Free stuff!

‘Tis that time of year again! For 5 days, starting from the 31/10, “A Principle-based Approach To The Resistance” will be free and for no money! It’s worth every penny! Please feel free to share: it was made to be grabbed by people. The only reason it’s not permanently free is that I can’t work out how to make Amazon do that.

If you feel like splashing out, though, do check out my author pages:





Rory Miller has written a lot of seriously good stuff about the application of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to violence and conflict, and to people’s mental states in general. I firmly believe that if you’re reading my stuff and haven’t read his then your priorities are badly messed up, so I’m not going to even try and summarise it all here.

I’ve been looking at Maslow’s pyramid from another angle lately. There are a lot of adaptations we can make to our lives to give us a greater degree of safety and security, and that’s where a lot of self-defence comes in. Some of those adaptations, however, operate in such a way that they prevent us from moving up the pyramid. For an extreme example, if our solution to hunger is cannibalism, we might quickly find ourselves short of friends and associate, so our social needs may end up going unmet. Unless we find ourselves a group of friendly cannibals, that is.

Less extreme examples abound. Had your heart broken yesterday? Turn into a total asshole today, and it won’t happen again tomorrow! Proactively making adjustments to prevent potential future damage can stop us getting hurt – physically, psychologically, or emotionally. The problem with this kind of strategies is that, although they may work well at solving our problems at a certain level, they can keep us at that level. (I wonder if that’s where I draw the line between “solutions” and “coping strategies”. If not, I wonder whether I should start doing that post haste.)

I find this particularly painful when we’re not even actually operating at that level; when we are anticipating a certain need or stuck in an outdated operating mode, and using these strategies to meet requirements that are not in fact there. How much of an impact this has on our lives will depend on how the strategies in question. Two world wars taught my grandma not to throw out any old item of clothing or part thereof, and she managed to have a relatively normal life regardless. Someone who decides that nuclear war is coming and shuts himself in a bunker may not do as well.

Survival strategies can guarantee our continued survival, not just in the sense that they keep us alive, but also that they keep us surviving instead of living. They are incredibly useful in the right time and place, but the proportion of our lives when they are not actively anti-useful is thankfully minimal. They often don’t get sold like that, though; they are often marketed as aspirational, as some kind of higher way of living. If you take a “worst case scenario” approach to life, it kinda makes sense: we might as well give up everything that we can’t give ourselves, because we’ll only lose it, anyway. Societies fall apart. Machinery breaks down. People leave us. Dogs die. Cats plot our deaths. Everything is going to go to shit eventually, so we must not fall for the allure of what is easy, what is comfortable, what is directly in front of us and oh-so-very-tempting. We must constantly focus on the problems we are going to be facing when it all goes to shit, or continue to focus on the problems we had when it did go to shit. We must stay strong and remember that when it finally all does go to shit, we’ll be the one laughing. We will survive. Hell, if you look carefully, a whole bunch of us are doing that right now.

I am absolutely not an expert on functional adulthood, but I wager that real living happens higher up the pyramid.


Last week I attended VioDy in Minnesota. As per always, even though much of the material is familiar to me because I’ve attended before, I either manage to pick up something I previously missed or to apply something I knew to a different setting. I’ve been thinking about creeps a lot lately (shameless book plug) so that’s what I’ve been picking up the most.

The first thought bomb came from Randy King’s presentation of the logic of violence. Randy put up a graph of the comparative speed of the adrenaline dump for men and women. I knew about the differences from Rory’s books and others, but I’d never seen it in pictorial form. My take home was that, if being creeped at caused us an adrenaline dump, the time we spend frantically trying to work out whether someone is a real creep or “just” socially awkward, trying to work out what the he’ll is happening and what our response should be, is time that decreases our cognitive and physical abilities. Meanwhile, the creepo can stay as cool as a cucumber because no part of what’s going on is a shock or even a concern to him. This is issue one: by delaying in our response until we’re absofuckinglutely sure of what’s going on, we’re allowing our physiology to work against us.

If our final response is to do nothing, that response is going to be filed in our brain in the special little folder it saves for experiences acquired under adrenaline, i.e. as super duper important. The next time we have to deal with this kind of situation, we will have an adrenaline-ingrained go-to response as another hurdle to overcome.

Practice dealing with creeps successfully (for our own measure of what success is) can reduce both issue. We’re ingraining useful responses while building the familiarity with the issue that will make us less likely to get badly adrenalised.

Moral of the story: we need to work with our physiology or accept that it will work against us, and we need to get over the fact that getting the shakes or the weepies after we’ve dealt with a creep means that somehow he retroactively won.

Another few thought grenades came from Tammy Yard-McCracken’s presentation of ConCom (my 7th time listening to the program, 4th presenter, and every time I pick up something different). Tammy mentioned the differences between social conditioning, which is slow, and operant conditioning, which is much faster. Our social conditioning schools us towards non-reaction against creeps, and the fact that we come out of our creep encounters alive, if not always unharmed, confirms non-reaction as the “right” response. The response can become our go-to response, and very hard to shift. Operant conditioning can overlay/replace/underlay (I need to ask someone who knows such things) a different response that better suits us, and with much fewer reps. But until we do the thing, actually engage in behaviors that fly in the face of our social conditioning and the multiple reps of our ingrained response, it doesn’t have a damn chance to. It can be done, though, and it can be done fast. We can shed a ton of limiting behaviors in minutes or moments. We have to do the thing, though, whatever our thing is going to be. Thinking about it won’t cut it.


One of the issues I’ve tried to push in the Creepology book is that some conflicts have a middle ground, some don’t. If you want taxes at 10% and I want them at 30%, we can agree to disagree at 20%. Sexual assault and consent violations can’t be negotiated on in that manner. “Just the tip” is not an acceptable solution.

Another issue is that when it comes to social problems, there’s no such thing as neutrality. Inaction is support for whoever has the upper hand in that given moment. Whatever reasons (or excuses) we give ourselves for not taking action, it doesn’t matter: if we do not take action (and that includes speaking out – anything that influences the world around us IS AN ACTION) then we are supporting whoever has the upper hand.

Those aren’t just theories. The world provides us almost daily with living examples of these principles.


Kaja Sadowski of Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly wrote this post following the Harvey Weinstein scandal:

“There’s a lot of men in my feed posting their outrage about Harvey Weinstein, and wondering how to make things better.

I’d like you all to do something for me: read (or re-read) Zoe Brock’s account of getting “Weinsteined”. But this time, ignore Weinstein himself, and set aside Brock as well for the moment. Instead, I want you to pay attention to the sheer number of people who enabled this incident. The personal assistants and agents who delivered Brock to him; the friends who disappeared when it was time for him to have his fun; the guy who had a novelty word for what he did and who’s “trying to warn” Brock didn’t include actually pulling her aside and telling her he was dangerous. The list is very, very long.

The list is always long, with men like this. Not every predator is a billionaire with staff and sycophants to cover his ass, but they’re very rarely alone. Every creep has the friend who’ll reluctantly play wingman while hoping his buddy goes home alone that night; the roommate who’ll call a cab for a crying girl at 3am and gently usher her out of the house; the colleague who’ll write him referrals and send him work because he’s really good at what he does even though he can’t keep his hands off the clients; the student who looks up to him and who’ll close his ears to a friend’s complaint about what happened at a workshop because he can’t afford to lose a hero; the squad that’ll shout down any inquiry as a “witch hunt” that might hurt their friend who’s “just not great with girls”.

When a predator like Weinstein is unmasked, women often call for introspection from the men in their lives. And those men look at the predator, and they see nothing of themselves. They’re good people, and genuinely have little in common with the naked, desperate, monstrous figure on the hotel room bed. I’m asking you now to look at the bystanders and the enablers, and see if you recognize something of yourself in them. In their discomfort, and quiet disgust, and fear, and silence.

You want to help? Shut down the system that gives the predators power. Look again at the number of people helping Weinstein in that story. What would’ve happened if they didn’t leave the room? If they warned Brock of what was coming? If they refused to send her off alone with Weinstein? If they believed her when she told them what happened?

That’s your singular power in all of this. Victims can say “no”, and they can speak out after the fact, but the cost is high and their odds of success are depressingly low. Even if they do succeed, they’ll only take down one predator. You? You can take down the system.

Take responsibility for you sketchy friend, your pick up artist brother, and that creepy guy in your training group. Talk to them if you think it’ll help, just cockblock them if it won’t. Don’t help them access targets. Don’t cover for them afterwards. Don’t help. And when something happens, stop it if you see it, and believe the victim if you only hear about it after the fact. Let there be consequences for what they do.

If you’ve got guys like this in your circle, it won’t be fun. It’ll be uncomfortable to call them out, or to intervene. You may lose friends. You may have a fight. If you really want to make the world safer, though? This is what it’ll take. Clean your house. Sort out your people. Stop making excuses for the creeps and monsters, and leave them to fend for themselves.”


Facebook kindly reminded me that it’s a year this week since the “Grab them by the pussy” trainwreck. I lost a whole bunch of “friends” in that incident. I was upset about it at the time. Looking back now, I think maybe I should have lost more. Maybe I should have demanded more of the fence-sitters, of the “yeah that’s sad but that’s just the way things are” people, not because of the need for ideological purity in my social group but because over the last twelve months those are the people who brought creeps into my life. What a shocker, hey? Who woulda thunk that people who tolerate creeps tolerate creeps?

In the last twelve months, none of the creeps I met hurt me. They upset me, they made me despair, they sucked time and resources I would have preferred to put into more rewarding activities, but they didn’t actually hurt me. I don’t know whether they hurt anyone else, though. I flushed them through my life and now they’re gone, but the support group that enabled them to get close to me is still there. Their friends still back them. Their families still support them. They still have their jobs and their hobbies. I’ve lost more social capital out of these incidents than they have – though, by my metric, said capital was worthless to begin with. I have no use for people who won’t have my back.

I thought back then that I understood the issue, but I didn’t. What I failed to see is that “when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything…” is absolutely true, but the “they” isn’t, as I thought back then, the women in question. The “they” is a whole constellation of people who aid and abet the creeping (and worse) by actions and omissions, by prioritising the wants of the perpetrators over the needs of the targets, by preferring to pretend that everything is okey-dokey instead of working to make it so. I failed to see that every time I could act and I don’t I’m one of them, and the thought repulses me. Dunno about you, but I just don’t want to be one of them anymore.


I was talking to Dillon about the Creepology manuscript  (currently available on paperback only, because I did things backwards, but hey if you wait until the 12th you’ll be able to get it cheaper on the Kindle). He pointed out something I’d missed. My classification of creeps distinguishes between what I call “malignant creeps” – who creep on purpose because they enjoy the rush they get from creating fear and distress – and “negligent creeps” – who are so focused on seducing people that they don’t care that they’re creeping the heck out of them. Both groups know they’re creeping people out, but for the malignant lot that’s the goal, while for the negligent lot it’s just the fallout of their courting behaviors. If you ask me, they both suck, but they are definitely different beasts and they present different dangers, particularly if the circumstances allow their behaviors to escalate.

Dillon pointed out something I’d missed. The classification aligns neatly to Rory Miller’s breakdown of resource vs. process predators. Process predators hurt people cos they want to. Hurting people is their goal. Resource predators, on the other hand, hurt people if they need to in order to get access to the resource they want. The resource is their goal, not the hurting. How badly they’re willing to hurt us will depend on how badly they want the resource. Are they after our phone because it’s the latest model and it’d be cool to have it, or do they need money right this second because they’re undergoing drug withdrawal and they need to get a fix? Are they after the latest Justin Bieber CD (are CDs still a thing? Is Justin Bieber?) or are they after food because they haven’t eaten in three days?

How far a resource predator is willing to go will depend on a variety of factors, but it’s generally the result of a cost-benefit analysis and – this is important – it will have little to do with us as people. At the moment that decision is made, we are nothing but a living cash box. If they need to dent us a bit to get the cash out, too bad.

Rory has talked in details about the difference between social and asocial behavior in the context of violence. What about seduction, though? At which point does someone’s sexual attraction turn our interactions asocial? Is it something that happens on a sliding scale, or is it an either/or thing?

I believe that if someone sees me as a walking vagina, then I’m inherently in an asocial situation. Whether me and said person are part of the same social group doesn’t matter to me. Whether they are willing to hurt me or not in order to access said vagina doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters to me is that in their eyes I am no longer a person; if I still feature as an individual, it will be mostly as a gatekeeper of my genitalia. Personally, I find that repugnant, regardless of how it manifests or how much it impacts on my life. I just don’t like that kind of “relationship”: it makes me feel icky.

I know that there are plenty of people out there who believe that this attitude is the inevitable result of male sexuality, but I don’t buy that. I’ve met plenty of guys who can see women as actual people – and no, they’re not all gay. If you don’t believe such a beast exists, try and find a guy who has a mixed gender friend group – not a group of his male friends and their spouses, but a group composed of individuals of all genders. There’s a huge difference between the two. Guys who can see women as people tend to be able to interact with them in all kinds of fields and situations without causing chaos and botheration, so they have actual female friends. And no, they’re not all cucks, and sometimes they do get laid.

That’s one of the modern narratives, though: that if a man treats women with respect he’s never, ever gonna give his end away, and if he does he’ll regret it because women will inevitably fail to respect him, will exploit him, and eventually will dump him for a superior specimen of maleness. This narrative is actively and openly sold to men; if you don’t believe me, google “red pill” sites. Bring your own sick bucket.

(A similar narrative is sold to women. It might be delivered in a less overt manner, but it seems to me that half of women’s mags are about how shitty men are, and the other half about how we can get them to bang/marry us. But then I only read that kind of thing at the dentist, so my sample size is limited.)

Thing is, there is a market of guys for which that narrative will work: the guys for whom “treating women with respect” is A Thing, an effort, a process they have to actively embrace, perhaps purely a trick to get close to women or an imposed behavioral code of this crazy world we live in. Guys for whom the world is split by gender, and for whom the other gender is practically another species. Guys who “other” women, whether by instinct or because that’s how they’ve been raised.

Those guys who look at women and see a bunch of walking vaginas will struggle to retain women in their lives, in any role, because their attitude inevitably colors their behavior. Those are the guys for whom being Nice© is loansharking for sex: they are not nice to women because they want to, but as a series of down payments for a fuck. When that fuck does not materialise, they feel aggrieved. Those are the guys who bitch about being “friendzoned”, not because they are upset that their love is unrequited (that genuinely sucks) but because their investment didn’t bring a return. Those are the guys who treat all interactions with women as a possible step bedward, and are eternally surprised if women don’t like that. Those are the guys whose attitude towards women is like a defrosting fish: it may start off relatively inoffensive, but as time goes on it ends up getting stinkier, until it’s so disgusting that it can’t be ignored and it drives people away.

This is my theory, and it’s worth precisely what you paid for it: men whose interactions with women are fundamentally asocial will have problems retaining women in their lives. If they do manage to get women in their lives, they will inevitably treat their relationship as an exchange of goods or services, sex being one of the items on the menu. The creepiness inherent in that kind of relationship is the fount of all their problems. Eventually, it becomes the fount of women’s problems when it manifests itself as a gazillion of shoddy behaviors, from pick-up artistry to date rape.

I wonder if I’m right, and I wonder it if matters. Would telling those guys that their problem is that they dehumanize women bring an actual change? As I’m writing this, I’m not optimistic. I don’t know if there are words that can turn that concept into a shape that will fit their brains. The fact that prominent, ‘successful’ male experts continue to defend that attitude as inherently manly can’t help, either.


Put it away, put it away, put it away now.

Yet again, a self-defence conversation sparked by a video of a woman doing a self-defence thing went off the rails. Yet again, part of what pushed it off the rails was a person of the male persuasion making sexual comments about said woman’s physical attributes. Yet again, instead of that person being reprimanded for their behavior, the whole thread was pulled down. Yet again, a post went up after the fact to lament not the inappropriateness of said person’s behavior, but the rise of intolerance and the decline of civil discourse at large. And yet a-fucking-gain, some bright spark used that clean-up post to sweep the entire thing under the carpet because Women Do It Too.

That was the moment when I realised that some people REALLY don’t get it. They actually, for real and no shit, do not comprehend why their actions continue to bring forth a certain reaction, because they don’t get what the problem is. I’m hereby going to try and simplify a complex issue as much as I can (so I’ll miss lots of bits out, sorry ’bout that) in the hope that I can get it across.


Dear Johnny,

I understand that you don’t get it. You liked the pretty lady, you said you liked the pretty lady, and everyone yelled at you. That wasn’t nice. You weren’t trying to be mean to the pretty lady: you really like her! You wouldn’t do that! You were just trying to express how you feel, and everybody turned on you, and if that happened to me I’d feel bad.

I know that your friends also like pretty ladies. I am sure that you have lots of talks about how and why some ladies are pretty, and what you’d like to do about it. I understand that you believe that “all men do it”, and I can’t comment on that, because I don’t know all men. I’m not entirely sure that you do, either, but that’s beside the point. The prettiness of ladies is a common topic for conversation; we can agree on that.

I like looking at pretty people too, regardless of their gender, and so do many of my friends. Sometimes we have conversations about the people we like and why, though because we’re incurable nerds we tend to come up with things like “look at her posture in that longsword class” or “he looks so joyous when he’s playing the accordion” or “I just want to crawl inside their brains and never come out again”, rather than “look at the rack on that”. But that could be just a matter of taste and style. The bottom line is that we do precisely what you did and got yelled for. The thing is, that’s not the point.

You didn’t get yelled at for finding a pretty lady attractive. You got yelled at because you barged in on a conversation that wasn’t about the attractiveness of pretty ladies – a conversation about that lady’s ability to do a thing, and the value of the thing she was doing – and shoved in some comments about your sexual attraction. That wasn’t the right place for that kind of comment. Other men may have been thinking the same thing, but they didn’t make those comments. Other men may have made those comments, but they did so in private. Other women may have been thinking the same thing and been making those comments about that one lady, or about other men and women and sundry others, but they also didn’t do it there and then.

You didn’t get yelled at because you are a man. You didn’t get yelled at because you find pretty ladies attractive. You got yelled at because you behaved inappropriately in a public place.

Let me try and draw a parallel. My favourite person in the whole world has a pee-pee. I don’t. It’s just one of those things. Sometimes he whips his pee-pee out in front of people and fun times happen. He only does at special times and in special places, though, when he knows for sure that said people want to see his pee-pee and maybe even play with it. If he whipped his pee-pee out on a bus, he’d get into terrible trouble. It wouldn’t matter that he whips his pee-pee out in private all the time and it’s ok. It wouldn’t matter that other men whip their pee-pees out too. It wouldn’t matter that women whip their coochies out. Most people take out their genitals at some point, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that if my friend took his pee-pee and whipped it out in a public place at some random strangers who’d not asked to see it, he’d be doing something inappropriate. That’s what he’d get into trouble for.

If I whipped my coochie out on the bus, I’d get in trouble too. I would probably  get into a different kind of trouble, because other things matter beside the fact that he has an outie and I have an innie. He is tall and big and strong and I am tiny and not very scary, so people treat us different. Maybe he’d get people in blue uniforms putting him in cuffs and taking him away and I’d get people in white uniforms putting me in a padded jacket and taking me to a different away, but – this is the important thing – we’d both get into trouble because we did a naughty thing in public.

In that conversation, you metaphorically took your pee-pee out and waved it about. Problem is, that wasn’t the right kind of place for pee-pee-waving. Nobody had asked to see yours. Hell, if anyone did, that would have been inappropriate too, because pee-pees really weren’t part of that deal. Because people found your behavior icky, they yelled at you.

Of course, talking about how your pee-pee feels about something and waving it around are not equivalent. Both things tend to piss people off, though, and those people may yell at you. You might think it’s all unfair: that you should have a right to let your pee-pee do the talking everywhere and anywhere, regardless of the topic of the conversation. If you want to campaign for that, you have the right to give it a go. If you want to ignore societal conventions because you think they’re crappy, you can give that a go too. Chances are, however, that for the time being you’ll keep getting yelled at.

I have to say, I will be one of the people doing the yelling. I don’t want to see your pee-pee, real or metaphorical. But – and it’s very important to me that you understand this, even if nothing else I’ve said made a lick of sense – I’d yell at you just as much if you were shoving your coochie in my face. It’s not about your plumbing. I want to be able to have conversations about men and women doing non-sexual things and leave sex totally out of the equation, not because sex is dirty but because there are other things beside it and I’m interested in those things, too. I want to be able to do a thing and have a conversation about the thing I’m doing that doesn’t revolve around my body’s ability to make people think about sex.

You are not being punished for having a sexuality, or for what your sexuality is. You’re being punished because you’re shoving that sexuality in people’s faces when they’re busy doing their thing and without asking them first. There’s a time and place for everything. That wasn’t it.