Explaining Unequal Inequality Aversion

My post Thursday on Men’s Rights has spawned 119 comments so far, suggesting I could be clearer on my position.  So here goes.

My interests starts mainly from being puzzled by what kinds of inequality bother people, and what kinds do not.  In much of social science, gender, race/ethnicity, and class are such overwhelming issues that someone like the political scientist blogger Paul Gowder states his positions on his about page.  And most discussion of these “sensitive” categories is about various associated unequal and presumed unfair outcomes.  Policy discussions are often overwhelmed by concern for how policies may differentially effect sensitive categories.  And intellectuals face enormous social retribution should they ever be seen as speaking generally and negatively about a presumed unfairly maligned sensitive group.

Yet other “insensitive” categories are associated with huge inequalities, which few folks seem interested in talking about, much less considering how policy might influence.  There is no social pressure whatsoever against maligning these groups.  Especially striking are inequalities in attractiveness as a friend, lover, etc. not mediated by sensitive categories.  These factors include physical appearance, vigor, charisma, personality, height, etc.  Folks are well aware such inequalities exist, but have little concern about them, and no interest in policies to reduce them.

An especially striking example is inequality among men in their ability to attract women as lovers.  If you don’t like “alpha/beta” labels, then call it what you will, but there are consistent correlations among men in this regard, which are consistently correlated with insensitive categories.  While this inequality has large consequences for utility and happiness, there is no interest in reducing it, and people feel quite comfortable insulting these type of “losers”.

This is the phenomena I was struggling with in my post on Thursday.  I suggested a partial explanation:

By sympathizing with creatures who suffer in ways that kids might suffer, people signal their parental nurturing instincts.  And beta men look better by acting altruistic toward creatures that women feel sympathy for. .. But women who sympathized with sex-deprived beta males actually might give them sex, which would not exactly impress the men these women prefer.  So since women are built to have little sympathy for sex-starved betas, betas don’t gain by showing sympathy to other betas.  And since alphas gain little from showing altruism, literally no one cares.

But I’m way way open to other theories.  Got any?

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  • Robert Scarth

    It could just be that the enlightenment project of increasing concern for inequality hasn’t worked through to concern about sex deprived males. After all 50 years ago nobody was that concerned about the inequality faced by homosexuals. Perhaps in another 50 years more people will be concerned that there are people who are sex deprived. This isn’t a very satisfactory explanation though; the question it raises is why does concern for inequality due to gender, race and sexual orientation come before concern for sex deprived heterosexual males?

  • not anon or anonymous

    My guess is that inequalities in physical appearance, charisma, height, etc. are considered to be rather intractable.

    The best one could do is fight discrimination towards these unfavored groups. And indeed, anti-discrimination advocates do pay a lot of attention to some forms of discrimination such as ageism, heightism, look-ism and the like, even though differences in age, height and looks are not thought of as “inequality”.

    Here’s a thought experiment: if techniques such as “game” (improving charisma) and medical regeneration (improving function in the aged) were widely available, wouldn’t people be far more concerned about these kinds of inequality?

  • Dan Armak

    When many people talk about e.g., racism and profess to wish to fight racism, they can change their public behavior to be much less racist and so gain points for being good adherents of the cause. And when there’s a consensus that racism is bad they can name and shame others for being racist.

    But if many people talked about sex deprivation, there’d be nothing they could do to help sex-deprived men on the personal or small-group level, and in today’s society they couldn’t blame *individual* women for depriving men of sexual access. So it’s neither a productive, nor a pleasant issue to make prominent.

  • Dan Armak

    And theory #2: a man who publicly sympathizes with beta-males is admitting to being a beta-male himself and is lowering his status by association. And this isn’t just a side effect of the fact that beta males (in the mating sense) are low-status in general.

    When I say, “don’t treat green people worse than blue people!”, I justify it by saying that skin color is an incidental and meaningless fact that’s not really correlated with anything important, that’s out of an individual’s power to choose or change, and shouldn’t be the basis of any judgment. I can say I don’t care what my skin color is in itself. (When racism was accepted, skin color was not condemned in itself, rather it was held that non-white races had many other undesirable traits.)

    But when I say, “don’t treat less-attractive men worse than attractive ones, and give them equal access to sex!” it’s a lot harder to justify. I’m saying, in effect, that it doesn’t really *matter* that women don’t want me. It’s not a fact about me, and isn’t correlated with any really interesting qualities about me. Half the human race doesn’t want to mate with me, but that shouldn’t make you judge me harshly and not want to be my friend!

    Put that way, it sounds ridiculous. I’m not saying that’s the most complete and fair statement of the case, but it’s what people’s first impressions might be if I started championing the cause of sex-deprived men.

    • Unnamed

      “Half the human race doesn’t want to mate with me, but that shouldn’t make you judge me harshly and not want to be my friend!”

      Hey, that sounds familiar. Half the human race doesn’t want to mate with me either!

      Oh well… good thing I’m not bisexual, I guess.

  • Cole Tucker

    Robert-
    I believe that the concern corresponds to the degree of institutionalization of the discrimination. Notice the difference in degrees of organized feminist activity compared to organized gay rights activity now. Even strong discrimination based off of race by social institutions (drug legislation and enforcement, for example) does not lead to mass activism, as the discrimination is not itself institutionalized.

  • Peter Twieg

    I think the most obvious line of delineation drawn between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” forms of discrimination is based upon some notion that we bear responsibility for some of our characteristics but not for others. That’s why demonstrating that people don’t simply choose to be gay has been important to the queer rights movement, and why fat activists stress that being overweight can result from a variety of conditions other than simply maintaining a poor diet, etc.

    Things like charisma and personality are usually seen as things we’re responsible for – or at least, hiding behind boorish behavior by saying “well I’m just not very charismatic, sorry” won’t get you very far. And I think the alpha/beta male distinction is to a large extent based on mutable personality characteristics – if it weren’t, then trying to study how to be a PUA would be useless – and to the extent that it is it doesn’t strike people as an inequality worth worrying about. Even if it was conceded that there were intrinsically different social aptitudes, it’s far more difficult to try to disentangle the extent to which people should be held responsible for their actions in this case than with other more obvious inequalities. (One reason why fat activists haven’t had more success is because people are skeptical of the notion that most people aren’t responsible for their own obesity, even if they can accept that in some cases they aren’t.)

    But I agree that there are a couple obvious dimensions of inequality that are clearly important to people, and that people cannot meaningfully bear responsibility for. Height is probably the most salient example, and I’ve always enjoyed Mankiw’s musings on the subject. I wouldn’t be so quick to argue that people don’t care about discrimination in regards to choosing lovers, however – clearly you can get disapproving looks by openly stating a racial preference, or certain “shallow” physical preferences, but I think the main problem in this regard is that it’s unclear what the “correct” way to filter potential mates would look like to most people. We can imagine how “correct” hiring practices would not permit racial discrimination (usually race doesn’t affect one’s performance, etc.), but we have no corresponding notion for romantic relationships. There’s some vague notion out there that couples should complement each other’s abilities in various ways, but usually the importance of this is subsumed to the importance of just having a baseline attraction which can be a function of any number of arbitrary characteristics. I think this might be an important essential difference which permits greater (arbitrary) discrimination in romantic relationships.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      People can choose what ethnic identity to become to a similar extent to their ability to choose how nice they look or how charismatic they appear. I agree that ability to influence has some relevance, but I don’t see it as the main effect here.

      • MineCanary

        I think one effect you’re overlooking that contributes to this phenomenon: The sexual behavior of unattractive males hurts the women they’re attracted to. Not mainly because it reduces the woman’s status in the eyes of the males she’s attracted to, but because, well,

        (a) being lusted over when you’re not thinking of that at all can be very upsetting
        (b) it’s emotionally difficult to deal with someone who you empathize with but who obviously wants you sexually when you don’t want them
        (c) consenting to sexual relations that you don’t really want can be traumatic and haunt you for months.

        You could say that these are all part of the mechanism whereby females don’t have “sympathy” for sex-starved betas, but it seems to be more directly part of the mechanism that drives women to have sex with sexually attractive males and not with unattractive ones, and if that didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be much point to differential sexual attraction. Females might have plenty of sympathy for sex-starved betas, but having sex with them induces a ton of suffering in the female. I would much rather break my arm than deal with that again.

        So it’s not that women have evolved not to have sympathy for betas, it’s that they learn that betas can be dangerous.

        And I think beta males make this a lot worse by not recognizing that they aren’t the only ones struggling–they (to be charitable, subconsciously) blame it on the woman for not wanting them, but they aren’t sensitive to the fact that she biologically can’t be attracted to them any more than they can snap and make themselves attractive to her.

        Which would indicate that we ought to try to equalize attractiveness, but we don’t (or don’t think we do) have technology that can come anywhere close to giving us the power to decide who we find attractive. And we do have cultural (often by the people advocating for sensitive groups–we tend to generalize whenever we sense oppression) pushes to change the way we present sexiness in the media, so that everyone is seen as equally sexual and legitimately attractive (ie, we can’t make you be attracted to them, but we can try convincing you that if you are attracted to them, it doesn’t lower your status).

        Perhaps the simplest way to solve the problem would be to eliminate the sex drive of the sexually frustrated (when you don’t have it, you don’t miss it), but I doubt most sexually frustrated males would ask for that.

      • Peter Twieg

        MineCanary –

        You’re right to point out that there are attempts to change cultural beauty standards, but these tend to be very selective in what they critique – body shape seems to be the main dimension of attractiveness that gets brought up in this regard. One could be charitable and assume that those at the forefront of this movement have a whole list of factors they’d like to see become unimportant in mating decisions, but I think in reality there’s a pretty short list here, and there are plenty of arbitrary factors which people will defend discrimination upon. For example, I’m not entirely sure why seeking someone with a “good sense of humor” is less shallow than pretty much anything else, except that that’s what common wisdom dictates.

        I do think it’s perfectly legitimate to wonder whether frustrated betas should just, you know, get over it. Certainly people who care about inequalities do not care about all possible inequalities over all dimensions no matter how frivolous – they might reject the fundamental premise that sexual access is something worth taking an egalitarian stance upon. And I don’t mean to be glib about people’s frustrations, but there is some level on which people only get frustrated because of cultural standards that could feasibly be changed. I think that if we weren’t told that sexual success is such an important metric of self-worth, than much of the gravity of this issue would evaporate.

      • Unnamed

        “it’s … difficult to deal with someone who you empathize with but who obviously wants you sexually when you don’t want them”

        That’s a very interesting point. I think there’s a lot of evidence that women do face such constraints.

        Still, there are some clues that sympathy for ‘betas’ is indeed lacking. For instance, most women seem to be unable to articulate what they want in men; following conventional societal advice on how to pursue women is useless at best and counterproductive at worst.

        More generally speaking, men seem to be largely unaware of female psychology.

        Given that techniques for reliably increasing one’s sexual attractiveness do exist, this seems to be a puzzle. You might say that men “aren’t sensitive to these facts” and that this makes them dangerous(!), but the evidence seems to be that they’re mostly unaware of them, and that society is largely to blame.

    • These days, those days

      MineCanary:

      One of the corollaries, though, is that women would benefit from changes that reduced the number of sex-deprived males. Thus they have more reason to acknowledge the significance of the problem and the need for a solution.

      Now, given (c), we can agree that “Women should have sex with men even when the attraction is unrequited” is a naive solution and we should not advocate it. (But if there are women who feel no regret after an act of pity sex, then it may be a good idea for them.) Similarly, a wishful-thinking beta male might wrongly think that a solution would be “Women should easily have sex/begin a relationship even when they are currently in a relationship,” but this also neglects basic facts about sexual psychology.

      So is there any attitude that could and should be changed about the fact that many males and females suffer from involuntary celibacy? Probably it’s just that anything that tends to alleviate this problem should be seen as “the solution to a significant problem,” and thus good for that reason. By and large, this doesn’t seem to be obvious to most people, even though significant suffering is the result of the problem remaining unsolved.

  • http://cob.jmu.edu/rosserjb Barkley Rosser

    Robin,

    But why are you focusing on only men in this regard? Is this not a “problem” for both genders? Not very good looking women also suffer from being beaten out by better looking women in this particular social activity, and a lot of misery goes along with this. Was this not what a lot of the movies of the late John Hughes were about? Usually the focus was on the not-all-that-bad looking Molly Ringwald, although she usually had other issues, being poor, or somehow in other ways not being socially adept with the “in’ crowd. In a lot of those movies she would have some “loser beta” male friend who was not her boyfried, but who everybody felt sorry for and sympathy with. Indeed, Hughes was not the only one, and there has been a whole genre of movies in which the bad characters are the snotty or snobby “popular kids” in high school who eventually get their comeuppance at the hands of nerds and geeks or other characters of both genders who are the “losers.”

    For that matter, if we are going to worry about inequalities that are not due to somebody’s being at fault, how about one that gets trumpeted regularly (and approvingly) on this blog, that of inequalities of intelligence?

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      Yes of course such inequality exists for both genders; I just focused on the male part because that was the Thursday post I responded to. Intelligence is an interesting intermediate category, with elements of both sensitive and insensitive categories.

    • Pablo Stafforini

      But why are you focusing on only men in this regard? Is this not a “problem” for both genders?

      Actually, life satisfaction and physical attractiveness are positively correlated in women, whereas there is no such correlation in men. (I can’t find the study and am relying on memory; I welcome corrections.) To the extent that we care about disadvantaged groups because disadvantage negatively impacts happiness, we should care about unattractive women, not men.

      Then again, levels of attractiveness are more easily raised in females than in males. On my estimates, breast augmentation adds on average about 1.5 points, on a ten-point scale, to a woman’s level of physical attractiveness. There is, to my knowledge, no intervention that can comparably raise the attractiveness of men.

  • michael vassar

    Great comments so far.

    One item to add, class and race (and religion, but that’s sociologically almost a sub-set of race) based societal distinctions encourage people to harm the groups that they don’t belong to in order to demonstrate loyalty to their own group. Gender and attractiveness differences which aren’t coupled with class don’t have nearly as large a tendency in that respect after high school. People blatantly discriminate against the fat, but adults don’t win status with their thin friends by sticking it to the fat people or vice versa. At worst, they might signal their own lack of social desirability by associating with fat people.

    I think that gender issues are probably an entirely different category and that the standard toolkits are simply misapplied to them, except in AWFUL cultures like the Pashtun or elementary school where boys/men may apply “subordinated race” behavioral patterns towards girls/women. I’m no fan of Ibsen, but “The Doll House” really lacks any of the Marxist (in a good way) overtones of “The Invisible Man”. Rather, such texts are personal and mythic, but not political in the who/whom sense or in the sense of who/whom hiding behind ideology. They are inquiries into ‘the good life’, into ‘what is humane?’, and are protests against social norms which prevent adequate self-realization, not against norms which subjugate or faction the population. Gay rights used to be like that too, but didn’t get off the ground until it copied the who/whom rhetoric of race/class conflict.

  • michael vassar

    BTW, Frelkins, I hope you will comment here.

  • http://uncommon-priors.com Paul Gowder

    Robin, I think it’s totally fair, indeed praiseworthy, to open the discussion about sensitive/insensitive categories… but it strikes me that there tend to be really good reasons for the sensitive categories to be sensitive. Properties like race and gender, our most sensitive categories, are properties on the strength of which people have been beaten, killed, disenfranchised, sometimes even enslaved and tortured, etc. etc. for pretty much all of human history. The consequences of these distinctions persist even unto today, especially with race, where, for example, poor black people are still living in crime-infested ghettos.

    On the contrary, the problem of the sexually unappealing male is a problem that affects one domain of human thriving (as opposed to race and gender, as well as socioeconomic class, religion, etc., which affect all of them), and, if it is severe at all, has been severe mostly in the last forty years or so since the sexual revolution. The problem just isn’t on the same scale, I’d think.

    That being said… I agree with you that those who have been deprived of ordinary romantic/sexual/whatever lives have grounds for some sort of complaint. I’ve posted about this before. I just don’t think it’s gender-specific, and also don’t think it’s particularly important, relative to all of the other much bigger complaints floating about in the world.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      A pretty local teen gal once told me (when I was a teen) approvingly that her brother and his buddies would beat up any ugly guys they found walking with pretty gals. No that stuff didn’t make the papers. I’m surprised you can be so sure than gender or race inequalities are larger than ugliness inequalities.

      • http://uncommon-priors.com Paul Gowder

        Even after applying a discount for the fact that race, gender, etc. stories make the newspapers, it would still take lots of evidence to convince me that ugly people have it worse than, for example, black people in the U.S. Let’s recall that among the consequences to being black are a real fear that an interaction with the police can end in a bullet. Or take gender: without even trying I can think of more than a handful of close female friends and former girlfriends who have been raped and/or been the victims of abusive relationships.

        There’s also a dose of irony in the complaint that an ugly boy might make about being scared off from dating the pretty girls. Why does he feel like it would be such an injury to date the ugly girls? Don’t they need love too? And this generalizes beyond the beating-up case: many men who complain about their inability to attract women are not attracted to the sort of women who they can get — they’re scorning the unattractive women who are interested in them just as the women they’re chasing are scorning them.

      • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

        I’d rather be black than ugly, and rather be female than boring.

    • http://robertwiblin.blogspot.com Robert Wiblin

      Paul, would you rather be an attractive and high status black man admired by all his peers or an ugly and low status white man who gets no respect? Even 50 years ago it’s not so clear – relative esteem is very important to human happiness.

    • Hans

      Let’s be clear here: Race and gender discrimination is far more widespread than discrimination based on looks. This is not to diminish the plight of the unattractive, and that is after all what we are talking about here, but when compared to racism and sexism, unattractive males have it pretty good. They may not find a mate, but they can excel in many different areas of life where people are judged less on their appearance and more on their skills. While there is no doubt that employers, friends, and potential mates discriminate against unattractive people in all sorts of ways, the degree of discrimination is far less than in the case of race or gender or sexual preference or other classic inequalities.

      Proof of my statement, as with most/all comments here, is of course entirely anecdotal and from personal experience.

    • Captain Awesome

      Paul: “Or take gender: without even trying I can think of more than a handful of close female friends and former girlfriends who have been raped and/or been the victims of abusive relationships.”

      Where do you hang out?–Battered women’s shelters? The U.N. says the rape rate in the U.S. is about .03%. I

      http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/eighthsurvey/8sv.pdf

      It would be nice if more smart people would check themselves before lapsing into ridiculous hyperbole.

      • Eric Johnson

        He said and/or been the victims of abusive relationships
        – as you yourself quoted. Why then would you check his assertion using rape figures only.

        Further, the UN gives an annual incidence for rape per 100,000 people. If we assume rapes of men or of women outside ages 15-50 are (fairly) negligible, then the victim pool is only about a third of the total pop, if that – giving a rate of 0.03% * 3 = 0.09% for the victim pool. Since women are in the pool for 35 years, that gives a lifetime prevalence of about 3.15% (leaving out the correction for a few individuals being victimized more than once). 3% is high.

    • Alex Erler

      “There’s also a dose of irony in the complaint that an ugly boy might make about being scared off from dating the pretty girls. Why does he feel like it would be such an injury to date the ugly girls? Don’t they need love too? And this generalizes beyond the beating-up case: many men who complain about their inability to attract women are not attracted to the sort of women who they can get — they’re scorning the unattractive women who are interested in them just as the women they’re chasing are scorning them.”

      1) Dixit dating expert David DeAngelo: “attraction isn’t a choice”. So you cannot blame less-than-attractive men for not feeling attracted to women “within their league”, since this isn’t sth. they could just choose to do, and plausibly “ought” implies “can”. (Obviously the same remark applies to less-than-attractive women.)

      2) What such men CAN do, however, is settle for women they don’t find attractive. And certainly it is unfair that some people (men or women) have to settle for a mate who doesn’t meet their standards of attractiveness when other people can get the kind of mate they want. To suggest that those with an unfulfilling romantic life should just settle for what they can get is about as ethical as saying that those who are prevented from getting a higher education because of their social/economic background should just accept their fate, because we need someone to sweep the streets or repair railway tracks.

  • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

    Intelligence is an amazing special case in which the inequalities are huge, but rather than trying to claim that the inequalities are just, or the inequalities being ignored, the inequality-concerned go to great lengths to deny the inequalities or even that intelligence is coherently definable! Is there a Hansonian (status/affiliation) explanation of this?

    • Nick Tarleton

      Plenty of people also question the definability (or ‘reality’) of race and sex, or emphasize the the relativity of good looks and personality.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      I wish I had a good suggestion here.

    • http://denisbider.blogspot.com/ denis bider

      Based on personal experience, I suspect that people who are most IQ-inequality-concerned have themselves had unsatisfactory IQ test results. The status-seeking explanation would therefore be that they are trying to raise the status of their own group, by denouncing IQ as a valid criterion.

  • Eric Johnson

    > Why does he feel like it would be such an injury to date the ugly girls?

    Well, you are right that he would be wise to be realistic about himself and his life.

    But it’s natural for him to be rankled, if he can’t get as pretty a girl as he could have got before the sexual revolution (something I’m not necessarily convinced is true). That’s part of human nature I think, and is often reflected in happiness research. I feel about 50% more rankled about eventually dying when I contemplate that people might one day live indefinitely, and I’m also envious of other futuristic goods I imagine they may enjoy.

    No wonder so many philosophers have counseled against envy; personally I think Nietzsche performed best on that, telling us to cultivate amor fati (love of and union with one’s fate) rather than suppress envy per se.

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  • Anonymous

    I once knew someone who had a significant facial deformity. It was immediately obvious that the person must have suffered tremendously because of the deformity but (and I hated myself for this) it was emotionally hard for me to feel sympathy because of the repugnance factor.

    Many women are repulsed by Betas and so likewise find it hard to feel sympathy towards them.

    Similarly, 50 years ago most Americans felt repulsed by homosexuals and so couldn’t easily feel sympathy for them.

  • http://cob.jmu.edu/rosserjb Barkley Rosser

    I have only two more comments on this. One is that this is not so set in concrete. Lots of people make big efforts to improve their sexual attractiveness through exercise, dieting, changing their clothing styles, buying all kinds of makeup (this is more the women), changing their hair styles, even sometimes altering the way they behave. Sometimes these efforts even work, and this is often what happens in all those movies about losers finally getting the edge on the popular alpha kids. But indeed, real life does not always imitate art.

    The other is that we are ultimately dealing with something about which really nothing can be done as a society. This is about sexual attractiveness, and that is one of the least rational and controllable things there is about human beings. One simply cannot mandate that some people should suddenly start feeling attracted to people that they otherwise are not or would not be attracted to. Is this really what some libertarians want? And, indeed, as noted in some of the comments here, the people who are really doing the oppressing are not the attractive alphas, but the loser betas of each gender who lust after the alphas and ignore the suffering betas of the other gender. The betas simply need to figure out who they are and to whom they should direct their efforts, even if they are frustrated in not being able to get whom they want (and the alphas are unsurprisingly going to go for each other and get each other, and are we to forbid them from doing so out of some seriously misguided “sexual egalitarianism”?).

    • lordzorgon

      we are ultimately dealing with something about which really nothing can be done as a society

      But we can.

      We can’t change the biological element of attraction (at least not yet), but we have two big societal levers: monogamy and sex ratio. In the limit, if monogamy were absolute and the sex ratio was exactly equal, then everyone, even the dregs of society, could have a partner.

      Instead we have a society where, among the younger urban crowd, committed monogamous relationships are considered old-fashioned; the modern reality is hypergamy/soft polygamy. Also, in many places, the sex ratio is wildly out of whack. In my city, in the 25-29 age group, the ratio of unmarried men to unmarried women is 154:100. There is an extreme shortage of single women and a large pool of guys who aren’t getting any.

      The government could easily influence the sex ratio (both for the country as a whole and in any particular city or region) in all sorts of ways.

      It’s harder to for the government to influence cultural attitudes about monogamy, but there are plenty of options still where policy could have an impact.

      A third area where the government could have a massive impact on the dating market is through obesity policy.

    • spriteless

      Thank you. Also note, for most people it’s not that hard to become more attractive.

    • Dan Armak

      The betas simply need to figure out who they are and to whom they should direct their efforts, even if they are frustrated in not being able to get whom they want

      To which I reply:

      One simply cannot mandate that some people should suddenly start feeling attracted to people that they otherwise are not or would not be attracted to.

  • Eric Johnson

    > I think that if we weren’t told that sexual success is such an important metric of self-worth, than much of the gravity of this issue would evaporate.

    After 500 million years of natural selection? I’ll ask what is often asked by people skeptical of some particular cultural explanation: is there significant cultural variation in this trait – a people where most sexless males are fairly un-exercised about being so? On your view it seems likely that there should be, given all the different cultures that there are in the world (there are some 3,000 to 8,000 languages in the world according to my googling).

    • Peter Twieg

      I can’t say I’ve really looked into that question, though it wouldn’t surprise me if there were. Even if there weren’t, however, I wouldn’t take that as strong evidence that sexual success has been and will forevermore be a primary goal, barring radical changes to our neuroanatomy.

      I can at least think of many particular social groups where sexual success is more or less important. For example, I feel much less judged on these things at graduate schools than I have at other stages in my life, and I doubt this is unique to me. Shouldn’t this count for something?

      I think that decoupling sexual success from status is something that’s only reasonably feasible in modern societies in the same way that we’ve largely decoupled reproductive success from status (and thus even if there were no other societies where we saw this, it wouldn’t particularly concern me.) I’m not going to embrace a strawman and say that it’s feasible to expect this decoupling to be complete and universal, but I think there’s plenty of room at the margin to convince people to downplay the importance of genital contact maximization.

      • Eric Johnson

        Hmm, well, I won’t completely retreat in disarray, but I do admit that to an extent we could be just differing over our respective physiologies. I always thought social status was mainly just a passport to intoxicating bowers, which obsessed me more than average, not that I reached them with any particular regularity. Actually, in early adolescence I consciously reflected that if there were no pretty girls in the world, I wouldn’t really bother talking to anyone, forests and insects being considerably more charming. So you can see how I would be amazed by your inversion of “the truth.”

        I do think the average male is closer to my valuations than to yours – but maybe not by as much as I imagine. Since poor people tended to die in excess until c. 1800, there certainly is a sex-independent reason for a status/class ambition to evolve, because status can improve survival as well as mating prospects, and is passed down. Even assuming one had the same mate regardless, moving up in status could prevent some of one’s offspring from perishing. In addition to being rather solitary I somehow missed developing any class ambition at all, so my perspective is certainly biased by that, vive la difference.

  • http://metanomics.net RJB

    A few comments:

    First, it would be interesting to apply the classic liberal thought experiment: would people consent to living in a world with the existing (developed world) degree of variation in male sexual congress without knowing what their status would be. My guess is that the variation is low enough, and the associated freedoms are great enough. that most people would say ‘fine.’ (I doubt the same would be true if you proposed variation along the lines of elk or harem-based culture).

    Second, there are incredibly vocal proponents of policies that reduce variation in male sexual activity: anyone who argues on behalf of monogamy and against extra-marital relations. Perfect adherence to these policies results in a high degree of equality, marred only by unequal marriage-minded gender ratios and search/sorting imperfections that leave some people unwilling to marry anyone that they can find to marry them.

    Third, don’t take the long comment stream on the prior post as indicating that you were unclear (although I was confused by the conflation of ‘men’s rights’ with variation in sexual activity). Sex is sensationalist and titillating. The more you write about it, the more comments you will get, although you lose appeal to your target audience.

    • lordzorgon

      My preferred thought experiment would be a little different: how much of your wealth would you be willing to give up in exchange for a given amount of sex? Or, in exchange for a LTR with someone you really like?

      I think there are a lot of guys out there who would be willing to trade a fairly large percentage of their wealth for a fairly modest increase in sexual success.

      Another question is how much “market failure” there is. Are matches being made efficiently? Are there a lot of potential couples out there who aren’t meeting each other? Are there a lot of people settling for much lower-quality matches than they might be able to find if the search costs were lower?

    • Eric Johnson

      I think you’re right about the reason for the numerous comments. However, trying to do evo psych without sex strikes me as hopeless. Sex is king in evo biology.

      • http://metanomics.net RJB

        Are you *the* Eric Johnson? If so, Robin has quite the readership! If not, maybe you are this one or this one.

      • Eric Johnson

        No, I’m just a random sap from America

  • Tuttle

    Robin,

    It’s quite simple, in evolutionary terms: Men are expendable. Men who can’t win women’s affection especially so.

  • snarles

    It’s crueler to discriminate against others for traits over which they have no control. This is part of why people are more sensitive to inequalities caused by gender, race, and (non self-inflicted) physical handicaps.

    Meanwhile, fat people, for example, get little sympathy because they do have the capacity to control their own weight. Unattractive men as well, because attractiveness is still very much tied to success and status, which can be earned through skill and effort. On the other hand, it’s much meaner to make fun of fit, but still unattractive women, because their potential for beauty is more dependent on their genetic endowment.

    This attitude can be justified if social disapproval acts as a motivational factor to get the “losers” to start shaping up. In that case, insensitivity helps the losers more than it hurts them.

    • Nick Tarleton

      Meanwhile, fat people, for example, get little sympathy because they do have the capacity to control their own weight.

      Or at least are thought to, by a cultural framework that underestimates non-obvious innate variability, is confused about willpower and sees weakness of will as a vice, and historically condemns gluttony.

      Unattractive men as well, because attractiveness is still very much tied to success and status, which can be earned through skill and effort. On the other hand, it’s much meaner to make fun of fit, but still unattractive women, because their potential for beauty is more dependent on their genetic endowment.

      Good point!

      • Nick Tarleton

        sees weakness of will as a vice

        More precisely, sees it as blameworthy.

    • Big Fat White Owl

      “because they do have the capacity to control their own weight.”

      Most don’t, no.

      “Unattractive men as well, because attractiveness is still very much tied to success and status, which can be earned through skill and effort.”

      Attractiveness can be earned through skill and effort?

      There is a difference between social dissaproval and punative bullying. You can discourage one without the other just as you can encourage one without the other. Social dissaproval of poor work ethic amongst urban african americans doesn’t have to also be encouragement of racism.

  • Emile

    In China, it’s acceptable to post job offers specifing a minimum height for prospective employees. In the west, it isn’t (as far as I can tell). That seems to indicate that there is some minimum of opposition to height-based discrimination to the west – at least an awareness that it’s unfair to explicitely take it into account.

    (Also, in China saying things like “I don’t like black people” seem more acceptable too – there doesn’t seem to be much of a stigma against racism)

  • Doug S.

    Dilbert: That joke was not funny. You’re insensitive, Dogbert.

    Dogbert: Well, here we go with the “insensitive dog bashing.”
    Is it my fault I was born without the ability to sense the feelings of others?!
    Oh, sure, I wish I could be like you.
    Somehow you know exactly what it feels like to be a different gender, race, lifestyle or body.
    But I’m insensitive. All I know is how I feel!! And I’m proud of it!
    But you’d understand that, if you weren’t insensitive about insensitivity!!

    Dilbert: When you put it like that, I feel kinda bad.

    Dogbert: Who cares?

  • de

    people, generally, don’t really want sex that much. sex-deprived have hobbies, sometimes involving a community of such people. they spend their time commenting on famous blogs ?

  • These days, those days

    Another policy change that would have alleviate the problem of involuntary celibacy is the legalization of prostitution. This is a major benefit of such a change, and yet it plays only a minor role in the debate. Probably the main reason for this is signalling effects: Any male who makes this argument risks signalling both that he is sexually deprived and that he might respond to this deprivation by seeking a prostitute. On the other hand, the prostitutes who are active in the debate often wish convince society that theirs is a legitimately useful profession. To that end, they should be arguing that their clients really do benefit when they go from being totally celibate to having at least some sex with a partner.

  • These days, those days

    I definitely blame my own failure to find a girlfriend on a form of search costs: Namely, the difficulty of finding someone who doesn’t already have a boyfriend. There is no shortage of people who complain about their problems in finding a mate and having some excuse for this failure, but for whatever reason, it’s surprisingly rare for this to be someone’s main complaint or excuse. Given the frequency with which girls tell me they “I already have a boyfriend,” I think this is the only plausible candidate for “the main obstacle that keeps me from finding a girlfriend.” (No doubt it’s a lie sometimes, but the idea that it’s a lie most of the time is a hypothesis that truly seems less compelling than its contrary.)

    One aspect of the situation that really seems irrational, though, is that almost everyone who gives me advice seems to be thinking as if this weren’t the main. Even when I have told them that it is. For instance, it’s obvious that to meet a girl who is single, I need to either meet a few girls who are likely to be single, or many different girls (so that at least some of them will be single). But a piece of advice like “form a friendly relationship first, and then try to turn it into something romantic” will be a very bad strategy if it means that I meet only a few girls who are already in relationships. And advice like “make certain changes to become more attractive” is no doubt useful if the main obstacle–that of finding someone single–has already been overcome. But if someone makes this their main advice, it means they are assuming, contrary to fact, that it’s not a decisive obstacle.

    The logical solution would be some kind of dating agency, but here again, I almost never get any advice along these lines. And of course, dating agencies don’t have a reputation for being a highly effective way to find a good mate. In our society, the main ways of searching for someone single either involve alcohol or the Internet, and I think both of those scenarios would make it harder to make use of my social skills–which, after all, are low even in a favorable environment. As for why I don’t try out some offline dating agency: well, I’ve already mentioned their dubious reputation and my dubious social skills.

    How relevant is any of this to the topic? Well, I really think it goes to show that a major explanation for involuntary celibacy can be something as simple as a market failure stemming from search costs, and yet, people don’t approach the topic logically enough that they can easily think about this aspect of the problem and how to solve it. I take comfort in the fact that dating agencies have an incentive to correct this market failure, but it also seems that their reputation for being ineffective is probably accurate; after all, that’s why there were never any very successful ones before the rise of Internet dating sites.

    • Doug S.

      I second this. It’s very difficult to find someone who is 1) unattached, 2) attractive to you and 3) attracted to you. Almost without fail, the girls I’ve found interesting inevitably have boyfriends. (And I don’t have the heart to perform active mate poaching, and passive mate poaching – waiting for a couple to break up – seems to be a bad strategy.)

  • Yvain

    I agree with Cole Tucker. Institutionalization combined with Bad Guy Bias. And not just institutionalization, but explicit, localized discrimination vs. fuzzy, hard-to-see discrimination. We can more easily imagine someone saying “It’s not company policy to hire black people,” but not “It’s not company policy to hire short people,” even if the actual number of short people vs. black people hired is exactly the same. People explicitly drawing a line in the sand and giving greater rights to one side versus the other is much more mentally available and easy to oppose than a society where, for complex social and economic reasons, one group just happens to have worse outcomes.

    The three groups mentioned as examples that people are concerned a lot about – race, gender, class – are ones that historically faced institutionalized discrimination. Slavery and segregation for race, legal status as property and no voting rights for women, and the system of nobility in the case of the poor (although I would say class is a special case and not so much simple anger at the poor being “unequal” to the rich).

    Most formal institutionalized inequality has been done away with today, but when has a group fighting for a political issue ever dissolved itself just because the issue was no longer relevant? Now that the pump has been primed, everyone interprets the existence of a racial wage disparity in the context of slavery and segregation, instead of as an atomic fact.

    As support for this theory, imagine if the government, or some large company, or someone, suddenly started explicitly saying they would only hire people taller than 5’9.I bet people would start worrying about height disparities or intelligence disparities in a hurry. Let the problem go on for a hundred years, and maybe after the government or company changed their mind, the veterans of the Height Equality Wars would start thinking about other invisible height disparities.

  • Stuart Armstrong

    There is a huge amount of inequality, unfairness and shere callousness in the whole dating game.

    It seems the only arena where you can say “I reduced him/her to tears” and not get the response “you monster!”. You are expected to show a lot more “brutal honesty” than in other spheres of human relations.

  • http://www.thefaithheuristic.com Justin Martyr

    I blame cognitive dissonance and gene-culture coevolution. We thought the sexual revolution would throw off shackles of oppression and repression. Instead it has doubled down on “alpha-beta” distinctions. Moreover, as Judith Rich Harris convincingly shows in ‘The Nurture Assumption’, people are socialized by their peers – by finding the highest status niche possible among their peers.

    That’s where cognitive dissonance comes in. John Elster points out that adaptive preferences are common. It is easier to change one’s preferences than change one’s social status. Thus you have alphas who love the sexual revolution and the betas who are in denial.

  • Psychohistorian

    I’ve thought of maybe ten different explanations for this, all of which seem plausible and non-exclusive. I’d be very hesitant to claim any specific theory as explaining the entire phenomenon. Of those ten, I’ll mention the two best/simplest:

    -Bonus status takes work: It took a great deal of work to make
    “female” and “not white” perceived as being inappropriate status-vessels. Based on the nature of society and our innate predispositions, it would take a great deal of work to make us perceive “fat,” “ugly,” or “sexually incompetent” as deserving of a conscious status-boost, and as this work has not been done and the appropriate memes do not exist, we simply don’t care about them. Indeed, it would probably take much more work than race/gender did, because race/gender are almost completely immutable, whereas these other factors are not. Because of its importance for signaling, we see mutability as a relevant factor: if people can change it, and it would help them to change it, it will take a lot more to convince us that we should do the work for them than if they’re stuck with something they can do nothing about.

    Another explanation is that we believe discrimination is justified only insofar as it targets defects. After quite some time, society decided that, “female” and “not-white” are not defects, making discrimination against them unacceptable. Since we do tend to perceive social skill deficiencies, unattractiveness, shortness, and other characteristics as “defects,” we do not have as much of a problem with them being discriminated against. This is related to the previous view, since these views might be changed with sufficiently good campaigning.

  • Psychohistorian

    Another major idea that I haven’t seen yet that may explain the most: supply elasticity. If you increase the incentives for being a romantically incompetent male (I’m avoiding alpha/beta here, I think it’s being misapplied on several levels), then some men who would have put effort into becoming romantically competent will cease to do so, thus, your actions will increase the number of romantically incompetent men. I’d imagine there’s a very wide consensus that it’s better to have more romantically competent men, rather than fewer.

    By contrast, women will not turn into men because men don’t face discrimination, and, conversely, helping women will not inspire men to become women on any relevant scale. The same works for race. The same works for homosexuality if it is not a choice. It doesn’t work for obesity – pay people to be obese and I expect you’ll see more obese people. It works for some forms of unattractiveness, but not others – if you subsidize ugly people, people will invest less in looking good, and there will be more ugly people, but, on the other hand, people with severe deformities or injuries aren’t going to change, and differentiating between the could-look-good-if-you-tried and the just-unfortunate is quite difficult. The incentives view is imperfect, but it does seem to correspond quite well.

    • http://infiniteinjury.org TruePath

      If you increase the incentives for being a romantically incompetent male (I’m avoiding alpha/beta here, I think it’s being misapplied on several levels), then some men who would have put effort into becoming romantically competent will cease to do so, thus, your actions will increase the number of romantically incompetent men. I’d imagine there’s a very wide consensus that it’s better to have more romantically competent men, rather than fewer.

      Except that romantic competence is a comparative good. Short of increasing the male to female ratio only 10% of guys can be the most attractive 10%.

      But you might think that if only more guys tried harder than maybe women would just be attracted to a larger percentage of men and there would simply be more satisfying sex to go around. However, this just doesn’t fly.

      First of all one need only observe that despite riches, health and power beyond the dream of any hunter-gatherer modern women aren’t attracted to any modern man who can order in pizza on a telephone. Secondly, note that as a first approximation the optimum evolutionary strategy for women will only consider relative desirability of a mate. Finally I would point out that any adaptation that tried to use anything but a relative ranking would likely be incapable of adapting to changes in the characteristics that yielded success (thugs to doctors).

      I think it’s safe to bet that trying harder will only force other men into an arms race not improve the general lot of men. If you want to improve the general lot look into tricks we can play on our evolutionary systems or drugs that will modify them.

      • not anon or anonymous

        “If you want to improve the general lot look into tricks we can play on our evolutionary systems or drugs that will modify them.”

        To a significant extent, “game” is such a trick, and it seems to yield a robust gain in attractiveness. Yes, PUA’s also study how to increase one’s prestige and social status (which is in many ways the “conventional” approach to romantic competence) but this is considered a last resort.

      • Big Fat White Owl

        Secondly, note that as a first approximation the optimum evolutionary strategy for women will only consider relative desirability of a mate.

        Most people don’t give a damn about their evolutionary fitness and don’t date/marry based on strategies for darwinian success.

  • Unnamed

    People care about inequality between groups more than inequality that’s just due to individual differences, and “betas” aren’t sufficiently groupy.

    (By the way, the other comments in this thread by “Unnamed” are not by me. I’m the one who’s been posting as Unnamed here & at LW for a while)

  • Aditya Mukherjee

    I think the inequality issues that we feel most strongly about are the ones that are most ‘illogical’ i.e. those that are not natural but contrived by circumstances or exploitation. The reason White Americans feel way more conscious of racial prejudices against Blacks etc, seems to be because of the (quite correct) knowledge that it is something caused by the actions of their forefathers. A similar concern does not exist when there is no guilt.

    That would be logical. In the end, sex is the evolutionary process of elimination as well as reproduction. In that sense, humans are by no means born equal. Inequality is in the fabric of life, and I think most people understand that in some way, even if its unconscious.

  • http://infiniteinjury.org TruePath

    I think all the talk about beta/alpha mails and the like (while quite interesting) really is totally irrelevant to the question at hand.

    It’s not that beta males is some kind of unusual class in that the (presumed) statistically worse outcomes of it’s members don’t generate sympathy/outrage. It’s that the few charachteristics like race, gender, religion etc.. which do generate this kind of response that require explaining. I mean hell the very notion of allowing people to materially prosper based on innate talents requires accepting that the class of people with few talents gets screwed.

    One might be tempted to simply invoke net utility grounds to explain why certain protected classes provoke such deep seated concerns about fairness. After all surely anti-discrimination laws generated huge increases in utility in one fell swoop. However, this simply begs the question of why people are so sensitive to worse treatment on account of certain characteristics and not others. It’s not simply a matter of personally not wanting to be screwed over.

    I think a perfect example of the phenomenon that requires explanations is the strong reaction many women (and man), even successful female mathematicians, have to suggestions that there is some partially ‘innate’ component that (partially) explains the statistically worse performance of women in math. Even when they themselves have such rich data about their own ability that any such effect will almost surely be erased when they condition on their own situation and even when they are aware that conditioning has the potential to reverse the effect they still react strongly. However, pointing out that who your advisor is has a giant (and totally unfair) effect on your job prospects doesn’t generate the same reaction even among those who are disadvantaged by this.

    I think the explanation lies in our evolutionary adaptations to form alliances and compete against other groups. It is when we identify with a group that we feel injustice qua membership particularly acutely. Since in an evolutionary setting identification and mutual cooperation likely went hand in hand it makes perfect sense why you would care more about a percieved slight to you as a member of some ‘tribe’ would matter far more than a slight about a random quality. In the former you suffer indirectly from the harm to your allies while in the later you do not.

    In short we tend to view people sharing certain features with us as a sort of extended family while other features don’t provoke that kind of identification.

  • http://infiniteinjury.org TruePath

    Ohh also I’d like to point out that calling to mind past discrimination/bias simply can’t explain the salience of some categories but not others.

    In particular consider the reactions people have to a situation where someone is denied a job because of their christian faith as opposed to a situation where they are denied a job because they like to wear green socks to interviews. Even though christian has been a favored class in the western world for all of living memory people still react far more strongly to negative deciscions based on belief in christianity than to random traits like the type of socks worn.

    It’s my contention that the distinction is that people identify with those of the same religious faith but not with the people who share these other traits with them.

  • http://dhex.wordpress.com dhex

    While this inequality has large consequences for utility and happiness, there is no interest in reducing it, and people feel quite comfortable insulting these type of “losers”.

    you may be right, mr. hanson, because i read this and it’s like listening to a dog whistle.

    how do you reduce this inequality? set aside a slave class of women so lonely straight guys don’t have to be lonely?

    it seems a bit like arguing that everyone has a right to friends, because people with friends are happier than people without.

  • tom

    Robin says he’d rather be ‘black [and somewhat attractive to others] than ugly’. I think this is not a flip remark and I would bet that his sense is shared by many. Sexual attractiveness would trump many many other things.

    It’s not the same idea, but I would love to know if John Rawls ever talked about sexual attractiveness or access being considered behind the veil of ignorance. I think he was mainly concerned about what world we want to come into if we didn’t know our position in it, but did that include not knowing how much others want us? (I’d guess the Rawlsian answer would include lots of pensioned and insured sex performers, which I’m sure some Nordic country is trying right now.)

    But it is a huge thing to say that our existing pitied classes are not the classes that are least happy or that have the least freedom to do what matters most to people. The ugly and the awkward may outnumber those groups and outsuffer them by orders of magnitude. And that’s testable, isn’t it? (Though I’d hate to be the one to ask someone to self-identify that way.)

  • corinna

    psychohistorian says that race and sex are supply inelastic but that is certainly not true for race. I’ve seen studies that people claiming to be Native American for college admission far exceeds what is possible given what’s known about prevalence of genetic distribution in the population. And it’s well known that South Americans often differ from North Americans of mixed Afro-Euro parentage in defining whether or not they are “black.” And certainly Hispanic is a very elastic category. As bureaucratic race preferences multiply, be prepared for elastic adjustments in who is counted as belonging to a given race.

  • Occam’s Acetalyne Torch

    As to the motivation of women, betas, and alphas I think this sums it up quite nicely:

    What a load if oversimplified bollocks.

  • Big Fat White Owl

    You can’t apply PUA ideas to romantic mate selection. It only applies to casual sexual mate selection.

  • http://denisbider.blogspot.com/ denis bider

    A few comments.

    1. The Thursday Man takes mutual genital ownership for granted. He cannot comprehend a world where sex is positive, and non-reproductive casual sex by either partner is a similar non-issue as a stroll in the park with a friend.

    2. In a world where sex is considered a good thing, people don’t have to be paired up 1-on-1 to experience sex. If 1-on-1 pairing is not required, romantic competence becomes less of a comparative good. To get sex, it is sufficient to exceed a potential partner’s physical and intellectual threshold, and to be available to each other at the same time and place. Less attractive people need to be more flexible in their availability to potential partners, but they can get sex. People can meet and exceed other people’s attractiveness thresholds through physical exercise and social self-education. They can become more attractive and thus get sex more frequently with time.

    3. Female IQs are centered more closely around average than male IQs. If we insist on 1-on-1 pairings, every five most intelligent males have to compete for one female of equivalent IQ, and four of them have to settle for a female of lower IQ. Hence complaints by highly intelligent males that women are stupid. Conversely, below average women have to compete for males with acceptable IQs, and many have to settle for males with very low IQs.

    4. It is the obsessive treatment of “sensitive” categories that is the problem, not the lack of obsessiveness about “insensitive” categories. We would all do well with less political correctness.

    • These days, those days

      1. The Thursday Man takes mutual genital ownership for granted. He cannot comprehend a world where sex is positive, and non-reproductive casual sex by either partner is a similar non-issue as a stroll in the park with a friend.

      Quite true. As I said in an earlier post, I have consistently failed to have sex, and in my experience, the worst obstacle by far is that most girls already have a boyfriend, and of course this is a decisive objection to them doing anything with me. This kind of sexual jealousy is common enough to be taken for granted, but there is no reason why it has to be just as universal as it is. The only way this sexual jealousy can get any worse is when it becomes sexual greed, and each alpha male is successful at monopolizing more than one woman.

      Given that most people don’t think about sex in this kind of free-love way, each man has to think in terms of how to succeed in the world where he finds himself. For instance, suppose I have a girlfriend, and I feel no sexual jealousy. My goals will simply be to continue having sex with her regularly. But it is quite realistic to fear that if she has sex with another man, the other man or my girlfriend will start expecting to set up their own exclusive relationship, thus excluding me. If that happened, it would be hard to find a new woman who is suitable in other respects and also not in an exclusive relationship; or to put it more simply, I won’t have sex for quite a while in the future. With this risk in mind, I’d have to start thinking about my girlfriend’s sexuality in ways that pretty closely resemble the conventional man who feels that he owns his girlfriend’s sexuality and no other man had better intrude.

      2. In a world where sex is considered a good thing, people don’t have to be paired up 1-on-1 to experience sex.

      Hey, I’ve got a dirty enough mind that at first I thought you were talking about the kind of sex where there are more than two people in a single sexual act.

      If 1-on-1 pairing is not required, romantic competence becomes less of a comparative good. To get sex, it is sufficient to exceed a potential partner’s physical and intellectual threshold, and to be available to each other at the same time and place.

      This is definitely true. I think it’s quite clear that I can easily exceed what the physical and intellectual threshold would be if exclusive relationships weren’t an issue. Given that a certain girl is in an exclusive relationship, it’s both more difficult and less ethical to try meeting the much higher threshold that it would take to get the girl to either cheat on or end her current relationship.

      And of course the remarks about availability highlight the fact that of course some women are single, and a much smaller number are in an open relationship. But it is still difficult to either find them, or to know what to do in the cases when I do.

  • afu

    This whole conversation is moot because it rests on an unsupported premise. Where are the sources for the assertion that ugly men are getting an insufficient amount of booty? How would you even define an unsufficient amount of booty?

    • Og

      Certainly the definition won’t come from women.

  • These days, those days

    “What are the sources for the assertion that ugly men are getting an insufficent amount of booty?”

    I would be suprised if ugly men got the same amount and quality of booty as handsome men on average. It wouldn’t be surprising if they had less sex on average, or the same amount of sex with uglier women.

    I disagree with many of the mentions of “ugly” men too, and think that they’re too quick to equate “the men who can’t get laid” with “the ugly men.” Other major categories are those who behave in some way that makes them less likely to get laid, and those who are low in status and wealth.

    “How would you even define an insufficient amount of booty?”

    Involuntary celibacy is linked to higher levels of depression. I base this on the studies like the ones by Elisabeth Burgess. Zero or very low levels of sexual activity are bad for you, but much like wealth, there’s a threshold where having more sex stops having a great positive effect on happiness. So if this depression is the worst thing about never having sex, then “an insufficient amount” can just mean “an amount such that more sex would greatly decrease your depression.”

    But “less than other men” is a bad way to define it–or in other words, it shouldn’t be framed as if the issue were inequality as such. But even that is an improvement on framing the issue in terms of “rights.” An insufficent amount of sex definitely shouldn’t mean “less sex than I have a right to.”

  • girls jeans

    Isnt this why we have a whole indie sub culture in America now? This way beta-nerdy guys can be considered cool and attract adorable-cute indie girls?

    Ive seen this scenario played out a million times over in any indie/hipster bar scene USA.

    The unfortunate effect of the sexual revolution is that it has made the supposedly “hot” female appearance look very masculine. Their personalities are more aggressive, the appearance is much more sexualized and in essence you come across many attractive girls these days who have a very masculine make up.

    However, the indie world seems to be safe haven for beta males. Women in this world are much more feminine. Their personalities are less dominant and their appearance is much more distinguished from men. They dont fear wearing non overtly sexualized clothing. Women here prize musical talent, intellectual ability, and other non-Alpha centric characteristics. As a result, I dont know if it is an absolute given that alphas are having all of the fun. Maybe Robin needs to go hit his nearest indie bar and check out the scene one of these days.

  • TL

    sex-deprived men should fight to legalize prostitution. boom.

  • OhioStater

    In Veblen-Hirsch speak there are material goods available to any above subsistence income, and positional goods restricted to a finite number of people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positional_good

    From a man’s perspective women are material goods, as almost any young female qualifies as eligible, whereas men are positional goods to women. A powerful man can marry his secretary or an equal, as long as both are young and pretty, whereas women exhibit strong preference for top 20% traits like dominance and prestige.

    I propose people care about inequality in material goods, since this is easily remedied, but don’t care about inequality in positional goods, since this cannot be remedied.

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