Re: Coordinating Sex Roles

Alan Barksdale (
Tue, 8 Apr 97 18:59:34 CDT

> I was complaining about our society in general, not about this forum
> in particular. And to our general society, "philosophy itself" seems
> much less interesting and fruitful than lowering the apparently
> subsantial costs due to misunderstandings and uncertainties regarding
> desired and expected sex roles.
> Robin D. Hanson

I fancy that the popularity of _The_Rules_ stems from the uncertainties many
women feel about their sex roles. I believe that this best-selling book's
chief purpose is telling women how to find husbands. I skimmed a little of it
months ago; my impression was that the book prescribes dating in which the
woman's company is a prize the man wins by proving his worth to her in
specified ways. Its "one size fits all" method and insistence on
old-fashioned sex roles makes it easy for self-consciously up-to-date folks to
dismiss the book, but its sales suggest that it fills a need.

The writers might make their title a brand name: THE RULES (TM). I imagine a
series of _Rules_ for different market segments--e.g., black yuppies,
lower-middle-class fundamentalists, etc.--whose needs would be better served
by more specialized mate search algorithms. Male and female versions might be
made for each heterosexual market segment. People could tell each other which
version of _The_Rules_ they'd chosen to follow so that potential dates would
know what to expect. (Such allegiances are a very weak version of the phyles
in Neal Stephenson's _The_Diamond_Age_.)

In the modern American social flux, many people don't "know their places" and
have inherited inadequate mores. Inventing customs from scratch exposes one
to the perils of innovation. _The_Rules_ and, in other areas of life,
etiquette books allow the safety of emulation.
Live in harmony with nature: Reproduce as much as you can until
another animal, or the weather, kills you. --- Tom Isenberg

Alan F. Barksdale
203 Utica Place, #4 (home) 205-830-6601
Huntsville, AL 35806 USA (work) 205-730-3764