As I’ve stated before, I like to keep an eye on the happenings in the so-called “Manosphere”, in particular, what they guys over at Return of Kings are up. They always have interesting things to say. Fairly recently, contributor Wald (a friend of mine in real life, if I am to give full disclosure) offered up the idea of a campaign to praise women, coming right on the heels of “Fat-Shaming Week” as a counterbalance to some of the negativity and vitriol seen over in that area of the internet. The carrot of praise to the stick of shame, as it were, to paraphrase his own words.
I took great delight on hopping on the Fat-Shaming Week bandwagon, and I think I can find a way to lend some support to this initiative as well, in my own special way, by offering my own thoughts on the matter. Allow me to start a bit of a ramble that may seem unrelated at first, but will quickly make its way back to the topic at hand.
What is the meaning of the word “value”? There is no dearth of definitions that could be chosen, which makes it very easy for any discussion of the idea to involve some confusion of intended meanings. Here, I shall define value as “usefulness or importance”.
What we value at one time we may not at another, and what we may not value at one time we may value at another. A cheeseburger is far more appealing when one is hungry, but has little value to someone on a paleo-style diet who’s just polished off a grilled ribeye. If we value something, what we do is assign some thing usefulness or importance.
One position made by some Manosphere types is that a “A woman’s value is mainly determined by her fertility and beauty. A man’s value is mainly determined by his resources, intellect, and character.” Now, I don’t actually disagree with this, with the qualification that this statement applies to the context of the sexual marketplace, and that someone’s sexual value is not usually the sum of their total value (though I admit there are situations when this may come close to being true). Still, it seems that some people miss the nuance though, so I shall say a few words addressing that position.
One of the problems with claiming that the only value a woman can provide to you is sexual gratification though, is that for that statement to be correct, you must be living some sort of life in which no situations arise in which a woman might be able to provide you with any sort of value. I find this to be an odd position to assume, for it seems inevitable that you will find yourself in situations in which a woman can provide value to you. If you go to a restaurant and the chef is female, this claim is void. If you ever have a female teacher that was able to educate you in some manner, this claim is void. If you have a heart attack and the EMT who keeps you alive on the way to the hospital is female, this claim is void.
The fact that many people can offer same value does not meant that any one individual is incapable of giving that value to you. Just because there may be a million people in the world who can give you good advice does not mean that any one individual who can give you good advice is without value to you.
Now, acting in a more feminine manner and cultivating certain traits that are considered valuable (an attractive body, cooking skills…etc) will necessarily lead to a higher sexual marketplace value, allowing one the possibility to match up with a higher-value mate (as high-quality mates tend to pair up with each other…think of the old trope of the high school quarterback dating the head cheerleader). This alone ought to be enough of an incentive to spur women to increase their mate value. However, Wald offers to sweeten the deal by offering up something of value that he can provide: positive attention.
Everybody loves validation. It’s true. So will the offering of praise and validation for doing feminine things work? Perhaps. I fear though, that such actions will be little more than mere drops in a bucket compared to the ocean of attention and validation heaped upon women by means of social media and that sort of thing,
It is not enough to merely offer praise. In order for your praise to have effect, it must also not be drowned out by the tidal wave of praise that runs in the opposite direction, the praise that calls single mothers “strong” instead of unwise, promiscuous women “liberated” instead of imprudent, and obese individuals “beautiful” instead of deformed. Any approach that tells women to work hard and make sacrifices has a lot of inertia to overcome, and it must do away with the chorus of voices telling women that it is okay to be fat, to be slutty, and to work hard and ignore the idea of settling down and having children if it is to have much of an effect.
Make no mistake, the idea of praising women in order for them to do things that have value to us is a good idea. I support the concept. However, I consider it a necessary but not sufficient condition if we hope to alter some behaviors. We not only need to incorporate praise and scorn together to keep people in line, but also remove the praise done for things we dislike. Any impetus that we might be able to provide is merely on small factor in a larger dynamic.
The utility of the carrot and the stick gets broken when someone else offers a cupcake. We either have to teach people that the cupcake is worse than the stick, or to remove the cupcake from the scenario altogether.