Morning Ed: Relationships {2017.05.25.Th}

Dating in Zurich is expensive.

Slack shut down an app that was supposed to facilitate office romance.

Is marriage overrated? Well, it depends on who you are, but it’s unlikely to be for everybody. And, as is often the case, when something is better for most, it’s interpreted as universal in a way that it is not. {Related?}

Melanie Notkin says that manboys are mostly to blame for women having children later in life. But maybe women don’t care about marriageability anymore. (Seriously, though, I question the use of boomtowns as a model. They present unique challenges.)

Conventional wisdom holds that sexbots will drive reproduction rates down, but Audacious Epigone argues that it may drive us back to replacement-level fertility.

All of the complexities of sexual attraction.

It seems to me one of the problems that the cultural right has is that so many of its arguments are expressed in terms that are alien to people outside of it. It’s not coincidental that a big part of my introduction to social conservatism came at a Jewish, and not Christian, website.

I’ve seen this play out a few times. Including myself, sort of. One of the useful aspects of the institution of marriage is that it provides an up-or-out dynamic where he is thinking out and she is thinking he is thinking Moup.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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186 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Relationships {2017.05.25.Th}

  1. It isn’t surprising that the Swiss banking capital is the most expensive place to date in the world. The gnomes are loaded though.

    Slack shuts down office romance app and Human Resource departments of America rejoice.

    On marriage overrated, humans have a tendency to believe that everybody would be happier if everybody lives life their way. This tendency is obviously bigger in the majority but radicals of various stripes have also maintained that their non-mainstream lifestyle like polyamory would also lead to greater happiness. Not everybody has the same emotional or social equipment though and what makes one group happy could make another group miserable. Societies have also struggled to deal with those that can not or will not conform to the majority.

    Notkin’s article on manboys seems not only egregiously wrong but egregiously dumb. The marriage and child-rearing age began to increase before manboys became a thing and many manboys have children before they attend to if only because of contraceptive failure. Notion’s argument is just another when “men wore hats” argument.

    The Cultural Right seems to assume everybody is a latent Evangelical Protestant that just doesn’t know it for the most part. They use language and reasoning that an Evangelical Protestant would understand but other people do not unless they are versed in Evangelical Protestant culture.

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    • I see essays like the divorce regret one & I stop reading after the second reference to God’s/ Jesus’s light/love, because to me, any salient points they may have (like marriage is hard & requires work) are probably buried under a mound of virtue & piety signalling.

      No thanks.

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      • Absent any intended signaling, I just take it as an indication that the process by which the writer arrives at conclusions is not the same process I use and we’re probably not going to have a lot that’s useful to share with each other. If part of how you decide whether something is good or bad is based on feelings that I simply don’t have wired into my brain, your reasoning isn’t likely to move me. That’s not to say that their assessments are definitely wrong. Just that they’re often not applicable.

        I’ve always said that I clearly have an emotional wire disconnected somewhere that makes me completely uninterested in movies about horses and the people who love them. I get it, intellectually, but they just don’t do anything for me. I’m not sure it’s the same phenomenon, but it feels pretty close.

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        • I have a similar reaction to religion in general. I had a Mormon youth at my door some months back who was visibly taken aback by the idea that I was not interested in talking about Jesus or my immortal soul. I want to explain to them that appeals to religion, it’s message, it’s aesthetic, are lost on me. It’s like trying to extol the obvious virtues of the color blue to a person who has been blind since birth.

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    • I’ll agree with you that American Evangelical Protestants are their own peculiar thing – even as a Catholic I barely understand them at times – but let’s be fair about the audience for the article… it *is* other Evangelical Protestants.

      Were it not plucked from the ethersphere by Will, none of us would know its existence because we’re not really meant to be its audience. Its not even intended to be a defense of marriage (in a philosophical sense) but rather an exhortation to consider that marriage is hard (a’la ) and what it means to deal with adversity… in a particularly Evangelical way.

      So yeah, to Will’s point, it won’t really convince anyone who isn’t already a believer… but, so what? Most everything I read on the internet by the left is the same. Its not the reasoned tour de force you think it is… it’s mostly exhortations to fellow travelers sharing the same fundamental assumptions about life, the universe, and everything.

      Sometimes I wish there were better Catholic internet presences (there aren’t, really) and as I state up top, American Evangelicals are peculiarly American and Protestant… and rather a loud voice on the Social right; but outside of their own peculiar bubble (and the Republican Party that comes with it), they don’t really drive the bus on “conservative” philosophy. For that you need to look elsewhere. But then, I guess that was sort of Will’s point?

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    • Notkin’s article on manboys seems not only egregiously wrong but egregiously dumb.

      The oddest part was this:

      in a reversal of traditional gender roles, that while two-thirds of millennial women say that “being successful in a high-paying career or profession” is of high importance to them, only 59 percent of young men do.

      I am so old that I remember when prioritizing income was considered a sign of shallowness. When did not prioritizing income become a sign of childishness?

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  2. Attraction:
    There are some big differences between males & females on this.
    A female determining attractiveness tends to do so in small steps, while a male will make a snap judgment as a whole.
    Women first look at the eyes, mouth, then butt, in that order. Men look at the total package.

    Pheromones do play a role in behavior, but a fairly small one.

    Also, attraction and mating are separate issues for humans.
    “Bang a bimbo” is a whole different set of standards than “get married & settle down,” and the female equivalent.

    This tends to confirm prior research than state anything new.
    Nonetheless, an opportunity for exposure for those unfamiliar with the material.

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  3. My favorite part from the Notkin piece:

    Women want an equal partner, but there are increasingly fewer candidates to choose from. The census reports that “the average adult woman in the US is more likely to be a college graduate than the average adult man.” Moreover, today’s young, childless female city-dwellers with college degrees are out-earning their male counterparts by 8 cents on the dollar. Their higher incomes may be why they are less likely (29 percent) to be living with their parents than single men (35 percent).

    Hurray! Seems like today’s young, childless female city-dwellers with college degrees have finally overcome the income gap!

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        • So happy they harass any women who dare criticizes their vidya. They don’t seem very happy, unless being happy involves calling a women you don’t know the c-word for not agreeing with you.

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          • As unfair sweeping generalizations go, I’ve seen unfairer.

            Most recently, on the topic of Muslims.

            In any case, we’ve got a group of people who have found a lifestyle they enjoy and are comfortable with and people come along and start saying “your preferred Soma delivery devices need to change!”

            I’ve rarely seen any public argument about private entertainments needing to change turn out particularly well.

            #Gamergate was no exception.

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              • I suppose that there’s some overlap with this and the “Virtue Signal” theorizing going on in the other thread.

                There are a lot of arenas in which a particular flavor of the Virtue Signalling of the left works very, very well indeed to get groups of people to change their behaviors.

                #Gamergate was an example of it not working *AT ALL*. I think that a good chunk of the particular flavor of Virtue Signalling acted a lot like, for lack of a better term, “Mean Girls” behavior.

                Well, the Vidja community probably has the highest concentration of those who have some sort of mental/emotional callous against this stimulus. The internet, at the same time, gave them a place to get together and organize themselves that NEVER EVER IN A KABILLION *YEARS* would have happened anywhere even *CLOSE* to meatspace. (And, at the same time, “Mean Girls” tools work really well in meatspace… in places far away from there? Less effective.)

                And then, on top of that, those signalling their virtue by criticizing the dorks playing vidja in their momma’s basement failed to actually spend money on the vidja that (they said, anyway) they preferred to the adolescent fantasy they were criticizing.

                See also: Marvel Comics.

                You can signal virtue all you want.
                But cash is a signal too.

                Following small failures like Sunset and larger… well, “failure” is probably the wrong word… “Disappointments” is probably better… like Mass Effect: Andromeda, it seems likely to me that Virtue Signalling ain’t worth quite as much as cold hard cash.

                “Look, we’re just trying to make games, okay?” is something I’m expecting to see said more often by more developers in the nearish future.

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                • Jay,
                  MassEffect:Andromeda was paid sabotage.

                  A friend of mine makes games (I know I’ve mentioned this). He wound up asking me, “What the hell is a cis trans-phobic womyn?” (As this was what he was being accused of being online [as to why his online persona was female? “She writes games. Why does it matter what gender she is?”] It took up TONS of his time dealing with the bullshit.)

                  The Gamergate nonsense (including the MADE UP death threats and doxxing, childishly easy to prove, by the way) comes straight out of the Public Relations Handbook.

                  I wouldn’t mind if people were all “Look, we’re just trying to make games” (bearing in mind that your Noisy Left doesn’t really play games… as stated by them once they got people to write games that were targeted toward them). Instead, “I Can Play 100,000 Hours of Peggle, panic, and get my significant other to finish the game.”

                  This is NOT to say that you can’t write a damn fine game with a non-purely-hetero person (Persona 3/4 had the dev-option to have the PC be male/female (and not straight), but that got cut due to time constraints).

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            • That’s also an unfair sweeping generalization. To say, “Your thing needs to change” is different from saying “Our thing needs to change,” and indeed many calls for better diversity and representation in video games came from people who play video games who wanted to see themselves reflected. Likewise, to point out that something contains sexist elements is perfectly reasonable, as long as the thing in question includes sexist elements. The fact that the gamer bros responded with a massive childish hissy fit reflects their childish nature, that what we were saying about them was actually kinda true.

              Which is sad, I suppose. But video games really are pretty sexist. So it goes.

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              • To say, “Your thing needs to change” is different from saying “Our thing needs to change”

                Absolutely.

                Which is why it is so very important for people to buy video games that they support after making a big stink about how video games need to change.

                If a big stink is made, video games change, and sales go *DOWN*?

                It looks a lot more like “your thing needs to change” than “our thing needs to change”.

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                • — Well, if some hypothetical “rape simulator” sold really well, I’d still point out that, hey, you guy realize you’re getting off on a rape simulator. Maybe we can talk about that.

                  Regarding sales levels, I’d suggest you not become too attached to a simple narrative about sales. Which is to say, I expect producers to focus on sales. However, simple narratives are usually false. Likewise, just because one “diversity strategy” failed does not mean that “diversity in general” is doomed to fail, just that one approach by that one company in the current cultural climate failed. So, take a deep breath and try to figure out what happened.

                  Marketing is hard. Diversity remains a worthwhile goal.

                  The thing is, not all of “nerd culture” is limited to socially maladjusted weirdos in mom’s basement. However, that demographic often can drive sales, given that they have hyper-obsessive spending habits. But this has exactly the social merit as how alcoholics drive liquor sales and casinos love to cater to the most vulnerable. Plus, those of us who are not socially maladjusted weirdos are going to notice what a mess it is.

                  I like problematic anime. I don’t own a single waifu pillowcase.

                  Which again, I’m not saying companies shouldn’t create material for those guys. Fine. People with an unchecked sex drive and zero outlet will spend money. Give them what they want. Porn exists. But that won’t drive a creative medium forward.

                  In the end, no one is forcing anyone to play Depression Quest.

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                  • Oh, I wasn’t talking about “Rape Simulators”.

                    I was more talking about the games being critiqued by Anita Sarkeesian in Feminist Frequency’s Season One and Season Two.

                    If we were talking about “Rape Simulators”, let me please be the first in line to say that the people who play those games have bad kinks that they should feel shame about.

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                  • v,
                    Can I ask you to actually buy the “Hey, Let’s Talk about This” video games?
                    Because there are some, they’re well done, and well worth the play through. (You can Start With School Days).

                    Prompting a company to hire a Social Justice Warrior is an act of sabotage. Perhaps these SJW ought to reflect on exactly how toxic they are, before screaming about being represented, and about how representation is the most important thing (You MUST be a sheep to get hired, or at least know how to bite your tongue). [[This is not to say that Video Game Developers are NOT capable of finding markets and making games for them. They ain’t idiots, folks. But it is to say that hiring people who look not for talent but for “who you are” slap-duct-tape-across-your-mouth “shut up and listen to me, I know what i’m talking about and you don’t” is a really really bad idea.

                    Or, you could just go look at Mass Effect: Andromeda (although I do have to say that the AI that keeps creating autistic porn is doing some really funny things with the main character — posted on rule34).

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                • ME:A is, by most accounts, a mediocre game. It’s not clear to me how virtue signalling hurt the actual gameplay. But then again, I haven’t played it. I never even finished ME2 (or DA:I). I loved their earlier games, but the current crop don’t seem to do it for me. (Not the mention the whole ‘Bioware Points’ BS for their DLC).

                  I disagree with the idea that you should support mediocre works, simply because they support your worldview.

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                  • Hoosegow,
                    This is a game where people play it to fuck the aliens.
                    The “virtue signalling” of “we’re going to make everyone not prettypretty” interferes with desired gameplay. (Yes, people are playing this to fantasize).

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                  • It’s not clear to me how virtue signalling hurt the actual gameplay.

                    I’m not arguing that virtue signaling hurt the gameplay.

                    I’m arguing that it hurt sales.

                    “Profit” is a signal.

                    I disagree with the idea that you should support mediocre works, simply because they support your worldview.

                    If you’re complaining that there aren’t any (or enough) works that support your worldview (and, indeed, too many that support “bad” worldviews), you had best get in and start throwing cash around when works that do support your worldview show up, even if they are mediocre. Get your friends to buy it too.

                    Because if the only items that turn a profit are the ones that support worldviews that you don’t like, you’re going to find yourself swimming in a market where you aren’t the target audience.

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                    • I think that only makes sense if you divide everything into neat “pro” and “anti” groups. What, specifically, makes ME:A a “SJW” game that all lefties should be throwing their money at?

                      And why didn’t FO4, with its variety of options for the protagonist, same-sex relationships, etc, get the same branding?

                      I don’t think it’s a simple binary option between “supporting my views” and not. Gamers will endlessly complain about mechanics and graphics and story and dialog, etc., even for games they consider to be great. But somehow saying “there could have been more diversity in the NPCs” or “there’s no reason the protagonist had to be male” is seen as rejecting the game as a whole. Even for good games, things could be better.

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                      • Hoosegow,
                        It hired SJW people, it created it’s character designs explicitly so that people couldn’t make the main character smoking hot (or WASPy white).

                        Trust me, it was totally a SJW clusterfuck.

                        Falllout 4 wasn’t supposed to crash and burn. People weren’t paid to make Fallout 4 crash and burn. Ad Executives are doing their best to make ME:A live in infamy.

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                        • Kimmi: It hired SJW people, it created it’s character designs explicitly so that people couldn’t make the main character smoking hot (or WASPy white).

                          Which should have little to no impact to actual gameplay.

                          Kimmi: Ad Executives are doing their best to make ME:A live in infamy.

                          *sigh* Ok, let’s go down the rabbit hole…

                          Why would ad executives intentionally tank a valuable IP?

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                      • It’s not like ME:A was farmed out to the B-team, and then done on the cheap.

                        If that was true you’d see things like a lot of face repetition in NPC’s, bad lip-syncing of dialogue due to using cheap algorithms to handle it, a lot of weird animation issues due to poor design..

                        Oh wait….

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                          • Yeah, it was run out of Bioware: Montreal. Their Edmonton studio is their top-tier talent. (Their Edmonton studio didn’t do ME:A because, and this will not surprise you, they’re working on a new IP.)

                            They also switched engines, and their lack of expertise and experience with the new engine showed — hence the animation problems.

                            Tin foil wearers aside, everything I’ve heard and experienced firsthand has pointed to “Less skill, less experience, and insufficient budget”.

                            But to the fanboys, it’s impossible Bioware could POSSIBLY have churned out a sub-par sequel, so nefarious motives must have been at work.

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                            • morat20,
                              I have never played Mass Effect.
                              Corporate Sabotage simply happens to be a friend of mine’s speciality.
                              I’m certain I’ve mentioned the whole pot-smoking Elmo thing.

                              (And yes, more skill and experience may have led to them not designing a game that melts consoles… hence necessitating AUTISM)

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                      • And why didn’t FO4, with its variety of options for the protagonist, same-sex relationships, etc, get the same branding?

                        If I had to guess, I’d say that, on Bioware’s part, that had to do with the virtue signaling on the part of the developers (which includes the response of the developers to the backlash against the ending to Mass Effect 3 and some of the official responses to dissatisfaction of the dating choices available in the most recent Dragon Age).

                        I don’t think it’s a simple binary option between “supporting my views” and not. Gamers will endlessly complain about mechanics and graphics and story and dialog, etc., even for games they consider to be great. But somehow saying “there could have been more diversity in the NPCs” or “there’s no reason the protagonist had to be male” is seen as rejecting the game as a whole. Even for good games, things could be better.

                        Complainers will *ALWAYS* complain.

                        But there are complainers who will complain because it’s part of their hobby and what they do after they buy your game anyway and complainers who will complain but not buy your game anyway.

                        If you’re going to cater to one of these groups, cater to the former.

                        Bethesda catered to the former.
                        Bioware/EA catered to the latter. (In their defense, I think that they didn’t know that the people they were catering to weren’t going to buy their games in the same number as their previous audience. I don’t think it was malice.)

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                        • The complaints about ME:A were, by and large: poor animation, poor lip syncing, lazy design (repeated use of faces for NPCs), a lot more engine glitches than normal, and bland and forgettable characters in a repetitive and bland story.

                          All of those complaints can be explained by a few observable facts — The shift of the game to Montreal (Bioware’s B team, at best), the change in engine (to one they were inexperienced with), and that Bioware Edmonton (their A-Team that did ME originally) is concerned with a new IP (which means the company as a whole is focused on a new IP).

                          What’s it add to, you know, the absolutely common pattern of a company handing off it’s game to it’s second-tier talents to push out lackluster sequels while they concentrate on a fresh new concept?

                          (And ME:A is a sequel in a way ME:2 and ME:3 weren’t. Those were the second and third part of a story, whereas ME:A is “let’s go back to the well).

                          Your VS/SJW “theory” seems entirely superfluous.

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                          • By and large, I suppose that I’d heard about a handful more complaints than you heard about.

                            Though, indeed, I certainly heard about every single one of the complaints that you mentioned.

                            Your VS/SJW “theory” seems entirely superfluous.

                            I imagine that if there were not a pattern of such things happening across various industries that specialize in catering to dorks that it’d be exceptionally easy to agree 100%.

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                            • If what was? What complaints? You’ve just asserted that VS/SJW damaged the game, but you’ve specified nothing.

                              I’ve played the game. I read the reviews, both professional and amateur. And they all focused on “poor animation, engine glitches, bland and forgettable characters, story was too repetitive of the previous ME games”.

                              So what flaws are you talking about? Did you notice them yourself? Play the game? What are we talking about? How did that damage the game? How did that damage the brand?

                              And why is it that it’s so damaging, but didn’t make the litany of standard complaints against the game? What secret reviews and complaints are you reading, and why do you think they’re representative — after all, their complaints don’t seem to make the mainstream reviewers (professional and amateur), nor the complaints on places like Reddit. And I’m pretty sure you don’t believe in some conspiracy of silence on it.

                              I imagine that if there were not a pattern of such things happening across various industries that specialize in catering to dorks that it’d be exceptionally easy to agree 100%.
                              Again, no details. An assertion to back up your assertion. “ME:A was damaged by VS and SJW? How you say? Like all those other games”.

                              Circular as hell.

                              What you read as is someone who has a pet theory and is determined to shoehorn everything into it. ME:A didn’t live up to expectations? Clearly the fault of “thing that’s on my mind”.

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                              • We’ve been round and round on this a million times on the forum. It’s become crystal clear that when talks about how “SJW” excesses only served to harden attitudes, he means they’ve hardened his attitudes. Which, perhaps they have, but that doesn’t mean we’re wrong about how privilege works. In fact, it shows the opposite I think.

                                How much ink will we spill grousing about the poor girls who lost their burrito stand. I bet no one here has much to say about this: http://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2017/05/27/19041594/suspect-in-portland-hate-crime-murders-is-a-known-white-supremacist

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                                • I’m not talking about “hardening attitudes”.

                                  I’m talking about “meh, I’m not going to buy this entertainment product”.

                                  I’m not talking about “privilege”. If I recall correctly, it was Mass Effect 3 that introduced the term “entitled gamers” to the argument and it wasn’t by the people who were declining to buy the games.

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                                • As best I can tell, Jaybird has simply assumed that “SJW associations” have “damaged sales”.

                                  What associations? He won’t say beyond “SJWs”. How have they damaged sales? By association. How can he what’s damage from being a clearly inferior sequel versus “association”? Won’t say.

                                  Firm opinions, non-existent evidence or specifics, sticking to generalities even though we’re discussing a single, concrete game…..

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                                  • I’m not sure how I could demonstrate such a thing.

                                    I admit, I’m seeing a trend of sorts with Andromeda and with Marvel and seeing overlap of sorts.

                                    I’ll admit: perhaps you’re right and the only reason Andromeda isn’t selling is because it’s a sub-par game with a lot of graphics problems made by the B-Team.

                                    Heck, maybe it’s just something as simple as “people who hated the ending to Mass Effect 3 refused to buy Andromeda”. Sure.

                                    But I still see overlap between this and Marvel’s current book cancellations.

                                    I can appreciate that you don’t and don’t see any reason to change your mind.

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                                      • We *ARE* talking about entertainments, Morat.

                                        How could I prove to you that a game is or isn’t “fun”?

                                        If I can get over that hurdle, we then have to explain why it wouldn’t be “fun” and then agree on why something wouldn’t be?

                                        Where in the hell are the “realz” in that?
                                        It’s nothing but feelz all the way down, when we’re talking about entertainments.

                                        If you want something quantifiable, I suppose I could point to something like “sales”… and whether the phenomenon is happening across multiple industries that cater to dorks.

                                        But I already tried that.

                                        So I don’t even know how I could demonstrate it.

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                                        • So, just to sum up, you asserted that SJW “damaged” the game, but have no actual evidence of that.

                                          Despite having no evidence, you managed to argue it for several days until finally you admitted you have…no reason to actually believe that and can’t imagine any way to even show evidence of it.

                                          Awesome. I’m glad you have such firm, yet entirely baseless, opinions about the nefarious SJW’s and the way they’re just totally trashing games in undefinable, inexplicable, and entirely unsubstantiated ways.

                                          Certainly worth all the electrons to listen to you shout at the wind.

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                                          • morat20,
                                            Yes, hiring SJWs damaged the game. SJWs don’t really care as much about subsequent hiring of talent, so much as they care about people who Believe The Right Thing. So, yeah, second string studio — but that was at the end of the hiring, no?

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                                          • I didn’t, and haven’t, argued that they “damaged” the game.

                                            Here, I’ll copy and paste what I said above:

                                            I’m not arguing that virtue signaling hurt the gameplay.

                                            I’m arguing that it hurt sales.

                                            I imagine that there are people out there who found Andromeda’s gameplay *MORE* fun than ME1 and ME2. For them, the gameplay would not be “damaged”. It would be “improved”.

                                            That isn’t quantifiable. Or, if it is, I don’t know how I’d be able to quantify it.

                                            All I can do is see trends in the industry and see how the injection of certain kinds seem to be followed by lower sales.

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                                            • So, just to sum up, you asserted that SJW “damaged” the SALES, but have no actual evidence of that.

                                              Despite having no evidence, you managed to argue it for several days until finally you admitted you have…no reason to actually believe that and can’t imagine any way to even show evidence of it.

                                              Awesome. I’m glad you have such firm, yet entirely baseless, opinions about the nefarious SJW’s and the way they’re just totally trashing game SALES in undefinable, inexplicable, and entirely unsubstantiated ways.

                                              Certainly worth all the electrons to listen to you shout at the wind.

                                              Corrected for you. I’m sure you’ll find another way to avoid the point, but hey, I try to help.

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                                              • So, just to sum up, you asserted that SJW “damaged” the SALES, but have no actual evidence of that.

                                                I’m asserting that virtue signalling in the game damaged the sales, but the only evidence I have of such things is various people complaining and that is nowhere *NEAR* airtight evidence because, as we’ve said, people will complain about anything.

                                                So we’re just stuck asking “gee, why did this game not sell as well as its predecessor?”

                                                I can point to stuff like the difference between Metascores and User Scores on Metacritic, but that’s not evidence. Not airtight evidence, anyway.

                                                I can point to stuff happening in other industries that are similar and executives saying that they’ve learned a handful of lessons, but that’s not proof (and, anyway, the executives apologized for saying it and took it back so it *DEFINITELY* isn’t evidence. Not airtight evidence, anyway).

                                                I don’t have airtight evidence. Just a handful of hypotheses.

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                                                  • I know this, we’ll see no end of grand theories about why certain mass culture artifacts succeed while others fail. Likewise we’ll see endless debate about “playing it safe” versus “taking chances” versus “artistic vision” versus “knowing your audience.” In the end this is a Rorschach test, where a person’s own preoccupations are revealed in how they perceive the cultural marketplace. So it goes. seems to carry some resentment against the “SJWs” scolding guys like him, so he expresses his own frustrations in terms of market forces.

                                                    We know at least one guy thinks as he does. There are certainly more. This likely affects sales, just as everything affects sales in unpredictable ways. That said, plenty of “game bros” really are thin-skinned sexist shits. That’s just part of the cultural background radiation of rotten people. Likewise many “SJWs” are vituperative scolds. Yeah sorry about that. What a lovely vicious circle of hate.

                                                    I still want more diversity in media.

                                                    This is all a separate question of if games (and other mass cultural artifacts) are sexist and racist and etc-ish. But then, of course they are, to some degree. So we ask, to what degree? In what way? Give specifics. How can we do better? This is an important conversation. I can say with high confidence that “gamer culture” has responded in a singularly dysfunctional way to these topics. Can we can trace this to the particular social dysfunctions of the (mostly) men who make up traditional “gamer culture”?

                                                    I think we can. Actually, ‘s arguments would confirm more than deny that point.

                                                    After all, the gamer community could have responded to Sarkeesian by patiently waiting for her videos and in turn engaging with them in good faith, pointing out the pros and cons, trying to set aside their own defensiveness, etc.

                                                    That is not how they acted, not even close. They acted like childish little shits who refuse to share their toys.

                                                    What made them this way?

                                                    My answer is to describe the same forces that formed the “manosphere.” If you want to answer gamergate, look toward fragile, mediocre white men who cannot handle even the most mild criticism of their hobbies.

                                                    I expect the big game studios will continue to create sexy violence porn for their core audience of socially isolated, sexually frustrated men. That said, there is a larger potential audience of diverse, well-adjusted people. Likewise, over time the media artifacts that will seem historically important probably will not be those that cater to the least common denominator. So it goes. I expect “games journalists” to recognize this, to “push the envelope,” etc.

                                                    And the “gamer bros,” who have a childish meltdown if they are merely given the option of playing a gay character — well they are exactly what they seem to be.

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                                                    • Jaybird seems to carry some resentment against the “SJWs” scolding guys like him, so he expresses his own frustrations in terms of market forces.

                                                      It’s more that I remember the last half-dozen examples of moral scolds holding such things as the PMRC meetings discussing bad cultural influences enjoyed by people.

                                                      And, of course, the psychoanalysis of the people who enjoyed these bad cultural influences.

                                                      After all, the gamer community could have responded to Sarkeesian by patiently waiting for her videos and in turn engaging with them in good faith, pointing out the pros and cons, trying to set aside their own defensiveness, etc.

                                                      And I’ll repeat something I said waaaaaay up above:

                                                      As unfair sweeping generalizations go, I’ve seen unfairer.

                                                      Most recently, on the topic of Muslims.

                                                      Speaking of “the gamer community” is a lot like talking about “the left” or “the right”. There are some broad strokes that you can make but it’s real easy to drift into the fallacy of composition.

                                                      And the “gamer bros,” who have a childish meltdown if they are merely given the option of playing a gay character — well they are exactly what they seem to be.

                                                      And I’ll go back to the point I’ve been making for a long time about this.

                                                      If you want more video games that merely give more childish gamer bros the option of playing a gay character, it’s important to purchase the game and make sales as strong as they would have been if the industry stuck to catering to childish little shits who refuse to share their toys.

                                                      Because, if you don’t, you’ll find yourself reading articles about how the new groundbreaking and trendsetting game that broke new ground and is setting new trends has been placed on the back burner.

                                                      Even if the gameplay is awesome.

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                                                      • Jaybird, here’s another good example. The game “Rust” not only randomly assigns gender and race (and, for males, penis length) but those are locked to the account; you can’t wipe your character and restart, you get what you got forever unless you go get another email address or something.

                                                        Sales of Rust have been pretty much average. Neither retire-on-it good nor find-another-job bad.

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                                                          • To put this in context: Rust comes from a UK indie studio, and started as a clone of DayZ, which itself was a mod for ARMA 2. (So we have a tiny indie studio taking a clone of a mod for another game…)

                                                            When you start, you start off naked in the wilderness, with just a rock and a torch. The goal of the game is survival. Character creation is randomized (other than keeping a 50/50 gender split) so you basically get an avatar build of random elements.

                                                            As you’re naked, things like breast and penis size would be randomly generated, just like height, weight, skin color or whatever other bits they let alter to keep everyone from being clones.

                                                            The look of your avatar is, basically, just fluff and serves no gameplay purpose other than to prevent a world full of identical clones.

                                                            So to wit: The dreaded Rust is an indie studio’s adaptation of a mod to another game, still in “early access” on Steam.

                                                            Interestingly enough, it’s sold three million copies. Pretty good for an indie game developed by a studio with about 25 people. (You might also recognize their other ‘big’ game, Garry’s Mod.Which is… a sandbox for toying with Valve’s Source engine. So…like not a game.)

                                                            They’re not exactly EA. And goodness, 46 million in sales on Rust alone (still in early access, not even complete) — can’t say they’re doing something wrong.

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                                                            • Didn’t say “dreaded”, you brought that to the table yourself.

                                                              My point was that if we’re wondering what Forcing Social Justice Down Your Throat does to a game’s sales, it’s useful to look at a game that actually made that be a core design feature. And the answer is…nothing much, either way.

                                                              “still in early access, not even complete”

                                                              Please read up on the community response to “early access” before you make too much of this. (and keep in mind that Rust has been “early access” for the last five years.)

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                                                              • My point was that if we’re wondering what Forcing Social Justice Down Your Throat does to a game’s sales, it’s useful to look at a game that actually made that be a core design feature. And the answer is…nothing much, either way.

                                                                Well, I’m not sure how it’s “forcing SJ” but that seems a matter of subjective opinion anyways.

                                                                However, I can tell you what it does for a game’s sales if you think Rust is an example: A 25 man studio, 45 million in sales (not kickstarted, not pledged, sales), game not even out of beta.

                                                                Minecraft did better, but off the top of my head I can’t think of many other indie studios who managed tens of millions in sales on a single game.

                                                                Whatever you think Rust is doing, it’s certainly selling really damn well

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                                                                  • Also worth pointing out that Garry’s Mod has sold about four times as many copies sold as Rust.

                                                                    Which, like I said. Not a failure, but not retire-on-it money. Successful as an endeavour, yes, but I don’t think we can call it an example of a huge market demand for strong social-justice components in video game entertainment.

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                                                            • Although in case you’re curious:

                                                              Rust always had a “you get what you get, you don’t get to control it” approach. (The creator apparently thinks that character creation bloat is a PITA and a distraction from gameplay anyways. Of the “It’s not like you got to customize Samus or Mario” variety). You never got to choose anything, they just expanded the options available to the randomizer to make it the people you encountered more varied.

                                                              IIRC, they started with simple one-color male models with a few variable attributes, then added more variations, then skin color variations, then gender variations.

                                                              I’m rather a fan of lengthy character creation, so it’s not my cup of tea. On the other hand, it does mean you get right to business. On the gripping hand, I’m also not throwing a fit like some folks that there’s a game out there that doesn’t cater to me exclusively. (If I was, I’d complain about those Football Manager games. I know nothing about soccer, but it’d be fun if it was a sport I was familiar with. Why can’t they make an American Football Manager, instead of Madden crap?)

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                                                              • … Because Madden has a great big ego?
                                                                Madden used to call a friend of mine every year. Every year he’d ask the guy to work for him. Finally, my friend asked him, “You really don’t know who I am, do you?”
                                                                The answer, of course, was “No.”

                                                                Baseball and Hockey take a lot more skill to manage than American football — their “play to reach the playoffs” is radically different from their “Okay, you’ve reached the playoffs, now try to get the Cup/Pennant”

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                                                    • v,
                                                      Gamergate was a bunch of different things, with fault assigned rather randomly to a bunch of different people.

                                                      Some of those people faked other people doxxing them.

                                                      Some people used the whole thing to gain more interest from the public than they deserve.

                                                      Some boys were pathetic asshat jerks.

                                                      Someone got a reviewer fired for entirely unrelated reasons by siccing a mob on them.

                                                      Someone decided that it would be kinda cool if someone didn’t get a free sex change under false pretenses, and did actions that precipitated a mob forming.

                                                      Much science got done.

                                                      As to what the SJW folks can do? Stop being so completely, totally intolerant (yes, this was a problem with Mass Effect Andromeda). Assume that even the sexist jerks want to make money, and come in with a pitch that will have them listen. “Optional Content” is gonna fly a hell of a lot more than “you gotta listen to This!”. Erase the word queerbaiting from your vocabulary.

                                                      Quit trying to claim that your needs have to be catered to or you will have a royal shitstorm, slinging poo on everyone. Folks have called your bluff, and got the ratings anyway.

                                                      I realize that the above advice isn’t particularly helpful if you yourself haven’t been doing that crap. But it’s the advice I’d give to the SJW community at large. Stop the Drama Queens, they aren’t helping.

                                                      Oh, and one more thing: Calling someone words that they don’t understand isn’t helping. It’s just being pointlessly self-righteous.

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                                                    • I would like to add, for the record, that, I, back in the day, as an older married male, was not playing video games for the “sexy violence porn”, nor was I “socially isolated, sexually frustrated”. I’ll have you know that i was playing them because my career was stymied and I was unhappy at work. Now, years later, I’m happy at work and enjoy playing them because they are fun. :)

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                                                      • Damon,
                                                        Out of mostly random interest, would you be less interested in a game that gave “gay” options? What if you were forced into playing a role that didn’t seem to “fit” you? Hatoful Boyfriend, say?

                                                        [I would personally find a “photograph models” video game very boring, but that’s just as much for the childish gameplay as anything else.]

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                                                        • Well, I’m currently playing Fallout 4 and have played many similar games, where I could choose the sex of my character and same/different sex romances, so those have “gay options”. I’ve also played MMORPGs and rolled female characters, but that was mainly because I was in 3rd person view and got tired of “the male but”. My female characters were dressed sexily, not sluttish, for my visual entertainment. (I should have rolled a female Fallout 4 character as I would have loved to flirt with Piper as a chick :))

                                                          I appreciate options, but do not care to be tied down to a specific set of parameters by the game designers, even if I choose to play “hetero” characters. I’ve been known to spend an hour on my character’s visual characteristic. If I’m spending hours playing a game, I want to enjoy what I’m looking at.

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                                                  • My statements were full of stuff like “I imagine”, “If I had to guess”, and so on. They’re right up there.

                                                    Indeed, you kept saying stuff like “you asserted that SJW “damaged” the game” when I asserted no such thing.

                                                    The position you were arguing against was not mine and now you’re arguing that I held it as “unquestionably true” when I did my best to include “opinion” and “I think” phrases at the beginning of my musings.

                                                    They’re right up there. Scroll up and see them.

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                                  • morat20,
                                    Rule34. Go look at what it has to say about Mass Effect Andromeda.
                                    Seriously.
                                    Now try telling me that the SJWs (who managed to make an autistic looking protagonist) haven’t done radical things to the brand.

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                                • v,
                                  Lying on national television does the SJW brand no favors. I’d tell you to stop them, but you’re not more powerful than the Powers that Be, and the left already has their knives out for the SJW drama queens.

                                  That, obviously, is a horrible thing. Mentally ill person yelling at people. Someone tries to intervene, people die.

                                  Not too horrible, though. Nobody there was having fun lopping off other people’s appendages. Unlike SOME people (obvs. not present here)

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                              • You’ve just asserted that VS/SJW damaged the game, but you’ve specified nothing.

                                I didn’t say they damaged the game.
                                I said that sales were damaged.

                                I haven’t played the game. I’ve seen a handful of funny youtubes about glitches and whatnot but my argument is not that “Social Justice ruined the game”.

                                I don’t know if the game is any good or not.

                                What I am talking about is *NOT* whether the game is good but whether sales were hurt by the associations with “Social Justice”.

                                Again, no details. An assertion to back up your assertion. “ME:A was damaged by VS and SJW? How you say? Like all those other games”.

                                I’m saying that ME:A had disappointing sales. Not that it was “damaged”.

                                I’d compare to the disappointing sales seen in Marvel, recently.

                                “Oh, you’re saying that Social Justice results in crappy comics!”

                                “No, I am saying that catering to people who are not your target audience will hurt sales if the people you’re catering to don’t buy your product.”

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                                • How can you tell? You’re just asserting it.

                                  The game was inferior in pretty much all respects as a sequel. It was handled by a less talented team, released to poor (compared to the previous games) reviews, and had a ton of technical problems.

                                  And yet you stand here and say “SJW associations ‘damaged sales’ and give literally no evidence that’s the case.

                                  How can you even tell how much sales damage was “inferior product” and how much was “SJW associations”, whatever the hell that even means?

                                  I mean you clearly have a prior belief that needs no evidence to justify, but that doesn’t really do much for your argument.

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                                  • morat20,
                                    SJW associations means an active Public Relations push to advert to particular people.

                                    The New Voltron had an active push to market to trannies during it’s pre-release schedule. Active teasing. I can point you to interviews.

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                              • morat20,
                                Well, the deliberate creation of NPCs that are not ideal beauties that people want to fuck is one thing.
                                The creation of a PC that looks Autistic (if surprisingly earnest) is another.
                                The inability to tweak the sliders to make a WASPy lady PC…

                                Mass Effect was sabotaged, but part of that was getting SJW into the company.

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                          • I remember seeing complaints about the influence of the perfidious Ess Jay Doubleyews on Dragon Age: Inquisition, which was, nonetheless, a critical and commercial success.

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                            • I’m starting to come to the conclusion that, by and large, SJW’s are meaningless outside of colleges — except for one exception.

                              They are a convenient boogeymen for some people to blame change on.

                              “A gay romance option! I’m not gay!! Why is this SJW-crap infesting my games! STUPID SJW’s ruining all the games!”

                              I once saw a man go off on a restaurant menu because they’d included vegetarian dishes. Why would they do that? They could have added more dishes for him, instead of that BS veggie crap.

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                              • Please folks don’t mock sjws for wanting change per say. Unlesss you count getting angry at the cultural appropriation of hairstyles and demanding it stop.

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                              • morat20,
                                They are also very, very very fun to troll.
                                I mean, for the love of god, look at Sherlock.

                                They like to think that they’re bigger than they are, and that their screamfests are gonna actually do something.

                                There’s a reason they have the term queer-baiting.

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  4. Re: Marriageable men, gender imbalances, pay gap, etc:

    My law school class was about 60 percent female. A decade out, and nearly every man I graduated with is married, while there is still a good chunk of women who are not married without partners.* Even at the BigLaw firm where I worked, my incoming class was mostly women, more of whom are still single. By comparison, the Graduate School of Engineering was mostly male and much more international. For reasons of campus geography, the paths of the future lawyers and engineers almost never crossed.

    It gave me an idea for a fantastic sitcom. A group of women from Kentucky (or WV, or PA) get tired of men who are addicted to opiates, Call of Duty, or both. They get in a beat-up old car and drive out to Silicon Valley, where the ratios are in their favor, just as long as they’re willing to put up with a whole different set of anti-social behaviors. Tuesdays at 9 on NBC, it’s Palo Alto Holler!

    *This isn’t to say that everyone wants a partner, asexuality exists, etc etc etc.

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    • Come listen to a story ’bout a girl named Sue
      Solo West Virginian, Di’n’ know what to do
      The news show talked about guys unlikely to get it on
      And she saw all the lonely guys down in Silicon…
      (Valley, that is.)

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    • Ozy Franz has talked about the imbalance between unmarried working class women and lonely nerdy men. She doesn’t think the matchup would work.

      Even if they do meet, they might not be particularly interested in each other. My friends probably don’t want to help raise two or three children that are not genetically related to them, and they certainly don’t want to raise children with someone who thinks not spanking is neglectful. They probably don’t want to devote a significant fraction of their income to helping their wife’s poor relatives fix their cars and pay the rent. They don’t want a partner who thinks that homeopathy is an appropriate treatment and that her new husband is due to God rewarding her for donating to her church. They would like a partner who reads books and blogs and who is able to participate in a discussion about trolley problems or Magic: the Gathering. I don’t know the culture of the women of Promises I Can Keep [e.g. working class women] well enough to know what their dealbreakers about my friends are (see: spending time around people of your own class background), but I’m pretty sure they also have them.

      Of course, it could perhaps make good television in spite of this.

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      • Basically culture matters and similarities attract more than opposites attract with exceptions of course.

        But those are a lot of deal-breaking differences.

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        • Also, if the married nerds I know are anything to go by, conventional attractiveness is the first thing they’ll sacrifice, and compatible interests and outlook the last. Trying to use a surfeit of the former to overcome a gap in the latter rarely works outside sitcoms.

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          • Even in sitcoms it only works with dumpy husbands and hot wives. I don’t believe I have ever seen it go the other way. One of the mafiosi in The Sopranos had a dumpy wife. That is the closest I can think of.

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            • I think it was Kurt Metzger who pointed out that sitcoms are written mostly by male comedy nerd types who have stable but unglamorous office jobs and live in a place with a massive surplus of attractive women. The “unremarkable working Joe with an incongruously hot wife” version of reality is the version of reality they live in.

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              • tf,
                So long as we remember Phil Hartman.
                These people really really aren’t “Unremarkable Working Joe” — they are just people who tend to entice with their minds, rather than their fingers (magicians) or their looks (general musclebound alphas).

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                • I’m not saying that a comedy writers’ room is full of people at the middle of the bell curve in every way. On average, they’re successful in a hard industry to succeed in, reasonably well paid, and probably clever and or charming. They’re special and above average in a lot of real ways.

                  But we’re all the hero of our own story, and most of us have a tendency to think of ourselves as the norm. We’re all middle class, above average drivers. So when we write about the everyman and what he sees around him, we write about ourselves and what we see around ourselves.

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              • That’s an interesting thesis. Most people want conventionally attractive romantic partners even if they themselves are not conventionally attractive. Comedy writers are in an industry with an inordinate amount of physically attractive people and its likelier that they would end up dating or married to them than they would be if they became an accountant or something.

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      • BTW I still find numbers lacking. I want to know how many people call themselves Incel and how much these terms are known among people who don’t spend a good chunk of time on the Internet.

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        • The going definition of “incel” is “had no sex or other intimate contact in the last six months, but you wish you had.” By that notion, I’d estimate that this includes a low double-digit percentage of adults, but I cannot be more precise.

          That said, using the term “incel” to describe oneself is likely a very bad idea, inasmuch as the subculture is incredibly toxic.

          I once did a Fermi estimate that the number of people active in “incel” subculture is likely on the order of 10,000. That’s a very small number of people.

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          • That’s sort of what I mean. Lots of people (of all genders and sexualities and ages) go through “dry spells” at one point or another in their lives and they might or might not be trying to end the so-called dry spell with varying degrees of devotion and activity.

            But they don’t call themselves incels and don’t develop entire philosophies about it.

            When I hear incel, I think of a very small subgroup of obsessives who developed an entire (and entirely wrong) cosmology about why they are not having sex. To say that there are huge numbers of people devoted to Internet culture wars is wrong.

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          • Taking something that happens to people sometimes (I’ve fit that definition in the past) and creating communities for it online turns it into an identity instead of a passing phase. Being a “guy who isn’t getting laid right now” doesn’t require you to any theories of how the world works for your kind.

            I don’t know how people can find support communities without turning their underlying problem into an identity in and of itself.

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            • LTL,
              Supportive communities exist. Wanna have sex? Go hang with the SCA.
              Wanna be someplace where most people can feelz that you don’t have sex? Take most nerd activities (tabletop gaming is famous for that)…

              No need to be “abject loser” if you don’t wanna.

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            • I think it is reasonable to call yourself an “identity” if you get lumped into this group despite your own virtues and flaws, and furthermore if your group has little manifest social power, little voice, etc. Of course, there isn’t always a bright-line distinction. I’m pretty sure that black people have a valid claim to “identity,” whereas “finance guys” do not. Partly this has to do with choice. You cannot help being born a minority, whereas people in finance probably had the option of many different career paths. Partly it has to do with manifest variety. In fact, minorities are often unfairly lumped together and judged, despite showing a fairly broad spectrum of human experience, whereas finance guys really do seem to earn their reputation as shallow “players.” To a large degree it involves issues of voice and social power.

              Growing up, high school was full if cliques, but I’m not sure if we want to turn high school cliques into “identities.” Is “band geek” an identity? Is “jock”? Is “nerd”?

              A lot gets written about this, people trying to build precise theoretical models that let us talk honestly about race, gender, and sexuality without having to entertain some ninny ranting that he is a poor, misunderstood finance guy. (Cue world’s tiniest violin.)

              On the other hand, that weird autistic person who got bullied everyday as a kid, and never could quite get over the trauma, and who could only really build social connections in the really deviant parts of the internet — is that an “identity”?

              shrug

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              • I just think that if, during a dry spell, I had been encouraged to identify as “incel” instead of as just some guy not getting laid right now, it would have been very, very bad for me.

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                • — Oh definitely. Incel subculture is a dysfunctional hellscape of self-sabotage. So yeah.

                  On the other hand, I can imagine a world where young, lonely men get together and support each other in positive way.

                  Like I said, I can imagine it.

                  There is one weird contradiction to any “incel” identity, namely that any real “support” network is going to work to graduate people from the group. On the other hand, given the relationship between sex and status, it would be hard for “graduates” to mix freely with the currently “afflicted” in healthy ways.

                  Contrast this with being transgender. There is no graduating for me. I’m transgender and I always will be. Thus, my support circles contain people at various stages, some old timers who’ve seen everything, some newbs just learning the ropes, and everything in between. It’s a space where knowledge transfers and wisdom holds some value — although there are all the normal tensions between the newbs and the old blood. But still.

                  The question with incels is less “should they be an identity” and more “good grief can’t you build a real system of support?”

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                  • As far as communities go, there’s always PUA. Gender politics aside, it was always tinged with its origins as a book or a seminar or a “system” being sold to these guys. Assuming that it’s either effective for some people, or people find partners in other ways, you can “graduate” from PUA in a way that doesn’t involve getting disenchanted and abandoning the project.

                    There are other groups out there, often built around advice columnists like Dr. Nerdlove. They seem better, but they’re not usually male-specific.

                    The difference between Incel identity vs. black or trans identity is that you can’t really opt out of people seeing you as a member of the latter two groups, whereas incel can be reinterpreted as a thing that can happen to anyone for a time.

                    Luckily for me, I always had friends in various stages of relationships, nearly all of whom have experienced dry spells. We talked about all this stuff and it didn’t create a feedback loop of misery, anger and bunker mentality.

                    If only you could get the noncels to stick around and tell the incels that can be light at the end of the tunnel. But why would they?

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                    • — Well, “noncels” do show up in the forums from time to time, doing exactly that: “hey guys, I’ve been there. Here’s what I did…”

                      They get screamed at until they leave.

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                      • Seeing someone succeed where you’re failing isn’t always inspirational. (“Hey, it can get better!”). Sometimes people just get mad because it wasn’t them.

                        With the incels, there’s this undercurrent where it’s not so much “I haven’t succeeded” as “I’ve been kept from succeeding” which means anyone who breaks out most likely now part of the conspiracy.

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      • Here is what I mean:

        A lot of the incels I know don’t commit crimes or drink, don’t beat up their partners, and not only have jobs but also make an above-average income. So why aren’t they marrying the women of Promises I Can Keep? Well, first of all, they’re unlikely to meet those women: both the women of Promises I Can Keep and my friends typically spend time around people of their own class background. They probably don’t even use the same dating sites.

        Here is what I mean. Are there a lot of lonely guys out there? Yes. I was largely behind the curve dating/romance wise until I met my current girlfriend two and a half years ago. Except for one long-distance relationship, my dating life was largely a series of 1-4 dates and then things went into the ether.

        But I never saw myself or called myself incel. I didn’t read incel blogs or posts or know who Scott Alexander was. But I wonder if I was just categorized there.

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      • Huh. Franz claims that sexless people are about as happy as people who have sex regularly. This is a direct contradiction to, well, everything I know. For instance, I once read a piece where some econometrics guys measured the boost in happiness various things provided in comparison to getting a raise. Sex with a regular partner was worth $50,000/year. So was getting married, in addition to regular sex.

        Other studies of happiness have confirmed this. Another piece on hedonic adaptation said that the happiness boost provided by many material things tends to lessen over time, but not sex with a partner one is attached to. So I am deeply suspicious of the statement “sexless people are about as happy as people who have sex”. Happiness research is difficult.

        That said, that was a really interesting post. Probably the best on the subject I’ve read.

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        • I think Franz was comparing the happiness of sexless people with people who have a steady amount of casual sex rather than sex with one or more dedicated partners in a romantic relationship of some sort. I can easily see that sexless people being just as happy as people having casual sex even if they have at least an average libido. They might not like not having sex but they don’t have to deal with feeling used for sex or other emotional problems attached with many bad romantic relationships.

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          • I read the abstract she linked to. They define “sexlessness” as simply “not had sex in the last year” and use a self-report of it as well as of happiness. Happiness research is notoriously difficult, I’m not convinced this study has any value whatsoever. A simple self-report of happiness is deeply confounded.

            Now Franz may well be using that study as you describe.

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      • This seems right. There are going to be some very big cultural mismatches between unmarried working class women and kinely nerdy men. A individual couple might be able to work around these cultural mismatches but most don’t. They aren’t going to have the same pastimes or media/cultural interests, although that isn’t often that fatal to a relationship. The more important course of misery is going to a really different set of values. The kinely nerdy men are going to value education and knowledge for knowledge’s sake. They might not particularly like sports or outdoor activities or religion. They might come from a culture that sees the scholar as the supreme ideal for a man, Jewish and different Asian cultures are a real good example of this. The working class woman might want a man who isn’t a felon and has a decent job but might want somebody still more traditionally masculine and will probably be at least a little bit more religious than the nerdy man. They will probably like sports more or at least find it odd that a man doesn’t like sports.

        These types of cultural mismatch relationships can work with effort but it does require well, work.

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  5. You really ought to have just told the Popular Science article to piss off.
    Oh, No, people smell each other’s B.O.

    That’s only how Men primarily disseminate pheromones…

    Incidentally, Americans with their fixation on never smelling like humans, are doing a pretty good job at erasing their natural pheromones.

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  6. Marriage Overrated: It depends on what we mean by marriage. Marriage is a legal arrangement that confers distinct rights, responsibilities, and obligations. If you live in a state like California, there can be an intertwining of property (Community Property). But there are long-term couples who are not married but basically act like a married couple in most respects.

    Manboys and Marriageability: As not explored in both articles, there is a class and education component to this. LTL notes above that higher education among women is growing fast and among men, not so much except among those whose parents went to college. I’d be curious about the backgrounds of the three anecdotes in the Post article. Did they come from professional families or did they come from more working-class backgrounds and still feel pressure to marry someone who understands the norms and rules of their own life. A few years ago, I read an article that noted it is really hard for people to get used to the norms and expectations of a different socio-economic class (both up and down). I wonder if these women feel alien dating professional men because the professional men have different cultural norms than those they are used to.

    The other issue is that children of professionals are generally taught to work on the career stuff first, get that settled down, and then have kids. Guys can do this a little longer than women because of biology.

    Cultural Right: I think Lee gets it right here. Christianity is generally an evangelical religion and evangelical Christians are likely to evangelize. Part of their mission is to turn people into socially/culturally conservative Evangelicals. Judaism on the other hand makes it hard to convert even in the liberal/progressive branches.

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    • If you’re a big city professional, you’ve already got three strikes against you when even considering dating another class:

      1. Unless you’re trawling bars in deepest Queens or equivalent, you’re never going to meet working class people where you live and socialize. They won’t even be in your Tinder distance range.

      2. Your best chances of interacting with someone of a different social class is the support staff (mailroom, paralegal) where you work. That’s a terrible idea for lots of reasons.

      3. Thanks to geographic sorting, a lot more of the working class in major cities are immigrant or non-white. If the class differences aren’t enough, adding in cultural/race/language friction and those theoretical relationships are doomed before they start.

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      • Your best chances of interacting with someone of a different social class is the support staff (mailroom, paralegal) where you work.

        Consider this paralegal’s eyebrow raised. Of course the job title “paralegal” covers a wide range of sins, so I suppose it depends on the specific circumstances.

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        • It is still a bit of a thing for lawyers to marry their paralegals as far as I can tell. Male lawyers at least but in a lot of places paralegals are now university grads and it seems to be a career on its own. Paralegals are hourly (a rare Bush II Labor decision that made sense). I know quite a few artists who like the 9-5 of paralegal work and then they have free time for their art.

          So this would seem to go into the category of higher-powered male marrying is educational and cultural but not economic equal.

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          • Paralegals are hourly (a rare Bush II Labor decision that made sense).

            Eh? I am salaried, and was at the job before this one. The job before that I was hourly, but that was a long term temp job through an agency. Paralegals are non-exempt employees for overtime purposes, but that is not the same thing.

            P.S. My boss is a good looking guy, but he’s already married. As am I.

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          • This seems to happen more on the East Coast than the West Coast. Even the life time paralegals on the West Coast seem to have college degrees from my general observations. The more recent ones at least.

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            • My general observation about paralegals is that “paralegal” is the most under-specified job title I know. I am a paralegal working for a personal injury solo practitioner. Identify yourself as also being a paralegal working for a personal injury solo practitioner and I will have only the vaguest sense of how you spend your day. It might be anything from “secretary with title inflation” to “does everything put suit up and go to court.”

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  7. I read Melanie Notkin’s piece as an aggressive attempt to shift the blame she feels from the culture for her own and her friends single childlessness to her friends. But what if nobody needs to be blamed? What if so many people, male and female, her age got delayed in their careers and their financial progress by the Great Recession and by their college loans, and don’t really feel like shouldering more responsibility. What if buyer’s market that has characterized professionals looking for work has made it so that people have little room in their lives for anything but their work, and they are still scared to push back, to take vacations, to leave work at 6?

    Notkin’s piece is a “trend story” and it’s also a “trend story rebuttal”, which means to me that as far as facts are concerned, it’s useless. So what’s the feeling? She and her friends are frustrated with their lack of progress in starting a family. I can’t blame them for that. They want to blame men mostly because they don’t want to be blamed themselves. Le Sigh.

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    • There’s also a question of how much is due to idealizing relationships/unrealistic expectations? Perhaps the problem isn’t manboys per se, but that these women are regarding such men as poor marriage material from the word go because they are being modern bachelors. The article seems light on the details for what constitutes a manboy, but what exactly are these women expecting these single professional men to be like? Are they hunting for debonair renaissance men and finding that creature to be a rare animal?

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      • I don’t think you’re wrong, but I’d be a bit less blaming. There is a massive cultural expectation that women marry a man of equal to higher status, career-wise. And they see some of these activities, for instance playing video-games as attaching much lower status, which makes the men engaging in these activities undesirable as compared to cultural expectations.

        Now, a person can break these cultural expectations and find happiness, but they have to become conscious of the cultural expectations and how they are no longer suited to the times we live in before that happens.

        I mean, as far as that goes, we could talk about the expectation that women have that the man they are with must be taller than them. What is that about? As a short man, it irritates the crap out of me.

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        • Maybe it’s as simple as “where are you shopping?”. I have a friend, she’s an engineer, very attractive, very socially able. We were talking one day and she was complaining about how she was tired of “manboys” (she didn’t use that term, but it was along that vein). I asked her where she was looking. Turns out bars and clubs have a lack of the kind of men she was interested in. After finding out what she was interested in, I mentioned some social groups in the area she might find more to her taste (i.e. the Mountaineers). A year later she was planning her wedding.

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    • @oscar-gordon

      I suspect the recession might be a part of it but stuff like this was happening long before the recession. My mom was a bit odd for having her first kids at 34 in 1980 but among the women I know from high school and beyond, having your kids at that age or later is very much the norm. Same for women who were born in the 1970s but among the professional class. We are not necessarily victims of the Great Recession but were just taught get career stablalized first.

      Even among relative equals, I still think there is a status thing and men are expected to do better usually. I’m a lawyer. My girlfriend is an MBA. We are equals (though her career path was more rock steady because she didn’t try to be an artist during her 20s). I suspect that I could date or marry someone with a career like elementary school teacher or adjunct professor or interior decorator and not be seen as marrying outside my class. However, my girlfriend would be seen as marrying down if she married someone who taught High School even if that guy had a PhD.

      You see this a lot in wedding announcements. Either the careers are seemingly equal between the man and the woman or the man has a much more prestigious job in terms of pay and power. “He is a Vice President at Financial Services Corp. She is a 2nd grade teacher at X and holds and MFA in painting from Y.” This is seen as socially equal. But if you reversed it, it would not be. So for high-powered women, the announcements are “He is a third year resident at Hospital X in Field Y and she is a Third Year Resident at the same Hospital but maybe a different field.”

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      • Right. In some sense, it is also the product of two other trends that are converging. First, more and more women are graduating from college and getting professional jobs. More than men in many areas. Which makes it very hard to meet the expectation that the male side will have a better, higher-paying job.

        The second trend is that the working-class Path of Manhood is disappearing rapidly. Because the sort of jobs that made that possible are disappearing. Young men cannot be the sort of Man their fathers were for cultural reasons, too. Neither can young women be the sort of Women their mothers were, but for them, that’s ok, they don’t really want to.

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        • For some reason, its easier for women to jump from a working class background to the modern economy than it is for working class men. Most likely because a lot of the available jobs aren’t seen as manly enough.

          I am not sure that all young women don’t really want to be the type of Women their mothers were. Many might not want to be but some of them, especially the ones that aren’t doing that well economically either, might kind of want to be the type of Women their mother was.

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          • Yeah, I think there’s probably some longing to be Just Like Mom. Especially when your boss is mad at you because the project is late. There’s a tension there, but I don’t think it’s nearly as great, for the simple reason that you understood yourself to have chosen this.

            Men can’t choose to be a steelworker or a miner Just Like Dad. It’s not an option.

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          • “For some reason, its easier for women to jump from a working class background to the modern economy than it is for working class men. ”

            That’s because the customers for ‘modern economy’ jobs expect to see a woman doing them.

            Like, the rich couple who are hiring a home-visit caregiver for Mom want a nice quiet small unthreatening person who does not look like they’re going to rape her and steal the silver. The financial executive hiring a personal assistant probably isn’t actually planning to bang her on the side, but definitely wants someone who looks like they could be banged. The call center that’s staffing up wants female voices on the phone to lower the emotional temperature of conversations about how health insurance doesn’t cover those treatments and that credit scores aren’t high enough to get a car loan. And so on.

            “Brick” Gutierrez the tattooed truck driver looks like he runs the fence operation, does not give the impression of being a gunsel, and his telephone manner combines the affect of an Army lifer sergeant with a voice tempered by thirty years of diesel smoke. He is not getting a job in the modern economy even though he cared for his mother during the ten years of her decline, has connections that let him conjure dinner for thirty plus transportation and entertainment on an hour’s notice, and once talked down a man holding a blowtorch to a gas tank.

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            • If people were only crude stereotypes you might have something more. Plenty of men get call center jobs. Plenty of women have embarrassing tat’s. More jobs have opened up to women in the past decades but that has opened up jobs to men. Men can be great nurses or CMA’s, etc.

              If the CEO wants a PA that looks bangable, that is the male CEO’s own sexism holding other men down.

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              • I think its a bit of what Density Duck says and what your saying. Men can make great nurses but when it comes to gender roles a lot of people are opportunistic rather than idealistic. They like traditional gender roles when it suits them and oppose traditional gender roles when it suits them. Most people still believe that women are inherently more nurturing than men and think that this means women make naturally better nurses and child care givens. This includes many people who identify as liberal and feminist.

                So while men have theoretically more options available to them, lots of people are going to look askance at a man who decides to become a nurse or see a man who works as a nursery school teacher as threatening unless he has a Mister Rogers demeanor. Men from working class backgrounds need to jump further to get a job that would not have a potential social stigma.

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              • I’m not so dismiss due to the colorful cast.

                An average of five insect legs per chocolate bar sold (ATTN: Jaybird – Sorites Problem), but I do not favor the marketing of them as “insect leg bars.”
                We can pick out all the “B-b-b-but, but …”‘s all we want to, and the general statement still stands as indicative of the norm.
                Where trends in the norm can be seem to occur, nonetheless, it is where it’s at.

                Some of us here are actively dealing with discrimination in various forms.
                Clouding the waters in shifting the norm to a set of possibilities isn’t helpful.

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            • If we could only decide that we could trust “Brick” he might make a really, really great guy to visit my stepmother three times a week and make sure she’s getting out of bed and moving around, check her medication and make sure she has food. Many old sergeants are basically mother hens, anyway. The tats and the gruff voice are to convince the younguns to pay attention.

              I’m sure she’d like him, once she decided to trust him. Yeah, stereotypes are a problem.

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  8. Perhaps barely on topic – re the “related?” link – to the hitcoffee article re the NY Post article re the NY Times article re polyamory…

    1) Wow does the NY Post writer not get it.

    Infidelity is about lying, deceit. Behaviour that is perfectly normal and acceptable in one person’s marriage might be infidelity in Mike Pence’s. That doesn’t make another married person ‘unfaithful’ for having dinner with someone of a gender they prefer to date, as long as they’re not sneaking around to hide from their partner that they’re doing so contrary to a commitment they made.

    Infidelity is about violating the commitment, not about the particular actions you’ve committed to. This the NY Post writer seems to deliberately ignore.

    2) I found the NY Times article also pretty weird, and like that author also didn’t get it, or at least was deliberately avoiding letting on they got it for the sake of the article.

    In particular (note I’m going from memory here – the NY Times site seems to be down):

    – The article spends the most time on the people who are furthest from “proper” polyamory – it starts with an affair, the woman having the affair comes out about it but continues refusing to respect her husband’s boundaries, the whole time the other man is hiding the whole business behind his own partner’s back, and it’s a long time before the husband and other partner of the woman at the focus of the article even so much as meet.

    – At the very end of the article, they finally get to one family that’s formed in a way I’d recognize as polyamory – all open and above board, no history of deceit on the way there. They even all live together, and are affectionate without hesitancy in one another’s presence. And that’s the thing the author finds most disturbing and can’t wrap their head around. FFS.

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    • The NYT website is working for me again. It is as I recalled: the one relationship I would consider a healthy and normal polyamorous relationship – Joe, Zaeli, and Blake’s – is the one where the author professes the greatest discomfort, seemingly precisely at the lack of sneaking around and dysfunction.

      “I thought that by the time I met Joe and Zaeli and Blake in February at their home in Austin that I had become used to the idea of openness. But from the moment I entered their house, I did not know where to look. Joe, warm and outgoing, greeted me at the door, making small talk I could barely engage in, as his wife and Blake were, at that moment, nuzzling by the stove, reunited after having been apart for most of the day”

      “The conversation wore on, but I eventually admitted to them what they already knew, which was that this was all strange, maybe even hard, for me to witness — Blake kissing Zaeli in front of Joe, the two of them recalling how they fell in love.”

      She doesn’t have a hard time with all the people sneaking around and lying and cheating, or at least having the “decency” to carefully avoid meeting a person who’s deeply important to their loved one, sticking with good clean furtive trysts in hotel rooms or whatever. But this whole business of an entire family being open and loving with one another – that’s what finally weirds her out.

      Sheesh.

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      • In my experience (and I’ve sat in an awful lot of journalism classes), the people who go on to journalism as a full-time profession tend to be the ones with above-average, but not stellar, writing skills, who are fairly clueless on most matters otherwise.
        The others tend to have enough in the way of snap to them that they’re able to port the writing skills over to something that pays better, and pursue a sideline gig.

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      • I’ve had non-poly friends do a mild freakout the first time they saw me among my polycule. The whole “veronica kisses V who then kisses J, which is sitting on D’s lap…” — well, it was a bit much for them to take in all at once.

        Honestly, the first time I did that was pretty weird, but fun. It grows on you. It’s really quite nice, provided you have a decent tolerance for drama.

        Cuz OMG the drama!

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        • I’m in awe. I can barely survive sustaining a relationship with one other person. The idea of adding any more dimensions to that makes me want to flee to Antarctica and live among the penguins.

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            • The trick is, your partners have other partners who are not you. So, logistics can be hard. (Thank the stars for shared calendars.) But the energy — when I cannot step up, someone else probably can. Likewise, when I’m lonely and partner X is out of energy, perhaps partner Y is missing me. If not, I have other friends, or Netflix, or (always my first love) math.

              You give up some dependability in exchange for less pressure to always be available. Plus, once you learn to manage jealousy, you can save the cycles you once spent worrying that your partner is hawt for someone else. They probably are, but so are you. It’s baked in. You accept.

              It works, mostly. Except for when it doesn’t.

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        • I suspect partly it’s because our own stuff is highly important issues that deserve full respect and attention, while other people’s stuff is “drama.”

          So, in a poly relationship, other people’s stuff comes up more – between my partner and her partner, there are occasionally highly important issues that deserve full respect and attention. And I’ll be upstairs reading a book, happy to avoid the drama. I’m sure that her partner occasionally feels the same relief to be downstairs playing music while we drama / highly-important-issue it up.

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  9. I couldn’t make hide nor hair of that sexbot article.

    “By lowering the female asking price and boosting all men’s desirability, many men who desired procreation but were denied it on account of their inability to fornicate in a world where women were the sexual gatekeepers now find themselves able to have children.”

    …does this person even know what a sexbot does?

    I mean, it is not a robot that has the baby for you!

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      • Well, any article that begins by citing Heartiste is going to go downhill fast. But yeah, it’s utter rubbish.

        These guys always act as if, when the bots arrive, men will be relieved of their sexual needs, which will disadvantage women. To me this seems pretty backwards. First, men right now can watch porn and masturbate, which really, a sexbot might be better than that, but how much? On the other hand, men also use sexual access as an enormous status marker. So yeah, rich guys will buy top model sexbots to show off how rich they are. Sure. Fine. But they’ll still be dismissed because they can’t get a “real girl.” Likewise, for all their posturing of sexual needs, it really seems to me that too many men hunger for real intimacy. They are starved for emotional bonding and affection. Will sexbots provide that?

        I suppose they’ll be slightly better than anime and your waifu pillowcase, but really, how much better?

        On the other hand, women are becoming more and more economically independent. Likewise, women seem better at building emotional bonds with other women, while satisfying their sexual needs with “hookup culture” (or else with their “alone time”). Sexbots could certainly fill that “hookup” role as well or better than most men. (Sorry to say, guys, but seriously.)

        The point is, the role the bots play in the (so called) sexual arms race might go exactly opposite to how the “manosphere” chumps think it will.

        Which is fine with me. Bring on the bots.

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        • “for all their posturing of sexual needs, it really seems to me that too many men hunger for real intimacy. They are starved for emotional bonding and affection. Will sexbots provide that?”

          Considering the degree of attachment that soldiers form to bomb-disposal robots–and those are just fancy remote-control cars!–I’m pretty sure that a reasonable facsimile of a human will provide as much emotional intimacy as many of these people need.

          I do understand that the privilege you hold makes it difficult for you to understand just how hard life is for the oppressed and marginalized, and how much personal benefit they would receive from what you see as a meaningless infinitesimal crumb.

          “These guys always act as if, when the bots arrive, men will be relieved of their sexual needs, which will disadvantage women.”

          After re-reading the blog post–which I felt compelled to do because that post was just so weird–I think that what the writer was going for is that (using their terms, here, which are disgusting but are key to understanding the argument) all the 5’s and 6’s are holding out for hottie Alpha-class males, which they can get because there are more Alpha-class males than there are 7-and-up women to pair off with them. So these 5’s and 6’s don’t have to do any work to make themselves attractive, physically or psychologically, because they know that any leftover Alpha who wants a proper sexual experience will just have to put up with what they can get. But because those 5’s and 6’s are such rotten people nobody will actually want to have children with them.

          But in a world where sexbots exist, those 5’s and 6’s now have actual competition and will be forced to raise their overall quality as mates in order to be considered desirable. Because they have done so, they will be more suitable mates for procreative purposes(*) and the Alpha-class males will now want to have children with them, thus preserving the white Western race.(**)

          Non-Alpha males and 4-or-lower females aren’t actually part of the discussion in the blog post because according to the writer those sorts of people shouldn’t be reproducing anyway.

          (*) just to interject, it feels disgusting to type this way

          (**) oh yeah, that’s in the blog post too. Will, where did you even find this shit? This person put in a clip of the Futurama “death by snoo-snoo” bit and intends that we take it seriously as a supporting document for their thesis.

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    • I found it to be nearly incomprehensible as well. It ignores that women are not always acting in asexual ways for the sole purpose of separating a man from his Vital Essence for procreative purposes. Women have libidos and enjoy the sensation of sex, in a manner not particularly unlike the way men have libidos and enjoy the sensation of sex.

      And so it turns out that women can get themselves boy-shaped sex dolls right now and those with the spare cash to spend on such a device are, in fact, doing so. If a man would find a sexbot a pleasurable device to supplement (or substitute for) a sexual relationship with a human partner, why wouldn’t a woman also want a sexbot for all the same reasons? The manufacturers of these devices will, we can predict with a high degree of certainty, be willing to create a product to meet the demand.

      People have been making sex toys for thousands of years. I don’t think we’re talking about an artificial person with self-awareness and autonomy and moral agency and an independent libido. We’re talking about a sophisticated, technologically advanced sex toy. And somehow, despite the availability of sex toys, the prevalence and ease of self-stimulative behavior, and pornography, humans have chosen to actually procreate, and the species has not died out as a result of the universalization of Onan’s sin.

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      • On further reading, I think the thesis of that article is that humans have chosen to procreate, but the limited number of high-quality white women has led to a decline in the overall ability–physical, mental, and moral–of the white Western race. (This isn’t me, this is the blog post! Seriously, that site is bad.) Sexbots, by offering the same pleasures a woman can provide, will force white women to shape up and improve themselves and create better white children (and more of them overall).

        As for what I think? I think that the people who believe that all these bad attitudes are just sexual frustration will be very surprised when every gamer bro has a blowjob bot but still refuses to accept the truth that they’re horrible icky sexists who hate women.

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  10. Interesting developments in Senate R/R:

    McConnell: ‘I don’t know’ how we get to 50 votes on health care bill

    Another interesting tidbit: he apparently appealed to Senate Dems to work with the GOP to pass a healthcare bill.

    I don’t know what to make of all this, actually. Given that even bipartisan legislation needs to make it outa committee he apparently believes the relevant committee chairs are willing to bring in Dem proposals (seems unlikely). Or he’s attempting to get in front of a politically inevitable disaster by trying to front load blaming Democrats for the GOPs policy failures (more likely). Either way, it’s a shocking statement.

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      • Interesting proposal tho I’m not sure how doing so helps the GOP get to fifty votes on a replacement bill.

        It’s the difference between politics and policy; campaigning and governing.

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              • Well, maybe you’re right. Polling suggests otherwise. As does a normal understanding of politics: the party in power gets the credit/blame for what occurs during their time in power. One other thing: “We let the ACA collapse because we couldn’t fix it the first time we held Congress and the Presidency!” isn’t a very effective rally cry.

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      • Problematic for a couple reasons that Obama’s eight years demonstrated. The electorate gives not a fish who anyone says to blame; they blame the party in power. So if the ACA falls apart on its own it still is a mess the GOP will wear.

        On top of that there’s serious danger the ACA could clunk along on its own unless they “help” it to fail. And if Trumps admin gets busted over the ACA’s body with a candlestick in the dining room… well that’s like the first scenario only worse.

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    • Shocking only if you think that wiley ol’ McConnell has even a shred of bipartisan principle. Otherwise it just looks like the clever ol’ turtle preparing for his eventual excuse for why he can’t pass anything. Personally I’m encouraged to see him carefully tending to his retreat routes.
      I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when he appealed to his Democratic colleagues for bipartisanship. Maybe it was an attempt to make a few of them die laughing.

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      • North,

        No, the shocking statement was the public admission that he doesn’t see fifty votes being possible. They’ve been working on this for like, three weeks, and the coalitions are already so congealed that compromise within his own caucus is apparently impossible. Which is a shocking thing to concede (if true).

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        • I guess I came into it more skeptical. The GOP Senators have both slightly greater independence from the party than many other officials and more concrete interests against committing suicide over the AHA.
          Senator Collins, for instance, is rumored to want to take a run at governor. Neither her interests nor her principles say that she would ever support the drek on tap. Portman, likewise, knows his constituents would burn him at the stake in Ohio if he just voted for it and he’s more of a Kasich style Republican. Right there is two easy no brainers down. That’s without even looking at the right wing nuts who think the AHA doesn’t go far enough.

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        • Well, look at it this way. You’re Mitch, you know you don’t have 50 GOP votes. A few have pulled you aside and said “Mitch, buddy, it was really unlikely before the CBO score. After? I’m not committing career suicide on this. I vote “yes” on this bill, there will be a lot of angry people with sick or dead relatives who WILL remember when I’m up for re-election, even if it’s in 2022. I vote “no” and the angry people will forget by next month. The math is simple”.

          So what do you do? Because you’re the face of the Senate and angry people are a lot less likely to forget about you. You’re not the target of state-level campaigns, you’ll be hit by national ones by angry, deep-pocked folks.

          So you start to lay the groundwork for failure. You say “I don’t think we have 50 votes, and I tried to work with Democrats and they just didn’t want to help. It’s really their fault, honestly. If they’d been willing to compromise, be a bit bipartisan, I’d have passed it. But those darn Democrats stopped us again.”

          Mitch is lining up to blame “pure partisan obstructionism” for his failure to get to 50 votes. It’s stupid, given the GOP has a majority, but he won’t care. It’s his best pitch.

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