Wednesday 26 October 2022

Advice about "women"...

Don't know about you - but I cordially dislike the online (and print) manosphere genre of "advice about women" - the stuff that emanates from chaps who claim to have a lot of experience of a lot of women (because, obviously, they know the most and are wisest on the subject - yes?) 

Not, I notice, the opposite kind of chap who has known one woman and stuck with her... Apparently such men don't seem to have quite the same keen-ness to expound at such length on "women" - and what could such a man know about "women", anyway? 

(Or maybe it is best for the expert on women to be something in-between? Perhaps there is an ideal number for experience - a sweet spot, somewhere between one and loads?) 

The women-experts talk about "women" in the form of sweeping generalizations, almost invariably rounded-out by checklists and bullet points. 

My problem is that - when it is Christian, as well as manosphere - the mode of such discourse destroys that which it purports to promote: i.e. the possibility of good relations between a man and a woman - one man and one woman. 

Why? Because it is an Ahrimanic, bureaucratic way of talking about people and inculcates and entrains such a mindset. But instead we ought, as Christians seeking good, to be concerned about individuals. And not, therefore, to reason inductively about particular people. 

Now, of course, everybody - including myself - talks and writes about 'people' and subsets of people such as The Establishment and The Masses, and Westerners. We talk about specific nations, classes, professions, religions, ideologies etc. etc. We do so for various reasons - sometimes genuinely scientific, more often to do with how 'best' to 'organize' society. 

Or sometimes it is a form of humour (albeit this may be destructive in tendency and in large doses, even as it is indeed genuinely funny).

But that 'categorical' way of talking about aggregates and averages is innately and intrinsically hostile to good individual human relationships. 

It is even hostile to our capacity to respond to specific situations, to the me-here-now of actual living in particular places.   

The one is descriptions of crystalline structured, timeless-generality; the only is our personal experience of something fluid, interactive, unique. If the first impinges on the second, it will tend to degrade and destroy it.   

And 'the general' does indeed tend to impinge on 'the personal' - because the general is the subject of public discussion and debate; the subject of expertize, training, evidence, reasoning and argument. 

Whereas the personal is - and should be - essentially private. 

If you want to weaken or destroy an established good personal relationship (e.g. a marriage) - then it just needs one of the two to start analyzing it using general concepts that (supposedly) apply to most/ average/ subsets of people; to start discussing its details with 'friends' or with professional experts whose knowledge derives from samples of data from several or many persons - and who claim the ability to apply this 'evidence' to the specific situation. 

If you want to prevent somebody finding a good relationship - go ahead and do the same! Get him to frame all potential and incipient relationships within a categorical scheme derived from what most/ average/ this-subtype of person supposedly does. 

Yet, there is a vast gulf between, on the one hand, trying to prevent what are usually bad outcomes for most/ average people of certain types (utilitarian social policy...); and, on the other hand, trying to promote good outcomes between specific and unique individuals. They aim in opposite directions. 

Trying to conflate two incommensurable approaches has predictably adverse outcomes. 

My point is general: How we discuss something affects - and may destroy - what it is that we intend (or tell-ourselves we intend*) to say. 

For instance; as a doctor, scientist, literary scholar or teacher; I came to realize that anyone who advised or instructed me about my subject in a 'managerial' mode Would Do Harm to that role, if I took any notice of him; regardless of the content. 

The mode of thinking that was signaled by managerial discourse, is one that is innately hostile to good outcomes of a kind that required either personal or creative engagement.

The same applies to advice or instructions purportedly aimed-at personal (or creative) goods.

Think about it. 

*Our awareness of our own good intentions may be (often is) self-deception; may be yielding to a temptation to sin. Do we really want to help 'people'; or is it instead that we personally enjoy talking and writing about 'this kind of stuff', and posing as an expert; and rationalize it with an altruistic veneer?


Jacob Gittes said...

I know exactly who you are alluding to, as I am still on his mailing list, and received the article.
And I had the same reaction that you did, though not as well-thought out in words.
I felt that the article and checklist was far too bureaucratic and rigid, and totally missed the point of the human possibility and freedom in relationships.
It seemed like mainly an attempt to protect men from bad outcomes. But life, if lived creatively, will always be prone to "bad outcomes." Maybe most of the time. However, living with a rigid set of rules will cause one to constantly be referring to those rules in one's mind, and very seldom living in the present moment and interacting with the woman or person as a real, living woman or person.
I realized that I was done with this thinker after that article.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JG - I know what you mean; but actually, there was more than one recent article that triggered this long-incubating post.

ben said...

Yes familiar with this sort of thing, pretty much feminism for men or 'meninism'. Relating to an individual being as an object with reference to abstractions like 'men' or 'women', overlaying a thing onto a real, self-contained person. Presumably sinfully motivated (spite, resentment, self-pity).

Not conducive to love. This objectification is something that someone genuinely hoping for romantic love should be keen to purge from him/herself by repenting it (asking God for its removal).

ben said...

Mhm might have missed my comment here too, unless it was moderated out.

No need to post this

A said...

Thank you. I'm long-married as well, but also very inexperienced - so clearly don't know enough about women. Perhaps ignorance is bliss lol.

Perhaps having excessive experience embitters one. Seeing women as largely interchangeable and despite, apparently, understanding they have failings as we all do, holding on to some sort of fantasy of perfection that they'll never find - where every failing is one they know or have experienced and makes the objectified person disposable.

Jack said...

Fully agree. Like you say, it's Ahrimanic. There's always something demonic about this way of thinking, a kind of devil's bargain that comes about like this:
1. Young boy has naive, hopeful prospects about one day having a good partnership with a woman.
2. He experiences some kind of heartbreak or scandal that triggers a general distrust or even loathing of women in general (this itself is demonic).
3. Yet he still has a desire to experience intimacy with a woman, so the Ahrimanic forces offer him the following bargain: harden your heart, and I'll "teach you about women" (how to manipulate them and exploit them to your own ends and defend yourself against another scandal or heartbreak).

What follows is often a rank worldliness, obsession with sex/fornication, machismo pride, etc., all undergirded by this demonic fear and loathing of women dressed up as wisdom, realism, experience — or as they call it (with an appropriately disgusting term) "game". The fact that some of these men half heartedly repent and later dress this hatred up even more as a kind of morality "about women" is an even further corruption. It should also be noted that this demeaning way of thinking often has little to do with the actions or character of women, but often comes about as men encouraging each other to treat women competitively and demeaningly, as a prideful test of manhood; and in this way it's not so much men's fear of women, but of men's fear of other men.

What's so demonic/Ahrimanic about this is that — like every devil's bargain — it takes away the very thing it seems to promise you. It promises you some kind of superior approach to women, but the very act of taking this "superior approach", and of adopting this detached, supposedly objective way of thinking about women, is that *you can no longer experience any real intimacy with a woman* — because you'll always be on your guard against them, keeping them at a distance, subjecting them to your analysis, defending yourself against heartbreak, etc.

I think this whole situation is an allegory of life in general. When we experience the evils and scandals of the world, we have three responses: open cooperation with worldly evil, a demonic pact; a kind of moral compromise, where we "accept the world as it really is" and "let go of our childish naivety", all while trying to maintain some semblance of moral uprightness and decency; a response of true faith, where we don't let the scandal enter our hearts whatsoever and maintain our faith in truth and goodness. The second response is by far the most common and represents average worldliness. Most of these "game" advice-for-men types belong in this category, though I suppose there are a few who are consciously demonic in their outlook and belong to the first.

The advantage of being on the side of the devil is that you have contempt for the merely worldly, and know that the only right response is true faith; whereas the lukewarm wordlings look down on true faith as childishness and idealism. When it comes to this situation of men seeking partnership with women, to maintain true faith means never losing that belief in the possibility of a real, meaningful union based on mutual love and trust, without any worldly caveats. This of course is the area of faith most treasured by romanticism in art.

It may be true that the aforementioned men have greater knowledge and experience "of women", but it's a worldly, demonic knowledge of worldly, demonised women; and these men and women are really playing a game of demonic footsie with each other because they are heartbroken, scandalised souls who are seeking love faithlessly with feelings of fear and loathing for each other. But within that demonic game, I trust that their advice does indeed "work". The situation overall is depraved and you can see this loss of faith and innocence in people quite literally in their eyes.

You have to believe in the spirits of light and that they actively help and guide us in our romantic and marital affairs, like archangel Raphael in the Book of Tobit.

Bruce Charlton said...

@J - Well said.