So today I was reading the picture book version of Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, which is about a little girl and anthropomorphized versions of her emotions, and happened upon this quote:
“And of course, Riley needed Disgust’s good taste to avoid being poisoned, both physically and socially. Disgust helped Riley steer clear of anything and everything she found repulsive, from horrible food to rotten people.” [bold mine]
The accompanying picture is of a toddler refusing some icky vegetable. One wonders what toddlers think about “rotten people,” if anything at all.
Grownups, however, express their opinions about the ickiness of others loud and clear:
“David Merkur, 28, Keeps Seriously Creepy Spreadsheet Of All His Online Dates” claims the Huffington Post.
Poor David Merkur wrote no more in his spreadsheet than millions of women have written in their diaries–there is nothing remotely creepy about noting where you met someone or when you have a date scheduled. His only mistake was showing the spreadsheet to one of the women he was interested in. For this, Jezebel, the HuffPo, and many other websites ran articles which used his real name and intended, IMO, to completely humiliate and defame him.
Something similar happened to a friend when one of their exes decided to destroy them as publicly as possible. Thankfully their story didn’t make it onto Jezebel or HuffPo, but embarrassing personal details were broadcast to almost all of their friends, pretty much destroying their social life and leaving them really fucking depressed.
“Why do women go after assholes? I’m such a nice guy and I can’t even get a date!”
“Any guy who calls himself a nice guy is actually an asshole! You’re a misogynist oppressor!”
The whole business has always been a little baroque to me, perhaps because I think people should be nice to each other, or perhaps because I’ve watched plenty of women fall all over themselves trying to hop into bed with criminals. But I find that one of the tricks to understanding people is to generally assume that they are asserting some true version of reality as they see it, so to understand feminists, I must assume that they really, truly hate Nice Guys.
But if we dig a little deeper, it’s not really the niceness they hate, (well, it is the niceness, but it is more than just that,) it’s the sexual interest.
Slate Star Codex made this montage that I have stolen without permission so I really hope he forgives me:
It’s from his article about Creep Shaming (my title, not his,) that is quite relevant to this whole post and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already.
(While we are at it, 1. What is up with the fedora thing? Seriously I don’t get it. It is a hat. Who cares about hats? 2. How much social rejection/creep shaming is actually aimed at Jewish men who just don’t look like other whites and so don’t meet female attractiveness standards?)
Also, Scott Alexander is not the only person I’ve seen compare/imply that the whole feminist reaction to nerdy men reminds them of anti-Semitism.
Women complain about men’s unreasonable beauty standards, but it’s the women who rate 80% of men unattractive. Men, by contrast, rate most women as around “average” attractiveness.
As I noted a few days ago, this is all most likely because women have actually evolved to find male sexuality disgusting. A woman only needs 1-4 men in her life, not thousands, so any men other than her chosen few are little more than threats.
And apparently, people also route “potential threats” though their “disgust” modules, and some people are particularly prone to experiencing physical disgust at the mere thought of things they do not like.
Like inferior males and their sexuality.
Free Northerner has an older post about the time he tried to court a Christian young woman, and her parents (quite rudely) grilled him on a long list of personal questions. They obviously had it out for him, and so he should not have answered any of the questions or otherwise put up with their bullshit, but regardless, he probably sealed his fate with the woman by answering honestly that he sometimes watches porn.
You might as well talk about your feces at the dinner table as admit to a woman you barely know and her parents that you watch porn. Yes, everyone has to poop, but that doesn’t mean you talk about it in polite company. Likewise, yes, you have sexual needs, but that doesn’t mean you talk about them at the dinner, and any insistence that you should is just an insistence that the girl should only date men who are good at lying.
Be careful what you incentivise.
On a neurological level, I suspect that disgust and fear are closely related. Both get processed through the same region of the brain, my old favorite, the amygdala (but probably involve a bunch of other regions that I just don’t know anything about.) Both are negative reactions to external stimuli intended to protect you from danger. Fear protects you from things you might need to run away from, like tigers, while disgust protects you from stationary things, like rotting lions.
Conservatives show heightened fear/disgust responses upon meeting strangers, leading to distrust of outsiders, but the ability to feel fear also seems to help us empathize with others and feel their fear; sociopaths are deficient in their abilities to empathize and feel fear.
Disgust therefore has, apparently, two purposes:
1. It keeps you away from disease vectors like rot/feces
2. It prevents you from having sex with inferior mates.
One of the results implied by this is that cleaner people have less interest in sex, and dirtier people more interest. Which I suppose explains the phrase, “dirty old man.”
There is an additional important factor: aggression. Aggression, I suspect, neutralizes disgust. “Nice guys” lack the proper forms of aggression, like being tall and socially dominant, having a good sense of humor, good looks, prestigious job, and generally not being shy or otherwise beta. I am really super not the greatest person to get opinions about dating from, because I have never dated any women at all, but this appears, IMO, to be basically true: the aggressive bird gets the worm.
In the past, monogamy functioned, among other things, to basically protect women from too much male sexual interest, because married women were basically thought of as off-limits. This greatly reduced the number of men expressing sexual interest in married women, removing one source of potential stress from their lives.
When I hear women my own age talk about how, “We need to have a discussion about consent and aggression and rape,” I just look at them weird. After a decade of marriage, first-date style concerns about negotiating boundaries with people I’ve just met have faded far into the recesses of memory.
One of the side effects of decreasing monogamy in our society and an increase in “hookup” culture, seems to be an increase female concern about male sexual aggression. Overall, I suspect the numbers on aggressions like rape are down, (at least since 1990,) tracking other crime rates. But fear of male aggression need not have anything to do with actual aggression; it need only have to do with contact with males. If contact with men who want to have sex with them triggers womens’ disgust instincts, then putting women into more contact with men who want to have sex with them, even if those guys are totally nice guys who’d never do anything aggressive, will constantly trigger the disgust response and start stressing out the women. In the end, you get things like the whole Mattress Girl phenomenon.
“Sulkowicz, who graduated Sunday, spent her senior year hauling a 50-pound mattress around campus to protest the Columbia administration’s failure to expel her alleged rapist. …
““If we use proof in rape cases,” said Sulkowicz, “we fall into the patterns of rape deniers.” Yet it also trafficked in high-sounding maxims composed of that mélange of pseudo-academic, quasi-mystical jargon that passes today for profundity: “In saying I expose the truth, the viewer superimposes their truth upon mine, and once again silences me.” “Well-meaning people on the street will touch me reverently. . . . They do not believe they are violating me with their hands.” “When people engage in believing in me, they objectify me.” “
Read enough cases like these, and you start wondering if maybe there’s something to be said for social norms encouraging people to only have sex with people they already know really well, and maybe are already married to.
Instead, feminists tend to demand that men not express sexual desire in women, which of course only the really shy guys who are terrified of accidentally offending women and deeply committed to being decent humans in the first place actually listen to. They then sit in their rooms, alone, and feel absolutely awful for ever being attracted to a woman (objectification!) The assholes, of course, do not give a shit about any of this and continue being assholes.
As such, aggression appears to be an important factor in overcoming disgust and generally functioning in jobs and life. Shy, gentle people get shat upon in our society, while aggressive liars get jobs and women.
Of course, there are truly rotten people in this world, ones that kids (and adults) should watch out for. But the vast majority of “creeps” that women reject aren’t the truly rotten apples. They’re just guys with the misfortune to be not very attractive or socially dominant.