What Masculinity And Femininity Are

Notes before reading:

I apologize in advance, because this is going to be complicated.  I am saying this the best and simplest way I know how.

There are several pictures here.  Some of them didn’t survive the scaling process too well from my computer to wordpress.  If a picture looks too small, click on it, and it’ll open a new tab more appropriately sized.

Pretend you’re on a hill:


Your goal is to get as high as possible.


There’s a problem, though:  you can’t see everything.  It’s foggy.  You can see, maybe, 10 meters.


Which way do you go to get as high as possible?

Well, the common-sense thing to do is: look around for the highest point you can see, and move towards that.


If you keep doing this, you’ll get to the top of the hill:



It’s foggy, remember?  How do you know you’re at the top of the hill?


Answer: you don’t.

But…that’s lame.  You want to get to the highest point you can.

The problem is, which way do you go?  From your perspective, both directions are downhill.

Well, there’s nothing for it.  Maybe you have a reason for going one direction instead of another—maybe someone else told you about a huge mountain after the valley—but you can’t see it.  So, for whatever reason, you pick a direction, and start walking.


Note that this strategy of “pick a direction and start walking” is incompatible with your earlier strategy of “walk uphill.”  You have to walk uphill, or you have to walk away from the nearest hill.  You can’t do both.


There’s a problem with ignoring your surroundings like this though: namely, water and lava.


Stay in the water too long, and you’ll run out of energy, sink and hit the lava, and die.  But make it across, and maybe there’s a whole new hill over there!


But that’s a hard call to make when you can’t see the other side.

Even harder to make when you’re right in the middle of the water, and you still can’t see the other side.


Now: do you keep swimming?  And if so, how long?

Keep in mind that there is no right answer.  If land is pretty close (like in our example), then the right thing to do is keep swimming.  If it’s just ocean for miles and miles, then the right thing to do is turn around before you drown.

K, ready?

The feminine tends to walk uphill.  The masculine tends to walk toward where it thinks the highest peak is.

I’m gonna phrase it a few different ways, and everyone can be equally offended by their favorite one:

Women make short-term, safe investments for low gains.  Men make high-stakes, long-term investments for high gains.

Women are sensitive to their environment, and adapt to it very quickly.  Men ignore their environment, and are slow to adapt to their immediate surroundings.

Women are sensible, mainstream, and practical.  Men are maverick, weird, and outside the mainstream.

Women improve their lives in constant, small increments.  Men improve their lives in large increments, punctuated by long periods of nothing or even decline.

Women miss the forest for the trees, manifesting in gossip and obsession over trivialities.  Men miss the trees for the forest, manifesting in overabstraction and obsession over principle.

The range of women’s relationships is short and strong, while the range of men’s is long and weak.  A woman will sacrifice anything for her child.  A man will sacrifice a surprising amount for a random stranger.

In SSM’s thread, there was mentioned a guy who insisted on mixing his own drinks at a restaurant.  Why does this seem kind of unmanly to her?

Because it is focused on the self, on the here and now, on sensation.  The thought that comes to mind is, “Is he really that focused on the trivialities of his drink as opposed to something more important?  Aren’t there dragons to be slain?”

It is also why I can easily imagine a woman eating it up.  “I love good drinks too!  Finally, a guy who understands!”

PUA’s are successful because they act like women.  They act in the short term, and encourage women to act in the short term, seeking sensation and experience.  Masculine men are successful because they don’t act like women, and women can feel it.  A short-term, feelings-based life is gonna lead to a lot of pitfalls.  Someone who is not at the mercy of their environment, but makes good decisions anyway, is a person to hang on to.  But the end goal is still feelings, just on a longer timeline.  This is why boring accountants inspire no lust.

Plugging away against your environment all the time can be pretty oppressive.  That’s why guys are so “shallow” when looking for mates—that’s what women have to offer: delightfulness right now, as opposed to “ten years from now, when the product is out the door and we’re all rich!”

I need to get back to work. But I’d urge anyone to read EYF’s “Good and bad of emotions” alongside this, because I’ve spoken in big picture terms, where she explores the nuance (see?).

(Exercises for the reader:

  • Who should be in charge, someone oriented toward the short term or the long term?
  • Is it appropriate for a man to expect a woman to act for the long term while providing her no short-term tingles?  If she is focused on the long term, will she be able to remind him of the short term?
  • Much of the building of civilization has been those with a low time preference winning out over those with a high time preference.  Investment for the long term requires initial capital, however.  Would you say nerds are long-term or short-term focused?  What would they say if you asked them?  Do they have much capital in the short term?  Is it appropriate to have such a low time preference with so little initial capital?
  • Often we define “good” by “obeys adults the most.”  Are adults—especially Christian adults—likely to try and move young men toward higher time preference, or lower time preference?  
  • If you are saving for retirement (virtues like kindness, knowledge, hard work) while making $10/hr (scrawny dude in school), will you have a prayer of being able to afford short-term costs like cable (consistent emotional outlays to a woman)?  The miracle is not that high school girls are attracted to jerks, but that they are attracted to anyone in high school.
  • Is it socially acceptable to say that women generally have a higher time preference?  Would that information be useful for a young man?)


  1. Jim Clay says:

    Great, great stuff. When I saw your pictures I immediately thought to myself “optimization algorithms!”

    Please don’t make your blog private like other folks seem to be doing lately.

    1. ‘Great, great stuff. When I saw your pictures I immediately thought to myself “optimization algorithms!”‘

      That’s the general space I’m working in. I was rather surprised to find God in math, but, hey, what did I expect? Replace “man” with “God,” and “woman” with “human” in this whole post, and I think it sheds some light on our relationship with God.

      “Please don’t make your blog private like other folks seem to be doing lately.”

      No worries, no intention of such.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Cane Caldo says:

    I think this is wrong:

    “The masculine tends to walk toward where it thinks the highest peak is.”

    Men tend to walk prefer smooth, straight roads, and if they can’t find one: Not to walk at all. If I’m right, most of the rest of the post is invalidated.

    1. Oh, I agree, but it has to be looked at in context, which is: compared to women? Men explored the oceans, descend into the valleys of loneliness to bring back Science, brave women’s fury to keep the marriage on track, ignore their uncovered walls and are satisfied with a couch and a beanbag chair while they work on the Great American Novel.

      The thing I’m excited about is that: both strategies are equally important. We need people who ignore immediate incentives and plug ahead. But doesn’t it make the journey infinitely nicer if there are a few lifts along the way? Even if you can’t experience them, it’s nice to see someone else get them. This is men’s relationship to women, and God’s to Man.

      What got me thinking about this, in part, was your post “Retched”, where you declared porn a womanly thing. Why is it a womanly thing? I’m convinced that it’s because it’s focused on the short term, and the self, like the drink-mixer referenced in SSM’s thread.

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