Status and Women

High-status women will have high status.

Is this a tautology? Almost, but a sufficient number of right-wingers hope to find an alternative that I think it can be broken down a bit further.

There’s a trope on the right that women ruin everything. I am averse to repeating at length what others have written about very extensively, so I will only give the abstract version of the case here, rather than fleshing out all 1,001 real-life versions:

  • Guys have some activity/group/institution that functions well
  • Women don’t participate originally because it appeals to some specifically masculine interest or requires some specifically masculine ability
  • Then, either (a) a few girls who are outliers along the interest/ability axes get involved in the activity or (b) a few girls, who are dating/otherwise interested in guys who participate, start following the activity out of admiration for their crush
  • The peripheral female participants in a previously all-male activity receive attention from the other participants, which they enjoy:
    • The peripheral females call attention to this fact, out of vanity and to get the thirsters to recognize that they need to outcompete each other.
    • They begin to figure out that their participation in or opinions about the activity gets disproportionate attention/acceptance, compared to how the original participants treat each other.
  • More girls who are almost-outliers on the relevant traits for participation notice how much attention the peripheral female participants get, and decide to join as well.
  • The distortions introduced by the newly-arrived girls start to change the original arrangement of the activity/group/institution; the new arrangements (which encompass the novel female behavior, or male behavior which caters to novel female standards of approval) are no longer optimal for the original function.
  • The distorted arrangements now affect the internal incentive structure of the activity, which opens up two possibilities:
    • Where the distortion of incentives is dominated by actual romantic successes of the original male participants, recruitment of new participants becomes permanently skewed towards guys who are more oriented towards sex and social status.
    • Where the distortion of incentive is dominated by lower standards that enable female participation, new recruitment of becomes permanently skewed towards girls.
    • (As a second-order dynamic, if the volume of participation swells, it also attracts still other types of guys whose priorities can be summarized as power, money or, more rarely, honor; these priorities can only be satisfied with access to larger groups.)
  • As the constitution of the activity changes, the sizes of the various blocs of participants change, giving newcomers an increasing ability to eliminate conventions that are holdovers from the original form of the activity and don’t match their own strengths or incentives.

The elements of this story aren’t truly unique to bros-before-hos dynamics, by the way. If you’re sharp you’ve already noticed that with a few tweaks this can be an account of immigration, or entryism, or any other type of breakdown of a homogenous community.

This breakdown is sort of sucky when it happens to some dumb nerd-thing you do with your nerdy friends, like playing Pokèmon or sending astronauts to the moon. But the big-picture worry about feminization of male activities is that feminization goes hand in hand with subversion. Whether we are talking about religion, literary circles, academia, or anything else, the subversion of the institution (and the consequent damage to society) typically has feminine fingerprints all over it.

Christianity is not only the truth and the light, but also, our God being filled with charity, a eucivic faith. Provided that you don’t let women talk in church. It actually says it right there in the “directions for assembly” when you open up the box: bitches should shut up in church.

Quibblers might ask whether, if you try to assemble your Church without reading the how-to instructions, the result is actually Christianity; but I’m content to observe that the faith is eucivic when women listen silently during the service. (Remember folks: a God of peace, not a God of disorder.) If you try it the other way and let the girls have a say in what’s holy or unholy, blessed or cursed, then you’re screwed.

To what extent the same logic extends to all other questions of social participation (public affairs? voting? education? art and literature?) I will let the reader decide. But the most doggedly consistent reactionary position is just to say: kids and kitchen, end of story.

The problem is that this reductio fundamentally misunderstands the logic of female infiltration. I suspect this is partly because, in articulating the women-ruin-everything theme, reactionaries typically model every institution on the small-scale groups with which they are most intimately familiar, and model the psychologies of all participants on the drives and attitudes they care most about in that familiar situation.

To make a long story short: the reality is that female infiltration is about social status (popularity, esteem, perceived power). In small groups, this status is mediated through personal relationships and typically evolves towards some sort of flirting or fooling around. This leads casual observers to get the impression that the relevant interaction between the new arrivals and the original male participants are romantic interactions and the motives of the girls are primarily sexual.

Nigel once referred to sociobiology as “the Freudianism of the right”. Bzzz, wrong! You can’t understand the human soul or the human city without understanding the evolution of the human species. But there is a half-truth lurking in Nigel’s bad take: pop-Darwinism dethroned pop-Freudianism without doing a thorough purge of the palace.

Find an average person, of any political affiliation, and start talking about psychology, and you’re going to start to hear some half-digested Freudian views. Originally these were simply naive Freudian views, back when the New York Times and NPR were peddling pop-Freudianism. When Freud became an embarrassment to most educated people, the overarching framework tying Freud’s claims together disappeared. But the average citizen who accepted those claims without ever looking into the underlying theory did not replace all of his old opinions with new ones overnight; he simply stopped thinking of them as Freudian.

This comes out from time to time in evolutionary psychology. An explanation of the (evolutionary) functions of someone’s psyche is not an explanation of the content of his psyche. Most of us can probably think of one or two bloggers who obstinately stick to a single explanation for female misbehavior: they’re always trying to get fucked. Bzzz, wrong. Nine times out of ten, the misbehavior in question evolved because it got their ancestors laid. But it didn’t evolve by making the descendant desire to get fucked.

You can see how this misunderstanding arises. Half-cup familiarity with a small social scene where friendships and dating get messed up, half-cup “unconscious drives” straight out of The Ego and the Id, stir in a tablespoon of personal obsessions, and voilà. A set of desires and attitudes which tends to lead to X (and has the evolutionary function of leading you to X) is glossed as “an unconscious desire for X”, i.e. it feels exactly like a normal desire for X but the desirer doesn’t recognize it or won’t openly admit it.

I’m not saying this sort of self-deception is impossible. The escalation of anger works a lot like that. The function of your anger is to help you destroy obstacles (be they things or people), and if you get sufficiently angry you’re going to get to the point where you think, Wow, I’d really like to kick that door in. But whenever anyone starts getting angry about anything, inevitably the others will notice that he’s raising his voice or getting agitated before he does. (“I’m perfectly calm!” It’s okay buddy, we’ve all been there before.) Yet even with destruction-goals, lots of drives which are offensive in nature are not “unconscious hostility”, but rather non-anger drives which lead to the same end-point. (E.g. if you are cheerfully teasing someone in a way that is likely to start a fight, chances are you really are cheerful, not secretly-angry; contempt is simply a type of cheerfulness whose functions overlap with anger.)

Anyway, this is a roundabout way of getting to the point that while the function of status-consciousness is probably to nab high-quality gametes (and this is especially true of the pursuit of high status, as opposed to the avoidance of low status, whose function is to avoid lynching/exile), the status-drive itself isn’t sexual and if you think it is you’re going to have screwy ideas about social institutions. Patriarchy can beat promiscuity and whoring back into the box they came in, and thereby avoid a lot of social chaos. But that still doesn’t solve status.

Women will always scheme to raise their status. Planning a “restoration” where women become magically indifferent to status because they “know their their place” is as crazy as de-kulakization. Young girls take popularity every bit as seriously as young boys take athletics, and as they mature they transfer that focus onto their place in a social hierarchy which is vast and complicated.

Now, it is quite likely that there is population diversity (or even antagonistic selection) along status-seeking traits, and that some women care much less about status (and in particular about high status) than others. But which women will end up with high-status husbands, the ones who care about high status or the ones who don’t?

And those high-status couples: are they going to have the daughters who care a lot about status, or humble daughters who don’t?

And high-status families looking for a marital alliance with a family of similar background; is it more likely the prospective brides they consider for their sons will be of the status-conscious variety, or not?

I don’t know that it’s a bad thing that high-status women are invariably ambitious to raise their status even further. It’s a good thing, at least, that they don’t have meek, otherworldly sons. Conceivably there are some other family/community benefits too. Where the problem arises is with the tautology we started with: high-status women will have high status.

I think I’ve already suggested reasons to doubt high-status women are indifferent to status. So they pursue high status. That is the end: but do they have the means? Well, generally, they must, because in questions of status high and low are signs of power, and so anyone who has a reputation based on status-signals which are signs of power but consistently shows weakness/impotence in pursuit of his own ends will eventually lose that reputation. So in equilibrium, people with higher status have more means than people with lower status; and thus high-status women have the means, as well. Right?

The relationship between status and power is complicated by the many domains within which status can be earned. A ski-champion may be highly respected by ski enthusiasts, but while his status within that world is based on his skiing abilities, his status relative to a banker or a football player is not. So I have cheated, but only a little bit. If we needed a general theory of status, then “in equilibrium, higher status implies more power” would be false, because it doesn’t take into account all the spheres where virtuosity is admired for its own sake.

Note the passive voice: is admired. Admired by whom? Typically it is the men in an activity/group/institution who respect virtuosity, if virtuosity entails accomplishing the activity’s function perfectly regardless of whether or not a virtuoso performance is well-rewarded in an absolute sense. And the general problem with female infiltration is that they come into an area where male virtuosi have started to acquire fame, wealth, or influence, and they destroy the internal status-dynamics of respect for virtue and shift them towards pursuit of external goods.

So we can correct that phrase to: …all the spheres where men admire virtuosity for its own sake, and now it is clear that our simplification of the status-power relationship is appropriate. High-status women are generally high-status in domains where they or their families acquired power in the general sense; the problem is that they use that endowment to try to win even more status in new domains where the excellent functioning of a group/institution has attracted the attention and admiration even of outsiders.

At the high end, this means that billionaire heiresses compete with merely multi-millionaire heiresses for status in the art world, in literature, or in other charitable endowments. She throws parties, spreads around a little patronage, writes a few checks, and soon even the visiting soloist from Moscow knows her name. If she’s really wasteful, the music director might even listen to her suggestions for next year’s programming, and then her friends will really seethe with resentment.

But at the lower end it takes more modest forms. There are lots of middle class women out there who work as schoolteachers or something similar their whole lives. You probably know a few. They only make a fraction of what their husbands make, but they still invest their most fertile years in getting the degrees and certifications and then they more or less need to work their whole lives to recoup the investment. Most likely, they only have two kids.

But if that woman’s father had said to her, back when she was a teenager, “College? For you? To be a teacher? That’s a terrible idea,” — what then? Would she, docile, nod “Yes, papa” and go work as a secretary or cashier while waiting to get married and have kids?

The problem is that if she’s middle class, and all her middle-class friends are going to college to get useless qualifications for dubious careers, then her father has effectively stripped away her social status. She is de-classed. Suddenly loss of perceived social status often causes either depression or erratic, risk-taking behavior (i.e., gambles to regain status). A sufficiently strict father might be able to prevent misbehavior. But the more effectively he forbids any status-seeking behavior, the more firmly he cements his daughter’s low status in the eyes of her peers, creating the impression that obedience to one’s father is, itself, a low-status disposition.

This isn’t to say that over-educated women in careers that make them unhappy and squeeze their families is some sort of law of nature. Of course not. It’s just a way that girls happen to pursue status in The Current Year. My point is that you can’t think systematically about how to solve this class of problem if you assume the solution will involve high-status women not having a high status.

If you make that assumption, you’ll start looking for different ways to prevent status-seeking behavior… and you’ll find them, for sure. No matter how many kulaks you whack, you’ll always be able to able to find one more to kill; that’s just how de-kulakization is.

If high-status women will always be high status, then the solution will have to involve high-status women continuing to scheme after social status. And so the difficulty is not to prevent any one specific type of status-seeking behavior, but to figure out what types of status-seeking behavior women can be channeled into. Bonus points for disequilibrium solutions wherein actual, status-seeking TCY women will start to envy the proposed eucivic feminine status-symbols after a reactionary avant-garde starts to acquire them. (Please show your work.)

9 thoughts on “Status and Women

  1. “Quibblers might ask whether, if you try to assemble your Church without reading the how-to instructions, the result is actually Christianity.”

    And even deeper question, from John Nelson Darby, is whether “the Church” exists at all anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “My point is that you can’t think systematically about how to solve this class of problem.”

    Sorry, but I doubt that will do any good at this point. Modernity and the West are a runway train. No one is at the controls, the bridge is out, and the river below is filled with crocodiles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good. Conclusion at the end is quite right. Slumlord (Social Pathologist) has good stuff on this matter.

    Thinking out loud…….. We make use of their need for social contact, love of technology with, perhaps, a grading system. So, if you get married, stay married, have kids and then those kids have kids etc, then you have high status.

    So, this would make use of an amazon like ranking system.

    Positions of power and responsibility should still be open for women – in regulating other women.

    Women can still pursue careers in art, music etc etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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