I’ve had a fantastic marriage for over 15 years now, but I’m not going to sugar coat the facts that marriage involves life changing sacrifices for men that no woman will ever fully understand or appreciate. I’m not anti-marriage. I’m anti- uninformed, pollyanna, shoulda’-saw-it-coming, ONEitis fueled, shame induced, bound for bankruptcy, scarred my children for life, marriage.

A woman loves you when she takes you for granted. That sounds odd I know, but it’s when she’s not fawning all over you and you’re in your 10th year of marriage and it’s just part of everyday conversation. “OK, love you, bye” is at the end of every phone call. You’re not thinking about it, because you don’t need to. If you’re asking the question “how do you know when she loves you?” You’re not in it. It’s only when that familiarity and regular comfort is removed that she can appreciate it. Once the commonness of love is established women will only rarely express it overtly – in fact the expression will be what’s expected of you – so you have to look for it covertly.

All the flowery crap you read in your Hallmark card on Valentines Day or your Anniversary was written by someone else. And while it’s nice to have these gestures of appreciation occasionally, it’s more important to see the forest for the trees. It’s not individual acts of affection or appreciation so much as it is the whole of what you both do on a regular day-to-day basis. It’s what you and she are all about after your three hundredth bowl of oatmeal together on a Saturday morning and your kids are fighting for control of the TV remote while you’re sitting across the breakfast table discussing which bills need to be paid first this month and how bad the lawn needs mowing that defines love and marriage. Yes, precisely the things you’ll never think about when you’re sarging her or considering moving her up in your plate spinning line up.

This is what marriage is; not necessarily boring per se (although it certainly can be more often than not), but ordinary. It’s normal, common, or becomes so. Think about how many people who’ve lived, married and died on planet earth who did exactly the same things as you. That’s the real test of marriage that no one who hasn’t experienced it can really relate in any meaningful sense. The happy, Oprah-ized idea is that you have to “keep it fresh”, but even after a night of freshening it up and the Wal-Mart lingerie is in the clothes hamper, and you pick up the kids from spending the night at her sisters house the morning after, you go back to the day-to-day marriage you’ve always had. This is the shit no one tells you about when you’re being sold on the Marriage Goal – the “now what?” feeling that comes directly after you’ve found the ONE you’ve been looking for, or “did the right thing” with and married because she suddenly rediscovered religion AFTER you’d had marathon sex with her for 3 months straight and wouldn’t abort the pregnancy (and no, that didn’t happen to me).


I think what most men uniquely deceive themselves of is that they will ultimately be appreciated by women for their sacrifices. Learn this now, you wont. You can’t be because women fundamentally lack the ability to fully realize, much less appreciate the sacrifices a man makes to facilitate her reality. Even the most enlightened, appreciative woman you know still operates in a feminne-centric reality. Men making the personal sacrifices necessary to honor, respect and love her are commonplace. You’re supposed to do those things. You sacrificed your ambitions and potential to provide her with a better life? You were supposed to. You resisted temptation and didn’t cheat on your wife with the hot secretary who was DTF and ready to go? You were supposed to. Your responsibilities to maintaining a marriage, a home, your family, etc. are common – they’re expected. They are only appreciated in their absence.

This is the totality of the feminine-centric reality. Men only exist to facilitate the feminine reality, and any man who disputes this (or even analyzes its aspects) is therefore not a ‘man’. It just IS. Even the most self-serving, maverick among men is still beholden to the feminine imperative in that he’s only defined as a rebel because he doesn’t comply with the common practices of ‘men’ in a female defined reality. And ironically it’s just this maverick who is appreciated by the feminine above those men who would comply with it (or even promote it)  as a matter of course.

The concept of appreciation really dovetails into a lot of other aspects of intergender relations.

For instance in The Mature Man thread; assume for a moment that a 40 y.o. Man with the options to pursue younger women “does the right thing” and seeks out a relationship with a woman his own age. Would he be appreciated for essentially giving an aged woman a new lease on life? Or would he be viewed as doing what is to be expected of him?

Would a man who marries a single mother and helps with the parental investment of another man’s child be appreciated more for having done so? Would it even factor into a woman’s estimation of his character, or would he simply doing what’s expected of a man?  The question of appreciation is a real quandary for the White Knight.

Relationships aren’t work.

Familiarity does in fact breed contempt,..and mediocrity, and routine, and banality, and commonness,.. which is why so many marriages end up in the shit can. Men and women give up on themselves.

The “Relationships are work” meme is a Social Convention. How often do you hear men say these words? This has filtered into popular consciousness even with men now. For the LTR men who subscribe to this I’d also speculate that many of them are in relationships where THEY are “doing the work” for the women who are giving them the ‘grade’ so to speak. And of the single men who subscribe to this mythology, each had to be conditioned to believe this is the case in LTRs by women. This is rooted in the mistaken belief that men’s actions and sacrifices can ever be appreciated by women.

What would the best method be to get a man to live up to the idealizations a woman has as her perfect mate (however twisted and convoluted this may have been defined for her)? Women love the ‘fixer upper’. “He’d be such a great guy if only he would, _____” or she’ll say “I’m working on him.” It’s when the conditioning goes from “I’m working on him” to “We’re working on our relationship” that he has now internalized her frame control. This is where the mythology of Relationships-as-Work is derived from. How often is it the woman who needs the ‘work’ in the relationship? And if it is her, the terminology of the relationship and the associations change. ‘Work’ implies a man better conforming his identity to her ideal relationship, to better fit the feminine-centric reality. And what better way to initiate this than to psychologically condition him to want to embody her ideal – even before he’s ever met a woman or been involved in a relationship?

The Mature Man

I recently got into an interesting debate as to the reasonings why mature men tend to opt for younger women with whom to settle down with. As is to be expected from femme-screech and their mangina enablers the social shaming mechanisms abounded. Most of these are some variation of the “men’s fragile egos” canard or the “a real man would want to get with a woman his own age” trope. This quote pretty much summed up the opposing point:

Older guys want to bang college-age girls for the same reason that many older women like dating younger guys: to live in a state of suspended youth and be reminded that they “still have it”.

I half-agree. Older women definitely want to think they “still have it”, with regards to their capacity to hold the attention of younger guys they find themselves in competition with younger women for. However, older men who naturally pursue younger women come to realize that they’ve “finally got it”. Why wouldn’t a guy of 40 have a natural preference for the younger woman after reaching a level of maturity and accomplishment that allows him this? Professional women tied to the male template of life’s progression tend to think that they too should be entitled to the sexual attraction of ‘eligible’ men by virtue of their mature achievements, status, intellect and some imagined sense of knowing themselves better. They are mistaken.

The Associations of Maturity

First off,  it’s a mistake to just peg 40 y.o.s in this demographic. There are plenty of early to mid thirties guys that can and do pull girls 5 to 8 years younger than themselves regularly. Funny how there’s little shaming stigma with that age difference. It’s not a man’s physical age so much as what the age represents (or is perceived to) – maturity, accomplishment, better provisioning capacity, status, etc. Do ALL men actually realize these to their satisfaction by this time? Of course not, but it’s the perception that they SHOULD have actualized this that is the attractant in comparison to younger guys who haven’t, nor would really be expected to. Mature Men represent this perception of assumed accomplishment and security – exactly what women are looking for in a phase of life where their sexual marketability declines and their need for long term provisioning becomes more urgent..

Second, understand that the incidence of 30-40 y.o. men remaining single up to this time of life is far lower. Most guys (AFCs in particular) are already engaged by 25 y.o. and or have been serial monogamists up to this point. For all the recent hand wringing about ‘kidult’ men not manning up and marrying women, rare is the guy who remains single into his late 30s. At this point he’s either divorced once or on marriage number two. Still fewer come into the realization of their own vastly increased sexual market value assuming they’ve managed to stay in shape and accomplish things financially, emotionally and maturity-wise up to this point and THEN use this to their own advantage with younger women. An interesting aside here is that men get berated for being peter-pans in their late 20s for not living up to female entitlement, then get the same treatment for marrying younger women when they do mature into Men. This is a glaring illustration of the female imperative at work.

Now add to that a constant feminine social contrivance telling them they have “fragile egos” or shames them for dating young chippys (i.e. future trophy brides) instead of mature women (generally single mothers) with all their accompanying baggage. Unsurprisingly we see in most cultures older males striving for the attentions of the younger and more atractive females, but in western culture he becomes vilified and shamed for this – or at least that’s what western feminized women would like to be the case. The most common complaint women in their mid-thirties bemoan is that “There’s no good men” or they can’t understand why men just can’t “grow up”. Increasingly ‘career women’ desiring to finally start a family at age 35 find that men – particularly the ones that meet their provisioning criteria – in their age range (33-38) are not interested in women (to say nothing of ‘career women’) of their age. They’re interested in the 22 year olds who wouldn’t give them the time of day when they didn’t have the status (or maturity) that they’ve just discovered they now have. And of course the 35 year old career woman was one of these 22 year old girls, only 13 years prior, who was doing precisely the same thing the 22 year old girls are doing today.

Mid-Life Crisis Epiphany

These Men are not trying to relive anything; they’re newly aware of their own sexual market value – and nothing both frightens and attracts a woman so well as a Man aware of his own value. That’s the foundation of confidence. This represents a problem for women though. They want a Man with the confidence and maturity (derived from experience) to make important decisions, be an initiator, a good provider, etc., but not SO confident that he weighs his options and selects her out of his provisioning for a competing woman based on his primary requisite of sexual experience. So to counter this, the feminine creates social conventions that shame a Man for considering a woman too much younger than herself. This has the latent purpose of leveling the playing field in order for her to compete with women who are younger, hotter and more sexually available. He has to be kept ignorant of the whole process, but still ashamed enough into thinking his desire for the young and attractive mid 20s girl makes him “juvenile” or he has a “fragile ego”, or he’s “trying to recapture his youth”. The feminine reality demands he be dissuaded from pursuing his interests in favor of women’s sexual strategies, and the best way to do that is to slime his intersets as disgusting:

To most college-age girls, a guy in his 40s (even 30s) and up is usually the “creepy old man,” even if he takes good care of himself. The old guy usually ends up trying to fit into the young girl’s world instead of the other way around.

This is the Creepy Old Man tactic. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, however I think it’s contextual. I’m regularly at events (mixers, clubs, promos, vodka nights, etc.) as part of my work where I’m approached by much younger women. If the 40 y.o. guy is perceived to be attempting to “fit in” with that age’s social peers, then you’re absolutely correct. The disconnect comes from a man who’d otherwise be perceived as possessing the attributes he should have for his age trying to retrograde himself into another age’s social profile. THAT’S when he becomes the “old guy in the club”. When I’m on promos, or out socially as part of my job, I NEVER attempt to ‘backdate’ myself style-wise, linguistically, etc. If you’re attractive, the girls who want to associate with a mature Man will find you.

I work in the alcohol / spirits industry and as part of this I travel internationally about 3-4 times a year. I’m at bars, events, conventions, martini clubs and mixers fairly often. And with the exception of a few men older than myself, I’m a senior in my company and older by 5 to 10 years than most of the people I interact with. In all honesty, I find people my own age or in their mid 40s, and particularly women, insufferably boring.

Men become happier than women by mid-life and for the most part I think I can see why. Most women in their late 30s to mid 40s are, for the most part, chronic complainers. After going through the high drama phases of her 20s, into kids, marriages and divorces in her 30s, women tend to content themselves languishing in this dissatisfaction that her fantasy life isn’t panning out. Nothing measures up to the perceived ideals she thinks are her due. Most women in western culture who find themselves single at 38-42 are there after an earlier life that didn’t go as planned. They almost universally carry some kind of baggage. Can they be attractive? Uncommonly, but yes. However it’s a mistake to assume older (or at least age level peers) women to be more intellectually equitable with older men and therefore more compatible choices for LTRs / marriage. I’m sorry if this comes off as glossing myself, but honestly, I’ve encountered very few women I can relate to intellectually or that I’d consider equal in my particular interests, my life experiences, my passions, etc.

I wish this didn’t sound like conceit on my part because, in all humility, I think the better part of what I find important is really pretty mundane. It’s not that I hold a low opinion of women’s capacity to be more intellectually equitable; it’s simply their own general indifference to even trying to relate to that in comparison to their own distractions. I don’t think women (and particularly 35-40 y.o. women) feel it’s incumbent upon them to HAVE to be a good mate, intellectually stimulating, or a good mother, or even a good sexual partner for a Man’s consideration. I’d attribute most of that to the female sense of entitlement / victimhood that permeates feminine popular culture, but also to men and women’s interests really being disparate. In other words, with the extraordinarily rare exception, women will NEVER put forth the same effort a man will for a woman to better identify herself with his interests for the explicit purpose of being a better mate for him.

“Mature” Women

Obviously a more mature woman will have a greater urgency to settle into the long term provisioning security that marriage provides her, but this urgency gets confused with actual maturity. Just because a woman is more motivated to start a family and enter into a more traditionally domestic life doesn’t mean she’s an intellectual or mature equal, nor does it make her more compatible with you in this sense. It simply means she is more motivated to do so based on her conditions of diminishing sexual value.

I think on some level of consciousness, older, more mature men who’ve spent a good portion of their lives dealing with the experiences that create this baggage for older women, recognize a necessity to distance themselves from it. After making the sacrifices, and avoiding (or not) the pitfalls that he must to become the healthy, mature and accomplished man that older women complain are in such short supply, I think it’s pretty matter of fact to seek out a younger, hotter, more sexually available woman with little to no baggage. The counter to this is the feminine social contrivances of shame that I’ve already covered earlier.

Men on a basic functioning level are pragmatists, even when we do allow our emotions to get the better of us. One tenet we maintain is an understanding that women tend to operate from an emotional level, whereas men tend to operate from deductive reasoning. And while a hot piece of ass is it’s own motivation, I think on some level, after the necessary experiences, sacrifices and time it takes to get to a point of personal maturity, we see a younger woman with less baggage as a sort of double bonus. If I were to find myself single tomorrow, this would be exactly my motivation. Why would I invest my considerable capacity for financial, emotional, intellectual and security provisioning into complicating my own life with a woman fraught with the baggage of her own failings and inconsistencies of the last 10-15 years? For what I’ve become myself and what I know is valuable, why would I not look for a simplification considering what was required of me to get to that maturity? If middle age men are happier than women at this stage of life, it’s because they’ve arrived at a place where they don’t feel the need to qualify themselves to women any longer.

A rich man doesn’t need to tell you he’s rich. You can see it in his appearance, his mannerisms, his bearing. The same is true for a mature Man. In his maturity he’s comfortable in the knowledge that he doesn’t need to prove it by qualifying himself to a social contrivance that’s counter to his own self-interest and his well being.

The tool of ASD

I realize what I’m about to type here is going to ruffle a lot of feathers, but I believe the concept of ASD as Game would define it is flawed – I don’t believe that anti-slut defense is what most guys make of it. I know that’s going to go against everything any PUA has ever established about overcoming ASD, but let me clarify a few things about this first. I’m not saying that women aren’t the filters of their own sexuality. I’m not proposing that women don’t feel some sense of personal accountability for their own sexual decision. Obviously it is in their own biological interest to be cautious with whom they’d mate with. What I am saying is that ASD is a feminine social convention.

Anti-Slut Defense is exactly that, a “defense.” It is an automatic moral high ground that any and every woman has the ability to claim. It is the feminine prerogative in it’s rawest form, but it is a social contrivance and possibly the single most useful tool a woman has next to her sexuality. It is one thing for a woman to be sexual, arousing, erotic and enticing, but it is quite another thing for her to be sexually available. This is the secret of feminine seduction; the prospect of sexual pleasure without the promise of sexual availability. And the tool – the social mechanism – used to effect this contrivance of feminine virtue is ASD. There had to be a sociological schema created – a set of common rules backed by an unassailable moral stance – that would allow a woman to operate, and practice her methods of sexual selection without the worry of the social accountability that her otherwise fickle and seemingly indecisive behaviors would draw attention to. Thus the importance of feminine virtue comes into the popular consciousness.

Slut Disclaimer

Before I continue, bear in mind right now, I’m NOT debating the merit of a woman’s wanting to avoid being considered a slut. Obviously fidelity is a prime requisite for men seeking to establish a monogamous relationship. What I am proposing is that ASD is less about avoiding that perception and more about being a convenient tool to reserve a woman’s sexual selection options. I don’t ‘beleive’ in ASD in the context that most PUAs seem to perceive it and certainly not in the way most AFCs do. I do not believe women are as worried about their “slut status” as most guys believe they are.

Sexual reputation for women is no doubt important, but I think that the social contrivance of ASD in the way that men understand it is far more overblown than how women really experience it. Women are all too eager to reinforce this male perception because it serves their purpose as a whole. The social mechanics of ASD make it unassailable and also bolster the “women-have-it-harder-than-men” victimhood that’s served them well for centuries. However, in light of a majority of women’s easily observable, contradictory behavior that occurs so often and under such obvious conditions it becomes predictable, I cannot think that ASD is considered anything more than the perfect tool to be used as fits a situation.

Let me also be clear in stating that I do not believe women have some grand scheme of manipulation in using ASD. It’s become so ingrained in modern culture since well before the 20th century that it’s part of both sexes upbringings and psychological gender understandings. My point is that ASD has been assimilated into the “have it all” mentality women use to simultaneously play virtuous, chaste “good girl” but still have the prerogative to be independent, liberated and free “bad girl” as their conditions warrant. And again, I’m not raging against it or trying to say women ought not to do so – I’m certainly not going to change so concrete a conviction no matter how questionable. I’m saying be aware of it and plan accordingly as a man.

The ASD Tool

With ASD as a tool, a woman can operate unhindered in her sexual selection. As much as people want to take issue with me about Plate Theory, women have been employing it for centuries and the tool that is ASD has only made them better at it. In today’s western culture (and a lot of others as well) she’s got the best of the new rules and the old. A woman can be as flirtatious as she wants, be as arousing and flighty as she pleases and still enjoys the female prerogative to “change her mind”, to be concerned with her virtue. And we, as properly conditioned chumps, nod our heads in agreement with the girl who just won the wet t-shirt contest when she says she wont sleep with us because she’s “not THAT kind of girl.”

Do the girls in Panama City on spring break flashing their tits, making out with random guys (and other girls) on camera and hooking up seem worried about being perceived as a slut? Do the self-shooters and amateur porn girls really worry about being perceived as a slut? Do the women at a club on a Girl’s Night Out really seem concerned with what their other girlfriends think of their sexual exploits? If anything they’re encouraged to be more sexually adventurous by their peers. Does the bride-to-be at her bachelorette party worry about coming off as a slut in Las Vegas? Women will do what they want to do and work out the rationalizations for it later, because they know they’ll be excused for their indescretions by no other means than feminine virtue. They know that there is already a well established social system that will happily accept her default victimization as a woman.

As I’m fond of saying, the girl fucking the hot guy she met an hour earlier in the foam cannon party on spring break in Cancun is the same girl who’ll tell you she’s “just not comfortable enough to have sex with you yet” after you’ve spooned her for 3 hours with a hardon in your bed. She gets away with it because she uses the ASD contrivance to filibuster your sexual desire.

So, I’m not going to suggest that you NEXT a woman out of hand for a lack of IL or even desire. What I will advise is an awareness of how a woman applies her version of Plate Theory and the tools with which she employs it. ASD is one of many tools in her toolbox; know when it’s being used against you and weigh the costs of dealing with it against the rewards of actually banging her. When I was dating Mrs. Tomassi it took 3 dates to bed her, but never did she tell me, “not yet, I’m just not comfortable with you”, never was I expected to play cuddle bitch and go home with blue balls. She never said “I’m making you wait for it.” She had more respect for ME than that, not the other way around. When we had sex, we HAD sex. We didn’t play games, I didn’t put it half-way-in, we didn’t dry-hump we had sex.

Women are concerned with reputation, of course. Women do have sexual hang ups as a result of this or upbringing too, but again, is the cost of dealing with this worth the reward of having sex with a woman with hang ups? Is it worth the investment required for a future LTR that by all indicators would be with a woman with hang ups or is settling for you?  Would your efforts be better spent with a new prospect in contrast to that perceived reward? People always think my blanket response is to NEXT a girl, but I’ve been down the ASD-game playing path often enough in my past, and know so many others who’ve done so as well, to see that a zero-tolerance policy is simply more pragmatic. The problem isn’t so much that she wasn’t instantaneously sexual with you from the word go, but more that she’s used the ASD contrivance to filibuster you. Look carefully at what’s working in her life now. What’s her background?  Is she a single mommy? Does she have other irons in the fire? She’s only been with 5 guys (that she’ll admit to) why? Because she’s virtuously cautious or because she’s evaluating you as one of her options?

The Honor System

“An unfamiliar feeling for one of you, but a horribly familiar feeling for the other.”

The concept of Honor that men began has been made to serve a feminine purpose. I have no doubt that the principle of honor dates back from as long ago as we can track human civilization, but like so many other social foundation Men have instituted, the feminine will covertly position them to their own purpose.

In the introduction to the Art of Seduction author Robert Greene explains why there was an original need for seduction to be developed into an art. For this we can look back to ancient civilizations where women were essentially a commodity. They had no OVERT external power to control their fates, but they excelled (and still do) at COVERT psychological internal power, and this of course finds a parallel in men and women’s preferred communication methods. The feminine’s primary agency has always been sexuality and manipulating influence by its means.

Much in the same way that each gender communicates, so too is their method of interacting within their own gender. As Men we’re respected when we keep our word, sacrifice ourselves for a worthy cause (even to the point of disposability), solve problems rationally, our word is our bond, and a whole host of other qualifiers that make us respectable and worthy of integrity. We must be OVERT and above board; and when we encounter a man who is COVERT in his dealings we call him ‘shifty’ and think him untrustworthy. Even for the most noble of purposes, practicing the art of misdirection is not something men are respected for – at least not publicly.

It’s just this overt masculine interactive nature that women are only too ready to exploit. In combination with their sexual agency and influence they use this overt male social interactive dynamic to position themselves in places where they can use indirect power. Cleopatra was an excellent example of this – sending armies to war by appealing to powerful men’s pride and honor, while reserving her sexuality as a reward. Virtually every Feminine Social Convention is rooted in appealing to, or attacking male social institutions – a dedication to an idealistic sense of honor being chief among them. The obvious example is of course “shaming” and the “do-the-right-thing” social contract.

In fact to be a “Man” has become synonymous with living up to a feminine imperative that’s cleverly disguised as masculine Honor. It’s not that women created Honor, but rather that they’ve recreated it to serve their purpose. In the Biblical Ten Commandments we’re told not to commit adultery – don’t sleep with another man’s wife – which probably wasn’t too hard to abide by when polygamy was the norm. In fact multiple wives was a sign of affluence, it used to be the conspicuous consumption of the epoch. Why then is polygamy a social perversion now? What changes occurred that made polygamy honorable (even enviable) into a very evil taboo?

Along with language and culture, social conditions evolve. What we think of as Honorable today are the result of centuries molding. It’s very easy to romanticize about times when Honor among Men reigned supreme, and then lament the sad state of society today in comparison, but doing so is a fools errand. Honor in and of itself is, and should be, a foundation for Men, but it’s only useful when we understand it in the perspective of how it can be used against us.

Man Up or Shut Up – The Male Catch 22

One of the primary way’s Honor is used against men is in the feminized perpetuation of traditionally masculine expectations when it’s convenient, while simultaneously expecting egalitarian gender parity when it’s convenient.

For the past 60 years feminization has built in the perfect Catch 22 social convention for anything masculine; The expectation to assume the responsibilities of being a man (Man Up) while at the same time denigrating asserting masculinity as a positive (Shut Up). What ever aspect of maleness that serves the feminine purpose is a man’s masculine responsibility, yet any aspect that disagrees with feminine primacy is labeled Patriarchy and Misogyny.

Essentially, this convention keeps beta males in a perpetual state of chasing their own tails. Over the course of a lifetime they’re conditioned to believe that they’re cursed with masculinity (Patriarchy) yet are still responsible to ‘Man Up’ when it suits a feminine imperative. So it’s therefore unsurprising to see that half the men in western society believe women dominate the world (male powerlessness) while at the same time women complain of a lingering Patriarchy (female powerlessness) or at least sentiments of it. This is the Catch 22 writ large. The guy who does in fact Man Up is a chauvinist, misogynist, patriarch, but he still needs to man up when it’s convenient to meet the needs of a female imperative.

In contemporary society we have a very different understanding of what Honor was, or was intended to be initially. One of the psychological undercurrents I see in most AFCs is a strong, self-righteous dedication to a very distorted conviction of Honor. A main tenet being an unearned, default respect for women; essentially an unearned Honor placed on a woman for no other reason than she’s female. We learn this (usually) from the time we’re children, “never hit a girl”. Naturally, this has only been ferociously encouraged by the feminine since Victorian times because it served a latent purpose right up until on demand (feminine exclusive) birth control was offered, and then prompted the sexual revolution.

Today, we still have women using the anachronism that is male Honor in a manner that serves their interests, but it’s contrasted with a sexually emphasized opportunism. A Man’s responsibility should be “Honoring” her as ‘the fairer sex’ while recognizing her ‘independence’. The AFC gobbles this stuff up and in an effort to better identify himself with her ideals he begins to convince himself that he’s unique in that he better exemplifies this false-virtue, this feminine defined sense of Honor than “other guys”.

Women & Sex

“Booty is so strong that there are dudes willing to blow themselves up for the highly unlikely possibility of booty in an other dimension. There are no chicks willing to blow themselves up for a penis.”
– Joe Rogan

One of the single most annoying tropes I read / hear from men (more so than women) is the “Women are just as / more sexual than men” canard. Nothing stops me in my tracks more abruptly than reading this line parroted back in some form by a self-effacing white knight trying to convince himself, hope against hope, that it could be true. This is a VERY effective feminine social convention, even internalized and spouted back by the likes of more than a few infamous PUAs. This fantasy belongs among the higher order social convention myths like the Myth of Sexual Peak. Just a rudimentary knowledge of female biology is all that’s needed to deconstruct the myth.

Women are more sexual than men, but they are repressed due to a lack of “trust”.

Patently false. A healthy male produces between 12 to 17 times the amount of testosterone a woman does. It is a biological impossibility for a woman to want sex as much as, or as often as men. Trust me, when a woman says, “I don’t understand why sex is so important to guys” she’s speaking the literal truth. No woman will ever experience 17 times the amount of her own testosterone levels (barring steroids). Amongst its many other effects, testosterone is the primary hormone involved with stimulating human libido. I should also add that, on average, and barring environmental variables, a mans testosterone only declines 1% per year beyond age 40, so even at age 60 the average, healthy male is only dealing with an average 20% deficit in testosterone.

Critics of this observation like to argue that, for female sexual response and arousal, testosterone isn’t the only factor to consider. To which I’ll agree, however it is the PRIMARY factor in sexual response. A woman cannot possibly understand what 12 to 17 times their present amount of testosterone could feel like without steroid use. In fact the first effect female bodybuilders report when cycling anabolic steroids is a 100 fold increase in sexual interest and libido. So in terms of natural female hormonal / biochemical response there is no unaltered way a woman could ever make an accurate comparison to what a man’s baseline libido is in relation to her own. Women’s sexual desire is also cyclical. Even at the peak of her ovulatory cycle, when she’s at her horniest, she’ll never experience what men do 24 hours a day. This is the root of the myth, and the source of the social convention.

Other critics would erroneously argue that estrogen plays a part in female sexual arousal. They’d be wrong.

Estrogen does ‘control’ libido – for menEstrogen Have a look at the Functions section here. And while you’re at it you may want to have a look at Testosterone; and in particular this:

Like men, women rely on testosterone to maintain libido, bone density and muscle mass throughout their lives. In men, estrogens simply lower testosterone, decrease muscle mass, stunt growth in teenagers, introduce gynecomastia, increase feminine characteristics, and decrease susceptibility to prostate cancer. Sexual desire is dependent on androgen levels rather than estrogen levels.

I also understand that female sexuality functions differently than male sexuality, but this only reinforces my point. Women’s sexuality is cyclic, not only on a monthly schedule, but also over periods of a lifetime (menopause, and peak fertility for instance). There are periods over a month and a lifetime where sexual desire waxes and wanes, (healthy) men’s stays relatively constant from puberty to about age 40. Women are slower to arouse, they tend to need more than just visual stimulation, and there is definitely a psychological element (they need a fantasy) necessary. Men only need visual stimulation and minimal feedback to get aroused (i.e. porn).

It should come as no shock that post-menopausal hormone therapies use testosterone to boost women’s flagging libidos too. When women are at the peaks of their ovulatory cycles, low and behold they experience a sharp spike in testosterone levels in order to facilitate pregnancy and then it gets flushed out during menstruation. You can debate about how best to get a woman’s testosterone flowing, but it’s testosterone that’s needed to prompt a sexual response.

Now the real question is, why would such a popular myth be such a useful social convention? Think about it. It sexualizes women, while not making them outright sluts. They can avoid the stigma of promiscuity while presenting the fantasy that they are secretly “more sexual” than they are “allowed” to be, if only they could meet a man skilled enough to bring this out in them. It’s a sexual selection convention. The fantasy is that women are really these wolves in sheep’s clothing for the right guy. To an extent this is true. Studies do indicate that women in their peak fertility window do in fact aggressively seek out Alpha males for conventional sexual encounters. However, again, the root of this social convention is in the presumption that “women are just as sexual as men”, which is simply not the case considering the conditionality of the female sexual response.

No self-interested Man is ever going to be encouraged to refute the idea that women are equally preoccupied with, equally aroused as, or equally desirous of sex as men are. We love the fantasy that women are secretly yearning for sex with us, if only society were more open and accepting of feminine sexuality. Yet, in the same breath we’ll hear about how slutty and aggressive women have become in the fall of western society by the same guys. It’s ironic, but it gives guys hope that if they can find the secret formula to unleashing the sexual beast within every woman he’ll find this insatiable she-devil to pair off with monogamously. If women were men’s sexual equals, why would they not be given to the same drives that conflict with monogamy? Imagine a world where women are as horny as men. Think of a gay bath house and you might have a workable model.

Women of course love to encourage and reinforce this social convention because it sounds like empowerment in the face of patriarchal sexual oppression (yes, we’d be more sexual if you’d only allow us to you evil men), while at the same time tacitly acknowledging that it turns men into white knight sympathizers of the cause (i.e. feminine entitlement and primacy).

The point of my starting this topic wasn’t to debate whether or not women are sexual at all – obviously they are – however it was my intent to draw attention to the canard that women (and their would-be male identifiers) would like everyone to believe, “women are just as / more sexual than men”. No woman can make a realistic assessment about that unless she’s had 12 -17 times her natural testosterone levels increased and lived in a man’s biological condition. Just on the face of it the assertion is silly, but as I said, for women it’s empowering to think that women are “just as sexual” as men. And female-identifiers are all too happy to reinforce that meme because it offers them the hope of getting laid with one of these ‘sexually repressed’ women.

War Brides

Reader Nas had an interesting question regarding female duplicity:

“Evolution has largely selected-for human females with a capacity to form psychological schemas that preserve an ego-investment that would otherwise afflict them with debilitating anxiety, guilt, and the stresses that result from being continuously, consciously aware of their own behavioral incongruities. Evolution selects-for solipsistic women who are blissfully unaware of their solipsism.”

Can you please expand on this Rollo? I find it fascinating.

OK, baton down the hatches, we’re heading for dangerous waters. What I’m getting at here is suggesting that women’s propensity for solipsism is a psychologically evolved mechanism. In other words, it helped women to cope with the harsh realities of the past, to develop a more focused sense of self-interest. To really grasp this you need to understand women’s brain function and chemistry. I’m not going to get too detailed in this, but suffice it to say numerous studies show that a female brain is hard-wired for emotional response and communication on a more complex level than men. I think this is pretty much an established point for my readers, but if you disagree, well that’s going to have be the topic of another post.

Given the harsh realities that women had to endure since the paleolithic era, it served them better to psychologically evolve a sense of self that was more resilient to the brutal changes she could expect be subjected to. Consider the emotional investment a woman needs to put into mothering a child that could be taken away or killed at a moment’s notice. Anxiety, fear, guilt, insecurity are all very debilitating emotions, however it’s women’s innate psychology that makes them more durable to these stresses. Statistically, men have far greater difficulty in coping with psychological trauma (think PTSD) than women. Why should that be?

On the face of it you may think that men’s better ability to rationally remove themselves from the emotional would make them better at coping with psychological trauma, but the reverse is actually the case. Women seem to have a better ability to accept emotional sacrifice and move on, either ignoring those stresses or blocking them entirely from their conscious awareness. Women possessing a more pronounced empathic capacity undoubtedly served our species in nurturing young and understanding tribal social dynamics, however it was also a liability with regards to a hostile change in her environment. Stockholm Syndrome is far more pronounced in female captives (the story of Jaycee Duguard comes to mind), why should that be? Because women’s peripheral environment dictated the need to develop psychological mechanisms to help them survive. It was the women who could make that emotional disconnect when the circumstances necessitated it who survived and lived to breed when their tribe was decimated by a superior force. This is also known as the War Bride dynamic; women develop an empathy with their conquerors by necessity.

Men are the disposable sex, women, the preserved sex. Men would simply die in favor of a superior aggressor, but women would be reserved for breeding. So it served a feminine imperative to evolve an ability to cut former emotional ties more readily (in favor of her new captor) and focus on a more self-important psychology – solipsism.

Now, here is where I’ll step off the diving board and into the theoretical. It’s my purview that a lot of what men would complain are duplicitous acts of indifference towards them are really rooted in this innate feminine solipsism. That’s a bold statement, I realize, but I’d argue that what men take for inconsiderate indifference in a break up or in ruthless shit tests is really a woman tapping into this innate, self-preserving solipsism. Combine hypergamy with the chronically hostile environments of the past and you end up with a modern day feminine solipsism. Add to this an acculturated sense of female entitlement, social conventions that excuse this ‘duplicity’, and a constant misdirection of intent by women themselves, and you come to where we are now. As if that weren’t enough, throw in the element of hypergamy and the countdown in terms of fertility and long term provisioning that a woman must deal with before hitting the imminent Wall, and now you have a fuller picture of the conditions and stresses that necessitate this solipsistic nature.

Ever wonder why it is a woman can ‘get over you’ so quickly after a break up from a relationship you’d thought was rock solid for so long? Ever wonder why she returns to the abusive boyfriend she hopes will change for her? Look no further than feminine solipsism.

After reading all of this I can understand if anyone thinks this is a very nihilistic observation. Let me be clear, this dynamic is real by order of degrees for individual women. A woman’s conditions may be such that she’s never needed to tap into this reserve. Also, we are dealing with subconscious elements of her personality here, so it would come as no surprise that feminine solipsism wouldn’t be cognitive for most women – thus offensive and denied. I’m not asking that anyone accept this idea as gospel, just that the dots do connect very predictably.

Average Frustrated Chump

In the “community” there’s a lot of want for better terms. One of the major obstacles in the average guy’s path to unplugging is really coming to terms with the ‘terms’ we use. Somewhere on the net I’m sure there’s a glossary of the common acronyms used in the “manosphere” (I hate that term too) outlining the various shorthand we use. Some of these terms have gone mainstream and I’m beginning to see even “legitimate” online journalists use LTR (long term relationship) or ONS (one night stand) somewhat regularly, meaning there’s a common perception that others will already know what they mean.

The reason this is a hurdle for a lot of plugged-in guys is because it seems almost juvenile, like a treehouse club for preteen boys. For me to draw comparisons of an acculturated, feminine social paradigm to the central plot of the Matrix movies, admittedly, on the surface that seems kind of silly. It’s an apt comparison and a useful allegory when you understand the concepts behind it, but for a guy just coming to grasp it while being immersed in a feminine-primary socialization for his whole life, it dosen’t click. And predictably, women invested in that same socialization see the terminology as little more than little boys holed up in their treehouse, throwing rocks at the girls below.

However, like any new developing science or art or technology there is always going to be a need to codify abstract concepts. We lack better terms so we’re forced to create new ones to represent new concepts.

The AFC – average frustrated chump – was coined almost a decade ago with Mystery method. It’s seen a lot of modification over the years, becoming almost synonymous the use of the term Beta (beta male) or Herb (herbivorous male). In fact, although I use it often, I rarely read AFC in PUA blogs, forums or the ‘community’ at large. Regardless of the terminology, the concept is really the crux of the term. Most AFCs, most guys looking in from the outside, can relate to the idea of what an average frustrated chump is – they can identify with it. Once they begin unplugging, the AFC idea comes into better focus and, usually with some discomfort, they realize how that term applies to themselves:

Qualities of an AFC

  • ONEitis – First and foremost.
  • Subscribes to feminine idealizations.
  • Supplication is supportive. To comply with gender equalism she must increase, so he must decrease, regardless of how subtly this is realized.
  • The Savior Schema –reciprocation of intimacy for problems solved.
  • The Martyr Schema – the more you sacrifice the more it shows devotion.
  • The ‘Friends’ Debt – LJBF and the pseudo-friendship as a means to prospective intimacy.
  • Primarily relies on dating and social skills (or lack thereof) developed during adolescence and early adulthood
  • A behavioral history that illustrates a mental attitude of ‘serial monogamy’ and the related insecurities that accompany it.
  • A belief that women infallibly and consciously recognize what they want, and honestly convey this to them, irrespective of behaviors that contradict this. Uses deductive reasoning in determining intent and bases female motivations on statements rather than objectively observing behavior. Believes women’s natural propensity is for rational rather than emotional thought.
  • An over-reliance on rejection Buffers.
  • Believes in the Identification Myth. The more alike he is, or can make himself, with his idealized female the better able he will be to attract and secure her intimacy. Believes that shared common interests are the ONLY key to attraction and enduring intimacy.
  • Believes and practices the “not like other guys” doctrine of self-perceived uniqueness, even under the condition of anonymity.
  • Considers LDRs (long distance relationships)  a viable option for prolonged intimacy.
  • Maintains an internalized belief in the qualifications and characterizations of women that coincide with his ability (or inability) to attract them. Ergo, he self-confirms the “ she’s out of my league” and the “she’s a loose slut” mentalities on-the-fly to reinforce his position for his given conditions.
  • Harbors irrational (often socially reinforced) fears of long term solitude and alters his mind-set to accommodate or settle for a less than optimal short term relationship – often with life long consequences.
  • The AFC will confirm a belief in egalitarian equality between the genders without consideration for variance between the genders. Ergo, men make perfectly acceptable feminine models and women make perfectly acceptable masculine models. Due to societal pressures he unconsciously self-confirms androgyny as his goal state.

This is anything but a comprehensive list. There are far more, but my intent here isn’t to provide you with a list of criteria that qualifies an AFC (“you might be a chump if,..”), rather it’s to give you some basic understanding to clarify the term, and round out the idea of what an AFC is. Needless to say these mental schema are some of the impediments to unplugging, or helping another man unplug, from his old way of thinking. As I’m fond of repeating, unplugging chumps from the Matrix is dirty work. Expect to be met with a LOT of resistance, but understanding what dynamics you may harbor yourself or those that a friend might cling to will help you in moving past the years of social conditioning. It’s thankless work, and more often than not you’ll also be facing a constant barrage of shit tests (from both women and feminized men) and ridicule in your efforts. Be prepared for it. Unplugging chumps is triage – save those you can, read last rites to the dying.

Operative Social Conventions

Often I’ll be in the middle of some socio-psychological tear on a particular topic when I’ll come to a dead halt because I play my own devil’s advocate while I’m typing and reasoning aloud, and have to review and edit the paragraphs I’ve spent the last 2 hours constructing because I’d failed to consider how others might interpret my intent, or I’d overlooked some element and had to go back and address that issue, or at the very least have a source ready to cite for the most predictable rebuttals. Needless to say it’s an arduous process, however I’ve found that starting topics in regards to certain theories and ideas I have to see what their intent will be read as helps me greatly. So with this in mind I’m presenting a particular section of my work here to see what the consensus is on what I’ve come to call Operative Social Conventions. I had originally titled the section Feminine Operative Social Conventions, and I may still go back to that, but after you read this you’ll see how these conventions (or contrivances) need Men to play along with them for them to exist in the first place, or so I’ve reasoned.

Operative Social Conventions

In the ‘community’ we’ve become all too familiar with a standard set of problems that are commonly asked of us for advice – “Should I date younger/older women with/without children?””what about women with money/career?”etc. for example. So often are we petitioned for our take on these dilemas that we have a tendency to repeat back a standard reply for them. I count myself among those who do this as well. I’m very prone to see the forest for the trees so to speak and fire back with my stand by reply of Spin More Plates, or NEXT. And while these response are novel to those reading them for the first time (and hopefully having their eyes opened for the first time too), I’d come to realize that I was guilty of not seeing the forest with regards to why certain topics are more frequently reoccurring problems for the Beta-AFC and the aspiring Game student alike. For the most part, Plate Theory covers a multitude of AFC sins, but my concern was with understanding why these questions come up so often and what their root cause is. To this effect I’ve attempted to ‘distill’ down the symptoms (i.e. the commonly related problems) to the motivation behind them (i.e. the disease rather than the symptoms). This led me to a new theory of Operative Social Conventions.

I’ve posted on this blog and in more forum threads than I care to recall about these conventions before, but never really explored the idea in depth. Essentially all of the symptoms of these conventions are manifested as the frequent problems guys come up with, but the disease is the latent purpose of these conventions. For every guy asking if it’s a good idea to date a single mother or an older woman, there’s a single mother or older woman perpetuating the convention in order to best ensure her capacity to secure a man capable of provisioning for her. I wont ramble off into the bio-psychological aspect of why this is such an all important drive for women (and men in some cases), instead I’ll focus on certain conventions, the way they operate and their latent operative function.

Perhaps the easiest and most recognizable form of social convention is shame. Not only this, but it is also the most easily employable and the most widely accepted – not just by women of all ages and descriptions, but also by popular culture and the media.

“Men should date women their own age.”
“Men shouldn’t be so ‘shallow’ as to put off single mothers as viable long term mates.”
“Men have ‘fragile egos’ that need constant affirmation in an almost infantile respect.”
“Men feel threatened by ‘successful’ women.”

As well as being popularized myths, all of these are subtle (and not so subtle) manipulations of shame. Each is an operative social convention that places a man into a position of having to live up to an idealized standard that simultaneously raises the standard for a woman, thus placing her into a better position of sexual selection and in some instances, leveling the perceived playing-field with regard to the feminine competition dynamic (i.e single moms, older and professional women ought to be just as sexually marketable as the younger women men biologically prefer).

The ‘Shallow’ effect – The useful myth of superficiality.

I’m mentioning this as an aside to the Shame methodology since it appears to me to be the root of the Shame operative. In all of the above examples (or symptoms) the burden of expectation that is placed on a man comes with the threat of being perceived as “Shallow” or superficial. In otherwords, the very questioning of whether or not a man ought to date a single mother comes with the veiled threat of having women (mothers or not) tar the questioning man with being ‘superficial’. This ‘Shallow’ effect is so pervasive in so many AFCs, young and old, that I’ve counseled that it becomes an automatic default defense. Even under conditions of complete anonymity, the Shallow Effect becomes so ego-invested in their personality that even the potential of being perceived as “shallow” is subconsciously avoided. This is a major obstacle in transitioning from AFC to positive masculinity. AFCs all initially laugh at PUA technique (C&F, Peacocking, Neg Hits, etc.) because they carry the potential of being perceived as ‘shallow’. The truth of the matter is that individually we are only as superficial as our own self-perceprtions allow, but the Shallow Effect is a useful convention so long as it keeps men doubting their ingenuousness and self-validity as a trade for women’s intimacy.

Selection Position Insurance
Women are ‘allowed’ to understand men, but women must necessarily ALWAYS be a mystery to men.

Getting “lucky” with a woman when referring to sex.

Selection position insuring methodologies revolve around fomenting the Scarcity Mentality in men. If the value can be inflated, the value can be increased, thus ensuring a controlling frame. This convention holds fast to the Feminine Mystique or Female Intuition mythology. So long as women remain ‘uknowable’ there becomes less motivation to try to understand them. In fact this convention actively discourages any attempt to understand the feminine to the point that men have adopted it and parrot it back without being cognizant of it. This is exactly the reason why guys will ridicule men seeking understanding of women when they search it out in “how to get girls” books, DVDs, PUA seminars or on the internet. It’s also why men who profess to ‘know’ how women operate are ridiculed; it’s a perfect paradox – to attempt to understand the feminine OR to profess to know the feminine is not only laughable, but it places a man into the Shallow Effect in either case.

Social Escape Clauses – A woman’s prerogative
Women always have the prerogative to change their minds. Men must be resolute.

Proactive and Reactive Pseudo-Friendship Rejections:
LJBF rejections – “I already have a boyfriend” or “I’m not interested in a relationship right now” rejections.

Default female victimhood

Escape clause conventions always offer an OUT to a woman and absolve her of, or dramatically reduce her responsibility for personal accountability by means of social reinforcement. A stripper can complain of her self-degradation by men, but be completely blameless for her decisions to do so by virtue of her social conditions, that are, again, the perceived result of a male controlled society. The Feminine Prerogative has been an accepted social norm since the early Renaissance and the advent of ‘courtly love’. Like the Position Insurance convention, this serves to ensure that the ‘mysterious woman’ is validated in her arbitrariness by socially plausible reinforcement. The opposite of this convention is enforced for men, they must be resolute while accepting that a woman “has the right to change her mind.” This, and the cart-carrot of a woman’s intimacy as a reward, is exactly why it is socially acceptable for a man to wait hours for a woman to prepare/show for a date and the kiss of death for a man to be more than 5-10 minutes late. He must be punctual, she is afforded leniency.

I don’t think I need to go into too much detail regarding the LJBF (“lets just be friends”) esacpe clause as it’s been done to death, and aI have plans for a future post on it, but I will add that the LJBF esacpe is perhaps the single most useful convention ever conceived by women. The LJBF rejection has classically ensured that a woman can reject a man yet still maintain his previous attention. It also puts the responsibility for the rejection back on his shoulders since, should he decline the ‘offer of friendship’, he is then responsible for entertaining this friendship. This of course has the potential to backfire on women these days since the standard AFC will accept an LJBF rejection in the mistaken hopes of ‘proving’ himself worthy of her intimacy by being the perfect ‘surrogate boyfriend’ – fulfilling all her attention and loyalty prerequisites with no expectation of reciprocating her own intimacy. The LJBF rejection also serves as an ego preservation for her in that having offered the false olive branch of ‘friendship’ to him in her rejection she also can sleep that night knowing that she (and any of her peers) wont think any less of herself. After all, she offered to be friends, right? She is excused from any feelings of personal guilt or any responsibilities for his feelings if she still wants to remain amiable with him.

Sexual Competition Sabotage
“She’s a ‘slut’ – he’s a ‘fag’” and the sub-communications in the terminology.

Catty remarks, gossip, feminine communication methodologies

This convention is the reputation destroyer and it’s easy to observe this in the field. Since it also serves a woman attention needs, it is among the most socially acceptable and widely flaunted, however the foundations and latent purpose of this convention takes some consideration to understand. When women employ gossip it comes natural since it is an emotional form of communication (men have a far lower propensity to use gossip), but the purpose of it is meant to disqualifiy a potential sexual competitior. In terms of female to female gossip this satisfies the attention need, but when men are brought into the salaciousness it becomes a qualification tool. By saying a woman is a “slut”, the sub-communication is, “she sleeps with a lot of guys and is therefore inelligible as a candidate deserving of a man’s long term provisioning capacity, due to her obvious inability to remain loyal to any one, individual male.” This then becomes the ultimate weapon in influencing a man’s (long term) sexual selection.

I’ll also add that this breeding sabotage isn’t limited to just women though. What’s the first thing most men are apt to say about another, anonymous, extremely attractive male? “He’s probably a fag.” Men have learned this convention from women, they sexually disqualify a man in the most complete way possible; “this guy might be as attractive as a GQ model, but he would never breed with a woman and is therefore disqualified as a suitor for your intimacy.”

Gender Role Redefinition
Masculinity is ridiculous and/or negative with the potential for violent extremes.

“Men should get in touch with their feminine sides.” – Identification as false attraction.

Although I have a few more conventions in mind, I’ll finish this post with this, the most obvious and most discussed convention. There’s no shortage of articles dedicated to this convention, so I wont rehash what’s been stated. Instead, I should point out the latent purpose behind the popularity and mass cultural acceptance of this, the most damaging convention. The function behind this convention could be androgeny as an idealized state, or a power struggle to redefine masculine and feminine attributes, or even to ensure women as the primary selectors in mating. All of those can be argued and are valid, especially considering how prone to accepting and perpetuating this convention is among men today, but I think the deeper purpose, the real latent function is a sexual selection process.

It’s the man who remains in touch with his masculine side, the guy who, despite all of pop-culture denigrating and ridiculing his gender and the very aspects that make it a necessary, positive strength of human society, will endure and steadfastly resist the influences that want to turn it into something it was never intended; it’s this guy and his confidence that women all over the world find irresistable. He embodies the masculine arousal that their feminine has been seeking and they can’t explain it. This is the ultimate meta-shit test in sexual selection – to discover or learn what it is to be postively masculine and remain so in a world that constantly berates his gender, that tells him he’s poisoned by his testosterone while confirming the same masculine attributes as a positive for women. It’s the guy who understands that it’s gender differences, not androgynous similarities, that make us strong. It’s the Man who can see that the sexes were meant to be complimentary, not adversarial, who passes this shit test. Gender redefinition, as a social convention, serves as an Alpha filtering mechanism.