Clarisse Thorn discusses the darker side of the pickup artist subculture in America.
This article originally appeared at ClarisseThorn.com.
UPDATE, September 2012: The Field Report that I linked below was just modified in response to criticism. (The author showed up at my blog and talked about it with us here at Comment #80.) I still have serious problems with the author’s attitudes, but I will admit that the post is better than it used to be; he’s trying to build a career, so perhaps he took my point about the fact that asshole PUAs will be frozen out of the market. The excerpts that I quote below were accurate when I quoted them, and I stand by everything I said.
When I wrote my awesome book Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, I did my best to present a relatively balanced picture of the pickup artist (PUA) subculture. I tried to show good facets, bad facets, and shades-of-grey facets. Perhaps inevitably, a lot of people — some of whom I respect — felt that I was over-generous to this strange mix of analytical nerds, hedonists, entrepreneurs, and misogynist assholes. Others felt that I was over-judgmental.
Many feminists claim that the culture, mores, and/or tactics within the PUA community encourage rape. In my book, I quote one feminist who said: “I’m just going to come right out and say it: PUAs rape women through coercion and manipulation. Full stop.” I think that’s an overblown blanket statement rooted in a simplistic view of the community. But also in my book, I described a written report from one PUA in which he basically documented a date rape. And after I published the book, a reader sent me a link to one of the more unsettling PUA forum threads I’ve seen (thanks Jon).
I would’ve broken this thread down in the book if I’d seen it before publication. I didn’t, so I’m breaking it down for you now. I do want to start with two important caveats:
A. This does not represent all PUAs. Some guys really do get into the community because they’re having trouble figuring out answers to questions like, “How do I ask that cute girl in class for her number?” This kind of thing is, however, one reason that lots of guys who found decent advice in parts of the community won’t associate themselves with the community as a whole.
B. PUAs are not the only people who do this. PUAs did not invent this. Other people are doubtless out doing this. PUAs are just the ones who have jargon for it and document it publicly on message boards.
Here’s the thread. (It’s posted on the forum for Real Social Dynamics — for those of you who read The Game, that’s Tyler Durden a.k.a. Owen Cook’s company.) If you usually stop reading when there’s a trigger warning, you should probably stop reading now.
Let the games begin:
Thread title: Lie your way inside a womans vagina (People with morals DO NOT READ)
First sentence: When i pull girls and fuck them, i cheat, i lie, and i steal (their booze). And i feel good about it, cause in the end girls like to be outsmarted and physically and mentally dominated.
We’re off to a good start, and by “good start” I mean “this thread already makes me want to shoot myself in the face.” Sidenote: when I see words like “dominated” used in this context, I feel the immediate need to give everyone involved a lecture on S&M 101. Yes, some women are sexually submissive, but not all; also, submissive women still want to be respected, not generally treated like garbage. And since we’re talking about submissive heterosexual ladies, I’ll throw in a link to a piece of mine about men and feminism and dominance, too.
Onward! Next, the writer describes his main type of lady target: The retarded, drunk and fucking hot 18 years old. … Dont let the friends see you.
Pick someone drunk and inexperienced, and isolate her from her friends? I’m amazed how blatant this dude is about being an asshole. People, this is one reason we keep an eye on our drunk friends at nightclubs. While it’s not your fault if your friend gets in trouble, sometimes there’s a chance that you could provide support at a crucial time.
Also! A broader note on the nature of abuse: abusers very commonly seek to break their targets’ social connections.
Pace it a little bit so a vibe actually forms but never let her time to think, otherwise shea going to see her friends, and you’re done. Once you pulled her away from the friends, made out, and have a somewhat chill vibe going on (takes 15 -30mins), you say “this bar sucks, lets go to another bar”.
Based on this self-reported evidence, this guy is somewhat charming. Charming people can still be assholes and/or predators. And people, this is one reason that if a friend disappears at a nightclub, even for 15 minutes, we make sure we know where she is.
If she wants to know where it is, you say 2 min walk. … Once youre out, walk 2 blocks away from the bar. get in a cab and go to your house. If she objects, say its too cold/hot to walk./ Its just 5 min/i just wanna kiss/ can we kiss?/ ignore what she says and physically force her. If you cant verbally and physically dominate a drunk 18 yo girl that likes you, please kill yourself.
Outright lying in order to get a girl home is not an uncommon PUA tactic. It’s happened to me; I wrote about it in Confessions. (Spoiler: the PUA did not succeed in his goal.)
To get inside your house, tell her you need to get money before you guys go to the bar.
To all the women who might find themselves in this situation: If a guy tells you you’re going one place and you mysteriously end up in another with zero discussion, then firstly, let me tell you that it is not your fault. You don’t deserve to be dealing with this.
I suspect that for a lot of people in this moment, the big question would be “How the fuck do I get out of this in the lowest-stress way?” So, here’s a tactic for you: “Okay, you go up and get the money. I’ll stay here in the cab.”
Later in the thread, a PUA actually asks for advice on what to do if a woman does this. The original writer says that he would stay in the cab and make it a waiting game, basically. But it’s a cab, so he can’t make it too much of a waiting game, and you always have the option of saying “Look dude, I think I’m just gonna take this cab back to meet my friends at the original bar.”
Once inside, quickly take off your coat and shoes and put on some music, dim lights and pour yourseld a drink. In 1 min or less. Start making out, tell her youre gonna make her visit. Quickly take her to your room and if she says anything while you take off all your clothes, tell her to shut the fuck up, and make her go on her knees and suck your dick. Only worrt about taking off her clothes once youre fully naked and shes jerking you off or sucking your dick.
Shes young, shes drunk, she likes you.she wont resist. Or not a lot.
“She won’t resist. Or not a lot.” Christ. I wonder how this guy sleeps at night.
There’s more, but that’s all the important bits. Oh, and then there’s this comment from an instructor at Real Social Dynamics, responding to criticism of the original post:
We’re here to fuck girls not assuage hypothetical psychological wounds and/or better society. I’m frankly a little sick of KJ moralizing and hand wringing about this shit. Let’s not sugar coat what it is we are doing here too much. We’re FUCKING WOMEN.
Jargon time! KJ stands for “keyboard jockey,” a PUA term for a dude who does nothing but read PUA material and never puts it into practice. So basically, this instructor is saying that anyone who has a problem with that post is an inexperienced newbie.
Let’s not sugar coat what’s going on here too much. By any definition, tricking a drunk girl into coming home with you, and then forcibly having sex with her, is date rape.
Tyler Durden — again, the creator of Real Social Dynamics — also left a positive comment supporting the writer of that piece.
The gentleman who emailed me the link commented:
This points to an institutional problem. I found it especially depressing because a lot of what I had seen from RSD prior to that seemed more about honest communication and authenticity than other pick up stuff. So much for that.
There are several useful morals to be found here:
1. Just in case we needed it, this is more evidence that rape is often a crime with a lot of institutional/social support. When feminists talk about this, we call it “rape culture.” And why yes, before you ask, I have a chapter about rape culture and its PUA intersections in my book.
2. When relationships are framed as adversarial, and the only goal is “fucking women,” and ethics are dismissed as “handwringing” … then even a company that might otherwise be kind of decent will end up supporting awful stuff. Real Social Dynamics may, indeed, generally promote more honest communication and authenticity than other PUA companies. But as long as having sex is framed as an at-all-costs goal, this type of stuff will creep in. The only cure is to work towards reframing sex as a mutual journey, in which treating the other person like a person is utterly necessary.
3. On the bright side, PUA companies lose clients because of stuff like this. Decent men (which, I maintain, is most men) stop buying products from companies that are obviously full of assholes. As dating advice for men becomes more mainstream and acceptable, I’m hoping this will mean that unethical PUA companies will be relegated to a ghetto of “those guys are terrible people and no one serious pays attention to them.” (On the down side, they may actually develop a niche for that. But we can’t win ‘em all.)
Photo courtesy of Nicola since 1972 — Flickr