Monday, August 31, 2009

Status Trading

During a recent (great as usual) discussion over beer, stagetwo made me aware of the concept of status trading. It hasn't gotten out of my head since.

The idea is the following: social status is of value and can thus be used as a currency.

The simplest and most extreme example can be seen in animals and humans begging for food: The begging individual takes on the most submissive body language possible and lowers its social status beyond omega by accepting humiliation and mistreatment in return for goods. In a sense, the very act of begging is synonymous with giving up any social status an individual might have left.

A less extreme example would be "giving in" during an argument in order to achieve some kind of favor from the other party.

Following the theory, high social status thus is worth actual money since it can be "spent" in similar ways.

The reason status gets spent is that once you lower your status towards another individual, it will leave a mark. You can not expect to always give in when arguing with a friend (or girl) and still retain a higher status position. Each an every time you lower yous status you lose ground for future interactions.

What is intriguing about this concept is that it combines the economist's view of humans being rational, selfish traders with the biological view of humans being pre-programed robots to produce successful offspring in completely new ways. It is also consistent with the observations and ideas of Keith Johnston on social interactions being status displays.

The consequences are that you could explain some seemingly "irrational" tendencies in economic interactions with an actually rational factor that had been hidden from the eyes of the economists: sex and status.

You could also use this concept to literally evaluate the "worth" of ones social status (akin to roissy's definition of alpha status by the potential number of sex partners) since giving up social status can be used to gain money. In practice this might not be easy to do, but certain game shows where people publicly humiliate themselves in order for financial reward are close to the experiments I have in mind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Frauenheld

The last part of this year's summer travel brings me to my home country, Germany. The picturesque, beer-heavy south of Bavaria and bordering Austria, to be precise. And my jet lagged mind is ever busy collecting impressions to contrast them with what I continue to learn about human nature, its biological roots and its manifestations in the diverse forms of cultures around the globe.

And one thing I came to realize might come as a surprise to many: Germany is a lot like Japan.

I am not talking about the fact that both countries lost the last world war and recovered to be the second and third (now fourth) largest economies after the US. What I am referring to is their way of life.

Compared to the US, both these cultures are far more collectivistic. The American Dream is replaced by a deeply felt “passion for mediocrity” (Umberto Eco): The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

German society's main concerns and sympathy are not with the strong, but with the weak. There is no notion of an elite (a four letter word to most Germans) achieving great things for the benefit of the masses. Instead, there is a "social-romantic" feeling that extends to everyone who visibly failed. Your achievements are all yours (to be modest about), but your failure sure is society's fault.

Germans despise a free market place. They think of it as an “Elbogengesellschaft”, i.e. a society of bloody elbows. Germans hate competition unbound by rules as much as they hate pollution. And the German obsession for environmentalism borders on the absurd. The love of anything “alternative” falls on fruitful backward-oriented “romantic” ground, where it unites with wide distrust of anything “modern” – ranging from Western medicine to biotechnology and even nuclear power plants. As a timely example of the absurd mix of socialistic thought and irrational, backwards-oriented romanticism: The German government does not just feature universal health care, but even freely sponsors 4-6 week spa vacations where people get treated with - I kid you not - water baths).

But that's not all. Germans as well as Japanese love “order” and punctuality even if it is at the expense of individuality, personal choice and living your own life. And as a direct consequence, sexuality is stifled. Unsurprisingly, German porn is kinky (a sure sign for a society in need of a pressure valve to deal with the restrictions of their instinctive drive to fuck).

But the lack of sexual indulgence is not apparent to the tourist's eye. It is deeply hidden under a layer of liberalism that leaves most (American) tourists in awe.

To understand how the country hosting huge “Erotic Meetings”, featuring butt naked people in inner city parks, soft porn on late night TV, and openly displaying bare breasts (including nipples and barely legal ones) on each and every newsstand can also be the country of a rapidly declining birth rate and guys with below (world) average “headcounts” when it comes to banging chicks, one needs to go back in history.

Germany's present needs to be understood in the context of its past. A whole country turning into a psychopathic mass murderer is still unrivaled in history. But once WWII was lost and the mass delusion became fully apparent, things rapidly turned the other way. No other country in the world has a whole generation named after the 1968 Hippie year of left wing terrorism and “sexual revolution”. Many Germans went from accepting their “collective guilt” to taking on the duty to do whatever possible to make sure that history won't repeat itself: “Never again” and “Wehret den Anfaengen” (fight the beginnings).

As one result, anything that could even remotely evoke the image of a skull-clad SS officer shouting commands became eliminated from the German behavioral repertoire. You can tell this the moment you cross the border. In no other country (except maybe Japan) will you face so much “kindness” and “politeness” even from authorities. And no other place features as many men speaking in a soft, appeasing head voice (if you haven't noticed yet, the German preference for male high pitched voices is very apparent in its musical and cinematic exports, with Rammstein being an ironic and controversial exception).

And the decades-long avoidance of harsh body language and popular disdain of anything “macho” has ultimately culminated in the “Euro-Trash” gay style that is currently popular among German men (the androgynous Japanese hosts are rugged compared to the “BrĂ¼no-esque” twens strolling down German pedestrians zones).

PUA is a fringe phenomena in this country (with some notable exceptions). It is fair to say that most German men are hopelessly lost when it comes to understanding any (biologically ingrained) gender roles.

Yet, things are changing even here.

Today I found on Germany’s best selling list an interesting book called “Macho Man”. Here is the blurb (it's my late night attempt at a translation, but the original German hardly sounds any better):

“Educated by the 68 generation, he lived thirty years as wussy. Now he falls in love with a Turkish girl. But how does a woman's "best friend" kind of guy survive in a world full machos? ... Daniel, in his early 30ies just got dumped - despite always doing everything his girl friend wanted him to do. After all, his 68-parents have always told him to respect women and to care for their feelings. Growing up, this advice helped him a lot when at parties: While the girls made out with other boys in the corner, he cared for them and respected respected them. ... What do women really want?”

Well, a deep, masculine voice might be a good start...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Feminisuto

I spent past week away from any aesthetically displeasing experiences by traveling Japan. And although this wasn't my first time to explore the land of the bizarre, I couldn't help but stay in awe given all the things happening around me.

Any Westerner experiences the same strange and foreign feeling when spending some time in Tokyo. There is the "other-race effect" that distorts our visual impressions. There is the unique experience of walking through a colorful world filled with flashing signs and teasing advertisements - none of which speak to you (unless literate in Japanese). There are the manifold customs and gestures you are not initiated to. People sleeping on trains, on pavements and in Pachinko halls because they missed the last train. Food made from horses, whales and other animals you never though of as edible. Restrooms that squirt water up your butt. It's a never ending sequence of new impressions that paralyzes your mind with estrangement - even if you have been to this place many times before.

Yet, beneath the confusing surface of cultural differences loom the same simple biological rules that guide all human behavior.

Non-surprisingly, then, even the strangest seeming aspects of Japanese culture seem to be rooted one way or another in the familiar terrain of human sexuality.

Japanese culture is focused on self-restraint. All the politeness and nice little gestures that make every day life there so agreeable come with the flip side of people underlying strong social constraints and norms. And that societal control extends deep into private lives: You can't make out on streets in Japan. In fact, lovers will not even hold hands. Porn, although abundant, gets censored by digitally distorting the genitals. And sex shops seem to sell more comic books and plastic figurines than actual sex toys.

And just like Britons became hyper-sexualized during the restrictive norms of the Victorian age, so do other cultures find their own little pressure valves to, ahem, blow off some steam. And the more pressure there is, the more impressive the pressure relief.

Fetishes are abundant. For many men, real women get replaced by 2D stimuli. Accordingly, girls turn into Goth-Lolitas to match the altered preference. There are stores for used underwear and even school girl saliva.

But the most fascinating development are the male hosts:

"Male hosts pour drinks and will often flirt with their clients...; hosts may have a variety of entertainment skills, be it simple magic tricks or loads of charisma with which to tell a story... Pay is usually determined by commission on drink sales..., with tens of thousands of dollars sometimes offered to the host who can achieve the highest sales."

In other words, guys who make shit loads of money by running Game on women.

All of that has been captured in fascinating detail in Jake Clennell's documentary "The Great Happiness Space" (I highly recommend clicking the link and taking the time to watch; there is much to learn here). And once you get an eye for it, you can see these men at work (basically running Day Game) all over Tokyo. This is not a fringe phenomenon. This is a huge industry.

The reason this works are obvious. The strong forces of biology deep inside the (subconscious) female mind are easily exploited: once a woman thinks she found a man with sky-high social status, she will not only be happy to drop her pants but set her life (or at least a large part of her income) on it to get the guy. Pick up artists, macks, pimps and hosts all profit from that fact alike. Yet, while pimping and prostitution are still stigmatized, there are no social rules in place (yet) that could help women to steer around guys who use their knowledge of female sexuality to exploit the female population.

There is another aspect that is interesting about the male host bars in Japan.

And that is the "Decline of the Western Male" as bemoaned by many.

In short, it is not only women getting fatter and increasingly masculine to the degree of gender neutrality that plagues our society. Men play their part, too. As women take on increasing amounts of masculine traits (including relentless promiscuity at the expense of stable family units), there are more and more men who take on feminine clothing, mannerisms and lines of thinking.

But if you thought that this has anything to do with a Decline of the West, you are mistaken.

Japanese men have taken a similar route. And hosts are a prime example of that.

It is interesting to note that it is PUAs, Pimps and Hosts that seem to benefit the most from their feminized exteriors. They either are the tip of the spear (of a truly gender-reversed society), and signal in which direction we are marching or they still benefit from the appeal of the Dandy and bad-boyish Misfits.

Either way, unbelievably, these are (some of) our modern day alpha males:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Queen of the Fatties

I'm spending the weekend in a charming little town in rural New England. My host has a beautiful big house on top of a green, green hill with a swimming pond, a couple of cows, a couple dogs, a wife who cooks really well, and rugrats running all over the place. It's really quite charming and, despite my deep-seated need for excitement and variety, I did feel a distinct pang of desire to live that life. It was a soft summer evening, the food and beer was flowing. We went for a dive in the cold pond, and at night set off some fireworks and then sat around the fire and drank wine and whiskey while the kids ran around, excited that the adults were too drunk to care that they were staying up past their bedtime. Perhaps I'll settle down to something like that when I'm a little older.

But one night this week two friends and I also went out to sample the nightlife in this little town. Now, we weren't expecting anything great. There's no college here, and very little population base. But my friends are the kind of guys who like to live it up full bore no matter where they travel. One's a crazy Central American guy — a farm-owner, a scientist and complete lady's man — who laughs maniacally at the drop of a hat (it charms most people but also has the power to completely freak them out). The other is European — an economist and a wine connoisseur and quite refined — whose travels take him to the most remote corners of the globe of anyone I know (western Zambia, anyone?). Both are older than me, both pull hot women wherever they go, and both are models to me as to how I want to be when I am their age. I've traveled a lot for work with these guys, and between us, together and apart, we've hit up the night scene in at least 30 countries and God knows how many small towns.

Sometimes you are surprised at what you find (did you know that, if you judge on the quantity and quality of the women, the music, the drinks, the setting and just the general amount of fun one is liable to have, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has one of the hottest club scenes in the world?) Other times the small, sleepy towns are just that: small and sleepy. But we still have fun drinking the local beer and chatting up the bizarre old lady tending the bar, or wandering around the streets with the local mad poet.

In this small New Englad town, however, I was depressed at what I saw. There were two little bars next to each other, each with a dance floor. The music was pretty fucking awful (who still plays that Usher "Yeah" song? That song sucked balls when it came out and that was five years ago). The guys were mostly skinny and pasty and half of them looked like they were on meth. And the girls? Oh my... fat, fat, fat.

With literally three exceptions, all of the few dozen girls we saw were seriously overweight. Many of them had what looked like once-cute faces, still young, being slowly enveloped in folds of chub, their eyes sinking bit by bit into that vast fleshy pool, and with their eyes — seemingly — their souls.

"Jesus," said my European friend, looking around in dismay, "this is really depressing." My Latin friend just sucked his rum and coke through his teeth and looked around nodding his head, like someone searching for something polite to say. This in particular made me a bit ashamed. As the "host" in this situation, I felt the obligation to make sure my foreign friends had a good time. Oh well, there's that conference in LA coming up...

We hung out for a while, talked to a few locals and shared some laughs. I played a little "guess what country we are from" game with a mediocre girl sitting at the bar, out of sheer boredom. Outside on the sidewalk, smoking, I saw a girl who was a solid 6. I noticed her immediately because she was actually not fat (Hallelujah!) ... and she may have been a 7. I couldn't tell because she was wearing a lot of makeup and an awful, tragic poofy newsboy hat. At that point of course, I didn't care. I talked with her for a while, watching her mannerisms and her mood.

What struck me was that she really seemed convinced she was ridiculously hot. Here was this average to decent looking girl, covered in makeup, wearing some fucked up Dom DeLuise thing on her head, preening and checking over her shoulder like the Queen of Sheba.

Of course it doesn't take a PhD in anthropology to explain this. She was Queen in this environment, just like the least loser-ish of the meth guys was the King. I can only imagine what it must be like to be one of those guys... they would have all given their left nut to sleep with that girl. A girl that I wouldn't even notice on the train in Manhattan let alone at a fancy party. Hell, I wouldn't even notice that girl in a small town in fucking Peru. Big cities always have more hotties (duh), but even small towns in poor places have their gems, because the girls aren't all fat walruses.

There's almost nothing sadder than a 22-year old with a cute face encased in a layer of ever-growing blubber. Thank god I'm headed back to the city where nailing pussy doesn't involve spelunking through folds of fat with a headlamp strapped to your forehead; then on to points south where everything's just sweeter, girls included.

Maybe someday I will go back to that little town in New England as an old man — young wife and young mistress in tow — and build a house. In the summer I'll ride motorcycles on the winding roads, and in the winter I'll read Yukio Mishima by the fire, and I'll die at 80, in flagrante delecta, of course.