Clarisse Thorn has a couple of interesting posts up this week about “Pick Up Artists.” An important point she makes is that the pick up artist subculture has a monopoly on effective advice for shy men who want to meet women. To this I would add: And how!
I’m thinking especially of the psychotherapeutic professions, since the typical advice for the sexually isolated man is, “See a therapist.” As a man who has seen more than a few, I think psychotherapy is usually a Hindenburg-grade failure in this department.
As for pick up artistry (“PUA”), it is something I imagine most feminists view as a sad joke: A world of immature, narcissistic young (and not so young) men unable to connect with women as fellow human beings. As Clarisse mentioned, looking for wisdom within the “seduction community” can be like “panning for gold in a sewer.” But since there isn’t much helpful advice from other quarters, feminists who care about men might take a few hours to grab the pie tin, slip on the galoshes, climb down the manhole, and pan for nuggets of wisdom in the cesspool of the “seduction community.”
Note that I don’t want to see young men with the attitude of women as alien creatures who can only be approached by “learning game” and “displaying high value.” That’s an obvious risk of studying game – increasing rather than shortening the emotional distance between men and women. But I think the social knowledge gleaned by some of the more ethical pick up artists out there (there are a few) may be worth a look.
I’d like to propose a conceptual framework that might be useful in discussing pick up artistry, which is “three categories of pick up artistry”: (1) harmless social psychology, (2) harmful, disruptive behavior, and (3) “dealing with a shit test.”
First, (1) Harmless social psychology is – or should be – unobjectionable to most people. An example is the advice given by Neil Strauss (“Style”) to men who would like to start a conversation (“open”) with a group of women (a “set”) who are seated, and that advice is: Talk to them over your shoulder – as though on your way out the door – and don’t hover over their table. That advice makes sense; people won’t make efforts to get rid of you if they think you’ll be leaving soon. Now, you could argue it’s duplicitous to pretend to be on your way out the door, when in fact you have every intention of staying. But what this amounts to is a behavioral white lie, and white lies make life more pleasant than it would otherwise be.
What does not make life more pleasant is (2) the second category of pick up artistry: Harmful and disruptive behavior. The most extreme example of this are the tactics promoted by self-proclaimed pickup guru “Gunwich,” summed up as (his words) “make the ho say no.” For men who ascribe to this approach, I would recommend psychotherapy, and also staying away from social gatherings until they’ve reexamined their beliefs about how to treat other people. Enough said.
The third category I can’t think of a good name for, so I’ll call it (3) “How to deal with a ‘shit test’.” An example: A young man begins talking with a woman at a party, and soon thereafter she mentions “my boyfriend” even though she is single. Why would she do this? Most feminists would say there are two reasons; I’d say three. First, she may worry that the man won’t respect her boundaries unless she gives a “reason” she doesn’t want to be sexually involved. Second, she may feel anxious about being single, and not want to appear unpopular. Third – and some feminists will insist this never happens – she may be testing the man to see how he reacts. An effective way to screen out tiresome nice guys in favor of the more ethically adventurous bad boy is to say you’re already attached.
This third category, I think, can blend with the first. The difference is the third category involves dealing with some of the more gladiatorial aspects of the sexual realm – dealing with the world as it is, rather than as it should be. The phantom boyfriend is only one example of what I would call the “shit test,” but you could argue – convincingly, in my opinion – that a young man is more socially competent if he understands that a woman’s “boyfriend” may or may not exist, and that such knowledge entails emotionally understanding a white lie.