Penny Arcade update
Tycho and Gabe, I think, finished the conversation. Tycho printed a self-serving letter from a friend who makes his money exploiting misogynists, and it really has the classic hallmark of hucksterism—one narrative for insiders, one for outsiders. The whole thing is shot through with it (outsiders are told, “We’re just trying to give some poor losers confidence”, insiders are told, “Learn to get any girl in bed!”), but this is my favorite:
The neg gets attention because it SEEMS like an insult, but it’s more a gesture of comfort, a sign that you, the suitor, aren’t going to bend your natural conversational style for the sake of trying to impress a woman. The main reason why assholes get girls is not because girls are just dying to be abused and ignored– although some are for whatever fault of upbringing or genetics– but because women, especially beautiful women, hate the weakness implied when a man bends over backward to impress her. A reactive sign of this is to, um, not bend over to impress her. A proactive sign, a way to signal this in the first few minutes of conversation, is to tease her.
And the neg is just a tiny sliver of what we teach.
For outsiders, it’s about simple teasing, like what you do with friends! Plus, it’s a small amount of what they teach! Outsiders should immediately see the problem, which is that it’s not the sort of teasing you reserve for intimates, but insults you deliver in hopes to weed out women with high self-esteem. For insiders, it’s one of the most important lessons, and they blog and practice it because it fills a need. It’s presented on the inside as something that you do to take “beautiful” girls—who all think exactly alike, we’re told—down a peg. It’s its own reward. This is classic hucksterism. Outsiders to Amway are told it’s about selling products, insiders are eased into realizing they have to sell their friendships. Scientology is so full of shit that the process of turning an outsider to an insider takes years. With PUAs, would-be insiders get in the front door by a) paying and b) radiating the sort of misogyny that the code language about “no more Mr. Nice Guy!” that flies over the heads of most of us speaks to them.
Gabe, I think, is beginning to feel weirded out.
While some of their advice is probably fine I think the majority of it is really sleazy. Again, I can’t blame guys for seeking out help. All joking aside though, I just want to make it clear that I don’t think the seduction community is the place to go. I understand how badly you want to believe that there is a system out there that if you can simply master will resolve your problems. Sadly I don’t think that’s the case and if there is such a system, it certainly isn’t this one.
There’s two issues here: the fact that PUA books and seminars are a scam, and the fact that the marks for the scam—lonely, angry, bitter dudes with ofttimes serious misogyny issues—have ugly character flaws that make them easy marks. The marks, because they’re infatuated with the idea of manipulation, are easy to convince to play cover-up for the programs, presenting themselves as so pathetic that you have to feel bad for them and ignore that they objectify women in the most serious way, refusing to take a woman’s will seriously and assuming all women have one personality. This often works, because people take men’s problems more seriously than we take women’s, and so we’re eager—due to sexism—to worry more about some guy who needs to learn to be calm when talking to a woman* than to worry about the fact that women, especially young women (though it’s not limited to that), have to live their lives running through a gauntlet of assholes and predators. Gabe’s quick brushing aside of the concerns of women who wrote him is indicative of the larger problem, and certainly isn’t just him. It’s hard for dudes to understand what it’s like, but it’s often very demoralizing to have some guy who radiates bitterness, and the process you go through after you extract yourself of making sure that you aren’t being followed, or, if getting away from him (since it’s a small club or something—though often it’s also a matter of being in line at a grocery store) that you’ve got friends or even strangers who see your predicament and close in to send the signal to go away. It’s hard to fear some man who is clearly thinking, “All those pretty girls are so stuck up, she’s not as hot as she thinks she is, she probably couldn’t do better than me, her boyfriend’s probably an asshole…..” And even the ones who aren’t scary? It’s demoralizing to be reduced, in so many interactions with men, to an obstacle that stands between him and the pussy. (Of course, even women tend to focus on pitying the under-fucked more than worrying too much about women’s problems, I think in part because we’re so resigned to the idea that we’re not just going to get peace or respect from some men.)
The official line of “we’re just sad sacks who can’t get laid” doesn’t conceal, as well as PUAs think, the narrative they tell each other, which is, “these women are so stuck up, who do they think they are?” You see it in the letter to Tycho I quoted, where you can really see the PUA belief that beauty=bitchy, and that there’s a direct correlation between how good-looking you think a woman is and how stuck up she is. (It’s a matter of faith to PUAs that there’s a single, objective standard of beauty, so if you find a girl to be X amount attractive, that’s exactly how much attention she gets, and therefore exactly how much she’ll be “stuck up” because she thinks she can do better.) The dialogue around stuck-up-ness reminds me of an incident that happened a couple of years ago to me. I was walking down the street, wearing the most godawful hot-in-Texas walking clothes, just ratty as hell, and reading a book. This didn’t stop some guy from trailing me in his pick-up and propositioning me from his window. I ignored him the best I could, and as soon as I could, cut away down a path that cars can’t go to escape him. And of course, what did I hear? “Fine, stuck-up bitch!” As soon as I thought he couldn’t see me, I dropped the “I just happen to be so into this book/deaf that I didn’t even notice you” act and took off running to my destination, checking (surreptitiously, you never want them to know that they unnerved you, because that’s positive reinforcement that could keep them following you) to make sure I wasn’t being followed.
And that’s why I get so angry when I hear from Nice Guys® that women are scary.
*Something About Mary had the all-time best advice: masturbate beforehand, so you’re not as tempted to rush past the “believing she’s a human being with worth” part to the “fuck me already, goddammit” part.**
**Because Nice Guys® have a terminal case of taking themselves way too seriously, I want to warn you that the above is a joke.