Saturday, November 24, 2012

What is passive-aggressiveness?

A few readers seem to have some trouble understanding what passive-aggressiveness is, why it is viewed as feminine, and why it is an indication of low socio-sexual rank for men to exhibit passive aggressive behavior.  It's really not a difficult concept, basically, passive-aggressive behavior is an intentional attack on another individual made with at least some degree of plausible deniability concerning the attack, the intent, or the target.  The reason for the plausible deniability because the passive-aggressive individual wants to be able to attack someone else without giving his target a justification for striking back.

Should he be questioned, the passive-aggressive attacker will usually affect to deny he was making an attack, or that he intended any such thing, or that the person he was obviously attacking was, in fact, the target.  So, passive-aggressiveness is a form of attack that is intrinsically cowardly, conflict-avoidant, unfair, and is customarily utilized by weaker parties who feel they are unable to win in direct and overt confrontation.

This is a perfectly reasonable conflict strategy for women, who are on average smaller, weaker, slower, and less intelligent than men.  It is also why they tend to be very skilled at it, as it suits their natural talent for the verbal and their abilities are honed by decades of passive-aggressive battle with each other beginning as young girls.  The movie Bridesmaids is dreadful, but is noteworthy for the way it shows some of the extremes of female passive-aggressiveness, such as when the women pretend to be in agreement while directly contradicting each other.  It's not funny after the first five or six examples, but it is illuminating.

Of course, this points directly to the correct way to deal with passive-aggressive behavior: confront it head on and force the conflict out in the open.  It's a basic martial arts strategy.  If he wants to kick, move into hand range.  If he wants to grapple, stay outside.  The main reason people avoid direct conflict and prefer the indirect form is the same reason that if you know you've only got a knife and the other guy has a gun, you'd better be sure it stays a knife fight.

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a man adopting female forms of communication, it is indicative of him possessing a similar relationship to other men that women do, which is to say he is metaphorically smaller, weaker, slower, and less intelligent.  And a predilection for resorting to female tactics is a reliable indicator of low socio-sexual rank, which is why their heavy reliance upon passive-aggressive conflict makes it so easy to identify the gamma.


kh123 said...

Would it be fair to say then your conclusion is that men who are confident seek a set-piece battle, or rather are willing to engage in it whenever it arises.

The CronoLink said...

"The movie Bridesmaids is dreadful"

It was Spacebunny's idea to watch it, wasn't it?

Anonymous said...

You think you are smart posting this, huh Vox? I bet Vox probably thinks that. Typical.

VD said...

Would it be fair to say then your conclusion is that men who are confident seek a set-piece battle, or rather are willing to engage in it whenever it arises.

Yes, most masculine codes are oriented towards that. Although there is also a cultural aspect to it; the Western way of war is to seek direct confrontation and annihilate the enemy whereas the Eastern way of war is much more focused on hitting and running.

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting book on the subject called Carnage and Culture.

AmorFati said...

Achieving your aims without someone else even knowing you've done so or maintaining plausible deniability isn't feminine, it's simply practical. Deception and maneuvering are tried and true tactics of statecraft, the world of intelligence, and even military strategy. Outright escalation has its place, but so does the world of the covert. Do you want to get what you want or do you want at minimal cost or do you want to prove yourself to everyone? In a world of false appearances, clever often goes further than brash.

Jacob Ian Stalk said...


Ah, VD is smart for posting this. If you learned about the subject matter then posted a fairly accurate interpretation of it on your own blog in a rational, reasoned way then peopel would think you were smart too. If you did this several times a week with consistently detailed and plausible arguments over many years then it would be typical for you too. So what's your point?

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone didn't get the joke.

kh123 said...

"Carnage and Culture."

Thanks; will check it out.

Spectator said...

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone didn't get the joke.

I see what you did there...

Martel said...

@ Amorfati: Obviously, both covert and overt strategies have their place.

What Vox was relating was one's default conflict strategy. Overtness is better when you're stronger, hence the more masculine strategy. Covertness typically more appropriate for females.

I've noticed within myself that as I've become more confident I'm more likely to initiate direct, even though it hasn't been a conscious decision. Before, while being passive-aggressive, I didn't necessarily feel afraid of what might happen to me if I took direct action, but my desire to not rock the boat indicated weakness.

I've also realized that as a man, passive-agressiveness didn't particularly suit me. Not only could I never be as good at it as most women, when I did employ it both men and women would tend to loose respect for me. And even if they didn't notice enough for it to change their opinion of me, I rarely got my way.

Now if I've got an issue with somebody I simply bring it up, and Voila!, things go my way a lot.

Dan said...

Passive agressive behavior from men while not
uncommon tends to be a learned response to a
situations where the person engaging in the behavior is operating from a position that is
less than total control....usually when they
are subordinate to another person in the workplace. In such venues direct head on honest
confrontational conflict can cost the subordinate their job....and their means of
support. For some this is not a huge issue if they have valueable skills and knowledge. For others losing a job is a life changing experience that can destroy a life, a marriage and a family....not something to be risked lightly. Thus rather than engage in direct conflict things are taken "underground" via passive agressive means etc.

Anonymous said...

Aggressiveness is the way of the warrior.
Passive aggressiveness is the way of the weasel diplomat.

facepalm said...

Certainly direct confrontation and a stand up and fight attitude is more masculine. So is fairness, magnanimity, admission of defeat or even just a good point. Unfortunately Vox rarely displays any of these other traits and prefers generally to behave as a bully. That's actually a defining trait of a bully - to resort to violence when criticized because he knows he can use it to effectively shut down opposition, even when it is legitimate. That's not masculine, that's childish.

Ras Al Ghul said...

Facepalm, are you being like Anonymous above and providing an example of passive aggressiveness as a joke?

Its hard to get a bead on this, other than it is a prime and beautiful example of emotive language with the implication that Vox is violent based on what he writes . . .

Somebody stop Vox before he writes (and kills)again!

Jason said...

This happened recently to me on an atheist blog I particpated in, where I made a brief theological point. Very quickly 2 atheists made requests for me to elaborate, and when I did they just took shots at me without even bothering to reflect on the point I made. When I then proceeded to call them on this and let them know that I wasn't just going to take their ad hominem crap,they then descended into name calling and victimhood and took on a very "passive-aggresive" tone as Vox suggested. Are most atheists like this, or only the vocal ones?

rycamor said...

Jason said...

Are most atheists like this, or only the vocal ones?

Matthew 8:8-10: The centurion answered, "Lord, I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those who followed, "Most certainly I tell you, I haven't found so great a faith, not even in Israel."

I man who knows how to lead also knows how to follow one greater, without sensing a threat to his dignity. Whereas, the atheist truly wants to believe there is no one better than him. Ergo, witness what happens when atheists get in positions of power.

The CronoLink said...

facepalm, are you suffering from PMS or something? Did Vox threatened to ban you? Did he appeared behind you while washing your face in the bathroom?

taterearl said...

"Should he be questioned, the passive-aggressive attacker will usually affect to deny he was making an attack, or that he intended any such thing, or that the person he was obviously attacking was, in fact, the target. "

This is known as the "Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a journalist" defense.

Justthisguy said...

All is fair in love and war.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, there is a book. I read it about 30 years ago, I think. Its title was "Cheating", I think. The thesis of the book seemed to be, that if one is in a weak position, cheating is the best way to get ahead. Women are in a weak position relative to men, at least physically, so cheating might be a good strategy for them.

kh123 said...

"This is known as the "Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a journalist" defense."

The "Stephen Colbert is a narcissist, not a television host" follows closely on the heels of this.

taterearl said...

Also if you live in Minnesota...they call this behavior "Minnesota nice". They'll be pleasant to your face and hate you behind your back. The best metaphor I read was they'll invite you over to eat a good meal but they have the food poisoned.

Which is probably why people here either like or hate me...I didn't grow up here so I give them all bluntness. But the snarky attitude here is worse than many areas I've lived...although even if you are a beta with a little backbone you can do well with women here.

Anonymous said...

To be fair passive aggressiveness has it's purpose if you know when to use it properly. Even an alpha can use it. It's a great way to knock an opponent off balance. Being openly agressive all the time, i.e. charging machine gun nests on a horse, is stupid.

"Also if you live in Minnesota...they call this behavior "Minnesota nice"."

I wonder if that is from the Scandinavian influence with their Jante Law.

- Same Anonymous from 2:18 PM

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