The Pick-Up Apologist: Kickstarter, Reddit, The Awl, and The Real Problem With Seduction Culture

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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245 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My first experience with the whole “Pick Up Artist” thing was Tom Cruise in Magnolia… and the part that sticks with me is the scene where he’s listening to the guy conclude a sad, sad story with “and after all that, she just wanted to be friends!” and Tom Cruise is comforting “that’s just awful and I’m sure that every single guy in here knows exactly what you went through.”

    Being one of those guys who, in high school, had a handful of “and after all that, she just wanted to be friends!” stories, my take on that phenomenon was that the whole PUA thing was mostly money-making scam (“have your feelings been hurt? Give me money and I’ll teach you how to never have your feelings hurt again! Here’s an anecdote about a guy who gets laid!”) with a handful of nuggets of actual useful pieces of advice (“show more confidence, be straightforward, shower, for god’s sake”) that, at the end of the night, amount to “they’re there because they want to go home with someone, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other schlubs.”

    And I think about stuff like how I’m married to someone who reads my essays from time to time, and sees movies with me and argues about them afterwards, and someone who I can easily imagine moving to another part of the country with (or another part of the world with) and it being okay because even if I’m in another part of the country (or another part of the world), I’m there with her.

    So then I encounter the question “Let us instead ask, does he deserve to be banished to any of the others?”, I tend to think “sounds like he’s already there”.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’m very skeptical about the success of PUA techniques. They seem designed to work best on people with issues or if a person doesn’t have issues, you need to inflict short-term Stockholm Syndrome on an otherwise mentally healthy person. Both of these options are not really that moral. Seducing a person with issues raises some serious concerns about consent. Inflicting short-term Stockholm Syndrome is just a form of mental assault.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

      To the extent that they seem to be designed to work at all, rather than to make the poor bastards who buy into them think they’ll work, they seem to be based entirely on basic psychology as Jaybird notes above. Be confident, look presentable, talk to someone like you’re more interested in hearing what they have to say than, say, watching the game on the TV above the bar, etc., and you will tend to cause people, not just women, to be more interested in talking to you than if you do the opposite of these things.

      Virtually everything else these guides say seems to be designed to make their target audiences, men who are afraid of women or feel like they are always rejected by women, feel like they are actually superior to women. It serves to both produce and manipulate ressentiment. As a result, it is inherently misogynistic and genuinely dangerous: it creates an attitude of superiority bordering on dehumanization.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Chris says:

        The sad thing is, there probably is an actual market out there of guys who need advice how to meet women, and how to approach them. It can be somewhat scary for certain kinds of men without a lot of experience to just walk up to unknown women and start interacting with them, and there’s a _lot_ of real advice that could be useful…not only be confident, but also pay attention to what they want to talk about, etc.

        And all that advice is buried in what are basically books for manipulative asshats.

        As for the self-confidence thing: Men, don’t think you’re _better_ than a woman so she should go out with you. But you can’t be apologetic, either. Ask her out like you’re buying something (1)…you’re setting up an exchange you both benefit from. You think you’ll have a good time going out with her, and you think she’ll have a good time going out with you. You aren’t asking for a _favor_, you’re proposing a mutually beneficial exchange of date that you will both enjoy. (You think. She might disagree.)

        I wish at some point in society we’d start having books that explained how to date someone a year, all the way from asking them out, to figuring out if she’s(2) someone you’d actually want to keep dating, to a stable relationship, to even moving in together, instead of how ‘to have sex with them’. Setting out with the goal of having sex with someone is idiotic for anyone who’s out of high school.

        1) No one ever quote that out of context. 😉

        2) Actually, these books could _almost_ be gender neutral. There’s probably slightly different advice for men and women at the start, they tend to key off different things but all the advice would be generally the same. And for all I know these books exist, but I’ve never seen them or ads for them, whereas I see people talking about PUA books all the time.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

          We should have a “How To Meet People” Symposium. Each of us can give the advice that we ignored, followed by what worked for us, and then extrapolate out from that what will probably work for other people.

          We can talk about the breakups in the comments.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

          Setting out with the goal of having sex with someone is idiotic for anyone who’s out of high school.

          This is probably a little harsh. I don’t actually care what consenting adults do. If there’s some sort of place when men hook up with women and that’s the point of the place, whatever.

          Let me rephrase:

          Setting out with the goal of _convincing_ a stranger, who normally would not be interested in you, into have sex with you is idiotic for anyone who’s out of high school. (Actually, it’s idiotic there, also. It’s just understandable.)Report

          • Avatar Rose in reply to DavidTC says:

            Is it really that hard to understand that lack of confidence is not a turn-on for a lot of women (and probably is a turn-on for some)? Confidence is not the same thing as aggression, or one-up-man-ship, or dominance.

            Also, quick guide to What Women Want. This. “Women, the seducers tell us, want to be with a man who is used to being with women hotter than they are.” Um, seriously? Trust me on this. You know what’s not sexy? Being with a guy and worrying that he he used to thinner thighs and that you don’t measure up. It’s much sexier to be found attractive than found wanting. But it’s also easier to manipulate a woman into doing what you want if you make her feel bad about herself first. Like advertising: convince people they have a problem they didn’t know they had, and they’ll be suckered into buying the product. Of course, none of this is about actual female desire or pleasure. It’s merely about female willingness to sleep with you. Which, of course, are two different things.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Rose says:

              When men see women as merely the provider of sex, there are two destructive ways to go about dating:

              1) Act like they own the woman, and they _deserve_ to have a date with her that ends in sex. This is, obviously, very bad.

              2) Act like they’re asking for a _favor_. It’s like asking to borrow someone’s car. ‘Hey, can I borrow your vagina for a bit?’

              #2 is less assholey entitled quasi-rapish behavior, it at least assigned the woman agency over her body.

              But it’s still _entirely the wrong way_ to ask someone out.

              The entire premise of dating is that both parties will enjoy every aspect of a date. (At least at first. Later on in a relationship there is obviously more compromise, but if you start off that way you’re doing it wrong.) Men, you have a mutually beneficial plan that you have proposed, that both of you should enjoy. Ask her out with _that_ thought in mind.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DavidTC says:

          Its weird. Women receive all sorts of advise on how to date. A lot of that advise is bad but the market for dating services for women exists. Men are apparently supposed to know intuitively how to date. This is causing a lot of frustration.Report

          • Avatar Rose in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I don’t think this is true. I would have no idea where to get dating advice that isn’t very specific and not all that useful (e.g., here’s how to make your online dating profile more attractive, how to find single Christians, etc.).Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Rose says:

              I think that a lot of women’s magazines have all sorts of dating advise. Most of it is not so good and more than a little sexist but it exists. If you compare it with media aimed at men, the assumption is that men know this stuff already.Report

              • Avatar Rose in reply to LeeEsq says:

                True. Although I think that’s more beauty advice and how-to-please-a-man-in-bed advice.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Doesn’t Penthouse have something like “advice”?Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kimmi says:

                Not really. Men’s magazines, ponorgraphic or not, assume that the audience is really succesful with the ladies and sleeps with a different beautiful woman every night or something. Now this isn’t the case but they cater to their readership’s perception of themselves. Publications aimed at nerdier men just avoid romantic advise in general and are technically gender-neutral anyway.

                Stories in men’s magazines tend to be more boasting than anything else. A lot of romantic advise aimed at men that isn’t PUA shit is something of a case of the clueless leading the clueless.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Actually, Men’s Health’s has a lot of “beginner” dating advice.Report

  3. Avatar ethan says:

    Great post Tod!Report

  4. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Great post, I agree that the PUA culture is festering in resentment and misogyny. It’s basically the part of the awful Nice Guy spectrum where all the self-loathing about being stuck in the “Friend Zone” bubbles over into active antagonism of vulnerable women. The only half-reasonable defense that I’ve ever heard of the PUA ideas was that it’s basically only meant as an opening gambit in a loud sweaty club. Nobody is really there to have a nuanced conversation, so you make it clear you’re attracted to the other person, throw around some bull to show you’ve got half a brain and then either go dance or step out for a cigarette and an actual conversation – dropping the PUA gimmickry either way. I believe this was the argument put forth by Neil Strauss, who was one of the first journalists to glamorize the subculture, and allegedly met his wife under such circumstances. Granted, anyone who wades into the literature and only comes away thinking “Oh, I should just tell a woman I’m into her and maybe a funny story” probably didn’t need help to begin with.Report

  5. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    Great post. These guys are mysoginistic and are increasing the likelihood of rapes.

    Here’s oe psychological aspect of this that I find fascinatingly weird.

    These manuals are trying to get men to feel good about themselves for tricking women into sleeping with them who would likely be ashamed of having done so later on. That shouldn’t be good for a man’s ego, but there is an insanity in the culture that makes it so.

    Here is me and a young stupid acquaintance who. should’ve yelled at:

    Shaz: “Hey Bobby, how are you?”
    Bobby: “Awesome. I totally banged the hottest chick ever at the bar last weekend. I was feeling down about myself, but not anymore.”
    Shaz: “Wow. Are you going to see her again and go on a date? If you’re dating the hottest girl ever and you like each other, that will be really cool for you. Or maybe you’ll just be cool friemds with benefits.”
    Bobby: “No, I phoned her and she said let’s pretend it never happened. She sounded pretty upset and asked me not to let her friends know.”
    Shaz: “Maybe she is dating someone or is too conservative to have casual sex.”
    Bobby: “No, I know her a bit and that isn’t it. She is just out of my league and would have never slept with me if I hadn’t run my play.”
    Shaz: “That’s tough. You must feel bad about yourself that she is so turned off by you that she is embarrassed to have people know she slept with you.”
    Bobby: “No man, I seduced her. I can totally get chicks like this all the time. I’m a player. You just have to…”
    Shaz: “But why is that a good and proud thing about you if you are sleeping with people who are ashamed of having done it later on? If all those girls have that low a view of you that they think they shouldn’t sleep with you proudly, but you get them to anyways, won’t you feel like garbage? It’s like being proud of winning a race that you cheated at.”
    Bobby: “?”
    Shaz: “Why not make yourself into things that are obviously good and then girls will want to sleep with you and will be proud of having done so? You’ll be the hottest guy ever. Be funny and charming and nice and listening. Be fit and dress well and have a great career and fun hobbies. That way, even if girls don’t sleep with you, you’ll feel great about yourself.”
    Bobby: “Dude you totally don’t get it.”
    Shaz: “Let me guess, the sex wasn’t that great either.”
    Bobby: “Yeah.”
    Shaz: “Growing up is gonna hit you like a brick.”Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      I suspect this approach was worlds more devastating than yelling at him would have been.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      Shaz: “Why not make yourself into things that are obviously good and then girls will want to sleep with you and will be proud of having done so? You’ll be the hottest guy ever. Be funny and charming and nice and listening. Be fit and dress well and have a great career and fun hobbies. That way, even if girls don’t sleep with you, you’ll feel great about yourself.”

      “Dude, that sounds too much like ‘work’ for me to be into it.”Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Patrick says:

        Yeah. I could give some damn fine dating advice to guys.
        But actually using it is WORK — and you’d still benefit from training.
        Or Boot Camp (that’s in the Poconos)…Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      Yeah, I’ve never really understood any of that.

      I understand wanting to have _sex_, of course. But what continually baffles me is the idea that this is a numbers game, based not on the amount of sex, but on the amount and ‘hotness’ of women.

      Look, there are clearly women out there that will have sex and not ‘require’ any sort of relationship, if that’s the sticking point. I mean, PUA culture requires those women to exist, so I shall presume they do.

      So why not just find _one_ of those women, and come to an arrangement? Wouldn’t that be, I dunno, _easier_ than hitting on twenty women a night before finding one willing to come home with you? Am I missing something?

      Likewise, and I might be spilling some guy secrets here: While how hot a woman is interesting…once they’re actually having sex with you, it’s not _incredibly_ important.

      If we take the entire premise of PUA as true (And I’m not actually sure PUA actually _does_ work.) than, well, the entire premise is rather stupid. Either there are women out there willing to randomly hook up with men outside of a relationship (In which case, _keep their damn phone numbers_ if you want casual sex, you idiots.) or there are not, and the entire thing is a lie.

      I rather suspect the entire thing is a complete myth, created (accidentally or on purpose) by a few super-hot, super-suave asshole guys who couldn’t understand why other guys didn’t have women falling over them, so decided to give ‘advice’, and didn’t realize that 99% of it was that they looked like Tom Cruise and trolled pickup bars, and it doesn’t actually work anywhere else and super-charisma is not something that can be learned.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to DavidTC says:

        Agree with this almost entirely.Report

      • Avatar Rose in reply to DavidTC says:

        “Likewise, and I might be spilling some guy secrets here: While how hot a woman is interesting…once they’re actually having sex with you, it’s not _incredibly_ important.”

        Believe me, I don’t understand What Men Want any better than men understand What Women Want. But I’ve always suspected that, I dunno, 65% of men’s preference for a hot woman has to do with his status with other males. If no other males saw or would ever see with whom he went home one night, the looks requirement would be much lower.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Rose says:

          Why would I care what other men think about me?Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Maybe you care about your own self-esteem, I dunno.
            I do know that the people who legally rape folks using PUA-shit
            (yeah, there are real seduction guides out there. they’re about how to rape folks.)
            are notoriously not-picky about who they fuck.

            (note: if you’re asking yourself “how can rape be legal”? I will point you to the definition of informed consent, and then say, if you can successfully revoke a woman’s ability to protest (without using chemicals), you’ve basically gotten yourself a ticket out of jail free. “But she didn’t say no!” Bonus if she thinks its her fault that you raped her.)Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            It’s like we’re in backwards world: Guys, rise above your instinctual desire to attempt to impress women with muscles, and cars shaped like penises, and guns shaped like penises, and penises shaped like penises, in an attempt to win them into your bed! Instead, attempt to impress…other men! By which women you won! (Why? Are you trying to prove to those other men that _you’re_ the alpha sex God around here, and those guys should…all be sleeping with you? Turning their women over to you? WTH is this going?)

            I mean, there’s men operating in so-called ‘caveman’ mode, whose goal is to claim and keep as many women as possible, and there’s civilized mode, which is for us to treat them as equals and find one of them that we like and spend our life with them…and then there’s PUA mode, which is, uh, collect and discard them all, like they’re damn Pokemon or something, and you want to earn all the fucking badges. (Note: I do not actually know how Pokemon works.)

            I mean, hell, they aren’t even doing the ‘I possess a hot woman’ correctly. The way to impress other men is to _walk around with one on your arm_, with the implication you own this one and can have sex with it any time you want (Note: None of those absurdly sexist opinions are mine.) PUA people manage to screw that up, by ‘winning’ hot women, walking out of the bar with them, and then _never showing them off_ to make other men jealous, or keeping contact with them to hopefully have more sex.

            It’s like ‘Guys, you apparently don’t even understand how sexism is supposed to work. If women are property, you don’t just _throw them away for no reason_. You _at least_ wait until you’re tired of them, and perhaps keep one or two used ones as spares. If you have a nice looking one, you show other guys you have it, and wear it around town for a bit. You are managing to fail at being misogynistic asshats.’

            It is completely baffling from top to bottom, and I suspect there’s some sort of serious mental pathology going on here.Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to DavidTC says:

              Yeah, you and me are equally confused by this.

              I understand the narcisistic sexism of trophy girlfriends/wives (or husband/boyfriends). I also understand taking joy in being hot enough to have people want to sleep with you. But I don’t understand pride in serial seduction of people who aren’t excited to sleep with you without alcohol or some kind of seduction technique.

              There is some kind of sexist fantasy that just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not trying to say I’m great or anything, but the whole thing is so weird.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                PUA has never been my thing, for a variety of reasons (including enlightened progressive reasons as well as knuckle-dragging puritanical ones). But Hit Coffee has a lot of overlap with game-bloggers for a variety of reasons. So I’ve gotten quite a bit of exposure. So with my bona fides and lack thereof out of the way…

                They don’t view it the same way that you are viewing it here. They view the seduction technique as a variation of what everybody does to partner up. Putting your most appealing foot forward. Not having sex with someone who would otherwise not want to have sex with you, but rather giving them what they double-secretly really want so what they will have sex with you.

                There is a lot of overlap between acolytes of Game and acolytes of Alpha Theory, which states that deep down women consistently want an “alpha male.” And PUA is being the alpha that they want.

                When I would push back against various aspects of Alpha Theory, it was almost automatically assumed that I was single (they’d try to taunt me with “And do women reward you for your wussiness?”) because, what woman would want a wuss like me. Then if I say I’m married, they assume that it was a desperate woman that no right-thinking guy should want (a single mother, for instance, or someone pushing against infertility taking the first guy she can find so that she will give him children).

                It’s all really quite unpleasant.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

                Yeah, but these women don’t want to sleep with them and they know it. That is the whole point of the need for a technique to get them to sleep with them anyway. Right?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I’d say that whether a woman wants to sleep with a man is more nuanced than yes/no. I don’t mean that no means yes! What I mean is that whether she decides whether or not she wants to consent to sex with him is dependent on how he behaves.

                I mean, let’s say that Jesse and Joan meet in a bar. They get talking, and Jesse goes into a fifteen minute rant about the state of modern toilet production. Joan decides not to leave with Jesse.

                Jesse and Joan meet in a bar. They get talking and Jesse talks about how in his spare time he makes wheel system crippled dogs. Joan decides to leave with Jesse.

                Jesse is both the guy who goes onto rants about toilet productions, and the guy who helps crippled dogs. Whether Joan wants to sleep with him depends on which side of him he presents. So it’s not strictly yes or no.

                If Jesse picks up a PUA book and learns that by negging women, he increases the odds of finding a sexual partner. Well, before that, he thought that copious compliments was a better way to find a sexual partner. Whether he is finding things to compliment her on or finding flaws in her to point out, though, he is altering his behavior to present himself as someone that she would want to have sex with.

                Now, you and I would say that there is a difference in the types of manipulation being deployed, but others won’t. But many of them believe that they are actually providing women a service by giving them the alpha male that they want.

                (Of course, some of them are transparently contemptuous of women and feel that denigrating her, both verbally and sexually, is a form of justice or some crap like that.)

                (Also, some men out-and-out lie to get laid. That’s harder to fit into the above moral paradigm. Though not impossible, in some circumstances with some lies. It’s circumstance-dependent, and depending on one’s views of fantasy.)

                (And sometimes it’s fantasy. They pretend to be the guy they want to be. That’s less about ego-enhancement, though, and more about… well, fantasy.)Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

                “Now, you and I would say that there is a difference in the types of manipulation being deployed, but others won’t.”

                The others are very clearly wrong.

                The difference is whether the behaviors you are engaged in are designed to (and will make it more likely that) get a woman to sleep wit hyou who will later on be ashamed of having done so.

                By analogy, there are two kids of sales techniques. You can make a good product and be honest about it with a bit of spinning the positive. Or, you can try to find customers who are at their weakest and try to coerce or manipulate them into buying a product that they will regret having bought. PUA is like the latter.

                The only difference is that the PUA techniques are much worse because they lead to rape culture and sexism where pressure sales techniques just lead to pissed off consumers.

                But both are extremely icky and somewhat immoral, even if they are not illegal.Report

              • I am quite inclined to agree. One set of them would say “they won’t regret it, because that’s what they want” while another set of them would say “a woman waking up with regrets isn’t a bad thing because something something women are manipulative something something we just beat them at their own game.”

                Some of PUA is built on “Regardless of what they say, this is what they want as demonstrated through revealed preference.” (citation needed, and rarely given.)

                But a lot of it is also built on men who see women as sexual adversaries, rather than sexual partners.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

                I mean, it isn’t a guide to become the sort of person who women will be begging to sleep with. It is a guide to get women to sleep with you even though they either aren’t begging to do it or really don’t want to.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                It seems roughly akin to the mostly imaginary world portrayed in various movies, where car thiefdom is portrayed by a bunch of really cool guys who steal really cool cars, drive around with them for ten minutes in high speed chases, then abandon them.

                That…is not a reasonable model of car ownership. It’s not even a reasonable model of car _theft_. And it’s being done by people who brag they couldn’t possibly afford such cars…because talking about how poor you are makes you…awesomer?

                It’s so many level of stupid.

                Look, I’m not condoning manipulation of women, but, men, if you do have some magical way to do that, and your overwhelming priority is to have sex (Which is rather pathetic), then, uh, find a reasonable attractive one and manipulate her into a ‘relationship’ where you don’t have to do anything, and she isn’t allow to complain when you cheat. Then move on when you get bored, or, hell, don’t even ‘move on’, just start sleeping with other women until she _finally_ ditches you. That is what a _sane_ immoral person would do…and, in fact, a lot of them _do_. What I just described is, in fact, the traditional asshole behavior of manipulative men.

                PUAs, OTOH, seem to think it’s reasonable to have to keep refinding women. It’s like the perfect combination of immoral _and_ stupid, and more harmful to women, and, like I said, only makes sense if there’s some sort of psychological problem going on in those people’s head, because it’s actually much more work for much riskier payoff.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DavidTC says:

                “if you do have some magical way to do that, and your overwhelming priority is to have sex (Which is rather pathetic), then, uh, find a reasonable attractive one and manipulate her into a ‘relationship’ where you don’t have to do anything, and she isn’t allow to complain when you cheat”

                You’re assuming the manipulations necessary for a pig to fuck a woman are at all relevant to the manipulations necessary for an abusive relationship. They totally aren’t.

                You think that it’s much more work for much riskier payoff. These folks (at least the successful ones) are pretty skilled at choosing their prey. Take a room full of women, and you can find at least one that isn’t going to prosecute a man for rape if she doesn’t say no (even if she wanted to). Lack of self-confidence, shame, whatever you want to name it.

                These guys are sick fucks, and I don’t condone their behavior. But being able to fuck women in relationships with other guys (and people who don’t really want relationships in the first place) is a reasonable reproductive strategy… in the absence of abortion, at any rate.Report

          • Avatar Jack in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Brandon maybe you are above such things, but I think the vast majority of young single men are quite sensitive to the opinions of their peers as to the physical attractiveness of the women they are with. They see it as an expression of their own masculinity and appeal. Heck I have had a signficant number friends, with an almost pleading request for validation in their eyes, outright ask me if I though is hot. One in particular, very marketable in all other ways, only mananged to find a wife after he grew out of such pathetic behavior.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Rose says:

          I’d say this fairly accurate. It certainly matches some of my more shameful fantasies. The desire for a hot woman is mainly a status-thing. A hot girlfriend/wife/one-night stand generally is a way to pull rank over other men just like how some men compete over cars. The other half is that most people like physical beauty.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Rose says:

          I’d say this fairly accurate. It certainly matches some of my more shameful fantasies. The desire for a hot woman is mainly a status-thing. A hot girlfriend/wife/one-night stand generally is a way to pull rank over other men just like how some men compete over cars. The other half is that most people like physical beauty.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      Shaz,
      girls will want to sleep with you and will be proud of having done so?

      I loved the whole dialog. But that bit? That ‘girls will be proud of having done so” rocks.

      Thank you. Because girls can (and should) be proud of good, happy sexual experiences; not shamed that they enjoyed them. Thank you for saying this.Report

  6. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    I remember when this was called “Ladder Theory”.Report

  7. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I find this whole attitude very creepy, and kind of hard to comprehend. I don’t like talking to people in shops who are trying to sell me something I don’t want to buy, because even if they’re not outright annoying I feel like I’m wasting their time because I don’t want to buy it. I’d feel the same thing about holding a conversation with a guy who was clearly only having the conversation as an attempt to get me into bed.

    And, frankly, it’s creepy that the idea of somehow being entitled to sex is so prevalent among guys. There’s no circumstance – including friendship – in which another person is somehow obligated to be into you. Not being interested in you doesn’t make someone a jerk (or a ‘bitch’).

    Even if you imagined a seduction manual on the least-troubling ‘creepiness’ rung, they seem reminiscent of the reams of books about how to have a good job interview. (The comparison occurred to me because several of the guys on this site were having a discussion on another thread about dating that seemed to compare to job interviews.) I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy job interviews at all; I think looking at dating along those lines would make it get wearying very fast. Job interviews are a competition. Dating shouldn’t be one.

    Also, it feels like guys obsess over this more. I’m 26 and have dated one guy in my entire life, several years ago. I wouldn’t mind dating someone else, but it’s not something I obsess over.
    I suspect the ‘relationship-as-status-symbol’ dynamic for guys falls into the “sexism hurts men, too” category.

    Just some rambling from someone who finds this kind of guy talk a bit of a view into a different universe.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW says:

      And, frankly, it’s creepy that the idea of somehow being entitled to sex is so prevalent among guys.

      At the time, it wasn’t feeling “entitled to sex” but “I am doing everything mom said, being a good friend, being supportive, being fun, being Christian… and I ask girls out and… nothin’.” I, personally, wasn’t looking for sex as much as someone to make out with who wanted to make out with me, someone to trade compliments with, someone to buy silly presents for, someone to play stupid boyfriend/girlfriend games with.

      Like on Happy Days.

      (Of course, also looking back, I had no idea that (person) or (person) or (person) would have totally dated me but I was too busy chasing after (person), (person), and then (person). There was probably a lot of dumb stuff going on with the whole “never join a club that would have me as a member” thing.)

      But it wasn’t about feeling entitled to sex. It was about feeling disappointed that my romantic feelings weren’t returned.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

        ” There was probably a lot of dumb stuff going on with the whole “never join a club that would have me as a member” thing.”

        … yeah, that’s why a friend of mine gives that whole “date fat chicks” advice.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to KatherineMW says:

      To some extent I understand the basic psychology behind the people who consume this stuff (the people who peddle it are just snake oil salesmen). First, meeting people is hard, especially if you are shy, socially awkward, or don’t meet societal standards for attractiveness (physical or otherwise). Second, there’s a common conflation, in the minds of the consumers, of meeting people at bars (which is rarely where you go to meet people for serious relationships) and meeting people for serious relationships. I think this conflation is partly due to the fact that they want some of both, and partly due to the fact that they just don’t have much experience of going from meeting to relationship, so they really haven’t the slightest clue what they’re doing. They want to feel wanted, and they want to have sex, and they want to have relationships, and it’s all jumbled into a big psychological mess. They’re frustrated, insecure, and probably looking for someone or something to blame. On top of this, they want quick, easy fixes that don’t require them actually having to work on themselves. All of this combines to make them easy targets, particularly for the sorts of messages that dominate the self-help industry: you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people don’t just like you, they owe you.

      Enter the “pickup artist” self-help guru, who not only tells them there’s an easy fix, but who also tells them that there’s someone to blame, all women, and now women owe you.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to KatherineMW says:

      I am going to concur with Jay.

      There is something frustrating when a person is “doing all the right things” according to friends and family and the results are just not working.

      This can be for romantic relationships, looking for a job, etc.

      There are guys who think that they are “entitled to sex” like you described. There are also guys (and women) who just really want a romantic relationship and are late bloomers. This can lead people to feeling a lot of despair. I find conflating the two groups to be wrong.
      You are right that no one is entitled to sex or a romantic relationship but generally it is something that most people are biologically designed to want. Most people are not asexual.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Here is a story:

      A few years ago, I went on a really good date. And by really good, everything that happened during that date was what people tell me first dates are like. They felt like the facebook comments when women write about their first dates on their anniversaries. The date ended with both of saying “When can we see each other again?” simultaneously and making out a bit on her doorstep. I went home going feeling rather like I was on Cloud Nine.

      The next day she sent me an e-mail saying something along the lines of “Upon further thought, I decided we would not be a great match for each other. I hope you have all the success in love and life. I really do.”

      That caused my mood to crash very quickly. Was it wrong of me to be disappointed and a bit frustrated by this? Should I have just said “okay” and moved on like it was nothing?Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to NewDealer says:

        “That caused my mood to crash very quickly. Was it wrong of me to be disappointed and a bit frustrated by this? Should I have just said “okay” and moved on like it was nothing?”

        That is a drag, but I’m not sure what you’re asking. Disappointed/frustrated? How could anyone not be? If you said OK and moved on, though, that’s basically all you can do. Well, you could send her an invoice for your time and expenses, but that wouldn’t look too suave.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to NewDealer says:

        No! I wasn’t trying to say anything like that (but I must have, given that several people have taken it that way). I was referring more specifically to the attitude commonly found in hookup writings and in comments by assholes in which there are only two types of attractive women: the ones who are receptive to you, and bitches (shown as such by their not being receptive to you).

        Wanting a relationship with someone and being disappointed when you can’t find someone is perfectly normal.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer in reply to KatherineMW says:

          I think that there is a lot of overlap about entitlement/disappointment and a lot of people think someone is being or acting entitled when they are merely being disappointed.

          This is not limited to dating. A few weeks ago, Will Truman linked to an essay in Forbes about how a shockingly small percentage of college graduates end up in jobs that require college degrees (at least in the immediate few years following graduation). My thought on this was “How do we determine whether a job requires a college degree or not?” Basically just because an employer says BA required does not mean it is really true in terms of actual job responsibility.* I posted as such on FB with the article. One of my friends went on a bit of a rant about how just because someone graduated from college, does not mean they are “entitled” to a job that requires an undergrad degree. He is right but obviously I think being disappointed at not having one is understandable.

          So it is a debate in society.Report

  8. I thought the creepiest part was where Bustillos was explaining to the pig that “no” sometimes means “maybe”. If (if) Hoinsky’s book wasn’t rapey, that part of the conversation certainly was.Report

  9. Avatar NotSarChasm says:

    This might be a bit of a ramble of a dissent. Maybe not dissent so much as attempting to test a few assumptions.

    First off, Tom Cruise in “Magnolia” does not exist. No woman in the world would fall for that guy. But are there young guys hitting bars every night who are, as the kids say, DTF? Absolutely. Do they find woman to go home with? Absolutely. Are these hook-up’s outside of consent or abusive? Most probably not! So why should we direct such overwhelming fire at someone who might just be tying to get people to losen up and have some fun?

    And lets get this out of the way: people of either gender who like to have commitment-less sex on a regular basis with many different people are called sluts. That is not a judgement, FSM knows, just a clarification. Men don’t get to be called “studs” just because. And while we’re at it – this post, Todd – didn’t assign any more agency to the women involved than the un-sourced reddit advice you report. You, as they, blithely assume that whatever misogynist crap advice by an anonymous reddior might actually provoke anything but “GET AWAY FROM ME CREEP” from the “target” in question. I’m definitely not saying that there aren’t misogynist assholes out there that we shouldn’t fight, or that PUA sites don’t attract them like flies, I want to make that clear. But Hoinsky doesn’t come off as someone interested in teaching men to exploit psychological vulnerabilities for sex as much a guy trying to give geeks more confidence. Confidence to do what, exactly? To find the other sluts in the room, of course!

    Now if feel I must re-iterate that I am not excusing truly misogynist behavior. Any person who exploits emotional vulnerability or uses alcohol to stack consent odds, much less uses physical intimidation, is a monster.

    On the other hand, if you are an adult man or woman and you head to a bar with your friends looking great and thinking, “I sure hope I meet someone I can f*k tonight,” and you find someone you’re attracted to who is thinking the same thing and, after some mutual groping in the bar, you both go back to your place and have great sex all night long, that’s not predator behavior it’s mission accomplished. What if Hoinsky was a better writer (and didn’t have his first draft plastered all over the internet) and just came out with a book called, “How to be a Manslut: Finding the Other Person in the Room Who Might Have Totally Hot and Consensual Sex With You Tonight,” would that really be so horrible?

    Cuz I mean if some twenty something computer geek reads a book by a reddit guy and learns to groom himself, pay attention to the flirty signs that a woman gives off that say, “sure, I’d totally let you touch my body,” and then has a series of one-night-stands during which he learns what both he and his partners like sexually, as well as gaining further insight into his expectations for a long term relationship down the road, who are we to judge?Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to NotSarChasm says:

      If the passages from the book (or any quoted passages from a typical PUA book or speech), people probably wouldn’t have as many issues with them. But they don’t sound like that. We’re not acting as though the author is saying “here’s how to find other folks who might be looking for a one-night stand, and how to be attractive to them”, because that’s not what his actual words are saying. His words are saying “ALL women are like x, therefore you should act like y”, and a lot of “y” is genuinely creepy behaviour. And behind that he’s peddling a lot of assumptions about women being assholes if they don’t want to go out with (or sleep with) you.

      It’s not really helpful to say “well, if he was saying something completely different, it wouldn’t be offensive, so why are you getting upset?”Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to NotSarChasm says:

      I’m unsure where to respond first, because I have the impression you’re objecting to a huge series of arguments that I neither made nor wish to defend. In fact, I suspect that based upon what you say we agree more than disagree. But since you were good enough to take the time to respond (and I’m assuming you’re from Reddit, but maybe not?), I’ll try to sort through it:

      1. “First off, Tom Cruise in “Magnolia” does not exist.”

      Agreed – although in all fairness I should note I’ve never seen Magnolia and know nothing about it. As such, I was in no way making an argument based on Tom Cruise in Magnolia.

      2. “But are there young guys hitting bars every night who are, as the kids say, DTF? Absolutely. Do they find woman to go home with? Absolutely. Are these hook-up’s outside of consent or abusive? Most probably not! So why should we direct such overwhelming fire at someone who might just be tying to get people to losen up and have some fun?”

      Also agreed. Is it possible that you are assuming some kind of prudish judgement on my part – that perhaps you think my problem with seduction guides is that young adults should not have sex? Because this is not the case. I mean, this is really not the case. I think that sex – committed and/or otherwise – is a necessary part of human interaction, and what’s more it’s infinitely more fun that Scrabble. I have no problem whatsoever with anything two adults do in the privacy of their own home, or the privacy of the home of someone they just met, or the janitor’s closet in the back of the bar.

      3. ” And while we’re at it – this post, Todd – didn’t assign any more agency to the women involved than the un-sourced reddit advice you report. ”

      Well, first off, I’m pretty sure I linked to all or at least most of the advice I got on Reddit. I didn’t link to any of the on-line seduction guides individually, true, but I did link to a page that has pdfs of most of them. If you want additional links to the books, I guess I can do that – although one really does read just like another.

      As to the “moral agency of women,” I’m not entirely sure why it is relevant – or, if I’m being honest, what that even means in this context. As I said in the OP (and also above in this comment) I don’t actually have a problem with guys (and gals!) seducing other people. I do have a problem with people selling “guaranteed” methods of doing so that teach young men with little experience that there is one key that unlocks all legs – especially when that key involves making the other person feel less than what they are and/or involves alcohol. This is entirely unrelated to whether that salesperson is male or female.

      And though I admit I have less of a moral problem with it than the above shit, I find it fairly reprehensible for a “dating coach” (or whatever) to encourage young men (or women!) to lie about who and what they are to get gals (or guys!) in the sack … And this objection has as much to do with what the young seducer learns about the inherent value of himself (or herself!) than it does the person they attempt to bed. (Because let’s be honest: in 9 out of 10 times, the gal actually knows you’re not really the short stop for the Brewers, and wasn’t going home with you because you had her fooled about that.)

      4. And then all the rest of it, which I think I can sum it up as, “hey, me and this girl want to bang one another – you got a problem with that?”

      To which, again, my answer is: No. I really, really don’t.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to NotSarChasm says:

      “But Hoinsky doesn’t come off as someone interested in teaching men to exploit psychological vulnerabilities for sex as much a guy trying to give geeks more confidence.”

      I didn’t read much of this business, but I’d say that is misleading.

      Who know what Hoinsky intends in his heart of hearts. Who cares. But his words are about how to pressure women (like at a used car dealership) to sleep with a man, usually in environments involving acts of alcohol abuse.

      No one would have objected on grounds of contributing to rape culture (maybe on grounds of boringness and vapidity) if he’d written a guide on how to be hot guy. Hint: be nice, funny, confident, listen well, have some degree of success or at least interestingness in career and hobbies, groom yourself, dress nicely (in your own style or not) and don’t be a dink who keeps touching people and grabbing them until they say “screw off.” That last piece of advice is important to being a hot guy. If you don’t follow it, you will be a gross guy who sleeps with mostly drunk women who are ashamed of it later, who will occasionally step too close to the line (or over it) of “date rape” (which is just rape).Report

  10. Remember the thread from earlier about men mentoring young men and whether or not it’s a good idea?

    I think this post puts some pointage in the “good idea” part.

    This ideology is filling void that could be better filled by others. (Male others, mostly.)Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

      Women mentors could tell young men that Hoisnky is am idiot, too. Might be more effective coming from someone who can tell you what some women find attractive.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        See, that’s just it. Telling young men that Hoisnky is not particularly helpful. Especially women telling men that, because that’s exactly what Hoisnky would tell young men what women would say.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

          The other advantage of having women mentors for young men is having it engrained that women are -to-be-respected persons not objects for gratification, which is what Hoisnky is sellingReport

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            Hoinsky needs to be shot down by men.

            And while I’m not going to say that it’s useless or bad to have women talking about such things to young men, it’s not close to a substitute for a man doing the same.

            The misconceptions that men have about women is something is something good men need to do. Because if they don’t, their head will be more filled with the bad ideas of bad men than the good ideas (or bad ideas) of good women.Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

              Yes, it is our duty as men to solve the problem of Hoinsky. But a woman mentor could do just as good (maybe better) job of teavhing young men how idiotic Hoinsky’s lessons are.Report

              • Avatar Rose in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I’m with Will. I don’t think it would be well-received, because it would be presumed that it wasn’t really honest. Otherwise, I would totally write that damned post.Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to Rose says:

                “Yes, it is our duty as men to solve the problem of Hoinsky.”

                what exactly does this mean? i see it a lot and it seems completely nonsensical even beyond the monolithic gender bloc of the imagination thing you guys got going on.

                the pua’s are gross dinks and all but is this like a curbstomping thing or a strongly worded letter thing or what?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to dhex says:

                Yeah, it is a vague claim. Fair enough.

                I guess the idea is something like the following set of claims:

                1. Each person has an obligation to not do things that make the world a better place and to do things that do make the world a better place. (The extent of this duty is a matter of much dispute. You have a duty to save a drowning person next to you if you are an Olympic swimmer. But you maybe don’t have a duty to donate your living body for cancer research.)

                2. Men are caused (partially) by peer pressure from other men and by signals sent from role model men to be more likely to act in sexist ways. (So too are racists caused to be racist by the signals sent by their racist white parents and peers.). If male role models and male peers acted differently and sent different signals, sexism would decrease. This is an easy thing to do that would not cost any man doing it more than a little bit of pain at experiencing peer pressure.

                3. Therefore, men have a duty to exert peer pressure (and signals as a trole model) on each other in a positive way, and a duty not to exert it in a negative way that will lead to sexism, rape, etc.

                4. Women have a similar duty to help society, but it is just an empirical fact that males will look to male peers and male role models for cues on what is acceptable in sexual relationships. (Though my dispute with Will suggests I would like it if, and it would be possible that, women could be role models for men. It just isn’t that way now.)Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                the original wording of “solving” some dude just sounds “we beat him with pipes”. which i guess you mean “we beat him with pipes made out of correct living and peer pressure/bullying for a good cause”.

                i realize this is just one of those values + rhetoric things and i probably somewhat or mostly agree with you at the end of the day, but i find your expression of these ideas gross and creepy. it’s like being born into the mafia or something, but with a buncha pay it forward jammed in there.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Well, thanks for being charitable.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Rose says:

                Maybe taken as more authoritative too. And the fact that it came from the mouth of a woman would lessen the sexism in the mentee, too.Report

    • Keep in mind that Schwyzer’s suggestion was that adolescent 40 year olds who had no interest in a deep, involved relationship with older, more mature and more complex women should start mentoring 20-something guys.

      Are we sure that the 40 year old who is constantly looking for a new 25 year old to bang is a huge step up from a PUA?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        Are we sure that the 40 year old who is constantly looking for a new 25 year old to bang is a huge step up from a PUA?

        Actually…yes. If that was without any context.

        PUAs behave in blatantly manipulative ways, and tend to impact a _lot_ more women. And not just the women who say yes. They wander around manipulating women until one of them says yes, but all the other women that he decided to randomly insult or whatever in an attempt to find one it worked on also exist. Seriously, I read about some of these ‘tricks’, and, yes, I find it amazing women ‘fall for it’ and decide this person is someone to have sex with, but, OTOH, I can’t imagine people (Of whatever gender) coming up to me and saying some of that stuff and me not being _effected_ emotionally. And I’m not even a women, who are constantly peppered with absurd body image nonsense.

        Likewise, they tend to do this _constantly_, whereas a ’40 year old who is constantly looking for a new 25 year old to bang’ is probably not actually ‘constantly’ doing anything. Most non-PUA men _keep women willing to have sex with them_, at least until they’re bored. Whereas the entire premise of a PUA is repeated one-night stands. Even if the 40 year-olds are only keeping each 25 year old a month, that’s fraction of the women that PUAs churn through.

        More to the point…you seem to be assuming that there’s something wrong with a 40 year-old man asking out a 25 year-old women. Now, yes, being older does mean he _can_ be more manipulative or be better at deception or all sorts of things that people shouldn’t be in a relationship…OTOH, he can’t very well be worse than a ‘PUA’, which the entire _premise_ is to trick women into sleeping with them.

        Now, of course, WRT to _mentoring_ others, I have no idea. Just because they’re better than PUAs doesn’t mean they should be _mentoring_ people.Report

        • David, my comment was more just snark than thoughtful analysis. I don’t disagree much with your comment. But to clarify one point:

          “More to the point…you seem to be assuming that there’s something wrong with a 40 year-old man asking out a 25 year-old women. ”

          That was the assumption in the original Schwyzer article. It wasn’t mine (though it’s probably true in some cases, but not in all cases).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        I’m actually pretty sure that slightly to very immature forty year olds “mentoring” twenty year olds in the ways of romance and love is a really bad idea, it might be worse than PUA in some ways. It doesn’t even work in the movies and in the movies the characters have the power of script on their side. ;.

        More seriously, its not a good idea for several reasons. For one thing, not everybody wants to be mentored. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, the idea of an older woman mentoring me a la the Graduate would have creeped me out. I wanted to date young women my own age. I’m sure I can’t be alone with this. You have some power dynamic issues. Finally, like you noted, a forty something who is constantly dating twenty somethings rather than seeking a steady relationship with anybody is probably not the best tutor for romance or dating. They might be okay on the physical side of the relationship but thats about it.Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    This is a hard post, I’m grateful you wrote it, Tod.

    I know, given my history, that I’m a bit hypersensitive. But the advice you quote from the book is advice to sexually assault women — to touch them without first receiving permission. I had a hard time getting beyond that; it took me three tries; it’s disturbing. I’ve been touched way too often against my will; and it does not arouse passion. It’s meant to not show affection, but control. As a successful getting-laid strategy, it depends on overwhelming someone. It is not cool. Men who do this (women, too) are controlling, abusive, and predatory. In someone like me, who’s suffered serious sexual abuse, this makes me panic; makes me want to vomit, to run. A cornered animal; and baby, I got teeth and claws when I’m cornered. I’ll cut you.

    But I really need to point out the other side of this form of literature; you can see it at the checkout counter in the grocery store. How to dress to attract him. How to loose weight. Hot looks even you can afford. Women are inundated with messages about how-to-look-hot-to-attract-a-good-fuck.

    And I actually those messages are part of this; that young men see/hear/absorb that endless barbie-doll shiz, and part of the DIY-PUA manuals are rooted in reflecting this.

    But here’s the real problem with this topic: A PUA is a very real thing. I’ve watched them. They do depend on charm, on listening. They have this uncanny ability to channel their victim’s wants, reflect it back. They make that person feel loved, admired, important. I’ve watched PUA’s work a victim for days, even weeks. And once they get what the want — the conquest, the bedding — they vanish. This is not the work of a can’t-get-laid; that’s desperate. PUA’s are after conquest; I suspect some suffer some sort of sexual addiction, and the variety is part of the need. But there’s a difference between the PUA and the rape culture being promoted in this failed Kickstarter.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to zic says:

      Yeah. And some of the PUA are totally into raping people. Those are the people whose seduction manuals I detest. (note how I’m not linking them?).

      For them, it’s all about getting a woman so aroused that she can’t say no. (and, preferably, finding a woman who will be so ashamed of getting that aroused that she’ll convince herself it was her own fault for having gotten raped). They’re very good at this trick (thank god, not so good at teaching it!)Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to zic says:

      “PUA’s are after conquest; I suspect some suffer some sort of sexual addiction, and the variety is part of the need.”

      Great point. Sex addiction is part of this in some cases. As is an over-sized need for unhealthy ego-gratification throught acts of conquest.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        I would say mostly the latter.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Will Truman says:

          Yeah, more the latter. But there is (IMO) a spectrum of sexual addiction. The psych community seems divided on whether there should be a “sexual addiction” diagnosis in the DSM. If there were, it would be applied pretty regularly, IMO. Some of the work I’ve done tells me sex and the need for unhealthy sexual relationships is the source of and originates from a lot of pathological mental states. In other words, a lot (not all, of course) of sexual behavior that we observe, IMO, is neither natural (defined however you want) or caused by psychologically healthy states. But that is all anecdata, so it isn’t an argument worth discussing.Report

  12. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Mock her body and physical appearance in public, to her face, in the hope of lowering her own self-image. This will make you seem far cooler in comparison, of course, and will ease her hesitation to go home with you.

    I’m not going to defend everything this guy said, because I haven’t seen it, but I suspect that there’s some misinterpretation going on here. Definitely by its critics, and probably by many of its supporters, as well. People have this image of someone just saying something malicious or blatantly hurtful, and I don’t think that’s what’s being advocated here.

    The truth is that most girls love it when you give them crap, as long as there’s no malice in it. They almost always giggle when I tease them. Sometimes a girl’s eyes will light up as she declares that she’s never going to speak to me again, and she keeps smiling and doesn’t walk away. Then I give her a hard time about lacking conviction, and she giggles some more, and life is good.

    I don’t know. Maybe they are advocating being a jerk. And maybe that works even better. I’ve given up on trying to predict others’ behavior introspectively. But there’s definitely a kernel of truth here.Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      There is some truth to this. The impulse to be a good sport leads a lot of women to wonder why they spent part of an evening giggling at an asshole who, not content merely to mock and belittle her, also wants to believe she was enjoying it.Report

    • Yeah, not buying this. At all. What you’re discussing is, essentially, casual flirting. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a woman (even a feminist!) who claims that casual flirting is misogynistic. What I am writing about are methods that are in no way intended to be fun or flirtatious.

      Example:

      In his sprawling tome How to Get The Women You Desire In to Bed:
      A Down And Dirty Guide To Dating And Seduction For The Man Who’s Fed Up With Being Mr. Nice Guy
      , Ross Jeffries, the Guru of Getting Some (and no, I am not making this up), offers several suggestions for when a woman in a bar is initially not interested in you. Or, as Ross puts it,

      “Here are some wicked replies to her bitchy putdowns, to let her know just who’s in charge!

      Her: I”M REALLY NOT INTERESTED IN YOU.
      ….
      Alternative 3: YOU: (Gazing at her upper lip) Gee. It’s amazing what they can do with electrolysis these days.

      Alternative 4: YOU: (pull out a tampon which you should carry for just this purpose) Here. It’s gotta be that time of the month!”

      Ross also, by the way, is a proponent of using hypnosis to “get the girl in the sack” if the coveted tampon maneuver somehow doesn’t quite do the trick. However, he does offer this advice for would be hypnotists, which (again) I swear I am not making up:

      One last caution before I lay out this technology. In some states, rape is defined as “intercourse of a woman, by a man, by force, threat of force, or OTHERWISE WITHOUT CONSENT.” In some states, if you get a date drunk, and fuck her when she’s passed out, you could find your self facing a rape rap.

      Likewise for hypnosis. I am not an attorney, and am not going to give you legal advice, but I warn you here and now of the possible consequences and am not about to be held responsible if you get slapped with charges. YOU USE THESE METHODS AT YOUR OWN RISK. (And I wouldn’t have to give this disclaimer/warning if these methods didn’t work as well as they do.)

      Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I stand corrected. That is pretty dickish. And then just plain nuts.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Though clever advertising. These techniques work so well they’re practically illegal!Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Yeah, I used to think the same way as you, because there is a thin veneer of useful advice in those books, and the people defending them always lead with it. ‘We just tell men to be self-confident! We tell them not to pin their hopes on one women, to just ask and move on if she says no, don’t dwell on it!’

          Yeah, they do teach that, and that is, generally, fine. And they _also_ tell men to do a lot of other shit. A lot of very horrible stuff.

          And it’s not just the rapey stuff that’s horrible. The entire premise seems to be that women choose to have sex with men who are higher status than them…so the way to ‘win’ is to _lower their perception of their status_ via emotional manipulation.

          While this would be somewhat problematic in an ideal world, it’s even more problematic in a world where women have been clawing their way up for equal status for a century and aren’t actually there, and are constantly subject to body-image nonsense from advertising, and in generally tend to _already have_ a lot of self-esteem issues directly caused by men.

          PUA comes off rather like a book that encourages employers to try to convince black people to work for less wages by convincing the black person they are generally stupider than the white people are, so should accept less pay. It would be problematic _without_ any history. With history, it’s a lot worse.Report

      • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        There really is a lot of variation. From the really, really bad stuff that really does act as a guide for being a rapist and domestic abuser, to stuff that might almost be decent if it weren’t packaged to appeal to a toxic subculture. With the middle falling where Tod puts Hoinsky, not actually advocating rape but definitely promoting boundary violation and misogyny.

        I have no problem with a Kickstarter ban, though, because it’s culture that’s toxic. As I mentioned, that means that even the sort-of OK stuff is presented in a toxic fashion. And the culture is REALLY toxic. This is a subculture where “don’t rape people” has to be packaged as “resorting to forceful tactics to overcome last minute resistance is a sign of failure, an admission that you’re not confident in you skill to deal with that resistance.”Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Alternative 4: YOU: (pull out a tampon which you should carry for just this purpose) Here. It’s gotta be that time of the month!”

        WTF? If any guy ever uses that line, he deserves to be kicked in the nuts. Repeatedly.

        I was blissfully ignorant of all this PUA stuff before reading your post Tod. While I can’t say it surprises me, given all the barely concealed misogynism that’s floating out there in the public square these days, I’m repulsed. And totally hoping my 23 -year old stepson knows better.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Michelle says:

          This is anecdotal, but:

          The twenty-somethings I know who display this sort of misogyny learned it at their Daddy’s knees. I don’t see it from young men who had parents in loving, healthy relationships, I don’t see it in young men who were raised by their mothers.

          But philandering Dad’s provoke it in a few kids I know.

          On his TV show, T. Berry Brazelton used to tell parents one of the most important things a father can do is love the mother. Perhaps he was on to more the I realized at the time.Report

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to zic says:

            I agree with what you’re describing, but I’d put the mechanics of it differently: misogynists failed to learn how to treat women well at their father’s knees. It’s in us to use others, and the father can steer us away from our natural impulse by loving the mother.Report

        • Avatar Angela in reply to Michelle says:

          Ditto. Both not really knowing the PUA culture, and having my jaw drop when I read Alternatives 3 and 4.
          I don’t really know how I would have responded as a shy, quiet, not very socially adept 20 year old. At 50+ I’m much more confident, but also not the target.

          This is sad on so many levels.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Michelle says:

          WTF? If any guy ever uses that line, he deserves to be kicked in the nuts. Repeatedly.

          That was precisely my reaction as well.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Michelle says:

          Also, wouldn’t people find it weird that the dude was carrying around a tampon.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            Probably, unless he was certified in wilderness first aid, search and rescue. Most of the folk I know who do that — who go out, putting themselves in danger to find lost and injured souls in the woods — carry tampons in their kits. First, some woman might need it. But as valid, some injured person who’s bleeding heavily might need it; they’re good at absorbing lots of blood quickly, particularly for their size.

            Somehow, I don’t think there’s a big venn overlap between PUAs and wilderness medicine.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            Probably, unless he was certified in wilderness first aid, search and rescue. Most of the folk I know who do that — who go out, putting themselves in danger to find lost and injured souls in the woods — carry tampons in their kits. First, some woman might need it. But as valid, some injured person who’s bleeding heavily might need it; tampons are good at absorbing lots of blood quickly, small and light, and sealed in sterile packages.

            Somehow, I don’t think there’s a big venn overlap between PUAs and wilderness medicine.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      I think the truth of it is that women generally are attracted to confidence, at least in casual-meeting situations. There’s no moment in most men’s lives when they’re less confident than when they’re approaching an attractive woman for the first time. The behaviour that Brandon is describing communicates confidence.

      These books are selling self-confidence. (Notice the origin of the phrase “con man”.) They’re doing so in good and bad ways. It’s good to tell the nervous guy that he can do this. The whole bit about casting a wide net is kind of demeaning to women, but it does help the guy to prepare for 9 defeats and still keep his confidence up on attempt #10. The ugly side of those books is the idea of raising your confidence by tearing down someone else’s. Either underminng their worth in your mind (all this “target” talk), or undermining their worth in their minds (with belittling comments etc.).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:

        I’ve been trying to avoid this thread, but alas!

        I think the truth of it is that women generally are attracted to confidence

        Surely it’s true that women who are attracted to confidence are, well, attracted to confidence. But are all women? Aren’t lots of women completely turned off it? Or maybe the way confidence is expressed? I think that’s the problem with the guy’s views – that since he wants to get laid, he advocates laying that heavy bullshit on all women until he finds one that won’t kick him in the nuts. Then, after finding one that doesn’t, he keeps laying it on. And on. And on. It may be fine (in very limited sense) to act that way with some women (I mean, he gets laid, doesn’t he, so there’s the proof!), but to adopt that strategy as a general approach is … well … completely dickish.

        By contrast, most of the action I got back in the day was a result of not trying to get laid. I had conversations with women that weren’t pheromone soaked. Which points to an important distinction about what this guy’s expressing. He’s not primarily interested in getting laid, he wants to dominate another person to achieve his own desires. Or so it seems to me.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

          One thing. People keep saying women are attracted to confidence. In general i’d agree even though i’m a man with little experience being a woman. But the thing is men are attracted to confidence. People in general are attracted to confidence, there is nothing special about women in this.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

            Exactly.

            Or put another way: if his confidence was so devastatingly attractive, why would he need to repeatedly make physical contact with his “target” to establish a sexual connection!!!???!!?!Report

            • I will also reiterate a previous point. Look at the guy. Good-looking, winning smile. That makes him a poor spokesperson because if I looked like that and had a smile like that, I would (a) be more naturally confident and (b) not need the confidence as much to begin with (because attractive men who are quiet and reserved are not creepy and stalkerish the same way that unattractive men who are quiet and reserved are, they’re just “the quiet type”).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Back in “the good old days” in Steamboat Springs I used to hang with a guy who was so good looking women would literally flock to him at the bars. Part of his allure, no doubt, was his complete lack of self-awareness around how good looking he apparently was. He seemingly didn’t care. He was much more interested in talking about new mountain bike trails on a Friday night than playing the pickup-game.

                He also had tons of self-confidence. If my experiences with him were any barometer, he could have gotten laid whenever he wanted to. (Like buying donuts, ya know?) Now, sure, part of that was his good looks. But if he was a “player” I don’t think women would have been nearly as attracted to him.

                I had another friend who was also pretty good looking, very charismatic, and got laid all the time without ever consciously intending to. He was fun to be around, women liked to be around him, and he wasn’t opposed to sleeping with anyone who wanted to sleep with him.

                OK, I admit that’s probably too much information about a sensitive topic that requires some care to discuss. But the point is that if a person’s stated goal is to “get laid alot”, then they’re goal isn’t really to get laid alot.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                Just because someone outwardly is good looking doesn’t mean they feel good looking. You can have good features and looks without believing you do so it doesn’t matter that much. Plenty of good looking people have poor self-images and low self-esteem.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                Sure, there are counterexamples. But looks matter, when it comes to self-image. It is likely that had I been more attractive growing up in particular, I would have been treated better, which in turn would have given me more social confidence, which would have lead to more social exposure, which would have created something that real-me didn’t have.

                If this dude was fat growing up, though, that would change the calculation considerably. Regardless of what he looks like now.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                I feel ya on that. In my earlier comment about my Steamboat buddy the part I left out was the role played by being interested in things other than getting laid. Personally speaking here, being interesting explains about 9/10ths of what we’re talking about. And I don’t mean presenting yourself as “interesting”. I mean actually (genuinely, authentically, for-realsies) finding your own life interesting. Most people don’t see their own lives as all that interesting, so they’re attracted to someone who does.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                They don’t make commercials about the most interesting man in the world for nothing, ya know.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Ehh, what I wrote isn’t quite right… Close enough.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Stillwater says:

                rofl. I’m heartily glad my life isn’t interesting.
                No one’s tried to poison me at work…
                Or knife me, and my boss wouldn’t dream
                of transporting me to work with a bag on my head.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m reading Terry Pratchett’s Interesting Times, right now. The refrain throughout the book is “May you live in interesting times”. And the characters in the book do. But it doesn’t work out so well for them. So far, no one’s gotten laid.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Stillwater says:

              Or put another way: if his confidence was so devastatingly attractive, why would he need to repeatedly make physical contact with his “target” to establish a sexual connection!!!???!!?!

              Well, for one, touching signals confidence. Many men are afraid to touch women without permission (or without her touching him first, which is essentially permission). Touching her proves that you’re not afraid to do so.

              Aside from that, it works. Years ago, I was on a first date with a girl for whom I had somewhat lukewarm feelings. She was cute, in the way that almost all twenty-year-old girls are, but not really beautiful, and not terribly bright. I had enjoyed spending time with her up to that point, but just wasn’t that impressed overall. Then, while we were walking together, she grabbed my arm. And magic happened, and my earlier judgment of her desirability was null and void.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                This is pretty spot on. If you can touch a woman in away that is somewhat sexual or at least romantically affectionate but at the same time doesn’t make her feel awkward or worse than you can create chemistry. A lot of men fear touching women, so you come across as confident. The problem is that a lot of men engage in the wrong sort of touching or don’t stop when told to.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

                you can also create chemistry by taking her on roller coasters. And that’s more foolproof, methinks.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq says:

                In fact, ‘touching’ would probably be an entire chapter in the hypothetical book other people were talking about of non-asshat dating advice.

                This is why I somewhat lament the current lack of two-person dancing. Frankly, the entire premise of that was to get two people to touch each other and stand really close for several minutes, with the option of staring into each other’s eyes.

                Instead, everyone just sorta flails around, sometimes touching, but usually by accident, and in ways that are more jokingly sexual than romantic. Or does line dancing. I have no problem with either of those, but they aren’t very good ‘Can we move this relationship to a physical level?’ indicators.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to DavidTC says:

                That moment when the two dancers realize that their bodies like moving together. It’s amazing. It’s tougher to pull off when line dancing, but if it happens, then you and your whole row head back to your apartment and see what happens!Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to DavidTC says:

                “This is why I somewhat lament the current lack of two-person dancing. ”

                You mean, socially-acceptable rape activity in front of a large crowd while music plays?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                I find it strange that one might need to touch a person of sexual interest to convey confidence.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to greginak says:

            I think I struggle with this; mostly what does ‘confidence’ mean?

            Too often, we misconstrue it to mean ‘social ease.’ Yet I know many people who are not socially at ease, but when you talk to them about their interest and expertise, they express tremendous confidence.

            This world takes all kinds. And there are definitely women who like the smooth talkers. But most of the women I know like men how are confident based on actual knowledge and accomplishment beyond the skills of the PUA; who is, after all, just another variety of con man.

            Isn’t that short for confidence man?Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to zic says:

              No, it’s not social ease. Never that. Confidence is what high school boys think makes beautiful high school girls (hence why folks love to look at movie stars’ high school yearbooks).
              It’s that “I’m big, I matter, and you’re gonna do what I say.”

              Ever told someone to go straight through that red light… and had them do it?
              That’s confidence.

              You do have to have actual knowledge to back yourself up… or be very, very wise about making it up on the spot.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to zic says:

              Also, a lot of what folks would call “confidence” is probably just controlled mania.
              (yup, you knew there had to be a reason for that illness, didn’tcha?).

              Chatty and talkative, and convincing… and when you get home, it’s all fridge logic.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

          “I think the truth of it is that women generally are attracted to confidence, at least in casual-meeting situations.”

          You killed me by eliminating the dependent clause. I think (hope) that men and women can recognize the value in a sensitive or even insecure person. But that value is not easily apparent in in casual-meeting situations. At the sock hop or whatever, you’re looking for overt signs of connection and, yes, attractiveness, when there’s no other data from which you can determine a person’s compatibility. Cute guy makes eye contact with cute girl, who returns eye contact. In a superficial environment such as the PUA is describing, that’s all you have to go on. Does that mean you should look for gals only in such an environment, or that the PUA traits indicate worth outside that environment? Of course not. If you’re playing the odds in search of a one-night stand, though, the stink of desperation is not your friend.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Stillwater says:

          “not trying to get laid”
          Confidence is confidence, and you probably tended to be a lot more comfortable and confident when you weren’t trying so hard.

          (this is part of why a lot of men cheat — they discover they’re a lot more confident/desirable after they’re in a relationship).

          Also, women really dig good conversationalists.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Stillwater says:

          and actually being confident? you don’t act like an asshole. you don’t act indifferent. you have fun, take it easy, and be charming.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kimmi says:

            Exactly. Having a good time can be an aphrodisiac. Pretending to have a good time so you can get laid? Not an aphrodisiac.Report

            • You can’t compare real-confident versus feigned-confident, though, or real-good-time versus fake-good-time. For a lot of people who are drawn to PUA and other programs, the choice is between fake-confident and fake-relaxed versus transparently self-conscious and transparently uptight.

              For a lot of people, fake is better than transparent. Fake has its own downsides, of course. I learned, for instance, that I can fake having a good time at a loud bar even though I won’t be having a good time. But doing so does put me in a position where I am putting my “worst foot forward” by putting myself in places that I am not enjoying myself. Like, repeatedly. Also, it’s damn exhausting.

              However, to say that I had a lackluster romantic life would not be an inaccurate statement. It wasn’t putting myself out there that contributed to this nearly as much as persistently doing things that made me relaxed. Namely, being a fuddy-duddy homebody and going to social events dominated by guys. The latter was better than the former (I did meet real live girls at anime conventions), but it would have been better if I’d pushed myself into social situations and pretended to have a good time.

              I met my wife somewhere I didn’t want to be, and I acted more comfortable than I let on when I did.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Well, it’s a tricky problem, I think. Chicken and egg and all that. All I’m saying is that having a genuinely good time (which by definition cannot be artificially constructed) is more aphrodisiacal than faking a good time, even tho faking a good time can lead to aphrodisiacal results.

                Maybe the better way for me to say what I want to say is that the first priority of any person is to find their own life interesting, in advance of an expectation that anyone else will find it interesting and be attracted to them. Without that, all the rest is a game.

                I’m of course, not saying that’s easy. It actually strikes me as more akin to a spiritual issue than anything else. And spiritual paths are hard. But I’ve known guys who lead the most mundane of lives when you describe them, but are fantastically engaging and enigmatic when you meet them. I’ve also met guys who lead descriptively mundane lives who are in fact just as mundane as the description would imply, but are completely content in their mundanity.

                This whole topic, to me anyway, revolves around what it means for a person (an individual, mind!) to lead a good life. I’m libertarian enough to know that know else can determine that for another.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Extroverts meet extroverts all the time. They congregate constantly.

                It’s the introverts that have to deal with stuff like “I have no desire to be here, I have no desire to speak to someone I don’t know, I would rather be home alone… well… no. Being alone sucks. But you’ve got to wonder if it sucks more than being in this noisy, sweaty, hazy room which, quite honestly, strikes me as the type of place that the people I’d tend to enjoy most would avoid if they possibly could.”

                (signal for another round)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Exactly. Man, I felt that last night going to someone’s home to have dinner with them. Some of my wife’s dear friends. I had to give myself a talking to before we got there. “These are wonderful people and you’ll find something interesting to talk about.”

                The engineer and I talked for an hour about the type of toilet I should build in Texas.Report

              • What conclusion did you come to? Inquiring minds want to know!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                He said the best solution was a non-composting toilet that dried out the poop in the most expeditious way possible while still allowing for accumulation of solids. I asked him what he thought that system would look like. He said I should make up some prototypes, some small models, and see how they perform.Report

              • I genuinely love the fact that there are people who are fanatical about toilet architecture. Not that I want to talk to one of them for an hour about it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                The whole conversation started due to an offhand reference (by my wife, I think) to a book called the Toilet Papers. Which we own. It’s a pretty substantial book outlining all the ways known to humankind (circa 1970) to dispose of human poop.

                Next thing you know, an hour’s gone by!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                And to his credit, his area of study as well as current job are in water-related engineering. So this stuff was right up his alley.Report

              • For what it’s worth, Still, I consider this exchange more conversational than confrontational. I agree with a lot of what you say. I’m honing in on the other parts because, well, that makes for more interesting conversation! But I should say…

                Maybe the better way for me to say what I want to say is that the first priority of any person is to find their own life interesting, in advance of an expectation that anyone else will find it interesting and be attracted to them.

                My first advice to a young man would be “Find ways to be interesting.” I am not sure I would say “be interesting to yourself” but “be interesting to other people.” Not just girls you’re trying to hit on, but other people in general. Know the parts of you that other people might find interesting. Cultivate that (and not just the niche stuff like anime or building computers or whatnot).

                Without that, all the rest is a game.

                Which, to be fair, many would prefer to riding the bench. After long enough, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’m gonna stick with the conversational parts then. No confrontations necessary. People do what they do, they make the best choices they can. I’m no different, actually, since I’m sure if an outsider had access to all my stored metadata they’d just flatten me under the weight of judgment and a bunch of shoulds.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                Oddly, I’ve never had a problem being confident in the moment, despite being racked with insecurity in most of the preceding and succeeding moments. I don’t know if that’s real our feigned confidence, but it’s always worked just fine.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Chris says:

                It took me a year and a half to ask the robot who would eventually become my wife out.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                My wife and I made one another’s acquaintance and started talking “marriage” within two weeks.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Pinky says:

        I think Pinky is right on the nose. Stillwater is correct that not all women are attracted to confidence, and Greg is correct that confidence has a more general attractive quality outside of this context, but in this context, that women do value confidence – and are often repelled by its absense – is important. As is the numbers aspect, pushed by PUA-types.

        And that’s a reason for a great deal of success that some people have with these sorts of programs. They get people who often otherwise wouldn’t to (a) establish confidence and (b) put themselves out there. Both (a) and (b) are assisted somewhat to having a program. A program is a plan, which both encourages action and establishes confidence.

        A lot of the rest is window-dressing. In some cases, counterproductive window-dressing. Sometimes, though, window-dressing that (the form of, or illusion of, a “plan”) sufficiently compensates for the counterproductive aspect of it.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Pinky says:

        “I think the truth of it is that women generally are attracted to confidence… These books are selling self-confidence.”

        I think this right here is where my disconnect with the seduction community begins.

        In my experience, most of the women I have known have indeed been attracted to confident men. (Though I should add the caveat that this might well be selective sampling on my part.) But here’s the thing: None of the things that these manuals or forums teach shows up as confidence in my book.

        The memorized lines, the choreographed routines with wingmen, the creating of fictitious personas, the attempting to fool a woman into liking you, the purposefully trying to make her feel less about herself so that you seem more desirable… all of these things scream “I have no self-confidence” to me.

        So I would argue that these books do not really sell self-confidence. I would argue that they sell the unnecessary confirmation for a guy who could really use confidence that who he is as a human being doesn’t warrant any.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Valid. I guess I should say that the approach sells self-confidence books, rather than giving the purchaser self-confidence. But in a narrow range, the appearance of self-confidence is a good first approximation of self-confidence.

          And am I the only guy who can’t handle rejection? Lordy, it’s like a punch in the gut. If the mantra of “play the odds” gets you to keep trying after being rejected multiple times, then good for you. It seems like a small point, but the first rule of “getting any woman you want” is that you’re going to get less than 5% of the women you want. In that sense, the advice is realistic. Not the garbage about tearing down her self-esteem, or the fake personas; that’s pathetic. I haven’t seen anyone on this thread support that stuff, and I sure don’t.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          The memorized lines

          I use memorized lines. It’s tough to come up with clever things to say under pressure. So when I think up something that gets a good reaction, I remember it and use it again. Why would I just throw it away? It’s all stuff I thought up myself, but I don’t think that there’s really anything wrong with using other people’s lines if you can’t think up your own.

          Before I built up a decent repertoire, I spent years struggling to start conversations and keep them going for more than a minute or two. And this was a vicious cycle, since the fact that I couldn’t keep a conversation going, combined with the fact that this made conversations with strangers very stressful for me, meant that I didn’t get much practice.

          Some people are socially gifted enough that this isn’t an issue for them. And bully for them. But those who aren’t so lucky, borrowed lines can help bootstrap the process of acquiring those skills. And that leads to real confidence.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Or, you could work on learning how to be inventive and flexible.
            (They do have classes for it).
            Because that’s really interesting, and fun to be around.

            (the problem with /pickup lines/ is that guys get one, and want to use it everywhere. if you’re actually bothering to tune what you’ve got to the person you’re talking to, that’s already an improvement).Report

  13. Leaving aside what he actually has to say, why would anyone take dating advice from this guy? If you’re studiously taking advice from anyone, you take it from the ugly guy who got the hot girlfriend. Not the guy who could walk up to many girls and say “Hey baby, what’s your sign?” and do reasonably well primarily on the basis of good looks and a winning smile.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will Truman says:

      Leaving aside what he actually has to say, why would anyone take dating advice from this guy?

      Yeah, I hear that new book by Mel Gibson, How to Improve Relations with Your Jewish Friends isn’t moving so well.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Will Truman says:

      There are pigs out there giving dating advice. They don’t look hot.
      Their advice is how to rape people. It’s not about getting girlfriends.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kimmi says:

        I think you’re painting with a broad brush there.

        In particular, Michael Savage had written this thing about how to pick up liberal women.
        A lot of it was really spot on.
        It was absolutely hilarious too.
        But a lot of the reason it was so hilarious was that it was so spot on.

        I don’t even like Michael Savage, but I think that one is a worthwhile read; more in the mold of Russell Baker, but without the subtlety and charm, more direct and visceral.
        Makes me think that maybe Savage finally found his medium.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

      I think that picture’s taken at a particularly flattering angle. He appears from other pictures to have a build to which the term “husky” might be applied.Report

  14. Avatar Fnord says:

    You have a timeline a bit wrong. By the the controversy came to Kickstarter’s attention, Hoinsky’s campaign was almost over; by the time the decision was made, it was funded and the money paid out. So Hoinsky’s book wasn’t pulled in any meaningful sense; he got his money. Kickstarter’s policy is forward looking. Part of the apology was for not acting faster/being more aware in the first place.Report

  15. Avatar Roger says:

    Perhaps shallow people deserve each other. Perhaps not.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger says:

      I agree with this comment.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

      Roger, good to see you back.

      {{And I want to give you a heads up: I’ve been working on some new and improved arguments against your view of libertarianism which utterly destroy everything you’ve been saying over the last few years. Well, OK, not everything. They don’t address all the stuff I agree with (which is quite a lot, actually), and several things I can’t refute, and some other important views that aren’t really covered by my N&I arguments. But you’ll see. I’m just waiting for the right thread to drop en on ya. Beware! }}Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Roger says:

      See, that’s what I think about this PUA stuff. If you think that what PUA guys do is rape, then you’re probably not the kind of person that PUA stuff works on. If you don’t think it’s rape, then…you aren’t being raped.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Hey, look, it’s the guy who didn’t bother to read the comments.

        If you don’t think it’s rape, then…you aren’t being raped.

        Because there are absolutely no circumstances where people might be raped and yet might not understand that’s what happened to them. For the most obvious example, being unconscious.

        And you’re about to assert that isn’t part of PUA culture…when there are explicit quotes from PUA books having to point out not to do that. When you have to actually _tell_ people that ‘hypnotizing her is okay, but make sure she stays awake, or you could be facing a rape charge’…yeah, that’s a problem. (And I like the fact the problem isn’t that it is _is_ rape, the problem is you might be _charged_ with rape, but check your local laws!)

        And I know in asshat world (I am assuming you are Asshattian, probably a native from the providence of Privilege by your accent.) there’s no such thing as manipulating people, and that everyone is fully functional at all times and no one can ever be duped into anything and everyone deserves everything they don’t manage to overcome (Until, of course, it happens to _you_, at which point you will scream bloody-murder), but most of us are smart enough to know damaging people’s self-esteem to get them to have sex with you is, at the least, _unethical and something to discourage_, if not actually ‘rape’.

        More to the point, you have completely failed to notice that almost no one here (Well, Kimmi, but Kimmi is a troll) is calling everything PUA do ‘rape’.

        We are saying the PUA culture is a horrible misogynist toxin, a blight on society, promoted by complete asshats, which treat’s women’s vaginas as some sort of goal to be won, and is full of advice that is appears to lead _very close_ to rape. If it’s okay to cheat and lie and manipulate to ‘win a vagina’ for the night, it’s hard to see why it’s unacceptable to sometimes just sorta take one. It’s like cheating at solitaire…who does it hurt? (Besides the raped woman, but the entire point of this is near sociopathy towards women and failing to see them as actual people at all.)

        Men may, indeed, have to take that last step themselves, the books _usually_ stop short of that, but that’s still a horrible place for a culture to take people to, and that culture deserves to be stamped on as hard as possible.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

          Or, to put it another way, PUA books are as close to promoting rape culture as humanly possible without actually promoting committing rape. Usually. Although sometimes that line is very _very_ thin.Report

  16. Avatar Damon says:

    Gotta laugh at the whole kickstater thing. Hey, it’s their site, they can do whatever….but..

    I really think this is a bit overblown. I’ve read up on some of this stuff..hey, if you’re in the market, it’s hard not to be seduced by “you’ll be banging super models asap” sell points, but there are grains of truth in these approaches/techniques/attitudes.

    I know, i’ve used some of the techniques and they work. I don’t know what it is, but a lot of sucessfull women love it when guys are indifferent to them.Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Damon says:

      So you consider advice that recommends putting the girls hand on your penis, even if she resists, to be good advice? Advice that claims that the fact that she goes to a room or your home indicates that she is consenting to sex? Because that is the sort of advice this guy gives, which goes a bit beyond “be confident, be clean, and playfully insult a girl to get down her defenses.”Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Damon says:

      yeah. they work. if you’re in the market for raping people.
      (note: I’m not saying you’ve been reading those manuals, in particular).Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Damon says:

      Did you read the OP or the comments. You’re not addressing arguments or specific claims. You’re just saying that you disagree with the arguments while ignoring them.Report

  17. Avatar Kimmi says:

    There are some people that I won’t quote, for love or money.
    I find it depressing that folks around here are quoting them.
    Rapists ought not to be allowed to be giving dating advice.

    At some point, even quoting an evil person is problematic.
    Because even if you speak on how bad they are, you’re
    still giving them more oxygen — more places where some
    vulnerable person might read the advice and decide to take it.Report

  18. I am late to this topic, and haven’t had a chance to read all the comments.

    However, I couldn’t agree more with the original post, though I am not personally acquainted with the ugly material he so bravely perused.

    And I haven’t had a lot of respect for Ms. Bustillos since I participated in an online book discussion of Roberto Bolano’s “2666” with her and watched her defend his repeated use of the word “faggot”.Report

  19. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    For a lighter look at things, here is Conan O’Brien interviewing Mystery, a pick up guru. The dude’s clothes are laughable. I will say that, based solely on the interview, his advice does not seem too creepy. I have not read any of his actual books, so that could be worse. This is a few years old.
    http://youtu.be/dplb8D3RhdwReport

  20. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I had a friend who did some of the PUA stuff when it went “mainstream” (and by mainstream I mean that there was some MTV show about it). As I understood it, it was relatively harmless stuff. Or, at least what he took away from it was. It included things like:
    1.) Wear an identifying object (it had a special term which I’ve long since forgotten). The goal is to separate yourself out from the crowd. So he wore a pooka shell necklace. In 2007. As a 23-year-old. Which I guess worked, if being knowing as the 23-year-old dude wearing a pooka shell necklace in 2007 counts as “working”.
    2.) Leave them wanting more. The goal here was to dismiss yourself from a conversation at its height to entice the girl to seek you out to finish it later. A tad manipulative, I suppose, but not much different than other aspects of the dating game.
    3.) Carry yourself with confidence. Seemingly a no-brainer, but also much, much easier said than done.
    4.) Eye contact. Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact.

    What I gathered was that it was a combination of basic advice coupled with a few novelties that may or may not work, packaged and branded by a bunch of weirdos promising sex. Reading here, it seems that it has gone in some really new and weird directions.

    Thing is, I wouldn’t be particularly interested in dating the kind of women who this crap might work on. Then again, if you’re just trying to get laid, I guess that doesn’t matter.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

      “Wear an identifying object (it had a special term which I’ve long since forgotten)”
      –charm point. (oh, that’s the Japanese term).Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kazzy says:

      What I gathered was that it was a combination of basic advice coupled with a few novelties that may or may not work, packaged and branded by a bunch of weirdos promising sex. Reading here, it seems that it has gone in some really new and weird directions.

      It’s not just the pickup techniques, which indeed get very disturbing the farther and farther you go. The surface ones, the ones they always lead with telling others about, are fine.

      It’s the emotional manipulation and the trust-abusey controlling stuff that is the problem, and the advice just keeps getting weirder and weirder and a little rapey at the end.

      But that’s not really the problem. The problem is more the entire culture of constantly churning through women. Their entire set of tactics is designed to make women off-balance enough that the woman will sleep with them, with absolutely no _attempt_ to dating the women. (Which, as I said earlier, would be fine if that was actually the _expectation_ of the relationship. It’s usually not.)

      The entire culture is to see women as prizes…hell, not even that. You _keep_ a prize. These are like frickin video game unlocks. I compared it to high school above, but that’s actually unfair to male highschoolers. If _they_ find a woman willing to have sex with them, they keep her.

      <not an actual advance in equality>’Hey, what if instead of seeing women as possessions to be fought over and won and controlled after we won them, we saw them as _disposable_ single-use possessions? They’re not like a car, they’re like a Kleenex!'</not an actual advance in equality>

      And, like I said, it’s sad, because there is a lot of good advice in those books to actually interact with women for men who aren’t very good at it. It’s sorta like if, instead of ‘How to survive in the wilderness’ books, we instead had a bunch of ‘How to rob a bank and flee from justice into the wilderness’ books.Report

  21. This whole discussion reminds me a bit of “The Rules,” that horrible book that came out several years ago for women who wanted to land a husband. I remember leafing through it and thinking “I could see how this would work, if your primary goal was to get married to an asshole.”Report

  22. Avatar b-psycho says:

    Or they could just legalize prostitution…Report

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