The neighbors are playing their stereotypes too loud

January 12, 2013 § 16 Comments

It is hard to believe that it has been fourteen years since the publication of Jim Kalb’s seminal essay on stereotypes.  Contrary to the demands of the zeitgeist, stereotypes are inevitable.  It doesn’t really matter what one thinks of them: being morally opposed to stereotyping is akin to being morally opposed to oxygen.  Human life isn’t possible without them:

What is to be done? The simple and obvious answer is frank acceptance of stereotypes and discrimination. Such things are often oppressive, just as government, private property, social standards, individual self-assertion, and many other things are often oppressive, but in one form or another they are necessary and inevitable. Treating women as different from men, taking ethnic kinship into account, and treating a judge with special consideration should all be acceptable as expressions of legitimate principles of social organization. Abuses can be dealt with piecemeal; to reject stereotype and discrimination in principle, however, is useless, since we will rely on them in any case. The attempt makes serious political thought impossible, and benefits only those with something to conceal.

At the same time, it is important to understand that our various modes of thought have limits.  In the manosphere, the term “apex fallacy” is just a specific invented label used to object to how women stereotype men without realizing the inherent limitations of the stereotype.

Now I could be a good conservative/reactionary and point out that this is not substantively different from feminists griping about the stereotyping of women, and I actually did point out that the more radically anti-women elements in the manosphere are engaged in their own version of the apex fallacy.

But the reality is that people who object to stereotyping (including the men who gripe about women committing the apex fallacy) do have a valid point: not that stereotyping is objectionable or avoidable, but that it does have its inherent limits.

One of those limits is that a stereotype loses its usefulness as one gets to know individuals better.  I’ve pointed this out before: when talking about hypergamy or the Meyers-Briggs test or any other social model we are basically creating stereotypes.  These are useful in understanding what things are happening in aggregate, and, absent more specific information, they are additionally useful in personal encounters with people, places, and institutions you don’t know (or don’t know very well).  But that usefulness has limits, and it decays as specific knowledge replaces the stereotype.  If I have worked with you for ten years and am still relying on knowing that your Meyers-Brigges evaluation categorized you as an INTJ it is probably a sign of something wrong with my ability to learn.

A second limitation on the value of stereotypes is the one called out by the apex/trough fallacy: that the stereotype is typically constructed based on the most visible members of a group, and therefore will provide a false reading about the less visible members of the group.   Those less visible members will inevitably feel unfairly pigeonholed or ignored, and not entirely without justification.

§ 16 Responses to The neighbors are playing their stereotypes too loud

  • DeNihilist says:

    Right between the eyes Zippy. I have learned some valuable insights from some Manospherians. But this constant stereotyping of all woman belies their message.

    Our experiences colour our opinions. All people are unique, though we may have similiar tendencies. How we act within those tendencies though, is how we show our uniqueness.

    And as for referring to science fiction/fantasy jargon (red pill, etc.) to codifie reality, is just way to ironic for me personnally!

  • Dalrock says:

    But the reality is that people who object to stereotyping (including the men who gripe about women committing the apex fallacy) do have a valid point: not that stereotyping is objectionable or avoidable, but that it does have its inherent limits.

    I think you are misunderstanding the apex fallacy. The apex fallacy isn’t a generalization that men earn more money than women or that they are taller than women. The apex fallacy is the inability to grasp the existence of those men who are below the very top. Men below a certain attractiveness simply become invisible, causing women (in general) to make wildly incorrect assumptions about what is an average man. For example, I don’t have the link but one of the online dating sites did a survey and found that something like 80% of the women found 80% of the men to be below average. Since I don’t have the link, I’ll ask that you stipulate that this occurred simply for sake of argument. This would be a perfect example of the apex fallacy. The assumption by women that men at the top are “average”. Likewise, the woman at Badger’s dinner party who wanted to find some “normal men” for her friend to date, since she couldn’t find any on OK Cupid.

  • Dalrock says:

    Correction: “Men below a certain attractiveness simply become invisible,”

    Should be: “With the apex fallacy, men below a certain attractiveness simply become invisible,”

  • Sis says:

    We should assume all people have value and are worth our time, but stereotypes are useful for general initial assumptions.

  • Zippy says:

    @Dalrock:
    The apex fallacy is the inability to grasp the existence of those men who are below the very top. Men below a certain attractiveness simply become invisible, causing women (in general) to make wildly incorrect assumptions about what is an average man.

    That is exactly what I understand the apex fallacy to be. It is a form of stereotyping, which always involves visible archetypes in the stereotyped group and invisible members who don’t fit the stereotype very well.

    Now some stereotypes are doubtless more ‘accurate’ than others. If we think of stereotypes as a kind of cognitive representation of a statistical distribution we can say the same sorts of things about both: most pertinently that some better represent reality than others. But this is already for those of us with a mathematical bent to nerdothromorphise (to coin a term) everyone who uses stereotypes, that is to say, everyone.

    Use of the term ‘average man’ gives this away a bit. She has a stereotype of men, and isn’t thinking statistically. I’m somewhat anti-anti-racist myself, but race makes a good analogy because people “get it”. It isn’t that the racist is thinking in terms of statistical averages and has placed the mean in the numerically wrong place: it is that he sees certain behaviours and characteristics in people of that race and those who don’t fit the model are ‘invisible’ in at least as literal a sense as betas and omegas are ‘invisible’ to women.

  • Keoni Galt says:

    No, no, no.

    The apex fallacy comes from the feminists who argued about the so-called double standard of sexuality.

    The fallacy goes like this: Why is it a man who sleeps with a lot of women is a “stud” but a woman who sleeps with a lot of men a “slut?”

    The apex fallacy here is the fallace that ALL men are able to sleep around and get social validation out of it, so therefore ALL women should be able to sleep around like “MEN” and not be judged a slut.

    But only a small percentage of men are able, capable and have the skills to seduce numerous women. This is the real fallacy. All women should be entitled to behave like the “apex” of male sexuality – teh Alphaz – because THAT would be “fair” and “equality.”

    If the womynz really wanted fairness and equality with teh menz, they would find out real fast that the vast majority of sexually mature men don’t have sex with more than a few partners in their entire lives, and a significant number never even have one – the involuntary celibate.

    There is no sexual double standard. Once you understand that, the origin of the apex fallacy becomes clear.

  • Zippy says:

    Keoni Galt:
    The apex fallacy here is the fallace that ALL men are able to sleep around and get social validation out of it…

    Right: it is a stereotype of men based on the men who are most visible to her, the “Alphas”.

    I don’t know why the idea that the apex fallacy is a stereotype encounters so much resistance, because that is clearly what it is.

  • katmandutu says:

    Of course there is a sexual double standard.. There always has been.

    There has always been the tacit approval of men wishing ro sow their wild oats before marriage..(Even women accepted this)

    And many did..

    Even now , where I live, (Australia) women are more accepting of men who have had a few partners. Women who do the same are deemed to be sluts.. (Women themselves acknowledge this.)

    That’s just how it is. It’s an attitude. Whether two or two hundred men engage in promiscuous sex is irrelevant.

    My own maternal grandfather, when he was single had a woman or two who would frequently stay with him. (He had a vineyard)
    When he met my virginal 19 year old grandmother, he dropped the others and married her.

    Nobody batted an eyelid..

    Had it been the other way around, however, my grandmother would have been considered a slut. And gossiped about..

    In any event, I, as a cradle Catholic, was brought up to believe sex before marriage was a sin for either women or men.

    I as well as my sister and brother were virgins when we married.

    We were fortunate to have good Catholic parents who taught us well.

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