Something tells me I should be using my outline processor to capture this stuff, instead of my blog, since there is breadth & depth to this and both dimensions are important. That’s usually a tip-off that outlining is the way to go.
But related events are coming in fast and thick, and I’m more concerned about the breadth than the depth. I’ve done the depth already, a few times. I’ll probably be doing it here, too, before I’m done.
I’m seeing three topics of immediate concern:
One. Our modern society, as obsessed as it is with female achievement, doesn’t seem to be interested at all in providing girls with what children really need to become competent and capable adults: Challenge (H/T to Gerard again).
Are girls so totally fragile and glassine, so pathetically weak and easily crushed that gentle parenting to protect and guide them will destroy their gentle souls? Is the delight in science and industry such a guttering candle flame that it is snuffed by even the mildest breeze?
Two. Our society, apart from that, seems to be enthusiastically embracing a mindset that is immature at best, and at worst, insane: Women should be able to decide, on behalf of straight men who are attracted to women, what sexy is. Erm, no, as Captain Capitalism points out, straight men actually decide what sexy is, in a woman. Gotta let us decide something, ya know…
…the women who agree with Brenoff see themselves as diamonds in the rough, caged birds that whose songs are incredibly beautiful, but those infantile, privileged men refuse to recognize them as such. But all the other birds believe our songs are beautiful! Sorry, but singers don’t get to decide what their listeners will find pleasing to hear. A person simply cannot decide what others desire in their lives. It is puerile to demand other people prop up the delusions you have about your life.
Three. The gamma male. Ah, the poor, sniveling wretches…
The third and lowest tier of male social hierarchy. Unlike the dominant alpha or the passive beta, the gamma male’s hallmark traits are clinginess, possessiveness, and manipulation. Since he is unable to compete with men above his social tier, he is prone to isolating and manipulating girls, and failing that, throwing guilt trips to keep them on a short leash. While a gamma male is often a self-proclaimed “nice guy”, his benevolence is merely a means to an end, which is usually trying to hook up with a girl he is obsessed with. Overly emotional and prone to feelings of unwarranted entitlement, the gamma male would rather blame all of his problems on other people than take responsibility for his own behavior.
Fleshing out the “outline” a bit under the high-level “node” that is Observation #3: I see someone took notice of this little tempest-in-a-teapot between John Scalzi‘s fans, and me & severian. I spoke of insanity up above, which has been defined as the exercise of consistent behavior with the expectation of inconsistent results. That fits what we’ve lately seen out of the Gammas quite well:
You can always tell when the Gamma male, who will never openly admit that his precious little feelings have been wounded, is having trouble maintaining his delusion, because he keeps returning to the point where it has been punctured, trying to come up with some spin on the situation that he can successfully sell to others and thereby convince himself.
Note that despite all the reassurance he’s received from the other rabbits, it’s still not enough and he’s actively seeking even more. This is because he knows that his weakness, and worse, his pride in his weakness, makes him an object of derision and disgust by men and women alike. And the knowledge of that is painful to his ego.
Not sure how I fit into the tier system. I know I’m not Alpha, Beta or Gamma. Guess I’ve always been a sort of a “War Games” sort of guy: “The only winning move is not to play.” My kind, like the Alpha and the Beta, is naturally programmed by evolution to get a rush out of sex — the having of it, and the prospect of it as well. Gammas are a different breed entirely. It seems they achieve exactly the same thrill out of female approval. Their wires are crossed. Their mothers, or female caregivers, must have done something awful to them.
severian‘s original point, or a big part of it anyway, was that there is a certain element of danger to this business of bragging about your daughter outdoing you. How could I explain it to the intransigent-Gamma; oh right, I can’t. Well, I’ll explain it to everybody else then:
If the numbers of the Scalzi-daughter-bench-press have been discussed, they haven’t found their way to me, so I’m taking it as an unknown in the equation. Scalzi can bench press X, his daughter can bench press Y, and Y > X. That is known; let us now ponder the likelihoods. It is likely — at least, I would hope — we’re talking about something upwards of 150 pounds, which is mired deeply in the mucky layer of “bro, do you even lift???.” But unless his daughter is freakish, it’s not above what an average man can lift if he’s been working at it. And no, Gammas, I do not include myself in that. Been writing a fair amount of code over the past three years, have a bit of a T-Rex thing going on at the moment. Daughter’s a teenager who can out-lift her dad. We can probably peg this contest down to within 50 pounds. And the daughter, I take it, is in good shape.
Applying a reductio ad absurdum, let’s arbitrarily subtract a decade from the daughter’s age and pretend Scalzi was bragging about his six-year-old lifting more than he can. Now, we’ve lost our ability to provide a quality estimate about the weights being discussed, or much of it. We really haven’t a clue about what’s going on. Is he dictating this “tweet” from a hospital bed, with both arms busted? Is the daughter from the planet Krypton? I dunno. You don’t either. Point is: This is an ineffective way to assess the daughter’s suitability for feats that challenge physical strength — and, may very well involve danger.
Back from the reductio ad absurdum, we have restored the precision and can guess what’s going on again, within 50 pounds or so. But, the observation remains: This is an ineffective way to assess strength. And by “ineffective,” what I really mean is idiotic. Hey sorry John, you’re probably following the trackbacks and are reading this for yourself, and for the record — believe I said this already — I really liked Redshirts. You’re just plain wrong. I don’t mean, by that, that we’re engaged in some sort of cultural clash here and trying to figure out who’s going to impose his personal tastes on whom. It is, as a matter of fact, a matter of fact. Strength. Weakness. Those two are opposites, which means they’re not the same.
Better get word to your fanboys:
So run, kid. Beat the pants off of me. I did my damndest to help you fly, and if you soar above horizons that I can never reach, well, I think that’s what every good parent was hoping for. Instead of, you know, being an insecure douche who’s secretly engineering his kids to fail so he can feel better about his life.
I guess we must be talking about liberals, right? The tell-tale sign is right there: The kid must be soaring above higher horizons, because someone else was properly pummeled downward. Person A’s weakness becomes (somehow) Person B’s strength. Dude, that’s whacked. It’s almost as far out in the tall-grass as figuring out my secret game plan to engineer my kid to fail. And to think I’ve got that beatdown coming because I said something about pulling Scalzi’s man-card; my goodness, these people know so much they don’t really know.
There is some overlap, here, with Point #1. We talk about our aspirations for our children, particularly our daughters, to become all they possibly can. But the people who generate the most noise about this, I notice, are consistently opposed to actually challenging them.
This is destructive. It’s obviously destructive when people confuse weakness for strength. Here there is destruction against human potential. There is destruction against the challenges that build up that human potential, since these poor Gammas seem to be under the delusion that it is the spectacle of victory that makes growing children into strong, capable adults. There is also destruction against those children, themselves, since it is dangerous to pretend to assess someone’s true capabilities, while in reality only going through the motions of doing so. Not that I think Scalzi’s daughter is in this danger; Scalzi, I’m sure, knows the numbers involved in his glorious defeat. But other people reading about it don’t know, and it’s obvious there is this idea churning around out there that girls are being prepared for fabulous and glorious experiences as adult, when they meet the challenge of — beating the chestless old man, who didn’t want to win anyway. It’s not exactly a stringent test.
There is also the matter of disappointment. Competition is great for building up a child’s actual strength; it sucks as a way of building up their confidence, because it works far too well. The message never quite makes it across that there is always someone better, faster, stronger. Ironically, we have dealt with that here in the Freeberg household, during this first summer in which the teenager is taller than his old man. Yeah, great, actually we’re all pretty happy about that. That might surprise some of the Gammas who have gone a little bit off the deep end, speculating about me & my relationship with my kid. But we’ve also had to have the conversation — I’m sure they won’t understand this — that effort is required in other walks of life as well, and there’s always someone out there who’s taller. Boys who win competitions need to hear that; and they do. Girls who win competitions need to hear it too. I’m not so sure anyone’s pointing it out to them.
That takes care of the Gamma/Scalzi matter. If time permits, sometime in the days or weeks ahead I’ll flesh out the other two.