Masculine Submission

No greater love has a man than to live his life for the one he loves

Smile when you say that – are you challenging me to a submissive-off?

I have to take issue with a bit of pseudo-science. The “study” showed about a thousand people a set of pictures showing men who were “happy” (with a big smile); men who were “proud” (heads up, chests expanded); and men who were “shamed” (heads down, eyes averted). With these asinine definitions, they found out this:

The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed.

So I already have a problem. The “heads down, eyes averted” thing isn’t acting shameful – at least from my perspective – it’s being submissive. This is going to be important later, but for now, I’ll just point out that this group of “scientists” has, from the beginning, pathologized submissiveness in men. A man, apparently, can’t lower his gaze out of respect for a woman. No, he must be ashamed of something he has done.

For example, past research has associated smiling with a lack of dominance, which is consistent with traditional gender norms of the “submissive and vulnerable” woman, but inconsistent with “strong, silent” man, the researchers said. “Previous research has also suggested that happiness is a particularly feminine-appearing expression,” Beall added

I would really like to see some evidence that smiling is seen as de facto submission. I’m a guy who actively seeks a submissive role with my partner…and I have never once smiled at Her as a way of demonstrating that I accept Her authority over me. Oh, I smile a lot when I’m being submissive, but that’s because it makes me happy. She happens to smile when She is being Dominant for the same reason – it makes her happy. So if these guys are right; then She is actually challenging me to a submissive-off when She is trying to convey pleasure.

Right here we see to major examples of the problem with “evolutionary psychology.” One group starts with the idea that submissiveness is shameful and another one starts with the idea that it is feminine. This is simply personal bias passed off as science – and it’s bullshit. Even evolutionary scientists dispute the “principles of evolutionary psychology.

It isn’t just that the source material is slanted, but the reporting on it is, too. The Yahoo news article on the “study” was titled, “Dating clichés that are actually true,” and the teaser on the front page said, “Women are scientifically drawn to bad boys because they display surprising traits.” But the article doesn’t say anything about “bad boys.” All it says is that women preferred men who were “proud” or “shameful.” Men who behave badly are not either proud or shameful, but simply not behaving like adults.

This kind of personal bias in reporting and science leads to the already rampant bias already seen culturally concerning men who don’t want to act like overly-muscled lumps of testosterone. This type of sex/gender role bullying actively hurts both men and women. If it is somehow wrong for a man to do something that pleases a woman, just because it pleases him to please her; then there is no basis for actual relationships.

I guess that’s what disturbs me the most about this “research.” It is promoting the worst behaviors and giving them the cover of being “natural.” Meanwhile, it’s pushing personal bias as fact. Not only does it make actual human progress more difficult, it also makes it easier to target and oppress those who don’t live up to cultural expectations.

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2 thoughts on “Smile when you say that – are you challenging me to a submissive-off?

  1. I wish they’d had the women include a description of the mood they saw portrayed in the photo. Then they would at least know what the women were claiming to respond to.

    Artificial smiles (as smiles for a camera often are) do not look the same as real smiles and that can be off-putting, for one thing.
    For another thing, if you’ve asked me to rate someone for attractiveness, especially if it is face I’m unfamiliar with, I would prefer to make that judgment on a non-smiling photo because I can see bone structure, etc much better in a smooth face.

    But just as a quick comparison to show why I agree with you that this is bullshit, look at these three photos of a well-known face in the three modes discussed: chest expanded and head up, head down and eyes averted, and lastly a smile.

    I definitely prefer the smiling directly at the camera photo.

    • Tomio Black on said:

      The last link is protected, but I agree – they should have checked with the viewers to see how they saw the subjects.

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