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Vox Day: Smiling at women is for wimps

Total Alpha Dog. Er, cat.
Total Alpha Dog. Er, cat.

You know how they say “smile and the world smiles with you?” Apparently, that’s all wrong, at least according to our dear old friend Vox Day (Theodore Beale). The fantasy author and human shitstain says this old saw needs a rewrite: smile, and the world’s true Alphas laugh at you. As Mr. Day-Beale explains:

Women say they resent it when men tell them to smile. And well they should. An instinctive smile, when one is not expressing pleasure or recognition, is a submissive gesture. This is why attractive women tend to smirk in response to the big goofy submissive smiles sent their way by lower status men.

And then, presumably, those sexy ladies will quickly excuse themselves and make a beeline for the nearest ALPHA fantasy author standing grimly in the corner, quietly judging everyone and thinking unkind thoughts about John Scalzi.

But what if you’re one of those big goofy smiling submissive dudes? How do you capture some of that broody Alpha magic for yourself? It’s simple: Don’t turn that frown upside down.

One easy way to increase your perceived level of alpha is to simply not smile at strangers. Instead, just reply with a nod or a pleasant word. One can be perfectly civil without grinning at everyone like an idiot, and it’s always interesting to see the difference it makes in people’s perceptions.

Just don’t overdo it, lest the ladies think you’re, for example, some sort of weirdo misogynist so filled with fear and loathing for everything female that you’ve actually set up an entire blog devoted to telling the world what an awesome alpha you are.

I’m not talking about walking around glowering; self-conscious anger is much worse than indiscriminate smiling. But women have always been drawn to brooding men, so rather than turning them away with a gesture of preemptive submission, give them something to which they can be drawn.

To be perfectly fair, though, this does work with most Bronte sisters.

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Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

I don’t think Heathcliff would be terribly sexy irl.
He and Katherine were pretty dysfunctional people.

I love Wuthering Heights, but I think it’s clear that Emily Brontë intentionally wrote Heathcliff and Cathy as pretty messed up, and the reader is not at all supposed to find Heathcliff some kind of dreamboy. She rather goes out of her way to show that yeah, he’s that mean because he had a tough past, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not really mean – oh no, he totally is.

Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

Heathcliff was extremely abusive and evil to Isabella for instance, and I got no impression from the book that we, as readers, are supposed to take this lightly or think that “oh, he just acts like this because he’s saaaaad so we shouldn’t blame him”.

kittehserf
6 years ago

I was in my thirties when I read the first two books (and never made it further). My tolerance for broody young men was really low, and I thought they were remarkably boring was well as weedy. It didn’t help that two characters I despised had the names of two men I love a whole lot. The only character I liked at all was Marius (think that was the name) – the bloke who was turned in Roman times and had actually lived since, learning and doing stuff and growing, instead of being in a perpetual state of angst.

Eternally emo, what a fuckawful thought.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

I don’t think I know any brooding men anymore. All the ones I work with and associate with are damn fine people, not a scowler in sight. They also don’t wear fedoras and have excellent senses of humour.

I used to love Healthcliff in Wuthering Heights. Then, I stopped being 16.

The male fiction character I have most admired is Mandy Patinkin’s character in Chicago Hope, I always wanted to partner up with a someone with those characteristics in real life (being a doctor optional). And pretty much I did, although he looks nothing like Mandy Patinkin and isn’t a doctor. But he has those kind character traits.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Angsty male characters are better when they also have a sense of humor and can be pleasant. For example: Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. Hell, even Chandler from Friends with all his issues is preferable to some fedora clad guy sulking in the corner.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Being a teenager for eternity would be far more of a curse than the whole blood-sucking, daylight-avoidance thing.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

I feel the need to… add this Cravendale video to the thread:

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

And, posted in the wrong thread LOL

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

One of the differences between fiction and reality is that in fiction, evil characters are often more interesting than good characters. Real life evil people are almost always unpleasant and dull; real life good people are almost always enjoyable and interesting. Brooding and grim can be fun when you can put the book down at will.

Theodore Beale might – MIGHT – be an interesting fictional character. Frankly, it’s a pity he’s not fictional. I would run a mile in tight shoes to avoid him in real life.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

I used to love Healthcliff in Wuthering Heights. Then, I stopped being 16.

Pallygirl,
Exactly!
That guy is not only not attractive, he’s scary. I’d run from him like I was trying to outrun an explosion.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Bill,
Thanks for sharing that. I’m going to pass it around. That’s so funny.

kittehserf
6 years ago

pallygirl, there is no wrong thread for those ads! 😀

kittehserf
6 years ago

Bill, that cartoon’s hilarious, thanks for sharing it!

Michelle C Young
6 years ago

I think Anne Bronte had it right. Wuthering Heights bugged me. Heathcliff was a jerk, and Cathy was an idiot.

Jane Eyre, also, was rather problematic.

I loved that “Darkness” comic, Bill. Thanks!

Michelle C Young
6 years ago

@Lea – “My love will heal him!”

Gah. This is just about every “Mary-Sue” story ever written. Mary-Sue’s love can always heal the hero, either from his dark, brooding, emotional issues, or else her tears of love can heal his physical wounds. Sometimes both.

I don’t remember being that way when I was a teenager. If I ever was, I must have blocked the memory in intense shame.

My sister calls it “hurt-comfort,” and explains that when women see someone hurting, they feel the urge to comfort that person, and somehow, in our adolescent, hormone-addled brains, sex got thrown into the mix. Most women do grow out of it, and develop simple compassion, but yeah, hurt-comfort SEXAY is a thing with many adolescent girls, for some reason.

The older I get, the more I want a man who doesn’t need me that way.

Michelle C Young
6 years ago

@WWTH

Brooding vampires like Dracula, Louis and Angel (but not Edward. Fuck Twilight) are sexy as fictional characters would likely get tiring in real life.

See, those fictional things work because you’re getting them in small, controlled doses. Sort of like getting an inoculation against the flu. Small, controlled dose, and you might get a bit of a sore arm, maybe a slight fever for the evening, but then you’re better, and you don’t need to be hospitalized later, or be off work for two weeks with a full-blown case of the flu.

A “DARK” man can be interesting enough for an hour or two, at most, but beyond that, and it’s just too darned much!

Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

I used to love Healthcliff in Wuthering Heights. Then, I stopped being 16.

But up to that age… You thought it was cool that he (heavily implied) raped his wife, abused her in every possible way, and tried to kill her dog just for the hell of it? (:-O

I thought the point of the Heathcliff-Isabella marriage was to drive home the point that you can’t heal an abusive asshole by love, btw.

The difference between me reading Wuthering Heights at a young age and me reading it again as an adult was mainly that when I was a teenager, I thought Mr Earnestshaw was nice to Heathcliff. As an adult, not so much… He kind of treats Heathcliff as a pet rather than a human being. As if Heathcliff was a little stray kittten or puppy that he found and brought home for his kids to play with. So literally everyone except for Nellie and Cathy was a total dick to Heathcliff, but I still think we’re supposed to see this as an explanation of how he became an asshole, not an excuse showing that he’s not really an asshole after all.

Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

Cathy, btw, I think is supposed to have some kind of mental illness and/or personality disorder (yeah, I internet-diagnose now, but I think it’s okay to do that with fictional characters). She’s extremely impulsive and also self-centered in a way that seems to be, not so much plain egoism, but more like she just can’t really grasp other people’s feelings. Her one redeeming feature is that she’s not as prejudiced against Heathcliff as other people are. Which also explains why he becomes so obsessed with her. But I definitely don’t think that we’re meant to find her sympatethic overall, or their relationship an inspiring picture of true love.

Michelle C Young
6 years ago

@pecunium – Wuthering Heights as SF – I LOVE IT! Oh, thanks for that link. The essay was brilliant!

If I ever read it again, I’ll surely keep this in mind.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Being a big bad Alpha dog sounds like a miserable existence, doesn’t it? Imagine never having a genuine interaction with another human being because you’re too busy fine-tuning your facial expression (not smiling! but not too glowering! brooding! but not self-consciously so!) to look more alpha so you can win a game that no one else is playing.

Michelle C Young
6 years ago

@Dvarghundspossen – I’d love to see you teaching high school English. Instead of having the kids write essays about thematic elements, symbolism and “what the author was really trying to say here,” you could use classics to teach the teenagers to be sensible.

“Allright, people, can anyone tell me what Cathy’s big mistake was?”

“Why did Isabella bother with this jerk? Would she have been happier as a spinster?”

“Why didn’t anyone travel to the next town over to look for a prospective mate?”

“Can you ‘fix’ a person? Is it fair to try?”

I mean, there are so many ways to analyze this classic masterpiece, without even touching on the literary quality of it.

The thing is, if you look at Wuthering Heights as a sort of morality play, where the author is trying to teach a lesson, it is great. But, as story-telling, it really does leave much to be desired. That “WH as SF” essay was spot on!

Many great works of literature are so not because of the wonderful literary tricks that students study in English class, but because they make the reader really *think* about life, and about their own character development.

Have you ever played the “self-insertion” game? That’s where you re-write an old story, only you insert yourself as the hero/heroine/protagonist. I got the idea from reading a bunch of Mary-Sue fanfics. The only problem is, while the Mary-Sue self-insertion fanfics go on forever with more and more convoluted drama, mine tend to be very short. I’m too practical for high drama.

However, it’s a fun writing exercise, and could be really useful for sixteen-year-olds who love dark and brooding characters who would be really a pain in real life.

Oh, golly. It’s five in the morning. Time for bed, y’all!

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

@Dvärghundspossen, defending my 16 year old self here, it was an assigned text and I never – at the time – got clued into the possible rape. It was the early 1980s, DV wasn’t so talked about then, I was in a fundamentalist Christian church, and men could still legally rape their wives. I do feel that you were super-critical of me at 16. I didn’t encounter feminism as an idea until I got to university, in my mid-20s.

I had way, way more issues with Lord of the Flies, including the animal cruelty in there.

titianblue
titianblue
6 years ago

@pallygirl, I’ve found it fascinating to revisit books that I read as a child/teenager and realise how much I either misunderstood or just completely missed. I was so naive. But then, I get a lot more out of a number of books (Jane Austen springs to mind) because I’m no longer focussed on the central couple’s romance to pretty much the exclusion of all else.

We had Lord of the Flies .as a set text, too, and I loathed it.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
6 years ago

There’s also the fact that Lockwood is a class snob and an unreliable narrator, so Heathcliff’s cruelty and feralness get magnified.

so you can win a game that no one else is playing.

This!!

In MRAland, emotions are a weakness to be exploited. They treat human relations exactly like a game of poker in which the goal is to lie, scam, and outwit your opponent. Any smile, any window into the mind is the equivalent of revealing your hand to an adversary. Must…keep…poker…face…

Except that their hand consists of…well, whatever the worst hand in poker is. A 2, a joker, and a dogeared Uno card that accidentally got mixed into the deck by mistake.

Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

@Sorry, Pallygirl! 😀 I do remember now, btw, that I simply accepted lots of really problematic stuff in Margit Sandemo’s “the ice people” series when I was a teenager, so… I probably wasn’t the most feministically aware teenager either. 🙂

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Dvärghundspossen,
Sick, isn’t it? None of that stood out to me at the time though. I like Jane Eyre too. (That guy had his wife locked in the goddamn attic!) Nearly every romance novel back in my teens started with a rape and ended with a marriage and a baby. Think about how problematic most romances are in classic film too. As a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones and he was originally conceived as a child molester. (Marion was meant to be a 12 yr old when Indie “seduced” her and was later changed to a 16 yr old which is still creepy) That’s rape culture. We grew up soaking in it.

I just thought of the perfect example of a brooding sex symbol that women fell for because he was such a lost puppy: Richard Burton.

http://i4.walesonline.co.uk/incoming/article1791584.ece/alternates/s2197/richard-burton-56475284.jpg

He was charming. He was talented. He had that rich voice and was so beautiful and troubled. When did Liz fall for him? When he was too hungover to lift his own coffee to his lips and asked her to do it. As much as those two were reported to have tormented each other, she was clearly fiercely protective of him too. She and his next wife would describe him as “sweet”. They looked dramatic, sexy and interesting in the tabloids, but they were both very unhappy people. Neither of them wanted to live like that. They were both ill with active and severe addictions.

Michelle is right. That stuff only works on the screen or the page because you can get up and walk away at the end.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

*liked* Jane Eyre.

Erica Stratton
6 years ago

I actually enjoyed reading Wuthering Heights MORE as an adult, because it was clearer to me what Bronte was trying to say, rather than it just being a series of strange events in a rural place. There’s race stuff and class stuff, and the bit where Catherine tells Isabella to AVOID Heathcliff because he’s actually not a good person, and the hanging of the dog makes so much more sense in that context.

Also, I think it’s a bit disingenuous to wonder why no one actually leaves the Heights, or once they do, they feel compelled to return. Isn’t that how abusive relationships work? The people in them see no other options?

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

Titianblue, I’ve started reading some books I read when very young. Amazing how much more there is to them now. My favorite was Moby Dick, of all things – first time, I was so young, I thought it was about whaling.

Bill, that comic was great. I especially liked the bit about the moody, dark wind gusts blowing out the scented candles. And a happy ending after all.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
6 years ago

Yamamanama (I hope I got that right), +1 for Prince of Pursuasia.

banshee
banshee
6 years ago

When I read these instructions to men about how they should rearrange their facial features to attract women (and the last such thing I read tells men to employ a bad-boy smirk), I can’t help but flash on Ben Stiller’s character in “Zoolander” doing his trademark facial expression “Blue Steel.” Of course, the book also suggested that a guy consult, among other women, HIS MOM on what makes him look “hot.”

Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

@Michelle: Thanks for the compliment. The thing is, I’m not big on symbolism. I tend to read and watch everything literally. That’s just the way I am! The thing is, there’s usually tons to discuss and think about with that approach as well to literary classics… As I think my Wuthering Heights posts showed.

I like Jane Eyre too.

I also like Jane Eyre, although I didn’t read that one until I was an adult well-versed in feminism. I expected to dislike it and I particularly expected to hate Rochester, so I was really surprised. So here’s my (very literal) take on Rochester and the whole locking-one’s-wife-up-in-the-attic-thing:

Rochester does eventually come clean with Jane and tells her the whole story about his marriage. Now, we might of course speculate that he’s still lying, but I see no particular reason for that suspicion, so I’m gonna assume that he’s telling the truth. Assuming that he does, his father had decided to marry him off with some rich woman, and the choice fell on Bertha. Bertha did come from a family with lots of problems with alcoholism and mental illness, and Rochester’s father deliberately hid this from him. He and Bertha were only allowed to meet at parties and the like, they were both very young and didn’t know each other that well, and they got married. Some time after the marriage Bertha started drinking more and more and become gradually more psychotic and violent. The fact that she’s actually violent and dangerous seems to be omitted from lots of feminist articles discussing Jane Eyre and the wife in the attic, but she really is according to the book. She’s not just a troublesome and difficult-to-control woman, she’s a violent psychotic. So Rochester ends up more and more just locking the door at her in order to protect himself (he does say that he’s physically stronger than her but doesn’t want to get into actual fights with her, preferred to just sneak out the room and lock the door after him when she was having a fit). He also gets really depressed and even suicidal. I have a psychotic disorder myself, and really feel for Bertha, who suffers this kind of problem in an age where psychiatry and psychiatric medication wasn’t even invented yet, but I do feel sorry for Rochester as well.

Anyway, he pulls himself up from his depression when he manages to convince himself that the following really shitty plan is a good one: He’s gonna go back to England, hide the fact that he’s married from everyone, start a new life as a bachelor, meet some woman who truly loves him and whom he loves back, eventually tell this future Miss Right about Bertha, Miss Right will understand his situation, and he’ll get married again (despite the fact that the marriage wouldn’t actually be valid under law, but Miss Right is gonna be understanding about that as well). The thing is that although this plan is morally wrong (since deceit of everyone, including Miss Right in the beginning, is part of it) it’s still comprehensible that he’d come up with this given his desperate situation.

Regarding the fact that Bertha is kept in the attic of his mansion, I do not actually think that that is morally wrong. It is clear that Rochester thinks that this is the least bad solution. He resents Bertha for destroying his life, but still tries to come up with the least bad possible solution for her (probably because he realizes at an intellectual level that it isn’t her fault, that she really ought to be pitied, even if he can’t help feeling resentment). As “the attic” is described it seems more or less like a proper upper floor. Rochester does state at one point that he’d considered having Bertha in some of his other houses (which would have been more convenient for him), but these other houses were too drafty, he thought it would be bad for Bertha’s physical health. Considering she also has this 24/7 nurse hired whom seems to be able to calm Bertha and handle her better than other people, I do think it’s pretty safe to say that Bertha is better off where she is than locked up at an actual mad-house for violent psychotics. It’s not really Rochester who’s being terrible here; it’s the time-period, with no psychiatric care available.

What Rochester does that is horribly wrong is the deception. But this isn’t really text-book abusive boyfriend wrong. Rather, it is “I will procrastinate dealing with Difficult Stuff forever, rationalize the procrastination and hurt people around me in the process because I desperately want to avoid Difficult Stuff”-wrong. (The Difficult Stuff here of course being telling Jane the truth, which he keeps convincing himself is better left off to some later point in time, until he’s even convinced himself that he should save the Big Talk until after the wedding.) This is absolutely no excuse, of course, but still worth pointing out, since I think it makes Jane and him eventually ending up together more acceptable. I don’t think that a text book abusive boyfriend who wants to control his girlfriend is likely to change just because he says that he’s sincerely sorry, but I do think that it is fairly likely that someone who used to lie in order not having to deal with Difficult Stuff and rationalize it all the time is likely to have learned his lesson when all those lies crashed down on him the way they crashed down on Rochester. So, given that time has passed, water under the bridges etc, I buy that they end up together.

One thing I also really, really like about Jane Eyre, from a feminist standpoint, is how the power differential between Jane and Rochester is presented as a problem. It’s not “how lucky this girl from humble circumstances is to have met a rich man”, it’s “how is this supposed to work out, when he’s so much more powerful than she is?”. At the end, of course, the power differential has been evened out, since Jane has inherited some money and Rochester has become ruined and disabled.

banshee
banshee
6 years ago

I liked Jane Eyre too. But I stopped finding brooding males fascinating as soon as I got to know some in real life.

fauxmy
6 years ago

weird — as i was reading such awesome advice for how to win friends and influence others, i was developing a one word response …

“Heathcliff!”

and then i read your last line.

@pecunium — as one who spent much of my twenties weaving in and out of the ‘bermuda triangle’ in the 80s, i think your friend may be on to something. i’ll check out that link.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

@Dvärghundspossen: thanks 🙂

I don’t tend to read fiction anymore, as I have so many fascinating non-fiction books to read that aren’t even study-related.

On a completely frivolous note, I have been trying to do consciousness raising of my cats by telling them to check their pussy-cat privilege* when they sit in front of my keyboard so I can’t use it, or stand in front of my screen. However, this appears to be a lost cause. I feel they understand what I am saying, but don’t want to lose the benefits of their privilege.

*it could be cute-and-fluffy privilege instead. I would need to do an experiment to determine which one it actually is.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

** the experiment does not involve shaving cats bald, but substituting animals that are:
1. cat-sized and cute but not fluffy and
2. cat-sized and fluffy but not cute.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Dvärghundspossen,
Have you ever heard of the book that was written from the wife’s pov?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Sargasso_Sea

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

So it appears that it is pussy-cat privilege then. I shall keep calling them out on it, as I pet their little furry heads, and snuggle them, and smooch them, and tell them they are gorgeous and wanted.

Dvärghundspossen
6 years ago

Yep Lea, since it seems to come up whenever there’s a Jane Eyre discussion. From what I’ve heard though, they’ve changed some stuff, so it doesn’t really line up with Jane Eyre after all. Idk, might read it some day.

Puddleglum
6 years ago

I liked Jane Eyre (the character, that is) right up until she started really interacting with Rochester. Then it was all ‘ugh, really?’. But then, I was also 13. After that, I had such a suspicion of all Bronte novels that I never read another. OTOH, I loved Jenna Starborn, which is a sci-fi adaptation of the book, and was properly entertained by The Eyre Affair, which is… sort of a sci-fi adaptation.

My mother once forced me to watch a black & white version of Wuthering Heights. Ugh. Never again.

Cliff Pervocracy
Cliff Pervocracy
6 years ago

I feel like nothing would upset this guy worse than to hear that most people actually think nothing in particular when he doesn’t smile, and walk on past with a completely neutral impression.

Don’t want to smile at women? Okay. You go ahead and do that, you rebel you.

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

Cliff, that reminds me of my favorite line from The Fountainhead (actually, the only one I like). IIRC, Ellsworth Toohey and Howard Roark are together, and Toohey tells him, We’re alone now, you can tell me what you really think of me, and Roark replies, somewhat confused, But I don’t think of you.

Beale doesn’t realize that, at best, he’s the Westbrook Pegler of his generation.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Of course, the book also suggested that a guy consult, among other women, HIS MOM on what makes him look “hot.”

??!

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

What’s his mom gonna say? That well, he got this sunburn as a kid, that was awfully hot at first, and then there was the time he had the flu…

Ally S
6 years ago

“Of course, the book also suggested that a guy consult, among other women, HIS MOM on what makes him look ‘hot.'”

…ummm…

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Questions most people would really rather not have with their parents, Part One.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Conversations, I mean. Actually I’m pretty sure that parents probably don’t want to hear “hey, does this make me look fuckable?” from their kids either. It’s just awkward.

Athywren
Athywren
6 years ago

Urgh, damn it. Does this mean I’m going to have to train myself to smile as a neutral expression in order to avoid being mistaken for an MRA?
I’m not brooding – that’s just my face, awrite? Bah!
Alright, so now I’m brooding, but only because I’m all self-conscious and grumpy.

I actually used to think that Heathcliffe was a kind of Mr Darcy-type character. I’m not sure if I was selling Darcy short, or massively overselling Heathcliffe, but somehow, I think I was wrong about that. I know Darcy’s nothing like perfect, but at least he’s not an overtly abusive gender specific asshole.
Mind you, I was also confused over the idea that James Bond was really all that misogynistic, even when I came to recognise how completely shitty it was that about half of all the women he sleeps with end up fridged… but then I saw Thunderball… wikipedia makes it sound perfectly innocent:

While massaged by physiotherapist Patricia Fearing, he notices Count Lippe, a suspicious man with a criminal tattoo (from a Tong). He searches Lippe’s room, but is seen leaving by Lippe’s clinic neighbour who is bandaged after plastic surgery. Lippe tries to murder Bond with a spinal traction machine, but is foiled by Fearing, whom Bond then seduces.

Yeah, Bond seduces Fearing. How? By telling her he won’t complain about being locked into the traction machine if she comes with him to his room (or something like that). Urgh. I’m not overreacting in thinking that’s pretty deeply awful, am I?