Having addressed yesterday, at least preliminarily and somewhat tentatively, the issue of terminology (which I will agree is important, as irritating as that may be at this stage of the conversation), I am going to move into the substance of the ideas that underlie the super-norm.
There have been a significant number of different iterations of what the super-norm is or might be. In light of that, I think it will be useful to have one post dedicated to laying out the main interpretations and theories, so that we can have them on the table in order to examine, compare, critique and refine them more fully in subsequent posts. I realize that this methodology may seem tiresome to some, but I think it’s critical to be more organized and systematic in how we approach this conflux of issues from the analytical perspective. I am not going to spend much time critiquing each perspective in this note — I intend to do so in later entries — but rather my intention here is to place the main perspectives on the table in one place so that we can examine each of them a bit more systematically in the context of each other in subsequent entries.
Everything a man experiences, every social conditioning he receives from the earliest age, every accepted social norm and every expectation of him to qualify as the definition of a mature adult Man in contemporary society is designed to serve the female imperative. Moralist wallow in it, absolutists and defeated white knights existentially depend upon it, and even the better part of relativists still (often unwittingly) feed and serve the feminine purpose. In fact, so all encompassing is this reality that we define our masculinity in the terms of how well we can accommodate that feminine influence.
Note that the articulation of this is as social conditioning which molds behavioral expectations of men around the interests of women. Rollo cites the basis for this as the underlying female sexual strategy, hypergamy:
For one gender to realize their sexual imperative the other must sacrifice their own. This is the root source of power the feminine imperative uses to establish its own reality as the normative one. From this flows the rules of engagement for dating / mating, operative social conventions used to maintain cognitive dominance, and laws and legalities that bind society to the benefit of the feminine. From this is derived men’s default status as the ‘disposable’ sex, while women are the protected sex.
From this I think one can conclude that, for Rollo, the super-norm is comprised of the social conventions, rules of engagement for male/female interaction, expected life scripts, moral rules and the like which serve the female reproductive interest of hypergamy. From Rollo’s perspective, even the system we know as “patriarchy” is essentially a construct that serves the female interest predominantly, in reproductive terms:
The crowning irony of the feminine reality is that men should be accused of patriarchy while enabling the very framework of the feminine imperative. The feminine sexual strategy is victorious because even under the contrived auspices of male oppression, it’s still the female goal-state that is agreed upon as the correct effort. Satisfying the feminine imperative, achieving the ends of the feminine sexual strategy is still the normative condition. Men’s goals are aberrant, women’s are beatific.
Note that Rollo is not speaking about the specific imperative of any individual woman, or even of any collective, but rather about the scripts, norms, expectations and rules that enmesh social interaction between men and women, and their respective life paths.
The Moral Warp (Dalrock) — Dalrock has taken the basic ideas expressed by Rollo and repackaged them in a way that emphasizes the moral warping that happens when the super-norm is engaged:
The problem is the feminine imperative is much more insidious than simple moral indulgence. The feminine imperative has warped our very ability to think morally. For example, a recent commenter at Dr Helen’s blog offered the following helpful dating advice for men looking for good women:
…I have found that when men “go there too soon,” a woman feels regretful or in some cases objectified… Whether or not they were they said “no.”
So, if you are looking for “the one,” patience is the best. “Getting women in bed quickl” is the fastest way to get a woman out of your life, if you ask me. A good woman wants to wait, and you want a good woman for the long haul, I would think…
I guess I can only offer the “good-girl, looking for life-long partner” perspective. They are out there, maybe fewere and fewer?
How many even inside of the manosphere can spot this for what it really is? Most will mistake it for Christian sexual morality or at least something along those lines, instead of what it really is, the cuckoo chick which pushed Christian sexual morality out of the nest when no one was looking. Modern Christians can’t spot this for what it is so they nourish it as if it were their own. It takes a vigilant eye to spot this parasitic imposter as the feminine imperative masquerading as sexual morality. The beauty of it is even the woman writing this likely has no idea of what she is actually doing.
Where I think many are getting hung up is in the explanation of the mechanics of how all of this happens. This is certainly a valid and interesting discussion, but whether or not you agree with Rollo on the mechanism doesn’t invalidate the phenomenon. Something very real is happening, and it follows what is generally a distinct and recognizable pattern once you understand what a feral woman’s mating script actually looks like. In essence, what Rollo has done for us is both point out the pattern and offer an explanation at the same time. He may or may not be right about the explanation, but the pattern is as undeniable as iron shavings surrounding a magnet. We don’t have to know the mechanics of electromagnetic fields to see that there is a pattern there, and those who are objecting to the concept of the feminine imperative should take the same approach. While the mechanics may be in question, the result is undeniable.
For Dalrock, the traces of some kind of warping are present in what is almost universally accepted as a more moral, more right mating script — one which just so happens to match the hypergamic script, but which is packaged as being moral and pure and right and just in an objective moral sense. This disturbs him (rightly in my view) because it is not consonant with Biblical moral norms, yet it is peddled as moral and is widely assumed to be such even by “Bible Christians”. He notes this discordance and then posits the super-norm as a plausible explanation, while leaving open the “mechanics of how it happens” (i.e., how it came to be, how it becomes entrenched in society and in individual motives and so on). That is, Dalrock is observing a moral phenomenon and finding the super-norm as a plausible explanation for this widespread moral delusion. As he describes even more explicitly in a comment on his own post:
What she is describing is the script 90%+ of Christians have today. The path for a Christian woman to marriage is to practice serial monogamy until she finds “the one”, at which time she hands him an official man up card. Generally there is a wink and a nod pretending that this series of premarital boyfriends are chaste relationships, but 1) There is no biblical model of non sexual romantic relationships. This is a thoroughly modern invention. and 2) The vast majority of the time sex is involved and is merely overlooked.
For Dalrock, then, the super-norm is the underlying phenomenon that causes the moral distortion he observes — a distortion which has replaced biblical moral norms around the mating script (which can be described as hard monogamy) with the new norm of serial monogamy, which Dalrock himself has famously described as the female version of promiscuity. He leaves open for further discussion the specific ways and means by which this super-norm may operate (which likely led to much of the discussion in that specific thread), and opens the door to the idea that we may be speaking of two different things (i.e., one thing may be the pattern or manifestation which is observed and the other thing may be the underlying mechanic which brings the pattern or manifestation into being) but concludes that there must be something involved, apart from general feminism and general moral decay, because this behavior is not being presented as transgressive, but rather as good, and in a de facto way as “as moral as we can reasonably be today” by Christians as well.
Biology vs Culture and “Feminist” vs “Feminine” Imperatives (SunshineMary, James, other commenters) — This perspective is that anything comprising the super-norm is cultural and is to be distinguished from any underlying biological drives, which are cross-cultural. So, according to this perspective:
The masculine and feminine imperatives come from the reptilian hindbrain, and are the same in all places and all times. Matthew is right to suggest we distinguish this from “imperatives” that are specific to our place, time, and culture.
This perspective distinguishes between reproduction drives, on the one hand, and cultura developments, on the other, and tends to see the latter as being best described by some combination of: recent, aberrational, specifically tied to specific historical events, and not closely tied to underlying reproductive motives.
A related and similar perspective, articulated perhaps best by SunshineMary, draws a distinction between “the feminine imperative” (which is seen as good) and the “feminist imperative” (which is seen as bad):
This is why I have been teasing apart what I perceive as being two distinct concepts: the feminine versus the feminist imperative. I think moral Christians will probably still choose to follow the feminine imperative (the amoral, biological tendency to prioritize female well-being, which ends up being advantageous for both sexes), but they very much ought not to be following the feminist imperative (the immoral social construct which insists that men sacrifice for women but receive no benefits in return at all).
In this view, the biologically-based social tilt towards women is admitted, but is seen as a social good that is beneficial for everyone, while the cultural tilt towards women today is based on ideology and is pathological for everyone. This perspective would presumably see the trend towards serial monogamy being broadly morally endorsed as a manifestation of the latter rather than the former, but that is a topic I would like to address more fully in a subsequent note.
There have been, of course, other articulations of the phenomenon made in various threads and comment boxes over the past few months, but as far as I can tell they mostly are riffs on one of the above perspectives, either agreeing with them, or critiquing them, or refining them. I will address some of these when I examine each of the three general perspectives above critically in the next series of posts on this topic.