Monday, February 22, 2010

Shaming Men

Why is it that the media is full of shaming stories about cheating husbands, and there is little coverage about cheating wives?

One thing we can rule out right away: The myth of the ever cheating male. 

Women cheat at least as much as men (in fact it is female infidelity that defines the rate of cheating for biologists since it provides the only measurable result - cuckold offspring).

So why do we need to see a man like Tiger Woods on his knees? Why is there so much outrage about Clinton, Duchovnik, Edwards, Letterman, Spitzer (the list is endless), and we hardly ever hear of a woman cheating on her man?

1) Is it because men are in the majority of high societal positions?
Well, it is true. Despite women now being the majority of the work force, the top of the Fortune 500 CEOs are still male. Likewise, most politicians are still male.

But when it comes to sports and entertainment, all bets are off. There are equal amounts (if not more) of female athletes, news anchors, pop stars and actors. And since it is not just politicians but celebrities of all kind that get ostracized for extramarital bliss this just can't be it.

2) Is it because women are better at covering up their tracks?
If you read Roosh V and roissy's V-Day posts on how to cheat, you might have picked up on their struggle with bad conscience. They advise men not to act out on those feelings, as women get suspicious if they suddenly get showered with affection and presents. Guys get caught by being too loving, out of regret.

From my limited experience, I feel like that things are different for women. Cheating girls don't seem to have any bad conscience at all (other men with experience share that assessment). Instead, they tend to  produce a reason for their morally questionable act. And by not even feeling bad, women certainly manage to avoid one of the pitfalls for men - the tell of bad conscience.
Scientific studies on that subject support the notion that women are better than men at hiding their infidelities. The explanation for that discrepancy is that the consequences of getting caught are way worse for a pregnant woman than for a providing man who went for a night of strange. For the same reason men are better at detecting an affair.

If we assume that men are losing this evolutionary arms race between the genders, the female ability to be sexually cunning might well be one of the reasons for why we see more apologetic husbands on our evening TVs than sobbing wives. Yet, we all know men who found out that they got betrayed by their significant others (count me in). It is not like men are just to stupid to catch on. No. The lack of reports on female infidelity in the media simply doesn't seem to match the frequency of private revelations. There must be something else at work.

3) Is it because women do not get shamed?
Have you ever wondered how it happened that women can openly bitch about their classic gender roles, their husbands, the low quality of lowers, the inability of men to commit and so on and so forth, end up being called "feminists"?
Yet, if men are complaining about their gender roles, their spouses and the declining quality of potential mates due to an explosion of hypergamous sexual escapades during their most attractive period, they get branded "misogynists".

Our society has different standards when it comes to sex and genders. And part of that is that philandering men get shamed ("His poor wife") while cheating women get pitied ("He must be a terrible husband"). So, no matter who initiated the affair, women tend to get victimized while men get the blame (another, related, reason why we might hear less about cheating wives that comes with that is that men get shamed as "unable to satisfy her" if they were the victims of infidelity).

This moral norm held up against married men made sense in a society where women needed protection and reliance on a man's vow. What we have forgotten is that there also were norms for women that counter balanced this demand on men.

My father once told me a story that when he grew up brides were supposed to wear a ring of flowers in their hair. Tradition demanded that if anyone in the church knew that the bride was not a virgin, they had to step forward, take the flowers of her hair "and rip it apart", as my father said. This seems shocking, even laughable to us now. Yet, most men, if given the choice, would prefer their wife to be a virgin. Very few men pride themselves in the fact that women nowadays routinely out-do men in terms of notches on the belt by the time of marriage (which, btw significantly increases the likelihood of her cheating at some point during the marriage).

When it comes to casual sex, many people proclaim that we live with a double standard: promiscuous men are studs while promiscuous females are sluts. For that being a double standard (rather than a different standard), however, you need to assume a given which is not: gender equality.

There is no argument for anyone with scientific education - the two genders are different. They differ in both their physical and mental bauplan. And one of the differences between men and women is that women find promiscuous men sexy while men do not feel the same about promiscuous women (hence sluts and studs).

Likewise, jealousy is a handled differently across genders. On a practical level, in front of the law, there is no equality (see this). But aside from the sexist societal realities, we are also hardwired  differently. Women tend to forgive even multiple occasions of infidelity while men are know to kill when finding out about the betrayal (see this post about how most men prefer to be raped over a cheating spouse).

For women and men, jealousy is a different emotion altogether: Studies reveal that women fear the loss of their providing man (because he might fall for the person he has an affair with), while men go bananas at the idea of another man's penis (and semen) getting inside the woman he cares for.

A woman loses no resources if the guy fucks someone else and stays. But if the woman fucks someone else and stays, the guy might lose his chance at having kids of his own, plus a whole lot of money. No wonder then, that suffer more from infidelity.
 
But if men suffer more from infidelity, shouldn't the societal standard be that women get punished more?

As traditional marriage is about to die, does our society still gain from shaming philandering men? Psychologist Roy Baumeister (the guy who wrote the fantastic essay "Is there anything good about men?") argues we don't. Hew wrote in an excellent blog entry posted at Psychology Today:
"My thesis is that the American people and their chances for good government are the ones most harmed by these scandals. ... As a social scientist, I think all we can say is that it is likely to continue happening, especially among politicians, and that whether someone does it or not - likewise whether he gets caught or not - is a poor basis for judging someone's ability to perform the duties of an elected official."

But even if people other than politicians are concerned one has to ask, what do we (still) gain as a society from shaming men for straying while sympathizing with adulteresses? Why is it that people watch this public witch hunting at all?

For men, I believe that the main driving force for men is jealousy. Many men want "it all" - the loving wife (the kid even), plus an endless stream of young buxom women. But society doesn't allow for that. Most men who follow the societal code will have to chose. Says Baumeister:
"The bride may be utterly beautiful and sexy and desirable, and perhaps he thinks he can desire only her forever. But then what happens? She ages, gains weight, maybe loses interest in sex. ... The option of having a bit of extra sex and remaining with his family is perhaps not available to him, though that might be what he most wants. Society does not approve. His wife may not tolerate. The law requires him to choose."

If a man, trapped in this way, decides to live according to the societal code of "love over lust", he will feel like a moron if others just do what they want keeping a harem of more than a dozen beautiful women while also having a loving knockout wife. The only way to handle that cognitive dissonance is to treat the offending guy like a pathological criminal.

For women, I the driving force may be different. It is more emotional. Almost romantic. The idea of the uber-alpha male becoming a loving and caring provider for The Chosen One is what fills shelves after shelves at Barnes and Nobles.

And for women, Tiger Wood was granted tremendously high social status - even by their very own husband - they followed each of the guy's movement religiously as he literally did nothing else but hit tiny white balls with a stick!
And now that there is proof that other, very attractive, women went all out for the guy, he is even more sexy (see this recent cover of Vanity Fair).

Women are taken by the teary eyed apology of this guy. They secretly fantasize it is them he apologizes to (and why would he apologize to us? isn't it just something he should do to his wife?). It is no wonder then that "Amy Reynolds, of Nike, cried through the speech."
Tears. Just one of the ways of how alphas get women wet.

34 comments:

  1. "Scientific studies on that subject support the notion that women are better than men at hiding their infidelities. The explanation for that discrepancy is that the consequences of getting caught are way worse for a pregnant woman than for a providing man who went for a night of strange. For the same reason men are better at detecting an affair."

    This is very interesting. I agree w/ both assessments, never really thought about the reasons why it would be true.

    I've known a LOT of couples that were campgrounds for infidelity (generally remained a secret).

    Without exception, the women never felt guilty, and like you say always had a 'reason'.

    The guys I know have a bit of guilt, but I've noticed over time they've also rationalized that being a man of your word is something worth striving for except when it comes to this one thing.

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  2. Great points.

    But to be fair, the Vanity Fair cover was made before he was found out.

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  3. to be fair, the Vanity Fair cover was made before he was found out.
    Not so the decision to make it a cover story.

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  4. "one of the differences between men and women is that women find promiscuous men sexy."


    Why do you believe this to be true? and please don't invoke evolutionary psychology. Men want to believe this, but I just don't see it in real life. Promiscuity kills off respect, and that is what creates desire for me in a man. I can only state for myself that my visceral reaction to a promiscuous man is repulsion. If I were to meet Tiger Woods in person, I'd be tempted to treat him with rudeness or disrespect. If we worked together, he'd submit to my will, and not vice versa. I've learned of promiscuity among some male peers. Since then, I treat them as weakened players and, if all else even, my agenda will trump theirs.

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  5. "one of the differences between men and women is that women find promiscuous men sexy."

    Why do you believe this to be true? and please don't invoke evolutionary psychology


    I don't need to. You just need to look at who sleeps with whom:
    "In sexual networks, the rich get richer."

    Read the paper. Cold hard data trumps introspection and anecdotal evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  6. you linked to your own post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oops. Here it is:
    http://polymer.bu.edu/~amaral/Sex_partners/Content_sex.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. The better question is why the men show up to be shamed?

    Tiger Woods may need to apologize to his wife (and his sponsors), but as I am not an affected or related party, he doesn't owe me anything. And personally, I could care less what a sports figure does--married or not--though I prefer they keep their privates private.

    Woods and the other mentioned figures are employing public relations, i.e. the public will forgive anyone once contrition and an apology have been made. Very Beta move, but then the world is made up of betas.

    What's more revealing is that in the world of the stud/slut double standard, the sluts are prouding proclaiming their sluttiness. So women exhibit no shame over their promiscuity, while by inference, the studs are admonished to apologize. The end of that double standard.

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  9. tiger still looks pathetic and powerless, even on that magazine cover.

    he still has that omni present look of uncertainty in his face.

    they tried so hard ... and it still didn't work

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  10. common we know for every promiscuos man there is a promiscuos woman. tiger woods issue was a case of female infidelity.
    coz u have one man cheating on his wife and 21 women (women he slept with) who cheated. they are equally culprit. these women, inspite of knowing that this guy was married, had sex with him. and they boast about it in the media as if somekind of accomplishment they had.
    tiger didnt force them to have sex with them, didnt rape them, their consent was involved. and some of them were legalized prostitutes and sluts, as long as we have them in the society, some of the men will definitely loose exclusivity. u remove the source, effect vanishes itself

    ReplyDelete
  11. women have menstruation pains and give birth, - try that and then talk about punishment :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. women have menstruation pains and give birth, - try that and then talk about punishment :)
    You are right. This site lacks humor. I am German after all...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Just know who you are playing with. If both people are in just for sex - then it's a fair game. The problem is, it's impossible to do, since women and men are biologically/mentally put together differently. So it will never work! If one of two feels victimized that's when it becomes messy! It will never be an even ground for both sexes!

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  14. RE: your "web of sexual contacts" reference.
    The research method does not separate out the virgins or women with few sex contacts. There is no evidence here to refute my belief that these women are repulsed by the manwhores.

    ReplyDelete
  15. women rationalize through it all. man does dirt. man know he did dirt. woman do dirt? "well, i mean, we weren't talking anymore, and like, he wasn't around, and i felt so lonely...."...." so i fucked another guy"

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  16. had to come back and re-read this post. dynamite.

    ReplyDelete
  17. RE: your "web of sexual contacts" reference.
    The research method does not separate out the virgins or women with few sex contacts. There is no evidence here to refute my belief that these women are repulsed by the manwhores.


    You missed the whole point of the study: Inexperienced men had little to none new sex partners in the follow-up period. Experienced men got laid like motherfuckers.

    The resulting distribution is "scale-free", meaning there is a positive feedback loop (as in "the more you have, the more you get"). The authors fittingly describe it as "in a sexual network ... the rich get richer".

    In other words, far from being "repulsed by manwhores", women preferably slept with guys who had many previous sex partners.

    Importantly, the data suggests that this is true for the inexperienced women as well. In other words, the experienced men pretty much "did" the entire population and not just the few "sluts" (hence the high number of partners.)

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  18. To restate my thesis: the women with no or few lifetime partners will be averse/repulsed/intimidated by manwhores. Women who are intentionally picky or inexperienced will not chose a manwhore.

    I understand the study findings, but look at the low count number women on the second chart.

    You are making a conclusion re: the men. I'm stating that nothing can be concluded by this study on that subgroup of women. One can not conclude that the manwhores "did" the low count women.

    Plus, the survey response rate was 59%. How might this subgroup differ from the total population?

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  19. I'm stating that nothing can be concluded by this study on that subgroup of women.

    Fair enough.

    I do agree with the authors, however, that the math doesn't allow promiscuous males to only have sex with promiscuous females.

    I believe that many of these women will have sex with "manwhores" without realizing that they are dealing with a promiscuous male.

    The notch count is not usually a question that women bring up before spreading their legs. And it is the most experienced men who other women before thought to be attractive (in other words, they can't be that creepy). It is likely that they come across as the most confident given their history of sexual success. At the very least they are likely to have learned how to instigate attraction in females.

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  20. The notch count is not usually a question that women bring up before spreading their legs.

    She can intuit this.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "The notch count is not usually a question that women bring up before spreading their legs.

    She can intuit this"

    She can but she is really atracted by the guy, she will not pay attention to her intuition. She will rationalize.

    Having expatted and being an alpha in the country I live, I will tell you that Church-going modest traditional nice girls are not repulsed by men like me that have had lots of partners. Quite the contrary. We are attractive as long as we don't say it clearly. I try not to hide anything only suggest it, and traditional girls keep being attracted by me.

    Thinking that nice girls are atracted by nice celibate guys is delusional. When I was a beta in my country, nice traditional girls didn't gave me the time of the day.

    It is easy. High numbers of partners for a man
    -> Good confidence -> Women attracted -> Higher numbers of partners. This is a virtuous circle.

    It goes the other way. Celibacy -> Deppression and low confidence -> Women not attracted -> More celibacy. This is a vicious circle.

    It took me almost 20 years to go from the latter circle to the former one but it can be done.

    ReplyDelete
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