This is a bit of a rant inspired by some of the discussions of my recent post on Susan Walsh.
In my defense, I’ve enlivened it with a couple of videos.
Let’s say you’re a young, horny, lonely heterosexual guy. You’re walking to the store to buy some, I dunno, pretzels, and you see the woman of your dreams walking arm in arm with some hideous toad of a man. You say to yourself: how is it that a nice guy like me can’t find any girl who will return my phone calls, while ugly boy here seems to have won the girlfriend jackpot? If you’re Joe Jackson, you write a song about it:
Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street
From my window I’m staring while my coffee grows cold
Look over there! (Where?)
There’s a lady that I used to know
She’s married now or engaged or something so I’m told
Is she really going out with him?
Is she really gonna take him home tonight?
Is she really going out with him?
‘Cause if my eyes don’t deceive me,
There’s something going wrong around here
A lot about the world seems desperately wrong when you’re young, horny and alone. But maybe in this case there is something that you’re missing. Maybe the ugly dude is charming as fuck. Maybe he’s a brilliant thinker. Maybe he’s awesome in bed. Maybe she’s shallow and materialistic, and she likes him just because he’s rich. Or maybe there’s nothing redeeming about the guy – intellectually, sexually or financially — and the woman in question simply has horrendous taste in men. It could be any of these things.
But here’s the thing: no matter how wounded you feel, whom this woman goes out with is really none of your business. She doesn’t have to have a good reason to be going out with him. It’s not your call. The world doesn’t owe you a hot girlfriend, and this particular woman has the inalienable right to go out with whoever she chooses, even if you personally feel ill at the thought of them doing it. Women you find attractive aren’t obliged to date men you think are appropriate for them.
A lot of guys in the manosphere seem to have hung on to this young-man’s anger and sexual jealousy. But instead of somehow turning their resentment into a catchy song, and then moving away from the rock world to a more jazz-inflected sound, these men cultivate their resentments. And talk about them endlessly.
Soon they’ve developed the uncanny ability to demonize any woman who makes any romantic choice – other than picking them. If a “hot” women is dating an ugly dude, well,
He must be rich! All women are filthy golddigging whores! She’d never give a decent, hardworking beta like me a second look!
If the same woman is dating a conventionally handsome man, the reaction can be just as strong:
She’s a shallow bitch! They always go for the alphas! She’d never give a decent, hardworking beta like me a second look!
Weirdly, a lot of manosphere dudes also get angry about the sexual and romantic choices of women they aren’t interested in at all. If a woman they don’t think is all that hot is with a conventionally handsome man, it’s still the woman to blame:
Ha! She’s punching above her weight class, looks-wise. I guess any bitch can get laid, while a hard-working beta like me doesn’t even rate a second look. But eventually he’ll dump her and I will laugh and laugh. Live it up now, bitch, because you’re going to end up alone with a bunch of cats!
This is the thing that’s weirdest to me. Getting worked up about a woman you like who’s dating a loser? I can understand that. I did that, a lot, in my twenties. But quite a few manosphere dudes – and women like Susan Walsh who are manosphere-adjacent – seem somehow deeply affronted by the notion that any women could hook up with a man either lower or higher on that universal 10-point hotness scale so beloved by PUAs and other manosphere dudes.
Walsh speaks of “equilibrium” in the “sexual marketplace” (or SMP as she and her fans like to abbreviate it), and seems to consider any deviation from it to be a moral failing – of the women involved. (The slut-shaming is strong with this one.) Her idea of “equilibrium,” as I mentioned in my last post on her, is one in which fives date fives, tens date tens, and female sixes and sevens know better than to try to get the attention of male eights and nines by wearing low-cut dresses and “slutting it up.”
But here’s the thing. If you’re going to try to mix economic terminology into your dating advice, it helps to actually know what the terms mean. Market equilibrium, as Wikipedia handily summarizes it,
refers to a condition where a market price is established through competition such that the amount of goods or services sought by buyers is equal to the amount of goods or services produced by sellers. This price is often called the equilibrium price or market clearing price and will tend not to change unless demand or supply change.
Guess what? Insofar as the dating world is a marketplace, it’s already at equilibrium. Potential daters size up their prospects, and make a guess as to who is and who isn’t “in their league.” Those who are aiming too high (setting their price too high) and not hooking up with anyone (selling themselves) may end up lowering their standards (lowering their price) to make a sale (get laid). Some products (people) appeal to a wide demographic; others to a nice market. Some have better marketing then others. Some products look good at first glance, but turn out to need a lot of repairs. All this is mighty familiar to students of economics. This is how markets work.
Of course, the dating world is even more complicated and messy than economic marketplaces. But in a lot of ways it really does act like one.
The interesting thing here is that Walsh and her followers aren’t thinking like capitalists at all. Essentially, they’ve decided that they know better than the SMP they so love to talk about, that their imaginary 10-point scale should predict who chooses whom better than those who are actually doing the choosing. That’s not capitalism; that’s a Soviet style command economy. It’s not the way marketplaces work, and it’s not the way the dating world works.
Guys: if no one is buying what you’re selling, you could try to change what you’re selling so that it appeals to buyers more. Or if you are confident in your product you can simply wait until a more discerning buyer shows up.
Or you could sit by yourself stewing in your own bitterness and blaming everything on the bitches. Much like the jealous narrator of David Bowie’s classic Queen Bitch, only much less sexually ambiguous. And, frankly, much less appealing. In this song, Bowie manages to make sexual resentment somehow glamorous.
I would like to apologize for talking about this song and bitter manosphere dudes in the same sentence. But I’m still posting the video. This is Bowie, in 1972, performing it live, and fucking killing it: