Masculinity, commodification, survival
Supply and demand run our world. Price reflects perceived value. A commodity’s price will rise with increasing demand and lower with decreases. Sufficient oversupply of a commodity will lower the price, and, by the same logic, sufficient undersupply of a commodity will increase the price. It follows that if a commodity is submitted to the market that nobody desires, then it has a value of zero and will be removed.
For a commodity to be worthless, there must be no demand for it. If there is no demand for a commodity it must fail to meet minimum expected standards across a set of relevant criteria, rendering it functionally unusable. It must also be superseded by a competing commodity, which outperforms it in at least one of their shared criteria. If a commodity is effectively useless across a list of three criteria, and a second commodity appears that is effectively useless for two of the three criteria, but useful in the remaining one, then consumers will always choose the second commodity option if they have the choice.
In the modern world, humans are a commodity.
The alt-right sphere seems to agree with this idea. For several years now, the ‘Red Pill’ concept of sexual market value has wormed its way into a low level general consciousness. If you’ve hung around the Internet for long enough you’ve probably run into it. If you haven’t you’ve probably run into one of its siblings such as social dominance hierarchies, popular with the Jordan Peterson acolytes, all of which make up the convoluted web of pseudoscience that forms the vacuous blob of the ‘manosphere’.
Connecting various clusters in this mass of sexual frustration, entitlement and juvenility is a loosely understood collection of libertarian and traditionalist ideals. These ideals seem to be the coagulating hand-me-downs of a storm of social media influencers, lifestyle gurus, and finance content creators, all of whom seem to want to sell you NFTs, courses, or conventions of various descriptions appealing to the desperate and the degenerate, and none of which offer anything of practical value. Somewhere along this sewage pipe of scams, part of it drains off into the cesspit of pickup artist-adjacent ideas, of which sexual market value theory forms a loud but insubstantial core.
What is sexual market value theory?
Sexual market value theory is one in a string of fascinating ideas from the respected scholars of the alt-right and esteemed alumni from the University of 4chan. In brief, this is incel talk for what the rest of us just consider an attractiveness variable. We accept that it differs from person to person, and it affects how we perceive ourselves relative to other people.
So, if I walk up to an average girl in a pub, she might be receptive to me. If I walk up an introduce myself to the tallest and the blondest girl, at the annual Royal Society of British Artists exhibition, and inform her, ‘look, you don’t know me now, but very soon you will’… she’s more likely to expend more energy wondering how this suppurating urchin was allowed to crawl in, than she is responding to my introduction. For most of us, the whole escapade ends there. For the manosphere it becomes a ridiculous carnivalesque series of psychological contortions that start with their relative attractiveness to other people and end with lads engaging in baffling phrenological displays of self-flagellation involving philtrum to chin ratios.
That’s not a joke. This is what it’s like to research the alt-right. You start with a vaguely reasonable question and in about half an hour you’re reviewing off-branches of dead concepts from anywhere between the ancient Egyptians to the Victorians, all presented as if they are valid and rational to a modern society. Never mind the autophagical core of this entire pseudophilosophy, the mind-numbing tangential idiocy of it is so jaw-dropping in its perpetuity that we can only marvel at its inception, never mind its prevalence.
What is market Darwinism?
Market Darwinism, in simple terms, is a broadly libertarian vision of the economy that posits economic entities as agents in an ecosystem, predators, prey, plants, etc. It then suggests that all are in constant struggle to outcompete all other agents. Those agents that cannot compete do not survive.
How does this apply to men?
If we accept the terms that humans are a commodity and sex is a marketplace, then the translation is obvious: A man is a product just as a woman is a product. If a man seeks a woman, then he puts himself out into the world in order to meet one. We can see this as analogous to a business putting a product on the market. In this instance the man is both business and product. If a new product appears on the market, it will be assessed in comparison to its competitors. It must either equal or outperform those competitors with regards to market demand. If it does not meet the minimum requirements to maintain a presence in the market, then it fails to procure enough resources by which to sustain its existence or advance its position. Thus with humans a man who does not meet the minimum requirements for women (or men) on the market is passed over in favour of more suitable commodities. For example: If I am in the beer isle of a supermarket and on one shelf there is Special Brew, and on another shelf there is something that isn’t Special Brew… why would I buy Special Brew?
Incels label the market optimisation process as ‘hypergamy’. Hypergamy is an incel concept that basically says women want men of ‘high value’. To you or me, this translates as ‘can pay their end of the rent’. Allegedly, this is biologically hardcoded into them. In market terms, this is otherwise known as ‘consumerism’ and it applies to both sexes. In online discourse, the equivalent term is probably the ‘she is for the streets’ meme – i.e.: a woman fits the market criteria of being ‘low value’ and has the associated customer base. If people are commodities then it makes absolute sense for customers to seek better products. Thus: You need to offer a better product. If you are unwilling or unable to provide a better product, then you are not good enough and the customer base goes to the commodity that provides what they are looking for.
This is similar to the concept of the ‘friendzone’. The friendzone is basically manifest psychological deflection. It is another excuse that low-value commodities use to convince themselves that they have value in an environment that is clearly providing evidence, under their own terms, that they do not.
How did we get here?
A while ago I was having a discussion with a colleague, and during it I asked her, from a practical perspective, what is the point of marriage? She thought about it briefly and said “security”. I pointed out to my colleague that, increasingly, they were outperforming and starting to out-earn the men. Which means that, in theory, given enough time we’ll see men attempting to chase down women and get them to marry us for the opportunity of financial and life security. In the meantime, pay and influence are still largely imbalanced, but in theory that balance is progressing.
If you were a man a bit over half a century ago you could go to work and come back and earn a wage. On that wage you could afford to buy a home and maintain a wife and a kid or two. Perhaps even a dog on top. We normalised women working and to start with they occupied innocuous positions. Naturally, as they engaged with the economy more and they gained better qualifications and achieved better positions, this came at the expense of other traditionally female social roles and excluded men from those positions that the women were now occupying.
This in turn meant that while previously women were effectively reliant on men in order to put a roof over their heads and secure a source of food for their kids, but in the modern world this is no longer the case. From about the 1980s onwards, the market has provided a means by which women can increasingly engage in the economy on equal terms to men. In combination with the sexual revolution of the 1960s, this gave them previously unparalleled autonomy over their own lives. This seems to be a libertarian triumph. The other half of the population, previously shut out of the economy, is now able to truly engage in the Lockean ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Of course, introducing hundreds of thousands of women into the market meant that there suddenly a great deal more workers. And those workers are in competition with the existing work force. That’s also good. Capitalism thrives on the intensification of competition. Competition creates innovation and dispenses with the non-competitive aspects of the market. That’s where the cracks really started to show.
Nobody thought that women would do as well as they did. They let them go and shrugged and go on with it. It turns out that after being cooped up, shut out, and otherwise treated unequally for so long, the ladies had something to prove. And they proved it. They outperformed the men across the board. Schools. Work. Careers. Whatever. The lads have got competition.
You’d think that the lads, usually self-proclaimed hardened champions of the competitive environment and up for any challenge, would be the first to embrace this new swathe of opponents. These elite sales warriors and sigma males would surely up their game and match whatever the competition threw at them.
As it happens, they proved largely unfit to satisfy the needs of the task. They didn’t have the stamina to stay in the race. They lacked the proportions desired by the occasion. They wilted in the face of market demand.
This is why so many on the alt-right are ‘traditionalists’. Because they can’t compete.
In the modern world, women are no longer reliant on a mass of substandard commodities. Those commodities in turn have been unwilling or unable to adapt to the changing environment. The Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest is all about adapting to an environment. Those agents in an ecology that cannot adapt nor compete will die out. Those commodities in a market that cannot adapt to conditions nor successfully compete with the competition, will be taken off the market.
But men are falling behind! Surely, they can’t all be incels?
There is probably a serious discussion to be had about some men having a hard time adapting to the modern world who are not part of the manosphere. That is more respectable discussion for another day and probably more respectable people. But this post is about a subsection of subpar commodities of which it would only sully the rest of the basket to suggest they undergo the indignity of equal consideration on the same page.
There are various ways you can read this. Realistically, the majority of men aren’t just throwing their toys out of the pram and going off to huff in a corner somewhere. If you can’t adapt to the changing circumstances, then you die. The reality of the situation is that most men are at least trying to keep up and doing so. The bar isn’t actually that high. If you can’t clear it, you’re not trying.
Well, then the conclusion is obvious. Some men are in high demand and command a high value. A large number of men simple aren’t in demand. The market will not bear them. They cannot even command a low value.
One article lamented: “’Today in America, women expect more from men,’ Levant said, ‘and unfortunately, so many men don’t have more to give.’”
The author of last year’s viral article that made the entirety of twitter laugh, commented to The Hill, “They don’t need to be married. They’d rather go to brunch with friends than have a horrible date.” Well, yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Not exactly a difficult choice. I’m willing to bet there’s also a decent number of blokes in the same boat. Who cannot be arsed with women who are going to waste their time. Because nobody has time for it anymore, because that’s the world we live in, and turning up with a decent rack doesn’t count for as much as it perhaps used to. Much as Patrick Bateman has become some kind of 21st century role model (link), the ‘hardbody’, while still appreciated, just doesn’t cut it anymore. Don’t waste people’s time.
‘What do you bring to the table?’ is a common dating-adjacent question. If you bring something, it had better be better than what the other guys or girls are bringing. If you bring nothing, don’t bother. Therein lies the crux of the matter for this bitter portion of the male populus. If women are no longer willing to put up with bad dates… what do these men with nothing to offer do? The answer to them is not that they should be better potential mates. They instead believe that women should be forced back into a position where they must take whatever is on the table, because they have no bargaining power and no autonomy, and society in general will all but beat them with sticks if they don’t simply kowtow to the usual bloviating arrogance of every average berk.
Arguably, all of these ‘disenfranchised’ men simply don’t generate profit. They cost more to maintain than they create. If a person is hired by a company and they cost more to employ than they bring in, then they get fired. They are a drain on resources. If they are struggling, that merely indicates that they don’t meet the minimum standards of the market and they are being removed from it. If people don’t want the product, you stop producing the product. Welcome to economics 101.
Traditionalism in other places
The other end of the spectrum is just as funny. Look at China and its disastrous culture of attempting to shame women into marriage with absolutely anyone because the Chinese government, stalwartly clinging to those traditionalist values in the face of complete obsolescence, is busy trying to force people to have babies they can’t afford. ‘Sheng nu’ is a term, applied to single women over the age of 26. It translates as ‘leftover women’. Just one slight problem… As an article in The Atlantic pointed out in 2020: “The country now has an estimated 30 million extra men – many of whom will never find a partner.” This is in comparison to a 2021 article in The Conversation, which puts the number of single women at a mere 7 million. You’ll no doubt have noted the mathematical error. China has, in reality, got about 23 million leftover men.
Yet the Chinese Government’s Olympic-level mental gymnastics routine in response is just as laughable: Buy useless products. Despite the most of these 7 million women are, reportedly, successfully living their own lives, enjoying themselves, and earning a decent wage in urban areas. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that if they want a mate, then there are desirable products to choose from. So, what’s the incentive to root through the trash?
How to reject the terms of your own reality
The reality is that a lot of these traditionalists, for all their crowing and chest beating about Darwinian struggle and survival of the fittest, don’t follow their own ideals. If they did, we wouldn’t have to listen to them bleating day in day out about the ills of feminism and hypergamy and so on. In fact, and against all reason, they somehow believe that the market should adapt to them. Furthermore, they reject the reality that it doesn’t need to, nor will it – ever.
There’s this ‘Petersonian’ idea of ‘enforced monogamy’ that is popular amongst the incels. It is a solution looking for a problem. The problem is already self-solving, if it’s a problem at all. Not getting laid? Sad day for you. I don’t see how that’s something the rest of the world needs to care about.
Why is it that these warriors of free-market capitalism suddenly become hardcore authoritarian communists when it comes to sex? Suddenly, when they can’t compete in the market, they want the government to step in and assign sex slaves to them. Then again, we’re dealing with commodities that go about using terms like ‘roastie’ and ‘Tyrone’ (and for the unfamiliar, yes, that last one has all the vile connotations that you think it does. These are, clearly, top tier products that people should invest in). They wrap this whole shtick up in a costume of traditionalism and proclaim that they’re just protecting valued social institutions and social norms and what have you. It’s all very quaint.
To nobody’s surprise, that argument doesn’t work under the free-market capitalism concepts that underpin their own libertarian ideology. Capitalism and tradition are fundamentally opposed. Capitalism cannot exist in a society that operates on a foundation of tradition because tradition is there to keep things stagnant. Capitalism, by contrast, is constantly subsuming and reproducing whatever is produced under it. That loop is driven by a need to constantly produce novelty and in doing so drive consumption. You cannot innovate in the stagnation of traditionalism. You are not allowed to produce new commodities and new ideas under traditionalism. Therefore, you cannot be a capitalist and a traditionalist at the same time. You cannot protect social institutions because social institutions are just more operators that must adapt to an ever-changing market.
And the world is changing rapidly. Thus, all people need to adapt rapidly. If you cannot adapt, you will be removed. The alt-right, however, remain chained to this dead idea of what they should be, how they rigidly define masculinity via performative machismo in baffling loops of 1960s breadwinner with breeding mare/housewife dynamics. That doesn’t fit the modern environment.
There was this big push to turn the world into a Battle Royale and these machismo-centric commodities got real excited and loud about it. And then when it turned out that someone else got the Uzi, they came back weeping about how they didn’t want to play anymore. Now these obsolete products congregate in the landfills of the internet to whinge about how the world they advocate for isn’t fair. Nobody loves you? That’s nice. Tell someone who cares.
Much of this market Darwinist libertarian argument simultaneously glorifies the invisible hand of the market whilst whining about the woke mob trying to crush traditional masculinity. These invisible hand advocates seem to be incapable of understanding their own economic framework. The fact that breadwinners and housewives no longer exist has nothing to do with ‘woke’ politics. It’s just a side effect of the market that people like them are broadly responsible for creating. This is the bed you made. Lie in it.
So are men obsolete?
No. Just those who refuse to adapt. But that’s not gender specific and plenty of men have, in fact, adapted to the current environment. They have knuckled down and proven themselves valuable to the market. They compete.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that there has never been a time when someone in the world is not claiming that there is a crisis of masculinity somewhere. Usually, it’s to further some authoritarian political ends.
Recent news has made a great deal of fuss about the rise of lonely single men. Or men dropping out of society. Or men failing to keep up in a system that is effectively there to ensure their usefulness. This is also why you get people freaking out about birth rates, the rise of single-person households and what it might indicate about the state of relationships, the death of the nuclear family, and so on ad nauseum.
- Much has been made of men’s relationship troubles in the recent years. But if men must burn, then let the men burn.
- Much has been made of the declining birth rate in recent years. But if humanity must burn, then let humanity burn.
- Much has been made of the impact our collective disconnection might have on the economy of the future. But if the shareholders must burn, then let the shareholders burn.
This is, as the song tells us, a man’s world. We built this system. Now we must survive in it. If we can’t do that when the slightest element of that world changes, it suggests we are not fit to compete to begin with. If we can’t keep up, we will be logged as an inefficiency in the system and removed from the production process. So be it. Those are the rules we set in place. Don’t like it? Cry if you think it’ll help. See if you can sell your tears on eBay. The guys doing all this whinging are just obsolete products that are being taken off the market. Under the terms of their own pseudophilosophy, the members of the manosphere are worthless.
The reality is that there is no crisis of masculinity. Just a weeding process.