Apollo and Daphne
In the myth of Apollo and Daphne, Apollo angers Eros, the god of love. Eros shoots Apollo through the heart with a gold arrow, making him fall in love with the beautiful nymph Daphne. Eros shoots Daphne through the heart with a lead arrow, making her scorn Apollo. Apollo relentlessly pursues Daphne, but she spurns him. In the end, to escape his advances, she turns into a tree.
The modern world is a bit like Eros. Men are full of desire for women, but women seem to be full of contempt for men.
I read a couple of articles lately about the problems women have finding good men. One article was about how women are harrassed by “creeps” on dating sites, and lack “control”. The evidence for this was that women receive 17 times more messages from men than men receive from women. Another was about how men are wimps who are too shy to approach women. Either men are too aggressive, and creepy, or they are wimpy losers who won’t approach women. What happened to all the good men? Did they all turn into wimps and creeps?
I don’t think men are worse than they used to be. If anything, men are probably better in absolute terms. Men are healthier, better educated, richer, and even taller than they used to be. So why are women lamenting a mythical age of male greatness that never existed?
Women perceive men as weak and useless because the modern woman doesn’t need a man. It’s that simple. She doesn’t need a man to support her, she doesn’t need a man to protect her, and she doesn’t need a man to have a baby.
In the past, women needed men to survive and men needed women to reproduce. Our emotions are adapted to bring about that exchange: male productive and protective services for female reproductive services. That sexual contract is built into our emotions and our bodies. Sex roles are mostly biological.
Modernity was created by two revolutions: the industrial revolution and the sexual revolution.
The industrial revolution, and especially the huge input of energy from fossil fuels, made physical labor and strength less important. That was the first step in making men less valuable to women as individuals. But men were still needed to invent, build and operate the machines. And as long as women were still having kids, they needed husbands to support them. Industrial civilization made life easier for both sexes. The woman could stay home with the kids, her labor lessened by running water, electricity, refrigerators, washing machines, etc. The man could go to a job where his labors were also reduced by mechanical devices.
Then came feminism and the sexual revolution. Women started to put careers before children. The birth control pill and other effective means of birth control made it possible to have sex without reproduction. So women no longer had to get married in their late teens or early twenties to avoid having children they could not support. A woman no longer needed a man for survival, and if she wanted sex, there would be plenty of men willing to provide that service — at least, as long as she was still reasonably young and attractive. If she did have kids outside marriage, the welfare state would support her and her children. Women still depend on the collective efforts of men to maintain civilization, but inside that civilization a woman no longer needs a man.
Men have stronger sexual attraction to women than vice-versa, for biological reasons. If a woman has sex, she is potentially making a huge commitment to raising a child. If a man can get sex without commitment, he can potentially get a huge reproductive benefit for free, at the woman’s expense and also at the expense of other men. Our emotions reflect the difference in costs and benefits of sex for males and females. Men have a stronger desire for sex; women have a stronger desire for commitment. In addition, women are more selective.
To be useful to a man, a woman has to be fertile. Men are attracted to signals of fertility, such as youth, full breasts and an hourglass shape. To be useful to a woman, a man must have the power to protect her and provide for her. Women are attracted to signals of male power, such as physical strength, height, and social status.
Another thing to understand is that a woman’s sexual attraction is relative. Male attraction is based on attributes of the other person. Female attraction is based on relative attributes of the other person, compared to her. Women like tall men, but what is important is that the man is taller than her. In general, a woman wants a man whose perceived power is greater than hers.
And that’s the problem. In the modern world, women have the same sexual power as before, because they give off the same sexual signals as before. The male perception of female fertility is unchanged in the modern world. But the female perception of male power has changed. Men (as individuals) have little power to do anything for women. The modern woman doesn’t need a male protector and provider. This means that, in the mating game, there is a huge imbalance of power. Male sexual agency has been neutralized by the industrial revolution, the sexual revolution, feminism and socialism.
This imbalance of power makes men unattractive to women. Men have little to offer as individuals, and that breaks the sexual contract. Women perceive that men are weak, pathetic losers, compared to themselves. In the mating game, that is correct. Most men are weak, pathetic losers by comparison to women. So women naturally become arrogant. Rather than settle for man they find unattractive, they complain that men aren’t good enough.
What makes things worse is that men also perceive their weakness relative to women. Men get a daily dose of disrespect and humiliation from snotty women, and that tends to wear down their self-confidence, especially when it comes to women. Self-confidence is a sign of power, and low self-confidence is perceived as a sign of weakness. Women perceive men as weak because they are not confident, they reject them as worthless, and this is a vicious cycle. Every rejection makes the next rejection more likely. Most men can’t escape from this cycle using pickup artist techniques. Those techniques are only useful if you already have some game.
Now, you might think that this is silly. Men should just man up, and plow through the humiliation. Who cares what some person you will probably never see again thinks about you? Human beings do.
This is another piece in the puzzle, and a very important piece. Human beings, like most primates, are small group animals. We are adapted to living in small groups. That is why we are so sensitive to rejection and humiliation. To our ancestors, being accepted by the group was necessary for survival. Instead of a passport, driver’s licence, bank account, job, and grocery store, they had social relationships. Maintaining one’s place in that society was essential to survival and reproduction. So, we can’t learn how to not care about rejection and humiliation. At most we can learn coping mechanisms.
Just as a man can’t learn how to approach women in a confident, assertive way, a woman can’t learn to be attracted to a man who has less power than her. The barrier between men and women is a natural consequence of the modern “sexually liberated” lifestyle.
Now, what are people liberated from, exactly? Sex. Yes, sex in the most literal sense: the merging of two haploid cells to create a diploid cell. Sexual liberation was really about liberating people from sex.
In the modern world, female sexual power is based on the illusion of fertility. Men are pursuing the illusion of reproductive value, not the real thing. Female attractiveness is no longer an indication of fertility. That hot chick at the bar is probably on the pill, and having sex with her is pointless from an biological perspective. So men are pursuing an illusion: the experience of sex but not the reality.
Likewise, the “alpha male” stud that women find attractive is also an illusion. His alpha behaviors would truly indicate male power and status only in a small group, where other males know him and could challenge him. In a bar full of strangers, however, alpha behaviors signal either good looks (and thus are redundant) or psychopathy. So the alpha signal is an illusion of social power, not the real thing. And if a man is tall and strong, so what? Physical strength is not the currency of power in the modern world. A wimpy nerd like Bill Gates is what power looks like in the modern world. The ability to run a business or program a computer is far more valuable than height and strength. So, male attractiveness is also an illusion in the modern world. Women are attracted to the illusion of male power, not the reality.
Usually, imbalances of supply and demand are corrected by competition. But the imbalance of sexual agency can’t be corrected by women competing for men. Women won’t compete for men that the perceive as worthless. Instead they will just complain that there are no good men.
Men are sex-seekers. We don’t have the equipment for making babies, so we are driven to get access to that equipment. Women, on the other hand, are power-seekers. They are attracted to power, which is the ability to extract energy from the environment and use it. Nature gave women the baby-making equipment and gave men better equipment for extracting energy from the physical environment. Men are adapted to extract energy from the physical world; women are adapted to extract energy from men.
Neither sex is directly motivated to have children. Until recently, that just happened without conscious desire or choice. Instead, men are motivated to get laid, and women are motivated to get power. Men will seek power, but that is instrumental to their primary sexual motivation: for men, power is a means to sex or a way to support their wives and children. The primary motivation of women is to seek power; for women sex is a means to power. The reason why women are so motivated to seek power is that raising children requires an enormous amount of energy.
Feminism is an expression of female power-seeking. It promotes women seeking power from society instead of from men as individuals. Women find this ideology appealing because it fits with their natural desire for power. Feminism tells women to pursue economic and political power, as if power is its own reward. Because women are primarily motivated to seek power, this appeals to them.
One of the ironies of the sexual revolution is that women are choosing not to have children so they can pursue economic power. But then they have no use for that power. Their emotions are frantically telling them to acquire power, as if the babies will come any minute. But because they have consciously chosen not to have children, the babies don’t come. By middle age, these women feel lost and confused. Their lives make no sense. They have power but nothing to do with it. An aching desperation sets in. What went wrong?
Sexual liberation also gave women more sexual agency, but they don’t know what to do with that either. Instead of using it, they complain that men are weak and creepy. Of course, what makes men seem weak and creepy is that they have no agency. Women took sexual agency away from men and are now complaining about the consequences.
This situation isn’t anyone’s fault. It is the unintended consequence of messing with human biology. I’m not saying we shouldn’t control reproduction, but we need to be smart about it. We need to understand human nature as it really is, not base our lives on utopian myths.