Learning from the mistakes of others

Cat Lady by Lisa Monica Nelson

No affiliation with Atavisionary.com. See more artwork at this website.

I found this daily mail article written by a career woman expressing her regret at abandoning her young love and thus leaving herself alone and childless at 42. As a young woman she apparently was in what most would consider a pretty good relationship, but abandoned it.

It all seemed so simple to my naïve, 19-year-old self. I was, I smugly told myself, the girl who had it all.

So why, 20 years later, do I find myself  single, childless and tormented by the fact that I have thrown away the only true chance of happiness I ever had?

Now I am 42 and have all the trappings of success – a high-flying career, financial security and a home in the heart of London’s trendy Notting Hill. But I don’t have the one thing I crave more than anything: a loving husband and family.

‘My father warned me not to throw this love away. But I was sure I’d find Mr Perfect around the corner’

You see, I never did find another man who offered everything Matthew did, who understood me and loved me like he did. Someone who was my best friend as well as my lover.

Today, seeing friends with their children around them tortures me, as I know I am unlikely ever to have a family of my own. I think about the times Matthew and I talked about having children, even discussing the names we would choose. I cannot believe I turned my back on so much happiness.

Instead, here I am back on the singles market, looking for the very thing I discarded with barely a backward glance all those years ago.

I know I can’t have Matthew back, and it hurts when I hear snippets of information about his life and how content he is. Fifteen years after I ended our relationship, he is happily married.

What is particularly sad about this case of “It just didn’t happen” is that it almost did except that she completely sabotaged herself. From her description, she had everything she wanted. What made her throw this away?

The following year, we bought a tiny starter home in Grays, Essex, which we moved into with furniture we had begged, borrowed and stolen. We giggled with delight at the thought of this grown-up new life.

I was in my first junior role at a women’s magazine and Matthew worked fitting tyres and exhausts, so our combined salaries of around £15,000 a year meant we struggled to make the mortgage payments. But we didn’t care, telling ourselves that it wouldn’t be long before we were earning more and able to afford weekly treats and a bigger home where we could bring up the babies we had planned.

But then, the housing market crashed and we were plunged into negative equity.

Struggling should have brought us closer together, and at first it did. But as time went on, and my magazine career – and salary – advanced, I started to resent Matthew as he drifted from one dead-end job to another. I still loved him, but I began to feel embarrassed by his blue-collar jobs, annoyed that, despite his intelligence, he didn’t have a career.

Ahh, so she got enamored with the artificial status conferred by her patently useless make-work role at a women’s magazine. Why do I say artificial? Here is a typical cover of a women’s magazine based on image search results:

 

womens-magazine

Women’s magazines appear to focus almost exclusively on high time preference beliefs and actions. Fake diets that work in 8 hours (?!). Clothes and fashion that instantly boost status. Get rich quick schemes. Short and low intensity exercise with supernatural results. It seems to be her belief that the generation of this sort of inanity is high status. In reality this is a morally dubious practice of tricking the gullible out of money with promises of easy fixes that are clearly false. Her life’s work has been to generate false hope and she left the love of her life, abandoning the opportunity to start a family, to pursue this. Just stop and think about this for second…. Can you imagine a sadder existence?

Even worse is that she compares this to her ex-boyfriend’s jobs which, whatever the pay level, are indispensably necessary for the continuance of a functional civilization. She views herself as the higher status one. Her confusion about the relative merits of various activities was, and is, quite extreme and undoubtedly shared by many women. Her article gives no indication that she ever realized how truly pointless, and probably harmful, her career has been for other women.

Even though she was wrong about her status, perception was enough and her hypergamic instincts kicked in. As such she pressured her boyfriend to get a “real job.” He obliged:

I encouraged him to find a career and was thrilled when he was accepted to join the police in 1995. It should have heralded a new chapter in our lives, but it only hastened the end. We went from spending every evening and weekend together, to hardly seeing one another. Matthew was doing round-the-clock shifts, while I worked long hours on the launch of a new magazine.

It turns out that engaging in real and useful work requires sacrifice. Even though her original demands were met, she was not content because unfortunately it caused a shift and another part of the relationship had to be neglected in order to satisfy her demands. She could not accept that any part of the relationship be less than perfect even though this was merely an unwanted infringement of reality on her life when meeting her own apparent desires. And so she broke up with him. What did she do?

I moved into a rented flat a few miles away in Hornchurch, Essex, and embraced single life with a vengeance. By now I was an editor on a national magazine. Life was one long round of premieres and dinner or drinks parties.

She implies without mentioning that she probably became a huge slut, and probably bedded many men perceived as high status at these various parties. Her actions and perceptions betray a great deal of pride and vanity. Her life was only about her and maximizing her perceived status to other people. Throw in a great abundance of high time preference pleasure seeking and there probably isn’t much else to know about her.

The years rolled along and she kept Matthew as a beta orbiter as much as possible. Stringing him along always with some faint hope that his broken dream of marriage to her might someday become a reality. Of course, even Matthew would eventually figure out that wasn’t going to happen and thoroughly move on. He found himself another girl and ran with it.

I hated the fact Matthew was suddenly putting another woman before me. How dare she come between us! Over the next few weeks, I’m ashamed to say I vented my spleen at both of them in a series of heated phone calls.

I was completely irrational. I didn’t want Matthew back, but felt upstaged by Sara.

Unsurprisingly, after one particularly nasty argument, Matthew put the phone down and refused to take any more of my calls. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would never speak to him again.

At least she eventually realized that she was completely in the wrong (well, sort of). Too little, too late. It is hard to understand how women can feel justified in expecting men to just sit around waiting for them for years without any giving on the part of the woman. Selfishness on this level is not attractive and not desirable.

So once again I am on my own, my mind full of ‘if-onlys’. If only I’d stayed with Matthew, we’d almost certainly be married with children.

Or, maybe Matthew wasn’t the right man. I will never know  the answer, but my decision to leave him has definitely cost me the chance of ever becoming a mother.

Now I can only look back and admonish my selfish, younger self.

Another woman’s life ruined by her own selfishness, vanity, lack of perspective, and heavy doses (undoubtedly) of feminist propaganda about what roles are most conducive to happiness in women. I walk away from reading this with the distinct perception that this woman has only partially grasped why a multitude of her life choices led her to the unhappy state she is currently in. She certainly understands that she made a mistake. She does not understand, or refuses to admit, how harmful her decisions were to others. Matthew most of all, but also his other girlfriends. At best she realizes she was “irrational,” but never admits that anything she did was actively wrong. She certainly doesn’t understand how her career itself was utterly pointless and probably harms other women with a variety of unrealistic ideas and claims. I suppose I can understand how difficult accepting that would be in the face of the portions of her mistakes she has already accepted. She is not one to be envied.

However, I actually have some respect for this woman because even in partial admittance of her mistakes and how she came to them she at least opens up the door for younger women to learn from those mistakes. Without the personal investment in this life, hopefully they will be better able to see the fuller scope of the problems and thus more readily avoid them. This article and those like them have the potential for helping many people. That at least can be appreciated. Whether anyone actually takes it to heart is another matter entirely, however. Potential is much less than action.

[note: originally I was going to go a slightly different direction with this post, so the URL is different from the title. Just ignore that]

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Vanity Marketing (for women only)

As I often do, I was browsing reddit when I found the following post by an apparent Singapore native who was annoyed that a bank was advertising a female only credit card…

In my country, only 2 banks here offer women-only credit cards; this is one bank. It’s been around for almost as long as I’ve lived so this is nothing new.

Still, it irks me that there’s all the talk about “gender equality” and “sexism” yet women here can apply for any credit card but men actually have (slightly) less choices.

First, it’s “women are constantly being discriminated by men and aren’t given ample opportunities to prove themselves”. Then it’s “banks are doing this because it’s been shown that women spend more than men due their higher disposable income”. So which is it?

To bad unlike in the US, there’s no statute to protect against gender discrimination, (there is for race, language or religion).

I suppose he is technically right that it is hypocritical to want gender “equality” while supporting gender segregated whatever (in this case credit cards). Even so, taking a “Bu, bu, but the dems are the REAL sexists” analogous line isn’t really worth bothering with. You can’t out-left the left. I reject gender equality altogether so such things don’t bother me per se. There are plenty of instances where men and women justifiably shouldn’t be treated the same. Credit cards are probably not one of those times, but meh, who cares how banks advertise this stuff. It doesn’t matter. Well, I could see banning women from getting credit cards at all because many are irresponsible with money and high debt makes for a poor wife. But that is a different topic.

Even though the above logic holds in this case, there is another reason why the proper response to things like “Women-only credit cards” should be amusement rather than annoyance. Female-focused advertising is, in most cases, a blatant gimmick with no real substance. In the case of a credit card, it probably has higher interest rates or worse conditions than non-female focused competitors. At minimum it is no better than similar gender neutral competitors. The fact that it has a gender focused marketing campaign is NOT a reason to pick it over other offerings on the market. In fact, it is hard to imagine how a credit card could be made female focused in anything but name. Perhaps it gives 1.5% back on any purchase of tampons, cat litter, ice cream, tissues, romantic comedies, and weight loss programs. Jokes aside, female-centric marketing is a naked attempt to appeal to female vanity and/or solipsism in order to bypass sound judgement to close the sale. That such marketing is relatively common suggests that the gambit works reasonably well. If the deception works that well, that means a large proportion of the female population is flagrantly stupid enough to fall for it. Ironically, the marketing which successfully appeals to female vanity and pride directly countermands its justification immediately upon the marketing’s success. Falling for baseless, naked manipulation is a sure sign that there is nothing to be proud of. The success of such branding is a clear and unambiguous indictment of female incompetence at the population level. Hence why I find it so amusing that most women hop right on the bandwagon for such campaigns without even a second thought. The joke is on them.

I think the funniest example of vanity marketing I have seen was when I was grocery shopping a few years ago. I was walking down the medicine aisle when I suddenly saw a laxative that was specifically “for women.” This marketing was absolutely preposterous because intestines do not vary by gender in their response to commonly used laxatives. I would have to look it up, but I would guess the same is true for more esoteric prescription laxatives. I stopped my cart and balked for a minute at the idea of “female” laxatives (or even just that some cheeky bastard would have the gall to shamelessly market such bullshit and it WORKED) before moving closer to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough the ingredients were all the same as every other brand in the aisle. Female laxatives, like many other “female” products, were just a stupid marketing gimmick to make women buy it, at a higher price, over other brands. Think about this for a second. The sales advantage of increasing female buyers more than made up for any sales disadvantage of alienating men away from this product. And this increase happens IN SPITE of it being identical with everything else available and more expensive. Either a whole lot of women are really susceptible to this type of marketing, or else women get clogged up way more than men do [or both]. Even if women get constipated more, that doesn’t change the fact that the “female” laxatives were no different than any other laxative. The pretty (turd?) flowers on the label provide absolutely zero rational justification to chose it as a product over any of the others.

Since our laws require most products list their active ingredient right on the labels, it really doesn’t make sense that “female” marketing should work at all. Maybe this is a guy thing, but I know when I am shopping for something I usually spend a minute comparing price, volumes, active ingredients, other ingredients, concentrations, or anything else that might inform my decision on what to buy. This process of evaluation would almost always make such a transparent gimmick useless (or worse than useless if I was annoyed by the deceptive nature of the label). Especially in the case of the laxatives above, the ladies could easily compare “female” laxatives to the cheapest generic brand and realize what the better deal was. Many, apparently, do not go through this obvious process and marketing female laxatives is a successful sales tactic.

This seems to be true of not just neutral products with deceptive “female” labels, but also for products implicitly understood to be mostly for women. Right out of college I spent a year teaching chemistry and biology at a high school. During one of my chemistry lessons I was rudely interrupted during a very important chemistry lecture by a group of gossiping girls. They were of course talking about which brand of hair care product was the best. Well, even back then I had the general concept of this post about female purchasing habits in my mind. I suspected their concept of “best” products had more to do with labels and gimmicks than with actual active ingredients and effectiveness. As “punishment” I required all of the girls to look up the active chemical ingredient of the various brands, the chemical reactions involved, and give a comparison report in front of the class. I can’t remember exactly which products they talked about, but it ended up having peroxides so it was probably some sort of bleaching agent. Sure enough, my suspicion was correct. All of the brands had the exact same active ingredient at the same concentration. My hope was that they learned a valuable lesson on product evaluation which could save them a lot of money, but I was left with a very distinct impression that they didn’t care at all and were just going to get whatever was most expensive because that was better for signalling status. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

Now some people might complain that there are examples of the above sort of things with the genders inverted. However, examples like female credit cards and female laxatives are a different category than the male focused products that I can think of (if you have examples I haven’t thought of, please let me know). Specifically, in the case of credit cards and laxatives, there is no implied gender of the product. Companies are taking a gender neutral product, slapping some gynocentric packaging on it, and hoping female vanity will get them more sales despite the product being in no way changed. I can’t think of any male oriented products which fits this description (A gender-neutral product which gets male-focused marketing).

The most well-known example of a male-focused marketing generally is probably the “Just for men” beard dyeing product.* However, there is a fundamental difference between this example and the two female-focused examples. Hair-dying, and thus its products, is implicitly a female activity because it is all about vanity and vanity is a very feminine conceit. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most or all activities, brands, etc which are considered feminine, outside of child-rearing, are fundamentally related to vanity. Many or most men would gladly choose grey beards over buying flowery boxes of hair dye and sissy-dyeing their beards. Either that, or they just don’t care and see dying grey hair as wholly unnecessary [or both]. The “just for men” brand is very self-consciously trying to counter the perception of hair-coloring as feminine to open up a reluctant market. Despite this direct marketing, I suspect the greying male population is still fairly reluctant to bother with hair dyeing compared to the female population as a whole. Even in this case where men might have some pretty legitimate desire to use a vanity product, vanity marketing for men just is not as effective as it is for women. This is why you never see an objectively gender neutral product labeled for men. Such things don’t work, so they don’t happen

Now before you say this is just me and my anecdotal experiences, I want to remind you that the belief that women are more vain than men has existed since ancient times. For example, in Isaiah 3 the women of Judea are described thusly:

Moreover, the LORD said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,

Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the LORD will make their foreheads bare.”

In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, 19dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.

Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction;
Instead of a belt, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;
Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty.

Isaiah also talks about killing all the men to make the women suffer even more. Male Privilege. I hope god never decides to punish women too badly…. In an excellent article which is on another topic, but which also references Isaiah, Albert Nock sees a similar pattern among women in the 1920s and 30s:

The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass man — be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper — gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak minded and weak willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous. The mass woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible. The list of luxury products that she patronized is interesting; it calls to mind the women’s page of a Sunday newspaper in 1928, or the display set forth in one of our professedly “smart” periodicals. In another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name “flapper gait” and the “debutante slouch.”

So I think there is more than a little something to this idea of vanity being more common in women, and unscrupulous marketeers using that fact to their advantage. Most “for women” marketing is taking advantage of female stupidity and vanity to make a profit. Most women seem completely unable or unwilling to recognize that fact. Frankly, they deserve to be fleeced if it is really that easy to do. And men should laugh at their folly rather than be mad. (Unless its your wife, in which case slap some sense into her.)

*I have never used a beard dye, and I didn’t research it for this post. Beard hair is obviously much more course than other hair and that may require different formulations or tools. If so that actually makes this a distinct product from female hair dye and thus even less of a suitable analogy.

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