For a long time I've had a theory stewing around in my head. I want to share it. So, here goes . . . and feel free to ignore as much of this as may annoy or repulse you . . .
The idea that women like "bad boys" (read: jerks) has been around about as long as human beings have had the faculty of language. Everyone has a theory. It's caused by hormonal fluctuations and menstruation. It's a trick to get more attractive males and then make weaker males raise the offspring. It's just women being dumb. It's male patriarchy run amok. Whatever.
What intrigues me is how little anyone ever mentions the economic side of chasing jerks. Look at the most successful men on the planet. Very few of them are good human beings. Lots of them are downright destructive assholes.
I've long pondered a simplified theory of jerk attraction. Are women pursuing jerks because of economics?
I want to preface this with two thoughts.
First? I think jerk sexualization is a leftover of more primitive times. A thousand years ago, frankly, if an adult male could get away with being a jerk it meant something. Back then, if a guy was a jerk to other guys, those other guys always had the option to kill him. So, an adult male who was a jerk and still alive had demonstrable power.
Second? I think women are somewhat overinflating their expectations because of perceptions perpetuated by television. This is, I suspect, the female equivalent of guys who hold out for a porn star.
In modern times, in civil society, a man can be a jerk and not pay a real price. In this regard, I think jerk attraction hurts women, because jerks are trading on leftover biological impulses that react to signals that aren't as meaningful as they used to be. Truth be told, if women are filtering for jerk behavior in modern times, they need to filter not just for jerks but to filter out fake jerks. Otherwise, they may be giving overly aggressive losers more of a fighting chance than they deserve.
Think about how many women put up with guys with serious defects. How many women are attracted to guys with drug problems? How many are attracted to guys with criminal records? How many women are attracted to guys who can't hold down a job due to authority issues?
Evolutionary game theory doesn't offer much of an explanation for this behavior. Women should never, ever give some fuckhead with an arm full of shitty tattoos and track marks a chance at sex. Yet, there is a decidedly strong minority of women who. And frankly, a majority of women have had at least one serious boyfriend who was a pure fuck-up in that sense.
It shouldn't happen. But it does. Why?
The best explanation in my view is that women are mistaking a signal that used to mean something. In the far past, the jerkish disregard for the well-being of themselves and others was a meaningful signal. It meant you were a king or a knight or a man of some importance. Think something along the lines of how samurai were allowed to kill random peasants in feudal Japan. Think of medieval nobles invoking the right of First Night and screwing other men's wives. Think of old school mobsters catting around with other mobsters' girlfriends. It used to mean something to be a miserable jerk.
But now? Any loser can act like a jerk. Worse, a lot of women seem to get hot and bothered for this signal even if it is coming from an obvious loser. A lot of decent women have at least one chronically unemployed ex-boyfriend (or a drug addict or a felon or just a fuck up with authority issues).
The thing I think modern women are getting wrong is they seem to be unable to separate the pure sexual signal of jerkdom from all the other evidence that a man is a loser.
Clearly, male aggression and disregard still has value. There are still man successful jerks out there. But, women are too often conflating jerk behaviors with being successful while not stopping to consider obvious, objective measures of success.
Worse, a lot of women rationalize this behavior. Oh, he needs help. He just needs someone to believe in him. He needs to get clean. He needs to find Jesus. Whatever.
Of course, that's all bullshit. A successful jerk doesn't need any of that. Only a fuck-up needs any of that.
What women are doing is rationalizing their irrational behavior against the obvious fact that they are making a bad call and everyone can see. If you let a loser fuck you because you can't disambiguate the jerkishness from the fact he's a loser, then you too are a fucking loser. BUT . . . if you let a loser fuck you because you're "there for him" "in his time of need" . . . well, now you're a fucking saint, right?
We humans live in a world we are not evolved to live in. Our sexuality is defined by tests of behavior that is often counter-productive in the modern world.
A thousand years ago, an aggressive jerk could only make it to adulthood by being a successful hunter, a soldier, a nobleman, a leader of men. Otherwise, he'd be brutally removed from the breeding pool long before he got to reproductive age.
Today? An aggressive jerk can be a drug-addicted loser bouncing around girlfriends' trailers (or housing project apartments) until he's carted off to jail. In the process, he sires a bunch of kids he'll never pay for. And worse, some dumb bitch will be sitting outside the jail waiting to bathe him in love the minute he's released from prison. In the modern world, a loser can repeat that cycle into his 60s if he manages to not overdose or piss off the wrong bad guys (the real bad boys).
When it comes to bad boys, women would do themselves an immense favor to separate their tingly feelings from pure, obvious, empirical evidence. Aggression can be a good thing. But, far too many women mistake the blank indifference of losers for the casual coolness of winners.
Women need to find the economic core of the impulse to seek out jerks. Women need to realize that getting all romantic over a jerk isn't an end point but a starting point. There is a real economic argument for jerks. Don't get me wrong. But, women need to become more empirical.
Until then, though, men can exploit that. And act like jerks.