Leap of a Beta over at Staged Reality posted an interesting discussion that exemplifies the different prisms through which men and women view the world. I’ve observed countless discussions like this online, on TV, and in person, and I’ve learned how to turn them to my advantage. This post is an attempt to show you how to do the same.
The debate is primarily over whether or not somebody “deserves” his station in life. Although debates over “deserve” have their place, “deserve” is one of the words in the English language I like least, for it clouds meaning more than it clarifies (other words that fit into this category include “selfish”, “selfless”, “sacrifice”, and “fair”).
“Deserve” is a word that describes attitude, or one’s perspective as to how things should be, but it’s also a word with a hell of a lot of baggage. If a girl dresses in scanty clothes and passes out on the pool table during a frat party, does she deserve to have the entire pledge class penetrate her in her sleep? I would argue that she doesn’t, but she was asking for trouble. But does “asking for trouble” constitute deserve? If you forget to signal a turn on a bicycle, do you deserve to get smashed by a truck? Crystal would say “the ‘deserve’ seems harsh.” Chad would disagree:
The squirrel that doesn’t store enough nuts deserves to starve. The farmer that doesn’t save enough seed to replant, accurately predict the weather, take proper care of his crops, have food/money stored, or have friends/family as a support system, can also be said to deserve starvation. A company that doesn’t save money for slumps deserves bankruptcy. A man that doesn’t take care of his health deserves ill health. A family that moves without researching possible natural disasters (and preparing for them) deserves what comes to them. The man that continues to date controlling girlfriends deserves them for his own enabling behavior while blindly going through life without getting to know someone before committing to them nor changing any of his own behaviors that would attract predators to their victims.
Does this mean that when I saw an iPod left by the sink at the gym that I should have left it there because he deserved to have it stolen for being a dumbass? Or should I have just taken it myself? It’s a worthy debate, but this post is less about making a point and more about how to make a point. Right or wrong, I turned it in to the front desk. If you think I shouldn’t have, feel free to take me to task.
In this discussion and so many others, I see people talking past each other. I prefer getting through to them, and understanding why people think the way they do (even when I disagree) is one of the reasons I can do that so well.
As an expression of attitude, deserve is in the realm of G: ideals, right, wrong, The reason the males weren’t getting through to Crystal is that their respective G‘s (whether or not somebody deserves what comes their way) derived from an difference perspective on A, the underlying prism through which they view reality. It’s almost impossible to convince somebody that the moon landing was a worthy investment if they think it was staged in a Hollywood studio.
This is why I prefer to address A first, before I even touch on G. This frustrates the hell out of fellow conservatives and libertarians when I’m discussing politics with a lefty, but by the end of the conversation they always congratulate me and ask how I pulled off such a rhetorical coup.
A is A, and that never changes. It’s A whether you’re young or old, black or white, male or female. Nevertheless, what we think A is varies considerably depending on our background, experience, assumptions, and biology.
Men are physically stronger than women. We implicitly understand (after we’ve overcome any brainwashing) that we’re on our own, that life is what we make it, that we’ve got to assume we’ve got control over our own lives if we want to have any hope of actually having control over our lives. We need courage and tenacity. Our key to success is independence. We can’t afford to pass the buck, because even if it’s not our fault we failed, nobody gives a shit: we failed. To us, life is about what we make of it.
By nature, women are more reactive. Not only are they more susceptible to the machinations of the Hamster, they’re physically weaker and more dependent on the good will of others (and more likely to get it). A woman born with an ugly face will have a much harder time overcoming her handicap than a man with the same problem. If she’s ostracized, she’s far more likely to suffer much more acutely than a man, especially if she has children in tow. By and large, she’s far more dependent. Her quality of life is more contingent on forces beyond her control.
And even in a modern world in which factors like physical strength aren’t as much of an issue, she’s instinctively wired to think as though it’s 2,000 years ago.
Everybody knows that circumstances beyond our control can and do affect all of us; if your arms gets blown off, you’re not going to do as many push-ups (or if somehow you do, it’s going to take a lot more work). Likewise, even the most deterministic philosophy professor concedes that we’ve all got some control over our own lives (see how he responds if you punch him in the face and cry “I couldn’t help it. I have no free will!)
Nevertheless, biological realities directly affect our perspective on A. The male perspective is:
Generally, what happens to you matters less than what you do about it.
And for females:
Generally, what happens to you matters more than what you do about it.
Hence Crystal’s emphasis on circumstances beyond one’s control:
People’s spouses die tragically, people can be fired when companies go under, people’s homes get wrecked in floods- many dont deserve that.
I would have picked better examples, like how people are born in North Korea or without ears, but the point stands. Crystal’s emphasis, the female emphasis, is on forces beyond our control.
(And she does say “If where you are today isnt what you want, you OWN the change”, which is a hell of a lot more than lots of women will concede without extreme duress. Credit where it’s due.)
But Crystal also demonstrates her femininity is a way I’ve elaborated on here [emphasis mine]:
I deeply believe we need both more personal responsibility, and also more empathy.
Men assume that we can best help one another through forms of tough love, ripping into them and tweaking their pride, thereby fostering independence and stronger fighting spirit. Women assume that the soft approach works best. Call this feeding the Hamster if you will, but it is what it is.
And it’s not going to change.
So instead of trying to change Crystal in ways she can’t be changed, I would have tried a different approach. Instead of try to refute her empathetic nature, work with it. For example:
Obviously, a lot of horrible things can happen to people that’s entirely beyond their control. I’m not denying that. But, and you’ve got to admit this, sometimes people don’t take charge of their lives nearly as much as they could. And even if they objectively can’t change something, if we’re drowning them with sympathy instead of encouraging them to take charge of their own lives, they’ll just stagnate. You’re a libertarian, you understand this.
Ultimately, (and I’m not saying under every circumstance every single time) we do have a great deal of control over our own lives, and that control doesn’t just evaporate because for a while our lives happen to suck. When that’s what we emphasize, we’re much more likely to be able to make the most of it when something beyond our control goes wrong.
As hellish as it’s got to be to go through certain things, that’s how it is and you can’t deny that. Pain doesn’t change reality.
So far, I’ve dealt entirely with A, with fact and rational analysis, not opinion. Yet I’ve also respectfully acknowledged her soft womanly nature. We’ve got agreement on fact, so now I can try to persuade. Agreement on A is the best way to get to G:
Take some guy loses his arm in an industrial accident, and it wasn’t his fault. You’re right, he didn’t deserve that. However, what’s he going to do about it now that it’s happened? Isn’t that what’s ultimately more important?
Maybe he didn’t deserve to lose his arm, but does he deserve happiness? When you look at heroes like Jim Abbott, if he just hides away in his apartment all day every day, wouldn’t you agree he maybe deserves to be unhappy, even if he didn’t deserve to lose his arm? I’m not saying it’s always fair, but our lives are what we make of them. Shit can happen to us, but what we do about it matters more. Nothing can take our minds from us, our free will. That’s why I’m saying we get what we deserve.
And we find there’s overlap here with Crystal’s very words:
People, particularly those who’ve been affected by tragedy or loss, may respond better to what you suggest if you focus on the idea being solely responsible for your own happiness, and less on the deserve part
But they might not, for kindness can kill. There’s good reason to focus “on the deserve part”, but by working with her nature instead of against it, you’re more likely to get her to see your side.
Game and Rhetoric stem from the same understanding of human nature, but in certain respects they differ substantially. One of these is how to handle the feminine.
In Game, the most effective tactic (especially in the US) is to plow through her soft nature with your masculine hardness. Alpha her into submission.
In Rhetoric, her soft and caring side needs to be manipulated and twisted to your advantage instead. She cares. And so does everybody else on the left (supposedly). In Game, acquiescing to the softness turns you into a softy yourself and you lose. In Rhetoric, in a feminized world in which there’s no greater sin than apathy, pretending that this isn’t the case and plowing through people with cold reason only increases their resistance to you.
I admit it’s a hell of a lot more fun to rip somebody a new one, but it simply doesn’t work as well if your goal is to get them to see things your way.