Seduction, Feminism and the Self-Help Industry

by Harmony's Riddle

In response to the article:

Why Women Lose the Dating Game

This type of woman is essentially the focus of my blog (DSR401).

The effect is even more pronounced in online dating. I call it the “Internet Prince Charming Effect”.

Women online — even deep into their thirties — believe that their perfect Charming Prince is just one click away.

The frightening fact of the matter is that most women have absolutely no idea how their own bodies work. At age 36, the chances of having children with congenital diseases (like Down’s Syndrome, a form of retardation) or developmental disorders (like autism) skyrockets. After age 40, many women think that they’ll just use the technological marvels of in vitro fertilization and magically have a baby — but the odds are less than one in four that she’ll be successful. The Hollywood image of older women having perfect little bundles of joy at any age hides the reality of how many times it doesn’t work, and the financial/physical/emotional hardships involved.

Look up the term “elderly primagravida” and read more for yourself.

This article barely scratches the surface of the real reasons why men don’t want older women. Personally, I would only date a woman older than 36 for fun, or if we were mutually willing to adopt. There’s no point in risking the wellbeing of our (mine+her) child for the sake of her idiotic fantasies of being an older mother at the expense of an unborn life.

“Having it all” was always a bizarre fantasy that made no practical sense. If a woman wants to have children, she will have to take time out from her career. By the time she gets back to work at full strength, all the up-and-coming younger women (and men) will have taken her place. This is already happening, and yet women still seem strangely surprised.

And when you look online, the masses of women over 30 seem to still be completely oblivious and just as egotistically “picky” as they were in their twenties. Honestly, it’s sad because one day they will wake up with either an empty bed or a body that doctors will tell her is no longer fit to have healthy children with any reliability.

I would like to gloat and say that nature punishes the stupid, but it’s not completely women’s fault. Part of the problem is biology, another is mentality, but the other, larger part is society.

The real problem underlying all of this is the changing economic landscape, fueled by the self-help “movement’s” corporate-sponsored mythologizing about the “self-made man”. Well, behind the self-made man was a woman who kept the house, raised the kids, and supported her husband in a lifelong marriage. Now she’s devouring the same facile “literature” about becoming your best, most employable (and agelessly sexy, Alpha Female) self and she wants to be the Wonder Woman Who Has It All.

Instead, both genders end up with nothing. The woman ends up alone in her 30s at a mid-level executive position with no career security and a sagging body that she is too busy (and if she’s honest, never learned how and couldn’t really be bothered to learn) to care for. She’s too busy financially “hedging her bets” (a.k.a. socially acceptable greed) and searching for her True Special Purpose in life while hating the men who no longer want her. The man ends up dating younger women because he doesn’t have any solid prospects, either, and a guy’s attractiveness actually increases, then declines slowly until about age 36.

Coincidence? I think not.

(Plus, despite what women will tell you, there’s almost always at least one very, very good reason why a single, never-married, childless woman in her mid-thirties hasn’t been able to keep a guy.)

Both sides are getting conned by the self-help industry. Underneath all the “you can do it” slogan-slinging, the reality is that the only winners are the corporations that use their workers as disposable units of production (and the marketing gurus who are manipulating the gullible, stealing from the ignorant and engineering society’s consent). And we get articles like this one that make it seem like men are “winning the game” in their 30s, when the reality is that no one wants the game that we’re being forced to play. Now that we’re here, everyone’s scrambling to come out on top — when they’re actually climbing in the wrong direction.

Someone responded with a comment asking for more information about the self-help industry’s “corrupt strategy” (in the sense of a conspiracy theory).

Response:

I don’t see a “corrupt strategy” in the self-help industry. Look at the timeframes for the rise of profits for the self-help industry and the decline of social mobility, for example, and you’ll see that no conspiratorial “strategy” is necessary.

1. Since 1968, the top fifth gained eight percent; the middle class lost seven percent, and the bottom fifth remained at less than four percent of total income in the United States. The U.S. has the highest level of income inequality in the world.

If income were equally divided across households, each quintile (fifth) would account for 20% of total income. The Congressional Budget Office and others have documented that the bottom fifth has long accounted for much less than 20% of total income. The bottom quintile’s share of income has remained little changed for the past few decades at less than 4%, according to Census Bureau data. In contrast, the income shares of the top fifth and the top 5% of households appear to have trended upward. The top fifth’s share of total household income rose from 42.6% in 1968 to 50.2% in 2010; the top 5%’s share, from 16.3% to 21.3%. (Estimates derived from federal income tax data suggest that those at the very top of the income distribution have experienced greater gains.) The middle class, defined as the middle 60%, received a disproportionately smaller share of the total economic pie in 2010 (46.5%) than in 1968 (53.2%).

Two explanations are most often offered for the changes in recent decades in the U.S. distribution of income. They are skill-biased technological change (SBTC) and globalization.

Based on the limited data that are comparable across nations, the U.S. income distribution appears to be among the most uneven of all major industrialized countries and the United States appears to be among the nations experiencing the greatest increases in measures of inequality.

Source: Linda Levine, Specialist in Labor Economics for the Congressional Research Service [PDF]

2. We all know what happened in 2008. Hint: the Great Recession. You can look further back into the historical record for yourself (I would imagine that 1968 would be a useful place to begin).

Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs–13.6% more than they did back in 2005, according to Marketdata Enterprises, an independent Tampa-based research firm that tracks everything from adoption agencies to funeral homes. Latest forecast: 6.2% annual growth through 2012.

Source: “What People Are Still Willing To Pay For”, forbes.com

3. If you don’t “improve yourself”, it’s your fault.

Surrounding SHAM (The Self-Help and Actualization Movement) is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault–your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self-help–or at least the same message repackaged into new products.

Source: Michael Shermer, “Sham Scam – Scientific American”

(Sound familiar?)

SHAM takes advantage by cleverly marketing the dualism of victimization and empowerment.

Source: Shermer, ibid.

This conversation is veering way off-topic, in any case. I think that any oppressed group would do well to fight for their rights, whether they happen to be women or anyone else.

P.S. Michael Shemer on why fire-walking ala Tony Robbins is also a scam:

I’ve done three fire walks myself, without chanting “cool moss” (as Robbins has his clients do) or thinking positive thoughts. I didn’t get burned. Why? Because charcoal is a poor conductor of heat, particularly through the dead calloused skin on the bottom of your feet and especially if you scoot across the bed of coals as quickly as fire walkers are wont to do.

P.P.S. The Tony Robbins Gang somehow managed to bungle even that, and twenty-one people were burned while walking over hot coals at one of his recent “inspirational” mega-events.

Someone responded with the question “why” in regard to the following quote from my comments above:

The more people buy into the “help yourself because no one else will” ideology, the easier they are to control.

Response:

Because the “self-made man” is a myth and always has been. There are a (very) few people who have been able to rise to the top seemingly “by their bootstraps”, but the vast majority either had early successes that gave them access to resources (mentors, benefactors, etc.) that others didn’t have, or they were supported by family and/or community members who helped them achieve their goals (and nevertheless, luck always plays a major role in any “rags to riches” success story).

For the average person, then, the typical “help yourself” dogma means practically nothing. You might as well “self-help” yourself to a lottery ticket by those odds.

There is an old term called “divide and conquer” which applies in this situation — if individuals are led to believe that no one will help them, you will see more people acting to protect themselves (and their ethnic/social/other “tribe”) against threats that are often imaginary or diversions from the real problem.

Examples of this in history are the imaginary rise of the Angry Irish, Japanese (after World War II), Jewish, African American, and Latino Man (and now Muslims) as an anticipated result of the periods of civil unrest in the United States, and now the imaginary rise of the Vengeful Woman as a result of feminism. The reaction to civil rights (and immigration) was and is often mindlessly violent. The majority of hatred actually derives from economic insecurity over the potential for lost jobs.

Many men, stripped of their traditional roles, similarly act belligerently toward women. Women react with an equally stupid “fake feminist” agenda of hatred toward “loser” men, and now we have a completely meaningless media-driven “gender war” that has no point or purpose aside from selling more self-help books, advertising-driven talk shows and so on.

Another example of “divide and conquer”, as mentioned above, is the changing economic structure. We see people actually going along with the idea of destroying labor unions, agreeing with mandatory overtime, taking work home after hours, being forced to pay for their own healthcare, being offered no maternity leave to care for newborn children, etc. — because they believe that this is “the natural way of things” (also known as social darwinism) rather than a dismantling of the idea of corporate social responsibility. We are now the consumerist servants of a profit-creation scheme (the corporation) that never dies and never has to give back anything to the communities from which it sucks ever-increasing profits.

The more we are told that we can be “self-made”, the more easily we are divided from each other. The more divided, the more we look out for ourselves (personal greed or “hedging our bets”). The more individually greedy we become, the less we see the big picture. The less we see the big picture, the harder we can be made to work for less, the more we work against our collective interests in favor of scrambling for each extra dollar, and the more money can be made at our expense.

And, of course, the more all this happens, the self-help gurus tell us “we can get ahead if we just work smarter/harder, think and act more positively”. The gurus rake in profits as people desperately grasp for any illusion of control or a sense that someone cares for their wellbeing. Selling a “lifestyle make-over” is one of the most cynical games that anyone can play against anyone else, and now it’s becoming a billion-dollar industry of so-called “professional coaches”.

Corporate profits have been exploding whereas real individual wages are actually shrinking. The myth of the transcendent Superman or Superwoman lying dormant inside each of us is a lie that belongs in comic books and movies — not in reality where our ability to survive and thrive depends upon our reliance on each other and society.

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