The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Letter from a reader

I think that in one sense the "Power" of human beings is in direct relationship to the degree to which they identify with spiritual forces rather than anything operating on the normal human level of existence at all. But in terms of relationships, in 99% of the cases I've seen over the course of my life, if men gained more financial stability and/or wealth, women found them more attractive. And as women gain more of an hour-glass figure, THEY become more attractive to men. So when I encounter people who are lonely, or wondering why they can't attract the people they themselves are attracted to, that's the first prescription. Nothing, of course, works every time, and simplifications are just that--simplifications. But it's a lot like: "are you taking in fewer calories than you are burning up?" in that if you haven't handled the basics, it's not surprising that you aren't getting the result.

Why do I believe this so strongly? Because it's most of what I see. Because statistics show that the best thing a guy can do to improve his chances with women is own his own house. Because of the dozens of women who have told me that for various reasons they wanted to reduce their attractiveness to men--and gained weight to do it. And that they became invisible. I can only hear those stories so many times before I begin to factor that in.

I'd guess there were more cases of women who found MORE men attracted to them as they gained weight than you'll find guys who believe they are more attractive when they are broke. But don't bet on either state increasing our attractiveness to the opposite sex, if your happiness and emotional health are at stake. It's a sucker's bet.

Now, the more evolved will simply walk their spiritual life path, finding partners along the way. That's great, and a pretty high-level performance. Graduate school in life, where too damned many people never made it out of junior high.


As for the feminists who said that all sex is rape--that's just pain, rage, frustration, and sheer manipulation of naive and guilt-ridden males. It is simply asinine to suggest that no woman is as powerful as any man. The AVERAGE woman has less Yang power than the average man. And the ignorant can be persuaded not to look at the other forms of power. In essence, they are blinded and intimidated into believing that men control everything, have everything, and are engaged in some bizarre conspiracy to control women.

The funnier thing was when some of these women wanted me to believe that, as a man, I was personally responsible for this. Odd how they, as white people, weren't personally responsible for racism. They are just using the weapons they have to try to dominate the discussion. Like everyone else. Women who want to dominate men seem usually to use guilt. Like men who want to dominate women generally use fear. (And when women are larger than their male partners, physical intimidation does indeed seeem to creep into the equation.) It's equal bullshit. It's been my experience that most "feminists" I've met don't actually believe in equality of the sexes. They believe in female superiority. What I mean by this is that I found it absurdly easy to lead them into enumerating why women were superior, as long as they didn't realize that's what I was doing. This is opposed to women who are successful and powerful who don't particularly take a political position about gender. It is equivalent to most of the "black power" folks I knew. They weren't interested in "equal," even if that's what they talked publicly. Get them in private, and they'd laugh about how blacks are smarter, more spiritual, better athletes, better lovers, etc.

I personally think that happens whenever you find someone who has a political bent--they have staked out a position and believe their position is superior. And use either guilt or fear to try to get their way. I guess what this boils down to is that I just don't like politics much. I think it warps perception just as much as religion: there has to be a "right" and "wrong", something to push against, and the establishment of just who is which always seems to make winners and losers, forcing black and white value systems into very gray zones of human behavior.


Jason Statham fascinates me. He really is a B-movie throwback. I try hard to appreciate him without letting the little pixies in my head wonder how, with fewer martial arts skills than Jet Li or Jackie Chan, he's turning himself into a bigger action star. I still think Wesley should have had his career, but while there is room for justification of this attitude, it also doesn't take into account that every actor is a unique package of qualities. In my mind, Hollywood isn't looking for "the next great action hero." They're looking for the next great action hero who is the same skin color as most of the audience. Different thing. THAT hero can be powerful, sexual, smart...the whole package. And that is the role Statham is easing into, and he fits it very very well. Looks great with his shirt off, too.


Great note today on beauty and power from a reader who can identify herself if she chooses:


(All names changed)

The reader said:

"I don't, really, think women have it worse than men, or have less power, or
anything, if I confine my analysis to who has the most dating and
relationship choices, in countries like the US where there's relative equality
(as opposed to places where women's families arrange their marriages, and
sometimes men have more choice over what gets arranged for them). At
most I think that some men have the delusion that women hold all the cards
and have all the sexual power, and need a reminder that the ability to say
yes or no isn't more power than the ability to pursue or not, etc.

But what I do think is: If I look back at my own choices, any "power" that I
looked for wasn't *that* much. I never demanded that a guy be tall; the
Mark I actually married is quite tall, but the Mark I didn't marry, and Jim,
were only my height, which is short for a man. I never demanded he be
strong. Pete worked out, but the Mark that I didn't marry was a computer
nerd who did no visible exercise (and was young enough to be thin
anyway). I didn't insist that they come from money, or be headed toward
obviously wealthy lines of work; guys who were taking a chance on a
creative profession were fine by me. What I did make my bottom line was
that the guy have or be headed toward a decent college degree, that he not
use drugs or alcohol to excess, or that he have *some* ambition
(professional, creative, activist, whatever) that I respected.

Now compare that, not necessarily to what men actually want, but to what
women get told men want. The pretty super skinny models, the articles by
one set of people that urge you to get married right away in your twenties
because you're chances will fade almost instantly, the articles from another
set of people assuring you that men want your body but never your heart,
the articles from yet another set reminding you of some imperfection in
your appearance that you absolutely must lose, and the ones which urge,
not win/win beauty ploys that will also make your body healthy and strong,
or even win/meh ploys like make up, that don't make your body strong but
don't hurt it, but weight or shoes or whatever that actually *aren't* good
for your health and comfort. And, if you do the comparison *that* way, it's
easy to come away thinking women have it way worse in the relationship

Of course, if you're coming from the perspective of someone like Andrea
Dworkin, who was raped, suffered domestic violence, and was an exploited
prostitute for a while, then there's quite a different set of reasons to see
women as having it worst, but I'm not really talking about those reasons
here, but the more illusory ones, the ones that are the result of comparing
your own desires, which usually don't involve demanding a millionaire, with
the messages you get about what men want you to be, which often *do*
come across as if men demanded unreasonable perfection. Even actually
*getting* pursued by men doesn't always shake that, because there's also
the "men are dogs and only out for one thing" message, and if he wants
"just sex" it's not supposed to count to your credit."


First, I think this is all very sane, and points to a problem with the way human beings sort information. In general, body, power, and emotional balance are the basic human qualities we offer each other in relationship. They are also what we bring to our careers (physical energy and appearance, motivation/focus/clarity, and ability to bond and empathize) and the determiners of our physical fitness. So it is hardly surprising that these factors are so controversial and misunderstood.

In general, I think that our bodies hold the animal energy, our emotions and intellects are our human space. The illusions that women buy into (be as skinny as an anorexic model) are great for the diet industry, the fashion industry, and anyone who doesn't want to compete with a juicy hourglass-figured body. The illusion that men buy into (be rich as the only way to attract women) is great to keep society's grindstone moving. However "rich" is measured in a given society, I promise that only 1% of that culture can actually be "rich." Which means that about 99% of the men who believe this myth see themselves as failures.

So women diet and stress themselves to death, men work themselves to death, both sides think the other has the best bet. I think that the belief that men are in control is used to motivate men to higher and higher levels of aggression and work, even if it kills them. Both men and women promote this idea, just as both men and women collaborate in the projection of illusions about what men find sexually attractive.

It really is sick, and all I'm trying to do is to discuss what the world looks like from the position of: nobody is in control. Men and women are being used by our genetics, and societies are mostly the product of our unconscious drives writ large. That "calorie in/calories out" is roughly equivalent to "beauty/power" or "make more money than you spend" in terms of basic rules for managing wide aspects of body, relationship, and finance. That until you have these handled, or at least taken into account, chances are very very good that you are running in circles. If your car isn't running, it may be true that your plugs are out of timing, or your oil is low. But if your tank is freakin' empty, look at that FIRST, before you worry about the brand of gas, the octane, or whatever else.

These things are basic. Ignore them at your own risk. If you ignore them, and you're happy with your life, GREAT! But if you lack energy, love, freedom, or joy, and one of these three is out of whack? Before you look for more complicated and oblique answers, let alone a quick-fix, please look here.

And never, ever, ever take a course of action designed to "attract the opposite sex", "lose weight" or "make money" that conflicts with your values and core identity. It is my belief that our animals selves, human selves, and spiritual selves can all work in harmony. And I believe that you do NOT have to sell yourself out to make anyone happy. You have responsibilities to the child you were, the adult you are, and the old man/old woman you will one day be.

Anyone who tries to get you to put them first is automatically unworthy of the honor.


Pagan Topologist said...

"And never, ever, ever take a course of action designed to "attract the opposite sex", "lose weight" or "make money" that conflicts with your values and core identity."

But, if one's values and core identity are unhealthy, as in believing that I do not deserve any female attention, for example, the only way to work through this is probably to violate these values and core identity until the core values change in response to a better-perceived version of reality.

Steve Perry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Perry said...

So much of it is mind-set, and if you don't have the freedom in your head, the body and money won't be enough. I had a student once, tall, handsome, rich kid. His parents had died, left a bundle of insurance, and this guy and his sister were millionaires.

Guy drove a Porsche. One day, he shows up at class driving a Corvette. What's the deal? I asked him. You gave up a Porsche for this?

Oh, woman go for the 'vette, he said. He was dead serious.

I didn't say it, but what I thought was, Jesus, look in the mirror, wouldja? Six-three, blond, fit, rich, and you need a Corvette to get women?

He was a disturbed young man. A year or so later, he killed himself. The official verdict was an accidental shooting, while cleaning his shotgun, but I talked to one of the investigators, who was also a student, and he said it was suicide, no question.

As above, so below; what is inside gets reflected outward ...

Steven Barnes said...

you are correct. I would have said "conflicts with your values and core identity"--unless it actually raises you up. And good relationships do that. Without a shadow of a doubt, Tananarive makes me want to be a better man.