Musings at the Gym

Why is the assumption always that if a person is exceptionally good looking, fit, and prides themselves on the personal dedication and discipline needed for being so, that they are necessarily compensating for a lack of “depth”, personal, or emotional intelligence? Why should outer beauty necessarily imply inner ‘brokenness’? Can’t a person be both physically and emotionally healthy?

I find it fascinating that it’s often the same people who tell you “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” in regards to a less than physical ideal (being polite) and personal merit, are usually the first people to tell you how “shallow” a person must be if they devote what they “see” as too much time to improving their appearance. I’ve been a bodybuilder for over 20 years now, my brother competed on the amateur circuit when we were younger, I’ve met a lot of fitness competitors and just average men and women who pride themselves on their physique, and I have to say the majority of them were very positive, intelligent and psychologically healthy people.

People who look good, generally, exemplify the hard work and conviction that’s necessary in staying that way. It’s not just the physical that makes them attractive; it’s the subconscious understanding of the dedication necessary to be so that’s attractive too. When you look better than the norm, especially in an era and culture where 66% of the population is clinically overweight, there’s an ambient understanding that it takes a mind for dedication and conviction to be so. That’s not to deny that some people don’t hit the genetic lottery jackpot, but largely, maintaining a great physique is the result of a focused effort.

The gym is the perfect environment for sexual equalization from a physical standpoint. In a club or at a party or any other social gathering our masks are on; we can hide deficits more easily with clothing, the lighting and sounds is conducive to giving us more appeal, our inhibitions may be altered due to alcohol, etc. But in the gym all of that is out the window. Oh, women attempt to hide their fat butts with sweat shirts tied around their waists, but everyone is sober – in fact we’re in a better than normal state of awareness from the exercise – both sex’s physical deficits and assets are out in the open.

It’s Darwinism at its finest and both sexes strive for attention in some form or another. Guys can only rely on their physical presence & prowess, and whatever Game they possess to impress since there’s generally no way to judge a man’s socioeconomic status in the gym. Women are stripped to a primal physical competition where they’re judged on their physical form which is men’s primary criteria for mate selection. This is why you commonly hear women complain about ‘hating’ going to the gym and why female specific gyms are profitable; it has less to do with the actual exercise and more to do with an inability to cope with the intense competition present on a level that most are unacustomed to in other social environments. This is why there is such a market for ‘women’ only health clubs such as Curves and Planet Fitness (yes PF gyms are for women), in fact I’ve yet to encounter a men’s only gym and I’d speculate that this is due to men experiencing far less intimidation in a gym setting.

I really wish I could type away here and tell you about all the hotties I see at my gym everyday, but that’s simply not the case. I can tell you I’ve seen a drastic change in the women who populate the “fitness clubs” now, and it’s not for the better. I’m sure I’ll read someone in the comments relate how they have gorgeous attention whores at their local gym, but that’s simply not my experience these days. The women at the gym NEED to be in the gym. Mostly overweight, mostly self-conscious, I can tell by the effort each post-Wall woman exerts as to whether they’re recently divorced (or planning to be). Just on observation, I see far more men in MUCH better shape than the sample of women present. I’d guess it at 80% – 20%, and that’s here in Florida, I can just imagine what it might be in other regions. Even the cardio and zumba classes are overwhelmingly filled with thick soccer moms, “doing it for fun”.

Your Attention Please.

On many a Game forum you’ll find at least one thread per week decrying the evils of the much maligned Attention Whore. In the time I’ve spent exploring Game mechanics I’ve yet to read a treatise that really analyzed the fundamentals of why men and women alike make distinctions between one woman as an Attention Whore and another simply a garden variety woman who seeks attention.

Your mother, your sister, the girl at the bar and the wife you’ve been married to for 20 years are all attention seeking. Some to a greater and some to a lesser degree, but it is an integral part of the feminine gender to seek various means to grab and hold attention. 

Yes I understand that all people, men and women, enjoy attention for various reasons, but as a gender women seek and use attention very differently from men. From a very early age attention is a primary reinforcer for girls. As I’ve mentioned on occasion, part of my psychology education included child psych and my favorite (and most convenient) subject has always been my ever-present 7 y.o. (at the time) daughter when doing case studies. To understand the feminine attention dynamic you have to go back into female childhood socialization. There are countless case studies that focus on attention-as-reinforcer being a psychological construct for women. I should also add that, from a scientific perspective, there really is no absolute nature, or absolute nurture attributed to personality or gender differences, so a definite amount of socialization and learned behavior intrinsically reinforces attention as rewarding, but the root reward of attention seeking behavior begins in female biology.

A few things to start with
In the same respect that men possess testosterone as their primary, gender-defining hormone, women’s bodies produce estrogen and oxytocin in larger volume. Studies have shown both these hormones foster feelings of nurturing as a primary feminine trait for parental caring and oxytocin is a precursor for feelings of trust and comfort. Studies have also shown that girl babies are picked up and given affection 4 times as often as are boy infants and toddlers. This bears evidence to the biological and socialization associations of female attention reinforcement. In addition, studies of pre-adolescent and adolescent degrees of attention to both genders by parents always favors the female child. Correlation of this would indicate the rewarding benefit of attetion to the female as well as a behavioral modeling influence directed towards masculine independence by socializing boys to not be dependent upon the reinforcing aspect of attention.

Female Socialization
Little girls fight in an entirely different realm than do boys. Where boys fight in a the physical realm, girls fight in the psychological. That’s not to exclude girls from actually coming to blows, but far more common is the occurrence of psychological combat, and in no realm is this more effective than the denial of reinforcing attention within a female social collective.

Little girls have a predictable tendency to form small, girl-only collectives or ‘peer clutches’ from the time they are introduced into kindergarten. This social collective progressively becomes a rewarding and reinforcing social unit, locking out those not included, and nurturing those who are. This dynamic can last through high school (i.e. Cliques, etc.), into college and into mature adulthood, but the commonality within all variations of this clutch is the qualifying influence of the affirming power of attention. Should one member of the clutch offend another, it is the hierarchy of an individual member’s ability to maintain the most attention that generally determines the victor in the dispute. The worst consequence of such a dispute being ostracization from the group – thus the absolute denial of this reaffirming attention-as-reinforcement. The clutch develops a hierarchy of influence depending upon each girl’s ability to attract and maintain reinforcing attention. This attention can be from any source; within the group, outside the group, and opposite sex attention becomes the most valuable after puberty.

Attention attraction capacity denotes social rank within the peer clutch. The more attractive the girl, the more popular she becomes and the more influence she wields. This isn’t to say that any particular female cognizantly realizes this. However, when ostracized from the collective, this capacity for attracting attention in a high degree makes her despised. The attention can still be beneficial for affirmation (i.e. realized jealousy), it’s just that the intent that has changed.

Thus, women use attention not only for their own affirmation, individually and collectively, but also to do combat with each other. Far more damaging than physical fighting is the long term psychological impact of denying this reinforcement, or better still, delegitimizing or disqualifying a girl/woman’s capacity to attract this attention. Combine this with a woman’s natural, and innately higher agency to communicate both verbally and non-verbally (i.e covert communications) and you can see the potential this has in damaging a rival. This might explain a woman’s natural propensity to gossip. When a woman attacks the respectability and character of another (“she’s such a slut”), in essence, she is assualting the woman’s agency for garnering attention by delegitimizing it.

The ticking clock
Now lets add to this complex attention need to the female understanding that, as a woman ages her sexual marketability decreases. Bear in mind that a woman’s primary agency for attracting attention is her her sexuality and physical beauty as rewarded by men. This then fosters a drive for this attention-combat to intensify as a woman ages toward her ‘expiration date’. In the last 30 years there has been a definite push through feminization to de-emphasize this natural push and/or to divert this affirmation to be pulled from other sources (i.e. career, independence, internal rewards, etc.). However it has yet to be fully (if ever) realized within western female-centric culture. All one needs do is look at the countless number of beauty products and the methods used to advertise them in popular media. 90% of advertising specific to ‘career minded’ women is still for beauty products. Irrespective of popular socialization, this attention dynamic will not be ignored.

The Attention Whore
So what exactly separates this attention-as-currency dynamic that women use in their social pecking order from the blatant Attention Whore with dozens of male orbiters and FaceBook “friends” numbering in the thousands? The answer to this is found in the methods and lengths to which an individual woman will go to maintain a degree of attention she’s comfortable with. It’s very easy to speculate about the psychological reasons why some women ‘need’ more attention than others – daddy issues, female clutch outcast issues, self-esteem issues, personality disorders, etc. – what’s not is the means by which they achieve this attention and the gender specific reactions others have to it.

What separates the behavior of the attention whore is her overtness in grabbing that attention. Consider that women’s preferred means of communicating is to be covert. There’s no subtlety in the attention whore’s methods and maintenance. Granted, women will see this as an attack in the AW stealing her ‘entitled’ portion of attention, but on a larger scale the AW is betraying the covert attention needs of the sisterhood. By seeking attention in the overt, the AW is essentially crossing over into Men’s preferred communication means to get attention. There’s no (or certainly less) art to attention whoring, so it comes off as classless and trashy.

Difference of Purpose

Have a look at these videos.

Very interesting. First, I have to acknowledge that the CFM (cosmo for men) video was funded by the magazine, and the ass-cam was funded by Levis as part of a viral marketing effort, but look at the difference in approach to both of these. They’re essentially experimenting for the same purpose, but look where each gender places the emphasis and the methodology each uses to collect data. Yes, I know this is for entertainment purposes, but it’s really fascinating to see the differences “in the wild” so to speak.

For the women it was all about “busting” (i.e. shaming) men checking out their ass, while still enjoying the attention, all set to some club music(something bigger something better). It almost wasn’t worth the effort considering that women have a much more pronounced peripheral awareness than men and they’re only confirming what they already know; guys like a nice ass. As a rule, women love the chemical rush that accompanies experiencing indignation, so it’s no surprise that the overall production is one that prompts this – and this is especially true of the clips where a guy who is obviously ‘with’ another girl takes a moment to check out an ass in her presence. “Men are pigs and here’s the proof.”

Compare this to the much more elaborate men’s video, complete with an ‘onboard’ video unit backpack to support 4 different camera angles. The approach here is to gather covert information, not to shame women. While entertaining, the purpose is to empirically educate men in one of the prime tenets of Game, which also happens to be one of the prime tenets of behavioral psychology:

Behavior is the only reliable proof of motivation or intent. Believe what a woman does, not what she says.

The approach is one of deductive reasoning. What parts of a man’s body are reported by women to be the most attractive? And here we have it; how often do we read that women are first attracted to a man’s face or eyes? To be cute they might also mention how they like a nice butt on a man. Yet neither of these regions were targeted by women very often or at all in the case of eyes. The majority also report that they’re less attracted to “overly muscular men” yet if this experiment is accurate, it was this guy’s biceps that attracted the most attention for women, followed only by crotch gazing in frequency – another body part women would rarely admit to ‘checking out’ on a guy.

Take these videos with a grain of salt. As I started with, both of these were sponsored by business ventures with a vested interest in generating attention and sales. However, I can’t help but see the code in the Matrix here with regard to how each gender process the same idea. It’s the purpose behind the video that betrays the interest. I find this idea infinitely more educational than contrived PUA street demonstrations.

A Billion Wicked Thoughts

I’ve recently finished reading “A Billion Wicked Thoughts”  by Ogi Ogas PhD. and Sai Gaddam PhD. and I’d have to place it next to The 48 Laws of Power as a seminal work for the Game community. It statistically confirms a lot of Game principles, but at the same time it will challenge more than a few. Highly recommended.

As expected it appears that yesterday’s Women’s Physical Standards post drew a bit of consternation from both sides of the aisle. Women predictably want to cling to what’s always been a useful canard for their victimhood psychology (i.e. men fixate on specific physical perfection) and ‘community’ men, predictably, want to point out that it’s not JUST looks that gets a guy laid. One of the most sacred cows of the Game community is the ‘Game trumps Looks’ debate. Nothing inspires a more heated discourse than when making physical comparisons and drawing conclusions from observable events and behaviors in this regard. But that’s not what I was getting at in yesterday’s post.

Oh, I’ll get to that in time, but what I was driving at in that topic was dispelling the popularized notion (as lamented by the Body Shop’s and many more positive body image ad campaigns) that men have some twisted, media-fueled physical ideal that women can’t possibly attain and that, statistically, it’s really women who have a far more rigid standard for male beauty than they’ll ever publicly admit. Understandably this makes guys squirm for the same reason it makes women squirm; trying to live up to a rigid physical standard.

On the flip side of that coin, I’m fully aware that there are a host of other factors that influence a woman’s overall attraction for a man, (the classics of status, power, affluence, Game, and Alpha dominance come to mind)  but I was comparing the isolated physical standards for both genders. I also understand that attraction doesn’t happen in a vacuum, however, raw physical arousal – the precursor to a more protracted degree of attraction – often does. George Clooney and Johnny Depp are sex symbols, but Bill Gates (younger, richer and more powerful than either of them) is not. Women’s chances of marrying any of them is infinitesimal, however, when women fantasize about sex, it’s with the good looking guys, because all they’re thinking about is sex from an arousal perspective.

Now, all that makes for a good response in the comments thread, but I wouldn’t have composed any of this into a fresh post had it not been for another related issue I’ve been recently debating. And this is the issue of how easy-access contemporary pornography has become the greatest catalyst in changing the inter-gender landscape since birth-control and the sexual revolution.

Has high quality ubiquitous porn changed Generation Y men? This may seem like a stretch, but in the same way that women want to cling to the idea that men harbor impossibly high physical standards, the comparative argument holds that women also apply this template to the influence of pornography on men’s sexual appetites. Feminine-centric porn complaints generally lump all porn into the same stereotypical profile. By ignoring the overwhelming variety of porn that any given man may “consume”, the sympathetic reader (mostly concerned women and their white knight sycophantic men) are left to presume “porn” means the unattainable, blonde hair, blue eyed, perky-boobed, perfect bodied girl in nothing but high heels and ready to take the money shot in her mouth. Porn hating women love this caricature of porn because, in this characterization, it’s just as unattainable for them to live up to as it is for most men to actually experience. Needless to say the latent purpose of maintaining this opinion is ensuring a position of sexual selection based on feminine-centric criteria. Biomechanics are a bitch, and reducing the threat of sexual competitors provably outperforming them by example (in porn) is increasingly more imperative as access to the “performances” become more easily available. The logic is one of ignorance is bliss; the less exposure a man has to sexual variety the more valuable her sexual agency becomes to him.

All one need do is look at the sex category sections of any free video porn site (Pornhub, Red Tube, Tube 8, etc.) to see what a parody this really is. Porn’s not just the 80’s standard blonde and brunette in a threesome with some random guy rented from the VHS store. It’s amateurs, asians, lesbians, interracial, orgy, fatties, skinnys, matures, teens, etc. Just name the body type, sex act, racial profile, age, hair color, etc. and there is a pornographic niche for it (Rule 34). Considering the sheer amount of sexual variety available for a myriad of preferences, women bemoaning their inability to “live up to” porn star requirements is ludicrous and indicative of their complete lack of understanding the male sex dynamic. As I stated in yesterday’s post, name the niche and there’s a fan-group ready to bang you.

For the past several decades it’s been a very easy sell for women to characterize porn as degrading women, or setting an impossibly idealized standard of sexual expectation; that is until the rise of digital media and the capacity to empirically track the access to it. A Billion Wicked Thoughts admirably compiles the statistic ‘evidence’, the hard web-trend data of more than a decade, that disproves the idea that porn is ‘one-size-fits-all’. All the self-reporting and biased corollary studies on porn’s influences of the 80’s and 90’s are wiped away in one stroke with the statistically verifiable data of online porn consumption habits – leaving all of us with the question of what were they trying to prove then?

I’ll save the debate on whether porn’s influence is retarding men’s overall maturity by too easily satiating their libido for another thread, but I can’t end this without also pointing out that a great many statistics revealed in this book also contradict more than a few presumed tenets of Game theory. Among those is the same one I’ve just pointed out for women; men have a plethora of sexual tastes and fetishes, not just the “perfect 10”. You simply can’t ignore the statistical variances in men’s appetites for MILFs, Matures, Asians, Big Asses, Chubbys, etc. and come to the conclusion that there is a one-size-fits-all sexual type preference for men. You can argue as to why men opt for these variances, but you can’t argue they don’t opt for them.