days of the year, and if they were so serious about the problem in the first place maybe there would be a means to achieve some kind of reasonable restrictions on gun ownership that would, if not prevent mass shootings, at least stop them from being so damn easy.

Likewise, I've seen dozens of similar sentiments in the past week explaining the deep-seated causes of why a mentally ill homeless man randomly killed a teen: it's due to the federal government no longer funding social housing, it's due to a lack of compassion for the dehoused, it's about a lack of community, and of course We All Know it's really about capitalism itself. OK, great. But these all feel like excuses to do nothing. This kind of random violence on the subway wasn't an issue before COVID. Do we have to wait for ten years of elevated federal housing funds to act? Do we have to rebuild social trust first? Do we have to dismantle the corporations of the Laurentian Elite into worker co-ops before we do a goddamn thing? I like the sound of all these ideas, but I think there are more direct and immediate ways to prevent kids from getting murdered, so how about we do those first!

But of course the people voicing these sentiments don't actually want those actions taken. Or perhaps really, they perceive that those actions being taken might vaguely benefit the social and political capital of groups they don't like, and so construct an excuse to oppose them.

The bridge near me used to be suicide capital of Toronto. In North America it was second only to the Golden Gate Bridge as a venue for people to end their lives. So in 2006, the suicide nets went up, and there's only been one death since. I wonder whether if that solution was proposed today if we'd get the same kind of inane pushback: no, first we have to tackle the opioids, or too much screen time, or cyber-bullying, or whatever the root cause of the problem was. The nets are ugly: not only as a reflection of our society's problems, they also get in the way of a good view. But it would've been cowardly inaction to insist the root cause of the problem had to be solved first.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Sagan

All arguments in this vein are fallacious, insomuch that every problem can be obfuscated into higher-order abstractions. It's a favorite argument of progressive liberals because it dovetails nicely into an intersectional viewpoint of the world. This is how every conceivable problem is the fault of the current structure of society and why a revolution is necessary before a single iota of progress can be done. Yes, we're hard at work at the revolution. We can't solve the murder problem until Every. Last. White. Male. is brought to account. But until then you'll have to deal with the scent of urine in the cities and the free-range drug addicts.

...but to be more serious, I don't believe anyone who says this. I don't believe that people who can't solve the murder problem to be capable of solving the societal inequity problem. Anyone who tells you that society needs to do better before the incredibly basic functions of a state can be resolved thinks you are a credulous moron to be exorted of social capital. They are the same people who will tell you, with the same logic, that you can't solve the lunch problem until you solve world hunger.

No thank you, I will go to the fast food court and buy a meal while the great minds slowly starve to death: perhaps when all of the social reformers have passed away we can solve our own problems.

But obviously this argument is an excuse to do nothing. These people care not one whit about mental health all the other days of the year, and if they were so serious about the problem in the first place maybe there would be a means to achieve some kind of reasonable restrictions on gun ownership that would, if not prevent mass shootings, at least stop them from being so damn easy.

Republicans in general seem to care about mental health, which is why they are so strongly against abortion. After all the freedom to abort is deeply connected to the freedom to fornicate, and the freedom to fornicate is deeply connected to the amount of single mothers.

Another thing Republicans are more strongly against than the other side? Welfare.

Welfare allows more single mothers as well.

Single mothers are connected to crime, especially gun crimes within the 13/60 population.

Make abortion illegal and you discourage fornication, and you also get more risky abortions, leading to more single mother death. Fornication = death is a pretty good message to send if you want more social stability.

Gun crimes are crimes, and the Ds currently have a very poor record of addressing them.

Democrats/progressives are more concerned about getting anal sex propaganda in the hands of schoolchildren than protecting them from the social ills they generate by promoting sensuality over family formation.

Teach the schoolchildren to use guns (like they used to) and they won't have to cower in fear when Mrs PenisEnvy comes knocking for the Trans Day of Revenge.

Another angle against mass shootings that come more from the fringe libertarian / schizo (or as we know them since the covid psy-op : correct) is to abolish shadowy entities like the FBI, CIA and ATF that are deeply involved in the set up of these events. For example Operation Fast and Furious or the Benghazi fiasco. Government actors would have a little more credibility crying about [domestic] terrorism if they stopped involving themselves so often and deeply into [domestic] terrorism.

Why should little Timmy not bring guns to school to deal with his bullies, after seeing what the US government allegedly did to Osama Bin Laden?

Considering the current official eastern European foreign policy, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a sudden trend in rich American kids paying poor kids to fight to the death, in the ring, no in real life.

This is silly, you've simply framed the argument to make your preferred outcome the most obvious.

The focus on school shootings gives it away. A tiny minority of a tiny minority of "gun deaths", the solutions proposed will do absolutely nothing to solve the issue, and you criticize those who point their attention at lower-hanging fruit? Sounds like you've got a root cause you're trying to dress up a bit.

Is there a reason you put scare quotes around “gun deaths”?

While I'm not him I can guess why. Suicides are sometimes mixed in with gang violence and other gun related deaths to shore up the numbers when trying to eke out a reason for gungrabbing.

It is true that the proposed gun control solutions will do nothing about mass shootings, but it is equally true that ‘mental health’ and ‘lack of community’ are not lower hanging fruit.

2/3rds of gun deaths are suicide, 1/3 are homicide - of which 1/2 is gang related. Spree shootings are a rounding error.

"Mental health" and "lack of community" seem pretty relevant to 5/6ths of gun deaths.

Whether relevant or not, it’s not exactly lower-hanging fruit because no one knows how to address them.

I don't understand what you're trying to get at. What's my "preferred outcome"?

No the OP, but he may refer to this:

An obvious example is that (almost) every time there is a mass shooting in the US, 2nd amendment types all of a sudden become very concerned about the mental health of the nation, and proclaim it to be the fundamental cause of the problem that must be addressed before anything else changes.

I think that 2nd amendment types becoming concerned with mental health is the issue here. The 2nd amendment types are concerned with attack on 2nd amendment and may just want to point out that guns are not the problems here. And heck, there may even be some overlap here. Having better communities so people feel more safe and that they have less need to buy guns is something many 2nd amendment types as well as anti 2nd amendment types can share as a goal.

An obvious example is that (almost) every time there is a mass shooting in the US, 2nd amendment types all of a sudden become very concerned about the mental health of the nation, and proclaim it to be the fundamental cause of the problem that must be addressed before anything else changes.

"It's not the thing you are using as a scapegoat" inherently means blaming something else, but it's wrong to describe that as "suddenly concerned about".

If plagues were blamed on Jews poisoning the wells, and Jews said "wait a minute, bad sanitation by Christians is a better explanation", you wouldn't ask "why are Jews suddenly very concerned about Christian sanitation?"

The "suddenly very concerned" part comes from how 98% of the time American conservatives have somewhere between zero and negative interest in treating mental health as a public policy concern and bring it up only when taking a defensive position after a mass shooting (and generally without any actual policy proposals)

If someone's blaming you for something, the fact that you are pointing to the actual cause doesn't mean you're "suddenly concerned" about that cause, even if you haven't done much about it before. Jews aren't "suddenly concerned" about non-Jewish plague causes when accused of starting plagues, even if they have steered clear of the subject before for 98% of the time.

By your reasoning, if a mob tries to lynch a black person, and the black person says "I didn't kill anyone, the white guy down the street did", he's "suddenly concerned" about murders by white people. This is nonsense.

I imagine they aren’t too concerned because their solutions to mental health are largely outside the acceptable purview of policy. If enforcing people make culturally Christian choices to live a wholesome mentally stable life free of vice is intolerable to the secular Center left, to a conservative politician their hands are tied.

“Don’t make me pay for your sex drugs and rock and roll if you want them so bad” essentially.

That proposition is somewhat undermined by school shootings being more common in the more religious, more conservative South than elsewhere in the US. And virtually unheard of in vastly more secular Western Europe. And also that even in the US, advancing state-enforced Christianity as a remedy to mental health problems is an incredibly fringe position, even on the right.

I think a more likely explanation is that the intellectual paradigm of mainstream American conservatism simply isn't equipped to provide solutions to that kind of problem. It's like asking a progressive to come up with a scheme for regulatory reform.

That proposition is somewhat undermined by school shootings being more common in the more religious, more conservative South than elsewhere in the US.

Do you have a good source for that? I would love to see the data used and how they define 'more religious, more conservative south'.

That's my analysis, based on the Washington Post's database of school shootings and Census Bureau's regional divisions and population data. I do not entirely agree with the CB's regional divisions in a modern context, e.g. I don't agree with putting MD or DE in 'the South' (and I'll be dead before I accept the Dakotas as Midwestern), but it doesn't substantially affect the outcomes - moving them from South to Northeast makes the South look very slightly better and the NE look very slightly worse, but the South still ends up with ~66% more shootings relative to its population compared to the Northeast - and it's the external standard I decided to use beforehand.

Based on census regions and the aforementioned WaPo database, the number of mass shootings from 1999-2023 per 100k population as of 2023* (incidents, not deaths) by region are:

  1. South: 0.135

  2. Midwest: 0.111

  3. West: 0.111

  4. Pacific (meaning AK and HI): 0.093

  5. Northeast: 0.061

The assessment of the South as more conservative and more religious isn't based on any one source, just general knowledge of political outcomes and surveys of American religiosity. (I also want to be clear - my thesis is not that conservatism/religiosity cause mass shootings, merely that there is very little reason to think it is a preventative factor). I can dig up some sources if you like, but the South is consistently found to be more religious than the rest of the country.

*I did not try to adjust incident rate by population at year of incident because that was a lot more work and I doubt it will significantly alter the conclusions.

The problem with these databases of school/mass shootings is that they don't map onto what people think of as the sort of mass shootings we're discussing in this thread. A school resource officer accidentally firing his weapon, or a gang dispute that leads to one student shooting a few of his rivals, or a drug deal gone awry, or an 8 year old accidentally shooting a classmate when showing the cool gun he took from home, etc., - those all make it onto these lists. There's value in that, but it's important to recognize the broad scope of the dataset and not act as if these are lists of people who intended to kill as many people as possible, which is what our culture is almost always talking about when discussing mass shootings.

Yeah, if that data includes gang shootouts, then of course the South is going to be more represented. Are there no datasets of "mass shootings" or school shootings that include only what the layman would think of when they hear those terms?

More comments

It seems like ‘more common in the south’ is really easy to measure.

Maybe that's because school shootings are aimed at devout Christians? No potetnial victims, no problem.

They're clearly not, though. If they were, we'd expect to see evidence that school shooters were actively targeting Christians. We'd also probably expect to see more shooting at churches and fewer at public schools.

This isn't that, though.

The analogy is to a clear easy solution (remove gun = less perforated children) that conservatives find embarrassing to reject due to 'fuck them kids', so they rapidly become extremally worried about something that they also have no intention to solve but is more complicated (mental health, alienation, whatever).

Your analogy only works if jews actually were poisoning wells.

  • -26

The analogy is to a clear easy solution (remove gun = less perforated children) that conservatives find embarrassing to reject due to 'fuck them kids'

Don't engage in this kind of weakmanning. You are expected to characterize your opponents' position in a way that they would themselves recognize. That doesn't mean you have to agree with it, or even assume they are arguing in good faith (though if you are going to claim they're not, you really need to justify that), but it does mean not representing them as taking a position they clearly do not, such as "fuck them kids."

Normally this would just be a warning, but since it's becoming a pattern with you and we are getting tired of having to crack down on a low effort sneers, you're banned for another week, and if you intend to come back and repeat this, please don't bother.

Was this actually weakmanning? It seemed flippant, but accurate. And that's with me being very on the supposedly weakmanned side here.

I don't know whether I'm maybe being overly charitable, but to me it sounded not like "this is the actual solution" and "that is what conservatives actually think" but decidedly like "this is how this measure is presented" and "this is the look conservatives wish to avoid".

Well, rereading, I see it could be taken either way - "conservatives think fuck them kids" or "conservatives are embarrassed about being accused of thinking fuck them kids."

Without lack of clarification from the OP, and given his history, I'm disinclined to give benefit of the doubt. The comment in general was still pretty boo outgroup.

The clear solution seems more like locking up crazy people that disarming non-crazy people. That really is my sincere position on the matter, it's not a deflection.

And almost entirely not because of mass shootings: let's reopen the insane asylums. But this time not equal parts neglect and abuse.

The third equal part, which necessitated closing the asylums in the first place: gathering in also those people other people wish to put away for being convenient.

I’ll go one step further with a radical idea I’d like to discuss, which I don’t actually know is a good idea: a free mental health screening every year while they are ages 20 through 25. This should catch most of the schizophrenics before they become homeless druggies.

Build a real functional society inside the asylums, where each participant has 90% of the rights they have outside of the asylums, but they have the best medication’s, the best monitoring, and the best mental health outcomes.

I mean, by extension your framing also means you have to concede that Christian sanitary practices are causing the plague rather than rats.

The root cause of the Black Plague was multi-factor, to my understanding: the Y. Pestis pathogen was carried by fleas, which hitched rides on rats, which were probably drawn to urban areas due to "sanitary practices" like chamberpots and "thunder buckets."

I mean it also hit China and the Islamic world, but in any case this was an extended metaphor for something or other, wasn’t it?

You're simply privileging a solution which is simple and obvious, without considering that it might also be wrong. Conservatives also have simple and obvious solutions to "perforated children", ranging from "lock up nutcases" to "no trans hormones" to "arm teachers". Why privilege "remove guns" above those?

Because removing guns is proven to be effective.

With the high percentages of mass “message shootings” which occur in gun free zones, removing guns makes everyone else a soft target for mass shootings, stabbings, and rammings.

Has it really? I mean even if discount the incredibly likely possibility that the USA lacks the state capacity to enact EU style gun control, it hasn’t actually seemed to stop mass shootings in countries that actually had a problem with them.

I guess the conservative argument would be sure the Jews put things in the well but on net those items improve health outcomes. Yet occasionally Christian sanitary practices clash and result in deaths.

The bridge near me used to be suicide capital of Toronto. In North America it was second only to the Golden Gate Bridge as a venue for people to end their lives. So in 2006, the suicide nets went up, and there's only been one death since. I wonder whether if that solution was proposed today if we'd get the same kind of inane pushback: no, first we have to tackle the opioids, or too much screen time, or cyber-bullying, or whatever the root cause of the problem was. The nets are ugly: not only as a reflection of our society's problems, they also get in the way of a good view. But it would've been cowardly inaction to insist the root cause of the problem had to be solved first.

Did this have any actual impact on the total suicide numbers or did some people just get a less scenic last few moments? This is why root cause analysis is important, because you very much may have just ended with uglier bridges and uglier suicides for all your effort and expenditures.

But see how you're performing root cause analysis here? You really don't do this any other way. Op's argument is not against root cause analysis or an effective critique of it. It's just against wrong root cause analysis which... is hardly a unique or interesting position.

I'm not kneejerk against any introspection of root causes. I think that's a very important thing to do when designing long-term policy. My point is that this discussion of root causes in the wake of some tragedy is, in my mind, often not sincere; they don't actually care about the problem, and the talk of root causes is simply a pretext to do nothing.

Some roots are deeper than others, you have to actually pick which ones to address and to do this you have to identify them. Surely the very first thought you had to hearing about suicides on the bridge was not "we should put up nets". You must have considered other remedies. That nets went up was because the governing body did root analysis, found a cheap and easy way to mitigate the problem and implemented it. This is good of course, but it's not analysis paralysis that keeps us from addressing school shootings, it's that no matter how much analysis we do we cannot come to consensus. So what no? What does the advice of not letting root analysis get in the way of acting actually cash out to?

If you’re trying to reduce school shootings, you’d want to work with gun nuts to erect barriers which are trivial to them while also presenting a major obstacle to mentally ill neets.

I suggest requiring only cash for gun sales- the mass shooters are obviously putting everything on a credit card they don’t intend to pay off because they don’t have the money and they’ll be dead by then, while genuine gun nuts use layaway(where they don’t pick up the gun until after the last payment) if they can’t front the money for the gun.

only hire combat vets as teachers

That would probably have mostly non-safety related benefits.