Disgust part 3: Disney explains Disgust

(See also: Part 1, Yes, Women Think Male Sexuality is Disgusting; Part 2, Is disgust Real? and Part 4, Disgust vs. Aggression vs. Fertility.)

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.

It is no secret that women are hostile to men they don’t like. Really hostile. I’ve spent enough time in the feminist trenches to know how these conversations tend to go:

“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!”

Etc., etc.

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:

Some of those are anti-Semitic cartoons Scott stuck in there.
Some of those are anti-Semitic cartoons Scott stuck in there.

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.

(See also: Part 1, Yes, Women Think Male Sexuality is Disgusting; Part 2, Is disgust Real? and Part 4, Disgust vs. Aggression vs. Fertility.)

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Is Humor Some Sort of Man Thing?

As I mentioned before, I’ve never even heard this claim before that “men are funnier than women,” much less any ev psych claims on the subject, so I decided to investigate.

According to Cracked, approximately everyone thinks men are funnier than women, but for totally dumb reasons like evolution turning men into dicks who then act in evolutionarily approved ways rather than socially approved ways. Or because elementary school teachers laugh at the antics of little boys and punish little girls for acting up, which I suppose is the sort of thing you might believe if you’ve never encountered elementary school, children, or parents in your life and are completely incapable of understanding basic statistics.

It’s at times like this that a little voice pops up in the back of my head and says, “Math is hard. Let’s go shopping!” and I say, “Yes, disembodied Barbie, yes! Let’s give in to the corporate programming! Maybe we will get dumb shoes!” Then I go back to acting like a normal human.

According to The Independent, men don’t find women funny or don’t like it when women are funny or something like that. Why? ‘Cuz, like, masculine egos, domination, funny women intimidate men or come off as mannish or something.

Moving on to to Psychology Today, “humor researchers have long noted gender differences in the use and appreciation of humor. While women want to settle down with a guy who can crack a good joke, men, to a large degree, want a partner who laughs at their antics.”

Wait, “humor researchers”? This is a thing? That people get paid for?

Can I get that job?

Back on subject, this seems like a reasonable arrangement: if one side likes telling jokes, and one side likes hearing them, then everyone is happy, yes? (Except, of course, for women who want a career in stand-up comedy. Although Lucile Ball seems to have done quite well as a professional comedian.)

To be fair, “good sense of humor” is something I have heard that women put in their dating profiles a lot. I’m not exactly sure why; if I were making a dating profile, it’d probably say something like, “Must be willing to check the math on my calculations of rates of genetic spread over time,” or, “Must be capable of intelligently debating the role of the anterior cingula in disgust and facial recognition.”

Probably the guys over at Chateau Heartiste and the other PUA blogs have some intelligent answer to this mystery; any of you guys want to weigh in?

Let’s assume that everyone is telling the truth, and that women like funny men, and men like women who laugh at their jokes. On the male side, this leads to the obvious conclusion that “humor” is not just “masculine,” but a form of masculine aggression or alphaness, similar to being 6’4″, making over 100k a year, or doing Xtreme sports. We might even classify “humor” as a subset of “aggressively gregarious,” which obviously works very well at attracting women. (Suggesting that starting off your date with a series of knock-knock jokes is not what women want, but actually the ability to generally converse in an aggressive conversation style that lets you successfully deflect embarrassment from yourself while showing how much better than others you are, eg, the responses listed in “How to Blow Past Girls Dropping the “Creep” Bomb.”)

Aggressive behavior is actually valuable for women (they have to live in society, too,) but it is not generally their core competency. In particular, while men strut through life trying to dominate each other at every pass (they even randomly bash into each other while walking down the sidewalk just to assert dominance,) women tend to pepper their conversations with signals of non-aggression.

This all gets back to the different historical rates–and mechanisms–of male/female reproductive success. In a world where 40% of males reproduced, vs. 80% of women, male success has been ensured largely by being dominant over other males in order to control access to women. Female success has not been due to being dominant over other women, but due to their skills at social organization. Women are sensitive to aggression because, simply put, they are easier to kill than men, and no one wants to be killed.

At any rate, laughter is a form of punctuation, especially for women. This is part of why people note laughter in their online communications, LOL. Smiley faces are also common in female text, and general non-aggression signaling (“Sorry for writing so much, LOL! I’m just a chatterbox! :)” writes a woman who just wrote four whole sentences on a topic.)

To be honest, this quality can make women really annoying to talk to. They have emotions and get offended easily, and there’s a whole industry devoted to milking women’s offendedness for all its worth. Additionally, even when politics aren’t concerned, women tend to take critique really personally and get frustrated easily. When men get frustrated, they get aggressive. Frustrated women cry.

Laughter is a good technique for diffusing potentially awkward or frustrating situations. Laughing makes people happy and disguises aggression–so if you can make a girl laugh, she probably 1. enjoys your conversation, and 2. perceives you as less aggressive.

But what about men not valuing humor in women? Well, men don’t generally want dominance displays from women; they want to know that women like them. Women’s dating advice websites don’t generally cover how to make playful banter, suggesting that playful banter just isn’t that important a skill for women. (Though conversation skills help with making friends.)

Very tellingly, apparently women who crack jokes appear to be preferred as one-night stands, while less-joke prone women have an advantage on the long-term market. This introduces a chicken and egg problem: do men actually prefer jokers for one night stands, or do jokers prefer one-night stands? In general, the one-night-stand environment tends to select for masculine women (and men) with more aggressive traits (suitable to encountering and pursuing many partners,) whereas the long-term environment tends to favor more feminine traits, like staying devoted to one partner and not sleeping around.

Civilization, of course, is built on these feminine traits (among many).

Aspie != Sociopath

I hope that goes without saying. But I’ve been reading lately about sociopathy (okay, I’ve been reading fiction on the subject,) and it struck me that the POV of trying get through life by reducing socialization to a set of rules is, more or less, common to both groups. Sociopaths do it because they don’t have normal human emotions and see humans as objects to use if they’re useful, whereas Aspies do it because they simply lack a normal instinct for copying other people and have to have social norms explained to them in a rule-like fashion or else they tend to screw up.

There’s a big difference here that Aspie people generally mean no one any harm and genuinely want to be nice to others or at least not harm them and want friends for all of the totally normal reasons that everyone else does. (Note: Aspies may differ in the number of friends they desire, but the vast majority probably do want friends). Unfortunately, Aspies seem to process emotions a little more slowly than others and don’t always come up right away with the correct emotional (or verbal or physical) response. This leads to social awkwardness.

Normal people (neurotypicals, if you prefer,) process emotions (and more generally, the world,) in very different ways from Aspies. For example, normal people seem to use words as functional stand-ins for emotions they feel about things. Normal people expect others to respond with the same emotions as they do, in the same ways, mimicking their facial expressions and so on. Without the underlying instincts, Aspie people can end up completely lost.

My own personal experience as an Aspieish person is that I tend to like people more than they seem to like me. In my constant quest to Make Friends and Be a Better Person, I’ve noticed that many of the resources that I find helpful, interesting, or useful get super-duper bad reactions from other people (principally liberals.) For example, Pick Up Artist materials–I have not spent much of my life trying to pick up women, being a heterosexual female, but I have read/watched a few books/episodes on the subject, and found that I could generalize the rules to regular social situations in helpful ways. And yet, most respectable people find PUA materials and people who read them utterly repugnant. Why?

Obviously, everyone loves shitting on losers, and people who need explicit help with dating are the definition of Capital L LOSERS. So are, I suppose, people who need help making friends. Luckily, people who enjoy shitting on the less fortunate for social status are not people I would even want to be friends with in the first place. (See how I inverted their negs on others into a neg on them? That raises my social status by indicating that I am not completely pathetic and can actually afford some standards.)

BUT. There is another, perhaps far more important reasons why people respond badly to PUAs: PUAs come across as sociopaths.

NOTE: I have no idea if any of these people are sociopaths, and I am not accusing anyone in particular, PUA or not, of sociopathy.

However, sociopaths, as mentioned above, do not “get” human emotions in a direct way, do not feel warmth and love for others, view other people as objects to be used, and conduct their socializing via a series of rules about the ways other people operate.

An Aspie and a sociopath trying to write out “rules for socializing with others” might produce very similar looking lists of rules, even though they have vastly different intentions. It would never even occur to Aspies to try to use the rules in ways that would hurt others, though they might have to out of necessity. Aspies are not naturally deceptive, and have to be explicitly taught to do the everyday lying that normal people do all the time without even realizing it.

In short, Aspies are using these rules because they don’t want to get fucked by society. Sociopaths use them because they want to fuck society.

Good People do not want to be sociopaths, don’t want anything to do with sociopaths, and try to stop sociopaths from hurting others. These kinds of Good People tend to be disproportionately Liberals.*

*More on this distinction later–too much to go into here.

Good People interpret PUAs as sociopaths. I do not know if they are correct–it is fairly immaterial to me, as I am neither a PUA nor do I have any friends or loved ones who are. But I think there is a problem that a particular approach to trying to understand humanity is widely denigrated, not because the approach itself is wrong, but because of assumptions about the intentions of the people involved.

This same set of responses starts up in response to virtually any attempt to understand humans or human behavior from a rigorous, testable, falsifiable, scientific angle. The approach is “cold” and “dry” and “impersonal” and “unemotional”, and so must be done by people who are the same, and therefore bad.

This potentially cuts off many people from perfectly valid fields of inquiry and knowledge that could actually help them, without offering anything useful in return (eg, feminist websites are definitely not the place to go for tips on asking out a girl you know.)

Hatred of sociopaths is perfectly reasonable, but screwing over perfectly nice Aspie folks in the process (this is always rationalized under the “well, they’re just LOSERS” doctrine,) is really shitty. And if the only people who are offering up rational explanations for all of the strange, irrational things people do are PUAs and their ilk, then that’s where Aspies will have to go for explanations.

If urbanization leads to the smart people leaving the countryside, then the average IQ in the countryside will plummet. But that doesn’t mean that every farmer is dumb, or that farming is a job for dumb people.