The fitness test as an example of Game’s specific difference

April 14, 2014 § 41 Comments

Sometimes discussion of essences, nominalism, specific differences, and other metaphysics gets a bit abstract.  So I thought I’d bring my most recent discussion of Game[1] further into the realm of the concrete with an example.

Game frequently seems to address generic issues of leadership and masculinity.  This makes it appealing, especially for folks with antiessentialist/nominalist tendencies (which includes most modern people), to expand the understanding of Game to include generic issues of leadership and masculinity independent of unchaste male behavior.  Folks whose first encounters with certain aspects of social competence were through the distorted lens of Game are especially prone to this tendency.  In my view this reflects a basic mistake.

What the perceptive will notice is that in Game, generic issues of leadership and masculinity become sexualized to the point where both the nature of the thing and its applicability outside of the context of sex (generally speaking) become obscured. Once you’ve noticed that this is happening you see it everywhere: truth delivered in a package of inchastity distorts the truth.

Take the idea of a “fitness test”, where a putative follower challenges a putative leader on something specific (lets call it “the issue at hand” or just “the issue”).

What I realized after thinking about it for a while is that, sure, women do this frequently; but men do it even more. That buzzing in my head was the cognitive dissonance between the narrative and reality, running loud enough to be heard over the Voices.

Followers challenge leaders all the time, and if a leader is always giving in to his followers he will lose their respect both because (1) he is wrong frequently enough about substantive matters that this becomes a notable feature of his leadership and (2) he doesn’t stand up to challenges. A leader who has inspired doubt in his followers will receive more of these ‘internal’ challenges, and the “issue at hand” will become ever more trivial.  But that doesn’t mean that followers don’t actually want their way when it comes to the issue at hand, as the concept underlying Game proposes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a follower challenge a leader (including a wife challenging a husband) where the follower didn’t actually want her way.

In reality followers need strong leaders and smart leaders; challenges to those qualities will naturally arise when preferences conflict; and followers will naturally lose respect for leaders who fail to exhibit both qualities in the face of challenges.  Incidentally to all this women find failure to lead effectively unattractive.

So the concept of the fitness test which underlies some of Game is confused. It has led people to believe that in a fitness test a woman doesn’t really want to get her way on the issue at hand. But like all followers she pretty much always actually does want her way on the issue at hand, however trivial it may be.  Fulfilling this short term desire frequently conflicts with the long term need for strong and smart leadership; but short term desires and long term needs are in conflict all the time, and a good leader knows how to navigate that rather than handwaving a leadership challenge away with the notion that grown women instinctively want to be in the wrong and are just throwing rocks like little children.

This gets to a larger point that goes beyond Game as prescribed behavior. In general the ontology underlying “Game” is disastrously wrong because it amounts to “liberalism for men but not for women”. That is, it basically attempts to be against feminism without being against liberalism more generally, and is thus really just a new form of self-castrating neoconservatism. The reason “neoreaction” attracts so many libertarians is precisely because of this: they see something that proposes to let them keep what they want from liberalism, rather than accepting their place in a naturally hierarchical society of men.

As I have pointed out many times now hierarchy among men is perfectly natural: men are natural followers as well as natural leaders, etc.

Coming back around to the fitness test specifically, take note of the incorrect premises: first, that fitness tests are primarily something that women do; second, that fitness tests involve drama invented out of whole cloth[2] the very point of which is to challenge leadership rather than actual substantive challenges to leadership on substantive matters; third, that what matters in responding to fitness tests is implacability rather than leadership (thus this obsession with “frame“).   The locus of these incorrect premises is quite precisely an obsession with the accidental feature that yes, women who don’t respect a man will find him unattractive.

So notice the specific difference of Game in action: instead of being focused on the common good of the community under a leader (most notably a father and a family), Game prescriptions when it comes to fitness tests are focused on projecting strength and smarts, leading to a perception of strong leadership by some woman specifically, leading to respect and deference by that woman independent of the common good of the led community, leading to the sexual attentions of that woman.  What was about leadership and the common good has been made to be about this man getting sexual attention from this woman; and this manifests itself in the prescribed behaviors and attitudes of Game.

The specific difference between social competence generally and Game specifically, then, is male inchastity.

Note: this post re-purposed from a comment here.

[1] Folks keep kicking the beehive after I think we are all done, and as long as it leads to interesting discussion with wider ramifications I am probably, uh, game.

[2] It is true that women are more emotional than men.  That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t really want to wash the knives in the dishwasher.

§ 41 Responses to The fitness test as an example of Game’s specific difference

  • “The reason “neoreaction” attracts so many libertarians is precisely because of this: they see something that proposes to let them keep what they want from liberalism, rather than accepting their place in a naturally hierarchical society of men.”

    Er…have we been reading the same stuff? I hear more “ra-ra hierarchy!” from NRx than from anywhere. I know it’s often cast as “The nerds believe in hierarchy, because they are certain that they, of course, will be at the top of it,” — except I can’t think of a single writer who’s said anything like this. To the contrary, most of the rhetoric is: “Hmm, if we’re gonna have nobility we’d better make sure they’re…noble. Well, we can yell at other people to shape up, or we can quietly improve ourselves.”

  • Zippy says:

    Rather than picking on anyone in particular, I might suggest Google.

  • King Richard says:

    One of the issues I have with Neoreaction is that yes, they wish to keep the trappings of Liberalism, Modernism, and even Americanism but still enjoy the benefits of Tradition, etc. I do not recall the exact place it originated, but I recently observed a discussion amongst neoreactionaries about using game theory or evolutionary theory to ‘deveop’ or ‘modernize’ the concept of sacred national honor.

    I must admit, Prince Jonathan and I enjoyed a chuckle at a group of men who claim to have rejected the Enlightenment viewing honor from a purely Utilitarian viewpoint.

    This post by Zippy points out much the same issue; actual human interaction is maddeningly resistant to rational analysis. People who struggle to understand this realm who turn to self-proclaimed ‘scientific explanations’ or ‘rational arguments’ seem to be tied into worse knots than before. Note how the idea of ‘fitness tests’ expands to largely mean ‘statements or questions by a woman that don’t match a memorized script’; this is often a synonym for non-utilitarian language even if it is not challenging (‘does this dress make me look fat?’ is from a desire for support and comfort, not challenging leadership, for example).

  • Zippy says:

    KR:

    One of the issues I have with Neoreaction is that yes, they wish to keep the trappings of Liberalism, Modernism, and even Americanism but still enjoy the benefits of Tradition, etc.

    It is right there in the blog titles, subtitles, and abouts: liberty this, anarcho that, “Austrian economics”, etc etc. Not to mention the coziness with Game and its prophets.

  • nrx types have totally said they aren’t natural followers. also, for all their ra-ra talk about approving of hierarchy, they sure respond poorly when people point out how that plays out in practice in real, traditionally oriented social structures.

  • Escalona says:

    I find this critique valuable. Thanks for continuing with it, Zippy.

  • King Richard says:

    The Unreal Woman,
    Can you easily link to any examples, please?

  • DeNihilist says:

    What the hell is an nrx type?

  • Zippy says:

    DeNihilist:

    I think ‘nrx’ is an abbreviation of “neoreactionary”.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    I think ‘nrx’ is an abbreviation of “neoreactionary”.

    A fitting abbreviation for the pharmacy of mistaken alchemists.

    Take “Dark Enlightenment”: Sweet to the sci-fi/nerd bent ear, but no more sensical than the ramblings of a crazed diva.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    “What I realized after thinking about it for a while is that, sure, women do this frequently; but men do it even more. That buzzing in my head was the cognitive dissonance between the narrative and reality, running loud enough to be heard over the Voices.”

    I think there is a nuance you’re missing: Men are more likely to challenge initially, but once settled, it is vastly more likely to remain settled. It’s a one-and-done affair.

    However; it can happen that in a comfortable setting no real challenge–no real opportunity to display leadership, mastery, etc.–may come along for awhile, and so the one-and-done challenge may linger until such a time to demonstrate can occur. But once it has played out, the hierarchy goes relatively undisturbed unless some crisis comes along.

    The essence of the fitness test (separate from what I have described above) is that hierarchy has been accepted, but the woman is now testing it in the absence of a crisis; just “because”. It may be that women have some some very sensitive devices that can measure legitimate disturbances that have yet to be clear.

    Unfortunately, these emotional seismographs do their job from atop washing machines; at least until the red tide ceases to rise.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    Men are more likely to challenge initially, but once settled, it is vastly more likely to remain settled. It’s a one-and-done affair.

    That doesn’t track my experience at all, FWIW. The top dog always has a target on his head. The history of monarchies seems to bear this out.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    The top dog always has a target on his head. The history of monarchies seems to bear this out.

    True, but those are instances of the hierarchy (or, rather, it’s participants) not being settled. No king can satisfy people who are dead set against kings, or who always have it in their heads to be king themselves.

  • King Richard says:

    A king need not satisfy those who hate kings, he merely needs to make sure they cannot get their wish.As for those who desire to be king, give them a taste of what comes with power and they usually become quite content.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    In my experience both men and women fitness test when they can get away with it, men to a somewhat greater degree. But I don’t object to labeling “when they can get away with it” as “when the hierarchy is unsettled.”

  • CJ says:

    “That doesn’t track my experience at all, FWIW. The top dog always has a target on his head.”

    We can call it the Starscream principle.

    That said, I do think there are differences between fitness tests from men and women. Men attempt to dethrone the king so that they can take the throne for themselves. Women usually importune the king to cave in to a particular demand without trying to dethrone him. It’s an unintended consequence that if he caves too often, they lose respect for him and seek to replace him … with another king.

  • jf12 says:

    I agree with Cane about men being one-and-done, with me anyway. Men are like the large dog that lives at that house down the block that challenged me once, and once only, and is now friendly every time it recognizes me. Women are like the little yappy dog at that other house that yaps and yaps and yaps, ceaselessly challenging for no good reason.

    But I heartily disagree that post-menopausal women cease testing their men.

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:
    It is true that sometimes some men are angling for the top spot. But in my experience most of the time they want something else.

    Mind you, women are still women so the usual emphasis generally applies (emotion vs logic, etc).

  • Dalrock says:

    This is a terrible straw man. The fitness test is fundamentally about women and men in a romantic/sexual setting. It is true that some would extend the concept out to wider contexts, but to refute the concept you need to focus on the core of it. Claiming that fitness tests don’t occur from women to men in a sexual/romantic setting because men challenge hierarchy in non sexual and non romantic settings is absurd.

    [As far as I am aware, “fitness tests don’t occur from women to men in a sexual/romantic setting” is not something anyone has claimed. –Z]

  • Zippy says:

    Dalrock:

    The fitness test is fundamentally about women and men in a romantic/sexual setting.

    No it isn’t. It is fundamentally about leadership. The fact that women find failures of leadership unattractive is an incidental and interesting fact about leadership in general and fitness tests in particular; but that Game mistakenly makes it ‘core’ is quite precisely a demonstration of Game’s specific difference.

  • Zippy says:

    It is no accident that the main proponents of Game are people who know nothing about leadership: bar tenders, mid level bureaucrats, nerds, etc.

    Edit — Dalrock: I do not mean to include present company in the category “main proponents of Game”, if that was not obvious. I frankly don’t understand why you are – very occasionally – Game-positive. It strikes me as entirely orthogonal to your main themes.

  • Dalrock says:

    [As far as I am aware, “fitness tests don’t occur from women to men in a sexual/romantic setting” is not something anyone has claimed. –Z]

    ok. I assumed you were trying to make that claim since you reference Game prominently in the post. But as I understand this, you aren’t trying to refute this particular Game concept, but challenging those who would apply the same Game concept outside of romantic/sexual settings.

  • Dalrock says:

    Edit — Dalrock: I do not mean to include present company in the category “main proponents of Game”, if that was not obvious. I frankly don’t understand why you are – very occasionally – Game-positive. It strikes me as entirely orthogonal to your main themes.

    Thanks. As you may have noticed I write very little directly about Game. If one is looking for specific Game advice, or regular defenses of Game, mine isn’t the blog to follow. But I do support a measured use and understanding of Game in marriage. The Bible makes it clear that as husbands we are the leaders, and with that comes the responsibility to try to be as effective as possible (within reason and without sinning). For reasons I can’t fully fathom, the modern church has seen fit to conspire with western governments and culture to assault the position of headship. While for many men the wisest choice will (sadly) be to avoid marriage given the choices they face, we can’t simply take a breather on marriage and the family while waiting for saner times. If there are tools which can help men and women move closer to the biblical model of marriage then we should use them where appropriate.

    There is another side to this, and that is the other 90% of my blog. Our culture (including modern Christian culture) is in fundamental denial of women’s sexual nature, especially women’s temptation to sexual sin. Because of this and modern Christian’s walking away from marriage we have created a catastrophe of broken homes, etc. The Gamer’s (PUAs) sin is different than that of the modern Christian in such a way that they sadly had something to teach us. Modern Christians set out to deny the teachings of the bible about women’s temptation to sexual sin, while PUAs set out to exploit the very sin we unleashed due to our sin. We (collectively) want to deny women’s sexual sin, while PUAs want to understand it so they can use it to their favor. As a result of all of this, we find ourselves in the bizarre situation where PUAs very often understand women’s sexual sin better than (modern) Christians do.

    It is no coincidence that the discussions we have in the sphere are unique. No where else is women’s sexual nature recognized instead of denied. Once you stop denying what is going on around us, there is much to explore and discuss. This is what I’ve done with 90% of my posts, but it wouldn’t have happened without first overcoming the denial, and for that I owe the gamers a debt.

  • Zippy says:

    Dalrock:

    But as I understand this, you aren’t trying to refute this particular Game concept, but challenging those who would apply the same Game concept outside of romantic/sexual settings.

    The point of the OP is that a fitness test is a fitness test is a fitness test, and that men do it to each other much more frequently than women do it to men (in a romantic setting or otherwise).

    Game makes the mistake of proposing that fitness tests are all about sex (because incidentally women find failures of leadership unattractive). Game does this because the specific difference between Game (as taught by everyone from Mystery to Roosh to Roissy to Rollo) and social competence generally is male inchastity.

    In addition to promoting attitudes of male inchastity this manifests itself in actual factual misunderstanding of what is happening during a fitness test, and I point out some of those misunderstandings in the OP. Sunshine Mary for example has admitted that in shit-testing her husband over whether or not she would wash the knives in the dishwasher, she really actually did want to wash the knives in the dishwasher. Game deludes its acolytes into thinking that a woman doesn’t actually want to get her way when she challenges a man; I explain why that is a delusion in the OP.

    This post was just to provide a concrete example of what I discussed in other posts: that the specific difference between Game in particular and social competence generally speaking is male inchastity.

  • Dalrock says:

    @Zippy
    Sunshine Mary for example has admitted that in shit-testing her husband over whether or not she would wash the knives in the dishwasher, she really actually did want to wash the knives in the dishwasher. Game deludes its acolytes into thinking that a woman doesn’t actually want to get her way when she challenges a man; I explain why that is a delusion in the OP.

    It isn’t true that Game teaches that women don’t actually want what they are shit testing for. They may well want what they are pushing for. The insight is not that they don’t want what they are pushing for when shit testing, but that they won’t be happy if you relent (or will at least lose attraction for you). As Roissy put it back in 2010:

    Remember, the worst/best shit tests are those that FOOL THE GIRL herself. If she doesn’t even know what she’s doing, how will *you* know when she’s weighing your stones? The “hold my drink” shit test frequently falls into this category of “subliminal but deadly”. She may honestly need you to hold her drink. But you still shouldn’t do it.

  • Zippy says:

    Dalrock:
    I can’t help it if different accounts of various concepts are equivocal.

    The insight is not that they don’t want what they are pushing for when shit testing, but that they won’t be happy if you relent

    Yes, but it is leadership 101 that followers are not happy with a leader who always just gives everybody what they want. What is distinctive about Game is that Game makes this all about the tingle.

    The specific difference between Game in particular and social competence generally is male inchastity. I am convinced that Game just is the male form of sluttiness. That is its essence: what makes it different from just being socially competent.

    Sluttiness “works”, after all: it gets the sluts what they think they want, at least in the short term, by pushing mens’ sexual buttons in the right way.

  • Zippy says:

    Roissy, Roosh, and Rollo publish male forms of Cosmopolitan Magazine. They provide advice on inchastity: on how to act the male form of a slut.

  • Dalrock says:

    @Zippy
    The specific difference between Game in particular and social competence generally is male inchastity.

    This would only be true if one had to be unchaste to (in this context) stand up to a shit test. SSM’s husband stood up to the test, and his wife ended up happier as a result. Are you accusing him of being unchaste in doing so? Moreover, what you call “social competence” is the exact opposite of what husbands are taught, especially Christian husbands. For just one example of this, note the delirious approval for the movie Fireproof (and I could go on at length with other examples as I’ve done on my blog).

  • Zippy says:

    Dalrock:

    This would only be true if one had to be unchaste to (in this context) stand up to a shit test. SSM’s husband stood up to the test, …

    That obviously can’t be right, unless every time a man acts socially competent that is – by nominalist fiat – an example of Game.

  • Zippy says:

    I wouldn’t buy into slut walkers defining female social competence to always be “sluttiness”, by nominalist fiat. I see no reason why I or anyone else should fall for that rhetorical trick when it comes to Game either.

  • Dalrock says:

    Zippy if I understand your argument here, is that the concept of the fitness test (shit test) in Game is correct, but that the gamers are right for the wrong reason. Game works, but not for the reasons offered. Similarly your argument that women are attracted to bad boys, but not because this is part of their (fallen) sexual nature. So again, Game works, but not for the explanations offered. Yet elsewhere you argue that Game doesn’t work better than (an imagined) placebo, so Game doesn’t work.

    This truly has me confused, because when you aren’t arguing that Game doesn’t work, you are arguing that it works but for reasons other than those teaching Game would offer. These are two wildly different and mutually exclusive criticisms of Game. All they share in common is a dislike for Game.

  • Zippy says:

    Cosmopolitan is a slutty magazine written by slutty people to teach women how to be slutty. Roissy/Roosh/Rollo are the same thing for men, and that sort of thing is coming to a head as men and women are forced to be more “equal”.

    Telling me that some women wear pretty dresses (gasp) and that this helps their marriages (double gasp) doesn’t disarm the criticism, unless the fact that the nazis made the trains run on time disarms all criticism of naziism. We discussed that in the thread attached to my “End Game” post. If we buy into that sort of rhetorical trick then we are effectively disarmed from criticizing anything at all, because everything that exists has some true things about it.

  • Zippy says:

    Dalrock:
    My criticisms of Game aren’t mutually incompatible in context.

    Specific PUA admitting that the Game they run is no more effective than placebo is like Cosmo admitting that the sluttiness they advocate doesn’t result in a better sex life.

    If I suggest that sluttiness both works and doesn’t work, that apparently contradictory nature comes from the fact that “works” is an ambiguous term.

    It is also the case that my views of Game have evolved as I have come to understand it better.

  • Mike T says:

    The specific difference between Game in particular and social competence generally is male inchastity.

    That specific difference, however, is not the main reason most people criticize Game. That includes most Christians.

    My contingent support (or rather refusal to denounce) Game comes from the fact that while I agree it is immoral in many cases, I disagree with Catholics generally about salvation. As I said to Cane, a man who rejects Christ (or even just refuses to make the formal submission for whatever reason) is destined to Hell. It’s really black and white on that mark. I won’t tell a committed secularist to put on the trappings of Christian virtue since apart from Christ, they are as filthy rags.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    That specific difference, however, is not the main reason most people criticize Game. That includes most Christians.

    Could be. I’m not most people.

  • Mike T says:

    For better or for worse, you are not.

    One particular criticism that strikes me as most peculiar is the strong reaction most traditionalists have to the alpha/beta/delta/gamma/omega hierarchy. Even King Richard wouldn’t offer a reasoned response as to why it was rubbish. It “just is…”

    Forgive me if that doesn’t sound an awful lot like liberals arguing fervently in defense of material equality that empirically does not exist.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    FWIW I remain as sympathetic to the “Alpha/Beta/ etc” categorizations as I am to (e.g.) Meyers-Briggs categorizations.

  • Gavrila says:

    As AquinasDad (or somebody else?) pointed out a while back, the alpha/beta/delta/gamma/omega hierarchy (Vox Day) and the alpha/beta hierarchy (Heartiste) are mutually repulsive since Heartiste and Vox Day give irreconcilable definitions of ‘beta’.

    The idea that human hierarchies mirror hierarchies in the animal kingdom originated with Diane Fossett and various neo-Darwinists in the 1970s. Humans are like gorillas, the most dominant gorilla leads the pack etc.

    It predates game and is a part of mainstream thought.

    I’ve seen contestants on a popular reality TV show discuss who was the ‘alpha male’ in the house. The funny thing is that they were acting like gorillas – picking each other up and throwing each other around in front of a crowd of girls. The men were influenced by this idea to behave like actual monkeys.

    Not only do Christian traditionalists (like King Richard) reject it, but liberal society embraces it.* That’s a clue, I think, that Xtian trads do not strongly oppose it because they are closet egalitarians.

    It expresses human hierarchy and human life in bestial terms. The strong reaction against it is spontaneous disgust, or an intuitive feeling of wrongness.

    Although the Greek alphabet itself is neutral, in this instance the Greek letters are borrowed from animal anthropology as an expression of the belief that humans are undistinguished among animals and not ‘a little lower than the angels’.

    * If it’s true, as Zippy has said, that there is an innate human need for hierarchy then this idea serves a double function in liberal society: it fills that need for hierarchy while also serving as a parody of traditional ideas of hierarchy.

  • Mike T says:

    I don’t see why the disagreement on terms between Vox Day and Roissy really matters here. The disagreement here strikes me as just a very emotional response, and not of the sort one gets in the face of something they know instinctively–but not intellectually why–is wrong. Rather, it seems more like something they wish weren’t true, mainly in the case of Vox Day’s hierarchy which is nuanced and only derivative of the natural pack hierarchy (hint: packs don’t long have gammas and omegas and deltas are often on the chopping block).

    The argument that secularists use it to promote evolution is simply a non-starter of an explanation to oppose it. If we oppose it for that reason, we must conclude that genetics is a biological heresy because genetics are frequently put in service of a flawed secular agenda.

    I will just note that if you look at the behavior of elites scrambling for power, it often has more in common with a group of male wolves fighting over alpha male status than whatever civilized trappings we wish to white wash it with.

  • Gavrila says:

    Hi Mike,

    I agree (well I said it already) that my view is born of spontaneous intuition.

    I would point out that formulations which envision that man is merely a part of nature are simply assumed.

    It may be that gamers cannot imagine an alternative, or emphasising their ‘animal drive’ suits their purposes, or both,

    I don’t see why the disagreement on terms between Vox Day and Roissy really matters here.

    I was just pointing out that you seemed to be talking past each other.

    The argument that secularists use it to promote evolution is simply a non-starter of an explanation to oppose it.

    I was just providing background information. Intellectual history lets us see how the sausage is made – which is worthwhile, if we’re going to take a bite of that sausage.

    I will just note that if you look at the behavior of elites scrambling for power, it often has more in common with a group of male wolves fighting over alpha male status than whatever civilized trappings we wish to white wash it with.

    Yes, human power struggles are sometimes reminiscent of the law of the jungle but unless we endorse a view which places power relations at the centre of human interactions – game, Marxism, political correctness – then that needn’t define humanity.

  • Zippy says:

    Gavrila:
    I imagine there is something to the notion that the Alpha-Beta-Sigma-Omega thing (as a kind of two-dimensional model of leadership-followership sociable-antisocial behavior) is just nature reasserting itself sociopathically under liberalism.

    I have very little familiarity with – or interest in – the more complex Vox model. In general the more complex these models get the more likely they have jumped the shark. Myers-Briggs is a mildly interesting example inasmuch as it reflects the faux-nonjudgmental egalitarianism typical of modernity, tries to reduce social understanding to a power point presentation, and has a usefulness curve that is roughly the inverse of how seriously you take it. The manomodels seem to be attempting a similar thing sans the faux-nonjudgmental egalitarianism.

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