Pterodactyl has a really thoughtful post on Sweet Valley High, her decision to choose male priorities over female ones, and male status-hunting:

Although I’m far ahead of my peer group in what may be termed “worldly resource competition” matters (professional/business etc), I’m far behind in the social realm – particularly the girly stuff, dating and so on. You may have picked up on some of that, what with my (partly tongue-in-cheek) references to My Little Pony, 80s cartoons etc. It’s nostalgic escapism from a high-pressure present, into a time of wonder and possibility (relatively speaking).
A Study of Male Hypergamy amongst the Manosphere, e.g. Vox Day

At some point in my life (around late elementary school/early junior-high age), I decided to be a man. No, this isn’t about the true confessions of a K.D. Lang fan (I’m straight), nor tranniness, nor some sort of gender confusion – to use a favorite feminii (lefty feminist) buzzword, I’m “cis gender”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

What I mean is, I decided to pursue what has traditionally, or stereotypically, been viewed as a male path: admitting to oneself that one is dissatisfied with one’s economic position in life (rather than trying to delude oneself otherwise, and girlishly preening in one’s current place), and being aggressive in going for self-improvement through a single-minded pursuit of worldly resource competition endeavors. In practice, such a single-minded and aggressive pursuit involves what some may view as a male mentality (relatively unconcerned with popularity, relationships etc) and male lifestyle (femininity is time-consuming, and after some brief late-elementary school forays at The Limited and Claire’s, around the early junior-high timeframe, I transitioned to full-on tomboy mode –I still don’t have any real knowledge or experience in fashion, or applying makeup).

There are a lot of separate points that she makes and each one of them could be the subject of a different post. But there were two aspects that I found most interesting. Choosing masculinity, in a sense, and the making of a choice at all (not between masculinity or femininity, but of choosing paths in general).

I suspect that the author and my wife would get along quite well if they ever met, because a lot of what I read echos some of the early things I learned about Clancy. There were a number of reasons that Clancy and her two very independent sisters chose a different path. And to some extent, the sisters’ stories are different from one another. But for Clancy and her younger sister Ellie, it seems that there was a cycle of antipathy between them and their surroundings. It’s difficult to know whether Clancy and Ellie spurned feminine society first and society responded accordingly or whether it was the other way around. But that, combined with an uneven relationship with their father and their father’s uneven relationship with their mother (all since rectified), created a doctor and a lawyer who were not going to rely on any man and were not going to buy into a culture that demanded that they do.

Leaving aside feminine culture specifically for a moment, to some extent there are choices that we all make. Or that we fail to make. It’s something that I have thought about regarding myself as I look back at K-12 and (to a lesser extent) beyond. My decision to reject my high school’s culture, for example. It can be made to sound high-minded and “independent”, but it can also be made to sound petty and counterproductive. And whichever it was, it was also incomplete. I look back and wish that I had actually participated in extra-curriculars and the like, but even at the time there was some resentment for what it cost me and the knowledge that it was a reactive, rather than proactive, choice. For which I am largely grateful. A proactive rejection would have been very different, and given the circumstances, more destructive.

My fourth novel deals with these sorts of subjects. A narrator who wanted to choose a “different path” than the vapidity he saw around him, but who didn’t really have a roadmap to where he wanted to go. Said character, CB, is not really based on myself other than through some basic biographical detail. A couple other characters, one in the novel and one I am going to insert at the next revision, hit closer to home as far as that goes and as far as the Sweet Valley post goes.

One of them, BC, grew up in what can be described as a “high prole” family. His father was a master machinist. But due to some health problems with his mother, they were always financially struggling, so achieving financial independence became his primary objective. Extremely smart, he was able to get a full-ride to college. But coming from a family where college is not the norm, he didn’t have any solid idea of what do to when he got there except study hard (but not making a particularly good choice in what to study, choosing physics over something more vocational). Lacking Ptero’s sense of direction, even moderately good luck career-wise, and the social training of the “middle class”, he found himself largely out of his element when it came to trying to find someone to settle down with.

The other, RK, grew up in an environment much more similar to my own but made completely different choices than I did. He made the decision to really try to buy in at the high school level and then beyond. Ultimately, though, it didn’t matter because whatever he had, someone else had more. He could do the exact same things and jump through the exact same hoops as others, but he never really measured up with those to whom such superficial and conformist behavior came naturally. He had to read in books what others knew immediately. And his response to every failure was simply to try harder. And there’s nothing the hierarchy scorns as much as someone who reeks of effort.

On the other hand, neither character is particularly upset with the decisions that they made (even if both, twenty years down the line, wonder about the ferocity with which they made them). In a sense, it goes down to who they are. One who believes that the world owes you nothing and that there’s no point in asking. The other who believes that the world is out there for it if you can just figure out how to navigate the harsh terrain. Neither are exactly right and the stories of both involve them coming to terms with this.

Then there’s me, who really chose neither path. Or rather, who couldn’t stick with a choice. I remember a while back reading about a study that those who have a guiding principle, with which they make choices consistently, tend to do better than those who approach each subject as it comes. Professionally, I’m a systems guy and this sort of thing always appealed to me. But like with RK and BC, it seems that every path I deliberately chose failed me one way or another. Since neither path is exactly right or wrong for everybody, I find myself walking some other path. I find myself uncertain of where it will go, sometimes dissatisfied with it, and yet also feeling that it is the only path I can walk. At least for the time being.

Category: Coffeehouse

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5 Responses to The Paths

  1. Sexy Pterodactyl says:

    Hey Trumwill,

    —-Sexy Pterodactyl is offended

    Aren’t you forgetting something? “_Pterodactyl_ has”? You forgot to say _Sexy_ Pterodactyl!

    —end Sexy Pterodactyl, do not offend him

    Dude, you really should be more careful about that (he’s rather sensitive)

    Much appreciation, hugs for the shoutout 🙂 Maybe Clancy would get a kick out of the post too. The Sweet Valley post is one of my favorites, as well as an opportunity for SP to model his hotness to the coveted preteen market

    Re the different paths topic, I think a person’s life is like a decision tree, with many and widely divergent different possible paths. At some point, once one goes far enough along a particular path, one is set and has gone too far to go back.

    Escapist/Sexy Pterodactyl’s typist

    P.S. You may also like the post Alpha Male PUA! Roissy-in-DC Game for Swooping Foreign Women , which references one of your prior posts about “dating advice I would provide my daughter”.

  2. Lady Raine says:

    You DEF don’t have to choose between masculine and feminine (especially not as a woman!)

    I’m a Machinist that gets dirty as hell, covered in machine oils and chemicals, and works with tools and heavy stuff all day. I love watching shows about Engineering and Technology, Demolitions, and Weaponry. I love muscle cars and mechanics.

    But I also love make-up, girly clothes, hair and products, fashion photography, art, and even collect Barbies (yes I know that’s ridiculous)….my fav colors are purple and pink!

    There is absolutely no reason why anyone should have to choose one or another and quite frankly….both men and women tend to adore and admire a person who can embrace both and is doing so out of a genuinely unique personality (as opposed to just trying to be a “do all/know all” type)….

    There’s no reason why a manly, masculine guy can’t go to work as a Nurse and still have manly interests and there’s no reason why a woman can’t be a Mechanic or Machinist and still carefully apply her make up and throw on a pink outfit for work.

    That’s what makes our modern world so awesome. You don’t have to “be” anything at all. You just are!

  3. ? says:

    Good post, but I looked for the phrases “resource competition” and “male hypergamy” on Vox’s blog and came up empty both times. So . . . what is this person talking about?

    Actually, I have that question about most of what she writes.

  4. trumwill says:

    The Vox Day sentence shouldn’t be up there. I guess it was the caption to a picture or something. In any event, it doesn’t actually appear in the body of her post.

  5. Sexy Pterodactyl says:

    @LR and Phi: what the post is about is the strong association (in both pop and “high” culture, and based on historical attitudes towards women) between class and femininity (“high quality” femininity being culturally associated with being high class, a “princess” etc).

    The post looks at the manosphere’s claim of women being hypergamous, i.e. seeking to marry up (a trope pushed by the likes of Roissy, VoxDay and affiliates) and considers why it was necessary in the past: the importance of being in the right class group, to avoid ill treatment (e.g. in the aftermath of medieval battles, a degree of chivalry was promoted towards noblewomen, but this did not apply to women of the “masses” – see examples from the Hundred Years War; likewise, see the links at the post itself regarding the situation of lower and working-class Victorian women) .

    The post also considers the parallel case of hypergamy on the part of men, both in culture and history. The observation is that while male hypergamy has the element of the aspirational (seeking to date/marry up), it also has a strong element of the aspersional (casting aspersions and worse, e.g. ill-treatment, on lower-economic-status females).

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