3 Minute Monday – Competing Women, Fame & Failure

Hi friend,

I got in trouble last week for saying that women’s disapproval of sex work was their intrasexual competition at play, trying to control the sexuality of other women.

I think it’s a very fair comment to say that women will likely be more attuned to the suffering of women working in prostitution than men are.

And also that women have no incentive to permit it to continue, so their disapproval may be heavily due to their desire to protect these women, whereas men wouldn’t have this impetus.

To state the obvious – women absolutely can be moral, caring and empathetic so that other females don’t suffer, make errors in life, get hurt by dating mistakes and much more.

But it’s provably wrong to say that this exclusively comes from a place of ethically-balanced, unselfish moral virtue.

As a society, we have no issue in pointing out men’s selfishness and many shortcomings.

It’s unlikely that women, who are also human beings, have only saintly motives.

Here are some examples…

Studies show that women are more likely to express aggression toward women who are dressed more promiscuously, showing more skin.

This effect is increased in the presence of men, and reduced when it’s only women around.

Studies show that women prefer to take appearance-related advice from gay men rather than their female friends.

This is because women believe gay men are more likely to be honest, whereas female peers might give less than honest advice to reduce competition.

Most slut shaming comes from women, not men.

Why?

“If one woman offers blowjobs on the second date, it’s harder for other women to keep them in reserve until the fourth date as their special treat.

This creates a downward spiral of young women feeling like they have to offer more and more sex to more and more guys just to stay in the mating game.

Thus, slut-shaming is a way of enforcing a more restrained sexual norm on other women so that not all women have to become more promiscuous than any of them would like.” — Geoffrey Miller & Tucker Max

Think about it – if men had the opportunity to make all women on the planet more horny, do you really believe they’d say no?

It’s women who lose out when the price of sex drops, thus they are the enforcers of that price.

Interestingly, the claim of “gold digger” can be seen as a different kind of slut shaming.

Aka.. “protect yourself from this woman, men, she’s only giving you sex disingenuously to get at your money”.

Calling someone a slut is a sexual infidelity prewarning.

Calling someone a gold digger is an emotional and resource infidelity prewarning.

What about abortion?

Polls consistently show that women are more likely than men to support a reduction on the abortion limit.

28% of men supported a reduction vs 46% of women. (YouGov 2011)

24% of men vs 49% of women. (YouGov 2012)

35% of men vs 59% of women. (Angus Reid)

“If it were left to women to vote on the issue, with men out of the picture, there’s a good chance that the result would be in favour of restricting abortion.

On the flip side, if only men voted, they’d almost certainly vote in favour of women’s reproductive rights.” — The Guardian

Why?

Women who are pro-life can control the reproductive strategies of other women by taking them off the dating market.

A woman who can have more consequence-free sex is a bigger competitor for mates (even to married and committed women) than one who faces a greater risk of getting pregnant.

This isn’t to say that arguments for being pro-life don’t come from religious or moral grounds too, but the intrasexual competition is an obvious contributor.

Age Gap Dating Shaming is another timely example.

Leonardo DiCaprio went viral again for his new girlfriend being 25 years old.

You’ll notice that almost all age-gap dating shaming came from women, not from men.

Why?

Protecting young women from a predatory older man?

Perhaps.

But also our old friend, female intrasexual competition.

Even though Leo is taking away viable female’s fertile years from other potential male partners, it’s women who have the biggest problem with the age gap, precisely because a young women who can capture an older high status man is a bigger threat to women than she is to men.

By shaming women into dating within their own age bracket, the dating pool of older, high status men is opened up more and competition is lowered for other women.

In short – women are great. Huge fan of them. But they can be perversely motivated, petty, vicious and conniving in ways that they are unaware of, and pretending that their behaviour is ubiquitously morally motivated is both false and not useful.

The argument that women only tell other women to wear long dresses, leave sex work, support pro-life positions and not have casual sex is exclusively motivated by protection implies that women don’t ever compete with other women.

If you think that women don’t ever compete with each other and only do these things from a place of helping other women, then you also think that it’s ONLY men who compete with the same sex.

That implies that women are passive creatures who just let mating happen to them, without competing with other women for access to the best mates.

That’s a superbly patronising view of women, which disempowers them as agents of their own destiny.

A better view is that, like men, women stand to gain from competing with the same sex for mates.

And that they are capable of doing it.

And that sometimes competition involves not just being “the best” but also tearing others down or interfering with their mating prospects.

MODERN WISDOM

I do a podcast which has had 400 million+ downloads. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This week’s upcoming episodes:

Monday.
George Mack – my boy returns. Mental models, cognitive biases, ways our thinking gets hijacked and more. So so good.

Thursday.
15 Lessons From 2023 – one of the most played episodes of 2022 comes back again. I recap my favourite insights from the last 12 months. Love these ones.

Saturday.
Christmas Special – I’m recording this back on my couch in my old Newcastle house this week with Jonny, Yusef & George. Lessons, insights & reflections on a crazy year. Should be fun.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED

1.
Fame doesn’t change you, it just changes everyone around you.

“Identity lags reality by 1-2 years.
There’s a lot of psychological fallout from a rapid change in status.” — Mark Manson

It’s jarring when everyone else tells you how great you’re doing.

Because you don’t feel any different.

But the world now sees you differently.

It’s like Identity Dysmorphia.

And because you forget compliments but remember insults, any increase in exposure mostly just feels like an increase in criticism.

At no point on the journey to becoming heavily scrutinised, does anyone teach you how to deal with scrutiny.

There is no training course for fame, or criticism.

You’re just as vulnerable to it as you were when you started.

But people presume that you accepted the deal of criticism when you started doing your thing.

You didn’t.

2.
We’re not afraid of failing, we’re afraid of what others will say about us if we fail.

“Why do you feel shame when others falsely accuse you of misconduct?

Your heart rate elevates, your cheeks flush, your body temperature feels like it’s rising, even though you didn’t do anything wrong.

The reason is that social devaluation by others is sufficient to elicit the emotion of shame, even when there is no wrongdoing.

The true trigger of shame is negative perceptions by others—not by the self.” — Rob Henderson

3.
Just because you study or talk about something doesn’t mean you support it.

“Analysis is not justification.” — Hasan Abi

LIFE HACK

Opal

Been using this app to control my screentime for a few weeks.

Scheduled auto app-blocking, time tracking, simple.

Currently a fan, will report back in a few months.

Big love,
Chris x

Try my productivity drink Neutonic.
Share this newsletter with your friends here.

PS
Take some time offline over the next few weeks. You only have one opportunity to round out the year.

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