What you need to know about the disturbing doctrine of pick-up artistry

Let’s start by talking a bit about Julien Blanc. If you haven’t yet heard of him, Julien is the so-called pick-up artist (PUA) and self-described “international leader in dating advice” who is now being described by many as “the most hated man in the world.” Julien gives classes for other men on how to seduce women, so you can tell he’s a stand-up fella.

After videos of him in Japan “pushing girls down on his junk” and grabbing women by the throat recently surfaced, the Australian authorities revoked his visa to stay in the country. And, rightly so. But, that’s not where it ends. The problem is that Julien isn’t the root of this issue; he is merely a product of the pick-up artistry culture.

Pick-up artistry is nothing new and has been around for years, in fact. Haven’t heard of it? Here’s what you need to know: Men describe themselves as “dating gurus” and charge other men to attend seminars, lectures and what-you-will filled with advice on how to woo the lady of your dreams. While sharing romantic advice isn’t inherently a bad thing, pick-up artistry has turned into something equated with sexism and misogyny and people are getting (rightfully) less and less tolerant of that culture.

Jenn Li, a woman from DC, saw one of Julien’s videos which led to the launch of her hashtag #TakeDownJulienBlanc and others have started Change.org petitions to keep Julien out of their countries. But Julien isn’t the only pick-up artist on the block. Not by a long shot. There’s an entire pick-up artist industry out there devoted to teaching dudes to approach women in all the wrong ways. I’ve seen, or rather, read it, firsthand.

I don’t know what possessed me to first pick up The Game. I’d been told about the book by a guy I was seeing for a while, and I guess I was just curious. When somebody tells you that there is a manual on how to pick up girls, it’s more than a little intriguing. For those of you who don’t know what The Game is, it’s basically the pick-up artists’ bible, cleverly disguised as a book of “gonzo” journalism. Neil Strauss is the guy behind it, and also the central character. He follows many PUAs, learning from them and eventually becoming one himself. After reading the book, I was also compelled to deep-dive into pick-up artist websites, so-called “training blogs” for the newbie player. What I discovered in my exploration into the world of pickup artistry was pretty troubling, to say the least. Here are some of most disturbing tips I found in my research:

1. According to pick-up artists, insulting women makes them want you more

Ah, the “neg.” If you have made it this far in your life without hearing about a neg, you are lucky. A neg is a negative comment, or in simple terms, an insult, that men use to disarm women. You’ve probably been a victim of negging (yeah, because it’s also a verb) in the past. If a guy has ever come up to you and given you a backhanded compliment, such as “You’d be stunning, if it weren’t for those ears,” you’ve been negged. The main issue with negging (although there are MANY issues) is that it seeks to knock women’s confidence. As I read the book, I found that much of it was in fact tips on how to put a woman down. The assumption is that once a woman loses her confidence, she will sleep with just about anybody. PUAs call this a “play.” The rest of the world calls it emotional abuse.

2. Scoring has a literal meaning

I think one of the biggest problems with the PUA culture is how they talk about women and getting with women. The book is called The Game, so I guess it won’t surprise you that it talks about women in terms of scores. Here are a few terms used: “Kino” means touching a woman while you’re talking to her, “number close” means getting a woman’s number, “kiss close” means kissing a woman, “fark close” means having sex with a woman. There is something about using these terms that dehumanizes women and makes them targets as opposed to real human beings. It’s really gross.

3. According to PUAs, “no” doesn’t always mean “no”

I know you’re thinking, “SAY WHAT,” but it’s true. There is some very backwards, disgusting ideology in this book. As we all know, women have the right to say “no” to a man’s sexual advances. It doesn’t matter where you are or when you decide that you don’t want sex, you have the right to refuse it. And if someone doesn’t listen to your demands, that’s a crime.

Well, not according to this PUA training blog I found. “If she says ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, it’s too soon.’ This doesn’t mean stop, it just means you haven’t built enough sexual tension up yet,” reads the post. The piece goes on to assume that all woman want to jump into bed with every man they meet, but can’t because they don’t want society to judge them. While the blogger encourages readers to stop when a woman says “I don’t want to have sex with you,” he suggests that in other circumstances, “women speak in code most of the time, they say one thing and mean another.” The message that women aren’t always clear in their reticence to engage in sexual activity isn’t just wrong, it’s harmful and dangerous. Men should be taught that any form of dissent when it comes to sex means NO, and that means back off.   

4. According to PUAs, when a girl says she has a boyfriend, she’s lying because she’s shy

According to this PUA blog, “girls often lie about having a boyfriend.” The blogger goes on to suggest that the best thing to do when a woman says she has a boyfriend is to keep bothering her and disregard her “non-existent” boyfriend. “If you talk to her about her imaginary boyfriend you are making her invest in the lie. This is going to mess things up for you, and you will have no chance of ‘closing’ her,” insists the author of the post, before going on to explain what you should do instead. “If you accept what she’s saying in a dismissive way, reinstate your interest, and then engage her in an actual conversation, you are much more likely to get the girl.” So, in simple terms, disregard what she’s telling you to be true, and treat her as if she’s a liar. Wonderful.

As with many sub-cultures, pick-up artistry has some good and a lot of bad points. The good: The forums are rife with men reaching out to one another and creating a (sometimes) helpful, positive community. These men are not sure who to talk to about their social problems, and so they use the forums as an outlet. Some PUAs even promote ways to create lasting relationships with women and give genuine advice to their peers. But, some of the teachings promoted within the culture not only misunderstand women, they promote harmful, gross, not OK behavior. And we need to be aware of that.

(Image via Facebook)

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