During a recent discussion of the Rihanna–Chris Brown case on NPR’s Tell Me More, Arsalan Iftikhar pronounced himself “bumfuzzled” that the singer would continue to associate with a man who, in his evocative description, “didn’t only hit Rihanna, he made her look like Buster Douglas.” I like Mr. Iftikhar, but his clutching at his pearls seemed to me insincere. It is possible that he was in this case unwilling to confront certain ugly truths about human realities, and also possible that he simply never has encountered this particular ugly truth, expressed eloquently by the late Bill Hicks: “Chicks Dig Jerks.”The interesting thing here is that the mere idea that something that has been reliably observed by objective witnesses for decades, if not centuries, would provoke a female journalist to thoughts of violence. I tend to doubt Ms Martin would have gotten upset if Williamson had suggested that women are sexually attracted to nerds with acne and dual-GPUs; she would have merely laughed.
Normally, the NPR demographic is receptive to the wit and wisdom of Bill Hicks (another ugly and seldom-spoken truth: Bill Hicks had neither wit nor wisdom). Not so much in this case. When I shared Hicks’s observation, the host, Michel Martin, said my remark found her “trying to contain violent impulses” of her own. When I attempted to explain to her that there is a significant body of scholarly work on the subject of the relative sexual success of men with certain personality characteristics — aggression, narcissism, manipulativeness: jerkiness, in a word — she dismissed the assertion as being “based on, I don’t know, some novels that you read.”
The reason women get so upset when various pick-up artists and Game theoreticians mention the easily demonstrable fact that at least some women are inordinately attracted to jerks and assholes, especially violent ones, is because they know it is true but they wish it was not. As Camilla Paglia noted more than 20 years ago, sufficiently hot sex obviously serves as adequate compensation for coming out on the short end of the violence stick every once in a while.
One needn't claim that violence is good in order to observe that some women find it desirable. After all, there are no shortage of men who regularly risk injury and even death because they enjoy violent past times such as football, hockey, boxing, and the martial arts. So, since the violence of sport is intrinsically enjoyable for the winner and loser alike, who is to say that the violence of a chaotic sexual relationship cannot be?
Even women who observe this phenomenon tend to shy away from accepting it, attempting to categorize the attractiveness of the Dark Triad as the appeal of confidence. And while male confidence is attractive to women, that can't possibly explain the appeal of violence, which tends to be rooted in a lack of confidence combined with one or more of the Dark Triad traits.