pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
Feminism is a very broad term. Every time I start trying to describe how broad I freeze up, because I know I'm only familiar with the kinds you find on the internet, which is not perfectly represented, and even then I'm much more familiar with some parts than others. Mostly the parts that are relevant to me, like consent culture and paying highly educated women more money.

Feminists make fun of the term "I'm not a feminist, but...", implying that the speakers want the benefits of feminism without the social cost of admitting it. My own mother said I was spitting on the back of Susan B. Anthony when I (age 14) said I wasn't a feminist. This only makes sense if you consider feminism synonymous with equal rights and opportunities for women. That's a pretty bold claim to make. A lot of poor and non-white women have criticized feminism/The Feminist Movement for focusing exclusively on the problems of upper middle class white women (e.g. the leaky pipeline in academia) while ignoring problems affecting them (e.g. the mistreatment of pregnant women in prison). At times their goals can be actively contradictory because their situations are so different- rich white women are denied sterilization they request while poor black women are sterilized without their knowledge. When these women refuse to identify as feminists, they're not saying they're okay with the status quo, they're not failing to give Susan B. Anthony her due, they're just refusing to pretend that TFM is working for them. Which is probably why mainstream feminists get so upset about it.*

That is a really charged example, but there are lots of other ways that people can disagree about what counts as "advocating for women". I wish I was informed enough and clever enough to point out ways this is happening that no one else has thought of, but I'm a dilettante with a lot of privilege, so I can't. The ways I can think of are things other people have already pointed out: the second wave fought for the right to say no to sex, the third is fighting for the right to say yes. People are simultaneously fighting for the right to have children (and have the costs of those children subsidized by other people**) and fighting the stigma against childlessness. The second wave fought to get women into corporate jobs, parts of the third are fighting for greater respect for the work of childrearing. None of these are strictly opposed, but supporting one without hurting the other requires an inconvenient level of nuance.

Ultimately the question is: do we want the same world we have now, except without gender based-proscriptions, or do we want a different world, and if so, which one? If feminism were strictly about equality, than success would be black women being discriminated against exactly the same as black men, and racism itself would be orthogonal. I of course think racism is bad and being racist makes you a bad person***, but it's not clear to me it should make you a bad feminist. Feminism is not a synonym for good things.

The Feminist Movement seems to be a lot of more socialist than I am, and finds severe income inequality in and of itself problematic. I believe that income inequality is often symptomatic of a problem, and extreme poverty is a problem, but do not care if some people make truly ridiculous amounts of money in a fair system. And while I think gender-based discrimination is morally wrong, I dislike a lot of anti-discrimination laws on both practical and moral grounds. I should be able to disagree about means without feminists accusing me of secretly hating women or not caring about discrimination.****

I wish Lean In had taken a little bit wider view and discussed the work system as a whole. I think the live-to-work mindset is hurting women and men both. I really wish Sandberg had talked about why she finds striving for the top so rewarding, instead of taking it as a given. As I was typing this a friend sent me a link to The Messy Link Between Slavery and Modern Management and before I finished the description I dismissed it as "that's not fair to tar trade by mutual agreement with the same brush as slavery, just because the same tool can make both better." It took me a few minutes to question "why is maximizing number of widgets the goal?". I know why it's the goal of any given company, but how did the system end up that way? I have this nagging feelings that there are systems where that wouldn't be the case, but I can't conceive of them any more than a fish can conceive of brachiation.

If I have a point, it's that I wish more people questioned more assumptions, and I wish that was decoupled from the feminist movement. I may even wish there wasn't A Feminist Movement, but that feminist was an adjective applied to other movements, like socialism and anarchism and especially libertarianism and/or free market socialism, whichever one I end up going with.

*I tried to find good blog posts to demonstrate this. The first page of results for "feminism racist" is exclusively white feminists and mainstream news, plus one by a PUA. The white bloggers linked to black bloggers: almost all of their blogs were either gone or restricted access. Part of this is that I still pine for 2007 and have failed to adapt to a post-twitter world, but part is that race and gender bloggers have a frighteningly high burnout rate.

**My belief is that once the kid is here, it's a defenseless person and society does have an obligation to give in a decent shot at life. But I'm very uncomfortable with that framed as the right of the mother to have as many children as she wants, regardless of her ability to take care of them.

*** to the extent that being bad person is a thing, which it mostly isn't, and it's even less rarely a helpful framework, but I really want to risk condoning racism and it makes for a really nice parallel sentence structure

****Something no one has said to me personally, but is often said about people with similar beliefs. People who may well be acting in bad faith, but the idea that someone could believe in gender equality but think preserving the right to free association and the commerce clause was more important than the marginal benefit from this particular law is never even considered.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
"I'm going to quote something from the West Wing. 'You're smart, but you've studied too much Asian philosophy.' Is that accurate?"

PUA redux

Jun. 28th, 2012 10:43 pm
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
Current lesson in The Mystery Method: women know when they're being boring. If you act interested when she knows she's boring, she won't be attracted back. Here are some shortcuts (i.e. conversation starters) to make her more interesting, which happens to be the best way to make her feel interesting.

It's like he has the power to move things with his mind and he doesn't see any application beyond sorting laundry
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
Two key quotes from The Game: "I'd never heard grown men cry as much as I had in the last two years" and "I've lived and worked alone most of my life. I've never had a strong social circle or a tight network of friends. I've never joined clubs, played team sports, or been part of any real group prior to the community. Project Hollywood was bring me out of solipsistic shell. It was giving me the resources I needed to be a leader, it was teaching me how to walk the tightrope of group dynamics, it was helping me learn the let go of petty things like personal property, solitude, cleanliness, sanity, and sleep. It was making me, for the first time in my life, a responsible adult."

For a certain kind of man- believes in a gender binary, not religious, not into team sports- the seduction community is their only place to be on a team. Being on a team is a powerful emotion- my personal belief is that we're hard wired to want one and become edgy without, because in the end wild humans cannot survive on their own. And even if you do team sports, PUA communities are better: you can admit vulnerabilities, you can hear from others with the same issues, you can learn from people who used to have them, and you can give back by teaching. The Intro to Seduction reddit post just about says this explicitly. If they didn't need to treat women as the opposing tribe to maintain this camaraderie, it would actually be pretty neat.

As someone with a real thing for personal growth, I feel like there's a lot to learn from PUAs, procedurally. Translating book learning into usable social skills is hard, and their system seems to work. Probably not as often as they think it does, and not as well as they think it does, but that's true of anything. And if you ignore the absolute filth that happens to use this as their outlet (I'm looking at you, Mr. "The only lies I ever tell are 'I won't come in your mouth' and 'I'll just rub it around your ass'"), you could fix 80-90% of the problems in the community by changing the goal from "never be rejected" and "don't care about being rejected because women aren't real" to "handle to rejection with grace." All of the assholery I cared about came from a need to dehumanize women in order to deny the power of rejection. If you could inject a little power of vulnerability into the mix, this all goes away. New assholery would come up because that's what humans do, and in fact the end of the book is about the breakdown of an enclave due to internal competition, but there's a ton of power here just waited to be redirected.

I feel like I just said the same thing three times without ever really encapsulating the point. More data needed.

The Game

Jun. 2nd, 2012 11:09 am
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
I am reading pick-up artist bible The Game for two reasons. The first is defense: negging would totally work on me if I hadn't read a formal description. Checking for other things like that is useful (plus I'm unconvinced I recognize all negging attempts and it would be useful to learn more). The second is that multiple reliable sources have told me that if you can separate the wheat from the chaff, it actually has some useful information. Bonus: the author, Neil Strauss, is actually a very good writer.

One thing that keeps striking me is how very, very close the techniques are to something that would come out of consent culture/sex-positive feminism. For example, take this exchange, where master pick up artist Mystery is teaching the his students how to move from flirting to kissing.

"But how do you kiss her?" Sweater asked

"I just say 'Would you like to kiss me'?"

So far, so good. Excellent, even.
"And then what happens?"

"One of three things" Mystery said. "If she says, 'Yes,' which is very rare, you kiss her"

Hurray, words were used and everyone got what they wanted.
If she says 'Maybe' or hesitates, then you say 'Let's find out' and kiss her

Shakier ground, but I think I'm okay with this, assuming a certain amount of body language reading.
And if she says 'No' you say 'I didn't say you could. It just looked like you had something on your mind"

Oh, so close.

I don't get how that would even be an effective technique. Even if I take the guy at his word, I'm left with someone who sees someone thinking about something, automatically assumes it's sexual interest in him, and then gets all huffy implying I was trying to take something he wasn't offering.

Or take this line, from founding father Ross Jefferies, on how to handle being friendzoned.
[I promise to] never do anything unless you and I are both totally comfortable, willing, and ready

This is pretty good, until you learn that the sentence started out "I don't promise any such thing. Friends don't put each other in boxes." On the plus side, it is very nice of him to warn girls that he will never, ever respect their boundaries.

Then there's string theory. The idea is that, much like a cats are most interested in string that is just out of their grasp, women are most interested when you play a little hard to get, and the absolute worst thing you can do is make yourself more available. So if a girl, for example, pulls away when you touch her, you withdraw and make her initiate the next escalation. If possible, flirt with her friend. It's like they took the concept of respect for boundaries and covered it with asshole.

The other thing I notice is the role of PUA culture in homosocial bonding. Strauss talks repeatedly about how every guy but him just figured out how to do this stuff, and he never did, and he feels like a failure for it. Reading between the lines, I'd guess that going to PUA seminars was a serious vulnerability moment for him. He's admitting weakness and failure, but that admission is met with "me too" and "let me show you how to make it better." More speculatively, I think simply discussing techniques with other men might be filling a need for emotional intimacy with other men. It's not real emotional intimacy, but it looks similar enough to take the edge off the hunger, just like cat string theory is a facsimile of respecting boundaries.

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