I’m Not Picking On Pick-Up Artists. Much.

I can’t remember how I learned about the “Seduction Community” or “pick up artists”, but I do remember my reaction…

If even just 10% of the guys out there who had trouble getting chicks the way they want read this site, and made use of the materials, understood the attitudes, etc., not only would they significantly improve their lives and the lives of the chicks they interact with, they’d also cause a “shift” in many chicks on this side of the world to realize they must improve themselves (lose weight, get better attitudes, stop playing games) in order to have a better chance to get a quality male. Because most guys, once they know this stuff, raise the standard they are willing to accept from chicks, and disregard chicks that aren’t up to par.  That means goodbye teases, bitches, fatties, psychos, and manipulators.  Bye bye.  Hello stable, secure, good-looking, nice chicks who aim to please REAL MEN in their lives.

..and that quiet, decorous, rational reaction was,

WHAT THE FUCK?

If you get past the part where the author is just doing the Lord’s work, y’all – trying to get women of the world “to realize they must improve themselves (lose weight, get better attitudes, stop playing games) in order to have a better chance to get a quality male” – then this screed might be a touch inflammatory to those of us on the double-X side of the fence.

(Gawd, I kinda hope it upsets a lot of you on the XY side of the fence, too.)

(side note: I find the “stop playing games” part wildly amusing and ironic.)

I mean, where to start, exactly? With the contempt he shows women – especially women who don’t conform to his vision of beauty?

(Because what’s the point of women, really, if we aren’t pretty, thin, heterosexual, docile and infected with the disease-to-please?)

Nah. That’s not really unique to a pick-up artist. That’s our society, writ large.

(I think this is why it takes women thirty-five years to even start to unlearn this stuff. Because it is everywhere.)

Let’s talk about the intent of a pick up artist (or at least, the intent of this particular site’s authors):

The overall point is that, outside of arrangements like marriage, only 20% of the men lay 80% of the women.  You either want to be in the that 20% or not.  And, unless you’re already a natural at it, you’ll need to learn what it takes to get you there.  That’s what this web site is for.

1. I would really like to see the research supporting this fact.

2. So now we’ve got two things. Blatant misogyny, idealization of a narrow sliver of female humanity, and a naked urge to have sex with as many of the pre-approved (HBs or “hot babes” or “hot bitches”), socially-acceptable ones as possible.

3. Again, this is not new or unique to the Seduction Community.

So although all of this upsets me wildly, I’ve written lots of papers pulling apart the dynamic of sexism and this is just part-and-parcel of living in our society. It is ugly. I hate it. But isn’t novel and these guys didn’t invent it.

What these guys did invent – or at least name and practice and preach – is The Neg:

Imagine a guy comes along and says “nice nails. are they real??” she will have to concede, “no. acrylic.” and he says (like he didn’t notice it was a put down “oh. (pause) well I guess they still LOOK good.” Then he turns his back to her. What does this do to her? Well, he didn’t treat her like shit and INSULT her. He complimented her but the result was to target her insecurity…

You didn’t take her shit. OH, and when she asked you for a beer, you said, ” no. I don’t buy girls drinks. but you can buy ME one”. You are qualifying HER now. If she buys you a beer, this is symbolic of her RESPECT for you…

A NEG HIT is a qualifier. The girl is FAILING to meet your high expectations. It’s not an insult, just a judgement call on your part. The better looking the girl, the more aggressive you must be with using neg hits. A 10 can get 3 neg hits up front, while an 8 only 1 or 2 over a longer time. You CAN go overboard if they think you are BETTER than them You can drop the self-esteem right from under them (just like most 10s do to guys) and this isn’t good. You have to get as close to the breaking point as you can without crossing the line. Once you have gotten her RIGHT THERE, you can start appreciating things about her (NEVER LOOKS). There is a mutual RESPECT now. Something most guys never get from the girl.

This is how you remove a bitch shield. 3 neg hits oughta do it within 2 or 3 minutes of neutral chat. Once it is down, you can from a mutual respect place, seduce her.”

(That is from Mystery – the dude with the show on VH1.)

So this is the kind of advice that makes me deeply unhappy with the world we live in. Insulting a person – sort of – until they respect you. Making her insecure so she’ll want to prove her worth, sexually.

But you know what? Putting myself in the shoes of both the man and the woman, here, I’d say this probably works.

know it works. Let’s say we call the ‘neg’ a backhanded compliment.  I don’t hang out in bars or have acrylic nails, so this particular scenario might be about ten years too young for me, but BIG SECRET: I actually love that kind of stuff. I like a guy who is cocky but funny and not afraid to say something unexpected – and who doesn’t make me feel responsible for entertaining him by looking at me with puppy dog eyes while his tail wags expectantly.

I like self-possessed. I like witty. I like a guy who doesn’t kiss my ass unless asked. I don’t, however, like disrespect or a deliberate attempt to structure our interactions so that you’ve got the upper hand and I’ve got to earn your attention.

(I will note, however, that while this stuff might work, initially, these techniques are kind of like a resume and an interview in a job search: they get you in the door. Once you’ve got the job, and want to keep the job, and do the job well, an entirely different set of skills are required.)

All of this is to say that I, personally, like “cocky but funny” – and cocky and funny is pretty much the Pick Up Artist’s playbook.

Now, since I realized this and read up on it, whenever I encounter a guy running cocky-but-funny on me, I wonder about it.

I once asked a guy – a witty Brit – who had cocky-but-funny all nailed down, if he’d ever heard of the seduction community or read The Game.

Looooooooooooooooooooong pause.

“No.”

Yeahfuckingright.

~

Now, to be fair, what I just quoted is the absolute worst of the community, but it is also what ranks highest in searches (thanks, Google!) and so, presumably, is some of the most popular, “authoritative” (and we all know my issues with that word) stuff available.

Still – as Brad Bollenbach wrote about his experience with pick up (he’s not okay with the rampant misogyny in the community, either) - in the Seduction Community, as in pretty much every sphere of life, Sturgeon’s Law applies: 90% of everything is crap.

The mainstream pick up community is pretty fucking awful, in my opinion. But if you dig in, you’ll find all kinds of examples of people engaging with human interaction, psychology, dating, and ethics in really interesting, intelligent and soulful ways.

~

So, when I started learning about The Seduction Community and techniques practised by pick up artists, I had pretty strong and intensely negative feelings about it.

Truth is, though, I recognized these techniques.

I have looked at a man, smiled wide, and said, “That shirt looks awful. I don’t like it at all. You don’t look hot and it doesn’t make me want to kiss you. Not even a little bit.” And then kissed him.

I say things just to surprise. I absolutely wear hot shoes or big bold jewelry and people do talk to me about it and that’s probably the point. I set hurdles for you to clear so it will be clear to me whether or not you’re interested in me. I understand that my appearance is telegraphing a message. I tell a story with my body language. My mission in life is to make you laugh because when you laugh, you’re comfortable, and when you’re comfortable, you like me, and of course I want you to like me. I hope you like me.

And with all of that, I’m essentially doing what PUAs teach their acolytes. I just don’t name them or think much about them. They’re instinct. For me. Because I’m a woman and a flirt.

holyshitnewsflash: PUAs are teaching men how to be attractive to women using the techniques usually employed by …women.

Is this true?

I googled it. Apparently it is common knowledge in the Seduction Community that the teachers derived their techniques by modeling women.

Implicitly, they’re acknowledging that women control the initial game.

So the techniques I’m having a reaction to – that I think are manipulative and gross and sexist and exploitative – come from women.

In the Seduction Community, men learn how to attract women by observing how women attract men and then use those same techniques on women so that men can attract women.

And women – like me – get all pissy about it and say that’s manipulative, exploitative, controlling. And dude, that’s my territory. Getoffamylawn.

You know those shells that fold inside themselves? We’ve just gone fractal.

~

Still, we can’t get away from the misogyny. In addition to the negs – which, to be fair, not all PUAs endorse – we’ve got a whole lot of talk about punishment:

Have your rules. Tell the chick – and they’re always chicks, unless they’re HBs – the rules, and punish her if she violates them. Take your attention away. Slight her. Stand her up. Drop her.

Because women don’t already have enough rules to follow or enough people telling us how to behave. Now we need some guy in a bar or a bookstore or a coffeeshop dominating us in exchange for a $4 latte and some truly high-priced male validation.

This kind of  ”punishing” the “target” – the practice and the language itself - is common to both The Seduction Community and heterosexual pornography, and the overlap, I argue, is no coincidence.

Ask Sam Benjamin.

Sam Benjamin is a self-professed “Ivy League Pornographer” who wrote a piece called “Shoot: The Education and Evolution of a Pornographer“ in which he compared his experiences shooting mainstream heterosexual porn and gay porn.

Sam Benjamin is heterosexual; shooting heterosexual porn turned him on; but he had to quit because it was just so damn awful. Despite his best intentions, the heterosexual porn he was shooting was about punishing women. So he quit.

And then he was broke and asked for his job back. It had been filled but there was a spot available filming gay porn – was he interested? Initially, he was hesitant and even a little intimidated, but to his surprise he found that

gay porn was so goddamn simple that it approached a type of Zen beauty. I mean, this was guys taking on guys, in every shape and form imaginable, for the most part in good humor and absent-minded lust. They may have stuck to roles of “tops” and “bottoms,” but in the dressing room, we all seemed equals, on the same team…

… I’m saddened to think that the only path to the absence of hostility and anger in porn is to remove women from the equation. It doesn’t bode well, especially for a world in which men and women must continue to co-exist. In the first half of my porn-life, I lived inside of a world where it almost seemed like an entire gender was being denigrated, like that was the whole point—where very young women were choked and slapped and written-on with lipstick, simply for the crime, it seemed, of being a woman. You should have slept with me, seemed to be the unspoken message. Now see what I have to do to you.

I think Sam Benjamin is on to something.

You should have slept with me, seemed to be the unspoken message. Now see what I have to do to you.

Let’s think about this: according to Neil Strauss, as many as 70% of the guys who start studying the art of pick up are just geeky guys who aren’t very comfortable – or successful – with women. They’re not getting laid and they’re not happy.

You should have slept with me, seemed to be the unspoken message. Now see what I have to do to you.

I’m repeating this point for a reason. Maybe some of the misogyny in the pick up community is the result of a whole lot of guys working through their collective resentment that pussy isn’t tap-water.

You know what?

Women do this too.

We get frustrated when we’re not getting what we want. I know you know what you’ll hear on this party-line: There are no available heterosexual men. They’re all taken, married, gay, dating teenagers, or playing Warcraft. Or, if you do manage to find one to date, he’s probably an inexpressive, emotionally-repressed, sex-crazed, commitment-phobe who not-so-secretly wishes you looked more like Megan Fox and less like, well, you. They all do.

It is the drumbeat that underlines girls-night-out conversations.

But that’s not sisterhood. That’s misandry.

~

Dirty secret: We – the sistas – and I’m talking ONLY about myself and my real-life friends and sisters here, not The Feminist Community with which I express my affiliation but cannot Speak For – often construct our “independence” and don’t-need-a-man-ness (even though most of us are married and are now, or have been, completely financially dependant on a man) and divine feminine connection with each other on the back of man-bashing.

No, you’re awesome, honey. He just can’t see it. He’s a bastard. They all are. That’s why we’re so awesome. Thank goodness for girlfriends. Otherwise we’d have to rely on them.

~

If that kind of talk is a two-martini girl-bonding Friday night for me, why am I so shocked when I encounter misogyny in the Seduction Community?

This kind of misogny and misandry – the kind that collapses The Other into a caricature – is a burlesque. We parody and mock The Other in order to defuse the power they have over us.

Because sexuality, and sexual love, is primal, spiritual stuff. It is dangerous and divine. We can harm or heal each other, and most often, we do both.

So, in heterosexual, binary-gendered, conventional world – which is to say, my suburban milieu – groups of heterosexual women get together to bitch about men so that men are less threatening to our hearts and heads. Groups of men get together to figure out a way to manage women so that women are less threatening to their heads and hearts. And then we all go home and drunk-dial our exes.

~

In a way, what the Seduction Community is doing is no different than say, The Cult of Sex and The City. (And it is a cult. I believe, I believe.) We’re all trying to understand each other while getting the upper hand so we can get what we want and not get hurt.

So maybe the dehumanizing – the misogyny and misandry – by both camps of both camps is the same thing. Maybe.

Or maybe it is not the same thing.

Misogyny scares me and for good reason. It has very real social consequences: rape, assault, abuse, inegalitarian and spirit-snuffing romantic entanglements, The Beauty Myth, and $0.72 on the dollar.

So a group of men getting together to scheme about how to make women do their bidding while referring to them as targets and valuing them exclusively in terms of their attractiveness: yeah, that’s pretty fucking terrifying.

Still, there are two parts here:

The social. The Seduction Community both reflects and reifies the misogyny of our culture. In other words, that shit comes from somewhere. The Seduction Community’s (sometimes) fucked-up attitudes about women come from our society’s fucked-up attitudes about women.

The personal. Some smart but socially awkward guys just want to find a way to connect with women, get confident in their company, and maybe even get a girlfriend. And that – well that’s pretty damn sweet.

________________

this 2,700+ words is about a third of the essay. There’s way more and I’ll post the rest this week.

And please play nice in the comments. Pretend we’re all at a raucous, liquored-up dinner party at my house. It is fun, and we can get real and we can get tawdry, but we’re not talking shit about each other. Criticism? Yes, absolutely, and YES PLEASE. Hating? No.

Let’s go.

xo.

About the author

Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer, the founder of Cleavage (The Lines that Shape Us), and I wrote this blog post just for you. You can also find me on Twitter and darlin', please do. xoxo, K

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