The Freakonomics blog just moved over to The New York Times website. One of their first posts was about studies that have been done about negging - "a move that involves interjecting an insult during an initial conversation with a woman. The motivation behind the insult is to “lower her self-esteem, thus making her more vulnerable to your advances.”" This post has gotten the most comments I've seen on a Freakonomics post in a while, and I couldn't bring myself to read through all of them. After the first three or four posts by men saying that "all women" are attracted to bad men who insult their sense of self esteem, and that women never are interested in nice men who treat them right, I'd had enough.
Sure, there are women out there who like dangerous guys, guys who aren't interested, men who don't treat them right. Sometimes it's a result of their childhood - I have a relative who married a man who insults her quite often, but she's been married to him at least 30 years, perhaps in part because her father was not always the nicest when speaking with her mother. If it's something you grow up with, it may seem like the norm, that may be the example of a "successful" marriage. Who knows?]
But to generalize to say that that's what all women want, it sounds like that commenter thinks he's a nice guy, and has been burned by women interested in "bad boys." Some comments have said that women don't like to be complimented, or treated right. Now, I'm telling you right now, for all the men out there reading this post - yes, we do like to be complimented and treated right! (At least those of us with a healthy sense of self-respect and no bad boy complexes). And no, this doesn't mean we want compliments in every other breath, presents every other minute, and a man hanging on our every word. Because that's just damn slavish and sycophantic. But a man who knows how to use a well-placed compliment, have an intelligent conversation, and has his own interests in life is infinitely more appealing than either of the over-aggressively rude or sycophantic stereotypes.
The other thing I take issue with is the idea that women are only interested in men with status. That that's why they stay with men who insult them. No. No. No. Sure, perhaps women who stay with men like that feel like the men have more status, that's possible. But I think it's also in large part because the men have cut down their self esteem (or preyed on women who already have low self esteem) to such a level that the women feel like they don't deserve any better, or they don't want to be alone and don't have faith in themselves enough that they could find someone better.
I think the idea of trying to teach men who aren't comfortable interacting with women is a good one, but the way this Mystery is going about it just kind of turns my stomach. Teasing a woman just to let her know that you're on the same level as her is one thing, that she's not on a pedestal. But going beyond that into insulting (and to the "mate retention" behaviors also mentioned, such as her around to make sure she's not meeting other guys) sounds to me like it's the guy who has the low self-esteem - he's uncomfortable just being himself and let his conversation and looks attract women, so he has to resort to preying on the vulnerable. And there's someone out there actually making money for teaching men these tactics - books and a tv show, blech!