Morning Ed: Society {2016.05.11.W}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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152 Responses

  1. Avatar j r says:

    I grew up in NY, so I grew up with Trump as a constant tabloid presence. Sometimes I say something about Trump that people find insufficiently negative at which point I have to inform them that I’ve most likely loathed the man much much longer than they have. Tacky is not a word that I use often, but it fits perfectly for Trump.

    I am tempted to say something about the appropriateness of ending friendships over Trump, but I’m much more interested in the appropriateness of taking this sort of Slatepitch hipster ethics seriously. Why the heck would I take Slate’s opinion about who it is or is not OK to be friends with?Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Agreed, if you’re ending friendships over politics you’re either A) taking politics unhealthily seriously or B) you have some shitty weak friendships.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I have, though, drastically reduced my Facebook consumption because of the quantity and quality of pro-candidate* posts are insufferable.

        (not just Trump, all of them. Well, ok, not quite all, none of my Facebook friends are insufferable Gilmore partisans)Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          I don’t think I’ve ever seen a politics-related Facebook post that made my day better, including the ones from “my side.” Strike that. Especially the ones from my side.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I’ve always strongly disliked facebook, facebook arguments and facebook articles so I use it predominantly as merely a means of organizing occasional social groups and keeping an eye on my far flung relatives and otherwise pay it no mind.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        I guess it depends why they support Trump. If it’s just generic, “I support Trump,” I agree with the conceit. If it’s views like, “He knows the right way to treat Muslims,” that you previously unaware of then ending a friendship makes a bit more sense.Report

  2. About your pseudonym, my wife thought you got it from the title character in Will & Grace.

    The source of my pseudonym is fairly clear (from the main character of Joyce’s The Dead). The weird thing is, I’ll occasionally read something where the writer mentions “Gabriel” and for a brief second I sometimes think they’re talking about me, even though that’s not my real name. Maybe I spend too much time on blogs?Report

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    Ah… so much stress over naming people!
    I still say the best pseudonym is Anonymous.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      I think the point is well taken that names in fiction can be a minefield. Consider the vaguely-Medieval-Europe fantasy novels with which we are so abundantly blessed nowadays. Often the characters’ names are a random mish-mash from various real cultures. This serves to me as a tip-off that the author both hasn’t done the homework and has a poor ear for language. I might read it anyway based on a strong recommendation from a reliable source, but in general I will pass on that one. Also, any SF book where character names have apostrophes randomly thrown in. That is a barrier even given a strong recommendation.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Bleedin’ linguist (really, do you expect everyone to know everything?).
        I will recommend Kulthea, which was cobbled together by someone who did know linguistics…but it’s not something I stress too much over.

        I assume SF books using apostrophes mean to have them be clicks. But more than one click in a word makes it tough to read.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Fantasy novel names tend to be entirely made up to sound medievalish and exotic at the same time with the occasional real world name like Roger or Catherine thrown in.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I am not sure I buy fully buy your neckbeard essay but I think you are generally right about dressing down being a form of privilege (and/or a sign of not giving a fuck about social conventions). There was a Harvard Business that said the best way to get someone to pay attention to you and treat you well at a fancy store is by dressing down:

    Sanders might not be the best example though of the privilege of dressing down. Note that everyone else was probably more privileged and richer than he is and they still dressed up.

    One thing that I have noticed in various memoirs or auto-biographies of various right-wing culture warriors is that they never quite got the importance of “effortless ease” to the East Coast rich. William Buckley grew up a child of privilege but many of his early colleagues did not. One was from the lower-middle class and got a scholarship to Princeton. The guy’s biography was about how his time at Princeton enraged him. He couldn’t understand why all the preppy guys wore casual and old looking clothing and why they were not studying that hard. The guy was a grind basically. Nixon had the same sort of rage during his college days. Rick Perlstein talks about the culture clashes between Midwestern reactionaries like Kohler and the more moderate east-coast Republicans. The interesting thing was that the Midwestern reactionaries were often second or third generation wealthy themselves. Walter Kohler Jr. was the third generation of the Kohler family.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      It’s so funny when I walk into a lux shop. It’s like, I’m this big ol’ tranny. I’m usually wearing like Calvin Klein stuff — cuz they have decent plus sized — or similar not-quite-posh-but-still-designer stuff. On the other hand, I’ll be wearing sneakers or something, and maybe a denim miniskirt from Forever 21 or Torrid. So yeah, middle-aged Hot Topic tranny disaster of the apocalypse.

      The shop people tend to love me. Usually the clothes they sell won’t fit, but I’m funny. Sometimes I’ll buy a bag or whatever, or maybe a perfume.

      I love lux shops.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Way back, when I was I a graduate student at the University of Texas, a friend was shopping for her wedding dress. She took my roommate and I along as fashion consultants (all her relatives were in Georgia, where the wedding would be). The shop was all pink and white and frilly, and there sat Bill and I in jeans, boots, and gaudy t-shirts, critiquing the dresses.

        We eventually heard back that the dress was a hit and the mom had asked who helped pick it out. Our friend told us she paused, and then said, “No, I’d better not tell you.”Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      There are different ways of being wealthy and the battle ground between the East Coast wealthy and the Mid-West and Western wealthy reflected them. The wealthy families of the East Coast tended to be very big Anglophiles and liked to mimic the customs of the English gentry, a social group they really liked. They also tended to be on the cosmopolitan side and really into foreign travel. The effort ease style comes from this, it was associated with the English gentry. Midwest and Western wealthy were more consciously American. They saw themselves as hard working, pragmatic pioneers and acted accordingly.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Adam Carolla has a bit called “Rich Man, Poor Man” about behaviors that are only exhibited/tolerated when performed by the very upper crust or the real “dregs” of society. One example is going barefoot. If you are a billionaire who spends his days barefoot, you are seen as eccentric or possibly on the verge of something brilliant. If you are a homeless guy who spends his days barefoot, well, that makes sense. Everyone else? Put shoes on, weirdo!

      I’ve seen this conversation play out in some interesting ways with school dress codes. I generally abhor dress codes, in schools or elsewhere. Early in my career, I noticed that dress codes were being increasing employed by charter and public schools that tended to serve poor communities that were predominantly Black and Hispanic. This felt Obviously Racist(TM) to me. And there was probably some of that going on with fears of gang colors and schools turning into war zones. But there was also A TON of support from within these communities — particularly the parents — who felt like their kids especially needed to learn how to “dress for success” because they would be doomed if they didn’t… a fate that their wealthier and white peers would not suffer in the same way. Very interesting stuff.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    3rd poster down, with the Saber rattling in the background, and the friendly drinking in the foregroundReport

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    it seems even the Edwardians had bronies.Report

  7. Avatar notme says:

    How about you follow the Treasury Department and make Harriet Tubman the OT logo?Report

  8. Avatar Damon says:

    Her fault: “So, if Trump lied all the time, why did I and other journalists continue to cover him? In hindsight, it’s easy to say, “Oh, we shouldn’t have,” but it’s not that simple. He was on the scene, like it or not, a developer who wielded real power in the city, and ignoring him would have been difficult.” Sounds like a politician. Why was he covered? It brought eyeballs to the paper.

    Friendship v Trump: I guess, since my politics are so different from everyone else in my area (they are all left to far left folks) and they barely acknowledge right side politics as being legit, much less someone who has libertarian/anarchist leanings, that they can’t comprehend it, I’ve never worried about being friends with the “enemy”. I also don’t advertise my politics nor do I get up in anyone’s face about it nor call people out about theirs. I’ve never really had a problem with this, nor them me. And if they did and choose to not be my friend, well, it’s their loss and their pettiness.

    Poster: I like the second one, although from my political perspective, 4 is more accurate as to the commentariat.Report

  9. Avatar notme says:

    Hillary loses in West Va. Is it any wonder after she promised to destroy the part of the coal industry that Obama hadn’t gotten yet?

    Biden tells ABC news that, ‘I Would Have Been the Best President.’ Crazy uncle Joe had his chance but didn’t take it so he should stay in the basement.

  10. Avatar veronica d says:

    On names, imagine getting to name yourself.

    I did. It was fun.


    On “neckbeard,” I agree 100% with Barry Deutsch’s take. The word is a slur. Stop using it.


    On “dressing down,” this is consistent with the general complaints about countersignalling. In fact, there seems to be a thing we might call “countersignaling resentment,” which in one form, I’ve seen dudes complain that they can’t countersignal against masculinity, cuz they aren’t naturally dudely-testosterone-man-grrrrr enough, and thus they have to act like macho try-hard wannabes.

    No really. People have said that. I’ve seen it with my own ocular spheres.

    Needless to say this argument doesn’t work very well, and they end up looking even more pathetic than they did when they were merely try-hard macho wannabes in an unexamined way. So whatever. The point is, social status is a tricky game, but nothing sinks you faster than sadsack status resentment. You get what you get in life. Do your best. If you can “pull off” the outfit, then wear it — and someone might give you kisses and then help you pull off your outfit.


    Sorry, my mind drifted.

    If you cannot “pull off” the outfit, then you cannot. So it goes.

    Deal with it. Make jokes about being jealous. But smile. Then people will think you’re countersignaling.


    • Avatar Kim says:

      Imagine naming yourself over and over and over again.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Naming yourself – isn’t that part of the fun of RPGs?Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @oscar-gordon — Well actually, now that you mention it.

        In one of the longest and bestest RPG campaigns I ever played in, back in my dudely-days, my character was named — I mean, it’s obvious right.

        When I came out as trans to my former GM, I’m like, okay, so guess my name!

        He groaned.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Seriously, makes total sense.

          I mean, unless the character you played was some kind of experimental alter ego, our long term, successful characters tend to be a reflection of who we want to be, and often times can help to drive who we become.

          So if that character was who you wanted to be, when you finally could become that person, adopting the name is perfectly logical.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I wear what I want and wear what I need to when I need to. If I want to shop for groceries in shorts, a t-shirt and a flannel shirt and sandels, without taking a bath first or shaving, I do.

      Screw what other people think. I’ll dress to impress when I want/need to. If I was trolling for chicks in the grocery store at 8am Saturday mornings, I might look better, but I’m not, so I don’t.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        A few years of working at home alone has taken my already flimsy fashion sense and turned me into something like The Dude with khakis. It’s not a good situation. On top of it all, I live in a “no shoes in the house” house, so I’m usually wearing sandals or some other easy slip-on footwear. I only look like a human on weekends or evenings if I’m going somewhere with my wife.

        But hey, I’m not going to the grocery store to get a date. I’m just there for bread and stuff.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          I don’t wear anything on my feet in the house, except slippers or socks if it’s cold.

          And there have been few, few women I’ve run into at the store I’d even want to hit on that early. Bonus though, if they are there, they usually wear yoga pants 🙂 It does make a nice view over the vegetable rows.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        If I have gotten out of my workday wear and devolved to athletic shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops, and the wife says I need to go to Safeway for X, I’m going as is. I’m in my 40’s, been married for 20+ years…

        behold the field in which I sow my fucks, observe that it is barren.Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I think it is foolish to ignore how being attractive provides all sorts of privilege and benefits in the manner describe in the Hit Coffee piece. I’ve often talked about how our responses to so-called “courting behaviors” is highly dependent on how we judge the attractiveness of the actor. Not just in terms of whether or not we are receptive (which is and should be wholly up to the ‘target’) but in terms of how we assess the behaviors.

    If Brad Pitt sends a drink across the bar to a woman, he’ll likely be thought of as charming or sweet or something else positive.
    If Shlubby McNeckbeard sends a drink across the bar to a woman, he’ll likely be thought of as creepy or stalker-y.

    Same behavior in the same context and performed in the same manner… yet totally different responses.

    I wonder if at least some of this is about justifying our responses as being more than superficial. If we instead describe the first guy as “Sweet and hot… someone I want to talk to” and the second guy as “Sweet but fugly… someone I don’t want to talk to” we’re sort of admitting that we are only interested in talking to the hot guy. If we call the former “charming” and the latter “creepy” with no mention of their appearance, than we aren’t being superficial!

    Note: I’m using a male actor and female ‘target’ for illustrative purposes but this is undoubtedly a two way (all way?) street and does not just apply to ‘romantic’ interactions either.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Your not supposed to point out reactions to courting behaviors depend on the attractiveness of the courter, it goes against the sex positive narrative. I actually think that the relationship between appearance and response is more complicated than both sides speak. Its generally true that conventionally attractive people get more positive responses to their actions than unattractive or average people for the same action. At least some media persons do reveal that, at least for men, that attractiveness and high status only take you so far with what you could get away with even if it is pretty far. Eventually some people will complain and seek the protection of the law.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “Your not supposed to point out reactions to courting behaviors depend on the attractiveness of the courter, it goes against the sex positive narrative.”

        It is unclear to me if this is serious or not.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          It is semi-serious. On a lot of dating advice sights like DNL, pointing out that whether a courting action is creepy or not can be highly subjective is a quick way to get a slap down.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            Interesting. I don’t frequent dating advice sites so that is an unknown world to me.

            I can see how/why that response would be warranted though I think you need to leave room to let people voice how particular actions done in particular ways make people feel.

            For instance, saying, “Buying someone a drink is creepy,” is a rather definitive statement offered with an air of objectivity. But if you instead say, “I’m uncomfortable when someone sends me an unsolicited drink,” you are not decrying the behavior itself but instead how you personally respond to it.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              Dating advice sites are trying to treat courting as something that is objective rather than very subjective. Some of them also take on an additional message to get guys to give to become more feminist and sex positive. Pointing out that something might be creepy from Guy A but not from Guy B goes against this narrative because it adds a subjective element.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Try attempting to explain that chemistry is objectively subjective!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I suppose I agree with that to an extent. Is buying someone a drink creepy or not? I mean, it either is or it isnt, right? If we define the action as “A stranger buying a drink for another party unsolicited” then it seems like we should be able to evaluate that objectively. Or, leaving room for personal preference, expecting individuals to have some sort of consistent assessment of it.

                It does seem strange to me to try to make a single list of approved courting behaviors and disapproved courting behaviors. Context does matter and personal preference ultimately holds the day. Some people want to be approached. Some do not. Some enjoy ice breakers. Some do not. Etc.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Oh this topic again.

                If a cute guy wants to buy me a drink, I’m going to respond rather differently than if some creepy, uggo guy does. I mean, obviously. Duh. How else would it work?

                It’s important to be civil to people. How women reject men, who we call “creeps,” all of that — it’s complicated.

                But look! Being a sexual target is a really weird situation. In many ways, it is inherently creepy. It’s just — creepiness is baked in to the situation.

                Okay, so time to play the empathy game. Imagine you’re a gal. Think it through. Can you? (Maybe yes, maybe no.)

                So there is this dude, right. You don’t know him. But he wants to get you alone and vulnerable and then shove his erect penis into your body — really fucking hard! Again and again. And he wants to squirt fluids into you. And other shit. Maybe he’s into biting and assplay or something. You don’t know. But you see the kinds of porn dudes post.

                No really, think it through. That’s what is happening when some dude tries to buy you a drink. He wants to fuck you. Hard.

                And when you blow him off — cuz you’re probably not interested — what will he do? What shitty fucking childish bullshit will you have to endure from this sadsack frustrated manchild, cuz you didn’t want his dick inside you?

                The point is, until the situation plays out, you don’t know how it will play out.

                He says you have all the power — and I’ve seen 39840329840990390354 men on the internet complaining that I have the power. But like, the one power I do not have is not to be skeeved on by his creepy ass.

                I actually have only one power: to say no. He has the rest of the power. He gets to choose to advance, when to advance, to pull my headphones from my ear on the subway, to touch me on the subway, to interrupt my reading, to get mega butthurt if I reject him, to call me a “stuck up bitch,” while tons of other dudes nod their heads and everyone else agrees with him — on and on. And if he’s a “shy guy” — well that sucks. But he can choose to wallflower. I cannot choose to wallflower, cuz some lonelysadguy drifts over and decides to try out his idiotic PUA game on me. Blah.

                Some maybe I’m a little blunt when I reject men. Sometimes. But that is strategic. If I’m a “feminist bitch,” then at least I get the strength that comes with that.


                The thing is, I want to look good. In fact, I want to look hot as fuck. Hell yeah I do.

                There are limits, cuz my age, my body type, the trans thing. But all the same, I look okay. So fine.

                Logically this means that some number of men will be attracted to me — along with a sadly smaller number of women. Yay me.

                Under (what I call) sexual pursuit culture, this means some number of those men will feel inclined to pursue me, often in really weird, creepy ways.

                I’m not going to give a list. I’m not going to give some fodder for rules lawyer-ey bullshit. It doesn’t work that way.

                People say “the same behavior,” but often it’s not quite actually the same behavior. Behavior is complex. It’s subtle. There is subtext. One guy offering a drink can seem quite different from another, and not just cuz one is “hot” — although hot helps. Of course it does. But as a woman I “read” people. How is he looking at me? Does he seem aggressive? Confident, but not too confident, not to the point of macho-man-bro entitlement? Blah blah blah. It’s a big calculation and I’m just one woman with one meager, socially-challenged brain. I do my best.

                Is he sadsack bitter guy? Does he hate women? Does he want mommy-the-sequel? Could I actually date this guy?

                Does he have a “vibe”? A good vibe? A creepy-as-fuck-OMG-make-it-go-away-please-don’t-oh-no-oh-no-oh-no-DON’T-FUCKING-TOUCH-ME-YOU-FUCKING-CREEP vibe?

                If women call you “creepy” a lot, you’re probably creepy. Fix that. Figure it out. No, I won’t give you a list. Sorry.

                Guys who are good with women are often actually kinda cool. The whole “bad boy” myth is mostly sour grapes from guys who fall short.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I think you have misunderstood me. Tremendously. I don’t think women owe ANYTHING to men in a bar. I mean, probably basic decency, civility, and respect assuming it is similarly offered to them. Otherwise, no, I don’t think they owe them anything nor are men entitled to anything, whether or not they buy a drink.

                My point is that if TWO men perform the exact same action in the exact same manner but one is attractive and the other isn’t it, it feels wrong to classify the ACTIONS as somehow different. The ACTION of buying a drink does not suddenly become more creepy and the person performing the action doesn’t suddenly become a creep because he is less attractive. The target’s response may indeed vary and she (assuming a she) is under no obligation for it to be consistent. But it seems wrong to say that a fugly guy is inherently creepier than an attractive one. That seems to be bias and prejudice manifest.

                So, yes, women can handle such situations however they please. But assessing actions differently because of how the actor looks is wrong.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — Right. I mean, I’m not calling you out individually. Sorry if it seemed that way.

                (I replied to your post cuz it seemed a convenient place in the conversation. Not cuz I had a problem with what you said. Anyway, these are general comments, not comments to Kazzy, if that makes sense.)

                But my point is, the “action” actually is not the same, cuz people are not avatars in computer games. Offing a drink is not like clicking a menu item “offer to buy drink.” It comes with a whole host of subtle (and not so subtle) cues. Appearance is certainly one of them. Attractiveness matters — of course it does duh. Confidence matters also. As does “cool factor.” Lots of things matter. Clothes matter. On and on.

                Guys who complain that “oh hot guys can get away with more” are guzzling down the sour grapes. It’s nonsense.

                I mean, yeah, if you look good, you’ll get more. I’ve literally never heard anyone say otherwise. What we do say is, whatever you look like, you can put your best foot forward, show some confidence, get out there, and do your best. For most of us, this works well enough. (Says the girl who hasn’t been kissed in like eight months OMG what is happening where did my life go wrong waaaaaaaaa!!!!)

                But anyway, playing sad panda does not work. Step up. Or don’t. That is all.


                But yeah, hitting on women can be creepy. We want it and we hate it and it’s complicated and sorry about that. But it is what it is. Somehow we humans manage to, each turn of an age, breed a new generation, and thus the species carries on.


                Most dating advice is crap, for the same reason that no one can learn martial arts from a book. You gotta do.


                People who read a lot of dating advice and then complain about dating advice should stop reading dating advice. Maybe it helps some people. Maybe not. But clearly it does not help everyone. Fine.

                I rather like Dr. Nerdlove. He seems solid enough. If he can’t help some random guy get laid, then so what? Maybe he helped some other guy. I dunno.

                (Although, he hasn’t really said much new in a long time, cuz there isn’t much new to say. So yeah.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Yea, I don’t really disagree with any of that but I also see this stuff trickle out into places where we are pretty clearly talking about only attractiveness.

                I mean, when a guy looks at a gorgeous woman with long legs in a short skirt and exclaims, “Hot!” and then sees an unattractive woman with cankles in that same short skirt and says, “Gross… she should cover up,” he has gone beyond stating a personal preference and indicated that it is somehow acceptable for one woman to wear that skirt and not the author. I reject that. Assuming the context is the same and a woman’s body isn’t so situated that less of her body is actually covered, it is either okay or not okay for women to wear a skirt of that length.

                My issue is when personal preferences start masking as objective assessments.

                And, yes, I get that a particular outfit may be flattering on one woman (or man) but not on another. That isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about guys who WANT leggy women in short skirts while insisting chubby women are wrong to wear them.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — Right, but there is an enormous difference between what I wear, when I’m otherwise minding my own business, and when dudes hit on me, which is inherently getting into my business.

                Like, I have literally nothing to say about men who buy themselves drinks. It’s when they try to buy a drink for me that everything changes. After all, it’s not “just a drink.” It’s way more than that, and inherently invasive.

                I’ll wear what I want. If I get in your face, then we can talk about my behavior.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I think you lost me here.

                Again, my argument is that specific acts (e.g., wearing a short skirt; buying someone a drink) are either acceptable behaviors or they are not, regardless of who performs them.

                It is either okay or not okay for women to wear short skirts to a bar. It is wrong to say that skinny women can wear them and fat women can’t.

                It is either okay or not okay for men to buy women drinks. It is wrong to say that attractive men can do so and ugly men can’t.

                None of this says that anyone has to have a consistent personal response to the matter, as individuals are free to have their preferences. I’m talking about the general acceptability of the practice.

                Basically, I reject the idea that we should have different rules for different folks because of attractiveness.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy —

                Again, my argument is that specific acts (e.g., wearing a short skirt; buying someone a drink) are either acceptable behaviors or they are not, regardless of who performs them.

                Life doesn’t work that way. Which, the word “acceptable” is doing a lot of work there. Acceptable to whom, to what degree, with what consequences? Who sets the “social norm”? Based on what authority? What tools are available to those of us disadvantaged by the social norms? What role should privilege play, systems of social power, hidden systems of power? How can we push back? What about people caught in the crossfire? On and on?

                You want harmony and simple rules. It won’t happen.

                Obligatory XKCD is obligatory.

                You won’t codify what is acceptable in every circumstance, because there are too many circumstances and too many people and too many differences that are non-obvious and hard to explain. So it’s a dance.

                You can say, “Buying a woman a drink is always acceptable for everyone always in the same way.”

                You can say those words. I can say “nerfle mugmug boffle twerg.”

                Neither means shit when I’m alone in a bar at night and some creeper is creeping and I whisper to the bartender, “Can you make this guy go away?” — which I might not do if he’s a different guy acting differently. So it goes.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “…which I might not do if he’s a different guy acting differently.”

                Which runs contrary to my point because you are now describing different ACTIONS.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — Right. But that’s my precise point. You say “the same action,” but it’s never literally the same action. There is stuff, oh so much stuff!

                If someone asks, “Is it okay to buy a woman a drink?” — like, how do I answer?

                “Sure. Maybe. Depends on the woman. Depends on the context. Depends on much.”

                It is not because “some guys are cute and some are not.”

                See, that’s the sour-grapes bullshit I’m rejecting. Fuck that noise.

                Some women are fickle. Some are not. That ain’t the point.

                There is a skill one can get, which is reading other people, and figuring out if they are receptive to you. Likewise, you can figure out how to present yourself, how to dress, how to come over well, instead of creepy or scary or weird or desperate.

                Or not. Your life, your choice. Blah blah blah.

                Some guys demand women explain this stuff to them. But we cannot. It would be nice. But we just can’t. It doesn’t work that way.

                When we try — well, this happens.

                Is it okay to buy a woman a drink?

                Of course, except for when it is not.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                You’re reading this from the wrong angle. I’m NOT arguing that all women must agree on the acceptability of being bought drinks. What I’m saying is that if you ask a woman, “Do you like when a man buys you a drink?” and her answer is, “It depends,” but she can’t articulate a reason, there’s at least a decent chance what it “depends” on is his attractiveness but with something else providing the cover. “Vibe”, “charm”, “creep factor”… And, yes, some of that happens on a gut level but sometimes it is just BS superficiality. Which is totes cool if that’s how that person wants to role. Just don’t pretend it’s otherwise.

                And please stop the sour grapes thing. At the risk of bragging, I speak as someone who tends to get the “charm” label instead of the “creep” one. I know I can do stuff other guys can’t because it is received better at least partly on account of my looks.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Can’t you understand the reason is cuz it depends.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — I’m not accusing you of sour grapes. To the best of my knowledge, you’re married and out of the dating market anyhow. (Not that it’s my business or anything.) However, you keep taking what I am saying personally when it is not intended as such. Which I already said above in my other post, this:

                Right. I mean, I’m not calling you out individually. Sorry if it seemed that way.

                (I replied to your post cuz it seemed a convenient place in the conversation. Not cuz I had a problem with what you said. Anyway, these are general comments, not comments to Kazzy, if that makes sense.)

                To be clear, I’ll say it again.

                This is not about you.

                If you fail to understand that, at some point it is your failure, not mine.

                When it comes to dealing with strange men in random situations, many things matter, including looks. But not only looks. Not entirely looks at the expense of all else.

                As I said in my post to Will, I know big fat guys who do okay with women. I know short, nebbish, bald guys who do okay. They don’t do the same as tall dudes with great shoulders and perfect cheekbones, but neither do I.

                This is a big conversation, and not just between you and me. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

                To some degree this is about stuff Lee said, such as,

                Your not supposed to point out reactions to courting behaviors depend on the attractiveness of the courter, it goes against the sex positive narrative.


                On a lot of dating advice sights like DNL, pointing out that whether a courting action is creepy or not can be highly subjective is a quick way to get a slap down.

                Which is complete fucking bullshit, but I don’t want to make this about Lee either. So I’m trying to speak generally but you won’t let me cuz you wanna take everything personally.


              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well, first off, I’m not taking everything personally. But you insist that such a line of argumentation is sour grapes. I have nothing to be sour about. Yet I am making that argument. So either YOU are wrong about it being about sour grapes or you think I am wrong and am actually rather sour.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — You are missing the point badly. I have said (now) three times that I don’t think you have sour grapes.

                You’re missing some subtext here, which actually I’m trying not to spell out, for reasons, cuz this is not the first time this conversation has played out on this forum — and it’s not about you.

                Men attack women for the crime of not liking them — NOT YOU THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU IT’S NOT YOU — IT’S SOMEONE ELSE!!!!!

                Good grief.

                Anyway, I don’t think you’re really saying anything at this point. Of course it matters what you look like. Literally everyone here agrees.

                What do you think I mean by “sour grapes”? Here is what I said:

                Guys who are good with women are often actually kinda cool. The whole “bad boy” myth is mostly sour grapes from guys who fall short.

                Do you disagree with that? Guys who go around “waaaaaa bad boys, nice guys, friendzone, waaaaa” are a pain in the ass — at least grown ass men who say this stuff. I’ll give high school dudes a pass. High school sucks for most of us.

                Honestly, I don’t know many women who date genuine “bad boys.” I mean, such women clearly exist. But so what? Plenty of cool dudes date cool gals, and obviously. You choose what sort of people you hang out with.

                Later I said,

                Guys who complain that “oh hot guys can get away with more” are guzzling down the sour grapes. It’s nonsense.

                I’ve seen so many conversations about sexual harassment derailed when bitter-guy storms in, all upset cuz “If the guy looked like Brad Pitt he could get away with it” — which whatever. Maybe. But maybe not. I’ve had good looking guys come on to me, and I’ve been super uncomfortable, just cuz they were creepy and weird and were hitting my buttons.

                This is the Gift of Fear stuff, and one thing I ain’t gonna do is debate my “spidey sense” responses.

                Obviously it helps to be good looking, but most of us are average, and most of us muddle through.

                I wish I was better looking, but I ain’t gonna whine about it. It’s not the biggest thing stopping me, not even close.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                With all due respect, @veronica-d , you have made this conversation about something VERY different and now seem upset that I am not engaging with that VERY different conversation.

                And I’m not saying that that conversation isn’t one worth having or that the conversation I’m having is the only one worth having or the only one worth looking at.

                I used the example of the guy buying a drink in the bar to discuss the larger point of how we perceive people differently based on appearance. Now I realize that my particular example might have been a loaded one and therefore it might not have been the best choice. But I don’t know why we are now talking about friend zones and bad boys and dating.

                I’m talking about how the exact same action — and, yes, it is possible for two people to perform the exact same action — can be perceived very differently based on the appearance of the actor. Which was exactly Will’s point in the original piece with regards to a neckbeard.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — Here is the problem I have with what you are saying.

                First, a diversion, but I promise this will relate back to my main point. I often watch football with my friend, M. Now, M played football in high school. She loves the sport. She’s been watching it her whole life, many games, whenever it is on, multiple times a week during the season. She’s “into it.” I am not. I mostly go over for the food, booze, and company. (She’s a professional chef with a great liquor cabinet, so yay double yay!)

                Anyway, as we watch football, I’ve noticed something: she sees things I do not. For example, she’ll usually see a penalty happen before the refs even throw a flag, even if the penalty happened nowhere near the guy with the ball. It’s as if, she is scanning the entire image and taking it all in, all at once, in real time. I’m lucky if I can keep track of who has the ball and where it is relative to the brightly simulated first-down line (that the TV networks nicely provide for casuals like me).

                The point is, we’re watching the same image on the same screen, but it is as if we see a different game. But more, this doesn’t happen in our eyes. It happens in our brains. We call it “perception,” but so much is conceptual, cognitive. I like to say, she sees a more textured game than I see. This happens because she has superior knowledge of the sport.

                This goes both ways. Back when I trained in BJJ and kickboxing, I would sometimes watch MMA with my dudebro friends. They had never trained in any of the MMA fighting arts. I was training at the time. Thus I saw a different fight than they saw. I saw details they could not see.

                It was actually annoying for all of us. I came across as a know-it-all. They were just loud dudebros shouting “punch him punch him!” in complete ignorance of the fact the guy cannot punch him now cuz if he tried, he’d give up his grappling position. Eventually I stopped watching MMA with that crew.

                So perception is conceptual. But the problem is, it does not feel conceptual. Instead, it feels like direct access to the world as it is. When you see a thing, your brain receives some giant clusterfuck of data, and from that you construct an image, which is aggregated into concepts and interactions and relations, to which emotions and values are attached. This all happens unconsciously and in real time. We live in a material world, but you experience the world of your mind.


                Okay, my point: if you observe me at a bar, and you watch me reject two men, and I describe one as a creep, but not the other, well you might not understand why. From your perspective, perhaps those men behaved “the same,” but they did not.

                However, I might not be able to articulate the difference. If you challenge me, I might not be able to lay out exactly why one man seemed “okay” and the other “creepy as fuck.” Furthermore, if you insist they behaved “the same,” what can I say to you?

                But of course, it is never literally “the same,” not totally. Maybe one guy raised his eyebrow 1.2 millimeters more than the other guy, or something else. The point is, it is never literally identical.

                Okay, so does a 1.2 mm difference in eyebrow-raising matter? Is it salient?

                Well, salience is conceptual. It is cognitive. It’s not in the world. Instead, it is in our minds.

                Amanda Hess once wrote a great article about how men and women often perceive this stuff differently. The key passage:

                These are forms of male aggression that only women see. But even when men are afforded a front seat to harassment, they don’t always have the correct vantage point for recognizing the subtlety of its operation. Four years before the murders, I was sitting in a bar in Washington, D.C. with a male friend. Another young woman was alone at the bar when an older man scooted next to her. He was aggressive, wasted, and sitting too close, but she smiled curtly at his ramblings and laughed softly at his jokes as she patiently downed her drink. “Why is she humoring him?” my friend asked me. “You would never do that.” I was too embarrassed to say: “Because he looks scary” and “I do it all the time.”

                This is true. I’ve seen it myself. But more, I did not really begin to see it until a fair bit after I transitioned, as I became a target for male sexual attention, and thus as I experienced these things myself. After that, when I saw a cheap “come on” from a man directed toward a woman, it took a different hue. I could see her discomfort, cuz direct empathy and comparison to my own experience, in ways that I could not have seen before. Likewise, I could understand why she “played along,” when my prior-self would have misinterpreted her prudence as consent.

                So my big point: I doubt a 1.2 mm difference in eyebrow-raising would matter, but any social interaction involves several gigabits of raw data entering our brain. It is so much, too much for me to codify what might be salient and what might not. Furthermore, quite bluntly, I don’t trust you to evaluate when two different men have behaved “the same,” nor do I trust the men themselves to know. Thus your whole frame of evaluation does not work. If you cannot properly classify when two things are “the same” and when they are not, how can you draw inference from this?

                When a man offers to buy me a drink, my first response is discomfort — cuz such an offer always has strings attached. My next response is a threat assessment, and yes, what the man “looks like,” matters, but not in the shallow “oh is he hot” sense that you all are talking about. It’s more, is he likely to hurt me? This is a big picture, “gift of fear,” engage your spidey-sense kind of evaluation.

                Yes, halo-and-horns effect exists, but I’ve had good looking men set off my creep-dar, and I’ve had not-so-good-looking men not set it off. For the most part, the men who come at me are somewhere in the murky middle of “not hideous but not great either.” I promise you, whatever is triggering my creep-dar in these cases, it is not the “oh if he looked like Brad Pitt” nonsense that men sling.


                I wish men talked about this stuff differently. I’ve seen many of these conversations. To me they always sound incredibly alienating, objectifying, and puzzle-box-y. Yeah, of course looks matter. Literally no one says otherwise [1]. But other things matter also, and with regards to being creeped out by cheap come-ons, it’s not simply a matter of “looks.” People who say that are wrong.

                Women often try to explain ourselves, but it is hard. In many ways, this stuff is deeply conceptual, and talking about “objectification” doesn’t really help, cuz then we get into a dumb argument about what “objectification” means — and soon it becomes “rules lawyer” stuff, with men trying to build a castle of concepts from their poorly understood reading of what different women say, and then trying to knock that castle down. No one wins at that game. The men remain lonely. The women remain frustrated and scared.


                I don’t want to deal with messed-up men. I don’t want to deal with men who are desperate, who are sadsacks, who have “issues,” who carry frustrations, resentments, bitterness. These things are not my fault. I cannot fix them. I want people who have their shit together, who are basically happy, and will meet my happiness equally with their happiness. I want people who have already “defined themselves,” and who totally rock the idea that I have a strong self-concept. We can touch each other, but not get sucked into the other person’s “black hole of emotional need.” In other words, I want to date a “grown up,” solid, “with it,” “has it together.”

                But I don’t get to choose which men come at me. They choose.

                If a man offers to buy me a drink, and if he’s a stranger, and if I get the slightest whiff that he’s any of the bad shit I just mentioned — I’m running! OMG run run run. Summon the nope badger and fast.

                If I get a sense that he is dangerous…

                I might not be able to explain why I feel this way about any particular man, but neither do I owe anyone an explanation. If the guy is bugging me, I’ll tell the bartender. I usually hang in places where security will have my back. If you’re sitting across the bar and think to yourself, “OMG he did nothing wrong” — well what makes you think you have sufficient knowledge and perspective to really “get it”? I certainly don’t owe you an explanation. If I am creeped out, I am creeped out. That is that. I gotta deal. It helps when men will listen.

                But most men won’t. I accepted this long ago.

                [1] Well, almost literally. The internet is big. I’m sure you can find one person somewhere who said that looks don’t matter at all. Good luck finding them.


                tl;dr Kazzy argues that the same behavior should be evaluated the same regardless of what people “look like.” I argue that such a structure is worthless in a practical sense, because I cannot say just when things are “the same” and when the are not, because such evaluations are entirely subjective. Instead, I have to deal with creepy guys as they come, one by one, case by case. It sucks. But that’s the way it is. Furthermore, the way men talk about this is deeply unhelpful, insofar as they seldom can grasp the subjectivity of women. Round and round it goes.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                This is a very thoughtful response with very good food for thought. There are undoubtedly ways in which even seemingly identical interactions will be anything but.

                But, again, I think you are (ever so slightly) missing my point. Because often times the woman will say, “He bought me a drink… what a creep move!” Instead of, “Did you see the way he approached us? How creepy was that!” The women often (not always but OFTEN) attach the value to the action itself. When, in reality, the issue is anything but the action.

                And it seems you actually concede this point. It isn’t the drink purchase that is the issue. It is the eyebrow raise. Or all the other little bits of data. And many of those bits are tied up in appearance.

                Let me make clear: this flows both ways.

                “OMG, this bitch calls me non-stop! What a freakin’ stalker!”
                “Ugh, I haven’t heard from her in like 2 hours. WHY WON’T SHE CALL ME MORE OFTEN!”

                Now, here may be talking about attraction or we may be talking about some other set of characteristics. But still I think the issue remains: we are focusing on the wrong things.

                So maybe that is my point and I have failed to make it.

                I will attempt to rephrase it here: We often wrongly ascribe our assessment to aspects of the interaction which are fully or largely immaterial to what we are actually assessing about the interaction. This often includes, but is not limited to, physical appearance.

                To bring it full circle, let’s discuss the neckbeard.

                If we ask, “Is the neckbeard a good look?” of course the answer is, “Well, that depends.” Some guys will look good with a neckbeard and some will not. Some will look better with a neckbeard than without and some will look worse than cleanshaven. This is reality.

                But if we ask, “Is a neckbeard evidence that a man is a schlub?” and we point to the chubby guy with the double chin and say, “Obviously, that guy doesn’t care about grooming. Look at his neckbeard!” And then we point to the hunky guy and say, “Yea, he knows wha the’s working with… sweet stubble, bro!” we aren’t *really* talking about the neckbeard and its relationship to schlubbiness anymore. That doesn’t mean our assessment of the neckbeard on those individual guys is wrong. But our attempt to generalize about neckbeards is likely a fool’s errand because we aren’t actually responding to the neckbeard itself.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I think you’re expecting too much out of people
                When half the interaction is happening subconsiously, on both people’s part — can you really expect them to be specific on what someone did wrong?

                I mean, Come On!

                This is particularly bad when people are complaining about, essentially, “He didn’t LISTEN to me saying no!” (well, when you’re saying it subconsciously,and he’s picking it up subconsciously — good luck on always getting everything right!)Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                The problem, @leeesq, is that it’s not a logarithmic line that the more attractive a guy is, the more bullshit he can get away. Which is kind of the argument a lot of guys try to make that’s simply false.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Unrelated to any of this, but I realized while we were discussing things last night, I didn’t have a mental construct for pronouncing your last name here. Can you help me out? Is it Yoo-WEE-ack? YOU-wee-ack? EE-wee-ack?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Actually, it’s pronounced E-walk. Yeah, like the furry guys in Star Wars.

                Obviously, that’s unlikely to be the original Polish pronunciation, but maybe it was changed when my ancestors decided to come to America.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Interesting! I have a Polish name that is actually quite famous/historical but which got misspelled when the family came over (we had an ancestor who was huge in the founding of the country but who ultimately returned to the motherland). We then “Americanized” the pronunciation though it still sounds foreign and it just ended up being unreadable, unspellable, and unpronouncable to Poles and Americans alike.

                When I meet native-born Poles, they often tell me that my name is spelled wrong and pronounced even worse.Report

              • I had just assumed it was something like “YOO-ee-ack.” Thanks for telling us.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Great (but wrong) minds!Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                This is true but I think that knowing or having external feedback that you are attractive provides a lot of confidence.

                I was 26 before anyone called me attractive or made a positive comments on my looks. Needless to say that this blew my mind the first time I was told this. Statements on my looks have been few and far between. Maybe partially because I come across as kind of spacey and abstract. Certainly I’ve been told that my people find my personality quirky/intense and say that it doesn’t jive with my looks.

                There is still a lot of stuff that I am surprised guys get away with or they get away with until they don’t. There were a lot of guys in law school who would pretend to be practicing/super-successful lawyers while meeting women in bars. I never understood how they could say something so untrue in a casual manner. One guy eventually got called out on it by a woman he was dating but it took a while.

                So I think you and Lee are right to certain extent I guess.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Is it possible people might have been offering you positive feedback in non-verbal ways that you didn’t pick up on?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Oh, sure. I think that’s the one thing people get wrong a lot – it’s not attractiveness, it’s confidence.

                Now, obviously, if you’re 5′ 2″ and 400 lbs, you can have all the confidence in the world of if you’re missing all your front teeth or whatever, that’s going to be a no-go zone or if you look like Chris Hemsworth, you literally can just say “hey” and get laid while being a blubbering idiot, but for the middle 90% of the population, a lot of what it comes down to is knowing what to say and when to say it and social cues that are unrelated to attractiveness (ie. social circles, socioeconomic stuff), not so much the person it’s coming out of.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Oh, sure. I think that’s the one thing people get wrong a lot – it’s not attractiveness, it’s confidence.

                I do agree that social acumen is important for the attractive and unattractive alike, but apart from that: Nope. It’s the attractiveness. Well, actually it’s both. I have a degree of experience with this because of my weight fluctuations. As my weight fluctuated, my confidence tended to lag my appearance. Unconfident thin me had better luck than confident heavier me.

                To go on a bit of a tangent…

                This is related to what I consider an unfortunate myth that we hold on to. Well, maybe not a myth, but a misperception. Specifically, the misperception that women are far less interested in appearance than men. This misperception carries on for a lot of reasons, often because it’s in everyone’s best interest. Guys like it because they think it means they could lay a really hot chick if they just do it right (oh, and because men are dogs they need not evaluate their own criteria). Women like it because it makes them better than guys.

                And on top of that, it seems true, in a self-reinforcing way. Since women are not supposed to be superficial, they tend not to be as open about it as guys are. When they are open about it, people say unkind things. When a guy is open about it, it’s just a guy being a guy. So when one group announces something openly, while the other is penalized for doing so, it creates perceptions

                The truth, as I have observed over the years, is that due to social conditioning and maybe biology, women are less superficial than men. But the gap is not nearly as large as is often supposed. I think this is a misperception that seems vaguely pro-woman, but is actually harmful in the expectations it generates.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                “I do agree that social acumen is important for the attractive and unattractive alike, but apart from that: Nope. It’s the attractiveness. Well, actually it’s both. I have a degree of experience with this because of my weight fluctuations. As my weight fluctuated, my confidence tended to lag my appearance. Unconfident thin me had better luck than confident heavier me.”

                Well, like I said below, outside of the top or bottom 5 to 10%, attractiveness will get you in the door. I don’t deny that at all. By the same token, wearing the right suit or being the right race will get you in the door in other scenarios with people you’re attracted too.

                What you do from there is based on your social acumen though. Now, you can say that step in the door is important and I wouldn’t argue that with you, but I do think it’s overhyped as a reason by lonely guys and gals.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I don’t think it’s a top/bottom 10% thing. It’s not a logarithm, but it’s a spectrum. I tend to think people are divided into roughly four tiers. It may be more than that (my “third tier” is pretty large).

                I also think it goes beyond a “step in the door”… I think that more attractive people simply have greater room for error once they’re inside. They don’t have unlimited leeway, but they get a lot more. The person they are talking to is far more likely to want them to be impressive (above and beyond appearance), and will act accordingly.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @will-truman —

                I also think it goes beyond a “step in the door”… I think that more attractive people simply have greater room for error once they’re inside. They don’t have unlimited leeway, but they get a lot more.

                Well, horns/halo effect is a real thing, in the sense we can measure it. So fine. But on the other hand, so what? Past a certain point, one assumes that when looking to meet people, you’re going to look as good as you can. Already people invest much effort in their appearance. Once you’ve optimized that to the degree you can, what else can you do?

                “Appearance matters” — like who says it does not? (Links please. I’m tired of hearing myths about things people don’t really say.)

                The point is, other things matter also, and whatever you look like, you can play the game.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Veronica, I was responding to a specific comment that said specific things, including “It’s not attractiveness” and “What you do from there is based on your social acumen though.” Both with the caveat that excludes the most and least attractive among us. I think this dramatically understates the importance of physical attractiveness. I think it buys into a disparity between men and women that is significantly smaller than reported.

                I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. But to play the game, you need to understand the lay of the land. That includes the fact that looks matter, even outside the top/bottom 5-10%. Practically speaking, guys need to adjust their expectations accordingly. They’re unlikely to meaningfully hack the system by being a “nice guy” or by reading a book on how to pick up chicks. There are likely to be some pretty hard limits on how much they’re going to be able to compensate for looks by “being confident” (or reading a book).

                So what should a guy do? Some of the things you’ve mentioned. Lifting weights! Work on your posture, if that might be an issue. Groom yourself. Shower regularly, if you’re not already. Look for those things you can do to help on the attractiveness front.

                Then look at other things, like being less socially inept (if that’s a problem). Try to become a more engaging person generally. Think about things that you’re doing that might be off-putting and then ask yourself if you need to be doing them.

                But understand the limits of these things. And you know what? If that’s unfair, that’s life. That’s a fraction of what women have to put up with. You know how you want a pretty girl who is appealing? It’s okay that women want a good looking guy who is appealing. There is no obligation that they be “less superficial” just because society has presented them as such.

                (The Hit Coffee post doesn’t really deal directly with women (or gay men) being sexually attracted to Amell. I sort of take that for granted. He is one attractive dude and women, like men, have pretty free rein in what they are attracted to. Double standard? Sure. But morally speaking, that’s a non-issue. Now, how we as a society talk about Amell and Dai Tengu, that’s important. We don’t have to sleep with unattractive people, but we should treat them fairly when assessing their grooming habits.)

                (Also, for what it’s worth, I thought your first comment on this the neckbeard thing was spectacular. I see a greater tension between norms and respecting individuality, but I thought your contribution was great and I liked the cartoon a great deal. I was out-and-about when I first saw it, so didn’t reply to it directly.)Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @will-truman — But I meet too many counter-examples to totally believe that. It’s like, I know big fat guys who get laid often enough, and with women who I would like to sleep with. So what’s up with that?

                Like, there is this one guy I know, he’s kinda dumpy and short and bald and can’t dress for shit. If you asked me, “Hey, does he get laid?” I’d say, “probably not, I guess.” But he does. In fact, his g/f is pretty darn adorbz. I’m a bit jealous. Plus I know she is not the only woman he’s hooked up with. He’s no “playa,” but he gets laid at least as much as I do.

                So what is happening?

                I mean, he’s certainly no hottie, at least by my measure. As I said, short, fat, dumpy, weird. I’m not in the slightest sense attracted to him. Not hardly.

                On the other hand, I like him, as a person. He’s cool, smart, and funny. He carries himself well. (Plus he also has a great job and an advanced degree from a top tier school, so maybe that matters. But don’t we talk about “confidence.”)

                I dunno.

                I know this other guy, fat and weirdly hairy — and look I’m kinda talking out my ass here. But if you asked me, “Does he get laid?” I’d say, “Oh, almost certainly not.”

                Okay, so I’ve never asked the guy. I’ve never said three words to him. But he’s sullen. I never see him talking to anyone. He just walks around the office, looking mean, sad, upset, set-upon, and so on. So do women like him?

                Honestly he’s the sort I suspect ends up a dumb foot soldier in some #gamergate type shit, just an ugly, sad, upset manling bitter at the world. He gives me dirty looks, and for no evident reason, except maybe he hates my “SJW hair” or something. I dunno. (Brianna Wu once told me I have cool hair, so yay!)

                Anyway, there is something that separates the first set of dudes from that latter dude. It ain’t simply “looks,” although obviously “how you carry yourself” counts in some sense under “looks,” but not really. I call that more “personality.”

                After all, even a fat guy can walk tall and smile.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Well, my observed experience is what it is. I mean, sure, there are stray sparks. I have a comparatively limited number of partners, and I had one that was conventionally very attractive, and one that was conventionally very unattractive. Mean, median, and mode was “about right.”

                My good friend is charismatic and has the whole “artist” thing going for him, so he tends to do comparatively well. He’s had some very attractive partners. He’s also had some unattractive ones (one with half of her face disfigured). But mean, median, and mode, it mostly ends up in the ballpark of his own looks.

                My college roommate, same deal. This also applies to most women I know, or have known. Does it map 1:1? No. Can it accurately be characterized as a baseline? Yeah. Confidence is a thing. Being an artist is a thing. Being successful is a thing. Looks are a really big thing.

                As I’ve gotten older, it’s remarkable to me how things really have worked out that people end up with people in or near their station, or with an obvious explanation for any disparity that exists.

                I’m not sure why my experience differs from yours. It could just be in the way that we’re describing things. It could be that my history is somewhat more conventional than yours, and the dating markets I’ve seen are more efficient. One big exception to most of what I’ve written above involves the inefficient market of non-Mormons in Deseret. The options are kind of limited and so people have to cast a wider net, which means that some get lucky and some make other people lucky (not just in terms of looks) in matches I doubt would occur in most other places I’ve lived. (The Mormon market, on the other hand, was the very model of efficiency.)

                In any event, saying it’s about confidence and not appearance contradicts my personal and observed experience. It’s typically very much about both, and more. There is no middle 80% where looks don’t especially matter. There is an effect that persists after the introduction. With men and women both, even if not quite to the same degree.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @will-truman — It think it’s like this. First, I care a fair amount about looks. In fact, the joke I make about myself is, “I’m shallow, not petty.”

                Which, I’m not even going to pretend I’m some deep person. Fuck that. I care about looks a lot. I decide who to friend on Facebook according to how pretty they are. I’m that bad.

                My ex-wife, on the other hand, really does not care about looks that much. Like, it’s uncanny. She really-actually-kinda doesn’t care at all. For her, it’s all about decency and personality. No really. I’ve known her for decades. I’ve seen it play out in wide variation.

                I know other people like her, mostly women.

                I have a crush on my best friend. She’s trans and often struggles with her own self-image. It’s nice though, cuz I can tell her, “Look girl, you know how fucking shallow I am, and how I get hot for hotties and pretty much ignore people who aren’t hot-as-fuck, and I’m fucking crazy mad lusting for your sexy ass. Cuz you’re hot as fuck!”

                When I say that, it’s believable.

                Sadly, she doesn’t like me back. Blah. But still, she’s hot and I want her to feel hot. Cuz everyone deserves to love themselves. (Unless they’re a bad person. She, however, is the opposite of a bad person.)

                I’ve literally never heard anyone say, “Looks don’t matter at all.” I’ve seen people, mostly men, complain about feminist dating sites that say that. But feminist dating sites do not say that. So what is happening here? Are people lying?

                Actually, I don’t think so. Instead, I think that people who say that are reporting their own distorted understanding of a good message. It’s complicated.

                Of course looks matter. But different people like different things, and some might like you, however you are now. And other things matter also, like confidence, attitude, kindness, and so on.

                The sure way to TOTALLY FAIL AT LOVE is to decide that you are yourself unlovable, or that it’s “not fair,” or that all women are shallow bitches that will never give a guy like you a chance, and so on.

                Again, the fat guys I know who do okay with women — I like them as people. They’re nice and cool and fun and have good attitudes. This is probably not an accident.

                Look, these guys aren’t cleaning up with mad game. I ain’t here selling bullshit. If you’re a fat dude, it’s fucking harder. Duh.

                If you’re a fat dude who hates himself and assumes everyone else hates him and assumes all women will hate him, cuz we’re shallow and wretched, just as wretched as him — then you’re fucking doomed.

                The message ain’t “looks don’t matter.” Instead, the message is, “Looks aren’t all that matter, and they might not matter as much as you think, and attitude carries you far, as does a sense of humor, and confidence, and all kinds of things. Do your best. Use the tools you have. Stop the self-defeating nonsense.”

                In other words, it is a message for a certain type of person struggling with a certain type of failure-mode. Countering that message with, “But looks still matter,” is missing the point.

                Yeah, they do. But most fat people won’t lose weight. Most people use the first three weeks of their gym membership, and then waste the rest. Short bald guys will, next year, still be short and bald.

                And I’ll still be a six-foot tranny. But if I go to the club and stand sullen against the wall, looking at the others having fun, but myself not having fun, and projecting a dour attitude — then I will end the night that way and go home and listen to that fucking song by the Smiths. (I’ve actually done this precise thing. It’s okay to mock me I deserve it.)

                Or I can smile and dance and say hi to random people, and if I get a weird look, cuz I’m coming across as a dork, I can shrug and smile and write that person off as an ass, and keep trying even if I’m fucking dying inside, cuz somehow, on some nights, things go really well for me and I get kisses.

                It happens when I’m feeling happy and free. It does not happen when I’m feeling sullen. I look the same in both cases.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I’m still agreeing with a lot of what you write. You seem to be bringing more into this conversation than I am, however.

                I’m basically saying three things:
                1. That which is attributed to looks isn’t “confidence,” but rather is a combination of things, including looks.
                2. There is a significant Halo/Horn effect, wherein being attractive or not attractive affect how other attributes are evaluated even after the door has been opened.
                3. The gender differential in the value of being placed on appearance is exaggerated by society-at-large.

                My third comment has little to do with feminists, what feminists say, or what people say that feminists say. I certainly don’t believe they’ve ever said that looks don’t matter to women. I think many of them contribute to #3, but not to any inordinate degree. I don’t consider it “a feminist thing.” Quite the contrary, it was a feminist* that lead me to where I am on the subject.

                We do seem to disagree on how much emphasis women place on looks compared to how much society says that they do or should. That could be a disagreement about how much emphasis women place on it, how much society says they do or should, or more likely some of both.

                But to be clear, I know that you’re not saying zero emphasis is placed on appearance, and I know that feminists aren’t saying that either. Hopefully you know that I’m not saying that men and women are exactly equal in this regard. Beyond that, it’s probably not worthwhile to either of us to drill down to determine exactly how much we do disagree.

                * – A real feminist and not a Feminists Against Misandry feminist or anything. Female, Democrat, atheist, vehemently pro-choice, etc.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @will-truman FWIW, my experience as a woman is that there has literally never been an attractiveness threshold where I don’t get hit on, and by folks I find quite physically attractive (I don’t like being hit on “with intent” by people I don’t know – or even people I do know if they know I’m monogamous, though a little light flirting is always pleasant – so I always experience this as unwanted and unpleasant, even if they aren’t at all creepy). Weight, shlubbiness, etc…. the perception that no matter what I do – except for one thing – I will get hit on quite clearly by people (of both genders) who would be very happy to follow through on it overwhlems my ability to judge anything else.

                The one thing? Presenting as male-er than female. If I am having a butch kinda day, people don’t hit on me. They might give me a shy come-hither look that clearly indicates I should come over and hit on them (something I’ve experienced from gay guys as well as women), but not hit on me. Not Ever.

                I’m not saying people are falling out of the rafters to hit on me or anything – far from it – but literally not a week goes by that SOMEONE doesn’t indicate their interest in making sure I get laid.

                As I am neither extraordinarily attractive, extraordinarily confident, or extraordinarily libertine in my dress… and as many of my female friends have had a similar experience… I have to conclude that the degree of difference is fairly significant. And that when one gender is so much more the hit-on-er than the other, they will see the hitting-on process as deeply different.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make or your comment as it pertains to my own (though I appreciate the insights, independently). So forgive me if my response misses the mark.

                I’m not arguing that men and women are the same, only that the extent to which emphasis is on or away from looks tends to be exaggerated in the popular imagination. There are aspects of your comment that support that view, depending perhaps on one’s point of view. (Depending on, for instance, the extent to which we butchiness under “looks” and under “affect”.)

                When I was younger, I used to have a saying that described my outlook pretty well: “If you’re charismatic but unattractive, you’re more disadvantaged if you’re a girl. If you’re attractive but awkward, you’re more disadvantaged if you’re female.” It had various permutations with shy vs outgoing and others, but they tended to touch on the notion that personality matters a lot more if you’re male, and appearance if you’re female.

                I still actually think that there is a lot of truth there, but it’s a pretty dramatic oversimplification that very much underestimates the importance of female personality and male appearance. I do think that there are differences, and tendencies, derived from social norms and perhaps biology (I make no declarations).

                But I think there is so much variation, and so many complicating factors, that I don’t really say it much more. Certainly not without disclaimers.

                I don’t think that view that I had came out of nowhere. I think it’s a message that is sent out. That men are supposed to (allowed to) be this way, and women are supposed to be this other way. Never in strictly absolute terms, but with enough reliability that we can make general assumptions and treat it as a general truth rather than an oversimplification of something that’s kind of complicated.

                Not just that, but kind of a pernicious oversimplification. Men being considered this way, generally if not absolutely, and women being considered this other way, places an asymmentrical burden on how honest the dialogue is, and gives men a sense of entitlement on the degree of success they should be able to expect, and what they feel they can reasonably expect the ladies to overlook.

                (In addition to gender stereotypes, I blame television for a lot of this. Chubby schlubs and hot chicks and rarely the reverse. The older I get, the more I agree with both liberals and conservatives on the importance of the intricacies that popular entertainment presents as normal.)Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Well, I guess what I’m saying, without the asides, is that on my chubby schlub days, as long as I’m not coming off as a guy, I do not experience any lack of *active* interest from either gender. (Some of whom are actually quite attractive.)

                So my experience (and that of many of my female friends) is that the sheer fact of being a chick is more than sufficient to get males to pursue sex with you (even in my late 30s, weighing in the high 200s, in schlubby clothes). Which makes it hard to evaluate claims about what features of a woman do or don’t make it more likely for guys to be interested in her sexually.

                I literally get hit on ALL the time, regardless.

                I don’t think guys (most guys at least, not saying you specifically) understand what it does to a woman’s perspective of the interaction, having it happen constantly and frequently unwelcomedly.

                The “goal” for a lot of women is not to have people express sexual interest in them (since our experience is that that happens no matter what, except for being clearly outside reproductive age), it’s to have ONLY people they actually want to hang out with for other reasons express sexual interest in them.

                The aims in the interaction are totally different.

                Again, speaking in terms of generalization, not individual people, who may have other efforts in mind.

                Does that make more sense?

                I’m not really disagreeing with you, more trying to add dimensionality to the schema.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @will-truman — The thing is, I know a number of women who really don’t seem to care much what their partner looks like, past a base level of not-being-freakishly-hideous. I know gals who will fuck fat dudes as quick as skinny dudes. For them, personality and coolness matter more. As does social stuff. They don’t want a weird-sad loner guy. Fine. But that counts as “personality,” I’d say. My point is, hawtie-muscle-guy — they really actually totally don’t care.

                I can’t think of many dudes I know who are quite this way. I mean, there is variation, but not to the same degree.

                I’m not sure. It’s weird, right?


                Funny thing, of the small handful of guys as my office I’d sleep with, one is kinda fat, another is this skinny, nebbish dude, a third is this dopey looking nerd-pocalypse (‘cept he needs to wash his hair, like seriously), and the last is a hottie-mc-hotpants who dresses great and who literally every woman in the office wants to fuck including probably the lesbians.

                So yeah. I dunno. This isn’t simple.


                That said, the best dating advice for men remains “lift weights.”

                Which does not mean take ‘roids or “get huge” or try to deadlift a dump truck. Just, lift some weights. Get some tone, some chest, some shoulders — and some nice graceful manlegs. It matters.

                Use moisturizer. Dress well. (Wash your fucking hair, like OMG dude, you’re cute, I like you but that hair what are you doing!)

                Anyway, lift weights. Some tone. Smile a lot.

                Trust me. I’m a weird trannydyke on the Internet. I know these things.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Oh and for the record, the women I’m thinking of are mostly cis women, if that matters. (Which, it shouldn’t. But still.)Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                It might not be a logarithmic line but it seems true enough in many circumstances. There are other things that can help to.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I think outside of the top 5 or 10% of guys, it’s more attractiveness can get you in the door, but if you’re an idiot/douchebag/etc., all you’ll get is that 1st date.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                it’s not a logarithmic line that the more attractive a guy is, the more bullshit he can get away.

                I’m a bit puzzled by the fact that everyone but me seems to know what you meant by this. A logarithmic relationship between those two things would mean that the amount of bullshit you can get away with increases rapidly as you go from extremely ugly to just kind of ugly, with rapidly diminishing returns such that a model would only get away with a little more than an average-looking man. But I don’t think anyone suggested that.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      creepy is the person who stares at you and follows you around. Shouldn’t have much to do with sending you a drink as a polite invitation.

      I think it’s alright to term people ugly if they are — they know it too.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        My point is that here (and elsewhere) we are often responding as much (if not more) to the actor as to the act, though we tend to dress it up as the inverse.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Oh, undoubtedly!
          When was the last time you saw a female magician?Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

          The thing is, the girl whose going to call a guy a creep for simply buying her a drink are the same small segment of the population as guys who are going to call any girl whose not model thin a fat pig – yes, they exist, but they’re not as large a percentage of the population people think they are.

          Worrying about that response when you’re out at a bar is quite self-defeating. The truth is, most people are polite, even if they aren’t interested in having sex with you.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            They might not call him creepy to his face, but they might behind his back. Or to their friends.

            My broader point is that I agree with Will that attractive guys (and gals) can do things and receive positive responses that less/unattractive guys (and gals) will get poor responses to.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

              I mean, maybe I’m just friends with a better class of lady, but I’ve never had any of my female friends call somebody who hit on them or they went on a date with ‘creepy’ outside of actual creepy behaviors (ie. talking about fetishes on the 1st date when there’d been no sex talk in the lead up).

              I’ve heard guys they’ve gone on dates with called boring, idiotic, racist, and a whole ton of other things, but never creepy for the sake of being called creepy.

              And again, I would argue _charismatic_ people get away with more things and attractive people learn how to be charismatic more easily. I mean, there are plenty of funny guys who aren’t overly attractive who get away with murder because they’re damn funny or charismatic while saying it. Even in my own friend group, I know friends who could get away with things I could never get away with saying and we’re in the same “range” if we’re using a scale.

              Again, obvious top 5%/bottom 5% of the population, putting that aside.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                “…attractive people learn how to be charismatic more easily…”

                Can you expand on this?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Charisma is all about confidence, but kids learn confidence young (particularly alpha males whom some people undoubtedly find… attractive).Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:


                Positive feedback. Attractive people are more likely to be received well when they approach others for social interaction, and more likely to have others approach them. This causes them to feel more optimistic about future social interactions. Consider how you might feel about asking girls out if they said yes half the time, as opposed to how you would feel if they said yes five percent of the time.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                Years ago, a friend of mine told me at a party that a girl had told him I was creepy. To this day, I can’t think of anything I did or said that could possibly have prompted that. I am absolutely 100% sure I didn’t say anything that could reasonably be construed as creepy. I definitely hadn’t been talking about sex, or any other questionable topic. It had to have been based purely on the fact that she just didn’t like something about the way I looked, or my voice, or my mannerisms, or something like that.

                It’s ironic that she went to him to complain about me, because I always thought he looked kind of like a stereotypical sex offender (tall, thin, very pale, ponytail with receding hairline).Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                I doubt any of us make it though life without at least one random person finding us creepy. I mean, I don’t want to imagine how many people find me creepy.

                If you’re over in the corner, and some rando across the room thinks you’re a creep, well who cares? You ain’t in their face. If they ain’t in yours, then you don’t need to even find out. If they tell someone, and if that person tells you, well shit happens. You’ll live.

                Men pursue women more often than women pursue men, particularly among strangers. For good or for bad, that is how modern romance “works” — for various values of “work.”

                This means that, I don’t get a choice about which men pursue me. Men do (to large degree) get a choice about who they pursue.

                For men who are super shy, this can suck, cuz pressure. For women who are super shy, it also sucks, cuz PSYCHIC INVASION OF THE APOCALYPSE PLEASE DON’T STARE AT ME!!!


                If a dude finds me creepy, he can say, “Geeze that girl creeps me the fuck out” — while I continue to silently read my book and occasionally glance wistfully in his direction.

                If I find a man creepy, and he keeps looking at me, and I look away and try to visibly ignore him — that kind of active “I’m ignoring you posture” that sometimes works, but that sometimes does not work, so he approaches and gets creepy in my business. And I keep my eyes on my book, but he is a clueless piece of shit and keeps badgering me — cuz some PUA bullshit his friends taught him to be persistent, or maybe he watches too many bad movies where they guy gets the girl, even though the guy is a complete shlub — but whatever. The point is, he is in my face and I’m negotiating a minefield of sadboy butthurt.

                This doesn’t happen that often. Usually it isn’t too bad. But still, that is a different level than just “I found him randomly creepy so I avoided him whatever.”Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                I’m not complaining. It was years ago. I’m just pointing out that people do in fact get deemed “creepy” for reasons that have nothing to do with bad behavior.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I can empathize with @brandon-berg because I think the term “creepy” carries with it more weight than other similar terms, especially for men. Other critiques, even seemingly harsher ones (e.g., douche, asshole, prick), don’t seem to carry a scarlet letter the way “creep” does. So I get why that might have stuck in his craw more than other feedback offered in a similar manner.

                And maybe that is why this conversation feels a little like walking on eggshells for all sides. Being called “creepy”… especially for something that might be out of your control (e.g., maybe your eye brow was 1.5mm off because you ARE a creep or maybe you have a slightly weaker muscle on that side of your face)… can really be a death blow for guys. There is probably one (if not many) analogous terms for women so I don’t want to make this a “poor men” point, just a, “That particular term is a bit more loaded than others so when it is thrown around so cavalierly, it can rub folks the wrong way” sorta thing.

                Which doesn’t mean creepy guys or creepy behavior should never be identified as such. Just that maybe we shouldn’t automatically call the well-intended but socially awkward guy a creep because he isn’t Rico Sauve.

                Note: Regardless of a guy’s intentions or the control he can exhibit over his behavior/presentation, if a woman has any reason to doubt her safety in a situation, she is perfectly justified in taking the necessary steps to secure that safety.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                @kazzy Even back then, I knew what “creepy” really meant. I wasn’t offended so much as worried that a) there was something wrong with my appearance or body language, or b) that she might talk to other girls. Having a girl tell other girls that she thinks you’re creepy is just about the worst possible thing that can happen to a man socially.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “Having a girl tell other girls that she thinks you’re creepy is just about the worst possible thing that can happen to a man socially.”

                Yea, that is sort of what I was getting at. You can shake/absorb a lot of labels but not creepy. NO ONE likes the creepy guy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Men are afraid women will reject them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                The original was “men are afraid women will laugh at them.”Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                One way I saw it phrased as a hypothetical for guys: You’re on eFriendMatchER, and if you swipe, it has a 25% chance of connecting you to a hungry lion instead. How does that affect the way you approach the whole thing?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                For guys? Depends on how horny they are.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — “Creep” is, in a social sense, the nuclear option.

                On the other hand, if someone calls you creepy, then they have given you clear indication where you stand. Men often complain that women are not clear enough. But “creep” is utterly clear. It’s game over go away don’t talk to me I don’t like you and I never will.

                Which, I don’t expect anyone like being called a creep. On the other hand, I don’t really care. It’s not a tool I’m willing to give up.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “It’s not a tool I’m willing to give up.”

                I wouldn’t ask you to. I’d ask that you (the proverbial you… not you you) wield it responsibly.

                At the same time, guys need to be better about self-policing… both their own behavior and that of other dudes. I’ve called guy friends out for being creepers.

                Case in point:
                After a college party, I was sitting down to breakfast with some friends and exchanging war stories from the night before. My one friend was going on-and-on about how he finally connected with this girl he had been crushing on and it was going so well and they were laughing and dancing and then out of no where she just walked away and that was that. Right as he finished the story, another guy who was there with us walked up and (unaware that the first guy just finished telling of his remarkable-success-before-inexplicable-failure) stated, “Dude, it was so creepy when you sniffed that girl’s hair last night.”

                “It was?”
                “Dude, you sniffed her hair?”
                “That’s creepy!”
                (Both of us) “YES!”

                The interesting thing is that this guy is a remarkably attractive guy who definitely fits the “Gets away with more than he should because of it” type. I mean, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen him be awful with (not necessarily towards but with) women and still go home with them. They’ve literally said to me, “What’s this guy’s deal? Whatever… he’s hot and it’s the end of the night and I’m horny.” I’m sure these girls are not the norm, mind you.

                But even he hit a limit. It was, apparently, sniffing a girl’s hair.

                Hopefully he never ever ever did that again based on us making clear in no uncertain terms just what a fucking creep he was.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                I wouldn’t ask you to. I’d ask that you (the proverbial you… not you you) wield it responsibly.

                I’m not going to lie. I’m never going to say, “That dude was creepy as fuck,” unless the dude was indeed creepy as fuck. Nor am I going to present as facts shit that did not happen. I’m not going to say he grabbed my ass if he did not grab my ass. But if he set off my spidey-sense, then that is that. I might talk about it. If he’s in my face, pulling the “pursuit” card, I might pull the “creep” card. I might say to the bouncer or bartender (or whatever), “Hey, this dude’s fucking creeping me out. He won’t go away, won’t take no for an answer.” If I know the guy “from around,” I might tell my friends that they should avoid him. After all, he was creeping me out and “making it weird.”

                Fair is fair. We gals got enough shit coming at us. We talk.

                Of course no one likes being called “creep.” But I call people creep fairly often. They’re not supposed to like it.

                No one should lie about other people. Obviously. Past that, a woman should play the “creep” card whenever she feels she needs to. Men don’t like it. They’re not supposed to.

                Men who get called “creep” a lot, and not just “that one time” by some random — I mean, do the math.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                No disagreement with this. But you also don’t strike me as particularly nasty. I have seen creep get thrown around by some women as a catch all for any guy a woman doesn’t find particularly desirable. And that, to me, seems unfair given the weight of that term.

                Interesting to note: I’m trying to think of an analogous term for women — one that is appropriate to use when it is fitting but otherwise should be steered clear of — and really can’t. I mean, a number of terms that are often used for women are ones we should stop using entirely (e.g. bitch, cunt, slut). Other terms that can be technically accurate but which seem somewhat gendered (e.g., crazy, stalker) don’t seem to carry the same ‘branding effect’ as creep. Maybe creep is unique in that regard. Or maybe we should think of it like we think of that former group? I don’t know… now I’m just spitballin’…Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kazzy — I’m pretty sure we don’t have a “reverse” term because, to a large degree, women don’t behave this way. At least, they do not toward random strangers, the way men behave toward random women. It’s really — there is this lingering air of menace that is invisible to men, and it is caused by a certain set of men. It’s largely sexualized. Even when it is not explicitly sexual, it is almost always gendered in evident ways. We call the men who behave this way “creeps.”

                I lived in “dude mode” for several decades, walking through the world while presenting as a man. In all those years, I experienced nothing that compares to being a woman in the presence of amorous men. It’s just — I cannot.

                It wasn’t all rosy. I’ll never tell a dude that shit is easy. Back then, I got threatened, bullied, beat-up, on and on. Being a dude could be rough. After all, most murder victims are men. Certainly I was frightened from time to time. But still, it’s not the same as being a woman.

                How creeps behave — it’s just so … icky.

                Honestly, “creepy” is just the perfect word for these guys. It’s like, something alive, but with too many legs, crawling on you inside your clothes, trying to get at your vulnerable places. Yeesh. Just being looked at that way.


                I have a theory. The worst sort of creeps know they are creepy. When they intimidate, they know it. These are not “weird autistic clueless” guys. Nope. The opposite. When they creep us out, they know. When they corner us on the train, and we are squirming, but still playing along, smiling (cuz fear), they know we are afraid, and they play their game right up to the edge.

                They do this because they are vicious little shits.

                I cannot read minds, but I’ve encountered a few of these guys, maybe a half dozen since I transitioned. I’ve seen a number work on other women. I’ve had one try his games on me. It was awful.


                We have another word, of course, for the worst sort of people: “predator.” So far as I can sense, that word is gender neutral. Certainly in my social circles we use it for both women and men, because we need to, because we regularly encounter predators of either sex (not to mention those of neither/both sex).

                Predators are not necessarily creepy, although some creeps rise to that level. But still, it’s different.


                tl;dr — Creepiness is gendered. General sexual harassment and abuse are not gendered. Language reflects this reality.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I agree that many of the biggest creeps are intentionally — or at least knowingly — so. There is power in being able to discomfort people. “All I had to do was stand here and smile a certain way and look how you cower. Who’s in control here? Me. That’s who.”

                Though these guys are probably in that predator group as well.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            The thing is, the girl whose going to call a guy a creep for simply buying her a drink are the same small segment of the population as

            I take it you had no exposure to your sisters’ table talk when they were a certain age, or to their gal pals’.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          See, for example, the attitudes we had toward the David Bowie story.

          It teetered between “WE SHOULD BE VERY VERY ANGRY” and “we should disapprove of David Bowie for doing this but, seriously, we totally would have done the exact same thing in her shoes because, hey, David Bowie”.

          There is a dynamic still in the back of our heads where we see sex as a transaction and the male is the consumer and the female is the provider and one of the things that makes the back of our lizard brains upset is when the provider is taken advantage of (presumably because she does not know the worth of what she is providing).

          Now, of course, providing it to David Bowie makes up for the possibility that she was taken advantage of because, first and foremost, she was an enthusiastic participant but, beyond that, while she may have provided something of great worth… she provided it to David Freaking Bowie.

          Like the joke says: take 50 Shades of Grey and put it in a trailer park and you’ve got an episode of Law and Order:SVU. Take that episode of Law and Order:SVU and put it with David Bowie?

          Hey, you’ve got a debate where one of the sides explains that they totally would have done the same thing in her place.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @jaybird There is also the historical attitude that says, Hey, it was the 70s, if he was doing that NOW, he should’ve learned better, but stuff was a lot more fucked up back then so he gets a pass.

            It’s not one or the other.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            There were many more dynamics to that situation (not the least of which is age difference).

            Seeing it as consumer and provider is … lazy. Seeing it as the world’s oldest profession makes the whole deal a lot clearer.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      “Note: I’m using a male actor and female ‘target’ for illustrative purposes but this is undoubtedly a two way (all way?) street and does not just apply to ‘romantic’ interactions either.”

      @kazzy Fair warning, this is another one of my saying it with love things:

      If you are self-aware enough to notice you’re doing it, you might try, next time, being self-aware enough to pick a different set up. And probably not one about how short women’s skirts are either. Like, a set up that doesn’t directly push women’s buttons about safety would be ideal. Because casually using set ups that DO push women’s’ buttons around safety is really likely to derail the conversation before it starts, because when it comes to situations like bars, we’re often super-aware that we aren’t really safe in them, generally speaking, and that particularly upsetting knowledge can easily overshadow the conversation you wanted to have.

      I mention this because pretty much every single thing Veronica has said about safety went through my head when I first read your comment – automatically, as the result of far too much experience – and it took me about 10 minutes to decide I really didn’t want to wade into that particular conversation that particular evening. Reading over the whole threads, yeah, I see what you were trying to say – but why didn’t you talk about hiring, or something equally non-gendered / non-inflammatory?

      Like I said, I mean it with affection, I don’t think it’s that big a deal even – but you seemed really surprised that Veronica reacted as she did, when to me it was more or less a foregone conclusion that IF any women participated in the subthread, they would most probably focus on that stuff (just as I had), because it’s so much more salient to their daily experience of life. Not saying they HAD to or that we’re automatons, it just seemed reallllllly likely.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I fear if anything you give me TOO MUCH credit. I offered a disclaimer not because I realized my example was potentially triggering but because I did not want to imply that the phenomenon of attractiveness bias was unique to women. @veronica-d and I were largely talking passed each other because I was trying to use an example to be illustrative of a broader issue and she was rightly pointing out that my example was a rather loaded one and I was just trying to talk about the bigger thjng and then seemingly doubled down with another different-but-still-loaded example.

        Feedback from both you and V received and files in the “Think harder, be beter next time” database. Thank you both.

        (That said, I still think I’m write about attractiveness-bias/privilege being a thing we’re almost all guilty of! :-p)Report

  12. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Re: Hypnotism.
    The posters reveal a lot more about their creators than was intended, I think.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that!Report

  13. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I’m going to add a few more links down here.

    New, second skin to fight wrinkles &/or help to heal damaged skin.Report

  14. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Sci-Fi Stylistic orbiter ideas contest.

    The top three are cool, but I kinda wish we could see all the entries.Report

  15. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    This HBR article is relevant, especially to me, as my employer was just acquired by ginormous German company.

    Luckily, ginormous German company has quite successfully integrated a number of smaller companies already, and has a process worked out.Report

  16. Avatar notme says:

    ‘Fat Activist’ Speaks at Public Health School, Denounces ‘Thin Privilege’ Lose hate not weight!! We’ve now progressed to the point where liberals use “privilege” to justify any stupid idea.

  17. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    One more link: NASA releases 56 patents to the public domain.

    I have zero issue with NASA patenting anything, as a matter of fact, I think they should patent any innovation they come up with. I do have issue with them holding on to patents that do not somehow represent a national security interest (and I’d set a pretty high bar for that, much higher than our government’s current bar for setting damn near anything as a national security interest). Basically, patent it so someone else can’t*, but then set the patent free.

    I’d extend this to any tech developed with at least 51% tax money (universities seem to find ways to use public grants, etc to develop and patent tech, which is something I’m not always comfortable with, same with pure research results going behind journal paywalls).

    *Although if developing a tech and releasing it to the public qualifies as prior art such that it would be tough for a third party to get or defend a patent for such tech, then I would not be so interested in NASA patenting things.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      I disagree. Licensing IP can generate more money for research and is almost a perfect user fee. Those who benefit from the IP being used in the private sector are the ones who pay for it, rather than the taxpayers paying for a private benefit. Theoretically anyone could use a technology, but a patent on a method to more inexpensively manufacture semiconductors is going to disproportionately benefit the people with the infrastructure and sales pipeline to take advantage of it.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I could see that model having the same market failures as the leasing rights of public lands.Report

        • Avatar Mo says:

          The difference is the government doesn’t spend money to create more grazing land. If the Fedgov spends a bunch of money on research and gives it away for free, it’s a massive subsidy for said industry.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      I thought the government wasn’t legally permitted to have intellectual property. Or is that just copyright?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        The other day I ran across this at one of the national laboratories. It seems to cover most all of the usual forms of IP.

        Welcome to Sandia National Laboratories’ Intellectual Property Licensing Portal. This website highlights exceptional opportunities for licensing Sandia’s intellectual property, including patents, copyrights (generally software), trademarks, and maskworks.


      • Avatar Francis says:

        Oh no. The US Govt owns lots of patents. Look at Part B of this document. The govt also has the option of filing a kind of public disclosure document which discloses the invention without making any claims.

        I know very little about the policies that determine when and how the Govt decides to file a patent application on an invention. If there’s interest I could look at the issue over the weekend.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          If you are so inclined…

          I’d be curious as to the rules for how licensing is done & who can license what (e.g. does the government have to license to anyone , what can they charge, etc.)?Report

  18. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    I think that, as a general rule, any college football or basketball player with a realistic shot at the pros should go pro as soon as possible. Every game is a stroll through a minefield, with a non-trivial chance of a career-ending injury. Why do that for free? Grab the payday while you have the chance.

    I suppose there might be circumstances where the athlete has good reason to believe that waiting a year will result in being drafted higher, and hence to a bigger signing bonus, but this is playing with fire.

    Baseball is a different matter. Newly drafted players go into the minors. The exceptions are vanishingly rare. There are two salient points here. First off, getting to the majors is never a sure thing, even for the hottest of prospects. Baseball history is littered with guys who were top prospects until they weren’t, even without injuries coming into play. The second point is that minor league salaries are peanuts. If you get to the majors, even getting league minimum, you get your huge pay raise. Stay in the bigs until you hit arbitration, much less free agency, and even journeymen players get a real payday. But for the kid being drafted, none of these are sure things, or even particularly likely. Therefore the signing bonus is a really big deal. This might well be your one and only payday. So if you think you were drafted low and can do better a year later, pitching for a junior college somewhere makes sense. There is still the risk of injury, and there are cautionary tales of guys who did that then had a bad year. But holding out for a higher signing bonus next year can be a rational decision in baseball.

    But football or basketball? Take the money.

    In the specific case of Johnny Manziel, I see no evidence that anything would have turned out better for him, with respect either to football development or personal maturation, had he waited. I assume he will blow through whatever money he got from the Browns, assuming he hasn’t already, but he seems like a guy destined to be bankrupt and/or dead in a ditch, regardless.

    The real question would be what the Browns were thinking, drafting him. But this is the Browns we are talking about, so this isn’t any great mystery.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Manziel’s family is loaded. He was rich before cashing Cleavland’s checks. That doesn’t mean he didn’t want his own money or enjoy spending it. But it wasn’t’ just about getting out of poverty for him.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      If you’re really good, you can get insurance to mitigate the risk. Even with that, I usually agree for the top-tier athletes. Manziel is something of an exception since the shortness of his NFL career was pretty foreseeable and he was high-profile enough to insure and his family is wealthy on top of that.

      The other exceptions I would cite are those on the borderline. They have a realistic shot, but not a great one. Those folks are often better off sticking around. Southern Tech had a couple people that would have had a much better shot if they’d waited an extra year. But they didn’t, and football has no minor league system where you can fill the gap.

      I can’t speak to basketball, though.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        I didn’t know that he came from wealth. That is unusual in professional team sports. You see people from middle, or even upper-middle class backgrounds, but not from real wealth (excepting, I suppose, second-general professional athletes).

        I obviously haven’t been following this particular soap opera closely. What, if money isn’t an issue, did he want from playing football? I would guess fame, and perhaps love of the game. Wanting to play at the highest level as quickly as possible seems a reasonable means to either end.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          He also hated all of the restrictions that the NCAA put on him, especially his ability to capitalize on his name/fame.Report

  19. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    In which Germany had so much renewable energy, people were getting paid to use electricity. But, we should never move on from coal because a few thousand people still work in mines.

    On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1pm the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87%. Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.

    Germany’s power surplus on Sunday wasn’t all good news. The system is still too rigid for power suppliers and consumers to respond quickly to price signals. Though gas power plants were taken offline, nuclear and coal plants can’t be quickly shut down, so they went on running and had to pay to sell power into the grid for several hours, while industrial customers such as refineries and foundries earned money by consuming electricity.


    • Avatar Francis says:

      Needs More Storage!

      Kicking around the internet somewhere is a story about a guy who wants to run really heavy trains up shallow inclines when power is cheap and let them come back down when power is expensive. I’ll bet that building spur lines near power grids is cheaper than building reservoirs on top of hills.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        Congratulations, you invented pumped-storage hydroelectricity.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        You’re basically talking about a ice-making energy-saving system. In large building AC, you set your equipment to make ice in a dedicated storage facility in off hours, when energy is cheap, often 10pm until 6am but it varies. During heavy use hours, generally post-noon to about 6pm, you run the water used in a hydronic cooling/heating system through this ice, and use its cooling properties to cool the building. By the time it is melted, your energy needs, and costs, have dropped.

        They are pretty cool actually. If you like that kind of thing…Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          Denver, Colorado has the longest continuously operating district heating system (from Nov. 5, 1880) in the world. On the edge of downtown, they have a multi-story building — at least that’s how it looks from the outside — where they freeze ice at night to generate chilled water for cooling during summer days.Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    So is being audited by the IRS indicative of worse things than being investigated by the FBI, not as bad, or somewhere around the same amount?Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Read an article about this. Trumpy is a wheel in hundreds of companies, like 500 or so. The chances are pretty high one of them has some IRS involvement. But an audit is no reason why he can’t release his tax records like all the prez candidates have for decades. The IRS alrleady has his info. Of course a question for Trumpy is why did O have to release his birth certificate and school records but he can’t release his tax records.Report

  21. Avatar Oscar Gordon says: