Trigger warning: images of Lindy West
Ah, Lindy West. One of my favorites. Remember when she decided that feminists are totally down with human rights for everyone? That was a jolly good read, wasn’t it?
And then she decided to share with the world what IS and IS NOT funny? Refresher: it’s only funny if LINDY thinks it’s funny. And rape jokes in particular are NOT funny. But I say if people don’t laugh at rape jokes the solution is simple: force them.
And now, here is Lindy with some advice for people who are chronically alone and incapable of attracting other people, particularly people of the opposite sex. It’s worth wading through, because it’s an impressive articulation of what is wrong with our concept of what a relationship, particularly a long term relationship, between two people is supposed to look like.
1. The opposite of confidence isn’t shyness—it’s fake confidence.
It seems like a good plan—to just mimic the confidence you see in others and hope it passes for genuine—but it’s not. It is a bad plan. There’s a big uncanny valley when it comes to confidence, where you think you’re swaggering around like James Bond but really you’re just frenetically fumbling through magic tricks and insulting everyone at the bar like a fucking freak. It’s disconcerting for those of us on the receiving end. And by the way, if you take a look at how James Bond actually picked up women—mostly he was just like, “Hey.”
A way better plan is to stop trying to carve yourself into this socially prescribed shape that you think deserves confidence, and start finding actual confidence in the things that make you you. If you’re unhappy with your body or your mind or your social life, that’s one thing—but change yourself for you, not for some faceless ringwraith you plan to bone some day in the future as soon as you get good enough at kettlebell squats. That’s bad for you and dumb.
Lindy is correct in stating that having confidence is a big factor in whether someone finds you attractive, but what she gets wrong is CONFIDENCE IN WHAT? Lindy says you need to be confident in the things that make you you. It’s a trite, hackneyed sentiment that is repeated endlessly, and it also happens to be dead wrong.
What you need to be confident in is are the things that make you GREAT MATE MATERIAL. And that requires you to think about the other person first and foremost. What do you bring to the table? For most men and women, those are different things entirely, although not always.
Most women are looking for men who are physically bigger than they are. Men of imposing physical stature are attractive, relative to your own stature, because they are perceived by both men and women as dominant and strong.
Applying an evolutionary psychology perspective, we predicted that taller individuals are seen as more leader-like because they are perceived as more dominant, healthy, and intelligent. Being fit and physically imposing were arguably important leadership qualities in ancestral human environments—perhaps especially for males—where being a leader entailed considerable physical risks. In line with our expectations, our results demonstrate that by manipulating an individual’s stature height positively influences leadership perception for both men and women, though the effect is stronger for men.
For men, especially shorter men, what you need to signal is your confidence in your ability to lead DESPITE not having the advantage of height. HOW you do that will be as individual as each person, but the key is that you are signalling your ability to lead OTHERS, especially her.
It’s already pretty obvious why feminists don’t like that: the reality that most women want a leader for a mate is an uncomfortable truth that doesn’t sit well with the ideology of perfect equality. First Officers who answer to a Captain who has the ultimate authority are not beloved when the First Officer is a woman. Naturally, men as First Officers are okie-dokie, in theory. In reality, not so much. Men who relinquish authority are well on their way to a cheating wife.
The flip side of this is that women need confidence in their ability to be led, which really comes down to confidence in their ability to ADVISE, because that is the main role of the First Officer. Women need to demonstrate that they are intelligent and loyal and honest and that they are willing to use those qualities to make a TEAM work. Again, how you display that confidence will be different for each woman, but the focus needs to be on the TEAM, not on the individual.
Something as simple as getting drinks or fixing plates for both of you, and not just yourself signals that the other person has top priority in your mind, without requiring martyrdom or self-effacement, neither of which are attractive.
Show that you care. Not that hard. That’s the confidence you need. Women need to be able to confidently demonstrate that they can put someone else’s needs above their own, and men need to have confidence that they can accept responsibility for someone other than themselves. Granted, there are some dangers in accepting responsibility for people who are not worthy, but isn’t that what dating is? Sorting out the worthy?
It’s funny that feminism won’t hesitate to hold men responsible for women’s decisions when those decisions are bad (hello rape culture) but when it comes to personal, happy, functioning relationships, they rebel against the idea that women like strong, confident leaders.
Leader/Advisor is not the only thing that factors into our perceptions of attractiveness, and all those other qualities also require a show of confidence, but they come down to one thing: be confident that you are worthy by actually having the qualities the other person is seeking. That means you have to spend some time thinking about what the other person is seeking!
Some women really ARE Captains, and they are fully prepared to take on the leadership of their team. Some men are very natural First Officers. That’s perfectly fine. Know what you bring to the relationship, and figure out how to signal that. Stop thinking about what makes you YOU, and start thinking about what makes you great for the other person.
2. If you trick someone into liking you by being full of shit, you end up dating someone who wants to date a bag of shit.
Honesty is so great! Here’s what happens if you’re completely honest about yourself with people you might want to date: You end up maybe dating people who actually like you instead of people who like that weird character you made up. (Plus, cuts down on continuity errors.) Here’s what happens if you’re not honest: You end up hanging out with dicks you don’t like. Worse than being alone! Hooray!
Really? If someone doesn’t like you, that makes him a dick? Wow. This whole paragraph reeks with aggression and dislike of men. And she’s missing the same point as above. Instead of being completely honest about the sort of person you want to date, how about being completely honest about what sort of person might want to date YOU?
Begin with the other person. What qualities do you have that someone else might value and admire? Work on those things first, and then worry about whether the other person has qualities YOU like and admire. Begin with yourself. What do you have to offer?
3. People are attracted to love, not hate.
About six months into dating, my current boyfriend and I discovered that, coincidentally, both of us had spent a few (dark-ish) years obsessively listening to the Ricky Gervais podcast every night as we fell asleep like weirdos—like a kind of fucked up, screeching security blanket. It’s not something we do anymore, or ever did together, but it’s one of the many threads that make up our big tangly connection. He doesn’t love me because of how much I hated being alone. He loves me because he sees how much I love the things I love.
If you want people to love you, you should love stuff. Bitterness is like Citronella for vaginas. Are you interested in anything? Do that thing. You never know who you might meet in Thing Class—and even if you don’t, hey! You got to spend a bunch of time doing your thing!
No, no, no. This is really bad advice. Do NOT do “your thing” in the expectation that you will meet someone who shares your interests and a romance will blossom thanks to mutual love of whatever that “thing” happens to be.
If I had taken this advice, I would have spent all my free time at advanced crochet seminars (yes, I’m a hooker), bread-making classes and riding my granny bike around the duck pond. Not a whole lot of men share those interests, and the ones that do are probably First Officers like myself and not what I am looking for. Had Mr. JB taken the exact same advice, he would have spent all his free time watching Benny Hill marathons and inspecting massive construction projects for fun, and we would never have run into one another.
My “thing” is period costume drama.
His “thing” is diggers. And bulldozers. And really big cranes. And trucks with giant wheels.
We agree to have different “things”, and while we do love how much the other person loves their “thing”, there is no requirement that we share in our passions.
Your mate does not have to be your friend, any more than the Captain of your softball team has to be your friend. He/she needs to be someone you trust, love, and to whom you can give every ounce of your ability and skill and intelligence and every other great quality you possess in service to the TEAM.
Have some qualities the other person values. Again, you need to spend some time thinking about what other people might value, and cultivate those things in yourself. Your “thing” is just that. Yours. And their “thing” will also be just that: theirs. Never mind the “things”.
They are not important.
4. A great way to endear yourself to women is to fight against the societal structure that oppresses them and made you lonely in the first place.
All this shit—your “type,” the “criteria” you think you need in a mate—is arbitrary. It’s social conditioning. I used to think I wanted to date someone tall (I’m tall), until I started asking myself why I felt like that and couldn’t come up with a single coherent answer. Then I dated some dudes who were way shorter than me, literally never even noticed after the first 2 minutes, and then literally never thought about it again. Because THEY’RE PEOPLE. That arbitrary people-criteria you think you really, really want but can’t get? Just try to imagine not wanting it. Voila! Now go out and bang whomever, Criss Angel. You can do this. Now please stop making eye contact with me.
Nope. Having a “type” is not social conditioning and it’s not arbitrary, and the sooner you accept that, the closer you will be to finding your mate. That’s not to say you can’t overcome instinctive preferences and desires, but I would never advise anyone to try that: it doesn’t work very often.
It’s not about having the Aussie supermodel or the 4% body fat cross fit champion. It’s about understanding what you personally find appealing and understanding that it will be very, very hard to overcome an instinctive revulsion. In some cases, the qualities you dislike will become amplified over time and things will get so much worse.
And naturally, you have to understand that other people will find certain things about YOU revolting and repulsive. Some of those things you can change. If you are seriously interested in seeking out a mate, then you will make some effort to understand what things have a tendency to repulse others, and deal with that.
You CAN manage your weight. You CAN manage grooming. You CAN control what you wear and how you present yourself, and if you care about another person, you will do those things. For THEM. And they will do things in return to appeal to you.
How interesting that Lindy broadened her dating pool to include short men. The one thing you CANNOT control. Height. And implicit in that generosity is that men should be broadening their pools by including …. short women? tall women? How about…. fat women? Nice way to sneak in a little man-shaming there, Lindy. Men cannot control baldness or height. Everyone can control their weight and grooming habits, and they should do so in deference to what others find attractive.
Take shaving and hair removal, for example. Some women do NOT like beards or scruff or moustaches or chest hair. I’m not one of them, but whatever. If you want to be attractive to a woman who dislikes facial or body hair on men, then you will shave. For her pleasure. Her pleasure takes priority over the annoyance of having to shave every day.
And it goes both ways. It baffles me that women don’t seem to understand the point of Brazilian waxing. It’s not an expression of paedophilic tendencies when men prefer a smooth genital area. Porn culture may have introduced the concept, but the reason for that sort of personal grooming has nothing to do with men imagining you are a little girl and everything to do with the fact that hair in your mouth is squicky!
You do those things for HIS pleasure, and that leads to ….. YOURS!
And that is how relationships work: you make his pleasure and preferences YOUR priority and he makes your pleasure and preferences HIS and you both end up pleasing and being pleased. The whole relationship should work that way: there is very little room in any functional relationship for selfishness. If it’s all about you, and you are waiting for someone to agree that it really IS all about you, you had best hit up the local Humane Society for a kitty or two.
Why is there such resistance to the idea that the way we appeal to one another as human beings is to consider what our potential mates might find appealing, and try to be those things? Why is there such a fierce push-back against the idea that others people’s likes and desires not only matter, but ultimately matter more than your own?
I think it’s the fault line in feminism showing up again. Feminism is supposed to be about social, political and economic equality between men and women, but it’s not. It’s a philosophy and an ideology that women should never make anyone’s else’s needs matter more than their own, but men should continue to exist in service to others.
Nineteen of them died this weekend, fighting a wildfire in Arizona. Nineteen men, whose whole lives were dedicated to serving others. Nineteen men, who made other people’s safety more important than their own.
When is the last time you heard of nineteen women dying in service to others? In accidents, in crimes, in lethal weather and other acts of God? Yes. But in service to others? Show me. Show me the nineteen women who suited up and strode across the blackened landscape to battle flames leaping 80 feet into the air, for the sole purpose of protecting others.
83 firefighters died on duty in 2011. 82 were men. 1 was a woman.
Give me an all-woman fire crew, and then I will believe feminism is about equality. When 83 firefighters die and HALF of them are women, I will believe feminism is about women competing head to head with men, and not just enjoying the protections of men while disavowing any need for reciprocity or even gratitude.
You want to appeal to the opposite sex, ladies? Imagine that every man you see is a firefighter. He will give his life to save you.
Think about what you will give him in exchange for that.
Now be those things. Be what he wants. What he needs. What he desires. And know that every moment you put into considering what someone else wants and needs, will be a moment spent in making yourself appealing.
It’s not what makes you you that matters. It’s what makes you worthy of him. And what makes him worthy of you.
There are four questions of value in life… What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.
To the firefighters in Arizona:
May you rest in peace.
Lots of love,