Man as a mirror.

18 Oct

I wasn’t going to write about Karen Owen and her, uh, list, figuring I’d have nothing new to add to the conversation, but I had an experience over the weekend that changed my mind.

I had arrived at Borders to meet some female friends for our weekly Bible study.  While two friends went and got coffee, I held down the table.  Having just awakened from an out-cold nap just about 30 minutes prior, I was still feeling a little groggy and trying to snap out of it.  I tried to telepathically will my friends to hurry back to the table so that I could order my own overpriced cup of coffee.  Tragically, my telepathy failed.

A large, hairy, possibly somewhat Armenian-looking guy with cornrows dressed in the drab guy uniform of knee-length shorts and an enormous T-shirt sat in the armchair to my right with his beat-up MacBook and headphones.  I didn’t really notice him until he got up and went to unplug his power cord near my table.  As he passed behind me, I heard him talking out loud.  I think he was trying to be lighthearted and jovial and attract my attention that way, but I was still groggy and didn’t care what a large, hairy, badly dressed man wanted to say to me if he wasn’t going to engage me directly.

I guess he also figured out that his indirect approach wasn’t working, so when he sat back down, he spoke to me directly, using my shoes as an opener.  He asked if they were Burberry.  I said no, they were $14 from Payless.  He said they looked like Burberry because of the plaid pattern.  I said that the plaid was the reason I liked the shoes.  He then asked if I was there for a Bible study.  (He must have seen my Bible with its gilded page edges.)  I answered affirmatively, and he went on to ramble about how he think it’s good to read the Bible, even if you don’t believe, because there’s good stuff in there with good morals and Jesus had a lot of good things to say, etc. etc.  I nodded a couple of times and agreed with him but didn’t encourage the conversation to continue, all the while trying to decide if this guy was legit or weird and wondering if I was being a bad Christian for not asking him where he thought he would spend eternity if he died tonight or doing other Christian Outreach Moves especially when he clearly had a positive attitude about Christianity and my goodness I REALLY needed some designer coffee or food so I would be more pleasant and awake.  Finally he concluded and decided to leave, and we bid adieu.

Later on that night, I thought about what had happened and concluded that I would have snapped to far greater attention had the guy who approached me better-looking, better-dressed, more articulate, or wittier.  I would have acted more interested and possibly even thrown out some charm if he had been more in line with the type of man I find attractive.

Then I thought about Karen Owen and how her List only featured athletes and how most people believe she was only discriminating in reporting her adventures, not in having such adventures in general.

I’ve read before that men consider the looks of their wives/girlfriends to be a reflection of their own quality as men; that men do think of women as arm candy, and the better-looking the woman, the higher-status he must be.  In a way, a woman is a mirror back to the man of the type of man he is.  I think the inverse is true for women as well, that the status of the man or men they’re associated with is a mirror validating their beauty and worth as women, the logic being that high-status men choose high-status women, therefore if a high-status man chooses me, I must be a high-status (read: beautiful, sexy, alluring) woman.  For someone like Karen Owen, an attractive but not pretty girl, the drive to secure a mirror that reflected what she wanted to see was pretty all-consuming.  That she apparently picked and chose who made it onto the List supports this theory, since a girl who gets the best must be one of the best herself.  A lesser man’s inclusion on the List would only have lowered her value in her own eyes, and in the eyes of her friends.  If men typically go only for what they think they can get, then it’s pretty depressing if the only men who are coming after you are unimpressive, because that means you must be unimpressive, too.

So to bring it back around to my experience with Big Borders Guy, on the one hand I tried to feel flattered that this guy was doing a daygame cold approach – and I am not approached very often, much less cold, so I should have felt extra flattered – but on the other hand, he was not the reflection of myself that I wanted to see at all, and I think it would take a toll on my ego if BBG-types were the only ones who approached me.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Or, perhaps more accurately, the spirit is reluctant, and the flesh is weak.

(Also, let this be encouragement to men to dress better.  If you look like you just rolled out of your parents’ basement and you try to approach women with minimal game, it’s probably not going to go in your favor.)


12 Responses to “Man as a mirror.”

  1. Augustine DeCarthage October 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Interesting, Haley. I’ll have to think about this, but I think you’re on to something.

  2. ASDF October 18, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    How were you dressed?

  3. Aunt Haley October 18, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    Casually. Jeans, T-shirt, one of those coat-like sweaters that ties at the waist.

  4. Josh October 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    As Roissy pointed out, it’s not enough for women to merely have sex with a man – diverting the sexual attentions of a high-status man for one night is no great accomplishment – but to secure a lasting commitment.

    Ms. Owen’s strategy is therefore flawed, because she hasn’t proved her high-status by sleeping with high-status men. To have that, she must marry one (or have whatever modern-equivalent-relationship you want to use).

    Her list only demonstrates that she is a willing member of the alpha male harem.

    That said, I think dressing well and being articulate is generally a good idea.

  5. y81 October 19, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    It’s not related to dating (except maybe in some very deep way), but I doubt that asking people what will happen if they die tonight is going to motivate them. Most people want their mundane existences transformed by the knowledge that their daily lives are grounded in the ontological substrate, that they live in harmony with ultimate reality, that they have a personal connection with transcendent truth. They aren’t thinking about death or eternity. I think you would have to already be a Christian before you started asking, “What if this present were the world’s last night?”

  6. Cane Caldo October 19, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    While KO hasn’t proved her high status, I think Haley’s point is that the inclusion of lesser men on the list would have confirmed her low value in KO’s own eyes, and the eyes of her friends.

  7. nothingbutthetruth October 19, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    You are right but you forget an important aspect. A woman’s quality is not reflected in the man who she is able to have affairs or one-night stands. A woman’s quality is reflected in the man who she is able to commit (that is, to have a LTR, to marry, etc.).

    Many women get confused with that, because they project their own behavior into men. A woman who is a 9 won’t get laid with a men who is a 6. Women are picky about sex.

    Men are not picking about sex: they are sexual oportunists. Men who are 9 are willing to have casual sex with women who are 6. But men are picky about commitment. Men who are 9 are not willing to make women who are 6 their steady girlfriends or their wives.

    So these women end up with an inflated view of their own mating value. They bed a 9 and they think they are a 9, when they are a 6 (for example). From then on, they are unwilling to accept their natural partners for a LTR (the guys who are a 6) because they think they are settling and their lives are a serial string of affairs with alpha men unwilling to commit to her.

    This happens when you deregulate female sexuality. Ancient Christians knew better.

  8. knepper October 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    I think you are being too hard on yourself, Haley, if you are condemning yourself for not witnessing to a scruffy looking guy, not appealing to you in any way, who was clearly trying to hit on you. Who wouldn’t try to get away–I sure would in the reverse situation. Maybe it’s just me. On the other hand, I’ve been in the situation where I made an effort to be nice to single, Christian women who held no attraction to me, thinking I was doing the Christian thing and looking past the outward appearence, etc. Of course, it ended up being misinterpreted, and causing hurt feelings all around.

  9. Matt Calvey October 22, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    There was a comment made on a site, I THINK it was Roissy, by some guy that claimed he “hooked up” with Karen Owens her sophmore year. IF TRUE, his exclusion from the list would be supporting evidence for Auntie’s theory…

  10. TodO October 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Years ago a psychologist (I’m not going to dig up the citation) did experiments on people’s assessments of others’ physical attractiveness, giving the participants photographs of men and women and asking them to rank them.

    Men and women tended to agree in their rankings of women’s physical attractiveness; men agreed with the men, women agreed with the women, and the men and the women agreed with each other. Everyone pretty much knows where a woman stands on the physical attractiveness ladder.

    While there was some agreement in the women’s rankings of men’s photographs, the women agreed much less on which men are good-looking than they agreed on which women are good-looking. That is, if you’re a guy, some women are going to think you look just fine even if others don’t.

    So, Haley, put your mind at ease. The fact that a man you find unattractive sees you as within his realm of possibilities doesn’t mean too much: there are women who are more attractive than he is who genuinely are within his realm of possibilities. A man’s perception of who is possibly available to him is a funhouse mirror.

    (If anyone cares, men’s rankings of other men’s physical attractiveness are all over the place. They can tell, e.g., Stephen Hawking from Brad Pitt, but that’s about it.)


    Re: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Or, perhaps more accurately, the spirit is reluctant, and the flesh is weak.”

    I’m not getting the metaphor, but I feel like I should. Care to spell it out?

  11. Tom November 3, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    My wife’s “looks” are not a reflection of me at all. Her great character, her deep love for me and our children, her frienship and her courage all mark me as exceptionally high status.

    But you would not know that from looking at me. In fact, my weekend outfits consist of t-shirts and rags I’ve worn for years, and will wear until they fall apart. I dressed that way when we met, and have not changed that (I dress differently for work).

    I get my “status” and sense of self worth from my accomplishments and my loving interactions with others, not from “arm candy.”


  1. Linkage is Good for You: Free Sample Edition - October 24, 2010

    […] Aunt Haley – “Man as a Mirror.” […]

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