Two of my friends run PUA (Pick Up Artist) workshops and they sometimes hire me as a Super Girl (an attractive, talented, conversation-minded female) for men to practice pick up skills. Never heard of the PUA (I pronounce it POOH-ah) phenomenon? Mystery? The Game? Not familiar? Here’s a short primer.
In 2005, Neil Strauss published a book called The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick Up Artists. He described his personal transformation from writer geek to writer that successfully hooks up with lots of women using psychological and sociological ideas learned from other men doing the same thing. (Reverse psychology is an example of one of these concepts. So is body language.)
The book was a pop culture phenomenon and spawned a plethora of workshops, writers and even a (lamentable) television show called “The Pick Up Artist” on VH1. Every source promised straight men the skills they needed to get any woman they wanted, regardless of money or looks. (There is a small, burgeoning gay version of pick-up artist culture, but so far I’ve only found one forum. And in the upper right hand corner there were ads for picking up girls and meeting Christians.)
The PUA or Seduction community is highly controversial. Is it helping men? Enabling would-be murderers with enough misogynistic rhetoric to spark a killing spree? Or maybe no longer valid but now a ridiculous, sprawling parody? Even among current, would-be and never-will-be PUA men, they can’t seem to decide.
Where there is controversy there is validity. People wouldn’t be arguing about this if it wasn’t appealing or helpful in some way. I’m here to throw my thoughts into the fray as a female who 1) has male friends who are/were involved in the community, 2) spent time inside the workshops talking to and observing men-in-training and 3) reads/writes about gender and sexuality nonstop.
Personally, I think the PUA subculture is a fascinating neo-masculinity movement that is more about male bonding than anything else. Men bond together like strange tribes on a hunt, sharing tips, supporting each other and connecting through their PUA identities. To be sure, there is a highly misogynistic element but we live in a misogynistic culture. No wonder the pathos of woman hating seeps into the community consciousness.
While the female gender role underwent major revolutions in the past century, male gender role exists in a bygone world of gender inequality and female economic dependence.The old female gender role has diminished considerably. The stereotypical male gender role relies on the faded complimentary female gender. There is no new male gender construct and I think men feel lost at times interacting with women. So the seduction community is a very attractive way to deal with the burgeoning gender order. Some advice is good, some abysmal.
Men obtaining confidence. This is true for everything in life. If you are nervous or don’t believe in yourself, other people notice. No-one gravitates towards unsure individuals.
Men developing communication skills. Some people are socially awkward. They can’t grasp basic conversational skills to talk to anyone, let alone a female that makes them sweat.
Men recognizing and processing negative life experiences. One mandate of male gender role is stoicism. Emotional inexpressiveness is deleterious to anyone. I think it does anyone a world of good to look back on their life and see what stumbling blocks exist in their own minds.
Using tactics sprouted from sociology, psychology and other academic disciplines. Interacting with the social world is much easier when you grasp nuances of social interaction. The problem is the goals set for that interaction.
Women can be manipulated, if only you know how. Everyone has the power of critical thought. Assuming that all females are walking programs that will bend to your will if you say the right phrases, do the right things or project the right persona is insulting. I was once outside of a club talking to a friend and a budding PUA. He actually started talking to his friend in front of me about how girls like me were attracted to being ignored. I walked away. So much for that theory.
Every guy can have a smokin’ hot babe if he can harness the alpha male persona. Personality is important. But so is every other part of the equation. What about your talents? Interests in life? Thoughts? Or your appearance? Yes, this last one matters to women. Surprise! We notice how you look! You think we swoon over hunky celebrities because they have awesome alpha personalities? No. They’re hot. That’s why they’re on the cover of magazines for us to ogle. (Semi-related note: go check out Fuck Yeah Gyllenhaals. My brain almost exploded when I saw this nom-tastic eye candy site.)
The most important thing about a woman is her physical hotness. You, male brain, should only be after sex with hot women, right? There is no other aspect of a person that should turn you on because your weenis drives you at every turn? Spare me. Yes, physical attraction is important in a sex partner. But what makes a person attractive is not just the visual appearance. Personality, talent, thoughts, viewpoints, and basic individual traits comprise the sum of any person. I mean, isn’t this part of the premise of PUA literature? Men don’t need to be hot, just confident, witty and with a good persona? One thing that holds men back is a blind cultural impetus to chase physically attractive women, especially when those women are out of your league. Go look at successful PUA instructors and gurus. They’re hot. They get hot women. Welcome to the world.
Men are entitled to sex with women. Oh. Hell. No. You are entitled to nothing in life. You are especially not entitled to another person’s body.
The PUA literature and culture is not inherently evil. A couple of my friends went through the process (one conducts workshops to this day) and they are completely in love with their beautiful girlfriends. The men I saw in these workshops were really cool guys that felt confused and lonely. They wanted answers and a solution, man-style. I support the positive aspects of this movement that helped my friends build confidence and find happiness.
I don’t support the Neanderthal hunting approach to “getting” women. We’re people. Like you. I understand that when it comes to sex, we females learn to resist your advances from a very young age. You guys learn to pursue at all costs. Maybe we should work on talking to each other more and lessening the weird combative anxieties learned from our defunct gender system. Because, as a female, the sexual gatekeeper thing sucks. I would like it to end.