April 29, 2008

Black - White biracials' race radicalism: does it matter which parent is Black?

I ask the question as though I had a solid answer, but I'm hoping for help from readers with more extensive mental catalogs of what races celebrities belong to. A recent Steve Sailer post on Alicia Keys' race radicalism explored the issue somewhat, with many suggesting that once the Black father leaves the family, the biracial kid identifies with the missing parent in an attempt to establish some connection, which in cases like Alicia Keys or Barack Obama means dialing up their Blackness.

Actually, let me pause for a second to point out that a commenter in one of my posts somewhere suggested Alicia Keys as a good female role model for not being slutty or gangsta, and pretty enough for girls to pay attention to. That may be true, but she's pretty much ruined now. I would suggest instead Mya. She graduated high school at 16, is not skanky or gangsta, and is much better-looking than Alicia Keys, who has a somewhat mannish face. Yeah, let me think about that for a bit. That song of hers is right: her ass is like whoa (could be a little bigger, though maybe they Photoshopped it to placate the booty-phobic majority). Most importantly, she is not a dopey race radical.

Back to the main topic, the assumption that biracials become more race-radical due to identifying with the missing parent relies on them coming from a Black father / White mother marriage -- males are more likely to leave the mother with the kids than vice versa, and if the White father left, that wouldn't lead to race radicalism since the missing parent would be White.

So what about biracials who come from the rarer type of Black mother - White father marriage? Lenny Kravitz and Slash (from Guns 'n' Roses) are the only examples I can think of, and they certainly don't seem to be very race-radical. Too bad David Bowie's wife Iman didn't squeeze one out, or we'd have another well known data-point. Any ideas on whether the kids from these types of interracial marriage are less race-radical?

Assuming -- and it's a big assumption -- that this pattern holds, what would cause it? I think it has to do with the personalities of the parents, which all parents pass on to their kids to some degree. The White mother in an interracial marriage seems to be very exotophilic, Obama's mother being a good case-in-point. (The Black father may also be this way, though I don't think his exotophilia score needs to be very high to enter into such a marriage, whereas the White mother's score has to be very high.) So even if the father did stick around, the kid would partly inherit the exotophilic tendencies of the mother and get turned on by (rather than simply appreciate) Black culture and race radicalism.

For the Black mother / White father case, neither seems to be very exotophilic. It's tough for Black women to be exotophilic because the males of other races tend not to be as strong-minded and assertive as they are themselves: "White men are just too wimpy for me." And exotophilic White males tend to go for Latin Americans of all colors, East Asians, and the duskier White females -- Italian, Persian, Jewish, etc. So, it's far less likely in this case that even one of the parents will have a high exotophilia score, and thus it's far less likely that the kid will inherit a high score.

It would be hard but not impossible to dig up data that would shed light on this. Children of Black mother / White father marriages are pretty darn rare, and a typical psychological study doesn't look at how they score on exotophilia or race-radicalism -- grades in school, height, maybe personality, but not this. Failing that, we could just look at celebrities since their racial backgrounds are well known, as are any weird political views they may have. Any ideas?

Or we could look at cases where the Black father stayed around with the White mother. My prediction is that their kids will still be more race-radical than those from Black mother / White Father marriages. Mya is actually one case -- her dad stayed around till she was an adult, and she goes against my prediction, but she's just one data-point. Everyone knows you need at least two before you see a pattern, jeez.

April 26, 2008

Corrupted by the youth

While grown-ups worry themselves to death about preventing adult ways from corrupting the youth, in reality it is the young who threaten the spiritual welfare of the mature. The age group most likely to commit violent crimes is 15 - 24, a fact well illustrated by the book and movie A Clockwork Orange. If a teenager overhears two grown adults discussing their weekend, what will they hear? "Well, I watched a Netflix movie on Friday, did some yardwork and prepared my taxes on Saturday, and called up the family on Sunday." Cover your ears, children.

I wish I could recall all of the hair-raising things I overheard my tutorees say to each other. "Hey X, you wanna come over to my house tonight and hit Y?" "Hit" meaning fuck. Or "At least I'm a happy drunk -- you're such an angry drunk," coming from 15 year-olds. While the media exaggerate the degree of adolescent debauchery, it's clear that it still swamps the non-existent libertinage of the average adult.



[cover of "Teenage Kicks," Nouvelle Vague]

I just got back from the dance club I described here that caters mostly to ages 16 - 18. I know that I should have stayed away, but when those two teens "backed it up" into me at the same time, something catalyzed in my brain, and I was ruined. Just a few minutes later when one of them returned for a third time, my hands began to grip her exposed pelvis. The next Friday, a different pair ambushed me, one grinding me from in front and the other from behind, my hands of course going right for the front one's hips. And tonight a tall, fit Black girl approached me to dance for a little bit, which has never happened before.

But what has irrevocably adulterated my being happened at the end of the night tonight. I've been keeping to myself at the club mostly because I'm paranoid that if I am too pro-active, I will come off as the creepy old guy (relatively speaking). Maybe it was too cautious, but now I have all the evidence I need that these girls want to press their bodies against mine, and I will be back for more.

I can't help making eye contact, though, and this time one of the girls made a final move as the club was about to close, abandoning all pretense of subtlety in her signals. She marched straight up to me, violating my space, turned around, bent over, and began working her ass around in my lap like an eyeball during deep sleep wiggling wildly around in its socket. Unlike almost every girl below the age of 22, she was well endowed back there, and she had a delightful hourglass figure. Tawny flesh covered her pelvis as melted caramel over an apple, and like a kid at a carnival I let my hands stick right to it, not caring about how I would wash off the residue later.

And unlike the previous incidents, this was not an impulsive drive-by grind; for an entire song our bodies moved to wear away the worthless layers of clothing that separated us. (Three solid minutes is a long time for ADD high schoolers.) Afterwards, I wandered home in a daze, my hands shaking for half an hour. No girl my age could have left me so willing to give up what I have, to bury myself in her world.

April 23, 2008

Why hot females get cheated on more

I don't claim that this explanation is an original insight, since it's the kind of thing you can figure out just by thinking it over -- as I did today while bored. With that said, here's one reason why: a hot girlfriend is better at sending the signal that her boyfriend is a good catch, so that female strangers are more likely to notice him and decide to make a move on him. Even if the boyfriends of hot girls weren't any more special than those of sub-hot girls, and even if men didn't decide to seek out strangers for increased variety, the hot girlfriend would still bring about her own betrayal more easily than would a sub-hot girlfriend.

Let's say we have a Girlfriend, Boyfriend, and a female Stranger who may or may not sleep with the Boyfriend on the sly. I'm assuming that the affair goes on even though the Stranger knows that the Boyfriend has a Girlfriend, so I'm not talking about cases where the Boyfriend lies to the Stranger about his relationship status. Let's look at a diagram of the states the Stranger can be in:


If she is in state I, she is ignorant of the Boyfriend and Girlfriend's relationship; in state A, she is aware that they are a couple; and in state C, she intends to participate in cheating with the Boyfriend. (I assume that if she makes her intentions known, the Boyfriend will certainly cheat with her, at some time or other.) Think of it like contracting an infectious disease. The Stranger can get exposed to info about their status, but her mind has to absorb or contract that info, rather than it not registering. Once she's infected with that info, she has to move to the advanced stage of the disease where she intends to cheat.

P1 is the probability that the Stranger registers their relationship status when exposed to info about it (and 1 - P1 the probability that the info doesn't register). She could become aware by hearing about their status through an acquaintance, or see the couple out together doing "couple things." P2 is the probability that, once aware of their status, she decides to cheat (and 1 - P2 the probability that she remains aware but doesn't want to cheat).

I'm assuming that if she goes through one of the loops, rather than follow the arrow forward, she stays put there forever. The idea is that, if she is exposed to info about their relationship status but doesn't even take notice, he is not attractive enough for her to ever notice -- girls notice whether desirable men are taken or not, at the first signal. Similarly, once she knows they are a couple, if he isn't desirable enough to move her to cheat, he never will move her to do so.

So, in order for the Stranger to cheat, she needs to go straight from I to A to C, and this happens with probability P1 * P2. Once she cheats, she is forever a cheater, since she cannot undo her decision to cheat, nor can she reverse her awareness of the couple's status.

When the Girlfriend is hot, this increases P1: female Strangers are more likely to register that a couple is going out in this case since hot females end up with highly desirable males, and Strangers will use this as a cue to find out who the good catches are. Moreover, when the Girlfriend is hot, this increases P2: if a Stranger is aware of the status of two couples, she is more likely to decide to cheat with the Boyfriend who has a hotter Girlfriend, for the same reason as before (he's likely a better catch).

Let's compare the two cases by saying that the Boyfriend of a hot Girlfriend will be viewed as an alpha, and the one of a sub-hot Girlfriend will be viewed as a beta. I'll attach the letters "a" and "b" to indicate which case it is.

Well, the total number of extra-pair partners that the alpha will have is:

P1a * P2a * Na

Where N is the total number of Strangers who are exposed to info about the couple's status. And for the beta, his total number of cheating partners will be:

P1b * P2b * Nb

Given the above description, P1a is greater than P1b, and P2a is greater than P2b. So, if the same number of Strangers are exposed to the couple's status, the alpha Boyfriend will have more cheating partners. For example, let's say that having a hot Girlfriend increases both P1 and P2 by a factor of 10 -- then having a hot Girlfriend will result in 100 times as many cheating partners as having a sub-hot Girlfriend.

What would the beta Boyfriend have to do to get the same number of cheating partners? He would have to ensure that (P1a * P2a) / (P1b * P2b) times as many Strangers were exposed to his status. Using the same example numbers as before, the beta will have to make sure that 100 times as many Strangers are exposed to his status. Realistically, you figure the hot Girlfriend and her Boyfriend are already out and about so much, that it would be impossible for the beta Boyfriend to get the word out to 100 times as many Strangers, short of embarking on a world tour.

So we see that, even if all the other potential causes of hot girls getting cheated on were to vanish, they themselves would continue to be the cause of their own betrayal. As advice to hot females, the only way to prevent this dynamic would be for her to try to keep her relationship a secret -- to not tell anyone, and definitely to never be seen in public together doing "couple things." The Boyfriend might resist and try to signal their status, but she could explicitly enter the relationship by saying, "I'll only be your girlfriend if you help me keep it a secret."

Finally, there is some practical, amoral advice for the guys too: if the passion in your relationship dries up, and she is good-looking, you wouldn't necessarily have to get into staged fights or try to make her jealous in order to make her feel insecure, which in turn would cause her to give it to you like never before, to ensure you'll stick around. You could simply let the relationship fade into asexuality while parading her around to attract strangers, some of whom will make a move on you.

This tolerated adultery is the norm among European politicians and their wives, while in the US we panic and search for methods to keep the fire lit between just the original two -- introducing whips and handcuffs, for example. Notice that all varieties of kinky practices take place among established couples typically over the age of 30, never among college students whose hormone levels are high enough by nature that they don't need an artificial injection of kink. Doing it while the parents are home is about as oddball as it gets. To each their own in resolving the problem, but I'd probably choose tolerated adultery.

April 20, 2008

Further musings on Boobmen and Assmen

I reviewed the findings of what may be the only scientific study of what psychological traits belong to men who prefer boobs, ass, or legs. The Boobman appears to be a gregarious "guy's guy," while the Assman seems more like the Type A businessman or leader. *

Just thinking it over, I discovered that geeks are predominantly Boobmen. The converse is not true, but I have a hunch that the average "geek score" among Boobmen would be higher than among Assmen. Think of guys who watch cartoons, especially Japanese ones, and play video games during most of their leisure time. Cartoon girls who are meant to look sexy always have big boobs, and little or no ass -- just see any Anime female, or the Lara Croft character from the video game Tomb Raider. Their creators must know what their audience likes.

Are badboys more likely to be Assmen? It seems so. First, the only cartoon girls I've ever seen who had big butts are from the video for Weird Al's "Close But No Cigar", in which a Byronic badboy cannot restrain himself from berating his girlfriends. The three pickup artist bloggers who I read are all Assmen (Roissy, RooshV, and Virgle Kent). If anyone's read all 3500 pages of Casanova's memoirs, does he suggest whether he's an Assman or not? Or other famous libertines?

If there are any criminologists reading this, are violent criminals more likely to prefer buttocks to boobs? I googled and couldn't find anything, but maybe there is anecdotal evidence.

In trying to recall all instances of a female remarking on another female's looks, I think I've never or rarely heard something like, "Woah, she's got a hot ass," but have heard "She has really nice breasts." And I mean when the female observer makes this remark spontaneously -- what does she notice and feel moved to comment on? Obviously if the conversation is already about Jennifer Lopez, she will say "By the way, she's got a pretty big booty, huh?"

On a population level, the correlation holds (compare Africans, Europeans, and Asians, or Mediterraneans vs. Scandinavians), but that doesn't mean it holds on an individual level.

One possible source of all of this variation (established or conjectural) is level of testosterone. It would be pretty easy to set up a study on college males to see if preference for boobs vs. buttocks correlated with levels of salivary testosterone, or if that's too expensive, then their digit ratio. Clearly, more research is needed.

Another interesting line of research would be to see what traits women with larger breasts vs. larger buttocks had. If Assmen tend to be more Type A, and if they get what they're after, then the daughters of such a marriage would inherit both big butts and a feisty personality. Similarly, the daughters of a Boobman and woman with large breasts would be buxom and gregarious or chatty. So maybe a girl's shape tells you something about her personality or behavior. These patterns would hold at the population level, not necessarily at the individual level, since they would result from cross-assortative mating.

Come to think of it -- have you ever seen a wet t-shirt contest or a "booty battle"? It could have been in person or on TV, as long as it wasn't fictional or they were put up to it (like in a strip club). The wet t-shirt girls try to play up their girliness, coyness, or ditziness, whereas the girls who volunteer for the booty battle are definitely more competitive and feisty. And just think how incongruous the phrase "boobie battle" would sound.

* Giving new meaning to the letters in Type B vs. Type A.

What does "nice" in "nice guy" mean?

Alias Clio has started a series on encounters with nice guys to show that alpha male types can be nice guys, presumably to play down what most people think -- that nice guys finish last.

There are two main uses of the word "nice" to describe a person: 1) pleasant and agreeable, and less frequently 2) courteous and dutiful. In terms of the Big Five personality traits, 1) refers to being high in Agreeableness, while 2) refers to being high in Conscientiousness. I propose the phrase "nice guy" not be used, due to confusion, and that "pleasant guy" vs. "dutiful guy" be used instead. What "everyone knows" is that pleasant guys finish last, while dutiful guys like the one in Clio's story may succeed.

Importantly, the guy in Clio's story likely scores low in Agreeableness -- no alpha scores high in this trait. You can't be tough minded, want to compete against or shove away others (however tactfully), or deal with troublemakers if you're high in Agreeableness. The guys Clio is describing are like military figures: their high Conscientiousness gives them a sense of duty and structure, while their low Agreeableness lets them enforce codes and whip rule-breakers into shape. (Those who are low in Agreeableness and low in Conscientiousness are badboy alphas.)

It's no wonder that Agreeableness shows the largest average sex difference in personality traits -- the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 inches in height. Pleasant guys therefore appear too feminine, as well as sexually unappealing, since much of a male's appeal derives from his projection of control and authority. Next time your pleasant guy friend complains about girls only wanting him as a friend, tell him to shoot up some testosterone.

April 18, 2008

Rethinking 80s night

Just got back, and I'm starting to question the value of it, now that I've been a lot. The music is really danceable, and the place is filled with college girls in athletic shorts or leggings, but it's horribly anti-social. That makes sense since it was featured on Stuff White People Like -- it's more of a "see and be seen" affair for kids who shop at Urban Outfitters. *

The girls who go aren't interested in talking, flirting, or even dancing with guys who aren't their boyfriends. They get a huge amount of free attention, which explains its appeal to them, and college guys (hell, any guys) will follow the trail of nubile college girls. It's a great scam.

I'm not basing this just on my own experiences -- I probably overestimated how great it was based on a few fortunate incidents at the outset -- but by surveying the room from above to see if anyone was dancing with stranger of the opposite sex. Negatory.

So if you haven't been, go just to see if your local one is different, but don't expect much interaction of any kind. I'll still go because it gets me out of the house on Thursday, and I like the exercise, but as for talking to and dancing with a scantily clad PYT, I'm sticking with the hip-hop and R&B clubs.

* I predicted in an earlier post on 80s night that as it become more widely attended, the oneupsmanship would shift toward playing 80s indie or alternative music rather than Michael Jackson or Madonna. Sure enough, last week I heard "Here Comes Your Man" by the Pixies, and I've twice heard "Istanbul" by They Might Be Giants. Yes, they'll even break the rules since that song came out in 1990. (They also frequently play "Heart of Glass," a disco song that came out in 1978.)

April 16, 2008

Jerk behavior : girls :: hazing : frat boys

Two recent posts, one by Roissy and the other by RooshV, touch on the effectiveness of a guy behaving like an asshole toward his girlfriend, wife, or one-night-stand-to-be. Why is it that women of all stripes don't just tolerate, but often respond positively to jerk behavior?

Very few people are masochists -- think how quickly they would be weeded out of the genepool -- so we should look for a more rational explanation. To me, the situation seems similar to frat boys who put up with, and often look forward to the hazing process. Psychologists have speculated that frat members insist on hazing the inductees so that afterwards the newbies will think the frat is much better than it really is. *

We rationalize our choices after the fact in a way that makes us look good. We think something is better if we have had to sacrifice and endure more in order to get it because, otherwise, we would view ourselves as dupes. People likely think a nightclub is cooler if they're forced to wait outside for 30 to 60 minutes and get treated like scum by the doorman. I'll bet we think the same food tastes better when we're first treated like scum by a snobby maitre d' than when a peppy hostess welcomes us as her bestest new friends in, like, the whole world.

The new frat member may think the frat is cool, but is it cool enough to suffer the hazing process? If he admits the truth and says, "it's pretty nice, but I definitely got scammed," cognitive dissonance kicks in to salvage his self-image: "This place is so awesome, totally worth that silly hazing!"

Frat members can't go overboard during hazing, though -- and not just due to legal restrictions. Even if it were legal to really turn up the hazing, at some point the prospective members would say, "I'm not that stupid" (he's stupid, but only up to a point). They have to strike a balance between no hazing -- which would be a lost opportunity to exploit cognitive dissonance -- and overkill hazing -- which would prevent anyone from rushing at all.

Something similar could be going on when a desirable guy gives a girl the jerk treatment. Not just any guy can do so, just as frat inductees only accept hazing from frat members, not from any old group of strangers. That said, it forces her to inflate her rating of the guy, since otherwise she would think, "Wait, I just let myself get treated poorly to interact with a guy who's nice but by no means my dream guy -- I am a world-class sucker." Cognitive dissonance to the rescue! "He is acting a bit like a jerk, but he's so cool that I can overlook it." And again, the guy must strike the right balance of jerkness to get this result.

We are surrounded by examples of the grotesque, but when you scratch at it, human behavior appears more rational and less perverse than you first thought.

* There may also be a sunk-cost fallacy at work: "I've already invested so much during hazing, I can't eject now." In the case of the mistreated girl: "Well, I've already been insulted, so I might as well stick around and try to get something good out of the interaction to balance things out."

April 14, 2008

Men and women can be "just friends," if she's pretty

It sounds crazy, but hear me out. Everything I've ever heard on the difficulty of males and females staying "just friends" has focused on the guy's threat to the friendship's stability: deep down, he registers her as a girl who he hasn't fucked yet, and at some point he'll make an awkward move on her, thus endangering or ending the friendship.

But what about the girl's threat to the friendship's stability -- she treats him as a surrogate doormat boyfriend, and a guy with any balls at all won't stand for this, so he is likely to stop investing in her as a friend. *

Her boyfriend doesn't listen to her problems? She runs to the friend. Her boyfriend doesn't cook for her? Her friend does. Her boyfriend doesn't do sweet, romantic things for her? She'll try to get the friend to do them. She also flakes out on plans with her friend, uses him to get attention and validation, and similar things that she should only be able to get away with if he were her boyfriend.

And although the guy and girl are trying to manipulate each other, the girl can be quite successful, while the guy gets only blue balls in return. If you've forgotten what this is like, just rewind to your friendships with girls during high school and college.

The rational thing for the guy to do would be to just "dump" his female friends -- but what if they could do something for him? She may not want to satisfy his libidinous needs directly, but she could assist him in meeting these needs through other females. That's why it only pays to have attractive female friends: by being seen with them, especially when they are relaxed and having fun around him, he demonstrates higher value to the female onlookers, who he can then easily approach. If she is particularly ballsy, she may even act as his wingman.

He will still have to listen to her problems, drive her places, and inflate her ego, but he can put up with it because he's getting something in return.

Because each party enjoys benefits that they could not provide by themselves or get from members of the same sex, we have a simple case of specializing in comparative advantage that leads to mutually beneficial trade. For once, the guy has a rational incentive not to try to escalate the friendship sexually -- his trading partner would cut off relations, and he'd have to search for quite awhile to find a suitable replacement, starving in the meantime.

In terms of satisfying his sexual needs, the pretty female friend is worth more to him as a broadcaster of value and/or wingman than as a single notch on his belt. She is like a gunsmith supplying a warlord: he will conquer many other tribes with the weaponry she provides, but he'll leave her untouched since he would have a much weaker offense without her. And since he will always be out on conquests, she will have a stable source of revenue.

Also like a gunsmith, she can supply many warlords (although there is probably a natural saturation level), so that below the saturation level, access to the gunsmith is not a zero-sum game for the warlords, preventing potential conflict among the superpowers. The only trouble that could arise is if the warlords wanted to conquer the same tribe, but we live in a world with so many defenseless areas that they can amicably agree on who gets to enslave whom.

Clearly, if the female friend cannot perform this role, he should not be friends with her. That would mean doing all the dopey things she expects her real or non-existent boyfriend to do, tolerating her flakey behavior, inflating her ego with attention, and so on -- without receiving anything in return. Sure, she could provide company, be a conversation partner to discuss shared interests, an activity partner, etc., but a guy could do these things too, and wouldn't flake, complain at length about men, and so on. Indeed, it's more likely that a guy will share his interests, activities, etc. What would she bring to the friendship as a female?

It seems a bit cruel, but let's get real: friendship with members of the opposite sex is not an inalienable human right. If attractive girls get to have guy friends while the ugly ones don't, then that's just tough luck.

* If you call out a female friend for this type of manipulative nonsense, her self-deception kicks in and she will defend her righteousness loudly. However, it is as believable as a guy showing moral indignation when his female friend accuses him of physical impropriety -- hey, he only wrapped his arm around her lower back "just to make her feel safe" while walking.

Judging sex, weight, emotional state, and menstrual stage from walking patterns

Researchers at the Biomotion Lab at Queen's University have studied the gait patterns of men vs. women, as well as people who are heavy vs. light, happy vs. sad, nervous vs. relaxed, and women not on birth control at peak vs. low fertility stages of their menstrual cycle. They have incorporated these differences into this visual program, where you can manipulate the values of each trait. Check the "lines" button on the side in order to see a full stick figure. You can rotate the figure by clicking the turning arrows. See this visual program for the differences in fertility stage.

You can use this program to figure out what you probably look like when you're not in the best state, so that you could try to consciously control the signals you are reflexively giving others. For example, if you are nervous, your shoulders are likely bunched up close to your neck, so you could force yourself to spread them back.

I think the most attractive female gait in the first program belongs to the one who is at the female extreme, halfway between neutral and relaxed, halfway between neutral and happy, and at the light extreme -- I just hope that 25 of her 100 lbs are packed into her ass. If you're a guy, which walk do you find more attractive in the menstrual cycle program?

According a study from this lab, males preferred the pattern of the luteal stage female -- that is, the one who is at low risk of conception. The researchers note that many other features of a female become more attractive when they are at peak fertility, such as facial appearance, body odors, and so on. They suggest that since walking patterns are visible from far away by any old person, women would do well to lie through their walking patterns but tell the truth with up-close-and-personal cues like what their face looks like, how they smell, etc.

Concretely, they suggest that this is a defense against being sexually harassed or raped when it could result in a child, and while that may play a role, I think there's something bigger going on. If attractive walking patterns catch the attention of lots of males, then a woman should walk attractively when she's at low risk of pregnancy so that men will flock to her and do her bidding while hypnotized, and she could return the favor by suggesting sexual access -- and maybe giving it up -- since she knows she can't get pregnant anyway.

However, when she is at peak fertility, it would make more sense to reveal this up close only to the select few she seeks out (women are more likely to look for affairs during the peak fertility stage), while she is left alone by the masses because, from a stranger's distance, her demeanor doesn't appear very sexual.

Remember that, guys: trust her face, because her hips do lie.

April 9, 2008

Teen beating has nothing to do with YouTube fame

Some must find my obsession with adolescents frivolous, but we waste public funds on programs that ignore reality. "Protect the children" programs almost always suffer from ignorance because no one takes a tough-minded approach -- parents and professional child-managers would rather tell lies that suggest policies which give them greater say over we can and cannot do.

The rotten core of such programs is the belief that adults pose the greatest threat to adolescents -- as kidnappers, molesters, bad role models, or brainwashers (e.g., video game makers). The truth is that it's teenagers who pose the greatest threat to teenagers. Here and now, the three age classes (children, adolescents, and adults) have separate spheres carved out; as a result, teenagers compete exclusively with other teenagers.

Any good teen movie showcases this fact (see my reviews of Mean Girls and Clueless, or watch Heathers). The worst teen movies -- especially those made by John Hughes -- focus too much on the influence of parents or facets of adult society.

Recently, a group of girls in their mid-teens beat up another mid-teen girl and filmed it. You might think that news reports would emphasize the motive, but most that I've read (google Victoria Lindsay beating) have focused on the fact that the beaters planned to upload the video to YouTube. The idiotic father of the victim even went so far as to say:

Lindsay's father said the teens' motivation was to produce the best "shock" video, rivaling those readily available on sites such as YouTube or popular TV shows such as MTV's "Jackass." . . .

"I want stiffer punishments for these shock Web sites that entice kids to make these videos so they can be famous on the Internet," he said. "That is the motive, I am sure of it. It's crazy and it's terrible and they're gonna pay."

Now, my bullshit detector has a very low threshold, so it does produce false positives -- but never a false negative. Hopefully, you too thought to yourself, "teenage girls don't do that if they want to be internet celebrities." The news reports mention that at least one of the beaters is a cheerleader -- and I have a little theory about what 16 to 18 year-old cheerleaders would upload to YouTube if they wanted to shock, get attention, and become famous. Yeah, that's right. Why would they risk so much by putting a girl in the hospital, when shaking their butts in short shorts would earn them more fame (or infamy)?

Sure enough, the mother of one of the beaters explains what her daughter likely told her as the reason:

. . .the teens beat up Lindsay because she had been harassing and threatening them on MySpace.

Other reports say that this happened over text messaging as well. Now that's believeable. In fact, if you watch the video of the beating, you can tell the beaters are very angry for personal reasons -- not like a bunch of sociopathic boys who laugh in a detached way while filming themselves shooting strangers with paintballs. Perhaps the victim's father cannot read body language or facial expressions at all, but it's clear these girls didn't have fame on their minds.

However, "girl gets beaten up after verbally provoking other girls" is not the headline any of the reports are running. I obviously don't think the victim deserved a beating, but the grand solution to this type of problem is to warn teenage girls: "If you verbally tease or provoke other girls, especially in public forums where others can hear and spread the word, you might get beaten up." Pretty simple, really.

Instead, we must listen as grave news reports, clueless parents, and nutcase guidance counselor ladies inform us that these things are the fault of parents, bad role models, "shock" internet sites, removing God from the schools, or whatever else the person has on their agenda. Teenagers have been competing with, and beating up, other teenagers long before any of this, and they'll keep doing it: the urge to beat the shit out of your competitors is rooted in our imperfectable human nature.

To lessen the degree of savage beatings, we must first identify what the causes are, and then seek to prevent them. Only the non-deluded should be allowed to work on this, although fortunately tough-minded people are not in short supply -- they just happen to not work in the helping professions, where touchy-feely-ness is the rule, and where any honest attempt to figure out what caused the incident is met only with indignant sputtering: "You're blaming the victim!" Courts may deal with "oughts" when they assign blame and issue punishments, but crime prevention is mostly an amoral engineering problem; the moral part comes later, when we decide where we'd like to be along the trade-off continuum that the engineers have elucidated.

April 8, 2008

Teen promiscuity exaggerated: a field study

There was a recent Times article about a purportedly massive increase in teen promiscuity among the English, although with a population so sexually dysfunctional, you wonder whether it simply means that they've discovered the French mode of kissing.

Not long ago, The Lancet surveyed changes over time in the prevalence of "early sex" -- having sex before 15 -- in diverse countries. I reviewed this here, where about halfway down the page is a chart showing that the prevalence of early sex in the developed world appears not to have budged. A little less than 1 out of 8 people in the developed world have early sex, and because this must correlate with promiscuity, it suggests that teens are not noticeably more promiscuous than in recent generations.

The present hysteria is due mostly to what teenagers upload to YouTube and how provocative school dances are. I explained in the post linked to above why I thought increasingly raw behavior at school dances might not increase promiscuity much: it provides girls with an outlet.

That conjecture came before I had been exposed to Game teachings, and it turns out that I was right. Here (starting at 2:00) is a Mystery Method guy explaining why a high initial level of physical passion actually harms your chances of having sex with a girl, whether that night or when you contact her later on.

I've actually done a little fieldwork on this topic that I'd like to share. When I go out, I prefer a college-aged crowd, so I went to a dance club I thought was 18+, but was actually 16+, with hardly any college students. (No alcohol is served, and smoking is not allowed, so it's really more like a high school dance than a "club," only without slow dancing). It was pretty boring, but I'm always itching to get my hands on otherwise unobtainable data, so I returned twice, logging a total of about 9 hours.

The racial composition is about 60% White, 30% Mexican (of whom maybe 1/3 are illegals, judging by their height and hairstyles), and 10% Black. These numbers are not typical of the fairly homogeneous Mountain Time Zone, and are likely due to the club playing mostly hip-hop and R&B. Age range is 16 to 18, and perhaps a few 15 y.o.s with fake IDs. Class backgrounds are high Prole or lower for the Blacks and Mexicans, but are more varied for Whites, ranging from high Prole to middle-middle (no upper-middles). There are more males than females, maybe 60:40 or a bit less.

While there is variation, here is the rough picture. The girls go out looking hot and get lots of attention from guys, both by being stared at and "invited to dance." By the latter phrase, I mean a guy walks up behind a girl and starts to press his junk into her rump while swaying side-to-side a little. Less frequently, he approaches from the front, tapping her on the arm with a "wanna grind?" look on his face. Words are never exchanged (this is important), but if she doesn't welcome it, she moves away from him, waves him off, or says "I'm taken." Her friends might also pull her away or wave the guy off.

Girls almost never signal obviously to a guy that they want to grind. * She may send subtler signals, such as (oddly enough) turning her back to him, to offer him her butt for grinding. Maybe she gives him a little eye-contact. But I couldn't tell, because she is always mobbed by guys who are actively trying to get with her, so such invitations are unnecessary.

Assuming she accepts his presence, she grinds her butt into the crotch of the passably handsome stranger; the sluttier ones (again, a minority) may even give him a lapdance. For all girls, there is a small but non-zero chance that she'll make out with him. She never stays more than about 5 to 10 minutes with any particular dance partner: either the guy decides to move on to another girl, or the girl gets bored and moves on to another guy, or she must follow her friends as they move elsewhere. This prevents rapport from developing.

It is rare for any of the girls to give out their phone number to a guy they've danced with for 5 to 10 minutes, and there is virtually no verbal interaction in either direction. The music is pretty loud, and there are hardly any quiet, sit-down areas, so everyone stays on the dance floor using only nonverbal communication.

It's not hard to see why these social dynamics rarely lead to sex: girls need to interact verbally with a guy they're attracted to, and feel comfortable around him. If any of the boys here tried to run a Game routine, they would get nowhere since it is nearly impossible to talk to girls for even a moment, let alone manage a conversation for 10 to 30 minutes. The girls just do not go to this club to talk and flirt with guys: they want to dress hot, get their egos boosted, and grind with some guys in between dancing with their female friends.

Even if some making out happens, girls have lower libidos than guys, so the rush of being in a loud, pulsating nightclub, grinding with some guys, and making out with one or two cute ones, is enough to satiate their desires. If you asked them if they were worried about what this behavior might lead to, you'd hear something like, "What, that random guy I was kissing? I mean, I just thought he was kinda hot and, y'know, felt like making out for a little. I mean, it's not like I wanted to have sex with him or anything."

If guys had the opportunity to verbally game the girls in a more cozy and intimate setting, then she might change her evaluation of him from "random hot guy" to "guy I want to fuck me." In fact, just about any other teenage haunt would allow for more verbal interaction and coziness than a teen-oriented nightclub or school dance. If I were the girl's father, I'd be more concerned about her having a "study session" with a boy.

* Although I tried to remain a neutral observer and ignored the looks I got, one night two 16 year-olds danced backwards toward me, and upon reaching me, began grinding their rumps into my lap -- at the same time -- one on each hip. I kept dancing as I was before, not reaching out to touch them, so they left. However, the cute one came back soon, and this time I decided to let my inner forearms graze the sides of her bare midriff while my arms swayed with the rhythm -- hey, outright rejection can be damaging when a girl sticks her neck out like that. I can't help it if I'm considerate of other people's feelings.

Since I didn't try to dry-hump her, though, she must've thought I wasn't interested, so she left again. But soon she came back one last time, and now I decided to let go a little more, allowing my hands to touch her lower ribcage before moving down to grip the exposed ilium bones of her pelvis, where they remained as we grinded. I was proud that I behaved myself so well.

Although I am attracted to girls in this age range, you have to get to know them and take a shine to them: at least with 16 y.o.s, most of their appeal comes from their spunky, flirty, and giggly personalities. The physical component is there, but it doesn't provoke the overpowering "I wanna tear her up" feeling you get when you're looking at a girl who's 21 - 24, so it wasn't too hard to restrain myself in a teen nightclub. Now, if the 16 y.o. had sat down at my table in a mall food court and started flirting with me, or snuck her way into a bar (where a conversation could happen), that would be an entirely different matter.

[HT 2blowhards and Alias Clio.]

April 4, 2008

Older women are not hornier -- do you really need data?

Perhaps 1 person out of 2500 is smart enough and tough-minded enough to tease an interesting signal out of the data of their own experiences. * Some patterns are not noteworthy, though, so that as long as you aren't a complete nimrod or swimming in self-deception, you can figure it out. The pattern of female sexual desire and activity across the lifespan is one such no-brainer. However, I hear enough nonsense on this topic -- "everyone knows that women reach their sexual peak during midlife" -- that it's worth quoting the medical literature just to settle the matter.

I have no interest here in what factors aside from age influence female sexual desire -- you can figure this out on your own too, but the literature does provide hard data that a female's personality, especially how prone she is to depression, affects her level of desire and activity. I'm only going to show that female desire and activity decrease with age -- so if you didn't just land here from Mars, feel free to go do something more productive with your time.

Sexual activity decreases with age

From this paper:

"In the over-40 category, the frequency of sex is much lower. Among older women the median amount of sex is once a month, while for males it is 2-3 times a month."

"A third of over-40s say they are celibate."

"Among the under-40s 84% of US women and 70% of US men had at most one sexual partner in the previous year"

But

"40% of American females over the age of 40 did not have sexual intercourse in the previous year. The figure for American males is 20%."

"As might be expected, Table 5 finds that aging reduces sexual activity."

Sexual desire decreases with age

Lest you make the mistake of thinking that a female's actual amount of sex and her desired amount of sex are outta-whack...

From this paper:

The evidence indicates that a woman's sexual function declines with age. This decline begins in a woman's late 20s to late 30s. Specifically, desire, frequency of orgasm, and frequency of sexual intercourse decrease with age. However, it is not clear whether arousal decreases or remains relatively constant. In longitudinal studies, decline in women's sexual function has also been detected, but patterns of stability and improved sexual function have also been observed for short periods of time.

And

"It is reasonable to conclude that for most women sexual function and activities decline gradually with age, making these changes difficult to detect over short periods of time."

And

"There is evidence that as women get older, the relative importance of sex may decrease."

From this paper:

The longest-duration population-based study, the Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project, found a significant decrease of women's desire, arousal, orgasm and frequency of sexual activity and a significant increase in vaginal dryness/dyspareunia throughout the menopausal transition. Both age and declining estradiol levels had significant detrimental effects on sexual functioning, libido and sexual responsiveness (arousal, sexual pleasure and orgasm). Testosterone, which is already at a low level in middle-aged women in comparison with younger women, as well as dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, may play a role in psychosexual well-being, even though it is difficult to significantly correlate plasma levels to sexual function in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.

And

It is, indeed, a matter of fact that bilateral ovariectomy (both premenopausally and postmenopausally) leads to a sudden 50% fall in circulating testosterone levels, and androgens have peculiar effect on central and peripheral circuitries involved in the physiology of sexual response.

And

"Desire difficulty is the most common sexual complaint experienced by women; the proportion of women with low desire increases with age."

You get the idea. I don't have anything to add, except an emphasis that testosterone in females tanks in middle age. It doesn't matter if feminizing hormones drop over the lifespan -- that per se doesn't make a woman more masculine. It would do so only if masculinizing hormone levels stayed the same, but they are also plummeting.

An interesting but separate question is why this folktale is so popular. It's obvious why it's popular among desperate adolescent males: it gives them hope that, some day, females will be horny enough that guys won't have to try that hard to get laid. I don't think most women buy into the folktale, but those who do are at or approaching middle age, when their bitterness towards men is at its peak. (In fact, I challenge you to find a college freshman who would be convinced by this folktale.) The folktale allows these women to try to take men down a peg -- "How does it feel to have your libido dropping while ours is rising?" Ha, if only it were true.

Women over 30, who are becoming or have become invisible to the male sex, should take consolation in knowing that at least during their invisible phase, they aren't fueled by boy-crazy hormones. The average male is most invisible during adolescence, when getting the opposite sex's attention is the only thing on his mind -- now that's fucked up. But we get over it, and bitter women should too.

* Assuming they are above the 98th percentile (or +2 standard deviations) for both IQ and tough-mindedness, which are independent.

April 3, 2008

"Only neurotic girls..."

How often do we hear this dismissal of practical advice?

"Well, only neurotic girls fall for that Game stuff."

"Everyone knows that only neurotic girls take time to make themselves look good."

And so on.

Newsflash: all girls are neurotic.