I know that not everyone that reads my blog is an avid reader of Dalrock’s posts over at his site. Even if you are an avid reader of his, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you read his comments regularly nor participate there. I know I don’t always do so due to time or subject matter.
Yet a very interesting discussion has broken out over there. One of the linguistics of the Manosphere in how the men that have gathered in this corner of the internet are prone to use phrases and terminology that the rest of the world does not. This topic came up on his most recent post, “The Feminine Imperative Revisited.”
The issue within the Manosphere that I’ve had a hard time dealing with lately is how as men we’re trying to create a very specific term, yet we’re using it in the broadest way possible. The term “feminine imperative” has been used to describe sexual strategies, sexual morals, societal morals, women’s morals, Western Laws, biological/psychological evolution, and more. I’ve been considering the ways we use the term Feminine Imperative since a conversation I had with Matt over at Stingray’s after this post of hers. I actually had planned to do a post about the term and the Manosphere’s use of it, but after being home for the holidays had ended, the discussion was already over and the community as a whole seemed burned out on the subject until now.
The Reason This Subject is Critical
The manosphere exists because it is men searching for the truth of masculinity and why the western world we live in seems to currently be constructed of lies, injustice, and hatred towards men. Most of us also believe that the result of the aforementioned issues is that our society is on course to disassemble itself in a relatively short amount of time, hence the popularity of phrases, “I’ll be poolside with a drink” or “Enjoying the decline”
Yet, at some point, society will likely look towards this corner of the internet for answers if it seems like we have them. If we, as men, can’t effectively communicate, how will we give society any sort of quality answer? And, if we can’t do that, do we have a reason to write? All the bloggers I know find satisfaction in helping men with these issues, yet protest they can’t convince other men of their values. Yet a large portion of them claim they’re still alpha, still leaders. You’re a leader and you can’t lead?
It’s why I post conversations from facebook. Issues I have leading at work. Conversations I have in real life. What I read that I have found helpful in learning masculinity, leadership, and self developement. I’m lucky in that these real life examples post extremely little risk to myself, which I know is rare to the men on here and is why I do so even though I sometimes berate myself for being full of myself to think it’s important to any of you. I’m trying to learn how to be a leader, and because it seems that many other men here are trying to do the same I am willing to put myself in the position I do, in hopes that it will help a man or two here and there. I try to offer a path for others to learn from my mistakes, my success, my strengths, and my weaknesses. From doing so, all involved gain more knowledge and more of the skill sets here – both myself, any readers, and any commenters. I judge the risk as worth what I gain in both skills and satisfaction.
Whether the reason you’re here is to just learn from others because you’re not in a position to safely teach others, or if you’re one of the bloggers among us finding satisfaction in teaching your fellow men, we need effective language and styles of communication. Hence this post.
Linguistics and Terminology
Lord, I hate quoting and referencing Wikipedia of all things, but I’ll self admit that I’m wonderful with remember and working with concepts. Yet I’m horrible at remember/quoting specific articles or research. I ask your forgiveness, your patience, and (if you have it) better studies we can reference on the subject of linguistics as it applies to the use of terminology; I’ve forgotten the names of the ones I’ve read.
From Wikipedia on Terminology – emphasis mine
Terminology is the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and compound words that in specific contexts are given specific meanings, meanings that may deviate from the meaning the same words have in other contexts and in everyday language. The discipline Terminology studies among other things how such terms of art come to be and their interrelationships within a culture. Terminology differs from lexicography in studying concepts, conceptual systems, and their labels (terms), whereas lexicography study words and their meanings.
So, we’re already failing to use terms as they should be used – with specific definitions. I would also argue that within the Manosphere the context of it’s use does not change dramatically enough to warrant trying to argue that the different context allowing the use of a different definition.
Meanwhile, terminology as a linguistic tool has weaknesses that are at odds of the desires of what we’re trying to do – search for, find, and learn how to explain very deep and complex thoughts, emotions, and truths. Using a terminology in all these different instances is like trying to use a standard hammer when sometimes we need a mallet, sometimes a ball point hammer, sometimes a chisel, and sometimes a crowbar. It’s inefficient, confusing, and limits what you’re able to accomplish.
Terms are great for manuals – for technical based elements that are shallow in thought process but complex in execution.
They’re horrible for discussions requiring thoughts that are deep in both the topic’s required thought process and execution.
Deep thought processes and debates are like a map. They require you to specify the broad subject, then through the conversation or debate specify exactly what you’re talking about. If talking on the flaws of men’s hubris, for example, you’d specify the subject is men first. Then their flaws. Then Hubris. Depending on what you’re trying to get at you can go further into a specific man’s hubris, or how it’s related to the strengths of men taken to extremes, what can lead to hubris, etc. In this way it’s like a map – you start out with the world, specify the country, the state, the city. Depending on your needs you can do county, zipcode, or specific address.
What you don’t do is continue to use the same term to get someone to go in a specific direction. If you were trying to get a person to a specific place in Chicago, you wouldn’t continue using the word Chicago, “Oh, well once you’re in Chicago you turn off the first Chicago, take a turn at the second Chicago, then the third Chicago on your right, go down the Chicago.” You might be able to to infer that I’m telling you to get off the first off ramp of the high way, take the second left, it’s the third building on the right, and go down the stairs; but any one of those steps could be different in my head. It also doesn’t allow for any deep thought processes or specific descriptions – if I’m using the word Chicago in place of street, it’s harder to describe the specifics of the street, how there might be trees on it, it might be one way, etc. The ability to do so is there, but the use of terminology actively discourages such descriptions due to the way our thought processes work, on top of it simply sounding silly.
This is especially problematic when we’re searching to find what our society has lost – traditional and classical values of masculinity that lie hidden in parts of the map that Western Civilization has labeled on our cultural map as “Here be monsters”. If we don’t abandon the general terms while searching for specifics, we’ll never be able to find those specifics and transfer the knowledge to the rest of society.
Specificity and Elaboration – not the whole story
Using specific words, due to the nature of linguistics in our ability to apply implications to specific words, cognitive ability to connect ideas to each other, to elaborate, leads to deeper discussion. However, there’s another, specific, and overwhelmingly great reason to stop using the term ‘feminine imperative’ and use other specific terms and concepts.
Over the course of human history, humanity has had great minds that have added wonders to our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world. They have built layers upon layers of meaning and knowledge to each of these subjects the manosphere is discussing. Hell, nearly every Manosphere blog I know that touches upon personal growth, masculinity, or knowledge elaborates on great books that Men should read in order to cultivate the best, most masculine mind a man can have. Yet as a community we avoid using these terms and instead attempt to use a new one, which has no layers of knowledge built upon it over generations but lots of broken pieces scattered around the internet in different blogs and forums.
By doing so the topics of our discussions are amputated, cauterized, and limp around searching for meaning instead of having a fuller, longer, more elegant back and forth searching for truth.
I believe that as men we would enjoy and gain more from the ability to go deeper in our discussions. So why not cultivate tools to do so? Even if you have no desire or time for the classical literature or philosophy, reading and learning from examples of debate styles such as this article by Steve Sailor that Matt linked are worth the time and effort.
Whether an elegant dance on a topic or a bloody verbal debate, there is more satisfaction, joy, and truth to be had.