West Elm Caleb did nothing wrong.
Young women should not be left to their own devices any longer.
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Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies!
Poor Caleb’s situation reveals much about the state of humanity in general, and the Occident in particular, during the final hours of its long 20th century. It’s one of those things that you could write off as trivial and mundane—a tall white guy banged a bunch of hard sixes in NYC and they’re upset that he needed little more than canned messages to do it? Stop the presses! This is just unbelievable!
But it’s actually important. It’s as important as understanding the gluttonous bureaucratic incentives creating sinecures to authorize virology research or the ethnic animus between Pashtun and Tajik. The assumptions behind Caleb’s circumstances were supplied to you so you would act or not act, so you would behave in just the way you were meant to behave, to something else’s benefit, and they result in consequences for everybody (more so than the prior two).
The professor of economics and political science Dr. Timur Kuran’s 1995 book Private Truths, Public Lies introduced the concept of ‘preference falsification’ and alongside it, a ‘preference cascade’. It has simple foundations: humans are social animals and we are not fully so unless living in communion with other people. But to live with other people—even if (especially if) those other people are the people we see each morning at breakfast time, or the people we see every day in school, at work, or people whose economic and social stature is such we really do or really don’t want to be around them—means getting along with them.
Can you get along with someone that hates you? If they’re no physical threat, sure. But do you even want to get along with someone that hates you? Of course not. This is common sense stuff. But how do you know someone hates you? What if there is some kind of threat they could pose to you in the future? Or what if they could enlist others against you? These are things that we don’t think about explicitly unless trying to be especially Machiavellian on a given day, but our instincts make us think like this all the time in unarticulated ways. To cope with this, we falsify our stated preferences. No one wants to be the odd man out.
Almost all of us falsify what we say we believe (i.e. lie) about some things in public even if we’ll tell the truth in private. But, every so often, people realize they’re not the only one seeing the Emperor Has No Clothes and there is a cascade, a rushing propagation of publicly stated beliefs that reflect an-up-until-then-covert private truth. Public and private have particular meaning in the field of political science, but you see this in more mundane social groups as well.
What’s the origin of this human instinct? Public violence is ever rarer (well, outside some political notions), though there’s endless ink spilt on ‘cancellation’.
It seems the origin of this human tendency lies within our evolutionary history (what a shock, right?) The tl;dr is if you train groups of monkeys on an arbitrary rule of “Hey, this dyed corn will make you sick, but this corn is fine”, then new monkeys who learned the opposite will go along with what the dominant group they’re trying to assimilate into knows about corn color. It doesn’t matter if the blue corn has no aloe extract applied, or if you experienced great blue corn and pink corn tasting awful, you’re in Pinkcornlandia, now, bucko! Amusingly, high status males from foreign corn dye tribes were least willing to accept new rules.
We aren’t too different from them. If you’re ever lucky enough to meet some of these little rascals, you’ll marvel at how cute but also how much like us they are. Holding a monkey’s hand feels just like holding a child’s hand. They even pout and ask for grapes similarly. The heart swells. Our socially-falsified tendencies, meant to make us fit in with groups, are just like theirs, too. Only ours can carry bigger consequences than a vervet’s pretend hesitation over blue corn buckets.
Our lies can be beyond what we are promising to each other, what we should expect of one another in relationships; they can be about facts and the nature of reality. The debacle of the Iraq War was based on such a lie; it was a real beaut’.
Fashionable lies about human genetic variation in general, including lies about the large differences between the male and female sexes, form the basis our policies and laws, institutional and academic expectations, trickling down into day-to-day life. But Nature doesn’t care for our lies. It simply is. While we can falsify our preferences, a private truth shared publicly is a cascade in the making. TikTok, for all its ills, reveals the private to the public in a way that has potential for falsified preferences to be (even inadvertently) repeatedly exploded.
Oh, girls just wanna have fun!
Behold! Maybe it’s all an elaborate marketing ploy? Hope springs eternal.
Even branded companies (of course) ever socially irresponsible, got in on the fun.
This situation is one that has been playing out for a long time, with increasing numbers of young (and not so young) people caught in its grasp. I recall one such article making internet rounds from the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012.
It reads now, as then, like a Mens’ Rights Advocate’s fever dream:
That's when some men start behaving very badly - as the manosphere clearly shows. These internet sites are not for the faint-hearted. The voices are often crude and misogynist. But they tell it as they see it. There is Greenlander, an apparently successful engineer in his late 30s. In his early adult life, he was unable to ''get the time of day from women''. Now he's interested only in women under 27.
''The women I know in their early 30s are just delusional,'' he says. ''I sometimes seduce them and sleep with them just because I know how to play them so well. It's just too easy. They're tired of the cock carousel and they see a guy like me as the perfect beta to settle down with before their eggs dry out … when I get tired of them I just delete their numbers from my cell phone and stop taking their calls … It doesn't really hurt them that much: at this point they're used to pump & dump!''
Yeah, I know. I also thought this was fabricated for posting by RooshV/pook.
It's easy to dismiss such bile but Greenlander's analysis is echoed by many Australian singles, both male and female.
''It's wall-to-wall arseholes out there,'' reports Penny, a 31-year-old lawyer. She is stunned by how hard it is to meet suitable men willing to commit. ''I'm horrified by the number of gorgeous, independent and successful women my age who can't meet a decent man.''
Things like this keep happening, but in 2012 they happened through the Sydney Herald sounding unbelievably cringe-y (cringe inducing, or just, ‘cringe’). In 2022, young women just confirm everything that has been said about them.
Flatly; the women complaining about West Elm Caleb are hypocritical sluts.
They are promiscuous, young, women for whom fornicating is basically recreational (the sleep paralysis demon-looking one explicitly spoke about pursuing Caleb to add yet another man to her roster of casual sex partners), whose tether to reality and how men ultimately view for that is tenuous at best.
In fact, so egregious is their conduct that;
BuzzFeed News, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone’s most notorious female tech reporters, who often frame critical responses to their reporting through the lens of perceived misogyny have nothing good to say about the women indicting Caleb for the horrible crime of dicking them down but not ‘girlfriending’ them;
What’s interesting about it all is the technologies of today have allowed for the first time, the wonton sluttiness and narcissistic entitlement of modern women to be on full display, with their social and financial interest in exhibiting their lives outcompeting instincts for reputation management. Consider Kate Glavan:
Glavan, who has nearly 100,000 TikTok followers — or villains, as she affectionately calls them — regularly makes videos about green living, wellness, vintage fashion, running, and dating in New York City. The Minnesota native is also a recent graduate of NYU, where she studied politics and environmental justice, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. But now that plan is on hold, as her career on both social media and in podcasting has taken off in the past year.
I swear, I’m not writing this season of Things Occurring in The World. Contrast Ms. Glavan (imagine the chump who makes her a Mrs? Oof.) to Nikki Yovino;
Nikki Yovino, 18, of South Setauket, NY, has been charged with second-degree falsely reporting an incident and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence in connection to an incident at a Sacred Heart University football party in October, the Connecticut Post reports.
An incident, you say?
When pressed about inconsistencies in her original statement, Yovino admitted that she made up the rape allegations against the two football players in hopes of gaining sympathy from another man — a prospective boyfriend, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Investigators said Yovino claimed two men pulled her into a bathroom in the basement of the house and held her down, taking turns sexually assaulting her, the Connecticut Post reports.
“She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against (the football players) because it was the first thing that came to mind and she didn’t want to lose (another male student) as a friend and potential boyfriend. She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her,” according to the affidavit.
A potentially germane detail left out of the New York Post’s reporting, but helpfully provided by the Atlanta Black Star (which really is named that) is that while Nikki Yovino and the would-be-suitor are white, the athletes were black.
Nikki Yovino getting spit-roasted by two hung brothas over the toilet at a house party and then crying RAPE! to the Fairfield, Connecticut (91.6% White) Police Department to guard her reputation so some simpering loser (hereafter; simp) would still date her may seem unconnected to NYC’s seemingly diverse girlbosses angry over a white man, but the primary issue isn’t, of course, race.
La Wik tells us that ‘Believe Women’ is a slogan:
…arising out of the #MeToo movement. It refers to the necessity of accepting women's allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault at face value. Sady Doyle, writing for Elle, argues that the phrase means "don't assume women as a gender are especially deceptive or vindictive, and recognize that false allegations are less common than real ones."
Does this square with reality? Does it fit with our understanding of ourselves as people? Cross-culturally, from the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to Islamic Shariah’s expressly quantitative view of the reliability of male vs. female testimony, to the Norse Saga’s classic depiction of women goading and inciting menfolk to action, to Juvenal’s infamous Satires (btw, you know the ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?‘ line? pretty funny context for that), is this what is depicted by prior, unrelated peoples when it comes to the Woman Question?
If you are a young woman reading this, offended on your own behalf and that of your sisters, just calm down, okay? Take it easy. I’m not saying you’re awful.
But I am saying you are more given to acting out much more emotionally, than are most men. I could start linking you to the body of scientific research that confirms this, but this would become an exercise in futility. We can just drop a falsified belief. We’re alone here, babe. No one is watching. I won’t say anything.
At the heart of Women’s Liberation and the Sexual Revolution was one of those falsities people are good at pretending they believe because it keeps the peace;
“Women can be just as sexually ‘free’ as men, and don’t need to be protected.”
This is the basic lie—looked at more closely, one might wonder what exactly is meant by ‘sexual freedom’ for men, or that perhaps it isn’t just ‘red-blooded’ (read: constantly horny) young men from whom young women need safekeeping by everyone else, but their own impulses in a civilization a little bit further beyond that of our savannah ancestors’ reproductive environment—but it’s more than enough to deal with at this level of abstraction (you can go higher level to ‘Women and Men are the same’, also generating lots of discussion).
The Less I Know The Better
Consider the penalties for a man in 2022 defecting from this falsified preference, this popular, socially fashionable lie—in almost every workforce, he would be toast. Everyone from SRHM to counsel will remind you employers are vicariously liable for a ‘hostile work environment’ felt by employees if created by a supervisor or coworker and you can’t prove you did enough to avoid it. But that’s just the US Government’s Federal laws and financial penalties..
The social damage he’d suffer would take the form of an easily reached for assertion that he only cares because of his sexual dysfunction or romantic incapacity - i.e. that he has these ideas because he is inherently low status.
In short, noticing, speaking about, or acting upon the truth that, in fact, women generally can not feel about casual sex the way men can, women do like being able to rely on men in their lives for decision making and guidance, etc. provides ample opportunity for a man to torch his social and financial capital, in a manner precisely opposite opportunities available to women re-asserting the lie.
Is it any wonder then, that Nikki Yovino cried rape? She was acting rationally, because the deep truth, that no guy to whom she’d want to get married, is going to remain or become more interested in committing upon learning she was happily chalking up two different pool-cues simultaneously, remained true.
Why are the TikTok sluts implying Caleb did them dirty? Why are they using terms like ‘audacity’ and ‘fuckboy’ and ‘lovebombing’ to describe him and his behavior? Because the reality is that the level of commitment they require to get fucked is long, sappy text messages. If this is clearly perceived about them, suddenly they aren’t girls lied to by a dishonest man, so much as they are discarded sexual entertainment. Making Caleb the bad guy thus protects them.
In both cases, we have women who tried to rationalize their poor choices by transferring responsibility to someone else, representing themselves as victims.
But all of these women are right to feel abused and badly done-by, in a way.
There was once a style of romance novel called a ‘bodice-ripper’ (they’re still published, just no one calls them this) whose cover art (and plots) often depicted buxom women overcome with passion, spilling out of their tight, delicate dresses, whose bodices were being ripped as a hunky, charismatic man physically took ahold of them, making ready to plant a passionate kiss, no doubt.
These were a sub-genre which saw a revival in the 1970s and beyond that ultimately grow out of the ‘dime novels’ (often tawdry less than novella length fictions printed on cheap paper pulp, like that movie title) of the late and early post-Victorian Era in Britain and the growing Western fascination in America.
What was in these novels? Murder, interracial sex (the past is a foreign country), rape, etc. The distinction between forcible rape and lustful mutually discovered passion, and the distinction between sexual abuse and seduction, is often blurred. Does this remind you of anything? Anything at all? Bueller, Bueller…
Obviously, being savvy, culturally informed, pulse-taking, heartbreaking IB readers, you all realize I am referring to Fifty Shades of Gray. Was it unpopular?
It’s one of the most popular books of all time. It is possible more Anglophone women have read and enjoyed 50 Shades end to end than have read the Bible or any of their own cultures’ nominal holy books. To me it is almost certain.
What truth animates these books, old and new, concerning female desire?
Is it a message that men and women are exactly alike, and women are equivalently agentive, and very much desire to be? Is it that women are unattached to the men with whom they have sex, and this process is one to which both parties mutually, equivalently anticipate, propose, and agree?
Again, darlin’, we could dispute this, fruitlessly, with very passionate arguments, but what if we just go for it and let what we know is true take hold of us?
The basic reality that those books got at was that there’s something ineffable and inevitable about the messiness of love, even lust, that just connects two people, quite intimately, in contradiction to social expectations, even physically, and this in fact involves men becoming responsible for women, almost totally.
If we allow ourselves to dispense with fashionable lies, the world looks different.
We might start to think differently, for instance, about these women who feel something about having shared their innermost and gotten nothing more than texts for it. We might start to think differently about women who tell other women (not just men) that this is something they shouldn’t make such a big deal out of. We might notice that quite a few of the women currently trapped in this vortex of shame and regret, in their own mother’s and grandmother’s time, would already have been married with kids. Even feminists would be happier:
even as i type these words, it is difficult for me to fully commit to them. i am a militant feminist who knows that men as a whole are still not called out even a fraction as much as they should be; the implication that we are being too harsh on a man who has violated women feels strange and foreign in my mouth. so let me be clear: i think this man needs to radically change the way he engages with relationships, as many of us do. in a better world, word of his behavior would have spread around his circles and he would be held accountable in a private, personal, and ultimately more meaningful way. my problem with this situation is not that caleb is innocent..
we should be spreading awareness about shitty dating patterns, and the people that practice them certainly should be held accountable to some extent. but this punitive form of “justice” doesn’t help anyone, and we need to be honest with ourselves about where our motivations actually lie. after the first two or three videos about west elm caleb, the campaign against him was never intended to be about justice at all: it was intended to be a self-indulgent genre of mass entertainment with feminist buzzwords sprinkled on top to make everyone feel less bad about watching it. i want my feminism to mean something more than that.
As is often the case, men had already solved this problem back when women couldn’t vote. There’s a civil tort from English common law called Seduction (see ladies, how much better it sounds than your terrible coinage of “lovebombing”?):
The tort of seduction allows an unmarried woman (formerly her father or other guardian), usually but not always virgin, to obtain damages from her seducer, provided that he made misrepresentations to obtain her consent to sex.
What women feel when they feel betrayed or humiliated by men who pump and dump them (not all do and the Classical world had solutions for this as well), is basically the correct biological and social instinct — something bad happened.
In particular, their viability as potential mothers of the potential children of their potential husbands dropped significantly. That’s another one of those truths concealed by socially fashionable fictions. It’s another one we can dispense with.
As we’ll see in upcoming posts, it’s long past time we start dispensing with them.