Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How to "game"-blog UPDATED

Call it game, call it evo-psych, call it anti-PC men's-rights-and-dating-advice, genre-classification aside, anyone writing anything about gender on the Internet, anyone going around being female on the Internet, has probably encountered this world.

Another installment in the WWPD Guides series awaits you, dear readers. You want to start your own "game" blog? And who wouldn't? This is how it should be done.

-Hit the right tone. You want a dash of "telling it like it is," a pinch of "it must be true, it's Science," and a possibly satirical edge - maybe the whole thing's a big joke. That possibility needs to be there, even though you of course believe every bit of it.

-Start with a few undeniable, uncontroversial facts, then give the impression that your theory of relations between the sexes stems naturally from them. Facts like "desperate is unattractive" or "finding dates is easier for the rich and good-looking." Make it clear that things operate in radically different ways for men and women. Cultivate a comment base of men to whom it would never occur that couples tend to be well-matched both in terms of looks and socioeconomic status, to whom it would never occur that a little hard-to-get is equally attractive in both sexes.

-Make outrageous claims about the age at which women cease to be attractive. None of this tepid, 40-is-old nonsense. Asserting as if it's common knowledge that women past 26 are "cougars" is good; better yet would be to draw the line at 15, so that high school seniors can also feel past-it. The goal is to include as many women as possible in the ick category.

-Conflate, conflate, conflate. There's this one generic situation you're talking about - the getting of females - and it's best not to specify if you mean one-night-stands or relationships. The less specific you are, the fewer counterarguments you field.

-Generalize, generalize, generalize. Do your best to avoid specifying whether you're talking about yuppies or all Americans. Wait, what? Well-educated 35-year-old women these days tend to be at home with their husbands, not hitting the preserved-from-the-1970s-or-was-this-only-ever-on-sitcoms singles bars? Never mind. Man shortage, folks, remember? We have a man shortage on our hands.

-Oh, and most important of all: present yourself as God's gift to women. It's not like anyone knows what you look like, let alone what you have to offer a woman once you get her home. (Or anything else - what you really earn, where you really went to school, etc.) Do not be afraid to take this to a level that reads as, well, comical. State with confidence that any woman who fails to live up to your high standards (is over 22, did not buy her underwear at La Perla, goes out in shoes that aren't heels, wears too much makeup, foregoes makeup...) will be summarily tossed aside, because the line of Giseles outside your front door really is that long.


On the other, more sympathetic but still problematic end of the spectrum, here's Dan Savage advising a college kid whose girlfriend from HS is just not that into him anymore: "How many adults—people over 30—do you know who are still with and/or married to their high-school sweethearts? The answer is either zero or approaching zero." A fair point, but note the bit I highlighted. Adulthood, for these purposes, begins at 30? I guess getting married at 27 meant that I was a child bride, although I married my graduate school sweetheart. (I don't think Stuyvesant allows "sweethearts" to occur - part of the entrance exam is to test for extreme awkwardness between the ages of 14 and 18.)

This is a tricky issue. Defining adulthood as beginning at 30 sounds progressive, because it allows for an extended finding-one's-self stage, because it admits that women over 30 - real, grown women over 30, wrinkles, cellulite, the works - are a better bet, marriage-wise, than the smooth (if acne-covered) barely-pubescent. But it fails to take into account the relative difficulty for women of finding a male partner, especially for women who wish to have biological children, especially for women who wish to have children in general, because biological-without-IVF remains the least complicated route, with each passing year.

Perhaps all Savage means is that maybe a HS sweetheart marriage would make it to 25 but no further. But going by other things he's said/written, he often forgets that things are different for women than for (gay) men. (Why gay? Because these are the men who are not looking for women as partners.) Adulthood can good and well begin at 30 - why not 40? - if women are out of the picture. (Yet nearly all the 20-something gay men I know are in serious relationships, sometimes the kind that began in college, or seek those out: discuss.) It can kinda-sorta begin at 30 for straight men, but in this age of peer marriage, 35-year-old men are not finding themselves with 23-year-old women. Basically, we need to point out both that "women rot at (whichever age)" is nonsense, and that in the world we live in, for biological as well as social-construct reasons, telling women to only begin to think about settling down at 30 isn't the answer.


Withywindle said...

But aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how do you enjoy the genre?

Phoebe said...

Do you think it has some redeeming qualities you'd like to enumerate?

Nicholas said...

I read Savage as saying something different: 30 serves as a pretty good catch-all for "people who have made it to adulthood if they're ever going to make it."

I think it's important mostly as an age milestone the letter-writer is likely to conceive of, if at all, as 'a long time in the future.' And I'm not sure in this instance that the advice can be separated from the context, which is that this guy does not understand he needs to be out of his relationship, and the non-lastingness of HS relationships is a kind of white lie to remove his most likely objection to being told to DTMFA.

Phoebe said...


I do think he's saying that, but also something else, which becomes apparent when you look at Savage's advice/philosophy of relationships more generally. Yes, the kid needs the generic advice about how whichever person you're hung up on at 19, you may well not remember existed at 29. Uncontroversial, and standard-issue good advice. But Savage also has a tendency to tell those who ask for advice, if they're in their mid-20s or even 30s, that they're so young, too young to want a good relationship to be super-serious (thus the advice to break up if you're studying abroad), too young to feel compelled to stay in a less-than-ideal relationship. (Although he does say all relationships are flawed.) Meanwhile, while the dire state of affairs for the single 35-year-old woman has been vastly overstated, it is easier, as a rule, if one is a straight woman looking for marriage somewhere down the line, to find an eventual spouse relatively sooner rather than relatively later, both because of fertility and because of (and I know Flavia and Britta will disagree) declining options past a certain point, a point that will vary depending on many factors. If you're already considering, in your early 20s, that each man might be "the one," it gives you ample time to DTMFA if necessary, or be DTMFA'd yourself by partners you're not compatible with.

Nicholas said...

I'm glad to concede the general point: this just seemed to me like a case where the advice given was so obvious, and so apparently un-obvious to the letter-writer, that it justified some bending of the truth.