Sunday, June 8, 2014

One Zero Five: Semaphore

I do have to think about the concept of misogyny, about what it means, and about how the definition has become so unfocused, so overly broad, as to render the word almost meaningless. Like "narcissist" or "entitled", it's become a generalized term of abuse and condemnation without any clear standards. "Misogyny" is one more word, one more concept, that the gender wars have rendered too broad to be of any real use except as a way to condemn and dismiss out of hand.

I want to sit down and write about the whole idea of "misogyny" and about what it means, or at least about what it means to me. I suppose I might wait a bit, or at least until the #YesAllWomen furor has died down a bit.

What I will think about, though, is signals between men and women--- how both sides seem to be losing the ability to read signals from the other, or maybe losing the will to accept what signaling involves.

Whenever I read articles or commentariat rants about the "nice guy" issue, one thing that always comes up is women's anger that a male is being "nice" to them but has ulterior motives, motives that are seemingly always regarded as despicable or sinister. I've never quite understood that.  It may be that my own grasp of "nice" is outmoded. But it's always been my view that "nice" is a signal that one is interested in a girl. This isn't base-level politeness or mere ordinary daily social pleasantry. "Nice" has always meant something else to me--- paying particular attention to a given person, going out of one's way to do small favors or offer kindnesses. It's more than ordinary politeness, and it's based on things that one male isn't likely to do for another.  Being "nice" to a girl, paying particular attention to a girl, is a courtship signal. It's a way of signaling that you're willing to do out-of-the-ordinary things for one particular person.  It's a way of signaling romantic interest, of signaling that you find this girl to be somehow special. I've always argued that "nice" is something more than ordinary politeness. If you weren't interested in this girl, you wouldn't be rude or impolite, but you wouldn't go beyond mere ordinary courtesy in how you treat her.

You signal a girl that you're interested in her on a romantic or sexual level. You do that by showing her individualized attention. She's no longer treated as simply someone in the background, someone to whom you distantly say "thank you" or "pardon me". She may or may not offer up a favorable response to your signal, she may or may not be interested in returning the signal, but there really shouldn't be any question that "nice" is a courtship signal. I've no idea how it became taken for granted that "nice" implies some sinister ulterior motive. It's part of courtship, part of the mating dance, and it is obvious enough. Why is "nice" somehow sinister? Why is it somehow disreputable or despicable to be sexually or romantically interested in someone and signal that interest by showing individual attention?

Again, now, there's no guarantee of a favorable response. Let's take that as a given. But if the male needs to accept that, the girl needs to admit that what's happening is a signal about someone's interest in her. It should be simple enough to tell.  One basic question the girl should ask herself is whether the attentions being paid her are something one (straight) male would do for another. If the answer is no, then the girl shouldn't pretend to be surprised or shocked: there's a mating ritual in play. Say yes, say no--- that's your choice if you're the recipient. But don't pretend to be surprised.  Recognize, too, and accept that if you say no, you may have to simply walk away from the male in question. Unrequited desire and unrequited love are perfectly ordinary and commonplace, but they're still painful and awkward. If there's nothing in the signal to interest you, then say no and make a clean and immediate break. Don't--- don't ---keep someone around just to benefit from the signals, just for the favors.

I'm never sure what signals the gender warriors find acceptable between males and females. To straightforwardly, directly announce sexual or romantic interest is regarded as aggression. To offer up individualized attention as a way of announcing interest, to try to make it especially pleasant--- "nice" ---to be around you is seen as having evil ulterior motives. It may well be that the gender warriors don't think males should demonstrate any interest at all. After all, they already regard seduction--- persuasion ---as evil.

There are signals out there.  It's exhausting and depressing to think that we're losing the ability to read others' courtship and mating signals...or, worse, refusing to admit that signals exist and admit what they mean.

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