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Post by Guest on Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:18 am

So. Leagues.

I'm going to assume that the general consensus is that they either do not exist or that they are negligible around these parts. That said, I don't want to put words into people's mouths and I often hear differing interpretations of them.

I've been thinking about the concept for a while. I'm not sure if it's something I actually believe exists, or if it exists that it matters, but I do feel like it's linked to people's favoured types and the perception of those types. There are 'types' of people that society deems more worthy of praise, worth, respect etc.

The broadest I can think of is the outgoing VS 'not-so-outgoing'. Being outgoing is considered the standard for much of society, I feel. Someone can chime in here if I'm talking out my arse, but it seems to be the case. I think in the case of anyone who has a certain level of shyness, is a homebody, or any variation of a 'loner' (whether by choice or otherwise), can turn incompatibilities into something that feels more universal than individual. When there's value placed on something you find attractive and, in turn, less value placed on something that is a trait of yourself, I feel like it sets up a mindset open to the idea of 'leagues'.

At the same time, leagues are a good excuse for not trying for some people. The reasons why may vary, but when you can just shrug your shoulders when faced with the challenge of approaching someone, for example, it makes life feel a lot easier. Hey, they aren't in your league, right? Why bother?

I guess what I'm wondering is what other people think. Do leagues exist? If they do, do they matter? Does anyone have experience in believing in them or otherwise? Perhaps overcoming them?

I remember in high school, as much as I had little interest in relationships, I did believe there was 'rules' like leagues. Women don't go for nerds / geeks etc, for example. They were distinct layers in the cake that was my shitty interpretation of life. Popular VS unpopular, attractive VS unattractive, 'nerd' VS 'jock'. All the little categories I would pigeon-hole myself and others into created leagues where I wasn't going out of my way to make them.

*obligatory 'what I thought back then was bullshit and I know it' acknowledgement here*

But, yeah, what are leagues to you? Like I said, I'm not so sure. I err on the side of them being a product of other issues and perhaps not an issue unto itself, but I'm on the fence.

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Post by reboot on Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:16 am

Are you talking societal level of individual? Societally, leagues are crap because they set up a hierarchy that does not exist since people can have a relationship with whoever takes their fancy.

As for someone who is a homebody, on an individual level, they are "out of the league" of a 24hr party person (and vice versa) because their lives are incompatible. The homebody is as likely to find the party person's lifestyle off putting as the reverse.
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Post by Guest on Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:28 am

I suppose I was thinking more at a societal level when I thought up the thread, but on an individual level I certainly agree.

It's not exactly going to be a pleasure cruise if a homebody and a party machine try and get into a relationship. They'd only drive themselves to distraction or worse.

On a societal level, I guess the only hierarchy that could exist is one that is created to self-enforce the leagues themselves. So, it becomes a recursive mess.

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Post by Hirundo Bos on Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:52 am

I think... maybe leagues exist to those people who care about such stuff? I mean, if someone cares about a hierarchy measured on whatever standard, that would affect their dating choices, and people who cared about the same hierarchy would take that into account, and people who didn't care about the hierarchy would even measure up or not, quite randomly unless the hierarchy required some specialization (in which case you'd probably have to care to measure up) or social privilege (in which case those who measure up can act as if they didn't care), and some sort of self-organization might occur if enough people shared the same standard,

or tl;dr I agree that it would be a recursive mess.

But one with several standards to choose to care about, and enough space for those who fall between to find one another, and when I think of it, attraction tends to make people rethink their standards anyway.
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Post by kleenestar on Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:41 am

Here's how I think about it, which is not quite leagues but is maybe helpful in both acknowledging what's real about leagues and circumventing what's not.

People have a wide range of different qualities. Some of those qualities are nigh-universally important for relationships - for example, dating a partner who is capable of gratitude is more or less always good. Others are much more context-dependent - for example, some people want to date extroverts, while others want to date introverts. At the same time, some qualities have a high value placed on them by society - for example, extroversion / conventional attractiveness - and some are devalued (usually in a gendered way). The qualities society values don't have much to do with what makes a good relationship, in that some qualities that are universally important get valued and some that are only important to some people get valued.

"League" is often used to describe the match between those socially valued qualities - e.g. are you both hot, are you both rich, are you both high-status. But, to be very pragmatic, the smart play is to exploit value differences between what YOU want and what society tells you to want. If you prefer to date introverts, for example, then embrace that - it's not just that you're following your preferences, you're also opening up a dating pool of people who are potentially exceptional in other ways who aren't being properly valued and hence you have a shot at someone who is genuinely out of your league.

This is what I did with my husband! I am definitely dating "up" when it comes to the things that really count - kindness, generosity, compassion, loyalty, integrity - and I did it by ignoring certain conventional traits that are socially valued but not actually important to me.
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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:39 am

I think that in one sense, leagues do exist, but not exactly in the way that a high schooler envisions them. I think it maps more to social class. So when someone senses that another person might be "out of their league" what they're really sensing involves markers of a different social class which excludes people of their own class.
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Post by kleenestar on Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:47 am

Oh hey did you see that study about people identifying class markers in photos from dating sites? I have to see if I can dig it up. God I have such a backlog of things to dig up. Razz
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Post by reboot on Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:58 am

Caffeinated wrote:I think that in one sense, leagues do exist, but not exactly in the way that a high schooler envisions them. I think it maps more to social class. So when someone senses that another person might be "out of their league" what they're really sensing involves markers of a different social class which excludes people of their own class.

On a societal level (and individual one as welk), class is a huge part of it, especially when you think about how social class dictates how much a person can invest in their appearance and lifestyle. I mean how many people have looked at a beautiful hotel maid or a handsome day laborer and thought, "He/she is out of my league"
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Post by Enail on Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:21 pm

As well as the very smart things everyone else has been saying, I think you could also think of leagues in the sense of baseball is one league, soccer is another... If person A is an introverted homebody and person B is a wild partier, they're... not exactly playing the same sport. They're  less likely to run into each other in the first place, and less likely to enjoy playing together. Sometimes people from different leagues run into each other anyway and find a way to play baseoccer or take turns what they play, but it's going to be rarer, and if you're looking for a partner in a league you don't play in (perhaps because it's a more popular sport and so it seems more attractive), you might be making things harder for yourself than if you were open to people who played your sport.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:30 pm

reboot wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:I think that in one sense, leagues do exist, but not exactly in the way that a high schooler envisions them. I think it maps more to social class. So when someone senses that another person might be "out of their league" what they're really sensing involves markers of a different social class which excludes people of their own class.

On a societal level (and individual one as welk), class is a huge part of it, especially when you think about how social class dictates how much a person can invest in their appearance and lifestyle. I mean how many people have looked at a beautiful hotel maid or a handsome day laborer and thought, "He/she is out of my league"

Just pipping in to say I think the connection between leagues and social class is a great theory, and one I see evidence for myself.

I think in general leagues exist because people believe they exist. It's similar to race; race isn't really a biological truth, more of a social construct (meaning there isn't that significant of a gap between different races of humans to warrant racial separation) but because the concept of "race" has become so ingrained in society and thinking, race might as well be a biological truth. We as a species can create realities out of whole cloth even if there isn't necessarily proof or logic to those realities.

Thus, I might not believe that Guy A is outside my league, because I don't believe in leagues, but he or his friends may believe I am "beneath" him in leagues and thus won't date me. So I am directly affected by the existence of leagues, even if that reality exists only inside of Guy A's head.
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Post by reboot on Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:36 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
reboot wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:I think that in one sense, leagues do exist, but not exactly in the way that a high schooler envisions them. I think it maps more to social class. So when someone senses that another person might be "out of their league" what they're really sensing involves markers of a different social class which excludes people of their own class.

On a societal level (and individual one as welk), class is a huge part of it, especially when you think about how social class dictates how much a person can invest in their appearance and lifestyle. I mean how many people have looked at a beautiful hotel maid or a handsome day laborer and thought, "He/she is out of my league"

Just pipping in to say I think the connection between leagues and social class is a great theory, and one I see evidence for myself.

I think in general leagues exist because people believe they exist. It's similar to race; race isn't really a biological truth, more of a social construct (meaning there isn't that significant of a gap between different races of humans to warrant racial separation) but because the concept of "race" has become so ingrained in society and thinking, race might as well be a biological truth. We as a species can create realities out of whole cloth even if there isn't necessarily proof or logic to those realities.

Thus, I might not believe that Guy A is outside my league, because I don't believe in leagues, but he or his friends may believe I am "beneath" him in leagues and thus won't date me. So I am directly affected by the existence of leagues, even if that reality exists only inside of Guy A's head.  

Religions would fall into this group as well. They do not exist outside of the minds of humanity. Even if you personally do not believe it matters, if Guy A does you will not be a dating candidate
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Post by Guest on Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:53 pm

I have to agree with Caffeinated that social class and/or socio-economic leagues may exist. And even then, people still go for it whether or not the two people in question make the same amount of money or whatever.

As for "leagues", I kinda teetered back and forth on whether or not they existed. I don't really believe they exist, but rather you make them leagues up in your head to determine whether or not that other attractive stranger is intimidating or not.

THAT I think is the deciding factor in the whole "Leagues" debate, or at least that's what I believe. Someone out of your league is someone who intimidates the hell out of you. Razz Thinking about it that way didn't necessarily make my life easier, but I know what I find intimidating when I see it.

Which is a lot of girls, a lot of the time. Razz


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Post by PintsizeBro on Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:54 pm

I think leagues do exist, but as a heuristic, not a law. Some markers of a higher league are, as already discussed in this thread, markers of systemic privilege like being rich or white. Other big markers include having good social skills (there is a correlation between extraversion and social skills, but it's not 100%, in statistics speak 0<r<1) and being conventionally attractive.

I'm at work right now, but I'll write more later (maybe at lunchtime). If anyone's interested, I can compare and contrast my experience in different leagues, as I end up in a much higher league in gay dating than in straight dating.

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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:56 pm

Another thought on the concept of leagues: This is one of the things that makes the "girl next door" or "boy next door" type so appealing. It's an attractive stranger who is just like you (neighborhoods map to class pretty strictly) and thus is in your league, and should be less intimidating.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:18 pm

The Mikey wrote:
As for "leagues", I kinda teetered back and forth on whether or not they existed. I don't really believe they exist, but rather you make them leagues up in your head to determine whether or not that other attractive stranger is intimidating or not.

THAT I think is the deciding factor in the whole "Leagues" debate, or at least that's what I believe. Someone out of your league is someone who intimidates the hell out of you. Razz Thinking about it that way didn't necessarily make my life easier, but I know what I find intimidating when I see it.

Interestingly, I don't consider someone out of my league based on how I feel about them, but based on whether other people would consider him outside of my league.

There have been several guys over the years who I would have considered pursuing/said yes if they pursued, up until someone else made a comment or talked about how great a person the guy was. If several other people found him attractive (physically or emotionally), to the point where it seemed lots of people considered him a "catch", I would start considering him out of my league and thus not bother.

I've just been told, over and over for years, that the reason I was perpetually single is because I was shooting "above" my league. I took that lesson to heart to the point where if other people consider a guy smarter, richer, or more good-looking than me, I won't bother.

For example, I consider my boyfriend in my "league" because I think we're both equally intelligent and successful. However, he gets hit on much more frequently than I do, so I suspect that socially, he's considered more good-looking. I think if he got hit on even more frequently, I would start feeling that he was "outside" my league, even though we're currently dating, and I'd start shying away. Any suggestion that a guy I'm interested in is considered "better" than me socially (even if he himself doesn't think so) sets off my "outside my league" spider sense, and I feel the urge to run away.
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Post by Guest on Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:30 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
The Mikey wrote:
As for "leagues", I kinda teetered back and forth on whether or not they existed. I don't really believe they exist, but rather you make them leagues up in your head to determine whether or not that other attractive stranger is intimidating or not.

THAT I think is the deciding factor in the whole "Leagues" debate, or at least that's what I believe. Someone out of your league is someone who intimidates the hell out of you. Razz Thinking about it that way didn't necessarily make my life easier, but I know what I find intimidating when I see it.

Interestingly, I don't consider someone out of my league based on how I feel about them, but based on whether other people would consider him outside of my league.

There have been several guys over the years who I would have considered pursuing/said yes if they pursued, up until someone else made a comment or talked about how great a person the guy was. If several other people found him attractive (physically or emotionally), to the point where it seemed lots of people considered him a "catch", I would start considering him out of my league and thus not bother.

I've just been told, over and over for years, that the reason I was perpetually single is because I was shooting "above" my league. I took that lesson to heart to the point where if other people consider a guy smarter, richer, or more good-looking than me, I won't bother.

For example, I consider my boyfriend in my "league" because I think we're both equally intelligent and successful. However, he gets hit on much more frequently than I do, so I suspect that socially, he's considered more good-looking. I think if he got hit on even more frequently, I would start feeling that he was "outside" my league, even though we're currently dating, and I'd start shying away. Any suggestion that a guy I'm interested in is considered "better" than me socially (even if he himself doesn't think so) sets off my "outside my league" spider sense, and I feel the urge to run away.  

Interesting, I never had that outside influence to be honest, usually I rely on my own observations to determine whether or not they're in my "league". I dunno, I'm a derp, so I think that even girls who would be in my league I think would also be outta my league. So I don't know if my standards are too low or if I'm just an idiot who gets intimidated too easily.

I understand what you're saying though, RBS. And I'll be honest for a moment and say, I think you're absolutely adorable. :3 -hugs-

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Post by The Wisp on Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:33 pm

While I think leagues are only useful as general guidelines that ultimately don't apply to many individuals, I think the concept can be useful if it is used to emphasize that you have to offer something to somebody for them to be in a relationship with you. It can also be useful in getting people to be realistic about their odds of attracting partners with certain traits, especially those valued by society or their particular social group or subculture. A lot of people of all genders fall into the trap of thinking that because they're generally decent people with few to no major flaws that they should be able to attract people with lots of very positive qualities. If you want a PhD, conventionally physically attractive, adventurous partner, then you need to offer value to them (either by matching those traits, or by offering others), and if you can't then that person is out of your league and your odds of being attractive to them are very low.

Obviously, every individual is different, and so you might be considered to be in a higher league by one person and in a lower league by another person with similar traits as the first, simply because they have different preferences. But, as Pintsizedbro said, as a heuristic it seems useful.


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Post by eselle28 on Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:56 pm

I think leagues exist. I think they're quite noticeable when it comes to identifying the difference between someone who'd be successful in a football league and someone who'd be more successful at basketball or tennis or rowing. I also think that there is a major/minor league sort of distinction, which is softer, but identifies some people of a general type as being more desirable partners either because of socially defined traits or better relationship skills.

I think both concepts can be helpful to people in determining what sorts of traits they might want to cultivate to be appealing to the people who they desire, and in identifying people who might particularly value what they have to offer. The place where it falls apart and the reason I think a lot of advice columnists want to deny the concept is that people can let the concept of leagues become so overpowering that they don't take small risks like asking a stranger they know little about on a date or getting to know an acquaintance better to determine what they might value in a partner.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:31 pm

eselle28 wrote:I think leagues exist. I think they're quite noticeable when it comes to identifying the difference between someone who'd be successful in a football league and someone who'd be more successful at basketball or tennis or rowing. I also think that there is a major/minor league sort of distinction, which is softer, but identifies some people of a general type as being more desirable partners either because of socially defined traits or better relationship skills.

I think both concepts can be helpful to people in determining what sorts of traits they might want to cultivate to be appealing to the people who they desire, and in identifying people who might particularly value what they have to offer. The place where it falls apart and the reason I think a lot of advice columnists want to deny the concept is that people can let the concept of leagues become so overpowering that they don't take small risks like asking a stranger they know little about on a date or getting to know an acquaintance better to determine what they might value in a partner.

Is it ever beneficial to assume that there are some traits that are never going to be valued by a partner? For example, someone might be absolutely average (as in you could find their same qualities in most any other random individual, and any positive qualities would appear more concentrated), except they make really great underwater baskets. So the one thing they bring to the table is "great underwater basket-weaving skills." Is it a fairly safe assumption on their part that asking out an attractive stranger in hopes that the attractive (define attractive as either very intelligent, very physically good looking, very wealthy, etc) stranger values underwater basket weaving is not a good bet?

I just have to think that there are some traits or values that in a general context are neutral, but are just never going to be seen as attractive or an asset by any social group.
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Post by eselle28 on Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:23 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Is it ever beneficial to assume that there are some traits that are never going to be valued by a partner? For example, someone might be absolutely average (as in you could find their same qualities in most any other random individual, and any positive qualities would appear more concentrated), except they make really great underwater baskets. So the one thing they bring to the table is "great underwater basket-weaving skills." Is it a fairly safe assumption on their part that asking out an attractive stranger in hopes that the attractive (define attractive as either very intelligent, very physically good looking, very wealthy, etc) stranger values underwater basket weaving is not a good bet?

I just have to think that there are some traits or values that in a general context are neutral, but are just never going to be seen as attractive or an asset by any social group.

That's an interesting question. I think that most traits that a person might value about themselves will also be appealing to at least some other people, at least as proxies for other traits. Just using your example, I wouldn't really care if someone made great baskets or mediocre ones, but might respect someone for being adventurous enough to take up an unusual hobby or having the patience to do something that sounds fairly difficult. My boyfriend has said that, of all things, he likes that I cross stitch. When I gave him a funny look and asked him about that comment, it's more that he likes being in the same room together but doing different things and recognizes that several of my interests work well with that kind of socializing. (I know you're getting at broader traits here, but I'd likewise say that most personality or character traits that people like about themselves will find at least a few admirers among others.)

I'm sure there are some traits that are purely neutral, though. I'm thinking of things more like "has mild seasonal allergies" or "strongly prefers 2% milk over skim." There are also a bunch of traits that might play well with a certain audience, but won't be appealing to the kind of people someone's looking for, or for the type of relationship they want, or can't be displayed very quickly. Something like "diligent about saving for retirement" is admirable and probably desirable in a marriage partner, but it probably won't be of much interest to someone seeking out casual sex or approaching people at night clubs.
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Post by rj3 on Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:15 pm

In the advice world, the concept of leagues is extremely gendered.

In spaces like these, we tell women that leagues don't exist and that they deserve to get whatever they want and should not settle for someone who is lazy/unattractive/undesirable in some way. It's an ego-boosting thing, just like "everyone is beautiful." Whether or not Jane O'Frump is realistic about going after Hunky McChiseled, it doesn't matter, since if Hunky doesn't like her, it's his fault for being shallow.

When men ask for advice about someone above their league in terms of attractiveness, they are very often responded to by having their preferences interrogated. "Are you only looking at club hotties?" "Why haven't you interrogated your society-bestowed preferences for skinny/white/symmetrical/boobs/whatever?" OTOH, if they aren't into the standard mold, they get tossed into the "fetishist" bin and reviled accordingly.

In the advice world, leagues exist insofar as they are useful in encouraging men to settle ... for justice!

Outside the advice world, leagues exist, sort of. It's not like in a sport, where there are a set number of participants at each level and they only ever play one another. But there is a somewhat fuzzy hierarchy. It differs a little for everyone based on values, preferences and the importance we attach to each. To the extent that our desires match up with those in our community, those higher up the hierarchy have more choices and those who would date them have to bring more to the table in one way or another.

It's setting up a strawman to claim that there's some "total package attractiveness percentile" based on looks, career and character that sets a band of percentiles in which it is possible to date - that's the league system as described right before a takedown thereof. However, the fact that some people will have a better set of choices, often because of immutable characteristics, is hard to refute barring a few exceptions that prove the rule. Claiming otheriwse is a cruel joke dressed up as wishful thinking.

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Post by eselle28 on Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:22 pm

rj3 wrote:In the advice world, the concept of leagues is extremely gendered.

In spaces like these, we tell women that leagues don't exist and that they deserve to get whatever they want and should not settle for someone who is lazy/unattractive/undesirable in some way. It's an ego-boosting thing, just like "everyone is beautiful."  Whether or not Jane O'Frump is realistic about going after Hunky McChiseled, it doesn't matter, since if Hunky doesn't like her, it's his fault for being shallow.

When men ask for advice about someone above their league in terms of attractiveness, they are very often responded to by having their preferences interrogated. "Are you only looking at club hotties?" "Why haven't you interrogated your society-bestowed preferences for skinny/white/symmetrical/boobs/whatever?" OTOH, if they aren't into the standard mold, they get tossed into the "fetishist" bin and reviled accordingly.

In the advice world, leagues exist insofar as they are useful in encouraging men to settle ... for justice!

Uh, no. I assure you that women are told to settle all the time and regularly have their preferences interrogated. A number of women in this space could tell you stories of this unpleasant experience. I strongly advise you not to take this thread down the path of "who has it worse," which is a discussion that's not welcomed in this forum.
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Post by reboot on Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:33 pm

MOD

And, as everyone should be aware (if you are not please read the forum guidelines), "Who has it worse" discussions and debates are expressly prohibited. If anyone takes the thread in that direction, there will be consequences

/MOD
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Post by rj3 on Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:08 pm

eselle28 wrote:

Uh, no. I assure you that women are told to settle all the time and regularly have their preferences interrogated. A number of women in this space could tell you stories of this unpleasant experience. I strongly advise you not to take this thread down the path of "who has it worse," which is a discussion that's not welcomed in this forum.

Yes, women are told to settle... just not here and places like here, which was what I was talking about ("spaces like these").  This isn't a matter of "who has it worse." We are very, very comfortable here pointing out how experiences are "gendered" and what that fosters in terms of expectations and the like. If you won't grant me that the supposedly countercultural world gives out highly gendered advice with potentially very different outcomes, I don't know if we can avoid talking past one another.

ADDENDUM: Why does this matter? For starters, it perpetuates the gatekeeper framework. Telling women that they deserve what they desire and that it's not their job to change who they are in order to get the relationships they want places them in the familiar role of arbiter of access to sex. There is far less focus on improvement (aside from getting over internal issues) as a result. Men, who are told that they are flawed for wanting the wrong thing, are cast as active protagonists who have nobody but themselves to blame for their problems. Being part of the problem may suck, but at least it's agency.

Blame the ideological requirement to repudiate any idea of a marketplace in sex or relationships. Say turnabout is fair play. But it's there, and it isn't making anything better.


Last edited by rj3 on Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Enail on Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:36 pm

There have most definitely been discussions on this forum and on the blog where women have their preferences interrogated and are encouraged to reconsider their standards.

To be honest, I'm pretty tired of these meta discussions on what people on this site do and how unfair they are. If you have a specific concern or query about gendered advice, it's reasonable and potentially constructive to bring it up in the moment and there may be ways to constructively bring up more general concerns about forum culture, but I can't see that this is one of them. If you don't feel the people on this site will provide fair or useful advice for someone of your gender, I'd suggest maybe you find a different site that's more suited to your needs ETA: or pick and choose the advice you find helpful and that which you find biased, I'm not suggesting that people who have some concerns about the culture here can't still make use of it.

<mod> In any case, this thread is not the place to have that discussion. <mod>
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