“Game” and The Price of the Pick Up Artist Movement


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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296 Responses

  1. Avatar morat20 says:

    Unrelated, but “neuro-linguistic programming” was part of the plot of Snow Crash, which should be read entirely for the opening scene.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    Tod – will read this when I get some time, but wanted you to know I did a quick skim and fixed “Rogers” to “Rodger”, but you may want to make sure I caught them all and correctly got plurals and possessives.Report

  3. Solid post, Tod. Aside from all the valid insights and analysis, I think the best takeaway from it is this:


    (I’m sure if I type MRA enough times, their spidey senses will start tingling. Just more Law of Large Numbers.)Report

  4. Avatar j r says:

    Tod, I applaud the fact that you chose to engage with the subject matter as opposed to simply assuming the worse because game appears to conflict with you world view. You get a lot right here. However, you also get a fair amount wrong.

    The fundamental error that you are making regards causality. You assume that game flows from misogyny; therefore it is flawed. That is not really the case. Game is fundamentally an empirical exercise. Go out and interact with women and see what works and what doesn’t. At, the end of the day, that is all game is. Where it gets complicated is that there are a whole bunch of affiliated ideologies and internet spaces that are close to, and often affiliated with, game sites.

    I could say a lot more, but perhaps too much in a comment. If you would publish, I would be happy to write something longer offering my understanding of the world of game and its relationship to misogyny.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      oh, sure. But see, what empirically works for some men is bonafide rape. And when Those Men sit down to write a book about “game”… well, it isn’t a Nice Book that teaches Impressionable Youngsters Nice Things.

      … when the book mentions “you should check the legality of these actions before doing them”… I’d call that a redflag.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Kim, every time this topic comes up you start talking about rape. In the past, I’ve asked you to provide some actual proofs to your claims. And you’ve not done that.

        I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. If you want to back up what you’re saying, I would welcome that. Otherwise, I really have nothing more to say to you about this.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        j r, in this case, the evidence is quoted in the OP.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        OK, let’s think about this logically.

        The practice of game is akin to magical hypnotic rape, but game doesn’t work anyway.

        Pick one, because both can’t be true.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        My own morals prevent me from citing rapists.
        Providing a forum where folks can obtain tips on how to rape someone?
        On how to legally rape someone?
        Not my cup of tea.

        Chris’s right, though. Evidence is quite apparent in Tod’s OP.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Some men are pigs (this is part of the Chinese Zodiac classification, so i’m not using it perjoratively, simply as a personality typification scheme). They’re never going to be the man that a “10” (using Jeffries term) would look at and want to talk to (they’re ICKY). So… he recommends tricking them, using techniques to remove their ability to Not Consent. The techniques work for him (he uses them on 16 year olds — yes, he ages it up for the books), and for men like him — people who put a good deal of effort into learning how to “pose as alphas.”

        Same technique works just awfully for a dog — a guy who’d be okay enough to get someone anyhow, if he just acted with a bit more confidence.

        However, producing one more rapist is fucked up, and I have severe problems with Jeffries starting an entire movement to create them.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        Kim’s attitude is that any time you convince a woman to have sex, it’s rape.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        far from it. it’s when she doesn’t want to have sex with a guy,
        but the guy is having sex with her anyway — despite her words/actions to the contrary.

        [Also, if you’re talking about hypnotizing a girl into not being able to say no:
        yeah, that’s rape.]Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        In the past, I’ve asked you to provide some actual proofs to your claims. And you’ve not done that.

        Take it from someone who’s been around here a while, we’ve all had that experience with Kimmie.Report

      • Avatar ktward says:


        You’re very snide and condescending toward both @kim and @zic anymore and it’s terribly unbecoming. (Ungentlemanly, one might say.) It seems terribly uncharacteristic of you. Did you fall down and smack your little head at some point?

        Despite this site’s noblest efforts, there still are precious few reliably regular commenters here who are women. Golly, I wonder why that is.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      JR, but a misogynistic man is more likely to be drawn to Game and its worse aspects because it confirms what he already believes. A man who think women are fully people and doesn’t buy all the crappy assumptions of the PUA community is much less likely to find what they are selling or at least the worst parts of it useful.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        And what are you basing that on? How many men do you know that have read game material or go to game sites or have taken a PUA bootcamp? Do you have any direct experience with these men or is that just an assumption?Report

    • Avatar RTod says:

      @j-r dude, that would be AWESOME.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Seriously, do a guest post. You can be certain the powers that be here would be delighted to air it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Start by telling Tod he’s fat and no one would ever want to post on his blog. Once you’ve destroyed his self-confidence, he’ll publish you whenever you want.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Maybe, but I wouldn’t tell him he’s fat and that his blog sucks. I might say something like, “Tod, I’d love to do a guest post. I would rather get something published here than on the most interesting blog on the internet.”

        Negs are a pretty good example of how game is largely misunderstood. A neg is not meant to crush self-confidence. Negs can be a little rude, but they are really more backhanded compliments. If a girl tells you that she is a model and you ask her if she means that she is a hand model, you are not calling her ugly. You are communicating a subtext that you recognize how attractive she is but that you’re going to tease her anyway.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Oh, I get it. The difference between an “neg” and an “insult” is if you’re offended by a neg, it’s because you’re a humorless bitch.

        That’s like the difference between “assault” and “playful roughhousing” is whether or not I considered it assault when I punched a guy in the face, not what he thought. Gotcha.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        All due respect, but that sounds like a really easy thing to miscommunicate. And, even when it does work, it’s only going to work on someone really freaking secure with who they are.

        If I was even remotely good at shit like that, I wouldn’t dare try and teach it to someone. Because, um, really? You say that to the wrong person, and you’re going to have your head in your hands.Report

    • Avatar Julian Sanchez says:

      “Game is fundamentally an empirical exercise. Go out and interact with women and see what works and what doesn’t. At, the end of the day, that is all game is.”

      A brief acquaintance who was into this stuff gave me a very similar description, so I’m inferring this is common self-description in PUA circles. It’s also actually pretty profoundly misogynist when you unpack it—or, if it reflects an approach to interpersonal relationships that’s not restricted to women, just sociopathic. Because it presupposes that—let’s generously exclude anything actually criminal—women should be regarded as columns of numbers in an unwitting “experiment,” in which the only criterion for conduct toward them is strategic efficacy. Have you tried prodding an insecurity, or saying your cat just died too in order to build an emotional bond at a vulnerable moment? It’s an opportunity to gather data! Whatever path through the adventure game dialog tree gets you past the treasure guard—try them all!

      Thinking this way requires either the ecumenical sociopath’s view that nobody else is fully human, or the presupposition that, at any rate, women aren’t.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @julian-sanchez — This article makes a similar point. I think it should go on some “must read for lonely nerds” list.


      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I’m sorry, but it’s not sociopathic to approach interactions with others as learning opportunities for how to maximize the benefits of future interactions. That’s just what sentient, and especially social creature are going to do. Read some Dennett – intentional stance and all that. It’s not exclusive of realizing commonalities with other entities – humanity, etc. But the latter is a more evolved, sophisticated form of consciousness that overlays atop learning, benefit-maximizing cataloguing of interactions. The lack of realization of equal humanity by one human for others is a shortcoming very worth critiquing, but simply a learning approach to social interactions is fundamental to consciousness in a social context. And they’re not either-or, so observing the learning approach to interactions does not indicate the lack of recognition of equal humanity. Just because you recognize the humanity of others does’t mean you fully understand how to approach interactions in ways that are more beneficial both for self and others. And, as the refrain here that rightly defends women’s prerogative to control their part in interactions with men so that they work for them and that don’t owe deference to the desires of men indicates, there isn;t anything wrong with approaching interactions with other humans with a significant if not primary aim of gaining benefit for self (though as people learn ho to do that, they tend to find that aiming to increase benefit for others aids in realizing benefit for self).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        That could be interpreted in more than one way, though. If it means “figure what works as manipulation”, then, yes, it’s ugly. If it means “figure out what works to lead to people being comfortable around you”, then, as Michael Drew says, it’s a way of increasing your social intelligence, as well as making you a more likable person.

        And part of this is learning what’s appropriate in different environments. To take a silly sort of example, I’ve had jobs where profanity was a normal part of discourse. My officemate there and I once had a debugging session that sounded, at first unconcously and the quite deliberately, like this scene from The Wire. (Probably NSFyourW.) I’ve had others where “crap” was considered risque. Learning and practicing that difference is a completely positive action.Report

      • Avatar ktward says:

        … it’s not sociopathic to approach interactions with others as learning opportunities for how to maximize the benefits of future interactions.

        Yes, but @j-r wasn’t referring to general social interactions which generally benefit everyone involved. He was specifically referring to men interacting with women according to “Game” protocol. Big difference.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        I’d say the difference is how we understand “benefits to future interactions”. If those benefits are communal – they are realized by both parties – then it’s all good. If the definition of “benefits” is limited to only the agent, then we’re entering sociopathologyland.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Given that above comment I’d also like to say something about PUA culture and libertarianism. If “market forces” are supposed to be to normative parameter for interpersonal relations (economic or otherwise, tho some libertarians seem to think that all interactions should be viewed in economic terms) then a “free” market conception of “the game” – one defined as the absence of physical coercion – seems to follow from libertarian philosophy. Which is just an addistional reason I identity as not-libertarian.Report

      • Avatar ktward says:

        Stillwater- yeah, we’re in agreement. But, by definition, The Game is not about communal benefits. The Game is about benefits to the [cough] men who play it.

        So, I’m pretty sure @j-r is firmly in, as you call it, sociopathologyland.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @ktward and @stillwater

        I’m not comfortable going there. I do think that there probably is value in learning to be more comfortable simply learning how to talk to women more comfortably for some men, and that some who try playing the game realize pretty early on that it’s actually sort of icky, and they decide to be genuine instead of players.

        But the intent on being a player, without regard for the consequences of your actions (and this applies to anyone, male or female) has a very short shelf life of quasi-acceptable social experiment for maturing adults, it crosses over into sociopathologyland and a very rough recovery somewhere down the road in actual grownups.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        If the definition of “benefits” is limited to only the agent, then we’re entering sociopathologyland.

        If it’s strictly limited that way throughout someone’s psyche (for severe want of a better term), yes. But we have to apply that caveat, because everyone routinely engages in social learning aimed strictly at producing benefits for self. That’s just how we cope with being alive. Non-sociopaths just also engage in learning meant to benefit both self and others together, or primarily others. So it’s the total absence (or extreme paucity) of the latter that indicates sociopathy, not in any way the presence of the former.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Because it presupposes that—let’s generously exclude anything actually criminal—women should be regarded as columns of numbers in an unwitting “experiment,” in which the only criterion for conduct toward them is strategic efficacy. Have you tried prodding an insecurity, or saying your cat just died too in order to build an emotional bond at a vulnerable moment?

        That is an oddly uncharitable interpretation of what I said. And in fact, it is quite incorrect. One of the interesting things for me, as someone who knows about this topic, is the assumption that game is some form of dark art. People assume that pick up is fundamentally about isolating women and mentally beating them into submission.

        In truth, most pick up techniques are the exact opposite. The person is generally trying to keep things light and funny and spontaneous. The idea is to try to give the other person positive feelings that he or she associates with you. That is the way attraction works. More often than not, chatting up a woman about her dead cat in a bar is not going to get you very far.

        And the contention that being purposeful in your interactions with other people is necessarily sociopathic is a based on a really really weak argument. People study salesmanship techniques, people study rhetoric to be more persuasive speakers. I once took a class in negotiation at the State Department. Are all of these pursuits an exercise in sociopathic manipulation?

        Women have an arsenal of behaviors and techniques to increase male interest. A woman puts on makeup to hide blemishes and mimic the signs of arousal. She might put on a short skirt and high heels to accentuate her legs or a low-cut top to draw attention to her cleavage. A woman who is dressed up with her hair and makeup done is going to attract more male attention than a woman in sweats and a ponytail and yet, it would be odd to accuse the first woman of being a sociopath or inherently dishonest and manipulative.

        Further, the assorted comments that I am seeing that imply that a man who wants to be better with women or sleep with more women is somehow engaging in unethical behavior belie a certain prudishness. If we were having a conversation about female sexual behavior and someone made those same comments, there would be a chorus of people calling it slut-shaming.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        At some point, the benefits are not so unidimensional. It’s good for women if guys learn not to act in such a way as to unnecessarily turn them off and alienate them. One big way that guys learn that is through experience, and repetition. It’s not good for women (or at least many of them) if guys don’t know how to act around them. And women explaining how they want guys to act is, while often quite helpful, nonetheless very incomplete.

        The particulars here matter a lot. I think a lot of the breakdowns in conversation here are due at least in part to one person assuming one set of particulars as a general reference point, and another that assumes a different set of particulars.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Why do you object to science?
        Seriously, people do studies showing how guys can get girls to approach them — and get dates.

        I more object to this because people are trying to get shit through trickery and deceit.

        I’m pretty certain that on any given day, you’re an unwitting experimental test subject.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        “Women have an arsenal of behaviors and techniques to increase male interest. A woman puts on makeup to hide blemishes and mimic the signs of arousal. She might put on a short skirt and high heels to accentuate her legs or a low-cut top to draw attention to her cleavage. A woman who is dressed up with her hair and makeup done is going to attract more male attention than a woman in sweats and a ponytail and yet, it would be odd to accuse the first woman of being a sociopath or inherently dishonest and manipulative.”

        It is manipulative to try and seem more healthy and attractive than you are. [I’m not saying it’s immoral, mind]

        “Further, the assorted comments that I am seeing that imply that a man who wants to be better with women or sleep with more women is somehow engaging in unethical behavior belie a certain prudishness. If we were having a conversation about female sexual behavior and someone made those same comments, there would be a chorus of people calling it slut-shaming.”

        Truedat. If I heard more from the folks who were doing “the game” about what Savage calls “leaving people better than when you met them,” I think folks would be a little less anxious/tempermental about this shit.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        The disagreement here seems to be that j-r is entirely focused on one certain aspect of ‘The Game’. Namely, how to approach the opposite gender, how to create and read social cues, how to make witty small talk, how make yourselves stand out from the crowd, to stop being passive and actively make your interests known, etc, etc. (Most of this ‘training’, it must be pointed out, that women tend to receive in adolescence. Ironically, for the gender that society expects to be the initiator in relationships, it often is really poorly explained to men just how that should work. It’s almost oral knowledge passed down by high school boys, and nothing could go wrong with that!)

        This is, indeed, how the PUA universe represents itself when talking about itself. The PUA books do teach that. And no one would have a problem with any of those tips.

        But this is nonsense. It’s deliberately ignoring a large aspect of the community. And the actual ‘leaders’ of the community, when talking internally to their PUA followers, present a completely different picture. There’s a reason so many different PUA writers seem to be a hairsbreadth away from encouraging rape, or step right across that line.

        The PUA community is completely broken. It’s one of those communities that is completely overrun with a specific horribleness. Yes, we can imagine the community without that, but, uh, it’s not without it. And, in fact, that horribleness we build in to start with. (It’s sorta like the militia movement and racism.)

        Although some people are getting a bit silly. It is not sociopathic to interact with someone with a specific goal in mind. Otherwise, no one could check out at the grocery store. It’s sociopathic to completely ignore what your interactions were doing to someone, as if they were not a person.

        But I suspect this doesn’t apply to most PUAs, simply because they’ve constructed elaborate mental models as to this is how women want them act, or that women don’t care, or that the female gender is so manipulative that they deserve whatever they get…which is exactly how you expect to see non- sociopaths dehumanize people. It’s the same way that soldiers in a war start dehumanizing the enemy.

        Thinking ‘I know my actions are hurting people so I must internally rationalize those actions’ is pretty much the opposite of being a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t need to do that in the first place.

        Of course, this rather hints at the large problem in PUA culture: Women are the enemy.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      The fundamental error that you are making regards causality. You assume that game flows from misogyny; therefore it is flawed. That is not really the case. Game is fundamentally an empirical exercise. Go out and interact with women and see what works and what doesn’t.


      The fundamental error that you are making regards causality. You assume that slavery flows from racism; therefore it is flawed. That is not really the case. Slavery is fundamentally an empirical exercise. Go out and interact with different economic systems and see what works and what doesn’t.

      The fundamental error that you are making j r, it seems to me, is to assume that treating women as objects of men’s desires can be logically distinguished from, well, treating women as objects of men’s desires.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Hence my distaste. It seems the “Game” is about, in the end, getting laid. Wanna get comfortable talking to a woman? yes, so I can get laid.

        The term friend zone — unrequited love already HAS it’s own name (you know, unrequited love) so the implication here is “What’s the point if I don’t get to see boobs?” — a friendship with a woman is pointless without sex. People complaining about the friend zone aren’t saying “God, I love her but she sees me just as a friend”. They are, pretty much entirely, saying “God, I want to screw her and she’s not into me”.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Slavery? Come on man, you’re not even trying.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Actually, I’m trying very hard, j r. That you can’t understand what I’m trying to convey is part of the problem here, but I’ve said it perfectly clearly. You’re argument that “game” is just an empirical exercise rather than an expression of misogyny is exactly equivalent to saying that slavery is an empirical exercise and not an expression of racism.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Yeah, you said slavery again. And that makes it very difficult to take you seriously.

        You should try again with a less ridiculous analogy.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        That’d be hard, j r, since I think the analogy works perfectly. YOu could ask me why I think it works so well, and what I think it’s revealing about your earlier claim. I’d be happy to answer. Unless you think there’s so little intelligence being expressed it isn’t worthy of your time.

        I’m cool with it either way.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        Putting aside the hyperbole of the analogy, it fails the most basic criteria of an analogy in that these two things do not function in the same way.

        Slavery is a system that reduces human beings to the legal and social status of property. Game is a mental tool set for interacting with other people. When you start with the assertion that game is like slavery, you’re trying to make the analogy function as proof of something that you have yet to actually prove.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I don’t think slavery works terribly well as an analogy. Try this instead: a guy you work with that has a really nice cabin at Tahoe. He’s kind of a nice guy, someone you might chat at the water cooler with now and then, but also he’s got this cabin. So you cultivate him, have lunch with him a few times a week, pretend to be interested in his curling stories, etc. etc. but no dice. He seems to like you and all, but he never once invites you to go skiing. You’re in the office-friend zone.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Slavery is a system that reduces human beings to the legal and social status of property.

        Sorta. Slavery is a system that reduces human beings to mere objects used to satisfy their owners’ economic desires. By analogy, game is a system that reduces women to mere objects used to satisfy men’s sexual desires.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I wanna add, too, that the only reason the analogy strikes me as perfect in this case is because you defended game as being an “empirical exercise” as if noting that accounted for the otherwise obvious moral problems inherent in treating women as objects of men’s desires. Seems to me it doesn’t. Hence the analogy.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        That’s the problem. You have asserted that there is an “obvious moral problem” with game and tried to define game as a “system that reduces women to mere objects used to satisfy men’s sexual desires.” It is not. And if you want to argue that it is, then you ought to make an actual argument instead of asserting it by putting it in an analogy with slavery.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Speaking of analogies to slavery:

        A good man is essentially a slave; but like true slaves, he is hardly rewarded: the male slave-owners get what the slaves rightfully deserve. Slaves rarely look very good, after all – and that’s the true secret behind it all! Slaves – “good men” – must do all of the women’s work, while fellow slave-owners – attractive, cocky men – get all the rewards.


      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        1. Whether or not game is an empirical exercise to determine what works and what doesn’t is irrelevant wrt the moral properties of treating women exclusively as objects of men’s desires. So in that sense, the argument by analogy with slavery is demonstrate that merely being “and empirical exercise in what works” isn’t sufficient to discount otherwise existing moral problems. I hope that’s clear, if nothing else.

        2. Game is a series of tools to help men get laid by women who otherwise (that is, in the absence of invoking those tools) wouldn’t be getting so laid by said hotties. At it’s very core, the goal of learning the techniques is to get women do something they otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to do. It targets women as objects rather than treats them as people.

        I realize you’re a big fan of this stuff j r. And I also know that you think you’re the smartest guy in the room most of the time. So I have no expectation that you’ll accede to or even understand what other people are saying about on these threads.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        I have to admit being a bit confused about the linky you provided. Is the guy really arguing that men (or Real Men or whateer they call themselves) should strive to be the slave owners?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think the part of the disconnect here is that Game (what Game is) as Stillwater is describing it is different than Game (what Game is). Not by different ways of describing the same thing, but actually describing different things. At least, it seems to me.

        A system wherein guys are using techniques to procure women into having sex with them for the men’s own gratification, is pretty much guilty of the sort of objectification that Stillwater is talking about. Barney Stinson. Joe is a plain looking guy who wants to bang hot chicks, so he learns how (or tries to learn how) to manipulate them into making that happen.

        A system wherein guys are using techniques to learn to approach women more easily, whereby being able to find a partner (romantic partner, life partner) they would have trouble getting without learning how to approach and talk to women more generally, that seems like a general good thing. Joe has trouble talking to women, frequently puts his foot in his mouth, or hasn’t the first idea of how to approach women with the intention of asking them out (or simply if they are interested in spending the evening together).

        A lot of Game marketing seems geared towards the former. Which support’s Stillwater’s view. Then again, JR might or might not be the smartest person in the room but he does seem to be the only person with real world experience within the Game community. Which shouldn’t be easily dismissed. (And his description of Game is the part of it that appealed to me at one point, though I never followed up.)

        These strike me as substantively different things. In some ways there are brighter dividing lines than others. Back to the particulars. A brighter dividing line is whether he cares, or not, about how the women feel about the encounter/sex/relationship/whatever. A dimmer dividing line is he looking for sex or something more substantive? More abstractly, what are his attitudes towards women more generally? What is he hoping to accomplish? That seems to be the important question, and one that’s somewhat independent of the techniques used.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        As best I could parse it, ‘good men’ are the slaves because they do all the work women demand while ‘alpha men’ get all the sexual reward.

        It is some seriously twisted logic.

        The re-write that prompted the comment is as fine a piece of misogyny as you could hope for, beginning with women, strike that, entitled princesses having conversation, strike that, gossip and going down hill from there.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        As best I could parse it, ‘good men’ are the slaves because they do all the work women demand while ‘alpha men’ get all the sexual reward.

        This is a pretty accurate description of the way that a lot of fans of PUAers think things work. This gets at what I was saying earlier about a distinction between people who actually do this sort of thing and the people who follow the people who do. The few PUA websites I’ve been to seem chalk full of people who believe that sort of thing. But it seems to me that relatively few of the people are actual practitioners of any sort of approaching of women. Except maybe in a relative rare and haphazard manner. But mostly guys stewing in a corner in public and venting ugly things online.

        Interestingly, a non-negligible number of people in at least some of the online communities not only don’t practice game, but believe things like premarital sex are wrong. But they find common cause in the dynamics they see in male-female relationships. The alpha-beta thing and such.

        What I don’t know is how representative this can be considered of Game more generally. I’m actually heartened to hear JR say that it’s not as common (or dominant) among practitioners as it is among the people I have seen.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Damn it Tod, the short-haired brunette in the picture with the guy with glasses is close to my platonic ideal of beauty. Don’t do that to me on Friday. Short dark hair, elegant style, and an athletic or dancer’s build.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Lots of young men want girlfriends but are more than a little clueless on how to get them. My parents were practically useless on the subject and I had great parents. They just told my brothers and I to be admirable and desirable and women would come flockign to us. The world doesn’t exactly work that way. Many other men seem to be similarly situated and PUA fills a vaccum for men looking for dating advise. If I wasn’t raised by a feminsit mom and didn’t have a strong skeptical streak, I’d probably fall for it myself. To defeat PUA, you need to have alternative forms of romantic education.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      To defeat PUA, you need to have alternative forms of romantic education.

      This is puzzling to me. Do women also suffer from a lack of “romantic education”? What the hell does that term even mean? Lots and lots of people – like LOTS of people – seem to want to be in relationship with other people. They want to get physically intimate. THey want an emotional connection. Etceteraandetceteraandetcetera. There is no mystery about any of this stuff. THe real mystery – to me anyway – is thinking that there’s some mystery about it.Report

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    A few things lost in the shuffle:
    It’s a lot easier to treat women as interchangeable objects when you cultivate power asymmetry, and deliberately attempt to obscure what game you’re playing.

    They aren’t focused on “below 22” (euphemism alert!) for no reason. It’s in fact a sound strategic aspect of the game. In order to get girls (virgins! It’s how you know you’re a real man!), well, you convince them that you aren’t after sex (it helps if they’re a little inebriated. it also helps if you’re actually a decent conversationalist). Then you manage to turn the tables quick enough that they’re still in the “what’s happening” stage of befuddlement, during any “risky parts”.

    Rape is one game theory that has worked throughout history, in propagating certain members of our species. Abortion is a bit of a gamechanger, as it comes to that (you want an icky baby?).
    [yes, there are plenty of other game theories. and it’s worth noting that “rape” can be expanded to mean non-relationship-based sex (am I doing that? yes, I’m doing that. Most European societies married women off as soon as they could have children.)]Report

  8. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Great essay Tod. I remember when the Rules came out in the 1990s and that a lot of people debated it and dismissed it back then because it seemed so out of Pleasantville.* The truth is that there will probably always be men and women who think with such traditional mores. The most recent variation would be Princeton Mom.**

    The thing I don’t get about PUA/The Game is why anyone would purchase those books and I don’t say this as someone who is very romantically successful but quite the opposite.

    I did not start dating regularly until I was 27. Most of my dates are of the internet variety of a nice coffee date or two that goes no where. I’ve received my fair share of “You are nice and sweet but I am not feeling any chemistry” rejections via e-mail, text, and once a phone call. I’ve also been on dates where I felt no chemistry (like with the woman who constantly bad mouthed San Francisco) or the woman who disliked that I liked Wagner because he was anti-Semitic (even though I am also Jewish, said date also ate sushi with her hands). Yet it never occurred to me to buy a PUA book because it seems like a scam.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I, um, actually know someone who wrote a book in the genre (he, unsurprisingly, was pretty upset with Jeffries’ writing). He’d be the first to say that it’s no miracle cure-all.
      But (if I actually knew the books’ name), I’d recommend that one — if nothing else, he’s a bangup writer.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

        I am calling BS with your knowing everyone again KimReport

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I dunno, it’s a small world. A long time acquaintance of mind turned out to be the niece of one of my favorite authors. I went to school with a guy who — while still a senior or junior in college — wrote two books (at the time, dunno how many he ultimately wrote) on Magic: The Gathering, back when it was brand new.

        My brother keeps meeting rather famous musicians in bars, and their bands, and having drinks with them. (Complete with, yes, proof. Then again, he knows where bands like to drink after shows in any given Houston venue, and deliberately settles down there. And can talk music, so it’s not quite a coincidence….)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        do i really need to cite how many people I Don’t Know?

        Dude, it’s like you think that meeting an author is Hard.
        You show up to a few readings, you talk, you’re generally pleasant.
        It’s not hard to meet authors… (I have taken college english courses.
        Through them, I have met several authors. I’m sure you have as well).

        Jeez Louise. I know a guy on the bus who script-writes for documentaries (yes, he has a real job).Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        My brother worked for a few years at a bookstore — a fairly sizeable, well known one (although I think it then became another bookstore, then perhaps a grocery store? Anyone from Houston — the one that was in what used to be a theater near Westheimer).

        Anyways, he met a huge number of authors working there. From big to small — they did readings, book signings, that sort of thing and there was a surprising amount of interaction with the staff, and he tended to come in on days off to meet any interesting ones if he wasn’t working that day.

        Being my brother, he made it a point to get the more humor based authors (Terry Pratchett, notably) to sign works that weren’t theirs, and sometimes were not even vaguely related. (I believe the prize of his collection is Pratchett’s signature on what my brother calls “The worst CD by one of the worst bands you’ve never heard of” because Pratchett apparently found it hilarious).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        morat20, Kim claims to know people of relevant importance in practically every thread on Ordinary Times. She is either one of the most well-connected people in the United States or is making things up.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah, that’s because we don’t discuss sports much.

        Unlike a field like law, many fields are amenable to dabbling.

        To quote someone: “So, I asked myself, ‘how hard could it possibly be to build a bridge?’ Turns out, pretty hard. You see, you have to pass an audit, which is rather expensive. And the auditors have this perspective that you have probably screwed something up. And you don’t want to redo an audit.” [And this, folks, is why it’s a bad idea to hire a physicist to build you a bridge. The engineer already knows where to put in the necessary safety margins. The physicist has to calculate them from scratch.]Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      said date also ate sushi with her hands

      This was an actual issue?

      Eating sushi with one’s hands is totally legitimate anyway, but that’s kind of beside the point.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        I don’t know about sushi (I’m so culturally inept that I use a fork), but one can also eat Asparagus and Lamb Chops with fingers in perfectly good company.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        You can pick up your ribeye steak with your hands and tear a piece off with your teeth to gnaw on, too. That technique functionally gets the food in your belly and may even be kind of fun.

        But you might violate a cultural convention that way.

        I use chopsticks for my sushi, and I kind of expect others to use a utensil of some kind too; if you have difficulty with chopsticks for whatever reason, a fork is okay.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        This reminds me of a conversation I had in a bar long ago. A friend asked me to recommend a restaurant for a first date, and the guy sitting next to us leaned over and said “Moroccan food. There’s something about eating with your hands that makes women lose their inhibitions.”Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I don’t mean that it’s functional; I mean that it’s not a faux pas.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        Hey, let’s not make this about the original post. I have a dangling asparagus out there that I’d rather you not notice.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        To be a faux pas you’d have to eat with your toes.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        Pas de deux… if you reciprocate. We’ll never know what Saul might have missed.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Je ne c’est pas.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      Sushi is traditionally eaten with the hands. Chopsticks are a modern adaptation. Also, if you are having a legit omakase sushi experience, you are probably better off eating with your hands. The sushi chef is actually tailoring the size of the piece and how tightly it is packed to how you eat it. Chopsticks require a very tight, dense piece, which may not be best for that particular piece.

      Also Saul, you strike me as exactly the type of guy who would benefit most from the use of game techniques: smart, conscientious, articulate, but perhaps missing that edge. I could absolutely give you a set of tips/techniques/rules of thumb that would noticeably alter your success with women. It wouldn’t involve pretend hypnosis or treating women poorly. And it wouldn’t have you attracting every beautiful woman you see at will, but it would demonstrate a noticeable difference in your interactions with women.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        What’s your percentage, in terms of “women you wanted” versus “successful interactions”? (yes, I’m leaving this somewhat vague.)Report

  9. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    That none of them seem able to connect those two data points in any relevant fashion baffles me to this day.

    I’ve always liked the saying, “The one guaranteed common factor in all of your unsuccessful relationships with others is you.”Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:


      “The one guaranteed common factor in all of your unsuccessful relationships with others is you.”

      Heh. It reminds me of another saying: “if you run into assholes all day long, you’re probably the asshole.”Report

  10. Avatar North says:

    An excellently written post my Tod. I know it’s excellently written because I badly want a shower after having read it.
    I wonder if gays have our own version of Game? I suspect not or not to any large degree because there isn’t that chasm of the sexes in place that you need to heavy a rope bridge across before you can try and get laid.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      One thing I have noticed at gay clubs is this: more fun, more smiles, and much less posing.

      Which is not to say gay dudes never pose, ’cause, like, seriously! Those strutting queens.

      But compared to straight clubs, with the “dudes who flex” — yeesh. Gimme the gay clubs any day, with the swirling lights and swirling bodies and not so many wallflowers and beautiful people wall to wall.

      How to be “macho” without being an angry jackass!

      And the cis girls who become suddenly awkward when I tell them I’m bi. Lovely bunch, all of them.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Well to be fair there are some clubs that are meat markets where the men all pose at each other and it can be savage to those who don’t meet the collective’s group expectations for appearance. Even there, though, there’s no ambiguity, the dudes* are all there for the same reason.

        And yeah, it’s good times. There are so many heterosexuals coming out to them now that it’s quite a new feel. I have many gay friends who bridle at this a bit but I squeeze their hand and say “hush dears, that thing you see? That thing you’re complaining about? That’s us winning.”

        *It’s dudes, Minneapolis cannot seem to sustain a lesbian bar. The lesbians apparently are content with having a Lesbian night at one specific bar.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Yeah, I call those “cruising joints,” and I really don’t fit in there very much. I mean, I wanna sleep with a man someday (so far I’ve made out with dudes, nothing further), but I’m really cagey and definitely want the dinner and a movie first. Those places just freak me out.

        (On the other hand, for the dudes that like it, rock on my gay brothers!)

        (Did I just hit the TMI zone?)

        Funny thing, Boston passed a law a few years back that banned any gender/sexuality discrimination, which meant suddenly the gay places had to let in straight folks. Heh. Talk about unintended consequences.

        The results are actually pretty okay, ’specially for me who rather likes the cis party girls who flock to the gay bars. 🙂 (And sometimes they like me!)

        Anyway, it seems at the straight clubs everyone is pissed and if you smile they think you’re a punk. At the gay places, if you smile they thing you are happy and awesome.

        (Plus the gay dudes don’t want to kick my queer ass.)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @North, there is ambiguity at every straight event even those that are meant to be specifically for single people looking for other single people. A few years ago I was at a matzah ball, basically a straight Jewish singles event held on Christmas Eve. Matzah balls are advertised as singles event. There purpose is to get single Jewish men and women to meet each other. The advertisements are open about this.

        Even with this open acknowledgment there was a decent crowd of women that treat this as a sort of girls night out and don’t speak to any men and seem to get angry when any man attempted to speak to them. Its there right. It seems to me that if you go to an event thats specifically for the purpose of being a singles event you assumed the risk of men attempting to flirt with you.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — You’re just going to have to get used to this: women can choose how they want to interact romantically, even at a “singles” event. If some woman brushes off your approach, deal with it. If she is crappy about it, well that sucks. Maybe that woman is a bad person. Maybe she’s having a bad day. Many possibilities. But see, maybe your approach is off somehow, and these woman are brushing you off this way because they don’t want to deal.

        Thing is, we only have your version here, and we’d have to see for ourselves to judge. Consider, in romance, how it seems to you might not be how it is.

        You say a lot about how women are failing you. You say little about what you might be doing wrong.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        I thought Matzah balls are something you eat?


      • Avatar North says:

        @veronica-dire no, my dear lady, that is not TMI for me at least but then I like to look at all the candy even if I generally can’t have any so I find cruising bars kindof fun but for older, timid or less confident gay men I imagine going to one would be like walking between two walls of fire.

        I’ve seen some straight girls even at gay cruising bars, if you can imagine, mostly having a blast. The gays generally tolerate them or flirt halfheartedly but mostly look right through them. I’ve seen a few women there seem to get quite indignant and angry about that but most of them act like kids in candy stores which is a bit odd from my point of view but I don’t know- maybe they like being invisible to a bunch of men at a bar?
        I’m in favor of straights being allowed in, especially straight girls. It’s pure victory for gay rights from every angle, people have a good time, people make gay friends, and the gay bars make a bunch of money (which they sorely need now that they are no longer the beating heart of the gay community).

        @leeesq I presume it’s the fundamental chasm between men and women when it comes to such things. Women are sex positive people but I do think they have higher standards for partner/venue/circumstance then guys do. Minnesota is considered a standoffish place as gays go but even here guys can make eye contact with each other a bit, exchange glances and be into flirting heavy petting and well on the way to heading off for someone’s place in an hour or so. I’m not certain how lesbians do it to be honest, I have had only a couple lesbian acquaintances. I imagine that it’s an elaborate ritual involving tasteful arrangements of colorful hand woven blankets and flowers; carefully selected assortments of food; incense; softly playing music and choreographed dancing. I’ve always wanted to see one but I’ve been told lesbian romance isn’t a spectator sport (at least not for men).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @veronica-dire, in general yes but if your going to an event that is explicitly advertised at a single’s event than you really shouldn’t get indignant when people try to chat you up in respectful manner. The nature of the event does create certain assumptions. Its like going to a steakhouse and getting up set that everybody is eating meat.

        @North, ain’t that the truth. From what I’ve read, and this might be wrong, lesbian courtship has many of the same pratfalls as heterosexual courtship because they are applying the same standards that straight women would apply to straight men.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — I can imagine the girls find the dance a fun night out, where maybe they get hit on some by dudes, but maybe they get hit on less than the meat market style clubs. So yay for them. Don’t begrudge them their fun. Find other women.

        Now, if they are literally indigent — well — I’d have to see it to know. Could be them. Could be you. Hard to say.

        But then, a conversation like this can serve two purposes. One purpose is this: a person can vent about this crappy thing that happened this one time with this one person. So, like, maybe some woman treated you crappy. It happens.

        I get laughed at every single day.

        No really. I’ve learned to deal.

        The other thing we might talk about is structural stuff, not the one thing and the one person, but how (for example) our society structures gender relations, what expectations are put on men versus what are put on women. That stuff. The big picture.

        Like, for example, no matter how you perceive an event, no woman owes you her attention. And perhaps some woman will be rude to you. That sucks, exactly as much as rudeness always sucks. But compared to the general degree of male entitlement? Wanna have that conversation?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @north — From what I can observe about straight(-ish) girls at the Boston gay bars, they’re mostly there to dance and have fun, but they do like to get pretty dirty on the dance floor, and the (mostly) gay men seem to like it just fine. It ends up a really cool-sexy environment. (And dammit I hope the straight dudes never figure out what they are missing. ’Cause if they do it will suck.)

        (Of course, a “no baseball caps” rule seems to weed out much trouble, at least in Boston.)Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Oh, and let me add, I don’t care if you are at a “singles” event or whatever, if you cannot catch a woman’s eye, she is not interested. If she does not give you a smile, she is not interested. If she does not break at least partly from her friends as you approach, she is not interested. If you approach anyway, she may find it intrusive and respond accordingly. And yes, even at a “singles” event. This is life.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        First, let me say I haven’t followed this entire subthread and am only responding to your last comment here.

        But doesn’t what you are saying imply some intense shallowness or superficialness on behalf of women? It seems you are describing how a woman might respond before interaction or engagement actually takes place. At that point, she is limited to assessing/responding to physicality and to whatever extent she can judge personality via body language, interaction with others, etc. But I’d venture to guess that physicality is the primary factor at that point. And while physical attraction does matter, doesn’t telling a guy that he should simply back off if he can’t catch a smile from across the room affirm that superficiality?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — Well, I can only speak for myself, but usually it is obvious if a dude is checking me out, and I know right away if I want to talk to him. And maybe he is gorgeous, maybe not so much, maybe kinda in the middle. And I don’t pretend I’m the deepest woman, but nor am I totally shallow. But I will say this, the way a man looks at me holds a lot of weight, along with how he carries himself, how he relates to the room, to others. I can judge these things.

        It is hard to explain these things with precision, but I bet the other women here all know what I mean.

        I already posted the puzzle-box link, but here it is again: http://faerye.net/post/the-puzzle-box . The thing to notice in the article is how the author can sense this attitude in men.

        This is one sort of thing women can sense. There are others.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        But doesn’t what you are saying imply some intense shallowness or superficialness on behalf of women?


      • Avatar RTod says:

        I was wondering how long it would take to get to the “all women want to be approached like this and not that” from the other side.

        I confess, longer than I’d expected.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @rtod — What is your point exactly? Women grow accustomed to entitled men who think they get to interrupt us. Some of us get tired of this. At the same time, we go to clubs, hoping to meet people.

        And that guy is watching us, but he seems gross or creepy or whatever. So we avoid his gaze and hope he doesn’t corner us in the narrow hallway between the dance floor and the bathroom.

        But see, there is also that other guy, the maybe-kinda cute one, seems happy, outgoing, cool, someone we want to meet. And yay!, he notices us, a small glance. We glance back. We smile. Will he come over?

        Perhaps not right away, and maybe we, the both of us, enjoy this little dance. (I do.) Some more glances. Some more smiles. But then, that first guy, he’s coming over. Fuck. I put my back to him.

        Sorry dude. I know what you want. I know what I want. So I close you off.

        If he pushes his way in, I’m gonna shut him down in no uncertain terms. Sorry. Got no time.

        Watch women at any club. Watch how they dance in clusters, tight circles. They put their back to you. This is for protection.

        But finally the guy I like comes toward me, after patting his buddy on the back. He approaches, a bit cautious, not like some strutting bull. Our gazes meet. This time I separate from my friends, just a bit. I open up to him. He says, “Hi.”

        I am not saying all women want to be approached always in the same way all the time. But if you are getting repeatedly shut down at singles’ events, then perhaps you are doing it wrong.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @rtod — And keep in mind, we are talking specifically about a singles’ dance, not a book club or discussion group or something like that.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “But see, there is also that other guy, the maybe-kinda cute one, seems happy, outgoing, cool, someone we want to meet. And yay!, he notices us, a small glance. We glance back. We smile. Will he come over?”

        I didn’t. Maybe I would have.

        Fortunately, she did. 🙂Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — Smart girl. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        Please keep one thing in mind when you comment here.

        No matter what you say, no matter how hard you try, you’re only speaking for one person.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Really, @michael-drew , I had no idea. Here I thought I was speaking for all women, given that the global feminist conspiracy just sent me a proxy certificate allowing me to speak for each of us. I guess I should have pointed that out.

        Anyway, do you have an actual point? Is there something specific you are objecting to?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        What v’s saying ought to be taken more in the context of: “if she’s giving you signals to back off, take a freaking hint.” Yeah, there are signals that say “hey, i’m interested.” — and yes, women ought to go over and talk with guys more.

        But, seriously. If your strength is your freaking personality (lotta gems here) — why the hell go to a meat market?

        Dude, even pittsburgh has a lesbian bar.

        I know a guy who occasionally used to head to gay bars simply to score free drinks (he’s heterosexual). To be fair, he was broke at the time (and, apparently, feeling a bit too insecure about getting women to send him drinks. musta been a tough week). [this feels really weird to say on a forum where folks might well have met him.]Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        What I really appreciate about Veronica’s comment is that she was specific about the sorts of signals that guys can look for. I was utterly lacking in knowledge of that sort of thing for the longest time. The trepidation that came with that almost certainly lead to missed opportunities.

        The downside is that women do tend to differ and my wife missed out on potential opportunities (though also, presumably, a fair number of cads) because she has a tendency to unwittingly give off “Do not disturb” signals. My very first thought I ever had about the woman I would eventually marry was “What is her problem?”

        But the more we talk about these things, the better. At the end of the day, most guys don’t want to approach women that aren’t interested. Most women don’t want to be approached by guys they aren’t interested in. Communication of these things is often quite opaque. Complicated further, of course, by bad actors.

        It would be helpful if there were standards of behavior so that women can communicate more effectively that they are absolutely not interested and that’s just the way that life is. The primary thing needed for that to happen, of course, is for men to respond by moving on and not by saying “bitch” under their breath or going back to his friends and talking about this frigid bitch who was totally nasty to him.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @will-truman — This is actually stuff I work on in therapy, how to signal that I am interested, that I am happy and cool, that I want to meet people and be friendly, all of that.

        Smiling helps a lot, along with body language, turning toward people, getting close, even touching. (Although one must be careful with the last two and back off fast if it seems unwelcome.)

        Anyway, this stuff is definitely gendered to some degree, but a fair amount relates to general shyness and is not gendered at all. Most of these skills would have served me well when I was presenting as a dude.

        Keep in mind also, I am both a woman and interested in women, which is to say I play both sides of this dance. Furthermore, I am also interested in men, so I play both sides of that dance as well. And long ago I used to try to play this game while presenting as a (really awkward messed up) dude, so I have all of that knowledge. My point is, I have a ton of perspective here.Report

  11. Avatar Will Truman says:

    This is a pretty great post. If PUA has a positive contribution, it’s getting guys “out there” who only feel comfortable if they feel they have a plan or a reason to be confident. A lot of it goes downhill from there. And yes, the misogyny is an inevitable result. Not with all, but with a significant portion.

    The only thing I would add is that in my observation, the ideology overtook the tactics some time ago. Hit Coffee had some overlap with PUA fans and by my observations, very few people seemed to actually be trying it compared to those sitting on the sidelines. It provided a platform on which guys could feel superior without having to put themselves out there. “So this is who women are? They’re too f***ed up to be worth my time.” (But interesting enough to remain engaged in talking about it, incessantly.)

    I’d argue that a whole lot of PUA has evolved away from the actual seduction of women using particular techniques on account of a worldview to the worldview itself with the techniques being indicative of it.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Is it just me or are the number of socially inept people growing? It certainly seems more common to run into people with problems with basic socialization these days than it did in the past let alone dating. Maybe the Internet is making it easier for people to complain about these things.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think it’s more a matter of the inept having more of a megaphone than before. And people changing the threshold on what qualifies as inept.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        In high school, I thought I was one of the bigger socially inept dorks. This sort of feeling continued in college and to a lesser extent law school. Nearly everybody seemed to have all these things down pat. Time spent on the Internet that not only are there more socially inept people but some of them dangerously so. Its darkly fascinating how many people want to broadcast how messed up they are in public.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @will-truman — There is a branch of the “manosphere” who call themselves “men going their own way” (MGTOW). These men reject the PUAs, since the PUAs to some degree work to attract women, which (according to the theory) gives women too much power. To the MGTOW, women are so perfectly loathsome that no men should date them at all, not ever, except to occasionally see a sex worker to relieve lusts.

      Anyway, it’s a thing.

      So, these guys aren’t PUAs. However, like the MRAs and incels and the rest of this rogue’s gallery, their theory of gender is pretty much the same. They talk about women in exactly the same way. They only differ on what men should do.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It’s its own thing, but there is as you say overlap between it and PUA and MRA. Not just in ideology, but in the comment sections of various blogs.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        It all reeks of privilege and ownership and entitlement. It’s disturbing that even tiny minorities think that way, in these days.

        Some of the stuff out there….Report

  12. Avatar veronica dire says:

    Just a quick comment, most folks I know have been connecting him to the “incel” corner of the “manosphere,” people who in fact rather dislike the PUAs, although not for sound reasons. Both groups accept a certain baseline assumption about gender. Anyway, saying “he wasn’t an PUA” kind of misses the point and shows you don’t really understand the contours of this space.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      IIRC R was part of a group called PUA hate which felt that PUA was a pyramid scheme. This implies trying the Game or another PUA technique.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      IIRC, @veronica-dire linked in a comment to my first-reaction post to the UCSB shooting to a very interesting deconstruction of the shooter’s ideology and self-view; one in which he demonstrated awareness that he would be perceived as evil and disregard for that opinion, came close to but did not quite compare himself to Darth Vader in Episode III of the Star Wars saga (and expressing admiration for that character’s willingness to use violence in the service of love), and did a good job of linking up the issues of personal sexual frustration as an “incel” (involuntarily celibate man disillusioned with the PUA scene), cultural evaluation of male self-worth measured in sexual conquests, and the indeterminate but likely presence of his mental illness.

      So I think this is qualitatively different than, say, noting the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter’s homeschooling or the religious preference of the guy who shot up the Discovery Channel’s studios. It is not nearly so obvious to me as it is to Tod in the introductory paragraphs of the OP that the subculture in which the UCSB shooter immersed himself is completely severable from his actions. I’m still on the side of thinking that that having found a subculture in which wallowing in self-pity and colleagues who encourage misogynistic violence as a response to sexual frustration contributed to this mentally ill young man’s decision to seek “godhood” through gun violence instead of the social and clinical advice, and family love, that was actually on offer to him. Patience and self-examination are less fun than blaming others for your problems, of course, which is hardly a particular facet of either PUA culture or PUA-hater/incel culture, or even of misogyny. But the peer support for deviance from social norms, IMO, ought not be dismissed from the picture.

      That, of course, does not mean that the OP’s deconstruction of PUA culture is invalid. Far from it.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @burt-likko — The post was here: http://politicalomnivore.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-to-read-elliot-rodgers-manifesto.html

        Myself, I think the Omnivore is a deeply brilliant guy, if sometimes he leaps a bit too far. Still, I read him a lot.

        Actually, I suspect he and @rtod would find much in common.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Oh, and I totally agree with the deconstruction of PUA culture. It is not perfect. I think it is light on feminist analysis, but feminism is hardly Tod’s bailiwick, so I’ll let that slide. Nothing in his analysis of PUA spaces is wrong.

        But saying that Elliot was not a PUA really misses the point. The PUA thing is but one part of the “manosphere” movement, and they all have a fairly common view of gender. Where they differ is in what they, as men, should do about it.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        A Word document entitled “Selfish” about the inherent selfishness of women was found on Lanza’s computer after his death.[130]


        Police believe that Lanza extensively researched earlier mass shootings, including the 2011 Norway attacks and the 2006 Amish school shooting at a one-room school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.[39][104] Police found that Lanza had downloaded videos relating to the Columbine High School massacre, other shootings and two videos of suicide by gunshot.[105]

        I don’t see anything about Lanza being alleged to be into any facet of the PUA scene.

        The final report …concluded that Adam Lanza had…an obsession with mass murders, in particular the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.”

        Then there’s David Attias, ANOTHER privileged son of Hollywood types and ALSO a UCSB student, driving his Saab into people in Isla Vista back in 2001 and proclaiming that he was the “Angel of Death”:


        When his vehicle came to a stop, Attias got out and began (or continued, reports vary about whether he was yelling while driving) shouting about darkness and government plots, according to witnesses, he yelled “I am the Angel of Death!” …Residents of his hall told police and the campus paper that Attias had been known for his erratic behavior, including stalking of another student.[7] Several students referred to him, with rolled eyes, as “Crazy Dave” and “Tweaker.”

        Is there a wider, deeper pathology at work here?

        To me, it seems apparent there is; and overly-focusing on PUA, though it is obviously a facet of *this particular* crime (and may well be worthy of focus on its own), seems to miss the forest for the trees, at least when we are talking about rampages.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Thanks for reposting the link, @veronica-dire ; I couldn’t find it earlier. Agree or disagree, I think it’s worth reading and consideration.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Sorta. What you’re seeing is desensitization.

        Look, when it comes down to it — most people really, really, really have a hard time deliberately killing another person, especially in cold blood, as it were. (The human body is pretty good at pumping tons of chemicals into your system to fix that, if you’re angry or scared or hurt badly enough. Fight or flight, you know).

        So if, you’re, say a military and you need to kill the enemy, one of the things you encourage is depersonalization. The enemy? They’re not people, they’re targets. (And lest I sound callous to the military, it would be very bad for individual soldiers in a war to NOT be as fully capable as they could be. The military darn well help it’s soldiers, however it needs to, be able to fight effectively.)

        And of course you can go further than that — dehumanize your enemy further — slurs, insults, ways of thinking that all boil down to “My enemy is NOT a human being like myself and my comrades. He is something else, something lesser”.

        Being able to kill and kill easily — like spree killers and serial killers — requires either a total lack of empathy (you literally DON’T see your victims as anything human, certainly not anything important like you are) or some sort of deep dehumanizing of the people you kill.

        Whatever they are, they’re less than you. They either never were real people like you, or they forfeited that with their actions against you.

        The theme you’re seeing is the same as you’d see with the Klan — it’s easier to beat, abuse, and even kill someone if you’re convinced they’re not real people. Whether it’s their skin color, their gender, their sexual orientation, or their homeland.

        Crazy people are crazy. And sane people probably aren’t going to pull the trigger that often. But when you get a crazy person — or even a borderline person — and you convince him some group (or some person) isn’t a REAL person, and then you direct all his unhappiness at that person or group, well, are you surprised?

        This mes is a self-reinforcing bunch of men who think women aren’t people. They reinforce each others beliefs, reassure each other they’re right and it’s normal and true, and every cycle just clicks the ratchet that much more extreme.

        So yeah, if they’re gonna go off the rails it’s gonna be against women. Just like if a KKK guy goes on a spree you can bet it’ll be aimed at blacks (or Jews, possible. Isn’t the KKK violently anti-semetic?).

        And yeah, spree killers aren’t exactly rational so they’ll end up killing people outside of their little box of hate and dehumanization, and it’ll be because they’re race-traitors or gender-traitors or enablers of whatever sub-human THING is to blame for all the crazy person’s problems.

        And so you have the PUA and even the MRM, and you have what boils down to “woman aren’t people” over and over and over. And sure, some random guy who thinks the PUA has some good points might not be a raving misogynist, or maybe buried in the swill of their garbage is one or two useful nuggets of knowledge.

        But really, why dive into the cesspit of hatred and dehumanization and garbage when you can find the valuable advice like “The best way to get good at talking to women is to talk to women, because experience is the best teacher” in a zillion other places that don’t start with “Women are raving sub-human beasts, we all agree, but if you want to talk to them you just gotta do it until you’re good at it. And then rape that bitch”.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        There is evidence that even propaganda and training does not help always. I’ve heard that many WWII fighters just shot their guns in the air. The Nazis needed to develop the gas chambers for the final solution because even true believing Waffen SS members were getting psychologically traumatized from all the mass shootings.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        You ask me, My Twisted World is just a tired rehash of My Struggle.

        I mean, obsessions about racial purity, fantasies about concentration camps and selective breeding, rage at lost lotteries….did Rodger want to be a painter at any point?Report

      • Avatar Herb says:

        ““incel” (involuntarily celibate man disillusioned with the PUA scene)”

        Thank you, Burt, for explaining this term and saving me a trip the urban dictionary, as I did a few days ago for both PUA and MRA.

        You know how they say ignorance is bliss? It’s actually true for this subject.Report

    • Well, the interwebs seemed to have eaten my comment. Let’s just say I’ll co-sign with Veronica (and, by extension, Burt).Report

  13. Avatar zic says:

    I really recommend Amanda Marcotte’s piece, 4 myths that prop up the new misogyny.

    In a nutshell (she offers the supporting documentation, so read her piece and follow the linky magic):

    1. Evoutionary psychology nonsense.

    evolution made men and women’s sexual desires complete opposites, with men trying to get away with sex with as many women as possible and women being “hypergamous,” which is the new pseudo-scientific word for “gold digger.”

    2. The “friend zone” nonsense.

    “soft” rejection, using a line like that not to hurt a man, but to let him down easily. Research—as well as the actual complaints of the “friend zoned”—demonstrates that men do, in fact, understand these soft rejections. Far from a woman exploiting a man’s offer of friendship, the “friend zone” is usually more a matter of a man exploiting a woman’s desire to be polite and save face, to avoid accepting that the rejection is final.

    3. “Sexual harassers are just awkward guys who mean well” nonsense.

    The fact of the matter is there is zero evidence for the misogynist assumption that women scream “sexual harassment!” in a hysterical fashion just because some guy stammers at her when asking her out on a date.

    4. “Women frequently lie about rape to cover up their sexual indiscretions” nonsense.

    The lack of consent is what makes it rape. False accusations of rape are incredibly rare. Only 2-8 percent of reported rapes are false, but many of those are not accusations. The typical false rape reporter makes up a stranger in the bushes, and doesn’t name the wrong person. False accusations are also rarely to never after a bout of consensual sex. In many cases, such as the Duke lacrosse case, there was no sex that happened at all. In other cases, the rape actually happened, but the wrong man was fingered.

    And I would add a 5th myth: Men can solve the problem of how to better hook up with women on their own. Instead, I suggest actually talking to women, listening to women, and (surprise) respecting women as, you know, people.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Evoutionary psychology nonsense.

      As someone who went spent several years at the institution where the primary purveyor of the Evolutionary Psychology of relationships resides, this one annoys me the most.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        I think I’m also getting really, really sick of the whole ‘awkward guy’ meme, too. A lot of people are socially awkward, and some of them are women. (Surprise!) So what I’m seeing here is that rude people who see others as not-human are hiding in the bushes, disguising themselves as shy people and introverts, doing double damage by disrespecting women and smearing the good name of shy guys and introverts everywhere.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The psychologist in me really wants to say that a lot of this could be helped if we had an adequate mental health system. I can’t help but see in some of this stuff coping mechanisms: externalizing their frustration at being shy or introverted to a level that significantly impacts their quality of life. They look for someone to blame, and project their own failings onto women, who become evil persecutors.

        I don’t mean this to take away from the genuine dangerous of misogyny. Instead, I think a lot of this particularly virulent strain could be eased, if not in many cases eliminated, with some good CBT.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        There’s shy and introverted. That’s one thing — just a personality.

        Then there’s “socially awkward”. Chris-chan’s picture is beside that, in a dictionary. He’s the guy who carried around a sign saying “I’m looking for a boyfriend-free girl.”

        There’s a real difference between “I feel like i’m stupid in conversations” and “I am incapable of having a decent conversation”Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I think there’s a difference between someone who’s awkward and shy and someone who thinks he’s entitled to as much sex as they can scam.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        a lot of this could be helped if we had an adequate mental health system

        In your opinion, what would this look like, specifically? Remember that Rodger had money, a string of therapists, and a prescription for antipsychotics that he refused to take. What else could have been done for him (or for others like him)?

        If this comes across as combative it’s not meant to be. As someone who generally feels if we’re to have any hope of reducing similar incidences in the future we have to address the mental health of people, I am interested in specific improvements you think we could make.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Glyph, I’m not sure what could be done for Rodger. I mean, he’d reached a point where he was clearly broken, and the level of treatment he was getting wasn’t working, but I’m not sure how you step up from there without running into a whole other mess of problems.

        I was thinking more of the general subculture of socially awkward misogynists. And for them, and for everyone, I’d add mental health care as a basic part of any health care plan.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @glyph (and @chris, feel free to correct if I’m incorrect in any way,)

        Rodgers was seriously mentally ill, and this is just the shape his illness took. It could have been NSA spying, and his victims somehow related to that in whatever way his mind connected them, or GMOs in his food, or mind-control waves from the nearest cell-phone tower. You cannot culturally predict what someone ill in the way Rodgers was ill will react, only that without treatment they may very well react in some form.

        Rodgers is a different mental health issue from PUA’s, who (to my mind) have low empathy and little accountability for their behavior. I don’t know what sort of therapies might help them, either, and would be interested to hear.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        For example, take CBT, which I only have a passing familiarity with but have heard spoken of highly by a friend.

        Is there a way to “de-medicalize” CBT approaches and techniques, and disseminate them in, say, HS Health classes, provide baseline mental health assistance in the same way we’d tell kids to “eat right and exercise” for their physical health?

        Or would that, politically, look like “new age propaganda” or “Orwellian mind control” to certain segments of the population?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Is there a way to “de-medicalize” CBT approaches and techniques, and disseminate them in, say, HS Health classes, provide baseline mental health assistance in the same way we’d tell kids to “eat right and exercise” for their physical health?

        Now, I’m not a clinician, so this is not a real expert opinion, but I imagine some of the basic techniques of CBT could be taught. It’s basically getting rid of counterproductive thought patterns, replacing them with more productive ones, and modeling behavior into more productive directions.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I’m seeing to personality types here; first is the ‘Alpha highT’ dude, master of all he sees, takes what he wants vs. the beta wannabe-an-alpahs looking for a good self-help manual. My experience with what I’d call pick-up artists (mostly watching the same dudes in bars week after week at my sweetie’s gigs) suggests they don’t lack in confidence, they lack empathy and any desire for commitment.

        The shy people, looking to break out, lack confidence and experience, and maybe are too empathetic, which is part of why they’re shy, it’s a form of self preservation. They may also lack the social skills to evaluate signals, and misread soft rejections, etc.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        no true alpha needs to Hypnotize a girl — seduction’s very different.
        There’s a lot more personality types (and “how to get girls”) than these fools think.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        and not all Alphas are “high testosterone” guys…
        David Bowie springs to mind.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        I have no idea if my therapist subscribes to CBT stuff; we haven’t really discussed methodology. (And perhaps it is better if we do not, since I tend to hyper-over-analyzie everything and knowing might be for me counterproductive.)

        Anyway, he does work on my sometimes self-defeating thought patterns, points out how my current situation is coloring how I am looking at things, and suggests that I try to change what I am thinking to help how I am behaving, especially when (ironically enough) dealing with my wallflower tendencies.

        So, yeah, not sure if that is CBT, but it is a thing I do.

        (Funny, off topic, and kinda risqué, but “CBT” means something hilariously different in one of my subcultures.)

        (Don’t Google this at work.)Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        I think there’s a difference between someone who’s awkward and shy and someone who thinks he’s entitled to as much sex as they can scam.

        And there’s a difference between someone who’s awkward and shy in general, and someone who’s awkward and shy, but only around women.

        I’m in the former camp. It takes me a while to get comfortable with people, or to talk to them if I don’t have some clearly defined reason to do so. At parties, I tend to wander from group of people I know to another group of people I know, and back. If I end up sitting with other people, I have to remind myself to introduce myself and ask the name of other people. But that’s just me being an introvert.

        Someone in the later camp, someone who is only shy around women, probably has some sort of…’mistraining’ about women. I’m not going to say they’re misogynist per se, but they’re viewing men and women different for some reason, and it might be a good idea for them to examine why.

        There’s been a lot of comment about ‘Men afraid of talking of to women should just start talking to women’, but there are really two different problems going on:

        1) Men who are afraid of rejection, so don’t want to make their interest known in a woman.
        2) Men who don’t see any reason to interaction with a woman besides being interested in them.

        Men who are shy and awkward around only women are both those. PUA tries to remove problem #1 while leaving #2 intact. Hell, PUA can add problem #2 if the guys don’t already have it.

        A much better plan is to remove #2 first. This can result in ‘Nice Guy-ism’ or whatever, but that’s still a smaller problem than having both problems. And Nice Guy-ism is just so utterly stupid and can easily be avoid with a tiny bit of education about how it demonstrable doesn’t solve the problem they have:

        Specifically, at some point, they will have to make an indisputable romantic offer, and will risk rejection.(1) And now they’re trying to make it on a friend, and, uh, the possible rejection is a million times worse. If they can’t manage to ask some random woman in a bar out due to fear of rejection, there’s no way they’ll manage it with a friend. It’s like they’re afraid of heights, but need to get across a tightrope, and the problem they come up with is demanding that the tightrope be raised higher and higher so it takes longer to climb to. That’s…not a particularly clever plan.

        1) At a risk of putting myself on the same side as ‘the manosphere’, I actually think we would be a lot better off if we didn’t have a society where 90% of women didn’t leave it up to men to make the ‘romantic offer’ and risk rejection. We’d be better off if both genders were expected to make their interests known. (Of course, unlike the delusional ‘manosphere’, I understand this isn’t women trying to control things, but is in fact due to societal constraints on women.)Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I have to say that “myth” and “hack” are the two words that I just about sick of seeing. Whenever I see someone claiming to tackle myths, what I usually find is someone setting up a bunch of straw men to knock down so that they can set up their own equally untenable position. That is exactly what Marcotte is doing here. Here’s a completely reasonable version of all of her “myths.”

      Women are attracted to high status men (and more power to them; it’s good to have standards).

      Women do sometimes friend zone men explicitly to take advantage of their companionship (I’ve been there myself).

      Women do sometimes characterize awkward behavior as harassment (notice the spread of the word creepy as a completely arbitrary and subjective judgment of male behavior).

      Women do sometimes make false rape accusations (by the way, that argument about the Duke lacrosse case not really being a false rape accusation because there was no rape is downright bizarre).

      Why am I so sure about these things? Because I know that women are human beings capable of the same sort of status-seeking, selfish behavior and outright dishonesty of which men are capable. Amanda Marcotte is the poster child of why I tend to consider myself anti-feminist, or at least anti that sort of feminism.

      Under a reactionary, patriarchal framework society seeks to constrain women’s behavior to privilege male preferences. Marcotte is not trying to deconstruct that framework. Rather, she is simply trying to flip it and posit a world that privileges women instead.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Yes, women are human, how astute of you to notice.

        But you are 100% wrong on Marcotte.

        Marcotte’s awesome. She speaks very, very clearly and sets excellent standards of how women should expect men to behave, standards that pierce the veil of woman as reflection of her mate and second class citizen.

        I wish more women read her. I wish more men read her and took her writing to heart, they’d be better humans.

        And every single one of her points is on point.

        (Plus I find it very disturbing that you think a woman who made it clear she only wants to be friends owes you something more then friendship.)Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Not aiming an fingers (seriously, I am speaking generally and not trying for a backhanded insinuation), but it is VERY common for a privilege class losing any of it’s privilege, especially if said power was unconsciously accepted ‘as the norm’, to feel disadvantaged even if the end result is parity.

        After all, if one side gets knocked down a peg and the other side raised up, even though both are NOW equal, it can look entirely like one side is getting a leg up. As in “Look, they’re getting all the advantages and I’m losing power. Obviously they’re now the privileged class and I’m trodden upon!”.

        On another note: I watched another forum’s thread on this shooting become a case study of the “NOT ALL MEN” phenomenon. The original discussion on the shooting had morphed into one on feminism, which was quickly taken over by a handful of posters (all men) explaining loudly and at length how feminism hurts them, specifically how feminism (as they defined it) was totally wrong and how their version was totally right, but the feminists won’t admit it.

        Any attempts to move back to either the original topic or discussions of women in general were rebuffed. (It would surprise no one that all those involved in derailing the conversation had, previously, derailed a conversation on rape to explain how men get raped to, and then yell that a group devoted to rape awareness on college campuses never talked about prison rape and how that made them sexist).Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Plus I find it very disturbing that you think a woman who made it clear she only wants to be friends owes you something more then friendship.

        OK. I find it very disturbing that you have chosen to twist my words into something that I clearly did not say and do not believe.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        You stated:
        Women do sometimes friend zone men explicitly to take advantage of their companionship (I’ve been there myself).

        Take advantage how? What do you mean by “take advantage”? Do they falsely pretend to be your friend? What, specifically, are they gaining over and above a woman who is your friend whom you do not want to sleep with?

        Now, I suppose I can see a case wherein a woman leads you on — purposefully or not — in order to get you to do things you would only do for someone you wanted to sleep with, but that wouldn’t be ‘friend-zoning’ since, very specifically, she is not relegating you to the roll of “just friend”. Maybe you meant something else by “friend zone”?

        Because as it’s habitually used, “friend zone” means a woman sees you as “just a friend” and has zero romantic interest in you and you know it. You are not seen as a potential romantic partner. If this isn’t clear to the man, then he wouldn’t characterize it as ‘friend zone’ because the very TERM ‘friend zone’ used as a complaint or descriptor means “Friend, no romance”.

        So what do you mean, specifically, by “Women do sometimes friend zone men explicitly to take advantage of their companionship (I’ve been there myself)”?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @j-r I did not try to twist your words, you said, Women do sometimes friend zone men explicitly to take advantage of their companionship (I’ve been there myself).

        You used the word, “friendzone,” which indicates she was clear about ‘friends only, no romantic relationship,’ and she’s ‘taking advantage of you for companionship.’ To suggest a woman who’s clearly said, “No romance,’ is somehow guilty of taking advantage by pursuing friendship is troublesome.

        If you meant something else, fine. But that is what you said, and it implies she’s doing something wrong and taking advantage of you.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Well, some things are unsurprising. For example, on a forum this large you will surely find at least one nerdbro who is a textbook example of the kinds of stuff Amanda is talking about.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @j-r I hope you’ll stick with me here, I am not trying to play gotcha. I have a lot of respect for you, and I think you and I have done a very good job of agreeing to disagree. And sometimes we agree with each other strongly.

        I completely grant that you were, potentially, taken advantage of by a woman for material stuff and your time. That is totally possible, and if that happened to you, I’m sorry.

        But many, many women offer friendship to men they don’t want to sleep with. For some women, deciding if you want to sleep with a man takes some time; he’s got to earn your trust. Hot fires sometimes kindle slowly.

        But no means no. “I just want to be friends’ doesn’t mean maybe. It means she may be willing to spend some time. To be friends. If you want to spend that time with her, do so without expecting her to change her mind. She may, but that’s for her to decide.

        If all you want is that possibility of sex, then don’t spend time with her, and don’t expect she’ll change her mind. Doing so is every bit as crummy as the woman who does take advantage of your time and money.

        This is, at it’s heart, the ‘who pays for dinner’ conversation. I think most guys go into that hopeful something will work; if it doesn’t, some few grow resentful that she’s denied something owed. But all she really owes for dinner is a little bit of companionship, and perhaps to keep things simpler, her share of the bill.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        You know, a very good friend is about to go to court again with his completely horrible ex-wife over ongoing custody bullshit. And this women is a mess. No, seriously.

        The idea that all men are terrible or that all women are angels is, well, preposterous. No one believes that.

        Look, a man of straw!

        I suppose some women act friendly to dudes, knowing darn well he wants her, but strings him along to get him to do stuff for her. Sure. That happens.

        Some men beat up and sexually abuse women on the subway. That happens also. (Just happened in Atlanta. There is video.)

        Wanna compare numbers?

        One thing you find again and again among the MRA sect, which I suspect includes this j r person, is a seething resentment toward women, toward who women are, our growing power in society, which still lags far behind men, for how we make romantic choices, as if men have always been so dignified and open-minded about their attractions to women, on and on, broken, petty, hateful bullshit. It is really sad.

        There are really decent women out there, tons of us. We seek (some of us) really decent guys. When we find those guys, and when they find us — it happens every day — we hook and and have wonderful times, all happy and sharing and (indeed) sometimes really sexy.

        And the nerdbros stand aside with sour faces and hate us. Ha!Report

      • Avatar Herb says:

        “She speaks very, very clearly and sets excellent standards of how women should expect men to behave, standards that pierce the veil of woman as reflection of her mate and second class citizen.”

        I haven’t read a word Marcotte has written since the Bush administration, but I’ll be you a hundred bucks she did much complaining about True Detective.

        That’s not to say she’s predictable. It’s to say she’s rather….one-dimensional.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        I am a reluctant feminist. But dealing with the world according to men can make you sound like a one-note chorus.Report

      • Avatar Herb says:

        “But dealing with the world according to men can make you sound like a one-note chorus.”

        Of that I have no doubt. I’m often exhausted by “manworld” myself, and I’m a card-carrying member.

        I just don’t think the Marcottean perspective is really going to be all that helpful to men or women. It has women rejecting, or embracing, various things for dubious reasons and it pokes at the territorial instincts of men, exacerbating the very problem it is intended to solve.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        It has women rejecting, or embracing, various things for dubious reasons and it pokes at the territorial instincts of men, exacerbating the very problem it is intended to solve
        Might want to rephrase that, because it comes across a bit…um, sorta like “She keeps questioning things and making the menfolk mad, she’s gonna make it worse for herself”.

        Also, territorial instincts? Really? *eyeroll*. Please. Explain this mysterious territorial instincts.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @veronica-dire and @j-r

        Veronica, you say, One thing you find again and again among the MRA sect, which I suspect includes this j r person, is a seething resentment toward women, toward who women are, our growing power in society, which still lags far behind men, for how we make romantic choices, as if men have always been so dignified and open-minded about their attractions to women, on and on, broken, petty, hateful bullshit. It is really sad.

        I do want to jump to JR’s (and many other men’s) defense here. A lot of the language here is traditional gender language. A lot of it’s traditional marketing. I think that confuses people.

        Some time sorting out how that language might be misogynistic might be. The myths that Marcotte points out, above, are a good example.

        This post starts with two cultures, Pick Up (get lots of sex with lots of girls) and Rules (how to bag a man). Both are stereotypes about how to manipulate the opposite gender and avoid as approaching them as actual people.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — I’m proceeding according to the “looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…” theory.Report

      • Avatar Herb says:

        “She keeps questioning things and making the menfolk mad, she’s gonna make it worse for herself”.

        That’s not my view, of course, but I do think that would line up with what the random misogynist is going to think after reading some of Marcotte’s work. It’s more likely to cause them to circle the wagons rather than to rethink their philosophy on women. That’s the “territorial instinct” I’m talking about, dudes rallying to protect the male-dominated patriarchy. I didn’t mean to imply there is some unique Martian quality in the male sex in regards to instincts.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @herb — There is power in sharing truth among ourselves and among allies. And, yes, misogynists will reject the words of a feminists. News at 11!

        But, honestly, your point seems weird to me. You object to her article, not on its merits, but how it will seem to misogynists — but not to you, just to them.

        Really, you are working on our behalf, trying to shape our message so it is palatable to misogynists — not you!, nope!, not at all! But still, see, this will bother misogynists, since they are territorial, and damn this article bothers you and you see all it’s flaws, the way those awful misogynists will read it, and really want to help.

        Yep. Got it.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        It’s more likely to cause them to circle the wagons rather than to rethink their philosophy on women. That’s the “territorial instinct” I’m talking about, dudes rallying to protect the male-dominated patriarchy.

        Right. So it’s okay to discredit Marcotte’s writing simply because it might make the poor tender dears dig into their misogyny more deeply.Report

      • Avatar Herb says:


        “You object to her article, not on its merits, but how it will seem to misogynists — but not to you, just to them.”

        No, I object to Marcotte’s work because it’s one-dimensional and counter-productive. I approve of her motive, not her method.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @herb that’s her beat; the topic she covers. Marcotte’s column in Slate is called XX.

        We don’t expect financial writers to cover football or sports writers to cover politics.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        You are talking about empathy, but I see you as having a bit of a empathy blind spot in this case. Women sometimes do shitty things to men. Just like men sometimes do shitty things to women. Criticizing an individual instance of a woman doing something not so great does not misogyny make.

        People want to twist reality in all sorts of way to keep from admitting that women sometimes take advantage of friendship from a man who obviously wants more. When this happened to me, this was a very obvious case. A woman was into another guy, but the other guy was unwilling to commit to her. She wasn’t into me romantically, but was more than happy to have a sort of platonic relationship to keep her from feeling lonely while she tried to get the other guy to commit. I hold no bitterness towards this woman and, in fact, I blame myself for making myself available like that and I took that lesson away from the whole situation. That doesn’t change the fact, that on some level she was taking advantage of my feelings.

        Think about a similar dynamic that sometimes happens from the other direction. Sometimes a man is involved in a sexual relationship with a woman who he knows wants more. On one level the woman is acting unwisely in continuing to pretend that she’s fine with just sex when she is really angling for a committed relationship. At the same time, the man should probably do the right thing and not continue to lead her on.

        If you are a man who was in a friend zone situation and uses that as an excuse to slander all women, you’re wrong. Likewise, if you are a woman who had a man let her believe that a sexual relationship was headed somewhere it wasn’t as an excuse to slander all men, you’re wrong. However, there is nothing wrong with saying that the individuals in those situations acted somewhat less than ethically.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Because you wanted more, and she didn’t, but she still wanted to be friends with you, she was using you and doing anything shitty? Do you not see why some here might think that an exceptionally fucked up way to think about the situation? What’s more, did you have no agency?

        I have seen women use men before. It does not look like what you just described. That just looks like friendship.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Up above I mention particulars, which is relevant to the Marcotte piece. Specifically, the part about the Friend Zone. She comes to the right conclusion to the scenario with which she uses to define The Friend Zone. She says that’s “generally” the case, which is where I disagree with her. There is no “general case” except that two people are friends and that’s all she wants while he wants more.

        His wanting more is not, in and of itself, any sort of example of misogyny, entitlement, or privilege. Nor is the fact that there is nothing more an indication of grave injustice, as people sometimes suggest. Mostly, TFZ is a description of a place where he resides in the interpersonal dynamic. Whether there is a moral lesson to be learned rests entirely on the particulars. If she’s stringing him along, then she’s wrong (not for him being in TFZ, but for stringing him along). If she’s been clear and he continues to hang around waiting for a moment of weakness, he’s in the wrong (which is the picture Marcotte paints).

        The popularization of the term, as far as I know, comes from the TV show Friends. That involved a case without any particular moral lesson. Joey was telling Ross that he needs to make his move or Rachel will perpetually think of him as a friend and nothing more (“The Friend Zone”). Nothing wrong with Ross wanting to be with Rachel. Nothing wrong if Rachel didn’t want to be with Ross. Joey’s explanation of TFZ was entirely on point, and his advice was valid.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Chris, to some degree it depends on who we are talking to. People who use TFZ as an admonishment of women are almost always (or always) wrong. But TFZ is a useful concept in describing interpersonal dynamics to guys. As part of the framework of basically saying “If you’re not getting what you’re wanting out of a relationship with someone, it’s up to you to act.”

        In TFZ cases (generally, to the extent that there is a “generally”), by withdrawing to whatever level or type of relationship that you are comfortable with, given that no romantic relationship is forthcoming. If you are doing what you’re doing on the basis of hope for a forthcoming romantic relationship… stop.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Well, when debating the friendzone, I think it is important to clarify: are we talking about some shit that happened in high school that you are still bitter about? If so, get over it. Both women and men are struggling to figure shit out at that age.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        From my personal experience, it happened to a significant degree three times. Once when I was in high school and twice after college*. I met my wife when I was 25 so I don’t know to what extent it might have happened after that if that hadn’t happened. Probably not, since by that point I had learned my lessons. I saw it happen to a couple of peers after that point.

        Anger is an ever-unhelpful response to TFZ. Even in those cases where she actually did do you wrong (and especially in cases dating back to high school, for the reason you state). The helpful response is figuring out how to change your own behavior so that you’re not caught in that situation again. (Obviously, I was a slower learner in this regard than I should have been.)

        * – If we’re keeping score, in the first case I look back with regrets of my own behavior. Not just poor tactical behavior, but what I did to her was far more deliberately hurtful than anything she did to me. The second one… did me wrong. She would agree with me on that assessment. The third one I have tactical regrets. I didn’t act in my own best interest. I don’t think I did her wrong, though, except that I might have handled my exit from her life better.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        As you say, there really is no general case. And the correctness of the view is to a large extent determined by how you choose to define the friend zone. If you define it as a manipulative woman using a nice guy for a shoulder to cry on after the bad boy breaks her heart, you may come to the manoshpere view. If you define it as entitled guy weaseling his way into friendship with a woman and then turning bitter when she rebukes his advances, you’ll get the Marcotte take.

        The reality of these situations is generally neither one nor the other. For that reason I reject both views. Rather, these situations tend to be about two people using each other in ways that are perfectly normal and, at the same time, less than fully up front and honest, both with the other person and with themselves. Most people are, to a large extent, feeling and groping their way through life and not always fully conscious of the effect that they are having on the people around them. Misunderstanding abounds.


        I guess that you either missed or chose to ignore the part where I wrote “I hold no bitterness towards this woman and, in fact, I blame myself for making myself available like that and I took that lesson away from the whole situation.”Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Dude, you used it as an example of women being shitty and using men. He’ll, you’ve said you were used. But it just sounds like a friendship that wasn’t what you wanted it to be.

        And the language you’ve used sounds pretty bitter.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        And the language you’ve used sounds pretty bitter.

        “I hold no bitterness towards this woman…”

        Yeah, I guess I see your point.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        She was friends with me, but I wanted more, so she was shitty and used me. But I’m not bitter.

        Yeah, saying the last sentence doesn’t make saying the previous sentences sound any less bitter.

        Look, maybe you aren’t bitter, but you talk like you are, and if you think about it, calling friendship “using” and “shitty” is even more fucked up if it’s not just an emotional reason to disappointment.

        But whatever, dude, nothing anyone has said here has penetrated your non-bitterness. Nothing I say will either, then.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        She was friends with me, but I wanted more, so she was shitty and used me. But I’m not bitter.

        Yeah, saying the last sentence doesn’t make saying the previous sentences sound any less bitter.

        So, here is the problem with that: I didn’t write that sentence. You did. I never said anything about her being shitty or using me. If your argument requires that you paraphrase and embellish what I actually wrote instead of directly quoting it, that is a sign that your argument is not very good.

        Also, I am not sure that you quite grok the meaning of the word bitter. It means something other than, “doesn’t agree with me on the internet.”

        (of people or their feelings or behavior) angry, hurt, or resentful because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment.

        What makes someone bitter is not that they’ve had or are recounting a bad experience or unjust treatment. What makes someone bitter is the “angry, hurt, or resentful” part. For some reason, you have decided to project those feelings onto what I’ve said. And I’m not sure why. It could be that you have some extraordinary powers of perception and insight that allow you to penetrate the human psyche of people you know nothing about based merely on a few words on the internet. Or it could be that you are the kind of person who makes random projections based on pre-existing ideological beliefs and thinks the worst of anyone who disagrees with him. As I don’t know you, I cannot say for sure which one it is.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Jr, you said women can be shitty, and then followed it with your example of, in your words, “being taken advantage of.” That’s often what people mean when they say they were used, and you’ve talked of being used elsewhere. And your description of the situation? A woman being friends with you.

        If you can’t remember your own words, that’s not my problem. It might explain why you don’t understand how your words are making you look in this thread, though. I recommend going back and reading them.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        OK, now I am pretty sure which one it is.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Whatever helps you feel better about yourself, dude. If it lets you keep ignoring what you’re actually saying, publicly, right here, it’s no skin off my back.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I have no info as to jr’s situation. I can only say that I’ve been in similiar situations. I met a gall and we hit it off. Later (second date) she’s like “yah, let’s be friends”. That’s cool and all and she’s a great friend, but she’s also the type of woman I find very attractive and it’s difficult to remain focused on the fact that I’m just a friend sometimes. All the deep personal emotional conversations we’ve had about life, dating, women, men, and the things we’ve done together, as friends, has drawn me in. Random thoughts of wanting more crop up. When she’s touched me unexepectedly on the arm or grabbed my hand and held it briefly, I force myself to remember that what I may be reading in her actions ARE NOT NECESSARILY what she’s saying or meaning. Projection can be a bitch. I remind myself that if she was interested in more than friendship, she’d probably say something, and I focus on the fact that I enjoy her company and they activities we do together.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Damon, now that is a much better way of describing such situations.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Women are attracted to high status men.
        … mostly women who are comparatively unintelligent and incapable. Women who are intelligent are attracted to intelligence.

        Women take advantage of “friend zone”
        … This is NOT what is going on. A woman taking advantage of someone in the “friend zone” is a woman who wants to have her cake and eat it too. it’s more like saying “don’t want you right now, but want you around in case later I change my mind.”

        “anti that sort of feminism” lol.Report

  14. Avatar Stella B. says:

    In many ways growing old sucks. On the other hand, I am perfectly happy to have arrived at the age where I am no longer visible to men.Report

  15. Avatar Joel H says:

    I’m no PUA and a lot of those sites are atrocious. But some of them have some very good points. But you won’t be able to see them if you are trapped in the dominant paradigm. At the end of the day that’s the problem the manosphere has – not that they are less reasonable, or more violent, or dumb – its just that their ideas go against the core beliefs of society.

    I remember back in 2003 I read “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”, Tom Frank’s take on the Conservative dominance of American politics. This was deep in the Bush era, when the GOP controlled all three houses and looked unstoppable. His conclusion was that emotion-driven Middle Americans voted on identity instead of with common sense. They voted against their economic interests because the Right had successfully “othered” the Left.

    Now, raving Leftie in Bush America that I was, this thesis, although infuriating, was deeply satisfying. It’s only in retrospect do I see that Franks was asking a much more fundamental question – “what motivates human beings?” The answer to that was much more universal and not as simple as Left vs Right. But in the frustration and need for self-satisfaction at the time, it make perfect sense. It let me “other” those low brow right wingers in the Midwest.

    My point? Don’t underestimate the motivations of people (including people in the manosphere) you disagree with and don’t overestimate your own. There is a lot of horrible crap among these PUAs but there are also some very insightful writers among that community. Likewise, the force with which many, many people are trying to tie Elliot Rodgers to the manosphere should show you that some actors on the other side of this divide are at best duplicitous and at worst raving imbeciles.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      There is a lot of horrible crap among these PUAs but there are also some very insightful writers among that community.

      This is a very odd community. Actually, this is a very common community, but it’s just damn odd to me.

      When I’m a member of a community and there’s horrible crap around somewhere, I kinda make it a point to try and clean that up. If I can’t, I try and find an alternate community that aligns with the things I like about the previous one but lacks the horrible crap part.

      I don’t just keep broadcasting that I’m part of that community and gee, can we all get past the horrible crap and see the diamond in the rough? Shoot, the Salvation Army runs soup kitchens, they do admirable things, and they have serious organizational problems with LGBT rights. Sure, they do admirable things. Jettisoning the problems they have with LGBT rights is actually something that they kinda need to do, though.

      (This is probably why I’m nonpartisan, come to think of it.)Report

    • Avatar Herb says:

      “There is a lot of horrible crap among these PUAs but there are also some very insightful writers among that community.”

      Sure, con artists can be insightful too. Especially on a stage giving a TEDTalk.

      Me, I find the idea of a pick-up artist to be wholly in the “horrible crap” category. I can’t imagine many women seeking to be targeted by one, and I can’t imagine a pick-up artist having very noble motives. Insights into human nature and psychological ticks? Sure. But that’s not what “hooking up” is all about. It’s about forming a connection with another human being, even if only for one night.

      These men don’t need game. They need hookers.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

        Mystery and Shiggy do have very similar hair…..Report

      • Avatar Joel H says:

        “I can’t imagine many women seeking to be targeted by one, and I can’t imagine a pick-up artist having very noble motives.”

        Nobody likes to think of themselves as so predictable that you can use techniques to influence their behavior but in reality most of us are, and many of us in certain circumstances (apart from PUAs) do use strategies to influence others. There are women who have elevated this type of “targeting” to high art. They run rings around PUAs. They just aren’t as crude and coarse in their language. Also, I think it’s much easier for men to appear sleazy than women in general. Again, more about perception than reality.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Nobody likes to think of themselves as so predictable that you can use techniques to influence their behavior but in reality most of us are

        You’re gonna have to flesh that out a bit, old son, ’cause in reality I find that most of the techniques that you can use to influence human behavior actually only work in fairly cosmetic sorts of ways on the average Joe or Jane. Cults would be a lot more popular if it was as easy as all that.

        and many of us in certain circumstances do use strategies to influence others.

        If your consistent approach to human interaction is to use “a strategy” to influence others, in the long run, you’re going to find out that people think you’re an asshole. Even if it works. Fair warning.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Anger makes people real easy to manipulate. Talk to a good troll, and see exactly how it’s done.Report

    • Avatar RTod says:


      Excellent comment.Report

      • Avatar Joel H says:

        In line with this, Tod, have you seen what is happening with the upcoming men’s rights conference in Detroit? It was intended to be the first large scale men’s issues event of its kind but now it is in jeopardy because of numerous threats of violence and death. The hotel where the event was to be held is requiring A Voice for Men (the event organisers) to pay for extra police protection and it is in doubt whether they can afford it.

        Isn’t it time people start to question their perceptions around this issue? Someone in the manosphere writes a misogynist rant at Return of Kings and it is spread like wildfire all through the media as a symbol of these depraved and violent woman haters. A men’s conference receives enough death threats to require increased police protection and stone cold silence. Nothing. Google it.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


        Actually, I can’t imagine that wouldn’t be a story any news organ would run with. I know I would. The reason other journalists might have decided not to run with this story is probably similar to the reason I’m not going to write about it.

        After reading your comment, I reached out to Double Tree-Fort Shelby, as well as their parent corporation Hilton. If someone at the Double Tree or Hilton deemed a men’s rights conference too expensive to hold due to increased costs of security/insurance from domestic terrorist threats, neither corporation (or their front-line contact employees) seems to be aware of it.

        If you know of anyone that I could contact who would have specific contact info of who who made such a decision and how to confirm it (contact info, email, etc.), I would happily look into it further, and I know I could get it published. Otherwise, there just isn’t a story there to cover.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Now that makes it a really interesting story. Elam posted a PDF of the letter he says he received from the Doubletree management telling him exactly what security measures he would be required to take at his own expense. But the Doubletree has no knowledge of that letter? Who sent it? Or did anyone send it? Is this a ploy? Is Elam being played? What’s going on?!?Report

      • Avatar Joel H says:

        The hotel is requiring A Voice for Men (the group hosting the event) to pay for the additional police security (this is part of the contractual agreement in case of threats of this kind). The expense of doing so may be beyond AVfM’s ability to pay, which puts the conference in jeopardy. They are raising funds right now to see if they can pull it off. I’m linking the article from AVfM, which includes a link to the letter from the Double Tree Hilton.


      • Avatar zic says:

        One of the things that intrigued me is that the letter’s ‘including death threats’ against hotel employees, guests, etc.

        This appears to be an ongoing debate — active protests against the conference; and responses — mostly played out on the fb page of the protest organizers (along with her photo and email address, her name, in once instance). One has to wonder about the nature of those death threats — they are unidentified.

        But I do wonder of one possibility: are they being made by men in response in the movement in response to the threat of protests? Or by the group threatening to protest? Because the rape, kill, beat, etc. threats are pretty well documented, and they’re not typically made by feminists.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The cynic in me wonders if it’s an attempt to get more money. But if they really are receiving death threats, the people who are making those threats are terrible human beings.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        From the letter – “death threats, physical violence against our staff and other guests as well as damage to the property.”

        Well, it IS Detroit. Maybe it’s just a form letter; or, a standard request for visitors to help supplement the DPD’s undoubtedly overstretched budget.


      • Avatar Joel H says:

        “Because the rape, kill, beat, etc. threats are pretty well documented, and they’re not typically made by feminists.”

        Erin Pizzey, the woman who opened the first DV shelter in the UK received multiple death threats and was forced to flee the UK because she contradicted the feminist thesis that DV was uni-directional, men attacking women. Any person or group of people deeply entrenched in a threat narrative (the other is out to get me) can potentially make threats of their own and see themselves as justified.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Look @joel-h you will get exactly no where with me on this topic, because I’m firmly of the belief (and repeatedly on record on this very forum, too) that both men and women are abused. Repeatedly.

        But statistically, women get the brunt of it.

        More to the point, read this:

        Then I guest-blogged for Megan McArdle. At the time, she was employed here at The Atlantic. My stint running her page while she vacationed included the keys to the blog’s inbox. Even as someone who’d previously blogged about immigration in California’s Inland Empire, fielding insults and aggressive invective as vile as any I could imagine, I was shocked by a subset of her blog’s correspondence. To this day, I don’t know if I was experiencing a typical or atypical week. Perhaps in the abstract, there isn’t any threat more extreme than the death threats I’d received and brushed off as unserious. But I read emails and comments addressed at McArdle that expanded my notion of how disturbing online vitriol could be. And it took my actually reading them for my perspective to change.

        I’d never been exposed to anything like it before.


      • Avatar Chris says:

        @glyph , have you seen the video of the local reporter staying with a woman while she waits for the police after being robbed? It is hilarious and infuriating at the same time.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @chris – no, I haven’t.

        Also, I make a lot of jokes about Detroit (what can I say, I am helpless for certain low-hanging fruit, and will never miss an opportunity for a Mad Max or C.H.U.D. reference) but lest anyone get upset at that, let me say (again) that what is happening there now is heartbreaking to me. That city’s a cultural epicenter of this nation and the world, a crucible of no fewer than three huge musical movements (blues, punk, techno). I used a date a girl from the suburbs, and I really liked it up there (and it was rough then).

        As cynical as I am, I really hope that what’s happening now is sort of like NYC in the 70’s (when being a crime-ridden, broke s**thole also meant that rents were cheap so artists moved in), and Detroit will likewise rise again as a cultural force.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @chris “Now that makes it a really interesting story. Elam posted a PDF of the letter he says he received from the Doubletree management telling him exactly what security measures he would be required to take at his own expense. But the Doubletree has no knowledge of that letter? Who sent it? Or did anyone send it? Is this a ploy? Is Elam being played? What’s going on?!?”

        I don’t know, but I would be surprised if Elam sent it himself. He’s sometimes naive about how the MSM works — he was pretty convinced the reason 20/20 never aired the slow-news-day story on MRAs was due to some conspiracy or another — but from what I’ve seen he’s not a guy who would fake something like like. I have to assume the letter is real, and that it came from whoever was their main contact.


        Thanks. I’ll reach out to V4M and see if they have any interest in talking about it.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hey, it’s that guy (LeDuff) from the Bourdain Detroit special!

        That was hilarious. And sad.

        Well, at least Fox is getting some stuff right.Report

      • Avatar Joel H says:


        Thanks for looking into it. I do find it bizarre that the hotel claims no knowledge of this though. Nothing wrong with a little skepticism. If untruths are coming from anywhere – including AVfM – light should be shined on it.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @joel-h “I do find it bizarre that the hotel claims no knowledge of this though.”

        The more I think about it, the more I’m not so sure it is bizarre.

        If you were in charge of a hotel, would you want to tell reported you were having domestic terrorist threats? Especially if they were of the sort you were 99% sure would never be realized?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        I’m pretty sure you’ll get universal agreement on this forum that any such threats against a group or event are completely out of line. But that said, does AVfM expect anyone to be particularly sympathetic to them? In a post-Anita-Sarkeesian world? Really?

        If we were to discover something similar happened to a White Power rally, what would our response be? Why should this be different?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


        I’m not so sure the first question we should ask ourselves about a domestic terrorist threat at a public hotel is where the intended targets fit on the Cosmic Justice spectrum.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Long ago, when I was active in martial arts, I learned that the competitions they held (which involved katas and point sparring, although the brown and black belts were a lot closer to full contact, it was still points based) in gyms and the like required multi-million dollar insurance policies for liability purposes.

        It was a surprisingly cheap amount to pay, because the odds of someone being seriously injured were very low. (The worst injury anyone could recall was a knee injury they weren’t even liable for). I think in 20 years, they had exactly one payout off less than 5000 dollars for assessment of some cracked ribs.

        When I worked for the city, again in my youth, I learned that people renting city facilities over a certain size were required to retain security — generally an off-duty cop. Also, very affordable compared to the cost of renting the place to begin with.

        I say all this to say: It is highly unlikely that the cost of insurance against a highly unlikely event and a handful of security guards for a few days is actually going to prevent a conference from being held, if they had the funds to hold it in the first place.

        Security guards — or even city cops — is not Blackwater. It’s not 100k to hire them for a weekend.

        I’d be very curious as to how MUCH extra money they claim this is going to cost the group.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @morat20 As far as insurance goes, for a chain like DT it probably isn’t a premium increase thing. It’s a question of either:

        A. “not doing X when being informed of Y” voiding your coverage issue, or far more likely,

        B. being self-insured up to seven or eight figures, which would mean actually paying most if not all of the upfront realized liabilities.

        As for how much it would cost to add security, it doesn’t actually have to be anywhere near $100k to make it unaffordable. Most previous MRM conventions/rallies have been free, and despite that have attracted very few attendees. This one costs $300, not including airfare, room and food (for those not in the Detroit area. It could well be that AV4M was already looking taking a loss before they got this letter.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @tod-kelly — It is a question of balance, since I am morally certain that the AVfM community is responsible for an enormous number of death-and-rape threats against women, any feminist who sticks up her head, and examples of this are legion. Short version: it is rich that they would complain about same.

        It would be like the Wesboro folks complaining that someone picketed their funeral. This is not to say that anyone should picket their funeral. We can agree that such a protest is wrong. But at the same time we can say, “These folks don’t get our sympathy.”

        Let me add, I have zero fear that anyone will attack the AVfM people. These death threats, if they exist, are shitty but ultimately bogus.

        Can you say the same about MRA threats against women? After Elliot Rogers?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @tod-kelly — Let me add, are you aware of the human toll this takes on women, including diagnosed cases of PTSD, merely from the ongoing stress of being a feminist online? And the “Men’s Rights” spaces are epicenters of this abuse. You must have a vague awareness of this.

        So, yes, a “terrorist threat” against a hotel is serious business, and I hope that law enforcement looks into it. But we here, when we choose where to turn our lens, have to decide who deserves our attention and sympathy?

        If you think it’s all just kinda equal, that we are seeking some kind of fair play between them and us, then you need to seriously rethink this.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        No, I wasn’t aware. That’s why I so often write things championing these folks, and encouraging them to do what they do eve more. Now I see the error of my ways.

        As you so often say to anyone who disagrees with you, what’s your point here?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @rtod it’s not the question of justice so much as clarity; this letter was published with intimations that the threats were from protestors, and that is actually not clear from the content of the letter; all that is clear is that there were threats and the hotel felt concerned for the safety of other guests and employees.

        Given that it specifies contract clauses, I’d assume it’s genuine, and I would be surprised if anyone in the hotel would discuss it with anyone, that’s confidential business between the hotel and conference organizers from the hotel’s perspective. If they talk to you about this, then other event organizers will worry they’ll speak to the press about events. . . which is likely how you would advice the hotel to respond, no?Report

      • Avatar Joel H says:


        That’s a very interesting use of the phrase “morally certain.”Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @tod-kelly — A threat against a hotel is a criminal act, and should be pursued as such. No disagreement.

        But let us speak of the MRM as a whole, which actively terrorizes women, and thus less resembles a small political group with odd beliefs and more closely resembles groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

        So this is my point: if you want to investigate this, by all means. But do not set aside the character of the groups you are researching, their aims, their tactics, their effects. Nor should you ignore how they will use this for propaganda purposes, for they will. They will use this as an argument to deflect criticism against them.

        “See,” they will say, “Feminists do it to.”

        But consider carefully what this it refers to.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @veronica-dire , you have read Tod’s work on MRM’s, right? I ask because your level of preachiness, or lecturing, or whatever, here suggests otherwise. He’s been quite up front about his own views on MRM’s, and he a.) harbors no illusions about them, and b.) knows a hell of a lot more about them than you or I, because he’s spent so much time researching and writing about them. It probably wouldn’t hurt to keep that in mind in this thread.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — I recall that he wrote an article. But that is not the sort of knowledge that I question. Instead, what I question is his understanding of the significance of this movement to women, how it actively hurts us.

        We’ve had this fight before, the three of us, on similar topics. You guys (it seems to me) like to be detached and rules oriented. Which is perhaps fine for most things, but not all things.

        Recently a friend of mine got into an online kerfuffle with an MRA type dude. Anyway, he found out who she was. Then he discovered that she lived near him. Shortly later the stalking and the threats began.

        And look, this shit is so fucking common it has become routine. And it’s terrible. And the Internet is a different place for women than for men.

        One can research the MRM, but never quite appreciate this.

        Fortunately after he found out who she was we found out who he was, and after a few threats of mutually assured destruction he backed off.

        But still, he is a violent, sick fuck and I share a city with him. She’s never quite gotten over it.

        Do you know why I am anonymous on forums like this? I mean, I live a cool life in a cool city with a cool job. I’d love to share more of that, but I don’t dare.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @veronica-dire “We’ve had this fight before, the three of us, on similar topics. You guys (it seems to me) like to be detached and rules oriented. ”

        While I certainly believe that you believe this is a disagreement we have, it is not. Nor have we ever had this argument. (Can’t speak for Chris.)Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I wrote a long comment earlier, but thought better of it and just canceled it. Suffice it to say the earlier argument had nothing to do with detachment or rules.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Well, fair enough. We have tangled over similar issues before.

        But, look, I like to be fair and take the high road when I can. But when this dude was stalking my friend — I mean, she looked into a restraining order, but decided she would not quite qualify, since abusers know well how to skate on the edges of plausible deniability. And, look, it is unlikely this dude would do anything. And my friend is smart and understood this.

        But still… how to be sure?

        His weapon was fear and it worked.

        So what did we do? She sent out a cry for help, and someone found out who this guy was and where he worked. And we posted pictures of him, let other women in the area know who and what he was, and then let him know if he continued fucking with her we go for his job.

        Was that fair? Was that the high road?

        Fuck that noise, bloody knuckles.

        Now, he backed off and we didn’t follow through. Which is good. None of us wanted to go down that road.

        But we fucking would have.

        This all happened because a woman posted her thoughts online and a man couldn’t stand that.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @joel-h — Does this point generalize in the obvious way? Such as, can I say “Don’t underestimate the motivations of…” for example people in the White Power Movement, because some dude on the Internet found some white power writers “insightful”? Does that seem okay to you? Is it the same for raving anti-semites, since no doubt one can, if they are a sufficiently horrible person, find that insightful?

      Can you point out the “insightful” corners of the manosphere, whose observations are unique to the them? (For I contend if you can find the same insight outside of that misogynistic cesspool, then you are better looking there.)

      Yes? Do you agree with that?

      So, short version, please show your work.Report

  16. Avatar LWA says:

    I am new to hearing about PUA, but I do recall there was a radio jock name Tom Leykis back in the day, who spouted a lot of the same sort of schtick- talking about how to get laid, fast and without entanglements, how to avoid peternity suits, yadda yadda.The entire premise of relationships, was just that getting laid, as often as possible, period.

    It was obvious his core audience was the awkward adolescent male, but he himself sounded to be in his 30’s at least.

    I couldn’t even find it offensive- it just sounded sad, and pathetic, like the Wild and Crazy Bachelors looking for some hot foxy chicks who want to stare at thei bulges. Except maybe not really funny.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      Yeah, whenever I see discussions of dudebro pick-up culture, memories of Leykis get dislodged from the sediment and bubble to the surface… (IIRC, in actuality he started as a fairly normal libertarian-leaning shock jock in the early 90s, but the herd of post-adolescent partiers brought in the ratings, and pandering to it ate more and more of his schtick until it consumed it completely).

      One wrinkle that he had in his schtick that I haven’t seen mentioned else-thread is that it was an explicit plank in his platform to target women with low self-esteem. Pointing out specific “tells” and the like. And moving on quickly as soon as the conversation started going off course (i.e. as soon as it became apparent that she’s a stronger person than you are).

      In a way, it was kind of the mirror image of the PUA philosophy – instead of being a badass alpha-male seducer at the top of the food chain, Leykis’s fans cultivated being a bottom-feeder, skulking around the edges and cutting out targets of opportunity (who were already damaged). Hyenas rather than lions.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Jeffries ain’t no alpha male. He’s just another beta, with a technique that works on some naive young things.Report

  17. Avatar Murali says:

    I’ve heard that you can’t hypnotise someone into doing things that he or she is not genuinely willing to do. Is this really true?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      You can’t (probably) hypnotize someone into doing things they don’t want to do at some level. At least, that’s one of the theories. (How hypnosis works is poorly understood.) But people generally agree you can’t, at least you can’t using simple, one-time hypnosis, get someone to go out and actively do something they would not consider doing. At best, you can lower their inhibitions to some extent.

      However, what you can do is make them very passive while hypnotized. In fact, ‘very passive’ is one of the best descriptions of being under hypnosis I can think of.

      Hypnotizing someone to do something later requires them, to some extent, to be on board with it. Having someone currently under hypnosis is something else entirely. Being under hypnosis makes it very hard to care about doing anything.

      People under hypnosis have been known to put up with all sorts of stuff. They can be physically injured and don’t seem to care. In fact, hypnosis has been seriously proposed as a painkiller method during surgery.

      And while they probably wouldn’t ‘have sex’ with people unless they want to at some level, it would be pretty easy to get them to lie there quietly. And then forget it afterwards.

      Ross Jeffries is less talking about ‘hypnotize them into wanting to have sex with you’ (Which is something that would maybe sometimes work, sometimes not.), and more ‘manipulate them into a half-awake state and proceed to use their body for sex’.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        No, he’s actually talking more about getting someone into a state where “sex is inevitable and ones body gets hot because “oh shit, don’t get really hurt”” [wrap a cat in a blanket, and they turn really passive because ‘there’s nothing they can do’. they’ll kill you later.]

        There’s a whole nother type of rape-technique that uses the “girl doesn’t really even realize she’s having sex”Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        No, he’s actually talking more about getting someone into a state where “sex is inevitable and ones body gets hot because “oh shit, don’t get really hurt”” [wrap a cat in a blanket, and they turn really passive because ‘there’s nothing they can do’. they’ll kill you later.]

        I do not even vaguely understand this paragraph.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      I don’t believe there is any evidence hypnotism can make people do anything or actually has any significant effect.Report

  18. Avatar zic says:

    Brian Levinson has a piece in Salon I Could Have Been Elliot Rodger where he describes his rage at women, and how it still simmers just below the surface:

    Everyone gets lonely sometimes. Everyone’s had moments of inadequacy, envy, and self-doubt. Everyone gets pissed off sometimes, and everyone’s felt unloved. Especially during adolescence, when hormones, relentless social pressure, and newfound independence bang around inside us like billiard balls.

    For most people, these feelings are like weeds. They sprout, raise their ugly heads to the sun, and die away. But for certain young men, they’re like kudzu. They creep through you unchecked, until your entire personality is buried beneath layers of ugly, nasty shit. You become (as a high school friend once described me) a crackling ball of negative energy. And it all sprouts from just one seed: the fact that life isn’t fair, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    He deals with his crap kudzu, thankfully. But he knows it’s still there, rooting through his behavior showed up places where the roots once again found sunlight. He concludes:

    So while my anger and misogyny have subsided, they’ve never completely gone away. Over the past 15 years, I’ve gone through romantic breakups that included hideous words and actions, and I’ve argued with female co-workers in ways I never would with men. Just a few months ago, I got into a screaming match with my father’s wife in which I called her atrocious names.

    Every one of these incidents fills me with shame and regret. The self-loathing I used to feel over my weight and loneliness doesn’t begin to compare to the self-loathing I feel over my pointless, childish cruelty.

    This is something women know about men, even if it’s only some men. You see, most women encounter a man, perhaps a boy, often someone we know but sometimes a stranger, who reveals the kudzu growing in his heart with a cruel remark, a groping, an obsession, or worse. He’s a pick-up artist playing the game of getting lucky, and though all men don’t play this game, every girl I know has been entered unwillingly as a contestant before she’s a full-grown woman.

    So we learn to steel our hearts in protective reluctance. Or we chance being vulnerable and risk a battle through the kudzu vines. (And most women I know think it would really be better if men learned how to weed their own gardens and stopped trampling ours.)

    So thank you, Brian Levinson, for sharing your story. Rend your vines well that your garden may thrive.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      Thank you, so much, for this link, zic.

      It’s Levinson’s kind of bravery that refuels me, especially when I think I might be running on nothing but fumes. And seriously, there’s nothing sexier than a deep-diving, self-reflective man. (Crap. I just tipped our hand.)Report

    • @zic

      I read the Levinson piece (on your recommendation here). Much of what he says reflects the decisions I made in the past, although I was perhaps spared the worst of the anger and insecurity he went through. I wasn’t particularly fond of revenge fantasies, and I never followed a woman to here home and stayed outside until she threatened to call the cops, for example.

      But some of the things I have done and thought, and do and think, challenge any notions I might have of myself as particularly immune from the types of things he describes. And I’ll say that while from his description his worst period seems to have been during his late teens and early 20s, mine was late 20s and early 30s. I must be grateful that I somehow avoided making certain decisions that would have been very bad.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I think this is part of the human condition; that all people carry the seeds of rage and mental illness within.

        At the risk of stereotyping, I think this kind of mental imbalance is quite common in women, particularly as they deal with the fluctuating hormone changes of menopause (hence the term hysterectomy, rooted in the word hysterical).

        There is great shame and secrecy for women who go through this still; I’ve been slammed for even mentioning on internet forums because it’s supposedly misogynistic.Report

      • That’s probably true, or at least arguable. I’ll leave it to others to make the point….I have no relevant knowledge one way or the other. I suppose it’s one of those things that is impossible to bring up without also in some way providing grist on sexist arguments, even if the issue is an important one worthy of consideration.

        On the topic of what Levinson is talking about, I sometimes wonder what I could even say to someone who is similarly situated to how I was. (As I’ve said elsewhere, I was a very late (by early 21st century standards) bloomers, and it lay very heavily on me, and I chose to let it dominate my thoughts and decisions.) And frankly, I don’t know what I could say that would make it any easier. So many people at the time gave advice that in retrospect was perfectly good but that I refused to heed and that I chose to ratchet up the anger even more. This is actually one of those topics that I could only explain by going into details that I just can’t do at this point in my life on a public forum.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      Slate, not Salon.Report

  19. Avatar The Fox says:

    I think you all need to get a life, and stop trying to diminish something you haven’t experienced, or read about very seriously.

    From a person who has seen many friends transform before their eyes as a result of the PUA community’s advice. Many of the guys who join pick up have had serious relationship problems in the past, and are looking for long term girl friends, or to control their dating destiny. One of my friends has had a healthy relationship for quite a while now, as a result of pick up.

    The story of pick up is not so much one of conquering women, but of self improvement. Learning your own self worth, learning how to flirt, learning how to have great sex.

    From an outsider’s perspective, it is rather easy to poke holes- “These guys are just trying to get laid” “They see girls as sex objects”… from an insider’s perspective, a lot of these guys have never been laid in their life, and if they don’t shake something up, they are probably never going to.

    And the outsider’s perspective on pick up artists as being only sex seeking is also flawed in another way, since an important part of PUA is understanding that sex creates a strong emotional connection with the girl- if you want a relationship, sex is a very important step. It’s the Spiderman idea- “With great power comes great responsibility.”

    There are people who give bad dating advice within the movement, yup. But even Neil Strauss said that there was a double edged sword, and that you need to seek true emotional connections.

    There are two sides to any story. Just because the stereotypical PUA goes around and uses magic tricks, insulting people, and having meaningless sex with strangers, doesn’t mean that most of them act that way. PUA in the broad sense, is just a philosophy of self-improvement. As someone who has witnesses many men go through a PUA phase, I think most of them had their ups and downs, but in the end, they almost all had greater understanding and respect for women.Report

  20. Avatar Ahunt says:

    Hey Zic, back aways…

    Delurking with a chuckle…

    Actually, it is not so much that we are invisible…it is that men younger than 40 are calling us “Ma’am” now…and in fact…holding the door for my decrepit old self often these days.Report

    • Avatar zic says:


      I have neck injury, so wrap up well because cold inflames. Sometimes, I wear a silk scarf wrapped as a head scarf, which holds it higher on my neck, where the damaged bits reside. When I first thought to try this, I recalled Muslim friends who often spoke about the privacy it provides from the male gaze. But I’m obviously not a Muslim, so instead of privacy, it provokes Church Lady politeness — held doors, relinquished chairs, please and thank you and I’m sorry for cussing. It’s all very charming, I’m sure.Report

  21. Avatar Ahunt says:

    Heh Zic…

    These days, I’ll take common courtesy where I find it…if the bum knee gets respect, I’m all for it.Report

  22. Avatar Jaybird says:

    In reading this, the main thing that came to mind was the “All The Single Ladies” article published by The Atlantic waaay back in 2011.

    I wrote a post about it (read it again! It’ll be fun!) here:

    One of the comments that jumped out at me this time (that didn’t last time) was from RTod:
    If this had been written by a man I suspect it would have been loudly panned as icky misogyny.

    Now, my own personal experiences in the whole “dating” thing can be summed up as “didn’t date a whole bunch” followed by “a whole bunch of attempts at turning friends into romantic partners failing” followed by “didn’t date a whole bunch” followed by “found the right one, got married, still married, woo hoo”. With that in mind, I’d give notes on the following:

    I was totally evangelical christian so my dating expectations were more of the form “dude, I want to make out with someone” than “man, I want to have sex with someone”. If you remember the television show Happy Days, it was that sort of thing that I was thinking “dating” was like. Go bowling, make out. Go roller skating, make out. Go to the diner, make out. Yay making out!

    “The Friend Zone” wasn’t a big deal for me until the third or fourth time it had happened to me. “What is wrong with me that no one wants to date me?” is one of the thoughts I regularly had. Some of the people I had crushes on and watched dance in and out of relationships were with guys who, by my lights, weren’t particularly kind people and, as a SNAG, I found myself mostly confused. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t attractive. It wasn’t “I ask this chick on a date and we go on two dates and, on the third, I asked if we were going to hump or what and she said she wanted to stay friends.” It was “we are friends and I think you’re amazing and I’d like to date you (and, eventually, make out)” and she says nope and then, two weeks later, is dating some guy who she goes on to cry about.

    I reckoned that The Friend Zone was something that I could have avoided had I acted differently. Not “acted like someone else” but “toned this part down, toned that part up” sort of things. “When you’re having a conversation and something comes up that reminds you *PERFECTLY* of a problem that your D&D group encountered during a game and your wizard figured out how to get past the door… maybe refrain from telling that story” sort of thing.

    I’m pleased to say that, eventually, I did meet someone and we did hit it off and I was able to have a conversation and mention the wizard story and it was okay.

    But, at the time, I found myself wondering why nobody would date me. When I looked around and saw the jerks who never stretched or strained to get a date, that mostly resulted in me saying “what’s wrong with *ME*?” and, lemme tell ya, that just ain’t fun.

    I’m so glad that I’m not 20 anymore.Report

  23. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    There’s a card game called Mao. There are rules, but the first rule of the game is that you can’t ever explain the rules to anyone. Mostly Mao is used for hazing, but some people seem to actually enjoy it.

    Now imagine if there were something that you really wanted, and the only way to get it was to play Mao and win. And the room is full of people who apparently know how to play, and they’re winning, and they’re having a great time. And you ask how to play, and you get told A) figure it out yourself, B) if you can’t figure it out it’s your own fault, C) if you can’t figure it out there’s probably something wrong with you, and D) if you can’t figure it out quick then you’re not allowed to play.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Well, IIRC, in Mao they do actually explain the rule of “You can’t tell anyone the rules”.

      In this analogy, the first rule of dating — the one you’re allowed to share is — “The opposite sex is not a prize to be won, but a human being with their own agenda, desires, likes, and dislikes. Try to keep that in mind”.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Strangely, pretty much everyone I know has talked about dating and how it works, and no one’s gotten into any trouble over it, and it didn’t require treating other people as natural experiments. Maybe I’ve just spent my life hanging out with a weird crowd of people, the sort of people who talk about stuff in their lives, like dating. Sometimes incessantly. In.Cess.Ant.Ly. Like, all the time.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        1) If you don’t view women as someone you’d be interested in hanging out with if there’s no sex, you don’t have women friends.
        2) No women friends, means no female advice on dating. No female perspective.
        3) Like finds like, so your guy friends probably have a lot in common with you on points 1 and 2.

        Even when I was 17 and my thought process was entirely “SEXBOOBSSEXWOMENHORNYOHCRAPCALCULU HOMEWORKDUESEXSEX”, I had female friends. Which meant I got to hear female perspective on dating.

        And while, at one point or another I had a sizable crush on most of them, I wasn’t exactly bitter over it. Plenty of people get crushes on people who don’t return them. That’s like…obvious, just by glancing around.

        I think where the PUA goes off the rails is that many guys seem to get wrapped up in the notion of ‘winning’ or ‘deserving’ a given woman. They want her, ergo there MUST be a path that leads to them having her. The concept that a woman is an independent agent who might, for instance, just totally not be into you — doesn’t come up.

        So you’ve got this…implicit attitude that a you can ‘earn’ another person if you press the right buttons, you know? It’s just a matter of finding the cheat code, of beating the boss. And if you can’t, it’s because the game is BS, man. It’s rigged against you.

        The implicit assumption: “This woman can be mine if I want her” is unquestioned — the closest they get is that alpha/beta, low-t, high-t BS which STILL says “press buttons, get girl you want”.

        The whole concept of female agency is utterly missing. She’s just a…thing, a robot, and men are looking for the commands to active sex-mode.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        I love it when people who don’t have social issues try to tell the people who *do* have social issues that their problems don’t really exist.

        It’s like when men try to tell women that their sense of oppression and marginalization is, like, all in their heads and stuff.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Jim, no one’s saying their problems don’t exist. I’m simply saying that your point — that it is against the rules to talk about the rules — is nonsense.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @jim-heffman — Fair enough. But then, in your Mao example, they are actively withholding the rules from you, like, doing it on purpose to mess with you. Which seems maybe kinda crappy, depending on the group.

        This seems quite different from dating, where we are not withholding information. In fact, much has been written to help nerdy guys figure shit out. I’ve posted some of my own thoughts here. Others have as well. Hell, Dr. Nerdlove made it his avocation, and he gets a lot right.

        So if you are lost in the hazy-daze of dating, and you stumble around aimlessly, it is not because no one is willing to share. Instead, it is because you are not getting the message.

        And I don’t want to dismiss that. I would help if I could. But what can I do?

        (By the way, Mao sounds like terrific fun. I’d totally play.)Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “So if you are lost in the hazy-daze of dating, and you stumble around aimlessly, it is not because no one is willing to share. Instead, it is because you are not getting the message.”

        In other words, A) figure it out yourself, B) if you can’t figure it out then it’s your own fault, etcetera.

        “(By the way, Mao sounds like terrific fun. I’d totally play.)”

        And there it is. The people who get it don’t understand how it’s even possible that it could not be gotten.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @jim-heffman — I don’t understand exactly what you want us to acknowledge. That it’s hard for some people? Sure it is. That society blocks this knowledge from them? Bullshit. Plenty of people are willing to share.

        If you have trouble, can you name the active social forces that are blocking you?

        I have a pretty good idea what my problems are. First, I’m visibly trans, and that’s a heavy burden in the dating world.

        On the other hand, there are always folks who rather like trans women. Just, finding them can be tricky. And avoiding the freaky-fetishy ones. Those dudes are the worst. Anyway, it’s a thing.

        Second, my own attitude. Sometimes I can get pretty dour. That doesn’t help. I do best when I keep positive. Smile, smile, smile.

        This is not always easy, but it is no mystery.

        Third, I sometimes get super shy, or afraid at the last minute. I cannot really control this. But sometimes I can overcome it. When I do, I usually have no problem hooking up.

        On the third point, however, I’ve noticed that other people, how they treat me, makes a huge difference. Sometime I meet the right person at a club. They give me the right smile. I get close. Somehow, with this person, the fear slips away. Soon there is kissing.

        But more often I do not meet such a person at the club. Such is life.

        I cannot always control these things, but I keep trying and learning and thinking.

        Plus I keep dancing. I love dancing, and I’m pretty good at it now, for a crumbly old tranny-dyke. So yay!Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I love it when people who don’t have social issues try to tell the people who *do* have social issues that their problems don’t really exist.

        What makes you think I didn’t have social issues? What makes you think I don’t think they exist?

        But approaching women with the implicit or explicit belief that you can ‘win’ or ‘earn’ or otherwise ‘get’ them — as if they aren’t real people but automatons whose cheat code you’re searching for, isn’t going to work. Whether you’re socially awkward or Casanova himself.

        You can be the most socially awkward man in the United States and still grasp that women are people too, with their own agendas, criteria for relationships, and interests.

        That there is no secret code to scoring, to dating, and that frankly the idea that there’s some magic set of buttons to push to get a woman on her back or on a date is ludicrous, insulting, and frankly childish.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        There is the phenomenon that one sees from time to time that one is surrounded (metaphorically) by friends who demonstrate poor judgment when it comes to dating and, if you happen to be a guy who happens to have friends (like, for real friends) who are female who demonstrate this poor judgment, it can be very, very, very confusing indeed.

        I’ve a friend who dated a guy who was, by my lights, awesome. He was a SNAG, not only had a good job, he had a good career, and he was good to her. Her problem was that she didn’t feel any sexual chemistry at all. She gave it the old college try but it didn’t work out. Fair enough.

        She went on to date guys with whom she had sexual chemistry. For one reason or another, it just so happened that her next several relationships were of the type where she had awesome sex with guys who treated her poorly.

        The original SNAG maintained his friendship with her, kinda… email, the occasional phone call… but he met somebody and started dating and his emotional energy went into his new relationship rather than into his old one and he eventually got married.

        I remember having a conversation with her about how disappointed she was that he got married. She told me that she liked the idea of him always being there for her. And then she went on to date more guys who treated her poorly (but at least the chemistry was there).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I’ve known many, many more people who’ve made consistently bad dating choices than people who’ve made consistently good ones. I suppose part of that is because the people who make consistently good ones pair up quickly, because they chose well.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — Well, my wife and I do the polyamory thing, so we get to pair up and continue to make lousy choices.

        It’s a total win-win! 🙂Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        One major hangup a lot of guys (from my circle anyway) had was that they wanted the relationship with the friend they had already made (with whom there was no mutual chemistry) rather than getting out there and trying to meet someone new and spinning the wheel again.

        Of course, in high school or college, it’s very easy to meet people. You’re stuffed in rooms overflowing with tons of people your age and, more or less, from your class/social station and who, half the time, at least have as much similar taste with you as to have picked the same elective.

        Man, after college? I can’t even imagine.

        I can easily see myself saying “Augh! I graduated and I’m not even dating anyone! I need a Master’s Degree!!!”Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I’ve had periods in my life when I essentially pursued, even dated someone, who was already in my social circle because it was much easier than having to meet someone new.

        And yeah, dating after college is hard, though I admit it tends to be much more fun when you get it right. There’s something to be said for playing with grown ups.Report

  24. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I see a lot of conversation about “The Friend Zone”. But let’s really think about it… from the reverse perspective.

    Imagine you have a female friend who you think is cool and who you enjoy hanging out with and who you’re really close with. But you have no romantic or physical interest in her. But she is in love with you. How would you feel if it were put to you that you had to either date her or lose her friendship and be declared an asshole?

    I understand why being in TFZ sucks. I’ve been there. I don’t think it is necessarily wrong for those in it to say, “This relationship doesn’t and can’t meet my needs and that hurts and I’m going to remove myself from it.” But no one has any obligation to date anyone else. Full stop. Implying as much is really discomforting.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Well, the go-to example is, of course, Ducky.

      Should Andy have dated Ducky or should she totally have gone after Blaine?

      Was “Some Kind Of Wonderful” a better story than “Pretty in Pink”?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I don’t know who any of those people are.

        But I will default to saying that Andy should have dated whomever she wanted to. Maybe outside perspectives would say Bucky or Daine seemed like the better choice. But the choice is and should always remain hers.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I smell Date Night!Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “I smell Date Night!”

        I think you’re doing it wrong.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I do wonder if Pretty in Pink has aged well since 1986. It probably hasn’t.

        Some quick googling tells me that Molly Ringwold recently let out that she thinks that Ducky was gay. John Cryer tells us that he thinks that Molly is mistaken.

        In any case, I’ve come to the conclusion that both Ducky and Andy are better off for not having dated.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Was “Some Kind Of Wonderful” a better story than “Pretty in Pink”?

        Yes. The answer to that question is yes.

        It’s worth pointing out that Pretty in Pink originally ended the same as Some Kind Of Wonderful. (You know what I mean.) They were essentially mirror images of each other.

        However, test audiences didn’t like it Blane ‘not getting the girl’. Interestingly, they seemed to have no problem with Some Kind Of Wonderful and Amanda ‘not getting the boy’.

        I’ve always thought it was an interesting comment on audience identification and sexism…in watching PiP, they want Blane to be happy, so they want him with the girl, whereas in SKoW, they want Keith to be happy, so they put him with the girl that clearly loves him the most. In both cases, it’s the ‘normal guy’ who must win in the eyes of the audience, even when you completely reverse the context of the situation. (The ‘normal girl’ in SKoW, OTOH, can just learn a valuable lesson and leave a little wiser and possibly now a social outcast.)

        …I’ve spent why too much time thinking about this.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Thanks, @kazzy

      I’d been trying to frame just this question; and you did it wonderfully.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:


      Imagine you have a female friend who you think is cool and who you enjoy hanging out with and who you’re really close with. But you have no romantic or physical interest in her. But she is in love with you. How would you feel if it were put to you that you had to either date her or lose her friendship and be declared an asshole?

      Take out the “and be declared an asshole” and I think that sounds like a comparatively fair choice. Just as you don’t owe her your romantic affections, she does not owe you her friendship. We’re pretty much on agreement on that, I think.

      The part about being declared an asshole, though, is unfair. Just as it is unfair to blame a woman for putting a man in TFZ.

      Not that this was a response to me, but lest there be any confusion: My stake in TFZ argument is that TFZ exists and we should not rely on Amanda Marcotte’s vision of how it usually works and we should be sparse about the assumptions we make generally because TFZ actually covers a lot of ground and a number of different scenarios.

      I’d also throw in there “I’m willing to do these things as a sort of audition for a relationship but I wouldn’t do them if I know that no relationship is forthcoming” is not the same as faking everything and being a bad, duplicitous person. It only particularly becomes a bad thing when the guy gives too much of himself and then blames the woman for it when either (a) he never made his move or (b) he was shot down. Even in the event that it’s (c) and she was actively stringing him along, he might be right to be angry with her but he needs to look primarily at his own role in it if he doesn’t want it to happen again.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        The “declared an asshole” part is important insofar as we tend to deride women for “friend zoning” guys. Maybe we don’t call them assholes, but usually “bitch” or some thing similar works its way into the conversation.

        When I hear TFZ discussed, it usually isn’t part of a more normal conversation on unrequited love. It is something women do to men. “She put him in the friend zone.” “She friend zoned him.” So leaving aside the mechanics of having feelings for a friend and how that might proceed, the narrative that tends to be constructed around it is what bothers me.

        I wouldn’t fault someone for walking away from a relationship that felt unfulfilling even if no one necessarily did anything “wrong”. Hell, I’ve done that with friends. “You can’t be the kind of friend I need you to be right now so I’m stepping back so as not to set myself up for hurt.” Handle yourself with decency and treat the other person with respect and you’ll get no grief with me. Act entitled to some pussy because you listened — genuinely or not — when she complained about another guy doing her wrong and I’m going to fault you on that.

        I’d also venture to guess that serial “friend zone victims” may not only be approaching the actions they take in the relationship poorly, but might also have fundamental misunderstandings of love and relationships. Some guys end up in the “friend zone” because they have an interest in someone but don’t know how to act on it and just befriend the person. But some guys end up there because they fall in love with someone they are already friends with because they’ve projected onto them things that aren’t there.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        When I hear TFZ discussed, it usually isn’t part of a more normal conversation on unrequited love. It is something women do to men.

        Sometimes. Sometimes it’s just a description of a frustrating situation. Most often, to me at least, it’s just a cautionary thing. Like Joey to Ross, don’t settle in friendship if you want more lest you end up in The Friend Zone. I cite Joey and Ross because that’s where the phrase became popularized, as far as I know. Rachel wasn’t the villain.

        A lot of the time it’s framed more about what she didn’t do (commit to a relationship, have sex, whatever) than what she did. I am sure some people frame it in the last case, and others attach moral condemnation to it. Which is an error. The error, though, lies in the condemnation rather than the description.

        My issue with Marcotte (who by all means, wasn’t wrong) and what I see a lot of is a denial of the existence of TFZ, or that the expression of frustration* of being there** is actually a sign of male privilege, entitlement, or misogyny. It can be, of course, but it depends. The particulars matter, and Marcotte paints with a pretty large brush (pointing to a particular narrative, and suggesting nefariousness on the part of the guy).

        * – Frustration being a pretty universal thing. Most people have unrequited affection, it’s not (necessarily) born of a sense of entitlement, and it’s usually deserving of some amount of sympathy. The antipathy towards frustration is a real problem. I tend to see more of it aimed at women, in part because I know more guys. But in recent years I’ve seen more of it directed the other way.

        ** – Where it is most likely to be so lies, again, in the condemnation. The treatment of the woman, not just how he treats her on a personal level but how he treats her in his narrative when he talks about it.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @will-truman — I think what you say is correct outside of certain dialogs. But for those of us inside of those dialogs, it presents as something rather different. So, really, we have two version of the word used in two very different ways.

        Keep in mind, given that this thread is about PUA culture, “Ladder Theory” was a thing. @kazzy (and me) are using it in this latter sense.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        To dig a bit into my personal archives, there was a girl in high school that I was extremely angry at. It was a maddening situation (I was comfortable with our friendship, she changed the dynamics, and then wanted to revert right back to that friendship) but that doesn’t excuse my behavior. Anyway, at some point she’d had enough of my puerile behavior and said “What do you want from me? When I’m warm to you, you’re mad. When I’m distant, you’re mad. What do you want?”

        Well, it was obvious what I really wanted, but equally obvious, even to me at the time, that I couldn’t will that to happen. And given those givens, I made my choice: We need to keep our distance. (The story doesn’t end there, but I’ll end it there.)

        I remembered that confrontation for years. Mostly because she was entirely right and I was entirely unreasonable. It was something that I remembered in future iterations of TFZ. With the other significant one, I was very clear “Do you don’t or do you do?” That I would be there for her (in TFZ) while she was deciding, but she needed to decide. She didn’t, until the last possible moment (basically, she found someone that she do and that wasn’t me). I can be a slow learner in many respects, and I had completely failed to learn the lesson about simply never staying in TFZ unless I was genuinely satisfied being there. But I did remember the bit about having clear and reasonable expectations that went beyond “Love me, dammit.”

        The third major case involved someone that I never told how I felt. Off and on, over seven years we were friends. When I was in a commited relationship we were friends, and when I wasn’t we were friends… though with something dangling out there on my end. But I don’t think I ever felt blame towards her during the latter phases. How could I? I hadn’t made any move. When I came to the conclusion it just wasn’t going to happen, I took advantage of an opportunity to extricate myself from her life.

        These are three TFZ cases. Each one is different. I could cite more from other people. All different. While TFZ is a thing, in my estimation, any assignment of culpability and motives is going to vary so drastically from one case to the next that it’s really hard to make generalizations. In the case Marcotte describes (she’s made her disinterest clear, he hangs around) I think her diagnosis is pretty much on-target. In the case of Ross and Rachel (before they actually got together, and without mention of They Were On a Break), there was not hostility so much as fear (on the part of Ross, at Joey’s urging). In my own past, three wildly different cases deserving of different analyses.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The Ladder Theory is an interesting thing. It has an ugly ideology behind it, and yet can actually offer some of the most helpful insights a young man can hear. As odd as it may sound, after I read it I actually felt better towards women than I did before I read it. I wish someone would reconstruct it in a more positive manner. A lot of my reading of PUA seems to center on the exact worst, misogynistic aspects of TLT without the parts that I found genuinely helpful.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        The message I’ve taken away from game writers is that the friend zone is something that you do to yourself, not something women do to you. There’s a lot more out there that I haven’t read than that I have, so maybe that’s not the dominant narrative, but it’s what I took away.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @brandon-berg — Well, of course there are many contours in the “manosphere,” but I’ve seen all kinds of woman-hate associated with the “friendzone” concept.

        Honestly, for me it has become a big red flag that says, “Dude I don’t wanna go near.”Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Honestly, for me it has become a big red flag that says, “Dude I don’t wanna go near.”

        That’s understandable. Bitterness worn on the sleeve is something to be very wary of.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        The friend zone is a useful idea for conceptualizing relationships to some extent. However, it does tend to show up as an explanation for guys to use that to explain how they have ‘failed at obtaining sex’, which, ugh. ‘Obtaining sex’ is not the point of male interaction with women.

        Anyway, ‘the Ladder Theory’ lays it out a bit better. The language is, uh, a bit silly, and claiming that men can’t have female friends they don’t want to have sex with is just wrong. As is the fact that men do know what ladder they’re on, or at least they should. (If they have never made a romantic advance, and she’s never made one either, they’re on the friend ladder.)

        It’s explained in a somewhat sexist way, but it’s better men read that, and understand that become a romantic interest actually requires an action on their part. Otherwise, they can become ‘nice guys’ who pose as friends for years and become bitter about how she keeps ‘overlooking’ them.

        Someone needs to find an actual good article that explains to men that ‘Friendships with women do not generally evolve into romantic relationships or sexual relationships without actions on the part of men’. But without the dumb sexism of ‘The Ladder Theory’.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Someone needs to find an actual good article that explains to men that ‘Friendships with women do not generally evolve into romantic relationships or sexual relationships without actions on the part of men’. But without the dumb sexism of ‘The Ladder Theory’.

        That’s kind of what I was getting at. And I think you’re right that TLT probably does a better job of explaining it (in its own way…).

        Regarding TFZ… I simply see it used in too varying a capacity to see much “generally” in the light that it has been portrayed.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Kazzy, I actually think that men who make the “wrong” choices by societal standards in dating often get called out for their choices. If you don’t want to date single mothers because your not ready for fatherhood or would prefer your own children to somebody else’s kids than you are called an asshole. If your standards of beauty tends toward the conventional than you get called out for that to. If you want something less serious than she does than your immature, etc.Report