Love in the Time of Darwinism
November 17, 2008 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Kay S. Hymowitz strikes again. Previously, she wrote an article positing that "that too many single young males (SYMs) were lingering in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood, shunning marriage and children, and whiling away their leisure hours with South Park reruns, marathon sessions of World of Warcraft, and Maxim lists of the ten best movie fart scenes."
Now she has a new thesis: That angry, disenfranchised single young men use "Darwinist" philosophy to justify "resistance to settling down" and "unsentimental promiscuity". [via]
posted by shotgunbooty (164 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why do you hate us, shotgunbooty?
posted by Caduceus at 11:00 PM on November 17, 2008


But how does she really feel?
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:01 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rock meet hard place.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:02 PM on November 17, 2008


I have decided not to date or marry anyone who writes long winded, pontificating articles.
posted by poe at 11:03 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Her new, new thesis:

Enraged, lackadaisical, dissolute, unshaven, familial-duty-avoidant, post-adolescent males use community bulletin-boards to trash balanced, closely-reasoned scholarly work published in serious journals across Manhattan.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:12 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Remember, it's selfish and irresponsible not to dedicate your life to raising more than two children. What would happen if everyone just had random hookups and never settled down and had kids? We'd all go extinct. Clearly, the only moral thing to do is never stop having babies.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:14 PM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Enraged, lackadaisical, dissolute, unshaven, familial-duty-avoidant, post-adolescent males use community bulletin-boards to trash balanced, closely-reasoned scholarly work published in serious journals across Manhattan.

Hey! I shaved!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:18 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


We'd all go extinct. Clearly, the only moral thing to do is never stop having babies.

I love kids, but I couldn't eat a whole one -- let alone two!
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:19 PM on November 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Why do you hate us?
posted by Phire at 11:19 PM on November 17, 2008


Thinking people need not care.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:23 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm married and have kids, and so now I only use "Darwinist" philosophy to justify "resistance to taking out the garbage." How ya like me now, Kay?
posted by davejay at 11:24 PM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


"Never before have men wooed women who are, at least theoretically, their equals—socially, professionally, and sexually.

By the time men reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. Small wonder if they initially assume that the women they meet are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex."

*grins

Simply put, men are a breeding experiment run by women. You reap what you sow—and when a man can sow all he wants and leave the reaping to others, well, why not?

Interesting thought.
posted by nickyskye at 11:25 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was some seriously self-indulgent rambling.

I don't understand women, and I know that I don't understand women. Most of the men I know who are my age agree that a rough approximation is as close as we'll ever get.

This woman seems to think that she understands men, which she of course does not. Breaking an entire half of the species down into such gross characterizations is of course insulting, but I guess pointing that out makes me "callow."
posted by 1adam12 at 11:34 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Men are from Mars, women are also from Mars, but the two types of Martians, whose differences are so minor that that they can be mistaken for each other and can even surgically swap genders, like to pretend that they find each other incomprehensible.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:37 PM on November 17, 2008 [40 favorites]


Yeah, I think this is the female equivalent of the guys who just can't understand why some girl won't take it upon themselves to be their combination slave, supermodel, and baby factory now that they have other options. You know, the ones who usually end up ranting about feminazis.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:38 PM on November 17, 2008 [9 favorites]


25+ Images That Might Give Geeks a Hard On
posted by nickyskye at 11:41 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, she seems to have retracted some of her initial silliness, and added a few layers of nuance to her understanding, and thus come to a less defined conclusion, so props for that, as some people would just stick to their guns. But it's time for me to stop wasting time reading some random person's gender musings, and go do something. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:46 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


"toned triceps"

I don't think that interview-ee has ever been to a gym, let alone a basic anatomy class.

Anyhow, since I was incapable of reading past the first paragraph of her insipid article, let me blithely state that I like being unmarried at 34 because, I'll admit, the thought of being married terrifies me and always will. (It didn't work for my parents, nor my grandparents, so I don't see why it would ever work for me, or anyone else for that matter.) And that I used to play WarCraft and gave it up because it got boring (but I did enjoy meeting women through it). And that to think that frat-boy humor like Maxim is something new is completely fucking idiotic. Even the Ancient Greeks had it (they were called "Comedies").

Indeed Ms. Hymowitz, I say unto you these terrible words: "I wouldn't hit it."
posted by bardic at 11:49 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


And here I was just using Darwinist philosophy to justify the differential survival of heritable traits. I could have been using it all along to justify unsentimental promiscuity? Man!
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:57 PM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Wow. That was like reading a wordier version of a Sinbad bit.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:00 AM on November 18, 2008


Self induldgent as the article is, it hits home for me. Realizing that there wasn't much difference between men and women killed my romantic side. I date in fits and starts and never get serious about anyone because life has taught me that marriage and children is a bit of the ol' frog-in-boiling-water for most men.
posted by autodidact at 12:03 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It must be hard to grind that axe with that huge chip on her shoulder.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:09 AM on November 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


Chicks are great.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:30 AM on November 18, 2008


That adds up to tens of millions more young men blissfully free of mortgages, wives, and child-care bills.

Not only is no one asking that today’s twenty- or thirtysomething become a responsible husband and father—that is, grow up—but a freewheeling marketplace gives him everything that he needs to settle down in pig’s heaven indefinitely.
Wait. Let me get this straight. Are we holding up the 1965 26-year-old white male as the feminist ideal? So, when women remonstrate against the traditional paradigm of their forced role in the nuclear family and seek their personal fulfillment, it's feminist liberation. When men are freed to seek their personal fulfillment, it's juvenile abandonment of personal responsibility? Responsibility to whom? What's the ethical prerogative here?

There are some insights in there, but on the whole Kays Hymowitz's anti-male tone is not doing feminism any favors. The broad, prejudicial sweeps and anecdotal cherry picked semi-research don't really help either.
“What happened to all the nice guys?” His answer: “You did. You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy.”
Oh. Ouch. I remember that kind of hurt. I wonder if that feeling ever totally goes away... Maybe it would if I stopped fricking reading articles like this. Grumble. Grumble.
posted by Skwirl at 12:32 AM on November 18, 2008 [16 favorites]


That angry, disenfranchised single young men use "Darwinist" philosophy to justify "resistance to settling down" and "unsentimental promiscuity".

I'm actually fairly sentimental about my promiscuity.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 AM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Putting on my Anne Elk hat for a moment:

My theory is that it has a lot to do with the raunchification of our society, particularly young girls. Chicks are just so available and naaasty. Men don't even need to make an effort any more.

Generally speaking, and - although it might not sound like it because of my use of the vernacular - not being judgmental.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:37 AM on November 18, 2008


Also: Heteronormative, much?
posted by Skwirl at 12:38 AM on November 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


"toned triceps"

I don't think that interview-ee has ever been to a gym, let alone a basic anatomy class.


Toned triceps.

Realizing that there wasn't much difference between men and women killed my romantic side.

autodidact, I think that's an astute observation. When was romantic love invented? l Romantic love is a hoax.

This equalizing of roles puts the emphasis on mutually enjoyable sex and friendship, which I think is a good thing. Could males and females be friends and have sex together? Or have sex and be friends?

Or does it mean simply co-existing genders, not liking each other but occasionally mating? I think that's what the author is suggesting is what is happening.

It seems to me appropriate that men and women who are not interested in having children should not. And those who are need to figure out a way of living amicably together long term, like for decades, so as to be healthy parents and help bring up emotionally healthy children.
posted by nickyskye at 12:47 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Enraged, lackadaisical, dissolute, unshaven, familial-duty-avoidant, post-adolescent males use community bulletin-boards to trash balanced, closely-reasoned scholarly work published in serious journals across Manhattan.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:12 PM on November 17


Say what you will, but that ain't scholarly by any stretch of the imagination. It's unsourced speculation that I would expect from any idiot in an undergraduate sociology class.

Ms. Hymowitz has merely appropriated modern trolling tools and used them to get some tiny measure of infamy. I consider her insight into sex and gender a shade less reliable than that of the guys who write "How to Pick Up Women" guides.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:50 AM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this not precisely the same thesis as her last piece of tripe, with extra pseudo-science?

I feel stupider for having read the first two paragraphs.

*closes tab*
posted by Happy Dave at 12:59 AM on November 18, 2008


nickyskye, my point exactly. Triceps are something women will tend to focus on. Guys not so much. Sure, they're important, but my bullshit detector beeped a little when the first body part her "manly" friend thought of as something that women focus on as well was triceps. Stomach? Ass? Maybe biceps? Sure, but not the lower arm.
posted by bardic at 1:05 AM on November 18, 2008


insight into sex and gender

Any authors you recommend?
posted by nickyskye at 1:06 AM on November 18, 2008


Triceps are mentioned twice in the article in this post:

Here’s Jeff from Middleburg, Florida: “I am not going to hitch my wagon to a woman . . . who is more into her abs, thighs, triceps, and plastic surgery.

and

Small wonder if they initially assume that the women they meet are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.
posted by nickyskye at 1:10 AM on November 18, 2008


I'm pretty thoroughly in love with my girlfriend, and still, one of the first things I told her when we started dating was, "You know dating is dead."

She agreed, instantaneously.

To be honest, I'd be happy if more people reflected on their previous work, and wrote more a more considered article, based on feedback. It's actually really rare, and deserves a little more respect the few times it occurs.

At minimum, rather than just attacking her, at least express what in her article you disagree with.
posted by effugas at 1:16 AM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Right, you aren't listening. My point (a very minor one, granted) is that I've never met a man who was keenly interested in his own triceps being toned relative to his biceps, stomach, chest, or ass. Like I said, it was just a little blip that made me think this author is more full of shit than any one person really has a right to be.
posted by bardic at 1:18 AM on November 18, 2008


This is not my favorite genre of writing, and I don't like her conclusions, but in the lengthy middle of the piece she shows a real willingness to listen to the complaints of her various male correspondents that I think is admirable and weirdly rare.
posted by grobstein at 1:20 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


For a somewhat more articulate account of what impressed me, see effugas.
posted by grobstein at 1:22 AM on November 18, 2008


Um, yeah, shotgunbooty, you made this article sound much less sympathetic than it actually is.
posted by grobstein at 1:32 AM on November 18, 2008


nickyskye, my point exactly. Triceps are something women will tend to focus on. Guys not so much. Sure, they're important, but my bullshit detector beeped a little when the first body part her "manly" friend thought of as something that women focus on as well was triceps. Stomach? Ass? Maybe biceps? Sure, but not the lower arm.

Triceps are on the upper arm... most chicks who go to the gym do a lot of cable pushes for their tris... keeps the upper arms slim and toned.
posted by autodidact at 2:18 AM on November 18, 2008


Non-toned triceps sometimes known as bingo wings, which is quite a funny clever metaphor.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:28 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The sexual revolution has made everything much more complex for men and women. Women have been promised something which is actually very hard to achieve and men often feel confused about their role as well. Pieces full of broad generalisations about modern relationships are a waste of time and electrons.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:52 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


traditional markers of adulthood

the keyword is traditional. these aren't markers of adulthood anymore - financial independence is. we also pride ourselves on freedom of choice and individual independence more so than previous generations did. I presently have no desire to get married and have children but that has little to do with anger, it's more like not being hungry and thus not eating.
posted by krautland at 3:29 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Pieces full of broad generalisations about modern relationships are a waste of time and electrons.

It depends on your goal. Logically, yes, there is nothing in trying to characterize men or women like this. But if the publisher wants readers and the readers want their daily dose of pointless indignation (a form of self-affirmation), articles like this one are exactly what is needed.
posted by pracowity at 3:33 AM on November 18, 2008


I think there's a persistent notion that's encapsulated briefly in "grow up!" which actually means something like "Be prepared to die soon! And ensure that you have progeny! And that they are well provided for!"
posted by Wolfdog at 3:50 AM on November 18, 2008


Waaaahhhh! Human relationships complicated.

*Cues film at 11*
posted by sfts2 at 4:02 AM on November 18, 2008


It depends on your goal. Logically, yes, there is nothing in trying to characterize men or women like this. But if the publisher wants readers and the readers want their daily dose of pointless indignation (a form of self-affirmation), articles like this one are exactly what is needed.

Well said. I think it's pretty flimsy shit, really, and it's written for lazy thinkers.

Smart women and smart men who are honest with each other about what they need usually get on fine. I've been married for 15 years and have two kids. No plans to ever change this situation... but I was extremely lucky to meet my female analogue (i.e. a woman who doesn't care about having lots of money and possessions and is happy living well instead).

There's a huge element of sheer luck involved. I knew it was the right deal when I found it, and I would have (and did) move heaven and earth to hang on to her.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:04 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think there's a persistent notion that's encapsulated briefly in "grow up!" which actually means something like "Be prepared to die soon! And ensure that you have progeny! And that they are well provided for!"

It's a sort of biological imperative that is underscored by our culture. Odd that the church (in it's more primitive guises, a force which often seeks to oppose evolution) doesn't see that they are trying to align their policies with said biological forces.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:06 AM on November 18, 2008


AstroZombie: whose differences are so minor that that they can ... even surgically swap genders

And whose psychological differences are so huge that they could actually feel like they were in a wrongly gendered body and thus require that aforementioned surgical swapping.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:34 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]



There's a huge element of sheer luck involved.

--ChuckDarwin

Eponysterical, of course.

On a larger scale, Chuck, you write that:


Well said. I think it's pretty flimsy shit, really, and it's written for lazy thinkers.


...but then you proceed to basically prove the exact point of the article, which is that dating is a complete trainwreck of bizarre expectations, and at the first sign that there was an escape route for you, you got the hell out.

You can feign offense at the article all you want, looks to me like you came to much of the same conclusions and "but by the grace of God" went you.

And I'm going to be very amused if nobody actually comes up with a concrete thing to complain about in the article, besides "flimsy shit for lazy thinkers".
posted by effugas at 4:41 AM on November 18, 2008


HEY BOYS! why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, AMIRITE?

this: You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy.
makes me think of this rant about 'Nice Guys'

and this misappropriation of Darwin annoys me. it's not as annoying as the whole Social Darwinism thing, but come on. "MY CHOSEN BEHAVIOR IS JUST EVOLUTION DRIVING ME TO IT" (this is a peeve of mine in general, lately)
posted by rmd1023 at 4:42 AM on November 18, 2008


Helpful hint to aspiring authors: if you are quoting a best-of-craigslist posting as one of your primary strawmen in an article that completely fails to grasp what 'Darwinism' means, you should not be contemplating your own navel in the City Journal; you should be out trawling for guys who read books about how to become pickup artists, because you deserve each other.
posted by Mayor West at 4:48 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


effugas, I think you've confused me for someone else (some sort of bastard)! I said I've been married for 15 years, and hope to be married to this self same paragon of reason and virtue until I'm dead, not that I really should have mentioned my personal life :-(

Lapse, there.

I am lucky, though. In the mathematical sense, not in the 'walking under ladders' sense, since that shit is complete bollocks.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:51 AM on November 18, 2008


Having re-read my comment, I can see how you could misconstrue it. I was talking about the same woman.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:58 AM on November 18, 2008


Just a reminder:

There's always homosexuality.

Mind you, that's no guarantee that you'll get laid more often, but at least the "rules" tend to be pretty explicit.
posted by LMGM at 4:59 AM on November 18, 2008


makes me think of this rant about 'Nice Guys'

That's a fantastic bit of writing, and explains a lot about my dating from about age 17 - 21. Thankfully moving more toward the small-n variety these days, or at least my wife seems to think so.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:01 AM on November 18, 2008


rmd1023, the rant about "nice guys" you posted reminds me of this other rant about nice guys who bemoan the lack of nice girls.

What the problem really is, to my mind, is that we are all so focused on trying to play a role of some kind that we aren't taking the time to discover who each other -- and ourselves -- are as just plain PEOPLE, because people are all individuals and are all different. Some women want a traditional family -- marriage, kids, the whole shebang-- and so do some men. Some women don't, just as some men don't. Some women want to combine career and family, just like some men do. Some women just want career and a partner, just like some men do. Some women want to be alone, just like some men do. But we all tie ourselves in knots about how we're "supposed" to act, and it keeps us all from getting the hell out of our own ways, or from recognizing the good of a person in front of us. We also get caught up in what a "good man" or a "good woman" is "supposed" to be like, and it keeps us from figuring out what we really want, sometimes.

Feh. We're all people. We are all individuals. We all will respond differently to other individuals. But knowing who those individuals really are, and who we really are always puts us ahead of the game.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:08 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ah great, EmpressCallipygos, your link made me tear up. Dammit.
posted by Phire at 5:41 AM on November 18, 2008


It's not darwinism. It's this third wave feminism bullshit. If girls want to compete with guys in the race to the bottom in the name of equality then so be it. Just don't be surprised when guys don't want to commit because you've become what decent guys despise so very, very much.

I'm glad I found someone right for me and got the hell out of this silly ass modern dating game.
posted by Talez at 5:42 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the author longs for the day when repressive social mores forced people into unhealthy relationships.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:54 AM on November 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sometimes, I am so glad to be gay.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 6:06 AM on November 18, 2008


By the sound of her article those poor straw men and straw women seem to be having a tough time of it at the straw bar.
But then, when an SYM walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas.
So, now when a guy walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman he doesn't know immediately what's on her mind or what her desires are? You mean, he might have to ask her? That's terrible. We should go back to communicating all romantic intent with fans.
posted by device55 at 6:10 AM on November 18, 2008


Hey I couldn't make it all the way through, but the dudes won, right?
posted by Mister_A at 6:13 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I'm so glad I'm a...
posted by Wolfdog at 6:14 AM on November 18, 2008


Pieces full of broad generalisations about modern relationships are a waste of time and electrons.

From now on I am going to refer articles on relationships written by women as Broad Generalizations.
posted by srboisvert at 6:18 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The "neg" is the tactic which is misunderstood by most outside the community. Basically, if you neg a woman and she's not laughing, then you did it wrong. What you want to demonstrate is that you are keeping it real and that you are not intimidated by her beauty, unlike the thousands of other schlubs that have approached her previously.

It's supposed to be a playful tease, not an insult.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:21 AM on November 18, 2008


The "neg" is the tactic which is misunderstood by most outside the community. Basically, if you neg a woman and she's not laughing, then you did it wrong. What you want to demonstrate is that you are keeping it real and that you are not intimidated by her beauty, unlike the thousands of other schlubs that have approached her previously.

posted by smoothvirus at 9:21 AM on November 18

Eponystyerical You know what, fuck it. That doesn't mitigate the sleaze factor, and picking at people's sensitivities for the sole purpose of making them feel as worthless as the speaker actually is sucks even if they laugh to cover it up. Also, tell your "community" to go fuck themselves and consider buying a private island where they can practice their methods on each other and remain unable to reproduce.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:27 AM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


This woman seems unpleasant. Most of the men and women quoted or alluded to in her article seem unpleasant.

You know what? As a happily married man, I'm sitting this one out.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:31 AM on November 18, 2008


You're still not getting it Inspector.

And fuck you very much too, mon ami.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:31 AM on November 18, 2008


You're still not getting it Inspector.

If you feel the need to participate in a scheme to manipulate women, it's safe to infer that you're the one not "getting it".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:33 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


She's a fine troll, but she's no Kenneth Eng.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 AM on November 18, 2008


If girls want to compete with guys in the race to the bottom in the name of equality then so be it. Just don't be surprised when guys don't want to commit because you've become what decent guys despise so very, very much.

You sound so very angry and disenfranchised for a young man who's "found someone right."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:37 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not about manipulation. In the dating world, there are things that work, and things that do not. It's about learning what works, so that you're not the guy getting rejected when you ask for a dance or getting stood up for dates.

Women are not attracted to men who insult them, but they're also not attracted to some guy who sucks up to them simply because they're pretty. They are attracted to men who are self-confident and aware.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:40 AM on November 18, 2008


They are attracted to men who are self-confident and aware.

Which PUA taught you this?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:44 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


They are attracted to men who are self-confident and aware.

Self-confident people typically don't walk around figuring out how they can disassemble the other person's self-worth and still be funny.

It's about learning what works, so that you're not the guy getting rejected when you ask for a dance or getting stood up for dates

If you can't handle the occasional rejection, stay at home and jerk off. Why do you think the "community" you belong to has so much time to brag about their success on the internet? Obviously, it is fiction.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:46 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Meh to both the set of articles, and the outrage around them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:48 AM on November 18, 2008


Any PUA who isn't teaching that isn't worth listening to.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:48 AM on November 18, 2008


Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends [see “The New Girl Order,” Autumn 2007]. Single Young Males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3, and, in many cases, underachieving. With them, adulthood looks as though it’s receding.

Oh god Oh god, the assumptions, THE ASSUMPTIONS!!!!

Besides the hyperachieving part they don't seem all that different. So apparently shopping, traveling, and eating with friends is better than playing video games, hooking up, and drinking with friends?

Even with the hyperachieving part, how can you argue that that is a good thing?! It sounds like career obsession to me, and when guys do it they don't exactly get praised for it (well, besides getting praised with money). Rightly so, because putting your career first makes you put everything else behind it, human relationships be damned. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like she could invest a little more thought into her views of what exactly we "should" be doing, and what makes us (as people) "succesfull", because apparently she thinks it's obvious and linear. I declare that it's anything BUT obvious and linear, it's life!
posted by symbollocks at 6:49 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've tried to read through this three times now... I can't do it.
posted by teabag at 6:49 AM on November 18, 2008


You're right Inspector Gadget, it's all fake. The whole PUA thing is a hoax perpetrated by the CIA and the New World Order.

Thanks for the morning chuckle.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:50 AM on November 18, 2008


Any PUA who isn't teaching that isn't worth listening to.

Have you learned to be self-confident and aware yet?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:52 AM on November 18, 2008


symbollocks: yeah, the sheer volume of assumptions hurts. like little anvils dropping on me from a great height.

also, i'm not seeing how this "single people trying to meet and hook up with each other" is particularly different from, say, those swinging 1970's with all those single people heading to bars and hooking up. ONE NIGHT STANDS LOOKING FOR MISTER GOODBAR, BAYBEE!
posted by rmd1023 at 6:56 AM on November 18, 2008


Why all the PUA hate? There are lots of Internet-based communities revolving around some common goal or interest. The PUA crowd is just one of them.

Disclaimer: I've never picked anyone up or been picked up.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:58 AM on November 18, 2008


You sound so very angry and disenfranchised for a young man who's "found someone right."

You bet your ass I am. It took me absolutely ages to find someone halfway decent in the dating pool simply because of this "raunch culture".
posted by Talez at 7:00 AM on November 18, 2008


You can't learn to be confident, you have to become confident. The only way to do that is to actually get outside the house/apartment/condo/cardboard box and actually go out and interact with people.
posted by smoothvirus at 7:02 AM on November 18, 2008


If men are delaying male adulthood (which I think she means creating a family) aren't women doing that to? They are going to school and working more. They have more income and the spend it on different things than men do. She's taking a real thing, having more time to kill before starting a family, and picking examples that are intended to demean men, cartoons and video games. If a man delayed adulthood and read Pushkin and played squash it wouldn't exactly have the same sting would it? I'm sure there are many more men that play video games than read Pushkin but by the same token it isn't as though most women are exhibiting the sorts of rarefied tastes that makes staying in the drinking class into your thirties seem... not sad.

There is a rule, it isn't a firm rule like F=MA but it is a soft rule like white wine going with poultry. Women like men who are taller than them and men like women who are shorter than them. Luckily men are taller than women. If women and men were the same height tall women and short men would have a really hard go of it. Many women, I would say most women, have a rule that their partner has to make more money than the do. If it's offensive to think about it like that you could say that men have a rule that their partner has to make less money than them, which is still true but less true. It leads to single women at the top of the affluence/influence heap and single men at the bottom of the heap to have a lot of trouble pairing. What it isn't is just a cultural artifact, like height preference this affluence/influence asymmetry is part of how humans work.

There are a couple other things going on. One is as people get older they tend to grow in influence/affluence. A lot of the guys who have trouble with women will just have to wait longer to make enough of themselves that they can attract a woman.

Or you could trick women. That's what a lot of game is, it is a system for signaling characteristics that you don't have. It beats waiting your turn.

I'm not screaming stop. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with how things are. I'm not saying things are worse than they are before. But things are different. It is a pretty big change and there are few changes that don't leave losers. And holy shit the losers aren't happy about it.
posted by I Foody at 7:04 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The comment about women treating dating like a Chinese menu was spot-on. It's true that a good portion of women today, while thoroughly modernized and progressive in all the other areas of their life, retain a motley assortment of pre-feminist dating ideals, making it difficult for a young male to figure out just how he's supposed to act toward her in a given situation, at a given time. Her remark concerning the "scripts" women have in their minds also rings true -- I've had friends tell me they've dumped a guy because he didn't open a door for them, yet others who would see racing to open a car door as an anachronism and a sign of being a complete stiff. There may be some internal consistency among the various dating mores women choose to uphold, but it's hardly obvious to young men, who are certainly no more psychologically astute than they were 50 years ago, when at least both parties knew the script. Amidst the conflicting instructions, double-standards, and just plain fickleness, it's not surprising that more and more men are opting out of the elaborate courting rituals and instead homing in on the one thing they know remains a constant for both him and her.
posted by decoherence at 7:15 AM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


It took me absolutely ages to find someone halfway decent

Only halfway decent? What a charmer you are.

"Darling, you're so ... halfway decent. That's what I love like about you ..."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:17 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Every time Hymowitz blogs, a "curious" man posts to Craigslist.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:20 AM on November 18, 2008


“Never before have men wooed women who are, at least theoretically, their equals—socially, professionally, and sexually.”

I’m so glad I’m really well hung and can flip a car with my suspensory ligaments (started with a washcloth, moved on to a wet bathtowel).

“The general consensus among women is that a guy should pay on a first date: they see it as a way for him to demonstrate interest”

Dem broads, eh?

“ Can anyone doubt the reason the gyms swarm with so many guys bench-pressing 250 pounds? Sculpted pecs are to today’s SYM what plumage is to the peacock.”

I don’t see it. And hell they hold mail for me at my gym. I think more women go for the triathelete look. Not us gorillas. S’what I used to look like and I got more physical interest. (Although maybe it’s the wedding ring.)

“because if there’s one thing every single man can agree upon, it’s that having sex with as many women as possible is a great thing.”

Naah. Not really. I used to think that. But it’s quite the opposite. Having a lot of sex with one woman is much better. It’s like dancing. Dance with a lot of people, you probably get better, but you’re always having to learn and teach each other’s styles.

I’m no scholar here, but bouncing gives you a lot of time to observe people in social situations. And I think there’s a blind spot many academics have - they don’t have street smarts.

All the ratty looking bad boys getting away with treating hot looking women like crap?

They have cocaine.

Really, that’s it.
You can be a total prick, but if you have cocaine, a huge swath of women open right up to you. Men too. Forget all this ‘game’ crap. Trying to navigate and force interpersonal relationships, blah blah blah.

EmpressCallipygos is perfectly correct about role playing, all that and not seeing the person in front of you, not listening and being beguiled by your own desire.

There’s nothing that will obviate that as an obsticle and nothing that will fufill that desire if you’re not genuine and open.

If you are, than you’ll probably find someone who’s looking for the same kind of thing you are. Everything else is just patience. Take it from a hunter - 98% of it is waiting and observing. The actual tracking, shooting, etc - very small part of it.

But the thing that explains this ‘bad boy’ thing? Yeah, that’s not sociology. That’d be cocaine. Illegal drugs, whatever the rebellion of choice is, etc.
Spent a lot of time with my arms folded watching some completely together woman with some guy I know is a dufus and a prick.

And there’s no way she’d be with him any other way, except that I knew he was a coke dealer or had a connection, etc.
And sooner or later they go out to the parking lot or into the bathroom - whatever.

So - Hymowitz’s overthinking a plate of coke, would be my comment here.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:22 AM on November 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


In the dating world, there are things that work, and things that do not. It's about learning what works, so that you're not the guy getting rejected when you ask for a dance or getting stood up for dates.

Well, that begs the question. The situation in which no one knows what the hell to expect from the other side, and in which things 'work' and 'do not work' is not a foregone; it's organic, and derives from the last century (hell, the last millennium) of dating practices. Included in those practices are PUA tactics, which many of us think are offensive because they're inherently manipulative. Regardless of whether you as an individual pickup artist are being a manipulative asshole, you're having an effect on women in the dating pool, and the trend is toward exactly the fucked up situation that the article and the community here are lamenting.

That is to say, you are attempting to game a situation that exists in part because your precursors made those same attempts. Momentum appears to be building in a direction that the majority of us aren't happy with (viz. wildly different expectations from everyone and a generally chaotic and unhappy dating scene), and the fact that a lot of you (and I'm tossing around second-person pronouns here, when I really mean 'the pickup artist community') are kind of scummy and misogynistic in how you're approaching women doesn't earn you a lot of points with the rest of the men in the crowd.
posted by Mayor West at 7:29 AM on November 18, 2008


She's taking a real thing, having more time to kill before starting a family, and picking examples that are intended to demean men, cartoons and video games.

The people she (accidentally?) allies herself with to make this point are pretty f'ed up people compared to those bumbling male 20 somethings she so wants to demonize. She's practically calling on the ranks of the christian right and the "traditional family values" kooks, and she's a feminist? What?

While I'm at this can I, as a twenty something male not quite so stereotypical as she describes, go ahead and complain about trying to find a decent girl? A girl who isn't a carbon copy ripped straight from the pages of chicklit? Someone who doesn't pine to fit ever more comfortably into that horrifyingly soul-sucking prefab mold? Someone who doesn't accept that success is defined by grades or degrees or careers? Ugh, let me tell you, it's getting harder by the day.
posted by symbollocks at 7:33 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Feminist writer with a past history of projecting her own painfully obvious frustrations into her work publishes more of the same.

Film at 11.
posted by greenie2600 at 7:39 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Interestingly enough, I re-read the link I posted too -- and I found it to be actually a little meaner and one-track than I feel these days. I hadn't read it in a while, and it really resonated with me when I first read it -- but nowadays I'm brought up a little short by the author's "ohnoez guys only want sluts" claims.

I no longer believe that's completely true. There are SOME guys who are "nice guys" who have a chip on their shoulders about "I'm not a dumb jock, so that means you girls should automatically love me and if you don't you're just bitches". But there are also girls like this -- "oh, if you don't automatically love me that must mean you're into a slut, how dare you". But there are also "nice guys" who try to woo a woman on her own merits, and there are "nice girls" who are honest about who they are and what they want -- and when they run into people who don't get what they're about, they're disappointed a while, but then they move on and figure "it wasn't that wo/men are shallow or just want an easy fuck, it's that that one person is that way, or just doesn't know what they're about, and it's just time to look for the next person."

We all just need to get the hell out of our own ways, is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sure Kanye, who is the voice of my generation, will save us with his invective. OH GREAT KANYE... Why do men delay adulthood?

I began to write a bit about my personal feeling on the subject, despite my obvious knock on the fact that no one person can speak for all. This is an interesting subject to me and to many I think, because we all struggle to identify A) what we want and B) (more importantly) what we don't want in a significant other.

I often look at human beings as a parametrized probability distribution with an infinite set of inputs. Trying to model the interactions between two people is insane. I'm sure I'll be that rock for someone. I'm sure the thing I want most now- an intellectual who is also fun and doesn't take herself too seriously- will change dramatically as I do.

Here's the best way I've found to cope with it all: I used to date a girl who was a sociology major. She wasn't very bright (sorry), but she did say the most interesting thing to me in passing. She was discussing an article she had read in class about perceptions of marriage. There are/were two pervassive ones.
Some people see marriage as the be-all/end-all. I tend to think most people these days see it this way. That is to say, the person you marry is the one you keep. You look for a fantastic relationship with someone special. You move in together to make sure you're compatible, and then you get hitched and ride into the sunset... (I think that view is dangerous). The second way to see marriage is: will this person be a good companion in the adventure of life? Firstly, you both have to recognize that life is, in fact, a constant adventure, even if you don't move out of your Podunk town. Secondly, you have to realize that the relationship is something to constantly be worked towards.

People in the first group see marriage as the end: "Wow, I found this great girl, good job T, settle down and live a great life". People in the second category know, going in, that it's nowhere near the end, and work will constantly be required to maintain the marriage. will they evolve at the same pace you do? Will they continue to grow with you, such that the relationship can thrive? Circling back to the math... will the two of you maintain some correlation?

Whew I just went off on a rant... guess I'll stop now :) Anyway, as I said before, I can't get through this article at all, because this woman makes serious grand sweeping assumptions about all men who play video games and can't commit. She of course, can't look inward and say: "Maybe women these days don't inspire the kind of behavior of days past." Is that a bad thing? She's a journalist: it's her job to write pieces in black ink on white paper that don't deal in the gray tones that comprise life. At least it stimulates our minds to think on it for a minute.
posted by teabag at 7:41 AM on November 18, 2008


Can we not say PUA anymore? It's stupid.
posted by Mister_A at 7:45 AM on November 18, 2008


What's stupid-er: PUA or VIP?
posted by teabag at 7:52 AM on November 18, 2008


I often look at human beings as a parametrized probability distribution with an infinite set of inputs.

Yeah, I bet the chicks really go for that, huh?
posted by Phanx at 7:57 AM on November 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh, the Manhattan Institute.
posted by BlueMetal at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2008


I was at the club negging this HB 9.5+ (there is no such thing as a 10 deal with it nubs) and my wingman and ATC were in the corner with a syringe full of sodium thiopental waiting for me to close the door. She was pretty resistant to a full on neg so I punched her in the kidneys and cocked my hat just so.

Of the dozen+ women I've been lucky enough to somehow bed, most have been one-nighters with women 5-10 years older than I, and whose ranks have included PhDs, a fetish model or two, and a disproportionate number of redheads. I am, apparently, quite attractive - I regularly sport pinstripes and a fedora, and I'm informed that pictures of me prompt girly coos (which confuses no one more than me). I have a natural accent - I am often thought to be either British or Eastern European (having lived in both places), despite being born and raised in the States.

Anyway after a few more body blows (that's some NLP I like to throw in) she was staggering to get to the bouncer, but I knew that she would be back soon.

*points to door*
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:00 AM on November 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


PUA is actually kind of a side-story here, though, because what she's talking about are dudes who are basically the exact opposite -- men who are being completely themselves -- and how she can't fucking stand it. I can't really blame her. I mean, these articles are annoying and stupid, but on the other hand...if the examplar of 1960 masculinity is, let's say, Frank Sinatra, and 2008's dude poster boys are Seth Rogen and Stiffler, then let's face it: Somewhere, something got just seriously fucked up. On the freakish mutant third hand, though, I also can't stand her.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:15 AM on November 18, 2008


Married guy in his thirties here. I read the article. It was a bit depressing, but here's what gets me about some so-called 'nice guys'. There are a few 'nice guys' that I know who are under the mistaken impression that as women have become more assertive they don't have to assert themselves at all. Like there's some kind of assertiveness quotient and now that women have it they can stand around and say 'Meh' or 'I'm not going to talk to her, not like those other guys, then she'll realize that I'm a nice guy'. This is clearly stupid. I'm pretty sure that most women aren't attracted to bullies but a lack of assertiveness comes off as a lack of personality. Why not say what you think? Sure that might mean that some relationships might end uncomfortably on a first date, but it might also mean that the woman in question, if she sees that personality might actually find it and therefore you attractive. I guess the point that I'm making is that it's not an either/or thing. It's not that there are only two types of guys, 'nice guys' and 'douche bags'. This smacks of the whole 'nerds' and 'jocks' thing. Most men are somewhere in the middle...

A lot of this is based on a composite of a few guys that I know. The guys are ant-marriage or anti-relationship even though they've never actually experienced either. They don't ask women what they think so they find the whole thing complicated. I've found that using words can be pretty handy. Women are so much less intimidating when you actually talk to them...
posted by ob at 8:41 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mayor West -

A couple of things. First, by alluding to your belief that PUA's are poisoning the well of available women, you're suffering from the delusion we call "The Myth of Scarcity". It's not like there are only 1,000 single women out there. There are millions, heck, probably a couple of billion single women out there. There's more available women out there than you are physically capable of dating. The notion that other men are screwing things up for you is a farce.

The manipulation thing - have you ever read Cosmo? All that's going on is men are learning social tactics the same way that women have been doing since forever. If learning about the dynamics of human courtship is manipulation, then so be it. You can say the same thing about manipulating your body by eating healthy and lifting weights in the gym. I don't see anything wrong with learning about things like body language, or learning what women actually find attractive.

For the past few decades society has pushed this silly notion that you're supposed to just "be yourself" when it comes to dating. This includes laying out all your faults straight away and expecting your potential mate to just "take you as you are."

Utter baloney.

The best thing a man can do to build his own attractiveness is to build a great life first. Find out the things that women find attractive and make those things a reality.

I've come across a few guys who were real misogynists who tried to learn pickup. It did not go well. Men who love women are loved by women.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:44 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah jeez, not this shit again.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:02 AM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I mean, these articles are annoying and stupid, but on the other hand...if the exemplar of 1960 masculinity is, let's say, Frank Sinatra, and 2008's dude poster boys are Seth Rogen and Stiffler, then let's face it: Somewhere, something got just seriously fucked up.

This. Alan Alda looks worldly wise by comparison.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:14 AM on November 18, 2008


Eh, I think a lot of PUA training is actually getting a guy to BE HIMSELF when interacting with an attractive woman. I mean, if a guy is funny/quirky/confident/positive with his friends and family (and girls he's NOT particularly attracted to), then why on earth does he turn into an insecure bag of subserviant fail around a beautiful woman? It's like they turn into a different person. They stop BEING THEMSELVES.

And about "negging"... I think so many people misunderstand it that the safest advice is: Just don't do it, ever. First, you should never do it to a "somewhat attractive" girl, or somebody who already thinks you're pretty awesome, as it'll just make them think you're a big jerk. (And they'd be right!) It's only meant for very, very attractive girls -- the kind of girls that guys hover around and line up to buy drinks for, the kind of girl you look at and say "whoa, she is way outta my league...". Because, hey, she's not out of your league -- or at least you shouldn't make that determination based on her appearance. I've met some incredibly beautiful girls who were basically garbage on the inside. (And what a disappointment!)

Guys generally *want* to treat super-attractive girls as if they are something amazingly special based solely on their looks, because they make our lizard brains go WANTWANTWANT!!! She comes to expect being treated special because it happens in nearly every social interaction with a guy. Negging says to them "You're just a person to me. I'm not going to treat you like my social superior just because you're extremely pretty." Her lizard brain goes, "Wow, this guy isn't being a jerk or anything, but he isn't totally kissing my ass, unlike EVERY OTHER GUY I've met for the past 3 weeks. He must be something special... hmmmMAYBEWANT!"

It's probably a social crutch anyhow: Ideally, you're just treating people as people, it's just that guys tend to treat attractive girls preferentially -- negging sorta balances out that behavior.
posted by LordSludge at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2008


Smoothvirus: with regards to your comments on manipulation, it's a good point that both sexes try to manipulate the other into doing whatever nefarious deeds we are most interested in, but there seems to me to be a fundamental difference between how something like Cosmo (or any advice-dispensing mechanism like AskMe) approaches it, and how the PUA world approaches.

Cosmo is built upon making yourself look and feel good. There's a lot of advice on "communicate and talk to them, this will work more than playing mind games" and a lot of "this is how you can seem confident, which works better than playing mind games". Though a lot of it is cheesy, and a lot of it is common sense, the advice is well-intended and tries to help girls by propping them up.

(Aside: AskMe is similar. Everytime a poster asks how to attract more people, or how to get dates, or how to read xyz situation, the advice tends to be about communication and confidence and working on yourself as a person. Probably not the secret potion the poster was looking for, but in the end, it's should-be-common-sense that does work.)

Whereas the PUA world seems to be based on how to get the other sex to swoon for you based solely on glamour, with little substance. Subtly putting the other down so they'll look up to you? Having magic tricks in the back of your pocket to impress girls? The Best Friend test? Peacocking? AMOGing? Going to bar after bar after bar and just hitting on the first above-8 you see and trying to close her? All this makes me feel icky not because it's a network/society whose entire purpose is to be better at dating, but because they go about their purpose through what I perceive to be underhanded means.

I agree that the whole "bare your soul on the first date" philosophy that's been touted in recent years probably isn't the best way to head into a relationship, but there's a difference between building on your attractiveness, and inventing something completely fake and flashy just so you can "close". I have no problem with a "Cosmo" for guys, even if I think Cosmo in and of itself is sort of silly.

Disclaimer: Whatever I know of the PUA world, I know from Neil Strauss' "The Game". If you have different experience, I would love to hear about it.
posted by Phire at 9:35 AM on November 18, 2008


If girls want to compete with guys in the race to the bottom in the name of equality then so be it. Just don't be surprised when guys don't want to commit because you've become what decent guys despise so very, very much.

Weird. I'm a decent guy and I love pretty much everyone.

Well okay, maybe not people who talk in the cinema, but certainly I don't judge people based on who and how much they choose to fuck.
posted by tkolar at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Golly, but men and women sure do have a lot of differences! Those stand-up comedians were right!

Wake me when this author gets to overthinking the Toilet Seat Conundrum or the Remote Control Argument or the Stopping To Ask For Directions Kerfuffle. On second thought, just let me sleep. It's a more productive use of time.
posted by Spatch at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2008


The comment about women treating dating like a Chinese menu was spot-on. It's true that a good portion of women today, while thoroughly modernized and progressive in all the other areas of their life, retain a motley assortment of pre-feminist dating ideals

Just the other day a self-described feminist lay the "why buy the cow" line on me for not getting married, without a trace of irony. Made my head spin. Who's getting what for free now?

That's what a lot of game is, it is a system for signaling characteristics that you don't have.

That's the most concise description of it I've heard. Though a lot of attractors don't make a lot of sense in the modern world, and I'm never one to slag someone for self-improvement. Thing is, it's a lot easier to root for the shy underdog who's trying out a show of confidence in a brave fake-it-till-you-make-it gambit than one of these PUA types whose very language is one of conquest.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the time men reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed.

So after a high-school life of computers and D&D followed by computer engineering in university, by my mid twenties I had actually managed to avoid women pretty well actually. And, frankly, most women stink at both computers and D&D.

So obviously the writers has no idea what she's talking about.
posted by GuyZero at 10:09 AM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


As soon as the three letters PUA (it is a horrible term and not one I ever described myself with) get dropped on a thread the whole mefite population comes crashing out the woodwork to disparage it and accuse its practitioners of being manipulative bastards.

Smoothvirus, trying to convince people in this thread like you are doing is doomed to fail, but feel free to keep on fighting the good fight. Maybe we need a new way to describe PUA-ness that doesn't make atheism look revered.

I think the point of Hymowitz's article was that men were using Social Darwinist findings to justify their behavior and explain dating mysteries. I really didn't read anything there that I found that justified shitting on her whole article. I read the original post back when it was fresh and thought that she's moving in the right direction. No one's going to have it 100% right and those that are dismissing the article as a whole are missing a bit of the truth.

While I'll not deny that there is a misogynistic element to the PUA community that goes unchecked because of the focus on being alpha, there are those in the community that approach it from a intellectual angle and that are no doubt helping men who never learned these social skills on their own. I think of all the 'gurus' who's videos and books I consumed, David Deangelo is probably the best out of the bunch. He actually recommends books like the Selfish Gene and the Red Queen as part of his 'course' that I do feel helps explain a lot of things. Understanding why monogamy and polygamy benefits the different sexes differently from a evolutionary standpoint enlightens a lot of the confusion between men and women. Understanding that because an attractive woman gets approached by men dozens of times a day or week helps you to understand that her default auto-pilot response to you saying hello to her is to act indifferent or reject you the first time you try to make contact with her on the street. Teaching men that rejection is a matter of taste and doesn't reflect on them is not sleazy. Reading The Game did not make me into a woman-hating jackass that walked around bars telling women "nice shoes, wanna fuck?" It did, whoever, teach me more about human nature and relationships in 6 months than I had figured out through school and beyond, things the girls read in Cosmo while the guys played ball.

Using the latest scientific evidence to convince yourself that monogamy is for suckers and that the purpose of life is to bed as many broads a possible is a dick move and there are a lot of dicks out there justifying their behavior under the PUA banner. I ran into quite a few of them. There's none of it that can teach you a magic success formula that is going to allow you get any girl you desire, however, I'd wager that most of the stuff that these gurus teach has been backed up by science and tons of personal experimentation. And I don't have any problem with guys teaching each other this information any more than I do a thespian, a musician, or a lecturer reading a book on how to improve their stage presence.

An lastly, as a pre-emptive strike against any haters who are going to call me names because of these comments: I did not lie to anyone or manipulate anyone (even to sleep with me,) during this period in my life. The worst thing that happened was that me and my wingman might have worn silly item out in public, damaged our livers, and made mis-calibrated statements that might or might not have been inappropriate. And had a great fucking time.
posted by daHIFI at 10:13 AM on November 18, 2008


Excuse me, that should read, 'my wingman and I.'

Phire, the Game is a good read but the situation described therein self-destructs near the end. You'd be better off torrenting some PDFs and videos from David D, Mystery, Ross Jeffries and Carlos Xuma to get the whole picture. Not saying everything from each of their mouths is gospel; you may well find enough there to make it worth your time.
posted by daHIFI at 10:35 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Just to reply to I Foody's small paragraph in full:

Or you could trick women. That's what a lot of game is, it is a system for signaling characteristics that you don't have. It beats waiting your turn.

Waiting your turn? I think this is also wrongheaded.

While you “wait for your turn”, particular women are passing you by. They’re not produce in a green grocer’s. Do you take such a casual attitude toward your sig other? "Eh, if it wasn’t you, it would have been someone else." When you’re looking to interest someone in particular, you sure as hell want to make the right impression, and for a lot of clueless mopes, they just have no idea how to match good intentions with a good impression.

That being said, what I think you and others are responding to are "bad" intentions, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with teaching/learning to make the impression you want to make whatever that is. You don’t tell Toastmasters students to suck it up and someday "when it’s their time" they’ll make that killer speech. I think what people are responding to here is the attitude of the PUA scene; on that point, I’m with you. If it really is just "teaching you to be yourself" then its better off dumping the attitude it picked up along the way as some kind of twisted empowerment.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2008


daHIFI -- you speak to this point, I see. I confess I tend to see those kind of statements (it's just teaching mostly well-intentioned guys how to make a good impression) as dodging the true nature of the scene, but given that I try not to let the worst elements of any group define it I should probably be a bit more circumspect about it here.

Oh, and fuck Hymowitz and her assumptions, just to get back on topic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2008


It would be easy enough to hold up some of the callow ranting that the piece inspired as proof positive of the child-man’s existence.

Oh, Kay, don't hold yourself back! Let "Wytchfinde" be your co-pilot!
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:08 AM on November 18, 2008


I'd wager that most of the stuff that these gurus teach has been backed up by science SCIENCE!

Surely more SCIENCE! would've helped you calibrate your statements more precisely, daHIFI.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:25 AM on November 18, 2008


I think there's a grain of truth to the idea that women are hypergamous: they prefer a partner of higher social status than themselves. Men are happy enough with a partner of lower social status.

This works pretty well for most people. However, there are two groups that have problems:

1. High-status women.
2. Low-status men.

The latter tend to shuffle through Internet forums grumbling that all women are mercenary gold-diggers and don't appreciate Nice Guys. The former tend to write brittle New York Times columns about how modern men are regrettably immature, hopelessly commitment-phobic and far too willing to hook up with cute waitresses.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:36 AM on November 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


"It's this third wave feminism bullshit. If girls want to compete with guys in the race to the bottom in the name of equality then so be it. Just don't be surprised when guys don't want to commit because you've become what decent guys despise so very, very much."

See, on the one hand, I kinda feel like this happens more when you hang out with dumb girls/women. By looking for smart women, like ones that I can talk about regarding "raunch culture" and who have a decent grasp of media criticism and theory… On the other hand, you sound like enough of a dumbass that I don't know that this will be a fruitful strategy for you.

But man, I dunno, since high school I've managed to date a handful of pretty smart women who, you know, can actually articulate third-wave feminist contradictions and have fun without being materialistic, nihilistic she-beasts, and I currently hang out with a fair passel more… So, they're out there, and maybe the problem is you.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love it when threads get derailed into PUAville because it is fucking hilarious.

As soon as the three letters PUA (it is a horrible term and not one I ever described myself with) get dropped on a thread the whole mefite population comes crashing out the woodwork to disparage it and accuse its practitioners of being manipulative bastards.

Because I mean the PUA community aren't even manipulative bastards; they only wish they were. What they are is a joke: no woman with an ounce of sense would see these guys as anything but a punchline, and no dude looks at them with anything but contempt and pity.

The worst thing that happened was that me and my wingman might have worn silly item out in public, damaged our livers, and made mis-calibrated statements that might or might not have been inappropriate.

Do you understand how stupid it is when you wear funny hats as "conversation starters" or CS's or whatever your Dungeon Master's guide calls it? Do you understand that when you make "miscalibrated" statements everyone witnessing you thinks you are a jerk and a loser?

Sometimes I think the PUA movement was started by a coalition of old-timey hat manufacturers and the magician's guild. Nothing else can explain how a non-trivial proportion of young men are now out there making utter fools of themselves with fedoras and coin tricks.

But don't get mad, daHIFI: I'm just negging you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:10 PM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


OK, Hymowitz, you want men to grow up, ditch the World of Warcraft and get married and start crankin' out the crotchfruit by the time they're 24?

Turn the clock back to 1958. Make divorces harder to obtain. Make abortion illegal. Make it difficult for even married couples to get birth control. Roll back whatever progress gay people have made.

That's gonna be a lot harder than writing a column in City Journal.

And while you're at it, I'll note that that very same environment that pushed marriage on everyone was an environment that didn't exactly encourage women to be writers and pundits.
posted by jason's_planet at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's what a lot of game is, it is a system for signaling characteristics that you don't have.

Have a stop by the cosmetics counter sometime.
posted by adipocere at 12:30 PM on November 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


Touché, adipocere.

a non-trivial proportion of young men are now out there making utter fools of themselves with fedoras and coin tricks.

Ok, I thought I understood this movement. Apparently I do not. Fedoras and coin tricks? That's not nerds in hiding.
That's just NERDS.

Turn the clock back to 1958. Make divorces harder to obtain. Make abortion illegal. Make it difficult for even married couples to get birth control. Roll back whatever progress gay people have made.

I, too, think Hymowitz is full of shit, but I fail to see how wanting men to latch onto a female-defined version of masculinity entails all of this. Or is this some kind of bizarre tit for tat? Cause I don't want that stuff, even if I have to give up the video games.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:46 PM on November 18, 2008


I've been waiting for the next "PUA" thread so I could oh-so-cleverly drop the following link. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to come up with a good set up for it. But here it is. Someone more clever than I can use it in the future.

PUA
posted by stet at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2008


if the examplar of 1960 masculinity is, let's say, Frank Sinatra, and 2008's dude poster boys are Seth Rogen and Stiffler, then let's face it: Somewhere, something got just seriously fucked up.

Yeah? I'm inclined to take the opposite view: Sinatra had style out the wazoo, but he was more than a little bit of an asshole toward women on screen and in her personal life. Rogen, on the other hand, tends to play slovenly man-children, but they're almost always good, thoughtful guys. There's nothing preventing a "best of all possible worlds" approach of course, but given the two options, I'd rather the State of Men in 2008 were epitomized by the lovable everyguy than a dick who looks good in a fedora.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:11 PM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fair `nough Optimus, true story: one time my wingman, who is my best friend and got me into the books to start with, wore a white feather boa out to a downtown block party on a Saturday night with a blue plastic space helmet to top it all off. It was the most hilarious example of peacocking I've ever seen in my life.

Of course I kept my distance from him just far enough off to catch all the girls walking away from him with a look and a 'what's with that guy?' followed shortly by a 'hey so I read in a magazine that 60% of women would rather have a big screen TV than a diamond neckace. What do you think of that?"

Worst night out was at this bar adjacent to the local college. This was around the time when those midriff belts (the ones that sit above your belly button and have no functional purpose whatsoever) starting getting popular, so me, trying to be funny, said to a really cute girl, "so what's up with your belt, are you trying to keep your pants from falling down or your shirt from falling up." She initially went apeshit and it almost caused a big scene, but after we explained that I was just trying to be funny and was not a huge asshole things went much better. Took like 5 minutes and had to buy her a beer, but things got really out of control for a bit.

One of myother fave time was when we went to the department store and went around asking women's opinions of two colognes that I was on the fence about. The way it goes is that you put two different sprays on each wrist and you have a solid opener to start talking and establish 'kino' or whatever. We had used this to great effect at bars before, but I did it a few times around Dillards or whatever without having sprayed anything on my wrists at all. We weren't doing it to get laid, we just though it was funny.

All in all, even an unsuccessful night out sarging was 100X more fun that playing WoW at home. We never approached it as trying to go out and scam chicks into sex, it was more about meeting a lot of people and having fun. 75% of it was just being there.

Everytime this comes up in a thread I'm always reminded of an old Eddie Murphy SNL skit. Eddie's playing Michael Jackson during an interview and the reporter says "So Michael, what does a world famous singer like yourself say when you see a pretty girl and you want to, y'know 'jump her bones'?"

Eddie replies "Well it's really funny that you used that phrase, cause most of the time I just say, 'hey baby, I really wanna jump your bones.' 99 times out of a hundred I get my face slapped, but that hundredth time.... <does MJ crotch grab and high pitched 'HOOOOO'.
posted by daHIFI at 1:11 PM on November 18, 2008


Turn the clock back to 1958. Make divorces harder to obtain. Make abortion illegal. Make it difficult for even married couples to get birth control. Roll back whatever progress gay people have made.

I, too, think Hymowitz is full of shit, but I fail to see how wanting men to latch onto a female-defined version of masculinity entails all of this. Or is this some kind of bizarre tit for tat?


No, no, no. Just pointing out that there was a time when most men didn't have extended bachelorhoods, when men actually did fall into line and get married within a year or two of graduating college, when an unmarried man in his mid-30s was assumed to be either daft or gay. That was the 1950s.

The 1950s had a particular set of social mores and legal strictures that encouraged marriage and stigmatized the unmarried.

My point was -- if you want a society where (almost) all men get married, you'd have to turn the clock back to the 1950s. And good luck putting that particular genie back in the bottle. I also noted that the flipside of this particular matrimonialism is that women were encouraged to stay home and not encouraged to be writers.

That's all.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2008


That's what a lot of game is, it is a system for signaling characteristics that you don't have.

Have a stop by the cosmetics counter sometime.


Spare me. It's different. You see a girl with lipstick on you won't think "my here lips seem full as though she is flushed with sexual arousal. But if you walk up to a girl and say "My friends and I just pulled off a caper and we're celebrating like the end of Ocean's 11" she'd probably think you were not being a liar. You can be charming, if you aren't naturally charming you can try to learn how to be charming. But don't tell lies. Don't ask a girl if she saw a fight that didn't happen. Don't tell a story about your friend dating a witch if it didn't happen. If you don't think a girl has a wild side don't bet that she has a wild side. Because that works sometimes. Don't ask a girl if her nails are real. I'm sure it's possible to take away some valuable stuff from the pick up artist culture. But really from the predatory analogies that pervade the thing to it's aspergered up jargonese, it's a really weird sad culture.
posted by I Foody at 1:28 PM on November 18, 2008


There's nothing preventing a "best of all possible worlds" approach of course, but given the two options, I'd rather the State of Men in 2008 were epitomized by the lovable everyguy than a dick who looks good in a fedora.

I guess it depends on whether Seth Rogen really represents "lovable everyguy" to you (and mind you, here I'm talking about his screen persona, not the real Seth Rogen, who for all I know has a PHD, is an ace mountain climber, and spends his spare time feeding and clothing impoverished children in the Third World). To me, he represents something sad; it's every dude with potential I ever knew who wasted his life on video games, weed and Simpsons/Family Guy marathons, writ large. I find that persona depressing. I find people like that depressing. What's worse still is that I have my own inner Seth Rogen, with whom I do occasional battle, and I don't always win. But just because I can see myself in the motherfucker doesn't mean I have to like him -- quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:35 PM on November 18, 2008


PUA on youtube.
posted by Snyder at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2008


Only halfway decent? What a charmer you are.

I didn't pick up the first halfway decent thing to come along. I could have and I almost did. I'm now with someone who's a lot more compatible and probably just right for me.
posted by Talez at 1:47 PM on November 18, 2008


Ok, thanks for the clarification, jason's planet.

Spare me. It's different.

I tend to think of rather comparable distortions, myself, I Foody. Faking confidence, exercising (or I suppose drinking) to be able to chill out under pressure, and forcing yourself to exhibit cues of interest when you are interested but too shy to pull it off without a step-by-step. Those kinds of changes are comparable to something like cosmetics, I think.

What you go on to identify is basic dishonesty, and no, that isn't comparable. But then I have an apparently strange relationship with the truth. I'm wedded to it. I don't enhance stories for entertainment value, and I do lose respect in others who do so. I have trouble empathizing with characters who are supposed to be "nice guys" yet lie constantly for their own gain (eg: Wedding Crashers). And it kind of does my head in when I hear guys do this, or receive fallout from it being done (hey, this is Durn -- he does X or went to school at Y -- her reaction: yeah right.) Anyway, I agree with you about the predatory aspect, and that's why I see it as different from guidance for the socially impaired, which would be a laudable exercise on its own.

But apparently I've completely missed the finer points of PUI culture. It's all coin tricks, fedoras, and lies, apparently. (I'm not doubting you; I'm just surprised)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:49 PM on November 18, 2008


The thing is, after all the shit these guys have put up with, it's hard to blame them for wanting to just relax. After being forced to push the limit in the hell of school, both socially and mentally (and socially conditioned to believe their grades were their future), then shuffled into the world of work in which a third of their day (and even more of their energy) is systematically sucked away, it's not really hard to see why they do what they do.

Of course, I averted this particular life path (stereotypical SYM) early on (I saw that I was being lead into it), so it's hard for me to say how you get someone who is entrenched in that lifestyle to change, or if it's even ethical to attempt to get them to change.
posted by symbollocks at 1:57 PM on November 18, 2008


how a non-trivial proportion of young men are now out there making utter fools of themselves with fedoras and coin tricks.

Hey, now, wait a minute! I...I like fedoras. My boyfriend wears one. He's not an "utter fool," not by a long shot. And he's certainly no PUA.

Fedoras and coin tricks? That's not nerds in hiding.
That's just NERDS.


Um, ok. You got me there. He may or may not be a nerd.
posted by Windigo at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2008


Right, you aren't listening. My point (a very minor one, granted) is that I've never met a man who was keenly interested in his own triceps being toned relative to his biceps, stomach, chest, or ass. Like I said, it was just a little blip that made me think this author is more full of shit than any one person really has a right to be.

bardic, I was listening. But you are inaccurate. Triceps comes into the article twice and never in the way you suggest. You made a point and I heard that point but it was not based on anything the article said.
posted by nickyskye at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2008


Relationships between males and females is a difficult topic. When asked if there were any articles liked about relationships nobody has replied.

The article is written by a female in trying to understand males from a female point of view about having relationships with males. She speculates how confusing it must be for males these days now that females are free to behave, have and fulfil the needs that males did in the past. I think that is worth thinking about and that females themselves are also very confused about their roles in relation to males.

The gist is that male and female social roles are not like they used to be. This is an historic time in human relations in regard to sex, marriage and commitment. It's worth thinking about.

Do any of the males who posted in this thread like females, as friends, companions, to enjoy having fun with? It doesn't sound like it.

The PUA agenda sounds like a predation strategy, How To Trap And Nail An Orifice.

I don't think the author is expressing opinions about the pleasures of the SYMs or about SYMs that she is not applying to SYFs.

She says:
"But the truth is that my correspondents’ objections gave me pause. Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men."

She then makes some interesting points, which I think are sympathetic to the quandary of single young males in the West:

* "the dating and mating scene is in chaos. SYMs of the postfeminist era are moving around in a Babel of miscues, cross-purposes, and half-conscious, contradictory female expectations that are alternately proudly egalitarian and coyly traditional."

* "Under these harsh conditions, young men are looking for a new framework for understanding what (or, as they might put it, WTF) women want."

* "So far, their answer is unlikely to satisfy anyone—either women or, in the long run, themselves."

* "Today, though, there is no standard scenario for meeting and mating, or even relating. For one thing, men face a situation—and I’m not exaggerating here—new to human history."

From the comments in this thread it would seem she is right.

From my standpoint it seems like a generation of females has gone the way of Paris Hilton/Brittany snide and empty materialism, while a generation of young males has gone the way of cybergames. There's not much to share there between the genders except friction and dpt (deep protein therapy, except that people these days wear condoms so no protein, just dt).

I don't think that "dating Darwinists", as she calls the brutally blunt and goal minded, are any worse now than ever among males or females, it's just the camouflage removed. I prefer that honesty. Let the predators go with the predators. It would be excellent if they did not breed, children don't enjoy being prey.

I don't agree with her conclusion:
"Culture, in both its feminist and Emily Post forms, hasn’t won him any favor with women, so he will embrace Nature in all its rude harshness."

MeFite friendships, marriages, camraderies, imo, negate that.
posted by nickyskye at 2:50 PM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Love in the Time of Darwinism
posted by shotgunbooty

eponysterical
posted by nickyskye at 2:52 PM on November 18, 2008



“Never before have men wooed women who are, at least theoretically, their equals—socially, professionally, and sexually.”


Um, this article has a serious problem in terms of misunderstanding evolutionary psychology and modern Darwinism which is exemplified in this sentence. When humans first evolved, although there were many variations and men were certainly physically stronger, you can't really say that there was extreme gender inequality. It was the advent of agriculture that seriously cemented women's inequality and oppression.

So, we actually evolved in a situation that may have been pretty egalitarian. It's hard to know. That's not to say that there weren't all kinds of horrible things done to women-- but in a situation where women's gathering made up most of the actual calories that kept people alive and where you couldn't really accumulate that much in the way of material possessions since you had to carry everything with you and so economic inequality in general wasn't too high and there weren't real "professions," it's really hard to know about the level of inequality. Some hunter-gatherer tribes have some pretty equitable male/female relations.

#2 is that Hymowitz completely ignores all of modern Darwinism's emphasis on the evolution of altruism and cooperation. She's confusing Hobbes' view with Darwin's. The people she is calling modern Darwinists are more like old-fashioned Social Darwinists who got evolution very wrong by emphasizing competition and completely ignoring cooperation. So, everything else is problematic because of that basic misconception.
posted by Maias at 3:57 PM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


“The 1950s had a particular set of social mores and legal strictures that encouraged marriage and stigmatized the unmarried.”

Well, that and that bizarre state of affairs where one person working could afford a house, car and a couple of kids.
I mean, bring that just back and I suspect people would get married earlier. It’s just easier to chase after kids as a younger person. Who wants the “old dad” in high school?
Nothing wrong with it. But c’mon. Who wants to be 60 years old dealing with adolescent hormones?
(yes, I know that’s a helluva straight line. But I mean it in earnest)
There are stay at home dads now. But y’know, it’d be great if the economics were there. Most families, two people work. That, really, sucks comparatively.
Oh, I’m not saying it’s worth the other baggage the 50’s came with.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:56 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there's one thing that doesn't really belong in this article, it is the relentless and unneccessary invocation of Darwin.

Dating doesn't need to be dead because of some deep voodoo self-centered maximization of Darwinian benefit. Dating is dead because it's often just not a lot of fun. Sure, everything changes when you find someone you really click with -- but think about that, everything changes. What was it before?

You know, it's an open question whether love or war is more unrealistic in the movies -- but nobody thinks they can wage war based on what they saw in a theater.
posted by effugas at 4:58 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


nthing the idea that Darwin doesn't belong in this article. This is how she defines Darwinism in this topic:

"By far the most important philosopher of the Menaissance is Charles Darwin. The theory that human sexual preferences evolved from the time that hominids successfully reproduced in the primeval African grasslands can explain the mystery of women’s preference for macho—or alpha—males. At the same time, evolutionary theory gives the former wuss permission to pursue massive amounts of sex with an endless assortment of women. Finally, the emphasis that Darwinism places on natural selection encourages him to adapt to the brutal current sexual ecosystem. Culture, in both its feminist and Emily Post forms, hasn’t won him any favor with women, so he will embrace Nature in all its rude harshness."
posted by nickyskye at 5:27 PM on November 18, 2008


but nobody thinks they can wage war based on what they saw in a theater.

I'm gonna guess that you don't talk to many Republicans.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2008


Do any of the males who posted in this thread like females, as friends, companions, to enjoy having fun with? It doesn't sound like it.

::raises hand cautiously, fearing the scythe blade:: I *love* having women as friends, I enjoy their companionship, and I have many friend-girls who I would never consider nailing in any orifice. (Will you be my friend? hehe) It's hard to get too close though, honestly, mostly because of sexual tension. And that's really unfortunate. I can elaborate on this if you like, but I'm sure that's why most of my closest friends are guys.

The PUA agenda sounds like a predation strategy, How To Trap And Nail An Orifice.

Yeah, it's clear you have a very negative opinion of all things related to "pick-up", and you're certainly not alone. I'm sure the marketing has a lot to do with it. To be fair, though, it's not all that pretty on the other side of the fence:
- Flirting Moves No Man Can Resist -- Cosmo has crafted the ultimate bag-him bible. You'll never go home empty-handed again.
- Want to Date a Rich Man? Cosmo Let's You In On How To And What It's Like
etc...

Pretty objectifying stuff, but if it helps some women get what they want, who am I to judge?

I'll write my personal story if you like, but please believe me when I say that a lot of the guys studying PUA just want to have a wonderful girlfriend, just as a lot of women just want a great guy. Mystery himself has said he first developed his system because he was lonely. Because he wanted a girlfriend.

Hmm, perhaps something like "How to Get a Girlfriend" would meet your approval. (Haven't delved too deeply into it, but it seems to revolve around building your social circle as a way to meet women. Yep, that works too!)

Maybe this will help explain things:

What you may not appreciate, and why PUA exists at all, is that it's very, very difficult for most guys to simply walk up to an attractive (to them) girl they don't know and start talking. Even with an inviting smile and strong eye contact, it's still really hard to do. In PUA lingo, it's called "Approach Anxiety", and it's very powerful. I heard a story about a Navy Seal -- a guy who routinely jumped out of helicopters, was shot at, who had done all these crazy death-defying things -- who was utterly terrified of talking with women. It's ridiculous! And it's pretty much a universal phobia. This isn't just shy guys I'm talking about. It's almost every guy, if they were to be drop the macho act and be honest about it.

Guys will explain "I don't know what to say!" or "I don't want to look stupid." or (my big one) "I don't want to bother her." PUA material addresses these things. That's what "routines" are for. (I don't use 'em, but I do know they really should come from the guy's own life experiences, not some pre-canned bullshit he read somewhere.) That's what all the work on "inner game" is about. That's what the info on body language is about.

There should be ZERO deception involved. None. If you're lying, you're doing it wrong. The girl should come away thinking, "Wow, I just met a very cool guy." and look forward to seeing you again. How is that a negative thing? More guys, not less, should learn this stuff.

So while your characterization of the "PUA agenda [as] a predation strategy, How To Trap And Nail An Orifice" may win approval from the crowd here, to me that assertion is really fucking offensive. For me, it's How To Proactively Meet And Date a Girl I Can Fall In Love With -- and honestly, it has helped me a lot. Like.., dramatically. In fact, I just met a seemingly incredible girl this past weekend (very cute, speaks 4+ languages, in great shape, good job, and seems to kinda like me, yay!) that I never could have even approached without PUA material.

Who knows, maybe I just met my next girlfriend. Thanks, David DeAngelo!

posted by LordSludge at 7:48 PM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Guys will explain "I don't know what to say!" or "I don't want to look stupid." or (my big one) "I don't want to bother her."

Yes! Exactly! Guys often have a hard time approaching women and talking to them out of the blue because you're not supposed to do that. I mean, just talking to my female friends- when men approach them and start talking to them, they don't immediately begin hearing wedding bells or start sizing the men up as to whether they're worthy to talk to, they begin making sure that there are other people around, that the man doesn't have a knife, etc. Obviously this is different within certain settings, etc., but you have to realize that women usually have to deal with a LOT of men coming up to them and saying inappropriate things. I'm not saying that you're a creepy dude or that the women you've met don't want to talk to you, but creepy dudes exist, and they might not look that much different than you or I.
posted by 235w103 at 8:13 PM on November 18, 2008


"This isn't just shy guys I'm talking about. It's almost every guy, if they were to be drop the macho act and be honest about it."

Well, yeah, everyone feels like that at some point. But that's natural, and it goes away for almost everyone. It's not almost every guy. It's hard to approach someone you already like, because you're already emotionally invested. But approaching anyone on the street? In general, there's the right amount of anxiety about that.

"So while your characterization of the "PUA agenda [as] a predation strategy, How To Trap And Nail An Orifice" may win approval from the crowd here, to me that assertion is really fucking offensive. For me, it's How To Proactively Meet And Date a Girl I Can Fall In Love With -- and honestly, it has helped me a lot."

Look, I'm not trying to be a dick. I'm glad that this helped you become more confident. It's just that by seeing a girl as an object, even if the object is a girlfriend, you're dehumanizing. I mean, look at when you mentioned meeting this new girl—you list her as a bunch of traits that you value, not as "And it helped me meet this cool girl."

Sure, yes, everyone objectifies other people, and there are plenty of people who like being objectified (especially within the "safe" context of a relationship), but it's still kind of weird to base a community around it, and if you can't understand why that would seem really off-putting to a bunch of women, you should probably spend some time pondering it.

One last thing—a lot of what you mention as things that you've picked up are pretty good exercises, and you seem to be employing them in a totally benign way. But they're pretty much all things that are common advice—work on your confidence, expand your social circle, the majority of success is trying, etc.

Reading down these last several comments, I was going to point out to Nicky that it seems like she's reading this horrible "OMG, this is what young people are like now!" vibe into the article, when the truth is that this is still a pretty small thing (oh the perils of flattening inherent in media coverage). And on that level, it's something that's an appropriate tool for a sub-set of guy who can't either figure this out on his own or by another system, and I don't want to demonize all guys who use PUA stunts. The problem is that amoral and bitter dudes get ahold of these techniques, think it's a coherent ideology, and use it to justify their own sociopathic leanings instead of, y'know, working their shit out in therapy where it can't do any damage.

I'm also deeply skeptical of anything that people pay a lot of money for that seems like common sense, and when I get that perception from the folks who are profiting from the PUA systems, it makes me more dubious of all their claims.
posted by klangklangston at 9:45 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Look, I'm not trying to be a dick. I'm glad that this helped you become more confident. It's just that by seeing a girl as an object, even if the object is a girlfriend, you're dehumanizing. I mean, look at when you mentioned meeting this new girl—you list her as a bunch of traits that you value, not as "And it helped me meet this cool girl."

You know, I think it's pretty cool that the girl speaks four languages, has a good job, is attractive, and has a good vibe with LordSludge. Do you think something's wrong with that?

People have traits. Some are positive. Some are negative. I'm hearing a bunch of traits that are notably quite a bit beyond "she's a total slut" and you're just refusing to respect that. You know, there's a lot I like about my girlfriend. I can go into what I like about her at length. Am I dehumanizing her, by "reducing" her to a collection of pretty cool traits? Come on.

Look, Hollywood lies. It tells us a bunch of stories about how we wish the world worked, rather than how it does. And there are truly large numbers of very confused guys, and girls, out there, wondering exactly what the dance is they're supposed to follow. Ultimately, the root truth at the core of the PUA movement is that passively expecting the fate you wish to just happen, because it's supposed to, because that's what Hollywood said, is a lie. And you know, objectively, that's true -- in business, in love, in life in general. Whether that root truth is burnished by a fundamental interest in other people, or diminished by association with cravenly manipulative behavior, does not dimish the truth at the core. Man up or fail. Those are the choices.
posted by effugas at 10:32 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, I think it's pretty cool that the girl speaks four languages, has a good job, is attractive, and has a good

You know, here is the thing. You guys, to a man, all sound like Amway salesmen when you start going on about PUA. This is why people don't trust it: It makes you sound like a bullshit artist. This makes people wonder (a) whether you are not full of shit, and (b), if these are your persuasion techniques, how well they can possibly work on women you're trying to fuck when they don't work on people you're just talking to about your hobby. So it seems (a) ethically suspect and (b) like something that maybe does not work, at least not for you. Even people who can live with one are gonna be turned off by the other, y'know?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:03 AM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Little interlude here -

Two links to to some David DeAngelo writing. For one, so possibly some of you could educate yourselves on what your shitting all over? And two, I actually think he is pretty intelligent and has some valid things to say.

- Continue with the dogpiling!
posted by P.o.B. at 7:06 AM on November 19, 2008


I think part of the issue some people have with the PUA stuff is that it basically looks like the placebo effect. The stuff works because you believe in it. I mean, ask any perpetual single guy what they can do to start seeing women (or men, whatever) and they'll probably be able to tell you what they need to do to make it happen, they're just too chicken or whatever to do it (not mocking actually. I'm one of these perpetually single guys).

It's when some people see it codified into step-by-step instructions that they talk themselves into doing it. With some extra information about what is 'supposed' to happen when they act certain ways they will hopefully keep up any momentum they have built up until they make progress.

And I believe placebos have their place because they actually work for some people. So it's not so much the process or getting out of one's shell I dislike. I's the attitude many have after discovering what most people believe to be sugar water. Sure, you don't think it's sugar water. But most people do so trying to tell them your way is the cure isn't going to work for most people.

As kittens for breakfast says, stop coming off like amway salespeople and maybe more people will be receptive I think.
posted by Green With You at 9:10 AM on November 19, 2008


Oh YAY an actual discussion about males and females. I love it! Wish it had happened upthread.

Nicely said klangklangston. The impression I get is that the materialism of either gender these days surpasses an interest in mutual friendship of any kind or mutual goodwill, which I think is an expression of the culture in general.

One of the many joys of being on the blue is a sense of mutual enjoyment of the members here, male and female, whatever the gender or sexual proclivity. I think that is so stimulating! whoo hoo mutual stimulation, lol.

PUA (yes, why do its advocates sound like Amway people?) still basically seems like covert predatory strategies for sexual gratification, which would be fine, imo, as long as it is mutual. I was pleased to see this young guy giving lessons and think the same could well be done for females, except most males, in general, seem to have the opposite situation to females in terms of sexual gratification.

In describing the attributes of the female in question "speaks four languages, has a good job, is attractive", there is no mention of what is the connection between, the actual relationship? Is there mutual anything? Mutual enjoyment, mutual trust, warmth, shared fun, camaraderie? The agenda seems to be to try and OWN or POSSESS or trick, capture, lure, GET, rather than BE in a relationship.

PUA seems, in the limited impression I get, to be about impressing the other guys and not about liking being WITH females.

Thinking about this males attracting females I remember this streetvendor I used to work with in the late 80's, Larry. He was skinny as a stringbean, about 5'10", totally poor, a slob, a smoker, a drinker, was half Jewish and half black with white skin and dirty blond hair, always scruffy, not especially attractive but likable, super smart. I wish I'd shown him MetaFilter, if he hadn't died a few years ago from cancer. He made collages for a living. He adored women sexually and women intuited it. They flocked to him. He used the cheesiest, tired lines and heaped on flattery. "You have beautiful eyes". Women, the most beautiful women, were always all around him like butterflies. All of us vendors were amazed and amused by Larry's allure.

Looking back on him I think part of his success was his enjoyment of females. He twinkled with appreciation and offered himself as a lover but in a way that was less about predation and more about offering. His unspoken agenda seemed to be, "You're so amazing, I don't blame you if you don't want to have fantastic sex with me this afternoon, even though that's what I would like with you. But can I tell you how lovely I think you are?" And he was forever getting into cabs with women. His come on was the total opposite of a neg. Like the movie Hitch, where he says offer the kiss 70% of the way but let the woman reciprocate, he seemed to have that down.

I once asked Larry for advice on picking up men. He said I should say to a man if I felt attracted, " I hope you don't mind if I tell you that I think you're handsome and would like to ask you if you'd consider having a cup of coffee with me?" I realized as a woman that was what I hoped that was the type of strategy guys would also use with me. Just a request for a cup of coffee, open ended, relaxed, in which acceptance or rejection were both comfortable options.

Do people ask to have cups of coffee with each other any more?
posted by nickyskye at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Great stuff in this thread, especially from nickyskye. Thanks guys.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


"You know, I think it's pretty cool that the girl speaks four languages, has a good job, is attractive, and has a good vibe with LordSludge. Do you think something's wrong with that?"

Yes, obviously. Because I hate languages, jobs, attractive people and LordSludge.

"I'm hearing a bunch of traits that are notably quite a bit beyond "she's a total slut" and you're just refusing to respect that. You know, there's a lot I like about my girlfriend. I can go into what I like about her at length. Am I dehumanizing her, by "reducing" her to a collection of pretty cool traits? Come on."

If that's all she is to you is a series of positive traits, yeah, you're dehumanizing her. Just like how one of the traditional conceptions of femininity as "pure" and "selfless" and "pretty" was dehumanizing even though those are/were considered positive traits.

Like I said, I realize that a bit of dehumanization is necessary to exist in the world. I don't want to relate to my waiter as a person, I want to relate to them as a role. My bus driver may speak four languages, be attractive and seem to like me, but I don't really care, because they're there to drive my bus. Knocking together a bunch of traits that defines the role of "good girlfriend" or "impressive girlfriend" isn't a healthy way to deal with a woman who you want to date. The best part about dating my girlfriend isn't the "being-for-others" part, but rather that we can both be ourselves around the other person and still have a deep connection.

Look, Hollywood lies.

**GASP**

And there are truly large numbers of very confused guys, and girls, out there, wondering exactly what the dance is they're supposed to follow.

But, see, the answer isn't to invent a new set of social rituals, another algorithm based on some specious naturalistic fallacy, that will allow you to have mutual congress. The answer is to abandon the dance and relate to people as people.

Ultimately, the root truth at the core of the PUA movement is that passively expecting the fate you wish to just happen, because it's supposed to, because that's what Hollywood said, is a lie. And you know, objectively, that's true -- in business, in love, in life in general. Whether that root truth is burnished by a fundamental interest in other people, or diminished by association with cravenly manipulative behavior, does not dimish the truth at the core.

But there are two problems there—first, that root truth doesn't necessitate PUAs, it necessitates actually deciding what you want and acting on that. Second, yes, the root truth isn't necessarily affected, but that doesn't mean PUAs are benign. The eugenics movement didn't diminish the core of truth regarding heritable traits, but that doesn't mean eugenics are valuable. There are plenty of religions that move from a core of good intentions and historical truths into a realm of unhealthy self-denial and judgment, and that doesn't disprove the underlying good, but it certainly does overwhelm it in that form. And, while I like salt, a dish can always be too salty without diminishing the truth that I like salt.

So not only are PUA tactics not necessary by themselves, they can be harmful without disputing the underlying good in the core idea of "You have to get over your anxiety and ask women out." And for many folks, it seems like they do more harm than good.

Again, this is not to disparage LordSludge for finding a tool that worked for him. But, to echo Green With You, this is a placebo sold as panacea.

"Nicely said klangklangston. The impression I get is that the materialism of either gender these days surpasses an interest in mutual friendship of any kind or mutual goodwill, which I think is an expression of the culture in general."

Well, yeah, some of 'em. But one of those secrets you learn as you get older is that you don't actually have to deal with most people like that all that much in depth, even if you're related to them. You find people who share your likes and your values, and you're not trapped by materialism (though damn, I sure would like some new stuff).

I dunno. A while ago, I got an offer to work on a book about dating, a project that I tried to make a game run of and then abandoned. The principle was a woman who was trying to come up with all of these questions about male and female dating behavior and have it answered by "good guys" and "bad boys," but all of the questions evinced this glib reduction, this refusal to see people as people and rather wanting them to act in types. It encouraged trying to refine gender codes to remove ambiguity, rather than embracing ambiguity and using that as an opportunity for communication. It felt similar to the PUA creeds, only from the other side (and with the emphasis on keeping a man rather than bedding a woman).
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 AM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


I love you klangklangston . :)
posted by nickyskye at 10:29 AM on November 19, 2008


235w103: Guys often have a hard time approaching women and talking to them out of the blue because you're not supposed to do that.

No offense, but what an incredibly limiting belief that is. To paraphrase: You're not supposed to approach a woman you don't already know. So how are you *supposed* to meet a woman? Hope you have a mutual friend (if not, too bad), tell them you're interested (but clearly too shy & insecure to approach on your own -- stalker! stalker!), and have them introduce you? Send her anonymous flowers? Wait for her to approach you? Fail, fail, fail...

Look, a few years ago, I would have basically agreed with you. Keep to yourself, don't bother anyone. If a girl likes you, she'll come talk to you. That's how I was raised. That way, you're not taking any chances and you'll never offend anybody, right? Hey, I can't completely knock it; it kept me out of trouble when I was young and it served my parents well enough. And, occasionally, a girl did approach me...

But I realized that by passively waiting for whomever came my way, I was dating people I was only moderately interested in. Put another way, I wasn't dating people *I* was interested in; I was dating people who were interested in ME. That's not fair to me, and it's certainly not fair to them.

I passionately believe that everybody deserves love, mutual love.

I mean, just talking to my female friends- when men approach them and start talking to them, they don't immediately begin hearing wedding bells or start sizing the men up as to whether they're worthy to talk to, they begin making sure that there are other people around, that the man doesn't have a knife, etc. Obviously this is different within certain settings, etc., but you have to realize that women usually have to deal with a LOT of men coming up to them and saying inappropriate things. I'm not saying that you're a creepy dude or that the women you've met don't want to talk to you, but creepy dudes exist, and they might not look that much different than you or I.

For sure, "creepy" kills attraction in women faster than anything. A lot of PUA material is designed to help guys eliminate teh creepy. If men are throwing off a creepy vibe, they need MORE help interacting with women, not less. I GUARANTEE I threw off a lot more creepy-vibe before I looked into David DeAngelo, Mystery, and friends. What's incredible is that a woman can assess your creepy-quotient, to a large degree, from across the room. You could be sunk (or golden!) before you open your mouth!

A lot of PUA material, also, deals with that fact that attractive girls are approached.. a LOT... by creepy dudes, by boring dudes, by desperate dudes, by dangerous dudes and how this affects you, the ostensibly non-creepy, non-boring, non-desperate, non-dangerous dude. And there are a ton of little ways you can express that you're a Good Guy without saying a word. I really had no idea before checking this stuff out.

In summary, your concerns are completely valid and real... and well-documented. They are explicitly addressed by most PUA material, along with a lot of stuff you may not have considered.

klang': It's just that by seeing a girl as an object, even if the object is a girlfriend, you're dehumanizing. I mean, look at when you mentioned meeting this new girl—you list her as a bunch of traits that you value...

If describing traits is enough to objectify a person, I defy you to describe your *mom* in 15 words or less without "objectifying" her. If I had gone on about this girl's nice ass, great tits, excellent triceps (ha!), etc., etc. then sure you'd be right. Bottom line is my frontal lobe is happy (she appeals to me on an intellectual/friendship level) and my lizard brain is happy (heart goes thunka-thunk). She may well turn out to be an coke addict, a serial killer, and a Scientologist for all I know. But so far, so good!

No offense taken, but why are you so convinced that I objectify women?

kittens': You know, here is the thing. You guys, to a man, all sound like Amway salesmen when you start going on about PUA. This is why people don't trust it: It makes you sound like a bullshit artist. This makes people wonder (a) whether you are not full of shit, and (b), if these are your persuasion techniques, how well they can possibly work on women you're trying to fuck when they don't work on people you're just talking to about your hobby. So it seems (a) ethically suspect and (b) like something that maybe does not work, at least not for you. Even people who can live with one are gonna be turned off by the other, y'know?

I'm not selling anything; I have nothing TO sell. I'm simply responding to a very negative tone and some pretty vile accusations using my own first-hand experience. It's kinda like if people here were shouting that all Christians are faith-healers, that atheists are devil-worshipers, or that gays are, by and large, pedophiles. It's just... false. It's ignorant. And it deserves a rebuttal. I mean, Nicky... goddamn OUCH! I, personally, know better, and I'm compelled to respond.
posted by LordSludge at 11:21 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


"If describing traits is enough to objectify a person, I defy you to describe your *mom* in 15 words or less without "objectifying" her. If I had gone on about this girl's nice ass, great tits, excellent triceps (ha!), etc., etc. then sure you'd be right. Bottom line is my frontal lobe is happy (she appeals to me on an intellectual/friendship level) and my lizard brain is happy (heart goes thunka-thunk). She may well turn out to be an coke addict, a serial killer, and a Scientologist for all I know. But so far, so good!

No offense taken, but why are you so convinced that I objectify women?
"

Wait, what about my mom's tits?

What I'd say about objectifying has three parts: first off, if I tried to describe my mom in 15 words or less, yeah, of course I'd reduce her to a handful of easily-communicable traits and expected roles. Hell, even referring to her as my mom already conjures up all sorts of archetypes. But, much as I love my mom, I have a fairly different relationship with her than any woman I've ever dated. I mean, I've never known her as an adult without that role of "mom" coming along with it. My father could probably do a better job, starting with referring to her by her name, Lisa. Second, I'd distinguish the two forms of "objectification" that I think play together within this discussion. There's both the distillation of this woman into a bunch of traits that you find valuable, making her an object or (for clarity) item; there's also the distillation of "having a girlfriend" into an object, or goal. It makes having a girlfriend the functional equivalent of, say, wanting to own a Camero. Both meanings of objectification here do still imply an alienation from the woman as a person. Third, from your response, I'm not sure whether you read my comment above, where I went into a little bit more detail (and stole terms from Sartre).
posted by klangklangston at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I love you klangklangston . :)"

Aww, thanks. See, the younger generation, we're not all evil! (Even though I'm aging slowly into the demographic that can't be trusted).

Now I just gotta find someone else who'll let me write part of a book ;)
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on November 19, 2008


A lot of PUA material is designed to help guys eliminate teh creepy.

"The world's greatest pick-up artist" is a 37 year old man who likes to call himself "Mystery," so maybe the PUA creepy filters need a little adjusting.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:27 PM on November 19, 2008


nicky': I just met this woman, had a neat little connection, learned a few things about her, and shared a few things about me. Talked with her 30-40 minutes. Exchanged hugs and phone numbers. Left smiles on each others' faces. We may become closer; that'd be peachy w/ me at this point. I mentioned her, as an aside, only as an example of a positive connection that would not have happened without some PUA training.

I would love to have a conversation about male/female dating relations. Really, it's one of my favorite things to talk about. But I feel like if I say "I met someone I like", you're gonna jump down my throat with "YOU WANT TO OWN HER? YOU WANT TO VIOLATE HER ORIFICES???" It's just such a confrontational tone, and so disconnected from my reality, that I don't know that I can participate.

klang': Geeze, man, you're making me feel guilty for connecting with somebody and hoping it progresses into a closer relationship. I don't want to own anybody like a Camaro. What's up with that?? Why twist something so sweet into something so ugly? You're doing a whole lot of projecting and making a ton of unfair assumptions. Maybe it stems from your book research experience? Maybe you want to vent more about that? (Sounds interesting, actually; I'd love to hear more about it. Or maybe it'd just leave me depressed...)

october': Not sure what you're saying... Is it that using a nickname is creepy? ("Guilty" all the way around, here!) Or that being 37 is creepy? Or that a 37yo can't be good at meeting women? If so, then enjoy your 20s, man -- that belief is going to make you a lonely, bitter old fellow. And what's really sad is that it's a common belief. And it's completely false. Or, rather, it's only true if you make it true.

And, everybody, if you haven't looked into PUA material, you are, by definition, speaking from ignorance. That's not Bad, per se, but you literally don't know what you're talking about. The David DeAngelo links, posted above, are decent starting points, FWIW. Or don't read 'em -- but if you don't, stop pretending you know all about them. You can say "it's all a placebo" or "it's sugar water", whatever, and ya know what... you're not entirely wrong, even, but you are grossly oversimplifying.

"Just be confident." "Just be yourself." That's true, but not terribly useful, actionable information. What does confident body-language look like? How can I tell if a woman is attracted to me? How can I get myself into a confident, social mood? Should I go out with friends or by myself? What should I wear? (Naked plus a fedora, naturally!) How do I start a conversation with a woman when my heart is in my throat? Is it okay to approach a woman who's with a group of people? How does that change the conversation dynamic? What if the conversation dies? Should I buy her a drink? etc. etc.

Or we could talk about stimulating the G-spot, which wow if I'd posted that I'm pretty sure I'd be crucified...
posted by LordSludge at 2:18 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Just be confident." "Just be yourself." That's true, but not terribly useful, actionable information. What does confident body-language look like? How can I tell if a woman is attracted to me? How can I get myself into a confident, social mood? Should I go out with friends or by myself? What should I wear? (Naked plus a fedora, naturally!) How do I start a conversation with a woman when my heart is in my throat? Is it okay to approach a woman who's with a group of people? How does that change the conversation dynamic? What if the conversation dies? Should I buy her a drink? etc. etc.

You know, I'm actually kind of intrigued the conversation took this turn. Because I think, with the above, LordSludge has unwittingly alluded to both the very nature of the appeal of the PUA strategies, the Cosmo magazines, the Rules books, etc.

Fair warning, before I begin, that this theory is literally only thirty seconds old and came out of my brain when I read the comment above.

The problem some people have with the "just be yourself" and "just be confident" kind of approach is precisely as LordSludge suggested -- it's not a road map. It's not a clearly-defined set of steps. Some people just feel more comfortable with a clearly defined set of steps. So when advised to "just be yourself" they flail and worry about what's "the right thing" or "the wrong thing", and then when someone comes along and says "here are the right steps" they sieze on it and think "ah-ha, finally an answer!"

But the problem that all of these "specific sets of steps" share is -- they are not universal constants, because human beings are not universally across the board identical. Sure, you'll have some people for whom they work, and some people who respond just perfectly. But they are not universal constants. People are not programs; we do have similiarities, but we are not identical in our programming. So you will inevitably at some point run into people with whom these approaches simply do not work.

Similiarly, these approaches do not always completely mesh in with the person adopting them, either. A lot of what one or another approach is suggesting may make a hell of a lot of sense to you, but keep it up long enough and it's going to break down eventually. No set of rules or system can be perpetuated, even if you believe in it -- at some point, your Self is going to break out and say "that's not 100% me, and the 2% of me that is not covered by this needs a turn now." And your choice is to either keep squelching that 2%, or to let it out and freak out the person you're with. Or maybe, let out that 2% and the person you're with thinks it's adorable, and everything is okay.

But sooner or later, trying to follow the rules -- any rules -- just plain breaks down, or just plain doesn't work. And so you have to go back to the basics of "just be yourself". But how do you do that?

...Just by doing it. It is scary to "just be yourself" sometimes, because you don't know what the road map is and you feel like you should have one, but...there are some situations for which there just plain isn't a road map. And this is one of them. But people want so badly for there to be a road map that they will place great faith in possible road maps -- and after all, some of them do work for a while -- and so it gets harder to trust the "just be yourself" advice. But sooner or later, I think we all need to eventually learn to get the hell out of our own ways and to just be ourselves -- and to accept that the fact that we get to define what that means on our own is actually a blessing rather than an obstacle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


"klang': Geeze, man, you're making me feel guilty for connecting with somebody and hoping it progresses into a closer relationship. I don't want to own anybody like a Camaro. What's up with that?? Why twist something so sweet into something so ugly? You're doing a whole lot of projecting and making a ton of unfair assumptions. Maybe it stems from your book research experience? Maybe you want to vent more about that? (Sounds interesting, actually; I'd love to hear more about it. Or maybe it'd just leave me depressed...)"

Dude, chill and go back and read what I wrote without thinking that I'm trying to attack you. This isn't whether or not your feelings were sweet, because, first off, every dude thinks his feelings about a woman are sweet and justified. Second, conceding that they were sweet, that's still irrelevant—thinking about a girl in traditional terms is "sweet," like wanting to protect her or idolize her, etc. It's still not seeing her for who she is, but rather her hewing to traits you find attractive. And, of course, I can't say that this is how you actually feel or any other such psychic nonsense, but I can say that it comes across from how you described her in passing.

Now, to reiterate since it doesn't look like you actually went back and read what I said before (or I didn't explain myself well), I'll cop that a fair amount of this is from Sartre's writings on being. That's why I mentioned "being-for-others," which is when you adopt traits to fill a role that is expected. (Roughly. I'm hacking Sartre with a hatchet here.) That's where the first complaint (I'd say objection, but jeez, it's confusing enough) of objectification comes in. What you chose to share wasn't her identity, it was a handful of things that sound impressive. That's being-in-itself, where you describe people as things.

Then there's the second objectification, which is broader. PUAs aren't approaching these women as people, they're approaching them as part of an exercise. The Amway line above was apt, if you've ever had a friend get into Amway. You cease to be their friend, and become an object—a potential sale—to which they will pitch their products.

Finally, and this is something that hasn't been mentioned yet, but does seem to be a pretty decent source of a lot of the negative perception of the PUA folks, there's the neuro-linguistic programming bullshit, which really does seem to try to trick women into bed.

So, yeah, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty—go for it, hope it works out!—just pointing out that there are still ethical and philosophical concerns.
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Klangston, I also love you.

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned any of this:

"wore a white feather boa out to a downtown block party on a Saturday night with a blue plastic space helmet to top it all off."

"hey so I read in a magazine that 60% of women would rather have a big screen TV than a diamond neckace. What do you think of that?"

"so what's up with your belt, are you trying to keep your pants from falling down or your shirt from falling up."

"The way it goes is that you put two different sprays on each wrist and you have a solid opener to start talking and establish 'kino' or whatever."

"sarging"

--all courtesy of daHIFI

Everybody's advice about dating seems to consist of "be yourself", and it's never failed for me. This PUA stuff seems to be entirely about building some sort of bullshit alternate persona that is attractive to women, negating any need to be honest or transparent. Dating is HARD, because the point is to get yourself out of your shell. If you ease into it, it can be exponentially more fulfilling than any sort of PUA hook-up.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:21 PM on November 19, 2008


Lord Sludge, you said, "I mean, Nicky... goddamn OUCH!"

Yikes. What do you think I said? I went over my comments and it absolutely was not my intention to cause you or anybody any ouch whatsoever. What are you referring to?

I said:
"The PUA agenda sounds like a predation strategy, How To Trap And Nail An Orifice."

and

"In describing the attributes of the female in question "speaks four languages, has a good job, is attractive", there is no mention of what is the connection between, the actual relationship? Is there mutual anything? Mutual enjoyment, mutual trust, warmth, shared fun, camaraderie? The agenda seems to be to try and OWN or POSSESS or trick, capture, lure, GET, rather than BE in a relationship."

You said:
"But I feel like if I say "I met someone I like", you're gonna jump down my throat with "YOU WANT TO OWN HER? YOU WANT TO VIOLATE HER ORIFICES???" It's just such a confrontational tone, and so disconnected from my reality, that I don't know that I can participate."

If you said, "I met somebody I like", that would have been more friendly, less objectifying. I would have asked simply, does she seem to like you?

I said nothing about violating anybody, nor jumped down anybody's throat. klangklangston was well able to convey the way in which your description of this new person you met is objectifying.

You said:
"I just met this woman, had a neat little connection, learned a few things about her, and shared a few things about me. Talked with her 30-40 minutes. Exchanged hugs and phone numbers. Left smiles on each others' faces. We may become closer; that'd be peachy w/ me at this point."

My response? YAY loving connections for you both!

"Or we could talk about stimulating the G-spot, which wow if I'd posted that I'm pretty sure I'd be crucified..."

ROFL! I expected to be crucified posting that too and sweated it out, relieved I wasn't publicly ridiculed. But the fact was that I got to be over 50 years old without knowing the Gspot existed. So I was quite astonished to not only find out it isn't a myth but that there is an actual technique, a process and a practical video online. I posted that info as a public service message to anyone who, like I had been, was in the dark on that particular topic for greater world happiness. :)

One of the many problems with PUA is the title. It's Pick Up Artist. The connotations are that of conning and predation as well as the techniques. The definition is "making a casual acquaintance with a stranger in anticipation of sexual relations".

You said:
""Just be yourself." That's true, but not terribly useful, actionable information. What does confident body-language look like? How can I tell if a woman is attracted to me? How can I get myself into a confident, social mood? Should I go out with friends or by myself? What should I wear? (Naked plus a fedora, naturally!) How do I start a conversation with a woman when my heart is in my throat? Is it okay to approach a woman who's with a group of people? How does that change the conversation dynamic? What if the conversation dies? Should I buy her a drink? etc. etc."

Those are good points. People are not taught many social skills in families these days and it's excellent to learn things practically. I like practicality. But, the agenda of PUA seems to approach social skills as if it is pulling one over on another person, manipulative tricks for a shallow end that is basically using women in a way that is barely a cut above hooker, or unpaid hooker, rather than authentic socializing, which entails mutuality.

All that said, I respect you for staying in the conversation.

thsmchnekllsfascists ,"Dating is HARD, because the point is to get yourself out of your shell. If you ease into it, it can be exponentially more fulfilling than any sort of PUA hook-up."

Nicely said.
posted by nickyskye at 12:08 AM on November 20, 2008


klang': I talked with this woman for 30-40 minutes. Of course I'm not going to know her "identity" -- her thoughts, her ideas, her wants, her fears, her aspirations, her diet, her farting habits, her relationship with her parents, and her affinity or disdain for feather-capped fedoras... (left mine at home, dammit!) You give me way too much credit!

Of course a woman's value as a person is not dependent on her value to me. If that's what you're implying, you're again giving me way too much credit. I am not the Grand Master Judge of teh Universe(s). But her value to me is, well, *equivalent to* her value to me. That's trivially true.

Describe your girlfriend to me and I can surely shriek back about how you're "reducing her" to traits and characteristics. I can pick apart your language and insist that you're "owning" her and "objectifying" her. It's just it's an esoteric critique that could be made about anyone, anytime, to no avail. There are plenty of things to critique PUA theory about -- and, hell, I'll HELP you! -- but this is not a good choice.

Criticize NLP, now, and I may well agree with you. Hard to say, though, at this point -- I just don't know enough about it. I'd have to dig into it a bit to be able to give an informed opinion. ::cough::

Your second (in the most recent list) objection has some merit, I think, but I want to flesh it out a bit. One of the major cornerpieces of most PUA theories is to focus on learning the Skill of Meeting Women, rather than worrying about whether this or that particular interaction went well. Ideally, we should be internally validated -- actually that goes for life in general. Whether this or that girl likes us or ignores us shouldn't affect our self-esteem. This is really a great place to be, btw, as it eliminates neediness (external validation in a nutshell) and all the negative behavior that stems from it: jealousy, pushiness / an inability to take "no" for an answer, berating oneself because this or that interaction went poorly, depression because a particular girl doesn't like you, etc. Essentially, it should be "You don't like me? No problem, I'm a happy guy regardless. And, hey, I learned something new today!"

The downside -- and the ethical problem -- is that, well, you're using people for practice. They're part of your practice for the long-term goal: improving your Skill of Meeting Women. And, really, to be good at this, ya need to practice as much as possible. That way, when you meet somebody you genuinely are interested in, you'll be able to a) approach them, b) have a fun interaction / good conversation, all the while c) tickling her lizard brain attraction center that you're a confident guy worthy of her attention. Social skills are, after all, "skills" -- they need to be practiced to be improved, like public speaking, stage presence, or salesmanship. (Explains why bartenders are generally very social whereas computer programmers usually are not.)

When I was still actively learning, I did "practice" on a few girls that I had no intention of following-up with -- felt icky and yeah unethical. It's a lot like (err, EXACTLY like) when girls flirt with guys they have little actual interest in, just to see if they can pique the guy's interest. (Including the not-so-great need for external validation -- yay, he/she *does* think I'm hawt!) It's maddening to have somebody flirt with you, only to pull away when you respond positively, but it happens all the time. So it's not something limited to PUA activities, but it is indeed a disingenuous interaction that often leaves the flirtee going "WTF??" Not great, but would you have a problem with a girl practicing flirting? Or is that all part of her development into a social, sexual being?

Side note, but probably important: A lot of what people think they know about PUAs -- canned routines, gambits, openers, etc. -- is old news and somewhat deprecated. Looks like the "community" (if you can call it that -- it's not a cohesive gang or anything) is heading away from that and towards "natural" approaches -- developing inner confidence, projecting positive body language, etc.

(preview: Gonna respond to the two latest/greatest posts when I can, but this one took A While...)
posted by LordSludge at 3:04 PM on November 20, 2008


i had heard about the PUA stuff a while back, then utterly forgotten it. and then this thread came around. and then, less than a week later, the american tv show "criminal minds" had an episode called '52 pickup' that used PUA stuff as a plot device.

it made mediocre television wonderfully hilarious. (oh, look. uninspired procedural stuff. hey! FEDORA! hey! PUA! i heard about that on METAFILTER just the other day. oh, the writers totally watched a couple of youtube clips and read wikipedia. yes, yes they did.)
posted by rmd1023 at 10:07 AM on November 28, 2008


I've had to think about this so my apologies for the late reply.

See, on the one hand, I kinda feel like this happens more when you hang out with dumb girls/women. By looking for smart women, like ones that I can talk about regarding "raunch culture" and who have a decent grasp of media criticism and theory… On the other hand, you sound like enough of a dumbass that I don't know that this will be a fruitful strategy for you.

Why? Because I don't think that getting your tits out so you can become the jerk-off material for a bunch of jocks isn't the empowering gesture they think it is?

I have nothing against feminism. Take back the night, equal share, equal pay and all that. But cloaking the debauchery of the lad/ladette/raunch culture using the noble goal of feminism and equality? I can think of nothing more insulting to the women who have devoted their lives in pursuit of equality.

But man, I dunno, since high school I've managed to date a handful of pretty smart women who, you know, can actually articulate third-wave feminist contradictions and have fun without being materialistic, nihilistic she-beasts, and I currently hang out with a fair passel more… So, they're out there, and maybe the problem is you.

The problem is somewhat me and I admit that I have my own social problems but in terms of the casual dating scene all you seem to see is a long string of dumbasses who think the only definition of a good night is one that they don't remember. If only I had a dollar for every valley girl on internet dating sites who's profile started with "im n easygoin girl who likes 2 have fun" which in the end always seemed to mean "I get off my fucking tits every Friday and Saturday and I'll probably need a new liver before my 30th birthday".

/sigh
posted by Talez at 11:13 PM on December 1, 2008


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