Within the last month I’ve read two somewhat related titles: No More Mr. Nice Guy and The Unplugged Alpha, both mens-interest books but with different tones. No More Mr. Nice Guy is written by a psychologist who treats men trapped in self-defeating behavior. He defines a “Nice Guy” as one who lives solely for the pleasure and approval of others, and believes that this enervating condition is brought on by abandonment issues in childhood, and the stigma of growing up male in environments now dominated by women – the home and school, primarily. Constantly castigated for being too rowdy, uninterested in passive education, etc, boys internalize guilt and deny their own worth as people. The author urges men to embrace their own value, to assess how much of what they believe, pursue, and value is honestly their goals and how much they only pursue because they’ve been told they have to. Learning this lesson is important not only to do justice to one’s self, but to create genuine relationships with people: Mr. Nice Guys are invariably unhappy and manipulative, and frequently fail in both romance and life in general. The book is replete with breaking-free exercises to reestablish one’s sense of self and to pursue a life that is personally meaningful. Having read The Virtue of Selfishness, which is that lesson on steroids, I found this a helpful reminder, and presumably one useful to men stuck in self-loathing ruts.
Richard Cooper’s The Unplugged Alpha is….rather different, summarizing an entrepreneur-turned-life coach’s approach to his own life and the clients he advises. Cooper’s “Entrepreneurs in Cars” channel began by interviewing self-made businessmen who talked about paths to success while showing off the fruits of their labor. Following a brutal divorce and a successive failure in another close relationship, Cooper branched out into discussing the types of women it was best to avoid: his channel has subsequently grown in that direction, focusing on guiding men to investing in themselves, regarding marriage and longterm relationships as useful only in some circumstances – when children are desired, for instance ,or if a man finds a woman who is a genuine complement to his life, and doesn’t seek to take it over. Cooper believes in invariable conflict and tension between the sexes: we live, he argues, in a female-first social structure, in which men are regarded as expendable. Just as men treat women as sex objects, so too do women treat men as success objects: they are guided by a hypergamous instinct, hunting for the best of men and uninterested in the rest until they themselves have begun losing their own appeal as partners. This instinct, Cooper argues, means that women have no qualms about dropping a long-term partner to trade up, just as older and wealthier men are known for dropping aging wives for younger models. Men should thus conduct themselves with caution, he advises, avoiding some women altogether – party girls, women with children, women with father issues – and treat others with wariness, making sure that when a woman enters the picture, she is there as a partner to better one’s position and not someone who expects to be treated as a prize to be treasured and put on a pedestal. To that end, Cooper urges men to continually work on themselves, to maximize their potential and take care of their health– not only will they be happier, but it will empower them in their relationships, knowing they can always pick up another partner if one proves obnoxious. Although I enjoy some parts of Cooper’s channel, particularly his admonitions to avoid “loser talk” (enfeebling literature/shows/ideas that promote the idea that one’s problems are always someone else’s fault, and that one is always powerless ), the book was too focused on sex and pick-up theory for me. I liked the “Take responsibility for your life and stop complaining about other people” part, though – but one can get that through Peterson or Rand without the obsessive focus on sex and supercars. Next year I may pick Sex at Dawn: Why We Mate and Why we Stray, which Cooper quotes, as my anthropological read to compare his use of its analysis to the facts-as-stated in the book.
Men on Strike: Why Men are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream, Helen Smith. I read this a few months back but have yet to finish my review of it.