Men on Strike: the ultimate review

An Amazon reviewer makes the quixotic choice to “review” Dr. Helen’s important new book by discussing my idiosyncracies, mostly inaccurately:

The first chapter of this book includes a section on why video games (in conjunction with porn) are a driving force behind men making the decision to not get married (it is because they cost less money than dating). It gives a description of “pickup artist theory:” a theory of how interaction between the sexes works by breaking men up into several categories (all of which are represented with Greek letters to make it sound more scientific than it is) and then ranks those categories by the sexual desirability of each category. The highest category, Alpha, is fully described as “the male elite, the leaders of men for whom women naturally lust.” It actually made it into print that the lowest men, the Omegas, are “the losers… most never surmount the desperate need to belong caused by their social rejection. Omegas can be the most dangerous of men because the pain of their constant rejection renders the suffering of others completely meaningless in their eyes.”

You read that right. Sociopathy is just a symptom of being a loser. Get over it, Lecter!

Here’s the thing, though: that particular version of “pickup artist theory” was created by Theodore Beale, who has no accredited training of any kind in psychology, behavioral science, or any other field that would lend him any amount of credibility. His blog, Vox Popoli (where he writes both as himself and his pseudonym, Vox Day), has two characters he invented named of McRapey and McRacist. Proudly displayed on the front page is a picture of a scared anthropomorphic pink rabbit, wearing a shirt that says “Rapey McRaperson” on it. Whenever someone says that racism exists, McRacist makes a blog post about how white men have it tough. Every time someone acknowledges the glass ceiling, McRapey posts a tirade about how every woman trying to live her own life is just insecure about how tough it is to get a man to do it for them.

Theodore Beale is the man that Helen Smith has trusted to help write a book on social interaction between men and women. Theodore Beale is a man who trivializes rape for a hobby. Theodore Beale is an unapologetically racist white man who literally wrote a blog post (please do not read this if you are capable of rational thought:[…] ) on female privilege, using a department store and a credit card with no credit limit as a metaphor for the fantastic life that women have by virtue of their race and sex. He began this blog post by trivializing rape and asserting that women who “threaten not to have sex with anyone” are wrong to choose not to have sex with anyone. Women are to blame not only for their female privilege, but also for their white privilege, which Beale dismisses as a non-issue whenever it affects white men.

We are only in the first chapter of this book that a publisher somehow decided was worth printing, where it is revealed that Helen Smith’s most basic assertions about modern romance are filtered through the lens of a man who proudly and openly claims that racism and sexism are tools of oppression used mostly against whites and men. One of Helen Smith’s primary research sources on the subject of men and male psychology invokes McRapey whenever he writes about men being “oppressed,” and we are expected to take this man seriously as an intelligent advocate for the dismantling of feminism as a whole.

No, this is seriously the message conveyed by Men On Strike. We are supposed to believe that Theodore Beale is an intelligent and well-reasoned man who is arguing in favor of sexual equality. We are supposed to believe that Beale’s categorization of men, arbitrarily assigned to letters of an alphabet for a language he does not speak, is an accurate portrayal of society and social interaction. We are supposed to believe this because Helen Smith presents this information alongside nonsensical statistical evidence, such as the suggestion that roughly 24% of men are Alphas who get to choose their sexual partners from the 76% of women who refuse to go a lower rung on the social hierarchy’s ladder. The logical conclusion, Smith argues, is that the remaining 76% of men are forced to compete for the remaining 24% of women. The existence of the hierarchy is not questioned: it is taken as a given truth that an outspoken misogynist has correctly identified what women universally and instinctually find attractive in men.

Helen Smith has not just written a book that is aggressively wrong on a broad range of topics: she has literally been assisted in writing this book by a man who actually believes that American society systematically oppresses men because women have the right to not have sex with someone they don’t want to have sex with. Men On Strike is not worth reading. It is not worth considering as a source of information. It is one of the most mangled attempts at statistical analysis and critical thinking that I have ever been witness to.

It is a certainly a strange sort of notoriety that triggers this sort of rabid, mindless reaction in one’s critics.  And I wish I had invented McRapey and McRapist, but as it happens, they are real, award-winning science fiction writers and fellow members of the SFWA.

As for the legitimacy of the socio-sexual hierarchy, the reason it has been adopted by more and more people as a useful means of understanding intersexual relations is that it reflects the reality they observe on a daily basis.  Credentials are irrelevant; I find it hard to think of anyone less likely to correctly identify what women instinctually find attractive in men than a highly credentialed academic of either sex.  Also, neither intersexual relations nor the socio-sexual hierarchy can be reasonably be described as “pickup artist theory”, as it is not limited to picking up women.

Anyhow, Dr. Helen can be pleased that she has clearly hit a sore spot among the defenders of the Female Imperative with her new book, as these people only attack the individuals and ideas they believe to be dangerous to their pernicious ideologies.